394.115 Panay/94: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)

345. On December 13 Gauss telegraphed that the Japanese Consulate General at Shanghai had informed him that orders had been issued by the Japanese military and naval authorities to stop operations against Hohsien and that similar instructions were being conveyed to the Hohsien front by special Japanese plane.

Under date December 14, 7 p.m., Ambassador Johnson telegraphed a message from H. M. S. Bee as follows:

“Rescue party is at Hohsien upcreek. Am off creek mouth with Oahu and Hozu. Japanese navy have refrained from taking part in rescue at our particular request as Chinese in vicinity are armed. Despite this precaution Chief of Staff reports by portable wireless that several Japanese military landing craft are in the vicinity of our boats and in last half hour these have been heavily engaged with local Chinese. One Japanese military boat has been fetched out of creek by my boat out these craft have no W–T so communications [Page 501] with the others is impossible. Ladybird has just arrived and am sending her sampan with Japanese naval officer on board to attempt to withdraw Japanese military landing craft.”

Under date December 14, 11 p.m., Ambassador Johnson telegraphs urgently that in the knowledge that the Japanese were present to cooperate arrangements were proceeded with to evacuate the Panay survivors from Hohsien to H. M. S. Bee this evening; that the landing party of the Bee now finds itself in a situation where Japanese military landing craft are in the vicinity of the vessels endeavoring to carry out the rescue work and are engaged in hostilities with local Chinese. Ambassador Johnson points out that the Japanese Army forces are acting apparently in contemptuous disregard of the safety of the survivors.

If you have not already done so, please confer immediately with your British colleague and, if you can agree upon a common method of approach acceptable to you, proceed in common with him in the making of representations insisting that Japanese military forces desist from operations against or in the immediate vicinity of Hohsien until the survivors, together with American and British vessels, etc., connected with their evacuation, shall have been removed and have proceeded to a distance affording comparative safety.

For your information, there has just come from Johnson a telegram stating “Following received at 11:50 p.m. from Bee ‘All well, first batch leaving shore now’.” This may or may not indicate that the situation described in the above-quoted telegrams has completely cleared. However that may be, that situation was produced by Japanese action and should be protested against.

This instruction is intended to apply to any and all conditions that Japanese have not met.