The Minister in Honduras (Keena) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 11.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 172 dated February 19, 1937,5 quoting a newspaper report which appeared under a Belize, British Honduras date line, concerning an alleged airplane attack on the Sloop Stella H. The instruction requests that information be obtained, if possible, with regard to the identity of the airplane involved, if the attack took place, and states the Department would be interested in learning if the planes were manned by American pilots, in the event that the attacking planes were Honduran.
It has been possible to ascertain that the Stella H, was subjected to an attack from the air; that the attacking plane was a Honduran Government plane; and that it was piloted by an American aviator.[Page 598]
It will be recalled that the Stella H. landed a party of some twelve insurgents, probably including General Umaña and a quantity of arms and ammunition, on the Honduran coast near Tela, the night of February 1, 1937. The statement of Harold B. Clark, an American citizen, who was a member of the crew of the Stella H. describes that vessel as a two masted schooner, about forty-five feet long with a displacement of from fifteen to eighteen tons, operated by Captain R. H. Powery of Belize. Copies of Mr. Clark’s statement accompanied despatch No. 63, dated February 7, 1937,6 from the American Vice Consul at Tela on the subject of the Protection of Harold B. Clark. This is, doubtless, the vessel described as a sloop in the newspaper article which the Department quotes.
The airplane attack on the Stella H. appears to have been made when the Stella H. was returning to Belize after the landing referred to of a group of insurgents and a cargo of arms and ammunition near Tela. The British Chargé d’Affaires in Tegucigalpa informs me that the attack took place in the territorial waters of British Honduras and was witnessed by persons on nearby keys. He has lodged a protest with the Honduran Foreign Office which, he states, was mild in form as the traffic in which the Stella H. was engaged is known. The Stella H. is under Honduran (Spanish Honduran) registry, Captain R. H. Powery (or Powrie) is a citizen of the Republic of Honduras, and no harm appears to have been done in the attack, to the Stella H. or to the Captain who was alone on the vessel at the time.