The defeat of the Japanese troops in the Zhangjiakou (Kalgan) area. Soviet-Chinese cooperation at the final stage of World War II

Translation of thereport

Datsyshen Vladimir

Siberian Federal University;

Institute for Demographic Research–Branch of the Federal Center

of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences;

Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University

Dai Jianbing

Doctor of History, Professor, Hebei Normal University

The issuesrelated to the Soviet-Mongolian offensive on Kalgan (Zhangjiakou) remain faintly studiedin the history of the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945. This offensive was carried out within the framework of the Manchurian offensive operation and by the forces of the Trans-Baikal Front. However, the strategic operation was not conducted on the territory of Manchuria and was not against the forces of the Kwantung Army. Being the center of the state education of Mengjiangthe city of Zhangjiakou like Manchukuo was under the control of Japan at that time. In addition, according to the Soviet-Chinese agreements, the surrender of the Japanese troops in the Zhangjiakou area was to be accepted by the armed forces of the Republic of China.

The fact that Zhangjiakou is located on the shortest road connecting Russia with Central China, on the so-called Great Tea Route, makes this issue even more compelling.The city of Zhangjiakou was the center of the historical Chahar region, which had the status of a province of the Republic of China. The southern part of Chahar province, occupied by the 115th Division of the 8th Chinese Army, became the first anti-Japanese resistance base under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and in the second half of the war, the Chinese Communists established the Chabei (Northern Chahar) base. At the end of World War II anti-Japanese resistance in the Zhangjiakou regionwas controlled by the Chinese communists who fought for power against the ruling Kuomintang party. Generally, it was this city that became the first in China to be occupied by the troops of CPC during the end of World War II.

The cooperation between the Soviet troops and the armed forces of the Chinese communists in the Zhangjiakou area is still unclear and faintly studied. The report “Strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II” prepared in September 1945 by the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army did not mention the attack on Kalgan. For example, the main and most accessible source in Soviet times on the history of military events in the Zhangjiakou region in August 1945 – the book by Issa Pliyev “Through the Gobi Desert and the Khingan Mountains”, did not mention any cooperation at all. Modern sources often indicate that Mengjiang, with its center in Zhangjiakou, was captured and eliminated only by Soviet and Mongolian troops. But recently, not only mentions of cooperation have appeared in publications, but also documentary evidence including photographs of meetings and negotiations between Soviet and Chinese commanders on the eve of the assault on Zhangjiakou, or the participation of Chinese soldiers in the assault on Zhangjiakou.

The events of the defeat of Japanese troops in the Zhangjiakou area were reflected in the memoirs of the Chinese participants, particularly, in the memoirs of a well-known leader of the CPC and the PRC, who in 1945 was the secretary of the CPC cell in Zhangbei and the commander of one of the partisan detachments, Chai Sulin, it is said that the Chinese troops did not wait for the assault by the Soviet-Mongolian troops of the city of Zhangjiakou, after which they received an order to attack the town.

The offensive of Soviet troops in the direction of Zhangjiakou began immediately after the outbreak of the Soviet-Japanese war in 1945. The “Statement of the Soviet Government of August 8, 1945, reported:” From August 9, the Soviet Union will consider itself in a state of war with Japan”. On August 8, Mao Zedong and Zhu Te sent a telegram to Stalin greeting the declaration of war on Japan. The next day, Mao Zedong issued a statement “The Last Battle with the Japanese Invaders”, urging the military forces under his control to launch a counteroffensive and act in conjunction with Soviet troops. On August 10 and 11, the commander-in-chief Zhu De gave orders to go over to the offensive and interact with Soviet units.

