Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

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Postby sjchan » 21 Jul 2007 09:42

Here is a short description of what the 200th did at Toungoo, based on the Chinese sources at

http://www.wehoo.net/book/wlwh/a30012/04901.htm

I have done a synopsis in English below. Don't have a good enough map, so I am not able to translate the names of local villages etc.

Advanced elements of the 200th Division arrived at Toungoo on March 8, 1942 and took over defensive positions from the British forces. The disposition of the Chinese forces were as follows: Toungoo itself would be the main defensive position, with outpost at鄂克春. The cavalry regiment plus a company of infantry pushed up to River彪关, with a platoon of cyclists taking up position near the bridge over the river.

Japanese troops from the 143rd Regiment of the 55th Division advanced right up to the bridge on the 18th, but was ambushed and withdrew. After night fell, the Japanese continued their attacks with small units, and the Chinese covering force withdrew. 彪关 fell on the 19th.

On March 20, the 143rd Regiment plus cavalry units attacked the positions of the Chinese Cavalry Regiment north of River彪关, driving the Chinese forces back with heavy losses. The bulk of the regiment were withdrawn to the north of Toungoo, leaving only a company of cavalry and infantry each to delay the advancing Japanese. On March 21, Japanese forces brushed aside the delaying forces and reached the divisional outposts at 鄂克春.

The 122nd Regiment of the 55th Division attacked Chinese positions at first light on March 22, but made little headway. On March 23, the Japanese tried again with strong artillery and air support, but was once again rebuffed, leading them to note that this was the first time they met with determined resistance in Burma. On March 24, with the 122nd Regiment making frontal attacks, the 143rd Regiment with the aid of the locals was able to make a surprise attack on the airfield about 6 km northwest of Toungoo. The airfield was only lightly defended by an engineer battalion, and the commander panicked and withdrew hastily. Now the 200th Division was encircled on three sides with its main communication route cut. Faced with this situation, the Chinese abandoned the outlying positions to concentrate their defence near the city walls of Toungoo.

On March 25 the Japanese launched an all out attack with the 143rd Regiment on the left, the 112th Regiment on the right, and the Cavalry Regiment plus a company of infantry ordered to attack along the R. Sittang valley. The objective was to press the Chinese forces against R. Sittang where it would be annihilated. Despite local penetrations in the north-western part of the defensive perimeter, no major progress was made due to heavy Chinese resistance. Japanese attacks continued on March 26 and by the evening, the Japanese had taken the western part of the city to the west of the railroad while the Chinese troops held on to the main part of the city east of the railroad.

On March 27, the Japanese continued to press their attacks with air support, and in the afternoon fired large numbers of tear gas shells. Despite all this, the Chinese held their ground. On March 28, the 3rd Heavy Field Artillery Regiment attached to the 55th Division arrived, and with strong support from bombers and more gas attacks inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese, who still managed to stand their ground. At the same time, leading elements of the Japanese 56th Division consisting of a company each of infantry, machine gunners and field artillery arrived in 45 trucks to reinforce the attacking Japanese forces. This force crossed the R. Sittang and moved rapidly northward, attacking the 200th Divisional HQ on the high grounds near 阿列米扬 and reaching the bridge spanning the R. Sittang on the eastern edge of Toungoo.

On March 30, this force, after 3 hours of heavy fighting, broke out of the bridgehead and reached the eastern outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, the assaults of the 55th Division within the city itself continued without much success. Unknown to the Japanese, the bulk of the Chinese forces had already started their withdrawal on March 29, and the troops covering the withdrawal did their job so well that the entire division were able to retreat in good condition, taking all the wounded along.

I believe there is also a description of this battle in the Senshi Sosho ...

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Postby pitman » 23 Jul 2007 20:42

Thank you very much. I greatly apprecaite it!!

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notes on locations.

