The Soviet Invasion Of Manchuria Was Another Titanic Battle Few Have Ever Heard Of.

by Daniel Russ on August 21, 2013





In 1944 the USSR denounced its 1941 treaty of neutrality with regards to Japan. This was a fulfillment of a promise that Stalin made at Yalta to attack Japan three months after Germany surrendered. His insistence on 90 days wait period wasn’t dilatory at all. He wanted to give Germans at least three months to see if they would regroup and attack again. Once they were down for the count, he felt safe enough to strategically reposition Soviet forces to the East.



                  Russian Soldier Watches Japanese Prisoners In Manchuria


Japan must have made Stalin nervous. He could not have watched as they purloined territory from Manchuria down through Luzon, Wake Island, the Philippines and Malaysa and deduced that Hirohito had no plans on any bordering Soviet territory. Perhaps that’s why Stalin always had a large reserve forces in the Far East to prevent a second front ambush. For the moment, no warfare served both sides. Russia had its hands full, and the Japanese had their hands full as well.


Before the 90 days passed after Germany surrendered, Stalin moved 40 divisions of the Red Army into the Far East. It was a build up that even the Japanese noticed on the Tran Siberian railroad. It’s difficult to hide your intentions when T-34s on count less rail cars are headed into the arena, followed by cars filled with soldiers, hanging out of the windows all smoking cigarettes. And these were followed by provision trains carrying flour, meat, coffee and vodka.


Many of the Russian soldiers who were sent to the far east had finished three or four bitter years of fighting the Nazis and they thought they were headed home. They had seen devastation well beyond anything before it in human history. The destruction of Western Russia after two armies swept through it was nothing less than an absolute cataclysm. For millions of square miles the detritus of murderous armies, their various vehicles of destruction in their large armamentariums posing silently, sideways in the dirt, smoking and inundating the small fragile ghost towns already covered in the stench of rotting carcasses. In nameless faceless villages, not even towns really, trees festooned with the desiccated remains of corpses hanging languidly. Entire farms of animals lay motionless covered in snow and dirt. That was hard to see, and it motivated the Red Guard to destroy the Germans. Then there was the Wehrmact itself, a large soulless killing machine that could inflict as many casualties retreating as they could while advancing. This entire army would fight longer than any before it in World War II.


Now they were headed into another war. However, by the time Russians invaded Manchuria, the Japanese were tapped out. Manchuria at this time was as big as Germany and Italy. It was the source of Japan’s synthetic fuel, steel, and raw goods for manufacture and sale. For the time it was also where the Kwangtung Army was located in reserve. Without Manchuria, Japan was finished.

The troops in the Far East were not as motivated as the zealots in the island campaign. Many of them had watched from afar as US forced caviled down the Japanese strength. These troops received no information, but hoped to assemble the bits and pieces of the situation under the propaganda blanket. Their assessments were grim. What news came to them was horrific. The 1.2 million members of the Kwantung Army were also outmatched by almost every measure – by their best equipment, best units and the unfortunate fact that the army was raided for most of its best provisions to be sent to the huge Pacific theater. Al of those assets disappeared in the massive defeat of Japan.


The Setup


The Russians coming to face them numbered 1,685,500 men, with 27,000 artillery pieces, and 1100 Katyushas, and 5500 tanks and assault guns. They had 3000 fighter bombers as well. The Japanese Garrisons around the regions numbered 1,217,000 men, poorly trained and understrength. Oddly these Japanese fought fairly well as infantry units, tying down the Red Guard for days at a time. On July 26, 1945 the US Army Air Force flew Little Boy to Tinian Island setting the stage for the end. The invasion happened on August 8th 1945, just three days after the US dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and hours before the Americans dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.



The Red Guard attacked in a giant encircling campaign where the three invading Army corps each hit Japanese garrisons across the region simultaneously. From August 8th until the 20th, five days after Japan surrendered, troops in the field were not informed, and fought on. Alexandre Vasilevsky led the Soviets against the Japanese troops led by Otozo Yamada who commanded the massive Kwangtung Army. The Soviets lost 9,000 killed and 24,000 wounded; the Japanese lot 84,000 dead and suffered 640,000 wounded or missing. 200,000 Chinese nationals fought with the Japanese. This tells us that 10,000 to 20,000 thousand casualties were suffered after the war was over.


It was this blow, not Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought the decision to surrender down from the Emperor.




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