Today marks the 72nd year since the Battle of Shanghai, the first and bloodiest battle of the entire Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Second Battle of Shanghai, also known as the Battle of Songhu (淞滬會戰) in Chinese, lasted from August 13 to November 9, 1937. It was the first major battle of 22 engagements fought between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Empire of Japan’s Imperial Japanese Army.
According to Wikipedia:
Since 1931, China and Japan had been embroiled in incessant, smaller conflicts, often known as “incidents,” that saw China lose territories piece by piece. The term “incident” traditionally has been used to downplay Japanese invasions of China. By August 1937, following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7 and the ensuing Japanese invasion of North China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek decided to lead China into total war with Japan, though without a formal declaration of war.
Dogged Chinese resistance at Shanghai was aimed at stalling the rapid Japanese advance, giving much needed time for the Chinese government to move vital industries to the interior, while at the same time attempting to bring sympathetic Western Powers to China’s side. During the fierce three-month battle, Chinese and Japanese troops fought in downtown Shanghai, in the outlying towns, and on the beaches of the Jiangsu coast, where the Japanese had made amphibious landings. The Chinese soldiers had to rely primarily on small-caliber weapons in their defence of Shanghai, against an overwhelming onslaught of air, naval, and armored striking power from Japan
The World War II database has an incredibly detailed account of the battle, which the Republic of China ultimately lost. Though the Japanese had predicted a victory over Shanghai in three days, the battle actually lasted for three months:
This battle was the first large-scale confrontation between the armies of Japan and China, and proved to be among the bloodiest. The greatest achievement of the Chinese was to inflict 40,000 casualties out of the 300,000 Japanese engaged and slowing the Japanese momentum. However, the achievement came at an extremely heavy price. The Chinese suffered 250,000 casualties out of 700,000 engaged, and worst of all, many of the casualties include the elite German-trained troops of the Chinese Army. The toll on experienced officers also had severe repercussions in subsequent events of the Second-Sino Japanese War.
Politically, Chiang’s position as the head of the Chinese republic suffered as a result of this loss, but the stubborn defense, despite the heavy losses, gave the international community some confidence in the fighting ability of the Chinese.
Photo from Xooob