Battle of Kuningtou

Battle of Kuningtou

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Kuningtou

caption=ROC held islands (red) off the coast of Mainland China (light grey), relative to Taiwan (dark grey). Quemoy is the large red highlighted island group.
partof=the Chinese Civil War
date=October 25 - 27, 1949
place=Greater Quemoy Island, Fujian
result=Nationalist victory, halt of Communist advance
combatant2=flagicon|China|army People's Republic of China, People's Liberation Army
commander1=Tang Enbo
commander2=Ye Fei
strength1=Roughly 40,000 garrisoned troops from the ROC 18th Army, air support from ROC Air Force, maritime support from ROC Navy.
strength2=19,000 infantry from PLA 25th division and regiments 244, 246, 251, 253 from the PLA 28th Army (Only 9,086 actually landed); 200 landing vessels (mostly confiscated fishing boats), mainland artillery support.
casualties1=1,267 killed, 1,982 wounded.cite web | author=老衲| year=2002| title=古寧頭之役的回顧 | work=四海一家軍事網 | url= | accessdate=2004-06-01 Chinese language only. See 戰果]
casualties2=3,873 killed, 5,175 captured. [ 老衲] [2002] . See 戰果. The ratio of PLA KIA to POW varies depending upon source but all sources generally agree that all 9000+ PLA forces who landed were either killed or captured.]

The Battle of Kuningtou (古寧頭之役) or Battle of Jinmen (金门战役) was a battle fought over Kinmen (Quemoy) in the Taiwan Strait during the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The failure of the Communists to take the island left it in the hands of the Kuomintang and crushed their chances of taking Taiwan to defeat the Nationalists completely in the war.


Following establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the government of the Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek began withdrawing its forces from mainland China to Taiwan. However, ROC garrisons remained stationed on the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, located off the coast in Fujian Province. Commanders of the PRC People's Liberation Army believed that Quemoy and Matsu had to be taken before a final assault on Taiwan. The PLA planned to attack Quemoy by launching a first attack with 9,000 troops to establish a beachhead, before landing a second force of roughly 10,000 on Greater Quemoy Island, expecting to take the entire island in three days from an ROC garrison not expected to be larger then two divisions. Expecting that a PLA attack was imminent, ROC commanders ordered the immediate construction of various fortifications. By October, ROC troops had laid 7455 landmines, and constructed roughly 200 earthen bunkers on the shores of Quemoy, as well as several anti-ship obstacles. The ROC garrison on Quemoy was also reinforced with more troops and supplies. [ 老衲] [2002] . See Section 2: 背景]


Compiled from accounts in [cite book | last= 劉鳳舞 | title= 民國春秋 (Spring and Autumn in the Republic)| url=| format= HTML| accessdate= 2006-03-05| language= Chinese | chapter=41 | chapterurl=] , [ 老衲] [2002] .] and [cite web | title=金門戰役 | work=Chinese Wikipedia | url= | accessdate=2006-03-05]

October 25, 1949

At around 2AM on October 25, 1949, People's Liberation Army troops from regiments 244, 251, and 253 landed on the north side of Greater Quemoy Island at Kuningtou (古寧頭), Huwei (湖尾), and Lungkou (壟口). Regiment 244 was the first ashore landing near Lungkou where Nationalist defenders raked them with machine-gun fire, artillery, and mortars. They suffered heavy casualties. Regiments 251 and 253 fared better, landing at near Kuningtou and Huwei respectively where they broke through ROC defenses and continued to head inland. Arriving at high tide, many of the PLA landing vessels became caught on submerged anti-ship obstacles and immobilized. When the tide went out, the PLA landing vessels became beached and were unable to return to the mainland to transport the second wave of reinforcements. The beached PLA vessels were destroyed shortly afterwards by gunfire from two ROC Navy vessels patrolling off the northwest coast of Kuningtou, as well as by ROC troops who burned the mostly wooden boats using flame-throwers, grenades, gasoline and oil.

