China is a troubled land. In the 20th century its people have known little of peace and much of war and internal strife. By the date of Japan's surrender, China needed a breather--time to recover its strength, to rebuild its economy, and to stabilize its government. Instead, a smoldering civil war flared up with increased intensity.
Background for Military Assistance
The mutual distrust and hatred of the Chinese Communists and Nationalists had its foundation in two decades of vicious infighting and campaigns of suppression. In retrospect, it seems that there was no real chance of bringing the two sides together in peace. Yet the United States attempted the impossible role of mediator--impossible because it was not the equal friend of both sides. The presence of American forces in China, particularly North China, can be explained only in terms of the peculiar situation created by the National Government's concurrent fight against the Communists and the Japanese.
HISTORICAL SITUATION REPORT1The first treaty signed by the United States with China in 1844 contained a most favored nation clause which gave to the United States any right given another power by the Chinese Government. The intent of this agreement and others like it negotiated by Western nations was to ensure equality of commercial opportunity; the practical effect was to saddle China with a legacy of foreign extraterritorial rights. The fact that the Manchu Emperor of China did not share the enthusiasm of occidentals for opening his country to trade, or their penchant for seeking converts to Christianity, really made little difference. The major European powers, sparked by Great Britain and France, forced the establishment of foreign concessions ruled by foreign law and police in China's major cities. Although the United States popularly is supposed to have been blameless in this period of unbridled expansion, it nevertheless got a share of many concessions and was not unwilling to use force whenever it appeared necessary.
The first Marines to serve ashore in China, the ship's detachment of the sloop of war St. Louis, landed at Canton in 1844 with bluejacket support to protect the American trade station there
from mob violence.2 (See Map 32.) In the years immediately following, ships' landing parties were often in action at trouble spots along the China coast when American businessmen or missionaries required protection. Armed intervention to enforce the terms of treaties and to protect lives and property was the order of the day for every nation strong enough to maintain a share of the Chinese market. Small wars with limited objectives were fought in which the Imperial troops were soundly thrashed by British and French expeditionary forces; and each Western success diminished China's sovereignty as the victors demanded further concessions to enhance their already privileged positions.
Japan bought into the favored nation category by an easy victory in war with China in 1894, and acquired Formosa and the Pescadores as part of its booty. The appalling weakness of the Manchu dynasty, its inability to hold onto its territory or to resist foreign pressures, encouraged the more rapacious powers to improve their own positions by forcing the grant of leaseholds and exclusive spheres of economic influence. To the Chinese, it appeared that "the rest of mankind is the carving knife and dish, while we are the fish and meat."3 The aptness of this characterization was amply demonstrated in the five years following the end of the Sino-Japanese War.
In North China, Russia acquired the right to build a railroad across Manchuria to its port of Vladivostok, and, after forcing Japan to withdraw its claim, leased the Kwantung Peninsula with its all-weather harbors of Port Arthur and Talienwan ( Dairen). To counter the Russian move, Britain developed a naval station at Weihaiwei on Shantung Peninsula directly across the Gulf of Chihli from Kwantung. Germany, moving in all haste to join the land grab, forced the lease of a holding centered on Tsingtao with exploitation rights in Shantung Province. Britain pressured an acknowledgement of its extensive investments and interests in the Yangtze River Valley by obtaining an agreement giving it paramount rights in this area. In South China, the Imperial Government signed a promise to Japan that no other nation would exploit Fukien Province opposite Formosa; Britain acquired Kowloon Peninsula to guard its colony of Hongkong; and France added substantially to the area under its thumb along the borders of its Tongking-Annam protectorate.
By 1899, the United States faced the possibility that it might be squeezed out of an influential position in China and moved to prevent this happening. The American Secretary of State, John Hay, obtained agreement of the other powers to the "Open Door" principle--that in their spheres of influence they would maintain the equality of rights of other foreign nationals. The following year an anti-foreign uprising with open Imperial support, the Boxer Rebellion,
Map 32: China, 1945
broke out in North China. By dint of hard fighting, an international relief force which included several battalions of American Marines broke through to the besieged foreign legations at Peking. Secretary Hay acted quickly to forestall a further parceling of China's territory by the victorious powers, and circulated a statement of policy which said that the United States would:
. . . seek a solution that would bring about permanent safety and peace in China, preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity, protect all rights guaranteed to friendly powers by treaty and international law, and safeguard for the world the principle of equal and impartial trade with all parts of the Chinese Empire.4
The stand of the United States, aided in large part by the wary regard of the interested governments in maintaining a balance of power, won China a respite from dismemberment. Consistently maintained through the 20th century, the American advocacy of China's integrity also won the United States a deserved reputation as a "friend of China." This title came to signify a moral and emotional commitment far more powerful than the original acknowledgement of enlightened self-interest.
