No. 226  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P60

Letter from Robert Brennan to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

WASHINGTON, 4 September 1942

On the evening of Friday, August 14th, I tried to contact several people regarding the then pending executions in Belfast. It was unfortunate that a great number of the Senators and Congressmen were out electioneering and were not available. I rang up Joe Scott but he was not available. I got in touch with Frank Walker and secured an appointment for the following morning.

On Saturday morning I was told Mr. Welles could not see me till Monday at 4 p.m. but as I judged it would then be too late, I begged for an immediate appointment. Mr. Welles then undertook to see me at 1 p.m. Saturday. I rang up Joe Scott and told him to go ahead on the lines suggested by himself. I telephoned the Consul General and asked him to get in touch with Michael Quill and ask him to approach the British Embassy. I asked the Consul General to try and get in touch with Senator Meade, who was in upstate New York campaigning for the Democratic nomination for the Governorship of New York. The Consul General immediately got in touch with Terry McManus, Meade's campaign manager, and asked him to get Meade to approach the President. The Consul General also undertook to get in touch with Mayor La Guardia. I telephoned to Boston and asked Mr. Feeney, Congressman John McCormack's Secretary, to locate the Congressman and give him the facts.

Later Mr. Quill rang up and stated he was protesting against the executions to Sir Ronald Campbell.

At 11.45 a.m. I saw Mr. Frank Walker and asked him to approach the President. He was non-committal.

At 1 p.m. I saw Mr. Welles who was most sympathetic. He said it was a deplorable situation and that he would do his best in the matter.

At 2 p.m. Senator Meade's secretary rang up and asked for full particulars, which I gave. She said the Senator had suggested that it was a case where he, Senator Murray, Senator O'Mahoney, etc. might get together. I pointed out that all the persons she mentioned were out of town. She said she would be in touch with Senator Meade on the following day and that she would communicate with me.

On Monday at 11 a.m. Mr. Welles rang up to say that on Saturday immediately after my interview with him he got in touch with Mr. Winant in London, who at once saw Mr. Eden. The latter said he knew nothing of the matter but that he would take it up at once with the Home Office and the Dominions Office. Mr. Welles said he had just heard from Winant that an appeal had been lodged and that meant the sentence could not be carried out for some weeks.

At 1 p.m. Monday, Congressman John McCormack, House Majority Leader, rang up from Arcadia, New Hampshire, to say he had got in touch with Mr. Marvyn McIntyre, the President's Secretary, but as the President was away he had telephoned Mr. Welles who told him what he had already told me.

Mr. Quill later reported to the Consul General that he had approached both the State Department and the British Embassy and also that he had asked Mr. Murray, President of the Congress of Industrial Organisations to make a protest.

I enclose copies of communications sent by Joe Scott to Vice-President Wallace, Monsignor Fulton Sheen and Senator Murray.

Senator Murray also communicated with the President requesting his intervention with the British Government, as also did Congressman McGranery of Philadelphia and Congressman Welch of California.

Senator Meade telephoned me on the 27th instant and said he had spoken to Mr. Welles about the matter. Mr. Welles told him that he had been in touch with the American Ambassador in London and would keep the Senator informed of developments. On September 1st, Mr. Welles told Senator Meade that he had renewed his efforts on behalf of Williams, but that he was afraid there was no hope for him.

I was also in touch with the consuls at Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, and as a result of their activities requests to the President or the State Department went forward from Irish American Societies and from prominent individuals in each of the Consulate areas.

In Boston the Governor of Massachusetts, the Mayor of Boston, Mr. Joseph P. Kennedy, late American Ambassador to Great Britain and Mr. H.T. Shattuck, Treasurer of Harvard University, promised to write either to the President or the State Department.

In Chicago the A.A.R.I.R., the Ladies Auxiliary A.O.H., and the American Congress for the Unity and Independence of Ireland dispatched telegrams of protest.

In San Francisco, the United Irish Societies and the A.O.H. sent telegrams, copies of which are enclosed, together with a copy of a minute from the Consul there.

From Philadelphia, Mr. John J. Reilly, National President A.A.R.I.R., sent telegrams to the President and to the British Embassy, copies enclosed. I also enclose copy of a letter sent Airmail by Mayor LaGuardia of New York to the British Prime Minister.

As a result of communications addressed to them by Irish American Societies in their constituencies, Senator Burton of Ohio and Congressman Coppelman of Connecticut telephoned the Legation for information on the subject. They were, of course, given the whole background.

On Monday August 31st I rang up Mr. Welles and thanked him for his efforts, which had helped to obtain the reprieve of five of the men, and asked him to continue his efforts in order to save Williams. He said he had already that morning cabled to Mr. Winant who was aware of the gravity of the situation and who was still doing all he could.

[signed] ROBT. BRENNAN

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