The Commander in Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet ( Yarnell ) to the Chief of Naval Operations ( Leahy )77
[Received August 17—2:25 p.m.]
0017. Problem of neutrality of Whangpoo River fronting the Settlement and its use by our vessels, naval and merchant, becoming serious. Japanese men-of-war occupy river from Garden Bend to lower limit and are engaged in bombardment of Chinese troop position on both sides of river at frequent intervals during day and night. Chinese have recently established batteries of medium caliber and machine guns on Pootung side which fire on Japanese vessels and Hongkew section in addition to their positions north of river. Chinese have established a junk boom at upper boundary of French Concession with small opening. All neutral men-of-war are up river from Garden Bend at naval buoys except Augusta which is at buoy 16–17. Intend to move Augusta up river off Bund just below British lower buoy. With the increase of Japanese and Chinese forces the river may become untenable to neutral men-of-war. Due to length of time necessary to evacuate nationals the situation may become very dangerous. It is considered of the utmost importance that strong representations be made by all the neutral interested powers to the belligerents to respect the neutrality of the river within the limits of the Settlement and to make it possible for these powers to have access to their nationals and to remove them from the area without incurring all the dangers of active war operations.
- Copy transmitted to the Department by the Navy Department.↩