|Battle of Kunlun Pass|
|Part of the Battle of South Guangxi|
|Republic of China||Empire of Japan|
|Commanders and leaders|
5th corps 60,000|
240 T-26 M1933 tanks
120 CV-33 tankettes
30 BT-5 tanks
3rd PG, 32nd PS,
Capt. Wei Yiqing †:
14 I-15, 7 Gladiators, ? O-2
5th PG, 28th PS,
Capt. Arthur Chin:
? I-15, 3 Gladiators
5th division (particularly the 21st Brigade) plus various other units, total fighting strength of 45,000|
2 aircraft carriers
|Casualties and losses|
|14,000 casualties||10,000 casualties, including 5,000 killed and 102 captured|
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.
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.
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. At a cost of 14,000 casualties, the Chinese army had inflicted a total of 10,000 casualties on the Japanese. Among the Japanese casualties were 5,000 fatalities, including over 85% of all officers, such as Major General Nakamura, Colonel Sakata Gen'ichi (commander of the 42nd Regiment and acting commander of the 21st Brigade), Colonel Miki Kichinosuke (commander of the 21st Regiment), Colonel 生田滕一 (deputy commander of the 21st Regiment), 杵平作 (commander of the 1st Battalion), 官本得 (commander of the 2nd Battalion), 森本宮 (commander of the 3rd Battalion), among others.: 101–102 Additionally, the Chinese took 102 Japanese troops as prisoner, and captured 79 horses, 10 mountain guns, 12 field guns, 10 anti-tank guns, 102 light machine guns, 80 heavy machine guns, and 2,000 rifles.: 102