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“That Neutral Island”: Ireland in World War II (with apologies to Clair Wills*)
Malin Head, Donegal. Huge stone EIRE signs, still present around the Irish coast, represented the dichotomy of Irish neutrality in the Second World War. To some, they were a plaintive request for the Luftwaffe not to bomb the Republic. To others they were “a somewhat less than neutral navigational aid for overflying Allied airmen to whom the numbered locations were useful guide points during their missions.” See Ann Robinson, “Eire for the Airmen.”1
“Legally, I believe they are ‘At war, but skulking.’”
—Winston Churchill to Lord Halifax, 22 October 1939
The well-known studies of Churchill contain only the most cursory mention of Irish issues during World War II. The same is true for publications more focused on Franklin Roosevelt.2 Fortunately, John Ramsden rescued Churchill and Ireland in the war years in a chapter of his book, Man of the Century, although the Anglo-American angle gets only brief attention.3 Is there really more to say? Yes, there is more to say.
To start with the overarching issue: With the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Ireland, a member of the British Commonwealth…declared neutrality! Churchill’s anger and bewilderment were palpable and understandable, however much the Cabinet had to hold him back. “Legally, I believe they are ‘At war, but skulking,’” he quipped.4
Franklin Roosevelt’s response was publicly restrained, but he did ask, in his 29 December 1940 “Arsenal of Democracy” speech: “Would Irish freedom be permitted as an amazing pet exception in an unfree world?” Privately, FDR’s anger and scorn for Irish neutrality was as strong as Churchill’s. In fact, there is no issue where the two were more tightly in tandem—at least until the very end.
Ireland and its issues
Three specific issues illustrate Ireland’s effect on the Anglo-American wartime relationship. The first was Irish neutrality, declared with a vengeance by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Éamon de Valera. This barred Britain from conducting anti-submarine operations from the so-called Treaty Ports (Cobh, Lough Swilly, Berehaven) on Ireland’s southern, western and northwestern coasts.
The ports’ usefulness receded after a few years, with Allied bases in Iceland, increased range of Allied aircraft, and German U-boats operating from western France rather than the Baltic or Norway. But the long-term effect was to antagonize Churchill and irritate Roosevelt. Even though Ireland appeared on their radar screens only occasionally, both took a dim view of Irish arguments.
Second was the crusade of David Gray, the U.S. wartime minister in Dublin. Gray persistently caused Ireland to pop up on high-level radar screens, initially by demanding that Ireland practice a benevolent non-belligerency and allow access to the Treaty Ports. De Valera’s refusals infuriated Gray, an ardent interventionist. He reacted by persistently disparaging de Valera on personal and policy grounds. Roosevelt had appointed him (his wife was Eleanor Roosevelt’s aunt). The President never restrained Gray and at times seemed to be leading, not following him.
Third was the 1944 Chicago civil aviation “non-agreement” and subsequent negotiation of a bilateral Irish-American pact allowing U.S. commercial aircraft to land in Ireland en route to the European continent.
A bizarre postscript that still generates deeply bitter responses from the British was de Valera’s personal visit in May 1945 to the German legation in Dublin to express formal “condolences” on the death (i.e., suicide) of Adolf Hitler. One cannot quite see de Valera going to such trouble upon the death of a British sovereign.
What Churchill knew
Churchill understood that the Americans had what amounted to a veto over British treatment of Irish neutrality. He regularly muttered about occupying Ireland, but always backed off. He thought about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear by exploiting that neutrality and building factories in Cork or Dublin, where they could be somewhat safer from German air attacks. But, as he told Max Beaverbrook in November 1939, “the first step…is to try to interest Roosevelt in the business….”