Chinese historians write: “During the military operations of the USSR against Japan, the anti-Japanese armed forces led by the Chinese Communist Party launched a wide offensive throughout the country … made an important contribution to the rapid destruction of the Kwantung Army by Soviet troops”. Domestic researchers also note: “The rapid offensive of Soviet troops in Manchuria rendered great help to the Chinese troops led by the Chinese Communist Party, since by the summer of 1945 they were in a difficult situation. When the advanced formations of the Kwantung group of forces began to retreat, the commander-in-chief of the Chinese troops Zhu De issued a series of orders instructing his army to immediately go on the offensive, acting jointly with Soviet and Mongolian troops against Japan in order to expand the territory of the liberated regions”. On August 11, 1945, the leadership of the military headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party in the Jinchaji regionsent a demand to the commander of the Japanese army in North China, General Sadama Shimomura (下村定), to comply with the decisions of the Potsdam Conference and surrender to the Chinese command.

On the night of August 9, 1945, Soviet troops launched an offensive. An important direction of the offensive of the troops of the Trans-Baikal Front was the offensive from Mongolia to Kalgan (Zhangjiakou). Researchers write: “The mechanized cavalry group of Soviet-Mongolian troops (commander General I.A. an auxiliary strike – from the Dzamin-Ud area to Zhangjiakou (Kalgan). The group’s offensive zone is 350 km”. A grouping consisting of the 27th motorized rifle brigade, the 7th armored brigade of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army (MPRA), and others was concentrated in the Kalgan sector. The Soviet offensive was opposed by a significant grouping of enemy forces. In the report “On the combat activities of the Mongolian troops in the war against Japan in 1945” it was indicated that not only the troops of Inner Mongolia, but also parts of the Japanese and Manchu troops were concentrated in the Kalgan direction. Total is 75.5 thousand people.

According to the “Journal of the Group of Forces of the MPRA”, the Soviet and Mongolian troops that crossed the border on August 9 went to Kalgan almost without meeting the enemy for several days. In the report “On the combat activities of the Mongolian troops in the war against Japan in 1945” it was said: “On the night of 9.8.45, the units of the Red Army and the Mongolian People’s Republic of Armenia operating in the Kalgan direction crossed the state border and, without encountering serious resistance, rushed deep into Inner Mongolia along the Kalgan highway”. On August 12, Soviet-Mongolian troops occupied the former provisional capital of Mengjiang Huade (Dehua). After that, the advancing troops were tasked with taking the main city of Mengjiang. In the “Journal of the MPRA Group of Forces for the period of the operation from August 9 to 24, 1945” It was noted that on August 12, 1945, the commander of the Trans-Baikal Front ordered to occupy Kalgan by the end of August 18.

Chinese historians point out that the commander of the military district and political commissar Nie Rongzhen already on August 10 ordered his subordinate commanders to plan a general offensive against all cities in the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei region, including Zhangjiakou. On August 12, the command of the Jinchaji District decided to send part of its troops to meet the advancing troops of the Soviet Union and the Mongolian People’s Republic. Soon, Jinchaji County’s Northern Force was ordered to “attack Zhangjiakou immediately.”

The advance detachment of the Soviet-Mongolian troops in mid-August 1945 went to the area north of Zhangjiakou, called Zhangbei. This territory, largely under the control of the Chinese Communists, included Xinghe (兴和), Baochang (昌), Huade (化德), Shangdu (商), Dolun (多伦), Shangyi (尚义), Chunli (崇礼), Guyuan (沽源), Kangbao (康保), Zhangbei (张北) and other counties. On the morning of August 13, 1945, the CPC Central Committee sent a telegram to one of the leaders of the CPC-controlled troops and the secretary of the local party organization, Chai Shulin, instructing him to join forces with the Soviet and Mongolian troops, and on August 14, an order was received to go directly to Zhangbei County to join forces there. with the army of the Soviet Union and Mongolia.

On August 15, 1945, Soviet-Mongolian troops occupied most of the Chahar and Suiyuan provinces. The Soviet command sent its representatives to the commander of the 12th combat area, General Fu Zuoyi. At this time, the enemy began to resist, Japanese air raids began, the advancing Soviet troops began to suffer losses. Already on August 15, the losses amounted to 7 people killed and 20 people wounded. On August 15-16, the forces of the mechanized cavalry group Pliyev, the town of Zhangbei was taken with a fight. On August 17, the Soviet command accepted the surrender of the Zhangbei garrison.

