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 Battlefield culture

 Glorious History of Kinmen Battles – Important Battles and Bombardments

Introduction to the Battle of Guningtou

In fall of 1949, Kuomintang military forces were only stationed on a few islands off China, and they lost the city of Xiamen on October 17th.  During the night of October 24th, three reinforced regiments’ infantry from the First Echelon of Communists’ 28th Army, along with the combat troops from another military camp, were on aboard 200 different ships, which embarked from Lianhe, AO-Tou, and Da-Deng.  They were approaching Kinmen with full force under the cover of fires coming from Mainland China’s 37 canons.  After 3 days, a total of 56 hours of fierce combat, fire finally ceased in the early morning hours on the 27th.  A total of about 6,000 Communist soldiers were killed during the battle.  This was considered an “island defense and extermination battle” and had also been the most glorious victory of the Kuomintang military since the conflict between the Kuomintang and Communists.  It also showed the Communists’ lack of knowledge on tides, wind, ocean currents and terrestrial environment, and along with the insufficiency of backup equipment supply, the Communists were doomed to reach their failure.  The Battle of Guningtou overturned Kuomintang’s prior defeats and brought peaceful stability of the Taiwan Strait.

Introduction to the Battle of Dadan and Erdan

In mid-July of 1950, the Kuomintang retreated from Zhoushan, Hainan and southern Guangdong islands, prompting the Communists to make another round of attack on Kinmen as there were no troublesome barriers for them in the southern and northern Taiwan Strait.  However, the Communists did not fail to remember the hard lessons they had learned at Guningtou and decided not to directly attack the mainland Kinmen.  Instead, they first attacked the Dadan and Erdan islands and then slowly approached island by island before they could take over Kinmen.  At that time, the Kuomintang was all already stationed in ambush full force and sniper squads, ready to destroy the enemy at the beach.  Consequently, near 6pm on July 26th, when the Communists approached the beach, they were immediately faced with powerful attack.  Besides those shot dead, the rest were all caught.  The Erdan battle lasted less than one hour before the Kuomintang declared victory.  At 12pm on July 27th, the Communists further aided its force in Dadan with five wooden ships.  But the Kuomintang quickly returned with canon fire, which successfully stopped the Communists and had them run off back to Xiamen Bay, ending the Battle of Dadan and Erdan.

Dadan and Erdan

Introduction to the Jiusan Artillery Bombardment

In fall 1954, on the eve of Southeast Asia meeting, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were planning to ambush Kinmen with a fierce attack in hope to influence meeting decisions and inhibit alliance amongst Southeast Asian countries and the U.S., and thereby empowering Communist China’s international reputation.  As a result, without any warning, the PRC began ferociously attacking the Kuomintang’s vessels resting on the sea near Shueitou and its military base in mainland Kinmen on September 3rd.  At the end of the three consecutive days of Battle of Jiusan, it was the beginning of a long-term battle between Kinmen and various locations in China.  As the soldiers and citizens of Kinmen had been living under fire for a lengthy period of time, people began joining in the self-defense combat system.  They stayed prepared for battle every day, hoping to protect this sacred land of theirs. 
Introduction to the 823 Artillery Bombardment

In 1958, PRC had gradually completed building military airports along the southeastern coastline.  The Yingtan-Xiamen Railway had also commenced operation, providing convenient transportation and more frequent dispatches.  As a result, the PRC went ahead and gathered its forces to coordinate with its Navy along the seashore.  At 6:30pm on August 23rd, they began bombarding Kinmen from Xiamen, Da-Deng, Xiao-Deng, Shen-Jiang, Lian-He, and Wei-Tou.  In just 2 hours, a total of 57,533 shells were fired in this unprecedented attack.  The continuous bombardments lasted until October 5th, with a total of 474,910 shells fired, and it has been called the 823 Artillery Bombardment.   