Postby asiaticus » 24 Jul 2007 04:06

Comparing this account with Hsu I think that:

鄂克春 is Oktwin and the fighting from Mar. 20 - 23, 1942 is called the Battle of Oktwin

The fighting from Mar. 24-28, 1942 is the Battle of Toungoo

Map of the area:
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... ne47-5.jpg

Some of the later battles (not necessarily with the 200th Div.) are the:

Battle of Yedahe, Apr. 5-8, 1942
Battle of Szuwa River, Apr. 10-16, 1942
Battle of Pyinmana, April 17-20, 1942

Battle of Yenangyaung, Apr. 17-19 1942 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Yenangyaung


Battle of Mawache and Yato, Early April 1942
Battle of Bawlake, April 17,1942
Battle of Hopong - Taunggyi, April 20-24, 1942
Battle of Loliem, April 25, 1942
Battle of Lashio, April 29, 1942
Battle of Hsenwe, May 1, 1942
Battle of Salween River, May 6-31, 1942
Battle of Hsipaw-Mogok Highway, May 23, 1942

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Postby sjchan » 25 Jul 2007 04:56

Some additional details regarding the Battle of Toungoo, based on the book Dai Anlan Zhuan (Biography of Dai Anlan), by Dai Chengdong (the son of Dai Anlan, commander of the 200th Division during its glory days including Toungoo), Anhui People’s Press, 1998.

On March 22, the Japanese forces attacking the Chinese positions consisted of a battalion of infantry with several guns; the defenders were the 1st Battalion, 600th Regiment. The Japanese sent cavalry forces around the left flank of the Chinese and the position was stabilized only when reserve forces were committed immediately in counterattacks.

The attacks continued on March 23, with the Japanese focusing once again on the left flank. The battle continued until 4 p.m. without much success for the attackers, who then tried another flanking move with a company of infantry and scores of cavalry troops around the right side of the Chinese positions. The Chinese held their ground until nightfall and fell back on March 24.

The Japanese made use of the cover offered by the jungle and wooded area towards the west of Toungoo to make a surprise attack on the airfield and railway station during the morning of March 24. The Chinese contracted their defensive positions as follows: the 598th Regiment defended northern part of the Toungoo defense, the 599th Regiment held the high ground to the south of Toungoo, and portions of the replacement regiment of the division which arrived on March 23 were posted on the eastern bank of the Sittang River, where they were to extend the positions northward to cover the remaining lifeline of the division (which was encircled on three sides by now) as well as the divisional HQ. The 600th Regiment defended the City against the west, and it was here that the Japanese had their first success at around 10 p.m. on March 25. Japanese troops infiltrated Chinese positions followed by a full battalion. Counterattacks by the Chinese and hand to hand fighting failed to recover the lost positions as the Japanese troops made good use of the buildings and the stone walls around the cemetery to rebuff the Chinese. The 600th Regiment was moved back between the other two regiments to defend Toungoo city itself. Repeated attacks on March 26 on the 598th Regiment’s position continued through the night but were rebuffed. There was a pause when morning broke on March 27, but Japanese planes came back in droves and systematically bombed and strafed Chinese positions.

At around 8 p.m. on March 28, the Japanese sent a column of mixed mobile troops on a flanking movement and attacked the divisional HQ. If successful, the entire 200th Division will be encircled. The divisional commander personally organized the defence; the 3rd Battalion of the 598th Regiment was also ordered to attack the exposed left flank of the Japanese. A vicious fight continued within the city of Toungoo as well as around the divisional HQ, but by and large the Chinese were able to hold their ground.

The Japanese battle reports noted that the 200th Division fought hard throughout the entire battle, and in particularl was able to handle its various withdrawals well, always managing to hold its position till the last allowing the bulk of the forces to withdraw without major losses.

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Map of area north of Toungoo

Postby asiaticus » 26 Jul 2007 06:04

Here is the Pyinmana map showing the area just north of Toungoo (note the location of the airfeild)

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... ne47-1.jpg

It also shows the area of the the subsequent battles.

Battle of Yedahe, Apr. 5-8, 1942
Battle of Szuwa River, Apr. 10-16, 1942
Battle of Pyinmana, April 17-20, 1942

I am wondering how the 200th Division withdrew to the north if the Japanese were up there at the airport. I looks like their most likely route would have been to the east.

