Japanese Invasion Of China 1931-45: RARE (LARGE) IMAGES

Everybody believes that World War II began on September 1, 1939 with the German attack on Poland. But the Chinese are convinced that the war  began much earlier! Some say in  1931 - Japanese invasion of Manchuria; others put it on July 7, 1937 - when, using the armed incident in the area Lugoutsyao (incident at the Marco Polo Bridge), the Japanese army launched a war to capture all of China. China suffered huge losses in World War II, and the atrocities that the Japanese committed in the country surpassed all limits.

First some background. When the Japanese invaded China in 1931, the country itself was in turmoil. The Nationalist Chinese KMT Chiang Kai-shek's regime was fighting the Chinese communists led by Mao. So till 1945 these two Chinese forces and the Japanese were all fighting each other. In short, China was in a mess.
 Men of the Collaborationist Chinese Army. During the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945 the Japanese in every captured region of China formed collaborationist unit. Over time, these units were absorbed in the army. The size of the collaborationist  Chinese army at the end of World War II  reached 1.1 million.


The Collaborationist Chinese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War went under different names at different times depending on which collaborationist leader or puppet regime it was organized under. 

During the Invasion of Manchuria General Xi Qia organized a pro-Japanese secession movement in Kirin at the head of the "New Kirin" Army, and Chang Hai-peng at Taonan in the northwest of Liaoning province organized the Hsingan Reclamation Army. Both forces attempted to defeat the remaining Chinese forces in Heilongjiang province and at Harbin but failed. After the Mukden Incident, the Chinese forces that went over to the Japanese were formed into the army of Manchukuo Imperial Army in early 1932. During the Japanese Operation Nekka in Jehol and the Battle of the Great Wall in 1933, Japan used the "National Salvation Army" of Li Chi-chun under the old five-barred flag of the Chinese Republic and the Taoliao Army of Manchukuo under Chang Hai-peng. 

At the beginning of their intervention in Inner Mongolia the Japanese used Chinese forces under Liu Guitang and Li Shouxin. Later they used Wang Ying's Grand Han Righteous Army to form part of an Inner Mongolian Army and later the Mengjiang National Army. Once they formed the Autonomous Government of Eastern Hopei they established the East Hopei Army. Manchukuo River Defense Army in a military exercise 

After the Japanese first began their invasion of China in 1937, in each place the Japanese captured, a collaborationist army might be formed and given various names, such as "IJA Assistant Army", "Peace Preservation Corps" or "Police Garrisons" and so on. Later on, particularly under the Nanjing Nationalist Government they were re-organized in a system of Divisions, Corps and Armies. 

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese occupied area was in continuous need for troops to suppress revolts and to defend against sabotage to the Japanese supply lines, which diverted much of Japan's regular army manpower. In order to solve its manpower shortage on the front line (especially after 1942 and the outbreak of the Pacific War), and maintain rule over already occupied areas in China, the Japanese began employing existing local soldiers and recruiting local people to be responsible for the occupied areas' public security. Accordingly, the Japanese occupied area puppet regimes established the North China Zhi'an Army and Nanjing collaboratist army. 

The various puppet regimes had nominal control over their own collaborationist army only, but Japanese military officers were authorized to command and transfer any collaborationist army units as they saw fit. In 1938, the manpower in China's puppet armies was approximately 78,000 men, mostly the forces of the Provisional Government of China in North China. When Wang Jingwei established the Nanjing Nationalist Government after 1940, the numbers of the Chinese puppet army suddenly rose to 145,000 men. Most of these new forces were local puppet forces established in areas the Japanese occupied from 1937 in Eastern, Central and South China. From 1942 to 1943 (probably as a result of the United States' entry into the war), the Imperial Japanese Army commanders permitted the collaboratist army commanders faced with a disadvantageous situation (often a result of being caught between the Communists and the Japanese army) to preserve their strength by temporarily surrendering to the Japanese, and then joining the Nanjing collaborationist army en masse. 

The result was the collaborationist army manpower started growing rapidly. According to the Chinese Communist Party statistics at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, about 62% of the men in the Chinese collaborationist army were originally with the National Revolutionary Army. Though these results could possibly have been trumped up and used as propaganda due to the longstanding rivalry between both the Kuomintang and the Communists. Furthermore, the worsening situation for Japan from 1943 onwards meant that the Nanjing collaborationist army was given a more substantial role in the defence of occupied China than the Japanese had initially envisaged, and this army was almost continuously employed against the communist New Fourth Army, and the target of guerrilla and sabotage operations led by the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics and the Communist New Fourth Army. 

