USS Panay atacado por los japoneses - Historia

USS Panay atacado por los japoneses - Historia

Incidente de Panay

Recibiendo medalla

El 12 de diciembre de 1937, aviones japoneses bombardearon una cañonera fluvial estadounidense, el Panay, en China. El Panay se hundió, 2 murieron y 30 resultaron heridos. El Departamento de Estado exigió una disculpa, que proporcionaron los japoneses. El ataque siguió a los ataques japoneses contra civiles chinos.


El héroe de Panay recibe Navy Cross. Washington, D.C., 1 de julio. El bombero de primera clase John L. Hodge, que se está recuperando en el Hospital Naval aquí, fue condecorado hoy con la Cruz de la Armada por la valentía que mostró durante el hundimiento de la cañonera estadounidense Panay por las bombas japonesas el año pasado. El subsecretario de la Marina, Charles Edison, aparece en la foto colocando el premio en el Bluejacket. Fue Hodge quien llevó a Jim Marshall, redactor de personal de Collier's heridos en el bombardeo, desde la escena del barco que se hundió hasta Wuhu, China, a una distancia de aproximadamente 17 millas, 1/7/38.

USS Panay (PR-5)

El segundo USS Panay (PR – 5) de la Armada de los Estados Unidos fue una cañonera fluvial que sirvió en la Patrulla del Yangtze en China hasta que un avión japonés lo hundió el 12 de diciembre de 1937 en el río Yangtze.

El buque fue construido por Kiangnan Dockyard and Engineering Works, Shanghai, China, y botado el 10 de noviembre de 1927. Fue patrocinado por la Sra. Ellis S. Stone y comisionado el 10 de septiembre de 1928, con el teniente comandante James Mackey Lewis al mando.


En 1937, Japón bombardeó el Uss Panay y casi comenzó la Segunda Guerra Mundial 4 años antes

Punto clave: La cañonera estadounidense fue atacada por partes posiblemente rebeldes y a favor de la guerra del ejército imperial japonés. ¡Y un camarógrafo de Universal News estaba a bordo para filmarlo!

Para algunos estadounidenses, la Segunda Guerra Mundial comenzó temprano. En diciembre de 1937, cuatro años antes de que el ataque japonés a Pearl Harbor impulsara a los Estados Unidos a la guerra, aviones japoneses atacaron una cañonera estadounidense, el USS Panay, en el río Yangtze de China, ametrallando y bombardeando el barco, hundiéndolo y matando a tres tripulantes estadounidenses. miembros, y los 45 heridos más.

Esos mismos aviones japoneses también atacaron tres petroleros de Standard Oil que estaban siendo escoltados por la cañonera, matando al capitán de uno de los petroleros, así como a varios pasajeros chinos.

Dos camarógrafos de noticiarios a bordo del Panay pudieron filmar el ataque y el posterior hundimiento de la cañonera, los petroleros en llamas y los aviones japoneses que se zambullían y disparaban. Los ataques y los noticiarios que se tomaron en ese momento ayudaron a que la opinión pública estadounidense se volviera contra Japón y, durante un tiempo, se habló de guerra.

Al final, se evitó la guerra y Japón pagó una indemnización de más de 2 millones de dólares a Estados Unidos. Pero, en ese momento y durante años después, las preguntas planteadas por el incidente quedaron sin respuesta.

¿Qué había pasado realmente? ¿Y por qué?

Ya en 1854, Estados Unidos tenía cañoneras en el río Yangtze, un derecho otorgado por tratado. En la década de 1870, los intereses estadounidenses en el área se habían expandido y se creó la Flota Asiática de los EE. UU. Para proteger esos intereses de los señores de la guerra chinos y piratas a lo largo del río.

A principios de la década de 1900, la actividad de Standard Oil y el uso de buques tanque en la región también se habían acelerado, y para 1914 la Marina de los Estados Unidos había introducido en el río cañoneras de poco calado especialmente construidas. Para entonces, la Marina patrullaba río arriba hasta Chunghink, a 1.300 millas de la costa.

Entre 1926 y 1927, se encargaron seis nuevas cañoneras y se colocaron en el río. Uno de ellos fue el Panay, un cañonero de 191 pies armado con ocho. Ametralladoras Lewis calibre 30 y dos cañones de tres pulgadas.

Una placa de bronce en la sala de oficiales del Panay resumía su misión: "Por la protección de la vida y la propiedad estadounidenses en el valle del río Yangtze y sus afluentes, y el fomento de la buena voluntad estadounidense en China".

En julio de 1937, tras décadas de incidentes diplomáticos y militares entre los dos países, un Japón cada vez más hostil atacó a China. En noviembre, los japoneses habían capturado Shanghai en la desembocadura del Yangtze y habían comenzado a moverse río arriba, dejando "una franja de destrucción". A principios de diciembre, las tropas imperiales se acercaban a Nanking, entonces la capital china.

Estados Unidos fue oficialmente neutral en el conflicto. El embajador Joseph Grew y el personal de la embajada estadounidense huyeron de la ciudad en noviembre, dejando a cuatro hombres, incluido el vicecónsul J. Hall Paxton, para monitorear la situación y hacer lo que pudieran para proteger a los ciudadanos estadounidenses que aún se encuentran en el área.

A principios de diciembre, el Panay fue enviado desde Shanghai a Nanking para sacar a los estadounidenses restantes de la ciudad. Para evitar que su cañonera sea confundida con un barco enemigo, el capitán de Panay, el teniente comandante. James J. Hughes, ordenó que se amarraran banderas estadounidenses en la cubierta superior del barco y que desde el mástil del barco se izara una bandera estadounidense de 6 por 11 pies.

Dos sampanes que funcionaban con motores fuera de borda se conectaron al Panay para transportar a los evacuados a la cañonera. Hughes también ordenó que los dos sampanes enarbolaran visiblemente banderas estadounidenses.

Para el 9 de diciembre, el Panay estaba atracado en el río en Nanking y se habían llevado a bordo 15 civiles: los cuatro empleados de la embajada, otros cuatro ciudadanos estadounidenses y otros ciudadanos extranjeros, incluidos varios periodistas. Entre los periodistas se encontraban los camarógrafos de noticiarios Norman Alley de Universal News y Eric Mayell de Fox Movietone.

En ese momento, la cañonera tenía una tripulación de cinco oficiales y 54 soldados. Cuando los japoneses se acercaron a la ciudad y empezaron a caer proyectiles cerca del río, el Panay abandonó la ciudad y se trasladó a una terminal petrolera a poca distancia río arriba. Hughes envió un mensaje de radio a los japoneses alertándolos de su nueva posición.

“Esa noche todos nos quedamos de pie y observamos cómo se quemaba y saqueaba Nanking, hasta que doblamos la curva [en el río] y no vimos nada más que un cielo rojo brillante recortado con nubes de humo”, escribió Alley más tarde.

El 11 de diciembre, los proyectiles comenzaron a caer cerca de donde estaban anclados el Panay y tres petroleros de Standard Oil, Meiping, Meian y Meihsia, los petroleros estaban allí para ayudar a evacuar a los empleados y agentes de Standard Oil de Nanking. Los tres petroleros y el Panay formaron rápidamente un convoy y avanzaron siete millas río arriba para evitar los bombardeos.

Testigos de la acción afirmaron más tarde que los proyectiles que habían caído parecían estar "apuntados".

En la mañana del 12 de diciembre, cuando el convoy se dirigía río arriba, un oficial naval japonés se acercó a los barcos y exigió información al Panay sobre la disposición de las fuerzas chinas a lo largo del río.

El capitán Hughes se negó a obedecer. "Este es un buque naval estadounidense", informó Alley que dijo Hughes. “Estados Unidos es amigo de Japón y China por igual. No proporcionamos información militar a ninguna de las partes ".

Luego se permitió al convoy reanudar su paso río arriba y finalmente ancló a 28 millas al norte de Nanking. Una vez allí, el capitán Hughes envió su nuevo cargo a las autoridades estadounidenses con una solicitud de que la información se transmitiera a los japoneses.

Aproximadamente a la 1:40 pm de ese día, se vieron tres bombarderos Yokosuka B4Y Tipo-96 dirigiéndose hacia el convoy en formación en V. Los bombarderos japoneses en lo alto eran una vista familiar para los hombres del Panay. Los habían visto con frecuencia desde que comenzaron los combates chino-japoneses, y los aviones nunca habían sido motivo de preocupación.

"No teníamos ninguna razón para creer que los japoneses nos atacarían", dijo más tarde el oficial ejecutivo, el teniente Arthur Anders. "Estados Unidos era una nación neutral".

Esta vez iba a ser diferente.

