No. 308 NAI DFA 219/2A

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No.57) (Secret)

London, 5 October 1940

Whilst the British press and wireless give a passable account of the German air raids on London their reporting is necessarily restricted.1 The following supplementary notes may be of interest.

The targets at which the German airmen have aimed in the London areas have been

I. Communications (especially Main Line Railways)

II. Power Stations

III. The weakening of public morale

On I they have been only partially successful, yet the destruction of houses, craters in roads which one sees within a few yards of the railways suggest that this particular attack has not been 'blind shooting'.

Similarly on II the bombs have dropped near but not near enough – except in the case of the Battersea Power Station which was hit but was not put out of action. Canon W. Wood (my parish priest) has his Presbytery between two targets of this character – one a municipal power station and the other a commercial trading undertaking. He and his three curates spend their nights at casualty stations – where a few nights ago they had to deal with eighty-five dead, mostly Irish, taken from an underground shelter, the entrance to which had received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb.

But the distribution of the damage leads one to think that the Germans have been keener on the disorganisation of the ordinary day to day life of the people than on a strategic plan of concentration on key military objectives. This view is supported by their increased use of parachute mines which cause wide havoc and dislocation. They cannot be aimed at a particular point, their blast force exceeds that of a 500 kilogramme High Explosive bomb and one detonation alone has demolished one hundred and fifteen houses. The same purpose of terrorisation of the civilian population is seen in the delayed action bombs which mean that the local authorities must order hundreds of people out of their as yet untouched homes at a moment's notice.

The question of public shelters appears to be beset with difficulties. I expect to complete my inquiries in a few days when I will send a further report. Meanwhile here are official figures given with every entreaty for secrecy about direct hits on public shelters:-


September 11 to 194,191Seriously Wounded
September 19 to 262,200Seriously Wounded


September 11 to 194,051Seriously Wounded
September 19 to 263,060Seriously Wounded

These figures have not been made known outside the British War Cabinet and I was urged to limit the knowledge of them to An Taoiseach and to you.2

The British say that war production, public utility services have suffered no serious interference. Delay would of course happen whilst a delayed action bomb was removed but their authoritative statement is that production of essentials has not been delayed beyond one per cent.

The British press is eloquent upon the 'chin-up' attitude of the people. My own observation confirms this. I go night and morning on a twenty-five mile railway journey. Normally in a carriage which takes five passengers on each side we travel with seven on each side and six people standing in the middle of the carriage. In the ordinary way the journey takes forty minutes. It is fortunate if the same journey is achieved in three hours. Tired, hungry and worried, the people show miraculous calm – cheerful acceptance of things which they are powerless to alter. In the morning journeys you can see listlessness and weariness borne of sleepless nights but you hear no 'grousing'. Whether this will continue in the winter and possible epidemics of influenza remains to be seen. As yet, the food distribution is good, there are no queues, and leaving out of account the East End, which is horror piled on horror, the social system appears to work more or less normally.

The military and naval plans appear to have worked out well. But the plans for the civilians, particularly the East End, have been tragically lacking. It is a commonplace to say that administration of any sort is as much a matter of imagination as of regulation. Unfortunately regulation has been the dominant note, with the result that warring local authorities with no central over-riding power have 'dillied and dallied' where action super-urgent and instantaneous was needed. In this indescribable misery the Irish in the East End have depended on their priests. Aldermen, councillors, and social workers, who have no understanding of and therefore no sympathy for the Catholic religion have been lyrical in their praise to me of the young Irish priests who have worked so assiduously in the East End without any regard to the denomination aspect.

Some of the military experts say that this indiscriminate bombing is a sheer waste of effort on the part of the Germans. When you ask them for their reasons they reply that Hitler schemed to fill all the main lines of traffic, road and rail, with fugitives from the eight millions of Londoners. Militarily they think this is a hopeless plan. Their army they say is mechanised beyond the dreams of 1918, their country is as well-roaded, if not better, than any similar territory in Europe and the Germans may as well wait for the crack of doom as to wait for the repetition in Britain of the 1940 confusion of Belgium and North Eastern France.

[signed] J.W. Dulanty

1 The German 'Blitz' on London lasted from 7 September 1940 to 10 May 1941.

2 The portion in italics has been underlined in pen by Walshe. Marginal note by Walshe: 'H.C. told me at 4.30 today that these figures were total casualties – although the B had given them to him as exclusively shelter casualties. J.P.W.'

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