No. 183 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A3

Minutes of meeting between representatives of the Government of Éire and representatives of the Dominions Office and Service Departments of the United Kingdom
(Secret) (2nd Meeting) (10/5/19) (Copy No. 2)

London, 11.30am, 24 May 1940

United KingdomÉire
Sir Eric Machtig, Dominions OfficeMr. Walshe
Mr. Stephenson, Dominions OfficeColonel Archer
Commander J. Creswell, Admiralty
Major G.D.G. Heyman, War Office
Squadron Leader R.E. de T. Vintras, Air Ministry
Wing Commander Cadell, Air Ministry
Major Hoysted, War Office
Lt. Col. Clarke, War Office


Major A.T. Cornwall-Jones


THE MEETING considered the record of the previous meeting held on the afternoon of the 23rd May.1

A few amendments to the draft record were agreed.

MR. WALSHE signified his general approval to the record, reserving the right to make minor amendments after more careful scrutiny.


Arising from the discussion under Item 1 above the following points emerged:-


Possible location of stocks of bombs and petrol in Éire for use by the Royal Air Force

COLONEL ARCHER asked whether one aerodrome would be sufficient for R.A.F. purposes. He felt it would be a mistake to hold up the present work on landing grounds which was designed to prevent enemy landings.

SQUADRON LEADER VINTRAS said that this was a point which would require detailed examination. On the other hand, he agreed that it would be a great mistake to hold up any measures to deny the use of these aerodromes to the Germans, on this account.


Denial of the use of Gormanston aerodrome by naval bombardment

COMMANDER CRESWELL said that he had discussed this question with the Naval Staff. It transpired that ships would be unable to approach closer than 4,000 yards from the aerodrome. It was therefore impossible to guarantee that this aerodrome could be made untenable to the Germans by bombardment from the sea. He suggested that this aerodrome should be treated in the same way as other aerodromes.


Provision of material for port defences

COMMANDER CRESWELL referred to the question of anti-submarine booms and nets for the defence of Irish harbours. He had discussed this with the Naval Staff and regretted that at present no material was available for this purpose.


Subversive Activities in Éire

MAJOR HEYMAN said that he had been instructed to convey to Mr. Walshe the anxiety felt by the Director of Military Operations, War Office, in regard to the activities of the I.R.A. GENERAL DEWING2 thought that the Germans might well decide to land a few troops to exploit the activities of the I.R.A. He thought perhaps this would cause grave concern to the Irish Government and he asked whether in these circumstances they would be likely to call for assistance.

MR. WALSHE said that the Government of Éire anticipated no difficulty in dealing with the I.R.A. In fact the outbreak of specific disturbances were the kind of opportunity which they were seeking in order to crush finally the organisation. In any event they did not regard it as a serious threat and they did not anticipate having to call for any assistance from the United Kingdom.


Detailed Planning

COLONEL CLARKE put forward the proposals of the Director of Military Operations in the War Office, with regard to detailed planning in respect of the assistance to be provided by British land forces.

GENERAL DEWING considered that any assistance which might be required by the Government of Éire would come most speedily from Northern Ireland. This being so, he thought that the detailed planning involved should be carried out direct between the G.O.C., Northern Ireland and the Irish Military Authorities. It would be a waste of time to continue with these details now in London. Subject to Mr. Walshe's agreement, he, (Colonel Clarke) intended to fly to Northern Ireland the same afternoon and consult with General Huddleston.3 In view of the urgency of the problem, he suggested that he should accompany staff officers from General Huddleston's Headquarters to Dublin the next day. He himself would then return to London and any steps required of the War Office could then be put in hand.

After a short discussion, it was agreed that Mr. Walshe and Colonel Archer should fly to Northern Ireland with Colonel Clarke and go from there to Dublin. Arrangements for a meeting the next day, or failing that, the day after, could be made after arrival in Éire. Before finally agreeing to a meeting in Dublin he would require to consult Mr. de Valera.


Identification Signals between port defences and British Naval vessels

COMMANDER CRESWELL suggested that a simple code should be devised so that coast and port defences in Éire would be able to recognise British ships if, in the event, they were to be called in to assist. He suggested that a two-letter signal might be devised, separate code letters being allotted for each day of a month.

COLONEL ARCHER undertook to consider this question and communicate a simple code to the Naval Staff through the Dominions Office.


Communication of recent experience gained by United Kingdom Staffs

COMMANDER CRESWELL handed to Colonel Archer a copy of the following documents:-

(a) Notes on Internal Security. (N.I.D. 2432/40 of the 20th May).

(b) Notes on the 5th Column menace, effect of German bombing at Antwerp, use of parachute troops in Holland and general lessons to be learned from the German attack on land. (N.I.D. 2475/40 of the 20th May).



