The British Embassy to the Department of State



On June 29th Mr. Eden handed to Mr. Winant a message from the Prime Minister for the President informing him of the progress then made in connection with the British request to the Portuguese for facilities, and in particular of Dr. Salazar’s stipulation that in no circumstances could he agree to admit forces other than British, except [Page 614] perhaps in the event of Portugal becoming fully involved in the war. In this message the hope was expressed that since the approach to the Portuguese Government was being made on the basis of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance, the President would agree that His Majesty’s Government should conclude an agreement with Portugal on the lines desired by Dr. Salazar. It was added that at a later stage it ought to be possible to secure Portuguese assent to the use of the facilities by other United Nations forces.

Copies of a message from the British Chiefs of Staff to the United States Chiefs of Staff of the 31st July, and of a reply from the latter of the 4th August are enclosed.

His Majesty’s Ambassador at Lisbon1 has now reported that to raise the request of the American Chiefs of Staff with Dr. Salazar at the present crucial stage in the negotiations would risk undoing all the progress made, and the complete failure of the negotiations, at a moment when it is hoped that the agreement is on the point of signature.2 His Majesty’s Government do not therefore feel able to press the matter at present but assure the United States Government that immediately they begin to enjoy the facilities granted by the Portuguese Government they will make every endeavour to extend the benefit of them to the United States, as the American Chiefs of Staff have already been informed by the British Chiefs of Staff.

At the same time His Majesty’s Government have instructed His Majesty’s Ambassador at Lisbon to confine any written references to assurances concerning the Portuguese Colonies to those given by His Majesty’s Governments in the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa and the Commonwealth of Australia, omitting references to the United States, in case the United States Government wishes to link any assurance from it about the future of the Portuguese Colonies with the grant of the facilities desired for the United States forces. If Dr. Salazar reverts to the question of the United States, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Lisbon has been instructed to say that His Majesty’s Government understand that the United States Government is in fact willing to communicate to the Portuguese Government its agreement to respect Portuguese sovereignty in all Portuguese Colonies but that this matter is still under discussion between United [Page 615] States Government and His Majesty’s Government. None the less, His Majesty’s Government believe that an early communication from the United States Government to the Portuguese Government in respect of Portuguese sovereignty in all Portuguese Colonies might make it easier to obtain the Portuguese agreement now, and also in the future the facilities which the United States Government requires.

[Enclosure 1]

The British Chiefs of Staff to the United States Chiefs of Staff

Our Delegation now negotiating in Lisbon have reached the stage of exchanging draft agreements. There are a number of important questions on which agreement has not yet been reached but it is essential that we reach finality shortly since break in the weather in the islands in October and November renders necessary the arrival of first convoy before October if we are to derive benefit from facilities this winter.

We have asked for “full and unrestricted use of the airfield of Lagens in Terceira”. Portuguese counter proposal adds the words “by aircraft of the British Empire”. We are pressing the Portuguese to add authorisation of transit facilities for the aircraft of the United Nations.
There will be included in any agreement reached a clause indicating that the facilities detailed in the agreement are our minimum immediate requirements but that it is understood that the Portuguese Government will give the most sympathetic consideration to any subsequent request for revision of the present arrangements in the light of future requirements.
The object of clause 3 referred to in the last paragraph is to ensure that once we are established in the Islands and it becomes clear to the Portuguese that as we expect their fears of German reactions are groundless we will be able to expand the facilities till we get all we want.
We will do our utmost to get Portuguese to agree to addition in agreement of reference to transit facilities mentioned in paragraph 2 above but you should explain to American Chiefs of Staff that if Portuguese refuse we may have to be content to rely on the clause [Page 616] referred to in paragraph 3 to enable us to support American request for transit facilities later. Time is so short that we cannot risk a breakdown on this point.
[Enclosure 2]

The United States Chiefs of Staff to the British Chiefs of Staff

While appreciating the delicacy of the negotiations now being carried on between the British and Portuguese Governments the Joint Chiefs of Staff wish to inform the British Chiefs of Staff:

That any British-Portuguese agreement limiting the use of facilities in the Azores to British Empire aircraft is not acceptable to the United States. Further, that such limitation would not be in consonance with the Trident agreement that, “Land, air and sea facilities of the Azores will be available to all United Nations Forces.”
That regardless of what may be agreed as to other United Nations Forces, it is of vital importance that Azores facilities be made available for United States military, air ferry and transport operations.

A study is now being made with a view to informing the British Chiefs of Staff as soon as possible of the United States Army and Navy estimated requirements for Azores facilities.

  1. Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell.
  2. The agreement had in fact been signed at Lisbon on August 17, 1943. For text, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxlvi, p. 447; Documentos relativos aos acordos entre Portugal, Inglaterra c Estados Unidos da América para a conoessão de facilidades nos Açores durante a guerra de 1939–19J/5 (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional de Lisboa, 1946), p. 19.