Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

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asiaticus
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Post by asiaticus » 25 Aug 2007 22:50

The 200th D was next engaged in the battle for Taunggyi. It was sent by Stillwell and Luo Zhuoying on April 19 together with the New 22nd D to the area around Kyaukpadaung based on false intelligence that there were 3000 enemy troops, despite objections by General Du Yuming that the New 38th D was at Yenangyaung and the ‘enemy’ troops were probably the 112nd Regiment of the New 38th D.


This is at variance with what Hsu says, the New 22nd Division was at Pyinmana from April 16th with the 96th Divison after fighting a long delaying action against the Japanese at Yedeshe and then the Swa River further north. Supposedly these two Chinese Divsions had to fall back to the north after the British unit on the west flank was withdrawn April 18th to counter the Japanese that had surrounded their force at Yenangyaung, exposing the Chinese flank. 96th Division covered the withdrawal of the New 22nd (and Hsu says 200th) Division and fell back to a line at Kyidaunggan. Pyinmana fell to the Japanese on the 20th.

I wonder what the 200th Division was doing between Toungoo and April 19th?

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Post by sjchan » 26 Aug 2007 10:19

The original intention of the Chinese plan was to use the New 22nd D to fall back slowly towards Pyinmana, which was held by the 96th Division. The 200th D was to remain in mobile reserve together with certain units belonging to the 5th Corps; the idea was to spring some kind of trap on the Japanese in a suitable terrain with the New 22nd D as bait. Of course things did not work out that way, at least the part about the trap. Instead of sprining a trap the Chinese forces were themselves trapped.

The New 22nd D never moved to Kyaukpadaung, because in the end only part of the 200th D made the actual move to Kyaukpadaung, and when no Japanese force was found the original order was cancelled. By the time the Chinese figured out what was going on and the various commanders overcame their differences much time was lost. Credit must also be given to the Japanese troops who were able to make rapid progress under extreme weather conditions and difficult terrain.

Also, I found further information regarding the battle of Taungyi based on the Taiwan translation of Senshi Sosho.

The Japanese forces had actually almost ran out of fuel when they captured Taungyi and recovered some 700 barrels (each 180 liters) of gasoline; this made possible the subsequent advance to the north. The Japanese force which undertook this exploit was the 2nd Battalion of the 113th Regiment, 56th Division.

On April 23 the Japanese forces ran into about 500 Chinese troops with armoured cars and more than 10 trucks. These troops were defeated and Taungyi held. On April 24 at 1000 more troops with armoured cars and 300 trucks joined the attack, and the situation worsened. A squadron of tanks (3 tanks) were dispatched immediately by the Divisional Commander of the 56th Division as well as a troop of 15 cm howitzers as reinforcement. After two days of hard
battle (April 24-25) the Chinese were stopped and on April 26 they were driven back to the west.

So this account actually matched the Chinese one reasonably well after all.

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After Toungoo

Post by asiaticus » 26 Aug 2007 22:42

The Japanese account does seem to compliment the Chinese account. One would wish for more detail like the Chinese one but that is pretty good.

The original intention of the Chinese plan was to use the New 22nd D to fall back slowly towards Pyinmana, which was held by the 96th Division. The 200th D was to remain in mobile reserve together with certain units belonging to the 5th Corps; the idea was to spring some kind of trap on the Japanese in a suitable terrain with the New 22nd D as bait. Of course things did not work out that way, at least the part about the trap. Instead of sprining a trap the Chinese forces were themselves trapped.


Ok this makes sense.

I am asuming you mean the Japanese trap is their move to the east. My understanding from Hsu is that the Chinese 56th Division sent one column on the road, clashing with elements of the 55th Division at Mawchi and Bawlake and moved up the Salween to Loikaw. Another column came northeast over the mountians from Toungoo to the village of Bato, defeated a Chinese 55th Division force and then moved north and east toward Loikaw avoiding the direct route and the two forces forced the Chinese 55th Division to pull back to Loikaw and then pull out of it to avoid encirclement. Then they moved up to Taunggyi which put them on the Chinese flank and rear and as they got further north to Loilem and beyond threatening their line of communications with China.

The capture of Taungoo opened up the routes to the east and north and while the New 22nd Division held up the Japanese advance directly to the north toward Pyinmana first at Yedeshe until the 8th and later at the Swa River until the 10th when the Japanese forced a crossing. They still delayed the Japanese advance up the valley until the 16th when they fell back toward Pyinmana and a new defense line held by the 96th Division and a British force.

