893.00 Nanking/3: Telegram

The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State

255. 1. Following from commander in chief:26

“24th. Disquieting reports from Nanking. Cantonese taking over control of Nanking today was accompanied by looting and marked antiforeign feeling.

British consulate was attacked by a crowd of undisciplined soldiers, reported to be Cantonese. British consul general reported wounded and one British subject killed. Foreigners concentrated on Socony Hill under protection of small American guard.”

2. Following from commander, Yangtze Patrol,27 to commander in chief:28

“24th. At 5 p.m. Noa and Preston29 ceased heavy gunfire and Emerald30 sent landing forces to wall under Standard Oil Company house [Page 147] while Emerald covered with shrapnel and Noa and Preston cleared bund and foreshoaling of snipers by firing from ships. Landing forces successfully brought all foreigners from Standard Oil Company house including American consul and family and all American Navy personnel. One American sailor slightly wounded. Noa and Preston hit many times during the day. During the afternoon Cantonese troops looted American, British and Japanese consulates, wounded British consul, and are reported to have killed Japanese consul. Number American civilians killed and wounded uncertain but feared large. Missions looted. Americans left in city comprise 45 women, 20 children, 90 men. Fate uncertain. Negotiators brought on board Emerald and negotiations concluded demanding: First, immediate protection all foreigners and foreign property; second, reporting on board of Cantonese general in command before 23:00 tonight to negotiate regarding outrages; third, all foreigners must be brought to bund under escort by 10:00 tomorrow. If these demands are not complied with Nanking will be treated as a military area. Firing still going on both banks and large amount fire at Pukow. These outrages occurred in spite of every possible effort on the part of American consul and others to get in touch with some responsible Cantonese official to insure safety for foreigners.

Am sending all American refugees to Shanghai tonight via S. S. Kungwo and Wenchow, 20:00.”

3. Following likewise from commander, Yangtze Patrol, to commander in chief dated 3:45 a.m., March 25th:

“Attempted negotiations with Chinese tonight, jointly with British, purpose secure relief foreigners remaining alive on shore, proved unsuccessful. Received indirect word from Chiang Kai-shek31 that he hoped arrive Nanking tomorrow to take charge of situation and will insure safety of lives and property all foreigners. Have jointly with British notified commanding general here that: First, we demand general, division commander rank, shall come on board prior noon today to negotiate and arrange for proper treatment of wounded foreigners ashore.”

Then follows a garbled section for which a repeat has been requested. The message concludes as follows:

“It may be necessary fire upon barracks or salient military points in order obtain release Americans remaining alive ashore, approximately 150.”

4. Following from commander in chief to commander, Yangtze Patrol:

“0025311. Your 0125–0345. American, British and Japanese commanders in chief agree that, if possible, further drastic action should be avoided until General Chiang Kai-shek has been given opportunity to fulfill his guarantees to provide adequate protection to all foreigners. 1017.”

[Page 148]

Following also from commander in chief to Admiral Hough:

“0025314. Your 0125–1250. Use your own judgment in handling situation. 15:30.”

5. In view of this demonstrated inability or unwillingness on the part of Nationalist authorities to protect American lives within Nationalist territory I am instructing all American consuls in that region immediately to try to have all Americans withdraw from the respective districts. The commander in chief has been informed and requested to render all proper assistance. I have given this to the press and respectfully suggest Department give widest publicity.

  1. Admiral Clarence S. Williams, U. S. N., commander in chief, U. S. Asiatic Fleet.
  2. Rear Admiral H. H. Hough, U. S. Navy.
  3. The Department had received a copy of this telegram from the Navy Department on Mar. 24.
  4. U. S. destroyers.
  5. British cruiser.
  6. Commander in chief of the Chinese Nationalist forces.