20 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram D27 LONDON, 16 January 1940, 10.40 a.m.


My Circular D.26. [1] Sir Roger Keyes [2] visited the King of the Belgians at the latter's request on January 13th and was requested by the King to convey to Hs Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom a message as to the attitude which the Allies would adopt towards Belgium in the event of her becoming involved in war on the side of the Allies. This message asks whether the United Kingdom Government would agree to the following three conditions:-

(1) No opening of negotiations for peace without participation by Belgium.

(2) Guarantees for the complete restoration of Belgium's political and territorial status and also of her colonies.

(3) Help for economic and financial restoration.

If these conditions were agreed to Sir Roger Keyes thought that the King would be able to persuade His Majesty's Ministers to invite the French and British troops into Belgium at once.

In reply Sir Roger Keyes has now been instructed to inform the King of the Belgians as follows- We are ready to accept the invitation to British troops to enter Belgium and understand that the French attitude is the same.

We are asked to give guarantees to Belgium which go further than anything we have promised France and which we might not be in a position to carry on [sic] at the end of the war.

Subject to the above we are ready to promise as follows. If such an invitation were given at once:-

(1) If Belgium thereupon becomes involved with the Allies in hostilities against Germany we will not open peace negotiations without informing Belgium and we should expect them to do the same with us.

(2) We will do our utmost to maintain the political and territorial integrity of Belgium and her colonies.

(3) If after the war Belgium is in need of financial and economic assistance we will include her in any assistance we may be able, in conjunction with our Allies, to render in these respects.

The King will realise that the value of the invitation will be seriously discounted from point of view of Belgium as well as ourselves unless the invitation is given in sufficient time to enable the British and French troops to secure a strategical advantage of position before any German attack begins.

1 On file AA: CP290/6, 51. The cablegram (dispatched on 15 January 1940) reported that French troops could no longer remain in an exposed position on the Belgian frontier and must either advance into Belgium or withdraw.

2 Retired naval officer and member of U.K. House of Commons.

3 The number has been inserted from the Prime Minister's Dept inward cable register (FA: A3635).

[FA: A3195, [1.352] [3]]