Para estar seguro, el capitán Hughes convocó a sus hombres a las estaciones de batalla y cerró las puertas y escotillas herméticas de la cañonera. Sin embargo, cuando los aviones se acercaron, se les unieron varios cazas biplanos Nakajima A4N Tipo-95. Los bombarderos de Yokosuka parecían estar perdiendo altitud o incluso entrando en picadas.

De repente e inesperadamente, lanzaron sus bombas.

Una de las bombas alcanzó casi de inmediato la cabina del piloto del Panay. Hubo un destello brillante y el sonido de acero crujiendo y vidrio rompiéndose. El Capitán Hughes quedó rápidamente incapacitado con graves heridas, los cañones de siete centímetros del Panay fueron derribados y la casa del piloto, la sala de radio y la enfermería fueron destruidas. El equipo de propulsión del barco resultó dañado. Se cortó la energía eléctrica.

Sin darse cuenta de que el capitán Hughes había sido herido, Anders dio la orden de devolver el fuego.

Siguiendo a los tres bombarderos japoneses, los cazas Yokosuka ametrallaron la cañonera mientras seis bombarderos en picado de un solo motor barrían el Panay, golpeándolo con más explosivos pesados. El Panay empezó a posarse en la proa y escora a estribor.

La tripulación respondió al fuego lo mejor que pudo, pero los cañones de tres pulgadas de la cañonera estaban caídos y sus ametralladoras habían sido instaladas para luchar contra objetivos en tierra. El fuego hacia adelante era casi imposible, y no podían estar lo suficientemente elevados como para disparar contra los aviones japoneses cuando pasaban por encima. Además, con muchos de los tripulantes heridos, no todos los cañones pudieron ser tripulados. Un corresponsal italiano también fue golpeado y gravemente herido.

Anders manejó uno de los cañones él mismo pero, cuando se dio cuenta de que el capitán Hughes había resultado herido, se trasladó al puente para asumir el mando. Casi de inmediato fue golpeado en la garganta por un fragmento de metal. Sin poder hablar y sangrando mucho, sin embargo escribió órdenes con su propia sangre.

A lo largo de la caótica escena, mientras las bombas estallaban y el fuego de las ametralladoras de los cazas japoneses atacaba el barco, Alley y Mayell corrieron alrededor de la cubierta filmando la acción. Al otro lado del agua, se pudo ver el fuego en el camión cisterna Meiping.

En el Panay, los miembros de la tripulación arrojaban latas de gasolina por el costado y trasladaban a los heridos a la sala de máquinas. Veinte minutos después del ataque, Anders dijo más tarde: "Parte de la cubierta principal [de Panay] estaba inundada, el barco se hundía lentamente y había muchos heridos a bordo".

Dio la orden de abandonar el barco.

El Panay no tenía botes salvavidas y uno de sus dos sampanes de motor ya había abandonado el barco y se estaba alejando. Un avión japonés cayó sobre el sampán "como un halcón", recordó Anders. El avión lanzó una bomba que se quedó corta, pero otro avión japonés pasó y ametrallaron el sampán antes de que pudiera regresar a la cañonera.

Los heridos, incluido el capitán Hughes, fueron evacuados en los sampans, se destruyeron los libros de códigos y se distribuyeron los cinturones salvavidas. Algunos miembros de la tripulación apoyaron mesas de madera contra los rieles en caso de que fuera necesaria una salida rápida. La fuerte corriente en el río, que llegaba a siete millas por hora, lo hacía peligroso para los nadadores. Sin embargo, la mayor parte de la tripulación pudo partir en los sampanes.


En 1937, Japón bombardeó el Uss Panay y casi comenzó la Segunda Guerra Mundial 4 años antes

Mientras tanto, los japoneses habían centrado su ataque en los petroleros de Standard Oil. A bordo del Meian, el Capitán C.H. Carlson había muerto y dos de los tres camiones cisterna estaban en llamas. “Podíamos escuchar los lastimosos gritos de los miembros de la tripulación chinos”, escribió Norman Alley.

Aproximadamente a las 3:55 pm, el Panay se hundió en 10 brazas.

Mientras tanto, los supervivientes de la cañonera habían llegado a la orilla. Muchos de ellos estaban heridos y se acurrucaban en los juncos a lo largo de la costa mientras los aviones japoneses "volaban en círculos buitres sobre nosotros", como dijo Alley.

Los dos petroleros de Standard Oil ardieron en el río. Para entonces, el tercer petrolero había varado.

Temiendo que fueran descubiertos por los japoneses, Alley envolvió la película que había filmado, junto con la película de Mayell, en lienzo y enterró el paquete en el barro. Al anochecer, el ataque terminó y el grupo de sobrevivientes se dio cuenta de que estaban en territorio controlado por China y a unas ocho millas de Hoshien, un pequeño pueblo de pescadores. Hicieron literas con lo que estaba disponible y caminaron las ocho millas hasta el pueblo, cargando a los heridos.

El Panay había sufrido la muerte de tres tripulantes y otros 45 heridos. Cinco de sus pasajeros civiles también resultaron heridos.

Una vez en Hoshien, los sobrevivientes pudieron contactar a los funcionarios de la embajada estadounidense, y los barcos de la Armada estadounidense y británica fueron enviados de inmediato al área. Las autoridades japonesas, expresando su confusión por lo sucedido, también participaron en los esfuerzos de rescate, lanzando aviones y barcos de búsqueda.

Los supervivientes fueron finalmente recogidos en Hoshien por la cañonera estadounidense Oahu y por dos cañoneras británicas, HMS Bee y HMS Ladybird, que habían sido atacadas anteriormente por la artillería japonesa. Los británicos habían sufrido la muerte de un hombre y cuatro heridos.

Los japoneses se disculparon rápidamente, alegando que habían recibido información de que algunos de los chinos que huían de Nanking estaban en el río y, por la altitud a la que volaban sus bombarderos y "en la niebla", sus pilotos habían confundido el Panay y los petroleros. como los barcos que transportan a los chinos.

El secretario de Estado Cordell Hull emitió una denuncia formal.

Los japoneses continuaron pidiendo disculpas, un almirante japonés renunció en relación con el incidente y el emperador japonés Hirohito anunció que él personalmente se haría cargo de una investigación del incidente "sin importar cuán humillante pueda ser para las fuerzas armadas".

El 19 de diciembre, se publicó la película de Alley y Mayell sobre el incidente, que había sido recuperada de su escondite en la orilla del río Yangtze. La película desmiente las afirmaciones japonesas de que el Panay no estaba bien marcado y que la visibilidad era limitada. Mostraba un día claro y soleado.

Siguió la indignación pública —el presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt dijo que estaba "conmocionado" - y la actitud del pueblo estadounidense comenzó a volverse contra los japoneses.

Unos días más tarde, cuando los sobrevivientes de Panay llegaron a la civilización, “sucios, fríos y vistiendo solo mantas, edredones chinos y jirones de ropa”, sus fotos e historias comenzaron a publicarse y la indignación pública aumentó.

Sin embargo, antes de que la película de Alley se hiciera pública, Roosevelt la había visto y había solicitado que el camarógrafo retirara 30 de los 53 pies que había filmado. Esos 30 pies mostraban aviones japoneses atacando el Panay casi al nivel de la cubierta y contradecían muchas de las afirmaciones del gobierno japonés. Al censurar la película, Roosevelt probablemente actuó por temor a que la naturaleza explosiva de la película inflamara el creciente sentimiento público a favor de la guerra con Japón, algo que Roosevelt no quería en ese momento.

A medida que la conmoción inicial se desvaneció, las cosas empezaron a volver lentamente a la normalidad.

Alley centró su atención en los combates en Europa. El teniente Anders tosió asombrosamente un fragmento de metal tres días después del ataque y recuperó la capacidad de hablar; recibió la Medalla de Servicio Distinguido por sus acciones. El capitán Hughes había sufrido una grave fractura de fémur, pero se recuperaría para servir en la guerra que se avecinaba.

Pero, ¿por qué los aviones japoneses atacaron a los petroleros Panay y Standard Oil en primer lugar?

Todavía en 1953, el comandante Masatake Okumiya, que había dirigido a los bombarderos japoneses ese día, seguía sosteniendo que el ataque había sido un caso de identidad errónea. Los pilotos que operaban los bombarderos, dijo, solo habían estado volando en China durante unos ocho días y nunca se les había informado sobre cómo reconocer los barcos neutrales. El tiroteo contra las dos cañoneras británicas terminó rápidamente, dijo, cuando se vio una bandera británica en una de las embarcaciones.

En ese momento y posteriormente, esta explicación fue cuestionada.

