Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Zhanggufeng (Chang-ku-feng)/Khasan, Battle of (29 July–11 August 1938)

Armed clash along the border between the Soviet Maritime Province and Japanese colonial Korea. The border dispute between the two sides led to fighting, beginning on 29 July 1938, on a small hill known as Zhanggufeng (Chang-ku-feng) and the adjacent Lake Khasan.

On 6 August, Lieutenant General V. N. Sergeev's Soviet Thirty-Ninth Army of 23,000 infantry troops, with tanks and armored vehicles and supported by heavy artillery and air cover, attacked units of Lieutenant General Suetaka Kamezo's 14th Division of 7,000 infantry troops defending Zhanggufeng. By 9 August, lacking heavy artillery and armor, the Japanese were driven from the hill. The Soviet forces then broke off contact save for reconnaissance. The Japanese refrained from a counterattack on the eve of their Wuhan operation in China. A truce was arranged between the two sides on 11 August 1938. The Japanese sustained 1,440 casualties (526 killed). The victorious Soviets paid a higher price, with 792 killed or missing and 3,279 wounded.

As a consequence of the battle, the Soviets gained confidence in their combat effectiveness. The battle revealed glaring Japanese weaknesses in firepower and tanks, but the army did nothing to rectify these shortcomings, continuing to believe in the superiority of fighting spirit over firepower. This mistaken doctrine eventually led to an overwhelming victory for the Soviets and defeat for the Japanese in their border dispute in the renewed fighting at Nomonhan/ Khalhin-Gol the following year.

Tohmatsu Haruo


Further Reading
Coox, Alvin D. The Anatomy of a Small War: The Soviet-Japanese Struggle for Changkufeng/Khasan, 1938. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977.
 

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