793.94/9378: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

440. My 439, August 15, 2 p.m. Just after the conclusion of the first flight of Japanese bombers about 2 p.m., Hidaka, Counselor of the Japanese Embassy, telephoned to Peck15 and said that he had received instructions to proceed with Embassy officials to Tsingtao and had asked the Chinese Foreign Office for airplanes. He did not expect to be able to leave before the morning of August 17. He thought the reason for his instructions was the increasing difficulty of communicating with the Ambassador at Shanghai and with Tokyo. Refering to earlier conversations with Peck which he had asked should not be regarded as official but which Peck had reported to me he said the Chinese Foreign Office would look after the Japanese Embassy buildings but he asked whether the American Embassy would be willing to serve as a medium of communication between the Japanese and Chinese authorities in this connection “if communication between them should become difficult”. Acting on authorization I had already given him, Peck said the Embassy would gladly do this and in reply to an inquiry said that no written request would be necessary. He inquired whether the American Ambassador had made representations to the Chinese Foreign Office and Peck replied that the British Ambassador [Page 416] and the American Ambassador had done so but that the latter had been principally interested in the Shanghai events of yesterday. Hidaka then earnestly advised that people should not go out-of-doors during the afternoon. Peck replied that Japanese planes had already dropped bombs on the city and had departed, at which news the Japanese Counselor expressed surprise and inquired how many planes had participated. He expressed his earnest hope for the safety of the American Embassy.

At intervals of 20 minutes two more flights of Japanese bombers occurred, the second time with two planes and the third time with four. Bombs were dropped principally on the flying field inside the city and the barracks just south of the city. The planes flew in formation and very low apparently indifferent to numerous anti-aircraft attacks. No Chinese planes appeared until after the Japanese planes had finally disappeared. Chinese sources report that two Japanese planes were brought down but this was not observed by the Embassy staff which saw the whole proceedings. The Embassy is about 2 miles from the area bombarded inside the city and about 3 miles from that outside the city. Owing to the elevated site all operations were clearly visible. It is reported that planes and hangars inside the city were not damaged.

Sent to the Department, Peiping, Shanghai, Hankow.

  1. Counselor of Embassy in China.