U.S. Department of State (July 30, 1941)
The Ambassador in China to the Secretary of State
Chungking, July 30, 1941 — 9:30 a.m.
[Received July 30 — 5:20 a.m.]
During air raid this morning Japanese planes dropped bomb 8 yards directly astern of Tutuila. No casualties to personnel. Ship’s power boats badly damaged. Motor sampan cut loose from moorings and drifting down river. Apparently no underwater damage to ship.
During same raid some damage done to Embassy staff residence.
Sent to Department, repeated to Peiping, Shanghai, Hankow. Shanghai repeat urgently to Tokyo.
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan
Washington, July 30, 1941 — 1 p.m.
- Report was received from Attaché at Chungking July 30, giving account of operations by 26 Japanese heavy bombers. In paraphrase:
These bombers approached from northwest at height about fifteen thousand feet in ideal weather conditions. Upon reaching city they changed course to the line crossing directly over the Tutuila and the Embassy. Having crossed the city without firing, they dropped bomb-load on foreshore across river opposite Tutuila. Left center of formation dropping last bombs swept across river and passed directly overhead. One bomb struck near stern Tutuila, shattered an outboard motor boat and threw it upon motor sampan which, sinking by stern, was saved by bowline. Gunboat’s stern superstructure was bent inward by blast and swept by a huge wave which collapsed awning and washed away ship’s gear and gasoline containers. Personnel escaped injuries from fragments only by miracle which apparently was due to funneling of bombs in water. Last bomb was dropped about four hundred yards eastward of and behind Embassy. All this was witnessed by three U. S. officials from Embassy hill immediately overlooking ship. Unanimous opinion of these officials is that the bombing was a deliberate attack on Embassy area and Tutuila which missed its targets only by a fraction of a second.
I called the Japanese Ambassador in this morning. I handed him a copy of the report and asked him for answers to questions as follows: (1) Did this take place upon instruction by or knowledge of responsible authorities; (2) what responsibility, if any, does the Japanese Government assume for it; (3) what precise measures in detail does the Japanese Government intend to take toward effectively preventing recurrence of any such action. I reminded him of the pledge solemnly given by the Japanese Government, with, I understand, the knowledge and approval of the Emperor, at the time of the sinking of the Panay, that such action would not be repeated; also, of the fact similar pledges have repeatedly been given since then and have repeatedly been disregarded.
I desire that you also take this matter up urgently and with great emphasis with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
740.0011 P. W./425
Memorandum by Mr. Cecil W. Gray, Assistant to the Secretary of State
Washington, July 30, 1941.
In a telephone conversation today between Acting Secretary Welles and Secretary Hull at White Sulphur Springs there was some discussion about the Tutuila bombing and our general program of retaliatory action against Japan generally. The Secretary indicated that he was quite content to leave the forming of such a program to the judgment of those on the ground here in Washington. His own position was summed up as being one of formulating a comprehensive program of action short of war to be placed into effect as rapidly as circumstances permitted.
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State
Washington, July 30, 1941.
The Japanese Ambassador called to see me this morning at my request. I told the Ambassador that I had just received a message from the American Embassy in Chungking and that by direction of the President I was giving him a copy of the message for his information.
The Ambassador read the message aloud.
When he had concluded I said to the Ambassador that by direction of the President I desired to inquire through him of the Japanese Government whether any responsible officials of the Japanese Government had authorized the bombing which had so nearly destroyed American lives and which was so clearly, from the accounts rendered by American observers, deliberately undertaken. I said that I felt I must make this inquiry in view of the official assurances given this Government by the Government of Japan after the Panay incident that every necessary order would be issued by the Japanese Government to prevent any recurrence of such an attack.
I stated further that I desired to inquire of the Japanese Government what measures, concrete and detailed, the Japanese Government proposed to take in order to prevent a further incident of this character.
The Japanese Ambassador asked me three or four times to repeat my inquiry until he repeated it himself correctly. He then said that he was confident that no responsible officer had authorized such an attack, which he believed was due solely to the “green” aviators and that the subordinate officers had been instructed to bomb Chungking but to take the necessary precautions to avoid danger to American lives and property. I remarked that it did not seem to me that if they had received such instructions they had paid any attention to them. I said that, as the Ambassador well knew, the gunboat and the American Embassy were on the other side of the river from Chungking and not adjacent to military objectives, and that I consequently could not accept the Ambassador’s explanation.
The Ambassador then went on to say that in his judgment there were only one or two alternatives to be followed — either for the Japanese to abandon the bombing of Chungking or for the American Embassy and gunboat to withdraw to a safer place. To this I merely replied that the American Embassy and the American gunboat had been located in places which, in our judgment, were removed from the city of Chungking, and that the second of the alternatives that he mentioned was not, therefore, acceptable.
The Ambassador said that he would immediately report my message to his Government. I stated to the Ambassador that it was unnecessary for me to impress upon him, in view of the situation which unfortunately existed between the two countries, the importance of the reply which might be made by his Government to this message.
The Pittsburgh Press (July 30, 1941)
JAP BOMBS DAMAGE GUNBOAT; U.S. TAKES FORMAL ACTION
Welles makes representations after patrol ship is hot during raid on China
PART OF STERN CAVED IN
For the second time in as many years the USS Tutuila, a gunboat attached to the United States Yangtze patrols in China, was damaged by Japanese bombing planes today. The vessel was anchored in the so-called safety zone at Chungking. There were no casualties.
Shanghai, July 30 (UP) –
Japanese bombs today damaged the USS Tutuila, a gunboat of the United States Yangtze patrols, during a raid on Chungking. There were no casualties.
The Japanese raiders, Chungking reports said, dropped bombs directly over the Tutuila as the vessel was anchored in the so-called safety zone across the river from the capital.
One bomb was reported to have fallen only eight yards from the gunboat, caving in part of its stern and blowing some loose equipment off deck.
A small motor boat belonging to the Tutuila was sunk.
Another bomb landed 20 yards from the Tutuila, between the gunboat and the United States Embassy. A third bomb damaged the residence of a member of the United States Embassy staff.
Chungking was raided by 27 bombers, authoritative quarters said.
Chungking reports said the raid was one of the biggest the Japanese ever made on China’s capital city.
Five separate attacks were made by the Japanese air squadrons and every section of the much-bombed capital was plastered with bombs.
In June 1940, the Tutuila was damaged in a Japanese bombing of Chungking and it was decided then to equip the vessel with additional anti-aircraft equipment. At that time, a bomb fell within 300 yards of the vessel, the decks of which were spattered by bomb fragments.
The Tutuila, built in 1927, is of 370 tons and normally carries a crew of 58. It is armed with two three-inch guns and machine guns but its armament may have been increased by anti-aircraft weapons.
This was the third successive day on which Japanese planes had raided Chungking. It was feared that at least 50 persons were killed or wounded in Chungking.