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Postby pitman » 28 Jul 2007 18:10

Thank you very much for the information. I have been out of town the past several days, for work, so I was not able to thank you earlier. I really appreciate this. It is very helpful.

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Postby sjchan » 03 Aug 2007 15:10

Existing accounts of the battle was not very explicit regarding the exact path of withdrawal. It was usually stated only that the New 22nd Division was sent south to support the 200th D and they reached as far as the Nangyun railway station, where the 200th D joined them after withdrawing from Toungoo. However, I found a fairly detailed description of the Battle of Toungoo by the commander of the 598th Regiment, which I summarized below. Basically the Chinese forces crossed River Sittang to the east and then moved north along the river until it reached the vicinity of Nangyun and joined forces with the N 22nd D; these eventually withdrew to Yedashe.

The following is a summary taken from the book Yuan zheng Yin Mian kang zhan (Battles of the Expeditionary Force in India and Burma), a collection of memoirs and first hand accounts by KMT officers.

On March 8, the 200th Division reached Toungoo to take over defensive duties of the British-Indian forces. The divisional commander sent the Motorized Cavalry Regiment (5th Army HQ troops attached to the division) and 1st Company, 598th Infantry Regiment to the banks of the River XXX 35 miles south of Toungoo. At first light on March 18, about 200 Japanese reconnaissance troops on motorbikes reached the outposts and were ambushed by the Chinese troops hiding along the sides of the road. Chinese armoured cars joined the attack and after three hours of fight the Japanese fell back, leaving some 30 dead behind together with some twenty rifles, two light machine guns and some 19 motorbikes.

On March 20, the Army commander inspected the defensive positions at Toungoo. The fortifications were built using timber, which was in abundant supply, and all positions were carefully concealed. On March 22, Japanese planes bombed the city and the airfield, and all the civilians had already left. The 1st Battalion, 598th Regiment was sent to bolster the outlying positions. The Japanese were now more careful after the ambush, and used their artillery and machine guns to fire at suspected positions before sending their infantry forward. In particular they positioned some light machine guns up among the trees and caused many Chinese casualties. Eventually the Chinese set up their heavy machine guns to fire at an acute angle to deal successfully with this menace.

On March 24, after the Japanese captured the airfield in a surprise attack, the divisional HQ was moved from the city to the eastern bank of the River Sittang to avoid Japanese air and artillery attacks, and also to safeguard the remaining supply route to the east.

On March 25, the Japanese launched coordinated attacks at 0800 from all three directions on the city. Eventually they were able to penetrate the positions of the 600th Regiment in the north-western part of the Toungoo citadel. The intention of the Japanese was apparently to drive a wedge through the city and capture the bridge over the River Sittang, cutting off the supply routes of the Chinese and splitting the Chinese forces into northern and southern pockets. The Chinese reinforced the 600th Regiment with the 2nd Battalion, 598th Regiment and counter-attacked. There was heavy house to house fighting and the lines between the forces were so close that Japanese air and artillery support was difficult. The bridge over River Sittang then became the target for Japanese firepower and was so severly damaged that vehicles could no longer pass through.

On March 28, Japanese attacks died down, but it turned out that they were simply reorganizing their forces. They now attacked the divisional HQ inflicting heavy casualties on the 3rd Battalion, 599th Regiment as well as the divisional support company; two companies from the 598th Regiment were sent as reinforcement. Eventually orders came on the afternoon of March 29 for the entire division to withdraw towards the east initially, then to the north along the eastern bank of the River Sittang. The plan for withdrawal was as follows. Each battalion was to send a rearguard which would launch night attacks to cover the withdrawal of the main force. The retreat will be led by the 599th Regiment (which will cross via the bridge), followed by the 600th Regiment and then the 598th Regiment (these will ford the river). By 4 a.m. the entire division had moved out of Toungoo and the rearguards themselves left before dawn.

