Soviet Invasion – August 1945

Manchurian operation map

Stalin’s simple purpose for declaring war against Japan was for territorial gain, for which he was prepared to pay heavily.  Before launching their assault in Manchuria, the Soviets made provision for 540,000 casualties, including 160,000 dead.  This was a forecast almost certainly founded upon an assessment of Japanese strength, similar to what the US estimated for a landing at Kyushu.

Since 1941, Stalin had maintained larger forces on the Manchurian border than the Western Allies ever knew about.  In the summer of 1945, he reinforced strongly, to create a mass sufficient to bury the Japanese.  Three thousand locomotives labored along the thin Trans-Siberian railway.  Men, tanks and matérial made a month-long trek from eastern Europe.

MANCHURIA: RED ARMY, 1945.
A Soviet marine waving the ensign of the Soviet navy as Soviet airplanes fly overhead after the victory over the Japanese occupation troops in Port Arthur, South Manchuria. Picture taken August 1945 by Yevgeni Khaldei.

Moscow was determined to disguise this migration.  Soldiers were ordered to remove their medals and paint their guns with “On To Berlin” slogans.  But train stations were often lined with locals, yelling support for them to fight the Japanese.  So much for secrecy.

Some of the men thought they were returning home.  After 4 years of war, they were dismayed to be continuing on.  “Myself, I couldn’t help thinking what a pity it would be to die in a little war after surviving a big one,” said Oleg Smirnov.

After traveling 6,000 miles from Europe, some units marched the last 200 miles through the treeless Mongolian desert.  “I’d taken part in plenty of offenses, but I’d never seen a build-up like this one,” said one soldier.  “Trains arriving one after another…  Even the sky was crowded: there were always bombers, sturmoviks, transports overhead.”

MANCHURIA, AUGUST 1945. Japanese cavalry troops along the Amur River in Manchukuo.

Machine-gunner Anatoly Silov found himself at a wayside station where he was presented with 5 mechanics, 130 raw recruits and crates containing 260 Studebaker, Chevrolet and Dodge trucks he was ordered to assemble.  “As the infantry marched, the earth smelt not of sagebrush but of petrol.”  Most of the men lost their appetites for food and cigarettes, caring only about thirst.”

By early August, 136,000 railway cars had transferred eastwards of a million men, 100,000 trucks, 410 million rounds of small-arms ammo, and 3.2 million shells.  Even firewood had to be cut in forests and shipped 400 miles.  “Many of the guys rubbished the Americans for wanting other people to do their fighting,” said Oleg Smirnov.

As troops approached the frontier, their camouflage and deception schemes were used to mask their movements.  Generals traveled under false names.  These veterans of the Eastern front were up against 713,724 of the so-called Manchukuo Army of which 170,000 were local Chinese collaborators.  The Japanese weapons were totally outclassed by the Soviets’.  Many mortars were homemade, some bayonets were forged from the springs of discarded vehicles.

MANCHURIA: RED ARMY, 1945.
Soviet troops in Harbin in Manchuria, after their victory over the Japanese occupation troops, 1945.

On 8 August 1945, the Soviet troops were told, “The time has come to erase the black stain of history from out homeland….”  To achieve surprise, the Soviets denied themselves air reconnaissance.  The 15th Army crossed the Amur River with the aid of a makeshift flotilla of commercial steamships, barges and pontoons.  Gunboats dueled with the shore batteries.  One Soviet armored brigade made it 62 miles into Manchuria before the rear units made it ashore.

The Japanese Guandong Army had suffered a tactical surprise by overwhelming forces.  On the morning of 9 August, the Japanese commander, Otozo Yamada, called the Manchukuo Emperor, Pu Yi.  Yamada’s assertions of confidence in victory were somewhat discredited by the sudden scream of air raid sirens and the concussions of Russian bombs.  Pu Yi, a hypochondriac prey to superstition and prone to tears, an immature creature at 39, heartless in ruling his people, now was extremely paranoid and terrified of being killed.

Click on images to enlarge.

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(Russian ?) Military Humor – 

 

YOU get the CAR where IT needs to be!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mason Ashby – Floyds Knoles, IN, US Army, WWII, PTO

Donald Catron – Logan, UT; US Merchant Marines, WWII / US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Arthur Dappolonio – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

William Gutmann – KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Siboney, medic

Henry James – Rolla, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

James Knight – Longview, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Lundberg – Erie, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII,ETO, P-47 mechanic

James Petrie – Rangiora, NZ; 2NZEF # 19483, WWII, ETO, Pvt.

Roy Theodore – Lestock, CAN; Crash Rescue Firefighter, WWII, ETO

Eugene Williams – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, ETO, LST, Purple Heart

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 4, 2019, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 119 Comments.

