Battle of Changsha (1939)


Battle of Changsha (1939)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Changsha
partof=the Second Sino-Japanese war


caption=
date=September 13October 8 1939
place=Changsha and proximity
result=Chinese victory
combatant1=flagicon|ROC National Revolutionary Army, Military region 9
combatant2=flagicon|Japan|alt Imperial Japanese Army
commander1=flagicon|ROC Chen Cheng,
flagicon|ROC Xue Yue
commander2=flagicon|Japan|alt Yasuji Okamura
strength1=180,000 troops in 5 Army Groups, 1 Army, and 7 Corps.
strength2=90,000 troops in 5 Divisions, scores of ships and more than 100 motor boats.

Battle of Changsha (September 17, 1939October 6, 1939) was the first attempt by Japan to take the city of Changsha, China, during the second Sino-Japanese War.

Background and strategy

The war had already reached a stalemate after two years of fighting. In early September, Japanese General Toshizo Nishio of the "Japanese Expeditionary Forces to China" and Lieutenant-General Seishiro Itagaki set out to capture Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. The Japanese 101st and 106th Divisions were deployed on the western bank of the Gan River in northern Jiangxi, and the 5th, 3rd, 13th, and 33rd Divisions marched southward from southern Hubei to northern Hunan.

Two of the primary motivating factors for the Japanese in launching the attack were the signing of a non-aggression pact by their German ally with their Soviet enemy, and their defeat by Soviet forces at Nomonhan. A large attack on Chinese would therefore restore morale. [Van De Ven, Hans J., "War and Nationalism in China, 1925–1945", pg. 237.]

Altogether, it became obvious that the 100,000 strong Japanese force was to converge on Changsha. The Chinese strategy was to counter the enemy column in northern Jiangxi and then encircle the line on the path southward.

Order of Battle for Battle of Changsha (1939)

Course of Battle

The Japanese launched the attacks on September 17, when their forces in northern Jiangxi attacked westward toward Henan. However, the Japanese stretched too far out westward and were counter-attacked by Chinese forces from the south and the north, forcing them to retreat eastward.

On September 19, the Japanese then proceeded to attack the Chinese along the Sinchiang River. Even though the use of poison gas was prohibited by the Geneva Protocol, the Japanese army employed it on Chinese positions. On September 23 the Japanese drove the Chinese out of the Sinchiang river area, and the 6th and 13th Divisions crossed the river under artillery cover and advanced further south along the Milo River.

Heavy fighting continued after the 23rd and the Chinese retreated southward to attract the Japanese while supporting battalions arrived on the east and the west for encirclement maneuver. On September 29 the Japanese reached the outskirts of Changsha. However, they were unable to conquer the city because their supply lines were cut off by the Chinese. By October 6 the Japanese forces at Changsha were decimated while the remnants retreated northward.

Conclusion

Changsha was the first major city that did not fall to the Japanese advances. The commander, a colourful warlord ally of Chiang Kai-shek, Xue Yue soon gained prestige from his victories at Changsha. Retaining the city allowed the Chinese to prevent the Japanese from consolidating their territories in the South of China.

References


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