The battle of Guningtou was of the largest and perhaps the important fight that fended off PRC invasion in Kinmen and Taiwan. It began with thousands of communist troops boarding ships and invading Kinmen, gaining ground quickly. However, the PRC troops were pushed back and captured, proving to be an important victory for the ROC army and preventing the PRC from advancing to Taiwan.
Now you can learn more about this important battle by passing through the town of Guningtou and visiting the Guningtou Battle Museum.
During the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist ROC forces started to withdraw to Taiwan. According to PRC strategy, Kinmen and Matsu had to be taken before an attack on Taiwan. The PRC originally thought that there were only 2,000 troops on Kinmen, but in reality there had 40,000 troops, as well as air and sea support. The PLA sent 19,000 troops to Kinmen that were supposed to take the island in a number of days.
On October 26th, 1949, the initial wave of PRC troops were shot up by the ROC and many of their wooden boats destroyed, but were able to push there way into Guningtou with help from a second wave of reinforcements. In total, only 9,000 of the original 19,000 troops landed on Kinmen. The next day a bloody battle was fought in the village of Guningtou, and with the help of air support, the PRC forces were pushed back to the beach. By the third day, all of the PRC troops had surrendered, proving ultimate victory for the ROC army for the battle. In total, 1,267 ROC troops were killed, 3,873 PRC soldiers were killed and 5,175 were captured.
For more information regarding the battle, see the Wikipedia article here.
The outcome of the battle proved to be a morale boost for ROC troops that had been losing over and over to PRC forces on the mainland. It effectively stopped the PRC from advancing toward invasion of Taiwan, because in 1950 the Korean War started, demanding much of their manpower, buying time until the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1955, offering protection by the United States. against PRC invasion of Taiwan. Because of this, the battle laid the groundwork for the status quo between China and Taiwan as we know it today.
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How to get there:
Take Huandao West Road North out of Kincheng and continue to Guningtou Village. Follow the signs and turn right after you come to Beishan Old House to reach the museum.
Map: Please see below:
When you come into the village of Guningtou, you are greeted by a giant arch that commemorates that battle of Guningtou.
We didn't have time to explore the whole village, but you should if you have the time. One building we did see was the Beishan Old House (北山古洋樓 pictured above), which is actually located in the village of Beishan right next to Guningtou.
This house was built originally by Li Qijie, who started work on the house in 1920, making it into a western style house like many other rich merchants on Kinmen (for more information on these merchant houses, see our blog about Shuitou Village here). Due to the Chinese Civil War, he moved to the Philippines and never completed the house.
Here you can see bullet holes in the walls left over from the battle of Guningtou! The battle was legit.
From here you can see that the second floor was left unfinished. There are bullet holes in the walls on all sides of the house.
Memorial to the battle of Guningtou in Beishan Village.
After the old house, we went down the street to the Guningtou Battle Museum.
The entrance to the battle museum was a little hard to find. We originally went around the back to find some old bunkers and embankments on display.
It turns out that this is the original landing spot of the PRC troops during the battle of Guningtou, which you can see from the viewing deck in the photo above.
The entrance to the museum is shaped like a castle, just like the Hujingtou museum. There is a M5A1 tank on display which was indispensable in fending off the PRC troops in the battle.
The museum mainly features some paintings of what happened during the battle of Guningtou as well as showing the weapons used during the battle.
Large ROC sun symbol on the ceiling.
ROC Guningtou battle era weapons.
As explained in the background section of this blog, the battle started when 9,000 PLA troops stormed the beach coming in with wooden ships and junks they had confiscated from Xiamen. The ROC shot flares to see their positions and shot at the boats and soldiers as they came ashore.
The PRC forces fought their way to the village of Guningtou, but were stopped there. A bloody battle ensued.
Urban street fighting ensued during the battle. This painting depicts the Beishen Old House that we visited above.
The PRC were not match for tanks and aerial raids from the ROC army, and retreated out of the town.
The ROC army in the meantime burned down the remaining wooden ships, cutting off their escape.
The communist forces surrendered on the beach with no where to run.
Wounded PRC POWs marching back.
Chiang Kai-shek inspecting the troops after the victory.
Photos of the battle array after the victory at Guningtou.
Rebuilding after the battle.
Map of the battle and positions.
There you have it! What was arguably the most important battle of Taiwan's history. If the ROC would have lost this battle, there is a chance that the PRC could have advanced further and invaded Taiwan, and Taiwan might not have turned into the vibrant democratic nation it is today.
That being said, it seems like the PLA had no technology or strategy for amphibious assault at that time, so taking back Taiwan would have been a long shot even if they did capture Kinmen.
There are many tours and activities available on Kinmen, such as SUPing / Paddle Boarding, Intertidal Eco Tour, fishing, clamming, Night Otter Spotting, Handmade Metalworking DIY, and many others. For more information, look at other tour/ferry sites or book a personalized tour with Klook here or KKday here.
For more of Taiwan's outer Islands, check out our ultimate guide to Kinmen here.
You can also check out our full guide to all of Taiwan's outer islands here.
You can also check out our full travel guide to Taiwan here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.