China lost over half of its territory to Japan since the outbreak of the Total War of Resistance, including north, east, central, and most parts in south China. The government made Chongqing (重慶) its temporary capital and established a rear area in the southwest. Although the whole country, especially Chongqing, was being heavily bombarded by the Japanese Air Force, the Chinese people rose against the enemy. Numerous youth joined the army on the front line and war songs, such as March of the Volunteers (also known as Volunteers Marching On) and Yellow River Cantata, could be heard nationwide. Soldiers and civilians conducted tunnel fights in the enemy’s rear area. Armed work teams and railway guerrillas were also formed.
Compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao and overseas Chinese also contributed to the resistance against Japan. In 1938, Soong Ching-ling (宋慶齡) founded the China Defence League in Hong Kong. Civilians from Mainland China took refuge in Hong Kong and the city took them in with open arms and raised funds for the war. Macao was a neutral territory but its people made generous contributions and formed over 30 relief societies to support the war. Thousands of overseas Chinese also supported the motherland in desperate salvation and more than half of the eight million overseas Chinese donated money. During the Eight Years’ Total War of Resistance, their donations exceeded 1.3 billion yuan (in the currency of the Republican era). Tan Kah Kee (陳嘉庚), a community leader of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, advocated that only traitors would attempt to negotiate with the Japanese before its withdrawal from Chinese territory, which manifested his strong resolution to resist.
During the war, the Nationalist government moved westward to Chongqing and made the city its temporary capital. The Japanese air bombed the city many times, killing an incalculable number of civilians, but the people remained strong-willed. Left: Japanese planes bombarded Chongqing on the night of 5 June 1941. Civilians swarmed Jiaochangkou Tunnel (較場口大隧道) air-raid shelter, resulting in 151 wounded and 992 tragically died of suffocation. Right: air-raid wardens, scouts, Red Cross staff, stretcher parties, and other forces working in concert after the bombings.
Members of the youth army in training. In October 1944, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) called upon educated youth to volunteer for military service, rallying with the slogan “An inch of blood for an inch of territory, a hundred thousand youth for a hundred thousand troops.” The call received an enthusiastic response.
Soldiers and civilians alike fought the Japanese in the enemy’s rear area in North China. Left: women in central Hebei Province (河北) digging tunnels for guerrilla soldiers to use in tunnel warfare. Right: railway guerrillas blowing Japanese trains on South Shandong Railway (魯南鐵道) .
Workers building airport runway. Without road rollers and other engineering vehicles, the workers could only flatten the runways by pulling heavy stone rollers over them, which was incredibly hard work. The airports, roads, and other strategic infrastructure built by Chinese workers were crucial in the War of Resistance.
Children participating in charity sales to fund the war.
Hong Kong and Macao offered unreserved support for the War of Resistance. Left: the venue of a charity sale. Soong Ching-ling organised charity sales in Hong Kong before Japan invaded the city. Right: local industrial and commercial groups formed Macao All Circles Disaster Relief Society to support national resistance.
Overseas Chinese were eager to enlist in the army. The photo shows the Overseas Chinese Volunteer Army. Moreover, three-quarters of the pilots in China’s air force were overseas Chinese.
In March 1940, overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia returned following Tan Kah Kee (fourth from the right in the front row), bringing supplies to Chinese soldiers. They received a warm welcome in Chongqing.
After the war broke out, overseas Chinese in the United States holding a fundraising event for their motherland in Chinatown, New York.
Left: war anthem March of the Volunteers. Right: in April 1939, Xian Xinghai (冼星海) conducting a rehearsal of Yellow River Cantata in Yan’an (延安), the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (中國共產黨). March of the Volunteers and Yellow River Cantata have since then been sung by generations.
Source of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe and misc. photo sources.