The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 15—8 a.m.]
438. 1. Embassy has received from Foreign Office following English text dated August 14:
“Referring to the dropping of several bombs from two Chinese aeroplanes today in the International Settlement and the French Concession in Shanghai, which resulted in the death and wounding of a large number of innocent people, a spokesman of the Chinese Military Command said that it was a most deplorable incident which caused as much concern and regret to the Chinese authorities as to the foreign communities.
Upon investigation it was found out that the aeroplanes in question, while engaged in operations against Japanese warships and other military objects, were fired upon by Japanese anti-aircraft guns and as a result the pilots were injured themselves and their bomb racks were so damaged that the bombs released themselves, descending [Page 258] upon places which has [had?] never been intended as the objective of attack. The self release of the bombs was thus an unavoidable accident, not only without the slightest intention on the part of the aviators, but really against their own wish.
That innocent people should bear the consequences of war in such an unexpected manner, remarked the spokesman, is indeed most regrettable. It is all the more regrettable when it is learned that most of those killed and wounded by Chinese weapons of war are Chinese and that those few foreigners who unfortunately shared the same fate had been the friends of China.
Renewed orders have been given to the fighting forces, the spokesman said, to avoid hostilities as far as possible in that part of the International Settlement in Shanghai which is not being used by the Japanese as a base of operation and in the whole French Concession, and it is to be hoped that cases of an extraordinary nature, involving the loss of many innocent lives but beyond the control of the Chinese combatants, might not occur again.”
2. Sent to the Department, Shanghai.