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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1943. Europe
(1943)

Belgium,   pp. 2-5 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 2


BELGIUM
REPRESENTATION BY BELGIUM REGARDING BOMBING IN BELGIUM
BY AMERICAN AIR FORCES WHICH RESULTED IN HEAVY CASUAL-
TIES AMONG BELGIAN POPULATION
740.0011 European War 1939/29428
The Belgian Ambassador (Van der Straten-Ponthoz) to the Secretary
                            of State
No. 2289
  The Belgian Ambassador presents his compliments to the Honor-
able the Secretary of State and has the honor to have recourse to his
usual courtesy in the following matter.
  On April 29th the Belgian Government handed to Ambassador
Biddle in London a note regarding the bombardment of Antwerp by
the American Air Force, the contents of which is summarized here
below.
  "The Belgian Government having been consulted by the British
authorities regarding the bombardment of military objectives oii
Belgian territory, agreed in principle on such bombardments on con-
dition that the military importance of the objective be in proportion
to the hazards involved by the civilian population. The Belgian
Government also emphasized the desirability of consulting with the
Belgian information services before proceeding with such aerial
operations.
  The Belgian Government regrets that these principles which had
been carefully adhered to up until now, were not applied at the time
of the raid on The Erla Works and The Gevaert Photographic Supply
Company near Antwerp on April 5th. On that day 300 tons of
bombs were dropped from a very high altitude into a densely popu-
lated area, killing 1200 persons, many among whom were children.
German propaganda was not slow to take full advantage of the pro-
found emotion created among the people by these heavy casualties.
  The Belgian people are prepared to accept the inevitable risks of
Allied aerial operations, provided they are assured that every pre-
caution has been taken to reduce their sacrifices to a minimum. In
the case of the raid of April 5th these precautions were apparently
not taken as evidenced by the results of the raid on the one hand,
and the appalling loss of life on the other.
  The Belgian Government cannot consider as acceptable the con-
ditions under which that air raid was carried out and urgently re-
quests that the American Air Force avoid objectives and methods
of operation that involve excessive hazards for the civilian popu-
lation. The Belgian Government is certain that the United States
Government is fully aware of the importance of this matter. Disre-
gard of the principles outlined above would result in destruction, loss
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