World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Marco Polo Bridge Incident


Marco Polo Bridge Incident

Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War

Japanese forces bombarding Wanping, 1937
Date 7–9 July 1937
Location Vicinity of Peking, China
Result * Japanese attack repulsed[1]
Republic of China Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Song Zheyuan
Qin Dechun (Mayor of Beijing, general)
Kanichiro Tashiro
~100[1] 5,600[2]
Casualties and losses
All but 4 soldiers killed in action[1] Unknown

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known as the Lugouqiao (Lugou Bridge) Incident (盧溝橋事變) or the July 7th Incident (七七事變), was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure, restored by the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722).


  • Nomenclature 1
  • Background 2
  • The Incident 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Consequences 5
  • Controversies 6
  • Order of battle 7
    • National Revolutionary Army (Kuomintang) 7.1
    • Imperial Japanese Army 7.2
  • See also 8
  • References 9
    • Citations 9.1
    • Bibliography 9.2
  • External links 10


The battle is known by different names.

  • In the West
    • The Marco Polo Bridge Incident
    • Battle of Lugou Bridge
  • In China
    • Incident of July 7 (七七事變/七七事变 pinyin: Qīqī Shìbiàn)
    • Lugou Bridge Incident (盧溝橋事變/卢沟桥事变 Lúgōuqiáo Shìbiàn)
    • July 7 Lugou Bridge Incident (七七盧溝橋事變/七七卢沟桥事变 Qīqī Lúgōuqiáo Shìbiàn)
  • In Japan:
    • Rokō Bridge Incident (盧溝橋事件 Rokōkyō Jiken)
  • In Korea:
    • Incident of July 7 (칠칠사건 Chilchil sageon)
    • Nogu Bridge Incident노구교 사건 Nogugyo sageon)


Tensions between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China had been fanned since the Invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and subsequent creation of a puppet state, Manchukuo, with Puyi, the last monarch of the Qing Dynasty, as its sovereign. Although the Kuomintang (KMT) government of China refused to recognize Manchukuo, a truce between Japan and Republican China had been negotiated in 1931. However, at the end of 1932 the Japanese Army invaded Rehe Province (Jehol Province). This was annexed into Manchukuo in 1933.

Under the terms of the Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901, China had granted nations with legations in Beijing the right to station guards at twelve specific points along railways connecting Beijing with Tianjin. This was to ensure open communications between the capital and the port. By a supplementary agreement on 15 July 1902, these forces were allowed to conduct maneuvers without informing the authorities of other nations in China.[3]

By July 1937, Japan had expanded to maintain forces estimated between 7000–15,000 men, mostly along the railways. This number of men and amount of material was several times the size of those detachments deployed by European powers, and greatly in excess of the limits set by the Boxer Protocol.[3]

Japanese and Chinese forces outside the town of Wanping--a walled town southeast of Beiping--exchanged fire at approximately 23:00 on 7 July 1937. The exact cause of this incident still remains a mystery today. When a Japanese soldier Private Shimura Kikujiro failed to return to his post, Chinese regimental commander Ji Xingwen (219th Regiment, 37th Division, 29th Route Army) received a message from the Japanese demanding permission to enter Wanping to search for the missing soldier. The Chinese refused. Although Private Shimura returned to his unit, by this point both sides were mobilising.

Later in the night, a unit of Japanese infantry attempted to breach Wanping's defences and were repulsed. An ultimatum by the Japanese was issued two hours later. As a precautionary measure, Qin Dechun, the acting commander of the 29th Route Army, contacted 37th Divisional commander General Feng Zhian to place his troops on heightened alert.

The Incident

At around 04:00 on the morning of 8 July 1937,reinforcements of both sides began to arrive. The Chinese also rushed an extra division of troops to the area. About an hour or so later the Japanese Army opened fire and attacked the Marco Polo Bridge, along with a modern railway bridge to the southeast of town.

Colonel Ji Xingwen led the Chinese defenses with about 100 men, with orders to hold the bridge at all costs. After furious fighting, the Chinese were able to hold the bridge with the help of reinforcements. [4] At this point, the Japanese military and members of the Foreign Service began negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese Nationalist government.

A verbal agreement with General Qin was reached, whereby an apology would be given to the Chinese; punishment would be dealt to those responsible; control of Wanping would be turned over to the Hopei civilian constabulary and not with the 219th Regiment; and better control of "communists" in the area. This was agreed upon, though Japanese Garrison Infantry Brigade commander General Masakazu Kawabe initially rejected the truce and, against his superiors' orders, continued to shell Wanping for the next three hours, until prevailed upon to cease and to move his forces to the northeast.


Although a ceasefire had been installed, further efforts to defuse the escalating conflict failed, largely due to actions by the Japanese Northern China Area Army commanders and militarists within the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. Wanping was shelled on 20 July and full scale fighting erupted at Langfang on 25 July.[4] After launching a bitter and bloody attack on the Japanese lines on the 27 July, General Sung was defeated and forced to retreat behind the Yongding River by the next day.