Se sabía que el Panay estaba bien marcado y, a pesar de las afirmaciones japonesas, también se sabía que la visibilidad era buena ese día. La película de Alley también mostró que los aviones japoneses se habían acercado a una altitud muy baja, casi "a la altura de la cubierta". Además, los analistas preguntaron, si los japoneses realmente creían que estaban atacando los transportes de tropas, ¿por qué atacaron claramente primero al Panay, el único barco capaz de devolver el fuego?

También se informó después de la guerra que los criptógrafos de la Marina de los EE. UU. Habían interceptado mensajes de radio japoneses a los aviones atacantes que indicaban que estaban bajo órdenes durante el ataque y que el ataque no fue de ninguna manera involuntario. Al parecer, algunos de los aviadores japoneses involucrados habían protestado por sus órdenes antes de finalmente aceptar ejecutarlas.

La explicación más probable de lo que le sucedió al Panay ese día es que el gobierno japonés no sancionó el ataque. Los analistas y los periódicos estadounidenses especularon en ese momento, y los historiadores posteriores han estado de acuerdo, que el ataque probablemente fue lanzado por elementos radicales dentro del ejército japonés que estaban tratando de provocar una guerra con Estados Unidos.

O puede haber sido un intento de esos mismos elementos radicales de medir la respuesta de Estados Unidos a un ataque, o simplemente tenía la intención de obligar a Estados Unidos a abandonar su presencia en China.

En cualquier caso, fueron oficiales japoneses rebeldes los que estuvieron detrás del ataque, no el gobierno japonés. El caos generado por el ataque japonés de Nanking puede haber proporcionado lo que esos elementos consideraron una oportunidad para promover sus propios objetivos. Casi lo lograron.

La perspectiva de una guerra con Japón y la posibilidad de abandonar China ganaron algo de tracción pública tras el ataque y la publicidad resultante. Un editorial de Los Angeles Times en ese momento, por ejemplo, sugirió: "Sin duda, una retirada gradual de China es prudente".

Pero Estados Unidos no abandonó a China y no fue a la guerra.

Roosevelt aceptó una disculpa oficial japonesa por el incidente. El gobierno japonés pagó una indemnización de 2.214.007,36 dólares a Estados Unidos en abril de 1938, y Estados Unidos declaró oficialmente cerrado el incidente.

Cuando lo hizo, un historiador escribió: "Un suspiro de alivio recorrió a lo largo y ancho de América".


Historias de vuelos

En esta fecha en la historia de la aviación en 1937, en medio de los ataques en curso de Japón y # 8217 contra Nanking, China (ahora Nanjing), los aviones de la Armada japonesa aparecieron nuevamente en los cielos sobre el río Yangtze. Observando los ataques aéreos en curso contra civiles chinos en Nanking estaba el USS Panay, una cañonera de la Armada estadounidense que sirvió para representar y proteger los intereses estadounidenses en China como parte de la Marina de los Estados Unidos y la Patrulla Yangtze # 8217 de la Flota Asiática de los Estados Unidos. La cañonera estaba cumpliendo una misión humanitaria de evacuar a los últimos estadounidenses y dependientes extranjeros de Nanking antes de la llegada del ejército japonés a la ciudad (lo que más tarde se conocería como la & # 8220 Violación de Nanking & # 8221). Como se observa a menudo, los aviones de combate japoneses sobrevolaban el cielo. En el pasado, buceaban en Nanking. Esta vez, sin embargo, los japoneses dirigieron su atención a los estadounidenses, una nación neutral, que no estaba en guerra con Japón. Durante los siguientes treinta minutos, bombardearían y ametrallarían implacablemente la cañonera estadounidense y otros barcos occidentales cercanos.

El USS Panay remonta el río Yangtze la mañana del ataque. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

El USS Panay y el servicio del río Yangtze

De acuerdo con el tratado y el acuerdo internacional, los británicos y estadounidenses mantuvieron una pequeña flota de cañoneras en el río Yangtze cuya misión era apoyar y proteger a los civiles ex-patriotas que tenían hogares, propiedades y negocios en Shanghai, Nanking y a lo largo del río. Además, las cañoneras protegieron el comercio y la navegación occidentales de la piratería y otras amenazas. El río Yangtze en 1937 era una zona un tanto indómita, con incertidumbres e intereses políticos cambiantes. Como resultado, las cañoneras a veces se vieron envueltas en misiones peligrosas. No obstante, el gobierno chino estaba tan comprometido como los gobiernos británico y estadounidense en garantizar la estabilidad y mantener relaciones comerciales abiertas y exitosas. Incapaces de patrullar sus propias vías navegables interiores, los chinos habían invitado a Occidente a hacerlo.

Buque cisterna Standard Oil junto al USS Panay durante sus deberes normales de escolta en el río Yangtze. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

Sin embargo, todo esto se erosionó una vez que Japón invadió China en el verano de 1937. La guerra evolucionó rápidamente con un rápido avance de las fuerzas japonesas en el corazón de China. Los japoneses demostraron ser una fuerza verdaderamente imperialista y poderosa empeñada en la dominación de China y también demostraron ser capaces de una brutalidad inmensa y sin restricciones. Dentro del ejército japonés, también había quienes ansiaban una pelea con Occidente. Manos más tranquilas y frías retuvieron el control de la política exterior de Japón y, a pesar de las súplicas de los militaristas de que los intereses estadounidenses y británicos en China eran objetivos válidos, el gobierno japonés prohibió la acción.

El Capitán del USS Panay, el Teniente Comandante de la Armada de los EE. UU. J.J. Hughes, el mismo día del ataque. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

El ataque al USS Panay

Durante la mañana del 12 de diciembre de 1937, el USS Panay había contratado a los últimos cuatro miembros del personal de la Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Nanking, así como a diez civiles. Esto completó la evacuación de estadounidenses de Nanking. La tripulación del barco estaba formada por cinco oficiales y 54 soldados. Cerca de allí, también navegaban un par de cañoneras británicas, el HMS Bee y el HMS Ladybird. Tres petroleros de la oficina de Standard Oil & # 8217 en Nanking también navegaban cerca. Estos barcos transportaban combustible y también cargaban a los empleados de Standard Oil, los empleados locales y las familias para evacuarlos del camino del avance del ejército japonés que se aproximaba. Juntos, bajo la dirección del USS Panay, los barcos partieron río arriba desde Nanking para salir de la zona de combate.

Daños por disparos al HMS Bee, también atacado por aviones japoneses. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

De repente apareció un vuelo de tres bombarderos Yokosuka B4Y Tipo 96 de la Armada japonesa y comenzó un ataque contra los buques estadounidenses y británicos. En todos los barcos, las banderas ondeaban claramente. Además, se habían pintado enormes banderas en las cubiertas y marquesinas en la parte superior, dejando pocas dudas de que los barcos no eran chinos. Por lo tanto, el ataque fue una sorpresa.

Un caza Nakajima A4N Tipo 95, el tipo utilizado para ametrallar al USS Panay.

A medida que caían las bombas, también llegaron aviones adicionales de la Armada japonesa, que eran cazas Nakajima A4N Tipo 95. Los cazas comenzaron repetidas carreras de ametrallamiento contra los barcos. A bordo de las cañoneras, las tripulaciones asumieron los puestos de batalla y abrieron fuego con las limitadas armas antiaéreas que tenían a bordo, principalmente ametralladoras de calibre 30 alimentadas por tambor y montadas en pilones. Incluso si (según los estándares posteriores), el ataque aéreo japonés fue un asunto de lenta evolución de disparos periódicos y bombas mal dirigidas, el fuego de respuesta estadounidense también fue en gran medida ineficaz. Los aviones japoneses atacaron sin obstáculos.

Un avión japonés sobrevolando el USS Panay. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

Victoria japonesa

Pronto los tres petroleros de Standard Oil fueron alcanzados e incendiados. Dos se hundieron en el río mientras que el tercero encalló para salvarse. La cañonera británica no fue alcanzada por ninguna bomba, pero fue ametrallada sin piedad. Hubo bajas en todos los barcos. El USS Panay fue alcanzado por dos bombas. Ella comenzó a tomar agua. Mientras las tripulaciones continuaban luchando, disparando contra los aviones japoneses, se lanzaron un total de 18 bombas y casi todas fallaron. Estas eran las bombas ligeras estándar de la Armada japonesa en ese momento, con un peso de 132 libras (60 kg) cada una. Dado el daño que incluso estas bombas ligeras habían causado en la cañonera fluvial de poco calado, el Capitán no tuvo más remedio que dar la orden de abandonar el barco. Incluso entonces los ataques no cesaron. Los aviones intentaron ametrallar los lanzamientos de motores mientras sacaban a los heridos y a otros del USS Panay y se dirigían a una isla fluvial cercana.

