The Japanese awaited an answer to their demand for surrender. When no Chinese envoy had arrived by 1:00 p.m. on December 10, General Matsui Iwane issued the command to take Nanking by force. Gen. Matsui gathered his subordinates and conveyed the following instructions: "The entrance of the Imperial Army into the capital of a foreign nation is a historic event. The attention of the world will be focused on you. You are to observe military regulations to the letter, to set an example for the future." He ensured that all his men received a map of Nanking and vicinity, with the Zhongshan Tomb (where Sun Yatsen is interred), the Ming Xiao Tomb, foreign legations, and other places where they were prohibited from entering clearly marked, and ordered sentries to be posted at each one of them. He added, "Anyone who loots or starts a fire, even accidentally, will be severely punished."
The Japanese army mounted its assault on the Nanking walls from multiple directions. The gates were the first obstacles, and they were formidable ones. There were 19 of them in Nanking, including two railway gates. The gates facing south from the east became the arenas for the heavy fighting that ensued. The first gate reached by Japanese troops was Guanghua Gate, situated between Zhongshan Gate (East Gate) and Zhonghua Gate (South Gate).
The SEF’s 16th Division attacked three gates on the eastern side, the 6th Division of the 10A launched its offensive on the western walls, and the SEF’s 9th Division advanced into the area in-between.