Operation Ichi-Go

Last updated

Contents

Operation Ichi-Go
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II
Ichigo plan.jpg
Japanese plan for Operation Ichi-Go
Date19 April – 31 December 1944 [1]
Location
Result Japanese victory
Belligerents
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan Flag of the Republic of China.svg  China
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Commanders and leaders
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Shunroku Hata
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Yasuji Okamura
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Isamu Yokoyama
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Tang Enbo
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Xue Yue
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Bai Chongxi
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Joseph Stilwell
Strength
500,000
15,000 vehicles
6,000 artillery pieces [2]
800 tanks
100,000 horses [3]
2,500,000 [4]
Casualties and losses
~100,000 deaths [5]
heavy materiel losses [6]
750,000 deaths [7] [8]

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.

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. [9]

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).

Campaign

1944 Operation Ichigo Japanese mechanized forces marching towards Lo-yang.jpg
1944 Operation Ichigo

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.

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.

Operation Ichigo, IJA invading Henan, 1944 1944 Operation Ichigo IJA invaded Henan.jpg
Operation Ichigo, IJA invading Henan, 1944

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.

Japanese occupation (red) of eastern China near the end of the war, and Communist guerrilla bases (striped) Situation at the End of World War Two.PNG
Japanese occupation (red) of eastern China near the end of the war, and Communist guerrilla bases (striped)

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.

Henan peasants attack Kuomintang forces

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." [10] 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). [11] 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." [12] The Henan peasants picked up the weapons Kuomintang troops had abandoned to defend themselves against the Japanese. [13] When the Kuomintang army ordered the Henan locals to destroy the local highways to prevent the Japanese advance, they refused. [14] In fact they sometimes even went back at night and mended roads which the army had torn up by day. [15]

Aftermath

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." [16]

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. [17] 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. [18] [19] 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. Stilwell's 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. [20]

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. [21]

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. [22] [23] [24] The total death toll was about 100,000 by the end of 1944. [5]

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. [25]

The 1958 novel The Mountain Road, by Theodore White, a Time magazine correspondent in China at the time of the offensive, 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.

Related Research Articles

Joseph Stilwell United States Army general

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 11th Army Group was the main British Army force in Southeast Asia during the Second World War. Although a nominally British formation, it also included large numbers of troops and formations from the British Indian Army and from British African colonies, and also Nationalist Chinese and United States units.

Northern Combat Area Command

The Northern Combat Area Command or NCAC was a subcommand of the Allied South East Asia Command (SEAC) during World War II. It controlled Allied ground operations in northern Burma. For most of its existence NCAC was commanded by US Army General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. In 1945 after Stilwell was recalled, his deputy, Lieutenant General Daniel Sultan, was promoted to and assumed command.

Battle of Changsha (1944) battle

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.

South East Asia Command (SEAC) was the body set up to be in overall charge of Allied operations in the South-East Asian Theatre during World War II.

Burma Road road in Myanmar

The Burma Road was a road linking Burma with the southwest of China. Its terminals were Kunming, Yunnan, and Lashio, Burma. It was built while Burma was a British colony to convey supplies to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Preventing the flow of supplies on the road helped motivate the occupation of Burma by the Empire of Japan in 1942. Use of the road was restored to the Allies in 1945 after the completion of the Ledo Road. Some parts of the old road are still visible today.

China Burma India Theater Area where important World War Ii military events occured

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.

Albert Coady Wedemeyer United States Army general

General Albert Coady Wedemeyer was a United States Army commander who served in Asia during World War II from October 1943 to the end of the war. Previously, he was an important member of the War Planning Board which formulated plans for the Invasion of Normandy. He was General George Marshall's chief consultant when in the Spring of 1942 he traveled to London with General Marshall and a small group of American military men to consult with the British in an effort to convince the British to support the cross channel invasion. Wedemeyer was a staunch anti-communist. While in China during the years 1944 to 1945 he was Chiang Kai-shek's Chief of Staff and commanded all American forces in China. Wedemeyer supported Chiang's struggle against Mao Zedong and in 1947 President Truman sent him back to China to render a report on what actions the United States should take. During the Cold War, Wedemeyer was a chief supporter of the Berlin Airlift.

Xue Yue Chinese general

Xue Yue was a Chinese Nationalist military general, nicknamed by Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers as the "Patton of Asia" and called the "God of War" (戰神) by the Chinese.

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.

Chinese Expeditionary Force Chinese military unit in World War II

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.

13th Division (Imperial Japanese Army) Infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army

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 Chinese general

Liu Ruming, Liu Ju-ming, 刘汝明; 12 May 1895 – 28 April 1975) was a ROC Army 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, on 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.

Rana Mitter British historian

Shantashil Rajyeswar Mitter, known as Rana Mitter, 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.

Chinese famine of 1942–43 1942-1943 famine in Henan, China

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.

References

  1. Davison, John The Pacific War: Day By Day, pg. 37, 106
  2. http://memim.com/operation-ichi-go.html
  3. Hastings, Retribution pg. 210
  4. Hsiung, China's Bitter Victory pg. 165
  5. 1 2 記者が語りつぐ戦争 16 中国慰霊 読売新聞社 (1983/2) P187
  6. "Operation Ichi-Go" Retrieved 16 Nov. 2015
  7. Cox, 1980 pp. 2 Retrieved 9 March 2016
  8. Sandler, Stanley. "World War II in the Pacific: an Encyclopedia" p. 431
  9. The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: China Defensive, pg. 21
  10. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. pp. 323–324. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  11. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. pp. 271–272, 326. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  12. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. p. 324. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  13. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. p. 325. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  14. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. p. 326. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  15. Mitter, Rana (2014). China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. Penguin Books. p. 326. ISBN   978-0-141-03145-3.
  16. Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Command Problem, p.446–447
  17. Lohbeck, Hurley, p.292
  18. Lohbeck, Hurley, p.298
  19. Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Command Problem, p.452
  20. "Crisis". Time magazine quoting The New York Times . 1944-11-13. Retrieved 2007-03-02.Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |magazine= (help)
  21. Knightley, Phillip (2004). The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 303. ISBN   978-0-8018-8030-8.
  22. http://d.hatena.ne.jp/Apeman/20070710/p1
  23. Until mid-November, IJA had a illness toll of 66,000,and a field hospital had taken in 6164 soldiers, 2,281 of which died due to malnutrition 餓死した英霊たち P116
  24. In 1944, twice as many Japanese soldiers died of illness as KIA
  25. China at War: An Encyclopedia. Ed. Li Xiaobing. United States of America: ABC-CLIO. 2012. ISBN   978-1-59884-415-3. Retrieved May 21, 2012. p.163.

Bibliography

Further reading