By Western standards, the China of the era of foreign intervention was a backward country, a land with little national spirit whose people were wholly concerned with a hand-to-mouth struggle to exist. Most Chinese were provincial in outlook, caring and knowing little of those things outside their immediate experience. Significant geographical barriers had helped foster the development of a number of semiautonomous regions, each with its own speech, dress, and customs. China was in fact a nation of separate states, but one with no federal tradition. A strong central government was needed to weld together the varying elements, but the Manchu Dynasty had long since ceased to fill that need. The Manchus held power, such as it was, by default.
The opposition to Peking's rule was widespread but ineffectual until the decade following the Boxer uprising when Imperial officials belatedly attempted to institute government reforms. The sands had run out for the Manchus, however, and the try at modernizing the Imperial structure merely gave impetus to those who advocated its overthrow. One man became the symbol of the diverse forces which sought to win control of China--Sun Yat-sen. Under Sun's inspirational leadership, a revolutionary party dedicated to republican principles was formed which drew its strength primarily from the merchants, students, and factory workers of the cities of South China where Western influence had been greatest. Associated with Sun's following were a number of groups whose primary aim was to achieve provincial self-rule, men who did not want a strong government in Peking. After a series of abortive attempts, the Chinese Revolution was successfully launched at Hankow on 10 October 1911. The revolt spread quickly and with little bloodshed; by the year's end the Manchu regent had resigned.
Sun Yat-sen was installed as Provisional President of the Republic of China on 1 January 1912 and an attempt was made to set up a parliamentary democracy. It was soon obvious that a strong man, backed by military power, was needed to force the provinces to adhere to the new government. Sun stepped aside for such a man, Yuan Shih-k'ai, a northern military leader who tried by increasingly undemocratic methods to rule China. When Yuan died in 1916, the Peking government retained only nominal strength. Regional warlords, relying on conscript coolie armies for their power, seized control throughout the country. The experiment in Western-style democracy had failed. The system of government which finally evolved after a decade of turmoil was tailored closer to China's tradition of one-man rule.
During World War I, Japan, taking advantage of the deep involvement of the Western powers in Europe to force compliance with its demands for the privileged foreign position, tried to set up a protectorate over China. Although the United States was instrumental in partially blocking this power grab, the Japanese were able to improve their political and economic hold on Manchuria, a presence which stemmed from their defeat of Russia in 1904-1905. Japan's blatant attempt to subjugate their country aroused in many Chinese a long-dormant spirit of nationalism.
The principal beneficiary of this new awareness was the Kuomintang (National People's Party) whose leader was Sun Yat-sen. Disillusioned in his attempt to establish a republic in the Western pattern, Sun had next tried to work through the warlords to achieve national unity. Turning from this fruitless effort, he devoted himself to the Kuomintang which became the vehicle by which he spread his political philosophy for the new China. Essentially, he wanted to ensure the people an adequate livelihood, to develop nationalism, and to institute a guided democracy compatible with Chinese tradition which in "four thousand years, through periods of order and disorder, [had] been nothing but autocracy."5 The mission of the Kuomintang was to achieve Sun's goals through a revolutionary process--first would come the unification of China by military power, then a period of political tutelage, and finally a constitutional democracy shaped to Chinese needs.
A disciplined political structure and an efficient and powerful army were elements essential to Kuomintang success. Soviet Russia, realizing the potential for its own ends in Sun's party, began to provide needed organizational and military advisors. Members of the infant Chinese Communist Party, organized in 1921, were encouraged to join the Kuomintang and lend their zeal to the revolutionary movement. A trusted lieutenant of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, was sent to Russia to secure extensive aid and to observe Russian military organization. Early in 1924, at Whampoa outside Canton, a military academy was organized in the Russian pattern with Chiang as superintendent to train and indoctrinate officers for the Revolutionary Army. The Whampoa graduates and cadets, fiercely loyal to China, to the Kuomintang, and to Chiang, were the
men who were to lead the Nationalist forces for the next quarter century.
In 1925 Sun Yat-sen died, leaving two claimants to his political estate, the Communist-dominated faction in the Kuomintang and the anti-leftist majority who looked to Chiang for leadership. The rift between the two factions widened steadily while Chiang led the Revolutionary Army in a successful campaign against the northern warlords in 1926-27. Finally in April 1927, an open break occurred and Chiang began to root the Communists out of the Kuomintang and the army. His purge was bloody and bitterly contested, but successful. By the year's end the militant remnants of the Communist Party had fled for refuge to the mountains of Kiangsi Province. (See Map 32.)
