The Battle of West Hunan
(湘西會戰), also known as the Zhijiang Campaign
(芷江作戰) was the Japanese invasion of west Hunan
and the subsequent Chinese counterattack that occurred between 6 April and 7 June 1945, during the last months of the Second Sino-Japanese War
. Japanese strategic aims for this campaign were to seize Chinese airfields and secure railroads in West Hunan, and to achieve a decisive victory that their depleted land forces needed.
This campaign, if successful, would also allow Japan to attack Sichuan
and eventually the Chinese war time capital Chongqing
. Although they were able to make initial headways, Chinese forces were able to turn the tide and forced the Japanese into a rout, recovering a substantial amount of lost ground.
This was the last major Japanese offensive, and the last of 22 major battles during the war to involve more than 100,000 troops. Concurrently, the Chinese managed to repel a Japanese offensive in Henan and Hubei
and launched a successful attack on Japanese forces in Guangxi
, turning the course of the war sharply in China's favor even as they prepared to launch a full-scale counterattack across South China.
By April 1945, China had already been at war
with Japan for more than seven years. Both nations were exhausted by years of battles, bombings and blockades. From 1941-1943, both sides maintained a "dynamic equilibrium", where field engagements were often, numerous, involved large numbers of troops and... Read More