Landing Operation on Hainan Island


Landing Operation on Hainan Island

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Landing Operation on Hainan Island
partof=the Chinese Civil War
place=Hainan, China
date=March 5, 1950 - May 1, 1950
result=Communist victory
combatant1=

combatant2=

commander1=
李彌
commander2=
韓先楚
strength1= 120,000+
strength2= 115,000+
casualties1= 33,000
casualties2= 4,500|

Landing Operation on Hainan Island (海南岛登陆战役, Pinyin: Hǎinándǎo Dēnglù Zhànyì)), also known as Hainan Island Campaign (海南岛战役) or Hainan Campaign (海南战役) for short, was a series of battles fought between the nationalists and the communists during Chinese Civil War in the post World War II era, and resulted in the communist victory.

Nationalist strategies

The Nationalist strategy was simple: defending the island by fending off the imminent enemy attack. The Nationalists formed the General Headquarter of Hainan Defense and Xue Yue was named as the commander-in-chief. Five armies and two divisions, a naval fleet totaling more than four dozen warships, a marine regiment, and four groups of the air force with forty-five aircraft of various kind were assigned to for the island defense, and a 3-D defense was established. The Nationalist 32nd Army was assigned to guard the eastern portion of the island, the Nationalist Temporarily Organized 13th Division, the Training Division, and the 62nd Army were assigned to guard the northern portion of the island, the Nationalist 4th and 64th Armies were assigned to guard the western portion of the island, the Nationalist 63rd Army was assigned to guard the southern portion of the island. Nationalist 3rd fleet and air force units were tasked to patrol the waters and prevent the enemy from approaching the island. Like his troops, Xue Yue and was confident in defending the island, and named the defensive system setup after his courtesy name as Boling Defensive Line (伯陵防线).

Communist strategies

The Communist high command, the central military committee (of the Communist Party of China directed the Communist IV Field Army to be very carefully in planning the takeover of the island, which would be best completed in the spring and summer of 1950. The XV Corps of the Communist IV Field Army headed by its commander-in-chief Deng Hua (邓华) and political commissar Lai Chuanzhu (赖传珠) with a strength of more than a hundred thousand troops was deployed to Leizhou Peninsula and adjacent coastal regions, and the 40th and 43rd Armies of the Communist XV Corps were tasked as the vanguard of the campaign to take the island in December, 1949. The Communists mobilized a total of twenty-one hundred thirty junks and over four thousand civilian sailors for their cause, and the fifteen thousand member strong Communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) on the island itself was ordered to fight a counter eradication campaign against the attacking nationalist island garrison to tie down the nationalist troops, which resulted in insufficient resistance on the beachheads when the actual landing took place.

On February 1, 1950, the future Communist field marshal Ye Jianying, who was then the First Secretary of the Southern China Bureau of the (Chinese) Communist Central Bureau, as well as the commander-in-chief and political commissar of the communist Guangdong Military Region held a conference at Guangzhou with the officers of the XV Corps of the Communist IV Field Army. It was decided at the conference that small scale landings would be conducted first to probe the weakness of the island's defense, and to strengthen the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) on the island in coordination with the landing forces.

Order of battle

Nationalists:
*4th Army
*32nd Army
*62nd Army
*63rd Army
*64th Army
*Temporarily Organized 13th Division
*Training Division
*A marine regiment
*3rd Fleet (50+ warships)
*4 air force groups (45 aircraft)Communists:
*XV Corps of the IV Field Army including:
**40th Army
**43rd Army
*Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队)
*2,135 junks

Initial landing

To strengthen the island defense, the nationalist troops on the island were devoted to eradication campaigns against the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) on the island, which severely weakened the coastal defense on both the eastern and western flanks. Communists exploited this opportunity and launched small scale landings to probe and to infiltrate the coastal defenses. The two selected landing spots are the region of White Horse Well (Baimajing, 白马井) in the northwest and Red Water (Chishui, 赤水) Port in the northeast. At 7:00 PM on March 5, 1950, a regimental sized battalion totaled over eight hundred troops from the 118th Division of the communist 40th Army in a total of thirteen junks sailed from the Cape Lighthouse (Dengloujiao, 灯楼角) at the southwestern tip of Leizhou Peninsula under the cover of darkness.

