Make your own free website on
Battle to Hold Defense Lines as Japanese Main Forces Are Ranged 10 Miles From City
Palatial Homes Set Afire - Defenders Destroy War Supplies Within Capital
Officials Hope New Regime Will Result From Flight of Chiang Kai-shek

Chinese defenders of Nanking went into battle yesterday to hold the first line of the city's inner defense and voiced confidence that they could stand the Japanese off a week. As the main forces of the attackers reached a line ten miles from the city proper, it was feared the Chinese would burn the metropolis before giving it up.
Japanese authorities in Shanghai, looking forward to the retirement of Premier Chiang Kai-shek following his airplane flight to Hankow, envisaged a new government more to their liking. They even foresaw a regime that would adhere to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo anti-Communist bloc.
In Tokyo, however, the Cabinet decided that no immediate steps would be taken, but that there would be a pause after the fall on Nanking to permit Chinese views to crystallize. Events in the field have renewed the belief of the Japanese people in the invincibility of their arms.

Chinese Make Stand

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
NANKING, Wednesday, Dec. 8. - Chinese and Japanese troops opened a battle for possession of the first line of the inner defense of Nanking proper yesterday after three columns of the advancing invaders had reached positions along a semicircular front about ten miles from the city.
The northern column had advanced through Mentang to Tungliwchen; the center column had driven up from Tienwangze to Chenhuachen, and the third force, using Lishui as a base, had reached Molingkwan. With the Japanese not yet having consolidated their strength along the new front, the hostilities still had the character of open-field engagements, with many small units of the rival armies meeting in machine-gun and bayonet clashes. But light artillery had been brought into play, and if the Chinese manage to check their retreat large-scale warfare may be expected.

Noncombatants Segregated

The Nanking defense commander, Tang Sheng-chih, proclaimed the city within the zone of hostilities and decreed that all noncombatants must concentrate in the internationally supervised safety zone. The movement of noncombatants elsewhere in the city will be banned, except for persons holding special permits to be indicated by a symbol specially stamped on yellow arm bands.
As the Chinese settled down to actual battle, the fighting proceeded without the presence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who went by airplane to Hankow. The defense of Nanking is now the immediate resposibility of Tang and Ku Chutung, commander of the lower Yangtze Valley war area.
The Chinese expressed confidence in their ability to hold the front line of the inner defenses for at least a week. The line taps the lower Yangtze just beyond Purple Mountain with the upper bend below Changning. The Chinese still held a strip along the Yangtze between Chinkiang and Purple Mountain yesterday. The Japanese were threatening Lungtan, evidently in an attempt to gain a foothold on the river bank.

More Fires Are Set

The burning of obstructions within the defense zone by the Chinese continued. Palatial homes of Chinese officials in the Mausoleum Park district were among the places burned late yesterday.
The city was ringed by a dense pall of smoke, for the Chinese also continued to burn buildings and obstructions yesterday in towns in a ten-mile radius.
This correspondent, motoring to the front, found the entire valley outside Chungshan Gate, southeast of Mausoleum Park, ablaze. The village of Hsiaolingwei, along the main highway bordering the park, was a mass of smoking ruins, and inhabitants who had not evacuated days before were streaming toward Nanking carrying their few miserable belongings and occasionally pausing to take last sorrowing looks at their former homes.
Throughout the area immediately east and south of the Nanking walls soldiers were hurriedly completing defense preparations - mining roads and bridges, erecting barricades, felling trees and transporting guns and munitions. The roads swarmed with marching men.

Final Preparations Rushed

Within the city also last-minute preparations were being rushed. All the city's gates are now backed up by sandbag and cement breastworks twenty feet thick, with openings only wide enough for motor vehicles.
At times yesterday the sound of guns at the front were clearly audible in the city, adding to already high fears. Chinese troops within the walls intensified their machine-gun practicing, which had been going on on many ranges for some days.
Adding to atmosphere of siege, the public utilities here are gradually deteriorating, with power failing in many sections, telephones inoperative more often than not, the water supply uncertain and public transport almost completely lacking. City mail services were suspended yesterday.
Rumors of plans to burn down Nanking, though they are daily officially denied, are causing terror among many sections of the populace. Explaining the burning outside Nanking, the garrison spokesman said it had been done as much to force the evacuations of civilians from the fighting zone as to destroy obstructions.

