A detailed account of the Battle of Kunlun Pass from the Chinese perspective; abstracted to focus on the 200th D and the assault on Kunlun Pass proper, from an on-line history of the 5th Army at http://www.fightersalon.net/bbs/showthr ... 2%D8%B9%D8
The first Chinese attempt to recapture Kunlun Pass commenced at 0100 on Dec 18. Af first progress was good and the 1st Honor Divison with the support of tanks and artillery was able to capture the heights around and including Point 441 and 606. By 1100 Luotang was captured. Around 1400 on Dec 19 sufficient progress was made that the commander of the division thought that it would not be long before Kunlun Pass would be captured. However, at that moment 5 Japanese naval aircrafts came in from the south-east and repeatedly bombed and strafed the Chinese positions, dropping some 20 bombs in all. Meanwhile, the tank of the commander of the 6th Company of the 1st Tank Battalion was also hit by Japanese anti-tank guns. At 1600 the 3rd Battalion of the IJA 21st Regiment reinforced Kunlun Pass from [Batang] and [Jiutang] under the cover of 2 tanks, 1 armoured car and 10 trucks. The 2nd Regiment of the 1st Honor Division was driven back and lost [Luotang].
The following day, the 1st Honor D continued its attacks at first light, with Point 653 as the focal point of the battle. Strongly defended by some 200 Japanese troops, the 3rd Regiment's frontal assaults were all beaten off with heavy casualties. However, when the Japanese attempted a counter-attack; it was met head on by the Chinese and annihilated in hand to hand fighting. Point 653 was taken, and held despite counterattacks with support of more than 10 Japanse planes hovering overhead.
In an attempt to capture Kunlun Pass quickly before more Japanese reinforcement arrive, Du Yuming, the commander of the 5th Army, decided to use the 200th D instead of the 1st Honor D in the frontal assault. It would get the bulk of artillery support as well as part of the 3rd Tank Battalion. At dawn on Dec 20, the 200th D launched its assault with the support of a company of tanks. At 1000, the tanks made their way into Kunlun Pass and the 600th Regiment followed from several directions; however Japanese anti-tank fire and aerial support were too much for the Chinese and they had to pull back.
Foiled during the day, the 200th D turned to night attacks in order to capture Point 600 and [Luotang]. The 1st Battalion of the 598th Regiment crept up to the attacking positions in small groups at around 1600. Visibility was quite poor, no more than 5-600 m in the morning mist. The assault troops got into their jump off points at 0530 and commenced attack at 0700. The 1st Company captured Point 600 but was immediately driven back by Japanese counter-attacks. However the 3rd Company caught the Japanese counterattacking troops in the process of re-deployment and charged their positions in conjunction with the 2nd Company on the left, throwing the Japanese into confusion and capturing Point 600.
The battle continued unabated on Dec 21. The 598th Regiment made some headway on [Luotang] but was soon driven back. The 600th Regiment got to within 200m of Kunlun Pass as night fell, but had to fall back due to flanking fire. Japanese airdropped 18 chutes of supplies at [Batang] and [Jiutang], several of which fell behind Chinese lines.
Held by a reinforced company, [Luotang] continued to hold out despite an entire night of attacks by the 1st Regiment of the !st Honor Division. Desperate to make process, the division commander moved the 2nd Regiment up for the next assault around noon, Dec 24. The 2nd Regiment was actually down to the strength of less than 2 battalions: the best troops were concentrated into a battalion size shock force and started its attack at twilight with support form the 15 cm howitzers of the 14th Artillery Regiment. In platoon size echelons, the troops made their way to the perimeters of the defensive positions and removed the barbed wire and obstacles. Two platoon commanders wielded big knives and cut off the remaining barbed wire fences; the troops rushed in and captured [Luotang] at 1900, annihiliating the garrison except for two wounded prisoners. The assault battalion also suffered crippling losses, with only a few dozen men left.
The 200th D had been relegated to a supporting role and not making much progress. It was now moved to attack along the main road, with the high grounds near [Jieshou] as the primary objective. It was to receive the bulk of artillery support. On Dec 25, it briefly captured the high ground to the southwest of Point 653, but was promptly driven back.
On Dec 27, Point 441 was lost again. 7 Chinese planes escorting bombers flown by Soviet volunteers ran into more than 10 Japanese planes over [Ertang], 2 Japanese and 3 Chinese fighters were lost. On Dec 28, new orders were issued. Point 441 was to be retaken by the 1st Honor D, and the 200th D once again assigned the crucial high grounds of [Jieshou] as the main objective. However the 200th D’s attack stalled once more. The 3rd Regiment of the 1st Honor D, which was relatively fresh and had just been brought up, was now given the assignment. A massed night attack was launched, and the troops charged forward despite intense fire from the Japanese positions. However, eliminating the Japanese strongpoints proved to be very difficult and 7 of the 9 company commanders were killed or wounded. Finally, special assault troops managed to sneak up close to the Japanese positions. At dawn on Dec 30, right after the covering artillery fire ceased, the assault troops rushed in and engaged in a deadly fight with the surprised Japanese troops outside their trenches. The rest of the regiment swept forward and after 3 hours of fight finally captured [Jieshou].
With [Jieshou] secured, Kunlun Pass was now under direct Chinese fire. The New 22nd D leapfrogged 200th D’s positions and now attacked Kunlun Pass with the 65th Regiment on the left, the 64th Regiment on the right, and the 66th Regiment in reserve. At first light, the 65th Regiment moved forward led by tanks. The 1st and 3rd Battalion were stopped by Japanese fire along the main road, but the 2nd Battalion managed to make its way up to Kunlun Pass. The 5th Company bore the brunt of the hand to hand fighting but managed to hang on. The 4th Company came up in the nick of time to secure the pass. On the last day of 1939, the 1st and 3rd Battalion captured the area to the south of the pass under tank and artillery cover, and the Japanese retreated. At 1100, the Chinese flag once again flew over Kunlun Pass.
Subsequently the 200th D were to continue to press its attacks beyond Kunlun Pass to attack the strongly fortified Japanese positions near [Batang]. It was to suffer heavily in a serious of fruitless attacks on Point 300, but that’s another story. It is interesting to note that despite playing a major role in the battle and oft-repeated claims that it had recaptured Kunlun Pass, the 200th D did not capture Kunlun Pass proper, in fact it seemed like the 1st Honor D did better than the 200th D in this battle.