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Battle of Xuzhou file photo [2167]

Battle of Xuzhou

24 Mar 1938 - 1 May 1938


ww2dbaseBy Mar 1938, the Japanese Army had nearly fully occupied the Shandong Province, China. 64 Chinese divisions, 600,000-strong, gathered in Jiangsu Province, immediately to the south on the Chinese coast, to counter the Japanese advance.

14-18 Mar 1938

ww2dbaseAfter two weeks of careful scouting and intelligence gathering by small patrols General Itagaki Seishiro launched his offensive on 14 Mar 1938. The Japanese 10th Division consisted of about 10,000 men, 20 artillery pieces, 20 medium and light tanks, and 20 aircraft. The Japanese troops clashed with the Chinese 125th and 127th Divisions near Tengxian (now Tengzhou) in Shandong. The 125th and 127th Divisions were recently transferred from Sichuan Province, undermanned and exhausted, but fought back ferociously. On 15 Mar, the Japanese utilized their advantage of mobility and attacked Chinese forces on multiple fronts, drawing Chinese reserves nearly empty. General Li Zongren, commanding from Tai'erzhuang to the southeast, had to rush in troops to reinforce Tengxian. By 15 Mar, barely 2,000 soldiers from the 122nd Division bolstered by the 364th Brigade defended Tengxian; even if the field commander there drafted the local police and militia, the total strength still did not exceed 3,000. Their only hope was that elements of the 85th Army were on their way. Wang Mingzhang, the commanding officer at Tengxian, asked his men to hold for four hours to give the reinforcement time to get there, and the men swore to do their best. Wang then ordered the north and south gates of the town sealed shut, and all supplies hauled into the city to prepare for a siege.

ww2dbaseIn the morning of 16 Mar, the Japanese attack began. The eastern force rushed through light defenses at Longshan, Puyangshan, and Fengjiahe toward Tengxian. By 0800, 12 mountain guns were set up to bombard the town; a short time later, aircraft began strafing as well. After 3,000 shells landed in town by 1000 that morning, everything quieted down suddenly, but the offensive resumed at 1030 when Japanese artillery concentrated fire on the southeastern corner of the city wall, crumbling the wall quickly. Covered by heavy and light machine guns, 60 Japanese troops rushed the gap in the wall, but was met by two platoons of grenade-throwing Chinese soldiers in ambush, losing almost all the men within seconds. Three more attacks were organized in the next two hours, but each wave were decimated in similar manners. In the early afternoon, during the lull of battle, Chinese forces confiscated bags of salt from a local shop to fill the gap in the wall in lieu of sandbags.

ww2dbaseAt 1400, Japanese artillery concentrated fire on the city wall in the northeastern corner of the town, similarly bringing down the aging wall, then advancing the infantry under machine gun cover. Again, three waves of Japanese attack totaling 14 platoons were all driven back with high casualty rates.

ww2dbaseAt 1700, the Japanese attacked the east gate with 30 guns, supported by 10 aircraft. Frustrated by previous failures, the infantry attack wave now consisted of multiple 120-man groups, spaced apart by several hundred 100 meters. The first wave was halted by gunfire and grenades quickly, but they fought on long enough for the second wave to reach inside the torn gate. Inside the gate, the Chinese 11th Platoon, unable to use their grenades that had been so effective with previous defenses because of the short proximity, lounged forward with bayonets and engaged in brutal hand-to-hand combat. They killed every single attacker, but only 20 were left standing, and all carried battle wounds. Seeing the third wave charging at the gate, the 20 Chinese soldiers fell back. As the night fell, the Japanese attempted to hold the gate with a small contingent, but the Chinese launched a successful effort in the darkness of dusk to re-take the gate by 2000. Through the night, remnants of the 370th and 372nd Battalions totaling probably 1,000 men sneaked into the town to reinforce the defenders.

ww2dbaseIn the morning of 17 Mar, word passed into Tengxian that major Chinese efforts to reinforce the town had been frustrated by the Japanese.