El USS Panay se asienta en el río Yangtze y desaparece lentamente de la vista. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

Una vez en tierra, los hombres vieron cómo el USS Panay se hundía lentamente hasta perderse de vista en los profundos canales del río Yangtze. Mientras los aviones japoneses patrullaban por encima de sus cabezas, se escondieron entre los juncos, temiendo el ataque de los cazas ametralladores. Finalmente, con la partida de los aviones, los hombres del USS Panay salieron de la isla en sampanes y luego caminaron por tierra hacia pueblos amigos río abajo. En el camino, con la atención médica tan distante, murieron tres de los heridos más graves. En total, 43 marineros del USS Panay resultaron heridos, así como cinco de los diez civiles que habían estado a bordo. Un número incalculable de personas habían muerto en los petroleros de Standard Oil.

Uno de los barcos de Standard Oil arde en el río Yangtze. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

Notas finales

De vuelta en los Estados Unidos, los criptógrafos decodificaron las señales navales japonesas y documentaron que los japoneses habían sabido desde el principio que los barcos eran británicos y estadounidenses. Los analistas estadounidenses se dieron cuenta de que el ataque era un intento de llevar a Estados Unidos a la guerra. Si bien esta no era una política del gobierno japonés, representaba los intereses deshonestos de la línea dura, las alas militaristas de las fuerzas armadas de Japón y los grupos # 8212 que estaban aumentando en poder e influencia con el propio Japón.

Las bajas del USS Panay, en ataúdes cubiertos con banderas, son transportadas en barco a Shanghai después del ataque. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

Como sucedió, a pesar de la protesta pública, el ataque sorpresa de la Armada japonesa no llevó a Estados Unidos a la guerra. De hecho, el gobierno japonés emitió una disculpa formal y se pagó una compensación por la pérdida del barco y las bajas sufridas. Los japoneses afirmaron que había sido un terrible error. Aunque el presidente Franklin Delano Roosevelt reconoció la deshonestidad, también trató de evitar la guerra. En lugar de alentar los gritos de una variación de la llamada a & # 8220Recuerde el Maine & # 8221 & # 8212 el hundimiento del barco de la Armada de los EE. UU. Maine en el puerto de La Habana que llevó a Estados Unidos a la guerra con España & # 8212 Roosevelt sintió que era mejor aceptar la disculpa y compensación.

Imágenes finales del USS Panay, sus estructuras acribilladas por los disparos del ataque aéreo, estas imágenes capturadas mientras el barco estaba siendo abandonado. Fuente: Películas de Norman Alley, Universal News y Eric Mayell, Movietone News

No obstante, dentro de Japón, los militaristas ascenderían lentamente en poder e influencia hasta que finalmente, solo cuatro años después, casi hasta el mismo día, finalmente conseguirían su deseo de guerra con Estados Unidos. Atacarían los intereses aliados en todo el Pacífico, comenzando con Pearl Harbor, Wake, Filipinas y pasando a otras islas pequeñas y fideicomisos. Además, apuntarían a participaciones australianas, holandesas y británicas. Pronto la guerra en el Pacífico estaría en pleno apogeo.


Ricaredo Demetillo & # 8217s Barter in Panay (1961), es una epopeya literaria y la apropiación del autor para proyectar los impulsos y deseos raciales de libertad, rectitud y justicia para nuestro pueblo utilizando a los Maragtas como su fuente. El libro presenta las características literarias del texto como una epopeya premiada.

Las historias conocidas como Maragtas son leyendas que pueden o no estar basadas en hechos reales del pasado remoto. Se trata de los diez datus o jefes que escaparon de la tiranía de Datu Makatunaw de Borneo y emigraron a la isla de Panay.


La filmación de Alley & # 8217 del ataque de Panay se vio en todo el mundo.

Fuentes adicionales

Bouchard, Joseph F. "Accidentes y crisis: 'Panay, Liberty' y 'Stark'" Revisión de la Escuela de Guerra Naval 41, no. 4 (1988): 87-102.

Chang, Iris. La violación de Nanking: el holocausto olvidado de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Nueva York: Basic Books, 2011.

Francés, Paul. A través del espejo: los periodistas extranjeros de China desde las guerras del opio hasta Mao. Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press, 2009.

Rey, Dan. The Last Zero Fighter: relatos de primera mano de pilotos navales japoneses de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Rockwall, TX: Pacific Press, 2012.

Konstam, Angus. Cañoneras del río Yangtze 1900-1949Nueva York: Osprey Publishing, 2011.

Moskin, J. Robert. American Statecraft: La historia del servicio exterior de EE. UU.. Nueva York: St. Martin's Press, 2013.

Scherr, Arthur. "El poder presidencial, el incidente de 'Panay' y la derrota de la Enmienda Ludlow". La Revista de Historia Internacional, 32, no. 3 (2010): 455-500.

Tolley, Kemp. Patrulla Yangtze: La Marina de los Estados Unidos en China. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000.

Williams, Greg H. Los últimos días de la flota asiática de los Estados Unidos: el destino de los barcos y los que están a bordo, 8 de diciembre de 1941 al 5 de febrero de 1942. Jefferson, Carolina del Norte: McFarland & amp Co., 2018.

[1] "Here’s Fortune's Survey on How Americans View Jewish Refugees in 1938", http://fortune.com/2015/11/18/fortune-survey-jewish-refugees/, consultado el 10 de diciembre de 2018.

[2] "Aquí está la encuesta de Fortune", fortune.com.

[3] David M. Kennedy, Libertad del miedo: el pueblo estadounidense en la depresión y la guerra, 1929-1945 (Nueva York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 402.

[4] “U.S.S. Panay, tanque de petróleo estándar y cañonera británica devuelven el fuego en el Yangtse ”, New York Times, 15 de noviembre de 1930, 1.

[5] R.H. Growald, "Cuando Japón hundió el Panay en 37, Anders de La Mesa estaba a bordo", San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 de enero de 1989, ed. 1,4,5,6, p B-3 ed. 2,3, p II-3.

[6] Growald, "Cuando Japón hundió el Panay".

[7] Paul French, A través del espejo: China y periodistas extranjeros n. ° 8217 desde las guerras del opio hasta Mao (Hong Kong, China, Hong Kong University Press, 2009), 205.

[8] Departamento de Marina, Juzgado de Instrucción, “Bombardeo y hundimiento del U.S.S. Panay, Pt. I ”Agosto de 1938, Washington, D.C. http://www.jag.navy.mil.

[9] Tribunal de Instrucción, “Pt. II ”, 40.

[10] Tribunal de Instrucción, “Pt. II. ” 41.

[11] Tribunal de Instrucción, “Pt. III. " 115.

[12] Relaciones Exteriores de los Estados Unidos, Documentos diplomáticos, 1937, El Lejano Oriente, vol. IV (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2010), documento 651.

[13]Documentos diplomáticos, 1937, El Lejano Oriente, vol. IV, 651.

[14]Documentos relacionados con las relaciones exteriores de los Estados Unidos, Japón, 1931-1941, vol. I (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2010), documento 385.


USS Panay atacado por los japoneses - Historia

Por Eric Niderost

Alrededor de las 10 de la mañana del 13 de diciembre de 1937, New York Times La corresponsal Hallett Abend recibió una visita inesperada: el contralmirante Tadao Honda de la Armada Imperial Japonesa. Abend estaba en Shanghai cubriendo la Guerra Sino-Japonesa que se había estado librando desde julio anterior y, aunque inesperada, esta visita no fue del todo fuera de lo común. El estadounidense estaba en el Acuerdo Internacional, un enclave extranjero de la ciudad que estaba gobernado por un Consejo Municipal mayoritariamente angloamericano que no estaba sujeto a la ley china.
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Como periodista de un país neutral, Abend era bien conocido por las autoridades chinas y japonesas, pero pronto quedó claro que esta visita no era una llamada social. Honda, que era agregado naval de la embajada japonesa, parecía agitado, incluso nervioso, mientras le rogaba sin aliento a Abend que lo acompañara de regreso a la Idzumo, un crucero japonés amarrado en el río Whangpoo (ahora Huangpu). Parecía que el vicealmirante Kiyoshi Hasegawa, comandante de la Tercera Flota japonesa, quería verlo por un "asunto de gran importancia".

& # 8220I & # 8217m Miedo de haber hundido el Panay“

Abend, oliendo una historia, se subió al coche de Honda para el corto trayecto hasta el distrito de Honkew. Aunque técnicamente formaba parte del Acuerdo Internacional "neutral", Honkew era estrictamente una reserva japonesa, tanto que fue apodado "Pequeño Tokio". The American and his nervous companion alighted in front of the Japanese consulate, not far from where the Idzumo was moored.

