Xue Yue (Chinese: 薛岳; pinyin: Xuē Yuè; December 26, 1896 – May 3, 1998) was a Chinese Nationalist military general, nicknamed by Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers as the Patton of Asia.
Born to a Hakka peasant family in Guangdong, Xue joined the army in 1914, at the age of 18. Interested in history, Xue was inspired by the military prowess and nationalistic fervour of George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte.
When Chiang Kai-shek formed the Whampoa Military Academy years later, Xue was one of the members of the first graduating class.
He was one of the most effective nationalist commanders of the Northern Expedition, and was promoted to command the 4th army after the April 12 Incident.
During the first stage of the Chinese Civil War, Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek ordered General Xue to lead the Cantonese First Army to attack the Chinese communists during the Fifth Encirclement Campaign against Jiangxi Soviet, forcing them to start the Long March and his forces chased the retreating communists all the way to Sichuan and Guizhou, until the communist forces retreated across the great swamplands and finally escaped to Shaanxi Province.
He then turned his forces around and marched unstopped to Central China and defeated the famed Red Army commanders like He Long and Ye Ting of the communist area which they controlled and forced out of these strongholds. For these accomplishments, Chiang Kai-shek hailed him as "a true example of a Chinese officer".
Meeting Master Li Ching YuenEdit
Xue knew the Taoist Master Li Ching-yuen, who was supposedly born in 1677, personally and became his disciple, practicing his teaching until the end of his life. In 1927 he invited him to his residence. After his master's death General Xue wrote the report "A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man.", where he described Li Ching Yuen's appearance: "He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion."
The Tai Chi Chuan Master T. T. Liang (Liang Tung Tsai) learned from the General Xue the practice of the "Eight Brocade Qigong". His student Stuart Alve Olson wrote in 2002 the book "Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yun", taking General Xue's report as reference
Second Sino-Japanese WarEdit
After the Xi'an Incident, however, Xue's loyalty was in doubt after he offered to personally arrest Chiang Kai-shek and hand him over to the Communists if Chiang refused to fight the Japanese immediately. Although he immediately reconciled with Chiang Kai-shek, his relations with the KMT were strained throughout the Sino-Japanese War. Xue commanded the 19th Army Group that fought the Battle of Shanghai. Later, during the Campaign of Battle of Northern and Eastern Henan (January–June 1938) he commanded the Eastern Henan Army.
Xue was also involved in the Battle of Wuhan, commanding the 1st Army Corps. In the mountains northwest of Wuhan, Xue succeeded in nearly destroying the entire 106th division of the imperial Japanese army. During the battle, most of the Japanese officers were killed and the Japanese had to air-drop 300 officers by parachutes into the battlefield. This was the only occasion the Imperial Japanese Army had to use airborne strategy to save a whole division from being eliminated by enemy forces during the Second World War.
Changsha and ChangdeEdit
Xue Yue was also responsible for the victories of the 9th Front, in the First, Second and Third Battle for Changsha. His forces of the 9th Front were also victorious at the Battle of Changde. During World War II, KMT and General Stilwell would not support him and his soldiers ammunition to fight the Japanese due to Stillwell's belief that there was rampant corruption in the KMT Army. To Stillwell's dismay, however, Chennault supplied Xue with ammunition throughout the war. Xue's 9th Front was also responsible for protecting Chennault's air fields. Chennault and Xue became sworn brothers and remained close friends until Chennault's death in 1958.
First Battle of Changsha (1939)Edit
In early September 1939, Japanese General Toshizō Nishio of the "Japanese Expeditionary Forces to China" and Lieutenant-General Seishirō Itagaki set out to capture Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. The Japanese 101st and 106th Divisions were deployed on the western bank of the Gan River in northern Jiangxi, and the 6th, 3rd, 13th, and 33rd Divisions marched southward from southern Hubei to northern Hunan.
Two of the primary motivating factors for the Japanese in launching the attack were the signing of a non-aggression pact by their German ally with their Soviet enemy, and their defeat by Soviet forces at Nomonhan. A large attack on Chinese would therefore restore morale. Altogether, it became obvious that the 100,000 strong Japanese force was to converge on Changsha. Xue's strategy was to counter the enemy column in northern Jiangxi and then encircle the line on the path southward.
he Japanese launched the attacks on September 17, when their forces in northern Jiangxi attacked westward toward Hunan. However, the Japanese stretched too far out westward and were counter-attacked by Chinese forces from the south and the north, forcing them to retreat eastward.
