General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

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General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by Jerry Asher » 15 Jun 2015 04:25

What units did this man command to lead into rebellion in 1931? Designation, size, dispostion etc. Many thanks in advance.

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by The 51st Division » 18 Jun 2015 18:37

In early 1931 before Shi's defection from the Manchurian warlord Zhang Xueliang (this was like, what, his fourth defection now?), he was stationed at Shunde (顺德) in the Zhili Province (nowadays it's called Xingtai in Hebei Province) and obviously, as a warlord, he governed that territory on his own. According to my knowledge, under Zhang Xueliang he commanded the 13th Route Army, which consisted of 2 "first-grade divisions" (甲种师) and 4 "second-grade divisions" (乙种师), an independent cavalry brigade, a "special operation regiment" (特务团, a very indigenous Chinese unit), an artillery regiment, an engineer regiment, and an armoured train regiment, totaling 64,000 men. After his defection from Zhang and the anti-Chiang Kaishek campaign, his forces grew in size and was expanded to about 70,000+ men (not counting his allied warlords' armies). And then he was quickly defeated. The end.
"The nation might be powerful, yet it shall be destroyed if it seeks war; the world might be peaceful, yet it shall be doomed if it forgets war."
--The Method of the Sima, Qin Dynasty Chinese Military Classic

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by Jerry Asher » 18 Jun 2015 21:16

Many thanks 51st Division. Information was very helpful. Welcome to the forum. One more time; I felt your answer was absolutely spot on. Did the railway regiment possess a train and was it used?

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by The 51st Division » 19 Jun 2015 03:11

Thank you for the warm welcome :)

Shi did possess at least one armoured train in 1931, that's for sure (most likely it was the 8-car "Henan" train, but no guarantee). However, I just simply can't find anything specifically regarding the usage (well, very little information is available regarding the 1931 Shi Yousan rebellion in the first place)

But to make up for it I can share an interesting anecdote:
25 May 1930, Henan Province, the Central Plains War. Almost all the armoured trains in China were concentrated here. What ensued was some epic armoured train duals (I believe this is the only occasion where such scenario took place). The 15-car "Zhongshan-I" of the Northwest Army was the beast, it had everything from heavy artilleries to mortars to AA batteries, and was effectively halting the Central Army's advance. To counter this obstacle the Central Army sent forward the "Yunnan-Guizhou" and the "Great Wall". But number is not the winning factor here (imagine it, one railroad, only two trains can go head on). Knowing the disadvantage, the Central Army attempted a sudden assault: rush the "Zhongshan", hook it up, and use the power of two trains to literally drag the "Zhongshan" back to Central Army position! This sounds quite absurd indeed, but think about it was there any other tactics? The only challenge of this simple plan was that the first train must withstand the head-on fire from "Zhongshan", which it didn't. The first train was derailed by "Zhongshan"'s heavy artilleries at 400 metres, completely ruining the railroad, and the second train was thus forced to retreat.

But "Zhongshan-I"'s luck soon ran out, it was blown up by another Central Army's train "Hunan-Guangzhou" a few months later.
"The nation might be powerful, yet it shall be destroyed if it seeks war; the world might be peaceful, yet it shall be doomed if it forgets war."
--The Method of the Sima, Qin Dynasty Chinese Military Classic

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 19 Jun 2015 13:37

Thank you very much, 51st Division. This is great information. I am curious though, when you refer to the "special operation regiment" as being a "very indigenous Chinese unit," what do you mean? I am assuming you mean that the organization or purpose of the unit was unique to China, but how so?

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by YC Chen » 19 Jun 2015 15:55

Hello all,

I have been researching on Chinese armored trains for years. The quite famous story mentioned by 51st Division appeared in various recollections of general Xu Tingyao(徐庭瑶).