An ancillary worry was Ireland’s military weakness. Its government was not only unwilling to fight, but unable. As of September 1939, the army had only 7500 men, though large numbers were serving in the British military; the air corps had four effective fighters; and the navy had two patrol boats! Occupation of Ireland by Germany seemed frighteningly easy, though that fear ignored the improbable supply lines from the Continent. Even more improbable would be Germany imposing “law and order” on the Irish—a task that had eluded the British for decades.5
British fears were accentuated by the belief that the Irish would do anything to bring the six northern counties into a united Eire, including allying with the Nazis—remembering, perhaps, the absurd 1916 German attempt to support the Easter Rising. Partition was a running sore, one that prompted de Valera to ask FDR, as early as 1938, to intercede with the British. But that move came to nothing.6
Churchill regularly dangled apparent offers to end partition and unite Ireland. His famous “letter” to Roosevelt of 7 December 1940 is remembered because it supposedly stimulated creation of the Lend-Lease program (a genial exaggeration). But it also contained a suggestion that the “good offices” of the USA could help with Ireland, followed by a wistful and palpably false hint that, if Ireland would join with the “democracies of the English speaking world…the unity of the island would probably emerge…after the war.” One can only speculate on how Ulster loyalists would have reacted had they read that message.
When Pearl Harbor brought America into the war, Churchill quoted a portion of the Irish Nationalist anthem in another apparent offer to de Valera: “Now is your chance. Now or never! ‘A nation once again.’”7 Churchill must have known that ending partition was something no British prime minister could offer. Given all he had written on the subject, it is possible that for him the ideal was a united Ireland within the Empire; but politics on both sides made that impossible.
America and the Treaty Ports
With the collapse of France in June 1940, a German invasion of Britain seemed imminent. Huge shipping losses to German U-boats bid fair to cut off supplies from North America. In July, after the preemptive British attack on the Vichy French fleet, Churchill promised to defend Britain and Ireland, “which is in imminent danger.” De Valera intimated to The New York Times that a military move against Ireland would damage Roosevelt’s pro-British policies. The British, genuinely concerned about Ireland’s ability to defend itself, sent 20,000 U.S. rifles to the Republic.8 Even so, suspicion overcame logic, as Irish leaders continued to worry about a British occupation.
When Churchill became prime minister he warned that German parachutists would make airborne “descents in Ireland.” A prolonged visit by an American naval squadron to Ireland might help persuade the Irish to cooperate. Roosevelt rejected this, but the PM repeated the suggestion, proposing Berehaven as the place to show the Stars and Stripes.9
For six weeks after France’s fall, Churchill sent only one message to Roosevelt, and a trivial one at that. Roosevelt similarly waited to contact Churchill directly. But they were in touch indirectly through representatives at a time when the Destroyers-for-Bases deal was developing. The discussion focused on the disposition of the British fleet in the event of a German invasion. In those moments of crisis, Irish neutrality was an aggravation, but not of the essence.
One message about Ireland was drafted but not sent. It expressed Churchill’s fears that the Germans would invade Ireland, that de Valera thought the Germans would win, and that the Irish were “throwing in their lot” with Hitler. The PM warned that Britain might have to act to prevent a German “descent” on the Treaty Ports. The message was shelved, but Churchill’s take on Ireland remained constant.10
Once Roosevelt was re-elected, he and Churchill became braver. The day after the vote, the Prime Minister again complained about the Treaty Ports. Gray bluntly told an Irish cabinet member that the American press might support the ports’ occupation. Roosevelt’s navy secretary, Frank Knox, proposed a systematic campaign among Irish-Americans to pressure Dublin to allow use of the ports. That never developed, and Gray’s threats only increased tension between him and de Valera.11
Churchill bemoaned not having the Treaty Ports, but he seemed more concerned about getting the old U.S. naval vessels in the destroyers-for-bases deal. He did announce plans to cut off British shipping carrying foodstuffs from Ireland to England. Britain, he told FDR, needed the ships, didn’t need the food, and took it “much amiss” that they carried the goods at risk of attack, subsidizing Ireland “handsomely when de Valera is quite content to sit happy and see us strangled.” Churchill asked FDR for his reaction, but the President made no direct answer.12