The northern campaign ended in 1928 after the fall of Peking, renamed Peiping (Northern Peace ) to celebrate the victory. The new National Government of the Republic of China was established at Nanking, and the various foreign powers, including the U.S.S.R., recognized its legitimacy. Although the government was the strongest that had held sway in China during a century of disorder, the unification of the country was far from complete, Warlord armies had been incorporated in the Nationalist forces for expediency's sake, but their leaders still held tremendous local power and their men were unreliable when compared with the Whampoa-led troops of South China. The Communists holed up in Kiangsi under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung posed a cancerous threat that could not be ignored. And even though the warlords of Manchuria acknowledged the rule of Nanking, the Japanese had their own ambitious plans for that rich territory. Altogether the situation called for strong measures and an authoritative leader not afraid to apply them. Chiang Kai-shek was that man.
Under a variety of titles, Chiang held the real power in the Chinese Government in the 1930s and '40s. He controlled the Kuomintang, and in short order the party apparatus became almost indistinguishable from the government itself. The deep animosity between the Communists and the Kuomintang festered, erupting repeatedly as Chiang strove to wipe out the Kiangsi stronghold. In 1934, under pressure of an annihilation drive against them, the Communists abandoned their mountain fastness and set out on a 6,000-mile trek to a new home at Yenan in north central China. Only the most dedicated Communists survived the hardships and running battles of this legendary "Long March," and these veteran troops formed the hard core around which Mao began to organize a new base of operations. He needed time to develop his position and the Japanese gave it to him.
Japan's steady encroachment on Chinese territory had first call on Chiang's attention. In 1931 Japan established a protectorate over Manchuria and set up a puppet regime despite the protests of the United States and the League of Nations. Undisturbed by vocal opposition, Japan in the next year used its troops to drive the Shanghai garrison from the city after a boycott of Japanese goods led to furious fighting. When the
Japanese withdrew from Shanghai after capturing it, they transferred their attentions to North China and increased economic and military pressure on the border regions. Chiang, who was remodeling the National Army with German assistance and advice, held off from full-scale conflict as long as possible to give his troops training and equipment that would make them a better match for the Japanese. During 1936 an intermittent series of clashes between Chinese Government forces and invading Manchuria puppet troops of Japan's Kwantung Army were handily won by the Chinese. A Government spokesman in Nanking promptly warned that "the time has ended when foreign nations could safely nibble away at Chinese territorial fringes."6
The stage was set for the full-blown war which broke out on 7 July 1937 when Japanese troops attacked the defenders of Peiping. Almost immediately, leaders of all Chinese military factions, whether Government, warlord, or Communist, aligned themselves behind Chiang Kai-shek's leadership as Generalissimo and pledged resistance to the Japanese invasion. Mao's troops were designated the Eighth Route Army of the Central Government's forces and supposedly came under Chiang's control. Actually, the Communists played their own game, as Chiang had been sure they would when he was forced into a reluctant alliance with them by public and private pressure. During eight years of war with Japan, Nationalist troops bore the brunt of the heavy fighting and suffered by far the greatest proportional casualties as they were committed to defend the prize cities and rice bowl farmlands of South and Central China. In North China, the Communists used the war as a means to increase their strength and expand the area under control of Yenan, the Red capital.
In effect, the Communists gained a standoff by not contesting possession of the important strategic objectives that Japan wanted. Rather than dissipate his strength in set-piece battles for cities, mines, and railroads that he did not need, Mao concentrated on developing his followers into an effective guerrilla force which eventually controlled the countryside around the Japanese positions. The Communists' most effeetive recruiting aid was their policy of forced land redistribution in favor of the peasantry. The hundreds of thousands of peasants who directly benefited, or who saw at least the possibility of bettering an ageless cycle of impoverished and debt-ridden tenantry, were willing and militant converts to Communism. This ability of Mao's party to effect long-sought economic reforms by fiat was perhaps the greatest factor in its favor in the contest with the Kuomintang.
Reform proposals were sidetracked or given little attention by Chiang's government which was wholly concerned with a desperate struggle to maintain China's identity as a nation. Chinese troops were driven slowly from the important coastal cities and the major
communication centers of the interior. The national capital was moved deep inland to Chungking, in the mountains of Szechwan Province on the upper reaches of the Yangtze. A wearying and costly war of attrition was fought during which dogged Chinese resistance and the vast and rugged expanse of China itself combined to limit but not halt Japanese expansion.
