Sunday, March 3, 2013

Documents Related to the Battle of Chamdo III

Translated by Jianglin Li
Edited by Matthew Akester
Document 8

Source:  Liberation of Chamdo. Compiled by Office of Editing and Research, Political Department, Chengdu Military Area Command and Tibet Military Area Command. Chengdu: Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe, 1991. pp. 16-17.
Note: Footnotes added by translator.

Southwest Military Area Command’ Report to CMC
Regarding the 18th Army Marching toward Chamdo

(October 1, 1950) 

Regarding the current situation of the advance on Chamdo, it is summarized as follows: 

I. The 52nd division (excluding one battalion) of the 18th army, joined by a reconnaissance battalion, artillery battalion and a supply regiment, assembled in Ganzi on September 16, and began marching westward. On 26th the advanced troops reached Songlinkou, over 150 li west of Ganzi. The main force marched through the Baili (白利)-Rongbacha(绒坝岔)line, and is continuing to advance westward. Due to problems in the Ganzi-Kangding road, supplies could not be delivered on time, the 52nd division had to spend three days repairing the road in the area west of Ganzi, and (troops) could not assemble in Dengke and Dege region on schedule. It is now decided that (troops) will begin to cross the river and advance westward on October 7th. 

The main force of the 157th regiment,  53rd division, began westward movement from Kangding on September 11, and assembled in Ba-an on 29th, planning to cross the river together with the 52nd division. Troops of the 14th Army plan to mobilize one battalion to attack and occupy Mengong and Bitu (northwest of Deqing[1]) and dispatch some troops out of Zayi (four days northwest of Bitu).[2] In addition, four companies will move northward from Deqing, pincer attacking Yanjing together with the northbound troops from Bitu.  

II. Regarding the clothing needed by advancing troops, some fur coats are still in urgent production, the rest of the fur coats and cotton-padded jackets have all been distributed.

By 27th, two million jin[3] of food had been stored in Ganzi and the areas west (including food powder[4], crackers and egg-yolk sausages[5]), enough for one month’s supply. In order to reduce the difficulty for next year’s advance, it is decided that after the Battle of Chamdo, troops that have already entered Kang (Kham) and Zang (Tibet) areas (the 18th army and supporting troops, about 20,000 men and 3000 pack animals) will all be kept in Chamdo (3000 men), Ganzi, Ba-an and west of Erlangshan mountain, so they will adapt to life in Kang and Zang area and build roads and airfields. In addition, work such as training and consolidation will be carried out. For this purpose, 10 million jin of supplies need to be delivered forward. With the current number of vehicles working intensively to transport it,  7200,000 jin can be rushed to the front by the end of November. The remaining 2800,000 jin is to be airdropped, supplemented by purchasing some grain and yaks in Ganzi and Chamdo. 

III. Beginning from early September, one engineers regiment rushed to build the road from Ganzi to Zhuqing[6]. By 26th, small jeeps reached Yulong and will be able to reach Haizishan, southeast of Zhuqing by early October. Transportation from Haizishan to west bank of Jinsha river will be by yak. At the moment 5000 yaks have been assembled in the Yulong and Dengke line to meet the need.  

IV. Since September the Yajiang and Ganzi lines have had constant rain. Majority of the road from Kangding to Ganzi covers pastoral land, and the road bed is not strong enough and roadside drainage is not sufficient either. As a result,  there is a large amount of rainwater on the road, and mud on several sections. The most serious were the four sections of Luanshigang, Ekou, Tagong monastery south of Daofu[7] and Dong-E-luo in the northwest to Yingguanzai (altogether about 12 km). Sludge on those sections is as deep as one meter, most vehicles get bogged down, advancing  one and half kilometers costs four gallons of gasoline and serious damage to vehicle parts.  From Kangding to Daofu normally takes one and a half days, but due to the above-mentioned reason, the delay can even be as long as four and a half days, greatly impairing troops’ advance and transportation. The engineers corps made great efforts to drive in stakes and rushed to set up crossings, and (the troops) can now manage to pass through, but it still takes three days. We could have built the road on the higher land, circling around this section of meadow to avoid vehicles getting stuck, but we were hurrying to build a straight road to pass quickly, and instead it cost more time and effort.

Document 9

Source:  Liberation of Chamdo. Compiled by Office of Editing and Research, Political Department, Chengdu Military Area Command and Tibet Military Area Command. Chendu: Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe, 1991. pp. 18-20. 

