— Warlord Marshal Chang Chung Chang ~ 1925-1927

Marshal Chang Chung Chang (or Chang Tsung-ch’ang, or Zhang Zongchang, depending on what romanisation version of his name was used) was a Manchurian warlord who Lev worked for from 1925-1927, leaving when Chang’s army was disbanded.

Marshal Chang Chung Chang

Marshal Chang Chung Chang (Click to enlarge)

It would seem that the Marshal was quite a colourful character, going by several nicknames. One was the «Dogmeat General», the name given to him because he enjoyed the game of «Pai Gow», a Manchurian gambling game which translated means “eating dog meat” 🙂 The second nickname was «Three Don’t Knows» (sān bù zhī in Pinyin). He got that nickname because he ….

  1. didn’t know how much money he had;
  2. didn’t know how many concubines he had; and
  3. didn’t know how many men were in his army.

And the third nickname he had was «Old 86», (which he probably loved the most) as he was reputed to have a penis as long as a stack of 86 silver dollars!  😮

Warlord Chang Tso-Lin

Warlord Chang Tso-Lin

Marshal Chang Chung Chang was tall for a Chinese, 1.85 metres (just over 6′), and he was described as having «the physique of an elephant, the brain of a pig, and the temperament of a tiger». These days we know how intelligent pigs are but I guess back in those days it was probably an insult if someone said you had the brain of a pig!   😉

Born in 1881 to a poor peasant family he started working as a coolie and carried on with his labouring jobs until aged 30, when he joined a gang of bandits. When that career path didn’t go according to plan and he was defeated by rival bandits, he sought refuge with a warlord in Manchuria called  Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin).

After proving himself in battle, he was rewarded with a command position in Chang Tso-lin’s army and in 1925 he entered Shanghai and forced its capitulation in the name of his boss until 1928, when Chiang Kai Shek won it back.

After his success in taking Shanghai, Chang was rewarded by being appointed military governor of Shandong, which he ruled as their warlord until May 1928.

The Marshal had a couple of very quirky habits. He used to travel with his coffin and at times sit across it while smoking cigars and he kept some 30-50 concubines of different nationalities, including White Russians, French, Americans, Koreans and Japanese, each of whom were given towels with their country’s flag sewn on them and numbers, since he couldn’t remember their names nor speak their language. It also caused much public amusement that he took his aged mother everywhere with him. However he did leave her at his opulent palace when he went on campaigns! 😀

He was one of the first Chinese generals to recruit women into the military. He had a regiment of White Russian nurses and they, in turn, trained their Chinese counterparts, and having these nurses around resulted in a significant boost in his army’s morale and combat capability.

He also formed a cavalry regiment with 4,600 White Russians, complete with pseudo-Tsarist uniforms and regalia.

An armoured train

An armored train (Click to enlarge)

The Marshal seemed to be a very innovative warlord as he made effective use of armoured trains calling them the “Belarus Armored Convoy”. They were built by the JinPu Railway Factory and the convoy was manned by White Russian troops, commanded by Major-General Viktorin Mikhailovich Molchanoff.

Chang ordered four armoured trains early in 1926 which were named Taishan, Shandong, Yungui and Henan. Then in summer 1926 he got the factory to build another two, which he named Zhili and Hubei.

They consisted of 8 parts: 2 flatcars, 2 artillery wagons, 2 machine gun wagons, 1 locomotive and 1 command wagon.

One of Chang's armoured trains

One of Chang’s armoured trains (Click to enlarge)

The artillery wagon was armed with 1 heavy gun, 1 field gun, 1 mortar and some machine guns. The machine gun wagon was armed with some machine guns. They all had 7mm thick armour. The artillery wagons of the Taishan also was protected by a shield of concrete. Each armoured train had 7 field guns, 2 mortars and 24 maxim machine guns. Brigadier-General Chekhoff and his second-in-command, Colonel Makarenko, were in charge of the trains and their troops.

