No. 44 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A3
DUBLIN, 19 April 1941
On 18.4.'41 P.[ryce] called to see me. He told me of what he had seen in Belfast. He then handed me the attached questionnaires. I remarked I'd put them on the file with the rest and let him see by my manner I wasn't pleased to get them. He asked if I had anything for him, I said nothing. He was a bit taken aback at my attitude. I said you are always asking for something, yet you give us nothing or next to nothing. You have N. Ireland full of troops to fight for us in our country. Can't your people see that the equipment of a division of yours in the North would be of twice or five times the value in our hands in defending this country than in the hands of Welsh or English conscripts. You are going to do the fighting whilst our men stand idly by with empty hands. Do you think we can feel happy whilst we are kept defenceless?
He said – well, frankly, the fear exists amongst our politicians, because of the things politicians here say, and because of the things that are written, that the weapons we give may be turned against ourselves in the North. That you may invade us. That you may welcome the Germans when they come and hand over these weapons. The faults lie with the politicians on both sides. I don't believe it, Gregson Ellis doesn't and I'm sure Sir Henry Pownall doesn't, but we can do nothing.
I said – In this country there are people who I'm sure would pray nightly that your country may be smashed – that is a result of past history and has got to be accepted – but they are a minority. There is another group who pray for the day when they will see the Union Jack flying over Dublin Castle. But I do not believe any responsible politician would lend his countenance to the invasion of the Six Counties or to aiding the Germans if they invade us. Our people are very logical and the Church would not favour the Nazis. These two facts alone rule out that likelihood. We didn't get rid of your Government to tamely accept the Germans.
He said – I see that but the fear is very real on the part of our people.
Well, said I, with us the belief exists that you deliberately are keeping us weak so that when you invade us we will not be able to put up a firm resistance. Our weapons will only be turned on you if you come in uninvited – if you do – we fight. In the meantime, you leave us nothing but rifles with which to meet the Germans, whilst your own units are well equipped. He said – Not so well equipped, all our Home Guard are not armed. I said – in proportion to ours your divisions are. He conceded this.
I then said Churchill's last statement was not as bad as his first but the interpretation put upon it is that America will be the catspaw to pull the 'monkey nuts' out of the fire for you – that she will serve the ultimatum upon us. This I was told a week ago by a man who is neither an Englishman nor an Irishman. Can you wonder we feel we must be on the alert? You won't trust us and we know that and react accordingly. The more you show you distrust us, the more we react unfavourably.
If your people would only realise that an Irishman repays trust and that this trust can only be shown by letting us have stuff, you would get a different reaction. As it is, apparently we are to spend our time watching each other instead of preparing for invasion.
At this stage he told me he had been appointed to succeed General Harrison as head of 18 Mission.1 I said he had a tough job on his hands. I had told him before we would not call for their aid until the psychological moment had arrived when our people would be prepared to welcome their coming. If the present position continued it would be most unfortunate. He said, he was now in the position when he could go to the vice C.I.G.S.2 and he would do what he could. It must be remembered, however, that material must first go to the places where there was fighting – to Wavell3 in N. Africa for example. I said – Of what use was victory in N. Africa if there was defeat in England or Ireland? He answered – there would be no defeat in England or Ireland – Germany had now abandoned invasion of England and was concentrating on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
I finished by saying that what I had said he must accept as being said for the best possible reasons and in both our interests.
He said that he was asked by the people in the North (i.e. H.Q. B.T.N.I.) that if I wished to see the air raid damage there, they would be very pleased to show me around.
Fixed road blocks are being removed as it was found they interfered too much with evacuation.
He then raised the following further points:-
Liaison Officers. He is having written out the things the L.Os. will be asked to do and will send me a copy of this when completed. Gregson Ellis asks for a tiptop L.O. for his H.Q. as this man will be with him always, will attend all conferences at their H.Q., and then report to you. It would be essential this officer should have his own car.
The Mission would cross the Border first and one L.O. for the Mission would need to be ready to cross the Border probably in mufti early. He thought perhaps he should be provided with a special pass and L.Os. should all have armbands which would give them a special status.
I said he might as well realise we would now have the greatest possible difficulty in finding L.Os. owing to the new formations we were creating.4 He said he hoped we would give at least one per brigade.
He asked for four sets of the ½” gridded map – if possibly by Monday.
He is bringing down singly each member of the Mission to get some idea of Dublin and I have consented to meet the officer responsible for field intelligence on Monday.
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