Several junks of one company made the same navigational error and landed directly on the beach where the nationalist coastal defense was the strongest, and most of them were killed while the survivors committed suicides by blowing themselves up with hand grenades. However, this mistake produced an unexpected benefit for the attackers by making the defenders erroneously believe this would be the main spot of future landings and redeployed their forces to the region to boost the defense, leaving other places vulnerable. At 2:00 PM on March 6, 1950, the bulk of the landing force successfully landed in the region of Chaotouxu (超头圩), to the south of the region of White Horse Well (Baimajing, 白马井), linked up with the 9th Regiment of the 1st Division of the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) in waiting. A regimental sized battalion totaling more than a thousand troops from the 128th Division of the communist 43rd Division sailed at 1:00 PM on March 10, 1950 in twenty-one junks from Naozhou (硇洲) Island located to the southeast of Zhanjiang, and after more than twenty hours and a hundred ten nautical miles, at 9:00 AM on the next day, the landing force successfully landed in the region stretched from Red River (Chishui, 赤水) Port to Cupper Drum Ridge (Tongguling, 铜鼓岭), linked up with the Independent Regiment of the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) in waiting.

The high command of the communist XV Corps ordered its 40th and 43rd Army to organize further small scale channel crossing. On March 26, 1950, four regimental sized battalion totaling over three thousand troops of the 118th Division of the communist 40th Army sailed in eighty-one junks at Cape Lighthouse (Dengloujiao, 灯楼角) at 7:00 PM. Although the distance was only twenty-two nautical miles, the landing force failed to reach their destination on time due to the changes of tide and wind. It was not until 8:00 AM on the next day did the scattered landing force landed in a 20 km stretch region centered at Yubao (玉包) port. Fortunately, the 1st Division reached the area in time and linked up with the landing force. On March 21, 1950, four regimental sized battalions from the 127th Division of the communist 43rd Army totaling more than thirty-seven hundred troops sailed in eighty-eight junks at 10:00 PM from Boshe (博赊) port at the southeastern side of Leizhou Peninsula, and after sailing around twenty-two nautical miles, successfully landed on the Beichuang (北创) port at 5:00 AM on the next day, linked up with Independent Regiment and the 11th Regiment of the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) in waiting. After the successful landing of a series of small scale landing, the communist force was strengthened and ready to launch assaults against the nationalist coastal defense in the main landing followed.

Main landing

On April 10, 1950, the high command of the communist XV Corps decided to launch an amphibious landing in two waves in northern Hainan. The landing force was consisted of two waves, with the first wave being the main force, in two directions, east and west. Eight brigade-sized regiments, two from the communist 43rd Army and six from the communist 40th Army would ride in three hundred fifty junks to sail from Leizhou Peninsula at 7:30 PM on April 16, 1950. Another five brigade-sized regiments of the communist 43rd Army would follow the first wave as the second wave. The 1st Division of communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) and units of communist 40th Army landed earlier would strike the nationalist coastal defense in the region to the north of Lingao (临高), in accordance with the landing force in the west, while the 3rd Division of communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) and units of communist 43rd Army landed earlier would strike the nationalist coastal defense in the Fortune Mountain (Fushan, 福山) region of Chengmai (澄迈) County, in accordance with the landing force in the east. Nationalist defenders did not detect the departure of the enemy landing force until hours after the enemy fleet left ports, which prevented the nationalist fleet from intercepting the crossing fleet in time.

