146. Telegram From the Chargé in Vietnam (Kidder) to the Department of State 1
4882. Reference: Embtel 4860, repeated Paris 784.2
- At 1800 hours April 28 I saw Ely who states day’s episodes are what he feared would result from unresolved political situation. Without saying so directly he clearly indicated he felt a large measure of blame lies on United States for not having agreed to some political solution problem two or three weeks ago.
- Although Ely has not gotten full reports of day’s events as yet, following is his best estimate of what took place. Local incident occurred 1115 Rue Petrushky in Cholon, resulting in 20 to 30 casualties. At 1215 several mortar shells fell in Binh Xuyen area near “Y” Bridge wounding, incidentally, 6 or 7 French soldiers who guarding [Page 304] electric light plant in area. Ely says he does not know who responsible for firing these shells. It might have been someone such as Mai Huun Xuan, chief Military Security, or some group wishing provoke trouble. He nevertheless holds Diem responsible as Prime Minister, and asks, with some reason, what possible advantage Bay Vien could hope derive from starting trouble at this juncture. At 1315 Binh Xuyen fired on Palace as reported reference telegram.
- Shortly before 1400 Diem telephoned Ely to inform him that if shelling continued he would command his troops to go into action. Ely states that he warned Diem of the grave responsibility which he would be taking if he gave such an order; Ely would have no choice but hold Diem responsible for bloodshed which would result. Diem did not comment in return.
- According to Ely, Colonel Minh,3 Commanding Officer First Military District, ordered his troops remain on defensive but Diem went over Minh’s head and ordered them into action. Whether troops actually initiated and carried out such action not clear at time of conversation with Ely.
- In discussing Diem, whom Ely qualifies as hysterical and beyond point of reason, Ely himself verges on hysterics and becomes highly excited. Ely states that if he does not get instructions of some kind looking towards political solution of problem by April 29 he will have to inform Paris he can no longer be responsible for what may happen. He states he has already warned Paris several times and that he would, of course, remain at his post, but that responsibility for developments could no longer be placed on his shoulders.
1. Ely showed me copies of two telegrams allegedly received yesterday: (a) A telegram from Nguyen De to Imperial Cabinet Sagion, in which De told addressees to tell Lai Van Sang that contrary to what he had learned, Bao Dai had taken no decision and had not given his agreement to measure concerning Sang. Telegram continued “We count on Imperial decision within very short delay to put end to the present situation in Vietnam.”
(b) Telegram to Diem from Bao Dai. Bao Dai states he has received protests from Sang and from sects against Diem’s action in which his attention called to serious disorders which might result very shortly from Diem’s measure. Bao Dai said he had ordered sects and Sang refrain from violence and respect truce:
“I request you (Diem) henceforth to take no measure whatsoever susceptible of counteracting the policy of appeasement which I have decided apply. No measure of this sort should be taken without your having referred to me in advance.”
(c) Ely points out Bao Dai in his message being very cunning as he does not withdraw Diem’s order replacing Sang. In this way Bao Dai can profit from fact Diem has removed Sang without at same time involving himself in responsibility therefor.
2. As incidental information, Ely informed me he had obtained copy of telegram sent to Bao Dai by Diem shortly after fighting of March 29 in which Diem told Bao Dai that he, Diem, had been responsible for stopping fighting that night in spite desire Army continue.
1. Question of responsbility for day’s episode obviously of great importance. We so far have no information which would enable us contradict Ely’s version. Colonel Don 4 of FAVN has informed General O’Daniel that trouble started when Binh Xuyen fired on truckload of FAVN soldiers. We will look into this and other allegations as soon as possible in attempt get to bottom of matter.