Kweichow

Stilwell Gen Joseph

ABOVE LtGen Joseph W. Stilwell (1883-1946). 'Vinegar Joe' was an obvious choice to be senior US military representative in China; he had studied the language in Peking in the 1920s, and had been US military attache 1935-39. Arriving in March 1942, he was also appointed chief-of-staff by Chiang Kai-shek and immediately sent to extricate hard-pressed Chinese forces in Burma. After the exhausting retreat into India he had to struggle with several simultaneous tasks: to re-equip and re-train the troops in India; to oversee the always overstretched airlift of supplies to China; to liaise between the US government and Chiang over the conduct of the war; and eventually, to lead the Chinese forces back into Burma. Although a hard-working and able officer, Stilwell had few man-management skills; he resented President Roosevelt's orders, was almost openly contemptuous of Chiang, quarrelled with USAAF Gen Chennault. and was sullenly suspicious of the British allies who were carrying by far the greater burden in Burma. In October 1944 his ultimatum that he must take complete command of Chinese forces led to his recall. (US Signal Corps)

against the Japanese 56th Div on the Salween river front, to open the Burma Road between Lashio and Kunming. 5-6 March Stilwell's Chinese (and 'Merrill's Marauders', 5307th Composite brigade, the only US Army combat unit in SE Asia) defeat Japanese at Maingkwan and Walawbaum. 5-12 March Chindit brigades are flown into Kaukkwe Valley: they set up strongholds, beat off Japanese reaction, and cut Mandalay-Myitkyina railway.

7/8 March Unsuspected by the Allies, Japanese Gen Mutaguchi's 15th Army (33rd, 15th & 31st Divs) launches U-Go Offensive against British Gen Slim's 14th Army on Chindwin river front in north-west Burma - a major thrust into Assam to seize the vital base at Imphal before pushing on into India.

March-June In fierce fighting around Tidclim, Tamu, Imphal and Koliima, Slim's forces defeat Japanese with heavy losses.

April Chindits pass under Stilwell's command. His X-Force makes slow progress against Japanese north of Mogaung and Myitkyina.

In China, the Japanese Ichigo Offensive (with objectives including seizure of US bomber bases) captures large areas of territory in Hunan and Kwangsi provinces.

11-12 May Y-Force opens Chinese offensive on Salween front, but fails to re-open Burma Road.

17 May Merrill's Marauders capture Myitkyina airfield, but the Japanese reinforce the town, and the fighting bogs down into a siege. June In China, first USAAF B-29 raid on Japan from airfields around Chengtu near Chungking (15th). First major Japanese offensive since 1938. by 11th & 23rd Armies, captures Changsha (18th). In Burma, Stilwell sacrifices the exhausted Chindits to capture Mogaung (26th). 11 July Defeated and starving, Japanese 15 tli Army is ordered to retreat from Assam.

3 August Stilwell's X-Force finally captures Myitkyina. 8 August In China. Hengyang falls to Japanese.

19 October Gen Stilwell is recalled to the USA, through political machinations by Chiang Kai-shek.

31 October Chinese counter-offensive begins in China.

In Burma, the chain of command is re-organized. US Gen Albert Wedenneyer takes over liaison with Chiang Kai-shek. Gen Daniel Sultan takes command of Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC) -Chinese New 6th Army (Gen Liao Yao-hsiang: 14th, 22nd & 50th Divs), New 1st Army (Gen Sun Li-jen: 30th & 38th Divs). plus British 36th Div and US Mars Force (former Merrill's Marauders). Gen Raymond Wheeler becomes Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, SEAC.

The next phase of operations is planned to trap and destroy Japanese 33rd Army (Gen Honda) in north central Burma, by Gen Slim and Gen Sultan making simultaneous advances from the north-west and north: meanwhile Y-Force will again attack from the north-east, these Chinese advances finally allowing the linking of the Ledo and Burma roads. 1 November Y-Force retakes Lungling. 15 December Chinese 1st Army enters Bhamo.

