1938 Changsha fire
The Changsha fire of 1938, known as Wenxi fire, was the greatest human-caused citywide fire in Chinese history. Kuomintang officials ordered the city be set on fire in 1938 during the Second Sino-Japanese War to keep its wealth from the Japanese, the result of this fire made Changsha one of the most damaged cities during World War II, alongside Stalingrad and Nagasaki. On October 25,1938, the city of Wuhan fell to the Empire of Japan, soon after, a great number of refugees and injured soldiers, in addition to government institutions and factories, were relocated to Changsha. This caused a boom in the city, and the number of residents jumped from 300,000 to more than 500,000. Though the city did prepare for this type of scenario for a time, due to the limited transport capacity of Changsha, it still could not hold this amount of goods. On November 8, the Imperial Japanese Army entered northern Hunan, soon and Japanese armies faced off along the Xinqiang River just outside Changsha. The situation in the city became increasingly tense, because of a lack of confidence in holding the city, Chiang Kai-shek suggested that the city should be burned to the ground, so that Japan would gain nothing even if it chose to forcefully enter it.
On November 10, the chairman of the Hunan government, Zhang Zhizhong, an arson team was immediately organized. The team was dispatched to every corner of the city and was ordered to set the fire once a signal fire was set off on the top of Tianxin Building in the southwest of Changsha. At around 2 oclock in the morning of November 13,1938, the arson team took it as a signal and started to set the fire. The burning lasted for five days, destroying several 2, city residents tried their best to escape, resulting in a severe boat accident at a river ford on the Xiang River. More than 30,000 people lost their lives during the fire, over 90%, or 56,000, of the citys buildings were burned. The fire disabled commercial trading, academic institutions and government organizations throughout the city, the fire cost a total economic loss of $1 billion, which accounted for 43% of the total output of the city. More than 31 schools, including Hunan University, were burned down. Banks destroyed include the Bank of Hunan, Bank of Shanghai, more than 40 factories were burned.
The one that suffered the most was the First Textiles Factory of Hunan, the damage to this factory include $270,000 loss due to burned workshops, $960,000 to raw materials, $600,000 to machinery. Of the citys 190 rice mills and storage buildings, only 12 survived the fire, more than $2 million, or about 80% of the total, were lost in the silk industry. Forty Hunan embroidery factories were completely destroyed, except for the Xiangya Hospital, every hospital in Changsha was burned to ground
Battle of Nanking
Following the outbreak of war between Japan and China in July 1937 the Japanese government at first attempting to contain the fighting and sought a negotiated settlement to the war. However, after victory in the Battle of Shanghai expansionists prevailed within the Japanese military, Japanese soldiers marched from Shanghai to Nanking at a breakneck pace, rapidly defeating pockets of Chinese resistance. By December 9 they had reached the last line of defense, on December 10 Matsui ordered an all-out attack on Nanking, and after less than two days of intense fighting Chiang decided to abandon the city. Before fleeing, Tang ordered his men to launch a concerted breakout of the Japanese siege, most of Tangs units simply collapsed, their soldiers often casting off their weapons and uniforms in the streets in the hopes of hiding among the citys civilian population. Following the capture of the city Japanese soldiers massacred Chinese prisoners of war, murdered civilians, though Japans military victory excited and emboldened them, the subsequent massacre tarnished their reputation in the eyes of the world.
Contrary to Matsuis expectations, China did not surrender and the Second Sino-Japanese War continued for eight years. China, wanted to avoid a confrontation in the north. The Japanese responded by dispatching the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, commanded by General Iwane Matsui, the city of Nanking is 300 kilometers west of Shanghai. Matsui made clear to his superiors even before he left for Shanghai that he wanted to march on Nanking, Yanagawa was likewise eager to conquer Nanking and both men chafed under the operation restriction line that had been imposed on them by the Army General Staff. On November 19 Yanagawa ordered his 10th Army to pursue retreating Chinese forces across the operation restriction line to Nanking, when Tada discovered this the next day he ordered Yanagawa to stop immediately, but was ignored. Matsui made some effort to restrain Yanagawa, but told him that he could send some advance units beyond the line. Meanwhile, as more and more Japanese units continued to slip past the operation restriction line, Tada flew to Shanghai in person on December 1 to deliver the order, though by his own armies in the field were already well on their way to Nanking.
