Operation August Storm



Operation August Storm
Part of World War II and Soviet-Japanese Border Wars
Enlarge picture
Soviet SU-76M assault guns entering Changchun, the capital of Manchukuo.

Soviet SU-76M assault guns entering Changchun, the capital of Manchukuo.
DateAugust 8September 2, 1945
LocationManchuria, Inner Mongolia, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and Korea
ResultDecisive Soviet victory
Combatants
Soviet Union
Mongolia
Japan
Manchukuo
Mengjiang
Commanders
Aleksandr Vasilevsky
Otsuzo Yamada #
Strength
Soviet Union
1,577,225 men,
26,137 artillery,
1,852 sup. artillery,
3,704 tanks,
5,368 aircraft
Mongolia
16,000 men
Japan
1,040,000 men,
6,700 artillery,
1,000 tanks,
1,800 aircraft,
1,215 vehicles
Casualties
(Soviet estimate)
8,219 KIA,
22,264 WIA;
(Japanese estimate)
20,000+ KIA
50,000+ WIA
(Soviet estimate)
83,737 KIA
594,000 POWs;
(Japanese estimate)
21,000 KIA
? POWs


Operation August Storm, or the Battle of Manchuria began on August 8, 1945, with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo; the greater invasion would eventually include neighboring Mengjiang, as well as northern Korea, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. At the Yalta Conference, it had agreed to Allied pleas to terminate the neutrality pact with Japan and enter the Second World War's Pacific Theater within three months after the end of the war in Europe.

The invasion began on August 8, 1945, precisely three months after the German surrender on May 8. It began between the droppings of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9).

Japan's decision to surrender was made before the scale of the Soviet attack on Manchuria, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands was known[1], but had the war continued, the Soviets had plans to invade Hokkaidō well before the other Allied invasion of Kyushu.[2][3]

Naming conventions

Though the battle extended beyond the borders traditionally known as Manchuria—that is, the traditional lands of the Manchus—the coordinated and integrated invasions of Japan's northern territories is still collectively labeled as the Battle of Manchuria. Alternatively, it is also known by the Soviet codename for the invasion plans—Operation August Storm—or as the Harbin-Kirin Operation, Battle of Manchukuo or the Battle of Northern China.

Combatant forces

Soviets

The Far Eastern Command, under Marshal of the Soviet Union Aleksandr Vasilevsky, conducted the massive attack. The only Soviet equivalent of a theater command that operated during the war (apart from the short-lived 1941 "Directions" in the west), it consisted of three Red Army fronts:
Enlarge picture
Soviet soldiers in Mongolia, before the invasion.
Each Front had "front units" attached directly to the Front instead of an army [4]. The forces totaled at least eighty divisions with 1.5 million men, over five thousand tanks (including 3,700 T-34s), over 28,000 artillery pieces and 4,300 aircraft (including 3,700 first line combat aircraft). Approximately one-third of its strength was in combat support and services. Its naval forces contained 12 major surface combatants, 78 submarines, numerous amphibious craft, and the Amur river flotilla, consisting of gunboats and numerous small craft. It incorporated all the experience in maneuver warfare that the Soviets had acquired fighting the Germans.

Japanese

The Kwantung Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under General Otsuzo Yamada, was the Japanese force opposing them. It was the major part of the Japanese occupation forces in Manchuria and Korea, and it consisted of two Area Armies and three independent armies:
  • First Area Army (northeastern Manchukuo), including:
  • 3rd Army.
  • 5th Army.
  • Third Area Army (southwestern Manchukuo), including:
  • 30th Army.
  • 44th Army.
  • Independent units
  • 4th Army (an independent field army responsible for northern Manchuria)
  • 34th Army (an independent field army responsible for the areas between the Third and Seventeenth Area Armies)
  • Kwangtung Defence Army (responsible for Mengjiang)
  • Seventeenth Area Army (responsible for Korea; assigned to the Kwantung Army in the eleventh hour, to no avail)
Each Area Army (the equivalent of a Western "army") had headquarters units and units attached directly to the Area Army, in addition to the field armies (the equivalent of a Western corps). In addition to the Japanese there was the forty thousand strong Manchukuo Defense Force, composed of eight under-strength, poorly-equipped, poorly-trained Chinese divisions. Korea, which would have been the next target for the Far Eastern Command, was garrisoned by the Seventeenth Area Army.

The Kwantung Army had over six hundred thousand men in twenty-five divisions (including two tank divisions) and six Independent Mixed Brigades. These contained over 1,215 armored vehicles (mostly armored cars and light tanks), 6,700 artillery pieces (mostly light), and 1,800 aircraft (mostly trainers and obsolete types; they only had 50 first line aircraft). The Imperial Japanese Navy contributed nothing to the defense of Manchuria, the occupation of which it had always opposed on strategic grounds.