In March 1943, a British intelligence report estimated the total number at 345,130 men. Despite rapid growth in manpower and increased responsibility to support the Japanese, the collaborationist Chinese army suffered from very low morale because the general public in the occupied areas viewed them as Hanjian, or traitors to China, and many surrendered quickly to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's forces during military engagements. Enemy prisoners of low rank were persuaded to renege and fight alongside anti-Japanese forces, but high-ranking prisoners were executed. Many commanders of collaborationist army secretly cooperated with the Chinese Secret Service under General Dai Li, exchanging intelligence about IJA troop movements as well as taking orders from him to suppress communists activities.

Japanese soldiers at the Yellow River

Japanese marines ride a German troop-carrier in Shanghai

The Japanese army in China


The Marco Polo Bridge Incident (or the Lugouqiao Incident) was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure, restored by the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722). Often signifying the opening of Japan's comprehensive invasion of mainland China, both this 7 July and 18 September (Mukden Incident) are still remembered as days of national humiliation by most Chinese.

 Japanese officers raise a toast to the success in Manchuria

Officers of the Kuomintang (KMT) Army in 1941

The Fall of Nanking

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, genocide and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 women and children were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army

 Japanese cavalryman in Manchuria. 1932

 Japanese soldiers with a captured Chinese Vickers 6-Ton tank


The Vickers 6-Ton Tank or Vickers Mark E was a British light tank designed as a private project at Vickers. It was not purchased by the British Army, but was picked up by a large number of foreign armed forces and was copied almost exactly by the Soviets as the T-26. It was also the direct predecessor of the Polish 7TP tank. By the start of World War II it was the second most common tank design in the world after the Renault FT-17.

Japanese soldiers on the march in Manchuria. 1932. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on September 19, 1931, when Manchuria was invaded by the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan immediately following the Mukden Incident. The Japanese established a puppet state, called Manchukoku, and their occupation lasted until the end of World War II.

 Japanese machine gun crew in China

 Japanese soldiers storming the city of Nanking

An accurate estimation of the death toll in the massacre has not been achieved because most of the Japanese military records on the killings were deliberately destroyed or kept secret shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945. The International Military Tribunal of the Far East estimates more than 200,000 casualties in the incident; China's official estimate is about 300,000 casualties, based on the evaluation of the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. Estimates from Japanese historians vary widely, in the vicinity of 40,000–200,000. Some historical revisionists even deny that a widespread, systematic massacre occurred at all, claiming that any deaths were either justified militarily, accidental or isolated incidents of unauthorized atrocities. These negationists claim that the characterization of the incident as a large-scale, systematic massacre was fabricated for the purpose of political propaganda

KMT (Kuomintang) soldiers fire away with a machine gun

 A Japanese tank in China. The Chinese people look on bemused at the invader.

 Japanese with the captured Chinese German made Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A tank

MORE ON THE Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A

The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German Panzerkampfwagen I (armored fighting vehicle mark I), abbreviated PzKpfw I. The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 (special purpose vehicle 101). Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production in 1934. Intended only as a training tank to introduce the concept of armored warfare to the German Army, the Panzer I saw combat in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in Poland, France, the Soviet Union and North Africa during the Second World War, and in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. 

Japanese with the captured Chinese Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A tank. It has Soviet DP-28 machine gun mounted on it.
Japanese with a destroyed Chinese T-26 tank. The Chinese Chiang Kai-shek regime bought arms from many countries, it seems

 Determined looking Chinese communist soldiers with a machine gun

 Chinese communist soldiers in 1945
 A Chinese machine-gunner with "Browning" M1928 (Polish modification of the American automatic rifle BAR) on duty in 1939. He wears a German helmet.
A Chinese soldier sits on the banks of River Salween in Burma. 1944.


“In a deep gorge on the upper Salween, foot-weary, battle-battered Chinese troops were finally backed up against the bridge, retreated across it while the Japs from the other side rained down fire on them. The Chinese left their dead behind them, blew up the bridge, and crawled up the winding road to the heights on the China side. 

Across from them the Jap's guns bayed at the scent of tired game. The Chinese had been beaten and battered beyond human endurance. One of them broke. Before his troops a general killed himself. The men wavered, looked toward the rear. 

To the front dashed Lung Yun (the Cloud Dragon), Governor of Yunnan Province. With the dead general at his feet, he called on the little soldiers for another last stand. The Jap would soon cross the Salween. His rolling stock was already massing on the bluff. He would have to be stopped. It would be hard. Every beaten soldier there knew that the Japs across the Salween were from the crack Red Dragon armored division. 

As he spoke his soldiers suddenly turned away, looked at the sky. The Governor stopped talking, for he heard the noise, too —the steady, humming throb of aircraft engines. It grew into thunder. Six American P-405 whipped across the bluff. The A.V.G.s were on the job. 

They bellowed across the gorge, swung into column and dived on the Jap. Their 50-caliber slugs tore into the gasoline drums on the trucks, sent them blazing. Their bombs uprooted lorries and tanks, and rolled them down the precipice. The Jap broke, dashed for the bushes, ran into patrols of cheering Chinese who had been left behind at the river crossing. 

