Volume 6 1939~1941

Doc No.

No. 238 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/14/1

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 47) (Secret)

London, 23 July 1940

I asked to see Lord Caldecote today so that I might inform him of my conversation last Saturday afternoon with Lord Woolton.1 Before I began, however, Lord Caldecote, who is normally imperturbable, expressed himself strongly on the representations I had made to Lord Woolton. He read parts of the letter which that gentleman had written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,2 quoting from it the actual words I had used about the suspicions entertained in Ireland as to British War policy in relation to us. Lord Caldecote implored me not to talk like this. It did no good to our case and it did not help him in his advocacy on our behalf. To suggest that they had been deliberately and of set purpose dilatory on the trade negotiations was ludicrous. There were many Departments to be consulted, they were housed up and down the provinces, they were all overworked, and it was not reasonable to expect that decisions on complicated questions could be reached today, when they were living from crisis to crisis, as quickly as in normal times.

I repeated the case I had made to Lord Woolton and said no fair-minded man could resist the conclusion that all these weeks and weeks of delay justified our doubts and misgivings. For my part I found the explanations offered most unconvincing.

He went on to say that they were no more responsible for the recent newspaper articles than we were. On the contrary it was a matter of annoyance to them. We knew that both he and Mr. MacDonald had raised the question at the War Cabinet. We must have seen how the Minister of Information had tried without the least success to tighten the censorship. As a result of his representations Mr. Duff Cooper had personally seen the Lobby correspondents and the Chief Press Censor had seen the other newspaper men and asked them to 'let-up' on the question of Ireland.

It was distressing to him to find these suspicions, which were entirely groundless, still prevailing. What could they do to allay these suspicions, what could they do to remove them?

I suggested they could do two things – they could reach an immediate decision on the proposed Trade Agreement, and they could give us further help about munitions. He said he would make it his business to see that something definite was done one way or the other on the trade question. About munitions, he reminded me that he had already stated that he was pressing the War Office, which pressure he would continue to exercise.

I asked when he could give me something definite on the munitions question. His reply was 'Give me forty-eight hours'.

Lord Caldecote was then called away to the War Cabinet.

[signed] J.W. Dulanty

1 Frederick James Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton (1883-1964), British Minister for Food (1940- 43); appointed by Chamberlain and retained by Churchill.

2 Sir Kingsley Wood (1881-1943), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1940-3).