Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

8th Route Army.

This is coolbert:

Another controversial military officer from the era of prior to and during World War Two [WW2] is Evans Carlson.

A man who in the eyes of some was a communist or "pink around the edges". Or at least favorable to the communist cause in China. A person who:

From a song sung during WW2:

"On the Road to Tokio by the ALMANAC SINGERS with Millard Lampell
and Woodie Guthrie - 1942"

"When Carlson was a young man, he roamed the world around
And while in far-off China, a secret there he found
From the Chinese Eighth Route Army."

"Now of the usual social rank, there wasn't any trace
You couldn't tell an officer unless you knew his face
They ate the same and they wore the same, for Carlson had it so
The officers fought beside their men."

"For each knows what he's fighting for, that's what he had to know."

"How to work and fight together -- that's what we've got to know."

"The Secret of this Army's strength our hero soon did learn
He brought his knowledge home and caused the Brass Hats great concern
He praised the Eighth Route Army and he let the whole world know
They were China's bravest fighters in the War with Tokio."

"He helped the Eighth Route Soldiers and ministered to their needs
And wondered in amazement at the bravery of their deeds
Their courage it was unequaled, their watchword was 'Gung-ho'."

Carlson, in the years prior to WW2, was sent to China as a personal observer of President Roosevelt. To observe the communist forces opposing the Japanese invader in northern China. The Chinese led by Mao and Chou En Lai.

"While stationed in China in the 1930s, Carlson had learned Chinese and served as an observer of the guerrilla forces of the Communist leaders Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. He saw how they battled the Japanese army that had invaded China."

"Carlson had 'hiked with a small detachment 200 miles through bare, treeless mountains in freezing weather,' wrote military writer J. Robert Moskin. 'He studied guerrilla warfare and how the Chinese Communists used surprise and feints, stayed constantly in motion and fought only when they were strong enough to win. He became an ardent devotee of smart, tough, spartan guerrillas.'"

Carlson seems to be very well suited and prepared for the task:

"Knew the Chinese language."

"Had a main line direct to the President."

[There is a photo of Carlson, convalescing in bed during WW2, with Mrs. Roosevelt paying him a visit AND the son of the President watching. James Roosevelt WAS THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE RAIDER BATTALION SERVING UNDER CARLSON!!!]

[Roosevelt DID place great store in the opinions of observers on the scene. As President, DID rely upon his own intuition and reports from "his own people" to arrive at decisions. This was a large part of Roosevelts "MO"!!]

"Carlson, a minister's son reared in Vermont, introduced his Raiders to his concept of gung ho, which actually was the name of a Chinese industrial cooperative. Gung ho has come to mean zealously, even obsessively committed to something, but Carlson interpreted it to mean simply a spirit of 'working together.'"

There is even real controversy about the origin of the word gung ho. The phrase gung ho is said to have had communist inspiration. However.

"As evidence that the phrase has nothing to do with communism,
most young people from Communist China do not even recognize it
as a legitimate phrase. Only those people who were born before
the Communist takeover in 1949 seem to know of it's

Again, however.

"'Light Industries Cooperative Society'. The
movement was socialist, but not communist."

"the name of a Chinese industrial cooperative"

"the Red Army fostered the growth of the Chinese Industrial Co-operative"

Carlson actually felt he was put on earth to help the Chinese. Two years as an observer, reporting directly to the President. DIVINELY INSPIRED!!??

[this is almost exactly the same as with the famous British officer of WW2, Orde Wingate. Also was the son of a minister and believed that he was divinely inspired to lead the Jews of British mandated Palestine in their conflict against the Arabs.]

Carlson DID gain a favorable opinion of the Chinese communists and their movement. And their military prowess and fighting technique.

"He liked the 8th's Army Leaders because they were unselfish and did not practice the traditional war-lord custom of self-aggrandisement. He was most taken by the officers' interest in the welfare of their men."

"the Red Army fostered the growth of the Chinese Industrial Co-operative which at that time were just beginning to blanket the country with a skein of small manufacturing units on which the industrial future of a reconstructed country can some day be based."

"This was done by sending in political missionaries who taught the people how to hold elections"

[the more correct term here is Red Commissar. Persons who not only "convinced" the "masses" of the rightness of their cause, but were ruthless in their ability to "convince" too!!]

"In Carlson's opinion the 8th Route Army was the best organized, best led fighting force in the world for its size and purpose."

"In his letter to President Roosevelt, Evans Carlson, the President's special envoy, expressed his admiration for the Chinese nation, its united stand and common desire to fight at a time of a national crisis."

[this in 1937.]

Carlson, WAS a famous combat commander from WW2 also.

Organized and led into combat, successfully, the Marine Raiders.

The motto of the Raiders of course was gung ho!!

Carlson employed unorthodox methods with the Marine Raiders. Methods he adopted from his observations of the communist Chinese forces [8th Route Army].

"Following the 8th Route Army's pattern, Carlson abolished the traditional officers' privileges. He required that the officers wear the same clothes as the men, carry the same equipment, live and suffer in as much discomfort. This the officers did willingly

[Carlson was attempting to emulate the type of thing he saw among the 8th Route Army!!]

Like all successful guerrilla fighters he depended on the support of the native population in his area of operations. Such support, he claims, depends in terms on the natives' conviction that the operation is to their own advantage."

To become a Marine Raider, you had to be a volunteer and submit to an interview. An interview also unorthodox in that political opinions were elicited.

"In each interview, the candidate's opinion on the political significance of the war was asked."

[this would not be unlike the type of thing a Red Commissar would be interested in!]

As to the political leanings of Carlson, here is what can be gleaned from a web forum:

"Those who charged that Carlson had communist leanings were wrong, Early said. 'He was primarily concerned about the stringent control officers and NCOs held over enlisted men. He thought you get more if you acted as a team instead of just issuing orders. In the gung ho spirit he was very lenient on enlisted men, but if a man did something wrong, he was tough on him.'"

Amazingly, the granddaughter of Evans Carlson has carefully researched her grandfathers Chinese period and came up with some amazing stuff. Even traveled to China an met with those that knew her father and his experiences with the 8th Route Army.

In my opinion Carlson WAS NOT a communist.

Undeniably, Carlson WAS heavily influenced by what he saw in China.

Carlson was like many of his contemporaries. A man who in the aftermath of World War One, and the depression era, did not see the Christian, democratic, capitalist model as being relevant to the struggles of people in say Russian or China. Did see in China at least, a model, the model of Mao and Chou En Lai, that seemed to work, again, at least for China. A model for development and "good government that would replace the continuous chaos seemingly present in the China of the time.


Just from the military standpoint alone, Carlson was correct in his assessment of the Red Army and it's fighting capacity. Compared to the Chinese Nationalist forces under Chang Kai Shek, the communists were much more aggressive, did more with less, imaginative, better organizers, possessed more elan' [spirited action].

The Nationalist Army had the appearance to American officers as being too sluggish and defensive in it's operations. NOT an active, offensive minded military.

I have stated before that American officers in Korea received an decided shock when they encountered the Red Chinese forces. This was not the Chinese military they were accustomed to. It WAS the Chinese military Carlson WAS accustomed to!!




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