During the early years of its fight China received trickles of aid from various foreign powers, notably Germany and the U.S.S.R., until the outbreak of war in Europe shut off help. After 1939, the United States became the principal supporter of China's war effort. Men, trucks, and materiel from the States were furnished to keep open the Burma Road, the sole supply route to Nationalist China after Japan blockaded the coastline. American fighter pilots and ground crewmen, some of them volunteers from the armed forces, were allowed to serve in the Chinese Air Force against Japan. Military and economic missions were sent to Chungking to initiate aid programs, and President Roosevelt made China eligible for Lend-Lease supplies by declaring that "the defense of China was vital to the defense of the United States."7 All this effort was just getting into full swing when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. One of the priority targets of Japanese troops in Asia was the Burma Road, and with the fall of its southern terminus, China was cut off from all supplies except those brought in by air.
At this juncture, the United States sent a veteran of service in China, Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, to command American troops in the newly created China-Burma-India Theater. He had a parallel duty as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek for a projected joint Allied staff that never materialized and a mission of training and building the Chinese Army into a more effective fighting force with the aid of American equipment and instruction. Stilwell was also made responsible for the effort to reopen overland supply routes to China and to step up the pace of aerial supply. The tasks given the American general were bewildering in their complexity, but he had a single-minded tenacity of purpose which drove him to carry out his orders despite any obstacles. This very drive was his undoing, as he was unable to appreciate Chiang's position as head of state in many military matters. Since Stilwell's actions were characterized by what one Chinese officer called "a monumental lack of tact,"8 friction between the two strong-willed men was inevitable. The Generalissimo forced Stilwell's recall in September 1944.9 The largest rock on which their stormy relationship foundered was the difference in attitude toward the Chinese Communists whom Stilwell wanted
to arm, train, and equip to fight against Japan.10
To replace Stilwell in China, and to harvest the ripe fruits of his labors in training and logistical fields, President Roosevelt sent Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer to become commanding general of what was now to be the China Theater. In addition to a far- -reaching and able military training and advisory organization, Wedemeyer as theater commander had control of the principal American combat unit in China, the Fourteenth Air Force. The Fourteenth was the full-grown child of the early American Volunteer Group of 1941-1942 raised by Major General Claire Chennault, who was still its commander. Where Stilwell had strongly questioned the practicality of Chennault's concept of air war against the Japanese home islands, a concept that found favor with Chiang Kai-shek and President Roosevelt, Wedemeyer had a firm directive to carry out air operations from China.11 In this respect, as well as others, the personable American leader was armed with instructions that smoothed the way for a restoration of cordial relations in Chungking, At Chiang's invitation, and with JCS approval, Wedemeyer served as his Chief of Staff in directing operations against the Japanese and in coordinating the organization, equipment, and training of Chinese forces during the closing months of the war.12 Japan's fortunes were on the downgrade in China as well as in the Pacific, and the prospect in spring and early summer of 1945 was for mounting Chinese military success.
WAR'S END IN CHINA13In late May 1945, Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued orders to its area commander in China, General Yasuji Okamura, to contract his battle lines in the southwest and withdraw the main body of his troops to the central and northern provinces. At the same time, Okamura's China Expeditionary Army was directed to concert its movements with the Kwantung Army in
Manchuria and the Seventeenth Area Army in Korea. Japanese intelligence predicted that a large-scale American amphibious assault was probable in the Shanghai-Hangchow area, with other possible landings on the Shantung Peninsula and in South Korea. Looming even larger in Japanese defense plans was the clear and ominous threat that the U.S.S.R. would at last enter the war against their country.
The enemy prediction of U.S. landings in China was now incorrect, although such operations had once been planned; the Japanese estimate, however, was based on logical assumptions of American intentions. In the case of Soviet moves, the Japanese were able to read the signs without difficulty and all too correctly. Even before the end of the war in Europe, a buildup of troops in Siberia was evident. Within weeks of Germany's surrender, the border area fairly bristled with Soviet soldiers and their weapons and equipment. Early September was the expected date for an attack, but Soviet armor-led columns cracked the Japanese defenses on 9 August, three days after the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Within a week the war was over.