Two weeks later, in his “Arsenal of Democracy” speech on December 29th, Roosevelt publicly wondered whether Irish freedom would be allowed in a Nazi-dominated Europe. Mindful of anti-interventionist criticism that he was violating American neutrality, FDR went on to dismiss nations claiming neutrality:
Democracy’s fight against world conquest is being greatly aided, and must be more greatly aided, by the rearmament of the United States and by sending every ounce and every ton of munitions and supplies that we can possibly spare to help the defenders who are in the front lines. And it is no more un-neutral for us to do that than it is for Sweden, Russia, and other nations near Germany to send steel and ore and oil and other war materials into Germany every day in the week.13
Later that spring, at Gray’s suggestion, one of de Valera’s ministers visited the United States. Whatever the obscure and somewhat suspicious motives of Gray and de Valera, the visit, by Frank Aiken, an IRA leader born in Ulster, was a disaster. Perhaps de Valera hoped to influence American public opinion in Ireland’s favor. But Aiken went way over the top, making speeches that alienated FDR and his Administration. Whether or not Gray intended the Aiken mission to exacerbate Irish-American relations (and even encouraged Aiken to make inflammatory statements as de Valera later claimed), that was the result. The President told one anti-interventionist congressman: “When will you Irishmen ever get over hating England? Remember that if England goes down, Ireland goes down too.”14
But bringing Ireland to heel was more trouble than it was worth. In spring 1941, when Britain considered conscription (the draft) in Northern Ireland, Gray told Roosevelt that it would be “a major and irretrievable fatal blunder” unless Catholics could be exempted as conscientious objectors. Hyperbolically, he predicted draft riots and “draft dodgers” fleeing south to be treated like “hero martyrs.” FDR made it clear to the British that conscription was a bad idea. Churchill’s advisers had their own objections, but FDR’s opinion was one that mattered.15
America in the war
Immediately after Pearl Harbor, confident in FDR’s December 8th message that the Anglo-Americans were all in the same boat now, Churchill proposed a flash trip to Washington. The President was wary that this would give an impression that Churchill was behind the decision he would make—to fight Germany first. He asked for more time. Yet two weeks after the Japanese attack, after Germany and the United States were formally at war, Churchill sat in the White House talking to Roosevelt.
Ireland was not the major focus, but they did agree that the U.S. would take over the defense of Ireland. American troops would replace British forces in Ulster. In passing, Roosevelt gibed that “he believed if we put the [conspicuously Irish] 69th Regiment in South Ireland we could probably get them to do some fighting and not so much talking.”16
American entry into the war posed difficulties for Irish neutrality. Now Roosevelt could ask Irishmen, and Irish-Americans, to support the USA rather than the British. Stationing U.S. forces in Northern Ireland in January 1942 brought a pro forma complaint from de Valera. His government had not been consulted, and he saw the move as approval of partition. Some in Ireland actually feared the American army would attack Irish forces. To de Valera’s pleasure, Roosevelt responded with assurances that the United States would not invade.17
Ask the Irish, “who are we neutral against?” and the answer was always Germany. British aircraft and warships routinely entered Irish territory without protest. Allied airmen who crashed in Ireland were not interned, as required by neutrality, but sent to Ulster. In mid-1941, de Valera had arrested the bulk of the leadership of the Irish Republican Army, executing one IRA enforcer. (The arrests followed the capture and torture by the IRA of its own chief of staff, Stephen Hayes, who had drawn up a truly silly plan for a German attack on Northern Ireland, with the ostensible purpose of uniting Eire.) Still, suspicion and distrust characterized Anglo-Irish relations. When the Germans mistakenly bombed a Dublin suburb, civilians assumed the British had done it. But once danger of invasion of the British Isles was past (sometime after Hitler’s invasion of Russia), the urgency disappeared.18
That coincided with the establishment of remarkably close, though secret, intelligence coordination and liaison between British and Irish bureaucracies, which reassured the British. Yet public suspicions remained, fed by lurid news reports in Britain and the United States that Ireland harbored German spies or saboteurs. Military officials, and presumably political leaders, knew better.