MAJOR HEYMAN said that the United Kingdom Government were interested in a rumour concerning a ship said to contain 200,000 mauser rifles and a considerable quantity of ammunition. It was alleged that this ship, whose name and flag were unknown, had sailed from America for Roumania, and for an unknown reason had arrived in a Dutch port immediately prior to the German invasion of Holland. The rumour, which it had so far been impossible to trace, now said that this ship was en route for an Irish port, also unspecified. The United Kingdom Government wished to suggest that this ship should be seized by the Irish Authorities. If they were agreeable, the United Kingdom would be glad to purchase both the rifles and the ammunition.

MR. WALSHE said that the rifles and ammunition might well come in very useful for arming the Irish population. He would, however, invite the Government of Éire to give urgent consideration to the question of seizing the ship if there was any truth in the rumour.


(At this stage the following left the meeting:- Mr. Walshe, Commander Creswell, Major Heyman, Squadron Leader Vintras, and Colonel Clarke.)



THE MEETING next considered the question of the arrangement that should be made to ensure that, as soon as an emergency arose, there would be an efficient means of direct communication between the Irish Military Authorities and the United Kingdom Staffs.

It was considered that the problem was as follows:-

(a) In the first place, the quickest and most efficient means of communication was by cable (telephone and telegraph). It was essential that direct lines should be laid between Irish Military Headquarters and the War Office and the Air Ministry.

(b) It was quite possible, however, that these cables might be cut. Against this eventuality therefore it was essential that direct wireless communication should be prepared and held ready in reserve.

The question of cable communications and the installation of the necessary telephones was one for the Wireless Board. Major Hoysted explained that the War Office had not yet had time to consult this Board on the question.

The discussion then turned on the question of the establishment of direct wireless communications.

COLONEL ARCHER explained that there were two Military radio transmitting sets, one at Headquarters in Dublin and one at Air Force Headquarters at Baldonnell. The set at Dublin normally worked on a wave length of 857 metres, although it could work on 140-200 metres or 750-2,500 metres. Its range was from 600-1,000 miles, dependent upon atmospheric conditions. The set at Baldonnell was exactly the same but he was not aware of its normal frequency. Both sets were in operation at the present time. He pointed out that these sets were also used for internal communication, each Military station being equipped with a smaller wireless set.

WING COMMANDER CADELL said that the Wireless Board would almost certainly suggest that the wave length on which these sets were working at present would provide a certain beacon to approaching German aircraft. The first essential would probably therefore be to raise their frequencies.

COLONEL ARCHER asked whether these two stations could be linked up with similar stations in the United Kingdom immediately the emergency arose.

MAJOR HOYSTED pointed out that there would be certain difficulties which would first require to be examined. For instance, the normal procedure was for both ends of a terminal to be manned by personnel of the same Service. Otherwise difficulties would arise in respect of call signs and procedure. Moreover, the question of a code would have to be taken up.

SIR ERIC MACHTIG asked whether the arrangements for warning the Irish Authorities of the approach of aircraft were satisfactory.

It was understood that an arrangement existed by which red and yellow warnings in respect of enemy aircraft passing over the Midlands and the West Coast of the United Kingdom were passed automatically through normal Post Office Channels to the Government of Éire.

There was general agreement that the position in respect of the communication of warnings to the Government of Éire should be investigated with a view to ensuring that the Government of Éire was provided with the maximum possible warning.


  • In view of the possibility that cable Communications might be cut, it was essential that direct wireless communication should be established between Service Staffs of the two countries.
  • In order to put this into effect:-
  • (i) Colonel Archer undertook to investigate the possibility of allotting an existing Military W/T set in Éire to communicate direct with the United Kingdom. This investigation would be primarily directed to the possibility of raising the frequency at which the station was at present working, in order to avoid providing the Germans with a wireless beacon. He also undertook to consider the question of call signs, procedure and the use of a simple code, and to communicate the result of his enquiries to Wing Commander Cadell and Major Hoysted through the usual channels at the earliest possible moment.

    (ii) Major Hoysted and Wing Commander Cadell undertook to investigate in conjunction with the Wireless Board, the possibility of providing a link in the United Kingdom.

  • Meanwhile, until direct wireless communication could be prepared, it was accepted that the existing arrangements would stand.
  • That the Secretary should consult the appropriate Departments with a view to ensuring that all possible information regarding the movements of enemy aircraft which might threaten Éire was passed on to the Irish Military Authorities.
  • That the Secretary should consult the appropriate Department on the question of the preparation of a simple code, for use between the Service Staffs.

1 See No. 182.

2 Major-General Richard H. Dewing (1891-1981), Director of Military Operations, War Office (1939-40).

3 General Sir Hubert Huddleston (1880-1950), GOC Northern Ireland, later Governor General of Sudan (1940-7).

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