Marco Polo Bridge Incident

Last updated
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Japanese Bombarded Wanping.gif
Japanese forces bombarding Wanping Fortress, 1937
Date7–9 July 1937
Location
Vicinity of Peking, China

39°50′57″N116°12′47″E / 39.84917°N 116.21306°E / 39.84917; 116.21306 Coordinates: 39°50′57″N116°12′47″E / 39.84917°N 116.21306°E / 39.84917; 116.21306
Result
  • Strategic Japanese victory
  • Tactical Chinese victory
  • Japanese attack repulsed [1]
  • Beginning of the full scale invasion of China in the Second Sino-Japanese War
Belligerents
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  China Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
Commanders and leaders
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Kanichiro Tashiro
Strength
c. 100 [1] + unknown reinforcements [3] 5,600 [4]
Casualties and losses
All but 4 soldiers killed in action [1] Unknown

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known by Lugou Bridge Incident or Double-Seven Incident, was a July 1937 battle between China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is widely considered to have been the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, [5] and by extension, sometimes given as an alternative starting date for World War II (as opposed to the more commonly-cited one of September 1939). [6]

1937 (MCMXXXVII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1937th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 937th year of the 2nd millennium, the 37th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1930s decade.

Republic of China (1912–1949) 1912–1949 country in Asia, when the Republic of China governed mainland China

The Republic of China (ROC) was a sovereign country that existed between 1912 and 1949 in what is now the People's Republic of China. It was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. The Republic's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Beiyang Army. Sun's party, the Kuomintang (KMT), then led by Song Jiaoren, won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. However, Song was assassinated on Yuan's orders shortly after; and the Beiyang Army, led by Yuan, maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai was the self-proclaimed Emperor of China before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan's death in 1916, the authority of the Beiyang government was further weakened by a brief restoration of the Qing dynasty. Cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed individual autonomy and clashed with each other during the ensuing Warlord Era.

National Revolutionary Army Nationalist Army of the Republic of China

The National Revolutionary Army (NRA), sometimes shortened to Revolutionary Army (革命軍) before 1928, and as National Army (國軍) after 1928, was the military arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947 in the Republic of China. It also became the regular army of the ROC during the KMT's period of party rule beginning in 1928. It was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces after the 1947 Constitution, which instituted civilian control of the military.

Contents

Name

In English, the battle is usually known as the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident". [7] The Marco Polo Bridge is an eleven-arch granite bridge, an architecturally significant structure first erected under the Jin and later restored by the Kangxi Emperor in 1698. It gained its Western name from its appearance in Marco Polo's record of his travels. It is less often referred to as the "Battle of Marco Polo Bridge". [8]

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Marco Polo Bridge arch bridge near Beijing, China

The Marco Polo Bridge or Lugou Bridge is a stone bridge located 15 km southwest of Beijing city center in the Fengtai District. It bridges the Yongding River, a major tributary of Hai River. Situated at the eastern end of the bridge is the Wanping Fortress, a historic 17th-century fortress, with the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression inside.

Kangxi Emperor fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty

The Kangxi Emperor, personal name Xuanye, was the fourth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigned from 1661 to 1722.

It is also known as the "Lukouchiao", [9] "Lugouqiao", [10] or "Lugou Bridge Incident" from the local name of the bridge, derived from a former name of the Yongding River. [11] This is the common name for the event in Japanese ( 盧溝橋 事件 , Rokōkyō Jiken) and is an alternate name for it in Chinese ( t 盧溝橋 事變 , s 卢沟桥 事变 , p LúgōuqiáoShìbiàn) and Korean ( 노구교 사건 , Nogugyo Sageon). The same name is also expressed or translated as the "Battle of Lugou Bridge", [12] "Lugouqiao", [13] or "Lukouchiao". [14]

Yongding River river in the Peoples Republic of China

The Yongding River is a river in northern China. It is one of the main tributaries in the Hai River system and is best known as the largest river to flow through Beijing Municipality. In recent year, the Beijing segment of the river has dried up due to environmental issues. Beijing Municipality government has invested 16 billion yuan in effort to replace the riverbed with parkland or smaller bodies of water.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

In China and Korea, it is more often known as the "July 7th Incident" [15]

Background

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Allied Commander-in-Chief in the China theatre from 1942 to 1945 Chiang Kai-shek in full uniform.jpeg
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Allied Commander-in-Chief in the China theatre from 1942 to 1945

Tensions between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China had been heightened since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and their subsequent creation of a puppet state, Manchukuo, with Puyi, the deposed Qing dynasty Emperor, as its head. Following the invasion, Japanese forces extended their control further into northern China, seeking to obtain raw materials and industrial capacity. A commission of enquiry from the League of Nations made a critical report into their actions, leading to Japan pulling out of the League. [16]

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Japanese invasion of Manchuria part of the Second Sino-Japanese War

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on 18 September 1931, when the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident. After the war, the Japanese established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Their occupation lasted until the Soviet Union and Mongolia launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in 1945.