Code-breaking was, for the argument over Irish neutrality, a bit of a wash. The Germans had, until 1944, penetrated British and Allied merchant ship codes. The British had broken the German diplomatic code in December 1942, allowing them to read what code-breakers labeled PANDORA traffic to and from the German legation in Dublin—information the British did not share with their Irish colleagues. In hindsight, we can see that German code-breaking made the Treaty Ports relatively unimportant; whereas breaking the German codes reassured the British that the Irish government was, in fact, cooperating quite closely with the war effort. But public perceptions were distorted because known German agents could not always be apprehended lest they damage or disclose the now famous British Double-Cross system of anti-espionage and deception.19
Spying on Ireland
Approaching a century later, those who consign the Irish to one of Dante’s hells for failing to join the fight against Hitler, may want to read Eunan O’Halpin’s Spying on Ireland: British Intelligence and Irish Neutrality during the Second World War. Its exquisite research and detailed narrative may prompt some to rethink their verdict. Just one example:
The extensive intelligence cooperation before D-Day 1944 set to rest concerns that Dublin was a leaky faucet of information to Germany. Whatever Churchill’s role in all this, he knew of Irish-British intelligence liaison. Yet he seemed personally uncomfortable, warning that it be limited to “special lines of mutual interest.” O’Halpin suggests that Churchill’s reluctance to use intelligence about Irish actions and policies is understandable given his “personal resentment of Irish neutrality.” “Petulant” is O’Halpin’s label.20 “Distrust” would be mine.
How much the Americans and Roosevelt knew about Irish cooperation with British intelligence is unclear. Not until mid-1944 did British (MI5) and American (OSS) intelligence finally agree to exchange information related to Ireland.21
In April 1943, Churchill asked Roosevelt if the American public would now approve of conscription in Northern Ireland. Roosevelt thought they would, but nothing came of the initiative. Churchill’s advisers were still opposed. They apparently had hoped for FDR’s continued veto, which they could show to Ulster loyalists and government who persistently agitated for conscription to strengthen Ulster’s UK ties.22
By mid-1943, Gray was casting about for ways to play a broad role in the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States. By his calculus, the issue of Irish partition would poison Anglo-American relations after the war. His plan was to discredit de Valera and his party and “remove the pressure of the Irish question from Anglo-American relations.”23
Churchill obviously agreed. In May at a luncheon in Washington with high-level U.S. officials, he saw “little but an ineffective and inglorious role for Mr. De Valera and others who might remain neutral to the end.”24
A few months later, Gray met with Roosevelt and Churchill and then drafted (or re-drafted) a long, argumentative letter for Roosevelt to send de Valera. It was overwrought, over-written, and over-exaggerated. It read more like a declaration of diplomatic war than an attempt to promote agreement. At the same dinner in Hyde Park when Churchill described the Anglo-American “fraternal relationship” he wished for, Gray lectured the PM and President on handling Ireland. Averell Harriman succinctly noted: “The Prime Minister seemed unimpressed.” Although Churchill told Roosevelt that he liked Gray’s Irish message, it seems that either he or FDR, or both, thought it too personal and had Gray tone it down.25
Some ado about nothing
At the Cairo Conference in December 1943, Churchill told Roosevelt that continued protests about the Treaty Ports and the proposed letter to de Valera were likely only to muddy the waters without accomplishing anything. Cordell Hull agreed. Roosevelt still wanted “to have an American protest to Ireland on record,” but acquiesced to the British request.