During the channel crossing, the communist escorting fleet of the 40th Army discovered that the nationalist 3rd Fleet with the destroyer Eternal Peace (Taiping, 太平号) as the flagship was approaching the communist landing force from behind in an attempt to intercept the landing force, and the armed communist junks escorts immediately took actions by outflanking the nationalist flotilla and attacking from the rear. The nationalist navy had gravely underestimated its enemy and did not expect the approaching junks to be armed. Mistakenly believing these junks to be just troop and cargo carriers, the nationalist fleet attempted to capture them and allowed them to come close. The communist junks fired mountain guns hiden on board at close range while the nationalist ships did not have their naval guns depressed low enough to aim and fire back. The nationalist flagship is badly damaged at the initial stage of the engagement and was forced to retreat.

Although without the flagship, the remaining nationalist warships continued to fight gallantly in the chaos, but their effort was largely ineffective due to another problem: in its haste to prepare the defense of the island, the nationalist navy failed change the ammo of the warships deployed. Most of the armor-piercing and semi armor-piercing rounds designed to be used against armored metal ships and fortified bunkers failed to detonate when hitting the wooden junks, but simply went in from one side and getting out from the other. Coupled with the problem of the naval guns could not be depressed low enough and mostly hit on the enemy junks above the waterline, nationalist naval victory to check the enemy advance was impossible. Despite the fact that all armed junks were badly damaged after the channel crossing, as is the rest of entire escort fleet, none of the armed junks were actually sunk. In contrast, rounds of numerically superior mountain guns of larger caliber mounted on the of armed junks of the communist escort fleet caused considerable damage on the nationalist fleet.

Although the nationalists were unable to sink the communist transports at close range, they could not back away because they were already behind the landing force. Opening up the gap with the enemy transport would leave the defenders on the beach without fire support, who were being assaulted from both front and rear. The nationalist fleet decided to stay and mingle with the enemy escort fleet to provide fire to troops on land. After two more badly damaged warships were forced to retreat in a fierce and chaotic battle that lasted for hours, the nationalist fleet begun to withdraw away from the beach to try to sink the communist fleet, but by that time the channel crossing was almost completed and the bulk of the enemy force had already successfully landed.

The communists fully exploited the enemy's dilemma and kept intense pressure on the defenders at the beachhead. Being attacked by both sides, the nationalist defenders could not hold their position for long. By 3:00 AM on April 17, 1950, the nationalist defenses at eastern and western flanks of Cape Lingao (Lingaojiao, 临高角) collapsed under the heavy pressure of advance guards of the enemy landing force from the front and units of communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) and the communist units who landed earlier from behind. More troops landed, established firmly on the beachhead and advanced inland. Two days later, regions including Lingao, (临高), Fortune Mountain (Fushan, 福山) Meitai (美台) and Jialai (加来) all fell into communist hands.

Counterassault

On April 20, 1950, Xue Yue ordered the nationalist 32nd and 62nd Army totaling six divisions to counterattack the communist beachhead at Meiting (美亭). The counterattack left other landing spots weakly defended, which were attacked the follow-on communist landing force. Once the communist forces became strong enough, they attacked the bulk of the counterattacking nationalist forces and eventually annihilated them in the regions of Yellow Bamboo (Huangzhu, 黄竹) and Meiting (美亭). The 127th and 128th Divisions of the communist 43rd Army were ordered to hold Chengmai (澄迈), while seven regiments of the communist 40th Army reinforced Chengmai (澄迈) from Meitai (美台) and Jialai (加来). Other communist landing forces were led by the 3rd Division of the communist Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队) to surround the nationalist 32nd and 62nd Army, Temporarily Organized 13th and the Training Divisions that were attacking the 128th Division of the communist 43rd Army. After fierce fightings, the 252nd Division of the nationalist 32nd Army was completely annihilated while all other nationalist units were badly mauled.

Realizing the situation was hopeless, Xue Yue withdrawed the remaining troops southward and retreated to Taiwan. The commander-in-chief and his staff were airlifted to Taiwan in a cargo airplane escorted by two fighters.

