May 28,1940 – The Battle of Belgium Belgian surrender – The Belgian Army was stretched from Cadzand south to Menin on the river Leie, and west, from Menin, to Bruges without any sort of reserves. With the exception of a few RAF sorties, the air was exclusively under the control of the Luftwaffe, and the Belgians reported attacks against all targets considered an objective, with resulting casualties. No natural obstacles remained between the Belgians and the German Army, retreat was not feasible. The Luftwaffe had destroyed most of the rail networks to Dunkirk, just three roads were left: Bruges–Thourout–Dixmude, Bruges–Ghistelles–Nieuport and Bruges–Ostende–Nieuport. Using such axes of retreat was impossible without losses owing to German air supremacy (as opposed to air superiority). Water supplies were damaged and cut off, gas and electricity supplies were also cut. Canals were drained and used as supply dumps for whatever ammunition and food-stuffs were left. The total remaining area covered just 1,700 km², and compacted military and civilians alike, of which the latter numbered some 3 million people. Under these circumstances Leopold deemed further resistance useless. On the evening of 27 May, he requested an armistice. Churchill sent a message to Keyes the same day, and made clear what he thought of the request: Belgian Embassy here assumes from King’s decision to remain that he regards the war as lost and contemplates [a] separate peace. It is in order to dissociate itself from this that the constitutional Belgian Government has reassembled on foreign soil. Even if present Belgian Army has to lay down its arms, there are 200,000 Belgians of military age in France, and greater resources than Belgium had in 1914 which to fight back. By present decision the King is dividing the Nation and delivering it into Hitler’s protection. Please convey these considerations to the King, and impress upon him the disastrous consequences to the Allies and to Belgium of his present choice. The Royal Navy evacuated General Headquarters at Middelkerke and St. Andrews, east of Bruges, during the night. Leopold III, and his mother Queen Mother Elisabeth, stayed in Belgium to endure five years of self-imposed captivity. In response to the advice of his government to set up a government-in-exile Leopold said, “I have decided to stay. The cause of the Allies is lost.” The Belgian surrender came into effect at 04:00 on 28 May. Recriminations abounded with the British and French claiming the Belgians had betrayed the alliance. In Paris, the French Premier Paul Reynaud, denounced Leopold’s surrender, and the Belgian Premier Hubert Pierlot, informed the people that Leopold had taken action against the unanimous advice of the government. As a result, the king was no longer in a position to govern and the Belgian government-in-exile that was located in Paris (later moved to London following the fall of France), would continue the struggle. The chief complaint was that the Belgians had not given any prior warning that their situation was so serious as to capitulate. Such claims were largely unjust. The Allies had known, and admitted it privately on 25 May through contact with the Belgians, that the latter were on the verge of collapse. Churchill’s and the British response was officially restrained. This was due to the strong-willed defence of the Belgian defensive campaign presented to the cabinet by Sir Roger Keyes at 11:30 am 28 May. The French and Belgian ministers had referred to Leopold’s actions as treacherous, but they were unaware of the true events: Leopold had not signed an agreement with Hitler in order to form a collaborative government, but an unconditional surrender as Commander-in-Chief of the Belgian Armed Forces.