But now Gray was off again on what seemed a personal crusade—except that Roosevelt never pulled him back. This time he wanted de Valera to close the Axis missions in Dublin, ostensibly to maintain secrecy about American troop movements into Northern Ireland. The British Foreign Office went along, persuaded that Roosevelt wanted to get a refusal on record. Again, the purpose seems to have been to undermine Irish-American support for Ireland against Britain and partition.26
The expected refusal came, but so did leaks to the American press. James Reston of The New York Times solemnly warned that de Valera should not expect the same support his “ancient battles with the British” had garnered in the past. But that furor died from lack of oxygen. In reality, the Irish were cooperating quite smoothly with Allied intelligence. Postwar politics, not on-scene security, generated the tension. British intelligence even worried that Anglo-Irish cooperation might be endangered.27
As one perceptive historian put it, it is “hard to avoid the impression that Gray engineered” a crisis by calling for what all parties knew was impossible for de Valera—an end to Irish neutrality by the expulsion of Axis missions. Gray, and perhaps the American government, were intent on discrediting the de Valera government and deepening the disaffection of Irish-Americans from the Republic.28 Gray seemed obsessed with a desire to add Ireland to the “list” of allies against the Axis powers, regardless of what it could contribute.29
“Frolic with the Germans”
Following Hitler’s suicide, Éamon de Valera, as head of the Irish government, made a “courtesy” call at the German Mission to express his “official condolences.” Whatever his duties and courtesies, that seems a bridge too far, though other neutrals acted similarly. In a sense it was only stiff-necked refusal to drop neutrality just because the English spalpeens were winning. But deep down, the visit was a poke in Churchill’s eye—and David Gray’s.
Churchill responded on 13 May. Denial of the Treaty Ports, he recalled, came at “a deadly moment in our life, and if it had not been for the loyalty and friendship of Northern Ireland we should have been forced to come to close quarters with Mr. de Valera or perish forever from the earth”—neither necessary nor plausible, and certainly an inference about partition that poked de Valera in return. “…however, with a restraint and poise to which, I say, history will find few parallels, His Majesty’s Government never laid a hand upon them—because it was not worth the trouble—and we left the de Valera government to frolic with the Germans and later with Japanese representatives to their heart’s content.”30
Frolic? Amusing and satisfying to the British; insulting and inaccurate to the Irish. But Churchill always had second thoughts that usually improved as he went along: In 1947, with de Valera still in power, he wrote that Ireland was “neither in nor out of the Empire. But they are much more friendly to us than they used to be….The bitter past is failing.” 31
Whatever Churchill’s reactions, de Valera’s “condolence visit” was a foolish mistake by a leader who knew of Nazi atrocities. Little wonder that, at Yalta, Roosevelt dismissed Ireland as a candidate for founding membership in the United Nations.32
The airline argument
Another matter involving Ireland and the Anglo-Americans was equally distasteful, if less emotional. At the end of 1944, the U.S. sponsored a conference on postwar civil aviation. The Americans wanted the right to pick up passengers in one foreign country and carry them forward to a third country. They also insisted on being allowed to increase the level of commercial air services to meet demand, rather than being restricted to a specific number of flights. The latter, termed aviation’s “fifth freedom,” was significant because the Pan-American Airways’ round-the-world route was commercially viable only if it could top-up with passengers along the way.
Put baldly, the U.S. had the airlines to be a formidable competitor; the British did not. Ironically, a wartime agreement on division of labor had the Americans producing specialized transport aircraft which could be the basis for new passenger planes. As Churchill forlornly put it: “I have never advocated competitive ‘bigness’ between our two countries….You have the greatest navy in the world. You will have, I hope, the greatest air force. You will have the greatest trade. You have all the gold.”
The British rejected the U.S. position and the conference ground to an inconclusive end. But Roosevelt and the Americans simply spun around and in February 1945 negotiated a bilateral civil aviation agreement with Ireland.
Given refueling requirements at that time, the British had thought that they had a stranglehold on the American gateway to Europe. But the deal with Dublin bypassed them. Churchill expressed astonishment at the American agreement with the “southern Irish.” Nevertheless, in 1945, western Ireland’s Shannon Airport became a transatlantic destination and connection for Americans traveling to Europe.33
Truth and consequences
Many years removed, it seems that Ireland’s neutrality in World War II had few consequences. Computers and the global economy brought a prosperity that tenant-farming and heavy industry could never provide. Out-migration became return-migration, as self-exiled Irish returned to their emotional home. Partition continues, but the violence of the IRA, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Freedom Fighters have, save for a few isolated incidents, been trumped by public disenchantment in both the north and the south.
There was never a chance of the Republic fighting with the Axis, unless the British tried to occupy it. IRA extremists who felt otherwise were imprisoned by the Irish government. But even World War II was not a war for ideals that automatically applied to small neutrals.