Hsu says that the Japanese attacked the 96th Division at a place on the Chinese right flank called Liehna ( from the topo map NE47-1 I am guessing this might be Lewe). On the 18th the British that held a position further to the Chinese right were pulled out and sent west because of the crisis at Yenangyaung exposing the Chinese flank. The Chinese had to fall back he says the 96th covered this withdrawal of the New 22nd Division.

I am thinking the Allied plan was to let the Japanese follow up the 22nd Divison to Pyinmana and then fall on their flank with the 96th Division and the British force. If so the Japanese must not have been caught napping and flushed this out on the 17th.

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Re: After Toungoo

Post by sjchan » 27 Aug 2007 16:28

asiaticus wrote:The Japanese account does seem to compliment the Chinese account. One would wish for more detail like the Chinese one but that is pretty good.

I am asuming you mean the Japanese trap is their move to the east. My understanding from Hsu is that the Chinese 56th Division sent one column on the road, clashing with elements of the 55th Division at Mawchi and Bawlake and moved up the Salween to Loikaw. Another column came northeast over the mountians from Toungoo to the village of Bato, defeated a Chinese 55th Division force and then moved north and east toward Loikaw avoiding the direct route and the two forces forced the Chinese 55th Division to pull back to Loikaw and then pull out of it to avoid encirclement. Then they moved up to Taunggyi which put them on the Chinese flank and rear and as they got further north to Loilem and beyond threatening their line of communications with China.


The trap was the flanking movement to the east, but the Japanese had bigger game in mind than just Laikow, the real objective is Lashio. In fact in Senshi Sosho it was stated that they purposely consolidated their forces south of Laikow to ensure they had sufficient force for a rapid move even though they could have moved north earlier; premature movement might tip off the Chinese.

Hsu’s account is basically correct regarding the main events (afte rall it is an abstract of the official KMT history of the Sino Japanese War).


I am thinking the Allied plan was to let the Japanese follow up the 22nd Divison to Pyinmana and then fall on their flank with the 96th Division and the British force. If so the Japanese must not have been caught napping and flushed this out on the 17th.


Yes the New 22nd D fought a reasonably successful delaying action against fairly strong Japanese forces (elements of the 55th and 18th Divsions) for a while. The trapping force was to be the 200th D plus 5th Corps units with the 96th D in support.

The Chinese view on how the eastern flank crumbled, as summarized in Zhongguo yuan zheng jun zhan shi by Xu Kangming, is as follows.

The Japanese 56th Division started moving towards Mawchi on April 1. Progress was slow because the road to Mawchi had been damaged by the Chinese, and eventually the Japanese had to switch to marching on foot at night to avoid the heat. But on April 6 they reached Mawchi, where the Chinese only had a battalion size force (3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, Provisional 55th D) as garrison, it was dislodged in a short battle. The 2nd Battalion from the same regiment also suffered heavy losses in the follow-up battle, and they had to retreat on April 11 to regroup near Bawlake.

The Provisional 55th D was now widely dispersed, with the part of the 2nd and 3rd Regiments holding the high grounds about 32 km south of Laikow, and one battalion of the 3rd Regiment guarding the airfield at Heho. To boost morale, the divisional HQ as well as 6th Corps HQ (as well as the Corps Engineers Battalion) were moved forward to Laikow, whose garrison also included part of the 3rd Regiment of the Provisional 55th D. The 146th Regiment of the 49th D was also rushed to take up positions north of Laikow. Despite strong resistance offered by the 2nd Regiment which delayed the Japanese for a few days, by April 18, the Japanese 56th Division had reached the 55th D’s position south of Laikow. On April 20 the commander of the 6th Corps decided to abandon Laikow. By then the Chinese realized that their plan for a battle at Pyinmana had failed.

The commander of the 6th Corps with 2 battalions then occupied positions near Loliem, his chief of staff with 2 battalions and a company of artillery held Hopong. At 1000 on April 21, Japanese vanguards attacked Hopong and also tried a flanking movement to the west. By nightfall, April 22 the Chinese, having lost half their troops, had to retreat.


There is a detailed account regarding these operations in Senshi Sosho. However, although I could not get hold of Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion , based on the information posted by others in this thread it seems the authors of the book have referenced Senshi Sosho extensively so the information is probably available there already.
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Post by asiaticus » 27 Aug 2007 18:15

Thanks for the info on the Japanese moves on Pyinmana and Loikaw. I was wondering how that worked. Got to get that book.

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Post by pitman » 28 Aug 2007 22:21

>Actually, I wonder why the Americans, with all their resources, never bothered to translate Senshi Sosho into English.