Burma Campaign 1944

US LtGen Daniel I.Sultan (right) took over from Stilwell in October 1944 as commanding general of US forces in the CBI theatre of war and of the combat command NCAC. Here he awards medals to members of the Chinese expeditionary force in Burma, who wear Ml helmets, British KD shirts and shorts, and British 37 pattern webbing with 08 large packs.

US LtGen Daniel I.Sultan (right) took over from Stilwell in October 1944 as commanding general of US forces in the CBI theatre of war and of the combat command NCAC. Here he awards medals to members of the Chinese expeditionary force in Burma, who wear Ml helmets, British KD shirts and shorts, and British 37 pattern webbing with 08 large packs.

1945:

January In the north-west, British 14th Anny makes rapid progress into central Burma, reaching Irrawaddy river and threatening Mandalay. In the north-east, Chinese 1st Army and Y-Force meet, and Ledo and Burma roads are joined at Mongyu (27th).

21 February British 36th Div. operating as NCAC's right flank, captures Myitson. March Y-Force. advancing down Burma Road, captures Lashio (7th). Division from Chinese 6th Army links with Y-Force at Hsipaw on Burma Road (24th).

This essentially marks the close of active Chinese operations in Burma. August USAAF drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima (6th) and Nagasaki (9th). USSR finally declares war on Japan, and invades Manchuria (9th). Sino-Russian treaty signed (14th), recognizing Chiang Kai-shek's government and agreeing to withdraw Soviet troops from Manchuria after Japanese defeat. Emperor Hirohito broadcasts surrender announcement (15th).

Almost immediately, US forces begin to transport by sea and air nearly 500.000 Nationalist troops to strategic ports and cities in Manchuria and northern China. This allows the Nationalists to move into areas that had been lost to the Communists during the Japanese occupation.

August 1945-January 1946

America, fearful of future Soviet involvement in a Chinese civil war. attempts to broker a peace between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and Mao Tse-tung's Communists. Both sides pay lip service to the plan while actually preparing to resume outright war. Meanwhile, the USSR delays withdrawal from Manchuria, transferring captured Japanese weapons to the Communists and allowing them to consolidate their hold in many areas. There is constant low level fighting between Nationalists and Communists in Manchuria. In November 1945. against US advice. Chiang decides to commit his best Allied-trained and equipped troops to Manchuria as soon as the Soviets withdraw.

The Civil War 1946-49

1946:

13 January Ceasefire in Manchuria brokered by US peace mission headed by Gen George C.Marshall.

15 January Despite ceasefire, KMT forces capture Mukden.

April Communists capture Changchun and Harbin.

May KMT defeat Communists south of Sun sari river, retake Changchun and capture Szeping. Communists adopt tide of People's Liberation

June Marshall mission negotiates another brief truce. July General civil war breaks out between KMT and PLA.

The broad strategies of the two sides are opposed. In simplified terms. Chiang's KMT armies - with an initial numerical advantage of about 3 million to 1 million - will seek to control north-south communications.

confident of dividing the PLA and pushing it westwards into the wilderness for final destruction. In 1946-47 the KMT will invest far too heavily in occupying and holding cities in Manchuria and northern China, tying down men and resources in positional defences which the Communists can afford to ignore, at the end of a precarious 1,000-mile supply line through the strongest areas of Communist support.

Outside Manchuria, the PLA intend to thrust eastwards from Shensi province to reach the coast and separate the KMT forces in north and south for destruction in detail. They will increasingly dominate the countryside, isolating and strangling KMT centres. Meanwhile a crumbling away of support and losses in men and equipment will reduce Chiang's numerical advantage and lift the PLA. to equality in materiel by mid-1948; and by early 1949 the PLA will achieve superiority in both men and weaponry.

1st Provisional Tank Group Sherman

6 March 1945: M4A4 Sherman of the Chinese Provisional Tank Group crossing the Nam You river during Y-Force's advance on Lashio. The crew wear ski-type field caps with KD clothing. Note the colourful 'tiger face' painted on the mantlet and turret front, and the 'claws' on the armour plate in front of the driver's position. (US Signal Corps)

1947:

Januaiv-Marcli PLA forces under Gen Lin Piao mount series of attacks on Nationalists along Sungari river south of Harbin, Manchuria. Best KMT troops, with motorized equipment, are tied down guarding cities and railways in deep, narrow salient. This stretches north-east from Peking and Tientsin into Manchuria, via Chinchow to Mukden. Szeping, Changchun and Kirin.