Chinese documents indicate that on August 16, 1945, the Soviet and Mongolian cavalry units met the Chahar Mongol detachment, which operated under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. On the 19th, they agreed on a “coordinated attack on Zhangjiakou,” which was scheduled for 20 August.In the “Journal of the Group of Forces of the MPRA” dated August 16, it was written: “To the Commander of the 27th MRBR in a car from Kalgan arrived 3 people, calling themselves envoys from De Van, to negotiate the annexation of Inner Mongolia to the MPRA.” After that, De-Van’s troops proposed to start joint military operations against the Japanese.

On August 18, the troops received the task of moving along the Kalgan tract and by the end of 19.8.45 to capture the northern outskirts of Kalgan. However, the Soviet-Mongolian troops unexpectedly on their way met the Japanese fortified area Lanvogou, built on the line of the Great Wall of China. The Japanese troops asked for two days to prepare for surrender, which, according to Pliyev I.A., was regarded by the Soviet command as a trick of the enemy in order to strengthen the defense. In the book of Pliyev says: “At dawn on August 19, after a powerful artillery and air preparation, the troops moved to storm the fortified area. A fierce battle ensued … all night and the next day there was intense fighting. By evening, the central defense center of the fortified area was basically cleared … “. In the “Operational summary of the headquarters of the MPRA Group of Forces on the results of actions for August 19” it was said: “During the day of 19.8.45, the Group’s troops in the main direction were advancing, in the Kalgan direction they fought with a stubbornly defending enemy …”. On this day, the losses of the Soviet 27th MSBR amounted to 60 people. killed and wounded. According to the “Journal of the Group of Forces of the MNRA”, these events took place on August 20, the document said: “The enemy in the Kalgan direction during the night tried to attack … the counterattacks of the pr-ka successfully fought back … up to 120 soldiers and officers were killed in the day of the fighting. .. Our losses: – 60 people killed and wounded”.

Chinese troops approached the suburb of Zhangjiakou on August 17, the Chinese waited several days for the start of the assault on the city by Soviet troops. However, due to the fact that the Soviet troops unexpectedly collided with the Japanese fortified area, it was not possible to approach Zhangjiakou on time. As a result, the CPC Central Committee ordered the Jin-Cha-Ji Military District to seize Zhangjiakou with its own forces. In the memoirs of Yang Chunfu, a participant in the events, it was said that Chinese troops launched an attack on Zhangjiakou on August 20, but “because of the fierce resistance offered by the Japanese, the Soviet-Mongolian and our troops could not unite as planned by the command”.

According to the “Journal of the MPRA Group of Forces for the period of the operation from August 9 to 24, 1945” “Combat order No. 0043 / OP of the headquarters of the Zabfront -” Due to the fact that the command of the Kwantung Army gave an order to the Japanese troops in the morning of 18.8. to start fulfilling our demands – to surrender – I order: 1. by the departure of 08.20.45, to completely occupy Kalgan, Xuanhu, have garrisons in Zhambey, Huailaion the Kalgan direction, “. Pliyev states: “In about sixteen hours the troops occupied Kalgan, the capital of Inner Mongolia” .

Chinese troops from the Jicha, Pingbei and Changan regions of the 8th Army under the command of the CPC took part in the offensive against Zhangjiakou from the south, west and east. Chinese historians write: “In accordance with the plan of the offensive against Peiping and Tianjin, as well as the order of the command of the liberated region of Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei, the troops of the military district of Hebei and Chahar provinces took a number of measures to advance their forces to attack Zhangjiakou (Kalgan) and interact with Soviet-Mongolian cavalry-mechanized group. To this end, it was decided to send the Chahar-Mongolian cavalry detachment of the 12th military sub-region to the north. The 10th and 40th regiments of the 12th military subdistrict, the 20th regiment of the 13th military subdistrict and the Weizhou separate detachment were also supposed to attack Zhangjiakou … By August 20, the main forces of the 12th military subdistrict moved towards Zhangjiakou. In the course of reconnaissance, they found out that about 20 thousand Japanese troops were concentrated in its vicinity. Their main forces were stationed in Zhangbei (north of Zhangjiakou), Wanquan (west), and Shalyunzi (south), the task of controlling the city itself was entrusted mainly to puppet troops. As a result of three days of fierce fighting on August 23, the troops of the People’s Liberation Army, together with Soviet troops, captured Zhangjiakou and Wanquan”.