The advancing PLA forces were met by the ROC 18th Army and ROC U.S.-made M5A1 tanks. PLA Regiment 244 held high ground at Shuangru Hill (雙乳山), but were beaten back by ROC armor by early morning. PLA Regiment 253 holding Kuanyin Hill (觀音山) and the Huwei Highlands (湖尾高地) were also forced to fall back by noon after an overwhelming ROC counter attack of infantry, tanks, some soldiers with flame-throwers to burn the PLA ships. They were supported by mortars and artillery.The PLA troops were attacked from three sides. PLA Regiment 251 managed to break out of an ROC encirclement and entered the village of Kuningtou, and dug in at Linchuo (林厝). Shortly afterwards, Regiment 251 was attacked by the ROC 14th and 118th divisions, with the ROC 118th division suffering heavy casualties. By the end of the day, the PLA had lost its beachheads at Huwei and Lungkou.

October 26, 1949

In the early morning hours of October 26, around 1000 troops in 4 companies from PLA Regiment 246 and the 85th division landed on Quemoy to reinforce PLA forces already on the island landing again at Huwei and Kuningtou. At dawn, Regiment 246 managed to break through ROC forces surrounding the village of Kuningtou, making a rendezvous with the surviving PLA troops holed up in the town. At 6:30AM, the ROC 118th division launched a counterattack along the northern coast on PLA forces in Kuningtou at Linchuo. The resulting battle was extremely bloody and soon turned into urban warfare in the streets and alleyways of Kuningtou. With air support from the Republic of China Air Force, ROC forces eventually prevailed, taking Linchuo by noon and Nanshan (南山) at 3PM. Surviving PLA forces began falling back to the coast.

October 27, 1949

By the early morning of October 27, the surviving PLA forces had exhausted their supplies. 1300 PLA troops retreated to the beaches north of Kuningtou. After a final ROC assault, the remaining PLA troops surrendered to ROC forces at 10AM on October 27. All of the PLA troops who had landed on Quemoy were effectively lost.


Following the failure at Kuningtou, PLA General Yeh Fei submitted an official apology to Mao Zedong asking to be punished for his failure. General Yeh attributed the failure of the operation to three factors: An insufficient number of landing vessels, failure to properly secure the beachheads, and the lack of an overall commanding officer to oversee the three regiments involved in the first wave. As Yeh was one of Mao's favorite generals, Mao never took any action against him.

For ROC forces accustomed to defeat after defeat against the PLA while fighting on the mainland, the victory at Kuningtou provided a much needed morale boost. The failure of the PRC to take Quemoy effectively halted its advance towards Taiwan. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 and the signing of the US-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty, the PRC's plans for the assault on Taiwan were forcibly put on hold.

Due to its defeat, the Battle of Kuningtou was not widely publicized in the PRC until recently with the publication of articles within the PLA examining reasons for its failure. [cite web | year=2004| title=Jinman and Dengbu | work=Amphibious Warfare Capabilities of the People's Liberation Army: An Assessment on Recent Modernizations | publisher= China Defense| url= | accessdate=2006-03-12] The battle is seen as being highly significant in Taiwan as it laid the foundation for the current status quo between mainland China and Taiwan.


* The M5A1 tanks employed by the ROC forces on Kinmen proved to be effective in countering the human wave attacks employed by the initial PLA landing forces which were comprised mostly of light infantry. ROC tank crews who had depleted their ammunition often used their tanks as steamrollers to crush PLA infantry. Afterwards, ROC troops gave the M5A1 the nickname "Bear of Kinmen" (金門之熊). [cite web | year=2004| title=遺落戰史:《金門之熊的故事》 | work=鐵之狂傲遊戲網 | url= | accessdate=2006-03-06 Copy of article originally from 華夏經緯網.]

ee also

*List of battles of Quemoy
*List of Battles of Chinese Civil War
*National Revolutionary Army
*History of the People's Liberation Army
*Chinese Civil War
*Kuningtou War Museum


External links

* [ Battlefield Monuments at Kinmen National Park]
* [ Interactive map of Kinmen from the Kinmen County Government]

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