After the battle, two British reports asked about the reasons for the success in the withdrawal. Several were given (1) the decision to withdraw took the Japanese by surprise (2) the New 22nd Division was coming down from the north to meet with the 200th Division and was approaching the airfield, causing the Japanese to believe it was reinforcement for the 200th Division to make a prolonged stand at Toungoo (3) the River Sittang can easily be forded since it was the dry season then (4) a raiding force was sent by the New 22nd Division to probe Japanese positions to fool them into thinking the 200th Division was staying.

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publisher of this work?

Postby asiaticus » 04 Aug 2007 06:00

This clarifies the battle a lot.

At 35 miles south of the city that river would be the Pyu River. Just across the river would be the city of Pyu.

I can see on the topo map the cart roads running north and a ford area east of Nangyun they would have used for the withdrawal.

Yuan zheng Yin Mian kang zhan, Battles of the Expeditionary Force in India and Burma, a collection of memoirs and first hand accounts by KMT officers.


Who was the publisher of this work?

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Hsu.Long-Hsuen on the battles around Toungoo

Postby asiaticus » 11 Aug 2007 21:30

“On March 18, the vanguard of the enemy’s (Japanese) 55th Division reached the vicinity of Tachiao approximately 12 miles south of Pyu and gained contact with the security elements of our (Chinese) 5th Corps. In the morning of March 20, the enemy main force began the attack. In accordance with pre-detrmined plans, our forces held Oktwin to stop the enemy. At dawn on March 23, the enemy launcheda violent joint attack on our positions and dispatched a force to make a turning movement against Yedashe on our right flank. Oktwin fell after two days of bitter fighting. The enemy continued the violent attack against Toungoo. By March 26, heavy street fighting took place in Toungoo . On March 28, the 56th Division, the enemy’s reinforcements arrived and employed poison gas in without achieving any progress. When the enemy employed another powerful force to advance toward our right flank our forces moved to the north. Meanwhile our New 22nd Division launched a violent counterattack from Yedashe and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. “ - Hsu.Long-Hsuen, History of the Sino-Japanese War,1937-1945 pg376

12 miles south of Pyu is the Kan River, that is where the first clash with the Japanese occured on the 18th. Hsu calls the location Tachiao, the Army topo map NE47-5 locates a village a km north of the bridges as Gombe. No "Tachiao" appears on the map in that area, but there is a lot of settlement along the river at that point so that settlement may have been called by that name.

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Postby pitman » 12 Aug 2007 01:35

This is great information. Do any of the sources mention the Japanese employing AFVs at Toungoo against the 200th?

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Postby asiaticus » 12 Aug 2007 06:02

None of these accounts so far do. I beleive the 55th Division had no armour attached to it. 56th Division did have the 14th Tank Regiment attached to it but I dont think they had made their way up from Rangoon to the Toungoo area during the battle, only some of its leading divisional infantry elements.


The only Armour seems to have been armoured cars with the Chinese cavalry. I wonder if those were Russian or German AC's.
Id like to know the organiztion of this motorized cavalry regiment.

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Postby sjchan » 12 Aug 2007 10:23

Yuan zheng Yin Mian kang zhan, Battles of the Expeditionary Force in India and Burma, a collection of memoirs and first hand accounts by KMT officers -- this is published by 中国文史出版社, which published a series of about 12 books containing such first hand accounts. They have been republished recently, I think, under different titles.

Here's some further information from another detailed account of the battle, from
Zhongguo yuan zheng jun zhan shi (A History of the Chinese Expeditionary Army) by Xu Kangming, published in 1995, pp. 87-105.

On Toungoo:

Toungoo city itself was divided into the old and new town, with the new town to the east of the railway and the old town to the west. The old town has a city wall which provided a natural defensive position for the Chinese. The land around Toungoo was flat and featureless, except for the Sittang River to the east.

