Operation Ichi-Go (一号作戦 Ichi-gō Sakusen, lit. "Operation Number One") was a campaign of a series of major battles between the Imperial Japanese Army forces and the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China, fought from April to December 1944. It consisted of three separate battles in the Chinese provinces of Henan, Hunan and Guangxi.
The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.
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.
Henan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (中州) which literally means "central plain land" or "midland", although the name is also applied to the entirety of China proper. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese civilization with over 3,000 years of recorded history, and remained China's cultural, economical, and political center until approximately 1,000 years ago.
These battles were the Japanese Operation Kogo or Battle of Central Henan, Operation Togo 1 or the Battle of Changheng, and Operation Togo 2 and Togo 3, or the Battle of Guilin-Liuzhou, respectively. The two primary goals of Ichi-go were to open a land route to French Indochina, and capture air bases in southeast China from which American bombers were attacking the Japanese homeland and shipping.
French Indochina, officially known as the Indochinese Union after 1887 and the Indochinese Federation after 1947, was a grouping of French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.
In Japanese the operation was also called Tairiku Datsū Sakusen (大陸打通作戦), or "Continent Cross-Through Operation", while the Chinese refer to it as the Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi (simplified Chinese :豫湘桂会战; traditional Chinese :豫湘桂會戰; pinyin :Yù Xīang Guì Huìzhàn).
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.
Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.
There were two phases to the operation. In the first phase, the Japanese secured the Pinghan Railway between Beijing and Wuhan; in the second, they displaced the US air forces stationed in Hunan province and reached the city of Liuzhou, near the border with Japanese-held Indochina. 17 divisions, including 500,000 men, 15,000 vehicles, 6,000 artillery pieces, 800 tanks and 100,000 horses participated in this operation.
Beijing, alternately romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of central government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China.
Liuzhou is a prefecture-level city in north-central Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. The prefecture's population was 3,758,700 in 2010, including 1,436,599 in the built-up area made of 4 urban districts. Its total area is 18,777 km2 (7,250 sq mi) and 667 km2 (258 sq mi) for built up area.
The Japanese included Kwantung Army units and equipment from Manchukuo, mechanized units, units from the North China theater and units from mainland Japan to participate in this campaign. It was the largest land campaign organized by the Japanese during the entire Second Sino-Japanese War. Many of the newest American-trained Chinese units and supplies were forcibly locked in the Burmese theater under Joseph Stilwell set by terms of the Lend-Lease Agreement.
The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.
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 Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle. Some sources in the modern People's Republic of China date the beginning of the war to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.
In Operation Kogo, 390,000 Chinese soldiers, led by General Tang Enbo (湯恩伯), were deployed to defend the strategic position of Luoyang. The 3rd Tank Division of the IJA crossed the Yellow River around Zhengzhou in late April and defeated Chinese forces near Xuchang, then swung around clockwise and besieged Luoyang. Luoyang was defended by three Chinese divisions. The 3rd Tank Division began to attack Luoyang on May 13 and took it on May 25.
The second phase of Ichigo began in May, following the success of the first phase. Japanese forces advanced southward and occupied Changsha, Hengyang, Guilin and Liuzhou. In December 1944, Japanese forces reached French Indochina and achieved the purpose of the operation. Nevertheless, there were few practical gains from this offensive. US air forces moved inland from the threatened bases near the coast. The operation also forced British Commandos working with the Chinese as part of Mission 204 to leave China and return to Burma. The U.S. Fourteenth Air Force often disrupted the Hunan–Guangxi Railway between Hengyang and Liuzhou that had been established in Operation Ichigo. Japan continued to attack airfields where US air forces were stationed up to the spring of 1945.
The XX Bomber Command operating Strategic B-29 bombers of the Twentieth Air Force, which were attacking Japan in Operation Matterhorn, were forced to move as well, but although this affected their efficiency for a short time, in early 1945 the Twentieth Air Force moved to newly established bases in the Marianas under the command of the newly established XXI Bomber Command. This nullified the limited protection that the Japanese home islands had received from Operation Ichigo.
