The Plates

A: CHINA 1937

A1: Private, 72nd Division, 7th Army Group; Peking-Suiyuan railway, China, August 1937

This private of one of the formations which took the brunt of the early fighting against the Japanese is wearing what is often described as the 'Northern Chinese' uniform. His peaked service cap, of German shape, is made of light cotton with a brown leather peak and chin strap. His tunic and trousers are made from a slightly different shade of light khaki cotton: and his puttees from strips of the same cloth. His very light equipment is limited to an early type of Chinese water bottle; and magazine pouches for his German MP 28-II submachine gun; this was imported in large numbers by the KMT government. The leather pouches, with a pocket for a loading tool, are supported by both the belt and a neck strap. A2: Corporal, 88th Division; Shanghai, 1937 The best German-trained divisions of the Nationalist Army were sacrificed in the brave but futile defence of Shanghai, and the 88th was one of these. As a member of one of Chiang Kai-shek's most loyal divisions this soldier is as well dressed and equipped as the limited resources of the KMT government allowed. His German M35 steel helmet has the white-on-blue sunburst decal on the left side. Below his rank collar patch can just be seen the edge of his cloth identification patch giving details of his unit, enlistment date and commander. His large canvas waist pouches carry magazines for his Czech-made ZB26 light machine gun.

Shanghai, July 1947: well turned-out soldiers of one of the Nationalist Youth Divisions, photographed shouting patriotic slogans. The Youth Divisions, formed from student volunteers, were among the best Nationalist troops and still retained some of the old fervour lost by the majority of Chiang Kai-shek's soldiers. All these men have been issued with captured Japanese M32 steel helmets with added KMT emblems, and have been lucky enough to receive US double-buckle boots. (Time & Life Pictures)

A3: Private, 56th Division; Shanghai, 1937

This steel helmet is of a type peculiar to the Chinese Army and seen most often on this front. Roughly resembling a 'flattened out' German helmet, it was crudely made and did not always conform to exactly the same shape. Some but not all had the sunburst badge embossed on the front. The rest of the soldier's light summer uniform is unremarkable. The apparent blanket roll over his left shoulder is in fact made from grey cotton and contains his food supply. His canvas haversack accommodates his few personal items, and because of his lack of a canvas bandolier it also has to hold ammunition for his Hanyang 88 rifle. A4: Sergeant, 37th Division, 29th Army; Marco Polo Bridge, July 1937

The 29th Army were stationed in the vicinity of Peking when fighting broke out with the Japanese. This soldier belongs to one of that army's elite 'big sword' units, which were slaughtered in large numbers when they tried to attack Japanese troops emplaced with machine guns; some troops were seen going into action with their sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. This sergeant has his blue-striped red rank patches with two gold triangles on the collar of his light cotton tunic, and the usual KMT sun badge on his field cap. As well as his local 'Chiang Kai-shek' copy of the Mauser 98k rifle and bayonet he is also armed with a two-handed da-dao fighting broadsword which he carries in its leather scabbard on his back. These large chopping swords featured in many of the propaganda photographs of the time, but their practical use was naturally limited; they were

Canton 1938

a throwback to the warlord period when several armies had elite 'dare to die' units armed with this weapon. The simple personal equipment comprises a couple of canvas ammunition bandoliers worn at shoulder and waist.

B: CHINA 1 938-39

B1: Corporal, 154th Division, 12th Army; Canton, May 1938

A member of an elite bodyguard unit, this NCO is wearing a smart woollen uniform with regulation collar and chest patches, with a non-regulation 'polo'-type pith helmet. Unusually, this unit has also been provided with knapsacks,