Developing long lists of “allies,” regardless of what they could contribute, became a goal of Anglo-American foreign policy. It was the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” syndrome that would become so strong during the Cold War. Neutrality was wrong, if not evil.34
Ireland was a sideshow—an eddy in the huge tides of the Second World War. The realities of Irish neutrality ensured that disputes never went beyond words, nasty or threatening though they were. Occupying or conquering Ireland to obtain three superfluous naval bases, closing down a German embassy in no position to provide important intelligence, or adding Ireland’s name to a laundry list would achieve nothing of value. Forcing Ireland out of neutrality would have created a behind-the-lines sore that bled money and manpower. It would have confirmed de Valera’s accusations that the Anglo-Americans would ignore decent standards of conduct by violating a non-threatening, small nation.
Options and lessons
The Holocaust, which accurately branded Nazi Germany as barbaric, also branded the Second World War as the litmus test for civilized behavior. But reality quickly set in. De Valera’s job was to care for the people of Ireland. And he is much praised for keeping his nation out of a war that would have brought little gain and, in the early stages, possible retaliation or invasion.35
Still, Ireland could have joined up after 1942, when all threat of German action against it had disappeared. There is no evidence that de Valera wanted Germany to win, whatever his speculation that a German victory could end partition. Had Ireland joined the Allies, the minor ostracization after the war would have been avoided. But if other in-betweeners, like Sweden or Switzerland, could escape the war with reputations and bank accounts intact, why not Ireland? Is it, perhaps, the burden of a common language, and Ireland’s history as England’s first colony? Family always matters more than strangers.
Ireland’s story in World War II offers lessons relevant to our time. National self-determination often runs counter to national interest and even common sense. Georgia and its 200-year colonial relationship with Russia mirrors, far from precisely, the centuries-long relationship of Ireland and England. How Ireland was treated by the great powers is different from the story of Russia and Georgia for practical reasons rather than those of ethics and honor. In 2008, Russia could use military force against Georgia with impunity; Britain and America could not so act against Ireland without…stop!36
Just raising questions about the parallels makes the point. Whatever arguments we might make about Ireland in the Second World War, they will help us better to understand the dynamics of today’s relationships between the great powers.
* Title endnote
I am grateful to Clair Wills’ That Neutral Island for inspiring my title, and to Terry Golway for saving me from diverse cultural, historical, and linguistic blunders. For my purposes, Ireland or “Irish Republic” do not refer to Northern Ireland, “the six counties” or Ulster. This can be tricky in quotations from British sources since they sometimes use “Ireland” when they mean Northern Ireland.
Endnotes and further reading
1 Ann Robinson, “EIRE for the Airmen: Guiding the Allies around the Irish Coast,” in Coast Monkey: Sharing the Best of the Irish Coast, 18 January 2018, bit.ly/2LAR9Fn.
2 The only mention of Ireland during World War II in Geoffrey Best’s justly praised Churchill: A Study in Greatness, is a quote from a Churchill minute (22Nov40) suggesting that de Valera be allowed to “stew in his own juice,” plus Best’s explanation that Churchill “much resented” Irish neutrality. Best’s Churchill and War adds a pithy statement that Irish neutrality “infuriated him.” Best notes that the Cabinet repeatedly warned that a neutral and not unfriendly Ireland “was better than a partially occupied Ireland seething with indignation.” In the official biography, Martin Gilbert discusses the Treaty Ports in volume VI (1939-41) but volume VII (1942-45) has no entries for Ireland, Eire or de Valera, though Northern Ireland is mentioned. Forged in War, my study of Roosevelt, Churchill and the Second World War, contains only the briefest allusion to Irish issues though there is a good bit more in the headnotes to my Churchill & Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence. American scholars Waldo Heinrichs, Robert Shogan, James Leutze, Thomas Bailey and Paul Ryan all focus on the naval war in the Atlantic but make no mention of Irish neutrality and its effect on that naval war. Certainly Churchill would have questioned that omission.
3 John Ramsden, Man of the Century: Churchill and His Legend since 1945 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).