ww2dbaseAt 0600 on 17 Mar, general aerial and artillery bombardment resumed, turning the town into practically a pile of rubble. At 0800, the infantry attacked the east gate and the gap at the southeastern corner of the wall. The east gate was held at high costs by the Chinese, but the attack on the southeast was supported by armored cars, and proved to be difficult to deter. After destroying two armored cars by grenade, the company that held that part of the defense fought until the last man before allowing the Japanese to come into the town. Another company previously held in reserve rushed to the scene under the direct command of the battalion commander, killing all 50-some Japanese that made into the town, but at a cost of 140 killed, including company commander Zhang Quanxin and second-in-command He Jicang. At 1500, the same aerial and artillery bombardment that preceded attacks elsewhere began on the south gate; by 1530, the infantry rush began, quickly wearing down Chinese defenders there. By 1700, west gate and south gate were taken by the Japanese. At the east gate, the 300 remaining, all carrying wounds, fought until they could no longer hold the line, then committed mass-suicide by grenades. After dark, several hundred Chinese used the cover of darkness to withdraw to Xuzhou to the south, in Jiangsu Province.

ww2dbaseAfter day break on 18 Mar, about 600 Chinese troops remained in Tengxian. The Chinese air force arrived with 10 fighters to intercept the morning aerial attack, downing two Japanese dive bombers and damaging one reconnaissance aircraft, but that success was too little and too late to make a difference. When Tengxian was taken by the Japanese, a bulk of the 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese there were killed, including commanding officer Wang Mingzhang, who died in action on 15 Mar. The Japanese lost about 2,000 killed and many wounded. The town was not lost in vain, however, for that the defenders there were ordered to hold for four hours but succeeded in delaying the Japanese advance for four days. After the Battle of Xuzhou, Li Zongren exclaimed that "the [victorious] outcome at Tai'erzhuang came from the sacrifice at Tengxian." Indeed, it was the efforts at Tengxian that gave the Chinese enough time to gather strength at Tai'erzhuang to meet the next phase of the Japanese advance.

22 Mar-15 Apr 1938

ww2dbaseAs the defenders at Tengxian bought time for the Chinese, Li Zongren and Bai Chongxi gathered his men at the town of Tai'erzhuang, about 50 kilometers northeast of Xuzhou. The sacrifice at Tengxian allowed the Chinese to bring in the 31st Division from Xucheng, Henan, which completed a reorganization during the battle and traveled to Xuzhou and Tai'erzhuang between 18 and 21 Mar. Tai'erzhuang was chosen by the Chinese as the location of resistance because it was a strategic crossroad formed between a major road, a railroad, and a navigable canal. The town was roughly 1 kilometer on the north-south axis and 2 kilometers on the east-west axis, making its area a little over 1 square kilometer. With many brick buildings strong enough to withstand light attacks and low walls around the town to obstruct enemy movement, Tai'erzhuang was ideal as the next location of Chinese defense. 3,000 households lived within the town at that time, though it was unknown how many had evacuated before the Japanese attack.

ww2dbaseAfter taking Tengxian and Lincheng to the north on 18 Mar, the Japanese 10th Division rushed south without waiting for the 5th Division to establish a strong left flank, aiming for the honor of taking Xuzhou ahead of schedule. On 20 Mar, the 10th Division's western front took Hanzhuang, but when they attempted to cross the canal, Chinese troops drove them back and tied down that front. The Japanese now must rely on their eastern front, which had just taken Yixian. From Yixian, the Japanese had two choices; they could either head in a straight line for Xuzhou over mountainous terrain, or take a round-about way along flat terrain more suitable for mechanized units. The Japanese chose the latter, to Chinese delight, for Tai'erzhuang sat across that route.

ww2dbaseJapanese orders at the time were:

  1. A light Japanese unit would defend Hanzhuang with some artillery support. Advance on the western front therefore will be paused.
  2. A major force would be gathered at Lincheng to act as reserve for an assault on Yizhou.
  3. A second major force would be gathered at Yixian to act as reserve for an assault on Tai'erzhuang.
  4. The headquarters of the 10th Division would be established at Zaozhuang-Yixian area.

ww2dbaseAfter arriving at Tai'erzhuang, the Chinese 31st Division's 91st and 93rd Brigades fortified the area. From the 93rd Brigade, the 186th Regiment guarded the town center and 185th in the villages of Beilou and Nanlou to the north; from the 91st Brigade, the 181st Regiment dug in at the railroad station on the north side of the town and the 182nd patrolled the southern bank of the canal.

