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Pacification of Manchukuo 1932-1941.

Discussions on all aspects of China, from the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War till the end of the Chinese Civil War.
Hosted by YC Chen.

Pacification of Manchukuo 1932-1941.

Postby asiaticus on 04 Nov 2006 09:34

Thought I would start this little thread on the Japanese efforts to pacify Manchukuo. . This went on from after they founded that puppet state in March of 1932 to 1941 when they seem to have pretty well crushed the last organized resistance forces or drove them into the USSR. Been reading up on this recently and found some interesting things to post here. Any other pertinant contributions, corrections on this thread would be welcome.

First I am going to post here some links to some interesting reading on the topic.

The volunteer armies of northeast China by Anthony Coogan
http://www.questia.com/PM.qst;jsessioni ... 5000186948
(you will have to copy the net address into your browser to see this)

Kowtowing to Henry From the Mar. 21, 1932 issue of TIME magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 90,00.html

Scholar, Simpleton & Inflation From the Apr. 25, 1932 issue of TIME magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 25,00.html

"Earthly Paradise" From the May 2, 1932 issue of TIME magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 74,00.html

Hell? From the Jun. 6, 1932 issue of TIME magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 96,00.html

Tomahawk, Rope & Bomb From the Oct. 24, 1932 issue of TIME magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 51,00.html

War of Jehol From the Mar. 6, 1933 issue of TIME magazine
http://205.188.238.109/time/magazine/ar ... 47,00.html
(see end of the article)


Then I will seperately post my edit of a blog article I found: Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign by someone called the "The Magistrate" at the blog archive at: http://www.democraticunderground.com/du ... a/8387.txt

I had to fill in the punctuation because of the way the thing was posted replaced it with machine code of some kind. I think you will find it easier than reading it on that page.
It seems well referanced to period writers and journalists and fits in with other things I have read.
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Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign: Introduction and Part I

Postby asiaticus on 04 Nov 2006 09:50

Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign
|The Magistrate|

Current events in Iraq seem to me to bear some striking similarities to the Japanese conquest of Manchuria early in the 1930s, at least when some allowance is made for differences in cultural and physical geography and levels of technology. Examining a thing in a novel setting can be helpful in revealing general principles.

Three leading similarities stand out to me: the mixed results of success at rapid overthrow of central authority when there are traditional and local structures greatly influencing the people: the self-sustaining synergy between armed and economic chaos; the limiting factor of irregular supply on guerrilla activity.

This campaign has been an object of especial study to me for many years and what follows is a portion of the fruits of my researches into it. It is not a narrative but a survey of characteristic features of the campaign. Some elements of the article have been ommitted as being too particularized to their actual setting for the purpose at hand. The section on railway sabatoge for example while railways and petroleum pipelines share features of vulnerability even to quite primitive attack and the assault on Manchurian railways did have great economic effect its principal purpose and effect was the isolation of garrisons and spearheads dependent on the rails for supply while the attacks on pipelines are purely economic. Similarly the overthrow of Jehol province was greatly conditioned by political factors peculiar to Nationalist China at that time and the final mopping up of the Manchurian partisan forces rests too closely on peculiar features of the local geography to add much by way of general illustration.

Part I

Some Features of Chinese Partisan Resistance to Japan

Creation of Manchukuo 1931-1933

Introduction

Japan
Kwantung Army launched its assault on Manchuria with the so-called Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931 and seized within 48 hours the city of Mukden along with other principal towns of Fengtien province and the capital of Kirin province as well. At this time both Chinas central government and local Chinese governments in the region were in a state of paralysis. That of the former was owing to the Nationalist Party's hostile division that summer into the Northern Faction of Chiang Kai-shek at Nanking and the Southern Faction at Canton which hovered at the brink of civil war that of the latter was owing to the recent departure of the war lord viceroy of China's Northeastern Provinces Gen. Chang Hseuh-liang from his capital at Mukden which he had left for Peiping along with his best troops and his provincial governors in order to seek his own advantage from the Nationalists quarrel. Thus left leaderless when the Japanese garrison along the South Manchuria Railway line began its attack local Chinese generals with the signal exception of Gen. Ma Chun-shen in the northern province of Heilungkiang displayed initially an unwillingness or inability to oppose the Kwantung Army's rapidly unfolding conquest of Manchuria.
Defence of the Northeastern Provinces came to rest upon a popular outpouring of ordinary Chinese who took up arms against the alien invader as the Japanese sought to extend the success of their extraordinary initial coup. In beginning to describe the resultant guerrilla campaign late in 1932 journalist E. U. Barung wrote from his vantage at the northern metropolis of Harbin itself a principal seat of conflict that there is probably in Manchuria no town, village or railway station which would not have been the arena of fighting for the Japanese in seeking to create the New State of Manchukuo in China's Northeastern Provinces soon found themselves confronted by a partisan resistance which was firmly rooted in a hostile populace of some thirty millions and spread throughout a land comprising some 400'000 square miles of prairie, steppe, and forested mountain ranges drenched by monsoon summers and gripped by Siberian winters.

China's Northeastern Provinces being then the most productive region of the Asian mainland and seat to Japan's vast, quasi-governmental South Manchuria Railway Company (with its mainline running north from the great port of Darien in Japan's Kwantung Leased Territory through the heart of populous Fengtien province to Changchun), at the time of their occurrence these events roused considerable interest around the globe. They have since been overshadowed to history by the further and far wider hostilities between Japan and China which succeeded them, and a general impression has arisen that Japan's triumphant establishment of Manchukuo involved no appreciable combat.

Drawing on contemporaneous accounts of journalists many appearing in the pages of The China Weekly Review at Shanghai and the authoritative report of the Lytton Commission of Inquiry to the League of Nations this article will attempt to remedy such misapprehensions by presenting a summary account of the formation of Chinese partisan forces in defense of China' Northeastern Provinces against the Japanese and their military capabilities. Place names and personal names will be presented in the form used by authors quoted, will be those current at the time and these forms will be used in the current text as well to minimize initial confusion readers seeking to enquire further on their own should have little difficulty recognizing the modern pin-yin equivalents of these forms but should be aware that provincial boundaries in the region under Nationalist rule differ appreciably from those of the current People's Republic.

The Northeastern Volunteers

The appearance of anti-Japanese partisans throughout the Northeastern Provinces was a complex phenomenon. Partisan forces were slow to rise in Heilungkiang province where Gen. Ma Chun-shen made effective use of regular troops against the Japanese from the outset and it is clear the earlier formation of significant partisan bodies in the populous southern province of Fengtien and the eastern province of Kirin owed much to the pusillanimous performance of the Fengtien Army in the initial crisis and to Japan's almost immediate success in dissolving or decapitating provincial authority in Fengtien and Kirin. Throughout Chinese history leading citizens and village authorities have responded to a collapse in effective governance by forming private peace protection militias and in the highly charged hostility of Sino-Japanese relations at the time this traditional recourse of local gentry for prevention of anarchy readily took on a patriotic and nationalist coloring.

Since the bulk of Kwantung Army combat strength during November 1931 was concentrated against Gen. Ma Chun-shen in north-central Heilungkiang such units were free to muster openly and un-molested elsewhere. Japanese soldiery in Manchuria at this time totaled no more than 15,000 men. In some areas these citizen militias were able to form round an appreciable cadre of provincial regulars loyal to officers who were operating on their own sometimes semi-mutinous initiative. The viscerally xenophobic patriotism which has traditionally marked the lower rungs of Chinese society moved many members of bandit gangs and peasant brotherhoods to resist the Japanese both the bandits and the vigilante-insurrectionist braves of the brotherhoods were to a degree familiar already with arms and the usages of guerrilla war. Once begun the conflict brought sufficient desolation and economic dislocation in its train to provide itself a ready fuel for further recruitment among the desperate and dispossessed that it created. These were often moved to great hatred by the enormities which came to mark Japanese operations as the fighting continued but in many cases they simply became bandits of despair or even enlisted in the forces of Manchukuo.

The resurgence of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's regulars northwest of Harbin in the spring of 1932 both aggravated and facilitated these developments by once again drawing the principal Kwantung Army efforts onto themselves in the early summer. The final wave of partisan recruitment occurred in the autumn as the western reaches of Heilungkiang were finally drawn into the fray by the actions of the still intact and hitherto quiescent Heilungkiang Army formations in the distant Barga District on the Soviet frontier.

Known contemporaneously as "plain-clothes" men from their lack of uniform the partisan bands which Mr. P. S. Yin in China Voice describes as "common citizens who took up arms" under such titles as Self-Protection Militia Anti-Japanese Militia or simply Chinese Volunteers were essentially traditional "peace protection" militias raised at the initiative of leading local citizens. They operated principally in the region's southern province of Fengtien where half Manchuria's population dwelled and which had come almost immediately under Japanese dominance since its most populous centers including its capital of Mukden all lay along the tracks of the South Manchuria Railway in the so-called S.M.R. Zone and in consequence had hosted Kwantung Army garrisons already at the start of the crisis.

