394.115 Panay/28: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

767. Newspaper accounts of the bombing of the United States gunboat Panay and of British ships adjacent to Nanking appeared in late editions of this morning’s newspaper. I have just seen Mr. Eden57 at his request and, after expressing his deep concern and regret over what has taken place, he said that both he and the Prime Minister,58 with whom he had been in consultation this morning, were naturally deeply concerned as they felt from their information that these attacks could not possibly have been the result of accident. He said that [Page 491] a somewhat lengthy telegram of instruction and guidance had been prepared to be sent to Sir Ronald Lindsay59 and would be sent as soon as it had received the approval of the Prime Minister in whose hands the draft now is. He asked me to convey to you the Prime Minister’s and his earnest desire that before any action is taken by the United States as a result of the attack on the Panay you will see Sir Ronald Lindsay and hear what he has to say. Both Mr. Eden and through him, the Prime Minister also, expressed themselves as being fully aware of the difficulties of our Government in making any move which might be interpreted as “joint action” with the British or any one else. They attach great importance, however, to being consulted before the United States takes any action in this specific instance and they feel strongly that the more closely the action taken by the American and British Governments is synchronized the greater would be its effect on the Japanese Government.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Neville Chamberlain.
  3. British Ambassador at Washington.