National Revolutionary Army part 02



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Unit organization

The unit organisation of the NRA is as follows: (Note that a unit is not necessarily subordinate to one immediately above it; several army regiments can be found under an army group, for example.) The commander-in-chief of the NRA from 1925 to 1947 was Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

National Military Council

  • Military Region ×12 (戰區)
    • Army Corps ×4(兵團) - the Army Corps, 兵團, was one of the largest military formations in the NRA during the Second Sino-Japanese War. These Army Corps were composed of a number of Group Armies, Army, Corps, Divisions, Brigades and Regiments. In numbers of divisions, they were larger than Western Army groups. Only four were ever formed to command the large forces defending the Chinese capital during the Battle of Wuhan in 1938. (See Order of battle of Battle of Wuhan).
      • Army Group ×40 (集團軍 Group Army)
        • Route Army (路軍)
        • Field army ×30 (軍)
          • Corps ×133 (軍團 Army Group) - usually exercised command over two to three NRA Divisions and often a number of Independent Brigades or Regiments and supporting units. The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After losses in the early part of the war, under the 1938 reforms, the remaining scarce artillery and the other support formations were withdrawn from the Division and was held at Corps, or Army level or higher. The Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division.

Suicide squads

During the Xinhai Revolution and the Warlord Era of the Republic of China (1912–1949), "Dare to Die Corps" (traditional Chinese: 敢死隊; simplified Chinese: 敢死队; pinyin: gǎnsǐduì) or "Suicide squads" were frequently used by Chinese armies. China deployed these suicide units against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

"Dare to Die" troops were used by warlords in their armies to conduct suicide attacks. "Dare to Die" corps continued to be used in the Chinese military. The Kuomintang used one to put down an insurrection in Canton. Many women joined them in addition to men to achieve martyrdom against China's opponents.

A "dare to die corps" was effectively used against Japanese units at the Battle of Taierzhuang. They used swords.

Suicide bombing was also used against the Japanese. A Chinese soldier detonated a grenade vest and killed 20 Japanese soldiers at Sihang Warehouse. Chinese troops strapped explosives like grenade packs or dynamite to their bodies and threw themselves under Japanese tanks to blow them up. This tactic was used during the Battle of Shanghai, where a Chinese suicide bomber stopped a Japanese tank column by exploding himself beneath the lead tank, and at the Battle of Taierzhuang where dynamite and grenades were strapped on by Chinese troops who rushed at Japanese tanks and blew themselves up. In one incident at Taierzhuang, Chinese suicide bombers obliterated four Japanese tanks with grenade bundles.

Conscription

The military was formed through bloody and inhumane conscription campaigns . These are described by Rudolph Rummel as:

This was a deadly affair in which men were kidnapped for the army, rounded up indiscriminately by press-gangs or army units among those on the roads or in the towns and villages, or otherwise gathered together. Many men, some the very young and old, were killed resisting or trying to escape. Once collected, they would be roped or chained together and marched, with little food or water, long distances to camp. They often died or were killed along the way, sometimes less than 50 percent reaching camp alive. Then recruit camp was no better, with hospitals resembling Nazi concentration camps like Buchenwald.3 Probably 3,081,000 died during the Sino-Japanese War; likely another 1,131,000 during the Civil War--4,212,000 dead in total. Just during conscription.

Equipment

Chinese weapons were mainly produced for the National Revolutionary Army in the Hanyang, Guangdong and Taiyuan Arsenals.

For regular provincial Chinese divisions the standard rifles were the Hanyang 88 (copy of Gewehr 88). Central army divisions were typically equipped with the Chiang Kai-shek rifle (copy of Mauser Standard Model) and Czechoslovakian vz. 24. However, for most of the German-trained divisions, the standard firearms were German-made 7.92 mm Gewehr 98 and Karabiner 98k. The standard light machine gun was a local copy of the Czech 7.92 mm Brno ZB26. There were also Belgian and French light machine guns. Provincial units generally did not possess any machine guns, while Central Army units had one LMG per platoon on average. The German-trained divisions ideally had 1 LMG per squad. Surprisingly, the NRA did not purchase any Maschinengewehr 34s from Germany, but did produce its own copies of them. Heavy machine guns were mainly locally-made Type 24 water-cooled Maxim guns, which were the Chinese copies of the German MG08, and M1917 Browning machine guns chambered for the standard 8mm Mauser round. On average, every Central Army battalion would get one heavy machine gun (about a third to half of what actual German divisions got during World War II). The standard weapon for NCOs and officers was the 7.63 mm Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistol, or full-automatic Mauser M1932/M712 machine pistol. These full-automatic versions were used as substitutes for submachine guns (such as the MP 18) and rifles that were in short supply within the Chinese army prior to the end of World War II. Throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War, particularly in the early years, the NRA also extensively used captured Japanese weapons and equipment. as their own were in short supply. Some élite units also used Lend-Lease US equipment as the war progressed.

Major Chinese Arsenals:

Province Arsenal Name Chinese
Kwangtung Guangdong Arsenal 廣東兵工廠
Honan Kung Hsien Arsenal 鞏縣兵工廠
Manchuria Mukden Arsenal 瀋陽兵工廠
Hupei Hanyang Arsenal 漢陽兵工廠
Shansi Taiyuan Arsenal 太原兵工廠
Szechwan Chengtu Arsenal 成都兵工廠

Generally speaking, the regular provincial army divisions did not possess any artillery. However, some Central Army divisions were equipped with 37 mm PaK 35/36 anti-tank guns, and/or mortars from Oerlikon, Madsen, and Solothurn. Each of these infantry divisions ideally had 6 French Brandt 81 mm mortars and 6 Solothurn 20 mm autocannons. Some independent brigades and artillery regiments were equipped with Bofors 72 mm L/14, or Krupp 72 mm L/29 mountain guns and there were 24 Rheinmetall 150 mm L/32 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1934) and 24 Krupp 150 mm L/30 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1936). At the start of the war, the NRA and the Tax Police Regiment had three tank battalions armed with German Panzer I light tanks and CV-33 tankettes. After defeat in the Battle of Shanghai the remaining tanks, together with several hundred T-26 and BT-5 tanks acquired from the Soviet Union were reorganised into the 200th Division.

Infantry uniforms were basically redesigned Zhongshan suits. Puttees were standard for soldiers and officers alike, since the primary mode of movement for NRA troops was by foot. Troops were also issued sewn field caps. The helmets were the most distinguishing characteristic of these divisions. From the moment German M35 helmets (standard issue for the Wehrmacht until late in the European theatre) rolled off the production lines in 1935, and until 1936, the NRA imported 315,000 of these helmets, each with the Blue Sky with a White Sun emblem of the ROC on the sides. These helmets were worn by both elite German-trained divisions and regular Central Army divisions. Other helmets include the French Adrian helmet, the British Brodie helmet and later the American M1 helmet. Other equipment included straw shoes for soldiers (cloth shoes for Central Army), leather shoes for officers and leather boots for high-ranking officers. Every soldier was issued ammunition for his weapon, along with ammunition pouches or harness, a water flask, combat knives, food bag, and a gas mask.

Spears and swords in addition to rifles were used by the Muslim Ma Clique sections of the National Revolutionary Army, who were renowned for their fine cavalry. The Muslims had an assortment of rifles, German, British, Russian and others.

See also

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