Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

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sjchan
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Post by sjchan » 13 Jan 2008 14:00

pitman wrote:Regarding the maps in your post on Toungoo, am I correct in interpreting these maps as suggesting that the Japanese captured the western/northwestern parts of the city first and pushed the Chinese eastward towards the river?
The first notable success of the Japanese did occur at the northwestern part of the city, according to most accounts. I am not sure what the various circles mean myself, as the handwriting on the diagrams is very faint, but it could be the sectors held by the various Chinese regiments. The diagram also shows that towards the end of the fight the Chinese troops were hanging on to only the eastern part of the town just across the railway.

Also, you are right, it should be May 18.

BTW the after action reports were completed in September.

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Post by sjchan » 13 Jan 2008 15:21

It is interesting to note that the 200th D did not have any a single tank company attached; it did have the Corps Cavalry Regiment which might have some armored cars, the Japanese claimed to have destroyed three AFVs in the battles south of Toungoo. The division did have a tank company in support when it recaptured Taungyi.

It is the New 22nd D that had three companies of armored vehicles attached. The 6th Company, 2nd Battalion of the 5th Corps Tank Regiment with its 7 CV tankettes, supported by the 64th Regiment, N 22nd D, together with the 10th Company of the same battalion with 7 Renault tankettes supported by the 65th Regiment, N 22nd D reached attack kickoff positions 5 km north of the Japanese positions at the Nangyun railway station. At dawn the 10th Company moved forward with supporting infantry. However the Japanese hid their machine guns high in the trees and attacked the infantry once the tankettes had passed through. Thus the armored vehicles soon found themselves separated from the supporting troops. At that point the commander of the 65th Regiment personally led his troops forward. Despite this, the Japanese managed to damage or disable three of the tankettes before the Chinese managed to secure key positions around the train station. The 6th Tank Company fared even worse; three of its Renault tankettes were destroyed by Japanese anti-tank guns although all were recovered and towed back to Yedashe.

In reviewing this action, the Chinese concluded that the tankettes moved too far ahead of their supporting troops. The terrain was also not suitable for armor (this included both street fighting inside Nangyun as well as fighting in the jungle / wooded areas). The tank commanders were also inexperienced in jungle fighting and were often ambushed by enemies hidden among the trees.

The armament of the antiquated tankettes did not help either: the CVs had machine guns but no guns, but the Renaults had guns but no machine guns.

The above information is based on a well-researched book on KMT armor published recently: 國軍裝甲兵發展史 (“The Development of the ROC Armored Forces”) by 孫建中, ‪Taiwan Dept of Defense 2005, pp. 372-378.

The same book also provided the details of the purchase of the CVs and T-26s in Jan1938; they were taken delivery in secret overseas and shipped back to China via Canton in two shipments.

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asiaticus
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7 Renault tankettes ?

Post by asiaticus » 13 Jan 2008 16:06

7 Renault tankettes
sjchan any idea just what type of Renault tankettes were these? The old WWI variety FT-17's I would guess. Or were they R-35 tankettes?

Also, thanks for the post about the CV35's. Interesting, I had no idea. That many on hand would explain why some were still around to be in Chinese museums now.
Battle at Kankang
Interestng. Nice to get my conjecture from reading those topo maps confirmed about the line of march of the retreat and location of the battle.

And best of all, those battle reports and maps for Toungoo are just marvelous!

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? re shipments of T 26's

Post by Jerry Asher » 15 Jan 2008 03:35

Hi SJ

Thnaks for alerting us to the volume on ROC Armor --a question
I had thought that the T-26's had shipped from Sevastopal in Russia in November 1937 aboard two British flagged freighters--one went to Haiphong and one to Hong Kong. Is this affirmed or does it provide a different set of data? Are the names of the ships given. A ship could be British flagged and still have a predomiently Chinese crew?

Happy new year all.

sjchan
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Post by sjchan » 15 Jan 2008 17:40

There is quite a bit of confusion on what exactly were the Renault tankettes in Burma. There weren't too many of the FT-17s left by then, and the KMT bought mostly UE tankettes, and thus they were most proabably the ones in action during the Burma campaign. Howevr the UE tankettes carried only machine guns, which did not match the comments (made by the Tank Regiment commander) referenced in my post (namely the Renault tankettes had guns but no machine guns). There were even suggestions that the Chinese somehow replaced the machine guns with 37 mm guns. Given the scarcity of definitive source material, it is hard to tell.

