August 25, 1945 – This Day During The Cold War – Captain John Birch of United States Office of Strategic Services was killed by communists near Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

August 25, 1945 – En route to meet the former puppet leaders during Japanese occupation, Captain John Birch of United States Office of Strategic Services was killed by communists near Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. Armed supporters of the Communist Party of China killed Air Force Captain John Birch on August 25, 1945. John Morrison Birch (May 8, 1918 – August 25, 1945) was an American military intelligence officer and a Baptist missionary in World War II, who was killed during a confrontation with supporters of the Communist Party of China. Politically conservative groups in the United States consider him to be a martyr and the first victim of the Cold War. The John Birch Society, an American conservative organization formed 13 years after his death, was named in his honor. His parents joined the Society as Life Members. Birch joined the Fourteenth Air Force on its formation on 5 March 1943 and was later seconded to the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He stated he would be willing to be accepted into the OSS only if he was allowed to work as normally as he had before. He built a formidable intelligence network of sympathetic Chinese informants, supplying Chennault with information on Japanese troop movements and shipping, often performing dangerous incognito field assignments, during which he would brazenly hold Sunday church services for Chinese Christians. In his diary, Major Gustav Krause, commanding officer of the base, noted: “Birch is a good officer, but I’m afraid is too brash and may run into trouble.”[citation needed] Urged to take a leave of absence, Birch refused, telling Chennault he would not quit China “until the last Jap” did; he was equally contemptuous of Communists. He was promoted to captain and received the Legion of Merit in 1944. , August 14, 1945, signaled the end of formal hostilities; but, under terms of the Japanese surrender, the Japanese Army was ordered to continue occupying areas it controlled until they could hand power over to the Nationalist government, even in places where the Communist-led government had been the de facto state for a decade. This led to continued fighting as the People’s Liberation Army fought to expel all imperial forces, a category it perceived to include U.S. personnel now openly collaborating with the remaining Japanese forces. On August 25, as Birch was leading a party of Americans, Chinese Nationalists, and Koreans on a mission to reach Allied personnel in a Japanese prison camp, they were stopped by Chinese Communists near Xi’an. Birch was asked to surrender his revolver; he refused and harsh words and insults were exchanged. Birch was shot and killed; a Chinese Nationalist colleague was also shot and wounded but survived. The rest of the party was imprisoned but released shortly. Birch was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal.

Captain John Birch, U.S. Army

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