The Kwantung Army which met the Soviet attack was only a shadow of what once was Japan's military showpiece unit. Its first-line divisions had been committed to bolster defenses in Burma, China, and especially in the Pacific islands. In their place, much weaker garrison divisions, largely composed of new conscripts, had been raised. Strong border defenses which barred the avenues of approach from Siberia to the industrial heartland of Eastern Manchuria had been skeletonized to obtain heavy weapons for more active fronts. Significantly, the Japanese themselves rated the effective strength of the ten divisions and one brigade which held Eastern Manchuria at just 23/4 first-line divisions. The combat efficiency of other major Kwantung units was equally low.
When the Soviet Far East General Army struck, its tanks and motorized infantry poured over the border on three widely separated fronts. Japanese outpost resistance was brushed aside and stronger defenses were contained or overwhelmed as the multi-pronged attacks converged on the Changchun- Mukden area. Although the Kwantung Army reeled back from Soviet blows, most of its units were still intact and it was hardly ready to be counted out of the fight. The Japanese Emperor's Imperial Rescript which ordered his troops to lay down their arms was the only thing which prevented a protracted and costly battle.
Before the end of August the Kwantung Army was no more, and Soviet troops controlled most of Manchuria and North Korea. Dispensing with formal surrender ceremonies, the Soviets swiftly disarmed the Japanese, broke up existing military formations, separated officers from enlisted men, and organized hundreds of labor battalions. In short order, a complex military organization was reduced to pieces, its only visible remnants columns of weaponless soldiers trudging north and east to Siberian labor camps.
The asking price of the U.S.S.R.'s entry into the Pacific War was high. At Yalta in February 1945, Marshal Stalin agreed to attack Japan in two to three
month's time after the surrender of Germany. In return for this promise, Stalin wanted all former rights of Imperial Russia in Manchuria, rights which had been lost in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. In addition to the virtual control of Manchuria railroads and the Kwantung Peninsula that this demand meant, Stalin insisted that China write off its claim to Outer Mongolia by recognizing the status quo in that Sovietdominated country. All of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were to be turned over to the U.S.S.R. as war booty. President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill both agreed "that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan is defeated."14 Despite its deep concern, China was not a participant in the Yalta Conference nor a signatory power to the Yalta Agreement, because it was believed that the secret of Soviet entry into the war against Japan could not be kept in the lax security situation then prevailing in Chungking.
President Roosevelt undertook the task of persuading Generalissimo Chiang to accept the Yalta terms by signing a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union. As the one nation, next to China, most deeply involved in fighting Japan, the United States was extremely anxious that the U.S.S.R. add its power to the final battles. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the President before he left for Yalta to insure "Russia's entry at as early a date as possible consistent with her ability to engage in offensive operations15 No Allied leader knew in February or even in the first days of August that the war with Japan would end as suddenly as it did, and that the expected heavy toll of Allied lives would not have to be paid.
The Generalissimo accepted the proffered treaty, despite its unfavorable bent, in hope that the Soviet Union would honor its written guarantee of China's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" and its recognition of "the National Government as the central government of China."16 Chiang was too much of a realist not to appreciate the fact that Stalin might take all that he wanted without Chinese sanction. If the Soviet Union violated the letter or spirit of its treaty, however, world moral condemnation would become a practical asset to Nationalist China in soliciting aid.
The Chungking Government was sorely in need of any support that it could muster at home or abroad at the war's end. The Kuomintang had been unable to effect significant political or economic reforms during eight years of fighting. Stripped of the shield and purpose of a popular anti-foreign war, it drew the blame for continued poverty, rampant inflation, and corruption. The majority of the Chinese people were war-weary and eager for a better chance in life; as events were to prove, they would not continue to support a government that postponed or was unable to effect necessary reforms.
The Chinese Communists, who had none of the obligations and few of the problems of an internationally recognized government emerging from a disastrous war, were able to pursue their end of dominating China with fanatical singleness of purpose. While Chungking had devoted most of its resources to the defeat of Japan, Yenan had expanded its hold on North China and Western Manchuria. The Communists concentrated on economic reforms which would expand their base of popular support. In the summer of 1945, American military intelligence agents could truthfully report:. . . since the Chinese Communists provide individuals, especially laborers and peasants, with greater economic opportunity than the Kuomintang Nationalists provide, the Communists enjoy widey popular support in the area held by their own armies than do the Nationalists in their areas of control. This is the Communists' greatest source of strength in China.17
Chiang Kai-shek had no intention of letting a rival government exist in China, and Mao Tse-tung showed no signs of turning over the territory he controlled to Chungking. Into this situation of a nation divided, of a civil war ready to flame anew, the United States committed its troops to help repatriate the Japanese and, in a limited manner, to aid the Nationalists in regaining possession of North China. The resultant entanglement with the cause of the National Government was to have an incalculabel effect on United States Foreign policy for the next decade.