On economic grounds, Manchuria was worth defending since it had the bulk of usable industry and raw materials outside of Japan and still under Japanese control in 1945. However, the Japanese forces were far below authorized strength, and most of their heavy military equipment and best military units had been transferred to the Pacific front over previous three years. As of 1945 the Japanese army in Manchuria contained a large number of raw recruits. The result was that the Kwantung Army had essentially been reduced to a light infantry counter-insurgency force with limited mobility and experience. In the event, Japanese forces were no match for the mechanized Red Army, with its vastly superior tanks, artillery, officers, and tactics.

Compounding the problem, the Japanese military made numerous mistakes. First, they assumed that any attack coming from the west would have to follow either the old railroad line to Hailar or head in to Solun from the eastern tip of Mongolia. The Soviets did attack from both those routes, but their main attack went through the supposedly impassable Greater Khingan range south of Solun and into the center of Manchuria. Second, the Japanese military intelligence failed to determine how many troops the Soviets were actually transferring to the Siberian front. Their military intelligence predicted, based on erroneous numbers, that an attack was most likely in October or in the spring of 1946.

New plans made by the Japanese in the summer of 1945 called for the borders to be held lightly and delaying actions fought while the main force would hold the southeastern corner in strength (so defending Korea from attack). However the new plans were not implemented by the time the Soviets launched their attack.

Campaign

Enlarge picture
Japanese soldier surrendering to Soviet soldiers.
Enlarge picture
Defeated Japanese soldiers giving up their rifles.
The operation was carried out as a classic double pincer envelopment over an area the size of Western Europe. In the western pincer, the Red Army advanced over the deserts and mountains from Mongolia, far from their resupply railways. This confounded the Japanese military analysis of Soviet logistics, and the Japanese were caught by surprise in unfortified positions. The Japanese commander was missing for the first eighteen hours of conflict, and communication was lost with forward units very early on. At the same time, airborne units were used to seize airfields and city centers in advance of the land forces; they were also used to ferry fuel to those units that had outrun their supply lines.

The fighting had lasted for only about a week when Japan's Emperor Hirohito read the Gyokuon-hōsō on August 15 and declared a ceasefire in the region August 16; Soviet forces were already penetrating deep into Manchukuo by that time. They continued their largely unopposed advance into Manchukuo's territory, reaching Mukden, Changchun and Qiqihar by August 20. At the same time, Mengjiang was invaded by the Red Army and her Mongol allies, with Guihua quickly taken. The Emperor of Manchukuo (and the former Emperor of China), Puyi, was captured by the Soviet Red Army.

On August 18, several amphibious landings had been conducted ahead of the land advance: three in northern Korea, one in Sakhalin, and one in the Kuril Islands. This meant that, in Korea at least, there would already be Soviet soldiers waiting for the troops coming overland. In Sakhalin and the Kurils, it meant a sudden and undeniable establishment of Soviet sovereignty.

The land advance was stopped a good distance short of the Yalu River, the beginning of the Korean peninsula, when even the aerial supply lines became unavailable. The forces already in Korea were able to establish a bit of control in the peninsula's north, but the ambition to take the entire peninsula was cut short when American forces landed at Incheon on September 8, six days after the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.

Hokkaidō was never invaded as planned.

Importance and consequences

Operation August Storm, along with the two atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined to break the Japanese political deadlock and force Japan's surrender; they made it clear that Japan had no hope of holding out, even in the Home Islands.

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's research has led him to conclude that the atomic bombings were not the principal reason for capitulation. Instead, he contends, it was the swift and devastating Soviet victories on the mainland in the week following Joseph Stalin's August 8 declaration of war that forced the Japanese message of surrender on August 15, 1945.[5]

Soviet-occupied Manchuria provided the main base of operations for Mao Zedong's forces, who proved victorious in the following four years of civil war in China. In fact, military success in Manchuria prevented the Soviet Union from receiving bases in China—promised by the Western Allies—because all land gained was turned over to the People's Republic of China after they gained power. Before leaving Manchuria, however, Soviet forces dismantled its considerable industrial plant and relocated it to war-torn Soviet territory.

As agreed at Yalta, the Soviet Union had intervened in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender, and they were therefore entitled to the territories of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands and also to preëminent interests over Port Arthur and Dairen, with its strategic rail connections. The territories on the Asian mainland were transferred to the full control of the People's Republic of China in 1955, and the other possessions are still administered by the most powerful of the Soviet Union's successor states, Russia.

