페이지 정보작성자 편집국 작성일20-09-20 11:03 댓글0건
[Reminiscences]Chapter 21 7. The End of the “Maeda Punitive Force”
7. The End of the “Maeda Punitive Force”
The Battle of Hongqihe, fought in March 1940, was one of the highlights of the last days of the large-unit circling operations.
The enemy, who constantly boasted that it would annihilate the revolutionary army through the “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern area”, suffered a telling blow in that battle. The tragic end of one entire company in its “punitive” force threw the enemy into total confusion.
What was the world situation at that time? The Sino-Japanese War had entered the stage of drawn-out, pitched battles\and the Soviet-Japanese relations had become extremely strained owing to the Lake Khasan\and Khalkhin-Gol incidents. The flames of the Second World War were spreading far\and wide.
At this point the top brass of the Kwantung Army launched its “special clean-up campaign”, claiming that it would put an end to the anti-Japanese movement in Northeast China once\and for all.
As we used to vanish after each of our attacks, the enemy trekked about the backwoods of Fusong\and Dunhua in search of us all through the winter. While the enemy was going around claiming that the KPRA had frozen to death, the main force suddenly appeared in the border areas of Antu\and Helong Counties\and wiped out the “Maeda punitive force” at Hongqihe. What an astonishing blow this must have been to the Japanese!
The Battle of Hongqihe remains so conspicuous in my memory because it is a major battle along with other major battles, such as Pochonbo, Jiansanfeng, Dongning county town\and Fusong county town. This is also why I so clearly remember Maeda.
Company Commander Maeda of the “police punitive force” in Helong County, was, in fact, a small fry for the KPRA to deal with. Nevertheless, he was as rabidly against us as Commander Wang in Fusong\and Ri To Son in Antu. Although low in rank, he found notoriety in the end because he was destroyed while attempting to wipe out the Headquarters of the Korean revolution.
During that period we were dealing repeated blows at the enemy, while at the same time relaxing\and carrying out training now\and then according to our plan for large-unit circling operations.
About one month before the Battle of Hongqihe, as we were conducting military\and political training in the secret camp at Baishitan, the enemy came in to raid the secret camp. We struck the enemy like lightning\and then slipped away towards Antu. This was the beginning of the second stage of the large-unit circling operations.
From the very start of the second stage we had to face many difficulties. Because Rim Su San at the secret camp in Dongpaizi had neglected the mission given by Headquarters, we had to abandon the planned route\and strike out on an alternate route that ran through the uninhabited region northeast of Mt. Paektu.
It was said that there were many map surveyors in the Japanese army, but they dared not venture into that region, so they left it white on the map. For this reason it was called a “white region”.
On leaving Baishitan we planned to march across the white region, fire off our guns once again at Musan\and Samjang in the homeland, then return to the central area of Antu, China, via Helong County. This was our new plan for the second stage of the large-unit circling operations.
After fighting a battle at Laoshuihe, we marched across the Toudaobai, Erdaobai\and Sandaobai Rivers towards the southern tip of Antu County.
We passed through the white region with great difficulty. At that time the great snowdrifts\and blizzards were our greatest enemies. It was hard to endure the cold\and hunger. The biggest problem was that we often lost our way. As everything was white, we could not judge\where we were, nor could we see any landmarks. As we approached Damalugou, we had run out of provisions\and our clothes\and shoes were all worn out. We therefore raided Damalugou to capture supplies. Damalugou means “large elk valley”\and Xiaomalugou “small elk valley”. In those days the elk of Damalugou used to cross the Tuman River to graze in the meadows of Korea\and then return to Damalugou in winter to feed on purple eulalia.
In Damalugou, the base of an enemy “punitive” force, there was also the headquarters of a company of rangers. The place could be called a stronghold of the enemy “punitive” force in the border area. The Japanese imperialists plundered great amounts of timber for wartime userom lumber companies\and timber forests in the area.
Before the battle we dispatched a reconnaissance party to Damalugou. On their return, the scouts reported that they had seen strange tall men with blue eyes there. They said the men had long noses\and that the backs of their hands were covered with thick hair. They did not know who these people were. I sent a man to check on them. He reported that the men were all Russians working as drivers at the lumber station. They wererom the families which had supported the white army. There were many Russians in the Harbin area. I had seen them when I was in Harbin in the summer of 1930.
While the enemy’s main force was out on a mission one day, we took Damalugou by surprise. The Russian drivers immediately offered my men gold rings, apparently taking us for bandits. When my men declined, they cocked their heads as if to say they had never before seen such strange people in this world. Their ideology was obviously a very backward one.