U.S. COMMITMENT18After the publication of the Japanese Imperial Rescript, the China Expeditionary Army reversed its wartime role and became a quasi-ally of the National Government. In North China, the Japanese garrison was the only force that could prevent the Communists from seizing the major cities and the communication routes that linked them. The North China Area Army, with headquarters in Peiping, complied with a Chungking directive that its troops surrender only to properly designated representatives of Chiang Kai-shek. Although Mao Tse-tung's men were able to pick off outlying Japanese detachments and force the defection of large numbers of puppet troops, the bulk of Japanese soldiers held their discipline and complied with the orders passed to them from above. They continued to mount guard as they had in years past and to fend off Communist attacks, while they waited for relief by Nationalist troops.
The decision to use the Japanese to hold North China was seconded in Washington where President Truman approved plans to use American troops, ships, and planes to aid the Nationalist recovery of the area.19 Chiang Kai-shek's
armies had no organic transportation capable of moving large bodies of men for long distances, and the country's road, rail, and shipping facilities were totally inadequate for the job at hand. Following a JCS directive of 10 August 1945, General Wedemeyer issued orders to the American units under his command to assist the National Government in occupying key areas, in receiving the enemy surrender and repatriating Japanese troops, and in liberating and rehabilitating Allied internees and prisoners of war. While furnishing this assistance, theater forces were admonished to make every effort "to avoid participation in any fratricidal conflict in China."20 This warning to steer clear of involvement in civil strife followed the consistent pattern of American policy instructions carried through from the earliest days of the Stilwell mission.
Alarmed by the possibility of U.S.S.R. encroachment in North China and Manchuria, General Wedemeyer asked that seven American divisions be sent to his command to create a barrier force which would discourage further Soviet expansion. In reply, the JCS indicated that the absolute priority of occupation operations in the Japanese home islands would use up all immediately available troops and shipping. In furtherance of plans then being laid at Admiral Nimitz' headquarters, however, General Wedemeyer was offered the Marine III Amphibious Corps to assist the National Government in reoccupying North China and repatriating the Japanese.
The preliminary concept of operations involving IIIAC units called for the use of Marine divisions to occupy Shanghai and gain control of the Yangtze's mouth, but the revised CinCPac plan for occupation operations, published on 14 August, covered landings in the Taku-Tientsin and Tsingtao areas instead.21 (See Map 33.) China Theater had advised that Nationalist troops would be airlifted to Shanghai and Nanking by American planes; the Marines would not be needed there. A considerable time gap would occur, however, before National Government forces in strength could reach North China, and the presence of American occupation forces as stand-ins for the Nationalists would help to stabilize the situation.
On 19 August, at Manila, representatives of CinCPac, Seventh Fleet, and China Theater met to coordinate plans for China operations. The assignment of IIIAC to General Wedemeyer's command was confirmed and 30 September set as the earliest practical date for landing the Marines without undue interference with the occupation of Japan and Korea.
IIIAC PLANS22In order to keep abreast of the rapidly changing situation in the
Pacific and to have a planning edge for future operations, III Amphibious Corps monitored the radio traffic of higher headquarters. As a result, the corps commander, Major General Keller E. Rockey, and his staff were aware of the impending China commitment of IIIAC several days before any word was received from CinCPac.23 Even prior to this alert, however, the major units of the corps were readying themselves for occupation duty. The swift mounting out of Task Group Able for the occupation of Japan was sufficient warning of a probable role for other Marine units.24
The presence of CinCPac and FMFPac Advance Headquarters on Guam helped speed preparations for the coming operations and allowed changes in plans to be made with a minimum of disruption. Before the switch of targets for IIIAC to the Tsingtao and Tientsin areas was effected, Rear Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, the operations otlicer for CinCPac, held a briefing on the proposed landing at Shanghai for Generals Geiger and Moore of FMFPac and Rockey and his chief of staff, Brigadier General William A. Worton.25 By the time the North China objectives were confirmed, with Shanghai as an alternative operation. the coordination of naval plans with those of the landing force at the corps level was well underway. A formal warning order was issued by CinCPac on 21 August; IIIAC alerted its subordinate units the following day.
The Seventh Fleet, under Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, was assigned the mission of conducting naval operations off the coast of China and western Korea in Admiral Nimitz' operation plan of 14 August. On the 26th, Kinkaid published his own plan which covered the landings of the Army XXIV Corps in South Korea and the III Amphibious Corps in North China.