While Soviet troops stormed the fortified area on the northern approaches to Zhangjiakou, and the troops of the Chinese communists were waiting for the approach of Soviet troops for a joint assault on the city, the military-political situation changed. Cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists in the liberation of the Zhangjiakou region was not supported by the authorities of Kuomintang China. In the recording of the conversation of the USSR Chargé d’Affaires in the Kyrgyz Republic Skvortsov T. with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Gozhen U. on August 18, 1945, said: “Today at 5:30 am. Moscow time, Wu Guozhen summoned me to his place and said that the troops of the USSR and the Mongolian People’s Republic, at least, occupied three points – Linxi, Dolonnor and Zhangbei – in which, by agreement between the four countries … on the disarmament of the Japanese to be. Wu Guozhen said that according to the aforementioned agreement, the area for disarming the Japanese by Soviet troops is the Heilongjiang, Jirin and Liaoning provinces, as well as Korea north of 38 degrees. As for the disarmament of the Japanese in Suiyuan, Chahar, and Rehe, it must be carried out by Chinese troops. The practical implementation of the disarmament of the Japanese in these provinces, as well as in the Peiping-Tianjin region, is entrusted to the commander of the 12th military zone, General Fu Zoi. Wu Gozhen asked me to convey to the Soviet Government China’s request that the Soviet Government issue an order to its troops, as well as to the troops of the Mongolian People’s Republic, to suspend further movement to the south … and then withdraw from the Chahar and Rehe provinces”.

In the “Journal of the MPRA Group of Forces for the period of the operation from August 9 to 24, 1945” noted on August 19, 1945: “By telegram No. 1363 / sh, the front commander ordered the troops of the MPRA Group not to cross the border of Southern Manchuria and Inner Mongolia”. On August 21, an order was received to stop the offensive on Kalgan.  The document states: “At 23.00 21.8.45, an order was received to end the offensive on Kalgan and withdraw troops to the Zhangbei area”. And at the same time, “On the night from 21 to 22.8.45, the enemy began to hastily withdraw his troops in a southern direction, abandoning all weapons and not even picking up his killed soldiers and officers”.

The Soviet government did not dispute the claims of the Chinese government. The Soviet government replied to the above statement on August 22: “The USSR has no intention of advancing towards Beijing and Zhangjiakou, and if our troops occupy certain points outside Manchuria, then in reality it is declared that we cannot allow our troops to remain in the rear Japanese military units … as soon as the troops of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek arrive at these points, they will be immediately transferred”.

Due to the change in the military-political situation, the troops of the Chinese communists had to occupy the city of Zhangjiakou. The situation was aggravated by the continued resistance of the Japanese. In the “Journal of the MPRA Group of Forces for the period of the operation from August 9 to 24, 1945″ it is noted: “22.8.45 … the 27th MRB during the day fought with the enemy at the previous line. With the onset of darkness, carrying out the order of the Group commander, hiding behind mortar and machine gun fire, retreated to the 6 km south. Zhambei, where it took up defense”.  According to the memoirs of the Chinese: “with the consent of the Soviet and Mongolian armies, on the morning of the 20th, the main tenth regiment and the 40th regiment of the Jicha army of the 8th army in the Pingbei division, the main 20th regiment and the Weizhu detachment of the Changan division and the northern military detachment of Jicha began attack on Zhangjiakou from the east, south and west”.