Manchukuo Former Japan puppet state in China

Manchukuo was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.

The Kuomintang (KMT) government of China refused to recognize Manchukuo, but did agree to a truce with Japan in 1933. Subsequently, there were various "incidents", or armed clashes of a limited nature, followed by a return to the uneasy peace. The significance of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident is that following it, tensions did not subside again; instead, there was escalation, with larger forces committed by both sides and fighting spreading to other parts of China. With hindsight this (small) incident can therefore be regarded as the starting point of the major conflict. [17]

Kuomintang Political party in the Republic of China

The Kuomintang of China, also spelled as Guomindang and often alternatively translated as the Nationalist Party of China (NPC) or the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP), is a major political party in the Republic of China based in Taipei that was founded in 1911. The KMT is currently an opposition political party in the Legislative Yuan.

Tanggu Truce peace treaty

The Tanggu Truce, sometimes called the Tangku Truce, was a ceasefire signed between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan in Tanggu District, Tianjin on May 31, 1933. It formally ended the Japanese invasion of Manchuria which had begun two years earlier.

Under the terms of the Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901, China had granted nations with legations in Beijing the right to station guards at twelve specific points along railways connecting Beijing with Tianjin. This was to ensure open communications between the capital and the port. By a supplementary agreement on 15 July 1902, these forces were allowed to conduct maneuvers without informing the authorities of other nations in China. [18]

By July 1937, Japan had expanded its forces in China to an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 men, mostly along the railways. This number of men, and the amount of concomitant matériel, was several times the size of the detachments deployed by the European powers, and greatly in excess of the limits set by the Boxer Protocol. [18]

By this time, the Imperial Japanese Army had already surrounded Beijing and Tianjin.

On the night of 7 July, the Japanese units stationed at Fengtai crossed the border to conduct military exercises. [19] Japanese and Chinese forces outside the town of Wanping—a walled town 16.4 km (10.2 mi) southwest of Beijing—exchanged fire at approximately 23:00. The exact cause of this incident remains unknown. When a Japanese soldier, Private Shimura Kikujiro, failed to return to his post, Chinese regimental commander Ji Xingwen (219th Regiment, 37th Division, 29th Route Army) received a message from the Japanese demanding permission to enter Wanping to search for the missing soldier. The Chinese refused. Although Private Shimura returned to his unit, by this point both sides were mobilising, with the Japanese deploying reinforcements and surrounding Wanping. [19]

Later in the night, a unit of Japanese infantry attempted to breach Wanping's walled defences and were repulsed. An ultimatum by the Japanese was issued two hours later. As a precautionary measure, Qin Dechun, the acting commander of the Chinese 29th Route Army, contacted the commander of the Chinese 37th Division, General Feng Zhian, ordering him to place his troops on heightened alert.[ citation needed ]

Incident

At 02:00 in the morning (18:00 UTC) of 8 July, Qin Dechun, executive officer and acting commander of the Chinese 29th Route Army, sent Wang Lengzhai, mayor of Wanping, alone to the Japanese camp to conduct negotiations. However, this proved to be fruitless, and the Japanese insisted that they be admitted into the town to investigate the cause of the incident. [19]

At around 04:00 (20:00 UTC), reinforcements of both sides began to arrive. The Chinese also rushed an extra division of troops to the area. About an hour or so later the Chinese Army opened fire on the Japanese Army and attacked them at Marco Polo Bridge (210 metres [690 ft] west-southwest of Wanping), as well as at a modern railway bridge (334 metres [1,095 ft] north of the Marco Polo Bridge). [19]

At 04:45 (20:45 UTC) Wang Lengzhai had returned to Wanping, and on his way back he witnessed Japanese troops massing around the town. Within five minutes of Wang's return, the Chinese Army fired shots, thus marking the commencement of the Battle of Beiping-Tianjin, and, by extension, the full scale commencement of the Second Sino-Japanese War at 04:50 on 8 July 1937. [19]

Colonel Ji Xingwen led the Chinese defenses with about 100 men, with orders to hold the bridge at all costs. The Chinese were able to hold the bridge with the help of reinforcements, but suffered tremendous losses. [3] At this point, the Japanese military and members of the Japanese Foreign Service began negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese Nationalist government.

