Battle of Exi
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe Japanese had taken the city of Wuhan in 1938 and, further up the Yangtze River, Yichang in 1940. Due to Chinese activity (largely by the Chinese 128th Division) in between the two cities, however, the Japanese could not use the river to transport supplies between the two locations, which was a major source of frustration especially given that a large Japanese fleet amassed at Wuhan while the Japanese had captured 53 Chinese barges and other river shipping vessels at Yichang back in 1940. While the Japanese began amassing forces for an attack into this region, the movements were detected by the Chinese. On 5 May, the Japanese 58th Division launched an attack into this region. At dawn on the following day, Chinese troops counterattacked in the border region between Hubei and Hunan Provinces, China; the counterattack would eventually be turned back after suffering very high casualties. Despite Chinese aggressiveness, the Japanese continued to advance into Hubei and Hunan Provinces, capturing Nan County on 9 May and by the following week forcing the Chinese to abandon Gong'an. Just as the situation appeared dire for the Chinese, they were able to repulse a Japanese attack against Pianyan in Hubei Province, inflicting 3,000 casualties against the Japanese force of 4,500, bolstering morale. On 27 May, the Japanese launched a major attack in the region, drawing the attention of Chinese troops while the 53 captured barges ran the gauntlet, successfully reaching Wuhan by the end of the day. On 30 May, Chinese 6th War Area commander Chen Cheng ordered a full scale counter offensive to be launched, catching the Japanese by surprise, pushing back the Japanese forward elements at multiple locations. During the first week of Jun 1943, Japanese positions continued to fall back. On 6 Jun, fresh Chinese troops arrived in the region and were immediately deployed to attack. By 11 Jun, the Chinese regained all territory lost to the Japanese since early May in this region and once again regained control of this section of the Yangtze River. In this month-long battle, according to Chinese reports, the Japanese suffered 25,718 casualties while the Chinese suffered 50,000 wounded and 10,000 killed or missing; the Japanese reported only 3,517 casualties, while claiming 30,766 Chinese killed and 4,279 captured.
ww2dbaseSource: Baidu Baike
Last Major Update: Jul 2012
Battle of Exi Timeline
|16 Apr 1943
|Japanese troops began preparing for a new offensive in the region between Wuhan and Yichang in China.
|3 May 1943
|The headquarters of the Japanese 11th Army was moved to Shashi, Jingzhou, Hubei Province, China in preparation for a planned offensive.
|5 May 1943
|The Japanese launched an attack into the region between Wuhan and Yichang in China, aiming gain control of this section of the Yangtze River.
|6 May 1943
|At dawn, Chinese 77th Division and 15th Division launched a counterattack against the Japanese in the border region between Hubei and Hunan Provinces, China. At 2100 hours, Chiang Kaishek ordered that the region must be held against the Japanese offensive at all costs.
|7 May 1943
|Japanese troops captured Anxiang, Hunan Province, China.
|9 May 1943
|In Hunan Province, China, Japanese troops captured Nan County and advanced toward Zhijiang and Yangxi. On the same day, also in Hunan Province, the Japanese began a three-day massacre of civilians in Changjiao; 30,000 were estimated to be killed.
|12 May 1943
|Japanese troops crossed the Yangtze River near Baiyang, Hunan Province, China and attacked Chinese positions on the opposite shore.
|14 May 1943
|Japanese 3rd Division captured Gong'an, Hunan Province, China.
|15 May 1943
|Japanese troops surrounded Chinese troops near Baiyang, Hunan Province, China, inflicting heavy casualties.
|16 May 1943
|Japanese 3rd Division attacked Songzi, Hubei Province, China.
|17 May 1943
|Japanese 3rd Division surrounded Songzi, Hubei Province, China.
|18 May 1943
|Japanese 3rd Division captured Songzi, Hubei Province, China.
|19 May 1943
|Japanese 3rd Corps gathered at Chayuansi, Hunan Province, China, preparing for a planned offensive. On the Chinese side, Chen Cheng, commanding officer of the Chinese 6th War Area, returned to the region and reassumed command.
|21 May 1943
|Japanese 39th Division began to cross the Yangtze River near Pianyan, Hubei Province, China. In Hunan Province, the Japanese 3rd Corps attacked at dawn from Chayuansi, advancing northward toward Changyang in Hubei Province.
|22 May 1943
|Japanese troops launched an attack toward the region west of Yidu, Hubei Province, China.
|24 May 1943
|Japanese 39th Division completed the crossing of the Yangtze River near Pianyan, Hubei Province, China.
|25 May 1943
|Chinese 86th Corps, having held the Japanese 39th Division attack at the shore of the Yangtze River since the previous day, fell back toward Pianyan, Hubei Province, China. Earlier in the afternoon, Chiang Kaishek had personally telephoned area commander Wu Qiwei, stressing the importance of holding Pianyan.
|26 May 1943
|At dawn, a 4,500-strong Japanese force attacked toward Pianyan, Hubei Province, China, but the force was quickly attacked and surrounded by elements of Chinese 5th and 18th Divisions; by the time the Japanese were able to extract themselves after dark, the force had suffered 3,000 casualties.
|27 May 1943
|Japanese troops launched a major attack against Chinese troops in the Hubei-Hunan border region while 53 vessels ran the gauntlet on the Yangtze River, successfully sailing from Yichang to Wuhan.
|28 May 1943
|Japanese and Chinese troops clashed in Hubei and Hunan Provinces, China, with the Chinese moving behind the Japanese 13th Division, threatening to cut its supply lines.
|29 May 1943
|Japanese and Chinese troops clashed in Hubei and Hunan Provinces, China.
|30 May 1943
|Japanese and Chinese troops clashed at Gaojialing in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China; the Japanese used chemical weapons during this engagement. On the same day, Chinese 6th War Area commander Chen Cheng ordered a full scale counter offensive to be launched.
|31 May 1943
|Japanese forward positions in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China fell back in multiple places as the result of a large scale Chinese counterattack launched on the previous day.
|1 Jun 1943
|US aircraft attacked Japanese troop transports near Yichang, Hubei Province, China, sinking several vessels and drowning a number of Japanese troops in the Yangtze River.
|2 Jun 1943
|Elements of the Chinese 23rd, 55th, 98th, and 121st Division surrounded the rearguard forces of the Japanese 13th Division in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China, inflicting heavy casualties before the Japanese could break out of the envelopment.
|4 Jun 1943
|Chinese 79th Corps launched a frontal attack against Japanese troops in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China, on the southern side of the Yangtze River; Japanese positions were pushed back, but the Chinese suffered very heavy casualties.
|6 Jun 1943
|Fresh troops of the Chinese 74th Corps arrived in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China, wiping out two brigades of the Japanese 17th Independent Mixed Regiment.
|7 Jun 1943
|Chinese 3rd Division wiped out the headquarters element of the Japanese 13th Division in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China.
|11 Jun 1943
|In China, Chinese troops regained all territory in the Hubei and Hunan Provinces lost to the Japanese offensive launched on 5 May 1943.
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937
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