Battle of Kunlun Pass

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Battle of Kunlun Pass
Part of the Battle of South Guangxi
Date18 December 1939 – 11 January 1940
Suburbs of Nanning, Guangxi
Result Chinese victory[1]
Chinese hold the pass
 Republic of China  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Republic of China (1912–1949) Bai Chongxi
Republic of China (1912–1949) Du Yuming
Republic of China (1912–1949) Qiu Qingquan
Republic of China (1912–1949) Li Mi
Republic of China (1912–1949) Liao Yaoxiang
Republic of China (1912–1949) Dai Anlan
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Masao Nakamura 
5th corps 60,000
200th Division:
240 T-26 M1933 tanks
120 CV-33 tankettes
30 BT-5 tanks
5th division (particularly the 21st Brigade) plus various other units, total fighting strength of 45,000[2]
100 planes[3]
70 warships[3]
2 aircraft carriers[3]
Casualties and losses
5,600 killed
11,000 injured
800 missing
6,416 other casualties
Total: 23,816 casualties[3][4]
4,000+ killed (including 85% of all officers)
4,000+ wounded
100 captured
Total: 8,100+ casualties[3][4]

The Battle of Kunlun Pass (simplified Chinese: 昆仑关战役; traditional Chinese: 崑崙關戰役; pinyin: Kūnlúnguān Zhànyì) was a series of conflicts between the Imperial Japanese Army and the Chinese forces surrounding Kunlun Pass, a key strategic position in Guangxi province. The Japanese forces planned to cut off Chinese supply lines linking to French Indochina, but the Chinese forces managed to fight off the attacks.[1]

The battle[edit]

The Imperial Japanese Army launched a major offensive into Guangxi province with the intention of eliminating the Chinese supply route through French-controlled Vietnam. The elite Japanese 5th Division was given the task of spearheading the Japanese offensive. After occupying Nanning in November 1939, the Japanese captured the key point of Kunlun pass and were poised to attack the Chinese forces that protected Chungking, the wartime capital.

Realizing that inaction would result in being cut off, General Bai Chongxi, himself a native of Guangxi, asked the Nationalist Government for reinforcements. Chiang Kai-shek in turn, dispatched the 5th Corps from Hunan province to fight the Japanese.

The 5th Corps was the most elite unit in the NRA, and it is also the only Chinese unit that had tanks and armored vehicles. Its soldiers were combat-hardened veterans from previous engagements against Japanese forces, and as a result, morale was high. General Du Yuming, commander of the 5th Corps, dispatched two divisions to attack the Japanese-held Kunlun Pass. The New 22nd Divisions attack ended up cutting off Japanese reinforcements from the rear and also resulted in the death of the Japanese commander, Major General Masao Nakamura.[5]

The Japanese reacted immediately by sending in the elite unit of the Japanese 5th Division, the 21st Brigade, which had also participated in the Russo-Japanese War, nicknamed the "unbreakable sword". Faced with the serious possibility of being completely cut off, the Japanese army ended up relying on air power to for the delivery of vital supplies.Before Major General Nakamura's death, he admitted in his diary that the Chinese soldiers' fighting ability had surpassed the Russians whom the Brigade encountered in Manchuria. This campaign was the first major victory of the Chinese army since the Battle of Wuhan.

Orders of battle[edit]


  • 5th Corps
    • 200th Division - Commander Dai Anlan
    • 1st Honor Division
    • New 22nd Division


  • 21st Brigade / 5th Division
    • 21st Infantry Regiment
    • 42nd Infantry Regiment
  • Cavalry Regiment / 5th Division
  • 5th Artillery Regiment / 5th Division
  • Two Regiments / Taiwan Mixed Brigade


  1. ^ a b S. C. M. Paine, (2012). The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107020696
  2. ^ "中国王牌机械军全歼日寇一个旅团". 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  3. ^ a b c d e Article: The Battle of Kunlun Pass
  4. ^ a b War Study: The Occupation of Nanning and the Failure of Kunlun
  5. ^ Dorn, Frank (1974). The Sino-Japanese War, 1937-41: From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor. MacMillan. ISBN 0-02-532200-1.


  • Hsu Long-hsuen and Chang Ming-kai, History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) 2nd Ed., 1971. Translated by Wen Ha-hsiung, Chung Wu Publishing; 33, 140th Lane, Tung-hwa Street, Taipei, Taiwan Republic of China. Pg. 311-318, Pg. 325-327,
  • Perry–Castañeda Library Map Collection, China 1:250,000, Series L500, U.S. Army Map Service, 1954- . Topographic Maps of China during the Second World War.

External links[edit]

Topographic maps[edit]