Chiang Kai-shek was not blind to the weaknesses of his army. His frank analysis of his officers recognized their lack of professional skills, their neglect or ill-treatment of their men. and their endemic personal corruption. His intentions were frustrated by senior commanders failing to co-operate with one another, each protecting his own army's assets like some jealous warlord, unwilling to risk his own men (or more importantly, his equipment) to help a neighbouring commander who was under attack. Chiang had a grudging respect for the unified command, discipline, and solidarity of purpose displayed by the Communists, but was unable to instil these qualities into his own commanders and their men.
Despite his occasionally clear-sighted view of Nationalist weaknesses, Chiang Kai-shek began the Civil War blinded by an over-confidence that was shared by most of his subordinates. Like a 19th-century Chinese army seduced by their own flags and gongs but neglectful of weapons training and logistics, they were over-impressed by their riches of new American weapons and vehicles. Impatient to crush the apparently much weaker PLA. they failed to take the time to train the troops thoroughly in their use. Much of the modern equipment was never employed to its full potential through simple ignorance.
As already mentioned, strategically the Nationalists wasted their best divisions, which had a potential for mobile operations, by nailing them down to defend towns, railways and roads while the Communists outmanoeuvred them in the countryside. Many cities held by the Nationalists became, effectively, prison camps for their garrisons. Chiang Kai-shek insisted 011 maintaining the prestige of his regime by trying to impose his power over the whole of China simultaneously. This was against the advice of his best Chinese officers and his US advisers, who urged that the Nationalists should first consolidate their control of southern and central China.
The static campaign in Manchuria and northern China also had disastrous effects 011 morale and popular support. Although welcomed at first as liberators from the Japanese, most of the troops sent to that front were from southern and central provinces, and when surrounded by elusive guerrilla enemies they began to mistreat the northern peasantry badly. The steady growth of popular support for the PLA led to increasingly damaging rates of desertion from Nationalist units.
In addition to the regular army there were three para-military services responsible for protecting lines of communication and small towns. These were the Railway Police, Traffic Police, and Peace Preservation Corps - the latter being by far the most numerous. Railway and Traffic Police were described collectively by the Communists as the 'Communication Police Corps'. All three of these lightly armed organizations were easy prey tor
Communist guerrillas and became a ready source of weaponry for them. A Nationalist village militia also existed, but was militarily negligible except as a source of booty for local guerrillas.
The Peace Preservation Corps was raised 011 a local basis to support the regular Nationalist army. While the Railway & Traffic Police were limited to protecting Nationalist lines of communication, the PPC had a more general militia role. Its units were assembled into brigade-size formations; though only lightly armed and poorly equipped, these were regarded by the Communists as a valuable source of captures. When employed in battle alongside regular units the PPC were regarded by Nationalist generals as being there simply to make up the numbers.
An agreement regarding the strength of the PPC was reached between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung in late August 1945. during the period of ostensible peace negotiations. This called for the size of the local PPC to be governed by the population of the province; 110 province's PPC should exceed 15.000 men, and their armaments should be limited to pistols, rifles and automatic rifles. This agreement was of course ignored once the Civil War broke out. At the start of the conflict the PPC and other local forces amounted to about 1.5 million men.
Small arms used by the Nationalists included all previously acquired Mauser 7.92mm rifle types, both imported and locally made. Additional rifles came from among the large number of Japanese 6.5mm and 7.7mm Aiisakas captured in 1945. The .30cal Springfield Ml903 and Enfield M1917 rifles had been supplied in large numbers by the USA pre-1945; but while significant numbers of Ml carbines were provided, as far as is known 110 Garand Ml rifles were supplied. Sub-machine guns were usually either .45cal Thompsons (imported, or various copies), Canadian-made 9mm Stens. or the Chinese Type 36 copy of the US .45cal M3 'grease gun'. Light machine guns used during the Civil War were the Czech-designed 7.92mm ZB26 and a Canadian-made 7.92mm Bren gun. The most common heavy machine gun throughout the war was the archaic-looking Type 24, a copy of the 7.92mm German MG08 Maxim. This mix of so many types of weapon taking at least six types of ammunition must have made the lives of ordnance officers and quartermasters a hell 011 earth.
Roughly speaking, about 30 per cent of Nationalist small arms were of US origin, 30 per cent captured Japanese, and the remainder from various Chinese sources. Huge numbers of Japanese weapons had been captured in August 1945, including 629.544 rifles and 27.745 light and heavy machine guns. In their turn, the Nationalists were to lose equally staggering numbers of weapons captured from them by the
Nationalist troops march through their barracks, C1948, well clothed for winter in wadded cotton jackets, trousers, hats and double-breasted greatcoats. The two officers (right) have added shoulder boards to their wadded jackets. They are wearing the US-style peaked service cap with the larger cap badge - the KMT sun bordered in red, in a gold wreath (see Plate H1). The original caption claims that these men are former Communists. (US National Archives)
In February 1949, as the Nationalist cause falters, a unit of infantry march through the streets of Shanghai. They are dressed in padded winter uniforms with grey cotton ski-caps. The front rank are armed with Thompsons, and the second rank with US Ml carbines and a Belgian Mle 30 automatic rifle. Further back in the column are men armed with Mauser rifles and ZB26 light machine guns.
PLA. One US military source states that between September and November 1948 the Nationalists lost 230.000 rifles to the Communists; by the start of 1949 the total figure had reached over 400.000, of which at least 100.000 were US types.
The Nationalist artillery was equipped mainly with Japanese pieces, of which some 10.300 had been captured; among the more modern US guns the 75mm pack howitzer was the most common type. Even though large numbers of US 105mm and some 155m howitzers had been sent to China the artillery in the field still relied heavily on mountain and light field suns.
Armour was poorly utilized. The Nationalists had only one armoured brigade, equipped with Stuart M3A3 light tanks and commanded by Chiang Kai-shek's son. Other armour included more than 300 outdated
Japanese captures, and even some older leftovers such as the Soviet T-26. Any armour not on the strength of the single armoured brigade was distributed piecemeal among the various Nationalist commanders. Armoured trains were still in use by the Nationalists, in usually futile attempts to defend their vulnerable supply lines.
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