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Battle of Pingxingguan
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Date evening of 24 September – Noon of 25 September 1937
Location Pingxingguan, Shanxi
Result Chinese victory
Belligerents
Republic of China Army Flag.svg National Revolutionary Army
Eighth Route Army
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Flag of Manchukuo.svgManchukuo
Commanders
Lin Biao
Zhu De
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Itagaki Seishiro
Strength
6,000 troops of the 115th Division 10,000 troops (5th Division), however only certain supply troops and the 3rd Battalion of the 21st Regiment were involved in the actual ambush
Casualties and losses
500 800
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

The Battle of Pingxingguan (Chinese: pinyin: Píngxíng Guān Zhàn), also commonly called the "Great Victory of Pingxingguan" (Chinese: pinyin: Píngxíng Guān jié) in Mainland China, was an engagement fought between the 8th Route Army of the Communist Party of China and the Imperial Japanese Army on September 25, 1937. It resulted in a minor, morale-boosting victory in which the 8th Route Army was able to capture a cache of weapons and annihilate a Japanese brigade.

Contents

Background

After the capture of Beiping (present Beijing) at the end of July, Japanese forces advanced along the Beiping-Suiyuan railway line to Inner Mongolia. Having anticipated the move, Chiang Kai-shek had appointed the Shanxi warlord Yan Xishan as Pacification Director of Taiyuan. Theoretically Yan had authority over all the Chinese military forces in his theatre of operations, including Lin Biao's 115th Division of the Communist 8th Route Army, Liu Ruming's ex-Kuomintang troops and various Central Army contingents responsible to Chiang Kai-shek. In reality these forces operated independently from Yan's provincial army.

Japanese forces, mainly the 5th Division and 11th Independent Mixed Brigade, moved out from Beiping and advanced on Huaili, in Chahar. A Japanese column advanced quickly into Shanxi, making use of the railway which the Chinese did not attempt to destroy. The Chinese abandoned Datong on September 13, falling back to a line from Yanmenguan on the Great Wall east to the mountain pass of Pingxingguan. Yan Xishan's troops became more demoralised as the Japanese exerted their air supremacy.

The main body of the Japanese 5th Division, under the command of Itagaki Seishiro, advanced from Huaili to invade northeastern Shanxi. Although it had a motorised transport column, its rate of advance was limited by the poor roads. By the time they reached the Shanxi border, Lin Biao's 115th Division, after a forced march from Shaanxi, was in place at Pingxingguan on September 24 to attack the unawares Japanese army.

Order of Battle Battle of Pingxingguan

The battle

The pass of Pingxingguan was a narrow defile worn through the loess, with no exit for several kilometres except the road itself. Lin's division were able to ambush two columns of mainly transportation and supply units and virtually annihilate the trapped Japanese forces.

On September 25, the 21st brigade of the Japanese 5th Division stationed at LingQiu received a request from the 21st Regiment that they urgently needed supplies due to falling temperature. The supply troops of the 21st Regiment set out with 70 horse-drawn vehicles with 50 horses, filled with clothes, food, ammunition and proceeded westwards towards Pingxingguan. Around 10 a.m., the supply column passed into a defile with the two sides rising up more than 10 meters; they were heading towards Cai Jia Yu about 3 km away. At the same time, a motorized column of Japanese supply troops in about 80 trucks left Guan Gou and headed east. Both of these non-combat formations entered into the ambush set by the 115th division after 10 a.m. on the 25th and were largely wiped out. A relief force consisting of the 3rd Battalion of the 21st Regiment was rebuffed by Chinese troops and suffered almost 100 casualties. Lin Biao's troops eventually withdrew from the battlefield, allowing the Japanese to finally reach the site of the ambush on September 28.

When it was over about 3,000 Japanese were killed and captured at a cost of 500 Chinese casualties. The battle yielded some 100 trucks loaded with supplies, about 100 rifles, and ammunition and clothing for the Chinese.

Evaluation

The Kuomintang official history of the Second Sino-Japanese War deals with it in a sentence, without any credit to the communists. Communist accounts, on the other hand, describe Pingxingguan as a typical example of Red guerrilla tactics, inspired by Mao Zedong's conceptualisation of People's war. Japanese losses were greatly exaggerated for propaganda purposes. However, like the victory at the Battle of Taierzhuang, Pingxingguan was explained by Japan as Japanese officers succumbing to what they came to call "victory disease". After a series of easy victories against their opponents, they failed to take elementary precautions. Japanese commanders seldom repeated the operational blunders that had led to Pingxingguan. Nonetheless, the battle gave the Chinese a major boost in morale and credence to the Communists in the eyes of the people. The battle was constantly cited by CPC brass as an example of their commitment to battling the Japanese occupation. [1]

References

  1. ^ Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, p. 279

External links

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