A major of the 29th Army displays some distinctive insignia on his light khaki cotton officer's uniform. He has the usual rank patch on his left collar, with one gold triangle on two bars set on his branch-of-service colour. However, on the right patch he displays pin-on metal numerals '29A' for 29th Army. This form of insignia seems to be unique in the photographic record, and may have been peculiar to the staff of this army. The major also has an unusual triangular cloth patch above the conventional identification patch on his left breast, also bearing '29A' in black below what seems to be a bird-shaped symbol. His ID patch appears to be bordered in yellow, and the left vertical panel bears the single black triangle of his rank. ( Robert Hunt Library )

of unknown origin, worn complete with a rolled and strapped blanket. The 7.63mm Mauser C96 series of semi-automatic pistols, with their distinctive wooden holster/clip-on shoulder stock, had been very popular in China since the early 20th century. They were widely copied by foreign manufacturers, notably in Spain and China; in 9mm and ,45cal as well as 7.63mm. This Schnellfeuer selective fire version (i.e. capable of fully automatic fire, and in fact originated by Astra in Spain) took either 10- or 20-rd detachable magazines; it is unloaded here, but the numerous leather belt pouches are clearly for 20-rd clips.

B2: Private 1st Class; Wuhan, October 1938

A member of the garrison of this strategic city; scene of a decisive action in 1938. His steel helmet closely resembles the 'plum blossom' model in use by some Japanese troops in the early 1930s. It has a KMT badge mounted on the front, and is fastened by means of chin tapes in the Japanese fashion. His light khaki cotton tunic is worn with shorts and puttees, and he has been lucky enough to receive a new pair of brown leather shoes. Backpacks were virtually unknown in the Chinese Army, and he carries his kit in a roughly made haversack. The scabbarded bayonet fragged to his belt is for his German Karabiner 98a rifle - one of the less popular types in service with the Chinese, but almost any available rifle in 7.92mm was imported during the 1930s in an attempt to supply the large army.

Dao Characters

This soldier photographed in 1937 carries the massive traditional da-dao broadsword, which was widely used during the first years of the Sino-Japanese War - see Plate A4. Around his waist a broad brown leather belt supported by a cross strap carries ammunition pouches for his Mauser pistol, whose distinctive butt can just be seen protruding from its wooden holster/stock in front of his right hip - see Plate B1. The large leather pouch slung untidily behind his left shoulder is unidentified. His helmet is either a British Mk I or a US M1917A1. (Joseph T.C.Liu)

B3: Private 2nd Class, 7th Division; winter 1939

Taking part in the Nationalist winter offensive, he wears typical Chinese cold weather clothing. Of heavy cotton, it is thickly padded and lined ('wadded') but does not show exterior stitching ('quilting'); originally blue, it has faded in use to a grey shade. It is worn with puttees, and Chinese slip-on cloth shoes over thick stockings. His British Mk I or US M1917A1 steel helmet has the KMT sun stencilled on the front. Apart from the roughly made name patch above the breast pocket he has no insignia. Equipment is limited to a canvas bandolier, a slung water bottle or haversack hidden here on his right side, and a Chinese issue gas mask in its unusually long metal canister - this presumably accommodated a spare filter? The light machine gun is a Finnish Lahti Saloranta M26, one of many types imported in the 1930s. China was the only export customer for this unremarkable but sturdy weapon, which was converted to 7.92mm from the Finnish 7.62mm; it continued in use into the 1940s.

C: CHINA 1 939-41

CI: Captain, 14th Artillery Regiment; southern Honan province, January 1940 This officer wears the same grey wadded cotton winter uniform as the other ranks but of a better quality - most officers could afford to have their field uniforms made up by local tailors. His chest patch is of the simple two-panel type and has no coloured border. He wears nondescript grey-brown woollen puttees and officer's black shoes. His collar rank insignia are on the blue background patch denoting the artillery branch. His Mauser pistol hangs from a strapped cover around its holster/stock. Binoculars were purchased privately, and like many items acquired in the 1930s may well have been made in Japan.

C2: Major, 183rd Division, 60th Corps; First Battle of Changsha, September 1939

Perhaps a battalion commander, this infantry field officer wears standard officer's service uniform in a pale brownish khaki woollen material, with a stiffened ski-type cap in the same cloth. The colours and materials of officers' uniforms varied greatly depending on local conditions. His ID patch on the left chest is bordered in yellow, which is now believed to show that he is a field officer. The straight-cut slacks could be replaced in the front line by breeches worn with puttees, topboots or leather leggings. From his Sam Browne belt hangs the officer's dress dagger or dirk, which was for purely decorative purposes and shows the German influence on the Chinese Army of the 1930s: these were quite highly decorated on the scabbard, and had a KMT sun on the hilt. C3: Regimental standard-bearer, 12th Division, 3rd Corps; southern Shansi province, May 1941 As a regimental standard-bearer on parade this corporal is well turned out and has been issued with the best available uniform. His ski-cap, tunic and trousers are made from finely woven cotton in a brown-khaki colour and white parade gloves and a Sam Browne belt complete what is a particularly smart uniform for the Chinese Army. The plastic rank insignia on his collar show a single triangle over a dark blue line on a red background. As well as the identification patch on his left breast he has a divisional patch on the left sleeve: on a white oval, a black Arabic '12D' for 12th Division, set on a dark blue or black backing on a larger white patch, with his date of enlistment in Chinese characters along the bottom. Chinese Army standards were all of the same basic design, differenced here by the unit details in black characters on the white vertical panel. Unit standards usually had a yellow fringe when possible. Smaller guidons used as company and other sub-unit flags were about half the size of the regimental standards.

D: BURMA 1943-45

D1: Private, 112th Regiment, 38th Division, 'New 1st Army'; northern Burma, May 1944

This US-trained and Allied-equipped soldier of Gen Stilwell's X-Force has a US M1 steel helmet with the KMT sun decal on the left side. His British 'khaki drill' shirt is worn under a button-neck pullover; these appeared in both drab khaki and grey shades. Much of X-Force's - and the British Army's -uniforms and equipment issued in the SE Asia theatre was made in India. The KD trousers are confined by khaki woollen puttees in the usual Chinese fashion. Boots seem rarely to have been issued to the Chinese troops by the Allies, and most are seen wearing straw sandals or lightweight shoes, like this soldier. He has British 37 pattern webbing equipment with an 08 pattern water bottle earned in an open strap holder.

A jubilant soldier of Gen Stilwell's British-clothed X-Force celebrates the crossing of the Tanai river in the Hukawng Valley, northern Burma, in March 1944. He is wearing Indian-made KD overalls over an aertex shirt; the overalls have a single breast pocket and a fly front, and were designed to be worn for general duties as well as by motorized and armoured troops. Chinese troops in India were grateful for a better level and standard of field equipment than they had ever before received; for example, Indian-made mosquito hoods would have been a welcome novelty.

Nambu Type1 Submachine Gun

Chinese soldiers were usually issued with this US 'Enfield' M1917 rifle, and commonly carried the bayonet fixed. D2: Lance-Corporal, 22nd Division, 'New 6th Army'; Hukawng Valley, northern Burma, March 1944

The designation 'new' was usually applied to divisions and larger formations which had taken the numbers of the many Chinese formations destroyed in the first years of the Sino-Japanese War. Apart from his Chinese puttees and shoes this junior NCO (who displays no insignia) is dressed exactly like a British soldier in Burma in 1942, in KD shirt and shorts, a British Mk II steel helmet with netting and foliage camouflage, and 37 pattern webbing equipment. His weapon is the Bren; outwardly the standard British section light machine gun, but here a variation manufactured in Canada by Inglis in the standard Chinese 7.92mm calibre. These saw widespread service until 1949. D3: Private 1st Class; Ramgarh training centre, Bihar, India, August 1944

This soldier undergoing training at the Chinese centre northwest of Calcutta is dressed in British KD with the addition of Chinese insignia. His identification patch has a blue border and bears his unit and personal details in Chinese characters. The India-pattern pith helmet - one of several different types of British solar topi issued - bears the KMT badge on the front. His webbing is Indian-made British 37 pattern, made from a coarser material with rather fragile brass fittings. Thompson sub-machine guns had been popular in Chinese service for many years, but this new M IA I is from US stocks.

