In the fall and winter of 1940, the 8th Route Army led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, 中國共產黨) initiated a large-scale campaign against Japan in its rear area in North China. The campaign became known as the “Hundred Regiments Offensive” for the 105 regiments employed in the fighting.
On 8 August 1940, the headquarters of the 8th Route Army led by Zhu De (朱德), Peng Dehuai (彭德懷), and Zuo Quan (左權), ordered to launch a campaign deploying dozens of regiments to destroy the railway lines and military bases along those lines occupied by the enemy in provinces including Hebei (河北), Shanxi (山西), Suiyuan (綏遠), Chahar (察哈爾), and Rehe (熱河) in North China. The 8th Route Army augmented the manpower from initially 20-odd regiments to more than a hundred comprising around 400,000 soldiers since the fighting broke out on 20 August. The fighting was completed by 6 October, but skirmishes continued until the end of the year. The 8th Route Army engaged in over 1,820 battles of varying scales in the campaign, suffering 17,000 casualties and over 20,000 were poisoned. It also inflicted over 20,000 casualties on the Japanese Army and the Collaborationist Chinese Army, dealing a massive blow to the enemy.
After the conclusion of the Hundred Regiments Offensive, Okamura Yasuji, the Commander-in-Chief of the North China Area Army, issued the “Three Alls Policy” - to kill all, burn all, loot all - to “wipe out” bases of operations in the enemy’s rear area in North China. The Chinese forces, meanwhile, frequently engaged in tunnel warfare and land mine warfare, organising armed forces in the enemy’s rear area and guerrilla attacks along railways.
During the Total War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, conflicts such as the New Fourth Army Incident occurred in early 1941 between the Kuomintang of China (KMT, 中國國民黨) and the CCP, they still largely maintained their alliance against Japanese invasion.
Peng Dehuai, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the 8th Route Army (left). Zuo Quan, the Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the 8th Route Army (right). They were the key leaders of the Hundred Regiments Offensive.
The Hundred Regiments Offensive began on 20 August 1940. The photo shows the 8th Route Army in August 1940 assaulting the Jingxing Coal Mine (井陘煤礦), which at that time was controlled by the Japanese Army. Coal was an important economic and military resource. The destruction of Jingxing Coal Mine dealt a blow to the Japanese Army.
The 8th Route Army soldiers participating in the Hundred Regiments Offensive firing a machine gun at the Japanese forces.
During the Hundred Regiments Offensive, the 8th Route Army capturing the Niangzi Pass (娘子關), a key transportation hub between Shanxi and Hebei.
During the Hundred Regiments Offensive, the 8th Route Army destroying railways to cut off Japan’s transportation lines.
Two photos of the Hundred Regiments Offensive. Left: after the 386th Brigade of the 8th Route Army broke through the city wall of Yushe (榆社) of Shanxi, the Brigade Commander Cheng Geng (陳賡, the one with a camera hanging from his shoulder) and the Chief of Staff Zhou Xihan (周希漢, the one at the front wearing an overcoat) visiting the battlefront to evaluate the campaign result. Right: the 8th Route Army soldiers cheering from a beacon tower on the Great Wall after capturing Dongtuanbao (東團堡), a stronghold in Hebei’s Laiyuan County (淶源).
After the Hundred Regiments Offensive, the Japanese Army conducted a scorched-earth campaign across North China and instituted the “Three Alls Policy” - to kill all, burn all, and loot all. The photo shows the Japanese Army burning villages.
After the Hundred Regiments Offensive, incalculable numbers of civilians died as a result of the Japanese scorched-earth campaign and the “Three Alls Policy” in North China.
After the Hundred Regiments Offensive, the 8th Route Army continued to attack the Japanese Army from the enemy’s rear area.
Even during the War of Resistance, the KMT-CCP cooperation was not without conflicts, the largest of which being the New Fourth Army Incident or South Anhui Incident (皖南事變) from 4 to 14 January 1941. During this incident, the NRA attacked the CCP-led New Fourth Army. It dealt a heavy blow on the New Fourth Army, with its commander Ye Ting (葉挺) captured, and the deputy commander Xiang Ying (項英) killed. Chen Yi (陳毅) then assumed the role as acting commander. Although the incident brought tensions to the two parties, they managed to sustain the cooperation till the victory of the War of Resistance. Left : the New Fourth Army during the South Anhui Incident in early January 1941. Right: A hand-written epigraph by Zhou Enlai (周恩來) was published on Xinhua Daily (《新華日報》) in Chongqing (重慶) after the South Anhui Incident occurred on 17 January 1941. It reads, “An historical injustice, a leaf in Jiangnan (江南). Weapons are wielded at family members. What good does infighting accomplish?” The “leaf” here refers to Commander Ye Ting (in Chinese, the surname Ye can also mean leaf).
Source of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe.