Tang Enbo

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Tang En-bo (湯恩伯)
Tang Enboi.jpg
General Tang Enbo
Nickname(s) The Iron Man
Born October 1898
Wuyi, Zhejiang, China
Died June 29, 1954(1954-06-29) (aged 55)
Tokyo, Japan
Place of burial Wuzhi Mountain Military Cemetery
Allegiance  Republic of China
Service/branch  Republic of China Army
Years of service 1926-1954
Rank General
Unit 89th division
Commands held 13th corps,20th Army, 3rd war zone
Battles/wars Battle of Taierzhuang, Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi, Menglianggu Campaign
Awards Order of Blue Sky and White Sun
Other work Politician

Tang Enbo (simplified Chinese: 汤恩伯; traditional Chinese: 湯恩伯; pinyin: Tāng Énbó; Wade–Giles: T'ang En-po, ‍[1])(1898–1954) was a Nationalist general in the Republic of China. Along with Hu Zongnan and Xue Yue, Tang was one of the Kuomintang generals most feared and respected by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Life[edit]

Early life and war with Japan[edit]

Born in 1898 in Wuyi, Zhejiang, Tang Enbo was a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and therefore was familiar with the tactics of his Japanese enemy during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Tang's early resistance to the Japanese invasion was most ineffective, but this had nothing to do with his personal capabilities, but more to do with the political situation in China— Tang's superior Chiang Kai-shek was reluctant to devote his best troops to fight the Japanese invaders, wishing instead to use them to exterminate the Communists. Limited in troops and materiel, any commander would have had great difficulties in fighting such a superior enemy, and Tang Enbo was no exception. Furthermore, the battle plans though successful on paper rarely materialized on the battlefield during this stage because local Chinese warlords were only interested in maintaining their forces and largely ignored Chiang Kai-shek's orders. Although Tang did contribute to the victory at Battle of Taierzhuang, he was unable to stop the Japanese assaults during the 1944 Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi, losing 37 cities and towns within 36 days.

Civil war[edit]

After World War II, Tang Enbo participated in the struggle against the communists, who attempted to win Tang Enbo. Tang was hesitant at the first due to his military failure in the Chinese Civil War, but soon his fourth concubine convinced him to firmly follow Chiang Kai-shek and stay with Kuomintang. As a result, Tang Enbo informed Chiang Kai-shek that his teacher and superior Chen Yi had asked him to turn to the communists and Chen was then arrested and later executed. Chen Yi was executed at Machangding, Taipei, on June 18, 1950 and was buried in Wugu, Taipei County.

The fallout of all this was that Tang Enbo had now lost the trust of Chiang Kai-shek. Tang's position was further weakened when other Nationalist cadres such as Gu Zhenggang (谷正纲) discovered and revealed to Chiang Kai-shek that during the Shanghai Campaign Tang was preparing to flee to Japan by asking his close associates Wang Wencheng (王文成) and Long Zuoliang (龙佐良) to seek out a home in Japan.

Death[edit]

On May 6, 1949, a close friend of Tang's wired half a million US dollars to an American friend's account, and subsequently, the money was sent via this account to Wang Wencheng and Long Zuoliang in Japan. In July, 1949, Wang Wencheng and Long Zuoliang purchased a mansion with 22 rooms in a Tokyo suburb. However, all of this was accidentally made public on February 2, 1950 when Reuters issued the news in Tokyo claiming that Chiang Kai-shek had purchased a mansion in a Tokyo suburb via a top ranking Chinese official. It was rumored that Tang's political enemies within the Kuomintang had long been tracking Tang's every move and waited for the right opportunity to bring him down, but such a claim has yet to be confirmed. The result was Tang's complete falling out of favor with Chiang, who reportedly angrily shouted: "No wonder our defeat was so rapid in Shanghai and the southeastern coast— he (Tang Enbo) was already prepared to flee!"

After fleeing to Taiwan with the retreating Republic of China government, Tang Enbo became ill and was sent to Japan for treatment. However, Tang died after surgery in Tokyo in 1954.

Military career[edit]

  • 1932 General Officer Commanding 89th Division, Henan
  • 1937 Commander in Chief Taiyuan Pacification Headquarters' Frontline Forces
  • 1937 - 1938 General Officer Commanding XIII Corps
  • 1937 - 1938 General Officer Commanding 20th Army
  • 1938 - 1940 Commander in Chief 31st Army Group
  • 1944 Deputy Commander in Chief 1st War Area
  • 1944 Deputy Commander in Chief 4th War Area
  • 1944 - 1945 Commander in Chief 3rd Front Army
  • 1949 Commander in Chief defense of Shanghai

References[edit]