No. 217 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P13

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 42) (Secret)

London, 8 July 19401

1. I learned from Mr. Malcolm MacDonald today that his colleagues were not surprised at An Taoiseach's reply to Mr. Chamberlain's memorandum and letter of 29th June.2 In the War Cabinet the Prime Minister and Mr. Greenwood3 felt that the odds were against the acceptance of the proposal but the Cabinet as a whole thought that it was an effort worth making.

2. He had not reported on his return that An Taoiseach thought the British would be beaten. But he had said that after discussions of some length on the ultimate issue of the war his own clear impression was that Mr. de Valera had been progressively doubtful of the British being victorious. On each of his visits An Taoiseach and he had discussed this question and he felt An Taoiseach was more doubtful on the occasion of his third visit than he was when he, Mr. MacDonald, first crossed to Dublin.

3. I mentioned to Mr. MacDonald the grave danger of any suggestion of their coming into any part of our territory without the direct invitation of our Government. Mr. MacDonald, with what appeared to be genuine conviction, assured me there was no such intention. He was, however, against any public statement to that effect at present. That was his personal view only – he had not discussed the point with his colleagues.

4. In speaking about the possibility of an invasion by the Germans of both England and Ireland he said they could land forces so much more easily on our shores than on the English. I made the obvious point that the Germans would now have far less distance to traverse to attack England than they would have to attack us. Why did he think they would land more easily on our shores? His reply was that their Navy had a very strong defence in every port and around the coast and even if on a foggy night a few German ships managed to land troops the British military dispositions were such as to wipe them out immediately. In the case of air attack they were confident that the Germans would get far more than they gave. But there was no naval defence in the normal sense in our ports. The British naval guard would be much more out to sea and could not be so concentrated as it was around the British coast with the result that there would be more gaps through which German ships might slip to our shores. If a landing followed he doubted whether we had sufficient military strength to stand up against strong well-organised German forces. This he thought was also An Taoiseach's view.

5. Mr. MacDonald said his own view was that the result would be achieved in the air. When the real bombing began it was possible that the enemy's air force and their own would almost cancel out, but the enemy would then be at the end of his resources or at any rate not able to replace his losses as speedily as the British could. There was an impressive increase in aeroplanes and munitions production in Britain and in addition there was the immense help coming (a) from America in planes and (b) from Canada in trained airmen. I asked if he would be good enough to give me information about the American assistance. He said that the American production at the beginning had been slow. A few months ago they were only getting about 200 planes a month. Despite the action of Mr. Henry Ford,4 they were now getting upwards of 500 a month and before long the American export would be 1,000 aeroplanes a month. He thought the enemy would suffer from a shortage of materials – already the Italians were feeling this in their shipbuilding. The blockade would be particularly effective in respect of food and coal. I suggested that the history of the blockade in the last war when Germany had so many enemies at her gate was not convincing as a war measure in the present conflict when Germany had now only England to fight. I thought that it had been recognised by experts that it was impossible to starve Germany. Mr. MacDonald said there might be something in my contention, but that you couldn't get output on the requisite scale and at top speed from men who were only half nourished. He and his colleagues were firm in their belief that if they could hold out for another six or eight weeks victory would be with them.

[signed] J. W. Dulanty

1 Marginal note by Walshe: 'Sent from H.C.'s office on 9th July received here on 10th July. J.P.W. 10/7/40.

2 See No. 213.

3 Arthur Greenwood (1880-1954), deputy leader of the British Labour Party (1935-45), Minister without Portfolio in the War Cabinet (1940-2).

4 Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the Ford motor company and of modern assembly lines. Ford disliked Roosevelt and did not approve of United States involvement in the Second World War.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO