Early life and education
Wen was born 22 June 1918 in Xinqiao Township, Hengshan County, Hunan, Republic of China. His father, Wen Bingnan, was a farmer. He entered Yue Yun Middle School in Changsha in 1933, and Hunan No. 1 Normal School in 1936. When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in July 1937, Wen and other high school students received military training organized by the provincial chairman Zhang Zhizhong.
After the 1938 Changsha fire, Wen attempted to organize a guerrilla force to resist Japanese invasion in Hunan, but was unsuccessful. He moved to Northwest China, which was free from Japanese occupation, and studied aeronautical engineering at the Northwestern Engineering Institute.