Here Chiang insisted fervently on mounting a defense of Nanking. He noted that holding onto Nanking would strengthen Chinas hand in peace talks which he wanted the German ambassador Oskar Trautmann to mediate and they argued that the Chinese Army needed more time to recover from its losses at Shanghai, and pointed out that Nanking was highly indefensible topographically. The mostly gently sloping terrain in front of Nanking would make it easy for the attackers to advance on the city, while the Yangtze River behind Nanking would cut off the defenders retreat. Chiang, had become increasingly agitated over the course of the Battle of Shanghai, even declaring that he would stay behind in Nanking alone. Seizing the opportunity Tang had given him, Chiang responded by organizing the Nanking Garrison Force on November 20, the orders Tang received from Chiang on November 30 were to defend the established defense lines at any cost and destroy the enemy’s besieging force. Though both men declared that they would defend Nanking to the last man, they were aware of their precarious situation
Pacification of Manchukuo
The operations were carried out by the Imperial Japanese Kwantung Army and the collaborationist forces of the Manchukuo government from March 1932 until 1942, and resulted in a Japanese victory. The provincial government of Liaoning Province had fled west to Chinchow, Governor Zang Shiyi remained in Mukden, but refused to cooperate with the Japanese in establishing a separatist and collaborationist government and was imprisoned. On 23 September 1931, Lieutenant General Xi Qia of the Kirin Army was invited by the Japanese to form a government for Kirin Province. In Kirin, the Japanese succeeded in achieving a bloodless occupation of the capital, General Xi Qia issued a proclamation on 30 September, declaring the province independent of the Republic of China under protection of the Japanese Army. On 24 September 1931, a government was formed in Fengtien with Yuan Chin-hai as Chairman of the Committee for the Maintenance of Peace. However he was not able to act as much of the area surrounding Harbin was still held by anti-Japanese militias under Generals Ting Chao, Li Du, Feng Zhanhai and others.
After the fall of Chinchow, the movement made rapid progress in northern Manchuria. There he attempted to continue to govern Heilongjiang province, Colonel Kenji Doihara began negotiations with General Ma from his Special Service Office at Harbin, hoping to get him to join the new state of Manchukuo Japan was organizing. Ma continued negotiating with Doihara, while he continued to support General Ting Chao, away from the Japanese garrisons in cities and along the railroads, resistance units mustered openly and relatively free from molestation in late 1931-early 1932. One of the first such forces to form, called the Courageous Citizens Militia, had established by November 1931 near the estuary port of Chinchow. These militias operated principally in southern Fengtien, which had half of Manchurias population, Fengtien had come almost immediately under Japanese control, as most population centers and its capital of Mukden all lay along the tracks of the South Manchuria Railway in the S. M. R.
Zone, which had been garrisoned by Kwantung Army troops since long before the conflict, peasant brotherhoods were a traditional form of mutual protection by Chinese small-holders and tenant farmers. Waves of immigrants fleeing the wars of the Warlord era that ravaged north, the Red Spear Society was strongest in the hinterlands of Fengtien and countryside around Harbin. The Big Swords Society predominated in southeastern Kirin and adjoining parts of Fengtien, in 1927, the Big Swords had spearheaded an uprising triggered by the collapse of the prevailing Feng-Piao paper currency. During the rebellion the Big Swords were respected by the peasants because they did not harm or plunder the common people, the Big Swords became the principal component of partisan resistance in this region, forming loose ties with the Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies. The bandit leader Lao Pie-fang commanded several bands of Big Swords in western Fengtien, the Big Swords in southeast Kirin were allied with Wang Delin, and General Feng Zhanhai organized and trained a Big Sword Corps of 4,000 men.
