Research on puppet troops in China

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sjchan
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Research on puppet troops in China

Post by sjchan » 20 Nov 2011 12:45

Puppet troops played a role in the Sino Japanese war, particularly in the Japanese effort to bring its occupied terrorities under firm control. The Japanese army needed these auxiliary forces to make up for their relatively small numbers in garrisoning and defending the vast Chinese countryside. Chinese accounts often refer to mixed Japanese and puppet forces, but it seems that puppet forces are seldom mentioned in Japanese accounts of battles. And I am not aware of any major Japanese work on puppet forces - or am I wrong? Is this neglect due to the fact that the puppet forces are not part of the regular Japanese army?

Perhaps this is akin to the role of the Hiwis in the German armies being downplayed for a long time (until recently)?

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Akira Takizawa
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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by Akira Takizawa » 20 Nov 2011 15:04

As for Manchukuo Army, there are some works in Japan. But, there are few books about other puppet armies, because they were small and did not play any important role.

Taki

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by Sewer King » 20 Nov 2011 16:29

Philip S Jowett's Rays of the Rising Sun: volume 1, China and Manchukuo (Helion & Co Ltd, 2004) is one of the few English-language books concentrating on the subject. Sources are given mainly for its photos and bibliography, suggesting that primary sources are few and dependent on accounts from them. Some are from the author but none are directly from Japanese sources.

The author does make some comparison to the German use of Osttruppen (page 6):
Contribution of 'Puppet' Troops to the Japanese War Effort'

When gauging the contribution that the Manchukuoan and Chinese 'puppet' troops made to the war effort of Imperial Japan we can take into account various factors. The fact that there were over a 1,000,000 'puppet' troops under arms means that by sheer weight of numbers they must have had some effect. One comparison we could make is with the Russian and Baltic volunteers who fought for the German Army ... At first the German High Command was loath to employ 'racially inferior' volunteers, no matter how anti-Communist they were, to fight for them. But as the German manpower shortage and military reverses began to take effect, they had to change their attitudes. In the same way, the Japanese Imperial Army [had to change as] more Japanese units had to be transferred to the Pacific Theatre ... They decided that their 'puppet' troops would have to be used in a pro-active role to combat the increasing Communist guerrilla resistance. Although they were usually not very effective in their role, the 'puppet' soldiers at least gave the Japanese additional manpower to try and govern the territories they controlled.
For both the Germans and Japanese I would think it was less about ethnic superiority. It would be more a natural inclination to trust their own troops in front-line combat better than foreign ones, even actual allies who they themselves trained. And the puppet troops would not have been as well-trained, equipped, or motivated in comparison. Many armies of empire or occupation tend to use locally-raised forces in second-line duties, such as rear-area security or lines-of-communication.

Aside from their reliability in action, puppet troops may have been distrusted for the chance to defect to the enemy. Jowett adds that this was a leading reason that they were only lightly armed by the Japanese. Also, I would not expect any of their veterans to write about it -- in contrast to those of, say, the Indian National Army. Many puppet troops went over to the Communists or Nationalists after the war, and would not be expected to write about any past service alongside the Japanese.

Maybe all of the above also disinclined them from more mention in detailed histories in general?

-- Alan

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by sjchan » 21 Nov 2011 09:53

Alan, I think your points are right on.

And I think Taki's response is the other reason. I think the Japanese viewpoint is that the puppet troops are not very important - hence no need to study them (or even mention them - just a cursory reading of Japanese regimental or even battalion level history will reveal that the existence or the role played by the puppet troops are seldom mentioned). But as Jowett indicated, the sheer size of the puppet force actually means they fill an important role in the undermanned Japanese army in China. In the accounts of the Communist forces in particular, the puppet army was the primary target in many battles/raids and bore the brunt of the casualties (partially due to that they had poor morale, are lightly armed and poorly trained). In fact one of the reasons for the discrepancy between Japanese and Chinese claim of casualties (the primary reason obviously because of the need to inflate claims for propaganda purpose) is that the Chinese often made no disticnation between puppet and Japanese forces, while of course the Japanese do not count puppet forces casualties.