The apparently first such force to form calling itself the Courageous Citizens Militia had been established by November 1931 near the estuary port of Chinchow in Fengtien's southwest a narrow strip of littoral between the Liaoning Gulf to the east and the mountains of Jehol province to the west and stoppered at the south by the ancient gates at Shanhaikwan where the Great Wall meets the sea. Journalist C. Y. W. Meng in Nanking was told by one of a delegation from the Courageous Citizens Militia that its recruitment had been largely carried out among "people from well-to-do families many of them are merchants and some of them are students." When the Japanese finally struck into southwest Fengtien towards the end of the following December it was reported in some places the "Chinese volunteers financed by the village gentry have put up a strong fight" by J. B. Powell editor and publisher of The China Weekly Review who had himself arrived in Chinchow from Mukden on December 29 and was practically the last foreigner to get out of the place before the arrival of the Japanese forces, departing late on New Year's Eve with several military observers from the League of Nations.

As the Japanese pressed on past Chinchow down the Pieping-Mukden railway to seize Shanhaikwan and seal the region against counter-attack from below the Great Wall, the expanding militia in the Jehol borderlands, according to C. Y. W. Meng's informants, patterned itself after the organization of the regular Chinese armies; calling its bands "route armies", and claiming at least to have by May of 1932 some forty such each consisting of several thousand. While certainly a considerable exaggeration on the part of this particular group, the picture it presents is accurate in outline. The Lytton report confirms the existence by that time of numerous militia formations of wholly civilian character operating against the Japanese in various portions of Fengtien province stating their collective "field of activity extends to the area around Mukden and the Mukden-Antung Railway, to Chinchow and the boundary between Jehol and Fengtien Provinces, to the western branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway and to the district between Hsinmin and Mukden."

In the timbered mountains of Kirin province at the east, where about a third of the region's populace dwelt, the Japanese had succeeded almost immediately in achieving a bloodless occupation of the capital, Kirin City, establishing there a puppet-governor, Gen. Hsi Hsia of the Kirin Army, to declare the province independent of China. Military and civil authorities in the province fractured into "New Kirin" adherents of his regime and loyalist "Old Kirin" elements in opposition to it; the former predominating near the capital and the latter predominating in the rugged hinterland. Hostilities did not commence in this area until the end of January 1932 when Gen. Ting Chao resolved to defend the northern metropolis of Harbin a key hub of rail and riverine communication against the approach of first "New Kirin" and then Japanese troops. He appealed to the city's Chinese residents to join his railway garrison regulars in battle.

Josef Franz, a popular writer on Oriental matters of the day, widely published under the pseudonym Upton Close, was told by a north Kirin guerrilla the following summer that in response to this appeal "Hundreds joined Gen. Ting's army among these myself. The volunteers were mostly from among students and shop-assistants." This fighting in Harbin at the start of February, rallied to so enthusiastically by the urban equivalents of those elements which in Fengtien were already risen to form militias, went far to convince local authorities and leading citizens in the hinterlands of Kirin that they should commence open resistance to Japan's clearly impending occupation of the province.

While Gen. Ting Chao's beaten forces retired from Harbin to the northeast down the Sungari River, to join the Lower Sungari garrison of Gen. Li Tu as the nucleus of armed opposition in north Kirin, sizeable forces were raised with varying degrees of regularity in west Kirin by a regimental commander of the Kirin Guards Division, Feng Chan-hai and in southeast Kirin by Wang Teh-lin, a mere battalion commander and for fifteen years before that a bandit chieftain in the region. According to journalist Hoh Chih-hsiang, who at Shanghai compiled biographical sketches of several principal partisan leaders, Feng Chan-hai "withdrew his forces to Shan-Ho-Tun, a village in the vicinity of Wuchang District." When he called for volunteers in company with other officers there, "the Commissioners of the Public Safety Bureau at various districts turned over to them with police and militia," establishing Gen. Feng Chan-hai in command of a considerable force in the hills, with the capital of Kirin City to his south and the metropolis of Harbin to his north.

The once-bandit Wang Teh-lin's actions during late March took far less cognizance of formal authority. As Hoh Chih-hsiang recounts the tale, Wang Teh-lin, evidently acting wholly on his own immediate authority over his soldiers, "proceeded at the head of over five hundred of his bravest and most devoted followers to Tunhua," a railhead dominating the southeast of Kirin towards the Korean frontier, there braves of peasant brotherhoods and bandits (as well as a smattering of Korean nationalists), were already taking up arms against the recent proclamation by Japan of the "New State" of Manchukuo. When Wang Teh-lin "raised up the standard against the Japanese" on his arrival at Tunhua "hundreds of compatriots daily threw in their lot with him" amid the chaos. Their number led to his quick recognition as a general by the "Old Kirin" leader Gen. Li Tu at his headquarters at Sahnsing [now Yilan, Heilongjiang Prov.] on the lower Sungari, who along with Gen. Ting Chao had raised a number of volunteers to supplement their regulars there. In sometimes uneasy combination, these various forces constituted themselves initially as the Kirin Self-Defence Army, but by the end of April 1932 they were known as the National Salvation Army.

The great proportion of civilian volunteers incorporated in these bodies, and the imperatives of guerrilla tactics in the rugged terrain which enabled their survival, caused them to quickly lose any resemblance to conventional military formations. Despite the leadership of regular officers at the highest levels, and initially appreciable regular cadres, their operations differed little from those of the wholly civilian militias of Fengtien.

The emergence of resistance to Japan by bandit gangs and peasant brotherhoods was, like the formation of citizen militias, greatly facilitated by Japan's success in rapidly destroying the normal governance of the region. The respected "old China hand" Owen Lattimore wrote that as the population of the Northeastern Provinces had increased hugely in the preceding half-century, "the pioneers were often squatters, wanderers, and outlaws by turn," rooting banditry deeply in the region's frontier, where it remained "one of the outstanding features of the situation in Manchuria" according to E. U. Barung at Harbin. Even in long settled Fengtien province bandits (known generally as hun-hutze, or "red beards") were solidly established in districts west of Mukden along the Pieping-Mukden railway and in the timbered southeastern hinterland of the province along the Mukden-Antung railway towards Korea, with "powerful bandit gangs" reported by United Press correspondent John Miller to be even "operating within a day's match of such cities as Mukden and Harbin."

Peasant brotherhoods for mutual protection were as traditional a resort of small-holders and tenants in troubled times as the gentry's "peace protection" militias, and though such organizations had not in earlier days played much role in the Northeastern Provinces, the most recent waves of immigrants to the region (arriving since 1926 at the rate of one million a year in flight from war ravaged north and central China) included many adherents of the two then-predominant brotherhoods, the Red Spear Society and the Big Sword Society, which had been conjured up to fresh strength below the Great Wall in opposition to the misrule and chaos of warlordism. Braves of the Red Spear Society were well dispersed throughout the hinterlands of Fengtien and the country round Harbin, while the Big Sword Society {adherents to which were generally slightly more prosperous) was solidly established in southeastern Kirin and adjoining portions of Fengtien; there in 1927 they had spearheaded an uprising triggered by the collapse of the prevailing Feng-Piao paper currency, a rebellion during which, according to the Research Department of the South Manchuria Railway Company, "the peasants came to respect the Big Swords," for "they neither harmed nor plundered the common people," but "resisted only the Officials."

With the destruction of the legitimate Fengtien provincial authorities bandits "took advantage of the general slackness," wrote E. U. Barung. "First to rise were the bandits of the Liaohsi region," who commenced robbing trains "with admirable coolness and precision" within 50 miles of Mukden on the Mukden-Pieping railway. The rapid rout of the Fengtien Army, and attempts by its fragments to obey their last orders to retire towards Chinchow turned loose upon the countryside in addition "thousands of deserting soldiers," U. P. correspondent Morris reported, who "had no means of getting a living except by their guns." Japanese soldiers made their first drives into the Fengtien countryside beyond the "S. M. R. zone" in December 1931, in actions announced by Kwantung Army H.Q. as "for the clearance of undesirable Chinese" in counties west of Mukden, and highlighted by fights in which Mr. Miller reports "aeroplanes have broken up several of the best-known gangs." There naturally were in consequence bandits "who resent the Japanese invasion," as P. S. Yin phrases the origin of bandit resistance, which, apart from attempts at self-defense in western Fengtien, commenced most significantly towards the end of December in southeastern Fengtien with attacks against isolated Japanese communities along the Mukden-Antung railway. Here a hun-hutze chieftain was able to rally a considerable following and lead it to assail the southern portion of the S. M. R. mainline itself. Kwantung Army H.Q. announced on January 19, 1932, that "the Japanese garrison of the walled city of Newchwangchen was in a precarious situation," encircled and attacked by "1500 Chinese bandits under Lao Pie-fang," while "other troops operating under Lao Pie-fang's orders have created a serious situation in the Haicheng area. Though forced to retire by reinforcements quickly dispatched from Mukden, Lao Pie-fang emerged a general and acclaimed as commander by even bands of brotherhood braves and citizen militia. P. S. Yin acknowledges there were many bandits "admitted into the Volunteers, bands by their leaders" as the Japanese conquest advanced and the partisan resistance became an increasingly popular cause, but there was not always much resultant change in their behavior. Josef Franz's informant among the north Kirin guerrillas told him "the looting of villages along the railway is being done by real bandits, who have joined our ranks, and for whom banditry has become, so to speak, a sort of second nature.

