No. 23  UCDA P150/2836

Memorandum of a discussion between Major General Daniel McKenna,
Colonel Liam Archer, Brigadier General Gregson Ellis and Lieutenant
Colonel M. H. Pryce

DUBLIN, 10 March 1941

The Chief of Staff having asked Brig. Gen. Gregson Ellis what were the points which worried Lt. Gen. Pownall1 most where we were concerned, Brig. Gen. Gregson Ellis said

  1. The security of the aerodromes at Baldonnel and Collinstown. The Chief of Staff outlined the defence measures we had taken at Gormanston, Collinstown, Baldonnel and the Curragh, and stated he was satisfied we could ensure the safety of these plans.
  2. Brig. Gen. Gregson Ellis stated his next fear was that the Germans would land troops from the air attired in British battledress and simultaneously circulate the story that the British had seized the ports. If this happened the whole situation would be one of greatest confusion. The Chief of Staff agreed that this could be so but that we would treat every soldier landing from the air as German and deal with them accordingly.
  3. The next fear was that the Germans might make landings in the West of Ireland and so threaten the British advance South. This could cause a serious hold up. It was agreed that this was a serious problem. The earliest information we could get would be from our L.O.Ps 2 and it would be our endeavour to get speedy and accurate information.

    In this connection Brig. Gen. Gregson Ellis said he had made arrangements with the Navy, the Coastal Air Command and the Bomber Command to send him direct information regarding movements by sea transport of German forces. The means to be adopted of sending this information to us was then discussed and the difficulties which had been experienced in arranging satisfactory radio communication were explained by Colonels Archer and Pryce. It was agreed that a special radio set for this purpose must be procured and Gen. Gregson Ellis promised to look after that.

    In the course of the discussion Gen. Gregson Ellis voiced the opinion that any invasion of this country would occur as part of the practically simultaneous invasion of both countries. The Germans were possessed of sufficient sea transport for this purpose. Whilst they would require port facilities for the landing of guns and supplies, they could land tanks on beaches from special craft. He thought that if they aimed at seizing possession of a port, they would strike at Cork or Limerick. They would certainly try to land all they needed at the first attempt as they could not hope to escape the British Navy after the initial effort.

  4. Asked by the Chief of Staff why were the road blocks in N. Ireland of such approximate dimensions (4'6" x 2'6" sq.), he stated he could not say. They had been put up in a hurry last July. One thing that had to be borne in mind was that a high velocity gun, such as was mounted in the German tanks if brought to bear on concrete road blocks, would quickly destroy them. For this reason the road block must be substantial. He would enquire what was the basis of their design and let us know. The Chief of Staff described the design of our road block and said we had reinforced each block with four rails and had sunk them in the road to a depth equal to the height above ground. The General said this was good as a case had come to his knowledge where the space for traffic proved too narrow to pass a tractor-drawn gun, so the driver of the tractor hitched a chain round the block and dragged it bodily from its site. Experiments had shown that triangular concrete blocks which were not fixed were quite effective blocks. They were about to remove fixed blocks from the roads leading South and replace them with these.

    The Chief of Staff queried the reason for a reference in one of the questionnaires to the use of the Naas area as a base area and Colonel Pryce said that it was thought that if a permanent base was to be established after the first fortnight it would be South-West of Dublin. The Chief of Staff considered a move of only 20 miles was not much use. If accommodation over and above what was presently suggested in North Co. Dublin was needed, further accommodation in that area could be found. General Gregson Ellis said if after the first two weeks a move to another area was possible, they could move back to Belfast. The issue would be decided in that time.

    He indicated that General Pownall would lose no time in coming South to establish contact with General McKenna when the balloon went up.

    He held out no hope of further supplies of material but said General Pownall was proceeding to London shortly and would make representations on our behalf.

1 See No. 9. .

2 Look Out Posts: a series of 83 coastal observation posts manned by the Defence Forces' Marine and Coast Watching Service from September 1939 to June 1945.

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