195.7 Richard Hovey/6: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)

2043. Request Foreign Office to deliver following message verbatim to Japanese Government:

“The United States steamship Richard Hovey carrying cargo and one passenger was at 11:20 GCT50 on March 29, 1944 torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in latitude 16 degrees 40 minutes north and longitude 64 degrees 30 minutes east. After torpedoing the Richard Hovey, the submarine attacked the personnel who escaped from the ship.

Reports from the survivors, including the Chief Officer, disclose that subsequent to releasing three torpedoes and obtaining two hits, the submarine surfaced, opened fire on the ship itself, and then proceeded in the direction of the lifeboats, opening fire on them from about 1,000 feet with her forward gun, and continuing to fire as she circled around the lifeboats. The survivors in the lifeboats took to the water, keeping the boats between them and the submarine. The submarine approached the no. 2 lifeboat and, proceeding slowly, rammed and capsized it. She cruised slowly among the other boats, taking pictures and firing with rifles, machine guns, and other small arms. The submarine then made another circle around to the starboard side of the no. 4 lifeboat at which she fired her big gun, holing the boat on the starboard side above the water line, smashing thwarts, puncturing the engine casing, the fuel tanks, and one water tank so seriously that half its contents were lost. The submarine finally approached the master’s boat, took on board the master and three others, and took the boat in tow.

The United States Government protests most emphatically against this inhuman form of warfare practiced by Japanese forces in brutally [Page 1176] attacking helpless survivors of a torpedoed vessel and demands effective assurances from the Japanese Government that such criminal acts, which are contrary to all standards of civilized conduct, will not be repeated in the future. It is expected that the Japanese Government will at the same time punish those persons who with premeditation and full knowledge of their actions have so flagrantly violated the primary humanitarian concept of maritime warfare.”

Request Swiss Minister Tokyo51 to telegraph date of delivery to Japanese Government.52

  1. Greenwich Civil Time.
  2. Camille Gorgé.
  3. Telegram 4029, June 23, from Bern, reported delivery of message on June 19.