I do not have detailed information regarding the shipment itself, the shipment of the CV-35s could have been a different affair from the T-26s. Not sure, will need to find more information.

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Post by sjchan » 17 Jan 2008 16:06

Pictures of the CV-35s, with the T-26s in the background (note this picture was not taken in Burma since most of the T-26s never made it to the front lines)

Also a monument built in memory of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma, erected in Toungoo in 2000 by the Chinese residents there (and led by a veteran of the 38th D).

I have pretty much exhausted my source material on the Battle of Toungoo; perhaps it's time for me to pay tribute to the courageous fighters in the battle.
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pitman
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Post by pitman » 23 Jan 2008 18:47

Do any of the accounts of the fighting of Kunlun or Toungoo mention the exploits of any individual soldiers (perhaps one who won a medal) or particular "colorful" incidents during the battles? I'm looking for a couple of interesting details or tidbits to add to the more mundane "this regiment did this, this battalion did that" accounts of the actions.

best,

Mark

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Post by sjchan » 27 Jan 2008 15:38

pitman wrote:Do any of the accounts of the fighting of Kunlun or Toungoo mention the exploits of any individual soldiers (perhaps one who won a medal) or particular "colorful" incidents during the battles? I'm looking for a couple of interesting details or tidbits to add to the more mundane "this regiment did this, this battalion did that" accounts of the actions.
Most of the accounts written by the higher ranking officers are pretty mundane affair; individual soldiers are seldom named and ‘colorful’ episodes rarely recorded -- not very many front line troops survive these and subsequent battles (including the civil war).

More colorful (or at least more vivid) stories can be found more easily on the Web; authenticity cannot be verified but I include one concerning the fate of some Chinese special assault troops (literally ‘dare-to-die’ squads) used to take out Japanese strong-points. Success or not, no medals. These are for the commanders.

Yuen was a young men barely 15 years old who lived near [Gaofengai], a vital highground near Kunlun Pass. When his village were destroyed by the Japanese when they took Kunlun Pass, he hid in the caves. However he could not stand the fleas there, and eventually was recruited by some troops of the 508th Regiment, 135th D hiding nearby and assigned to do clerical work at the regimental HQ since he has attended high school.

In late December, 1939, the commander of the counteroffensive on Kunlun Pass, General Pai Ch'ung-hsi (former warlord of Kwangsi province where Kunlun Pass is located), personally arrived at the HQ of the 508th Regiment to oversee the attack on [Gaofengai]. He wanted a 100-strong special assault force, and since General Pai enjoyed tremendous prestige among the tropps (the 135th D was a Kwangsi outfit), everyone thought it would be successful and the quota was quickly filled and many more had to be turned away. Each men was given 4 silver yuan (a tidy sum) and a good meal with fish, pork and even good wine, so it was considered a good deal. Yuen watched enviously since the troops rarely had meat to eat.

After the meal, each member of the assault force was given two old pistols and 6 grenades. They were the vanguard for the 3 battalions of the regiment. Yuen was to be the guide for the special assault force and the supporiting 2nd Battalion since he knew the local terrain well.

It was a clear night, and by midnight they have made their way to just below the hill opposite [Gaofengai]. All the 27 light machine guns of the entire battalion were lined up at the ridgeline facing the Japanese positions; they commenced covering fire at 3 a.m. as the special assault force rushed up the ridge. The Japanese had carved out five 1 meter wide square caves about 20 meters apart, with a single rifleman within each cave. It was extremely difficult to get to them, and ultimate took an entire hour to silence them all. Next up were the machine gun positions; they were the key to the defense but despite all effort the Chinese troops could not get through. Dawn came amid a deadly silence: all 100 men of the special assault force were dead. The 2nd Battalion also had more than 200 casualties and the slopes were full of the dead and the wounded. Yuen had gone back to the HQ before the actual fight and wanted to see what the situation was, but the regimental commander told him that the carnage was too much for someone so young to see.

