No. 416 NAI DFA 221/147A

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe on the dropping of bombs on Irish territory
by German aircraft

Dublin, 30 January 1941

The German reply to our protests against the bombings of the 2nd and 3rd January

The German Minister called today for the purpose of handing me the German reply in the above matter in the form of an aide-mémoire. He told me that notwithstanding the description which he had sent his Government of the bomb fragments shown to him, his Government regarded it as essential for further investigation to have the fragments examined by experts. When the German Minister said this, I naturally felt that a new attempt was being made to get some kind of messenger from Germany to this country. I asked him whether one of the airmen in the Curragh would not be sufficiently expert to explain all the technical details to his Government by telegram.1 The Minister replied that there was no technical expert amongst the airmen. They knew nothing about the bombs except what was involved in the external handling of them. His government could not reach any conclusion as to whether or not the bombs had been dropped by the crew mentioned in the aide-mémoire nor could they do so until they knew the exact composition of the bombs. From the description received they had to come to the conclusion that the bombs were partly of German and partly of non-German origin. This made it all the more necessary to have expert examination of the fragments. I explained to the Minister that we could not send the fragments to Germany. Our bags took at least two months to reach Berlin, and, he could imagine what might happen on the way to a bag with such obviously suspicious contents. Neither could I see how it would be possible for experts from Germany to come to this country without causing all kinds of difficulties to arise. I urged upon the Minister that he should suggest to his Government to put all the necessary questions in detail to him and that we should get our experts to answer them. We should be very glad to leave him the bomb fragments and photographs with all the details his Government required. As a matter of fact, the Secretary of the Legation had received all the information during his discussion with our Army experts before the minister's communication to Berlin.

Dr. Hempel insisted that there could be no satisfactory conclusion to the affair until the fragments had been examined by the experts of his Government.

I suggested to Dr. Hempel that, quite independently of the ultimate findings, it was advisable to secure the agreement of his Government to some sort of interim public announcement. The feelings of our people would be allayed when they saw that the German Government had made the serious admission of the presence of the plane on the night of 1-2 January, especially when it was accompanied by an assurance that investigations would be continued. I asked him, furthermore, to point out to his Government that the evidence of a crew which had lost its way after a bombing expedition could not be completely trusted. Their bombing racks might have got loose and the bombs might have been dropped without the crew being aware of it in the noise and confusion. The lights the crew saw were clearly those of Dublin, and, as there was only one plane over Dublin that night, the bombs must have come from the German plane.

[initialled] J.P.W.

1 A number of Luftwaffe personnel were by this stage of the war interned in the military camp at the Curragh, Co Kildare, their aircraft having crash-landed on Irish territory.

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