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Japanese Atrocities Marked Fall of Nanking After Chinese Command Fled
Nanking Invaders Executed 20,000
Mass Killings by the Japanese Embraced Civilians – Total of Chinese Dead Was 33,000
The CONQUERORS RAN WILD
Deep-Rooted Hatred Instilled by Barbarities – Burning by Chinese Caused Vast Loss
By F. Tillman Durdin
SHANGHAI, Dec. 22. – The battle of Nanking will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most tragic episodes in modern military annals.
In defending the city as they did – against all the dictates of modern military strategy – the Chinese allowed themselves to be trapped, surrounded and wiped out to the number of at least 33,000, about two-thirds of their army there. Of this number, it is estimated, about 20,000 were executed.
The siege as a whole was feudal and medieval in many aspects. The Chinese defense within a city wall, the wholesale Chinese burning of villages, mansions and populous business districts for miles around the metropolis and the slaughter, rape and looting by the Japanese after their occupation of the city all seem to belong to a more barbaric, vanished period.
In losing Nanking the Chinese lost more than the capital of their country. Their army lost invaluable morale and thousands of men. Chinese forces who had fought a frontal battle against Japanese from Shanghai up through the lower Yangtze Valley were shattered, and it is doubtful if they can be rallied again for effective mass resistance against the Japanese military machine.
For the Japanese, the capture of Nanking was of paramount military and political importance. Their victory was marred, however, by barbaric cruelties, by the wholesale execution of prisoners, the looting of the city, rape, killing of civilians and by general vandalism, which will remain a blot on the reputation of the Japanese Army and nation.
City Vulnerable Geographically
To understand the indefensibility of Nanking it is necessary to note that the city lies in a bend in the Yangtze at a point where the river turns from a northward course and flows east. It can easily be seen that a defending force occupying only the area within the city walls and the immediate suburbs could be surrounded on three sides by an attacking force gaining possession of the right bank of the river both above and below the city.
Knowing the concentrated attacking power of the Japanese, the Chinese military leaders should have realized the ability of the invaders to do this, as, indeed, they did, by breaking through and capturing Wuhu and points between Wuhu and Nanking fully three days before they entered the walls of the former capital. Having advanced in the first place along the right bank of the Yangtze above Nanking, the Japanese, after having taken Wuhu, were able to press in upon Nanking along a semicircular front converging upon the city at all points except from the Yangtze river side.
It might be argued that the Chinese could have relied upon exit in case of need through the waterfront district and across the Yangtze. Into this waterfront, or Hsiakwan, section, the Hsiakwan gate gives access. Reliance upon the Yangtze outlet was unwise primarily because of the likelihood that the Japanese fleet – despite the booms intended to bar its passage below Nanking – would eventually in the course of the siege by the Japanese Army arrive off Hsiakwan and make escape by the Chinese over to the left bank of the river impossible.
No Retreat Was Contemplated
It is evident that the Chinese command never contemplated that any but a few thousand of the defending Nanking troops could evacuate across the river. The absence of all means of conveyance across the river except a few junks and steam launches throughout the siege period was proof of this.
Indeed, the conclusion is inescapable that statements of Defense Commander Tang Sheng-chi and division commanders subordinate to him – made before the siege – that no Chinese withdrawal was ever contemplated were sincerely meant and were expressions of the real intentions of the Chinese command.
In other words, the Chinese command, fully realizing the practical certainty that the Chinese Army would be completely surrounded in the walled city of Nanking – trapped like rats while Japanese land and naval artillery and airplanes would be in a position to pound them to pieces – chose voluntarily to place themselves in just such a situation, apparently with the intention of making the capture of the city as costly to the Japanese as possible in a final heroic gesture of the kind so dear to the Chinese heart.
The disgraceful part of the whole business is that the Chinese command proved lacking in the courage needed to carry through their oft-announced and apparent intentions. When Japanese troops had succeeded in breaking over the southwestern wall and while the Hsiakwan back door was still open, though threatened by a rapidly encircling Japanese Army and the approaching fleet, General Tang and a few close associates fled, leaving subordinate commanders and well-nigh leaderless troops to the mercy of a hopeless situation, which probably had never been explained to them in the first place.
