Phase Two in the Battle of Shanghai
On August 23, the Japanese Shanghai Expeditionary Army, led by Iwane Matsui, landed in Liuhe, Wusong (吳淞), and Chuanshakou.
Chiang Kai-shek had expected these coastal towns to be vulnerable to Japanese landings and ordered Chen Cheng to reinforce the area with the 18th Army. However, the Chinese were no match for Japanese firepower. The Japanese almost always began their amphibious assaults with heavy naval and air bombardment of the Chinese coastal defense works and trenches. It was not unheard of for the Chinese to lose an entire garrison to such bombardments. However, the Chinese would reinforce almost immediately to counter the Japanese troops who had just made their landing after the bombardment.
In the two weeks that followed, the Chinese and Japanese troops fought bitter battles in the numerous towns and villages along the coast. The Chinese troops fending off the amphibious assaults had only their small-caliber weapons to depend on, and were not sufficiently supported by the Chinese air force and the almost nonexistent Chinese navy. They paid heavily for the defense. An entire regiment could be reduced to just a few men in action. In addition, Chinese coastal defense works were hastily constructed and did not offer much protection against enemy attacks, as many trenches were newly constructed during lulls in fighting. Moreover, the sandy soil of the coastal region meant that it was difficult to construct sturdy fortifications. Many trenches would collapse due to rain. It was a race against time to construct and repair these defense works despite constant Japanese bombardment. Logistics difficulty also meant it was hard to transport the necessary construction materials to the front line. The Chinese often had to turn to bombed-out houses to obtain bricks, beams, and other such materials. However, the Chinese fought against great odds and tried to hold onto the coastal villages as long as they could. It was commonplace for the Japanese to successfully occupy the towns in the day under heavy naval support, only to lose them during the night to Chinese counterattacks.
Such attacks and counterattacks continued well into late August, when the fall of Baoshan, a vital coastal town, seemed imminent. Chiang Kai-shek ordered the remaining troops of the 98th Division to defend the town. One battalion, under Yao Ziqing (姚子青), was assigned to the task. The situation in Baoshan was grim, as the Japanese had surrounded the town on September 5. However, Yao ordered his men to defend to the death. Japanese artillery strikes reduced the town to rubble, and Yao was killed in house-to-house fighting. On September 6 Baoshan fell. The entire battalion, except for one soldier, was killed in action. The Chinese would continue to sustain this level of casualties throughout the Shanghai campaign.
Meanwhile, Japanese aircraft from Taiwan (also known to the west as Formosa) bombed the city beginning on 14 Aug. The civilian who had not left the city now fled in waves, creating further chaos. Lee Paokui, wife of Chinese Air Force enlisted man Chen Nan, was among the civilians in Shanghai at the time and her story was rather typical of the civilian experience during the battle. Running away from the city amidst a frightened crowd while clutching on to her children was not easy; once she lost grip with the hands of any of them, the child would disappear into the crowd forever, and that was how she simply lost all of one of her children.