Kinkaid's concept of operations called for a Fast Carrier Force (TF 72) and a task grouping of cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers, and close fire support landing craft, North China Force (TF 71), to arrive in the Yellow Sea prior to Japan's surrender. By means of extensive air and sea sweeps, the U.S. ships and planes would exercise control of the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Chihli. Simultaneously, other task forces of the fleet would move in on the South and Central China coasts, and, as Nationalist troops advanced to take the ports, set up patrol bases at Canton and Shanghai.
Amphibious operations were to be conducted by Task Force 78, led by Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, Commander, VII Amphibious Force. Barbey's task was to land and establish the XXIV Corps ashore in the Seoul area of Korea, and then to lift and land IIIAC at Tsingtao and at Tientsin's ports, Taku-Tangku
and Chinwangtao. After the initial III Corps landings, some turnaround shipping was scheduled to bring on the follow-up echelons of the corps while other transports moved to South China to pick up Nationalist forces scheduled to relieve the Marines.
In order to facilitate joint planning for the operation, Admiral Barbey sent a liaison party from the VII Amphibious Force to Guam to live and work directly with IIIAC staff officers. The men he picked were empowered to make major decisions without constant referral to the admiral.26 Although Barbey's operation plan was not issued until 19 September, its essential elements were well known to IIIAC as they developed. The corps itself was able to send out a tentative schedule of operations on 29 August and follow it up three days later with its basic plan.
General Rockey, as Commander, Naval Occupation Forces (TF 79), was assigned his own corps as the China landing force. In addition, the 3d Marine Division on Guam and the 4th Marine Division on Maui reported for planning purposes as CinCPac area reserve. III Corps Artillery was given the role of corps reserve, and was to move from Okinawa to China when and if needed. The heavy artillerymen were ordered to be prepared to operate as inf antry.27 To augment IIIAC ground forces and to give it a substantial air capability, CinCPac added the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing to Rockey's command. The fighter groups of the wing were released from operational control of MacArthur's Far East Air Forces on 27 August, shortly after the wing command post had shifted from Bougainvillea to Zamboanga on Mindanao.28 The wing's transport group, MAG-25, remained based at Bougainvillea temporarily, although its planes were continually in the forward area.29
In all, with the normal reinforcements for a major amphibious operation, the initial troop list of General Rockey's command included approximately 65,000 men. Many of the units attached for planning were those that would have been needed if extensive combat or base construction activities were expected. But, in North China it appeared that there would be little need for additional Seabee battalions or hospitals. Once General Rockey had a chance to confer with Admiral Kinkaid and with General George C. Stratemeyer, General Wedemeyer's deputy, IIIAC strength was reduced by the deletion of a number of supporting units.30 The paring process went on as the operation developed, and the peak strength of III Corps in China stayed close to 50,000 men.
As it first evolved, the IIIAC concept of operations included landings about ten days apart at two widely separated objectives. Rockey's headquarters and corps troops would mount out at Guam, move to Okinawa, be joined there by the reinforced 1st Marine Division, and then sail for Tientsin. The 6th Marine Division (less the 4th Marines, which
had been committed in the occupation of Japan) would follow from Guam on later shipping and make Tsingtao its destination. Elements of 1st MAW, loading at Mindanao and Bougainvillea, would move to China as soon as airfields at Tientsin and Tsingtao were ready.
In the main, command relationships for this operation were similar to those for combat landings in the later stages of the war. The transport squadron commanders who moved and landed the two assault echelons were charged with the responsibility for the success of operations ashore until the respective division commanders notified them that they were ready to take over. Admiral Barbey was to continue in command of amphibious forces afloat and ashore until General Rockey had landed and established his headquarters. Once the IIIAC commander was ready to assume control of his forces, he would report to the China Theater commander for operational control.
The nature of the proposed operations at each objective varied so sharply as a result of differing geographical, political, and military factors that in many respects the further history of the Marines in North China became two different accounts. One, told at Tsingtao, has an aura of routine garrison duty through all but the last days of its telling. The other, based on activities along the rail line and roads connecting Peiping, Tientsin, and Chinwangtao, bristles with the constant threat and sometime reality of Communist attacks.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (IV-3) * Next Chapter (V-2)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: John King Fairbank, The United States and China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958, rev. ed.), hereafter Fairbank, U.S. and China; Herbert Feis, The China Tangle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953), hereafter Feis, China Tangle; F.F. Liu, A Military History of Modern China 1924-1949 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956), hereafter Liu, Military History of China; U.S. Department of State, United States Relations with China (Washington, 1949), hereafter U.S. Relations with China.