Officers Were Uninformed
Tang Sheng-chi made his getaway at 8 o’clock Sunday evening, Dec. 12, doubtless by boat to the left bank of the Yangtze. Many officers of his own headquarters staff were uninformed of his intentions, and this writer knows of one captain who, learning near midnight that his chief had departed, himself tried to get away, only to discover the advance of the Japanese Army had by then swept around the city walls from the west and was taking over the Hsiakwan district. The captain, utilizing ropes made from uniforms left by Chinese soldiers who had climbed the wall from the inside, made his way back into the city to seek safety in ultimate surrender.
But the hopelessness of the Chinese strategic position in trying to defend Nanking can best be shown by details of the siege itself and of the occupation of the city.
After having captured the Kiangyin forts and taken Changchow, the Japanese advanced their entire Yangtze Valley line from Wuhsing northward to the Yangtze River with dramatic rapidity and within a few days had taken Kwangteh on the south, skirted Chinkiang on the north and, after having occupied Tanyang, were attacking the so-called outer defenses of Nanking near Kuyung.
The Kuyung defense line as well as seven others radiating from Nanking, each a few miles from the other, in concentric circles symmetrical with the city wall had been for months declared to be heavily fortified and well-prepared. As a matter of fact, permanent defenses through Kuyung, which is about twenty-five miles from Nanking, were superficial, consisting only of occasional pillboxes, so far as could be ascertained by neutral foreign visitors who inspected the fortifications.
Other defenses were hastily erected in the form of barricades made of bed frames supporting piles of bags, debris of amazing variety and loose dirt. In addition, machine-gun emplacements were put up and the roads and bridges dynamited as the Chinese troops retreated.
Cantonese Troops Decimated
Opposed to the Japanese forces as they closed in on Nanking were a number of Cantonese divisions, a few Kwangsi troops, some Hunanese and – within the city itself – the Thirty-sixth and the Eighty-eighth Divisions and a number of other so-called Nanking divisions. The Cantonese troops had been decimated by weeks of shelling as they retreated before the Japanese from around Shanghai.
The Thirty-sixth and Eighty-eighth Divisions, former crack troops of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, had been badly shattered around Shanghai. Withdrawn to Nanking, they had been replenished with raw recruits. Szechwan troops who had been in the forefront of resistance to the Japanese advance between Soochow and Kuyung were mostly withdrawn toward Wuhu and from there across the Yangtze and they did not participate in the battle for the former capital.
It is difficult to say just what the strength of the Chinese Army in and around Nanking was. Some observers estimated that there were as many as sixteen divisions participating in the battle for the city. This could be true. Chinese divisions even in normal times have an average of only 5,000 men; the battered divisions that defended Nanking were, possibly, at least in some cases, composed of only 2,000 or 3,000 men each. It is fairly safe to say that some 50,000 troops took part – and were trapped – in the defense of Nanking.
Kuyung fell to the Japanese on the night of Monday, Dec. 6. The Japanese then launched drives toward the Nanking walls from three directions. From Kuyung a column deployed northward through Mentang and attacked Tangliuchen; from Lihsui another column attacked Molingkwan, and from Tienwangze a central column drove on Chenchuachen.
Orgy of Burning by Chinese
The advance of the Japanese beyond Kuyung was the signal for an orgy of burning by Chinese troops, apparently as a part of last-minute preparations for resistance around the city walls.
From Tangshan – China’s “West Point,” where are situated the artillery school, the infantry school and General Chiang’s provisional Summer headquarters – on across fifteen miles of countryside into Nanking almost every building was set afire. Whole villages were burned. Barracks, mansions in Mausoleum Park, the modern chemical warfare school, the agricultural research experimental laboratories, the police training school and dozens of other institutions were reduced to ruins. The torch was applied to districts around the South Gate and in Hsiakwan, which were in reality small cities in themselves.
Calculated Chinese military incendiarism accounted for destruction of property easily worth $20,000,000 to $30,000,000, more destruction than had been wrought by Japanese air bombardment of Nanking for the months warfare preceding the Nanking siege, but equaled, probably, by the damage caused by Japanese explosives during the actual siege and by Japanese troops after the occupation of the city.
Chinese military leaders usually explained the wholesale burning around the city as dictated by military necessity. It was said to be essential to destroy all obstructions, all shelters, all facilities that might be utilized by the Japanese in the final struggle around the city walls. To this end not only buildings but trees, bamboo groves and underbrush were cleared away.
Neutral observers believe the burning was to a great extent another Chinese “grand gesture,” an outlet for rage and frustration, the result of a desire to destroy everything that the Chinese were to lose and that might be used by the Japanese, a manifestation of the extremist “scorched earth” policy, which calls for leaving the Chinese districts to be occupied by the Japanese only blackened wastes of no use to the conquerors.
