Marco Polo Bridge Incident between Japanese and Chinese troops

Marco Polo Bridge Incident between Japanese and Chinese troops

Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, A Japanese soldier failed to return to his post after a brief encounter with the Chinese. Believing he was captured, Japanese and Chinese troops engaged in a bloody battle. After the battle, it was later discovered that he had gone on a bathroom break and got lost.

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure, restored by the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722). Often signifying the opening of Japan’s comprehensive invasion of mainland China, the dates of both this, 7 July 1937, and the Mukden Incident, 18 September 1931, are still remembered as days of national humiliation by most Chinese


At around 03:30 on the morning of 8 July 1937, Japanese reinforcements in the form of four mountain guns and a company of machine gunners arrived from nearby Fengtai. The Chinese also rushed an extra division of troops to the area. At around 04:50, two Japanese investigators were allowed into Wanping. However, not with standing the presence of the Japanese investigators within the town, the Japanese Army opened fire with machine guns at around 05:00. Japanese infantry backed with armoured vehicles attacked the Marco Polo Bridge, along with a modern railway bridge to the southeast of town.

Colonel Ji Xingwen led the Chinese defences with about 100 men, with orders to hold the bridge at all costs. After inflicting severe casualties, the Japanese forces partially overran the bridge and its vicinity in the afternoon, but the reinforced Chinese soon outnumbered the Japanese. Taking advantage of mist and rain on the morning of 9 July, the Chinese were able to retake the bridge by 06:00. At this point, the Japanese military and members of the Foreign Service began negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese Nationalist government.

Marco Polo Bridge Incident between Japanese and Chinese troops Marco Polo Bridge Incident between Japanese and Chinese troops

A verbal agreement with General Qin was reached, whereby an apology would be given to the Chinese; punishment would be dealt to those responsible; control of Wanping would be turned over to the Hopei civilian constabulary and not with the 219th Regiment; and better control of “communists” in the area. This was agreed upon, though Japanese Garrison Infantry Brigade commander General Masakazu Kawabe initially rejected the truce and continued to shell Wanping against his superiors’ orders for the next three hours until prevailed upon to cease and to move his forces to the northeast.

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