On September 19, the Japanese then proceeded to attack the Chinese along the Xinqiang River (新墙河). Even though the use of poison gas was prohibited by the Geneva Protocol, the Japanese army employed it on Chinese positions. On September 23 the Japanese drove the Chinese out of the Sinchiang river area, and the 6th and 13th Divisions crossed the river under artillery cover and advanced further south along the Miluo River.
Heavy fighting continued after the 23rd and the Chinese retreated southward to distract the Japanese while supporting battalions arrived on the east and the west for encirclement maneuver. On September 29 the Japanese reached the outskirts of Changsha. However, they were unable to conquer the city because their supply lines were cut off by the Chinese. By October 6 the Japanese forces at Changsha were decimated while the remnants retreated northward.
Second Battle of Changsha (1941)Edit
The Second Battle of Changsha (6 September–8 October 1941) was Japan's second attempt at taking the city of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. The offensive was carried out by more than 120,000 Japanese troops, including supporting naval and air forces. The Chinese forces under the command of General Xue Yue—the 9th Army Group—conducted a response that included street fighting in Changsha city. Ten Chinese armies (1,410,000 troops) eventually reached Changsha, retaking the city. The Japanese suffered over 10,000 casualties (killed, wounded and missing) and retreated.
The battle started when a small Chinese guerrilla force clashed with the Japanese 6th Division in the mountains southeast of Yueyang on 6 September. On the 17th, the Japanese crossed the Sinchiang River (新墙河) at four points and made rapid advances, crossing the Milo River on 19 September. The main Chinese force avoided confronting the enemy but marched in a parallel fashion, out-flanking the Japanese trail southward. The Japanese also attempted to out-flank and encircle the Chinese. This caused both the Chinese and the Japanese armies to reach the Laotao River (捞刀河) regions for an inevitable battle.
On 27 September, several hundred Japanese troops in plain clothes reached the north gate of Changsha but were unable to sabotage the city defenses, leading to heavy fighting on the 28th. Unable to overcome the defenders, the Japanese began a general retreat back to the Yueyang region on 30 September.
Third Battle of Changsha (1942)Edit
The third Battle of Changsha (24 December 1941–15 January 1942) was the first major invasion in China by Imperial Japanese forces following the Japanese attack on the Western Allies. The offensive was originally intended to prevent Chinese forces from reinforcing the British Commonwealth forces engaged in Hong Kong. With the capture of Hong Kong on 25 December, however, it was decided to continue the offensive against Changsha in order to maximize the blow against the Chinese government.
On 27 December, the Japanese 3rd, 6th, and 40th Divisions massed at Yueyang and advanced southward in three columns and crossed the Xinqiang River, and tried again to cross the Miluo River to reach Changsha. However, the Chinese formed a deep pocket around the city and set up ambush parties around the Luoyang River. Halfway from Miluo River and Changsha, the Japanese columns faced strong resistance from the Chinese and the eastern column was forced to take a detour further east, and the other two columns had to move closer together than originally planned. During the southward advance the Japanese encountered three Chinese army divisions that were pushed aside but not crushed; they retreated into the eastern mountains.
Changsha was evacuated except for the Chinese army and some 160 civilians who wished to stay to help the defense. On 31 December 1941, the Japanese troops stormed the southeastern defense of the city but failed to make any gains, and then made an attempt at the southern and then eastern part of the defense. Meanwhile, the northern part of the city was heavily bombarded. The Japanese eventually cut through the first line of defense, only to meet stubborn resistance from a second line of defense near the city center.
On 1 January 1942, the Chinese quickly counter-attacked and surprised the Japanese with heavy guns and inflicted heavy casualties on them. At about the same time, the previous army units that had retreated to the mountains swept down to attack the Japanese supply lines, with plenty of aid from local guerrillas. The Japanese line collapsed on 4 January. The three Japanese divisions were besieged and requested the help of the Japanese 9th Independent Brigade stationed in Yueyang. However, on 9 January they faced heavy fighting with the Chinese and were unable to relieve the besieged Japanese divisions.