  1. A piece of history that is fascinating and incredible gp, my knowledge of that part of the war is extremely limited, the amount of troops and infrastructure is mind boggling, appears no expense was spared by all parties to the achieve victory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The more war changes, the more it seems to stay the same…and yet always eternally and strangely fascinating…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good. My take on this campaign is rather colder. The Soviets considered the Manchurian campaign to be the culmination of the blitzkrieg, which it was in terms of speed, numbers of men and materiel moved, and territory crossed.

    The timing was determined by a little thing at Hiroshima (August 6) then another at Nagasaki (August 9) the same morning as the Soviets launched their attack. Our plans for an amphibious landing on Kyushu were well known to the Soviets as were our predicted casualties—due to their infiltration of our government at the highest levels. The Soviets wanted to see us bled white before they attacked, but once the first bomb fell, they became afraid that our army would remain intact, and the war would end before they could loot Manchuria and strip its industrial base. Once the Soviets knew the war would be won, their moves became more political and economic than military.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating post. Are you planning more on the Russian campaign against Japan? For the short time they were in it, they suffered heavy casualities, which (as you noted) they planned for. Still, it was very bloody for both sides — but that’s about all I know about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. very insightful, GP!
    and now they’re
    having some success
    taking over the US 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Russia was huge, but geographically impaired: they needed more ports. The Baltics and Finland would do the job for the Atlantic side, Manchuria for the Pacific. Little Finland was too tough for The Bear though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Why would such a big Country like Russia want to take over a tiny Island, was it rich in minerals or gold or was it that Japan had taken over some other land? I’ve been watching a series box set about Vikings it is very good, harsh winters sent them on voyages for food and resources and land grabs, they went East first into Russia then West but I always wonder about very large countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They didn’t so much want Japan as they did want Manchuria, the Kuriles and Korea. They declared war before the final surrender papers were signed to ensure their ‘right’ to territorial concessions. Many rulers feel that the more territory you control, the better the “empire”, control, power and money are usually the primes reasons for any invasion. I’ve always been interested in the Norse seafarers and their explorations. I feel they were here in North America looong before good old Christopher Columbus got lost on his way to India! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah that makes more sense now, how serendipitous, I’m going to Seoul, South Korea in a couple of weeks for a big competition, I’d not heard of Manchuria so I can look that up now.

        The series doesn’t show the Anglo Saxons in the best of lights against the fearless Viking warriors.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pu Yi was a fascinating character, alright.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post regarding a little known campaign in the war against Japan that created so many problems from then until today, and probably long after we are gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am learning so much from your wonderful posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. GP, What a fantastic post….Who knew all this history?????!!!!!!!!!! I will be disappearing from online …fading out for a good while. The old 1885 Dutch Colonial where we have lived in Montville, NJ, for 44 years is now sold, a new townhouse is purchased just 20 minutes away in Randolph, & we move April 13. Don’t know when life will get back in order. Be well, GP!!! I know my visits are few but I love your mission!!! Phil

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know what moving is like, so go at it. I loved what you did to the Dutch Colonial and was sorry to hear you were selling, but it isn’t my life we’re talking about. Take your time in Randolph and when you’re relaxed in your new home, we’ll all welcome you back! Take care and here’s to the next chapter of your life!! 🍸 🍸 CHEERS!!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. A very much forgotten about part of the war. Very interesting as always!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I think wherever the English went there was a Port Arthur – there’s one in Tasmania. Loved this piece, I had no knowledge of the Russian involvement against the Japanese, grim yet fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Interesting, that this build up was pretty much as the same time the atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I always thought the US did not inform the Soviets about their secret weapon. How much coordination was there between the allies in the Pacific?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think the coordination with Australia and New Zealand was pretty good. The US officers did hog most of the glory, but then again we had more men and materiel involved. The Soviet wasn’t trusted. Truman did not tell Stalin the A-bomb was ready, but he suspected it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OK I am going to show my ignorance here, were Australia & NZ involved in the occupation of Japan after surrender? Everything I read just says “allies” which is rather vague.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Don’t ever say your ignorance, if anything it’s our school systems are! So, to answer your question – yes – Australia, New Zealand, India and British troops mostly arrived in January 1946 to take over some of the occupation responsibilities.
          I understand how the “Allied” grouping can be frustrating. I had many similar problems finding answers to ‘Who’ and only getting “Commonwealth Nations” as a reply during my researching.
          I appreciate your interest. And remember – the only stupid question is the one NOT asked.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. There are some other factors at work here. The USSR had already fought the Japanese in the 1930s and wanted to secure its eastern borders against further Japanese aggression.
    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet–Japanese_border_conflicts)
    The Allies agreed at Teheran in November 1943 and at Yalta in February 1945, that the Soviet Union would enter the Pacific war within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The invasion of Manchuria began on August 9th 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8th (to the minute, more or less)
    If Stalin hadn’t invaded Manchuria, the Japanese may not have surrendered. The Japanese were apparently hoping that Stalin would broker a conditional surrender and Japan would then continue pretty much as before. Stalin’s invasion of Manchuria put a stop to these thoughts.
    Clearly, if the Allies had been forced to invade Japan to get the unconditional surrender that they rightly wanted, they would have lost enormous casualties. So in a strange kind of way, a lot of American, British and Australian families owe a debt to Stalin for keeping to the agreed deal, which ended with a Japanese unconditional surrender.
    Had circumstances been different, Stalin may have offered to invade Japan himself, since he did not bother about casualties. In Europe they lost between 12,000-15,000 men every single day apparently. Japan would not have been a problem. A Japan ruled by Stalin would have been a disaster. First the Aleutians, then Alaska, then……..