Artillery Bombardment

Later, the Communist military realized its Navy was poorly equipped and had been badly damaged during several combats, so they decided to turn to harassing psychological strategy.  After their announcement of “cease fire for one week” ended on October 6th, they announced another “cease fire for two weeks”.  Later, they proposed “fight on odd days, and stop on even days”.  And the bombardment finally ended after PRC and the U.S. established a diplomatic relation on December 15th, 1978.  The 20-year duration made this the longest bombardment in
 the human history. 

 bombardment bombardment

Introduction to the 617 Artillery Bombardment

In 1960, in order to stop U.S. President Eisenhower from visiting Taiwan, the PRC fired 31,347 shells at Kinmen islands within just over 50 minutes in the afternoon of June 17th.  It averaged to 627 shots per minute.  In the afternoon of the 18th, another 54,618 were randomly fired within just 45 minutes.  And in the morning of the 19th, three shooting sessions took place that resulted in a total of 88,789 shells.  Over the three consecutive days of bombardment, a total number of 174,754 shells were shot at the Kinmen islands.

Details of Kuomintang’s Management of Battlefields in Kinmen

In 1949, when the Kuomintang Government retreated to the islands along the Southeastern China shores, there were flying dust and sand everywhere you looked, and people were living in a poor condition in a deserted land.  Under the circumstance when there were scant resources and unpredictable attacks from enemy coming from the other end of the ocean, the newly-arrived soldiers did not only have to face a distressed living condition, but also a huge amount of tasks to complete.  First of all, their task was to dig foxholes for hiding out along the seashore.  Foxholes were further divided into one-person foxholes, two-person foxholes, and multiple-person foxholes.  In order to clear shooting horizon, all the weeds and trees needed to be removed.  In order to block the wind, hide from the rain, and to cover themselves, the soldiers built shelters using the tree branches and wood they cut.  In order to deliver commands and transport supplies, communication trenches were dug to connect all the foxholes.  In order to reinforce the strength of defense facilities so that ammunition and food can be securely stored, round-shaped or rectangular-shaped wood were used in the building of tougher frontline instead of simple shelters used in the early days.  On top and on the sides of the front line camps were paved with pebble stones and rocks to resist canon fires.      

Taking into consideration of the terrain, enemy intelligence, utilization of military force, fire support and other elements, types of stationed locations and missions are also varied.  These categories are described as follows:

Types of Locations

(1) Squad Locations:

A squad is composed of 9 to 10 soldiers, and their organization equipment includes rifles, automatic rifles, and grenades.  Regional equipment included a Thompson submachine gun, 41-type automatic rifle, A1 water cooled machine gun, A4 air cooled machine gun, and A6 air cooled machine gun.

(2) Platoon Locations:

A platoon is composed of 3 infantry squads and 1 machine gun squad.  Usually 1 to 3 squads would be dispatched to all squad locations.  Primary forces of the platoon directly under the platoon leader were distributed in key locations convenient for giving commands, observing, keeping contacts and fire support.  It was also possible that the whole platoon was stationed in one location.  On the platoon locations, there were usually equipped with heavy weapons that required operation by multiple people, such as CAL 50 machine gun, 75 mm recoilless anti-tank rifle, 57 anti-tank rifle, 3-inch naval artillery, 5-inch naval artillery, and tank gun.  


Once defense weapons were in hand, shelters needed to be built next.  Shelters were further divided into rifle shelter puts, machine gun pits and other kinds of gun pits.  When combats were underway, enemy might attack with toxic gas or incendiary bomb, so fire doors and poison gas resistant doors were set up.  Certainly, camouflage was also necessary, so bushes needed to be planted outside the shelters, and camouflage nets, make-believe front line and fake guns and rifles were also laid out.  On the other hand, since the combat communication trenches were usually exposed under enemy gunfire, they were transformed into tunnel type communication trenches that were equipped with communication lines, military phones and sensitive detectors so that they met the needs during combats.

Surrounding the shelters, barbed-wire fences and other blocking facilities, such as iron-rod fences and glass knives, also needed to be put up.  On the paths where enemies possibly would take, mines and weapons were set up so that they would be ignited when the enemies approached in smoke, dense fog or at nights so that our security facilities were enhanced.        

