393.115 President Hoover/25: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

581. My 578, August 31, 10 a.m. [p.m.]. On August 31, 7 p.m. I received information indirectly from an officer of the Aeronautical Commission that the court martial of the aviators responsible for the bombing of the President Hoover would announce a verdict the same evening and that General Chiang Kai Shek35 was so incensed at the error committed that he intended to press for a verdict of death on the young aviator or aviators responsible.

This report seemed credible in view of the statement of Hsu Mo (see my 568, August 31, 10 a.m.36). I felt that the action of the aviator in surrendering himself at once to the military authorities with an acknowledgment of his error entirely cleared him of any suspicion of intent and that in these circumstances the immediate execution of the man or men involved would not be a necessary part of the amends which had been agreed upon between the American and Chinese Governments and if inflicted in an attempt to satisfy the American Government would convey a wrong impression. I therefore wrote informally to Madame Chiang saying that I should greatly deplore imposing the death penalty on the persons responsible. I have heard this morning that the death penalty probably will not be imposed but I have not heard what the penalty will be.

Repeated to Peiping.

  1. President of the Chinese Executive Yuan (Premier).
  2. Not printed.