At War on the Great Wall of China in the 1930s

(Unfairly) famous for not stopping invading nomads, The Great Wall of China’s use in the 20th century is nothing sdort of surreal.  When Japanese troops from Manchuria invaded northern China in 1933 they attacked the city of Shanhaiguan in Heibei province.  The city included one of the major gateways in the Great Wall, the First Pass Under Heaven, and the garrison of Shanhaiguan defended it for three days against the Japanese attack.  In the months that followed, the Japanese attacked several passes through the Yan Mountains where segments of the Great Wall still blocked each pass.  The Chinese army held several of the passes, including those at Xifengkou and Gubeikou, for several months before they were forced to retreat.  According to Stephen Turnbull, while they occupied the passes the Chinese troops used the Great Wall’s ramparts to move troops laterally along the front, just as the builders of the Ming-era walls had intended.


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