Chinese 200th Division: descriptions of actions needed!

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sjchan
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Postby sjchan » 16 Aug 2007 06:26

One last piece of information regarding the battle; here is a map from the Chinese translation of Senshi Sosho.
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asiaticus
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Postby asiaticus » 16 Aug 2007 08:51

Thanks for the Japanese translation and map of the Toungoo fighting. This is really helpful.

Any idea what 200th Div. troops were protecting the Divisional Headquarters and the bridge on the east bank?


It seems the 200th Division was involved in the later Battle of Pyinmana April 17-20, 1942,
Battle of Hopong - Taunggyi April 20-24, 1942 , and Battle of Hsipaw-Mogok Highway May 23, 1942

Looking at the Topo maps to the east and noth of Toungoo it is really rough country that the Japanese made their way thru to defeat the 6th Corps and outflink the Chinese 5th Corps defenses north of Toungoo that held out during April. Once Toungoo fell the road was open to the east that allowed the Japanese to make this flanking move. It seems the New 22nd Divison kept the Japanese tied up in the narrow river valley to the north for the better part of April.

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Postby sjchan » 16 Aug 2007 13:43

The Chinese forces east of the Sittang were described in a previous post.

sjchan wrote:The Japanese made use of the cover offered by the jungle and wooded area towards the west of Toungoo to make a surprise attack on the airfield and railway station during the morning of March 24. The Chinese contracted their defensive positions as follows: the 598th Regiment defended northern part of the Toungoo defense, the 599th Regiment held the high ground to the south of Toungoo, and portions of the replacement regiment of the division which arrived on March 23 were posted on the eastern bank of the Sittang River, where they were to extend the positions northward to cover the remaining lifeline of the division (which was encircled on three sides by now) as well as the divisional HQ. At around 8 p.m. on March 28, the Japanese sent a column of mixed mobile troops on a flanking movement and attacked the divisional HQ. If successful, the entire 200th Division will be encircled. The divisional commander personally organized the defence; the 3rd Battalion of the 598th Regiment was also ordered to attack the exposed left flank of the Japanese. A vicious fight continued within the city of Toungoo as well as around the divisional HQ, but by and large the Chinese were able to hold their ground.


I do not think the New 22nd D did that much to delay the Japanese, which made good progress. Most of the Chinese divisions (including the N 22 D) were strung out all over the place due to constant bickering between Stilwell, Alexander and Jiang Jieshi and only the New 38th D gave the Japanese much trouble in another battle. It was a sad story all around. The 200th D was indeed involved in a number of other actions, but that's for another day.

Incidentally, the map shows clearly where the Reconnaissance Regiment of the 56th Division ford the Sittang, it also indicates that it left its vehicles behind.

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Postby pitman » 16 Aug 2007 21:15

Is the northernmost position on that map the airfield?

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asiaticus
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Postby asiaticus » 16 Aug 2007 23:31

sjchan
Thanks, I seem to have overlooked the presance of the Reserve Regiment .

So besides the 589, 599 and 600 Regiments there was a Divisional Reserve Regiment present?

Was that typical of all these new Chinese triangular Divisions at the time? I know they had reserve regiments for the old Square Divisions.

pitman
No I think northern most position is 2nd Battalion of the 143rd Regiment that was sent north to Yedashe. However I dont think they got that far. I think that might be Nangyun they are in. New 22nd Division was sent south to support the 200th D and they reached as far as the Nangyun railway station. I think they were able to push the Japanese out of there and diverted their attention somewhat, helping the 200th to withdraw.

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Postby sjchan » 18 Aug 2007 09:05

I think the reserved regiment was actually under Corps control; the original text was a bit obscure. To be sure I will have to find additional information. Chinese military formations varied quite a bit in practice, so it is not easy to generalize, specifications regarding a typical divison not withstanding.

The airfiled in the map is the circle with the # ; asiaticus is right, the northern most position is indeed the 2nd Battalion /143rd Regiment. The New 22nd Division never fully controlled the Nangyun railway station area. The Chinese description of the battle says that there were 5 well-built houses; the Japanese managed to hang on to three of them and the two sides were in kind of a standoff. But the Chinese did send out raiding parties to the south since the Japanese troops were not numerous enough in this area and did help to distract the Japanese.