We captured an enormous amount of wheat flour at Damalugou, which we distributed to the local people, one sack for each person. We captured so much that it was impossible for the guerrillas to carry it all. The workers of the lumber station volunteered to carry the remainder for us.
We planned to persuade the Russians to help us get away by truck to some distance, but I was told that they would not cooperate. I sent a man who knew Russian to talk to them,\and he managed to persuade the drivers to do the job.
At that time I talked to the Russians. I asked them why they were living in China\and not in their own motherland. They replied that the Communist Party did not welcome the people of landlord\and capitalist\origin like themselves. They added that their fathers were guilty because they had been opposed to the socialist revolution, but that they themselves were not guilty of anything. I asked them whether they would build socialism shoulder to shoulder with the communists if they were sent to the Soviet\union; they answered that they would.
Among those who carried captured goods for us there was also a workerrom Japan. I heard that he said good things about us on his return. He said: “I thought the soldiers of the revolutionary army were excellent men. They were all on our side, on the side of us workers. Though they knew that I was a Japanese, they did not discriminate against me\and told me that Japanese workers, hand in hand with Korean workers, should fight Japanese imperialism.” The superintendent of the lumber station caught him saying this\and sent him off somewhere.
Our attack on Damalugou alerted the enemy forces in the Antu\and Helong areas, who were hell-bent on annihilating us. Leading this force were Unami, commander of the “police punitive force” of Helong County\and head of the police affairs department of the county;\and Maeda.
The police authorities of Helong County had\organized the “police punitive force” at the time we were fighting a series of large battles on the Tuman River after our campaign in the Musan area in May 1939. The force had been\organized hastily for the sole purpose of containing\and annihilating our army. Composed of four companies, including the one led by Maeda\and two railway guard companies, it was running wild under the command of the head of the Jiandao district “punitive” force, trying to “mop up” the guerrilla army.
They had thought us to be far in the north. When we appeared in the areas bordering Helong\and Antu Counties all of a sudden\and raided Damalugou, the Helong “police punitive force” set off its entire force on a desperate pursuit of us.
As I learned later, Maeda launched himself into the “punitive” operations against us with even more bravado than others, bragging frequently that his company would destroy the main force of Kim Il Sung’s unit for sure.
The “Nozoe Punitive Command” set 10,000 yuan as a price on my head.
Another source said that an even larger sum had been offered.
When you consider that the public security authorities of Manchukuo set its “police reward” as 10 to 200 yuan, the highest reward in the name of the Public Security Minister, you can see that 10,000 yuan was an enormous sum indeed.
Having served as a junior policeman in Korea,\and then in Manchuria under the garrison command subordinate to the metropolitan police office\and as a head of police stations in areas bordering Korea, Maeda had received a rewardrom the Public Security Minister for the “exploits” he had performed in the “clean-up operations” in the Jiandao area.
On hearing the news that we had raided Damalugou, Maeda went into a rage, raving that he was going to wipe out the guerrilla army. He wrote pledges in blood to this effect\and held a grand ceremony of departure for the “punitive” troops. The joint “punitive” forces of army\and police of Japan\and Manchukuo were spreading out to encircle the vast forests at the foot of Mt. Paektu, throwing out “such a dragnet that even an ant would find it hard to escape”.
Anticipating that the “punitive” force would follow in our wake without fail, we drew up an elusive plan to dodge it. First we sent a small unit, together with the 40 civilians who had carried the captured supplies for us, back to Damalugou, making sure that they left confusing footprints all over the place.
As a result the enemy lamented that they had failed to catch the guerrillas, whom they had taken such great pains to track, as they had been misled by the footprints. They then combed the forests every day, shouting that they would not be fooled again by the guerrillas\and that Kim Il Sung could not very well have sunk into the earth, however elusive he might be. They were convinced that they would locate the Headquarters of the communist army easily enough if they combed Mt. Paektu.
After throwing the enemy off our track, we gave our main force military and political training at the secret camp in Hualazi, having a good rest while we were at it. Then we resumed our march towards Musan. The enemy troops who were trekking about in the Hualazi area in search of our\whereabouts, finally detected us\and began to tail us.
On the march we met peasants who had been drafted to carry supplies for the “punitive” force. They told us that the enemy soldiers on our tail numbered about 1,000. It was March, but both we\and the enemy were experiencing difficulties while on the move owing to the waist-deep snow. Nevertheless, the enemy was marching faster than we, as they were following us along our trodden trail. To make matters worse, my men began to be afflicted with emaciation. At first they numbered only a few, but later they increased to 15.