ww2dbaseOn 22 Mar, Japanese troops departed Yixian for the attack on Tai'erzhuang. Chinese troops under Tang Enbo harassed the Japanese column along the entire way. At 0900 on 23 Mar, Chinese outposts made contact with Japanese infantry, cavalry, light tanks, and armor cars on the spearhead; the Chinese fought back but the outpost defense was quickly wiped out as the Japanese infantry advanced under the cover of light tanks. The village of Beilou fell quickly afterwards. On the same day, Li Zongren reorganized the 31st Division under Sun Lianzhong's 2nd Army Group, who rushed the 27th Division of the 42nd Army toward Tai'erzhuang. Sun set up his Army Group Headquarters 5 kilometers south of Tai'erzhuang, far closer than Chinese Army regulation of 20 kilometers because he sensed the importance of the upcoming confrontation. On 23 Mar, the Chinese 27th Division arrived after days of marching to bolster Tai'erzhuang's right flank.

ww2dbaseIn response to Chinese movements, the Japanese decreased the number of units attacking Yizhou so that more strength would be held in reserve available for Tai'erzhuang area if needed.

ww2dbaseOn 24 Mar, Chiang Kaishek inspected Xuzhou personally, reflecting the importance he placed upon the city. He personally appointed Bai Zongxi and Lin Weizu as staff officers of the 5th War Area before he left. In the morning of the same day, Japanese troops attacked Liujiahu and Yuanshang, both about 4 kilometers from Tai'erzhuang. The 185th Regiment counterattacked from Nanlou, retaking Liujiahu by the afternoon. Japanese troops failed in a number of attempts to re-take Liujiahu.

ww2dbaseAlso on 24 Mar, another group of Japanese troops arrived at Tai'erzhuang, striking at the rail station in the north side of town and the northern side of the town wall. Like in Tengxian, Japanese artillery blasted holes in the walls, and infantry swarmed in wave after wave despite high casualties. After sun down, Sun and Bai entered the town to inspect the troops, while Japanese artillery continued to lay down harassing fire. They decided to transfer more field guns and several armor cars into the town.

ww2dbaseIn the early morning of 25 Mar, the Chinese counterattacked. Although achieving limited success, the attacked was halted by Chinese command in fear of spreading their forces too thin. At 1000, after receiving reinforcements, the Japanese went on the offensive. As men of the Japanese 31st Division marched for Tai'erzhuang, Chinese 185th Regiment sneaked around to attack the supply lines from behind, and stumbled upon a Japanese artillery position by luck; Chinese troops attacked the position with rifles and swords, scattering the artillery position. The Japanese separated 1,000 men and 20 light tanks from the assault force to deal with the surprise, causing heavy casualties among the Chinese who had no anti-tank weapons. The Japanese force went on to re-take Liujiahu and Shaozhuang that morning.

ww2dbaseIn the afternoon, Chinese 7th Regiment's 1st Artillery Battalion and 10th Regiment's 1st Company arrived in Tai'erzhuang with 10 Mukden Military Works 75mm guns (built from plans of German Krupp 75mm guns) and two German-built 150mm guns. For the next two hours, shells exchanged between the two sides. In Tai'erzhuang, the rail station became a field of rubble under Japanese fire, and the Chinese lost one gun and one gun-towing truck.

ww2dbaseAt 1600, 600 Japanese troops attacked northern Tai'erzhuang, shaking off a Chinese attempt to slow them before they reached the town. At 1700, 200 of the attacking force infiltrated into the town, but the Chinese fought them back some time after nightfall.

ww2dbaseIn the early morning of 26 Mar, Chinese 27th Division's 80th Battalion arrived in the area and began operating small patrols behind Japanese lines. The Japanese bolstered their forces as well, adding pressure to Chinese defenses. That night, the Chinese brought four German 37mm guns into the town.