The Japanese then attempted to retreat through the Luoyang River, not knowing that an ambush party was already stationed in the region. Losing heavily at the river crossing, the Japanese eventually reached the Xinqiang River on 15 January to complete the retreat.
The 3rd Battle of Changsha can be thought of as decisive. Just a month after Pearl Harbor and U.S. entry into the war, the battle was acclaimed to be the only major Allied victory of the Asia-Pacific theater in late-1941/early-1942. It was seen as a major victory that could turn the tide of the war against Japan. It earned Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek's Government much prestige from abroad and legitimacy in stopping the Japanese. Xue Yue earned himself more prestige in China for his three victories and outstanding tactical skills. Changsha would remain in Chinese hands for a further two and a half years.
Battle of ChangdeEdit
The Battle of Changde (Battle of Changteh; simplified Chinese: 常德会战; traditional Chinese: 常德會戰; pinyin: Chángdé Huìzhàn) was a major engagement in the Second Sino-Japanese War in and around the Chinese city of Changde (Changteh) in the province of Hunan. During the battle, Japan used chemical weapons.
The purpose of the Japanese offensive was not to hold the city, but to maintain pressure on the Chinese National Revolutionary Army "in order to destroy their main units, to deny them the time needed for recuperation, regrouping, and retraining, and to make sure that no Chinese troops could be spared for the Burma front."
On 2 November 1943, Isamu Yokoyama, commander of the Imperial Japanese 11th Army, deployed the 39th, 58th, 13th, 3rd, 116th and 68th divisions, a grand total of around 60,000 troops, to attack Changde from the north and the east. The Changde region was protected by the Chinese 6th war area's 10th, 26th, 29th and 33rd army groups, as well as a river defense force, and two other corps, for a grand total of 14 corps.
On the 14th, the Japanese 13th division, with aid from collaborators, drove south to break through the defense lines of the Chinese 10th and 29th group armies. On the 16th, Japanese paratroopers landed on Taoyuan, a county in the Changde region. At the same time, the Japanese 3rd and 116th divisions reached Changde. The city was guarded by the Chinese 74th corps' 57th division, whose commander, Yu Chengwan, led his single division of 8,000 soldiers to fight against the overwhelming attack of 2 Japanese divisions. 11 days and nights of fierce fighting saw heavy casualties on both sides. When Chinese reinforcements finally arrived, the remaining 100 survivors of the 57th division, all of whom were wounded, escaped the city. On the 6th of December, Changde was lost.
While the Chinese 57th division pinned down the Japanese in the city, the rest of the 74th corps, and 18th, 73rd, 79th, and 100th corps, as well as the 9th war area's 10th corps, 99th corps and Jiangxi's 58th corps arrived at the battlefield, forming a counter-encirclement on the Japanese forces.
Fang Xianjue's 10th corps was first to strike, successfully retaking Deshan on the 29th of November, before attacking the Japanese positions at Changde from the south. Unable to withstand the fierce Chinese assault, the Japanese utilized chemical weapons. The battle lasted for 6 days and nights. The Chinese 10th division's commander Sun Minjin was shot 5 times in the body and killed in action.
At this time, the other Chinese units were pressing onto the Japanese positions. On the 11th of December, the Chinese army broke through the Japanese lines and into the city, whereupon intense house to house fighting occurred. The Chinese army then proceeded to intercept the Japanese army's supply lines . Without food and ammunition, the Japanese army retreated on the 13th. Upon leaving, their Unit 731 spread bubonic plague, while the army burned buildings and killed civilians in frustration.
The Chinese units pursued the retreating Japanese army for more than 20 days. By the January 5, 1944, the Japanese forces were pushed back to their original positions prior to the invasion, thus concluding the engagement as a decisive Chinese victory.
During this campaign, besides the 10th division's Sun Minjin, two other Chinese division commanders died. One was the 44th corps' 150th division's Lieutenant General Xu Guozhang, while the other one was the 73rd corps' 5th division's Lieutenant General Peng Shiliang. General Xu was killed at Taifushan in Changde's northwest, aged 37. General Peng was killed at the Taoyuan-Shimen line, aged 38.
Fourth Battle of Changsha (1944)Edit
The Fourth Battle of Changsha (1944), (also known as the Battle of Hengyang or Campaign of Changsha-Hengyang) was an invasion of the Chinese province of Hunan by Japanese troops near the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As such, it encompasses three separate conflicts: an invasion of the city of Changsha and two invasions of Hengyang.