I asked Rim Chun Chu how he was planning to treat the patients. Rim, a political officer of the guerrilla army, also had rich clinical experience. He replied that he would give them opium. I granted approval, saying that he should do his best, either by using opium\or through any other method he could think of.
Taking opium helped the patients, but they were not well enough to march. We had to put a distance between us\and the enemy, but the pace of our march had slowed down because of the sick men,\and soon the enemy was only about four to six kilometres behind us.
The Damalugou, on the upper reaches of the Hongqi River, consists of several streams. We arrived at one of these streams just as it was getting dark. We found an old house that had been used by lumberjacks; I posted a guard\and told my men to stop\and take a break there. Unless they had sufficient rest, we would not be able to continue fighting. As they were well aware that the enemy were on their heels, they were somewhat uneasy to hear my\order to stop marching\and take a rest in the house, but seeing me lying down, they relaxed.
I decided to attack the “Maeda punitive force” in a valley on the Hongqi. I chose the valley as a place of ambush because I calculated that the enemy, who had been to Hualazi, would pass through the valley without fail on their way back to their base. Moreover, its terrain features were very favourable for an ambush. As the chief of the police affairs department of Helong County said later, the terrain features of the valley were “so unfavourable that no tactics would work” if one was caught up in an ambush there.
On hearing my choice of the spot for an ambush, O Paek Ryong asked me, “Since the enemy are well aware of our tactics, General, will they walk into such a trap?” His doubt was reasonable. The enemy was most afraid of our method of allurement\and ambush. They named it the “net tactic”\and carefully studied measures to counter it. “Don’t be caught in Kim Il Sung’s net”–this became a catch-phrase among them. You can imagine the hard time they had because of this tactic. They tried as far as possible to avoid places\where guerrillas would find it favourable to lie in ambush. O Paek Ryong had this in mind when he spoke.
I considered that the enemy, aware of our “nets”, would be convinced that the communist army would not repeat this tactic, so I decided to position my men in ambush in the valley on the Hongqi\and fight a battle there. In other words, I planned to use once again the tactic the enemy had concluded we would no longer employ.
Next day we marched along the ridge of a mountain toward Xiaomalugou before descending into the valley. The mountains on both sides of the valley were unique. On the right, toward the upper reaches of the river, stood three peaks looking like three brothers. They were ideal places for an ambush. In addition there was a peak on the left with a small forest at the foot of it, which was also a favourable terrain feature for us.
I held a meeting of commanding officers\and\organized the battle. I positioned the machine-gun platoon\and Guard Company on the three peaks on the right side of the valley\and the 7th\and 8th Regiments on the fringe of the peak on the left. Next, I\ordered each unit to climb down to the valley, then climb up the heights again, erasing their uphill footprints before lying down in the designated positions for the ambush. Finally, I sent a decoy party to resume marching along the valley, leaving as many footprints as possible. I also positioned a group, led by Son Thae Chun, on the northern side of the first height in the valley to cut off any enemy retreat. The decoy party would block the enemy advance at the end of the valley.
That day we fought a battle on the Hongqi, as planned. It suddenly began to thaw,\and the snow on the sunny side melted. The paths became muddy.
The enemy appeared in the valley of the Hongqi at the wane of day in the afternoon. I looked at the entrance of the valley through binoculars\and found an enemy scout party, larger than usual for a scout party. It was their habit to dispatch one\or two scouts, but this time they numbered nearly 10. It suggested that all the “punitive” forces in Hualazi were swarming in. The scout were followed by a point.
As the point was marching past the last height, an officer with a sword at his waist entered the valley. I later learned that this was Maeda himself. The head of the enemy’s main body was walking deep into the trap. Maeda stopped\and carefully examined the footprints in the snow\and the features peculiar to the valley.
I guessed he was probably thinking about dispatching a scouting party up to the heights,\or about withdrawing his unit altogether. However, Maeda, extremely exhaustedrom his ten days of lost labour in the mountains, seemed to be off his guard just at the fateful moment when he ought to have been thinking\and judging the situation coolly. Seeing Maeda standing under a lone tree, his subordinate officers gathered around him. Maeda, leaning on his sword, gave some instructions to them. In the meantime the main body of the enemy was pouring steadily into the area of our ambush.
Taking advantage of this golden opportunity, I fired my signal shot.