The People’s Liberation Army 52nd Division (Combat) Order

 (Kang Combat Order No. 3)
(October 4, 1950)

I. Situation: see Intelligence Report No. 5. 

II. In according with the Kang Combat Order No. 2, namely, the Initial Order on Battle of Chamdo, this division has decided to cross the river beginning 7 a.m. on the 6th day of this month (October) at Dengke, executing the task of liberating Chamdo and annihilating the main force of the Tibetan Army east of the Langqiang River and the Enda, Leiwuqi area. Specific arrangements are as follows: 

A. Right Wing:  being a combination of the Qinghai Calvary detachment, Division Reconnaissance company and all the units of the 154th Regiment and collectively under the command of Deputy Political Commissar Yin[8] and Chief of Staff Li, it is this Division’s powerful force on the right side of the advance on Chamdo. The significance is that infantry and cavalry can closely coordinate with each other and provide strong points to offset each other’s weakness, quickly circling and outflanking the entire position of Kalon and Lhalu, so the troops of the mid-wing can be broken up, to penetrate and annihilate the enemy.  The key to whether (we) can annihilate over three depons of the enemy force, lay a good foundation for advancing into Lhasa and liberate the whole Tibet depends on how troops of this wing accomplish their tasks (namely, if they encircle more, annihilate more;  encircle less, annihilate less, or otherwise miss the enemy). It is hereby decided: 

Qinghai cavalry detachment (joined by divisional cavalry reconnaissance company,  one platoon of the 154th regiment artillery company with two recoilless guns)  moves from Yushu on 9th via Nangqian, passing Nangqian monastery,[9] Zhiya and Duozangka in seven days, encircles the enemy in Leiwuqi first and annihilates the enemy, if (your) own capability and the circumstance allow. If not, leave (the enemy) to the 154th regiment to handle (if enemies have escaped within one day’s distance, the detachment bears the responsibility to pursue and annihilate them), and push straight to Enda, cutting off the enemy’s route of retreat from Chamdo to Taizhao[10] and blocking enemy reinforcements. 

The 154th regiment crosses the river at Dengke on 6th, detouring toward Batang at 50 li south to  Yushu, and then following the cavalry detachment forward to Nangqian, taking the route of Nangqian monastery, Dogongba, Jiazangka[11] and annihilating the enemy in Leiwuqi. After that, (the regiment) leaves one battalion (also organize shelter) there to cut off the enemy’s route of retreat from Chamdo to Heihe, and the main force moves straight to Enda, with the same tasks as the cavalry detachment.  

B. Middle wing: composed of the 155th and 156th regiments, division artillery battalion and troops directly under the division headquarters, commanded by the division. Main task: break up, penetrate positions of Kalon and Lhalu, wipe them out one by one (when necessary, battles can be fought by individual companies), and finally reassemble to annihilate the main force of the Tibetan army around Chamdo. It is hereby decided: 

The 155th regiment crosses the river at 7 a.m. on 8th from Dengke, by-passing Guode[12] via Kazeduo to deploy at Yayaosongduo.[13]  One battalion circles to areas south of Shengda, coordinating with the 156th regiment to annihilate the enemy first in the Shengda, Jiakasongduo and Guode line. After completing the task, (the 155th regiment) continues to advance into Dongdong Zhuka, the main force moves to Fenlu via Maojing, one battalion quickly captures the bridge in Mianda,[14] another battalion moves southward along Jiangxigou, quickly captures Jiangxi Bridge and the bridge at Dedang Gongba, ensuring the main force can cross (the bridges) and encircle escaping enemies from Shengda. After completing the task, this battalion should quickly make a force crossing of the Zachu (Mekong) river, take control of the river bank and ferry west of Dongdong Zhuka, coordinating with the main force of the regiment to cross the river. When all the units regroup, the whole regiment marches down south along the mountain ranges north of Chamdo via Niuchang (southwest of Dongdong Zhuka) straight to Chamdo. 

The 156th Regiment (excluding one battalion and Army artillery battalion) crosses the river from Dengke on 10th, taking a shortcut straight to Shengda, and dispatching a small unit to circling areas south of Shengda, coordinating with the 155th regiment to annihilate the enemy defending Shengda (the third depon commanded by Moxia)[15], then seize Sichuan bridge (on the outskirts of Chamdo) by way of Yiquka and Duolando. After that (the two regiments) jointly attack Chamdo. On the march, attention should be paid to annihilating any enemies escaping westward along the Jinsha river, and keep in contact with the Engineers battalion and the Reconnaissance battalion.  

C. Left wing: composed of Army Reconnaissance battalion, Engineers battalion, the 54th Division Artillery company and jointly commanded by Commander Su of Reconnaissance battalion and Director Wang of Political Department, Army Headquarters. Crosses the river at 7 a.m. from Gangtuo on 8th, taking on the tasks formulated in Initial Order for Battle of Chamdo[16] . When troops of this wing advance to within three days of Chamdo, some of the troops should circle to the areas south of Chamdo on the routes they see fit, to prevent enemies from detouring (original text unclear)  or Jingda and Zaya Cheda[17] to escape.
III. Communication and logistics all follow the Basic Order 

IV. Division headquarters will be positioned in Dengke in the first stage, Shengda in the second stage, Dongdong Zhuka in the third stage.


1. While advancing, all units should seize bridges rapidly, and in case those bridges have been destroyed by the enemy, (units) should find any other way to cross over quickly (leather boats should be carried on departure).

2. One combat map for Battle of Chamdo attached.

3. One mileage map of main transportation route attached.

4. 30 copies of this order are mimeographed.

Document 10 

Source:  Liberation of Chamdo. Compiled by Office of Editing and Research, Political Department, Chendu Military Area Command and Tibet Military Area Command. Chendu: Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe, 1991. pp. 21- 26

Note: Footnotes added by translator. 

Detailed Report on Battle of Chamdo by the 52nd Division, 18th Army[18]

(November, 1950)

After crossing the Jinsha river from October 6th to 9th, troops reached the vast plateau of a thousand li in length and width and in coordination with brother troops, units of this division were divided into three wings, left, middle and right, forming the assault on Chamdo, a powerful pincer attack targetting the 1500-li-long position of the Tibetan army commanded by Chamdo Governor Lhalu.
During the fourteen days of rapid advance and fighting, all units were moving across the unfamiliar plateau without accurate maps. (Soldiers) carried loads of 60 or 70 jin,[19] climbed more than 50 high mountains and crossed rivers over 60 times. On average, foot soldiers cover 72 li , cavalry 80 li[20] a day, those who had to march day and night moved up to 34 hours continuously  without enough food. However, (all units) answered the call by party committees of both the army and the division and endured extreme hardship, annihilated all the defending enemies in Chamdo on schedule, and successfully completed the capture of Chamdo.
The success of this battle, …annihilated five Dapons, the main force of the Tibetan army, and over 2000 militia, liberated the region north to Qinghai, south to Yunnan, east to Jinsha river, west to Luolong and Leiwuqi,  a vast area more than one thousand square li. (The success) further strengthened (our) unity with Tibetans west of the Jinsha river, laid the foundation for advancing next year (1951), struck blows directly and indirectly at the British and American imperialist invaders, inspired people in the near east and repaid the people of the whole country who had warmly supported us.
…Tibetans have warmly supported us (taking in and escorting individual stragglers,  delivering information, guiding the way, providing transportation, building bridges, preparing firewood and fodder, etc.), all of this shows that we had good influence by carrying out the policies conscientiously before the attack and shows the tangible benefits brought  to Tibetans during our westward march.  This is a small accomplishment we achieved in the past, and it is also a major pointer for the future in the liberation and construction of Tibet.
In this battle, troops advanced rapidly for 15 days with heavy loads across the high plateau a thousand kilometers in length and width, wrapping up…entire (enemy?) position  1500 li in length and accomplished the task on schedule, completely annihilated the third (two Dapons), the seventh, the eighth, the fifth and the tenth Dapon, altogether five Dapons (averaging small regiments) under Tibetan Frontier Envoy Commissioner General,[21]  captured…over 3000 men. This victory is fundamentally due to correct leadership by leading officers of the Military Area Command and the Army Party Committee, strong support from the people of the whole country, coordination from brother troops (particularly engineer corps), favourable influence created by advanced detachment through their hard work and carrying out policies conscientiously, and the eight-month long preparation. All of these contributed to the successful conclusion of this battle. Review of the battle process is as follows:
I. Process
(I) Judgement of enemy situation:
(1) Based on information obtained by the advanced detachment and by our own battle experience, in terms of the arrangement of their position, the enemy had no focus, no depth and attached no importance to flanks.
(2) (Enemy) lacks systematic strategic planning and command, (they) fought wherever they were attacked and were easily misled by us. After we crossed the river from Dengke, it was quite possible that the enemy might mistakenly believe, based on historical experience, that we were going to take Lhasa by way of Yushu and Heihe.
(3) The enemy had never experienced large scale battle, had no knowledge of modern military science and was equipped with few heavy weapons. (Their) combat capability was not strong. After our powerful military forces crossed the (Jinsha) river, it was estimated that the following three changes may appear:
Retreat without fighting and escape without hesitation.  If this happened, it would definitely make it more difficult for us to annihilate the enemy.
. Scatter at the first contact, and the possibility of scattering everywhere in the mountains and wilderness to entangle us also existed. This would make it even more difficult for us to annihilate the enemy.
. Concentrate forces and put up strong resistance in strategic locations. This was exactly what we were hoping for, for we were absolutely sure that we would annihilate them thoroughly, straightforwardly and completely.
. In the Dengke battle, (we) did not seize the moment of strength to strike the enemy a fatal blow. The enemy might mistakenly have thought that our combat capability was not strong, getting arrogant and inattentive enough to confront us.
(II). Determination and Deployment
Liberating Chamdo, annihilating the main force of the Tibetan army in the area east of Lanchang river,  Enda and Leiwuqi lays the foundation  for advance into Lhasa next year (1951) and liberate the entire Tibet. (We) decided to deploy a powerful right-flank encircling force composed of infantry and cavalry, providing strong points to offset each other’s weaknesses, making a detour via Ba-tang and Nanqian and pushing forward vigorously and precipitately. Troops should not be blocked by small numbers of enemy, doing everything possible to clear away obstacles and circle bravely…the entire field, cutting off the enemy’s retreats from Enda to Taizhao and from Leiwuqi to Heihe, the two main escape routes, making it impossible for enemies to escape even if they intended to slip away without fighting. Performance of troops in this wing is the key to success or failure in annihilating more than three Dapons of the enemy force. The middle wing cut into the heart of the enemy position by way of Shengda, Yayaosongduo, Yiquka, Dongdong Zhuka, Duozhiduo, etc,, cutting into the heart of the enemy position, penetrating, separating, surrounding and annihilating the enemy within the entire enemy position and advancing straight to Chamdo. If the enemy did not rest, we wouldn’t  rest; when the enemy took rest, we annihilate them. The left wing force crossed (the river) at Gangtuo, marching slowly by way of Tongpu, Jiangda and Jueyong to draw in the enemy. They seized the Damala Pass and controlled Sichuan bridge. Our slogans were “not to worry about breaking up Tibetan army’s positions, but to worry whether (we can) surround them. Surround more, annihilate more; surround less, annihilate less.”