E: CHINA & BURMA 1943-45

E1: Tank commander, (1st) Provisional Tank

Group; Burma, 1944-45

The Chinese armoured force in Burma was equipped with US Sherman M4A4 medium tanks, Stuart M3A3 light tanks, White scout cars, and British Universal carriers. Tank crewmen were drawn from different provinces of China and were one of the few examples of soldiers from different regions serving together. The crews' clothing, like their tanks, was provided by the US. This commander is wearing a US herringbone twill (HBT) one-piece overall suit, as issued to mechanics, and the tanker's fibre crash helmet. The only Chinese items are his homemade straw sandals, which must have been quite comfortable in the heat of a tank in tropical conditions.

E2: Major-General Sun Li-jen, commanding 38th Division; Burma, late 1943

General Sun Li-jen was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and one of the most able of the Chinese commanders. He led the 38th Division in Burma in 1942, and after its retreat to India during its re-equipment and retraining in 1942-43. He fought again in Burma in 1943-45, latterly in command of the New 1st Army. General Sun favoured simple, soldierly uniforms; he is wearing the US Army first pattern M1942 olive drab HBT two-piece fatigues. Apart from the KMT sun decal on the left of his M1 helmet, his only insignia are his major-general's gold one-star rank patches fixed to the open lapels of the jacket. His brown leather 'rough-out' boots are standard US Army issue, as is the Colt M1911A1 .45cal semi-automatic pistol holstered on his M1936 web pistol belt. Apart from US weapons, Chinese

M1917a1 Image

This resolute-looking soldier squints through the sights of his Type 24 HMG; the reversed swastika on the brass manufacturer's plate was an ancient Oriental good luck symbol. The gunner has a unit patch on the left sleeve of his light summer uniform, and a broad basketwork sun helmet, with a paper or cloth KMT badge, on top of his field cap. (IWM, PLP 2448C)

This resolute-looking soldier squints through the sights of his Type 24 HMG; the reversed swastika on the brass manufacturer's plate was an ancient Oriental good luck symbol. The gunner has a unit patch on the left sleeve of his light summer uniform, and a broad basketwork sun helmet, with a paper or cloth KMT badge, on top of his field cap. (IWM, PLP 2448C)

officers were armed with pistols from Canadian and most European arms manufacturers.

E3: Colonel, attached to US Training Advisory Group; Kunming, 1943

This colonel at the training area for Y-Force (Y for Yunnan) wears standard Chinese Army officer's uniform in one of the many differing shades of khaki cotton used for tailoring officers' clothing. Although not visible here, the brass buttons bore the KMT sun design. Besides the usual rank and identification patches - the latter bordered in yellow for a field grade officer - he displays on his left shoulder the sign of the US Training Advisory Group, worn by US and Chinese personnel alike. His breeches are worn with brown leather leggings and officers' shoes as an alternative to officer's riding boots.

F: CHINA 1944-45

F1: OSS-trained soldier; southern China, August 1945

The US Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA, trained a limited number of Nationalist troops in China towards the end of the war. Some OSS-trained troops were issued with US tropical uniforms, but the majority seem to have retained their Chinese clothing, like this simple khaki cotton uniform and slip-on fabric shoes. His US-supplied kit is limited to an M1 helmet, web Ml 923 cartridge belt, and a .30cal Browning M1919A6 machine gun. (This adaptation of the tripod-mounted M1919A4 medium MG, with a bipod, shoulder stock and pistol grip, was rather heavy in its intended role as an infantry squad/section weapon.) The Chinese troops who were trained by US and British instructors during the war often went on to become the Nationalist Army's best units during the Civil War, 1946-49.

F2: Nationalist guerrilla, 43rd Regiment, 15th Mobile Column; northern Shantung province, 1944

This guerrilla fighter belongs to the 2,000-strong elite regiment of a 10,000-strong force - a reminder that 'guerrillas' were not always members of small, ragged bands dispersed around the countryside. The 15th Mobile Column was a very well organized formation, and had 20 factories producing all types of small arms. Uniforms were also produced, and this lucky fighter has a newly issued blue wadded cotton winter uniform that has not yet had time to fade. His equipment is the same as that worn by many regular soldiers, and includes a couple of canvas bandoliers and chest pouches for stick grenades. Such German-type grenades were made in small arsenals all over China, and can often be distinguished by their roughly carved wooden shafts. As a bodyguard to the unit's commander, Yu-min, this man is well armed with one of the numerous Chinese copies of the Thompson sub-machine gun. F3: Lance-corporal; Pihu military training centre, 1944