Abend was quickly ushered into Admiral Hasegawa’s cabin, where he found his erstwhile host talking with Rear Admiral Teizo Mitsunami. After the usual courtesies were exchanged, Hasegawa came right to the point. “I’m afraid,“ he confessed, “that we have sunk the Panay! " los Panay was a United States Navy gunboat, part of the Yangtze River Patrol whose primary mission was to safeguard the lives and property of Americans along China’s great waterway. For the next 20 minutes or so, Abend pressed the two Japanese officers for details but was frustrated in his attempts to get at the truth.

The two Japanese naval officers seemed to follow a script as they expressed formal apologies and mouthed veiled hints that the Japanese Army, not Navy, was responsible for the Panay’s demise. “But who,” insisted Abend, “ordered the bombing of the Panay? " It is a question that resonates to this day, even after the passage of more than 70 years.

Patrolling the Yangtze on the USS Panay

The Yangtze River Patrol was an outgrowth of China’s turbulent history from the 1840s to World War II. China was helpless giant, weak and powerless in the face of foreign domination and internal dissension. In the 1920s and 1930s China’s plight reached its nadir. Bandits swarmed though the countryside, terrorizing peasants and plundering with savage abandon. Warlords vied for power, carving out private fiefdoms in defiance of the central government, which was weak, often corrupt, and divided.

In the late 1920s Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) fought a series of bloody campaigns against the Chinese Communists under Mao Tse-tung. With China literally tearing itself apart, ultranationalists in the Japanese military sensed an opportunity to enlarge Japan’s empire. In 1931, the Japanese seized the northern Chinese province of Manchuria and renamed it Manchukuo. The last emperor of China, Henry Pu Yi, was installed as the puppet ruler of an “independent” Manchukuo, but few in the international community were fooled by this clumsy window dressing. Manchukuo was a puppet of the Tokyo government.

El USS Panay (PR-5) was one of six new gunboats that were specifically designed for China service. los Panay was built by the Kiangoan Dockyard and Engineering Works in Shanghai. Named for an island in the Philippines, Panay slid down the ways on November 10, 1927, and was formally commissioned on September 10, 1928.

The gunboat’s main battery consisted of two 3-inch, 51-caliber guns with telescoping sights. They were high-angle guns that could readily silence most opposition that the boat was likely to encounter along the river’s muddy shore. They were complemented by eight 30-caliber machine guns that were paired amidships. Mounted on armored shields that could swivel, the machine guns were of World War I vintage but still highly effective if manned by trained naval personnel.

Panay escorted American merchant ships up and down the river and provided sanctuary for American citizens when needed. The political situation was so confused at times that it was hard to tell who was the enemy—communist partisans, rogue nationalists, warlord troops, or simply disgruntled bandits cheated of their prey. But bullets have no political allegiance, and Navy men, nicknamed “river rats” or “old China hands,” responded in kind when the lead began to pepper the decks.

In 1931, Lt. Cmdr. R.A. Dyer, then skipper of the Panay, reported, “Firing on gunboats and merchant ships have [sic] become so routine that any vessel traversing the Yangtze River, sails with the expectation of being fired upon.” Dyer laconically added, “Fortunately, the Chinese appear to be rather poor marksmen and the ship has, so far, not sustained any casualties in these engagements.”

A Disease of the Skin Versus a Malady of the Heart

By 1936, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had effectively united most of the country under the banner of the Nationalist Party. He still looked on the communists as a greater threat than the Japanese. Adapting an old Chinese proverb, he said the Japanese were only “xuan jie zhi ji,” a “disease of the skin,” while the communists were “xin fu zhi huan,” a “malady of the heart.”

In a photo taken from the window of the New York Times bureau in Shanghai, three Japanese bombers are seen during one of numerous raids on the city.

But Chiang was kidnapped by warlord General Chang Hsueh-liang in December 1936, and was presented with an ultimatum that he find common cause with the communists against the Japanese. Some wanted Chiang killed, but others, notably Communist Party leader Chou En-lai, argued the generalissimo should be spared. He was the one figure who had enough stature to unite the whole country in an anti-Japanese crusade. Chiang was spared, and he readily agreed to a “united front” against Japanese aggression.

The China Incident

These complex political wranglings were not lost on the Japanese military, which realized that a united China might jeopardize their dreams of empire. They quickly engineered the “China Incident” around Peking (Beijing) in the summer of 1937, which quickly blossomed into a full-scale war.

Fighting started around Shanghai in August. Because the International Settlement and the French Concession were major enclaves of Western power, Chiang brought in his best troops to make a stand at the great city. Britons and Americans in particular would have “ringside seats” in the coming contest, and it was hoped a heroic defense would soften neutrality and cause the West to intervene on the side of China.

It proved a vain and forlorn hope. Many Americans, particularly American missionaries, were genuinely sympathetic to the Chinese cause, but the cares of the Depression, plus a nagging feeling that the United States had been “tricked” into World War I, bred a powerful isolationism that was almost impossible to overcome.

Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, commander in chief of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, did not care too much for power politics or the niceties of diplomatic protocol. His duty was to protect American lives and property in China, and he was going to do all in his power to accomplish that goal. His request for the heavy cruisers San Francisco, Tuscaloosa, Quincy, y Vincennes was flatly turned down as too provocative by the U.S. State Department, but on September 19 the 6th Marine Regiment arrived at Shanghai to bolster the International Settlement’s defensive perimeter.

The 6th Marines joined the 4th Marines, a regiment that had been posted in Shanghai since 1927, and together they formed Brig. Gen. John C. Beaumont’s 2nd Marine Brigade. Leathernecks took up positions all along the International Settlement boundary, especially along the vulnerable south bank of Soochow (Suzhou) Creek. Miles of barbed wire were strung, sandbags stacked, and machine-gun emplacements manned.

The U.S. ambassador, Nelson T. Johnson, was in Nanking (now Nanjing), roughly 145 miles northwest of Shanghai, carefully monitoring events. Nanking was the capital of China at the time, the political heart of the nation. Johnson was an “old China hand” who spoke the Mandarin dialect and had served in various diplomatic posts since the early 1900s. He favored the Chinese cause and advised against invoking the various neutrality acts that were on the books. If the United States officially recognized that a state of war existed between Japan and China, these laws would forbid giving aid to belligerents.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt never recognized the Sino-Japanese War, which enabled the United States to sell arms to China—some $9 million worth in 1938 alone. Roosevelt was genuinely sympathetic to China, but the president was a pragmatist who wanted to protect his own country’s interests. Strict enforcement of the neutrality laws would have cut off Japanese trade as well. In September 1937, for example, the Japanese contracted for 500,000 tons of American oil. Such deals were always welcomed in an America still ravaged by the Depression.

Withdrawing Personnel from Nanking

The U.S. Navy gunboat Luzon, with the American flag plainly visible, provided refuge to the U.S. Ambassador to China and other embassy personnel during the Japanese aerial onslaught against Nanking.

On September 19, the Japanese announced that Nanking would be bombed the very next day. Because the bombing raid was going to be a heavy one, the Japanese wished to warn foreign nationals to avoid third-party casualties. Any neutral who persisted in staying on did so at his own risk. Ambassador Johnson took the Japanese at their word and evacuated the American embassy personnel to the gunboat USS Luzon.

los Luzon was anchored in the middle of the broad Yangtze River, presumably out of harm’s way, though stray bombs were always a danger. Johnson and the embassy staff waited for “hell to descend,” but the appointed time came and went without incident. On the morning of September 21, as Johnson prepared to return to the embassy, he was interrupted by the mournful wail of air raid sirens. Japanese bombers filled the sky, their deadly payloads unleashing a rain of death and destruction.

Johnson and his staff watched helplessly as Nanking was pummeled without mercy and without constraint. Buildings were transformed into gutted shells, and black coils of smoke rose into the air. When the all clear was sounded, the American ambassador went ashore only to find his actions had sparked new controversy. The Chinese felt he had run away, and missionaries and other like-minded Americans agreed, feeling the ambassador was too afraid of offending the Japanese.

Johnson was a career diplomat with a thick skin who took little offense at the allegations. His primary mission was to protect Americans living and working in China by maintaining a strict impartiality. Above all, he was to avoid situations that might lead to war with Japan. The potential bombing of the U.S. embassy and the loss of lives among American diplomatic staff might well trigger just such a war. Though no coward, Johnson had felt the evacuation was justified under the circumstances.

Shanghai fell in mid-November 1937, after a hard and bloody three-month battle. The Japanese, who had expected an easy victory, were furious at their perceived loss of face. The battered but unbroken Chinese armies withdrew up the Yangtze Valley, quickly followed by Japanese forces in close pursuit. Chiang Kai-shek held a series of high-level meetings to discuss the Japanese advance. Should Nanking be defended or abandoned? The generalissimo’s advisers were deeply divided, but in the end it was decided the city would be defended, if only to uphold national honor.