A verbal agreement with Chinese General Qin was reached, whereby:[ citation needed ]

This was agreed upon, though Japanese Garrison Infantry Brigade commander General Masakazu Kawabe initially rejected the truce and, against his superiors' orders, continued to shell Wanping for the next three hours, until prevailed upon to cease and to move his forces to the northeast.[ citation needed ]

Aftermath

Although a ceasefire had been declared, further efforts to de-escalate the conflict failed, largely due to actions by the Chinese Communists and the Japanese China Garrison Army commanders.[ citation needed ] Due to constant Chinese attacks, Japanese Garrison Infantry Brigade commander General Masakazu Kawabe ordered Wanping to be shelled on 9 July. The following day, Japanese armoured units joined the attack. The Chinese 219th regiment staged an effective resistance, [19] and full scale fighting commenced at Langfang on 25 July. [3] After launching a bitter and bloody attack on the Japanese lines on the 27 July, General Sung was defeated and forced to retreat behind the Yongding River by the next day.

Battle of Beiping-Tianjin

On 11 July, in accordance with the Goso conference, the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff authorized the deployment of an infantry division from the Chosen Army, two combined brigades from the Kwangtung Army and an air regiment composed of 18 squadrons as reinforcements to Northern China. By 20 July, total Japanese military strength in the Beiping-Tianjin area exceeded 180,000 personnel. [19]

The Japanese gave Sung and his troops "free passage" before moving in to pacify resistance in areas surrounding Beijing and Tianjin. After 24 days of combat, the Chinese 29th Corps was forced to withdraw. The Japanese captured Beiping and the Taku Forts at Tianjin on 29 and 30 July respectively, thus concluding the Beiping-Tianjin campaign. [19] However, the Japanese Army had been given orders not to advance further than the Yongding River. In a sudden volte-face, the Konoe government's foreign minister opened negotiations with Chiang Kai-shek's government in Nanking and stated: "Japan wants Chinese cooperation, not Chinese land." Nevertheless, negotiations failed to move further. On 9 August 1937, a Japanese naval officer was shot in Shanghai, escalating the skirmishes and battles into full scale warfare. [20]

The 29th Army's resistance (and poor equipment) inspired the 1937 "Sword March", whichwith slightly reworked lyricsbecame the National Revolutionary Army's standard marching cadence and popularized the racial epithet guizi to describe the Japanese invaders. [21]

Consequences

Damage from the Japanese shells on the wall of Wanping Fortress is marked with a memorial plaque now. The texts on the stone drums below summarizes the history of the war that followed the incident. Wanping-Castle-south-wall-3514.jpg
Damage from the Japanese shells on the wall of Wanping Fortress is marked with a memorial plaque now. The texts on the stone drums below summarizes the history of the war that followed the incident.

The heightened tensions of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident led directly to full-scale war between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China, with the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin at the end of July and the Battle of Shanghai in August.

In 1937, during the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin the Chinese government was notified by Muslim General Ma Bufang of the Ma clique that he was prepared to bring the fight to the Japanese in a telegram message. [22] Immediately after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Ma Bufang arranged for a cavalry division under the Muslim General Ma Biao to be sent east to battle the Japanese. [23] Ethnic Turkic Salar Muslims made up the majority of the first cavalry division which was sent by Ma Bufang. [24]

In 1987, the bridge was renovated and the People's Anti-Japanese War Museum was built near the bridge to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese War. [25]

Controversies

There is debate over whether the incident could have been planned like the earlier Mukden Incident, which served as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. [26] According to Jim Huffman this notion has been "widely rejected" by historians, as the Japanese would likely have been more concerned over the threat posed by the Soviets. Controversial conservative Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata has suggested that the incident could have been caused by the Chinese Communist Party, hoping it would lead to a war of attrition between the Japanese army and the Kuomintang.[ citation needed ] However, he himself still considers this less likely than the "accidental shot" hypothesis, that the first shot was fired by a low-ranking Chinese soldier in "an unplanned moment of fear."

Order of battle

National Revolutionary Army (Kuomintang)

In comparison to their Japanese counterparts, the 29th Route Army, and generally all of the NRA for that matter, was poorly equipped and under-trained. Most soldiers were armed only with a rifle and a dao (a single-edged Chinese sword similar to a machete). Moreover, the Chinese garrison in the Lugouqiao area was completely outnumbered and outgunned; it consisted only of about 100 soldiers. [1]