Chinkiang Burned by Chinese

A. L. Patterson, an American airplane salesman who passed through Chinkiang Monday, arrived here last night and reported that that city, the former Kiangsu capital, with a population of 200,000, was a mass of flames and ruins. He said the city had been fired by the Chinese themselves.
Mr. Patterson, whose trip from Shanghai took ten days, came by a tortuous route along the north bank of the Yantze from Tungchow, and took a junk from a new boom sixteen miles from Nanking to reach this city. He said the new boom was a flimsy string of small boats linked by cables, which, though doubtless mined, did not appear hard to break.
With tens of thousands of refugees flocking into Nanking, the safety zone committee was expected today to make a formal declaration that the zone had been established and to proclaim its complete demilitarization.
An anti-aircraft battery and a number of military offices moved out of the zone today, giving further indication of the Chinese military's intention to carry out demilitarization pledges.
Refugees were flocking particulary to the areas about the United States and Italian Embassies, where the streets were jammed. The safety zone committee has made great progress in moving in supplies and now has enough nice to feed 25,000 needy for more than a week.
A start was made yesterday in ringing the boundary of the zone with identifying flags and signs. Public buildings, such as the Ministry of Justice, the War College and other schools, are being thrown open to the poor and vacant residences will be taken over, if necessary.
The departure of Chiang Kai-shek with his aides was at the break yesterday in his private plane, operated by Royal Leonard and Co-Pilot Arnold Wier, both Americans. Madame Chiang, accompanied by W. H. Donald, Australian adviser of herself and the Generalissimo, departed at the same time, also for Hankow, in another plane.
The time of departure had been kept a strict secret, the pilot having been "on call" since late Manday. Only at midday did the departure become known among Nanking's well informed.
Yesterday, for example, the town was raided eleven times by squadrons of heavy bombers that loosed explosives around the railroad station, at the airdrome, along the waterfront and elsewhere, killing and injuring scores. The British Butterfield warehouse was strunk and severely damaged.
Twenty-one Americans, including three women are now in Nanking. Eight more are spending part of the time on the United Stated gunboat Panay, where the efficient hospitality of Captain J. J. Hughes and his crew is winning much praise.

Report Foiling Two Assaults

SHANGHAI, Wednesday, Dec. 8 (AP). -- Chinese sources reported today that Japanese columns storming two gateways of Nanking's ancient walls had been repulsed by Chinese defenders, who had infliced 1,000 Japanese casualties.
Chinese reports said the vanguard of one column had advanced to the Chilin Gate of the outer walls, but had been driven back with heavy casualties. A main motorized column next attacked the "Morning Sunshine" gateway in the southern main walls, leading to the beautiful Ming palaces. Chinese defense forces were said to have staved off the attack and to have pushed the column back to the village of Tenghwachen.
Chinese troops inside the barricaded city of Nanking, apparently convinced that the capital would fall before the oncoming Japanese, began to destroy military supplies and equipment to keep them from being taken by the enemy.
About 200,000 Chinese soldiers were massed in the vicimity of Nanking, objective of a force of 75,000 Japanese.
Foreign battleships at Nanking reported the Yangtze River devoid of all craft that might afford a possible means of Chinese retreat to the north. The Japanese previously asserted they had blocked all roads on the south and east.
Japanese officers said the vanguard of the invaders had reached the capital last night and immediately had begun trying to scale its walls with ladders in the manner of medieval warriors. They said their main forces were "pregressing satisfactorilly and according to schedule."
Artillery was being rolled into position for the attack, but there was no official indication as to when it would begin.
The extent of the damage caused by last night's air attack on Nanking by ninety planes was not disclosed. Extensive damage was reported by Chinese, however, in other raids in the Nanking area. They said the village of Shunhwanchen, ten miles from the capital, had been bombed in eight separate raids and that more than 200 persons had been killed or wounded.
Japanese Army sources said their forces moving toward Nanking along the Yangtze had passed Chinkiang without attacking the city, forty miles east of Nanking. They planned to take Chinkiang after Nanking's fall.
Other military operations in East China were said to be awaiting completion of the siege of Nanking.

back to Nanking Incident Documents