KOUMINCHUN ARMY, 1924-28
1: Private of a ‘big sword unit’, 1924
The warlord Feng Yu-hsiang formed his first ‘da-dao tui’ or ‘big sword unit’ in 1917, when it was originally called the ‘pistol unit’. Hand-picked from among the best available recruits, each man was armed with a rifle, pistol and fighting sword; by the 1920s the rifle had been discarded, and the favoured armament was the da-dao and an automatic pistol - usually the Mauser ‘broomhandle’ or one of its foreign- produced copies. Although they were intended as ‘commando’-type assault troops, the fate of these units if sent against a well dug-in enemy would have been fairly grim. This soldier has a grey cotton peaked cap with the five-pointed star badge, and a padded cotton jacket and trousers worn with woollen puttees. Above the left breast pocket he displays a large cloth patch bearing a typical heroic motto; his infantry-red collar patches are plain. His red calico armband has the Chinese character for ‘Feng’ on the white central disc.
2: General Feng Yu-hsiang, 1924
The ‘Christian Warlord’ was one of the more eccentric characters of the period. Here he is dressed in his rough cotton ‘farm-boy’ uniform; Feng had a habit of changing his clothing to suit the situation, and was reported to change often from full-dress uniform to this very simple, rustic clothing whenever the press corps was about - he cultivated the image of a ‘man of the people’. This type of headgear was peculiar to the Kuominchun, and was (oddly) described at the time as a ‘bathing cap’. The simple cotton jacket and trousers have no rank or other insignia apart from the blue calico armpatch on his right sleeve; the slogan in black characters across the central white disc reads ‘We are sworn to die to save the country, to love the people and not to harm them’. Feng’s men often had similar mottos and slogans on patches worn above their breast pockets, usually proclaiming their lord’s desire to protect the nation from other, reactionary warlords. Although not armed, Feng wears a Sam Browne belt.
3: Infantryman, 1925
The uniform worn here was peculiar to the Kuominchun army and was locally produced in Feng Yu-hsiang’s own workshops. The straw hat was seen in use by some Kuominchun units, perhaps only for summer campaigning. On the left sleeve he has a blue armband with a central white disc, and the Chinese characters for ‘National People’s Army’. Note the stick-grenade pouch. From 1925 Feng received most of his weapons from the Soviet Union, but he was not always impressed with those provided. This man is armed with an ex-Imperial Russian Army Winchester M1895 rifle, manufactured in the USA for the Tsar’s government in 1917. It was the practice among some of the ‘Christian Warlord’s’ men to carve crosses into the butts of their rifles, and this soldier is reading from the New Testament before going on campaign. Although Feng did hand out copies of the Bible to his men and promoted the reading of scriptures, it is a myth that he baptized soldiers en masse with a hosepipe. They did, however, sing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ as one of their marching songs; according to an eyewitness, their version was sung with a great deal more menace than the original.
Posted on Wednesday, 17 October
Reblogged from: thearmedgentleman
Posted by: georgy-konstantinovich-zhukov
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