This young NCO receiving combat training at the Pihu centre is well kitted out. He has covered his light khaki cotton ski-type field cap with foliage camouflage. His rough cotton tunic and breeches and puttees are all of the same cloth. Many soldiers found the familiar homemade straw sandals more comfortable than boots or shoes; they were cool in summer, and actually gave a better grip in mud. Unusually, he has a regulation issue leather knapsack and blanket roll, with the wooden shaft of a small pick thrust under its straps. A canvas haversack and a water bottle are slung to his left hip, where his belt supports the bayonet frog; his brown

Kmt Civil War Breast Patch

ammunition pouches are local copies of the German originals. The carbine is a Belgian FN24, one of many Mauser-type rifles and carbines in 7.92mm that were imported during the 1930s.

F4: Private 1st Class, New 19th Division, 46th Corps; Kweilin-Luichow, April 1945

This soldier operating in south-west China is an example of the diverse sources of uniforms and weaponry during the war. He has a locally made uniform in a grass-green shade, with shoulder straps and scalloped pocket flaps. His insignia include a simplified divisional patch on the left sleeve. The KMT badge is displayed on his helmet, of the French Adrian model worn by a number of Chinese units from the mid-19305 - this, despite the fact that the 19th Div is described as being supplied by the US (note his M1923 cartridge belt). Further evidence of the cosmopolitan nature of Chinese procurement is provided by his Belgian FN Mle 30 heavy automatic rifle.

G: CIVIL WAR 1 946-49

G1: Lieutenant, 123rd Corps; Shanghai, April 1949

This officer is wearing a very faded example of an olive drab US Army surplus M1943 combat jacket and trousers, with a pair of US Army double-buckle boots. His field cap is the old fashioned ski type made of light khaki cotton, with the usual KMT badge. He has acquired a pair of war booty Japanese officer's binoculars, and a US M1936 pistol belt and suspenders. Despite its immediate resemblance to the old Mauser C96, his pistol is in fact a Canadian-made Inglis Type 1 version of the Belgian M1935 FN Browning Hi-Power, carried inside a Mauser-type wooden holster/stock fixed to the belt by a canvas hanger. G2: Private 2nd Class, 4th Corps; Canton, October 1949

Even in the very last days of the Civil War this soldier, shipping out of Canton for Formosa, has a surprisingly old-fashioned appearance. The trousers of his US Army surplus khaki cotton 'Class C chino shirtsleeve uniform are confined by puttees; and he wears a captured Japanese cork sun helmet, seen in quite widespread use during the war. The brass five-point star badge of the IJA has been removed but not replaced with a KMT sun. Many soldiers wore these basketball-type boots in canvas and rubber, either imported or locally made. His only equipment is the American M1923 cartridge belt. This Johnson Ml 941 semi-automatic rifle, though not taken up by the US Army, was exported to several countries. It is unclear if the light machine gun version was also acquired by the Nationalists. G3: 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers, 7th Division; Shihchiachuang, October 1948 The 1946 uniform regulations included a new system of rank and branch insignia which followed the US Army

MajGen Sun Li-jen (see Plate E2), photographed during a meeting with Gen Frank D.Merrill of the 5307th Composite Unit - 'Merrill's Marauders'. On this occasion the commander of the Chinese 'New' 38th Div was wearing a US Army field jacket, a British JG shirt and sweater and KD slacks, and a light khaki ski-type cap. General Sun, one of the most able Chinese commanders, went on to lead the New 1st Army in the Burmese advance of 1944-45. (Merrill's Marauders Association)

Cap Model 1858

model. This officer wears the new US-type peaked service cap with a new woven officers' cap badge featuring an oval foliate wreath; the white-on-blue sun was sometimes outlined with a red ring, but this was not universal. On his service tunic the Engineers' fortress branch insignia is worn in brass on his left collar and a plum blossom on the right; his silver US-style rank bar is pinned to the shoulder straps. He retains the traditional identification patch above the left breast pocket. Slacks seem to have been the most common trousers worn with the 1946 uniform. The Sam Browne belt supports the commonly seen US-supplied Colt M1911A1.