II. Review of the Battle (omitted)
III. A few experiences from the battle
(I) Experiences of fighting the Tibetan army
A. All Tibetan troops were organized in a comparatively primitive way. Troops have neither (commanding) offices nor maps. Everything was handled by one single officer-in-charge. Special reconnaissance troops and communication tools were very outdated. Everything relied on wula,[22] and as a result the upper and lower could not communicate during the battle.  For example, during the battle when Gaqionba, the third Dapon, retreated in defeat from Jiangda to Chamdo, (he was) surprised to meet Moxia Dapon, and only at that time did he come to know that the Liberation Army had passed Dengke and that Moxia had been defeated too. 
(They) did not fight aggressively and lacked counter attack ability. In several battles we did not find the enemy launching strong counter attacks.
B. Lack of systematic strategic thinking, as expressed by:
No attention paid to protect flank and rear while deploying the forces. As seen from the deployment of this battle, three Dapons positioned in the front had fallen into our horseshoe-shape encirclement,  200 men were still deployed in the Leiwuqi flank.
No knowledge of using the terrain to block our advance. While chasing and attacking the enemy, none of the bridges and passes in the route were destroyed, particularly the Sichuan bridge (this bridge is like the gateway to Chamdo). The 156th regiment was half a day’s distance from the enemy, when they advanced and seized the bridge, it was left intact.
No night combat experience. Falling into disorder as soon as fighting began, each man escaping on his own. This was how the enemy behaved in the battle of Jueyong.
No guards posted at encampments.  In Jueyong one squad of our reconnaissance battalion sneaked into the enemy’s tents at night, and only then did they find out and began screaming and running about in disorder.
C. Enemies were slow in climbing mountains: the 156th regiment was one day’s distance away, the reconnaissance battalion was two days’ distance away from the enemy, but they both caught up the enemy within 100 to 200 li. Their speed was nearly one third faster than the speed of the enemy.
D. In terms of tactics: (enemy) was good at riding horses, highly skillful at shooting and utilizing terrain and landforms, but not good at operation. For example: in the battle of Shengda, the 155th regiment confronted the enemy across the river for more than ten hours, and over ten men were wounded. The distance in between was about 300 meters, but hardly any enemy could be seen (they were all hiding behind rocks and in dense forest). According to our observations in the battle field, beside Jazhangka and Shengda where a few fortifications were made, the other places had no fortifications. The fortifications were very poorly built, mostly piled up stones in the shape of a pigsty, which could be pushed over by hand.
(II) Tactics to be used against Tibetan army
A. To deal with the weak Tibetan army with our current equipment, the key is to encircle the enemy (that is, the more encircled, the more will be annihilated; less encircled, less will be annihilated). No need to worry about breaking through Tibetan army’s positions, the only worry is not being able to encircle them. Since supplies are scarce in Kham-Zang Plateau, once the supply line is cut, (enemy) will retreat in disorder without fighting.
B.   Based on special conditions of the plateau cavalry is the key to annihilate the enemy, and the guarantee of success. Because the loads foot soldiers have to carry are too heavy, they don’t have enough physical strength to walk long distances to encircle the enemy.  As is shown in this battle, the cavalry detachment was able to complete its task on time (to block the enemy), based on the distance, it was impossible for the infantry to complete it.
III. Coordination of Infantry and Artillery
Due to weather conditions on the plateau and our equipment, vigorous activities and rapid charge are not favourable to the troops. Therefore, during combat firepower must be well organized so as to coordinate with foot soldiers continuously and effectively.  In arranging firepower, the focal points should be the flank and rear, for enemy fears our artillery attack more than anything.