ww2dbaseAt 0530 on 27 Mar, Japanese repeated the usual attack on the northern wall with artillery and field gun fire. The Chinese 181st Regiment's 3rd Battalion fought until the last man before letting the Japanese enter the town. 186th Regiment's 2nd Battalion dug in at Qingzen Temple, holding the line but suffering high casualties at the face of Japanese attacks. Chinese commanders attempted to relieve Tai'erzhuang by attacking Liujiahu and Sanlizhuang, taking those two towns by 1100 and then drew the attention of 500 Japanese troops and 11 armor cars and light tanks from Tai'erzhuang. After a costly defense at Liujiahu, the Chinese abandoned their positions and drew the Japanese toward the west gate of Tai'erzhuang, where the 37mm guns lay in ambush. The gun crews exercised great patience in waiting until Japanese armor cars and light tanks were close enough before firing, instantly putting 6 out of action. Elements of the Chinese 31st Division then rushed out from the town to chase away the remaining Japanese forces. The six disabled Japanese vehicles were further destroyed by grenades to prevent Japanese salvage. At the end of 27 Mar, the Japanese held on to the small area of town near the north gate, and continued to engage in fierce combat with Chinese defenders at Qingzen Temple.

ww2dbaseBefore dawn on 28 Mar, Chinese troops fought desperately to drive the Japanese out of the town before they would be reinforced. Japanese fought off fierce suicide charges by the Chinese 9th Battalion of the 186th Regiment, which unit was entirely decimated by the end of the charge. Some time after 0500, the Chinese 27th Division and the 44th Independent Brigade continued the strategy to harass Japanese positions in towns nearby, taking Shaozhuang at 0730 and encircled Liujiahu until 1400. Meanwhile, at 0700, Japanese reinforcements arrived at the north gate of Tai'erzhuang, bringing heavy machine guns and 12 armor cars and light tanks with them. Throughout the day, attacks on the north gate and the northwestern corner of the wall were intense, but the Chinese was able to barely hold on to the defensive positions. By now, casualties were so heavy on the Chinese that all auxiliary members were drafted into combat units.

ww2dbaseOn 28 Mar, the Chinese embarked on a major counter offensive, flanking the Japanese forces and briefly cut off the lines of communication. Sun promoted many officers on the field the day to motivate the men, and at the same time demoted at least one officer and executed two brigade commanders for acts of cowardice as example. Seeing the situation had gotten desperate, the Japanese 10th Division was now dispatched to reinforce the Tai'erzhuang offensive.

ww2dbaseOn 30 Mar, for the first time in the battle, Chinese aircraft appeared. Japanese infantry, not used to seeing hostile aircraft, waved rising sun flags at the aircraft enthusiastically before realizing the 9 fighters bore Nationalist Chinese emblems. The 9 Russian-built I-15 fighters strafed the Japanese troops to keep their heads down while Chinese troops attacked from the town, destroying 11 vehicles during the attacks that day. Also on 30 Mar, three Chinese bombers dropped 22 bombs on Japanese positions at Yixian. By the afternoon, however, the Japanese answered by attacking Tai'erzhuang's northwest corner with the support of 12 dive bombers. The Japanese offensive took control of the western half of the town before the Chinese were able to halt it.

ww2dbaseOn 31 Mar, both sides continued similar tactics. Chinese 27th Division attacked Liujiahu and other surrounding towns in attempt to draw away Japanese attention at Tai'erzhuang or to flank the attacking forces. The Japanese counterattacked the Chinese movement with tanks. Chinese field artillery fired quickly and accurately, disabling three Japanese light tanks, but overwhelming Japanese firepower quickly silenced Chinese guns, though the Chinese held on to the line. Meanwhile, at Tai'erzhuang, Japanese guns poured a devastating barrage at the north wall, opening a large gap 30 meters wide, allowing large numbers of attackers to rush in. The battle became house-to-house, with much of the fighting reducing to brutal fights with swords and rifle butts for the following few days. At about 1900, Sun decided to pull 175th Regiment of the 30th Division into Tai'erzhuang to reinforce the dwindling defenders there. At 2000, 500 Japanese troops attacked the northwestern corner of the town, but the men of the 175th Regiment arrived in time to prevent the Japanese units from linking up with each other, though at a terrible loss in lives.

ww2dbaseOn 1 Apr, the battles outside the town quieted down somewhat, but the street-to-street fighting within Tai'erzhuang continued. That night, Chinese guerrilla fighters attacked a nearby Japanese field supply dump at Zaozhuang, setting a major fuel dump aflame.