G4: Volunteer, Peace Preservation Corps; Kaifeng, June 1948

This is a member of a 50,000-strong force of PPC and other auxiliary units committed to the battle of Kaifeng, which lasted from the end of May to the beginning of July 1948. PPC volunteers had no really distinctive uniform; this man is wearing a holly-green tunic and trousers with brown woollen puttees. His cap is the standard KMT type but made from war booty Japanese uniform cloth. Black canvas shoes -here, a laced type - were still worn by many Nationalist troops alongside imported boots. Equipment is minimal, with brown canvas bandoliers and a haversack to carry his personal gear. The second-line status of the PPC is demonstrated by his elderly captured Japanese 6.5mm Type 30 carbine.

H: CIVIL WAR 1 946-49 H1: Lieutenant, 69th Division; February 1947

This officer pictured during the winter of 1946/47 is wearing the new grey padded winter uniform which appeared early in the Civil War; for officers it had shoulder straps. Old-style insignia of rank and identity are still worn, and the chest patch has the blue border now believed to indicate company officers. His peaked service cap is a US surplus model, with the new officer's cap badge in metal. He has acquired a pair of US Army jungle boots - thoroughly inadaquate for winter, but at least allowing extra insulation to be worn inside. Like many Chinese soldiers he has equipped himself from captured Japanese stocks, with a map case and an 8mm Nambu Type 14 semi-automatic pistol.

A young Nationalist naval infantryman on sentry duty during the Civil War. wearing an old fashioned-looking peaked service cap. Morale in the Navy was lower than in the Army, and corruption was particularly rife among naval officers. (Robert Hunt Library)

H2: Private 1st Class, 207th Youth Division; Mukden, October 1948

The Nationalists had suffered enormous losses during their campaign in Manchuria. This young volunteer soldier serves with one of two brigades of the 207th which were left to defend the city of Mukden by October 1948. He is dressed in the new grey winter uniform; the new model winter hat has ear cut-outs in the flaps, surrounded by extra padding. US-supplied basketball-type boots were popular, although most soldiers had to take what they were given or could buy for themselves on the black market. This soldier's basic equipment includes a leather belt on to which he has fastened locally made canvas pouches with tape-and-toggle fastening, to hold spare magazines for his Chinese-made Type 36 copy of the US ,45cal M3A1 'grease gun'. This submachine gun was produced at the government arsenal in Mukden.

H3: NCO, 12th Army Group; Shwangchiaochi, November 1948

He wears the grey wadded cotton winter uniform with puttees and traditional canvas shoes. His Ml helmet has the KMT sun badge on the front; although the Ml was supplied in large numbers there were never enough to go round, and many captured Japanese and older Chinese helmets were still used. Insignia on his jacket would be limited to the simplest black-on-white cloth name and unit patch over his left breast pocket. He carries three stick grenades in a cloth carrier from his belt. His only other equipment is a canvas bandolier crudely adapted to take spare magazines for his US M1 carbine. These weapons were supplied in quite large numbers, and (as in most armies) were popular for their lightness and handiness. However, in the Korean War of a couple of years later there were complaints (again, as in most armies) about the lack of stopping power of its short ,30cal round -essentially, a pistol cartridge. Some GIs even claimed that its bullets sometimes failed to penetrate the heavy padded jackets of the Chinese Communist troops. H4: Corporal, 73rd Army; Manchuria, November 1947

This member of a newly arrived division sent to Manchuria as reinforcements wears uniform typical of the Nationalist rank and file during Civil War winters. His wadded cotton jacket and trousers are dirty and worn. A simple black-on-white ID patch on the left chest is the only insignia. His US Army surplus peaked service cap displays a larger than usual metal KMT badge. Footwear is a pair of soft black Chinese shoes worn over thick white stockings. Very large quantities of Japanese arms and equipment were used by both sides during the Civil War; this soldier has an unwieldy old 6.5mm Arisaka Type 38 rifle, and Japanese brown leather ammunition pouches on his belt.

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