Thursday, October 16, 2008

Battle of Jianmenguan

The Battle of Jianmen Pass was a battle fought between the and the during the Chinese Civil War in the post World War II era and resulted in communist victory. The battle was a one of the battles in Chengdu Campaign, which in turn, was part of Southwestern China Campaign.

Jianmen Pass was one of the most important gateways of Sichuan. There are 72 peaks in the mountain and the only road going thru the mountain was only 50 metre wide. Whoever controlled this 2 km long stretch of the road controlled the gateway of Sichuan, and the nationalists had built an elaborate systems of bunkers in the area to strengthen its defense against the inevitable communist assaults.

Order of battle
**A regiment of local garrison
**A company from the retreating 55th Division
**The 540th Regiment of the 180th Division of 60th Army of the XVIII Corps

After taking Guanyuan on December 14, 1949 in Chengdu Campaign, the communists correctly decided that Jianmen Pass must be taken. The 540th Regiment of the 180th Division of 60th Army of the communist XVIII Corps was tasked with this job and after three days of forced march of more than 40 km in the mountain, the communist 540th Regiment reached Jianmen Pass . The communist 540th Regiment immediately launched its assault on the pass by first completely annihilating a company from the retreating nationalist 55th Division tasked to strengthen the defense. Afterward, one of the battalion of the communist regiment was sent to outflank the defenders by passing the mountain terrain which was considered impossible by the local populace, including the defenders. The rest of two battalions of the communist regiment crawled forward along the ravine under the cover of darkness, and by 10:00 PM, they were within 50 metres in front of the pass. The attackers then launched their assault in the dark under the cover of heavy fire, and with the help of the battalion that outflanked the defenders, they were able to cross the last ravine via a log and overwhelmed the defenders. With Jianmen Pass falling into the enemy hands, the nationalists had no choice but to retreat and abandon the town of Jiange in the afternoon of December 18, 1949.

The communists managed to capture over 300 prisoners-of-wars and had the remaining killed in the fierce battle, and more importantly, the taking of Jianmen Pass secure the passage for the communists to attack deeper into the heart of Sichuan.

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