The Chinese Army was in disarray, filled with raw recruits hastily conscripted to replace the seasoned soldiers lost in Shanghai. Chiang Kai-shek was nothing if not a realist, so he gave orders for Chinese government officials to pack up and leave the city. A temporary capital would be established in Hankow, about 400 miles upriver from Nanking. If Hankow was threatened, then the government would move again to remote Chungking (now Chongqing).

Ambassador Johnson boarded USS Luzon on November 21, 1937, for the journey to Hankow. There was little he could do under the circumstances Chinese government officials were leaving in droves, and Nanking would soon be a battleground. Most of the embassy personnel were evacuated, but a skeleton staff remained behind under Senior Second Secretary George Atcheson, Jr. Other embassy members who remained on duty included Second Secretary J. Hall Paxton, military attaché Captain Frank Roberts of the U.S. Army, and embassy secretary Emile Gassie.

Panay‘s Convoy Moves Up River

los Panay was designated a station ship, there to provide both a radio link to the outside world and a place of refuge should the need arise. Indeed, many Americans were still in the city, including newspaper and magazine journalists, businessmen, teachers, and missionaries. los Panay was for them as well as for diplomatic staff. The Chinese government finally informed the American embassy that the situation had seriously deteriorated. It was time to close the embassy and evacuate the remaining personnel.

All American citizens were strongly advised to leave Nanking if they remained they would do so at their own risk. Una vez Panay sailed, they would be on their own. By Saturday, December 11, there were about 13 civilian refugees aboard, including four members of the embassy staff, four American nationals, and five foreign nationals. Some Americans elected to stay—people like missionary W. Plumer Mills and surgeon Dr. Robert Wilson of the Nanking University Hospital. They were to become witnesses of the infamous Rape of Nanking, where some 300,000 Chinese died at the hands of bestial Japanese troops.

About 2 o’clock in the afternoon of December 11, the Japanese staged a major bombing raid on Pukow, just across the river from Nanking. Panay’s skipper, Lt. Cmdr. James J. Hughes, decided to move up the Yangtze when some bombs landed perilously close to the gunboat. Panay moved about a mile upriver to the San-Chia-Ho anchorage. A cluster of ships anchored there, including two British gunboats, a couple of steamers, and three American Standard-Vacuum Oil tankers. There were also smaller auxiliary craft hovering around the larger vessels like ducklings around their mother.

Hours before his vessel was sunk, in a claimed case of mistaken identity, Lieutenant Commander James J. Hughes, skipper of the gunboat USS Panay, puts ashore in a launch on December 12, 1937.

The San-Chia-Ho anchorage soon came under Japanese artillery fire, so it was decided that the Anglo-American convoy would travel an additional 13 or so miles upriver to a safer location. As they proceeded up the Yangtze, Japanese artillery shells continued to rain down from nearby shore batteries. The barrages were wild and inaccurate, but after two miles of such treatment all aboard were on edge.

Pushing for an International Incident

Apparently the artillery fire was ordered by a Colonel Kingoro Hashimoto, one of those rabid ultranationalists that infected the Imperial Japanese Army like a plague. Hashimoto was only a colonel, but he had powerful connections within the military and had been one of the instigators in a series of Japanese political assassinations the previous year. A strong advocate of Japanese conquest, he chafed under civilian rule and hoped that a war with the United States would give the army a completely free hand in China.

Sunday, December 12, 1937, was a clear and sunny day, the bright azure sky giving a feeling of calm and security. The morning reverie was rudely interrupted by Japanese artillery fire at about 7:30 am. Hughes had to find a safe berth for both his gunboat and the oil tankers and auxiliary craft that looked to him for protection. When Hughes notified the British gunboats he was going farther upriver, they strongly advised him to stay put. He politely rejected the idea.

los Panay got underway at about 8:25 am it was followed by the three Standard-Vacuum Oil Company tankers. The vessels, named Mei Ping, Mei Hsia, y Mei An, had many Chinese crew members who were understandably apprehensive. Japanese troops might stop the convoy and board at will. The Japanese were unpredictable they might take it into their heads that the Chinese sailors were soldiers in disguise and shoot them all.

That same morning HMS Ladybird was hit by shells from Japanese shore batteries. The British gunboat was damaged and had one sailor killed and several wounded. The shelling was evidently Colonel Hashimoto’s doing. He appeared determined to provoke an international incident.

A near-miss from a Japanese bomb detonates in the water near the stranded oil tanker Miping, which was also sunk by the marauding Japanese.

Unaware of what was happening to the British, the American convoy steamed upriver without incident. Suddenly Japanese soldiers were spotted along the shoreline waving flags. It was a signal to stop, so the convoy hove to as ordered. A Japanese launch filled with armed soldiers soon appeared and made its way to the Panay. Once alongside, a samurai sword-carrying officer clambered aboard, followed by two armed soldiers. This armed intrusion was a breach of etiquette, but Commander Hughes chose to ignore it.

Lieutenant Sesyo Murakami wanted to know where Panay was going and the character of its mission. He also wanted Hughes to disclose the whereabouts and movements of any Chinese troops he might have encountered en route. The American officer said nothing, reminding Murakami that the United States was neutral. Murakami also wanted to search Panay and the tankers for Chinese soldiers trying to escape Nanking. Hughes politely but firmly refused permission. Shifting gears, Murakami became almost friendly, asking Hughes to come ashore for a courtesy visit. Panay’s skipper declined the offer.

The convoy was allowed to proceed unmolested and at about 11 am found a good anchorage off the entrance to Hohsien Channel. The spot was about 28 miles upriver from Nanking. The Yangtze was fairly wide there, a veritable moat to safeguard the convoy from Japanese intrusion. Or so it seemed. Hughes radioed his position to the U.S. consulate in Shanghai, which would relay the information to Japanese authorities.

Hashimoto’s False Report

los Panay was a sparkling white, but her twin smokestacks were a contrasting buff color. There was little or no wind, so its large American ensign hung limply at the mainmast gaff. The ship was well marked, however, by large American flags painted on the tops of her upper deck awnings. It was getting near lunchtime, so passengers and crew began to relax and turned their thoughts to food. The ship’s galley produced a hearty lunch, and after a big meal many decided it was time for an afternoon nap.

Eight crew members from Panay were given permission to visit the tanker Mei Ping, where they drank beer and generally enjoyed themselves. Captain Roberts went over as well, less for the beer than to hear the 1 o’clock Shanghai broadcast from the ship’s radio.

The day was unusually warm for December, and people sought places to sleep off the big lunch. Norman Soong, a Chinese-American news photographer who was working for the New York Times, found a likely spot for a snooze but made sure his fully loaded camera was at hand. Chief Boatswain’s Mate Ernest Mahlmann took off his clothes and stretched out in a storeroom below decks. His regular CPO berth had been commandeered by one of the passengers, but Mahlmann could sleep almost anywhere.

Earlier that morning, Colonel Hashimoto was busily engineering a plan that would ultimately end in the damaging of British gunboats and the sinking of the Panay. The Japanese Army lacked planes in the area, so it had to rely on the services of various naval aviation units. Hashimoto knew that there were standing orders forbidding attacks on river traffic for fear of hitting neutrals. To overcome that obstacle the colonel reported that his troops had spotted 10 Chinese troop ships fleeing Nanking.

Orders Written in Blood

The Japanese Navy took the bait at once. The Navy pilots had been bored and frustrated over the lack of targets. Now they were presented with a great opportunity. An attack force was hastily assembled from the 12th and 13th Air Groups. The 12th Air Group contributed nine fighters and six dive-bombers for the effort. The 13th Air Group’s Lieutenant Shigeharu Murata led three Mitsubishi type 86 level bombers to the mission, while Lieutenant Masatake Okumiya had six dive-bombers.

The Japanese were so eager to come to grips with the enemy that little thought had been given to a precise attack plan. In fact, Okumiya and Murata were friendly rivals, each almost desperate to win a coveted unit citation for his men. The dive-bombers flew at about 12,000 feet, the level bombers 1,500 below them in a V formation. The level bombers got to the target first and quickly unleashed their payloads.

A Japanese bomber dives on the gunboat USS Panay during the attack on December 12, 1937, which sank the small vessel.

los Panay’s lookout spotted the Japanese planes, dark shapes standing out in bold relief against a cloudless sky. It was 1:37 pm, Sunday, December 12, 1937, and within moments all hell was going to break loose. Commander Hughes and Chief Quartermaster John Lang went to the bridge to see what was going on. Several of the journalists on board had also heard the lookout’s cry and came outside to have a look. If they scented a story, they got more than they bargained for.