The Japanese next turned their artillery and air strikes on the regiment, which kept retreating until they reached [Wumingjie], which was easily to defend since it was walled. Finding the town too hard to take by frontal assaults; the Japanese called in air strikes which leveled the small town and just about wiped out the entire 2nd Battalion there. General Pai Ch'ung-his ordered the town to be retaken at all cost. By then the regiment was down to about 2 companies but the regimental commander launched the attack anyway. The Japanese, surprised by the counterattack and probably thinking that the Chinese had been reinforced, fell back and the two sides faced off tensely.

Yuen eventually enrolled at the Whampoa Academy and became an officer in the KMT army. Few of the troops he met during the Battle of Kunlun Pass lived to see the end of the war.

This is based on http://war.163.com/07/1127/14/3UAFLU9B00011MSF_2.html

I suppose the 200th D fared a bit better then the poorly equipped Kwangsi troops (it has supporting artillery) but basically this is pretty much the story at Kunlun Pass; costly frontal assaults against strongly entrenched Japanese positions where the Japanese, as usual, fought to the last.

Incidentally, the Chinese has often claimed that Major Gen. Masao Nakamura, commander of the IJA 21st Infantry Brigade, marked in his diary before he died (he was wounded in battle and had the misfortune of a stray mortar shell hitting the roof of the hut where he was being operated) that: his brigade was known as the 'steel' brigade since it has proved to be stronger than the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War, but at Kunlun Pass he has met a foe which is stronger than even the Russians and a match for his troops.

Just wondering if the Japanese experts on this forum can comment on whether this is true or Chinese propaganda?

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Post by sjchan » 15 Feb 2008 17:08

A bit of additional information on the importance of the air power in the Battle of Kunlun Pass. In the various recollections of the battle from the Chinese point of view, there were numerous references to the devastating effect of Japanese air strikes on Chinese troops. In fact I read somewhere that the Chinese mechanized troops did not dare to travel during the day in the move up to Kunlun Pass; no doubt in this case a major reason was to avoid tipping the Japanese off as the concentration of major forces before the Chinese offensive. But less often mentioned was the major effort of the Chinese air force; Chiang Kai Shek threw in 100 aircraft which is a significant portion of the operational planes in all of China, to support his troops. Though their effectiveness on the whole was dwarfed by the Japanese and heavy losses were incurred, nonetheless the sight of Chinese plases was a major morale booster. There were incidents when their intervention were decisive. For example, "The Development of the ROC Armored Forces" (pp. 360-361) decribes how a cleverly sited Japanese anti-tank gun on a reverse slope dominated a key bridge in the mountain defiles of Kunlun Pass, shooting up Chinese AFVs that dared to venture forward. It was not until the Chinese planes destroyed the gun that the tanks were able to move forward.

Incidentally according to the same source, the Chinese committed 54 AFVs in the Battle of Kunlun Pass; 4 T-26 (#546, 528, 581 and 583) and 4 CV35s (#736, 787, 804 and 807) were destroyed; tankettes #736 and 807 were actually captured by the Japanese. In addition, 11 more T-26 and 5 CVs were damaged but recovered and repaired. The armored troops were withdrawn after Kunlun Pass was captured, however 1 company was left behind to support the Chinese forces and it was trapped and annihilated in later battles to the north-east of Kunlun Pass.

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Post by sjchan » 29 Feb 2008 18:02

Battle at Kankang
Interestng. Nice to get my conjecture from reading those topo maps confirmed about the line of march of the retreat and location of the battle.
Just when I thought I have exhausted my reference material on the exploits of 200th D in Burma I got hold of a semi-official history of the 5th Corps sponsored by the Military History Section of the Ministry of Defence in ROC (Taiwan). It has some nice maps and additional details on the 200th D.