NameMilitary Post(s)Non-Military Post(s)
General Song Zheyuan
(宋哲元; Wade-Giles: Sung Che-yuan)
Commander of 29th Route ArmyChairman of Hopeh Legislative Committee
Head of Peking security forces
General Qin Dechun
(秦德純; Wade-Giles: Chin Teh-chun)
Vice-Commander of 29th ArmyMayor of Peking
General Tong Lin'ge
(佟麟閣;
Vice-Commander of 29th Army
General Liu Ruming
(劉汝明)
Commander of the 143rd DivisionChairman of Chahar Province
General Feng Zhian
(馮治安)
Commander of the 37th DivisionChairman of Hopeh Province
General Zhao Dengyu
(趙登禹; Wade-Giles: Chao Teng-yu)
Commander of the 132nd Division
General Zhang Zizhong
(張自忠; Wade-Giles: Chang Tze-chung)
Commander of the 38th DivisionMayor of Tientsin
Colonel Ji Xingwen
(吉星文)
Commander of the 219th Regiment
under the 110th Brigade of the 37th Division

Imperial Japanese Army

The Japanese China Garrison Army was a combined force of infantry, tanks, mechanized forces, artillery and cavalry, which had been stationed in China since the time of the Boxer Rebellion. Its headquarters and bulk for its forces were in Tianjin, with a major detachment in Beijing to protect the Japanese embassy.

NamePositionLocation
Lieutenant General Kanichiro Tashiro
(田代皖一郎)
Commander China Garrison ArmyTientsin
Major General Masakazu Kawabe
(河辺正三)
Commander China Garrison Infantry BrigadePeking
Colonel Renya Mutaguchi
(牟田口廉也)
Commander 1st Infantry RegimentPeking
Major Kiyonao Ichiki
(一木清直)
Commander, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry RegimentW of Marco Polo Bridge, 510 men

See also

Related Research Articles

Song Zheyuan Chinese general

Sòng Zhéyuán (宋哲元) was a Chinese general during the Chinese Civil War and Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

Zhang Zizhong Chinese general and politician

Zhang Zizhong was a general of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army (NRA) during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Born in Linqing, Shandong, he was the highest-ranked officer and the only Army group commander of the NRA to die in the war. He showed great valor in the battlefields and was regarded as one of the most valiant and respectable Chinese generals by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Because of his posthumous promotion, he was also one of the highest-ranked Allied officers that was killed in action in World War II. His mausoleum is situated in Beibei District, Chongqing. There are roads named after him in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Wuhan.

This article is concerned with the events that preceded World War II in Asia.

Battle of Beiping–Tianjin battle

The Battle of Beiping–Tianjin, also known as the Battle of Beijing and the Peiking-Tientsin Operation or by the Japanese as the North China Incident was a series of battles of the Second Sino-Japanese War fought in the proximity of Beiping and Tianjin. It resulted in a Japanese victory.

Kanichiro Tashiro Japanese general

Kanichirō Tashiro was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The East Hopei Army was raised from the former soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps that had been created by the Tangku Truce of 31 May 1933. The Demilitarized Zone Peace Preservation Corps had been the "neutral" force policing the Demilitarized area south of the Great Wall when Yin Ju-keng at the instigation of the Japanese proclaimed an Autonomous Government of Eastern Hopei in November 1935, with its capital at Tungchow.

Wan Fulin Army General

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Tong Linge Chinese general

Tong Linge or Tung Ling-ko of Manchu ethnicity was the Deputy Commander of the Chinese 29th Corps in 1937 during the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and Battle of Beiping-Tianjin.

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The Japanese 1st Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army. It was raised and demobilized on three separate occasions.

Japanese China Garrison Army military unit

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A Route Army (路軍/路军), was a type of military organization during the Chinese Republic, and usually exercised command over two or more corps or a large number of divisions or independent brigades. It was a common formation in China prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War but was discarded as a formation type by the National Revolutionary Army after 1938, in favor of the Group Army.

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Wanping Fortress museum

Wanping Fortress, also known as Wanping Castle, is a Ming Dynasty fortress or "walled city" in Beijing. It was erected in 1638–1640, with the purpose of defending Beijing against Li Zicheng and the peasant uprising.

Museum of the War of Chinese Peoples Resistance Against Japanese Aggression military museum

The Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression or Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall is a museum and memorial hall in Beijing. It is the most comprehensive museum in China about the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Guang'anmen Incident, or Kuanganmen Incident, was an attack on the Japanese army by the National Revolutionary Army’s 29th Army that occurred on 26 July 1937 in the opening stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War in Beiping, now Beijing, which was the under the control of the Hebei–Chahar Political Council. It occurred following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 7 July, and the Langfang Incident of 25 July.

Qin Dechun

Qin Dechun was a military officer and politician of the Republic of China. He was born in Shandong. He graduated from the Baoding Military Academy in Baoding, Hebei. He was a member of the Zhili clique before going over to the Nationalist Government. He fought in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and was the acting commander of the 29th Route Army during the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. After the defeat of the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War he went to Taiwan. He died in Taipei at the age of 71.

Ji Xingwen, or "Shaowu", was a general in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. He served in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.

References

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