Xue Yue

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Xue Yue
Native name 薛岳
Nickname(s) Patton of Asia, Tiger of Changsha
Born (1896-12-26)December 26, 1896
Shaoguan, Guangdong
Died May 3, 1998(1998-05-03) (aged 101)
Chiayi County, Taiwan
Allegiance  Republic of China
Service/branch  National Revolutionary Army
Years of service 1914–1950
Rank General
Unit 4th corps
Commands held Commander-in-Chief of 9th war zone
Awards Order of Blue Sky and White Sun

Xue Yue (Chinese: 薛岳; pinyin: Xuē Yuè; Wade–Giles: Hsüeh Yüeh; December 26, 1896 – May 3, 1998) was a Chinese Nationalist military general, nicknamed by Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers as the "Patton of Asia"[1] and called the "God of War" (戰神) by the Chinese.

Early life and career[edit]

Former residence of Xue Yue in Nanjing.

Born to a Hakka peasant family in Shaoguan, Guangdong, Xue joined the army in 1914, at the age of 17. When Chiang Kai-shek formed the Whampoa Military Academy years later, Xue was one of the members of the first graduating class.

He was one of the most effective nationalist commanders of the Northern Expedition, and was promoted to command the 4th army after the April 12 Incident. During the first stage of the Chinese Civil War, Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek ordered General Xue to lead the Guangdong First Army to attack the Chinese communists during the Fifth Encirclement Campaign against Jiangxi Soviet, forcing them to start the Long March and his forces chased the retreating communists all the way to Sichuan and Guizhou, until the communist forces retreated across the great swamplands and finally escaped to Shaanxi Province. He then turned his forces around and marched unstopped to Central China and defeated the famed Red Army commanders like He Long and Ye Ting of the communist area which they controlled and forced them out of these strongholds. For these accomplishments, Chiang Kai-shek hailed him as "a true example of a Chinese officer".

Second Sino-Japanese War[edit]

After the Xi'an Incident, however, Xue's loyalty was in doubt after he offered to personally arrest Chiang Kai-shek and hand him over to the Communists if Chiang refused to fight the Japanese immediately. Although he immediately reconciled with Chiang Kai-shek, his relations with the KMT were strained throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Xue commanded the 19th Army Group that fought the Battle of Shanghai. Later, during the Campaign of Battle of Northern and Eastern Henan (January–June 1938) he commanded the Eastern Henan Army.

Xue was also involved in the Battle of Wuhan,[2] commanding the 1st Army Corps. In the mountains northwest of Wuhan, Xue succeeded in nearly destroying the entire 106th division of the imperial Japanese army. During the battle, most of the Japanese officers were killed and the Japanese had to air-drop 300 officers by parachutes into the battlefield. This was the only occasion the Imperial Japanese Army had to use airborne strategy to save a whole division from being eliminated by enemy forces during the Second World War.

Xue Yue was also responsible for the victories of the 9th Front, in the First, Second and Third Battle for Changsha.[3] His forces of the 9th Front were also victorious at the Battle of Changde but were defeated in the Fourth Battle of Changsha.

The KMT and General Stilwell would not support him or supply his soldiers with ammunition to fight the Japanese due to Stillwell's belief that there was rampant corruption in the KMT Army. To Stillwell's dismay, however, Chennault's air forces supplied Xue with ammunition throughout the war, whenever this was possible. Xue's 9th Front was also responsible for protecting Chennault's air fields.

Chennault and Xue became sworn brothers and remained close friends until Chennault's death in 1958. Chennault also recounts in his memoirs, "Way of a Fighter," that in July 1945, just as Chennault had resigned, he made a trip over enemy lines to see Xue Yue. (In his memoirs, Chennault refers to Xue Yue as Hsueh Yo). Xue had marched for two days to get to the meeting, but Chennault was only able to disappoint him in his quest for arms and ammunition to launch a counteroffensive: Chennault's superiors had taken everything for an effort being organized in Chungking. And so:

"As I prepared to leave, Hsueh walked down the long hill with me from his temporary headquarters to my plane. There was so much we were both thinking and so little either of us could put into words. Before I climbed aboard the transport I gave Hsueh the old Sam Browne belt from my prewar Air Corps uniform. As he put it on, tears rolled down the leathery cheeks of that doughty warrior." (p. 359)

Chinese civil war and after[edit]

After World War II, Xue refused to exchange his gold for the Gold Yuan paper currency as mandated by law. When Huang Shaoxiong informed Xue that this was illegal, Xue responded that he and his subordinates' gold was paid for in blood and he was personally responsible for it.

When Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949, Xue was put in charge of defending Hainan Island. The victorious Red Army defeated the demoralized Nationalist Forces. Xue left for Taiwan after the defense of Hainan collapsed. In Taiwan, he served as adviser to the chief of staff, in name only. He lived until 1998 to the age of 101. He was Master of Ceremony, an honorary title, at Chiang Kai-shek's funeral in 1975.


  1. ^ Wong, Betty (2012). Jewel of the Kingdom. Trafford Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 9781466937451. 
  2. ^ Wuhan, 1938, Stephen R. MacKinnon, Robert Capa, p 27, accessed July 2009
  3. ^ Chen Duxiu (1998). Gregor Benton, ed. Chen Duxiu's last articles and letters, 1937-1942 (illustrated ed.). University of Hawaii Press. p. 45. ISBN 0824821122. 24. Xi'an never fell. Xue Yue's forces successfully defended the city three times against the Japanese; Changsha (and the vital Guangzhou-Hankou Railway) did not fall to the Japanese until early 1945.