No. 192 NAI DFA Legal Adviser's Papers

Handwritten memorandum by Michael Rynne (Dublin)

Dublin, 17 June 1940

Appreciation of the Situation 17th June 1940

The surrender of the French forces today leaves Germany ready to enter at once on a new phase of the war. There are no longer any 'Allies' and England must face alone three dangers:-

1. Invasion.

2. Blockade

3. Aerial Bombardment ('Reprisals')

2. Germany has never directly threatened to invade Britain. Britain has, however, been expecting and preparing against invasion for some time past. Roads from the coast are mined, barricades are everywhere in readiness. Munition factories are working night and day. Special fighter aircraft squadrons are in readiness. Such part of the fleet as is intact is standing to repel invaders. Food and other supplies are in stock and coming in rapidly. Internal communications so necessary to successful resistance at home are in almost normal working order. Therefore, it would not perhaps be wise on Germany's part to attempt an immediate invasion of England. That country must be, first of all, reduced and, if possible, demoralised and disorganised beyond hope of successfully dealing with invading forces.

3. The probabilities are consequently as follows:-

(a) Blockade starting from tonight or tomorrow. That is, tonight or tomorrow the shipping of the world will be ordered off the English Channel, the Irish Sea, the North Sea and the Western Atlantic as far as the West of Ireland.

(b) Aerial Bombardment starting from tomorrow on all English railway junctions, terminals and yards, on wartime and other factories, petrol storage reserves, dockyards, etc., etc. The fact that civilian lives will be lost in this campaign of demolition will be excused by the early publication of a 'List of Reprisals' by the German High Command.

4. After some weeks of the foregoing tactics, it will be less costly to attempt invasion. Possibly the threat thereof will suffice to bring about the resignation of Churchill and Co.

5. Assuming that the above outline of coming events materialises, our problems will not include that of preparing to withstand German invaders, but will embrace such matters as:-

(a) the movements of Irish Shipping;

(b) the continuance of essential imports;

(c) the absorption of goods and produce not exportable by sea;

(d) the internment of British troops should any cross our land frontier, or land from the air; the internment of German airmen making forced landings here;

(e) the accommodation of refugees from Belfast and other Northern counties;

(f) the readjustment of postal, or at least of telegraphic, communication abroad etc. etc.

6. The foregoing and other kindred problems will have to be given the immediate consideration of the appropriate Departments of State. As far as we are concerned, the main consideration will be to ensure that no decision now to be taken will be such as to compromise our neutrality.

It is submitted, as a matter of urgency, that we should press for an immediate prohibition on the putting to sea of all Irish-registered ships which find themselves in Irish ports at the commencement of the German blockade. It might be thought desirable (if safe) to indicate to shipping companies like the B&I that now is the time to transfer to the British flag. If not, they will simply have to remain in port just as American transatlantic shipping has had to do.

Another provision which we might now make would consist in putting all rail and road communications to Northern Ireland in such a state of defence as to be able, when the bombardment begins, to close down on them entirely. Otherwise, troop movements there are likely to overflow into our border towns to our great embarrassment. In case that should happen ? despite any precautions which we may have taken ? it would be, perhaps, advisable to have in readiness one or more camps capable of accommodating internees.

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