793.94/9869: Telegram

The Commander in Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet (Yarnell) to the Chief of Naval Operations (Leahy)95

0002. Under present conditions neutral vessels operating in Chinese waters may be mistaken for enemy vessels and bombed by aircraft. Experience has shown that pilots of Chinese planes are very likely to make this mistake.

When planes are in sight which in the opinion of commanding officers may prove to be hostile, anti-aircraft batteries shall be kept manned. In case United States naval or merchant vessels are attacked by aircraft, commanding officers vessels this fleet are authorized to open fire on them. Attention is invited to the gravity of such action and this authority should be used with greatest care. Fire should not be continued longer than necessary to force attacking plane or planes withdraw to safe distance.

Every vessel should show both vertical and horizontal colors largest size available when there is possibility of being sighted by planes of either opposing forces.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Navy Department.