Battle of Shanxi (Xinkou) file photo [2118]

Battle of Shanxi

1 Sep 1937 - 11 Nov 1937


ww2dbaseTaiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province, was the primary target of the Japanese Army in northern China. The offensive began on 1 Sep 1937 with Itagaki Seishiro's 5th Division and the 11th Mixed Brigade from Beiping (now Beijing) moving toward Huaili in Chahar Province. The Chinese troops were consisted of the Shanxi warlord Yan Xishan's private army, the 115th Division of Lin Biao's Communist 8th Route Army, and some troops of the Nationalist army. Yan nominally held command over all Chinese troops, but in actuality each faction operated independently and each had their own goals. While Yan's troops fought to defend Shanxi Province, Communist and Nationalist leadership wanted each of their units to avoid confrontations with the Japanese so that the other side would be weakened. The disunity led to the abandonment of the city of Datong on 13 Sep, allowing a large coal supply to be captured by the Japanese. The Chinese fell back to Yanmenguan, Niangziguan, and Pingxingguan gates of the Great Wall.

ww2dbaseBattle of Pingxingguan
25 Sep 1937

ww2dbaseOn 25 Sep 1937, the Japanese reached Pingxingguan. Taking advantage of the Great Wall gate's placement, Lin's 6,000-strong Communist division ambushed the Japanese troops passing in the narrow road fifteen feet below it. The ambushed was triggered at dawn at great losses to the Japanese, and at noon attacks were launched against the Japanese center and rear. At the end of the battle, the Communists inflicted 400 to 500 casualties amongst the Japanese, while suffering 400 casualties themselves. Over 100 trucks laden with weapons, ammunition, and other supplies were captured by the Chinese. While this battle had no strategic importance, this was the first (and would turn out to be the only) victory achieved by the Communists, thus it was used heavily in Chinese Communist propaganda. After the war, Japanese blamed the loss at Pingxingguan to "victory disease," where Japanese officers were too proud and too careless after the string of successes they had experienced in China thus far.

ww2dbaseBattle of Xinkou
13 Sep-11 Nov 1937

ww2dbaseMeanwhile, Yan's troops and Nationalist troops fell back to Xinkou, which was flanked by Wutaishan and Yunzhonshan mountains, thus advantageous for defense. On 2 Oct, the Japanese 2nd Brigade of the Chahar Expeditionary Force attacked Gouxian, and the Chinese 19th Army held until 9 Oct. The Japanese 15th Brigade of the Chahar Expeditionary Force then pressed on against Yuanping, defeating Jiang Yuzhen's 196th Brigade of the 34th Army on 12 Oct. On the next day, a large column of 50,000 Japanese troops began the main assault on Xinkou, supported by over thirty aircraft, over forty heavy artillery pieces, and over fifty tanks. On 16 Oct, the Chinese counterattacked, slowing Japanese momentum. On 19 Oct, the 769th Regiment of the 120th Division successfully attacked the Yangmingbao airfield and destroyed 24 Japanese aircraft on the ground.

ww2dbaseWith aerial support, on 26 Oct Japanese commando battalions broke through Chinese lines and pushed the defenders back along the Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan Railway. On 11 Nov, the remaining Chinese forces in Xinkou finally abandoned their position and retreated back toward Taiyuan to avoid envelopment.

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao


Last Major Update: Sep 2006

Battle of Shanxi Interactive Map

Battle of Shanxi Timeline

1 Sep 1937 In China, under the command of Itagaki Seishiro, Japanese 5th Division and 11th Mixed Brigade marched from Beiping toward Chahar and Shanxi Provinces.
13 Sep 1937 Japanese troops captured Datong, Shanxi, China and its large supply of coal. Chinese troops fell back to Yanmenguan, Niangziguan, and Pingxingguan gates of the Great Wall.
25 Sep 1937 Battle of Pingxingguan: Communist Chinese forces successfully ambushed Japanese forces at this gate of the Great Wall of China.
2 Oct 1937 Japanese 2nd Brigade of the Chahar Expeditionary Force attacked Gouxian, Shanxi, China, defended by Chinese 19th Army.
12 Oct 1937 Japanese troops captured Gouxian, Shanxi, China.
13 Oct 1937 50,000 Japanese troops marched for Xinkou, Shanxi, China, supported by 30 aircraft, 40 pieces of artillery, and 50 light tanks and tankettes.
16 Oct 1937 Chinese troops counterattacked the Japanese at Xinkou, Shanxi, China, slowing Japanese momentum.
19 Oct 1937 769th Regiment of Chinese 120th Division attacked the Yangmingbao airfield in Shanxi, China, destroying 24 aircraft on the ground.
26 Oct 1937 Japanese commando battalions broke through Chinese lines and pushed the defenders back along the Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan Railway in Shanxi, China.
11 Nov 1937 Chinese troops at Xinkou, Shanxi, China abandoned the city and fell back toward Taiyuan.


Chinese machine gun position near the Great Wall, Sep 1937Communist machine gun crew at the Battle of Pingxingguan, Shanxi Province, China, 25 Sep 1937Troops of Chinese 179th Brigade departing Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China for the front lines, Oct 1937


Map marking major Japanese campaigns in China in 1937

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» Fu, Zuoyi
» Itagaki, Seishiro
» Sun, Chu
» Sun, Lianzhong
» Wei, Lihuang
» Zhao, Chengshou

» China

Battle of Shanxi Photo Gallery
Chinese machine gun position near the Great Wall, Sep 1937
See all 3 photographs of Battle of Shanxi

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