|Battle of Changsha (1942)|
|Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War of World War II|
A Chinese soldier mounts his ZB vz. 26 light machine gun at Changsha, January 1942.
|National Revolutionary Army||
Imperial Japanese Army|
Imperial Japanese Navy
|Commanders and leaders|
|Xue Yue||Korechika Anami|
600 pieces of artillery
|Casualties and losses|
|28,116 Killed||56,746 Killed|
The third Battle of Changsha (24 December 1941 – 15 January 1942) was the first major invasion in China by Imperial Japanese forces following the Japanese attack on the Western Allies.
The offensive was originally intended to prevent Chinese forces from reinforcing the British Commonwealth forces engaged in Hong Kong. With the capture of Hong Kong on 25 December, however, it was decided to continue the offensive against Changsha in order to maximize the blow against the Chinese government.
The offensive resulted in failure for the Japanese, as Chinese forces were able to lure them into a trap and encircle them. After suffering heavy casualties, Japanese forces called for a general retreat.
Course of battle
On 27 December, the Japanese 3rd, 6th, and 40th Divisions massed at Yueyang and advanced southward in three columns and crossed the Xinqiang River, and tried again to cross the Miluo River to reach Changsha. However, the Chinese formed a deep pocket around the city and set up ambush parties around the Luoyang River. Halfway from Miluo River and Changsha, the Japanese columns faced strong resistance from the Chinese and the eastern column was forced to take a detour further east, and the other two columns had to move closer together than originally planned. During the southward advance the Japanese encountered three Chinese army divisions that were pushed aside but not crushed; they retreated into the eastern mountains.
Changsha was evacuated except for the Chinese army and some 160 civilians who wished to stay to help the defense. On 31 December 1941, the Japanese troops stormed the southeastern defense of the city but failed to make any gains, and then made an attempt at the southern and then eastern part of the defense. Meanwhile, the northern part of the city was heavily bombarded. The Japanese eventually cut through the first line of defense, only to meet stubborn resistance from a second line of defense near the city center. On 1 January 1942, the Chinese quickly counter-attacked and surprised the Japanese with heavy guns and inflicted heavy casualties on them. At about the same time, the previous army units that had retreated to the mountains swept down to attack the Japanese supply lines, with plenty of aid from local guerrillas. The Japanese line collapsed on 4 January. The three Japanese divisions were besieged and requested the help of the Japanese 9th Independent Brigade stationed in Yueyang. However, on 9 January they faced heavy fighting with the Chinese and were unable to relieve the besieged Japanese divisions.
The Japanese then attempted to retreat through the Luoyang River, not knowing that an ambush party was already stationed in the region. Losing heavily at the river crossing, the Japanese eventually reached the Xinqiang River on 15 January to complete the retreat.
The 3rd Battle of Changsha can be thought of as decisive. Just a month after Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into the war, the battle was acclaimed to be the only major Allied victory of the Asia-Pacific theater in late-1941/early-1942. It was seen as a major victory that could turn the tide of the war against Japan. It earned Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek's Government much prestige from abroad and legitimacy in stopping the Japanese. Xue Yue earned himself more prestige in China for his three victories and outstanding tactical skills. Changsha would remain in Chinese hands for a further two and a half years.
- Hsiung, James Chieh; Levine, Steven I. China's Bitter Victory: The War with Japan, 1937-1945, pg. 158
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