The Japanese gave Sung and his troops "free passage", then moved in to pacify areas surrounding Beijing and Tianjin. However, the Japanese Army had been given orders not to advance further than the Yongding River. In a sudden volte-face, the Konoe government's foreign minister opened negotiations with Chiang Kai-Shek's government in Nanjing and stated: "Japan wants Chinese cooperation, not Chinese land." Nevertheless, negotiations failed to move further than preparation as, on 9 August 1937, a Japanese naval officer was shot in Shanghai, instigating the war proper.


Damage from the Japanese shells on the wall of Wanping Fortress is marked with a memorial plaque now. The text on the stone drums below summarizes the history of the war that followed the incident

The heightened tensions of the Marco Polo bridge incident led directly into full-scale war with the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin at the end of July and the Battle of Shanghai in August.


There are some disputes among historians over the incident. Some historians believe the incident was an unintentional accident. Some believe that the incident may have been fabricated by the Japanese Army to provide a pretext for the invasion of China—a thesis supported by the expansionist colonial ambitions of Japan at the time, reflecting a sentiment felt by many Japanese at the time that "Asia should be ruled by Asians," replacing European colonial rulers with Japanese rulers throughout Asia.[5]

One far-right Japanese historian has alleged that the incident was staged by the Chinese Communist Party, who hoped that the incident would lead to a war of attrition between the Japanese army and the Kuomintang (Guomingdang).[6]

Order of battle

National Revolutionary Army (Kuomintang)

In comparison to their Japanese counterparts, the 29th Route Army, and generally all of the NRA for that matter, was poorly equipped and under-trained. Most soldiers were armed only with a rifle and a dadao. Moreover, the Chinese garrison in the Lugouqiao area was completely outnumbered and outgunned; it consisted only of about 100 soldiers.[1] To make things worse, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was reluctant to provide assistance as he had grudges with the 29th Route Army commander, Song Zhe-Yuan.

Name Military Post(s) Non-Military Post(s)
General Song Zheyuan
(宋哲元; Wade-Giles: Sung Che-yuan)
Commander of 29th Route Army Chairman of Hopeh Legislative Committee
Head of Peking security forces
General Qin Dechun
(秦德純; Wade-Giles: Chin Teh-chun)
Vice-Commander of 29th Army Mayor of Peking
General Tong Lin'ge
Vice-Commander of 29th Army
General Liu Ruming
Commander of the 143rd Division Chairman of Chahar Province
General Feng Zhian
Commander of the 37th Division Chairman of Hopeh Province
General Zhao Dengyu
(趙登禹; Wade-Giles: Chao Teng-yu)
Commander of the 132nd Division
General Zhang Zizhong
(張自忠; Wade-Giles: Chang Tze-chung)
Commander of the 38th Division Mayor of Tientsin
Colonel Ji Xingwen
Commander of the 219th Regiment
under the 110th Brigade of the 37th Division

Imperial Japanese Army

The Japanese China Garrison Army was a combined force of infantry, tanks, mechanized forces, artillery and cavalry, which had been stationed in China since the time of the Boxer Rebellion. Its headquarters and bulk for its forces were in Tianjin, with a major detachment in Beijing to protect the Japanese embassy.

Name Position Location
Lieutenant General Kanichiro Tashiro
Commander China Garrison Army Tientsin
Major General Masakazu Kawabe
Commander China Garrison Infantry Brigade Peking
Colonel Renya Mutaguchi
Commander 1st Infantry Regiment Peking
Major Kiyonao Ichiki
Commander, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment W of Marco Polo Bridge, 510 men

See also



  1. ^ a b c d 中国历史常识 Common Knowledge about Chinese History pp 185 ISBN 962-8746-47-2
  2. ^ Japanese War History library (Senshi-sousyo) No.86 [Sino-incident army operations 1 until 1938 Jan.] Page138
  3. ^ a b HyperWar: International Military Tribunal for the Far East [Chapter 5]
  4. ^ a b 七七事变(中华民族全面抗战的起点)
  5. ^ Dryburgh, North China and Japanese Expansion 1933–1937. pp147
  6. ^ Prehistory to the Nanking Incident


  • Dorn, Frank (1974). The Sino-Japanese War, 1937–41: From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor. MacMillan.  
  • Dryburgh, Marjorie (2000). North China and Japanese Expansion 1933–1937: Regional Power and the National Interest. RoutledgeCurzon.  
  • Lu, David J (1961). From The Marco Polo Bridge To Pearl Harbor: A Study Of Japan's Entry Into World War II. Public Affairs Press.  
  • Furuya, Keiji (1981). The riddle of the Marco Polo bridge: To verify the first shot. Symposium on the History of the Republic of China.  

External links

  • International Military Tribunal Proceedings
  • The Marco Polo Bridge Virtual Tour and Photographs
  • Bridge described
  • Japanese soldiers in the Marco Polo Bridge (Japanese)
  • Marco Polo Bridge Incident – July 7, 1937
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.