Though the north of the Korean peninsula was under Soviet control, the economic machine driving the invasion forces had given out before the entire peninsula could be seized. With the American landing at Incheon—some time before the Red Army could have remobilized and secured the entire nation—Korea was effectively divided. This was a precursor to the Korean War five years later.

See also


Campaigns and theatres of World War II
European Theatre
Poland | Phony War | Denmark & Norway | France & Benelux countries | Britain
Eastern Front 1941-45 | Continuation War | Western Front 1944-45
Asian and Pacific Theatres
China | Pacific Ocean | South-East Asia | South West Pacific | Manchuria 1945
The Mediterranean, Africa and Middle East
Mediterranean Sea | East Africa | North Africa | West Africa | Balkans
Middle East | Madagascar | Italy
Other
Atlantic Ocean | Strategic bombing | Bombing of North America
Contemporary wars
Chinese Civil War | Soviet-Japanese Border War | Winter War | French-Thai War | Anglo-Iraqi War

Notes

1. ^ Downfall, p. 289.
2. ^ David M. Glantz, "The Soviet Invasion of Japan", Quarterly Journal of Military History, vol. 7, no. 3, Spring 1995, pp. 96–97, discusses new information indicating that Stalin was ready to land troops on Hokkaidō two months before the scheduled American landings in Kyushu. (Information from The Smithsonian and the Enola Gay. The National Interest; 6/22/1995; Washburn, Wilcomb E. footnote 15).
3. ^ Frank, Downfall, p. 323–4, citing David Glantz, "Soviet Invasion of Japan".
4. ^ [1]
5. ^ Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy, p. 298.

References

  • Richard B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (Penguin, 2001 ISBN 0-14-100146-1)
  • Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, Belknap Press. ISBN 0-674-01693-9.
  • Glantz, David (2003). The Soviet Strategic Offensive in Manchuria, 1945 (Cass Series on Soviet (Russian) Military Experience, 7). Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5279-2. 

External links

The Soviet-Japanese Border Wars were a series of border conflicts between the Soviet Union and Japan between 1938 to 1945.

After the occupation of Manchukuo and Korea, Japan turned its military interests to Soviet territories.
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The Soviet-Japanese Border Wars were a series of border conflicts between the Soviet Union and Japan between 1938 to 1945.

After the occupation of Manchukuo and Korea, Japan turned its military interests to Soviet territories.
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Changchun (Traditional Chinese: 長春; Pinyin: Chángchūn) is the capital and largest city of Jilin province, located at the northeast of the People's Republic of China. It is a sub-provincial city. The name originated from the Jurchen language.
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Manchukuo (満州国, lit. "State of Manchuria") was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia created by former Qing Dynasty officials with help from Imperial Japan in 1932.
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Manchuria ( Romanized Manchu: Manju, Simplified Chinese: 满洲; Traditional Chinese: 滿洲; Pinyin: Mǎnzhōu
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Origin of name Inner Mongolia is closer than Outer Mongolia to China proper Administration type Autonomous region
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Native name: Сахали?<nowiki />

Geography <nowiki/>
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The Mongolian People's Republic (Mongolian: Бугд Найрамдах Монгол Ард Улс (БНМАУ)) was a communist
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The Empire of Japan (Kyūjitai: 大日本帝國; Shinjitai: 大日本帝国; pronounced Dai Nippon Teikoku; officially Empire of Greater Japan
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Manchukuo (満州国, lit. "State of Manchuria") was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia created by former Qing Dynasty officials with help from Imperial Japan in 1932.
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Mengjiang (Chinese: 蒙疆; Pinyin: Měngjiāng; Wade-Giles: Meng-chiang; Postal map spelling: Mengkiang), also known in English as Mongol Border Land
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Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович
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Otsuzo Yamada (1881–1965) was an Imperial Japanese Army general who served during WWII. He was commissioned into the cavalry in 1903. By 1938 he commanded the 3rd Army in Manchuria, and then went on to command the China Expeditionary Army.
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Surrender is when soldiers, nations or other combatants stop fighting and become prisoners of war, either as individuals or when ordered to by their officers. A white flag is often used to surrender, as is the gesture of raising one's hands empty and open above one's head.
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Killed in action (or KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own forces by other hostile forces or by "friendly fire" during combat.
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WIA is a three letter abbreviation standing for Wounded In Action.

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prisoner of war (POW, PoW, or PW) is a combatant who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict.

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The Soviet-Japanese Border Wars were a series of border conflicts between the Soviet Union and Japan between 1938 to 1945.

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(German estimate):

1,750,000 killed in combat operations by end of 1941
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(Soviet estimate):

802,191 killed .
2,335,482 missing/captured.[4] Parameter not given Error...
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Battle of the Baltic concerns the German and Soviet battle for the control of the Baltic sea during World War II.
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