Half of the enemy was killed by our very first strike. Surprised by crossfirerom the right\and left sides of the valley, Maeda instantly dispersed his marching column on the spot\and attempted to direct his main force to the height in the north to capture it, but was frustrated by our flanking firerom the bushes in the west. As the situation grew more\and more disastrous for him, he\ordered a charge, apparently determined to fight a do-or-die battle. Then, drawing his sword, he led the charge himself. Though seriously wounded, he commanded the battle until the moment he fell.
The remaining enemy put up a desperate fight. Most of Maeda’s men did not lay down their weapons until they were mowed down. Except for about 30 men, who laid down arms\and surrendered, all the enemy soldiers were killed. Their casualties numbered about 140.
In the Battle of Hongqihe my men fought very bravely. O Paek Ryong, the new regimental commander succeeding O Jung Hup, who had fallen in the Battle of Liukesong, fought with great audacity. Kim Il, too, showed great efficiency as the head of the shock troops.
We searched the battlefield after the battle\and captured a large amount of booty, including a wireless equipment\and tens of thousands of cartridges. It was difficult to dispose of all the weapons, for we had more than enough of them. We kept a number of the captured weapons to replace the outmoded ones still being carried by some of my men,\and wrapped the remainder in oil paper\and either buried them in the ground\or stored them in the hollow trunks of trees for a future great event.
After we had finished the disposal of our booty, we discovered the “Fengtian unit” of the puppet Manchukuo army building campfires\and watching us in a place not far awayrom us. Too scared of us to attack, they merely fired a few blind shots. I\ordered O Paek Ryong to set up all the captured machine-guns\and fire a couple of rounds at them so as to threaten them\and test their efficiency at the same time.
That night O Paek Ryong, reporting that the “Fengtian unit” was sneaking towards us, asked me if we should strike back at them.
I said to him, “Leave them alone. Why bother hitting mere on-lookers? It’s better to send them back alive, then they can tell the world how Maeda’s unit was destroyed.”
We discovered that Maeda had made his men write their wills before the battle. We found this out after reading a note in the pocket of an officer’s uniform while searching the battlefield. The note was wrapped in a piece of silk cloth,\and its content was very grim. According to the POWs, Maeda gathered his men before departing for battle\and made them write their last testaments. He told them that their company, as part of the district “punitive” force, had to fight with Kim Il Sung’s army,\and that to win victory in the battle, they needed to cultivate Yamato Tamashii (Japanese spirit)\and be determined to die for the Emperor. He even had a box made for the ashes of his own dead body.
On hearing this, I realized that Maeda, though only the company commander of a “punitive” force, was also an evil henchman of ultra-nationalist forces.
I think it was the militarism\and ultra-nationalism of Japan that turned Maeda into an extremist of national chauvinism\and an anti-communist fanatic.
The Japanese imperialists resorted to all means\and methods to transform the population of Japan into rabid supporters of ultra-nationalism, which often hides under the cloak of patriotism. This is why the virus of ultra-nationalism finds its way easily into the hearts of people not awakened ideologically.
As I have mentioned earlier, the militarists of Japan persistently indoctrinated Japanese youth\and children with the aggressive idea that Japan would prosper only when it conquered Manchuria. It was said that they even baked slogans into such foods as bread\and biscuits, which people consume every day, urging them into overseas expansion. This meant that while swallowing their food they were encouraged to think about swallowing other nations’ territories. When propaganda is as persistent as this, its virus must penetrate people’s minds.
Some of our people think that the bourgeoisie have no ideology, but they are mistaken. Just as communists have communism, they also have bourgeois ideology.\and they persuade their faithful henchmen to espouse their ideology as well.
On the issue of indoctrination in the spirit of the Imperial Way in the Japanese army, some commanding officers in our revolutionary army were at one point teaching our men only about its deceitfulness\and absurdity. This consequently gave rise to the incorrect view of Japanese soldiers as insensible robots only carrying rifles. This was a very dangerous way to think.
That we emphasize the political\and ideological superiority of our own army does not mean that our enemy has no ideology. While we see our ideology as being superior to the enemy’s, this does not mean that we can underestimate the enemy as having no distinct beliefs. I instructed our political officers that they should not place all their emphasis on the vulnerability of the enemy’s ideology,\and that they should not ignore the fact that the Japanese do inculcate ideology in their soldiers\and fill them with a most evil spirit of anti-communism.
In the Battle of Hongqihe the enemy drank a truly bitter cup. They learned the harsh lesson that, however zealously they might track the KPRA, no victory would await them\and that instead they would experience a painful end, as the “Maeda punitive force” had done. They also found out that no force in the world could defeat the KPRA.
In this battle we demonstrated to the whole world that the KPRA was going strong, winning one victory after another,\and that however severe the trials, it would never yield\or perish.