At any rate, neutral military observers agree the Chinese burning served little military purpose. In many cases, charred walls were left standing that furnished almost as good shelter for Japanese machine-gunners as the unburned buildings would have provided.
Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 6 and 7, the Japanese spent in pressing forward their advance to Tungliuchen, Chenhuachen and Molingkwan and consolidating on their left flank by occupying Chinkiang, where the Chinese also indulged in an orgy of burning before evacuating. Meanwhile, the Japanese right flank had broken through Chinese resistance around Kwangteh and pushed rapidly on Wuhu, which was occupied on Thursday and Friday.
Wednesday at dawn Generalissimo Chiang, his wife and close associates left the city by two of the general’s private planes for Hengshan, near Changsha in Hunan. The commander in chief’s departure was a virtual admission that the siege of the city had begun. Coincident with his departure the few government civil officials and military leaders not directly connected with the defense army also left by motor care. From Wednesday onward General Tang Sheng-chi was the supreme authority in Nanking.
On Wednesday Japanese airplanes rained bombs on Chinese positions at the little village of Chenhauchen and that night Japanese troops occupied the place. Chengauchen is only six miles from the Nanking wall.
Chinese troops no doubt bitterly contested the Japanese advance from Kuyung and Lishui. But defense works were inadequate and the Chinese equipment made a resolute stand impossible. Japanese planes were able to spot and bomb Chinese troops at will and report their positions to field batteries. Tanks and armored cars led the Japanese advance, and against these, Chinese machine-guns and Mauser pistols were of no avail.
Artillery of Little Value
What artillery the Chinese had was of little use because the gunners did not know the positions of the enemy. Chinese airplanes ceased to participate in the Nanking battle days before the Japanese laid siege to the city. Consequently, there were no observers for the Chinese Army, which fought its battle “blind” and which was ignorant of the positions of the invading forces until enemy troops were actually encountered.
With no position reports on the Japanese, most of the expensive fort guns placed by the Chinese on Lion Hill near Hsiakwan, on Purple Mountain, outside the South Gate and on hills near Taikoo Shan inside the walls were of little use to the defenders. Once they opened up they were soon shelled into silence by the Japanese.
Terror seized the city on Thursday as the Japanese started pushing toward the wall from Chenhauchen. Rimmed in smoke from the hundreds of fires raging around the walls at all points on the compass, the safety zone packed with refugees, the streets jammed with soldiers, the iron discipline of frontline martial law ruling all sectors outside the safety zone, Japanese planes carrying out day-long bombing operations in the outlying districts and streams of mangled wounded pouring into the city, Nanking indeed presented an appearance of awesome frightfulness.
Advised by the Chinese authorities that the situation had worsened, the rear guard of foreign diplomatic officials, including George Atcheson Jr., senior second secretary in charge of the United States Embassy; J. Hall Paxton, second secretary assisting him, and Captain Frank Roberts, assistant military attaché Thursday evening vacated quarters ashore and took refuge on boats off Hsiakwan. The Americans boarded the United States gunboat Panay.
Japanese Aided by Spies
Thursday night the Japanese forces at Chenhuachen suddenly pushed in to the very walls of the city. Learning through spies that the Chinese garrison at the Tachiaochang military airdrome was being changed, the Japanese rushed up and captured the airfield and the surrounding barracks before midnight. They were even able to threaten entry of Kwanghua Men (Gate), outside of which the airdrome is situated, but Chinese defenders rallied in time and beat off the attempt.
Later, Chinese plainclothes men set fire to the Tachiaochang barracks and the Japanese suffered a general repulse in the ensuing conflagration, but their advance was not to be denied and by mid-morning on Friday they were threatening not only Kwanghua Men but had also maneuvered advance units to within striking distance of nearby Tungchi Men and the more distant South Gate, or Chunghua Men, which is the city’s biggest gate.
On Friday artillery was brought up and it began pounding at the city gates while airplanes bombed these massive structures and unloaded explosives among Chinese troop concentrations all around the city walls.
Foreign diplomatic representatives came ashore for a short time on Friday, but after another warning from Chinese authorities returned to their ships at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter Japanese planes raiding Pukow, on the left bank of the Yangtze, dropped bombs in the river only 200 yards from the Panay. Lieut. Commander J. J. Hughes soon thereafter moved the ship a mile up-river to San Cha Ho.