The Japanese military transferred the bulk of their troops from the Japanese homeland and Manchuria as part of Operation "Ichi-Go" or "Tairiku Datsu Sakusen" which roughly translates as 'Operation to Break through the Continent'. This was an attempt to establish a land and rail corridor from the Japanese occupied territories of Manchuria, Northern and Central China and Korea and those in South East Asia.
In June 1944, the Japanese deployed 360,000 troops (not including air and naval support), to attack Changsha for the fourth time. The Operation involved more Japanese troops than any other campaign in the Second Sino-Japanese war.
Changsha is the capital city of Hunan province and an important junction of two railroads in southern China: the tri-province railroad of Hunan-Kweichow-Guangxi and the one from Canton to Wuhan. Hengyang is also on the tri-province railroad and very close to the Canton-Wuhan Railroad. Furthermore, Lake Dongting and the cities of Changsha, Hengyang, and Lingling, are connected by the Hsiang River. It was imperative for both sides to control the suburban areas of Changsha and Hengyang.
The tactical objective of the Japanese China Expeditionary Army was to secure the railroad of Hunan-Kweichow-Guangxi and the southern area of China. The United States 14th Air Force of United States Army Air Forces also stationed their fighters and bombers at several air bases along the three-province railroad: Hengyang, Lingling, Guilin, Liuzhou, and Nanning. From there, the American Flying Tigers led by Brigadier General Claire Lee Chennault, had inflicted heavy damage on Japanese troops both in China and Formosa and could launch air strikes against the home islands of Japan.
After several ineffective air strikes by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, the Japanese decided to use ground forces to deny Allied air power of these airbases. By a direct order from Shunroku Hata(zh:畑俊六), Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese China Expeditionary Army, the Japanese 11th Army stationed at Wuhan was given the mission to attack Changsha and advance southwest via the tri-province railroad. It was later to join force with the Japanese 23rd Army of the Japanese Sixth Area Army from Canton.
General Isamu Yokoyama(zh:橫山 勇), the two-star general of the Japanese 11th Army, headed five divisions and reinforced by four more divisions and three independent brigades. Shunroku Hata decided to stay at Wuhan from 25 May 1944 until the end of the second phase of Operation Ichi-Go.
Battle of ChangshaEdit
On 27 May 1944, the Japanese 11th Army launched a general offensive toward Changsha as scheduled. The Japanese modified the tactics they used in their previous three attempts by sending the crack 3rd and 13th Divisions to attack Wanyang mountain toward Liuyang, effectively out-flanking the Chinese troops defending Changsha and cutting off their retreat routes. The Japanese also placed additional divisions in charge of attacking Changsha.
The Chinese attempted to use the previous tactic of avoiding direct contact by marching in parallel fashion to out-flank the Japanese, but were unable to encircle them as in the previous battles and had to retreat. This allowed the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) to rapidly advance to the city of Changsha, defeating the infantry defending the city, as well as neutralizing the Chinese artillery on the Yuelu Mountain. Changsha was quickly lost to the Japanese.
A two-star general Zhang De-neng, the commander of the National Revolutionary Army's (NRA) 4th Corps in charge of defending Changsha, ordered a general retreat against a direct order telegrammed from his immediate superior, Xue Yue, the Commander of the ninth Military Front. However, Zhang did not provide a feasible plan and fled the city while leaving most of his troops withdrawing in confusion and to be taken prisoner by the Japanese. Zhang was arrested by Xue, stood trial and sentenced by court-martial to five years in prison. He was later ordered to be executed by Chiang Kai-shek on the charge of "incompetence of command and desertion upon combat engagement" by the power of "Military Discipline upon Combat Engagement."(zh:戰時軍律)
Battle of HengyangEdit
Two Japanese military detachments moved on to besiege Hengyang, but the NRA's understrength Tenth Corps under the command of Fang Xianjue repelled their advance twice. The predicament in Hengyang helped hasten the crumbling of Tojo Hideki's cabinet. In conjunction with the loss of Saipan on 9 July 1944, Tojo Hideki and his cabinet handed in their resignation on 18 July 1944.
