Why did China take the initiative in the Battle of Songhu?

On July 7, 1937, the Lugou Bridge Incident broke out and the full-scale war of resistance began. Subsequently, the “August 13” Songhu Battle started, which was the first large-scale battle in the all-out war of resistance, and it was also the largest and most tragic battle in the entire War of Resistance Against Japan.

During the War of Resistance Against Japan, due to the disparity in strength, our army basically adopted a passive defensive posture strategically. Pulling aside the fog of history, we found that the August 13 Songhu Battle was a large-scale campaign initiated by China. The battle lasted from August 13 to November 12, for three months. China has invested 700,000 troops with the best of the whole country, and the Japanese army has increased to about 300,000 troops one after another. So, what was the purpose of launching this battle at that time? Why did China take the initiative?

There is a widespread saying that the reason for the Songhu Battle was to change the direction of the Japanese offensive from north to south to east to west. There are two main sources of this statement: one is the second son of Chiang Kai-shek, and the other is Chen Cheng.

Xiao Jiang believed that when the all-out war broke out, the main force of the Japanese army was mainly concentrated in North China. If the Japanese army is allowed to attack from north to south, the land of China will be divided into two halves, and institutions, enterprises and factories in Nanjing, Shanghai and other places will not be able to move west. There is no documentary evidence for Xiao Jiang’s statement, and there has been a lot of controversy in academia.

However, this statement is widely circulated among the people, and many people regard this as one of the main reasons for launching the Battle of Songhu. The reasons given by people are also very convincing: Since ancient times, on this land of China, there have been invincible attackers from north to south. China’s terrain is high in the west and low in the east. If the Japanese attack from south to north is changed from east to west, China will inevitably have a geographical advantage, and the Japanese will be at a disadvantage at least in this respect.

Combining with the actual situation of both China and Japan at that time, the Japanese had operated in northern China for many years, and Manchuria had already become their strategic base; Almost completely out of the control of Nanjing. In fact, Nanjing has never extended its influence to North China before. If the Japanese mechanized troops were allowed to advance south along the Ping-Han Line, the three towns of Wuhan would also be in jeopardy.

It sounds reasonable, but from the overall decision-making at the time, the above-mentioned concept of “directing the Japanese offensive from north to south to east to west” was not the main factor that decided to launch the Battle of Songhu.

In fact, the idea of ​​launching an offensive against the Japanese in Shanghai did not appear after the July 7th Incident. As early as more than a year ago, both Lao Jiang himself and the top decision-makers at the time had the idea of ​​fighting a battle in Shanghai. In 1936, Lao Jiang gave instructions to He Yingqin, Feng Yuxiang, etc., and planned to launch the Battle of Songhu in 1936. This is mainly because after the settlement of the Guangdong-Guangzhou incident, the problem of the local power faction was solved. Old Jiang believed that he had the conditions and foundation for “expelling foreigners”. He decided to eliminate the Japanese Marine Corps in Shanghai, and then led the army north to solve the problem of North China and North China. The Japanese Army in the Northeast. However, due to the disparity in power between China and Japan at that time, they gave up.