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Which Reserve Regiment at Toungoo?

Postby asiaticus » 18 Aug 2007 22:55

Hmm. Interesting, http://homepages.force9.net/rothwell/bu ... XForce.htm shows the 5th Corps had

Training Depot
* 1st Reserve Regiment
* 2nd Reserve Regiment

So the reserve regiment at Toungoo could have been either of these.

Also, I read elsewhere that the commander of the New 22nd Division was not willing to commit to a full attack toward Toungoo on the direction of Stilwell. Some problem with Stillwell getting proper authorization from Chiang to command the Expeditionary Army was supposedly the problem. So this was probably just a probe by the New 22nd. The Division was digging in around Yedashe apparently. Unfortunate, a full counterattack could have really hurt the Japanese at that time.

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Postby major grubert » 19 Aug 2007 04:43

IMHO, Tachiao doesn't sound very Burmese. In Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion Nyaungchedauk is given as the name of the 200th Division's first covering position; a quick look on the AMS map shows it to be located on the northern banks of the Kun Chaung. Perhaps that is where the first skirmishes occurred?

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Postby sjchan » 19 Aug 2007 09:18

You may well be right; actually Tachiao was refereenced in Tsu and Chang. My knowledge of Burmese is of course very limited :)

I had a really hard time with names because there are different Chinese translations for the same names, and mapping them to the correct spots on the AMS map is difficult, particular for small villages. I will be getting my hands on Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion to see if I can get a better mapping before I go on to describe the 200th D's later engagements.

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More on the Toungoo fighting.

Postby asiaticus » 20 Aug 2007 09:35

It would be nice to clear up the location of the Tachiao action. Gombe is a village just to the north and there is quite a bit of settlement right along the river in the bridge area with no location name. Nyaungchedauk seems a bit too far to the flank to be the location of the conflict.

Another thing is the conflict between the Chinese and Japanese on how the Toungoo battle ended.

The Chinese claim their 200 Division were out by 0400 and even the rearguards were out of the city by dawn. Yet the Japanese 55th Division claims the fighting continued until after 0850 when the two forces linked up in the city after 3 hours of heavy fighting. Perhaps the Chinese rearguards had not retired completely by dawn? Or maybe the 55th Division command was covering up for being given the slip.

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Postby pitman » 21 Aug 2007 20:49

It is possible that some of the rearguards were unable to get out.

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Postby asiaticus » 21 Aug 2007 21:30

What is the publishing info on this Chinese translation of Senshi Sosho commissioned by the Ministry of Defense in Taiwan in 1997? Was that published and out in the market so one could get hold of it?

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Postby sjchan » 22 Aug 2007 05:56

It is possible that some of the rearguards were unable to get out.

It is quite possible that Chinese rearguards stayed a bit longer than reported in some of the Chinese sources and not all got way, it is also likely the Japanese vastly overestimated the strength of the remaining Chinese forces (not that they are alone, overestimate of Japanese strength and casualties is extremely common in Chinese accounts).
What is the publishing info on this Chinese translation of Senshi Sosho commissioned by the Ministry of Defense in Taiwan in 1997? Was that published and out in the market so one could get hold of it?

The formal name of the series is 日軍對華作戰紀要叢書published by the 國防部史政編譯局; the first 40 odd volumes were published in the 1980s I believe, and the three volumes on Operations in Burma published in 1990s. I think the number of printed copies is very small and most went to the libraries.
Note that Senshi Sosho volumes related to China were actually first translated into Chinese in mainland China; although long out of print they are still readily available in used bookstores. There are even scanned copies of some volumes that were posted on certain Chinese Web sites. However, unlike the Taiwanese translations, these were abridged versions with few maps.

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Re: More on the Toungoo fighting.

Postby sjchan » 22 Aug 2007 17:47

asiaticus wrote:It would be nice to clear up the location of the Tachiao action. Gombe is a village just to the north and there is quite a bit of settlement right along the river in the bridge area with no location name. Nyaungchedauk seems a bit too far to the flank to be the location of the conflict.


Unfortunately none of the Chinese / Japanese sources I have seen so far agree exactly on when, where and how the skirmishes occurred.

