Manchurian Operation of 1945
Manchurian Operation of 1945
a strategic offensive operation conducted by the Soviet armed forces and troops of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army between August 9 and 19 against Japanese militarists in the concluding stage of World War II.
The goals of the operation were to crush the Japanese Kwantung Army; liberate the northeastern and northern provinces of China (Manchuria and Inner Mongolia), the Liaotung Peninsula, and Korea; and eliminate Japan’s base of aggression and major military-economic center on the Asian continent. The Manchurian operation unfolded on a front more than 4,600 km in length and 200-820 km in depth in a complex military theater with desert-steppe, mountainous, forest-marsh, and taiga terrain and large rivers. There were 17 fortified regions with a total length of more than 1,000 km on the border with the USSR and the Mongolian People’s Republic; they included about 8,000 permanent fire positions. The Kwantung Army (commanded by General Yamada Otozo) had 31 infantry divisions, nine infantry brigades, one special-purpose brigade (kamikaze), and two tank brigades; its composition included three fronts (the First, Third, and Seventeenth), consisting of six armies, one detached army, two air armies, and the Sungari Naval Flotilla. Other units operationally subordinate to the commander of the Kwantung Army included the Army of Manchukuo, consisting of two infantry and two cavalry divisions; 12 infantry brigades; four detached cavalry regiments; the troops of Inner Mongolia (Prince De Van); and the Suiyiian Army Group, which had four infantry divisions, five cavalry divisions, and two cavalry brigades. The enemy had a total of 1.32 million men, 6,260 artillery guns and mortars, 1,155 tanks, 1,900 aircraft, and 25 ships. According to the latest Japanese strategic plan, which had been developed in the spring of 1945, one third of the Kwantung Army and the forces of Manchukuo and Inner Mongolia were left in the border zone with the mission of delaying the advance of Soviet troops into the interior of Manchuria. The main forces, which were concentrated in the central regions of Manchuria, were supposed to force the Soviet troops to go over to the defense and then, operating together with reserves arriving from China and Korea, drive them back and invade the USSR and Mongolian People’s Republic.
It was the intention of General Headquarters of the Soviet Supreme Command to crush the Kwantung Army by simultaneously delivering two main strikes (from the Mongolian People’s Republic and Soviet Primor’e) and a series of auxiliary strikes along axes converging toward the center of Manchuria, dividing the enemy rapidly, and destroying his forces piecemeal. The forces enlisted for this were the Transbaikal and First and Second Far Eastern fronts; the troops of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army, which became part of the Soviet-Mongolian Mechanized Cavalry Group (MCG) of the Transbaikal Front; forces of the Pacific Ocean Fleet; and the Amur Flotilla. From May until July 1945 a large number of troops, especially mobile units, were moved 9,000-11,000 km from the West to the Far East and the Transbaikal region. The troop commander in the Far East was Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskii; coordination of actions by forces of the navy and air force was carried out by Admiral of the Fleet N. G. Kuznetsov and Chief Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov. The commander of Mongolian forces was Marshal of the Mongolian People’s Republic Kh. Choibalsan.
To carry out the Manchurian operation the fronts allocated ten combined arms armies (the First and Second Red Banner, Fifth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth, Thirty-sixth, Thirty-ninth, and Fifty-third), one tank army (the Sixth Guards), and three air armies (the Ninth, Tenth and Twelfth), as well as the MCG of Soviet and Mongolian troops—a total of 66 rifle divisions, two motorized rifle divisions, two tank divisions, six cavalry divisions (four of them Mongolian), four tank and mechanized corps, and 24 detached tank brigades. Overall there were more than 1.5 million men, more than 25,000 artillery guns and mortars, 5,460 tanks and self-propelled guns, and about 5,000 combat aircraft, including naval aviation.
On August 9 the Soviet forces went on the offensive. The air force delivered strikes against military targets in Harbin, Ch’angch’un, and Kirin (Chilin) and against regions of troop concentration, communications centers, and enemy lines of communication in the border zone. The Pacific Ocean Fleet (commanded by Admiral I. S. lumashev) reached the Sea of Japan and cut off the lines of communication connecting Korea and Manchuria with Japan. In addition, naval aviation and ship guns delivered strikes against naval bases at Yuki (Unggi), Rashin (Najin), and Seishin (Chongjin). Troops of the Transbaikal Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union R. Ia. Malinovskii) crossed the waterless desert-steppe regions and the Greater Khingan Mountains, crushed the enemy along the Kalgan, Solun, and Hailaerh axes, and reached the approaches to the key industrial and administrative centers of Manchuria on August 18 and 19. Airborne troops were landed in Harbin on August 18 and in Kirin, Ch’angch’un, and Mukden on August 19 to speed up the capture of the Kwantung Army and prevent the enemy from evacuating or destroying materiel. The main forces of the Sixth Guards Tank Army, having taken Ch’angch’un and Mukden (Shenyang), began to move south toward Dairen and Port Arthur (Liishun). The Soviet-Mongolian MCG (commanded by Colonel General I. A. Pliev) reached Changchiak’ou (Kalgan) and Ch’engte on August 18 and cut the Kwantung Army off from Japanese troops in North China. The forces of the First Far Eastern Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union K. A. Meretskov) broke through the zone of enemy fortified border areas, beat off strong Japanese counterstrikes in the Mutanchiang region, and reached Kirin on August 19. The Twenty-fifth Army, in cooperation with landing parties of the Pacific Ocean Fleet, took the North Korean ports of Yuki, Rashin, Seishin, and Gensan (Wonsan) and then liberated North Korean territory. The escape routes to the mother country were cut off for the Japanese troops.
The troops of the Second Far Eastern Front (commanded by army General M. A. Purkaev), in cooperation with the Amur Naval Flotilla (commanded by Rear Admiral N. V. Antonov), crossed the Amur and Ussuri rivers, broke through the enemy’s permanent defense in the Sahaliang (Heiho) region, and crossed the Lesser Khingan Mountains. On August 20 the front’s Fifteenth Army took Harbin. Having moved 500-800 km from the west, 200-300 km from the east, and 200 km from the north, Soviet forces reached the central Manchurian plain, divided the Japanese troops into isolated groups, and completed the maneuver to encircle them. On August 19, Japanese troops began to surrender almost everywhere.
The crushing of the Kwantung Army in the Manchurian operation forced Japan to surrender, bringing about the end of World War II (1939–45). This victory facilitated the revolutionary liberation struggles of the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese peoples and fostered national liberation movements among all the peoples of the Orient. The USSR carried out its obligations to the allied powers and its international mission of liberation. In terms of scope, dynamic actions by troops, and final results the Manchurian operation is prominent among the major operations carried out by the Soviet armed forces. The rapid crushing of the Kwantung Army demonstrated the great military art of the Supreme Command, the General Staff, and the front and army commanders, the might of Soviet arms, and the fighting skill of the troops. The Manchurian operation showed the great organizational capabilities of the generals and officers in surrounding and crushing major enemy forces and provided an example of skillful cooperation among the combat arms and services of the armed forces.
REFERENCESIstoriia Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1941-1945, vol. 5. Moscow, 1963.
Vtoraia mirovaia voina 1939-1945. Moscow, 1958.
Hayashi, S. laponskaia armiia v voennykh deistviiakh na Tikhom okeane. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
Final, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1969.
N. V. ERONIN