On the ambush at Pyu River and the subsequent battle of Oktwin:

The Chinese blew up the bridge while the Japanese were crossing and then attacked the troops on the southern bank sending them retreating after an hour long battle. The following the Japanese were back in force, and wiser after the drubbing the previous day. Chinese positions were probed and then air and artillery attacks called in. After repulsing more than 10 attacks in two days, the Chinese retreated to Oktwin, where they have set up carefully concealed positions and bunkers. The Japanese attacked in force on March 22, and at the height of the battle several hundred Japanese were trapped within the village whereupon the Chinese set fire to the bushes and virtually annihilated the Japanese soldiers who tried to escape. Japanese reports conceded that they met strong resistance at Oktwin and over-confidence cost them dearly. On March 23, with the aid of guns, tanks and armored cars plus air support, the Japanese attacked again. The Chinese responded with clustered grenades and destroyed a number of Japanese vehicles. During the evening, the Japanese finally penetrated Chinese positions. On March 24, due to the success achieved by the Japanese in capturing the airfield, the 200th D pulled back its defensive positions back to Toungoo itself. By this time it had suffered 700-800 casualties.

On the fighting within Toungoo on March 26:

After the Japanese captured the western part of the city, both sides faced each other across the railway at a distance of less than 100 m., making life difficult for Japanese air and artillery support. Eventually the Japanese withdrew some 200 m. to allow their planes and guns to go to work. The Chinese hid in their camouflaged positions and held their fire until the Japanese were within 40-50 m. and then hit them with machine gun and grenades. This happened repeatedly and by the end of the day the 200th D had suffered almost a thousand casualties, but the Japanese also suffered heavily and were hard pressed to continue these frontal attacks. The Japanese also had to send a blocking force to stop the New 22nd D from reaching Toungoo.

On the retreat:

The Chinese moved along the eastern bank of the Sittang River to an assembly position about 6 km east of Yadahe. The 200th D. suffered a total of almost 2500 casualties in the entire battle.

As indicated in my previous post, a major reason why the 200th D was able to retreat sucessfully was that the Japanese had to divert some of their forces to deal with the New 22nd D's relief force.

I am getting my hands on a partial Chinese translation of the Japanese account in Senshi Sosho so hopefully I will get the viewpoint from the other side as well.

Chinese accounts claimed that the Japanese employed AFVs in many of the attacks by the 55th Divison, but I am a bit wary of these accounts because the Chinese frequently claimed the presence of Japanese armored units which did not exist (at least based on the the Japanese OOB) -- and not just at Toungoo. Can't comment until I get the Japanese view or some Japanese experts provide additional information.

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Postby pitman » 12 Aug 2007 18:05

It is interesting that the city wall has survived intact. The moat around it is said to be mostly dry--I presume that was the case in 1942, too, but I don't know that for a fact.

Irritatingly, Google Maps has higher resolution photos of the area immediately north of the old city, but only a lower resolution photo of the city wall area itself.
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Postby sjchan » 13 Aug 2007 17:02

This is the Japanese version of the Battle of Toungoo, abstracted from a Chinese translation of Senshi Sosho commissioned by the Ministry of Defense in Taiwan in 1997. This is the first installment.

The (Japanese) 55th Division left Daiku on March 14, with the Cavalry Regiment on the right thrusting north along the eastern bank of the Sittang River and the 143rd Regiment (minus one battalion) moving along the main road, bolstered by the supply of some 30 trucks at Daiku.

On March 18, about 600 troops along the northern bank of River Kan were attacked and defeated in night attacks.

On March 20, the 143rd Regiment attacked about 500 Chinese troops with AFV at 良賓沙, and defeating them at 0500 on March 21. The 598th Regiment of the 200th Chinese Division put up a strong fight and more then 200 were killed before they retreated. Maps regarding Chinese positions were obtained from dead Chinese officers.

On March 21, the same regiment routed more Chinese troops with armoured support in the vincity of Kywebwe(?).

On March22, the 112th Regiment attacked Oktwin, where there were about 1000 Chinese troops with mortars and field guns as well as cleverly camouflaged positions. The battle was vicious and breakthrough was difficult. After much fighting, Oktwin was captured at 2100 on March 24. This is the first strongly fortified position encountered since the division moved out, and the troops were over-confident resulting in the initial attacks being repulsed; there were a number of cases where the enemy positions were erroneously thought to have been captured, leading to much confusion and hard fighting. Meanwhile, the 143rd Regiment circled around the west and captured the airfield north of Toungoo at 1400 on March 24, defeating about 300 men even though they had artillery and machine gun support.