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m afraid I don’t agree. I usually defer to your expertise, John, but not here or to Wiki. The Japanese would have been unable to attack the Soviet border with the shape they were in. They were no threat to the Russians. The ‘within 3 month’ agreement was made due to the high casualty rate expectancy for invading Japan. The Emperor on the 8/9th was still visiting his cities to confirm the reports of the bombings’ destruction. I don’t feel that Soviet greed in any way guaranteed Japan’s surrender. But that is my opinion.

      Like

  16. Stalin was as bad if not worse than Hitler, he could think!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you for sharing this…you always teach me a new history lesson that I never got in history classes.
    (((HUGS)))
    PS…that sub cruisin’ the beach…wowza! 😮 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I suppose everyone did it, but I’ve never thought about the cold calculations involved in such operations: “Let’s see. We’ll lose 160,000? Sounds good to me.” Good grief. “Cannon fodder” is exactly the right term. I was intrigued that they set aside air reconnaisance, and yet it seems the plans weren’t quite as secret as they might have hoped.

    I noted the name “Port Arthur,” and was curious, since we have a Port Arthur in Texas. I knew it wouldn’t have the same source for the name, but I thought this was interesting: “It took its English name, Port Arthur, from a British Royal Navy Lieutenant named William C. Arthur who surveyed the harbor in the gunboat HMS Algerine in August 1860, during the Second Opium War. At that time Lüshun was an unfortified fishing village.”

    By the time Stalin got done, it wasn’t an unfortified fishing village any more!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. If politicians and tyrants were sent to the front lines, we would have a whole lot less wars.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Great article, but my favorite thing is from one of your comments – “Politicians bring their own form of stupidity to the table” – how true is that.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. It took a while to wake up to how manipulative and dangerous Stalin was. Seems a bit like Putin. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thanks for telling this story, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Sovjets and the USA, a everlasting love. 😉 Thank you for another piece of great information, GP! Hope you had a nice weekend! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Stalin. LIke most tyrants, his men were just cannon fodder.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Very interesting the way Stalin approached his attack on Japan. And that photo with the sub … wow!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. A case of better late than never?

    Liked by 2 people

  27. “As the infantry marched, the earth smelt not of sagebrush but of petrol.” Most of the men lost their appetites for food and cigarettes, caring only about thirst.”
    That sounds miserable. Do you think there was a high number of soldiers who collapsed from eating so little or do you think they forced just enough food down to keep going?

    Also, an addition to your next farewell section: https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/03/01/first-black-female-cmsgt-air-force-pioneer-to-be-laid-to-rest/

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure they must have lost some due to the miserable conditions, but there wasn’t much mention of it in my research for this post. (at least not yet, anyway)
      Thank you for letting me know about CMSgt. Holmes, the world lost a grand woman and she will be in Thursday’s Salutes!

      Like

  28. I’ve been to Soviet Russia. I have to say there are worse places–and better. Because I believe passionately in personal responsibility and self-direction, I’ll stick with capitalism.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. interesting history. we hope the leaders of today will learn from the wars and mishaps of yesteryears

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Amazing how this information was deleted from history in Soviet Union, including school history books. Thank you, GP, for telling the truth!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Men as dispensable poker chips to satisfy a leader’s gambling habit

    Liked by 2 people

  32. The irony in the Soviet capability to launch a massive attack on Japanese occupied China was that a large amount of the war materiel had come from the US over the Alaska highway in support of the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I don’t know how the soldiers and the civilians stood it all! What a horrible waste.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. That was some invasion! Overwhelming for the Japanese to see them surrounded by such huge army from their enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thanks for the post, GP. It’s a little-known part of the war.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. This is an interesting look at an often neglected part of the end of WW2. It changed so much and affected what came after, so warrants more examination. As for being sneaky, Stalin had to be. You didn’t last long as leader of the Soviet Union without being sneaky! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. I am just curious about this: how come the Manchurian Operation Map is in Vietnamese?

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Great post, but for an alternative view of Stalin’s purpose there’s this: “The Soviet invasion was strategically decisive — it foreclosed both of Japan’s options — while the bombing of Hiroshima (which foreclosed neither) was not”. https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Thanks. I have read almost nothing about the Soviet operations in that part of the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. He was such a sneaky b*****d that Stalin.

    Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER REPORT: Soviet Invasion – August 1945 By Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk report s | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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