Version 1 (memoirs of the commander of the 598th Regiment): Chinese troops ambushed the Japanese on March 18 as they drove up the road

Version 2: (Yuan zheng Yin Mian kang zhan p.93): Chinese troops set up false positions 12 miles south of River Pyu, then set up a trap near the river itself. On March 18, Japanese troops moved as far as 12 miles south of River Pyu. On March 19, they blew up the bridge over River Pyu when the Japanese were crossing and ambushed the rest

Version 3: (Hsu and Chang): Chinese covering positions first probed by Japanese forces at Tachiao some 12 miles south of Pyu on March 18.

Version 4: (Tai An Lan’s biography, pp. 72-3) Chinese blew bridge over Pyu on March 18; Japanese forded river at 9 p.m. and Chinese troops retreated by midnight to Nyaungchedauk (?) On March 22 (should be March 20?) Japanese attacked Nyaungchedauk but was ambushed by Chinese forces as they drove up the road

Version 5: (Senshi Sosho, Taiwan translation, p. 433) Drove off 1000 Chinese troops at Kyanktaga (?) on March 17 (location as shown on the map is about a few miles south of the River Kan on the railway, so I assume it's the Kyanktaga station) On March 18, about 600 troops along the northern bank of River Kan were attacked and defeated in night attacks. Pyu attacked on March 19 and captured by 10 a.m.

As usual, mapping the Chinese names to actual locations on the AMS maps proves to be very difficult indeed.

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Postby sjchan » 23 Aug 2007 06:06

major grubert wrote:sjchan, I don't suppose you'd happen to have access to Chinese accounts of the fall of Lashio and the retaking of Taunggyi?


As I read through Chinese and Japanese accounts of their battles in Burma, discrepancy is really the norm (the Battle of Toungoo is an exception). The Battle of Taunggyi provides just such an example.

The Chinese view, as represented by Zhongguo yuan zheng jun zhan shi (A History of the Chinese Expeditionary Army) by Xu Kangming, pp. 123-127, as well as Dai Anlan Zhuan (Biography of Dai Anlan), by Dai Chengdong, pp. 85-87, is as follows.

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 resulted in the most combat-worthy divisions of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in the wrong place (western part of the front) while a major disaster was brewing in the weakly held eastern front.

As it turned out, Du was correct. On April 20 threatened by the Japanese 56th Division, Chinese 6th Corps HQ retreated and the Japanese easily took Taunggyi . The 200th D had to move back hastily on April 21 after spending a crucial 3 days on a wild goose chase, and ran into Japanese troops at Heho some 15 miles west of Taunggyi. The 598th Regiment and the Cavalry Regiment of the 5th Corps pushed forward but was stopped about 6 miles from the town. At first light on April 24th, the 600th Regiment made a frontal attack with fire support, with the 598th Regiment (minus one battalion) on its left and the 599th Regiment on its right. Good progress was made, and the high grounds to the west, south and north of the city was reached by noon, and by 4 pm some of the troops had broken into the city. By 11 p.m. part of the Japanese forces had escaped to the east, while the rest continued to resist with the aid of a number of firmer buildings. After midnight, Japanese brought up reinforcement along the road and recaptured some of the high grounds to the east and northwest of the city, and attempted to encircle the Chinese forces. By afternoon, April 25, with the supporting howitzers moved well forward for fire support, the Chinese had restored the situation and completely recaptured the high ground as well as eliminated the last pockets of resistance within the town. The divisional commander, Dai An-lan, was at the front lines most of the time and the fighting was so fierce that his aide was wounded and personal guard was killed. Since the Japanese had by now progressed well to the north, the 200th D was ordered on April 26 to abandon the town they had fought so hard to take.

Japanese account of the same battle, (in the Chinese translation of Senshi Sosho), simply stated that the Chinese troops only managed to capture part of the Japanese positions in the western part of the town and failed to make additional progress despite a monetary reward promised by Stillwell.

There is yet another point of view: that of the Americans. An oft-repeated account was that the Chinese refused to attack. Stillwell resorted to a prize of 50,000 rupees if Taunggyi were captured by 5 p.m., and sure enough it was captured with an hour to spare. There was also the story of how Stillwell exhorted and personally led a Chinese company at the front lines. Not surprisingly, there is no record of these events in Chinese writings.


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