Song Zheyuan

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Sung Che-yuan
Related People

Biography in English

Sung Che-yuan T. Ming-hsüan 5fc tf 7C Sung Che-yuan (30 October 1885-4 April 1940), subordinate of Feng Yü-hsiang. In 1930 he received command of the Twenty-ninth Army. As chairman of the Hopei-Chahar Political Council, he was deeply involved before 1937 in Sino-Japanese confrontations in north China.

Loling, Shantung, was the birthplace of Sung Che-yuan. Although he was born into a literary family—since the time of his grandfather, all of his paternal forebears had held sheng-yuan degrees—Sung decided to pursue a military career. He entered the Battalion School of the Left Route Reserve Army, commanded by Lu Chien-chang, the uncle of Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.). Upon completion of his training, he was given the rank of lieutenant and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, which was commanded by Feng. When Lu's army was transformed into the Metropolitan Guard Army in 1913, Feng became commander of the 1st Regiment, with Sung as a company commander. In 1914 Sung became a deputy battalion commander in Feng's 16th Mixed Brigade. Sung thus saw service in Honan, Shensi, and Szechwan in 1915-16. After his marriage to Ch'ang Shu-ch'ing in 1916, he was promoted to battalion commander and was assigned the duty of recruitment in Honan. In July 1917, at the time of the restoration attempt by Chang Hsün (q.v.), he spearheaded the attack on Peking that resulted in the defeat of Chang Hsün's troops.

From 1918 to 1921 Sung Che-yuan had the responsibility of guarding Ch'angte, Hupeh. A minor diplomatic incident occurred during this period when Sung's troops wounded three Japanese sailors in a scuffle. Sung's able handling of this incident was praised by Feng Yü-hsiang in Wo-ti sheng-huo [my life], published at Shanghai in 1947. In 1921 the 16th Mixed Brigade was reorganized as the 1 1 th Division after its successful campaign against Ch'en Shu-fan in Shensi. Sung became a regiment commander, in which capacity he participated in the first Chihli-Fengtien war of 1922. His performance in the campaign, led by Feng Yü-hsiang himself, against the rebellious military governor of Honan won Sung command of the 25th Mixed Brigade. With the reorganization of Feng's troops as the Kuominchun after the second Chihli-Fengtien war and Feng's coup at Peking on 23 October 1924, Sung received command of the 11th Division. In the autumn of 1925 Sung was removed from field command and was appointed military governor of Jehol.

In the winter of 1925 war broke out between Feng Yü-hsiang's Kuominchun, now also known as the Northwest Army, and the forces of Chang Tso-lin and Wu P'ei-fu (qq.v.). After Feng's retirement and the evacuation of Peking on 15 April (see Lu Chung-lin), Sung Che-yuan went to Kalgan where he joined with Chiang Chih-chiang and Lu Chung-lin in developing a base of operations in the Hopei-Chahar- Suiyuan-Shansi border region. The Northwest Army's stubborn defense of Nankow prevented its dissolution as a fighting force. Although Sung did not participate directly in this action, he played an important part in defending the Nankow region as commander in chief of the northern front and, later, of the western front. After four months of hard fighting, the Northwest Army was forced to retreat to Suiyuan. Sung Che-yuan then became military governor of Suiyuan.

