Volume 7 1941~1945

Doc No.

No. 159  NAI DFA 305/392

Letter from Frederick H. Boland to Maurice Moynihan (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 17 April 1950

With reference to your minute (S. 14782) of the 31st March,1 regarding the message sent to the then Taoiseach by the then British Prime Minister on the 7th December, 1941, I am directed by the Minister for External Affairs to state that it has not been possible to trace any documents relating to the message in this Department. The recollection of the officers of this Department who were familiar with the matter at the time is as follows.

At about 2 a.m. on the night of the 7th-8th December, 1941, the then British Representative telephoned to the then Secretary of the Department stating that he had an instruction from London telling him to see Mr. de Valera, immediately on receipt of the instruction, to deliver to him personally a message from the British Prime Minister. Sir John Maffey declined to wait until the morning and asked to see Mr. de Valera at once. Mr. de Valera received Sir John Maffey at his private house about 4 a.m. and Sir John Maffey then gave him a personal message from Mr. Churchill on the lines quoted in the third volume of Mr. Churchill's War Memoirs.2 There is no recollection here that any written text was delivered to Mr. de Valera, but, if it is desired, the Ambassador to the Holy See, who was then Secretary of the Department, can be asked what he remembers on this point.3

Sir John Maffey was told, later on the 8th December, that the Irish Government would be prepared to discuss their position with any member of his Government whom Mr. Churchill wished to send to Dublin for the purpose. Lord Cranborne, then Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, visited Dublin incognito a few days later and had conversations with Mr. de Valera.

[initialled] F. H. B.

1 Not printed.

2 Winston Churchill, The Grand Alliance (London, 1950).

3 See No. 160.