The assault by Chinese troops on Zhangjiakou on August 22 was unsuccessful, but the next day, having received reinforcements, the offensive continued, and Japanese troops began to leave the city. After fierce battles, the 40th regiment together with the 10th regiment liberated all areas of the city east of Qingshuihe, as well as the Yulin airport and the Japanese army barracks. By three o’clock in the afternoon on August 23, the Chinese units advancing from different directions united in the center of Zhangjiakou, the Japanese resistance ceased.

In August 1949, the interaction between the Soviet and Chinese command in the Zhangjiakou area was problematic. Interaction was necessary, both with the communists and with representatives of Chiang Kai-shek.

War veterans wrote: “After the 59th Soviet, 5th and 6th Mongolian cavalry divisions reached the Great Wall of China, by order of the commander of the Trans-Baikal Front, KMG units occupied the city of Tiziazhen and established contact with the 8th People’s Liberation Army of China”.In the memoirs of the head of the propaganda department of the military district of the Hebei and Chahar provinces of the 8th Army, Yang Chunfu, the first meeting of the Chinese communists with the Soviet representatives was described as follows: “During the campaign, one of the leaders of the militia of a neighboring village came to us. He said that two parachutists were dropped from a flying plane. I ordered them to be brought … My comrades saw the representatives of the allied army for the first time. We were very happy, but we could not speak Russian and did not understand what they wanted to say. Only with the help of gestures did we find out that the Pingbei troops of the 8th Army to the north of us had already joined up with the allied Soviet-Mongolian armies and were preparing to attack Zhangjiakou.

General Fu Zuoyi sent his deputy for the diplomatic section, Zhou Beifeng, and the head of the communications department, Bai Zhen, to Zhangbei to negotiate with the Soviet command. The delegation headed by Zhou Beifeng included Li Shijie, Zhou Zhao, Wang Kejun, Cui Zaizhi, Chu Xiangshan, Bai Zhen, and others. The delegation successfully reached Zhangbei and was greeted by the Soviet command.

At a meeting with the Soviet command, Zhou Beifeng paid tribute to the memory of the Soviet and Mongolian soldiers and officers who died in the assault on the Japanese fortified area. According to the recollections of one of the members of the Chinese delegation, the Soviet general politely received the guests.The Soviet command informed the Chinese representatives that the area of ​​operation of the Soviet-Mongol detachment was limited by the line of the Great Wall of China. The city of Zhangjiakou, located south of the Great Wall of China, remained in the area of ​​responsibility of the Chinese army. The Chinese delegation was also informed about the progress of the assault on the Japanese fortified area. The Soviet general told the Chinese representatives about non-interference in the internal affairs of China, expressing the hope that the CPC and KMT”will solve all problems by joint efforts”.

In the memoirs of a Chinese member of the delegation, the following problem was described separately, allegedly voiced by a Soviet general: “Since some of the soldiers of our army transferred from Europe consisted of former prisoners … Their discipline needs to be improved, and we apologize that we will correct mistakes”. The problem was probably caused by the fact that the logistics services did not cope with the tasks assigned to them. Modern Russian researchers write: “Along the entire route of the offensive, equipment, vehicles, artillery pieces, the rear have lagged behind and only a small amount of equipment and cavalry reached the final line of the CMG (Cavalry Mechanized Group), as was reported in the report of the CMG headquarters on the results of combat training and during the battles … MPRA and CMG, starting from August 19 and almost until the end of the battles, were on trophy food rations (except for flour)”.

In the memoirs of the Chinese, it was noted that the Soviet command did not provide the Chinese with either the number of the military unit, or the data and the number and weapons, or about further plans. The Soviet command did not accept Zhou Beifeng’s proposal to leave a radio station and a representative for communication with Soviet troops in Zhangbei. Fu Zoi’s representatives were asked not to linger in the location of the Soviet troops for a long time. Eyewitnesses noted the “difficulties of linguistic communication” between the Soviet and Chinese representatives.

