2010年1月25日 星期一

Air raid Feb 23 1938

[Click to enlarge]

In the Dec, 2007 issue of 正論 Monthly, a Mr 鶴田利忠Zuruda Toshitada of 福井Fukui Prefecture asks if any one has more information on the air raid on Feb 23, 1938, conducted by the Chinese Air Force. It had hit Taipei and Hsin-chu resulting in a casualty of 37. The bombers were the Tupolev SB2s manned by Russian pilots. When they reached the targets, the engines were switched off, and the planes glided in stealthily to drop the bombs. Many residents had seen the bombers flying in.

Our friend Mr D Koh's reply plus the original question was published in the Feb, 2008 issue (see above). Essentially, Mr Koh recalls that the air raid was the one and only time in the eight years of war when the Japanese territory was attacked by the Chinese. Mr Koh was then in the second grade, a resident of west Taipei in 蓬萊 (now 大同)區District near Danshui River. On that day, he heard 2-3 explosions. It was a high-altitude sneak attack. The air raid sirens also did not go off. In the evening, Mr Koh's father came home and mentioned that the 松山 Airfield in northeast Taipei, was bombed and there were collateral damages with many living nearby died/injured. A few days later, the government invited the public to view the destruction...

This (left) is the Tupolev SB2 bomber powered by two M100 12-cylinder water-cooled engines with a crew of three. In the fall of 1937, the Nationalist Chinese Air Force received 62 SB2 M100s from Soviet Union. And the attack on Taiwan on Feb 23, 1938, was carried out by the Soviet Volunteer Group based in 漢口Hankow, more than 1,000km from Taiwan. Twenty eight (28) SB2s were deployed, accompanied by 12 others from the 南昌Nanchang Bomber Group. The formation flew over Foochow, across Taiwan Straits to the north of Taiwan, then turned south to reach the targeted airfield in Taipei. The Japanese air-defense might have assumed that planes from the north would have been from Japan and therefore did not sound any alarms. There was in fact no resistance of any kind until almost the end of the raid.

Presumably, a total of 280 bombs were dropped, the first ones from 10,000 ft. Some 40 [or 12 according to another source] Japanese warplanes were destroyed on the ground. The hangars and fuel depots (with 3 years' worth of supply) had also burned.

The victory dinner in honor of the Soviet volunteers was hosted by Madam Chiang Kai-Sek herself.

The surprise attack must have embarrassed the Japanese Colonial Gov't, so the populace was told that the SB2s had cut their engines and flown in silently. It is also unclear if Hsin-chu was ever bombed. On the other hand, the claim of 280 bombs unleashed by the SB2s seems an exaggeration as well [Note: This number might have come from the 10 small bombs, consisting of 6x154- and 4x33-pounders, carried by each SB2, and 10 x 28 bombers = 280].

We thank Mr Koh for providing the article shown above and Mr Patrick Cowsill for bringing this matter up (for more, see his comments in the previous post).

11 則留言:

  1. I don't think it is unclear if Hsinchu was bombed February 23, 1938. After all, British consul Archer said it was bombed at that time. He was living in Taiwan at the time and reporting back to Britain confidentially. Of course, he didn't see it with his own eyes, but he's probably the closest credible source we have. I'd like to see more on why you say it was unclear.

    It's interesting to look into the Russia-KMT connection. Chiang Kai-shek's son lived in Russia and married a Russian woman (she died in Taiwan three years ago). I remember reading that Mao actually captured Chiang in the 1930s. He was going to do a kangaroo court on Chiang, but Stalin ordered Chiang to be set free. Mao never forgave Russia for this, and he seems to have taken it out on Khrushchev, see the swimming pool incident. That's what more than one historians have said anyway.

  2. "In the Dec, 2007 issue of 正論 Monthly, a Mr 鶴田利忠Zuruda Toshitada of 福井Fukui Prefecture asks if any one has more information on the air raid on Feb 23, 1938, conducted by the Chinese Air Force." I'd suggest reading the British consular reports out of Danshui and then doing some digging through British archives. There's plenty of information sitting there. The Danshui consul's reports, for instance, are simply gathering dust in the NCCU (National Taiwan Political University) stacks here in Taiwan. I don't think anyone besides myself and Simon (also quoted on your blog: http://danshuihistory.blogspot.com/2009/07/more-on-carozzibentley.html) has ever touched these editions.

  3. I'd say the closest credible sources are the collective memory of the locals and the recollection of the Russian pilots.

    The mission was a hit-and-run affair. According to the Russians, once the bombs were unloaded, the SB2s high-tailed out of there quickly. I don't think the fuel on board was enough for another attack on Hsin-chu. In fact, the planes had to be re-fueled in Foochow before flying back to Hankow. It is possible that part of the group had attacked Hsin-chu - otherwise Mr Zuruda would not have mentioned sighting of the bombers in Hsin-chu. The Russians, however, did not say anything. Some older Hsin-chu residents must know more.

  4. "That's what more than one historians have said anyway." What I mean, with my increasingly poor grip of English, is that is the historical record. Of course I'd love to hear a person from Hsinchu who was around at the time had to say, his or her memories etc. I would include his or her insight as meaningful, something worth proceeding on.

