Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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China, Navy

In the 1920s, Germany assisted the Nationalist government of China in establishing a naval academy at Mamei in Fujian (Fukien) Province, and in 1927, the Nationalist leaders also set up the Chinese Naval General Headquarters. However, the vast bulk of resources went into the army and air forces. When war with Japan began in July 1937, the Nationalist navy consisted of a few old gunboats, some small coastal vessels, and river craft. The navy also maintained a few naval stations inland on the major rivers and a facility that manufactured mines and naval explosives.

The Japanese quickly destroyed the larger Chinese naval craft during and after the August 1937 Battle of Shanghai in Jiangsu (Kiangsu) Province. Nonetheless, throughout the war, elements of the Chinese navy conducted sabotage attacks against Japanese ships and shore bases in China.

In early 1942, the U.S. Navy sent to China a small detachment known as the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO) or the "Rice Paddy Navy," under the joint command of Nationalist General Dai Li (Tai Li) and U.S. Navy Captain Milton E. "Mary" Miles. Its mission was to establish and man weather stations and communications facilities, gather intelligence, and conduct sabotage and guerrilla operations in the coastal areas and along the inland rivers of China. In 1943, Miles was promoted to commodore and assigned as commander, Naval Group China.

At the end of the war, there was a significant interservice battle over the type of navy China should maintain, who would control it, and how it would be equipped. Disputes slowed the effort to build a postwar Nationalist navy. In any case, however, Nationalist leaders did not see maritime forces as critical in the coming battle with the Communists.

J. G. D. Babb


Further Reading
Liu, F. F. A Military History of Modern China, 1924–1949. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956.; Miles, Milton E. A Different Kind of War: The Little Known Story of the Combined Guerrilla Forces Created in China by the U.S. Navy and the Chinese during World War II. New York: Doubleday, 1967.; Tolley, Kemp. Yangtze Patrol: The U.S. Navy in China. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1971.
 

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