|Died||28 Jul 1937|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseZhao Dengyu was born in a peasant family in Zhaolou Village, Heze County, Shandong Province, China. He learned martial arts from Zhu Fengjun. In 1914, he enlisted in the forces of warlord Feng Yuxiang, becoming a member of Feng's personal security detail shortly after. In 1920, he became a platoon commander in an engineering company of Feng's 16th Mixed Brigade. During the 1920s, he gained in rank, becoming a brigade commander by the end of the 1920s. He participated in the Northern Expedition of 1926. In 1930, Feng's faction was defeated in the Central Plains War, and Zhao was recruited into the Nationalist military. In 1933, he was named the commanding officer of the 109th Brigade of the 37th Division of the 29th Corps. He personally led the 109th Brigade in combat in the First Battle of Hebei, during which he halted the Japanese spearhead units, then had his troops engage the Japanese in close range to take away the Japanese air and artillery advantage; he was wounded in the leg during this battle. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general for his bravery during the First Battle of Hebei, and was given command the 132nd Division of the Nationalist 29th Corps. In Aug 1935, the 29th Corps was reassigned to the Beiping region in northern China Proper. When war between Japan and China formally broke out in Jul 1937, he was named the commanding officer of all defenses at Nanyuan just south of Beiping. On 28 Jul, the Japanese conducted a combined armed assault toward Beiping, surrounding Zhao's forces. During the retreat from Nanyuan, a Japanese artillery shell exploded near him, wounding both of his legs and knocking him unconscious. He awoke briefly; realizing his wounds would be fatal, he told an enlisted man:
ww2dbaseZhao passed away shortly after these last words, becoming the first divisional commander to die in battle in the Second Sino-Japanese War, leaving behind his 4-year-old son Zhao Xuewu, 2-year-old daughter Zhao Xuefen, and unborn daughter Zhao Xuefang. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of general second class. His remains were buried near Lugou Bridge near Beiping, together with the remains of other officers and men of the 29th Corps who were killed in battle in the Beiping region. After China was split into two after 1949, the Nationalists enshrined him at the Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. During the Cultural Revolution, his grave and his remains were destroyed; in Jun 1980, Communist China built a memorial for Zhao, also near Lugou Bridge.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2012
Zhao Dengyu Interactive Map
Zhao Dengyu Timeline
|28 Jul 1937||Zhao Dengyu was killed in battle at Nanyuan near Beiping, China.|
|31 Jul 1937||Zhao Dengyu was posthumously promoted to the rank of general second class.|
|25 Nov 1946||The city government of Beiping, China renamed a road in honor of Zhao Dengyu.|
|11 Jun 1952||Mao Zedong personally signed a document declaring Zhao Dengyu a martyr.|
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