Hughes was astonished. The Japanese planes were headed toward the Panay and its little band of tankers and auxiliary vessels. Were they going to actually attack? It was impossible! But before Hughes could react, the first Japanese bomb hit Panay just forward of the bridge. The force of the blast picked the commander up and threw him against a pilothouse wall, causing him to momentarily lose consciousness. This bomb was one of 18 that were initially dropped by the level bombers.

When Hughes came to, he immediately realized the ship was badly hurt. The bridge was wrecked, the foremast was down, and the radio room a total loss. The forward 3-inch gun, one of two such guns that made up the Panay’s main battery, was completely smashed. Hughes himself was in pretty bad shape, with white-hot pain coursing though his body when he tried to move. His hip was fractured.

A second bomb soon completed the work of the first, lacerating what remained of the radio shack and toppling the foremast stump into the water. Since Hughes was incapacitated by wounds, tactical command now shifted to the ship’s executive officer, Lieutenant Arthur “Tex” Anders. The XO was badly wounded by shrapnel that was lodged in his throat. The raw, bloody wound made speech impossible, so Anders wrote orders on bulkheads and on a chart. Anders’s hands and fingers were badly cut, so the scribbled notes were often daubed with his own blood.

Professionalism on Board the Panay

Though surprised by the sudden attack, Panay’s crew responded with coolness and professionalism. Chief Malhmann ran up on deck and manned one of the ship’s machine guns. The vintage Lewis was soon spitting lead at the Japanese planes, the doughty chief pausing to take careful aim after each burst. Nobody seemed to notice, last of all the chief himself, that he still had no pants on!

Boatswain’s Mate Ernest Mahlmann and another crewman of the gunboat USS Panay fire a deck-mounted gun on the attacking Japanese planes on December 12, 1937.

The civilian journalists aboard the Panay were far from idle. When the attack began, New York Times photographer Norman Soong was napping on deck, his jacket rolled up for a pillow. He was rudely awakened by the rain of Japanese bombs that exploded all around him. Drenched with river water from the near misses, Soong started snapping pictures at great risk to his own life.

Norman Alley of Universal and Eric Mayell of Fox Movietone News were also busy recording the event with newsreel cameras. They managed to get some dramatic footage, including bomb detonations and close views of silvery Aichi D1A1 biplane dive-bombers swooping down. Alley and Mayell seemed to have charmed lives, but not everyone was so lucky. Italian correspondent Sanro Sandri was hit in the eye by a metal fragment as he followed Alley up a ladder.

Panay’s defense was hampered by the loss of the forward 3-inch gun. The stern gun was not able to fire because it was blocked by the awning structure. The ready ammunition lockers were empty since no attack had been anticipated. Once the aerial assault began, it was too late to bring ammunition from below decks. To do so would have meant opening the hatches—an unwise move that would have compromised the ship’s watertight integrity.

At the moment, however, any debate on the ship’s watertight integrity was moot. Panay was badly damaged and taking on water. Still bravely giving orders on the smashed bridge, the bloodied Lieutenant Anders wrote a directive for the ship to get underway and beach itself. This was impossible because an oil line was cut and Panay could not raise steam.

Blowing the Tankers

In the meantime, the Japanese planes from the 12th Air Group joined the attack, their attention focused on the oil tankers. The hapless trio was anchored near the Panay, los Mei Ping only about 100 yards on the gunboat’s starboard side. The ships immediately got underway, hotly pursued by Japanese dive- bombers. los Mei Hsia tried to render assistance to the Panay en route, but it was waved away. The gesture was appreciated, but the idea of a highly combustible oil tanker right alongside did not cheer the hard-pressed Navy crew.

Finalmente, Mei An was beached on the northern bank, while Mei Hsia and Mei Ping secured a spot on the Kaiyuan pontoon on the southern shore. Ironically, there were Japanese soldiers stationed at Kaiyuan, and once the tankers reached their position they too were in the line of fire. The brown-clad soldiers frantically waved Japanese flags, but their countrymen refused to break off the attacks. Several soldiers were killed or wounded by friendly fire, and the tankers were destroyed.

Abandoning Ship

Its decks awash, the Panay begins quickly to slip beneath the waters of the great Yangtze River.

Hughes knew he had few options. The ship had no power and was taking on water fast. There were many wounded. Hughes himself was in great pain, his face blackened by smoke and soot. At about 2 o’clock he gave orders to abandon ship. The gunboat’s two sampans started to ferry wounded to the north shore, and gratings were tossed into the river as a kind of life-preserving flotation device. The Japanese attack was winding down, but the sampans were strafed as they tried to reach shore, resulting in more casualties.

Hughes protested when he was put into one of the boats for the trip to shore. They might be hundreds of miles from the sea, but Hughes wanted to uphold the time-honored tradition that a ship’s master be the last to leave a stricken vessel. It was approaching 3 o’clock, and the Panay was in its death throes. She was going down by the head, with some compartments flooded with water up to six feet deep. The forward decks were awash it was now only a matter of time.

Ensign Denis Biwerse was the last man to officially evacuate the ship, but Chief Mahlmann and Machinist Mate First Class Gerald Weimers went back to fetch sorely needed stores and medical supplies. As they left, a Japanese launch filled with soldiers machine-gunned the Panay, boarded her, then departed the scene. At 3:45, the Panay rolled to starboard and sank in about 80 feet of water. The gunboat was the first American naval vessel to be sunk by aircraft in combat conditions.

Organizing the Survivors

The survivors were now hiding in the reed- choked marshes that lined the banks of the Yangtze. There was a need to take cover because Japanese intentions were still unclear. They might want to kill the survivors to finish the job. One sailor, ship’s storekeeper Charles Ensminger, had died during the attack. Lieutenant Charles Hulsebus and Italian journalist Sandri died of wounds later. Captain C.H. Carlson of the tanker Mei Hsia also was killed, which brought the total number of fatalities to four.

The survivors had no food, few supplies, and little medicine. About a dozen men were seriously injured, including the Panay’s skipper, and many more sustained minor wounds. The nights were bitingly cold, and the survivors had no shelter and inadequate clothing. At least one crewman was in shock. The bright spot in this litany of gloom was the fact that the doctor aboard, Lieutenant Clark Grazier, was unhurt.

Virtually all the Panay’s officers were badly wounded, and the crisis demanded active leadership. Under the circumstances Hughes delegated Captain Roberts to lead the surviving party. He had a working knowledge of Chinese, which was also a decided plus.

Following the attack that sank his ship, Lieutenant Commander James J. Hughes of the Panay lies seriously wounded.

Second Secretary Paxton was sent to summon help he was accompanied by Radioman First Class Andrew Wesler and a Chinese messboy named Wong. Wong was there to hedge their bets because he was fluent in the local dialect, and the Chinese might not understand Paxton’s Mandarin.

Paxton, who had a badly injured leg, rode on a local farmer’s horse, a sorry nag that plodded along with an uneven gait. Eventually, the party reached Hohsein, where there was a telephone. Paxton hired a rickshaw to go to Hankow, while Wesler, who was nursing an injured ankle, mounted the horse and returned to the survivors to tell them the news. Wesler also brought Chinese bearers along to help carry the wounded. The next three days were touch and go for the ragged, pain-wracked survivors. They hid from circling Japanese aircraft, not knowing these planes were actually performing search-and-rescue duties.

The local Chinese were poor villagers for the most part, and though they were somewhat fearful of Japanese retaliation they freely gave all they had. Panay survivors gratefully ate rice and drank cup after cup of bitter tea. After three days of fear and hardship, the survivors were picked up by the Ladybird y Panay’s sister gunboat, USS Oahu. They eventually reached Shanghai, where they were debriefed by Admiral Harry E. Yarnell aboard his flagship, the heavy cruiser USS Augusta.

“Deeply Shocked and Concerned”

President Roosevelt was outraged when he heard of the Japanese attack on Panay. Secretary of State Cordell Hull was scheduled to meet with Japanese Ambassador Hirosi Saito at 1 o’clock, so the president lost no time in sending a memorandum to Hull that expressed his dismay in no uncertain terms. The note, typed on White House stationery and dated 12:30 pm, December 13, 1937, did not mince words. Secretary Hull was instructed to tell the Japanese ambassador “that the President is deeply shocked and concerned by the news of indiscriminate bombing of American and other non-Chinese vessels on the Yangtze.”

The memo further expected that the Japanese government render “full expressions of regret and proffer of full compensation,” and that “methods guaranteeing against a repetition of any similar attack in the future” be established. The memo was initialed “FDR” in a bold hand. Roosevelt held a series of cabinet meetings to discuss the issue. There had to be some way of curbing Japanese aggression in Asia. He secretly contacted the British government and suggested a joint naval blockade of the Japanese Home Islands. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain rejected the idea out of hand. Chamberlain disliked Roosevelt personally, felt the New Deal was a farrago of half-baked economic theories, and considered the Americans to be totally unreliable. If political push came to diplomatic shove, the prime minister felt the Americans might well leave Britain holding the bag.

The Japanese government moved quickly to avert any possibility of war with the United States. Formal apologies were publicly expressed, and on April 22, 1938, the Japanese government paid $2,214,007.36 as settlement for the Panay, the loss of the three tankers, personal losses, and casualties. These gestures did much to placate Congress and American public opinion. Some of the more isolationist politicians wondered why the U.S. military was in China in the first place. If all American forces were withdrawn, there would be no repetition of the Panay incidente.

Roosevelt knew that in 1937 the United States was not prepared for war with Japan. The British had rejected any joint punitive action, and isolationism was still a powerful force within American society. It was a bitter pill, but the Roosevelt administration decided to accept the Japanese apology and later financial compensation.

There was one problem, however. Norman Alley of Universal had shot a lot of film during the attack, and some sequences showed Japanese dive-bombers flying just a few hundred feet above their intended victims. Roosevelt personally asked Alley to delete about 30 feet of the most incriminating footage just prior to its public release into American movie theaters. Those crucial 30 feet of film exposed Japanese claims of ignorance as lies and thus were too inflammatory. Alley granted the president’s request.

Mixed Reactions in Japan

Many years later, Commander Okumiya wrote an account of the Panay affair that claimed that he and his squadron did not recognize the American gunboat. Okumiya insisted that the Japanese pilots thought they were attacking fleeing Chinese ships loaded with enemy soldiers. That may well be, but troubling questions remain. Why didn’t the dive-bomber pilots see the American flags that were displayed at several points? Even if they did not see the flags on their initial run, why weren’t the Stars and Stripes spotted as the attack progressed?

The ultranationalists within the Japanese military were unrepentant. If anything, men like Colonel Hashimoto were disappointed that major hostilities had not broken out between the United States and Japan. Rear Admiral Mitsuzawa, commander in chief of the Japanese Imperial Naval Air Forces in China, was relieved of command and sent home. Admiral Hasegawa also accepted responsibility, though there is no evidence he was involved in any way. Colonel Hashimoto was also sent home, but this was window dressing and involved little real disgrace. It was said that Hashimoto was a member of the secret Black Dragon Society, a group of hard-core nationalists who actively worked for the establishment of Japanese hegemony in Asia.

The Japanese people were not sympathetic with their military, and the American embassy in Tokyo was flooded with expressions of regret and sorrow. Tokyo schoolchildren contributed $10,000 in pennies for a Panay victim relief fund. A young Japanese woman even cut off her hair as a gesture of repentance and mourning and gave the tresses to the American ambassador. The ultranationalists in the Army and government were unmoved by these popular gestures they were determined to establish Japanese hegemony in Asia as almost any cost.

The Turning-Point of U.S. Japanese Relations

General Shunroku Hata, left, commander of Japanese forces in China, visits with the Rear Admiral Henry E. Yarnell, commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet aboard an American vessel.

los Panay incident marked a significant turning point in U.S.-Japanese relations. Antes Panay, the Roosevelt administration was mildly pro-Chinese but too preoccupied with domestic affairs to resist Japanese aggression. Después Panay, American foreign policy took steps, halting at first but gradually gathering momentum, to actively oppose Japanese conquest of Asia.

The isolationists responded by trying to introduce the so-called Ludlow Amendment to the Constitution. If adopted, this would have required a nationwide referendum before the nation would go to war. The one exception would be if American soil were actually invaded. Roosevelt lobbied hard to defeat the measure, which was rejected by the House of Representatives on January 10, 1938.

Roosevelt’s response was both public and private. He privately explored ways to freeze Japanese assets in the United States, but these probes were premature and came to nothing. In February 1938, the venerable Plan Orange was dusted off and revised to include a possible naval blockade of the Japanese Home Islands. Plan Orange, which formulated U.S. strategic objectives in the Pacific in the event of war with Japan, had been around in various forms since 1919.

On a more concrete, public level Roosevelt enthusiastically supported the Vinson-Trammel Naval Expansion Act, a $1.1 billion expansion of the United States Navy that would increase America’s two-ocean fleet by 69 vessels over 10 years. The most important part of the measure, at least in retrospect, was the increase of the nation’s aircraft carrier force. New carriers like Yorktown y Empresa were going to play a significant role in the Pacific War to come.

los Panay incident was the first step on the long road to war. It was as if the loss of the gunboat awakened a somnolent Roosevelt administration, raising awareness that Japan was just as great a threat as Hitler’s Germany. The embattled group of “river rats” aboard Panay had not fought in vain.


On this day in 1937 USS Panay sunk by Japanese. Survivors strafed on beach with machine guns

During the battle for Nanking in the Sino-Japanese War, the U.S. gunboat Panay is attacked and sunk by Japanese warplanes in Chinese waters. The American vessel, neutral in the Chinese-Japanese conflict, was escorting U.S. evacuees and three Standard Oil barges away from Nanking, the war-torn Chinese capital on the Yangtze River. Después de la Panay was sunk, the Japanese fighters machine-gunned lifeboats and survivors huddling on the shore of the Yangtze. Two U.S. sailors and a civilian passenger were killed and 11 personnel seriously wounded, setting off a major crisis in U.S.-Japanese relations.

Although the Panay‘s position had been reported to the Japanese as required, the neutral vessel was clearly marked, and the day was sunny and clear, the Japanese maintained that the attack was unintentional, and they agreed to pay $2 million in reparations. Two neutral British vessels were also attacked by the Japanese in the final days of the battle for Nanking.


USS Panay Attacked by the Japaneses - History

On the morning of December 12, 1937, the US gunboat Panay was anchored in the middle of the Yangtze River 27 miles upriver from Nanking. On board was a crew of four officers, 49 enlisted men and assorted Chinese natives. Also aboard were a number of foreign nationals escaping the imminent Japanese onslaught on Nanking.

La tripulación del
Panay en
better times

los Panay had been patrolling the waters of the Yangtze for nine years, showing the flag and protecting American interests from the numerous Chinese bandits. Trouble was always brewing in China but now the situation was especially dangerous. The Japanese army was encircling the Chinese capital of Nanking forcing the Chinese government to flee. los Panay headed up river to escape the danger zone. With her were three American oil tankers.

Suddenly, Japanese planes appeared overhead. Despite the American flag draped on top of the afterdeck and the ship's obvious markings, three waves of Japanese planes bombed and strafed the ship. The three oil tankers were also destroyed. Two American sailors and an American captain of one the oil tankers were killed.

The Japanese government apologized, called the incident a case of mistaken identity and made reparations of over $2,000,000. The apology did not alleviate the suspicion that the act was deliberate and the incident added to the souring relationship between the two countries.

References: Perry, Hamilton, The Panay Incident: Prelude to Pearl Harbor (1969).


Japanese Expressions of Sympathy and Regret:USS Panay

Post por Peter H » 07 Dec 2006, 14:39

Four years before Pearl Harbor, the United States and Japan were involved in an incident that could have led to war between the two nations. On December 12, 1937, the American navy gunboat Panay was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft. A flat-bottomed craft built in Shanghai specifically for river duty, USS Panay served as part of the U.S. Navy's Yangtze Patrol in the Asiatic Fleet, which was responsible for patrolling the Yangtze River to protect American lives and property.

. Immediately after the Panay bombing, a lesser known aspect of the story started to unfold. In the days following the Panay incident, Japanese citizens began sending letters and cards of sympathy to the American embassy in Tokyo. Ambassador Grew wrote that "never before has the fact that there are 'two Japans' been more clearly emphasized. Ever since the first news of the Panay disaster came, we have been deluged by delegations, visitors, letters, and contributions of money— people from all walks of life, from high officials, doctors, professors, businessmen down to school children, trying to express their shame, apologies, and regrets for the action of their own Navy." In addition, "highly placed women, the wives of officials, have called on Alice [Grew's wife] without the knowledge of their husbands." The ambassador noted, "that side of the incident, at least, is profoundly touching and shows that at heart the Japanese are still a chivalrous people." .

. Ambassador Grew's description of the events after the Panay incident as demonstrating "two Japans" is very insightful. As the Japanese people expressed sympathy and regret through letters, cards, visits, and contributions, the ambassador was receiving telegrams of maltreatment of Chinese citizens and American citizens and property by Japanese military forces in China. While actions by Japanese forces in China strained relations between America and Japan, letters sent in the aftermath of the Panay incident expressed sincere hope that the two nations would remain friends. Two Japans indeed.