|Battle of West Hubei|
|Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War|
|National Revolutionary Army, Republic of China||Imperial Japanese Army, Empire of Japan|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Chen Cheng||Isamu Yokoyama|
|6th Area Army||6 Infantry divisions, 1 Brigade|
|Casualties and losses|
|30,766 killed or wounded; 4,279 taken prisoner||771 killed and 2,746 wounded|
The Battle of West Hubei (simplified Chinese: 鄂西会战; traditional Chinese: 鄂西會戰; pinyin: È Xī Huìzhàn), was one of the 22 major engagements between the National Revolutionary Army and Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was also one of the four major battles that took place in Hubei. The battle was named the Hunan Annihilation Operation (江南殲滅作戦 Konan zenmetsu sakusen ) in Japanese, and was also known as “Operation G” in Japanese military records.
Plan of Operations
The purpose of the operation was to stabilize the Chinese territory under occupation by the Japanese 11th Army under the command of Lieutenant General Isamu Yokoyama by capturing the city of Yichang and to secure control over all water-bourne traffic on the Yangtze River downstream. Much of the river was already under the control of the Japanese, but traffic was subject to frequent attacks by the Chinese, who also attempted to use naval mines to disrupt shipping.
The operation consisted of three phases. The first phase was from 9–15 April with elements of the IJA 40th Division, IJA 3rd Division and IJA 17th Independent Combined Brigade advancing from Huarong County and the city of Shishou to the north shore of Dongting Lake and Xanthan Lake. The second phase of the operation began on 5 May, with portions of the IJA 13th Division and 58th Division advancing south from Zhejang and attacking the Chinese 87th Army (55th, 43rd and New 22nd Divisions). The third phase of the operation started from 18 May with the Japanese advancing as far as the Xiling Gorge.
The Chinese made a strong stand at Badong County, as possession of the Xiling Gorge placed the Japanese at the entrance to the Three Gorges of the Yangze River and opened the possibility of a direct advance to Chongqing, the war-time capital of China. Chinese General Chen Cheng ordered the troops of the Chinese 18th Army and Chinese 11th Army to fight to the death to hold their positions, and received air support from the American Fourteenth Air Force. The Chinese then began a counterattack where Japanese forces were weak, and succeeded in cutting off and destroying a portion of the IJA 13th Division, forcing the survivors to retreat to Jingmen. Facing increased Chinese resistance with increased air attacks from the Americans, and having accomplished their goals of controlling river traffic on the Yangtze River and de-mining operations, the Japanese declared the operation to be complete on 29 May.
During the course of the operations, the Chinese forces had 30,766 casualties with 4,279 prisoners, and the loss of numerous artillery pieces and 13 aircraft, against 771 killed and 2,746 wounded for the Japanese, of whom 157 were killed and 238 wounded in air attacks. The battle thus resulted in a Japanese tactical victory, with the Chinese losing far more troops, although the Chinese government and Western media at that time reported that the Chinese had scored a major victory. with the Japanese repulsed back to roughly their original positions. Contemporary Western sources played down the operation as per historian Barbara W. Tuchman, who wrote that the "Japanese withdrew without pursuit from what appeared to have been a training and foraging offensive to collect rice and river shipping."
During the time period of the Battle of West Hubei, People’s Republic of China historians have claimed that the Changjiao massacre (Chinese: 厂窖惨案) occurred, during which Japanese troops slaughtered more than 30,000 civilians at a factory in the tiny hamlet of Changjiao, northern Hunan over a three day period from 9–12 May 1943. No reference to this event appeared in contemporary Kuomingtang or Western historical sources.
- Chinese site on Changjiao massacre
- Xinhuanet.com article on Changjiao Massacre (in Simplified Chinese) 厂窖惨案一天屠杀一万人
- People.com article (in Simplied Chinese) 骇人听闻的厂窖惨案
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