4 Martin Gilbert, Finest Hour 1939-1941 (Hillsdale College Press, 2011), 67, quoted by T. Ryle Dwyer, Strained Relations: Ireland at Peace and the USA at War, 1941-1945 (Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble, 1988).
5 Robert Fisk, In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster and the Price of Neutrality, 1939-45 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 249; idem., “Éire,” in The Oxford Companion to World War II, C. B. Dear, ed. (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 324.
6 Fisk, In Time of War, 35.
7 Warren F. Kimball, ed., Churchill & Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, 3 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), C-43x (7Dec40), 102-09 (hereafter C&R). WSC’s message to de Valera was passed to FDR 8Dec41; C&R, I, 282. As indicated by the italics, the Irish “anthem” contained the phrase “Let Ireland, long a province, be a nation once again!”
8 Dwyer, Strained Relations, 7-8.
9 C&R, I: C-9x (15May40), R-4x (16May40), 37-38; C-15x (13Jun40), 45
10 C&R, I: C-20x draft A, not sent (5Jul40), 24-26. Fred Pollock, “Roosevelt, the Ogdensburg Agreement, and the British Fleet,” Diplomatic History, 5:3 (Summer 1981), 203-19. Among those who (wishfully?) believed that Germany could win in 1940 was Irish secretary for foreign affairs Joseph Walshe. He predicted a German victory because the British were “too soft” to defeat “men of steel like Hitler, Stalin and their followers.” As quoted by Aengus Nolan, “‘A Most Heavy and Grievous Burden’: Joseph Walshe and the Establishment of Sustainable Neutrality, 1940,” in Dermot Keogh and Mervyn O’Driscoll, eds., Ireland in World War Two, (Cork: Mercier Press, 2004), 127.
11 Dwyer, Strained Relations, 9. Raymond James Raymond, “David Gray, the Aiken Mission, and Irish Neutrality, 1940-41,” Diplomatic History 9:1 (Winter 1985), 63.
12 C&R, I: C-43x (7Dec40), 102-11; C-45x (13Dec40), 112-13.
13 Samuel Rosenman, ed., Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 13 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1941), IX 1940, 637.
14 Raymond, “The Aiken Mission,” 55-71; Dwyer, Strained Relations, 12-14. T. Ryle Dwyer, Irish Neutrality and the USA, 1939-1947 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1977), 41. Ramsden, Man of the Century, 250. Terry Golway, “A New Shade of Gray: American-Irish Relations Reconsidered, 1940-41” (unpublished manuscript, 2005).
15 Fisk, In Time of War, 448-49). C&R, II: C-280 (11Apr43) mentions Winant’s role in 1941.
16 U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Relations of the United States [FRUS] (Washington: USGPO, 1862- ) Washington and Casablanca conferences, 1941-43, 75, 77. The 69th Regiment, which dated back to the Civil War, had long recruited heavily among the New York Irish.
17 Dwyer, Strained Relations, 139-40). Joseph T. Carroll, Ireland in the War Years (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1975), 116-17.
18 Fisk, In Time of War, 307-10; Fisk, “Éire,” 325.
19 Fisk, In Time of War, 250; Eunan O’Halpin, Spying on Ireland: British Intelligence and Irish Neutrality during the Second World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 163, 215, and passim; see also PANDORA in the index.
20 O’Halpin, Spying on Ireland, 247-58; quotations on 256. Despite the derring-do tales in Brian Garfield’s novel, The Paladin (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), neither German submarine pens nor the book’s hero, Christopher Creighton, are found in Ireland by O’Halpin—or anyone else; see also Richard M. Langworth, review of The Paladin in Finest Hour 139: 24.
21 O’Halpin, Spying on Ireland, 199-200, 256. See also, T. Ryle Dwyer, Behind the Green Curtain: Ireland’s Phoney Neutrality during World War II (Gill and Macmillan, 2009).