In August 1944, Japanese troops led by three two-star generals again attacked Hengyang with air support. Chinese troops resisted fiercely aided by local knowledge and constructing effective barricades up to four meters high. The Chinese defenses were intelligently constructed and used crossfire zones to maximize firepower. This caused the Japanese 68th and 116th Divisions to lose morale and it began preparations for retreat. Morale rose, however, when the Japanese 58th Division broke into the northwest perimeter of the city, defended by the Chinese Third Division and the attack resumed. Reinforcements from five Corps: the 37th, 62nd, 74th, 79th, and 100th, attempted many times to reach Hengyang, but were blocked by four Japanese divisions: the 27th, 34th, 40th, and 64th.
The Japanese eventually captured the Chinese Tenth Corps commander Fang Xianjue, who surrendered Hengyang on 8 August 1944 after his Tenth Corps was decimated, down from seventeen thousand to three thousand (wounded) men. This concluded the Campaign of Changsha-Hengyang.
The Chinese National Military Council reactivated the headquarters of the Tenth Corps at Yi-San in Guangxi after the defeat of Hengyang. Li Yu-tang was the commanding general of the parent unit of the Tenth Corps.
Some of the surviving Tenth Corps soldiers slipped through the Japanese lines and returned to the new corps headquarters on foot. Of the imprisoned three thousand wounded Chinese soldiers, one thousand died of starvation, injury, sickness or mistreatment by the Japanese.
Most of the captured Chinese general officers at Hengyang managed to break through the Japanese lines separately. On 19 September 1944, Fang Xianjue was rescued by a clandestine team from the Changsha Station of the "Military-Statistics Bureau" of the National Military Council and was personally received by Chiang Kai-shek at Chiang's Chungking residence on 14 December 1944.
After 47 days of bitter fighting, Japanese troops managed to occupy Hengyang with a high price in casualties over the city of Hengyang - many lives were lost, including 390 Japanese commissioned officers dead and another 520 wounded. The 68th and 116th Divisions lost their combat strength and were reassigned to garrison duties. Thus, the Chinese troops to the north were able to expand their influence despite the loss of Hengyang city.
On the side of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, Xue's Ninth Military Front in this campaign lost two effective corps loyal to Chiang Kai-Shek: the 4th and the 10th corps. This rendered "Tiger Xue" a toothless tiger until the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Sequentially, the Japanese 11th Army moved toward Lingling, seizing it on 4 September 1944, and controlled Guilin on 10 November 1944. The Japanese China Expeditionary Army ostensibly had completed the strategic objective of the Imperial Japanese General Staff: linking up by occupation their territories in east Asia, (although they did not have enough manpower to maintain actual control over it due to their heavy losses).
Moreover, the United States Army Air Forces transferred all their bomber groups in the above Chinese air bases to newly captured Saipan in July 1944, during the battle of Hengyang. From Saipan, United States aerial fleets began their bombing campaign against the home islands of Japan. One of the Japanese tactical achievements in this bloody campaign, (Operation Ichi-Go), had been easily neutralized by a simple American military maneuver in the Pacific.
After the battle of Hengyang, the Japanese could not continue to fight effectively. During this period Japan discovered that government privileges from Wang Jingwei's puppet regime were useless, consequently they rejected plans to take more Chinese territory. At the same time their negotiating position with China became significantly less powerful—to the point where they agreed to set aside the "Tang Ju" treaty.
The Chinese government continued to pressure the Japanese to completely withdraw from the northeast. The Japanese, in a desperate measure, collected as many troops as possible in April 1945 to invade a heavy settlement (Zhijiang) in the west of Hunan, hoping to open a path to Sichuan. The troops were intercepted in an ambush by the Chinese National Guard and almost completely wiped out. China regained some of its territory. At this point, the course of the war had turned. The Japanese subsequently surrendered at the Zijiang River.
Chinese Civil WarEdit
After World War II, Xue refused to exchange his gold for the Gold Yuan paper currency as mandated by law. When Huang Shaoxiong informed Xue that this was illegal, Xue responded that he and his subordinates' gold was paid in blood and he was personally responsible for it. When Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949, Xue was put in charge of defending Hainan Island. The victorious Red Army defeated the demoralized Nationalist Forces. Xue left for Taiwan after the defense of Hainan Island collapsed. He was served as a nominal adviser to the chief of staff in name only. He lived until 1998 to the age of 101. He led Chiang's funeral in 1976.