The Battle of Crane Village (July 28 - August 1 2104) was a brutal battle fought in the Crane Village in Taiwan. The fighting was fierce and brutal and it lasted 5 days. The battle was characterized by hand to hand combat and urban warfare. It was the greatest act of resistance by the Chinese in Taiwan.
In summer 2104, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China in what it claimed was a peacekeeping mission to end anarchy and warlordism and restore "free trade". The operation immediately came under international scrutiny as it's methodology resembled military conquest rather than humanitarian aid, and the United Arab Republic denounced what it claimed was an opportunistic land grab.
Japanese soldiers landed in the ports of Zhejiang and in Taiwan and faced little resistance from the peasant armies of the Warlords. The Japanese Air Force bombarded several military bases and economic and communication centers in Taiwan, where more than 900 tons of bombs were thrown.
Taiwan, like most of China, was divided between several Warlords. The Chinese forces were mostly made up of peasants who had been conscripted into the armies of the Warlords and had little will to fight. The Crane Village in South-East Taiwan was under the control of Warlord Song Qingxu. Song had 4,000 men under his command, but most of his forces scattered after Japanese landings in the ports of South-East Taiwan.
However, 100 soldiers of Song, who were professional soldiers unlike most of their comrades who were peasants, fortified in Crane Village. They were joined by 200 able bodied men of the village, who were ready to die for the defence of their homeland. This was a notable exception, as most of the Chinese population in Taiwan was apathetic towards the Japanese invasion.
The Japanese army was very well trained and was equipped with the most modern weapons, as a result of Prime Minister Takeshi Ruchang's aggressive campaign of military modernization. The Japanese landings in Taiwan had been prepared by a Japanese bombing of military bases, military units and economic and communication centers by more than 900 tons of bombs.
When the Japanese landed in the ports of Taiwan, most Chinese forces scattered. The Japanese landed in total 100,000 Japanese troops on the island, while the Chinese had in total only 60,000 soldiers, mostly untrained peasants. The Japanese quickly overrun most of the island.
Colonel Yoshihiko Noda, commanding 5,000 soldiers, was given the mission to clear the Crane Village from enemy soldiers. His soldiers reached the village in the morning of July 28 and Yoshihiko Noda ordered 20 pieces of artillery to bombard enemy positions on the village. The artillery fired thousands of mortars and pulverized almost 1/6 of the village.
However, as most villagers had not left the city, this led to the death of more than 70 civilians and the injury of 160. This fact forced Yoshihiko Noda to stop using the artillery, as he did not wanted more civilian casualties, and to refrain from calling the Air Force. While the artillery and the Air Force could have secured victory for Japan in only one day, they would lead to a large scale massacre that Prime Minister Takeshi Ruchang wanted to avoid, since Japan had been accused of imperialism.
So, Yoshihiko Noda would have to use his ground forces. Although the Japanese were numerically superior, in urban combat such superiority was useless.
July 28 OffensiveEdit
In the evening of July 28, Yoshihiko Noda ordered 3,000 Japanese soldiers to charge inside the village. As the Japanese soldiers run into the village, they met heavy fire coming from several buildings held by the Chinese. The fire mainly came from the windows of the buildings, and so the Japanese concentrated their fire at the windows. After fierce combat for two hours, the Japanese were forced to retreat. In total, 10 Japanese soldiers were killed and 47 were injured. From the Chinese side, only 12 soldiers were killed and 15 were injured.
In the night, Japanese troops went on the offensive once again. This time, they charged into buildings instead of firing at them, and concentrated only in the outer perimeter of the village instead of the entire village. The Japanese had more success this time and secured most outer buildings after heavy combat.
The combat became hand to hand in many buildings, as Chinese soldiers and irregulars attacked the Japanese soldiers using swords, knifes, stones, tables and even their fists. The Japanese, because of the narrowness of most buildings, could not use effectively their guns to fire and so they were powerless to stop such attacks and hard to resort themselves to hand to hand combat, using Karate and Judo. The attack led to the death of 7 Japanese soldiers and the injury of 33 and the death of 50 Chinese soldiers and the injury of 20.