Living Amenities

(1) Lighting:

During the early days, light control was strictly executed as even dim lights would appear exceptionally obvious at night.  As a result, there were no lights at stationed locations, and only pressure lamps, kerosene lamps or candles were used.  All windows and doors were also equipped with lamp covers.

(2) Kitchen:

Kitchens were small independent houses that were usually set up further from the bedrooms and closer to water sources where washing was convenient.  Each solider needed to know how to cook.   

(3) Drinking Water:

Drinking water was a big issue.  In addition to few key locations where water tanks regularly provided water, the rest of the locations all needed to find a way to overcome this issue.  If there were wells or water sources nearby, it would be most convenient to carry water directly from there, but most of the locations needed to rely on storing rainwaters and digging underground water. 

(4) Political Warfare Locations:

These were set up in large-scale platoon locations, where cultural and entertaining books and instruments, such as guitar and harmonica, were available.


(1) Raising Pigs and Planting Vegetables:

Kitchen waste produced by ten people could feed two pigs.  Liquid kitchen waste could also be used as fertilizers when planting vegetables.  Consequently, the soldiers would be able to have better meals.

(2) Military Dogs:

These were German Shepherd Dogs bred and trained by the Taiwan Garrison Command.  Just as the soldiers had their soldier identification cards, the military dogs also had their own identification cards.  They were fed and trained by professionals.  Upper management would set aside food and distribute it to key locations.

(3) Guard Dogs:

Locations that were not equipped with military dogs would also have one or two guard dogs or the so-called Pariah dogs.  Besides their build, their alertness and sharpness were also no less than the military dogs, and that was why our military had used them to enhance security.

Historical Battlefield Structures and Guide to Heritage Sites:

Battlefield Heritage Sites in Mainland Kinmen:

Learn from the Past – Guningtou War Museum

Melancholic Memories – Guningtou Cliff 

Respected by All – Poyu Pavilion and General Hu Lian Memorial Hall

Honorable Spirits of Warriors – Mt. Taiwu Cemetery and Martyrs’ Shrine

Nobility and Integrity – Li Liang-jung Memorial Stone Carving 

Eternal Glory – Temple of General Li Guang-qian and Martyr Memorial Monument

Relic of the War – Beishan Old Western-style house

Strategic Commands from Afar – Hunan Highland 

Pay Visit to Memorable Past – Guningtou Battlefield

Spectacular Sight – Central Tunnel

Challenging Construction - Jhaishan Tunnel

Combat Support – Cyonglin Combat Tunnel 

Conservation of Historic Records – Cyonglin Civil Defense Museum

Glorious History – Victory Gate-Victory Memorial Monument of 823 Artillery Battle

Underground Combat – Chenggong Tunnel 

Music of Kinmen – Tahou Radio Station Tunnel

Formidable in East Kinmen – Shishan Artillery Battlefield

Self Defense – Xiongshi Fort

Underground Fortress – Qingtain Hall

Grand Magnificence – Wu-Wang-Zai-Ju Inscription

Kinmen Spirit – Juguang Tower

Remembering War History – 823 Artillery Battle War History Museum

Paragon of Philosopher – Yu Ta-wei Memorial Hall

Pay Respect to Legacy Figure – Mr. Chiang Ching-kuo Memorial Hall

World’s Front Post – Mashan Broadcasting

Sacrifice for Righteousness – Wukui Pavilion

Defense against Enemy Force – Iron-Rod Fences

Preemptive Attack – Anti-Airborne Fort

Assuredness Leads to Victory – Anti-Parachute Stakes

Isolated Coral Reef Island – Jiangong Island Location 

Promote National Prestige – Dadan Island Psychological Warfare 

Battlefield Heritage Sites in the Lieyu Region: 

Strategy Planning – General Fort

Individual Defense – Warrior Fort 

Sturdy Shelters – Lieyu Guishan Stationed Locations

Hidden World – Jiugong Tunnel 

Immortalize Triumph – Hujingtou War History Museum

Brave Warriors – Bada Tower 

Spiritual Landmark – Lieyu Soldiers’ Cultural and Entertainment Center

Battle Memorial – Victory Gate-Victory Memorial Monument of 823 Artillery Bombardment

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