IV. Reconnaissance
Since there are no accurate maps available and no accountable mileage for roads, plus there are lots of rivers, forests and mountain ranges in Kang-Zang area, knowledge of enemy situation and terrain through reconnaissance prior to battle is highly important. The method is to inquire from Tibetans familiar with (the area) in various ways, and estimate how far it is based on how many days he covers certain distance. As long as we are nice to him, he would give us such information honestly.
V. How to use artillery in plateau combat should be well studied, particularly how to measure distance. Observation is not easy since too many objects block the view, and as a result, distances are often misjudged as closer (than they actually are). Because the air is thin, the speed of the shells is faster.
VI. Suggestions on army structure and equipment
A. Branches of army:  a division should have a cavalry regiment to fulfill the task of circling and surrounding (the enemy). A regiment should have a mounted reconnaissance company to facilitate communication and reconnaissance. When the regiment engages in individual combat, (mounted reconnaissance company) can perform tasks of circling and surrounding in small actions. In addition, one engineers platoon should be allocated (can be attached to guard company) to take on tasks such as building bridges, handling boats, and clearing away obstacles so as to reduce the trouble of crossing rivers and increase advancing speed.
B. Weaponry: reduce mountain artillery,  increase recoilless guns, high-angle guns, dynamite, detonator, fuse and explosive.
C. Tools: Quality and style of current field tools needs to be improved. Both the shovels and picks the troops are currently equipped with are not practical in combat. Besides being pointed at one end, the other end of the pick should be changed to something that can be used mainly in hacking. Shovel should be changed into American style with removable head, and can be used to dig, scratch and shovel off grass. Besides, since the plateau weather is cold, canteen should be changed into thermal canteen, and more cowhide boats, and bridge-building tools such as saws, hatchets, ropes, etc.
D. Uniform: There are thorns and gravel everywhere on the plateau and clothes are easily torn, the current style of uniform must be changed and quality must be improved, otherwise it will not be able to last the season (until the next uniform issue).
It is better to make the uniform with strong and durable cloth, shoulders, backsides and knees should be reinforced.  It is better that the cuffs are tightened and trousseaus in the style of jodhpurs. Weight of coat should be reduced. Comforter should be changed into soft, warm, damp-resistant, lightweight, larger size wool blanket which can be used as mattress pad as well as comforter. Raincoat and damp-resistant canvas should be combined into one, based on current raincoat size and shape, adding more rubber to make it thicker so it can be used to wear and to spread as bedding.  Quality of shoes should be improved, soles should be softer and the upper should be higher, water-proof and damp-resistant. Headgear should better be helmet (the type used by pilots) with goggles fixed on. Goggle lenses should be made of plastic (at the moment two thirds of the goggles the troops were equipped with have been damaged).
E. Communication tools: Office at regiment and above level should be equipped with larger radio of 50 watt or more. Current radios cannot function at 11. p.m. because signals are too weak.
F. Supply:  Since the current transportation condition is rather difficult, all food should be high quality, low quantity, long-lasting and easy to carry, otherwise it increases soldiers’ burden, reduces their physical strength, slows down marching speed and has negative impact on accomplishing tasks. For example, the powdered food distributed this time was heavy and the quality was poor. Grain powder was not well cooked, ration was not enough to eat, and hard to digest, causing stomach pain, abdominal bloating and diarrhea. As a result, medical patients sharply increased, and a considerable number of soldiers lagged behind.  According to initial statistics, of all the stragglers in the whole division, 80% were because of the food powder.
Document 11