The battle exerted a good influence on the people in the homeland. As the Hongqi was within hailing distancerom Korea, the news of Maeda’s defeat in the fight with the revolutionary army spread like wildfire across the Tuman River into Korea. The people, who had been worrying about the fate of the KPRA, drew great strengthrom the news. After the battle they never again believed the propaganda that the revolutionary army was routed.
The battle occasioned widespread discussions about the power of the KPRA. It was a very good thing that people trusted the KPRA\and entrusted their future to it entirely. It helped the anti-Japanese, patriotic forces of Korea promote an all-people resistance with greater confidence, looking forward to the glorious event of national liberation. This was our greatest gain in the Battle of Hongqihe.
In contrast, for the Japanese\and Manchukuo army\and police, who had been bragging that the anti-Japanese guerrilla war in the northeast would come to an end when Kim Il Sung’s army was wiped out, this was an unhappy boltrom the blue\and a tragic defeat.
The police authorities of Helong County, frightened by the annihilation of the Maeda unit, had to admit that they had not exactly been blessed by Divine Providence; they also confessed that the defeat of the Maeda unit had been unavoidable because of the adroit tactics of the KPRA. The destruction of the “Maeda punitive force” also meant the frustration of the “special clean-up campaign for maintaining public peace in the southeastern area”, in which the Japanese\and Manchukuo top brass had invested so much effort.
Unami, Maeda’s immediate superior\and chief of the police affairs department of Helong County, returned to Japan after the defeat in the war. He left this article:
“It wasrom 1938 to 1941 that I, as a Manchukuo policeman in Jiandao Province, took part in the punitive operations against the anti-Japanese army, led by General Kim Il Sung. ...
“It was hard to collect information, but a relatively reliable source said that ‘General Kim Il Sung finished school in Jilin City. With high academic records, he had an outstanding ability to make political judgements. He also had\organizational\and leadership ability\and enjoyed great popularity.’...
“It seemed that his outstanding leadership talent found full expression during the anti-Japanese guerrilla struggle. We experienced especially hard times because of his deft luring operations\and ambushes. ...
“On March 11, 1940, Damalugou, in the gorge along the Hongqi, was raided by Kim Il Sung’s army. Damalugou was a base of the punitive force that also housed the headquarters of a company of rangers. The headquarters was attacked, the motor-car repair shop was burnt down\and weapons, ammunition, food\and clothing were plundered.
“Nunogami, commander of the district punitive force,\ordered the police battalion of the punitive force to trace\and annihilate Kim Il Sung’s army in cooperation with Ooba’s\and Akabori’s units of the Japanese army.
“I relayed the\order to the company, led by Maeda Takeichi. On March 25 Maeda’s company encountered Kim Il Sung’s army not farrom Damalugou\and fought a fierce battle, but the whole company, including the commander himself, was annihilated. It was trapped in an ambush. The annihilation of Maeda’s company had a shocking impact on the punitive force.
“As Kim Il Sung’s army was familiar with the geographical features\and employed highly variable tactics, the punitive operations in forests hardly succeeded. ...
“At that time Kim Il Sung’s guerrilla army was in high spirits, saying such things as, ‘We are the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army led by General Kim Il Sung. There is no compromise in the fight for the liberation of the country,’\and ‘The punitive force is a most welcome guest, for it supplies us with weapons, food\and clothing.’
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is now achieving a remarkable development under the leadership of Premier Kim Il Sung.
“I am convinced,rom my own experience, that the Korean people, advancing under the leadership of this outstanding leader, will surely achieve the reunification of their country.”
Recollecting the Battle of Hongqihe later, the great leader stressed the need to heighten vigilance against the revival of militarism. Here is what he said about the latter:
The ruling authorities of Japan are said to have awakenedrom their wild daydream of world domination after the Second World War. If this is true, then it is good for Japan\and fortunate for the people of neighbouring countries.
Nevertheless, in view of the conduct of Japanese authorities, we still have to wonder whether\or not they continue to dream of world domination\and their “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”. Many reactionaries in Japan have not yet admitted the crime of having invaded\and plundered Korea\and several other countries in Asia\and of having killed millions of people, nor have they yet made reparations for their crimes. Worse still, they have not admitted their most heinous crime, that of having taken 200,000 women\and girls as sex slaves\and of having treated them with greater cruelty than they would animals. On the contrary, they are now seeking to become a political\and military power on the basis of their economy.
Neo-fascists are now manoeuvring in European countries as well.
This also is highly dangerous.
We must clearly sharpen our vigilance against the revival of militarism.
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