The Red Spear Society groups were more widespread, members formed important centers of resistance as the war spread out through the countryside. Red Spears frequently attacked the S. M. R, zone from the Hsinlintun and Tungfeng districts, close to Mukden and the Fushun coal mines
Defense of Sihang Warehouse
Defenders of the warehouse held out against numerous waves of Japanese forces and covered Chinese forces retreating west during the Battle of Shanghai. The successful defense of the warehouse provided a morale-lifting consolation to the Chinese army, the warehouses location just across the Suzhou Creek from the foreign concessions in Shanghai meant the battle took place in full view of the western powers. Moreover, the Japanese dared not use mustard gas here as they did elsewhere in Shanghai and this proximity drew the attention, if only briefly, of the international community to Chiang Kai-sheks bid for worldwide support against Japanese aggression. Using the Marco Polo Bridge Incident as a pretext, Japan launched an invasion of China on 7 July 1937, as the Imperial Japanese Army swept down from the north, fighting between Chinese and Japanese forces started in Shanghai on 13 August. Despite having logistical problems, inferior training, and a lack of air and artillery support, the Japanese did not attack the foreign concessions in the city and remained on peaceable terms with the foreign powers, though tensions were high.
They did not occupy the concessions until four years later, following Japans decision to go to war with the Allies, by 26 October 1937, Chinese resistance in the district of Zhabei was faltering. Gu was personally attached to the 88th and unwilling to leave the division behind, as he used to be the officer of the 2nd Division. Neither Gu, Sun nor Zhang were about to disobey Chiangs orders, in his words, How many people we sacrifice would not make a difference, it would achieve the same purpose. He proposed that a regiment from the division be left behind to defend one or two fortified positions, and Gu approved this plan. Zhang returned to the 88ths divisional headquarters at Sihang Warehouse, back at the headquarters, Sun decided that even a regiment would be a terrible waste of lives and decided on a single over-strength battalion instead. Xie Jinyuan, a new commander in the 88th Division. At 10 p. m. on 26 October, the 524th Regiment, based at the Shanghai North Railway Station, the warehouse, used as the divisional headquarters of the 88th Division prior to this battle, was stocked with food, first aid equipment and ammunition.
Most of the men were from the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment of the Hubei Provincial Garrison, Hubei did not want to send its best troops, trained over a decade to fight against the Chinese Communists, to Shanghai. Thus, many of the soldiers sent as reinforcements to Shanghai were green recruits, eventually the 1st Battalion came to be equated with the 524th Regiment, even within official documents of the period. The regiment was assigned used equipment from the troops of the 88th. There was a total of 27 light machine guns, mostly Czech ZB vz.26, Japanese infantry used the Arisaka Type 38 Rifle. The various companies of the battalion were spread out across the front lines that night, Yang Ruifu sent the 1st Company to Sihang Warehouse and personally led the 2nd Company. The 3rd Company, Machine Gun Company and part of the 1st Company could not be contacted and that these men essentially volunteered for this suicidal mission was noted by Chiang Kai-shek as exemplary soldierly conduct
Battle of Taierzhuang
The Battle of Taierzhuang was a battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, between the armies of the Republic of China and Japan. The battle was the first major Chinese victory of the war and it humiliated the Japanese military and its reputation as an invincible force, while for the Chinese it represented a tremendous morale boost. Taierzhuang is located on the bank of the Grand Canal of China and was a frontier garrison northeast of Xuzhou. It was the terminus of a branch railway from Lincheng. Xuzhou itself was the junction of the Jinpu Railway and the Longhai Railway and these provinces were the area of operations of the KMT 5th War Area. The Japanese planned to fight through the Jinpu Railway from the north and south, from there, they would attack Wuhan and force the KMT into surrender. At this time, the Japanese armies were very powerful, so this operation should have been done with relative ease, as a result, the commanders did not deploy their full forces to complete the task. Eventually, KMT general Liao Leis forces arrived, and the battle became tightly entangled.
