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First Battle of Changsha (1939)


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Fellow historians:

I have decided to do an indepth study of the First Battle of Changsha (2nd SJW) as the thesis for my undergraduate military history degree. I want to really uncover the tactical intricacies of the battle and also understand the dynamic leadership that led to this surprising defeat of the Imperial Japanese army.

I've only done preliminary research at this point, but a good number of my sources point to a "museum/archive" in Nanjing that allegedly has some good primary sources. I've heard that this place is supposed to hold all the old documents/records from before the 1949 communist takeover. Does anyone know what they are refering to? Is this mainland archive provide good, unbiased sources for research?

The history department at my school is willing to send me anywhere for 2 weeks to do primary source research if I can make a case that it will provide significant legitimacy for my thesis. Any suggestions of archives or other research opportunities I can look into?

One issue that I'm confused about: was it Chen Cheng or Xue Yueh taht was the commander on the ground at Changsha?

Thanks in advance.


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  • 4 weeks later...


I appreciate the reply--you're a god-send! I've been scouring old contact info of my long-lost relatives in China to try and find someone to help me get some resources unavailable in the States.

One question: to your knowledge, is there some sort of museum or memorial to the Changsha battle(s) in the city (or nearby)? I was hopeful that the curator or director could provide some guidance in my research.

As of now, I've recieved funding for 3 weeks of primary source research in China this summer. I was planning on visiting the Republic Archives in Nanjing, but was also contemplating a visit to Changsha itself.

I'm currently finishing up the first phase of my preliminary research, and I'm sure I will have many more questions for you in the near future--hope you don't mind!

Thanks again for the help.


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Hi Brian, a little bit of information gleaned today-

On the slopes of the Yue Lu Mtn (behind either the Provincial or Teacher's University) is a monument to (and tomb for many of) the 73rd Unit (?) of the Nationalist army.

I'm sure that means more to you then it does to me! :) Apparently the 73rd fought in all three of the Changsha battles and were basically decimated by the end, and many of the higher-ups are buried there.There are not many documents or photos there, but the provincial library might be a good place to look for them.

I'll probably be heading to both the monument and library in the next week or so. It is funny how when you live in a place you seldom go to see the local sites :roll: thanks for giving me this 'opportunity' to check them out!


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  • 1 month later...


I sincerely appreciate the time and effort you're putting in to help me out and apologize that I haven't been able to reply to you until now.

I have indeed read about the 73rd Corps in my research and will further explore the role they played during the First Battle of Changsha in 1939. I will be sure to visit the memorial when I visit Changsha in late July.

Please let me know whether your visit to the provincial library was fruitful. I am hoping that they will have KMT military/government documents available that offer a better perspective into the tactical leadership and decision-making of the Chinese military commanders during the campaign.

Thanks again. Please PM me and let me know how I can contact you outside of the forum. I definitely owe you lunch and a couple drinks when I get to Changsha.

All the best,


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Hi Bryan, I thought you were gone from this thread, good to see your reply!

I haven't been to the library yet, but did spend a morning at the monument on Yue Lu Mountain. It is quite interesting, but unfortunately is in very poor shape. The tombs were basically destroyed and the stones engraved with the names of all (?) the dead were scattered- they now make up part of a restored Daoist temple in another part of the mountain.

I'm not sure when this all happened- possibly more then once! The whole site was restored sometime recently (in the last decade) and it is quite a nice place now, but there is very little information left there.

Cool to hear you'll be in Changsha! Write again when your plans are finalized and we can meet up.


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  • 5 years later...
  • New Members

Hello my name is Timothy J. Tilch, and I am war buff. I like read, watch movies, to play games about war.

I don't like is when I can not find information about certain units or even war a battle went.

So....this what I need:

I am doing war study on battle of Changsha, 1939.

I need Chinese unit(s) with in battle fighting the Japanese. But I need more that also, I need for example a map that area troop movement. Who fighting who and how it went.  I need also the terrain with in first battle

Was is fought within jungle?


Was is fought like in desert?


Some of the information says that is was fought near a river, how big was the river?

Thank You

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