The retreat of the 200th D is as follows:

May 5: Lawksawk
May 10: Kyawkku
May 17 (evening): near Nawnghkio
May 17 (midnight) Pyawnghkawng
May 18 Namsaw, Loikong (ambushed by a task force from the 3rd Battalion of the 143rd Regiment, 55th IJA Division, which left Mandalay on May 13, swept through the area around Guhtekuh on May 17, and arrived in time to set the ambush for the 200th D)
May 26 Maubang (where Gen. Dai An-lan died)
May 29 Pang-Yok
May 30 crossed the highway to Namhkam near Lassai and re-entered China.

Its version of the skirmishes south of Toungoo:

March 18: The motorcycle platoon of the 5th Corps Cavalry Regiment ambushed Japanese vanguards at Tawgywe-In at 2 pm, killing 30+. The motorcycle platoon retreated across River Pyu around midnight.
March 19: Japanese frontal attacks on the Cavalry Regiment's position across River Pyu was rebuffed but flanking movements caused the Chinese to retreat. However the Chinese set up another ambush and knocked out a number of armoured cars, losing 30+ of their own including the deputy regimental commander in the process. The Japanese crossed River Pyu downstream and attacked the left flank of the Cavalry Regiment, which retreated back to positions near Nyaungchidauk
March 20: Japanese frontal attacks on the Nyaungchidauk positions hit the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 598th Regiment hard. The Chinese retrieved maps and documents from a killed Japanese officer which revealed for the first time the plans of the Japanese. At 4 p.m. the right flank of the Chinese positions gave way and had to move back to Cheaubey; fortunately the rest of the 1st Battalion, 598th Regiment arrived to hold the positions.
March 21 The 1st Battalion came under heavy attack at first light; by noon it was forced to retreat to Kywebwe; but the Japanese followed up rapidly and threatend both flanks. By midnight the battalion were ordered to retreat back to Oktwin, having suffered some 50+ casualties.
March 22 Oktwin positions, reinforced by 5th company of 599th Regiment and anti-tank guns, were attacked by the IJA 112th Regiment; the attacks were repulsed with a loss of some 60+ casualties
March 23 Chinese held their ground in the face of Japanese attacks with artillery, air and tank support
March 24 Japanese attacks continued; broke through Chinese lines between Oktwin and Tantabin and advanced norht along the bank of the River Sittang. The deputy commander of the 598th Regiment personally led the divisional cavalry company and the 5th company of the Corps Cavalry Regiment which were in reserve in a counterattack; he was killed and both Oktwin and Tantabin fell by midnight; the remants of the troops retreated back to Toungoo by daybreak on March 25.

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Re: Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

Post by pitman » 29 Feb 2008 23:47

Now that I can access the forum again, thanks very much!

sjchan
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Re: Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

Post by sjchan » 02 Mar 2008 13:29

Here's a map of the skirmishes south of Toungoo, from the book referenced in my previous post.
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pitman
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Re: Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

Post by pitman » 02 Mar 2008 20:09

That's a very helpful map!

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Re:

Post by sjchan » 31 Mar 2008 15:27

sjchan wrote: The Senshi Sosho account is very detailed, some 35 pages; need time to digest and translate. The following map regarding the battle on Dec 18, which shows the pass (circled in blue), Chiu t'ang at the bottom (circled in red) and the heights surronding the pass, is taken from Senshi Sosho, which also provides the following information regarding the terrain. Some key high grounds: Jieshou (circled in green), Luotang (purple), Baisheng (orange) and Triangular Hill (brown).
Here a map from the same Chinese source on the Battle of Kunlun Pass; it's good to compare this with the Senshi Sosho map I posted a long time ago. Note the hollow bars refer to movement between Dec 20-22, the shaded bars Dec 23, and the solid bars Dec 24-27 (red for Japanese troops and blue for Chinese troops). Note the placement of the Chinese artillery and the path taken by the Japanese relief column.
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sjchan
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Re: Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

Post by sjchan » 01 Apr 2008 14:17

One more map, showing the final assault; hollow bars for movement on the Dec 30, solid ones for the Dec 31.

It is interesting to note that the N 22nd D was given the task to make the final assault on Kunlun Pass, even though the 200th D was in position and on the verge of taking it. It could be that the 200th D was considered too tired and weak to handle the final assault, but there has been charges of favouritism, that someone wanted the N 22nd D to have the honor of capturing Kunlun Pass itself.
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