751G.00/3–1950: Telegram

The Chargé at Saigon (Gullion) to the Secretary of State


192. 1. Demonstration put on March 17 by Viet-Minh in honor USS Stickell and Anderson now in port on courtesy visit was noisy but did not amount to much. About 11:30 p. m. small well concealed Viet-Minh party opened up with mortar fire (60 mm?) from Thu Thiem area across river from US mooring and somewhat downstream. Also about same time another group of about 100 Viet-Minh made raid on Tanthuandong village in southeast of city with light machine guns and rifles. French patrol boats and French mortars returned Viet-Minh mortar fire. Vietnamese police post pinned down rebel attack in village until intervention army unit whereupon Viet-Minh withdraw carrying wounded. No casualties Vietnamese or French side in village attack.

2. In mortar fire nearer US ships difficult to say whether they were target. One shell dropped about fifty yards astern, another exploded on quay nearby wounding a French petty officer and a Vietnamese policeman. Effect on US units was to bring back sailors returning from liberty on the run.

3. Grenade earlier exploded in central party of city (Rue Catinat) wounding newspaper boy. All this only slightly more than the routine here but in view of obvious timing with US visit I expect US correspondents now here will make great deal of it.

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4. Have learned that Viet-Minh three days ago began circulating orders for general strike in protest American intervention. This 100 percent effective today in Standard Oil Co. 80 percent effective Shell and less so Caltex. Almost completely ineffective elsewhere. Employees US companies explain they influenced by Viet-Minh threats.

5. All above verified from US businessmen, Navy, French Army, Navy and Suret. General Carpentier claims had intelligence tip on show but expected 18th.

6. Last week window glass my house broken in arousing household. Investigated possibility this done accidentally by house personnel or guests. Have established however that was probable break in attempt thievery or other motive. House guarded but inasmuch as Vietnamese guards appear terrified of Viet-Minh seems question quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Stones thrown at car twice in last week.

7. I report above merely for Department guidance. Such manifestations are not to be taken as evidence Viet-Minh strength rather weakness. Viet-Minh activity still only occasional sporadic nuisance blindly delivered. American personnel report no incidents or threats surveillance or molestation. Just possible that as American aid takes hold Viet-Minh will try find ways to annoy us or cause us lose face. Will report all developments promptly and take appropriate action.

Sent Department 192; Department pass Paris 95.