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by john whitman » 21 Nov 2011 14:17

There might be a comparison here with the Republic of Vietnam's Regional-Popular Force troops before the North Vietnamese conquest.

Popular force troops were irregular, local defense guys that stayed in and near their villages. Regional force troops could operate within districts, and maybe within a province. The next level was the formal armed forces of South Vietnam.

Maybe the Chinese puppet troops were similarly organized, local and regional forces. I would guess that they were lightly armed. Were they organized any larger than company level?

John

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by Sewer King » 22 Nov 2011 05:42

john whitman wrote:There might be a comparison here with the Republic of Vietnam's Regional-Popular Force troops before the North Vietnamese conquest.
I thought of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK} troops under Vietnamese control after the 1979 conquest. They were put to second-line duty in this way.
john whitman wrote:Popular force troops were irregular, local defense guys that stayed in and near their villages. Regional force troops could operate within districts, and maybe within a province. The next level was the formal armed forces of South Vietnam.
My father worked with the Regional Force and Popular Force (RF-PF, or "Ruff Puffs") as an officer for US Agency for International Development in Can Tho province. From what he told me, and after later study of Chinese military when in the air force, I thought these echelons similar to the old Chinese PLA's Militia, Local Forces, and Main Force (or Field Forces).
john whitman wrote:Maybe the Chinese puppet troops were similarly organized, local and regional forces. I would guess that they were lightly armed. Were they organized any larger than company level?
Two of many examples from Jowett (pages 42-43):
The East Hopei Army 1935-37

The East Hopei Army was raised from the former Peace Preservation Corps who were raised as a so-called neutral force for policing the Demilitarized Zone in the area south of the Great Wall.

The Japanese officers of the Kwangtung Army tried to create an anti-Communist army from the unreliable East Hopei forces. Japanese advisers who were attached to the army drilled the men by day and then gave them anti-Communist lectures by night. The Japanese advisers had a great deal of influence within the Army -- in fact they had the final say in all matters. This intensive training went on for a year and by the end the Japanese hoped they had created a reliable and well-trained force. The East Hopei Army was, however, only intended to be a local policing force and the heaviest weaponry that they were allowed to carry was rifles and sidearms. As far as is known the Japanese did not allow them to have a single machine gun and they certainly never had any artillery of any kind ...
In 1935-36 this force saw some action against the Nationalist 32nd Army. But reportedly it had little effect, and one element even mutinied against its Japanese advisers in 1936. The East Hopei Army is mentioned as supporting the IJA 5th and 20th Divisions, in the common History of the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945.
...The East Hopei Army had 4 corps divided into 3 brigades each, with each brigade divided into 3 sub-brigades, each one possessing a Japanese adviser. In an attempt to make the Army appear more substantial the brigades were also described as divisions, although the organization remained the same.
  • East Hopei Army, May 1937
    • 1st Corps 'Tungchow', 4,000 men (Commander Chang ching-yu}
      2nd Corps 'Tsunhwa,' 4,000 men (Commander Chang Yen-tien)
      3rd Corps 'Iwanchow,' 4,000 men (Commander Li Yun-sheng)
      4th Corps 'Tungchan,' 4,000 men (Commander Han Tze-hsi)
      Training Corps 'Tungchow,' 2,000 men (Commander Yin Ju-keng)
Jowett (pages 44-45) also details the Provisional Government Army formed in December 1937, for the Provisional Government declared in Peking with Wang Ke-min as President.
  • A strength of some 13,200 troops had been envisioned in 8 Infantry regiments of 1,650 men each. Six of these consisted of three brigades each under a Chinese major-general and a Japanese adviser.
-- Alan

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by sjchan » 22 Nov 2011 15:42

There are actually a number of works on the puppet forces, but in Chinese. This remains a poorly researched area, which of course can really be said, though to a lesser degree, about the entire Sino Japanese war.

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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by john whitman » 12 Dec 2011 16:27

According to Hsu Long-hsuen's History of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), p. 412, during the battle of Chang-teh, Nov-Dec 1943, the Japanese order of battle included the 5th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Puppet Divisions. Unfortunately, there is no more information.

John

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Peter H
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Re: Research on puppet troops in China

Post by Peter H » 12 Dec 2011 21:00


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