Toungoo itself was defended by about 3000 Chinese troops with many mortars. The city walls had a height of 20 m and a thickness of 12 m, and a width of some 300 m at the front. The 112th Regiment attacked on the right with the 143rd Regiment on the left, while the Cavalry Regiment plus a company of infantry attacked along the western bank of the Sittang River.

The 112th Regiment attacked on March 26 and took the south-western corner of Toungoo but was unable to make any further progress due to heavy resistance. On the left, a flanking move to attack the north-western part of Toungoo was no more successful. The Cavalry Regiment’s attack was also repulsed. The Chinese launched counterattacks against the 112th and Cavalry Regiments with about 300 troops in each sector. These were repulsed, but losses were heavy and offensive strength dropped. To make matters worse, the 2nd Battalion of the 143rd Regiment was sent north to Yedashe to block any Chinese threats from the north, greatly reducing its attacking strength. The third regiment of the division, the 144th Regiment, as well as a battalion of artillery as well as a company of cavalry were not with the main body of the division in the Battle of Toungoo, so that the division really did not have sufficient manpower. The attack totally bogged down as a result.

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Postby sjchan » 14 Aug 2007 06:12

It was then decided to wait for the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment with its 15 cm howitzers to arrive to attack the Chinese positions again on March 28, which will be supported by air attacks. However, the 6 light bombers did not arrive until 1500 due to heavy fog at the airfields, and while the right wing of the attack managed to destroy many Chinese strongpoints with artillery support, overall it was not possible to overcome stubborn resistance from the in-depth positions of the Chinese even though the fighting lasted into the evening.

Meanwhile, the Reconnaissance Regiment of the 56th Division, consisting of two motorized infantry company and a machine gun company, a field artillery company and a platoon of engineers, was moving rapidly north. A column of troops in 45 trucks, with a company of 6 armoured cars and a total of some 404 men, made rapid progress along the main road to Toungoo and reached divisional HQ of the 55th Division by noon on March 28. It was decided to move this force east of the Sittang River to attack the rear of the Chinese positions, which it did during the evening of the same day by fording the Sittang, whose water was only breast high.

Covered by the intense fight to the west, this force moved north and attacked the divisional HQ of the 200th Division. By 2200 on March 29, this force had closed in on the bridge over the Sittang River. It had suffered 13 killed and some 24 wounded in this operation, mostly among the infantry.

On March 29, the 55th Division used its last ounce of strength to attack. The city was on fire and fighting continued into the dark. Although the attacks were supported by all available guns, the Chinese continued to resist stubbornly and no progress was made. However, by noon, the troops on the left were able to advance into the north western part of the city, and the escape route of the Chinese was threatened. There were signs of wavering in the Chinese forces by nightfall.

On March 30, the force on the eastern bank of the Sittang River near the Toungoo Bridge made a frontal attack and broke through, advancing into the city at 0700.

The 55th Divison pressed home their attacks all along the front. But resistance was still heavy. After the engineers managed to blow up Chinese positions and strongpoints at 0850, the troops finally broke through and linked up with the troops of the 56th Division which had penetrated the city from the east. Thus ended the Battle of Toungoo, which lasted for four days starting from March 26.

The Chinese force fought with high morale and much tenacity. In particular, even in its withdrawal the rearguard units fought and held their positions until the last moment. It is certainly a foe worthy of respect, and even the Commander of the 15th Army praised its courage. He also noted the excellent elan shown by the 56th Division, and that it had done well in contributing to the defeat of the 200th Division, one of the best Chinese divisions. The courage of the Divisional Chief of Staff, who directed the battle at the front and was able to spot weaknesses in the Chinese positions, was also noted. In contrast, the performance of the 55th Division, particularly its leadership, was criticized. The commander of the 112th Regiment was replaced in the middle of the battle and sent to a hospital in Rangoon (his nerves was failing him). Moreover, the divisional chief of staff was also sacked by the divisional commander after repeated clashes between them.


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