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Background of Lugou Bridge Incident

CCTV.com

07-07-2016 13:00 BJT

July the 7th marks the 79th anniversary of the Lugou Bridge Incident. On July the 7th 1937, a crucial access point to Beijing, Lugou Bridge, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, was attacked by Japanese troops. Historians agree the attack signalled the beginning of Japan's full-scale invasion of China, even though Japan had invaded northeast China as early as September 1931.

Beginning in late June 1937, the Japanese Army stationed a large military group west of the Lugou Bridge, and began carrying out intensive military drills.

At dawn on July the 7th, the Japanese army telegraphed the Kuomintang forces, garrisoned in Wanping Town, saying that a Japanese soldier was missing.

They said that they believed the man was being held inside the town and demanded to search the town for him.

This request was rejected by the Kuomintang forces. But despite this, the Japanese army went ahead and marched on Wanping town.

Before they had even arrived, they received a telegraph message, reporting that the Japanese soldier was found-- alive and unharmed.

But this piece of news was hidden from the Chinese army. And three hours later, the Japanese forces were ordered to strike the town.

At 5 a.m. , Japanese machine guns opened fire at Chinese positions, while armored cars and infantrymen attacked the Lugou Bridge and a nearby rail road bridge.

After capturing the bridges, Japanese forces headed northward. On July the 25th, the Japanese 20th Division arrived in the city of Langfang on the rail road between Beiping, today known as Beijing, and Tianjin. It was here that the first major battle took place.

On July the 28th, the 20th Division and three independent combined brigades, with air support, launched an offensive against Beiping. The main objective was the southern part of the city Nanyuan. Two key Chinese commanders lost their lives in the battle.

That night, General Song Zheyuan, head of the Hebei-Chahar Political Council and commanding officer of the 29th Route Army, ordered his troops to withdraw southward.

On July the 29th, the city of Tianjin was attacked separately by the Japanese Army's 5th Division and Japanese naval forces.

After this, Chinese forces secured small but tactical victories which slowed the Japanese advance.

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