Battle of Changsha (1944)

Battle of Changsha (1944)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict= Battle of Changsha (1944)
partof=the Second Sino-Japanese War

date= May 1944 - August 1944
place= Changsha and Hengyang
result=nominal Japanese tactical victory, Chinese strategic victory
combatant1=flagicon|ROC National Revolutionary Army
combatant2=flagicon|Japan|alt Imperial Japanese Army
commander1=flagicon|ROC Xue Yue,
flagicon|ROC Fang Xianjue
commander2=flagicon|Japan|alt Isamu Yokoyama,
flagicon|Japan|alt Yasuji Okamura
strength1=400,000 troops in eight army groups
strength2=360,000 troops of the 11th Army
casualties1=67,000 killed, wounded or captured
casualties2=25,000 (20,000 in Hengyang)
The Battle of Changsha (1944), also known as the Battle of Hengyang or Battle of Hengyang-Changsha, was an invasion of the Chinese province of Hunan by Japanese troops near the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As such, it encompasses three separate conflicts: an invasion of the city of Changsha and two invasions of Hengyang.

The Japanese military transferred the bulk of their troops from within the country and the northeast as part of Operation "Ichi-Go" or "Tairiku Datsu Sakusen" which roughly translates as ‘Operation to Break through the Continent’. This was an attempt to establish a land and rail corridor from between the Japanese occupied territories of North East China and Korea and those in South East Asia. In June 1944 the Japanese deployed 360,000 troops (not including air or sea support) to invade Changsha for the fourth time (the first being in 1939). The Operation involved more Japanese troops than any other campaign in the Sino-Japanese war.

Battle of Changsha

The Japanese modified the tactics they had used in their previous three attempts by using the crack 3rd and 13th Division to attack Wanyang mountain toward Liuyang, effectively flanking the Chinese troops defending Changsha and cutting off their possible retreat routes, and placed secondary divisions in charge of attacking Changsha. The Chinese attempted to use the previous tactic of avoid direct contact by marching in parallel fashion to flank the Japanese, but were unable to encircle the enemy like before and had to retreat. This allowed IJA to rapidly ransack the city of Changsha, breaking the defenses of the infantry within the city, as well as neutralizing the Chinese artillery on Yuelu Mountain, and Changsha was quickly lost to the Japanese.

General Zhang De-neng, The commander of the NRA 4th Army in charge of defending Changsha, fled the city while leaving most of his troop to be taken prisoner by the Japanese. He was later executed by Chiang Kai-shek.

Battle of Hengyang

"See main article: Defense of Hengyang"

Two Japanese military detachments moved on to besiege Hengyang, but the Chinese National Revolutionary Army's Tenth Division under the command of Fang Xianjue repelled their advance twice. The unresolved situation in Hengyang helped hasten the crumbling of the Tojo Hideki's cabinet.

In August 1944, Japanese troops led by three generals again attacked Hengyang with the help of air support. Chinese troops resisted fiercely aided by local knowledge, and constructing effective barricades up to 4 m high. The Chinese defences were intelligently constructed and used crossfire zones to maximize firepower. This caused the Japanese 68th and 116th Division to lose morale and it began preparations for retreat. Morale rose, however, when the Japanese 58th Division broke into the city, and the attack resumed. Reinforcements sent by the Chinese National Revolutionary Army attempted many times to reach Hengyang, but were blocked.

After 47 days of bitter fighting, the Japanese troops managed to occupy Hengyang, but paid a heavy price in casualties: many lives were lost, including 390 officers dead and another 520 wounded. The 68th and 116th Division lost their combat strength and were reassigned to garrison duties. Thus, the Chinese troops to the north were able to expand their influence despite the loss of the city. This was also the only battle where Japanese casualties was higher than the Chinese during the entire war.


After the battle, the Japanese could not continue to fight. During this period Japan discovered that government privileges from Wang Jingwei's puppet regime were useless, and consequently they rejected plans to take more Chinese territory. At the same time their negotiating position with China became significantly less powerful -- to the point where they agreed to set aside the "Tang Ju" treaty.

The Chinese government continued to pressure the Japanese to completely withdraw from the northeast. The Japanese, in a desperate measure, collected as many troops as possible in April 1945 to invade Xiangxi's heavy settlement Zhijiang, hoping to open a path to Sichuan. The troops were intercepted in an ambush by the Chinese National Guard and were almost completely wiped out, and China regained some of its territory. By this point, the course of the war had turned. Later, the Japanese surrendered at the Zijiang River.


* 衡陽保衛戰 Defense of Hengyang
** Author : Liu Taiping, editor-in-chief Lu Qidong
** Press : Taiwan Elite Publishing House
** Date published : 2007-7-1
** ISBN 9789867762887

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