22 C&R, II: C-280 (11Apr43), 186-87; R-273 (19Apr43), 192.
23 Dwyer, Strained Relations, 104-06.
25 FRUS, Quebec Conference, 1943, 618-24, 832; C&R, II: C-412/4 (15Aug43), 421.
26 FRUS, Cairo and Teheran, 1943, as quoted in Dwyer, Strained Relations, 116. This story is well summarized on pp. 111, 99-172, passim. Quotations without citations are from that discussion See online summary of Dwyer’s argument, 24Feb14. https://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/irelands-phoney-neutrality-during-world-war-ii-259756.html
27 O’Halpin, Spying on Ireland, 247-56. Forrest Davis, “What Really Happened at Teheran,” Saturday Evening Post, 116 (13May44), 41.
28 Clair Wills, That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland during the Second World War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 361, 386-88.
29 Until Gray left Dublin in mid-1947, he continued his crusade, with little effect. As the Cold War developed, Americans wanted to add Ireland to their “list” of those opposed to the Soviets—hardly an issue with the anti-communist, Roman Catholic Irish. However, the USSR vetoed Irish membership in the UN until 1955. See Troy D. Davis, Dublin’s American Policy (Washington: Catholic University Press, 1998), 40-49. In the 1950s, Gray wrote an introduction to a Unionist booklet condemning Irish neutrality. See Sean Cronin’s biting critique, Washington’s Irish Policy, 1916-1986 (Dublin: Anvil Books, 1987), 161.
30 Oxford Companion, 298; Wills, That Neutral Island, 391-92 ff.; Dwyer, Strained Relations, 164-65; Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 8 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1974), VII 7158 (emphasis added).
32 FRUS, Yalta, 784.
33 See Alan P. Dobson, “Roosevelt and the Struggle for a Post-War Civil Aviation Regime,” in David Woolner, Warren Kimball and David Reynolds, eds., FDR’s World: War, Peace, and Legacies (New York: Palgrave, 2008), 193-213. See also Dobson, Peaceful Air Warfare: The United States, Britain and the Politics of International Aviation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). For “all the gold” see C&R, III: C-836 (28Nov44), 419-21; see also R-654, C-827, R-655/1 draft A, R-655/1, and R-661, 402-07, 424-25, all November 1944. Churchill’s and FDR’s comments on the bilateral agreement are in C&R, III: C-904, 543-44 and R-717, 566-68. When FDR threatened to terminate Lend-Lease, U.S. Ambassador Gilbert Winant was loath to deliver the message, but Churchill said, “even a declaration of war should not prevent them having a good lunch”; Colville diary quoted in Gilbert, Road to Victory 1942-1945 (Hillsdale, Mich.: Hillsdale College Press, 2013), 1074.
34 See the 1942 Declaration of United Nations, listing forty-five such governments, FRUS, Conferences at Washington, 1941-42, and Casablanca, 1943, 376-77. For more on lists-as-policy, see Warren F. Kimball, “The Sheriffs: FDR’s Postwar World,” in FDR’s World, 91-121.
35 See Geoffrey Roberts, “Three Narratives of Neutrality: Historians and Ireland’s War,” in Brian Girvin and Geoffrey Roberts, eds., Ireland and the Second World War (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000), 165-79.
36 On how the Anglo-Americans treated other small neutrals, particularly Portugal, during WW2, see Warren F. Kimball, “The Singing of Small Birds: Franklin Roosevelt and the Postwar Settlements,” in Luís Nuno Rodrigues, ed., Franklin Roosevelt and the Azores during the Two World Wars (Lisbon: Luso-American Foundation, 2008), 365-78.
Dr. Kimball, author of Forged in War, The Juggler, and books on the Morgenthau Plan and the origins of Lend-Lease, edited the three-volume collection of Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence (with commentaries). He has published over fifty essays on Churchill, Roosevelt and the era of the Second World War. Robert Treat Professor (emeritus) at Rutgers University, he was Pitt Professor at the University of Cambridge, 1987-88. His institutional history, The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game, was published in December 2017. He was the Jones Distinguished Professor at Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) in spring 2019. See also herein his “Churchill and the Presidents: Franklin Roosevelt.”