ww2dbaseAt 0200 on 2 Apr, the Chinese 2nd Battalion of 157th Regiment of the 79th Brigade of the 27th Division, with the cover of darkness, sneak attacked Japanese positions in Tai'erzhuang. With a loud battle cry just before the final dash, the troops shattered Japanese morale quickly, driving them out of the east gate. Simultaneously, Chinese troops in the town attacked Japanese-held buildings with artillery fire, followed by infantry advances. The Chinese failed to achieve significant advances in terms of driving the Japanese out of the town that day, but they were able to hinder Japanese movement.

ww2dbaseOn 3 Apr, a major battle took place east of the town, where heavy Japanese artillery shelling killed hundreds of Chinese. In the town, the Chinese numbers continued to dwindle. Sun requested Li for the possibility of falling back out of the town, but Li refused. Sun, disappointed but unwilling to risk damaging morale, gave the order to his men to fight until the last man, with the promise that he would remain with the men to the end.

ww2dbaseAt 2100 on 4 Apr, desperate Chinese troops launched several suicide charges with rifles and swords under the cover of artillery fire. Unlike previous suicide charge attempts, they were able to break key Japanese defensive positions and pushed the line back significantly. Japanese troops in surrounding areas quickly organized to move toward the town to reinforce; the movement was detected and tied down by swift maneuvers by the Chinese troops.

ww2dbaseOn 5 Apr, troops from the First War Area arrived at Xuzhou, drastically boosting morale. The night, fresh Chinese troops attacked nearby Japanese positions, with on group heading for the town's northeast and southeast, a second group toward Dishiqiao and Liujiahu, a third toward Hongshan and Lanling, and the main group marching at Tai'erzhuang. At 1530 on 6 Apr, the Japanese began falling back from Tai'erzhuang. The Japanese fled in such a hurry that valuable ammunition and heavy equipment were simply burned, allowing the Chinese to capture and repair some of the armor cars for later use. On 7 Apr, seeing the sloppy Japanese withdrawal, Li ordered to give chase on 1300 toward Liujiahu and Pengjialou. On 8 and 9 Apr, the Japanese fought a delay action campaign while moving to the north, effectively making use of advantageous terrain against the pursuing Chinese troops. Impatiently, Chiang Kaishek ordered that all Japanese troops in the area must be defeated within the next two days, but Chiang's regional representatives in Xuzhou agreed with the local commanders to do the opposite, relaxing the pursuit to give the Chinese troops their deserved rest. Whether or not the decision cost the Chinese an opportunity to defeat a major Japanese Army group was debatable, but the Chinese victory at Tai'erzhuang was undoubtedly a significant one.

15 Apr-May 1938

ww2dbaseFollowing the defeat at Tai'erzhuang, Japan intended an encirclement against Xuzhou, which by now was surrounded by 600,000 Chinese troops. This became the point of no return for the Japanese, where the Japanese Army command must pour in much greater resources to defeat this major gathering of Chinese fighters before the group could launch a major counter offensive. The Japanese North China Area Army's four divisions supported by two brigades from the Kwantung Army attacked from the north, while the Japanese Central China Expeditionary Army's three divisions and two armor battalions attacked Xuzhou from the west. A smaller contingent, the 5th Tank Battalion, supported infantry as they moved up the railroad from the south. Faced with this powerful attack, despite still holding numerical superiority, Chiang decided to abandon Xuzhou to preserve Chinese strength. The smaller Japanese force could not effectively encircle Xuzhou, and most of the Chinese troops escaped to the west or simply disappeared into the countryside to continue the war as guerrilla fighters.

ww2dbaseAt the end of the Battle of Xuzhou, the Japanese suffered 30,000 casualties and lost 931 machine guns, 120 field guns of various sizes, and 30 armor cars and light tanks. The Chinese suffered much higher casualties at 100,000. Although the Japanese was able to take Xuzhou while suffering much smaller casualties than the Chinese, the eventual victory in the Xuzhou area was tainted by the Japanese inability to surround and eliminate the Chinese Army gathering there.

ww2dbaseSources: History of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Jun 2007


Chinese troops at the TaiLi Zongren at the rail station in Tai
See all 8 photographs of Battle of Xuzhou