General Jiang Dingwen of the First War Zone gave his account of the behavior of Henan civilians: "During the campaign, the unexpected phenomenon was that the people of the mountains in western Henan attacked our troops, taking guns, bullets, and explosives, and even high-powered mortars and radio equipment... They surrounded our troops and killed our officers. We heard this pretty often. The heads of the villages and baojia (village mutual-responsibility groups) just ran away. At the same time, they took away our stored grain, leaving their houses and fields empty, which meant that our officers and soldiers had no food for many days."This was revenge for the 1938 Yellow River flood and the Chinese famine of 1942–43 (the famine killed some 4 million people in Henan). General Jiang's account also said: "Actually this is truly painful for me to say: in the end the damages we suffered from the attacks by the people were more serious than the losses from battles with the enemy." The Henan peasants picked up the weapons Kuomintang troops had abandoned to defend themselves against the Japanese. When the Kuomintang army ordered the Henan locals to destroy the local highways to prevent the Japanese advance, they refused. In fact they sometimes even went back at night and mended roads which the army had torn up by day.
With the rapid deterioration of the Chinese front after Japanese launched Operation Ichi-Go in 1944, General Joseph Stilwell saw this as an opportunity to win his political struggle against Chiang Kai-shek, China's leader, and gain full command of all Chinese armed forces. He was able to convince General George Marshall to have President Franklin D. Roosevelt send an ultimatum to Chiang threatening to end all American aid unless Chiang "at once" placed Stilwell "in unrestricted command of all your forces."
An exultant Stilwell immediately delivered this letter to Chiang despite pleas from Patrick Hurley, Roosevelt's special envoy in China, to delay delivering the message and work on a deal that would achieve Stilwell's aim in a manner more acceptable to Chiang.Seeing this act as a move toward the complete subjugation of China, a defiant Chiang gave a formal reply in which he said that Stilwell must be replaced immediately and he would welcome any other qualified U.S. general to fill Stilwell's position. As a result, Stilwell was replaced as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and commander of the U.S. Forces, China Theater (USFCT) by Major General Albert Wedemeyer. His other command responsibilities in the China Burma India Theater were divided up and allocated to other officers.
Although Chiang was successful in removing Stilwell, the public relations damage suffered by his Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) regime was irreparable. Right before Stilwell's departure, New York Times drama critic-turned-war correspondent Brooks Atkinson interviewed him in Chungking and wrote:
The decision to relieve General Stilwell represents the political triumph of a moribund, anti-democratic regime that is more concerned with maintaining its political supremacy than in driving the Japanese out of China. The Chinese Communists... have good armies that they are claiming to be fighting guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in North China—actually they are covertly or even overtly building themselves up to fight Generalissimo's government forces... The Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek] naturally regards these armies as the chief threat to the country and his supremacy... has seen no need to make sincere attempt to arrange at least a truce with them for the duration of the war... No diplomatic genius could have overcome the Generalissimo's basic unwillingness to risk his armies in battle with the Japanese.
Atkinson, who had visited Mao Zedong in the communist capital of Yenan, saw his Communist Chinese forces as a democratic movement (after Atkinson visited Mao, his article on his visit was titled Yenan: A Chinese Wonderland City), and the Nationalists in turn as hopelessly reactionary and corrupt. This view was shared by many U.S. journalists in China at the time, but due to pro-Chiang Allied press censorship, it was not as well known to their readers until Stilwell's recall and the ensuing anti-Chiang coverage forced it into the open.
The Japanese successes in Operation Ichi-Go had a limited effect on the war. The U.S. could still bomb the Japanese homeland from Saipan and other Pacific bases. In the territories seized, Japanese forces controlled only the cities, not their surrounding countryside. The increased size of the occupied territory also thinned out the Japanese lines. A great majority of the Chinese forces were able to retreat out of the area, and later come back to attack Japanese positions. As a result, future Japanese attempts to fight into Sichuan, such as in the Battle of West Hunan, ended in failure. All in all, Japan was not any closer in defeating China after this operation, and the constant defeats the Japanese suffered in the Pacific meant that Japan never got the time and resources needed to achieve final victory over China. The Japanese suffered 11,742 KIAs by mid-November, and the number of soldiers that died of illness was more than twice this.The total death toll was about 100,000 by the end of 1944.
Operation Ichi-go created a great sense of social confusion in the areas of China that it affected. Chinese Communist guerrillas were able to exploit this confusion to gain influence and control of greater areas of the countryside in the aftermath of Ichi-go.
