No. 359  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A25

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe

DUBLIN, 20 December 1943

On the instruction of the Taoiseach, I asked the German Minister to come to see me to-day for the purpose of bringing the wireless issue to an end. In giving me this instruction, the Taoiseach told me that I could inform him about the parachutists who landed on Thursday and Sunday.1 The Taoiseach thought it would be a good introduction and would give me an opportunity to make Dr. Hempel realise how dangerous the situation had become for us. When Dr. Hempel came in, I told him about the parachutists and the wireless sets which they had brought with them, and I recalled the conversations I had with him on other similar occasions. I said that this new incident filled us with alarm about Germany’s intentions. It might well be that his Government had no designs on this country but we had to protect our own interests, and it was my duty on behalf of my Minister to protest against this violation of our neutrality. He realised, as well as I did, that although these parachutists were immediately apprehended, the mere fact of their arrival would of necessity give an opportunity to the other belligerents to question once more the expediency of respecting our neutrality. I also recalled the solemn statement frequently made by the Taoiseach that he would not allow this country to be made a base of operations against Great Britain. The appearance of two parachutists would naturally make them suspect that two might not be the total number landed. I asked him to warn his Government once more about the folly of thinking that parachutists could be landed here without escaping arrest. It was a very small country where everybody knew everybody else’s business and no stranger could escape notice for long. It was the very extreme of folly to send two young Irishmen who could have no real interest or desire in risking their lives for Germany. Their natural allegiance was to Ireland, and the German Government should know that these young men would quickly realise after arrival here that their action was likely to do far more harm to their own country than to Great Britain or the United States.

2. This new incident made the matter about which I had spoken to him last Wednesday of still greater urgency.2 It would most certainly provoke something like an ultimatum from the British and the Americans concerning his wireless transmitter. I was therefore, on the instructions of my Minister, asking him formally and definitely to hand over, or destroy, the set at once.

3. Dr. Hempel was clearly very worried indeed at the news of the parachutists, about whom, I feel sure, he had not been given notice. He had, he said, informed his Government on each of the former occasions of our view on the sending of agents to Ireland and of the danger it constituted for our relations and for our neutrality itself. With regard to the wireless transmitter, he had given it a good deal of thought since last Wednesday and he had now thought of a definite plan. He would ask that he be allowed to put it in the safe of his bank in Dublin and that there should be two keys of the safe – one in the custody of the Department of External Affairs and the other in that of the Legation. Neither party could go to the safe without the presence of the other. This would also be part of an agreement with the Manager of the Bank. I told him that we would accept that solution but, of course, we should be obliged to make quite certain that the wireless set was intact in all its parts before it was sent to the Bank. Dr. Hempel then said that he would make immediate arrangements in that sense.

Tuesday, the 21st December, 1943
Dr. Hempel called me on the ’phone this morning to suggest that he should tell Herr Thomsen to make contact with Mr. Boland and that they should jointly complete the terms of the arrangement we had discussed.

I informed the Taoiseach on the ’phone that the transmitter was being handed over. I also informed G.2.

Mr. Boland completed the arrangements with Herr Thomsen. He took Colonel Neligan3 to examine the set before it was put in its container. Colonel Neligan declared that every detail in the set was complete. Later, Mr. Boland and Herr Thomsen deposited the set in the Bank’s safe. The Department key is attached to this file.

1 On Thursday 16 December and Sunday 19 December respectively, German agents John F. O'Reilly and John Kenny parachuted into Ireland from German aircraft over Co. Clare. Both were arrested soon after landing. They were the last German agents sent to Ireland.

2 See No. 355.

3 Colonel Neligan, Signals Officer, G2.

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