Conclusion

On April 23, 1950, Haikou fell. In the early morning of April 24, 1950, the second wave of communist landing force arrived at the Celestial Tail (Tianwei, 天尾) harbor, and joined their comrades in pursuing the retreating nationalists in three fronts. The communist eastern front was consisted of the 119th and 120th Divisions of the 40th Army, 128th Division of the 43rd Army, the 3rd Division and the Independent Regiment of Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队), and the objective was to capture regions including Jiaji (嘉积), Wanning (万宁) and Lingshui (陵水) from Haikou and Wenchang. The communist central front was consisted of the 127th and 129th Division of the 43rd Army, and the objective was to capture regions of Beili (北黎) and Basuo (八所) from Chengmai (澄迈). The communist western front was consisted of 118th Division of the 40th Army and units of 43rd Army, pursuing the nationalists retreating westward. By April 30, 1950, Yulin (榆林) and Sanya at the eastern front fell. By May 1, 1950, Beili (北黎) and Basuo (八所) fell into the hands of communist 43rd Army and the 1st Division of Qiongya Column (琼崖纵队). A regiment of the 90th Division and the 286th Division of the nationalist 4th Army were completely destroyed while covering the retreat of other nationalist units in the last battle of the campaign. The communists achieved complete victory at the end.

The communists achieved victory in Hainan despite having little experience in amphibious warfare and are suffering from low morale after similar unsuccessful attacks at Jinmen and Dengbu in the previous fall. The communist casualties stands at 4,500 while the nationalists lost 33,000. The remaining 70% of nationalist troops retreated to Taiwan.

ee also

*List of battles of the Chinese Civil War
*National Revolutionary Army
*History of the People's Liberation Army
*Chinese Civil War

Reference

*Zhu, Zongzhen and Wang, Chaoguang, "Liberation War History", 1st Edition, Social Scientific Literary Publishing House in Beijing, 2000, ISBN 7801492072 (set)
*Zhang, Ping, "History of the Liberation War", 1st Edition, Chinese Youth Publishing House in Beijing, 1987, ISBN 750060081X (pbk.)
*Jie, Lifu, "Records of the Libration War: The Decisive Battle of Two Kinds of Fates", 1st Edition, Hebei People's Publishing House in Shijiazhuang, 1990, ISBN 7202007339 (set)
*Literary and Historical Research Committee of the Anhui Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, "Liberation War", 1st Edition, Anhui People's Publishing House in Hefei, 1987, ISBN 7212000078
*Li, Zuomin, "Heroic Division and Iron Horse: Records of the Liberation War", 1st Edition, Chinese Communist Party History Publishing House in Beijing, 2004, ISBN 7801990293
*Wang, Xingsheng, and Zhang, Jingshan, "Chinese Liberation War", 1st Edition, People's Liberation Army Literature and Art Publishing House in Beijing, 2001, ISBN 750331351X (set)
*Huang, Youlan, "History of the Chinese People's Liberation War", 1st Edition, Archives Publishing House in Beijing, 1992, ISBN 7800193381
*Liu Wusheng, "From Yan'an to Beijing: A Collection of Military Records and Research Publications of Important Campaigns in the Liberation War", 1st Edition, Central Literary Publishing House in Beijing, 1993, ISBN 7507300749
*Tang, Yilu and Bi, Jianzhong, "History of Chinese People's Liberation Army in Chinese Liberation War", 1st Edition, Military Scientific Publishing House in Beijing, 1993 – 1997, ISBN 7800217191 (Volum 1), 7800219615 (Volum 2), 7800219631 (Volum 3), 7801370937 (Volum 4), and 7801370953 (Volum 5)

External links

* [http://www.chinabaike.com/article/sort0525/sort0521/2007/20070715141208.html 海南岛登陆战役] Landing Operation on Hainan Island, in Chinese with map and photo.
* [http://baike.baidu.com/view/263406.htm 琼崖纵队] Qiongya Column, in Chinese with photo.


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