On the China side the dead general lay where he had fallen. His men, shouting their war cries, hurried down to the river and sniped at the Jap as he ran. Down the road into Burma fled the Red Dragon, broken, bereft of his trucks and equipment. Six American youngsters and the Cloud Dragon had saved a bitter day.

Source: Wikipedia

 Nationalist Chinese soldiers on American made-M3 Stuart tanks

 Chinese soldiers with a German made MG 08 machine gun. The nationalist Chinese soldiers wore the German Stahlhelm helmets
Nationalist Chinese soldiers ready the searchlight in anticipation of Japanese bombers in Chungking in 1939

 The Japanese are in Nanjing (Nanking)

 The Japanese examine captured Chinese aircraft

 A Japanese soldiers talks to very young Chinese boy soldiers

 Japanese soldiers with a suspected Chinese saboteur. Manchuria. early 1930s.

 Japanese soldiers with a guard dog. Manchuria. early 1930s

1944.Burma. Nationalist Chinese soldiers with American made M3A3 Stuart tanks. The KMT regime got 100 such tanks from America under the lend-lease agreement

 The Japanese have captured these Chinese communist fighters

 In Manchuria. Japanese with captive Chinese

 Nationalist Chinese soldiers with a British officer in Shanghai, 1937, as the fighting was going on.

 Girl soldier in the Chinese army fighting the Japanese

 Women soldiers in the Chinese army

 Chinese soldiers with their gun

 Chinese artillery men

 Chinese soldiers in a German Sturm boat
 Waiting for the Japanese. The Chinese soldier in the foreground has a Mauser pistol with a rifle butt

 Chinese soldiers with a machine gun

 Chinese soldier with their smart German Stahlhelm helmets.

 A Japanese officer interrogates morose-looking captured Chinese soldiers

 Chinese people with the conquerors. Japanese marines.

 Bright looking Chinese pilots

 Captured Chinese soldiers in 1937

 Determined Chinese soldiers strike a defiant pose in 1930

 Grinning Japanese soldiers make Chinese POW pull a broken-down motor-cycle. The Japs had a feeling that they were superior to others.

 A Japanese army officer makes two Chinese men carry him. A sense of superiority? The Chinese men do not seem to mind it much. The one behind is grinning.

 Japanese with captured Chinese guerrilla fighters

 Japanese soldiers in a Chinese village. They seem highly amused seeing the Chinese artifact

 The conquerors. Japanese soldiers in China

 Defiant KMT soldiers in 1938. They are wearing British style helmets now!

Chinese POW

Chinese people made to kneel as Japanese soldiers pass. Such humiliation! The friction still remains to this day between the countries. The Japanese did not behave very nicely when it invaded China between 1932-45.

A Japanese soldier looks on sanguinely at bodies of Chinese civilians massacred by the Japanese soldiers

 A Chinese KMT soldier

Chinese soldiers in 1945. The Japanese were almost close to defeat but the real threat was from the Chinese communists led by Mao
General Chiang Kai-shek. Dictator of China till 1949 and founder of Taiwan

 General Chiang Kai-shek inspects his troops

A Japanese fighter aboard a aircraft carrier in 1939. The aircraft is a A5M4. The carrier is "Soryu"

Japanese soldiers kill Chinese people. In total, during the war in the Far East the Japanese deliberately killed between 15 and 20 million civilians and prisoners of war.

Late 1930s. A Japanese soldier catches up with the latest news in China.

Japanese soldiers with a broken statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the father of modern China.

 Grinning Japanese soldiers in China. 1939. They carry guns stolen from the Chinese army. For those interested they are Czech ZB 26/30 and Belgian FN1928 (based on the American BAR)

An injured Japanese soldier in Shanghai. 1932

Japanese medics tending to the wounded soldiers. Shanghai. 1932

 A Chinese soldier guards over a captured Indian soldier fighting for the Japanese.

 Chinese soldiers, look like communist, douse a fire which broke out in a Chinese city after a Japanese bombardment

 A Chinese soldier guards over American P 40 fighters

 Chinese soldiers. July 11, 1940. Somewhere in China

 Japanese soldiers in a Chinese city

 Earlier in 1939, Imperial Japanese army and naval units continued to attack and push forward into China and Mongolia. Here Japanese soldiers advance inland over the beach after landing at Swatow (Shantou), one of the remaining South China coast ports still under Chinese control at that time, on July 10, 1939. After a short engagement with the Chinese defenders the Japanese entered the city without encountering much further opposition.

 June 30, 1941. A Japanese tank I-Go (Type 89) crosses a wooden bridge in China. The Type 89 medium tank I-Go was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1932 to 1942 in combat operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Khalkhin Gol against the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War.

A Jpanese Mitsubishi K21 bomber drops bombs over the Chinese city of Chongqing

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Points To Ponder


It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito