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instruction received by the Embassy [stated ?] that one seaman had died which accounted for the failure of the Embassy to supply data to the Foreign Office in accordance with its request.


393.115 President Hoover/53 : Telegram

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

WASHINGTON, October 5, 1937–3 p. m. 296. Your 659, September 15, 11 a. m., and previous. Reports prepared by the surgeon of the President Hoover in regard to injuries sustained by crew and passengers of that vessel read in part substantially as follows: Lionel Haskell, died on August 31 due to hemorrhage and shock

from shrapnel wounds.
John Kulik, shrapnel wound left chest (1), right thigh (4), right

arm (1), right groin (1).
B. Novak, possible fracture of the lower left ribs axillary line.
Edmund Hallen, shrapnel scalp wound.
Rufino Cordero, laceration of second and third fingers of left

hand. Shrapnel injury.
Paul Engelhardt, glass cut on the back of right hand.
V. Morris, shrapnel wounds in scalp (1), right arm (2), and

back (2). With reference to the above-named individuals, all of whom were members of the crew, it would appear from other reports received by the Department that injuries sustained by John Kulik were viewed as more serious than those sustained by other surviving members of the crew.

With reference to injured passengers, the surgeon's report states in part as follows: E. T. Ruffner, multiple glass cuts on the scalp, have practically

healed but there is a 1-inch disfiguring scar on the forehead

at the hair line. M. S. Cowen, four small shrapnel wounds in left arm and

forearm. G. J. Whitfield, 1-inch laceration of right calf. Struck by

shrapnel. In bringing the foregoing to the attention of the Chinese Government you should indicate that, as the citizenship of Whitfield has not as yet been established by the Department, his name is, at least for the time being, included merely for purposes of record. In this connection, as Whitfield's address is given as “Rawnsley Dutton Park, Brisbane, Australia” he may be British and it is therefore suggested that this possibility be brought informally to the attention of your British colleague.

In your approach to the Chinese Government you may care to emphasize again the favorable reaction which probably would result from a voluntary offer of solatium payments to the injured parties.


393.115 President Hoover/76: Telegram

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

WASHINGTON, November 19, 1937—2 p. m. 360. Your 799 [779], October 8,1 p.m.42 Please present to Chinese Government as soon as practicable under local conditions information regarding extent of injuries sustained by passengers and members of crew of steamer President Hoover as contained in Department's 296 of October 5, 3 p. m., together with following explanations.

1st. According to communication from Canadian Legation Haskell and surviving parents are Canadian nationals.

2d. Department has no evidence that injured passenger Whitfield is an American citizen and Dollar Line reports that according to passenger manifest he is British subject.

For your information it may be stated that American nationality of passengers Ruffner and Cowen definitely established and that no information obtained casting doubt upon alleged American nationality of injured members of crew except Haskell. Moreover, irrespective of nationality of surviving members of crew, they are, as American seamen on American vessel, regarded as entitled to this Government's assistance.

If any question of nationality is raised by Chinese Government in connection with matter of payment to Haskell's parents, Department should be informed promptly in order that Canadian Legation here may be advised.


393.115 President Hoover/81
The Department of State to the Canadian Legation


In its memorandum of November 2, 1937,42 the Canadian Legation requests to be informed whether the Government of the United States is prepared to make representations to the Chinese Government on

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behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Walter Haskell, parents of the late Lionel Haskell, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the bombing of the steamship President Hoover on August 30, 1937. It is stated in the memorandum that the decedent was a Canadian national, as are also his parents, and reference is made to what is stated to have been the practice of the United States with respect to the protection of alien seamen serving on American vessels. It is suggested that such

44 protection might also extend to claims by the estate of a deceased seaman as well as to claims submitted on behalf of seamen who survived the incident.

For the confidential information of the Canadian Legation it may be stated that in view of the spontaneous action of the Chinese Government in accepting full responsibility for the incident and in offering to afford "immediate relief” and “amends”, this Government is not disposed to file, at the present time, formal diplomatic claims against the Chinese Government on behalf of the American nationals who were injured, but proposes to inform the Chinese Government of the extent of the injuries suffered by them and to suggest to the Chinese Government the favorable reaction which would probably result from a voluntary offer by it of specific sums of money to such persons. This Government will be glad to furnish, simultaneously, information to the Chinese Government regarding the present case, including information as to the nationality of the decedent and his parents as set out in the memorandum of the Canadian Legation.

The Canadian Legation will be duly informed regarding the nature of any communication which this Government may receive from the Chinese Government regarding the Haskell case.

WASHINGTON, November 22, 1937.


[On September 17, 1938, the Department issued the following press release:

"The American Ambassador to China, Mr. Nelson T. Johnson, telegraphed the Department on September 16 that the American Embassy at Chungking had received from the Chinese Government a draft in the amount of $264,887.47 as indemnification for personal injuries and property losses sustained as a result of the bombing of the S.S. President Roover, an American vessel, on August 30, 1937.”

(Department of State, Press Releases, September 17, 1938, page 190.)]

** For a discussion of the status of alien seamen shipped on American vessels in ports of the United States and the character of the protection to which they are entitled, see Green Haywood Hackworth, Digest of International Law, voi. III, p. 417.




793.94/11583 : Telegram

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

NANKING, December 11, 1937—5 p. m.

[Received December 11–11:45 a. m.] 1035. 1. At 2:45 p. m. today shells began falling on the near shore not far upriver from the Panay. Reluctant to leave Sanchihao and possibility of further contact with Americans Panay delayed moving until shells were falling in the water ahead and on the opposite bank and then proceeded upriver about 12 miles from Nanking to mileage 208 above Woosung where vessel is now anchored. As from this Embassy, please communicate our positions to Japanese Embassy with request that appropriate instructions be issued to Japanese forces including air force since Japanese bombing planes have flown daily over the Panay at the Sanchihao as well as former Hsiakuan anchorage. 2. British vessels also proceeded upriver.

3. Sent to Shanghai, repeated to Department, Hankow, Peiping. Peiping please repeat to Tokyo with request that Embassy [at] Tokyo kindly take appropriate action with respect to last sentence first paragraph above.

For the Ambassador:



394.115 Panay/27 : Telegram The Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Atcheson) to the

Secretary of State

NANKING, December 11, 1937—7 p. m.

[Received 7:53 p. m.] 1037. My 1035, December 11, 5 p. m.

1. Some shells fell close to Jardine hulk then anchored about one half mile above the Panay and near British naval vessels Scarab and Cricket. One reportedly fell within 50 feet of British passenger steamer Whang poo, some fell on both sides of Standard Oil Company's S. S. Meiping, and near other merchant vessels including Brit

* A considerable part of the correspondence regarding the sinking of the Panay was published in Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931-1941, vol. I, pp. 517-563. The papers presented here supplement that collection.

See telegram No. 29, December 12, 10 p. m., from the Ambassador in China,


p. 401.

ish merchant launch Wookuang on which one Chinese was wounded by shrapnel. As these vessels and the Panay moved up river the firing batteries changed their direction of fire or extended it for the shells appeared to follow for at least 2 miles the line of ships proceeding up the river.

2. The British Military Attaché and the representative of the German Ambassador who were on a British vessel state that there is no question that the batteries responsible were Japanese and deliberately fired on the ships and continued attempts to hit the vessels as the latter moved up river to get out of range. This is also the independent opinion of the officers and American passengers on the Meiping and several other persons who were endangered by the shelling. The opinion of Captain Roberts,47 with which I am inclined to agree, is that the shells were fired by Chinese batteries in and near Nanking south city, with the object of searching out Japanese troops inshore, because (1) the sound of the guns seemed to come from direction of the south city. (2) The angle of impact of the shells on the river was definitely upstream. (3) At least two and probably more sections were firing well inshore. (4) It had been reported this morning that the Japanese alignment extended by the left toward the river. (5) There were no observation planes in the air although the Japanese have a large number in this area whereas the Chinese have none.

3. Repeated to Hankow, Peiping, Shanghai. Department please communicate to War Department. Peiping please repeat to Tokyo.


124.93/401 : Telegram

T'he Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

NANKING, December 12, 1937—7 a. m.

[Received December 12—4 a. m.] 1040. Embassy's 1035, December 11, 5 p. m.

1. Shell fire at 9 o'clock this morning caused the Panay to move farther upstream and vessel is now anchored 27 miles above Nanking at mileage 221 above Woosung. Standard Oil Company's steamers Meiping, Meian and Meisia are anchored nearby.

2. As from this Embassy please inform Japanese Embassy of present position of Panay and American merchant vessels named and request that appropriate instructions be issued to Japanese forces [and!] planes and that circumstances may again cause Panay to move


Capt. Frank N. Roberts, Assistant Military Attaché in China.

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