14 March Symbolic but otherwise pointless victory for Nationalists when they take old pre-1945 Communist capital of Yenan. May Gen Lin Piao's 270.000 PLA troops drive Nationalists back 150 miles and inflict heavy casualties.

December PLA cut rail links into Mukden and isolate all KMT garrisons in Manchuria.

6 March 1945: M4A4 Sherman of the Chinese Provisional Tank Group crossing the Nam You river during Y-Force's advance on Lashio. The crew wear ski-type field caps with KD clothing. Note the colourful 'tiger face' painted on the mantlet and turret front, and the 'claws' on the armour plate in front of the driver's position. (US Signal Corps)

1948:

Maidi Nationalist commander in Manchuria, Gen Liao Yao-hsiang, orders KMT garrisons withdrawn from Kirin and Szeping to Mukden. That city, held by Gen Wei Li-Huang with 200.000 men. and Changchun, with 40.000 under Gen Cheng Tung-kao, are now only KMT holdings in Manchuria north of Chinchow railhead and supply base. September After feinting towards Mukden. Lin Piao threatens Chinchow. Further south. PLA attack key city of Tsinan on the Yellow river in Shantung province, held by 80.000 KMT troops (14th). 200.000 PLA. troops encircle Mukden (17th). Tsinan garrison surrenders (24th), many joining the PLA. Mukden garrison ordered to relieve Chinchow with 15 divisions (25th), but Gen Wei hesitates.

October Gen Wei sends 11 divisions in sortie from Mukden towards Chinchow7 (9th). ordering Gen Cheng to break out of Changchun and withdraw on Chinchow; latter order never acknowledged. At Chinchow, KMT 93rd Div defect; city falls (15th). Gen Liao Yao-hsiang killed in

Chinese Kmt Soldier Uniform

A column of soldiers singing patriotic songs march along a dirt road during a winter offensive. They wear winter-weight ski-type caps with the ear flaps tied on top. Their wadded cotton jackets and trousers are in different shades of blue-grey. Most of these men are armed with the Hanyang 88 but two men at the front have later Mauser models.

A column of soldiers singing patriotic songs march along a dirt road during a winter offensive. They wear winter-weight ski-type caps with the ear flaps tied on top. Their wadded cotton jackets and trousers are in different shades of blue-grey. Most of these men are armed with the Hanyang 88 but two men at the front have later Mauser models.

PLA attack on his HQ. Chiang Kai-shek flies from Nanking to Peking to take personal command, but his direct orders to individual divisional commanders add to confusion. Changchun falls, after defections from garrison (19th). Gen Wei's sortie defeated west of Mukden (27th). Disintegration of KMT armies in Manchuria. 2 November Mukden falls; huge numbers of men and KMT weapons and supplies captured. 5 November Port of Yinakow falls, after only about 20.000 KMT troops manage to reach it and take ship south. The Manchurian campaign has cost the Nationalists about 300.000 men and vast resources. November-December Decisive battle for Hsuchow, vital hub of north-south/east-west railways, commanding movement from Peking to Nanking and south to the Yangtze. Helped by treachery of KMT general staff officer Gen Liu Fei. PLA 2nd & 3rd Field Armies (Gen Chen Yi). about 500.000 strong, manoeuvre to envelop KMT Gen Tu Yu-ming's 150.000-strong garrison from west, south and east. Overall KMT field operations around Hsuchow, by four army groups totalling 300.000 men. are commanded by incompetent political appointee Gen Liu Ch'ih. Early December, Hsuchow itself abandoned, and to south of it 140.000 KMT troops surrounded at Suhsien, where attempt at relief defeated with great loss (6th). 1949:

January Nationalist forces surrender south of Hsuchow (10th); PLA claim 327.000 prisoners, and total KMT casualties in campaign are about 500.000. Many prisoners will join PLA after 're-education'. PLA take Tientsin (15th). and Peking (20th), on which date Chiang Kai-shek resigns presidency to Li Tsung-jen.

