Retired General Sun Yuan-liang (孫元良), who helped lead Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) Nationalists in China's struggle against Japan during World War II, has died in Taiwan, a local newspaper reported yesterday. He was 103.
Sun died at his home in Taipei on May 25, the Chinese-language United Daily News quoted his son Sun Hsiang-chung (孫祥鍾) as saying. His body was cremated on Saturday, the report said.
Born in Sichuan Province in 1904, Sun joined the Nationalist army at the age of 19 and was among the most celebrated graduates of the prestigious Whampoa Military Academy founded by Chiang in Guangdong Province.
He came to prominence confronting Japanese efforts to gain a foothold in the Shanghai region in the 1930s.
Sun led the Nationalists in a crucial battle to beat back Japanese naval forces attacking Shanghai in 1932.
He led another famous battle in the city in 1937, holding onto the Nationalist base for 76 days despite heavy casualties.
Many historians have criticized the Nationalists' performance during World War II, saying poor leadership and widespread corruption had allowed Japan to take control of wide swathes of China.
Some say Chiang refused to deploy his best troops, holding them back for use against the Communists after Japan's defeat.
During that civil conflict, Sun lost a crucial battle in 1948 when more than 500,000 Nationalist troops were killed in eastern Jiangsu Province.
Sun retired shortly after he followed Chiang to Taiwan in 1949.
Local media said Sun was survived by five sons.