The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Atcheson) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:37 p.m.]
972. 1. Press reports alleging arrival new Soviet Ambassador may refer to new Soviet Military Attaché who, we are authoritatively informed reached Nanking yesterday accompanied by number of Soviet bombing and pursuit planes with some Soviet pilots and ground men.
2. Chiang is still here. According to very reliable source he is postponing departure in order to preclude threatened defection of several provincial commanders at the front. One ranking Chinese official came to me today with warning that we should board gunboat when Chiang leaves because trouble among troops would probably result from his departure. Another source has suggested that defenses being prepared at city gates are primarily against incursion of unruly troops.
3. It is reported that Chinese are destroying nearby airfields including that at Kwangteh whose fall is imminent. It seems to us that if troops in this area do not move out when Kwangteh falls they will probably be enveloped here with the river at their backs, making inevitable a disastrous defense of the city from inside the walls.
4. Sent to the Department. Repeated to Hankow, Peiping, Shanghai.