Source:  Liberation of Chamdo. Compiled by Office of Editing and Research, Political Department, Chengdu Military Area Command and Tibet Military Area Command. Chengdu: Sichuan Renmin Chubanshe, 1991. P. 35 – 39.

Note: Footnotes added by translator. 

Brief Report on Battle of Chamdo
by Southwest Military Area Command [23]

I. Before the battle over four thousand Tibetan regular army and over three thousand militia were stationed in Chamdo area. The main forces were deployed in the Shengda, Jiangda, Tongpu and Leiwuqi line around Chamdo, other troops were placed in the areas of Ningjing, Yanjing, Bitu and Mengong, attempting to block the advance of our army. For the purpose of annihilating the above-mentioned main force of Tibetan army and occupying Chamdo area, creating favourable conditions for liberating entire Tibet in the following year, a faction of the 18th army, cavalry detachment of Qinghai Military Area Command and the 14th army, altogether over 20,000 men, were deployed to carry out the tasks of Battle of Chamdo. In terms of strategy, every effort was made to circle, surround and annihilate the enemy’s main force in Chamdo and further east. 

Specific arrangement: The entire 52nd division, 18th army, was to cross the river at Dengke. One regiment, together with the cavalry detachment moving down from Yushu, would advance straight to Leiwuqi and Enda via Nangqian to cut off enemy escape routes toward the west and northwest. The main force of the division was to march southwest of Dengke directly to Chamdo by way of Shengda and Dongsong Chuka. Reconnaissance battalion and engineer battalion of 18th army would cross the river at Derge and march westward, assaulting Chamdo head on. Meanwhile the 157th regiment, 53rd division, would cross from Ba-an (Batang), surround and annihilate enemies in Ningjing. The main force would then move on to Bangda and Basu[24] to block enemy escape routes in the southwest.

One regiment of 42nd division, 14th army, would move from Gongchuan and Deqing, Yunnan Province, annihilate enemies in Mengong, Bitu and Yanjing and then pretend to move toward northwest. The above-mentioned troops began action according to schedule on October 6th and 7th respectively, breaking the enemy defenses along the way and won over the 9th Dapon at Ningjing[25] to stage an uprising. From October 19th to 21st, troops arrived at Chamdo area one after another. …The Battle was completed by October 25th. According to initial statistics, altogether over 5700 enemies were annihilated. Some remnants of the enemy force fled westward to the areas of Luolong and Bianba[26], but was soon annihilated in Luolong by a section of the 154th regiment on November 12 using the tactic of long-range raid, capturing over 30 men including Pusalong[27] the 7th Dapon and occupying the area. 

II. Prior to the battle, we estimated that after the battle began, enemy might make three changes under pressure, namely: 

(1) Draw back their forces to guard strategic positions and fight fiercely with us; 

(2) Dissolve on the spot and engage us in guerrilla war;

(3) After finding out the strength of our force, deploy a rearguard to defend the strategic positions, blocking our advance step by step by step in order to provide cover for the main force to retreat. This is most likely. Therefore, on the one hand we deployed part of our troops specially to circle and surround (the enemies) on both flanks and cut the enemy’s retreat route; on the other hand we ordered troops to be flexible and make proper decisions suitable to the situation, to engage the enemy in the relevant areas and at the same time capture and annihilate them group by group. We also emphasized that when it was clear that the enemies were in retreat, (troops) should catch them up and annihilate them quickly and forcefully regardless of fatigue.

Development of the battle shows that this estimate and our combat strategy were correct. Even though enemies in Chamdo had the intention to defend with every effort, they lacked a comprehensive and detailed combat scheme (the ninth Dapon in Ningjing had lost contact with Chamdo before the battle started). In the beginning they resisted separately, later on they fled westward in haste. In addition, Tibetan soldiers were corrupted, most had been in the army for 20 or 30 years and deeply estranged from their officers. All soldiers had their families with them, resulting in slow and clumsy movement. Their combat capability was rather weak and the (combat) performance was confusing and chaotic. Since our army generally is capable of pursue and assault regardless of fatigue, especially the right wing (cavalry detachment and 154th regiment of the 52nd division). Charged with the spirit of bravery, this unit was able to march long distances rapidly and cut off the enemy’s retreat route in time, achieved expected combat result and played a great role in winning the overall victory.