The Big Sword Society "created considerable disturbance in the Chientao District" in southeast Fengtien along the Korean border, wrote the Lytton commissioners, and rose en masse in the regions of their strength in response to the declaration of Manchukuo on march 9, 1932. They would remain a principal component of partisan resistance here, accepting loose ties with other more (or less) formal authorities. E. U. Barung writes that Lao Pie-fang commanded "several bands of Big swords," while the Lytton Report describes the Big Swords in southeast Kirin as "keeping in touch with Wang Teh-ling," and Gen. Feng Chan-hai, according to Hoh Chih-hsiang, "organized and trained up a Big Sword Corps of 4,000 men."

The more widely distributed Red Spear Society's adherents formed important rallying points as the struggle widened throughout the countryside; they displayed great strength round Harbin, and also in Fengtien, where they gathered frequently to assail the "S. M. R. Zone" from the Hsinlintun and Tungfeng districts. Here, only a few days march from Mukden and the great Fushun collieries, they were willing to accept leadership from a somewhat flamboyant young officer of the Fengtien Army willing himself to take on a certain insurrectionist coloring, Tang Chu-wu. "Deeply grieved over the loss of his homeland and the intolerable humiliation endured by his countrymen," according to Hoh Chih-hsiang, after his regiment was disarmed and interned without struggle by the Japanese, Tang Chu-wu "effected his escape" and then "To show his grim resolution cut one of his fingers and wrote eight Chinese characters meaning 'Kill the enemy, punish the traitors, save our country and love our people.'" Red Spear Society bodies would display extraordinary staying power in this area; almost two years after the "Mukden Incident" J. B. Powell's survey of "the Manchuria bandit news" noted "one item told of the operations of a gang of 1,000 Chinese who styled themselves the 'Crimson Spear League' which stormed the Tungfeng prefecture near Mukden June 3rd 1933."

The large numbers of countrymen inspired to take up the fight against an "alien invader" under the fiercely traditionalist and quasi-religious auspices of the Red Spear Society or the Big Sword Society formed forces of striking character. To Ed Hunter of International News Service, the inhabitants of market towns round Mukden described as "primitive-minded people" the bodies of Red Spear braves who periodically flooded into the area. Devotees of the brotherhoods placed an abiding faith in rustic magics and righteous character's Heavenly reward. Big Sword braves were accurately described by a correspondent for Japan's official South Manchurian News as "claiming they lead charmed lives and are immune from bullets," while Red Spear bodies formed in the countryside round Harbin, E. U. Barung observed, were "in many cases led by Buddhist monks" as they went into battle, with themselves and their weapons bedecked with magic inscriptions in a manner not unlike the turn of the century Boxer rebels (or, for that matter, Imperial Japanese Army soldiers themselves beneath their uniforms).

With the end of winter in 1932, the Japanese launched expeditions from Harbin into the interior of Kirin province, striking northeast down the Sungari River and east along the Chinese Eastern Railway mainline. Shen Hsue-chuan, a Mukden student who fled the region during April, writes in moving, if polemic terms, of the plight faced by the folk of the countryside amid these rapidly expanding hostilities. "The Japanese troops have called the so-called Chinese 'plain-clothes' men bandits. They fight against them disregarding the innocent people, who often suffer the same fate; and their houses are always exposed to the battle fire," with the result that "almost every house is empty and some of them have been set on fire." As they progressed through the countryside "the nefarious Japanese soldiers kill the innocent Chinese indiscriminately, stab and bury alive those who talk about Japan," hoping thus to stifle resistance by terror. "However, the 'plain-clothes' men are not discouraged, but become more and more desperate.

In order to defend their lives most of the farmers have left their fertile lands uncultivated and have enlisted as 'plain-clothes' men."
Throughout the ensuing spring and summer they would continue to do so,C despite what E. U. Barung called "appalling losses in killed or wounded at every battle they fight against Japanese and Manchukuo troops," endowing the partisan resistance with a genuine mass character. Many of these men who (as the delegate from the Courageous Citizens Militia phrased it to C. Y. W. Meng) "decided to give up their lives for the country" were as much in the grip of despairing rage as patriotic ardor. E. U. Barung reported "the life of the country has been disorganized by the marching of troops both Japanese and Chinese throughout the country," and consequently "unemployment, poverty, and pauperism are on a rapid and steady increase." Josef Franz wrote from Changchun (as "the Review's special correspondent") that "the draft animals and carts were commandeered, the seed grain, in fact all the supplies of grain, were requisitioned by the military authorities, the houses being destroyed by cannon and airplane bombs and fires."

Alongside these official depredations continued the depredations of the hun-hutze. Reverend Leonard, a veteran Baptist missionary, preaching his sermons in fluent Chinese to converts in the east Kirin hinterland during April describes how bandits there "may attack a village at any time, loot it, carry away for ransom those who have money and burn those stores which they were not able to loot," as they did at the town of Siaosuifu "shortly after he left there."

Amid the conflict turning the Northeastern Provinces into what Shen Hsue-chuan in his final peroration describes as "an abyss of sorrow," many who took up arms did so without the least patriotic purpose, becoming bandits themselves or even joining the forces of the "New State" of Manchukuo. The Lytton commissioners describe even the Japanese as "admitting the fact that the complete overthrow of Chang Hseuh-liang's government and army greatly added to the number of bandits in the country," and observed that "Many of the present bandits are believed to have been peaceful citizens who on account of the complete loss of their property were induced to take up their present occupation." In and near the "S. M. R. Zone", leading local citizens were beginning to make common cause with the Japanese against the prevailing chaos in the spring of 1932, and the Lytton commissioners noted the Japanese "hope that the organization of 'Manchukuo' police and self-defense corps in each community will help put an end to banditry." Reverend Vos, a Presbyterian missionary who served on occasion as a translator for foreign correspondents, described an early contingent of Manchukuo recruits from Fengtien unkindly but not inaccurately as "trying desperately to present an orderly military appearance, but showing plainly they were having a hard time of it. The appearance of the men would be quite in accord with the current report that most of them are bandits and unemployed undesirables." Many of the soldier-bandit remnants of the relict Fengtien army, unable to return safely to their homes, and harried by Japanese airplanes in the winter countryside, sought for a refuge by enlistment in the Manchukuo forces.

Manchukuo forces also incorporated established Chinese formations commanded by a Chinese general who, for reasons of his own, had thrown in his lot with Japan and the "New State." Chief among these were the "New Kirin" units of Gen. Hsi Hsia. Another such was Gen. Chang Hai-peng, Military Commissioner at Taonan in the northwest of Fengtien, who was willing (for a price) to provide the Kwantung army an entre into the region's north when Imperial H.Q. in Tokyo had initially forbidden the Kwantung Army to make any attempt to occupy Harbin in September of 1931. J. B. Powell reported that November from Mukden that "the Japanese Army, shortly after the Mukden Incident had shipped a large quantity of military supplies to Taonan" following which in early October Gen. Chang Hai-peng had declared the district independent of China, and led men of the Hsingan Reclamation Army north to assail Gen. Ma Chun-shen in Heilungkiang. The combat performance of such soldiers, un-consulted over their new national allegiance, would not only prove extraordinarily poor, but as the partisan movement gained in strength, they became themselves an important source of partisan recruitment by defection. Gen. Amato, commander of a Japanese brigade operating in the Kirin interior in the spring of 1932, told a correspondent for the Harbinskoye Vryema (a Russian language newspaper established by the Japanese to sway the substantial White Russian populace of Harbin) "that the troops of the New Government go into battle with great reluctance and very many of them go over to the side of the champions of the Old Government."

In Heilungkiang province, where Gen. Ma Chun-shen (after first handily defeating Gen. Chang Hai-peng's men) led formed regulars into battle against the Japanese at their earliest incursion, civil order would prevail for some while, despite that province's most settled areas being the seat of considerable fighting. Gen. Ma Chun-shen's initial successes in defense of the provincial capital, Tsitsihar, during November 1931 (achieved with some 8,000 men and a dozen well-served fieldpieces), earned him nationwide adulation as the "Hero of the Nonni River," and once he was forced to retire up the Nonni valley, he managed to regroup his forces and maintain their fighting spirit. Reverend Leonard, in Tsitsihar to inspect hospital care for the Harbin Christian Cross Society, reported that Japanese troops attempting to press Gen. Ma Chun-shen's men further up the Nonni towards Koshen amid the killing cold of the winter prairies "have been at the disadvantage of having to make advances on level ground and have been cut down in large numbers on several occasions." At the fall of Harbin, Gen. Ma Chun-shen agreed to accept from Japan the post of Minister for the Army in the first Manchukuo cabinet, along with confirmation as Governor of Heilungkiang. With the first raising of the Manchukuo flag in March 1932, Heilungkiang Army troops, including Gen. Ma Chun-shen's original Taheiho garrison on the Amur River frontier with the Soviet Union, rioted enthusiastically. Hoh Chih-hsiang reports that then "After realizing a huge sum of funds and a large amount of military equipment from the Japanese, Gen. Ma swiftly but ingeniously carried out a coup d'etat," returning to Taheiho and on April 16 proclaiming by telegram, "Now I intend to push the campaign of salvation to the limit with all the power at my command." This, according to J. B. Powell, consisted of "infantry, cavalry, artillery (20 field pieces) and also a small air squadron" of seven planes; the Lytton commissioners write "The number of troops at his disposal between Hulan River, Hailun and Taheiho is estimated by Japanese authorities as six regiments, or between 7,000 and 8,000 men."