On August 23, 1945, the last batch of Japanese troops retreated from Zhangjiakou, the entire city was occupied by the 8th Army controlled by the CPC. Thus, Zhangjiakou became the first city occupied by the Chinese Communists in August 1945. Soon the Jinchaji District Central Bureau moved to this city under the control of the Communists. Zhangjiakou was led by one of the prominent CPC figures in Hebei Province, Yang Chunfu.

The offensive on Zhangjiakou turned out to be one of the most difficult operations of the Soviet troops in the Trans-Baikal Front. This is also indicated by the significant losses for the Trans-Baikal Front. According to the “Journal of the MPRA Group of Forces for the period of the operation from August 9 to 24, 1945” “the losses of the Group’s troops during the operation are as follows: 4 – officers killed; 125 – sergeants and privates: 5- missing privates . Non-combat losses as a result of the officers’ march – 2. Privates – 2 … “.  In addition, there were losses among the personnel of other units. In 1957, the names of 53 Soviet and 13 Mongol soldiers were immortalized at the memorial, and in recent years the names of 16 more Soviet and 43 Mongol soldiers who died during the liberation of Zhangjiakou were established. The international political situation in the Zhangjiakou area in August 1945 was not easy for the Soviet command. The issue is reflected in the contradictory events reflected in historical sources and literature. In that situation the Soviet Union took a low profile. On September 9, 1945, an order to begin the withdrawal of troops from Zhambey and Rehe from September 15was issued by the command of the Trans-Baikal Front.


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Source: Вестник ЦИМО в АТР. № 6. 2021

Translated by Zemtsov German


Terminological dictionary

  1. the Trans-Baikal Front – Забайкальский фронт
  2. the Manchurian offensive operation – Маньчжурская наступательная операция
  3. the Soviet-Japanese war – Советско-японская война
  4. the Kwantung Army – Квантунская армия
  5. the Republic of China – Китайская Республика
  6. the Great Tea Route – Великий чайный путь
  7. the Communist Party of China (CPC) – (КПК) Коммунистическая партия Китая
  8. the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army – Главное политическое управление Красной Армии
  9. the assault on Zhangjiakou – штурм Чжанцзякоу
  10. the partisan detachment – партизанский отряд
  11. the Soviet-Mongolian troops – советско-монгольские войска
  12. a counteroffensive – контрнаступление
  13. the anti-Japanese armed forces – антияпонские вооруженные силы
  14. the Potsdam Conference – Потсдамская конференция
  15. the mechanized cavalry group – конно-механизированная группа
  16. the motorized rifle brigade – мотострелковая бригада
  17. the armored brigade – бронебригада
  18. the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army (MPRA)- Монгольская Народно-Революционная армия(МНРА)
  19. Inner Mongolia – Внутренняя Монголия
  20. the Kalgan highway – Калганский тракт
  21. the advance detachment – передовой отряд
  22. anairraid – налёт авиации/воздушный налёт
  23. the fortified area – укрепрайон
  24. the operational summary – оперативная сводка
  25. thecombatorder – боевое распоряжение/приказ
  26. the military subdistrict – военный подрайон
  27. puppet troops – марионеточные войска
  28. the military-political situation – военно-политическая обстановка
  29. theChargé d’Affaires – поверенный в делах
  30. to dispute the claims – оспаривать претензии
  31. to take up defense – занять оборону
  32. to receive reinforcements – получить подкрепления
  33. the People’s Liberation Army of China – Народно-освободительная армия Китая
  34. the propaganda department – отдел пропаганды
  35. a militia – народное ополчение
  36. the allied army – союзная армия
  37. to pay tribute to the memory of smb. – почтить ч.-л. память/отдать даньbпамяти
  38. theKMT (TheKuomintang)/the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP) – Гоминьдан (Консервативная политическая партия Китайской Республики)
  39. trophyfoodrations – трофейное продовольственное довольствие
  40. the logistics services – тыловые службы
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