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The Strategies and Tactics of the War of Resistance of the Nationalist Army during the First Phase of the Sino-Japanese War Revisited, 1937~1938

기세찬 1

1국방대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Through the analysis of the defensive strategy in the early stage of the war, this study epitomize the strategic goal of the chief officers and operation types in each campaign. First, it examined how the Nationalist Army reacted as it confronted the threats of the Japanese since Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Then it analyzed the military operations of the Nationalist Army before-and-after the surrender of Nanjing. First of all, this study focused on the dissidence of Song Zheyuan and Chiang Kaishek, the chief commanders in Nanjing headquarters. Although Chiang Kaishek did not at disregard the opportunity of the negotiation against Japan, he noticed the possibility of the all-out-war against Japan in the early stage of the Incident and therefore initiated military measures by deploying some of the Central Army to the North China. Meanwhile, Song Zheyuan actively negotiated with the Japanese by taking a real time pact. This discordant between the chief commanders in the headquarters and the providence allowed the time for the Japanese to dispatch additional military corps from Korea to North China, and therefore provided Japan took the initiative in the North China area in the early stage of the war. Japan took dominating all-out-war in North China and at the same time attacked Shanghai in order to pressure the Nationalist Army from the both side of the south and the north. The Nationalist’s Supreme command decided 1st War Zone to be the main defensive line in order to prolonged war, but as he realized that the Japanese increased additional force to East China, he concentrated the Central Army and reserve to East China, which were originally commanded to deploy to North China. Regarding the change of the strategy of the Nationalist Army, some researchers declare that Chiang Kaishek was trying to battle against Japan with a desperate defense. However as mentioned earlier, Chiang Kaishek did not believe that the Nationalist Army was strong enough to defeat the Japanese in Shanghai. The true goal of concentrating forces in Shanghai was to diminish the pressure in North China and therefore to commence operations in the inner defensive lines later. This was the prolonged strategy contrast to the Japanese’s quick war. Regarding the overall military progressions, the deployment of the Nationalist Army in North China and East China is considered defensive operation, but there is definite difference in terms of the strategic concept. In fact, while the Nationalist army initiated the defence in the front step-by-step, it took offensive defense in East China. However, the Nationalist Army did not fail to confirm any errors in the military operations. In North China, the Nationalist Army should have operated decisive maneuvers at the depth of the coordinated defensive lines, but it actually committed decisive attack at each battle field. In addition, during the defensive operation in Shanghai, the Nationalist Army centralized the force in a limited area, which caused enormous damage from the enemy’s concentrated-fires. It also concentrated the force only in Shanghai, and thus fail to prepare against Japanese’s Hangzhou Bay landing operation. Meanwhile, as the war progressed slowly after the fall of Nanjing till the march of the 1938, the Nationalist’s supreme command tried to improve the military morale by punishing the officers with slackened discipline, and reorganized the troops with the new alteration of the operational tactics. In order to defense Wuhan, the Nationalist Army ordered to deploy their forces against the Japanese with the purpose of delaying the war, and applied a concept of offensive defense and guerilla tactics in addition to the regular operations. Hence, after the fall of Nanjing, the operation type of the Nationalist Army altered from ‘the defensive’ to ‘the delaying.’According to the new operational tactics, the Nationalist Army incremented the force of the 5th War Zone to dissipate the power of the Japanese while earning the time to prepare Wuhan by leading the main power of the Japanese to Xuzhou. Before the operation Xuzhou, the Nationalist Army gained its first victory over Japan at Taierzhuang. The main factors of the victory were derived from taking the offensive attack instead of posing the defensive attitude and also from the troop’s great desire for victory under the command of Chiang Kaishek to Tang Enbo, and Li Zongren. After the battle of Taierzhuang, the Japanese realized the existence of the Chinese force in Xuzhou and therefore implemented a comprehensive encirclement annihilation operations. The Nationalist Army tried to initiate the offensive-defense through the inner defensive line, but the Japanese sieged Xuzhou earlier than expected and hence the operation failed. However, as it delayed Japan in Xuzhou, the Nationalist Army indeed succeeded to earn time for Wuhan defense, and in the end achieved to delay the Japanese in Wuhan for the next two months. Overall, until the end of the 1938 Japan succeeded to triumph over most of the battles with the intensive fire and quick maneuver, and occupied most of the cities along the south-east of the China. However, it failed to achieve to the definite goal of surrendering or annihilating the Chinese troops through the decisive attacks. In conclusion, it represents the failure of the Japanese’s quick war, which implies the success of most of military tactics of the Nationalist Army. Although the damage was immense through the war for a year and five months, the Nationalist Army in fact succeeded to delay the Japanese attack, leading a war to the prolonged. However, as researchers from Taiwan indicates, the military tactics of the Nationalist Army was not intended to lead the Japanese force, which were heading from the north to the south, toward the west from the east for the benefits of the Chinese. The shift of the military strategy from the defensive operation to the delaying operation after the fall of Nanjing was considered to be inevitable due to the consecutive defeats of the Nationalist Army in North China and East China in the early stage of the war.

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