893.00/5483: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Bell) to the Secretary of State

312. My 304, August 26, 3 p.m. Following from consul general Shanghai:

“August 27, 6 p.m. Conditions becoming graver hourly. Military took charge of the railway stations, closing gates this morning, [Page 362] but through intervention of British consul general, General Ho was induced to allow existing foreign and Chinese staff to continue operating trains, they accepting requests for required transportation for the military and promising permit regular service continue. Morning trains were canceled, afternoon continued, but this arrangement may be upset at any time.

Rice has risen today 30 percent. Dollar exchange continues upward.

Suggest as precautionary measure immediate despatch of naval force of two destroyers to be promptly increased in the event of outbreak of hostilities to the strength indicated in my telegram August 25, noon. Regard as significant General Ho’s remark today that the time for heavy fighting had not yet arrived.”

Cunningham’s telegram repeated to Admiral Washington with my concurrence in his suggestion. Following from American consul, Nanking:

“Mails still continue regularly.

Twenty thousand Kiangsu troops border Chekiang between Ihsing and Kunshan near Soochow. Hostilities almost certain.”

Morning press reports to effect Nanking-Shanghai railroad service interrupted and that fighting had commenced between General Chi and General Ho Feng-lin’s troops. Not confirmed.