July 29 stalemateEdit
In July 29, the Japanese made no direct attack against Chinese held buildings and only fired through the windows of Japanese held buildings at the Chinese held buildings. The Chinese followed the same strategy as the Japanese and so there was a stalemate and casualties were minimal. Only 2 Japanese soldiers died and 5 were injured while 10 Chinese soldiers died and 21 were injured. Many civilians died too in the cross-firing. 15 Chinese soldiers surrendered to the Japanese.
Yoshihiko Noda met with his subordinates that evening to discuss what strategy they were to follow. In the end of the meeting, the Japanese command concluded that artillery could not be used and instead the Japanese soldiers would have to clear the village house by house, no matter what the price in men may be.
The renewed Japanese offensive was nicknamed "Operation Tokugawa", after the Medieval Japanese Warlord that unified Japan. The Japanese forces came out from the safety of the buildings they held in the morning of July 30 and charged into Chinese held buildings. The fighting was fierce as the Chinese used every weapons available to slow down the Japanese and did not surrender. The Japanese also fought fiercely and because of their many losses, they refused to take prisoners or just injure the Chinese. There were cases in which the Japanese soldiers killed injured Chinese who could not fight anymore as revenge for the loss of their comrades.
By the night of July 31, most of the Crane Village was under Japanese control, save for the center, which remained under Chinese control. In total, 11 Japanese troops were killed and 30 were injured while 110 Chinese soldiers were killed and 3 were injured. The high ratio of the Chinese killed compared to Chinese injuries shows that the Chinese soldiers were really determined to fight to the death and that the Japanese were not satisfied with just injuring their opponents.
Preparations for Operation StormEdit
In the night of July 31, Yoshihiko Noda was informed by the Japanese High Command that he was allowed to use artillery and so he moved the 20 pieces of artillery under his command inside the Crane Village and surrounded with them the center of the Village. The movement of the artillery was done with the greatest secrecy and with as little noise as possible. The Chinese, who were low in morale and were more focused in fortifying the center of the village, did not notice the movement of the artillery and so they were caught completely by surprise by the fire of the artillery during the first morning hours of August 1.
The bombardment of the center of the village was the first phase of "Operation Storm", as the final Japanese offensive was named by Yoshihiko Noda. At the same time, in the night of July 31 and the first morning hours of August 1, the Japanese soldiers were allowed to rest and the injured were moved out of the village, so their wounds could be treated.
In 11:00 of August 1, the artillery barrage stopped and the Japanese soldiers charged at the center of the village. The Chinese fired at them with whatever they had, but they were heavily outnumbered and soon they run out of ammunition. The Japanese entered the buildings in the center of the village and cleared them from enemy troops. The Chinese fought valiantly, but they knew that further resistance was futile and 25 Chinese soldiers surrendered. However, most Chinese fought to death. By the evening of August 1, the fighting ended. In total, 2 Japanese troops were killed and 5 were injured. From the Chinese side, 18 soldiers were killed and 1 soldier was injured.
During all of the five days of fighting, 32 Japanese soldiers were killed and 120 were injured while 200 Chinese soldiers were killed and 60 were injured. The Chinese, despite being numerically much inferior to the Japanese, had far more casualties, since the Japanese were better trained and had organized medical support and so most of the Japanese casualties were injured, not dead. The Chinese, on the other hand, fought to death and so 2/3 of their forces were killed and 60 soldiers were injured. Only 40 men surrendered to the Japanese. This was in sharp contrast to the behavior of most Chinese troops in Taiwan and Mainland China. Also, 100 Chinese civilians were killed and 200 were injured during the fighting.
The main reasons the Chinese managed to last 5 days were that the Japanese could not use artillery and that the buildings in which the Chinese had fortified made difficult for the Japanese to wipe them out. However, the Japanese army proved itself and managed to defeat the enemy. The Crane Village had minimal strategic importance and was a purely tactical victory, as most of the island of Taiwan had already fallen into Japanese hands. It's importance is mostly symbolical, as it was the only fierce Chinese resistance in Taiwan against the Japanese invasion. However, even if the Chinese held out for much longer, this would not change at all the outcome of the Japanese invasion of Taiwan. Because of the huge Japanese casualties over an insignificant village, the Japanese High Command would increasingly stop caring about civilian casualties and in Vietnam, the Japanese would bombard populated areas with tons of napalm bombs.