From the Koshen region Gen. Ma Chun-shen sent troops east to reinforce Gen. Ting Chao's men on the Sungari against an on-going Japanese thrust down that river, and struck on his own account first southeast toward Harbin and then, when he was balked there, southwest towards Tsitsihar. As he did so, Josef Franz was reporting from Changchun at the end of April that "the war activities, developing now in the North-West of Harbin, have started their ruinous work in the agricultural areas in this part of Manchuria," while irregular war began to flare up at last in significant strength in Heilungkiang province. Heilungkiang Manchukuo troops mutinied, holding centers of the Tsitsihar-Koshen and Harbin-Hailun railways, or departing into the prairie to join the now revived "Hero of the Nonni River," while mounted bandits appeared by the hundreds to loot towns on the Chinese Eastern Railway mainline west of Harbin, and partisan bodies rose up to the south in the Taonan region, disrupting service on the Taonan-Tsitsihar railway. As the Japanese struck northwards up the Harbin-Hailun and Tsitsihar-Koshen railways in reply to Gen. Ma Chun-shen's attacks, driving back his forces and setting out from the railheads in powerful pincers, Gen. Ma Chun-shen's official dispatch reported on June 8 "It was decided that in order to reap the best results, guerrilla tactics will be adopted hereafter by the Heilungkiang units." Although before the end of June Kwantung Army H.Q. could boast accurately, according to E. U. Barung's report, "that only one detachment of 1,000 soldiers, commanded by Gen. Ma in person, remained the only force at the disposal of the general, all the other units being broken up and scattered about the country," each dispersed fragment of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's regulars or the "Manchukuo" mutineers became nucleus for a similar or smaller sized gaggle of partisans, roving the tree-less grassland on horseback. Massive floods along the Nonni and Sungari Rivers inundated some 10,000 square miles round Harbin throughout August, providing a crucial breathing spell to these bands (as well as to the hard-pressed partisans on the lower Sungari), for Japanese operations in the area had to halt until the waters subsided.
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Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign: Part II

Postby asiaticus on 04 Nov 2006 09:53

Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign:

Part II
|The Magistrate||19:40:17|06/28/2003|

While the Japanese turned their attentions south to restore the security of vital industrial facilities in the "S. M. R. Zone", and to gain lodgments in southwest Fengtien needed for the invasion of Jehol province, autumn brought a wholly fresh force into the fray. Gen. Su Ping-wen, commanding the Heilungkiang "Manchukuo" garrisons of the "Barga District" at the extreme west of Heilungkiang on the Soviet frontier, had so far kept his isolated fiefdom beyond the Hsingan Mts. free of both fighting and bodies of Japanese troops, while doing nothing of importance in support of either Manchukuo or Gen. Ma Chun-shen. In consequence the farmers settled along the Chinese Eastern Railway mainline west of Tsitsihar had remained little disturbed by the upheaval gripping the land. On September 27, Gen. Su Ping-wen's soldiers staged a spectacular mutiny seizing hundreds of Japanese civilians and isolated military personnel as hostages. Many of the mutineers sped helter-skelter eastwards aboard commandeered trains towards Tsitsihar, calling themselves the Heilungkiang National Salvation Army, and hoping to join the now-legendary Gen. Ma Chun-shen in re-capturing the provincial capital, as that worthy was emerged himself onto the plains again from his shelter in the Little Hsingan range along the Amur River.

This geographic apogee of partisan activity marked also their greatest numerical strength, at least so far as this (and its previous development) can be determined from the scanty reports available. The Lytton commissioners, presented with evidence from both sides during the summer of 1932, declined to attempt an authoritative enumeration of Chinese forces in the Northeastern Provinces, contenting themselves with the statement that "it is extremely difficult to estimate" their strength, noting that "the commission was not able to meet with any of the Chinese generals still in the field," and pointing out that "Chinese authorities are understandably reluctant to give away exact information about such troops as are still offering resistance to the Japanese in Manchuria. Japanese authorities, on the other hand, are disposed to minimize the numbers and fighting value of the forces still opposed to them." Little more than a month after the "Mukden Incident", Kwantung Army H.Q. claimed on October 22, 1931, that there were 17,000 "bandit and refugee troops" in an area roughly bounded by Taonan[Taonan, Jilin]at the west, Wuchanghsien [Wuchang, Heilongjiang] at the north, Tunghwa [Tonghua, Jilin] at the east and Antung [Dandong], Liaoning] at the south, operating in 46 distinct bands with strengths ranging from 60 to 1,000 each. In southwestern Fengtien, "only four route armies had been organized" prior to the invasion of Chinchow at the end of that year, C. Y. W. Meng was told by the delegate from the Courageous Citizens Militia; these probably totaled several thousand fighters, roughly similar to the size of the force initially adhering to Lao Pie-Feng in southeastern Fengtien. The delegate's claim that by mid-April 1932 the Courageous Citizens Militia had a strength of 200,000 "west of Chinchow" alone is certainly a considerable exaggeration: 20,000 would be a generous estimate of actual partisan strength in this area at that time, for P. S. Yin ascribes "20,000 militia" to southwestern Fengtien, and credits Tang Chu-wu with "six thousand volunteer forces" east of Mukden. Wang Teh-lin's strength "originally consisted of 7,000 men," reported J. B. Powell (citing in mid-May "a recent interview" given by his representative Mr. Chu Chi), and added that "since the occupation of Suifehno and the neighboring region more than 10,000 volunteers and militia troops had joined up," while P. S. Yin put the forces under both Wang Teh-lin and Feng Chan-hai together in Kirin as "35,000 militia." The Lytton commissioners wrote that "Generals Ting Chao and Li Tu control six old brigades of Chang Hseuh-liang's army and have since raised three additional brigades," citing Japanese estimates that this force numbered roughly 30,000 men in early April, 1932. Their estimate of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's strength at that time as 8,000 regulars (also based on Japanese estimates) has been given above, but is almost certainly an under-estimate of the total strength of Chinese forces operating in the Koshen region and between Harbin and Tsitsihar: J. B. Powell writes that there were "25,000 troops along the Tsitsihar-Keshan railway" in early May, and reports that by the end of that month "General Ma is estimated to have at his disposal at present something like 40,000 troops." Kwantung Army H.Q. claimed their opponents in the spring of 1932 totaled 130,000, then "swelled to 200,000 in summer and to a peak of 360,000 in autumn," according to Alvin Coox, the eminent modern historian of the Kwantung Army. These figures are at least consonant with the foregoing, and with a statement "that the total number of the North-eastern Volunteers is 300,000" attributed early in July 1932 by The China Weekly Review to "Chu Chi-ching, reserve member of the Central executive Committee (of the Nationalist Party), who has been traveling incognito in Manchuria." The late-erupting Heilungkiang National Salvation army, based on an under-strength division and driving through the most sparsely settled area of the region (all Heilungkiang had barely four million inhabitants), added only a small proportion of the steadily increasing partisan numbers reported by the Japanese, who attributed most of this increase to areas already long embroiled in the conflict. J. B. Powell reported in mid-October that in 14 counties of south and eastern Fengtien, centered on the operational area of Gen. Tang Chu-wu (who P. S. Yin had credited with six thousands in early summer), "according to the Japanese the total number of bandits and troop bandits infesting the district is estimated at about 30,000."