February-March General advance by PLA southwards to Yangtze river. KMT government under Sun Fo move to Canton, and attempt negotiations with Mao Tse-tung. Still director general of KMT party. Chiang transfers gold reserves to Formosa, and prepares Nationalist redoubt on that island.

April Negotiations break down (19th). PLA cross Yangtze at several points. Fall of Taiyuan; and of Nanking (23rd). 27 May Fall of Shanghai.

June-December The rest of mainland China and Inner Mongolia are overrun by the PLA against only light resistance.

1 October In Peking, Mao Tse-tung proclaims the People's Republic of China.

15 October Fall of Canton. KMT government flees to Chungking, then Chengtu.

8 December Chiang Kai-shek and KMT leadership withdraw from mainland to Taipei, Formosa.

Thompson M1a1 China

A Nationalist sentry stands guard against Communist attacks during the Civil War. He wears the usual summer-weight uniform, with belly pouches for four magazines for his Thompson M1A1 (here still with the muzzle compensator, rarely seen by this date). This submachine gun was one of the most popular of all imported US weapons and was copied in local arms factories. (Popperfoto)

A Nationalist sentry stands guard against Communist attacks during the Civil War. He wears the usual summer-weight uniform, with belly pouches for four magazines for his Thompson M1A1 (here still with the muzzle compensator, rarely seen by this date). This submachine gun was one of the most popular of all imported US weapons and was copied in local arms factories. (Popperfoto)

Nationalist Army Field Organization

Amy group, Chi Tuan = 2 or more armies

Attn', Chun Tuan Corps. Chun Division. Shih

Strength, organization and qualities

At the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937 the Nationalist Army expanded to about 1.7 million men: its official order of battle included 182 infantry divisions, 46 independent brigades, 9 cavalry divisions, 6 independent cavalry brigades, 4 artillery brigades and 20 independent artillery regiments. A division had (again, officially) 2 infantry brigades, each of 2 regiments; an artillery battalion or regiment; an engineer and a quartermaster battalion, and small signals, medical and transport units.

In practice, the provision of support and service elements varied greatly from division to division, as did their field strength. The average strength of a division as described above was around 9,000-10.000 men; but this only applied to the ten German-trained divisions re-organized in 1937. The great majority, as well as newly raised or temporary divisions, would average only about 5.000 men. Independent brigades might have about 4.500 men, while their temporary equivalents were perhaps 3,000-strong.

China in 1937 was still a deeply divided country, and the KMT government could not rely on all its nominal forces equally. Rebellions and other disloyalties by various regional military commanders throughout the 1930s had made Chiang Kai-shek very suspicious of a large part of his forces. The most loyal and therefore best-trained and equipped troops were approximately 380.000 men of Chiang Kai-shek's own pre-1934 army, most of whom had been trained by German instructors. They were commanded by graduates of the Whampoa Military Academy in Canton, which Chiang had himself commanded in 1924, creating an educated and politically reliable officer corps for the KMT army.

Another 520.000-odd men belonged to formations that were traditionally loyal to Chiang, though not of his own creation. Together with his hard core, these gave him a strength of 900.000 men that the government could rely upon. Beyond these armies there existed another class of so-called 'semi-autonomous provincial troops' that could sometimes be mobilized in the KMT government's interest, totalling perhaps another 300.000 men divided between the provinces of Suiyuan, Shansi and Shantung in the north, and Kwangtung in the south-east.

The rest of the Nationalist army was made up of troops led by commanders who. while having no real loyalty to Chiang Kai-shek, were willing to fight alongside him against the common enemy, Japan. The fighting quality of these troops of questionable loyalty varied from very good to extremely poor. For instance, the 80,000 soldiers and 90.000 militia of the far southern province of Kwangsi were well-led. equipped and

2 or more corps 2 or more divisions 2 or more infantry brigades

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