As for Shi Yousan's armored train troops, I have four unpublished manuscript in my collection proving that it was commanded by a Colonel Duan Chunze(段春泽, in a published memoir he was called Duan Chengze段承泽). After Shi Yousan failed he and his armored trains surrendered to Zhang Xueliang and was appointed a lieutenant colonel and commander of the 6th armored train squadron of the North-east Army. In 1935 when his squadron was in Fengtai(丰台) he planned a pro-Japanese armed coup. The plan failed and he was captured and executed.

Similar information could also be found in an issue of 天津市文史资料选辑 with less detailed information.

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by Jerry Asher » 19 Jun 2015 21:22

Many thanks to each participant . Certainly expanded my understanding. YC"s response raises a new question--the 1935 coup attempt is new to me. YC can you expand on it? Many thanks.

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by The 51st Division » 19 Jun 2015 22:33

Thanks for the valuable information, YC Chen.
So if Shi Yousan's train became the 6th squadron of Zhang Xueliang's Northeast Army, then I'm pretty (85+%) sure that it was indeed the "Henan" train, the modified 8-car cargo train with 6 artillery pieces and 24 Maxim guns, built by Zhang Zongchang (Zhang Xueliang's father) in 1924 after the Second Zhili-Fengtian War and originally manned by Zhang's White Russian mercenaries. It was then somehow captured by Feng Yuxiang's Northwest Army and then acquired by the Chiang Kai-shek's Central Army and then assigned to Shi Yousan after he defected from the Northwest Army to Chiang but was then captured by Zhang Xueliang after the 1930 Central Plains War and then assigned back to Shi Yousan who had now defected to Zhang but then he defected again in 1931 and was defeated and then re-captured by Zhang once and for all. Such was the epic tale of the "Henan" train, and Shi Yousan the legendary "defector general"...

Now answering Stephen's question:
As of the 特务, literally "special operation" or "special tasks", it was a military branch common in China before WWII. Almost every division had a 特务 regiment or battalion, some elite regiments even had 特务 companies of their own. But take note, this "special operation" wasn't any Spetsnaz-style "spec-ops" at all. Indeed some 特务 were specially-trained elite soldiers that conduct recon or even spy missions, but mostly 特务 units in the Chinese military take care of communication, protection, guarding, engineering, propaganda, recruitment duties etc. Basically anything you need some military people to do that is not direct fighting. I assume it's largely because the Chinese military back then didn't have the specialization of those services, and/or enough professional personnels to do many of those jobs. A rough Western equivalent of this was perhaps the Soviet NKVD units. And like the NKVD, 特务 were after all military units and they could fight proper battles when being asked to, but under normal circumstances you shouldn't consider 特务 as an effective combat unit.
"The nation might be powerful, yet it shall be destroyed if it seeks war; the world might be peaceful, yet it shall be doomed if it forgets war."
--The Method of the Sima, Qin Dynasty Chinese Military Classic

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by YC Chen » 20 Jun 2015 08:05

Yes I agree with 51st Division on the assumption about the origin of Shi Yousan's armored trains(although I too don't have concret evidence). However Zhang Zongchang's trains are not always"modified 8-car cargo train with 6 artillery piece and 24 Maxim guns"(this data is from Liu Wenqing(刘文清)'s memoir article "The Employment of White Russian Mercenaries"雇佣白俄兵始末), they had quite various configuration. Also I'm not so sure that it was indeed "Henan", as different trains might carry the same name.

As for the coup in 1935 it is another complex story, a bit long and need time to translate.

P.S. A small mistake - Zhang Xueliang's father was Zhang Zuolin(Chang Tso-lin) not Zhang Zongchang :P ...

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Re: General Shih Yu-shan (Shi Yousan) 1931

Post by The 51st Division » 21 Jun 2015 03:20

:oops: My bad... Yeah that was a silly mistake
"The nation might be powerful, yet it shall be destroyed if it seeks war; the world might be peaceful, yet it shall be doomed if it forgets war."
--The Method of the Sima, Qin Dynasty Chinese Military Classic

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