Su Yu
Su Yu in his Senior General uniform (1955)
Personal details
BornAugust 10, 1907
Huitong County, Hunan Province, Qing Empire
DiedFebruary 5, 1984(1984-02-05) (aged 76)
Beijing, People's Republic of China
Political party Chinese Communist Party
Awards Order of Bayi (First Class Medal)
Order of Independence and Freedom (First Class Medal)
Order of Liberation (First Class Medal)
Nickname(s)"The Zhukov of China" (中国的朱可夫)
502 (military call sign)
Military service
Allegiance Chinese Communist Party
 People's Republic of China
Branch/service People's Liberation Army Ground Force
Years of service1927–1984
RankSenior General of the People's Liberation Army

Su Yu (Chinese: 粟裕; pinyin: Sù Yù; August 10, 1907 – February 5, 1984), Courtesy name Yu (裕) was a Chinese military commander, a general of the People's Liberation Army.[1] He was considered by Mao Zedong to be among the best commanders of the PLA, only next to Peng Dehuai, Lin Biao and Liu Bocheng.[2] Su Yu fought in the Second Sino-Japanese War and in the Chinese Civil War. He commanded the East China Field Army (renamed Third Field Army in 1949) during the Chinese Civil War. His most notable accomplishments were the Battle of Menglianggu, the Battle of Huaihai, the Yangtze River crossing, and the capture of Shanghai.

After the Chinese Communist Party victory in the civil war, he held important posts in the new People's Republic of China, including that of PLA Chief of General Staff (1954–1958).[citation needed]

Early life

Su Yu was born in Huitong County, Hunan province on August 10, 1907, to an ethnic Dong family.[3][better source needed] He was the third child among six siblings. Su's father was Su Zhouheng (粟周亨), his mother was Liang Manmei (梁满妹), and the family depended on their 30 mu of inherited farmland for survival. By the age of 18, Su Yu entered the Hunan Provincial 2nd Normal School at Changde for his post-secondary education.

Encirclement Campaigns and the Long March

In 1926, he joined the Communist Youth League of China, and in 1927 joined the Chinese Communist Party. He took part in the Northern Expedition and later the Nanchang Uprising.[3] He emerged as one of the ablest guerrilla commanders in the Jiangxi Soviet during the 1930s. He did not join the Long March because he was tasked to fight against the Nationalist troops for a delaying action, and stayed in the south of Zhejiang until 1937.[citation needed]

Second Sino-Japanese War

After the breakout of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Su Yu was appointed Deputy Commander of the 2nd Detachment, and then in April 1938 commander of the Advanced Detachment of the New Fourth Army.

During the war, Su won the Cheqiao Campaign against the Japanese Army, where his troops won a victory in the first battle against the Japanese troops at Weigang. After this, he had some other campaigns in Central Jiangsu against the Japanese aggressors in Nanjing, Wuhu and Lishui.[citation needed]

During the war, Su Yu was the commander of the New Fourth Army's first division.[4] He established himself as one of the Communist armed forces' most capable commanders, winning a series of skirmish campaigns against overwhelming enemies - the Kuomintang army, puppet regime forces and the Japanese army. By the end of the war, he was made Commander in Chief for the Communists' Central China's Military Region, covering a vast region in East Central China.[citation needed]

Chinese Civil War

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Su Yu in Battle of Suzhong (Central Jiangsu)
Su Yu, holding map and wearing dark uniform, surveying the battlefield before the Menglianggu Campaign in 1947.

During the Civil War, Su Yu started as the second in command of the Communists' East China Field Army, eventually becoming second in command of the Third Field Army by the end of the war.

The successes of the battle persuaded Mao Zedong to change his military strategy of the Chinese Civil War, from traditional guerrilla style warfare to a more mobile and conventional approach. In July 1946, he led 30,000 Communist troops which triumphed over 120,000 American-armed Nationalist troops in seven different engagements, captured and killed 53,000 Kuomintang soldiers and stunned the country. The Central Jiangsu Campaign was the first of many of the brilliant campaigns that defined his legacy. He was also the commander of the PLA in the famous and much propagandized Menglianggu Campaign. In this campaign, the elite Nationalist Seventy-Fourth Division was completely destroyed after Su Yu succeeded in encircling the unit.

He was the major commander during the Huaihai Campaign (November 1948 to January 1949). It was at his suggestion on January 22, 1948, that the two armies of Liu and Su followed a sudden-concentrate, sudden-disperse strategy that led to this decisive victory in late 1948, with the destruction of five Nationalist armies and the killing or capture of 550,000 Nationalist soldiers. Su's army alone destroyed four Nationalist armies, and was the decisive force in destroying the fifth.

After the establishment of the PRC

Hong Xuezhi, Xiao Hua, Su Yu, and Chen Geng wearing their new Type 55 dress uniforms in 1955 (left to right)

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, it was rumored that Su Yu was the commander that Mao wanted to lead the Chinese People's Volunteer Army into Korea, because of his experience of commanding a large number of troops. However, because of his illness (caused by shell fragments in the 1930s), neither Su nor Lin Biao (also rumored to be sick) was able to command the CVA. In the end, Peng Dehuai was selected.[citation needed]

He was made a da jiang (Grand General) in 1955, the most senior of the ten men to receive this rank. He served in numerous positions, including Chief of the People's Liberation Army General Staff Department in the 1950s. In his later years, he published The Memoirs of Su Yu (粟裕回忆录). He died in Beijing on February 5, 1984, at the age of 77. According to his last wish, his body was cremated and scattered to places he had fought in.[citation needed]


Su Yu, Chu Qing, and their two sons Su Rongsheng and Su Hansheng in Shanghai, September 1949

Su Yu married Chu Qing (楚青) in February 1941. They had three children, all of whom joined the PLA. The eldest son Su Rongsheng (粟戎生) was born in 1942, followed by the second son Su Hansheng (粟寒生), and the youngest, a daughter Su Huining (粟惠宁), who married Chen Xiaolu (陈小鲁) in August 1975. Chen Xiaolu was the youngest son of Chen Yi who was Su Yu's direct superior during wartime. According to Su Rongsheng, Su Yu was an extremely strict father. When Su Rongsheng was only three years old, Su Yu forced him to learn how to swim by giving him only a piece of bamboo as a float, and pushed him into the water in front of his mother, and prohibited anyone from attempting to save Su Rongsheng. Su Yu's wife, Chu Qing was outraged and asked Su Yu angrily whether he was not worried about Su Rongsheng being drowned. But Su Yu answered that Su Rongsheng would have never learned how to swim any other way and besides, he was not being drowned. Aged 20, Su Rongsheng joined the PLA and remained in service for 45 years, rising from an ordinary soldier to a lieutenant general when he retired as the deputy commander-in-chief of Beijing Military District at age 65.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ 辭海編輯委員會, ed. (September 1989). 《辭海》 (1989年版 ed.). Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House. ISBN 7532600831.
  2. ^ 张雄文. "1947年蒋介石如何点评关内解放军各部战斗力?" (in Simplified Chinese). 凤凰网. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Senior General Su Yu". Archived from the original on 2021-04-25.
  4. ^ Ch'en, Jerome, et al. p. 238


Military offices Preceded byMarshal Nie Rongzhen PLA Chief of the General Staff 1954–1958 Succeeded bySenior General Huang Kecheng