Asked what the Chinese Navy had done during Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), few would reply, “What? We had a navy then?” Indeed. In contrast to our Army and Air Force, the Navy was too small an armed branch that many even realized its existence.
At the outbreak of war, Chinese Navy had only 59 vessels totaled about 50,000 tons. Most of which were obsolete pre-Qing dynasty surplus ships without significant firepower for combat. Since Japan had occupied our entire coastal areas, our navy concentrated mainly on riverine warfare but not in terms of face-to-face engagement because our navy was too poorly equipped and they were definitely no match to Imperial Japanese Navy.
The Chinese Navy fought the Japanese invaders by sinking their own ships in the Yangtze River to block the waterway leading to Chunking, Szechuang province, the wartime capital of the Republic of China, delaying Japanese advance westward.
The sailors also fought with their army buddies on land at shore batteries operating guns removed from their ships to stop Japanese aggressors.
Several minelaying teams were also formed by these sailors without ships. Suffering heavy casualties, they infiltrated behind enemy lines to lay homemade mines on rivers over enemy occupied territories which had sunk hundreds of Japanese boats, thus obstructing Japanese incursion over southeastern China.
On the seventieth anniversary to commemorate our struggle against Japanese invaders, we salute those sailors who fought with or without their ships to protect us and our country.