811.30 Asiatic Fleet/470: Telegram

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

380. Department’s 218, July 26, 6 p.m. Besides daily conferences with Admiral Le Breton, I have weekly conferences attended by staffs of the Embassy and Consulate General and Admiral and his staff. We exchange information and daily discuss these matters. I have not been in the habit of discussing these matters of cooperation and coordination with my diplomatic colleagues as I have, as has been customary, [apparently garbled] accompanying with the Admiral who is in daily contact with the British Admiral and when necessary with senior officer commanding two French gunboats on the river at Hankow. The French gunboats are tied up here at Hankow off the French concession and will be entirely concerned with the protection of that concession.

There are five American gunboats on the river. The Oahu and the Monocacy are now in the Japanese occupied section. At Hankow at the present time there are the Luzon, flagship of the Admiral, and the Guam and Tutuila. I expect to board the Tutuila on August 2 with my staff and proceed to Chungking. This will leave two gunboats, the Luzon and the Guam, here at Hankow. They will remain at Hankow to cooperate with the Consulate General in giving such protection as may be possible to American citizens if and when the Japanese approach Hankow.

I have every confidence in the judgment of Admiral Le Breton. I am certain that he shares with the Department and myself a keen desire to see that his vessels perform their missions here on the river as effectively as possible while at the same time avoiding undue risks. I know that he and the officers under his command are constantly mindful of this. At the same time we are also mindful of the fact that there is nothing that we can do to protect ourselves from a deliberate attack such as was made upon the Panay nor from accident. Every time there is an air raid here at Hankow there is always the possibility of an accident from bombs dropped from the heights at which the planes fly. We feel safe, however, under all ordinary conditions [Page 162] knowing that neither Japanese nor Chinese want to attack us and that they will be on the lookout for us if continually made aware of our presence. The Navy is in daily contact with the Japanese Navy at Shanghai.

Repeated to Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Tokyo.