Man, I have wanted that for such a long time! Even more than the French and Italian official histories.

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Post by sjchan » 29 Aug 2007 08:39

To get back to the story 200th D, here's the final installment of its battle in Burma.

The last real action of the 200th D was the ambush on May 18. After abandoning Taunggyi, it retreated north and reached Hopong on April 29. It then made a fateful decision to withdraw to the north to rejoin the main force of the 5th Corps, instead of withdrawing to the east directly. It must now pass through 2 rivers and 3 main roads as well as strong Japanese blocking positions. Avoiding the main roads, the Chinese force had to hide during the day particularly as it approached key positions like rivers or main roads. Scouts disguised as the locals were sent out, then small forces were sent to secure key covering positions at night to allow the main force to pass through. Using this tactic, it successfully crossed the Nantou River (??) and passed the Lashio-Mandalay road. On May 10 it joined up with the 5th Corps Replacement Regiments 1 and 2 which had been sent out as a guerilla force, as well as two battalions of the 6th Corps and part of the New 28th Division of the 66th Corps.

On May 18, the division ran into a roadblock set up by the Japanese near the village of Kanka (??) The force was estimated to be 1-2 battalions in strength, with 2 small guns and some 20 armored cars. In driving rain and heavy mist, Dai An-lan ordered the 600th Regiment to make a frontal attack to capture the high ground, while part of the 599th Regiment was to outflank the enemy position. The 600th Regiment reported that it had captured its objectives by 7 p.m., but more Japanese were expected to be around. At 8 p.m. the 600th Regiment was ordered to extend its perimeter along the road in both the east and west direction. At 10 p.m., as the main force was going to pass through the road, some 20 Japanese armored cars attacked and broke through the covering positions of the 600th Regiment. General Dai took the 1st Battalion of the 599th Regiment to deal with this threat; the force took heavy casualties and Dai was mortally wounded by heavy machine gun fire. Chinese casualties were heavy in the confused and deadly fighting. The rest of 598th Regiment was ordered to man the high grounds and cover the retreat of the main force. By late May 19, the entire division had finished regrouping, but the 600th Regiment and the 599th Regiment were each reduced to an effective strength of a single battalion, and the 596th Regiment was down to half strength. By the time the division finally reached Yunnan some time later, it only had 4650 out of the original 9000 men (some sources claimed only 4000 men were left).

Japanese account of this battle in Senshi Sosho is very brief, stating only that it routed a force consisting of the 200th D and assorted other units on May 17 and 18.

I think the fact that a once strong force suffered so many casualties in a relatively minor battle indicated that the 200th D was by that time a mere shell of its former self.

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Post by asiaticus » 29 Aug 2007 09:19

Now if we can just figure out where Kanka is.

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Post by sjchan » 29 Aug 2007 11:18

The Chinese translation is 康卡, it's just a small village. One clue as to where it is: it is on the road from 細泡 (Hsipaw?) to 摩谷 (I have no idea where these places are), and is near a town called 高堡 where the 200th D regrouped after its deadly encounter with the Japanese roadblock. Using local tour guides, the 200th D finally evaded the Japanese and broke out near the town of 朗科 (Longkor?) . Gen. Dai An Lan finally died of his wounds on May 26. The next day, following the instructions he left behind, the division changed its path and crossed the Salween River near 茅邦 Mawpong (?) and followed the river along its west bank. The Japanese had been looking for the Chinese on the eastern bank of the river, and by the time they found out the Chinese were gone, the 200th D had already passed the Namhkam-Bhamo road on June 2. On June 5 it finally re-entered China.

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Post by asiaticus » 31 Aug 2007 04:02

Hsu calls this action the battle of Battle of Hsipaw-Mogok Highway with a date of May 23, 1942.
Doesnt match up very well with the account above but does give a clue as to where to look.

Looking at the topo map NF47-5 there is a highway between Hsipaw and Mogok via Kyaukme. The highway to Mogok then leads to the west and the Irawaddy River. I was tracing the track of a possible retreat of 200th Division north from Taungyi on the Topo maps from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. It looks like they would have moved on dirt tracks and crossed the Mandalay - Lashio Road west of Hsipaw just west of Kyaukme where thier route would have taken them to this highway that that leads across the mountains to Mogok.

About half way along the road near section 2-S6 is a village called Kankang on the Nam Kan or Kan River . Maybe thats the place.

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About the route of retreat from Taunggyi

Post by asiaticus » 31 Aug 2007 08:22

sjchan

One line confuses me.

After abandoning Taunggyi, it retreated north and reached Hopong on April 29.


Hopong at the time was directly east of Taunggyi and I beleive held by the Japanese.

If they retired to the north of Taungyi there is a highway up to Lawksawk, and a decent road to Indaw and Kyawkku where the road runs out. Then to go north its all dirt tracks. 10miles north of there is the is the crossing for the Nantou River where they could go on to Shwe-mote-htaw and then to a crossing of the Mandalaly Lashio Road somewhere between Onmaka and Nawnghkio where there is lots of cover and trails crossing the road.

Then they must have continued north and come to the Kankang crossing of that Kan River the only one in the area and where the Moguk Highway crosses the river.

See maps NF47-13, -9 , -5

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Post by sjchan » 01 Sep 2007 08:17

sjchan wrote:The original intention of the Chinese plan was to use the New 22nd D to fall back slowly towards Pyinmana, which was held by the 96th Division. The 200th D was to remain in mobile reserve together with certain units belonging to the 5th Corps; the idea was to spring some kind of trap on the Japanese in a suitable terrain with the New 22nd D as bait.


A bit more on where the 200th D was. According to the memoirs of the commander of the 598th Regiment (in Yuan zheng Yin Mian kang zhan - Battles of the Expeditionary Force in India and Burma), the 200th D reached the area to the north of Yedashe by April 5. General Dai An Lan went to meet Jiang Jieshi on April 6 and returned on April 7 and held a meeting with his staff in the afternoon to discuss the planned battle for Pyinmana. The division left its current position on April 9 and arrived at Pyinmana on April 11. There was another meeting to coordinate the artillery, infantry and AFVs in the planned 'trap'. By April 16 all positions were prepared, and the New 22nd D and the 96th D were also in position.

The battle never took place, for reasons discussed in previous posts.

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Post by sjchan » 01 Sep 2007 12:09

Regarding the retreat route, there is some additional information, also from the recollections of the commander of the 598th Regiment.

The 200th D was moving north towards 羅列姆Loilem (?) which it reached on around May 4. It then decided to retreat to the north. Despite constant surveillance by Japanese planes, they were not discovered since they moved through the forest. The first major obstacle was the 南盤江Nam Pun (?) river between Lashio and Mandalay. The river was wide and not fordable. Fortunately there were lots of bamboo trees along the banks of the river, and the troops were able to make bamboo rafts. The entire division made the crossing in a single day using these rafts. The next obstacle, the Lashio-Mandalay road, was also crossed without incident.

On May 18, they were ambushed by the Japanese as they tried to cross the Hsipaw to Mogok road. On May 19, the division decided on a different spot to cross the road and did so that night. The next obstacle was the Salween River. It was not wide and the current not very swift. Furthermore, four rafts were found, and a battalion can cross in a single trip. On May 28, the entire division crossed near 芳邦. On June 2, the last obstacle, the Namhkam-Bhamo road was crossed without incident, and the division got back into China.

I don’t think the division necessarily followed any established paths through the forest so while the general direction may be determined the exact route is I think quite hard to pinpoint.

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Post by asiaticus » 01 Sep 2007 17:15

Hmm, so the 200th Division was actually pursuing the remnants of the Japanese opposing force thru Hopong to Loliem ?.
That makes things a bit different. Loliem makes it hard to figure out how they got back so far west as to get to that place on the Moguk highway if they were headed north. They must have moved northwest and crossed the Nan Tu or Tu or Myitnge River somewhere southwest of Hsipaw. That long section of the river is in a steep canyon and has few crossing points along it. It looks like they would have had to cross a couple of other smaller rivers too to get to this point. I would bet the second one they crossed was the Nam Lang or Lang River. It would be interesting to know if the first river was the Mot or Pak River.
I think they might have turned up crossing the Lashio Mandalay road pretty close to where I previously guessed because the area closer to Kyaukme is too open and leads into a rugged and trackless area.

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Post by sjchan » 01 Sep 2007 18:24

Well the 200th D was not purusing anyone after the fall of Lashio, it's just a matter of retreating and getting home.

Well if only I have decent map of Burma in Chinese handy; you are probably right about the first river they cross since the river was supposed to be a main river flowing between Mandalay and Lashio. I made a mistake in translating the second river they crossed, it was not the Salween (not possible, it was too far to the east). It is actually the Shweli Rirver. Note it makes sense how they moved along the western bank of the Shweli, then cross over to the east and then pass the Namhkam-Bhamo road just before the Chinese border.

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