At San Cha Ho, the Panay on Friday and until Saturday afternoon remained in touch with Americans staying inside the walls by means of a telephone ashore at the British Asiatic Petroleum Company installation, but on Saturday afternoon the position at San Cha Ho became untenable because of Japanese long-range shelling of Chinese positions nearby. The Panay left Nanking, with her load of diplomatic and civilian refugees, never to return.
The ship was attacked the next day by the Japanese with results that have since resounded round the world.
Meanwhile, by Friday it could definitely be said that the Japanese had laid siege to the ancient battlements of Nanking.
Chinese Still Held Out
Many Chinese troops on Friday and the following day were still holding out for miles around the walls to the east and southeast of the city. Sometimes surrounded on hills, they sold their lives dearly as Japanese swarmed in to conduct mopping-up operations. The Mausoleum Park area was the scene of bitter machine-gun encounters. Most of the Chinese forces, however, by late Friday had been withdrawn into the walled city.
A week before the siege the Chinese had completed a thorough barricading of all the gates, completely closing some and leaving only a narrow passage way through the most important. The gates were backed up inside by layers of sandbags twenty feet thick, and concrete had been added.
The writer had no opportunity – after the siege – to inspect all the gates bombarded by the Japanese, but the Chungshan Gate and the South Gate showed no signs of having been breached by Japanese shelling, and the Chinese barricading gave every evidence of having provided its efficacy.
The Japanese first entered the walls of Nanking not through any of gates but over the walls by means of scaling ladders.
After the Japanese had reached the walls Thursday night the intramural area took on all the appearance of a battlefield. The Chinese rushed building of street barricades through the city, and barbed wire bristled at almost every intersection. Meanwhile, the burning continued in the suburban areas still unoccupied by the Japanese, particularly in Hsiakwan.
The Japanese settled down to intensive attack on Saturday. Having brought up heavy artillery, they began shelling many areas within the walls. Shells fell at many points within the safety zone. Many civilians were killed by missiles landing in front of and behind the Foochong Hotel on Chungshan Road. Others struck on Wu Tai Shan near the American mission Nanking Theological Seminary. The shelling in the safety zone, however, did not appear to be intentional nor consistent and possibly was done when newly placed guns were finding their range.
Bitter Machine-Gun Duels
Saturday was marked by intensive conflict. Rival forces engaged in savage machine-gun engagements all around the walls, the Chinese firing from the top of the battlements and in many cases still contesting the Japanese just outside the walls. The Japanese intensified their artillery attack, directing their fire in particular against heavy Chinese troop concentrations just inside the South Gate and against Chinese batteries on hills with the city.
The Japanese also began an extensive use of shrapnel, spraying districts held by Chinese troops with high bursts of shot. Planes continued their bombardment of Chinese positions.
Gradually, the Japanese troops pushed their way around the walls so that by Saturday night they were attacking the West Gate, or Han His Men, and threatening Hoping Men, or the main North Gate.
A certain feeling of hysteria was becoming noticeable among the Chinese defenders. Apparently the realization was becoming general that the majority were trapped and must die. The writer noted one little squad, which had just completed erection of a street-corner barricade, solemnly gathered in a semicircle taking an oath to die in defense of their position.
Looting of the shops of the city by the Chinese troops also became general on Saturday. There was no molestation of homes, and the destruction was only such as was necessary to effect entry into buildings. Apparently the object of the looting was food and other supplies. The Nanking shops, deserted by the proprietors except in the safety zone, were still well stocked with food.
The Japanese continued intensive shelling on Sunday morning, and the district just inside the walls between the West Gate and the South Gate became the object of a barrage. A deterioration of the Chinese defense was noticeable. Officers with whom foreigners came into contact admitted a growing apprehension, and a falling off in discipline was apparent.
The Japanese broke over the walls for the first time shortly after noon on Sunday, after having guilt temporary bridges across the moat. They operated behind a heavy artillery barrage and scaled the walls not far from Han His Men.
Chinese troops in the vicinity bolted and came streaming through the city and across the safety zone. Units of the Eighty-eighth Division tried to stop them but were unsuccessful.
Soon a general retreat toward the Hsiakwan Gate was in progress. For a time it was an orderly one. Certain contingents continued to give battle at the walls and succeeded in staving off Japanese occupation of any considerable area within the city until Monday morning.
