More on the plight of Chinese conscripts:
http://hmsgrd.com/Files/Glory/WoR%20Des ... 0Notes.pdf
The conscription system in China was abysmal.... The typical Chinese conscription method was
to enter a village and round up all able-bodied males and march them off to combat. The village left behind suffered immensely
having no manpower to work fields and perform other chores.The local government rarely paid any form of subsidy to the
devastated village. This practice magnified the traditional hatred of their army held by most common Chinese. And, amazingly,
the conscripted soldier suffered more than the villagers he left behind!
Often gang marched, chained to fellow villagers, the conscript would be corralled at local conscription centers. He was given
virtually no training and little equipment. Stripped of clothing during the night to prevent escape, many froze. A meager food
allotment was a rare treat. In the Chinese system, conscripts were not part of the army until they reached their assigned units.
As such, they were not paid and generally not fed.Long marches to their destination units, often hundreds of
miles, led to mass desertion and death. It is estimated that fully 40% of conscripted men never reached their assigned units.
The Chinese standing army at the start of the Sino-Japanese Conflict was 1.7 million men with 500 thousand reservists.
After dipping to a low of 1 million men (following the heavy casualties of the 1937 disasters), the size of the Chinese army
steadily increased throughout the war. By the end of 1941, the Chinese army numbered 5.7 million including about 3 million
front-line combat troops. By the end of the war in 1945, the number had swelled to over 8 million men in arms.
To maintain this army, the Chinese conscripted about 14 million men during the 8-year war period (1937-45). During this
time the front line replacement rate never dipped below 60% annually, and occasionally peaked as high as 120%. During the
war, China determined that she needed to draft between 2.5 and 4 men for every man on the front lines. This represented the
high percentage of wounded, sick, deserters, and general mismanagement of military administration. Over 8 million of the
14 million conscripted, can not be accounted for. With the typical desertion rate estimated at between 10 and 40% annually,
many of the 14 million may have been the same men, repeatedly conscripted.
While China’s mobilization index (the average number of men conscripted as compared with the nation’s total population per
annum), at 0.4%, remained well behind that of Japan and western nations (Japan: 1.3%, UK: 1.4%, US: 2.4%, USSR: 3.0%, and
Germany: 3.8%) she never had trouble filling the gaps in her lines. Manpower was always far more plentiful than equipment.
Proposals for a Chinese army of 50 million were tendered, but were unrealistic given the utter lack of equipment and
infrastructure necessary to support so many men in the field. In fact, General Stilwell and other American advisors repeatedly
suggested that the Chinese should reduce the size of their army to about 100 higher quality divisions (rather than the 300+
ineffective divisions that existed in the mid to late war period).
The Hwang Ho Dikes:
On June 20, 1938, the nationalist government demonstrated that it understood the meaning of total war. In an unprecedented sacrifice of
civilian and military life and incalculable damage to property and country side, the KMT had the Hwang Ho dikes destroyed just
north of Kaifeng. From a military point of view, the strategy worked brilliantly. The Japanese advance was stopped cold in
the face of the onrushing flood waters and the assault on Wuhan (the Hankow, Hanyang, Wuchang tri-city area) was delayed for
three months while the Japanese re-planned their advance to circumnavigate the new river course. Throughout the war, the
Japanese never advanced beyond the new course of the Hwang Ho and were forced to trek hundreds of miles north or south to
move further west.
However, the destruction of the dikes has been bitterly criticized for its blatant disregard of life. In fact, the nationalist
government for many years denied any prior knowledge of the event. The flood waters wrought more suffering on the Chinese
peasants of the area than the Japanese ever did. Some 4 to 5 thousand villages and 11 towns were washed away. Over 2
million Chinese were left homeless and destitute. Some estimates of the number of deaths range as high as 440,000. A
number of military units, both Japanese and Chinese, were also caught and destroyed in the floodwaters.
The Chinese people of the area never forgave the Nationalist government for what they viewed as irresponsible and
unconscionable actions. After the conclusion of the war with Japan, this area, remembering the events of the spring of 1938,
was one of the first regions to go staunchly Communist.
The frontline soldier:
The Chinese supply situation was debilitating to the effectiveness of their military operations. Moreover, as the war
progressed, the various authorities in China, and the KMT itself, became increasingly corrupt, and the distribution of supply and
equipment became more of a political activity than a military activity. "Under combat conditions the Chinese soldier was
weak from hunger and exhaustion. He was night-blind from deficiencies in his diet - no meat, almost no fats, few vegetables,
and no sugar. He was badly clothed, often nearly in rags.""Large quantities of small arms ammunition were wasted by
poorly fed soldiers who removed bullets from cartridge cases to satisfy their craving for salt with the taste of gunpowder." "On
his first contact with the Chinese army in the field, a shocked American officer referred to what he saw as a 'goddam medieval
mob' - a not too inaccurate description." "The [Chinese] soldier knew from bitter experience that his own people scorned his lot,
hated him for foraging to provide himself with the barest necessities, and despised him as a member of the lowest stratum
of society, for Confucius had pronounced that good iron went into plowshares, poor iron into swords and spears."