No. 33  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A3

Memorandum from Colonel Liam Archer to Oscar Traynor (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 27 March 1941

In accordance with the proposal from Sir J. Maffey transmitted through Mr. Walshe, External Affairs, and approved by you, Major O'Sullivan1 and Comdt. Delamere2 proceeded to Belfast on 17th instant. The purpose of Major O'Sullivan's visit was to see the A.R.P.3 arrangements in Belfast, and Comdt. Delamere was to see the latest developments in air observation and reporting.

Comdt. Delamere was taken to the Control and Fighter H.Q. at Aldergrove where he met Group Captain McDonald, Wing Comdr. McGregor, O.C. Fighter Forces, and Major Picard, O.C. Army Signals Coy. attached to the R.A.F. Wing Comdr. Lywood who had travelled from Dublin was also present.4 As soon as discussion started it quickly became apparent that the British officers were under the impression that Comdt. Delamere was there to arrange direct interchange of air information between his organisation and theirs. Under this impression they had earmarked a radio set to hand over to Comdt. Delamere then, for use in this interchange. Comdt. Delamere explained he had no power to make any such arrangement; he was there solely for the purpose of seeing the latest developments in air observation and reporting. This produced some- thing of a deadlock. The matter of the British intercepting our broadcast of the passage of unidentified aircraft over our territory then arose and it transpired that the British had not intercepted any signal from us. A doubt therefore existed in their minds as to whether we actually had broadcast any signal or not. They were unable to pick up our ordinary radio traffic. As a result of this deadlock, Comdt. Delamere communicated by 'phone with me through Sir J. Maffey's office and I made it clear that the purpose of his visit was as he himself had stated. I also arranged for a test transmission from the Radio Station at the Department of Defence to see if signals therefrom could be received in N. Ireland. This proving successful, the atmosphere cleared.

Comdt. Delamere states there are forty observation posts along the coast and the border of N. Ireland. These are staffed by signal personnel and report by radio to the reporting centre. There is nothing new in the system. It is, however, mobile since the radio sets are in cars, and, therefore, bears a stronger resemblance to the system which was established in France than that in England. The reporting centre and operations room are basically similar to our system but, of course, more elaborate. It was suggested to Comdt. Delamere that with the set they offered him, he could pick up information from the observation posts on the Border, particulars of which they supplied.

They asked for particulars of our system and as these had been given them in a Questionnaire, Comdt. Delamere discussed it with them, and indicated our hope to establish three other reporting centres in the South. They expressed the opinion that air activity will increase during the summer months, much of it will pass over our territory, and our present system of sending out broadcast signals from a station handling other traffic will break down. They then suggested that if they could make available to us four radio sets similar to what they use, they could be set up at our four centres. This would have the advantage that these centres would be independent of land line communication, they could be in continuous and direct communication, the strain on telephone trunk lines would be relieved, and it would obviate the need for special broadcasts.

Comdt. Delamere was shown the latest apparatus for Radio D.F.5 of aircraft, but was requested not to put anything in writing about it as it is very secret.

The following further information was obtained:-

  1. Comdt. Delamere believes that a lot of material and equipment is held ready in N. Ireland for movement to Éire if and when the British come.
  2. The belief exists that before the summer is ended British forces will be here at our request and we will want all the help we can get.
  3. The general opinion is that gas is likely to be used by the Germans against places that are ill prepared and to effect surprise.
  4. British aircraft operating around our South-West coast come from the West coast of England. A considerable amount of night flying navigational training is done over the Irish Sea.

I have discussed Comdt. Delamere's report with the Chief of Staff. We both feel perturbed about this offer of four radio sets. To accept them rather commits us to a form of direct co-operation which we think undesirable. At the same time, there is no doubt it would be an advantage to have them. I had a visit from Lywood on 24th instant and I asked him were these sets a free gift or had we to indent and purchase them. He said he did not know but his personal view was as they would be getting most value from them, we should get them for nothing. It is of course obvious that their greatest value is to the British as they assume they would learn all our reports and not merely an odd one as on the present system.

1 Major (later Colonel) Seán O'Sullivan, Military Director of Civil Defence.

2 Commandant (later Colonel) William Delamer (1900-83), served in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, joined the Irish Army Air Corps in 1922, OC Air Defence Command (1941-2), OC Air Corps (1942-6), Manager of Dublin Airport (1946-65). Colonel Delamer preferred to drop the final 'e' from his surname.

3 Air Raid Protection.

4 Wing Commander Ralph W. G. Lywood, British Air Attaché in Dublin (1940-1).

5 Direction Finding, the British term for Radar.

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