Ma Benzhai: an immortal hero
Ma Benzhai, Hui nationality, was born in Xianxian County, Hebei Province in 1901. He joined the Communist Party of China in October 1938. In October 1937, he organized a Hui Nationality Anti-Japanese Army of Volunteers made up of 60 people. In July 1938, the army was reorganized into the Hui Nationality Training Contingent under the Central Hebei Military Area Command with Ma Benzhai as its leader. In August 1939, the Hui Nationality Training Contingent was reorganized into the Hui Nationality Detachment under the 3rd Column of the Eighth Route Army with Ma Benzhai as its commander. The Hui Nationality Detachment was deeply loved by the people, as it was a valiant and highly disciplined troops. As a result, its numerical strength swiftly increased to over 2,000 men. On Feb. 7, 1944, Ma Benzhai broke down from constant hard work and died in a rear hospital in the Hebei-Shandong-Henan Military Area Command. On March 17, Chairman Mao wrote the elegy in memory of him: "Comrade Ma Benzhai is immortal!"
By the end of 1938, all the rural and urban areas in north China had fallen into the hands of the Japanese aggressors. The Hui Nationality Detachment inflicted heavy casualties upon the Japanese troops led by Yamamoto Isoroku, which had come to attack Hejian. Realizing that the Hui Nationality Detachment could not conquered by force, Yamamoto Isoroku arrested Ma Yongzhai's mother and asked her to persuade her son to surrender. In the face of enemy intimidation, his mother was intrepid and denounced indignantly at Japanese aggressors and traitors. She finally died for the country in hunger strike.
On the day when his mother was captured by the enemy, Ma Benzhai was leading his troops fighting against Japanese aggressors in an area to the east of the Ziya River. When he learned the news, it was too late to rescue his mother. Turning grief into strength, Ma Benzhai led his troops to strike harder at the Japanese aggressors along the Ziya River, and won one victory after another.
In 1942, the Hui Nationality Detachment, under command of Ma Benzhai, broke through the Japanese aggressors' tight encirclement, and headed toward Shenxian County, Guanxian County and Chaocheng in the northwest of Shandong Province where it fought and won several battles in succession. One day, the local puppet troops launched a converging attack against the detachment from several directions in an attempt to encircle and wipe out the detachment. Ma Benzhai cleverly used the guerrilla tactics to engage the enemy. At the same time, he sent his men to penetrate into the enemy camps to ascertain their strength. On a windy night, Ma Benzhai mustered his picked troops to launch an attack against the enemy command post at Bagongqiao with lightening speed. Once the enemy's command post was destroyed, the enemy troops at different directions were immediately thrown into confusion. The detachment then followed up the victory with hot pursuit, and liberated several villages and towns, and seized large quantity of weapons and ammunitions.