Frontline in China

Discussions on all aspects of China, from the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War till the end of the Chinese Civil War. Hosted by YC Chen.
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Peter H
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Frontline in China

Post by Peter H » 24 Mar 2006 00:52

Has anyone any information of the frontline conditions in China 1941-45.

I'm interested in the manning,defences for each side etc.Were there extensive trenchlines,minefields etc?Or were vital strongpoints,villages held and a sort of no-man's land existed between both sides.Natural barriers like rivers,mountains and flooded plains also played there part?

Did divisions rotate in and out of the line?Were truces,quiet areas common?Were raids conducted?

The length of the front in China (equivalent to the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union?) was considerable but from what I can gather, at least for the Japanese, their manning in the theatre was nothing like the Germans/Axis in Russia.The fluid situation of the front, especially in 1944,suggests that the front could be easily broken if the will,requirement was there.

Mike R
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Post by Mike R » 13 Apr 2006 22:43

Hi Peter,

What little I have read (Barabara Tuchman's "Stillwell and the American Experience in China") seems to suggest that when the Japanese weren't actively conducting an offensive the front was very quiet and a good deal of black market trade actually took place between the Japanese soldiers and Chinese.

I do seem to recall a passage from the book describing how various Allied dignitaries and journalists would visit China and go on tours of the front and be shown captured Japanese war trophies. Several journalists noted that regardless of what section of the front they were visiting the exact same Japanese war trophies were presented!

Regards,
-Mike

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asiaticus
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re: Frontline in China

Post by asiaticus » 14 Apr 2006 03:44

I'm interested in the manning,defences for each side etc.

There were extensive trenchlines, (not sure about minefields) in the fighting around Shanghai. I think there was some of that at Changsha too on one occasion.

China had a series of river defense lines along the Yangtze, composed of sunken ships and minefeild covered by fortesses with naval coastal artillery and marines manning them. These began at the mouth of the river at Shanghai and extended beyond the Wuhan area.
Or were vital strongpoints,villages held and a sort of no-man's land existed between both sides.
Actually the area that Japan controlled was at seaports, along the railroads and major rivers where they occupied the towns and cities along those routes and emplaced strong points at key places along their length garrisoned by the Japanese themselves or Chinese puppet troops. Beyond a days march of these areas was "Indian country". The Chinese both KMT or PLA might have guerrilla bands or even regular units in these large islands of countryside. The Japanese didnt have the manpower to subjegate and occupy all the area behind their lines, but they made forays into these areas wreaking havoc on occasion.
Natural barriers like rivers,mountains and flooded plains also played thier part?
Definately. In mid 1938, the Chinese broke the dike containing the Yellow River and flooded the area south of it for several hundred miles halting the Japanese advance in north Central China. It kept the Japanese from advancing for several years on that front but it killed a lot of Chinese civilians outright or by starvation or disease in the following years.

Bypassed mountain areas often became guerrilla bases. As the Japanese moved into the more rugged interior of China they were increasingly at a disadvatage in conventional warfare too, as in the battles for Changsha.

Rivers were mostly of aid to the Japanese as they had the fleet to control them and utilize them for shipping men and supplies along them.

Did divisions rotate in and out of the line?
I know among the Chinese they did, particularly if they had been mauled in combat.

As far as I can tell most of the Japanese divisions and mixed brigades stayed in China at least until the Pacific war began.
Some were there from 1937-1945. Personel came and went but not often the unit. A few units were borrowed from Manchuria for offensives but quickly were returned as far as I can tell.
Were truces,quiet areas common?
Quiet areas in the rear I suppose. Truces none that I know of.
Were raids conducted?


Oh yes, by Chinese light craft and naval units mining the rivers and guerrillas in the occupied areas. There was a countrywide guerrilla campaign in the winter of 1939-40 in particular that was quite extensive. Railroads, roads, river traffic and depot locations were common targets from what I have read.

The length of the front in China (equivalent to the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union?) was considerable but from what I can gather, at least for the Japanese, their manning in the theatre was nothing like the Germans/Axis in Russia.The fluid situation of the front, especially in 1944,suggests that the front could be easily broken if the will,requirement was there.
I think the problem was the Chinese did not have the artillery available to stop a Japanese advance cold. Where they did stop and repel them it seems they had to fall back stubbornly defending a series of lines and then attack the extending flanks and rear areas cutting off the attacking units or forcing them to weaken themselves to the point they could no longer advance and/or were able to be repelled on the main line of defense.

After 1938 the Japanese had to use more and more units to hold on to what they had already taken and had less available manpower for offensives. The 1944-45 offensives were an extraordinary effort by the Japanese to create a land route for oil and other resources from southeast Asia, due to the effects of the US submarines effectively cutting off the sea route. The new territorry occupied then disappated their force and they could not keep key areas that had been taken.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 15 Apr 2006 02:50

Thanks gents for your feedback.

Regards,
Peter

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Post by zstar » 16 Apr 2006 15:29

There were no man's land

Image

Barbed wire

Image

The border line of no man's land

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Post by asiaticus » 16 Apr 2006 18:18

Chinese bunker in Shanghai
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Trench in Shanghai

Post by asiaticus » 16 Apr 2006 18:23

Trench with 88th Division troops in Shanghai
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Post by asiaticus » 16 Apr 2006 18:44

Chinese troops in a trench
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Re: Trench in Shanghai

Post by Tycoon2002 » 25 Apr 2006 22:49

asiaticus wrote:Trench with 88th Division troops in Shanghai
Very interesting picture, it looks like one of the precious German trained divisions Chiang put in to fight the Japanese in Shanghai....and judgeing from the equipment no wonder the Chinese were able to hold their own in this battle and inflict heavy casualties.

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re: German trained divisions

Post by asiaticus » 26 Apr 2006 03:09

Yes.

My understanding is that 3rd, 6th, 9th, 14th, 36th, 87th, 88th, and the Training Division of the Central Military Academy, and also the "Tax Police" regiment (equivalent of a division) under T.V. Soong's Ministry of Finance, later converted to the New 38th division during the war., were German armed and trained by German officers and organized on the new "Reorganized Division pattern.


These German trained divisions were in the battle of Shangha from the begining:
--36th Division – Sung Hsi-lien
--87th Division – Wang Ching-chin
--88th Division – Sun Yuan-liang

others appering later:

---3rd Divison – Li Yu-tang
----6th Div. – Chao Ai
----9th Div. – Li Yen-nien
--14th Div. - Gen. Chen Lieh

Additionally this one appeared in the later battle for Nanking with the 36th, 87th and 88th Divisions.
----Training Div.- Gen Huei Yung-ching


There were also 12 other Divisions with Chinese arms on the reorganized model with 2 German advisors:
2nd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 25th, 27th, 57th, 67th, 80th, 83rd, 89th Divisions.

These three were at Shanghai after the first part of the battle:
---11th Div. - Peng Shan
---57th Div. – Yuan Chao-chang
---67th Div. - Huag Wei

Most of the rest were fighting in the north.

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