By late afternoon terrific congestion had developed as thousands of Chinese soldiers attempted to crowd through a single narrow opening in Hsiakwan Gate. Panic seized the men as they fought to get through. Hundreds tied their clothing together and made ropes for scaling the wall. At 8 p.m., General Tang secretly fled the city; other high commanders likewise left.
By dusk the Chinese retreat had become a rout. The Chinese collapse was complete. Leaderless and ignorant of what was happening, the Chinese troops could only realize that the fight was over and try to save themselves.
Foreigners within the city had feared that the Chinese collapse would be accompanied by excesses of all kinds committed by trapped and defeated Chinese soldiers, but nothing but isolated incendiarism occurred. The Chinese troops were pathetically docile.
Shed Uniforms and Arms
Sunday evening they appeared all over the safety zone and thousands began shedding their uniforms. Civilian clothes were stolen or begged from passing civilians, and when no “civvies” could be found the soldiers nevertheless discarded army garb and wore only their underclothing.
Arms were discarded along with uniforms, and the streets became covered with guns, grenades, swords, knapsacks, coats, shoes and helmets. The amount of military equipment abandoned near Hsiakwan Gate was appalling. In front of the Ministry of Communications and for two blocks further on, trucks, artillery, busses, staff cars, wagons, machine-guns and small arms became piled up as in a junk yard. At midnight the $2,000,000 building, the finest in the city, was set afire, and munitions stored inside exploded for hours in a spectacular display.
The dump outside also caught fire and burned far into the next day. Horses drawing artillery wagons were caught in the blaze, and their screaming added to the frightfulness of the scene. The holocaust blocked Chungshan Road, the main artery to the Hsiakwan Gate, and added to the congestion along side streets.
Doubtless some thousands of the Chinese troops were able to get into Hsiakwan and utilize the few junks and launches off the Bund to cross the Yangtze. Many were drowned in periods of panic at the riverbank.
But some time Monday Japanese troops took over the Hsiakwan area and completed their encirclement of the city walls. The Chinese left inside were completely hemmed in. Troops caught in the Hsiakwan district were systematically wiped out.
Mass Surrenders by Chinese
Throughout Monday certain Chinese units continued to give battle to the Japanese in the eastern part of the city and in the northwestern districts. But the majority of trapped Chinese soldiers had no fight left in them. Thousands presented themselves to the foreign Safety Zone Committee and turned in their arms; the committee had no alternative but to accept their surrender, believing, at the time, that the Japanese would treat the captives generously. Many bands of Chinese troops surrendered to individual foreigners and pleaded like children to be protected.
By late Monday the Japanese had taken over the southern, southeastern and western districts of the city after only isolated skirmishes. By Tuesday noon all Chinese soldiers still armed and resisting had been eliminated and the Japanese were in complete control of the city.
In taking over Nanking the Japanese indulged in slaughters, looting and rapine exceeding in barbarity any atrocities committed up to that time in the course of the Sino-Japanese hostilities. The unrestrained cruelties of the Japanese are to be compared only with the vandalism in the Dark Age in Europe or the brutalities of medieval Asiatic conquerors.
The helpless Chinese troops, disarmed for the most part and ready to surrender, were systematically rounded up and executed. Thousands who had turned themselves over to the Safety Zone Committee and been placed in refugee centers were methodically weeded out and marched away, their hands tied behind them, to execution grounds outside the city gates.
Small bands who had sought refuge in dugouts were routed out and shot or stabbed at the entrance to the bomb shelters. Their bodies were then shoved into the dugouts and buried. Tank guns were sometimes turned on groups of bound soldiers. Most generally the executions were by shooting with pistols.
Every able-bodied male in Nanking was suspected by the Japanese of being a soldier. An attempt was made by inspecting shoulders for knapsack and rifle butt marks to single out the soldiers from the innocent males, but in many cases, of course, men innocent of any military connection were put in the executed squads. In other cases, too, former soldiers were passed over and escaped.
The Japanese themselves announced that during the first three days of cleaning up Nanking 15,000 Chinese soldiers were rounded up. At that time, it was contended that 25,000 more were still hiding out in the city.
These figures give an accurate indication of the number of Chinese troops trapped within the Nanking walls. Probably the Japanese figure of 25,000 is exaggerated, but it is likely that about 20,000 Chinese soldiers fell victim to Japanese executioners.
