Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

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Grandstudent
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Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Grandstudent » 15 Apr 2014 18:35

Hey guys,

I read on wiki about the Battle of Dawan Cheng and the ROC 36th Division fighting against the soviets. So I did some google searching and found this youtube documentary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4MpuCJ5 ... e=youtu.be

Does anyone know more, such as the weapons used, pictures, etc? This is an unknown topic

Stephen_Rynerson
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Re: Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 16 Apr 2014 13:57

Grandstudent, thanks for posting that link. I'll note that there are some factual errors in the video (e.g., the Turkish-Islamic Republic of East Turkestan, a.k.a., First East Turkestan Republic, wasn't backed by the Soviets), but I'm intrigued that someone was interested enough in this subject to put together even a mini-documentary. I would be curious to know how much, if any, of the footage used in the documentary was actually from the 1933-34 period in Xinjiang. (The still photos are, but at least some of the film footage definitely isn't -- there were no railroads in Xinjiang at that time, for example.)

In terms of weapons used, Western sources tend to stress that the 36th Division had an eclectic mixture of mostly outdated small arms and World War I-era machineguns. That ties into one of the things that makes think a lot of the film footage was not from Xinjiang -- there are several shots showing artillery batteries, but the 36th Division had very few artillery pieces. That was, in fact, one of the major problems that Ma Zhongying's forces faced in both the 1931 and 1933-34 invasions. The lack of artillery made the traditional walled cities of the province much more defensible and forced Ma to commit large numbers of men to besieging cities for a prolonged period of time, which squandered the effectiveness of his cavalry troops.

I'll go through my sources here in the next few days and post a summary of what weapons the 36th Division was generally attributed as fielding.

Grandstudent
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Re: Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Grandstudent » 17 Apr 2014 05:02

I believe some footage is from the second sino japanese war. But the pictures are real. I'm sure of it :thumbsup:

Stephen_Rynerson
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Re: Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 17 Apr 2014 05:23

The most detailed account of the 36th Division's equipment I could find comes from Sven Hedin's The Flight of Big Horse (1936), pg. 64. In February 1934, Hedin was asked to photograph the division's arsenal at Turfan:
We drove in through the west gate of Yangi-Shahr, the Chinese town, and once inside it was not far to the artillery depot. In front of the main building eighteen old field-guns and fourteen machine-guns were drawn up to be photographed. . . . In a large hall were two thousand worn rusty rifles set up in bundles and pairs, German, French and American; some dated from 1866, but most would have been in their proper place in an artillery museum. There were no new models. Chang Sin-ming, who was with us, told us that quite as many rifles were distributed among the armourers of the town for repair. Fancy making war with rubbish like that! Chang thought that Ma had twenty-seven thousand rifles and sixty machine-guns along the route from Hami to Kashgar.
Hedin also reports that the 36th Division captured two aircraft at Urumqi (Hedin, pg. 59) as well as an armored car (Hedin, pg. 143). Those vehicles must have been captured prior to January 1934. It's not clear that the aircraft were ever operational and the armored car was reportedly abandoned at Su-bashi during the 36th Division's retreat in the January/February 1934 time period because there wasn't fuel available for it.

The other somewhat detailed description is from 1935, after the Soviet intervention forced the 36th Division to turn southwards, as described in Peter Fleming's News From Tartary (1936). Traveling through southern Xinjiang and passing through territory controlled by the 36th Division (at that point commanded by Ma Hushan, half-brother of Ma Zhongying), Fleming wrote at page at page 263:
The Tungan armies, as I have said before, were in 1935 established in oases south of the Takla Makan on a line extending from Charklik to Khargalik. Their effective strength is probably in the neighbourhood of 15,000 rifles, but they could put into the field a very much larger force of auxiliaries armed with swords. About 80 per cent of the regular troops are cavalry, extremely well mounted; there are several machine-guns and a few light cannon.
.

Fleming also gives the following description of weapons of the 36th Division troops at the oasis of Cherchen (Fleming, pp. 268-69):
The Tungan's weapons were a motley lot. One was a Winchester .303, an old sporting model and clearly the legacy of an expedition. There was an ancient Japanese service rifle, several Snyders, a German rifle (1890), and a Lee-Enfiled from the Indian frontier very approximately dated by the initials VR. But the most intriguing of all was a Remington marked 1917 and stamped clumsily with the double eagle of Imperial Russia; I saw these hybrid weapons everywhere in Sinkiang and presume that they were supplied by the Americans to White forces during the Siberian intervention.
Finally, at Khargalik, Fleming talked with a garrison commander about their weapons (Fleming, p. 308):
He even, at my request, sent into the yamen for one of the Russian army rifles of which he claimed to have captured large quantities at Urumchi; so far I had seen no Russian rifles of a later date than 1923, but this one was marked 1930, which seemed to bear out his contention that he had taken it from Soviet troops.
Georg Vasel in My Russian Jailers in China (1937), describes the 36th Division's cavalry units in 1933 (prior to invading Xinjiang) as carrying "carbines of the most varied and antiquated pattern." (Vasel, pg. 102.)

Grandstudent
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Re: Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Grandstudent » 18 Apr 2014 02:50

Wow fascinating information!!! Thanks

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Robert24
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Re: Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang China 1934

Post by Robert24 » 08 Mar 2015 20:33

A small tidbit of information for those interested… I am almost finished reading The Second World War by Antony Beevor. He does a great job at describing the impacts of the conflict in Xinjiang with other decisions and events during WW2.

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