White Russian soldiers on an armoured train

White Russian soldiers on an armoured train

General Chang Tsung-ch’ang had his own cavalry squadron made up of émigré officers. Chang Tsung-ch’ang became the main employer of White Russians and had a total of 5,270 within his army in special units. Cossacks were formed into bodyguard units and a special 185-man grenadier unit was trained to fire grenades from catapults! In Shantung province there was a 700-strong cavalry regiment under the command of Colonel Saraeff and a 1,200-strong 65th Infantry Division under the command of General Netchaieff. Chang Tsung-ch’ang also formed an artillery regiment whose crew were all White Russians instead of the usual mix of Russian and Chinese. US observers who saw the Russians in action said that they fought well but that their fire-control methods had not been altered since 1914. Support units were formed from amongst the Russians’ families with some officers’ wives trained as nurses and youths enrolled into a cavalry cadet school.
[Source: China’s Wars: Rousing the Dragon 1894-1949 by Philip Jowett]

From the Shanghai Police document about Lev, it looks like he joined Chang Chung Chang’s army in Tsingtao in 1925 and when it disbanded, he moved to Shanghai to join the Shanghai Volunteer Corps.


Marshal Chang, Former Coolie, Took Harem With Him to War

Neat Way of Getting Silks for the Girls

Washington, DC, — (UP) – A former coolie who became master of the gaudiest harem in all China is leading the rebel force which is attempting to oust a nationalist garrison from Chefoo, capital of Shantung province in northern China.

Marshal Chang Chung Chang is his name. During the revolutionary disturbance of 1925-26 when the nationalists were attempting to extend their power from the south into northern China, Marshal Chang was war lord of Shantung province and at one time controlled rich Kiangsu province and its capital, Shanghai.

Harem on Wheels

With riches drawn from taxation and the exploits of his army, Marshal Chang began to acquire a harem which contained at least 20 Chinese women and is reported to have contained many more of various nationalities. Chang finally put his harem on wheels – the finest and most expensive wheels in China – so he would not be separated from his ladies in traveling about the country.

Chang commandeered one of the famous “blue trains,” bought, but never paid for, in the United States, and destined to provide comfort to travelers who had the price for extra accommodations. With his trainload of beauties and his staff, Chang went about his military business regardless of the inconvenience his retinue might cause others.

No Sidetrack for Ladies

At one period of his campaigns Chang made Tsinan, a large inland city of Shantung, his headquarters, halting his harem on the main line of the railway.  Regular railway traffic was compelled to leave the main line in passing through the city because Chang would not permit the comfort of his favorites to be interfered with by shunting them onto sidetracks.

The expense of maintaining his entourage was considerable but Chang was resourceful.

The story is told that Chang once accompanied a Russian beauty into a silk merchant’s place of business and authorized the lady to purchase what she wanted.  The bill was around $50,000 and the merchant tactfully inquired regarding payment. Chang told him to come to his office next day. When the merchant appeared and demanded his money Chang said the demand was impertinent, assessed a $50,000 fine for this “crime” and informed the merchant that the bill was settled.

Chang’s fortune ebbed with a rise of nationalism and he sought refuge in Dairen, a Japanese concession presumably dispensing with the company of at least some of his ladies. It is believed here that his rebellion against nationalist power in Shantung will fail.
[Source: The Milwaukee Journal, February 28, 1929]



Shantung Again Centre.
Chang Chung-chang Reappears.
SHANGHAI, Feb. 22.
Coincident with the ending of winter, despite a Nationalist declaration that China is completely unified, the regular period of internecine warfare in China is commencing. The reappearance of Marshal Chang Chung-chang the former Shantung bandit, who is reliably reported to be directing hostilities against Chefoo, will probably result in Shantung again being the centre of civil war.
A Japanese report states that Chang is still being supported by Semenoff and Nacheff, the white Russian leaders of the former Shantung armies, who are directing a campaign for the purpose of stepping into Tsingtao and securing control of the economic centre of Shantung upon the withdrawal of the Japanese troops. The reappearance of Chang is generally believed to be the forerunner of serious military disturbances in North China.
[Source:  The Argus (Melbourne, Vic, February 23, 1929]


Warlord Chang Chung Chang

Pictures of Marshal Chang Chung Chang (aka Chang Tsung Chang) and his army

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The Age Of Warlords – China in WW1


Chinese Warlords










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