On the night of 20th-21st April 1949, after weeks of laborious preparations and rehearsals, the Red Army began crossing the Changjiang (Yangtze) in hundreds of small boats along a 500-kilometre wide front. Meeting with little determined resistance they captured the Nationalist capital Nanjing three days later.

Any possibility of China becoming partitioned into a Communist North and a Nationalist South had been decisively smashed; and the liberation of southern China begun. The Nationalist headquarters progressively retreated, first to Guangzhou, then Chongqing and Chengdu and finally to Taipei.

mill 4 mill 3 mill 7 mill 2 mill 6 mill 8 mill 5 mill 1

66mm   19.1g

40mm   5.2g

h. 34mm  w. 32mm   3.9g

53mm   13.1g

46mm   8.0g

h. 54mm  w. 57mm   13.3g

h. 51mm  w. 52mm    8.6g

58mm   8.3g

plastic and printed paper (slightly foxed)

"Our mighty army, a million strong, has crossed the great river"

This line is taken from Mao's poem The Capture of Nanjing (1949). After such an unexpectedly rapid victory - in 1948 Mao had predicted they would not reach the Changjiang until autumn 1949 - he permitted himself a degree of poetic licence; it was a mere 300,000 soldiers who crossed the river during the first 24 hours of the operation.

The Great Crossing

gold sails

h. 39mm  w. 46mm   9.8g