2. Clyde H. Metcalf, A History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1939), pp. 91-92.
3. Sun Yat-sen, San Min Chu I--The Three Principles of the People (Chungking: Ministry of Information of the Republic of China, 1943), p. 12.
4. U.S. Relations with China, p. 417.
5. Sun Yat-sen, op. cit., p. 169.
6. The Central Daily News (Nanking), dtd 28 Nov36, quoted in Liu, Military History of China, p. 114.
7. U.S. Relations with China, p. 26.
8. Liu, Military History of China, p. 178.
9. A lucid and detailed examination of the complex situation which led to Stilwell's recall can be found in the official Army history by Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sutherland. Stilwell's Command Problems--China-Burma: India Theater--United States Army in World War II (Washington: OCMH, DA, 1956).
10. The commander of the Marine occupation forces in China recalled that at a meeting in September 1945, General Stilwell described the Chinese Communists as being primarily "agrarian reformers." LtGen Keller E. Rockey interviews by HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 14-15 Apr59, 29 Apr59, and 9Jul59, hereafter Rockey interview with appropriate date. General Wedemeyer commented that the Generalissimo "was confident the Communists would not fight the Japanese but would simply prepare for postwar takeover." Gen Albert C. Wedemeyer ltr to ACofS, G-3, HQMC, dtd 26Aug61.
11. Gen Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1958), p. 271, hereafter Wedemeyer, Reports.
12. Wedemeyer ltr, op. cit.
13. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: MilHistSec, HqAFFE, Japanese Monograph No. 129, ChinaArOpsRec Cored of the China ExpeditionaryA, dtd 13 Feb52 (OCMH 8-5.1 AC 121), Japanese Monograph No. 154, Rec of Ops Against Soviet Russia, Eastern Front (Aug45), dtd 6Apr54 (OCMH 8-5.1 AC 179), and Japanese Monograph No. 155, Rec of Ops Against Soviet Russia on Northern and Western fronts of Manchuria and in Northern Korea (Aug45), dtd Sep54 (OCMH 8-5.1 AC 180); Senate Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Relations, Hearings on the Military Situation in the Far East, 3 May--17 August 1951 (Washington, 1951), hereafter Military Situation in the Far East; U.S. Relations with China.
14. Quoted in U.S. Relations with China, p. 114.
15. Quoted in Military Situation in the Far East, p. 3332.
16. Quoted in U.S. Relations with China, pp. 586, 587; Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1957), p. 227, hereafter Chiang, Soviet Russia.
17. MIS, WD, "The Chinese Communist Movement," ca. Jul45, in Congressional Record, 81st Congress, Ist Session (Washington, 1949), v. 95, pt 15, p. A5501.
18. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CinCPac-CinCPOA JStfStudy BELEAGUER, dtd 13Aug45; CinCPac WarD, Aug45 (OAB, NHD); Military Situation in the Far East; Wedemeyer, Reports.
19. Harry S. Truman, Years of Trial and Hope--Memoirs, v. II (Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1956), p. 62,
20. USForChinaThtr OpDirective No. 25, dtd 20Aug45 (Wedemeyer File, TAGO, KCRC).
21. CinCPac-CinCPOA OPlan 12-45 (Revised), CAMPUS-BELEAGUER, dtd 14Aug45 (OAB, NHD).
22. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CinCPac WarD, Aug45; ComSeventhFlt OPlan No. 13-45, dtd 26Aug45, corrected through Change 10, dtd 18Sep45; ComVIIPhibFor OPlan No. A1703-45, dtd 19Sep45, hereafter VIIPhibFor OPlan 1703-45; IIIAC WarD, Aug45; IIIAC OPlan No. 26-45, dtd 1Sep45, corrected through Change 4, dtd 27Sep45, hereafter IIIAC OPlan 26-45.
23. MajGen William A. Worton ltr to Hd, HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 12Jan59 and interview by HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, dtd 10Feb59, hereafter Worton ltr and Worton interview, respectively. General Rockey recalled that Marine officers on the CinCPac staff also had passed the word of the China commitment of IIIAC before the official notification was received. LtGen Keller E. Rockey comments on draft ms, dtd 6Feb62, hereafter Rockey comments.
24. See pt IV, "The Occupation of Japan," supra.
25. Worton interview.
26. Rockey interview, 14-15Apr59.
27. III CorpsArty OPlan No. 11-45 (Tentative), dtd 4Sep45, p. 2.
28. 1st MAW WarD, Aug45.
29. MAG-25 WarD, Sep45.
30. Rockey comments.