The Japanese were forced onto the bank of the Huai River. As a result, it was unable to launch the planned attack on Xuzhou with the Isogai division. In the northeast, the Itagaki division was advancing towards Xuzhou. However, it was halted at Linyi by KMT generals Pang Bingxun and Zhang Zizhong, although insufficiently trained and not very well equipped, the Chinese troops inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese, who retreated. This engagement not only broke the myth of Imperial Japanese invincibility, even the Tokyo headquarters were shocked. Although the 5th division picked itself back up and tried again, as a result, the Chinese victory at Linyi would have a big impact on the actual battle in Taierzhuang. Of the three Japanese divisions driving into the 5th War Area, the Isogai division was the most successful and this division came from Hebei, crossing the Yellow River and moving southwards along the Jinpu Railway. Because of KMT general Han Fujus desertion, the division occupied Zhoucun, from there, they arrived at Taian.
Here, they were faced with resistance from the forces of KMT generals Sun Tongxuan. Although the Japanese did suffer losses, the Chinese were very poorly equipped, as a result, the Chinese soldiers could only form line after line of defence in a desperate attempt to fight off the Japanese, who were backed up by planes and heavy artillery
After the Mukden Incident, the Japanese Kwantung Army quickly overran the provinces of Liaoning and Jilin, occupying major cities and railways. At that time, the Chairman Wan Fulin of Heilongjiang Province was in Beijing, leaving the provincial government leaderless, General Ma Zhanshan arrived in the capital Qiqihar on October 19 and took office the next day. This bridge had been dynamited earlier by Mas forces during the fighting against pro-Japanese collaborationist forces of General Zhang Haipeng, a repair crew, guarded by 800 Japanese soldiers, went to work on 4 November 1931, but fighting soon erupted with the 2,500 Chinese troops nearby. Each side charged the other with opening fire without provocation, the skirmish continued for over three hours, until the Japanese drove General Mas troops off toward Qiqihar. Later General Ma Zhanshan returned to counterattack with a larger force. Japanese Major General Shogo Hasebe, had the river on his left. Wide swamplands made the Japanese left wing impregnable, forcing Ma to concentrate his cavalry against the exposed Japanese right wing, although dislodging the Japanese from their advance positions, Ma was unable to recapture the bridge, which the Japanese continued to repair.
Ma was eventually forced to withdraw his troops in the face of Japanese tanks, Ma became a national hero for his resistance to the Japanese which was widely reported in the Chinese and international press. The publicity inspired more volunteers to enlist in the Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies, on November 15,1931, despite having lost more than 400 killed and 300 wounded since November 5, General Ma declined a Japanese ultimatum to surrender Qiqihar. Japanese cavalry charged down the Chinese front line cutting a swath into which Japanese infantry followed, Mas right flank held at first. The Chinese cavalry tried to encircle the Japanese right flank, but were stopped by Japanese artillery, the superior Japanese firepower turned the battle. Chinese units broke and fled across the frozen steppes, on November 18, Ma evacuated Qiqihar. By November 19, he led his troops to the east to defend Baiquan and his forces had suffered serious casualties and their strength was now much reduced. However once Ma was forced to retire up the Nonni River valley, he managed to regroup his forces, Japanese troops attempting to press Mas men further up the Nonni River towards Koshen in the cold suffered large casualties on several occasions.
