Wanshan Archipelago Campaign

The Wanshan Archipelago Campaign (万山群岛战役) was a campaign fought between nationalist and communist forces during the Chinese Civil War for the control of Wanshan Archipelago (Wanshan Qundao, 万山群岛), and resulted in communist victory. The archipelago consists of 48 islands strategically located at the mouth of the Pearl River, a chokepoint on the communication lines to Hong Kong and Macau. The largest island is the Laurel Mountain (Guishan, 桂山) Island, which was formerly known as Trash Tail (Lajiwei, 垃圾尾) Island. Other major islands include Outer Linding (Wailinding, 外伶仃) Island, Dong’ao (东澳) Island, Tri-gate (Sanmen, 三门) Island, Greater Ten-thousand Mountain (Da Wanshan, 大万山) Island, Lesser Ten-thousand Mountain (Xiao Wanshan, 小万山) Island, Burden Pole (Dangan, 担杆) Islands, and Jianpeng (佳蓬) Islands.

Wanshan Archipelago Campaign
Part of the Cross-Strait conflict and Chinese Civil War
Date May 25 – August 7, 1950
Location
Result Communist victory
Belligerents
Nationalist China Communist China
Commanders and leaders
Qi Hongzhang Hong Xuezhi
Strength
4,000
40+ naval vessels
10,000
24 naval vessels
Casualties and losses
700+
4 gunboats sunk
11 naval vessels captured
300+
1 landing ship
1 gunboat severely damaged
Uprisings
Encirclement campaigns
Long March
Soviet intervention
Intermission
Resumption of hostilities
Bandits Suppression
Island campaigns

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After Hainan Island had fallen into the communist hands, the nationalist 3rd Fleet withdrew to Wanshan Archipelago and together with the various nationalist units as the local garrison, the nationalists planned to blockade the mouth of the Pearl River and cutting off the maritime links between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau. The nationalist naval commander-in-chief Gui Yongqing (桂永清) organized the Wanshan Defense Command, and named nationalist commander-in-chief of the 3rd Fleet Qi Hongzhang (齊鴻章) as the commander, who set up his headquarters on board the frigateTaihe (太和), the largest nationalist warship among more than three dozen nationalist naval vessels in the region, and the flagship of the nationalist 3rd Fleet. In response, the communist force decided to take the archipelago and eliminate the threat and crush the nationalist blockade of the mouth of the Pearl River. The communist deputy corps commander Hong Xuezhi (洪学智) was named as the commander of the Riverine Defense Force of the Cantonese Military Region to be in charge of the incoming operation, and the commander of force began to mass at Zhongshan on May 8, 1950, after a joint command headquarters was set up.

Nationalistorder of battle Around 4,000, including:

  • 1 Marine regiment
  • 1 battalion from the 208th Division of the Youth Army
  • 6 infantry companies of various units
  • Units of the Cantonese Assault Army
  • The 3rd Fleet
    • More than 30 naval vessels, later increased to more than 40.

Communistorder of battle Around 10,000 total, including:

  • 2 regiments from the 131st Division of the 44th Army
  • 1 Artillery battalion of the 132nd Division
  • 1 Artillery company of the 130th Division
  • 1 Artillery company of the South-central Military Region with 100 mm long range cannons
  • 1 Artillery company from the 50th Army with recoilless guns
  • 1 Artillery regiment of the Pearl River sub-Military Region
  • Riverine Defense Force of the Cantonese Military Region (naval force)

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