The 1958 novel The Mountain Road, by Theodore White, a Time magazine correspondent in China at the time of the offensive. It was based on an interview with former OSS Major Frank Gleason who led a demolition group of American soldiers during the offensive that were charged with blowing up anything left behind in the retreat that might be of use to Japan; his group ultimately destroyed over 150 bridges and 50,000 tons of munitions, helping slow the Japanese advance. In 1960, it was adapted into a film starring James Stewart and Lisa Lu, noteworthy for being one of Stewart's only war films and the only one where he plays a soldier, as he was opposed to war films due to their inaccuracy. It is generally believed he made an exception for this film because it was anti-war.
Joseph Warren Stilwell was a United States Army general who served in the China Burma India Theater during World War II. His caustic personality was reflected in the nickname "Vinegar Joe".
The Battle of Changsha (1944) was an invasion of the Chinese province of Hunan by Japanese troops near the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As such, it encompasses three separate conflicts: an invasion of the city of Changsha and two invasions of Hengyang.
China Burma India Theater (CBI) was the United States military designation during World War II for the China and Southeast Asian or India-Burma (IBT) theaters. Operational command of Allied forces in the CBI was officially the responsibility of the Supreme Commanders for South East Asia or China. However, US forces in practice were usually overseen by General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China; the term "CBI" was significant in logistical, material and personnel matters; it was and is commonly used within the US for these theaters.
The Battle of West Hunan, also known as the Battle of Xuefeng Mountains and the Zhijiang Campaign, was the Japanese invasion of west Hunan and the subsequent Allied counterattack that occurred between 6 April and 7 June 1945, during the last months of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Japanese strategic aims for this campaign were to seize Chinese airfields and secure railroads in West Hunan, and to achieve a decisive victory that their depleted land forces needed.
The Battle of Guilin–Liuzhou, also known as the Battle of Guiliu, was one of the 22 major engagements between the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) and Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Sun Lianzhong was a Chinese general during the Warlord Era, Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War. Best known for his commanded of the 2nd Group Army in the Battle of Taierzhuang, he had a long career in the army.
The Chinese Expeditionary Force was an expeditionary unit of the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army that was dispatched to Burma and India in support of the Allied efforts against the Imperial Japanese Army during the Japanese invasion and occupation of Burma in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War.
The Japanese 23rd Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
The 13th Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Mirror Division, and its military symbol was 13D. The 13th Division was one of four new infantry divisions raised by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) in the closing stages of the Russo-Japanese War 1 April 1905, after it turned out what the entire IJA was committed to combat in Manchuria, leaving not a single division to guard the Japanese home islands from attack.
Liu Ruming, Liu Ju-ming, 刘汝明, (1895–1975) Chinese general during the Warlord Era, Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War.
The 22nd Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Plains Division. The 22nd Division was raised in 1938 out of the reserve components of the 14th Division, in the same day as 15th, 17th, 21st and 23rd divisions, as part of the military buildup following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Japanese 20th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Aketo Nakamura was a Japanese lieutenant general during World War II.
Rana Shantashil Rajyeswar Mitter FBA is a British historian and political scientist of Indian origin who specialises in the history of republican China. He is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University, Deutsche Bank Director of the Dickson Poon China Centre, and a Fellow and Vice-Master of St Cross College. His 2013 book China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival, about the Second Sino-Japanese War, was well received by critics.
The Chinese famine of 1942–43 occurred mainly in Henan, most particularly within the eastern and central part of the province. The famine occurred within the context of the Second Sino-Japanese War and resulted from a combination of natural and human factors. 2 to 3 million people died of starvation or disease and upwards of 4 million fled Henan.
The 58th Division was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Wide Division. It was formed on 2 February 1942 at Hankou as a security division, simultaneously with 59th and 60th divisions. The nucleus for the formation was the 18th Independent Mixed Brigade. Also, many of the soldiers of the 136th Infantry Brigade of the 106th Division, demobilized in 1940, were re-employed in the 58th Division. As a security division, the 58th Division's backbone consisted of independent infantry battalions, and it did not include an artillery regiment.
The 110th Division was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Eagle Division. It was formed 16 June 1937 in Himeji as a B-class square division. The nucleus for the formation was the 10th division headquarters. It was originally subordinated to the Northern China Area Army.