Map marking major Japanese campaigns in China in 1938 and 1939

Battle of Xuzhou Timeline

14 Mar 1938 The Japanese 10th Division, 10,000 men in strength, began an offensive from Shandong Province in China toward Jiangsu Province to the south. The first clashes took place on the same day at Tengxian in Jiangsu Province.
15 Mar 1938 2,000 Chinese troops of the 364th Brigade dug in at Tengxian in Jiangsu Province in China, 75 miles north of the city of Xuzhou, against a 10,000-strong Japanese offensive. The Chinese bolstered its ranks by beginning to conscript and train nearly 1,000 police, militiamen, and other able-bodied men from the region.
16 Mar 1938 The full Japanese offensive against Tengxian, Jiangsu Province, China began at 0800 hours with a bombardment by mountain guns and aircraft. Japanese troops attempted multiple times to rush into the town via collapsed portions of the city wall, but most of the attackers were cut down by Chinese troops. The east gate was taken at 1700 hours, but it was recaptured by the Chinese at 2000 hours. Through the night, 1,000 men from the Chinese 370th and 372nd Battalions were able to sneak into the town as reinforcement.
17 Mar 1938 At 0600 hours, Japanese troops began a 2-hour bombardment on Tengxian, Jiangsu Province, China. At 0800 hours, multiple attacks began from all directions of the town. After suffering very high casualties, Japanese troops captured the west and south gates on the city wall by 1700 hours. Chinese troops on the east gate refused to fall back and fought until they could no longer hold the line; they committed mass-suicide by grenades. Overnight, Chinese troops began to withdraw troops out of Tengxian, marching them to the city Xuzhou 75 miles to the south, which was the Japanese main target of the offensive.
18 Mar 1938 Japanese troops captured Tengxian, Jiangsu Province, China after a two-day battle. The Chinese 31st Division began to march out of Xucheng, Henan Province for Xuzhou area, Jiangsu Province.
20 Mar 1938 Elements of the Japanese 10th Division captured Hanzhuang, Jiangsu Province, China, but Chinese troops halted the offensive just beyond the town. To the east, troops of the same division captured Yixian. The divisional headquarters was established at Yixian for further operations.
21 Mar 1938 The Chinese 31st Division arrived at Jiangsu Province in response of a Japanese attack.
22 Mar 1938 Japanese troops began to march toward Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province, China, where the Chinese set up an advanced defensive position to guard the major city of Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province to the south.
23 Mar 1938 At 0900 hours, Japanese troops wiped out Chinese outposts north of Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province. Meanwhile, the Chinese 27th Division arrived at Tai'erzhuang and bolstered the defense's right flank.
24 Mar 1938 Chiang Kaishek inspected troops at Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. He personally appointed Bai Chongxi and Lin Weizu as staff officers of the 5th War Area.
24 Mar 1938 Japanese artillery began bombardment the city walls of Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province. Japanese troops attempted to rush into collapsed areas of the wall, but such attacks were driven back after suffering great casualties. Overnight, General Sun Lianzhong visited the town under the cover of darkness, and decided to transfer several field guns and armored vehicles to bolster defenses.
25 Mar 1938 Chinese troops stumbled upon the Japanese artillery position near Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province and scattered Japanese gun crews, forcing the Japanese to move 1,000 men and 20 light tanks from the main assault force to deal with this surprise.
27 Mar 1938 Japanese troops began to enter the town of Tai'erzhuang in Shandong Province; Chinese troops forced the Japanese to fight for every block.
28 Mar 1938 Before dawn, troops of Chinese 9th Battalion of 186th Regiment launched nearly suicidal charges against Japanese positions at Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province in an attempt to drive Japanese out of the town. The attemps were largely unsuccessful, especially after the arrival of Japanese armor cars and light tanks at 0700 hours. By nightfall, casualties were so great on the Chinese side that all auxiliary units were forced to pick up arms and operated as combat units.
30 Mar 1938 For the first time in the Battle of Tai'erzhuang in the border region between Shandong and Jiangsu Provinces in China, Chinese aircraft appeared, destroying 11 vehicles with fighters and attacked troop concentrations with bombers. They were, however, unable to counter the Japanese dive bombers that attacked the northwestern sector of the town in the afternoon.
1 Apr 1938 Chinese guerrilla fighters destroyed a Japanese field supply dump at Zaozhuang, Jiangsu Province by setting it afire.
3 Apr 1938 Major fighting in Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province, China caused hundreds of civilian deaths. Unable to secure permission to withdraw from the city, Chinese General Sun Liren promised his men that he would remain in the city with the rest of the troops.
4 Apr 1938 At 2100 hours, Chinese troops mounted attacks against Japanese positions in Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province, China, with support from field guns. Japanese attempts to reinforce the positions were tied down by carefully planned Chinese maneuvers.
5 Apr 1938 Troops from the Chinese First War Area arrived at Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, and immediately launched a counter offensive toward embattled town of Tai'erzhuang in Shandong Province.
6 Apr 1938 At 1530 hours, unable to defend against the Chinese counter offensive launched on the previous day, Japanese troops began to withdraw from Tai'erzhuang, Shandong Province, China, abandoning ammunition and heavy equipment in their wake.
9 Apr 1938 Chinese troops drove Japanese forces out of the Tai'erzhuang region in Shandong Province, China, ending the battle. Chiang Kaishek gave the order to pursue and destroy all fleeing Japanese troops, but local commanders disobeyed, opting to give their troops some time to rest after three weeks of non-stop fighting.
30 Apr 1938 Japanese captured the Chinese city of Xuzhou.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Milt Morris says:
25 Mar 2020 11:30:39 AM

