16th October
It was on this day...
1934 Ch'ang Cheng (aka The Long March), In China, Begins

China: It is now known as the longest march in the history of warfare. Of the 86,000 troops, 15,000 personnel, and 35 women who marched, only 4,000 would arrive at their destination. It started at 5:00 pm on this day, took 368 days to cover the 6,000 miles during which they crossed 24 rivers, 18 mountain ranges, some of which were snow covered.

During the Chinese Civil War, which had broken out in 1927, the Chinese Communists were encircled by the Chinese Nationalists, who vastly outnumbered them (the Nationalists possibly had 700,000 troops). The Nationalists were trying to starve the Communists to submission; hundreds of thousands of peasants died of starvation. To escape, the Communists broke though the weakest points of the encirclement, thus beginning 'The Long March'.

The Communists employed a guerilla campaign against the Nationalists, whilst initially under the leadership of Mao Zedong. The Communist hierarchy doubted this strategy and replaced him. The new strategy was to use the Red Army to engage the Nationalists in a conventional war. This strategy failed spectacularly.

The retreating Communists carried weapons on their backs or in horse drawn carriages. At some points the march, which was mostly at night, stretched for 50 miles.

The Nationalists caught up with the Communists in November when they blockaded the Hsiang River. In this attack alone, the Communists lost 50,000 of their number.

Mao Zedong was reinstalled as leader in January. He decided to break the march up into separate columns to confuse the enemy. He set their destination to the Shensi Province in the northwest.

The Communists arrived at their destination on November 20th 1935, at the foot of the Great Wall of China. Here they were welcomed by the Provincial Soviet of Northern Shensi who offered their support.

On hearing of their heroism, thousands of Chinese joined Zedong's army.

The civil war was put on hold while China fought the Japanese in the Second World War, but when the civil war restarted in 1945 it took just 4 years for the Nationalists to be defeated.

The People's Republic of China was proclaimed; Mao was named chairman for life.

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Other News

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