The Great Wall
The Inner Great Wall crossed the county road just north of Hengling and ran behind Zhenbiancheng on the western side. To the east was the tourist venue, Badaling, the most renovated and commercialised section of the Wall near Beijing. Near these villages the Wall was in various states of disrepair. Sometimes it was little more than a pile of broken rocks, but it was always impressive.
According to historical reports, less than a month after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937, the Japanese army captured Beijing and Tianjin. At the beginning of August, Japanese troops approached the Beijing-Suiyuan railway line from the south and west in an effort to cut off front-line Chinese troops further north in Chahar.
The Japanese wanted to advance past the Great Wall into North China. About 70,000 troops stormed Nankou on August 8, facing dogged resistance from the 13th Corps of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China's Kuomintang (KMT).
With their backs to the Great Wall, the Chinese took Nankou, northwest of Changping, in an effort to stop the Japanese advance.
During three weeks of fierce fighting in Nankou, Deshengkou, Juyongguan, Hengling and Zhenbiancheng about 10,000 of the 60,000 Chinese soldiers died. Outnumbered and poorly equipped, the Chinese troops faced an overwhelming struggle. They were defeated on August 26.
We met military enthusiast Yang Guoqing, far right, up near the Wall where he was showing a group of hikers battle sites from the Japanese invasion.
Yang told us that the road from the west visible in the photo on the right was where the Japanese forces entered the Zhenbiancheng area. They occupied Zhenbian and Hengling for several years and torched the smaller settlements of Dayingpan and Fangkou.
Yang had collected shells, helmets and other military equipment from the area which he put on display in a small museum in the basement of his grocery store in the nearby city of Changping.
He was leading a campaign to have a monument built in Nankou to the Chinese soldiers who lost their lives in the battles against the Japanese invaders. Roger told me he had seen a couple of old trenches on his treks through these mountains.
Shuitou Great Wall Anti-Japanese War Monument
After the Meiji Restoration (1868), the Japanese learned from the Germans that nations win wars behind the lines, not at the front line. For several decades after the Meiji Restoration, Japan often harassed Chinese residents living near borders.
In the Battle of Nankou in 1937, Japanese troops failed to achieve a quick victory. After fighting against Chinese Nationalists troops for more than 10 days, the Japanese outflanked the Nationalists from the Shuitou Great Wall and went on to take Huailai county.
Alas, we did not lose because our warriors were not brave enough, but because our national power wasn’t strong enough to provide good supplies and support.
Isn’t it sad to remember our soldiers who fought in those bloody battles and died in these mountains? We built this monument to remind our people to stay sober and humble.
This monument was erected in 2013 by the research institutes of the Anti-Japanese War in Taiwan and Beijing.