Japan had been given that territory as part of the Versailles Peace Treaty. But America pressured it to give it up. Apparently, despite acceding to American demands, Japan still felt it was entitled to those lands, along with the other lands that China had ceded to Japan after the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895.

Japan felt it was just as entitled to those lands as America was to the lands it had taken from Mexico (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, etc.).

Plus, I'm surprised the Chinese had an army. Various parts of China were ruled either by the Communists, the Nationalists, or Chinese war lords, all vying for territory & power.
2. Dan says:
21 Jul 2020 02:48:57 PM

Milt, some of your history and mine are different. Or, perhaps, you are simply generalizing too much. The VT only ceded Shandong to Japan because Pres Wilson caved to the Japanese. He got them to agree to join the League of N in return to ceding this part of China to Japan. A shameful compromise, in my American opinion, and totally against Wilson's "13 Points" idea. As for America receiving lands from Mexico, I have two points. America "bought" those mostly vacant (except for the N Americans/Indians) and, to a great extent, uncharted lands from Mexico. Now, this was at the end of the war and one might say we "coerced" Mexico to give up these territories. That would be a fair point. However, the situation with Japan and Shandong province was completely different. China was a THIRD PARTY. This part of China did not belong to Germany. The Germans had treaty rights there, but it was not "Germany". The Japanese seizure of Shandong from the Germans during WWI was in a foreign land. You can't compare this to the lands the US bought from Mexico after their war. Finally, I am not at all sure what you mean that China did not have an army. Each of the entities you mentioned had military forces. The Nationalists were the strongest and basically "fought" this battle. However, there were soldiers (you might call some of them "warlord" troops) from all over China who fought under a Nationalist general. It was truly a national effort to oppose the Japanese. As an aside, the Communists at the time were rather weak militarily and their troops were not in the region. I suspect, however, that many "Red Army" rank-and-file soldiers cheered the victory, even if Mao and many of their leaders still felt that the Nationalists were the ultimate enemy. The Red Army at the time was also fighting the Japanese, in a different part of China. This was, after all, the first big defeat the Japanese suffered in China, after having taken Shanghai and Nanjing (and massacred 300K civilians in the latter town, as well as executing all of the Chinese POWs.)
3. Anonymous says:
3 Dec 2022 07:18:48 AM

My grandmother's father had take part in the combat in Yuwang Hill(禹王山) which was after Battle of Xuzhou. He didn't even tell my grandmother and granduncle his story for whole life.According to grandmother's mother, great grandfather's comrades was all killed by Japanese shell.So he was suffering from agony in remain life.

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» Bai, Chongxi
» Chen, Daqing
» Deng, Xihou
» Dong, Zhao
» Itagaki, Seishiro
» Li, Zongren
» Liu, Yuzhang
» Lu, Han
» Pang, Bingxun
» Sun, Lianzhong
» Tang, Enbo
» Wang, Mingzhang
» Yu, Xuezhong
» Zhu, Jiaxun

» China

Battle of Xuzhou Photo Gallery
Chinese troops at the TaiLi Zongren at the rail station in Tai
See all 8 photographs of Battle of Xuzhou

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