However, a few units failed to perform according to the above-mentioned principle, some even lost combat opportunity and suffered unnecessary losses for caring too much about fatigue. For instance, on the 12th, the advanced battalion of the 156th regiment had initial contact with 400 Tibetan militia on the outskirts of Guode (over 200 li southwest of Dengke), the enemy took a detour and fled toward Shengda. This battalion did not follow up the victory with a pursuit and did not start advancing till after breakfast the next day. As a result the enemy slipped away. It had been decided that this unit should rush to Shengda within three days, but it delayed as long as two days. The reconnaissance and engineer battalions of the 18th army that crossed river at Derge did not fully understand the principle that “the frontline troops advance at slow pace in order to engage the enemy”, plus psychologically inattentive (off guard) due to underestimating the enemy and eager to win, they did not follow the order issued by the 52nd division to postpone river-crossing for one day but crossed in daytime on the 7th. Since they did not arrange firepower correctly, infantry and artillery were not well coordinated and troops used for circling did not function properly, enemies in Gangtuo were able to hold the position and put up a stubborn resistance for 15 hours, costing us lots of ammunition and over 20 casualties without annihilating the enemy. 

III. Before the battle, troops had gone through comprehensive education on minority policy and conducted work aimed at uniting with the minority people in a planned way. (This work) contributed greatly to accomplishing the battle smoothly.  For example, in the Ganzi, Dengke, Derge to Chamdo line 15,000 yaks were drafted from Tibetans for transportation (excluding those purchased by the army), ensuring that food and other supplies were delivered to the front on time. Transportation from Kangding to Ba-an was also served by yaks belonging to local Tusi and chiefs. When the advanced detachment of the 18th army arrived in Ganzi at the end of April, (the troop) was assisted by Tusi and chiefs, enabling them to overcome the difficulties caused by food shortage and other problems.   Based on the principle of unity, troops spread the message of Central People’s Government policies and discipline of People’s Liberation Army to Lamas, Tibetan officials, Tusi and chiefs along the way, and received fairly good response. They were willing to assist us with the work of road building and transportation. After entering Ningjing and Yanjing, (troops) immediately started political offensive, successfully getting the deputy magistrate of Yanjing county and magistrate of Ningjing county to return to their offices. More than 700 militia men returned in Yanjing area alone. 

Generally speaking, troops managed to follow policies and discipline properly while on the advance, and won a very favourable response from the Tibetan masses. For example, on the way to Mengong, (troops) released the 10 or more Lamas and militia they captured near Lake-la (southeast of Mengong, east of Nujiang[28]). This immediately won the local masses’ good feeling toward us. People along the way did not run away and provided our troops with all kinds of assistance.  When the troops of the 14th Army conducted activities in Zhuwagen area, local people voluntarily arrested the Tibetan tax collector and handed him to us. As for provision purchasing, normally it is collectively done with one battalion as a unit. However, such things as individual units and personnel requesting yaks and soliciting wula (transport) services without explicit approval, cutting trees and collecting firewood on sacred mountains did happen. 

IV. A special headquarters responsible for providing support to advancing troops was established in the last third of February under the direct leadership of the area command. To provide provision and supplies for troops entering Tibet, our principle was “to give whatever needed” as long as the usage was reasonable and the requests could be met. Large numbers of pack animals and vehicles were drafted from the whole army to organize transportation units. All the engineer units joined the urgent work of building the Sichuan-Xikang road. The 1300-li section from Ya-an to Ganzi was completed from April 13 to August 26, and the over 200-li section from Ganzi to Zhuqing was completed from September 16 to October 2, making it possible for the troops to advance on schedule. During that period, transportation units from both infantry and air force braved the harsh weather and worked hard with extremely poor road conditions. By the end of November, total provisions delivered westward from west Sichuan were up to over 69,000,000 jin[29]. From May 7 to the end of November, more than 200 flights transported over one million jin[30] of provisions. To encourage and oversee the support work, the area command sent high ranking officers to the frontline several times, both to inspect and to greet (the units). In short, great effort was put into the support effort.  However, due to our lack of experience and unfamiliarity with local conditions, and weak planning, we did make some mistakes. For instance, needed supplies could not be delivered on time due to our misjudgment of the road repairing situation. As a result, the army’s advance was delayed several times. We failed to have a good understanding of driving in winter conditions, and did not acquire antifreeze equipment and necessities to prevent skidding until fairly late. (Tarpaulin) covers were not provided to vehicles on time and driving in rainy season was not properly handled, resulting in food and supplies delivered to the front being damaged by rain. Some food and supplies rotted in warehouses due to poor conditions and bad management. We did not acquire enough knowledge and did not carefully study local conditions. Some of the clothing and bedding were not practical (for the troops). However, at the same time we have learned highly valuable lessons, in particular the engineer units have obtained rich experience in operating in rainy season and in high altitude areas. Most of the supporting units toughed through living and working on the plateau for several months, laying a solid foundation for support work the following year. 

