The Consul General at Shanghai ( Gauss ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 15—10:20 a.m.]
489. My estimate of the situation here is that there will be heavy fighting for some days. Chinese are massing forces in this area including Pootung shore where artillery is reported to be taking positions. Intelligence reports estimate 30 to 40,000 Chinese troops immediate Shanghai area with close by reinforcements up to 70,000. Japanese forces 4,000 with 60,000 reported ready to sail from Japan. Chinese will undoubtedly endeavor to wipe out Japanese forces before Japanese Army reinforcements arrive.
- The most serious problem for us, in my opinion, is this area of refuge for foreigners. The reports persist that the Chinese will not indefinitely respect it, and if the Japanese are forced to retreat from their positions, they would also likely fall on it. Chinese claim that Japanese are using Settlement as a base; and disregard factor that the powers cannot prevent this. I think we should emphasize that we are not attempting to hold the Settlements but only an area of refuge. Having taken up our lines we cannot abandon any of them without giving an advantage to one side or the other.
- If the Chinese or the Japanese overrun the area of foreign refuge, all that can be done will be to endeavor to protect our nationals at places of concentration, and then attempt a truce to take them out on any craft available.
- Notwithstanding all that has already been done in the matter, my earnest and considered recommendation is that we continue strongly to urge both sides through their central Governments to respect the area of refuge established by the lines of the foreign forces, unless the powers are now prepared to consider proposals for the complete neutralization of the Shanghai area, both forces withdrawing.
- If opportunity offers, I shall send away on any ship available, first, the wives of members of my staff who have children, and then other wives and women employees. I doubt whether it will be possible long, if at all, to use the river to get foreigners out except during truces. I am meeting with Admiral50 and Chairman American Emergency Committee on question of evacuation tomorrow morning.
Sent to the Department, Nanking, Tokyo.
- Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, Commander in Chief, United States Asiatic Fleet, at Shanghai.↩