Civilians of both sexes and all ages were also shot by the Japanese. Firemen and policemen were frequent victims of the Japanese. Any person who, through excitement or fear, ran at the approach of the Japanese soldiers was in danger of being shot down. Tours of the city by foreigners during the period when the Japanese were consolidating their control of the city revealed daily fresh civilian dead. Often old men were to be seen face downward on the pavements, apparently shot in the back at the whim of some Japanese soldiers.
Wholesale looting was one of the major crimes of the Japanese occupation. Once a district was in their full control, Japanese soldiers received free rein to loot all houses therein. Food seemed to be the first demand, but all articles of value were taken at will, particularly things easily carried. Occupants of homes were robbed and any who resisted were shot.
Foreign Properties Looted
Refugee camps were entered and in many cases the few dollars of unfortunate refugees were taken. Houses that were barricaded were broken into. Foreign properties were not immune. Japanese soldiers entered faculty houses of the American mission Ginling College and took what they pleased.
The American mission university Hospital was searched and belongings of nurses taken from the dormitory. Foreign flags were torn from buildings and at least three motorcars were taken from foreigners. The home of the Untied States Ambassador, Nelson T. Johnson, was entered, but the five intruding Japanese soldiers were made to leave before they gad obtained any loot except a flashlight.
Chinese women were freely molested by Japanese soldiers, and American missionaries personally know of cases where many were taken from refugee camps and violated.
It should be said that certain Japanese units exercised restraint and certain Japanese officers tempered power with generosity and compassion. But the conduct of the Japanese Army as a whole in Nanking was a blot on the reputation of their country. Responsible high Japanese officers and diplomats who visited Nanking some days after the occupation admit all the excesses reported by foreigners who saw them. These Japanese explain the Nanking barbarities by saying that a section of the Japanese Army got out of hand and that the atrocities were being committed unknown to high command in Shanghai.
When the final collapse of the Chinese came in Nanking, so great was the feeling of relief among the populace and such was the bad impression created by the breakup of the Chinese municipal regime and the defense command that the people were ready to welcome the Japanese troops. Indeed, scattered bands of civilians actually cheered Japanese columns as they marched in from the South Gate and the West Gate.
But feelings of relief and of welcome soon gave up to terror when Japanese barbarities began. The Japanese might have gained a wide measure of support and confidence from the Nanking Chinese. Instead they drove deeper into the Chinese soul a hatred of Japan and set back to a distant future prospects for gaining the Chinese “cooperation” for which they profess to be fighting China.
An account of the siege of Nanking would not be complete without reference to the safety zone and the role of the foreigners who remained the city.
Not an unqualified success, the Nanking safety zone was nevertheless instrumental in saving thousands of civilian lives. It was the aim of its foreign promoters to obtain its complete demilitarization and have its neutrality respected throughout the siege. Full demilitarization was never attained and during the last days of the battle for Nanking Chinese soldiers streamed through the area. When the Japanese entered the city they also entered the zone freely.
However, the Japanese never subjected the zone to concentrated shelling or air bombardment, and as a result civilians who took refuge there were comparatively safe. It is estimated that 100,000 had sought sanctuary in the zone, which occupied an area of three or four square miles in the western district of the city.
The head of the safety zone committee was John H. D. Rabe, a white-haired German respected by every one who knew him in Nanking. The director was George Fitch of Soochow, a China-born American who did an admirably competent job in a time of great danger and stress, a job that involved all the responsibilities that would be demanded in directing a small American city during a period of flood or other catastrophe.
The secretary of the committee was Dr. Lewis S. C. Smythe, Professor of Sociology at the University of Nanking, a man of much force and initiative. Prominent particularly in the negotiations for establishing the zone was Dr. M. Searle Bates, Professor of History at the university. Dr. Bates was in the forefront, too, of efforts to obtain an armistice at Nanking, during which it was planned to have Chinese troops withdraw and Japanese occupy the city peacefully.
Fifteen Americans, besides two American newspaper correspondents and one American newspaper photographer, remained in Nanking during the siege. Six Germans, one Briton and two Russians comprised the remainder of the foreign contingent who stayed for the siege.
From the time of the departure of the Panay on Saturday, Dec. 11, until contact had been made with the Japanese Fleet on Tuesday, Dec. 14, this little foreign group was without connection with the outside world, trapped like the Chinese troops within the Nanking walls. The city water supply had failed, there was no electricity, no telephones and many food staples were unobtainable.