V. The battle proved that high altitude acclimatisation training is vitally important for the troops. The 154th regiment of the 18th army (the advance detachment) had been in Ganzi area five months, and the number of people falling behind on the westward march was less than for other troops on the north wing. Other units moving from Ganzi constantly had people lagging behind ever since the march started. After entering Chamdo area, most units had more than half of their people falling behind; in certain units the number was as high as two thirds. Based on such experience, we made a decision that all the units that had moved west of Jinsha river would spend the winter there, in order to conduct acclimatisation training on the plateau.

VI. When combat actions started at the places where the units were concentrated, all units moved rapidly toward the enemy in extremely hard conditions with insufficient provision and supply. The 156th regiment had only a little zanba to eat. The 1st battalion of 155th regiment crossed three high mountains and rushed 180 li[31] in one and half days. The 154th regiment marched long distances circling through Yushu and entered Enda on time together with the cavalry detachment.  While marching toward Bangda, the 157th regiment of the south wing crossed four high mountains, and only a couple of men fell behind. All units were in high spirits, determined to execute their tasks despite the extreme hardship. All these were inseparable from the in-depth work of political mobilization. The loads that troops had to carry was rather heavy, average weight for soldiers was over 75 jin, company commander over 30 jin. In the first couple of days soldiers expressed some fear of hardship.  The difficulty (of carrying heavy loads) was overcome after acclimatisation training and political mobilization, and (soldiers’) ability to march with heavy load increased.


Documents Related to the Battle of Chamdo I

Documents Related to the Battle of Chamdo II

[1] Mengong: sMan khungs (Menkung), in present Dzayul county. Bitu: Bul thog (Bultok), in present Dzogang county, Chamdo prefecture. Deqing: bDe chen (Dechen), now Dechen prefecture in Yunnan.
[2] Zayi: Brag yol (Drayoe) in present Dzogang county.
[3] About one million kilograms.
[4] Military ration made of soy bean, wheat and peanut powders roasted with butter, specially produced for troops marching into Tibet.
[5] Canned military ration made of egg-yolk in the shape of a finger. Each can contained 10 pieces.  Food powder and egg-yolk sausages were the basic ration that soldiers carried with them on their march into Tibet.
[6] Zhuqing: rDzogs chen (Dzokchen), in today’s Dege county, Ganzi prefecture.
[7] Tagong: lHa sgang (Minyak Lhagang). Daofu: Ta’u (Tawu), present Tawu county, Ganzi prefecture.
[8] Yin Fatang (1922-  ), the CPC Secretary for TAR from 1980 to 1985.
[9] Nangqian: Nang chen (Nangchen) monastery at Sha mda’ (Shonda), the present Nangchen county town, Yushu prefecture, Qinghai).
[10]  Gyamda Dzong, formerly one of the four Dzongs in Kongpo, was referred to by the Chinese as Taizhao. It is now in Kongpo Gyamda county, Linzhi prefecture, TAR.
[11] Jiazangka: lCags zam kha (Chaksamka), in present Riwochey county, Chamdo prefecture.
[12] Guode: Go stod (Gotoe), northeast of Srib mda’, on the route to Denkok.
[13] Yayaosongduo: Ya yu gsum mdo (Yayu Sumdo).
[14] Mianda: sMan mda’ (Menda) in present Chamdo county.
[15] Muja Dapon
[16] See Document 5.
[17] Jomda and Drayab?
[18] Words omitted in the original text are indicated by ellipsis. Different numerical system used in Part I and Part III are not changed.
[19] c. 30 to 35 kg.
[20] 1 li = 0.5 km.
[21] The Chamdo governor’s title was ‘Domey Chikyap’ (mDo smad spyi khyab), meaning ‘Eastern Commissioner’ or ‘Governor’, one of four or five regional commissioners charged with supervising administration in the provinces. It was a wishful title, since the Lhasa government actually governed no more than half of Dotoe, and none of Domey, in this period.
[22] Wula is Tibetan ’U lag, government requisition of transport services from local villages.
[23] No dates in original text.
[24] Bangda: sPang mda’ (Pangda) in today’s Basu county. Basu: dPag shod (Tsawa Pashoe) county, Chamdo prefecture, TAR
[25] Dege Se Kelsang Wangdu.
[26] Bianba: dPal ’bar , today’s Pelbar county, Chamdo prefecture, TAR.
[27] Phu lung ba
[28] Salwin river (rGyal mo rngul chu). 
[29] 34,500 tons.
[30] 500 tons.
[31] 90 kilometers.

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