  5. The sentence did jump right out at you. You are obviously being assimilated. A good thing, I might add.

    I will take a look at Archer's reports. Maybe you are right, all those UT maps of cities and towns of Taiwan might have been supplemented with his info. I hate to think a Taiwanese network working for him at that time, but you never know.

  6. "I hate to think a Taiwanese network working for him at that time, but you never know." I think Archer was pretty isolated from his perch on the hill overlooking Danshui. I doubt he ever got down inside the populace; he probably worked on second-hand information provided by a few English-speaking confidants over tea and biscuits, who were also probably realized by the Taiwanese population as being exactly what they were (educated and English-speaking employees of the British Consulate and business interests).

    Still, Archer probably had a decent sense of objectivity. Why would it be anyway else; I don't get a sense that he's anything but normal / reasonable in reading over his letters.

  7. "Perch"? That is the best description ever. Archer probably gathered intelligence the old-fashioned way, through newspaper reports and radio broadcast; both of which potential sources of misinformation. Also, the Consulate was located in an isolated area, a stone's throw from the Police Station. Any visitors would have been closely watched.

    I am now convinced that Hsin-chu was never attacked on Feb 23, 1938. This is based on the history of the Hsin-chu Airbase. It did become the favorite target of the Flying Tigers later starting in Oct 1944.

  8. It seems that discussions between Pat and EyeDoc are finally settled; let me chip in my two pennies.
    My pen pal, Dr. Lin, a pediatrician practicing in Taipei is a little senior than me. In his essay book “Hi Joe San Chi”非情山地, witten in Japanese, he mentioned about February 23 air raid and Nanking incident.
    “…. As the matter of fact, one of my patients was a Taiwanese who has joined the Japanese soldiers and participated in the act of violence against Chinese. However, the death toll of 300,000 according to Chinese report is kind of exaggerated. The population of Nanking was only 80,000; by Shi-Ming 史明氏(本名:施朝暉、台北一中三十期卒)who was in China at that time. …..”
    “….It was peaceful in Taiwan though the fight continued in Northern China, suddenly the Chinese air force raided Tai-Hoku 台北and Chin-Chiku 新竹on February 23, 1938. The loud wailing sound of warning siren started at 00:03PM. The enemy planes also dropped the bombs at Chikui竹囲, a small village between Hoku-Tou 北投and Tamsui 淡水, damaging the farm houses. The attacking planes are glided through the high attitude with the engines shut off so nobody aware of the attack. The warning siren sounded immediately after the daily high noon siren and I thought that siren was out of order. The noon siren has stopped since that day. One week later, my father’s patient who was teaching at Tamsui Elementary School 淡水公学校came over and told us that he saw the enemy’s planes that day. It was a cold day and the weather was fine. The school teacher took his mattress out for sun drying, while he lay on top of the mattress he saw the invading planes high up in the sky. It was rumored the pilots were Americans but in fact they were Russians took off from Nanking, we learned later….”
    “The Rape of Nanking” by Iris Chang is classified as a non-fiction book, which I cannot understand why. Inspired by her mother and spent two years of her time studying documents written in English language only, non Japanese or Chinese whatsoever about the incident, suddenly she was honored as a historian and the best-seller author when she published the book. We could not help but started to wonder if she was biased or politically influenced. If making of a historian or the best-seller author were so easy; why not me or anybody else? Partial question was answered by why she has to commit suicide young at Los Gatos hills not far from where I live, sorry to mention it. It was also interesting to learn that in her will she said that people should not forget her glory and achievements.

  9. Interesting, perhaps 竹囲 has been confused with 新竹 in previous reports on the 2/23/38 air raid.

    Personally, I doubt the SB2's came in with the engines off as this has an inherent re-starting issue, not to mention the loss of maneuverability. The Russians were actually quite concerned that they might be attacked by Japanese fighter planes. And the bombers took off from Hankow not Nanking, the later was in the hands of the Japanese.

    Also very intriguing is Dr Lin's account of the "participation" of a Taiwanese in the Nanking incident - in what capacity, what he had done, and how many others. Maybe Dr Lin or even better if the Taiwanese in question can provide more details.

  10. @匿名 - I used to live in Nanjing, and whilst the 300,000 figure strains credibility (it includes those washed away by the river and burned so as to leave no trace - in which case how were they counted?) the lower count given by the League of Nations of at least 150,000 is entirely credible given the city's swollen population. A figure of 80,000 for those living in the city at the time is ridiculously low - John Rabe estimated the figure as being 250,000 within the city wall, a figure that would have been augmented by refugees fleeing the fighting further down the Yangtse and camped around the city. If you know Nanjing, you'll know that 80,000 people would barely fill a third of the area enclosed by the walls even given the lower buildings of those days.

  11. FOARP: Your must stop using this offensive avatar. The phrase is uttered only by the uneducated which you apparently are not.

    Thanks for the info. The Nanjing Incident/Massacre is an odd issue as far as the Taiwanese are concerned. We do sympathize with the loss of lives much as that extended to the 6 million killed by the Nazis. Only those who claim kinship with the Chinese feel differently; although they are in the minority.

    Virtually no one in Taiwan knew what was going on in Nanjing at that time. History did tell us that some 1,000 Taiwanese farmers were sent to Shanghai to grow vegetables for the 1st Taiwan Brigade. The latter, however, did not take part in the sacking or the occupation of Nanjing.