All the foreigners of the city except the publicity contingent actively associated themselves with safety zone or war relief work. Managing the safety zone involved more than attempting to keep it demilitarized. Thousands of penniless refugees had to be fed and housed. Policing had to be attended to. Medical facilities had to be provided; even a skeleton banking service had to be set up.
The Rev. John Magee, Episcopalian missionary, headed a foreign committee that made heroic efforts to provide some care for the thousands of Chinese soldiers wounded during the siege.
Chinese Army facilities for treating wounded were extremely sketchy. There hospitals, but the number of doctors and nurses was hopelessly inadequate and many hospitals were restricted to men from certain divisions.
The Rev. Mr. Magee’s committee during the actual siege concentrated efforts on marshalling the medical resources of the city for the existing hospitals and on transporting wounded men to these institutions. They were unable to cope with the tremendous number of casualties, and the Chinese wounded to be seen everywhere on the streets of Nanking during the siege were one of the more appalling sights of the whole tragic spectacle. Injured men hobbled about, dragged themselves through alleyways, died by the hundreds on the main streets.
The American mission University Hospital operated throughout the battle, and an effort was made to keep it reserved for civilian casualties. However, a few soldiers were admitted. Two American doctors, Frank Wilson and C. S. Trimmer, and two American nurses, Grace Bauer and Iva Hynds, labored day and night with only a few Chinese helpers to care for the nearly 200 patients in their charge.
When the Japanese had occupied the city, the war wounded relief committee within a few minutes organized themselves as a chapter of the International Red Cross and took over the main hospital of the Chinese Army in the Foreign Ministry building. What transport could be marshaled was sent throughout the city to bring in wounded soldiers, and Chinese doctors and nurses still in the city were rallied to work at the institution.
The Japanese at first permitted free function of this hospital, but on Wednesday morning, Dec. 15, they barred foreign access to the place and would make no commitments as to the fate of the 500 Chinese soldiers within.
Nothing had come of the Safety Zone Committee’s efforts to arrange an armistice. General Chiang Kai-shek replied in only the most perfunctory manner to the committee’s truce proposal, the Japanese not at all. Representatives of General Tang made it clear that he was anxious for an armistice, and their attitude became one of almost frantic appeal for intervention as the outlook for the Chinese worsened. However, the collapse came before negotiations could progress to formulation of any program for Chinese withdrawal definite enough for submission to the Japanese.
In any case, after the Panay with her radio facilities had left, there were no means of communicating with the Japanese except by a visit to their lines, which would have been an exceedingly dangerous business.
Nanking knew practically nothing of the Japanese ultimatum to General Tang, and apparently the Chinese commander never replied.
Casualties Heavy on Both Sides
Casualties during the fighting for the city were no doubt heavy on both sides, with the Chinese taking the heaviest losses. Japanese casualties during the actual siege probably totaled 1,000, Chinese casualties 3,000 to 5,000, perhaps, more.
Many Chinese civilians who failed to leave the southern and southwestern sections of the city were killed, the total probably running as high as the total of military dead. This writer, visiting the South City after the Japanese had occupied the area, found sections of it almost demolished by Japanese shelling, and Chinese civilian dead were lying everywhere.
Just where the blame is to be put for the sorry military debacle that the defense of Nanking turned out to be for the Chinese is difficult to say.
The defense was carried out against the earnest exhortations of the German military advisers of the Chinese Army. Generalissimo Chiang’s chief of staff, General Pai Chunkg-hsi, was strongly against the defense. General Chiang himself at first was said to favor a stand at Nanking, pointing out the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on fortifying the city and the desirability of at least making a fight for the country’s capital.
It was generally reported that General Chiang was won over from this point of view: many of the best informed Nanking observers say that the defense was finally made because of the attitude of General Tang Sheng-chi and a number of other army leaders who insisted on such a course and who themselves offered to make the stand with the army in the city.
Certainly, General Chiang should not have permitted the blunder that occurred. Certainly, General Tang, too, is to be strongly censured for starting on a course of sacrifice that he failed to carry through or at best managed badly.
It may be that Tang made some efforts to save the situation on Sunday by arranging for a general withdrawal under protection of small units left to hold up Japanese penetration far into the city. Appearances indicate otherwise, and in any case the situation was not saved and Tang’s departure, unknown even to many members of his own staff, left the army leaderless and was the signal for complete collapse.
There was little glory for either side in the battle of Nanking.
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