Defending the Country

While the extent of partisan operations and their apparent numerical strength (roughly equivalent to every twentieth able-bodied adult male in the region) suggests something of the formidable proportion of local Chinese resistance to Japan's designs on the Northeastern provinces, they indicate little about the military effectiveness of the partisan forces. Citizen militias mustered into being bearing what weapons could be found in their communities. Although many owned fire-arms in this bandit-ridden region, few of the weapons in private hands were really suitable for military use, many being frankly medieval, and as the partisan bands swelled so greatly in the spring and summer of 1932, these sorts of weapons came to predominate among their equipment. Police stores and military equipment were sometimes available to the "plain-clothes" men, and while the frontier and railway garrison troops of the Kirin Army and Heilungkiang Army which constituted the backbone of Chinese resistance in these provinces possessed little in excess of their own requirements by way of weaponry, the provincial armies of the Northeastern provinces were well equipped by contemporaneous Chinese standards, particularly in artillery. Especially suitable for guerrilla operations were many light small-bore carriage pieces, and the widely issued and easily portable 3" Stokes mortar (put into production at the Mukden Arsenal in 1925 by the notorious English mercenary and promoter, Col. "One-Arm" Sutton). Japan, however, possessed in abundance the full panoply of early mid-20th century war, particularly air power, to which the partisans possessed no effective counter. Conditions demanded the partisans develop an elusive and opportunistic battle-craft and organization, seeking to blunt the conventional military advantages of the Japanese by exploiting the frequently penny-packet dispersal forced upon their foe by the vastness of the region Japan sought to conquer (with forces never numbering more than 60,000 Japanese soldiers), and taking advantage of the abundant covers offered by its rugged hinterlands and (for at least much of the year) by the crops grown in its agricultural heartlands. Most damaging to the partisan forces was their lack of any reliable means of obtaining supplies. As the conflict continued, the difficulties encountered by the partisans in acquiring not just munitions but supply of all sorts considerably degraded partisan combat capabilities, finally turning against them many of the features of the country and its climate that had previously tended to operate in their favor.

The typical weaponry of a village "peace protection" militia was on display already some weeks before the "Mukden Incident" at Wanpaoshan, some 20 miles north of Changchun. There, on July 1, 1931, Chinese farmers "armed with agricultural implements and pikes," according to the Lytton Report, attacked Korean subjects of Japan who were trespassing on their fields to dig an irrigation canal, and when Japanese Consular Police opened fire to protect the Koreans, journalist S. C. Yang at Harbin (citing "the special correspondent of the leading Chinese daily") wrote that many of the Chinese "ran back to the village to get their rifles.' Josef Franz describes a village in the region as typically "possessing a formidable, crude armory" built up over the tumultuous frontier years of its establishment, while the delegate from the from the Courageous Citizens Militia acknowledged to C. Y. W. Meng "the primitive weapons' which he and his comrades wielded. When the journalist inquired how they came to possess any fire-arms and ammunition at all, "the delegate answered that in the North-Eastern Provinces, each family practically has one or two guns and a few rounds of bullets for hunting and protection purposes. But now the people have taken up whatever they have to present them to the headquarters of the militia." Similar gatherings up of private arms, and disbursements of the village store of spears and blunderbusses, may safely be assumed to have marked the police-stiffened militias raised by district commissioners in west Kirin, and the "policemen and militia" Mr. P. S. Yin reports in "combination with Tang Teng-mie" in southeast Fengtien alongside Lao Pie-feng's adherents. Feng Chan-hai of the Kirin Guards, according to Hoh Chih-hsiang, arrived in Wuchang district "carrying with him a large quantity of arms and ammunition," greatly benefiting the initial "plain-clothes" men of west Kirin, while in southeast Kirin, where insurrection had greeted the proclamation of Manchukuo (and drawn Wang Teh-lin to Tunhua), J. B. Powell reported that "a party of 'outlaws' in an attempt at Patungkuo, occupied a branch of the Chinese Public Safety Bureau in that neighborhood March 26 (1932) and seized all arms and ammunition there." But not even forces raised in the most orderly manner around a sizeable regular cadre could avoid having a sizeable proportion of medieval equipage in their ranks by the end: when at Suifehno on the Soviet frontier (the eastern terminus of the C. E. R. mainline) "the Volunteers under Gen. Kuan Chang-ching had surrendered" on January 5, 1933, "The Japanese seized four mountain guns, two howitzers, 3,000 rifles and 2,000 spears," according to their own report retailed in The China Weekly Review. In the spring of 1932, "common peasant youths who have volunteered for service," reported E. U. Barung, found "there are few rifles" for them, but "the lack or absence of arms or munitions does not stop them. They forge swords and spears, form themselves into military units, elect a leader from among themselves, and go to battle," Travelling from Changchun to Pieping at the end of August, Josef Franz made inquiries after the operations of the local "Volunteers" while passing through the Jehol borderlands (scene of considerable fighting, and increased partisan numbers, since mid-July); he was told that "most of them are armed only with knives and reaping hooks."

The equipment of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's Heilungkiang Army regulars in their initial actions south of Tsitsihar illustrates the resources of the region's provincial forces. Col. Hamamoto, who's battalion were the first Japanese troops to engage the "Hero of the Nonni River", clashing with half a brigade, told the Lytton commissioners he had fought a force equipped "with about 70 automatic and machine guns (the former indicating a light machine-gun in the still imprecise nomenclature for this relatively new class of weapon)." By comparison, his battalion possessed 24 machine-guns. J. B. Powell, who arrived in Tsitsihar within the hour of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's flight from the place on the night of November 18, 1931, reported that "the motor road across the prairie between Anganchi station and Tsitsihar was strewn with military equipment" among which he personally observed, lay "cases of ammunition including trench-mortar shells." Such weapons, along with rifles and cartridges, may be taken as accompanying Feng Chan-hai and his Kirin Guards into Wuchang district in the western corner of the province, as well as the ardent spirits of Wang Teh-lin's battalion arriving at Tunhua in its southeast. Certainly Gen. Ting Chao, drawing on the depot of his railway garrison regulars, was able to provide such weapons to the citizens volunteering to join his defense of Harbin; Josef Franz's north Kirin informant recalled, "We were hurriedly equipped, trained and divided into small units of fifty or sixty men. In some instances we were given a light machine-gun and a trench mortar (the latter reference may indicate a grenade-thrower)." E. U. Barung, watching the departure of Gen. Ting Chao's men from Harbin as their retirement down the Sungari River commenced, witnessed passage of "a string of carts bearing cannon and heavy shells." The presence of ordnance in east Kirin has been referenced above; this was in use already on the eastern branch of the C. E. R. mainline in an attack on Impienpo at dawn on April 23, 1932, by "a strong force of old Kirin troops" J. B. Powell reported "had been reinforced by ten heavy guns." Gen. Ma Chun-shen's tiny "air force' in the spring of 1932 J. B. Powell reports managed only one raid, having "despatched three airplanes to bomb the Heilungkiang provincial capital on the morning of May 10," and soon afterwards these lost their improvised aerodrome at the Hailun railhead. Reuters reported that on May 24, when Gen. Ma Chun-shen's men were driven from Hulan just north of Harbin, "three armored cars and several field guns" were captured by the Japanese. Some portion of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's cannon were successfully salvaged by the scattered bands of his men operating guerrilla-wise before the August floods; it was reported in The China Weekly Review that when Laha (a much fought over town 70 miles north of Tsitsihar) was attacked on October 26, its Japanese garrison was subjected to "a long bombardment by artillery, the fire being intensive and well directed." The copious equipment of the Fengtien Army reached partisan bands only in small quantities and by the most irregular of channels. J. B. Powell wrote of the Fengtien Army remnants in Chinchow in December 1931 that "their chief object in life was to get back to their homes in the villages," and the purchase of weapons from deserters and bandit was an immemorial tool of village authorities, with which those assisting formation of militias in the area with financial aid from local landowners were doubtless familiar. Fengtien Army men who took up banditry between Mukden and Chinchow possessed of course their rifles, and may also possessed (or abandoned to discovery by other "men of enterprise") even heavier equipment; Rengo, the semi-official Japanese wire service, reported on March 28, 1932, "Some 400 bandits on horseback gathered in the Kanwangtsai district, 25 Chinese miles (12 statute) west of Taschao [Dashiqiao, Liaoning] station on the trunk line of the South Manchuria Railway, and came into collision with the Public safety Forces yesterday in their attempt to invade the railway zone. The insurgents were in possession of two guns."
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Postby Peter H on 04 Nov 2006 09:54

Great!

A link here as well:

viewtopic.php?t=104468
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Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign: Part III

Postby asiaticus on 04 Nov 2006 09:56

Notes On A Guerrilla Campaign:

Part III
|The Magistrate||19:41:44|06/28/2003|

Japan's campaign of conquest in the Northeastern Provinces was backed by "a formidable mobilization of modern weapons," wrote Associated Press correspondent Morris Harris from Changchun. "It is in its modern mechanical equipment that the Japanese army is overwhelmingly superior to its poorly equipped and loosely organized foe." Operating from major aerodromes at Mukden, Tsitsihar, and the capital of Kirin, as well as Harbin, Changchun, and Chinchow, Japanese reconnaissance planes maintained an aerial vedette to detect partisan activity, while bombers raided towns in partisan districts when not operating in direct support of ground forces, and fighters (still armed to the Great War standard of but two synchronized rifle-caliber machine-guns) roved every quarter of the region, seeking opportunities to strafe. "The Japanese airmen let off their guns at every shrub," Josef Franz was told by his north Kirin informant. "They explain as a stampede of terror-stricken bandits," he said, "the sight our running to cover," but it was the opinion of the Lytton commissioners that "the greater part" of Chinese losses were due to "the use of aircraft on the Japanese side." Japanese air bombs were "five feet tall and weighed some 200 pounds," blasting out craters "twelve feet deep and eighteen feet across at the top," J. B. Powell was told by "one of the foreign military observers who inspected some of these bomb-holes." Even when a cascade of such missiles achieved little materially (as was not infrequently the case), their moral effect was tremendous, and sometimes sufficient in itself to force a Chinese retirement. J. B. Powell reports that when at the end of March, 1932, forces under gen. Ting Chao routed the Manchukuo garrison at Nungan, 35 miles northwest of Changchun, the Japanese "succeeded in driving the Kirin Self-Defence forces out of the town in less than 24 hours mainly as a result of airplane bombing." Japanese artillery, plentiful and well supplied with shells and communications gear, struck similarly powerful blows. E. U. Barung reports that when a large force of National Salvation Army partisans seized Hengtaohotse on the Eastern branch of the C. E. R. mainline early in June 1932, and "held it under their control for about a week, repulsing several attacks," their resistance was broken once the Japanese counter-attacks reached a climax in which "reports state that more than a thousand shells fell within the town, destroying many houses and also causing a fire." Ed Hunter of International News service was able to witness the Japanese attack "a few Chinese huts on a slight slope, and about twenty Chinese" at nearby Erho; "Mounted Japanese officers rode to another hill, where long lines of telephone wires were strung, and field wireless set up. There was a hustle and a bustle for an hour. Then a barrage. Thousands of dollars worth of ammunition went sizzling through the air. Under this barrage the Japanese troops advanced. Once in a long interval one of the Chinese on that little slope would fire a bullet," Mr. Hunter reported, and by the time the Japanese troops had reached their objective "all that was left of the Chinese was their footprints. They had fled long before."

While Japanese use of tanks and armored cars in the Northeastern province drew much comment from visiting western newspapermen, at the time of the "Mukden Incident" the development and use of such weapons by the Imperial Japanese Army remained in its infancy; their scarcity prevented their playing a decisive role on any grand scale, although they proved irresistible where they appeared. Josef Franz was told by his north Kirin informant a Japanese attack spearheaded by two armored cars against the defenders of Harbin produced such consternation that "We came to our senses only after the retreat," and evidently not one Japanese armor vehicle was ever destroyed in combat by the Chinese in the Northeastern Provinces. Japan's "land-cruisers" saw their principal usage on the prairies of Heilungkiang, where two cavalry brigades operating in late spring of 1932 each contained an "armored company" of seven armored cars, and during the March 1933 invasion of Jehol province, which incorporated an independent tank company. Japanese Army Railway Engineers also possessed armored cars, able to operate on both rail and road, and these, though intended for security duties, were often pressed into more vigorous operations. J. B. Powell reports the National Salvation Army partisans in the April 23 attack against Imienpo on the eastern branch of the C. E. R. mainline referred to above, were driven off when "the Japanese, supported by an armored train and several armored cars, made a successful counter-attack. The Chinese, after holding on a while, began to retreat, pursued by the Japanese."

In the face of such commanding advantages as their well equipped foes enjoyed on the battlefield, the partisans waging "a continued guerrilla warfare" to defend China's Northeastern Provinces, writes P. S. Yin, "would avoid open clashes. When a greatly superior force is facing them, they would scatter away like sands among the adjacent regions, whom the Japanese could not find out. And they would attack only those Japanese troops which are vulnerable." C. Y. W. Meng reports "the strong words from the lips" of one delegate from the Courageous Citizens Militia, describing how he and his comrades went into battle: "We attack the invader when we see his forces are not strong enough. When the reinforcements arrive, we immediately scatter about in the field and ourselves," he said. "When the reinforcements withdraw, we attack them again." Well aware that the superior firepower of Japanese (and Manchukuo) troops was dependent on their maintenance of an adequate supply of ammunition, partisan forces frequently maneuvered against the communications of enemy units which were isolated or involved already in prolonged combat. The Rengo service reported on March 28, 1932, that during the defense of Nungan against Gen. Ting Chao's forces referred to above, "a party of 100 policemen from the Kirin Police Station was surrounded by the bandit troops this afternoon when they were proceeding to Nungan by 6 trucks. All of them were either taken prisoner or surrendered to the bandits." Deprived of "200,000 rounds of rifle ammunition and 50,000 trench mortar shells" from the Kirin City Arsenal being carried by the captured convoy, the resistance of Manchukuo forces in Nungan dissolved next day. Josef Franz's north Kirin informant describes another such ambuscade, executed with considerable craft between the eastern mainline of the C. E. R. and Ninguta, a large town south of the tracks where Japanese and Manchukuo troops struggled to maintain a garrison throughout the spring and summer of 1932. "Since the town is far away from the railway and can be gained only by a road winding across the hilly country, the communication was at our mercy," he said. "We knew that the reinforcement would be rushed from the railway to the town, so we arranged to waylay it in close formation on the top of a brush covered hill, overlooking the road. Next day, about noon, three truck loads came into view and were allowed to pass along unmolested. But a column of about fifteen trucks and motor busses that followed were captured. The drivers of the trucks and guards were greeted with a shower of rifle and machine-gun fire and with bangs of trench mortars. This dumbfounded the enemy. The stampede was almost indescribable." C. Y. W. Meng at Nanking (citing "eye-witnesses, war writers, and other reliable sources") describes how men with "big swords" and a watchword of "rush forward to behead the enemy" sought to use their medieval equipment on an early mid-20th century battlefield: "They cried as loud as they could 'Sah (kill)'" and accompanied their cry with a great "rattle of swords" while they "rushed to the Japanese positions to engage in a hand-to-hand fight with the enemy." When the Japanese advanced against them, "the Chinese were silent," waiting till "the Japanese came as near as about 200 meters" before swarming out "to have another hand-to-hand fight to kill the enemy with 'big swords'" While the firepower of small Japanese detachments might be overwhelmed by fanatic numbers, and that of larger Japanese formations evaded by timely withdrawal Japanese aircraft might appear overhead at any moment. Josef Franz's north Kirin informant put the best possible face on the considerable disruption that even successful evasion of Japanese air power entailed. "From long experience we know now what to do in case of air attacks --- we disperse and then continue our march," he said, adding, "Of course there are casualties which can't be helped, since it is war, and not child's play." He dignified as "volley fire" the irregular fusillades which often broke out among the partisans when Japanese aircraft were sighted, and these prodigal expenditures of scarce bullets were not always ineffectual: Kwantung Army H.Q. acknowledged the loss of at least 6 aircraft on operations during 1932, one crashing when its pilot was shot in the thigh within ten miles of Mukden on November 24, and fainted from his wound while attempting to land at a Mukden airfield.

The pattern of partisan organization was already clear by early April 1932, when on the eve of Gen. Ma Chun-shen's volte face against Manchukuo, J. B. Powell reported "All the organized Chinese armies have been broken, but scores of bands, ranging from 200 to 1,000 or more men, are operating --- attacking the Japanese in rapid raids and then retreating, looting towns and villages as they go." According to P. S. Yin's account of partisan practice, "These defenders of their soil are formed into groups comprising fifties or hundreds at most," while the Lytton commissioners accepted "an official Japanese document" provided to them as authentic in its "enumerating a large number of so-called route armies and other Chinese units, each containing not more than 200 to 400 men, which form the subdivisions of the volunteer armies." Since partisan forces had to rely on "communication being maintained by messenger, in the face of the absence of the telegraphic or radio communication," E. U. Barung reports, leaders of these dispersed bands necessarily enjoyed a great deal of autonomy. Josef Franz was told by his informant among the north Kirin guerrillas ("a stalwart Chinese, some thirty years old and seemingly in command of some sixty plain-clothes men") that each such detachment "operates quite independently of others," and that "each commander has been given what you call carte blanche" to direct his unit as he saw fit. A highly elaborated military structure was erected on paper above these practically independent band leaders (Chu Chi-ching, the Nationalist Party emissary, describes the organization of "the North-Eastern Volunteers" in early July 1932 as "at present five route armies, two independent detachments, nine independent divisions, and several independent cavalry regiments and one training regiment"), but commanders of these putative higher echelon formations were able to provide little more direction to their subordinates than a summons to concentrate on a particular locale or loose a wave of assaults on a particular date. Their attempts at strategic coordination throughout the Northeastern Provinces faced even greater obstacles, wrote E. U. Barung. For "all the railways and water routes were in the hands of the enemy, so that there existed no effective inter-communication between them." Nonetheless, this fractionated structure with its dispersed command, each constituent element of it acting in accordance with the same qualities of opportunism and self-preservation which informed their battle-craft, not infrequently managed to perform with at least an appearance of strategic coordination (and effectiveness) in far-flung response to Japanese operations. Japanese concentration northwest of Harbin against Gen. Ma Chun-shen in spring and summer of 1932 was answered by escalating partisan activity in Kirin and Fengtien, which culminated in simultaneous attacks on cities throughout the "S. M. R. Zone" as the August floods both halted Japanese operations based on Harbin, and isolated the troops engaged on them. Japanese preparations for invading Jehol province later that year evidently were halted by the need to subdue the unexpected recrudescence of widespread partisan activity in Heilungkiang, and with Japanese forces concentrated to the west, the forces of Feng Chan-hai and Wang Teh-lin managed the extraordinary coup of briefly occupying the capital of Kirin province.

"The Japanese troops in Manchuria have had not a little difficulty in the suppression of bandits in view of the large expanse of land, its geographical and climatic conditions," Lt. Gen. Araki, Japan's Minister of War, told the Tokyo Diet on September 1, 1932. The region's size meant that, as J. B. Powell noted dryly from Shanghai, "whenever the Japanese begin to spread out they find their troops spread out very thin indeed." Small garrisons and independent detachments operated at considerable risks from the very outset of widespread partisan activity. Hsinmintun on the Mukden-Pieping railway was garrisoned by a company of Japanese infantry at the start of 1932, and according to "a dispatch from Mukden January 12" reported in The China Weekly Review, this force was "engaged by a horde of bandits" at dusk outside the town walls, finding itself fighting "a desperate action" in which "four Japanese officers were killed, over 30 men were killed and all but 10 of the remaining men were wounded," while a week later as Lao Pie-feng's adherents invaded the southern reaches of the "S. M. R. Zone", Kwantung Army H.Q. announced on January 19 "Near Haicheng yesterday Lieutenant Kawano, commanding a company of Japanese infantry, was killed and three of his soldiers were seriously wounded in a clash with Lao Pie-feng's bandits. Lieutenant Kawano was killed while en route with his men to Pakiatze to fight bandits." As the conflict widened, with the Japanese faced with the need not only for expeditions into the hinterlands but maintaining the security of vital rail lines and populous centers, it remained frequently impossible to garrison even principal towns in greater than company strength, though this was wholly insufficient to dominate the countryside around them, and often barely adequate for self defense in the absence of prompt reinforcement. A Japanese garrison commanded by Capt. Hayashi at Taian on the Tsitsihar-Koshen railway was for eight days "encircled by some 4,000 Volunteers," according to a Rengo telegram, before it finally "succeeded in repulsing them on October 28 (1932) following severe fighting" in which fourteen Japanese (including Capt. Hayashi) were killed and an equal number wounded. The danger faced still by independent detachments was typified most spectacularly the fate of the Kawase detachment of cavalry, 59 horsemen sent out that very day toward embattled Taian, who seemingly disappeared on the frosted prairie within 24 hours: Rengo reported on November 8 "As a result of search by the Japanese air-force the bodies of 8 Japanese soldiers and 27 horses have been discovered but the remaining 51 are still missing." Two days later the sole survivor, a Sgt. Iwakami, arrived in Tsitsihar to tell how the detachment "encountered heavy odds in the vicinity of Taianchen and was annihilated

While the prairies of Heilungkiang offered partisan bands "plenty of room to run about in," wrote A. P. correspondent Morris Harris, Lt. Gen. Araki's "geographical and climatic conditions" told most strongly against the Japanese in such mountainous regions as the Jehol borderlands, southeastern Fengtien, and the timbered crags of Kirin province. Mr. H. Y. McCartney, a Standard Oil geologist, wrote an account of departing the capital of Kirin early in February 1925 to drive into the province's eastern interior (where "according to an old missionary doctor no motor car had ever gone"): in the region of the capital, he reports that "there is much underbrush in the valleys and on the sides of the mountains but the large trees have all been taken out." Before long, he and his party were passing "through the wildest country we have ever seen" on a road, already "little more than a beaten path," which devolved into "the rocky trail cut through the forest" cloaking a steep mountainside, and which even on level ground "lay through the woods with many twists and turns." Despite the temperature "never rising above zero (Fahrenheit)," while trying to cross "a low flat frozen marsh" Mr. McCartney found his overloaded Dodge "wedged in a foot of ice and water" when the surface gave way, and after becoming stuck "into a snowbank three feet deep" on a mountain slope while "the heavy snowstorm was fast making the road impassable for us to proceed either way," he turned back defeated while still 40 miles short of his journey's goal of Tung Hwa Hsien. "Winter in this part of the world is a reality," the Reverend Leonard wrote from Harbin. "The thermometer usually ranges around thirty-five degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) during much of the three severe months of winter." He was himself sufficiently inured to the climate to describe the daylight temperatures of twenty below zero encountered by the Japanese around Tsitsihar in November and December of 1931 as "still ideal and not extremely cold," but such temperatures froze the lubricant of Japanese light machine-guns and the recoil cylinders of Japanese fieldpieces. J. B. Powell reported that when the Japanese drove Gen. Ma Chun-shen's men from before Tsitsihar in mid-November "the armor car section could not assist, as it was entirely frozen up. The airplanes had been kept running steadily for two days before the battle so as to prevent them also from being frozen up." Japanese soldiers could stand the cold no better than their weapons; even once they were provided winter garments for operations up the Nonni valley, Reverend Leonard reported from the Tsitsihar hospital "more than a hundred Japanese soldiers have been brought in from the north the past few days with frozen feet and legs, and they continue to come." Snow on the prairie hampered operations as greatly as in the mountains. In early January 1932 the drifts formed by "the heavy snowfall, the first real one of the season," reports reverend Vos from Tsitsihar, were thick enough to halt "the little shuttle train from Angangki" on its narrow gauge rails. Even in southern Fengtien the broad Liao River had frozen clear to its mouth at Yinkow by late December 1931, nor did the grip of winter soon ease upon a land subjected to 260 days of frost in a typical year; in east Kirin at the end of March in 1932, the Reverend Leonard traveling in his horse-drawn wagon between Tungking and Suifenho passed "where the road runs through the Crooked Gorge" during a heavy snowstorm (for the hun-hutze "were said to be adverse to leaving their shelters in rough weather"), while in the scrub and scree mountains of southwest Fengtien on the Jehol border in that same month, "the snow is still as high as a man," C. Y. W. Meng was told by the delegate from the Courageous Citizens Militia. "But this gives advantages to the Chinese militia," the delegate added, since "the invaders are not familiar with the trails which are now covered completely with snow." Such unfamiliarity added to the dangers posed by the winter treacherous going in east Kirin particularly; according to "Chinese messages received from Pieping" during operations against Gen. Wang Teh-lin's forces in December 1932 "a number of Japanese armored cars, tanks and field guns were submerged in an ice-field at Chuho. Three Japanese soldiers are stated to have been drowned."

The coming of spring only altered the nature of the obstacles faced by Japanese operations. E. U. Barung at Harbin predicted accurately that great difficulties would attend a projected resumption in mid-April 1932 of the Japanese drive down the Sungari River towards the "Old Kirin" seat at Sahnsing; "In about two weeks the ground will be covered with grass, making a splendid fodder for the horses of the Chinese partisans, whose movements from place to place then becoming unimpeded by the burdens of forage, will be swift. The woods will be clothed with foliage, which will hide Chinese soldiers from the eyes of Japanese aerial scouts, and afford places of ambush." J. B. Powell reports that on operations into Kirin during spring and summer, "Owing to the mountainous and timbered nature of the country that Japanese could not use their artillery or tanks, while the airbombing raids proved futile due to the impossibility of the aviators scattering the Chinese forces. The Japanese troops were subjected to continuous guerrilla warfare at the hands of the Chinese troops which were familiar with the terrain." The country folk of the Northeastern Provinces, growing soybeans and wheat as cash crops, derived most of their own sustenance from kiaoliang, utilizing its coarse, pea-sized grains as food and a source of brewed liquor while stoking their fires with its stalks; where-ever there existed settled habitation in the region, summer raised up thick fields of this "species of millet or broom-corn with the seed at the top which grows to a height of eight or ten feet, sufficient to hide a small army," J. B. Powell wrote, reporting that Lt. Gen. Honjo, commander of the Kwantung Army "forbade the Chinese farmers from planting kiaoliang within a certain distance of the tracks of the various Manchurian railways, the Japanese war-lords apparently realizing that the kiaoliang crop would facilitate the activities of the Chinese loyalists and in this regard they were entirely correct for the activities of the Chinese loyalists did increase during the summer and has kept on increasing in geometric progression since." Even where the immediate vicinity of railway stations and track was laid bare by execution of these orders, kiaoliang fields enabled substantial partisan bodies to operate in the very heart of the "S. M. R. Zone" itself during summer. Josef Franz reported from Changchun that after an attack against that city on August 1, 1932, "the aerial scouting, carried out the next day, could not reveal much, since the rebels appeared to be hiding in the kiaoliang now in full growth." And P. S. Yin exulted that "Japanese aeroplanes and cannon are of very little use" against partisan forces concealed in the grain, who themselves "could attack the Japanese forces unseen." Nor were significant operational difficulties owing purely to climate confined to the bitter cold and snow of winter. When Gen. Ma Chun-shen's bands managed near the start of July 1932 to evade "a large-scale enveloping movement" by Japanese forces, The China Weekly Review reported, "The failure of General Honjo's plan is attributed the fact that the tanks (actually armor cars) and aeroplanes upon which he depended were rendered ineffective by the heavy rain during the last few days," even prior to the August inundations, which soon would halt all military operations in the area, and cause a loss "due to crumbling of Chinese mud houses, loss of standing crops and washing away of farmlands" that reverend Leonard reported "runs into many millions of dollars."

While their flexible structure and command, and the myriad covers provided by the country, enabled the partisan bands to operate effectively, obtaining supplies needed to maintain their combat effectiveness proved extremely difficult. Not infrequently partisan supplies of ammunition gave out entirely in the heat of battle. C. Y. W. Meng was told by one delegate from the Courageous Citizens Militia that "having exhausted our ammunition, we resorted to a hand-to-hand fight with the invaders" when Japanese troops drove into the hills west of Chinchow at the end of February 1932. The endemic shortage of ammunition afflicting the partisan forces greatly aggravated the disparity in firepower between them and the Japanese; "Although our enemies are profuse in shooting," said Josef Franz's north Kirin informant, "we now shoot only occasionally, with good aim, counting the bullets." E. U. Barung considered it the supreme obstacle facing the partisans of the Northeastern Provinces that "they have no arsenals which would have supplied them with the continuous flow of arms and ammunition; in this respect they had to depend upon the supplies coming from China Proper --- a hazardous and unreliable mode of supply." According to the Lytton report, "the main lines of communication which still exist between China Proper and the Chinese forces in Manchuria run through Jehol," while it was the commissioners' opinion that "old Kirin" forces on the Lower Sungari, at least in the early part of 1932 "seemed to have maintained some contact with headquarters at Pieping, whence they received some support from time to time." These tenuous connections hardly constituted a national or even military mode of supply; they in fact amounted to a thriving black market of cut-throat smugglers and unscrupulous merchants in which, Josef Franz was told by his guerrilla leader informant in north Kirin, "Nobody gives arms, ammunition, clothing, food, to poor volunteers." Though denouncing "simple and pure banditry," and claiming himself to have been a shop-keeper in more peaceful days, he stated emphatically the kidnappings he carried out while wrecking trains on the Chinese Eastern Railway "can't be helped --- we must have rich prisoners and we must have big ransoms for them. War requires funds, you know." The exigencies experienced by partisan bands in obtaining supplies produced such a tangling of patriotism and outlawry that, even as China was being swept over amid violent enthusiasm to a boycott of Japanese and Manchukuo goods, enforced by wildly popular vigilantism against the "traitor" who sought to import or sell them, Josef Franz was told by a fur-trader on the Jehol border that "For a few pistols or bullets a Volunteer group will deliver a nice lot of goods from up here, and it really doesn't cost much more than the old transportation plus border 'squeeze.'"

When partisan forces seized a town, the force which had initially been capable of ejecting the garrison frequently became vulnerable to even an unsupported counter-attack by them, due to the band's having dissolved into riotous plundering in the interim, as at Yaomin on the C. E. R. spur-line between Changchun and Harbin, where on September 10, 1932, "1,000 'bandits' surprised the 'Manchukuo' garrison," J. B. Powell reported; "They drove out the garrison and for two hours the looting and fighting went on. The garrison answered the attack and eventually repulsed the marauders." Nevertheless, partisan leaders had little choice but to conduct their operations with an eye towards acquisition of loot as much as military utility, regardless of the extra dangers this might subject their forces to, or the possible harm to the popular support so necessary for successful guerrilla operations which might result. P. S. Yin lamented that "many must be led into the belief that the Volunteers must be composed of bandits, beggars, and other undesirable characters," but as the summer of 1932 drew to a close, it was becoming nearly impossible to draw a meaningful distinction between patriot and outlaw in the Northeastern provinces; J. B. Powell reports of a raid on September 11 by "Chinese Volunteers (or 'bandits')" on the C. E. R. tracks between Changchun and Harbin that "After the derailing the bandits fell upon the train and robbed the survivors, kidnapping some of them, including five Japanese, presumably for ransom," and cites "the Japanese press" to the effect that, in mid-October, "Before leaving Antachen (west of Harbin on the C. E. R. mainline) the anti-Manchukuo forces are said top have forced the merchants of the city to give half a million dollars (U.S. 100,000) to them, while they confiscated every horse in sight."

Necessities of life, not just of combat, became increasingly difficult for the partisans to obtain as the conflict wore on. "They eat the grain of the peasants that can't be sold now anyhow," Josef Franz was told of the partisans in the Jehol borderlands, "and, since where they operate there are no tax collectors, the peasants are not much worse off," but there remained little stored food to be commandeered in the villages after the wholesale exactions levied on them during spring and summer of 1932, while the many fields left unplanted due to economic dislocation and farmer's resort to war or banditry, combined with the destruction of standing crops to clear fields of fire or in the course of battle where they served as shelter, greatly reduced the harvest to be gathered come autumn.

Shortages were particularly acute on the lower Sungari and in Heilungkiang after the devastation wrought by the August flooding. When Gen. Ma Chun-shen's bands emerged from their fastnesses in the wooded Little Hsingan Mts. On the Amur River, venturing south again onto the sodden plain in early September, while J. B. Powell relates that "Reports reaching Pieping during the week indicated that the Heilungkiang troops and the Volunteers are being supplied with provisions by the people," it is hardly to be imagined this was done willingly, and soon enough there simply was nothing left to seize. "Gen. Ma's men are now subsisting on horse-flesh and are using the bones for fuel," according to "a Chinese dispatch received at Nanking" in mid-November.

While during the previous winter the partisans had enjoyed advantages of acclimatization and in many cases superior winter garb over the Japanese, this was now no longer true. Chiang Chou-shan, an emissary from the Heilungkiang guerrillas, told students and faculty at the National Normal University in Pieping on October 27 "that at first they were well clothed, but as they frequently crossed the forests, their uniforms were soon torn. Their leather boots fared worst and had to be discarded for those made of horse-skins or pig-skins," while J. B. Powell writes at the end of October with evident belief "The Japanese reports say that many of the Volunteers are in a sorry plight owing to the shortage of winter clothing and food." Widespread destruction of shelter by flood and battle exacerbated the bitter bite of winter, and just as privation and long exertion rendered the bodies of the partisan fighters more vulnerable to its extremities, so did hard usage without supplies for maintenance affect their equipment; according to a courier from Taheiho arrived at Nanking in December, "The weather there is so cold that the rifles often fail to function," requiring that they be discarded in favor of "long spears."
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Postby Peter H on 05 Nov 2006 06:11

Japanese armed militia also in Manchuria 1932
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Postby Peter H on 05 Nov 2006 06:16

Cavalry patrol.
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Postby Peter H on 05 Nov 2006 06:23

"Bandits"
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Maps of Manchuria circa 1930-35

Postby asiaticus on 19 Feb 2007 22:41

From History and Commercial Atlas of China

中 国 历 史 地 图 册

Harvard University Press 1935

by Albert Herrmann, Ph.D.

根据哈佛燕京学院1935年版中国历史与经济地图册扫描整理

文湖诗海网站版权所有,请勿转载。如与问题请联系huhai@huhai.nt

http://map.huhai.net/


Modern Manchuria-Political (Inset-Mukden) 现代满洲-政治(放大图-沈阳)
http://map.huhai.net/72.jpg

(a map showing the provincial boundries cities railroads etc circa 1931-35)

Modern Manchuria and Mongolia-Economic (Inset-Foreign Trade of Manchuria for 1930) 现代满洲和蒙古经济(放大图-1930年对外贸易)
(shows the geography of Manchuria in the 1930's)

http://map.huhai.net/73.jpg
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Northeast Righteous and Brave Army opposition to Japan

Postby asiaticus on 16 Dec 2007 10:22

Chinese history covering the Anti Japanese Volunteer army campaigns in Manchuria

* '''中国抗日战争正面战场作战记''' (China's Anti-Japanese War Combat Operations)
** Guo Rugui, editor-in-chief Huang Yuzhang
** Jiangsu People's Publishing House
** Date published : 2005-7-1
** ISBN:7214030349
** Online in Chinese: http://www.wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/A0170.htm
*** http://www.wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/04541.htm 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变 辽宁义勇军的抗日斗争 1
*** Second part: From "9/18" emergency to Xi'an Incident The Liaoning volunteers' opposition to Japan struggles
*** http://www.wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/04544.htm 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变吉林义勇军的抗日斗争 1
*** Second part: From "9/18" emergency to Xi'an Incident The Jilin volunteers' opposition to Japan struggles
*** http://www.wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/04547.htm 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变 黑龙江义勇军的抗日斗争 1
*** Second part: From "9/18" emergency to Xi'an Incident Heilongjiang volunteers' opposition to Japan struggle
*** http://wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/04550.htm 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变东北义勇军抗日斗争简析 1
*** Second part: From "9/18" emergency to Xi'an Incident Northeast Righteous and Brave Army opposition to Japan struggles analysis
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