A Chinese soldier moments before his execution by beheading during the Rape of Nanking - 1937
Immediately after the fall of the city, Japanese troops embarked on a determined search for former soldiers, in which thousands of young men were captured. Many were taken to the Yangtze River, where they were machine-gunned. What was probably the single largest massacre of Chinese troops occurred along the banks of the Yangtze River on December 18 in what is called the Straw String Gorge Massacre. Japanese soldiers took most of the morning tying all of the POWs hands together and in the dusk divided them into 4 columns, and opened fire at them. Unable to escape, the POWs could only scream and thrash in desperation. It took an hour for the sounds of death to stop, and even longer for the Japanese to bayonet each individual. Most were dumped into the Yangtze. It is estimated that at least 57,500 Chinese POWs were killed.