Unexplained disappearances have always had a chilling effect on people. The eeriest type, though, are those that occur en masse – when a group of people seem to evaporate into thin air. So goes the urban legend of the Nanjing soldiers.
In 1939, during the horrors of Japanese aggression against the Republic of China in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), almost 3,000 soldiers stationed in the rolling hills around Nanjing are said to have disappeared without leaving a single clue about their fate.
The incident, according to folklore, began in December of 1939 (or 1937, depending on who you talk to), when Colonel Li Fu Sien stationed 2,988 troops amongst Nanjing's hills, a 3.2-kilometer area, with a view to defend a bridge on the Yangtze River against an impending Japanese attack. When Colonel Li awoke the following morning, he was told by his assistant that the soldiers at the defensive line were not responding to calls or signals.
An investigation team was formed, but found the site completely abandoned upon arrival. There was no sign of struggle: heavy weapons were still in place and ready to be fired, but nobody was there. Troops stationed at the bridge claimed no one had slipped by in the night. They were unsure of the missing soldiers' fate...