Feng Yü-hsiang rejoined his forces at Wuyuan in September 1926 and announced his support of the Kuomintang. The Northwest Army then became the National Revolutionary Allied Army, and in May 1927 it was redesignated the Second Army Group of the National Revolutionary Army. After Feng decided to support Chiang Kai-shek's regime at Nanking rather than the Left-Kuomintang at Wuhan, Sung Che-yuan received command of the Fourth Area Army in June 1927. That November, he added the governorship of Shensi to his responsibilities. When relations between Feng Yühsiang and Chiang Kai-shek became strained early in 1929, Feng went to Shansi and made Sung Che-yuan acting commander in chief of his army at Sian. Sung was among the Kuominchun officers who, on 10 October, addressed a public telegram to Feng Yü-hsiang and Yen Hsi-shan (q.v.) denouncing the policies of the National Government and urging remedial action. The following day, the National Government ordered the arrest of Sung Che-yuan and other Kuominchun officers and announced a punitive expedition. Sung was appointed commander in chief of the Kuominchun, which met the Nationalist forces in mid-October in western Honan. By the end of November, Sung's troops had been driven back into Shensi. He relinquished his post to Lu Chunglin and took command of the Third Group Army. In March 1930 Feng Yu-hsiang and Yen Hsi-shan formed the so-called northern coalition against Chiang Kai-shek. The ensuing war lasted from May to September, when Chang Hsueh-liang (q.v.) gave the victory to Chiang. Feng's forces were reorganized as National Government troops. In November 1930 Sung Che-yuan received command of the Twentyninth Army. At the time of the Mukden Incident in September 1931, Sung Che-yuan issued a public telegram proposing war with the Japanese invaders. Although his effort failed to arouse the National Government to resistance, he had occasion to deal with the Japanese threat after he was appointed governor of Chahar in July 1932. On 20 January 1933 the Twentyninth Army was ordered to assist in the defense of Jehol, and on 10 February Sung's men established a defensive position at Hsifengkow, one of the important passes. At Hsifengkow and at Lowenyü, the Twenty-ninth Army fought to stem the Japanese advance into Jehol. Although Sung's men were forced to abandon Hsifengkow in April and Kupeikow in May, their resistance ended only with the signing of the Tangku truce on 31 May. By then, Sung had become known as "the hero of Hsifengkow." The Japanese completed their conquest of Jehol and advanced into Chahar, whereupon Feng Yühsiang emerged from retirement and established the so-called People's Allied Anti-Japanese Army. He and his men proceeded to clear Chahar of enemy troops at a time when Nanking's chief aim was the avoidance of armed conflict with the Japanese. Sung refused to take sides in the dispute between Feng and the National Government, but worked to resolve it. Feng dissolved his army and retired from the field in August. Sung resumed office as governor of Chahar and held that post until May 1935, when he became Peiping-Tientsin garrison commander. His new appointment coincided with the signing of the Ho-Umezu agreement (see Ho Ying-ch'in). Despite popular opposition to the agreement and to the trend toward autonomy in north China, the National Government abolished the Peiping branch of the Political Council in November. Chief authority in north China was transferred to the newly created Hopei-Chahar Political Affairs Council, with Sung Che-yuan as its chairman. Sung also was appointed governor of Hopei and Hopei-Chahar pacification commissioner. Chang Tzu-chung, commander of the Twenty-ninth Army's 38th Division, became mayor of Tientsin, and Ch'in Te-ch'un, deputy commander of the Twenty-ninth Army and governor of Chahar, became mayor of Peiping. With the Twenty-ninth Army securely in control of the administrations of Chahar and Hopei, Sung formally assumed his new offices in December 1935.

The Japanese program ofthis period envisaged the transformation of the provinces of Hopei, Shantung, Shami, Chahar, and Suiyuan into a Japanese-sponsored autonomous area. The strategy agreed upon by the Twenty-ninth Army and the National Government called for a delaying action which, while giving the Chinese nation additional time to prepare for the impending conflict, would not involve the surrender of additional territory or sovereignty to the Japanese. In this undertaking, Sung worked with Han Fu-chü (q.v.), governor of Shantung. In November 1936 Sung was succeeded as governor of Hopei by his 37th Division commander, Feng Chih-an. During and after the Sian Incident (see Chiang Kaishek; Chang Hsueh-liang) Japanese pressure on Sung and Han increased. Because Sung would neither yield to the Japanese nor cooperate with the Chinese Communists according to the united front policy adopted by the Chinese Nationalists, he found himself in an untenable position. Accordingly, he left Peiping and went to Loling to sweep the graves of his ancestors. The Sino-Japanese war began on 7 July 1937 with a clash at Lukouchiao that involved the Twenty-ninth Army's 37th Division. Sung Che-yuan immediately left Loling and went to Tientsin, where be began negotiations with Japanese commanders on 12 July. It soon became evident that the Japanese would resort to military force unless a north China autonomous region were brought into being without reference to Nanking. A strong Japanese column went into action along the Tientsin-Peiping rail line on 25 July, and it occupied Langfeng the following day. Also on 26 July, the Japanese demanded the withdrawal of the 37th Division from the Lukouchiao area by noon of 27 July. Sung Che-yuan rejected the demand. On the night of 28 July, however, he led his men out of Peiping, which fell to the Japanese shortly thereafter. The Japanese then took Tientsin and moved westward and southward. Sung Che-yuan, assuming responsibility for the Japanese successes in north China, submitted his resignation to Nanking on 28 July. The National Government refused his resignation and made him commander of the First Army Group, a conglomerate of the Twenty-ninth Army and other forces. Sung's headquarters at Paoting fell to the Japanese on 24 September, and he was forced to retreat southward once again. Elements of the First Army Group were sent to Linyi and to the Hsuchow front to cover the withdrawal of Chinese forces after the battle of Taierhchuang. The troops remaining under Sung's direct command were concentrated in the Hopei-Shantung-Honan border area around the strategic point of Hsinhsiang. Superior war materiel enabled the Japanese to take Hsinhsiang with relative ease, despite Sung's stubborn resistance. Sung Che-yuan, his once-powerful Twenty-ninth Army scattered and broken, submitted his resignation to Chiang Kai-shek at Chengchow. Chiang accepted it and appointed Sung to the Military Affairs Commission. Sung soon asked for leave from his post on the grounds of illness. In the autumn of 1939 he went to Mienyang, Szechwan, where he had been married many years before. Sung Che-yuan died there on 4 April 1940. The National Government later honored his memory by granting him the rank of full general.

Biography in Chinese



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