At the same time the Japanese began their occupation of Qiqihar, at Mukden and Kirin the Japanese had already established collaborationist Chinese governments. At Qiqihar they established another government under pro-Japanese General Zhang Jinghui, japan secured control of the central section of the Chinese Eastern Railway, the eastern section was still under the control of General Ting Chao in Harbin. Second Sino-Japanese War Mukden Incident Coogan, northeast China and the Origins of the Anti-Japanese United Front. The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932
In addition to the urban districts, Changde administers the county-level city of Jinshi and six counties. Changde is adjacent to Dongting Lake to the east, the city of Yiyang to the south and Xuefeng Mountains to the west, the area has been inhabited by humans since around 8,000 years ago. In that time, the city has changed several times. The city is known for the Battle of Changde during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In the past decade, the city has seen a construction boom. New highrises have sprung up, roads were rebuilt and new schools, parks and tourists often visit the Changde Poetry Wall, covered in a variety of poems mostly from ancient China. The wall stretches for 3 kilometres along the Yuan River downtown and it is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest wall with engraved arts in the world. Changde is known for its many Paleolithic and Neolithic sites, about 500 of them have been discovered to date. In 1984 neolithic human settlements were discovered in Li County, part of Changde, in 1988, the Pengtoushan site was excavated leading to the identification of the Pengtoushan Culture.
The site contains the earliest evidence of a settled village yet discovered in China, in historical times it was a centre from which governments controlled the mountain tribes of western Hunan. A county, named Linyuan, was established there in the 2nd century BC, in the Han Dynasty the area was called Wuling County. In the Sui Dynasty, it was called Langzhou, during the Song Dynasty, it was called Dingcheng. In the Tang Dynasty it became the seat of Lang prefecture, in 1117, Changde county was established, and around 1165, Changde superior prefecture was established. The name Changde has been used for the city ever since and this status was retained until 1912, when the superior prefecture was abolished and the city became a county seat. In the late 19th century Changde became a commercial center. The merchants of the Taho quarter of the city controlled much of the northwestern Hunan economy, in the 1943 Battle of Changde, the Kuomintangs National Revolutionary Army attempted to stop the invading Japan Imperial troops from completing their invasion of Sichuan.
Frustrated, the Japanese side employed chemical weapons to clear their way, during the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, proof was presented of operations to contaminate the area with plague as early as 1941 and 1942. In 1975, Changde was hit by Typhoon Nina, located on the Yuan River upstream from its junction with the Lake Dongting system, Changde is a natural center of the northwest Hunan plain
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, known by several other names, was a battle between the Republic of Chinas National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, in English, the battle is usually known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The Marco Polo Bridge is an eleven-arch granite bridge, a significant structure first erected under the Jin. It gained its Western name from its appearance in Marco Polos record of his travels, the name is less often expressed as the Battle of Marco Polo Bridge. It is known as the Lukouchiao, Lugouqiao, or Lugou Bridge Incident from the name of the bridge. This is the name for the event in Japanese and is an alternate name for it in Chinese. The same name is expressed or translated as the Battle of Lugou Bridge, Lugouqiao, in China and Korea, it is more often known as the July 7th Incident or as the July 7th Lugou Bridge Incident. Although the Kuomintang government of China refused to recognize Manchukuo, a truce between Japan and Republican China had been negotiated in 1931, however, at the end of 1932 the Japanese Army invaded Rehe Province.
This was annexed into Manchukuo in 1933 and 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. 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 amount of concomitant matériel, was several times the size of those deployed by the European powers. By this time, the Imperial Japanese Army had already surrounded Beijing, on the night of 7 July, the Japanese units stationed at Fengtai crossed the border to conduct military exercises. Japanese and Chinese forces outside the town of Wanping—a walled town 10.2 miles southwest of Beijing—exchanged fire at approximately 23,00, the exact cause of this incident still remains a mystery. And, although Private Shimura returned to his unit, by this point both sides were mobilising, with the Japanese deploying reinforcements and surrounding Wanping, in the night, a unit of Japanese infantry attempted to breach Wanpings walled defences and were repulsed.
An ultimatum by the Japanese was issued two hours later, this proved to be fruitless, and the Japanese insisted that they be admitted into the town to investigate the cause of the incident. At around 04,00, reinforcements of both began to arrive. The Chinese rushed an extra division of troops to the area, about an hour or so the Japanese Army opened fire and attacked the Marco Polo Bridge, along with a modern railway bridge