Volume 7 1941~1945

Doc No.

No. 396  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A53

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)
(Most Secret)

DUBLIN, 18 March 1944

I had over two hours' chat today with Mr. Ervin Marlin, the American Intelligence Officer, who until recently was stationed in Ireland and has since made some visits to this country. Colonel Bryan was present for most of the time.

Marlin is, in my view, a man with a high sense of honour. He did his University studies in Ireland and married an Irish girl, and we have felt in our dealings with him that he wants to be friendly towards this country.

I showed him the extract from the 'New York Herald Tribune' of 16th March, in which it was stated that 'Government officials were documenting a vigorous reply to Mr. de Valera with evidence supporting American belief that he is not really master in his own household and does not know to what extent Germany and Japan have used Éire's professed neutrality as a beach-head'. The 'Herald Tribune' went on to say that 'in the Note of February 21, the Government refrained, for security reasons, from telling all it knows about the activities of those agents and its knowledge of what they have been able to transmit in the way of military intelligence to Berlin and Tokio.'

Marlin was clearly very disturbed to hear this news.

I said that, if any information which we gave to him in confidence, as part of our secret arrangement for securing the safety of American interests in this country, were used for the purpose of trumping up a case against us, there would be a catastrophic breach, not only in the friendly relationship which had been established between our two Intelligence Services, but also in the wide relations between the two Governments which naturally required a considerable degree of trust in each other. In any case, as he knew, the entire extent of the information available to us and given to him, and the measures taken by us with regard to the facts known to us, all went to show that our anti-espionage activities were completely successful; and, as he himself had acknowledged, so effective that there was no need for him as the American Intelligence special representative to remain at his post in Ireland. If a story was concocted against us, it would achieve no other purpose than to estrange our two peoples from each other, because the Irish people had too fresh memories of such plots in the not very distant past to believe a single word of any evidence that might be adduced, and this was a more vital question from his point of view as the person responsible for military intelligence in relation to Ireland – a new Note containing such a story might easily have the effect of creating a spirit of anti-Americanism amongst our people which might prove more dangerous in its immediate effects than the existence here of two small foreign staffs.

Marlin said that, besides his good feelings for this country, he had to consider his own honour, and he would feel obliged, if what I feared did happen, to resign from the service. He felt he must communicate at once with his chief in London, inform him about the danger and urge him to get into touch with Washington on the subject of the 'Herald Tribune' information and its possible bad consequences.

Marlin was a little bit afraid that the State Department did not, as I suggested they probably did, formally get into touch with the Intelligence Department on Gray's reports of alleged espionage here. He was afraid there was a great deal of confusion and that nobody had enough control to see the whole picture.

I expressed the view that – since, after all, if we in our very small Department could maintain the closest liaison with our Intelligence Service – surely a great Department like the Department of State would not fail to maintain the closest contact with all the information coming in from the Intelligence side.

Marlin again expressed his views. He complained of the absence of tradition in the American Service, both on the diplomatic and the Intelligence side, and he was very much afraid that something might happen precisely because of this want of tradition.

I told him that we felt fairly secure with regard to the English Intelligence Service because they had had such a long experience of the absolute need for secrecy, even between wars, as to what had taken place between them and the Intelligence Services of other countries.

He agreed, and himself enlarged on the subject.

I spoke to him about David Gray and the petty charges which he was now making about the supposed existence of a wireless which conveyed even the speeches of Bishops to Haw-Haw. And I reminded him of the great reluctance with which David allowed him to remain in Ireland and to have any separate contacts with us. I reminded him also of Col. Bruce's remark that we should not take any notice of Gray's idiosyncrasies in this matter.

At the end of our talk, Marlin 'phoned to his headquarters in London. He was returning tomorrow if possible, and on Monday at the latest, in order to have a full talk with Col. Bruce, his Chief, and to inform him of my suggestion – which I had made, as I told him, with the full authority of my Minister – that the best way to forestall any Intelligence difficulties in relation to the Second Front was to establish closer contacts with each other and to begin by having a friendly conference here between the three parties concerned.

Incidentally, I said to him that the Note came as a particular shock because, prior to it, he had said, what he had just now repeated, that he was satisfied that the methods we were using were effective and fully satisfactory. Further, it was a great surprise to us that, before his Government sent the Note, they had not made any attempt to establish closer contact on the Intelligence issue or to make any suggestion how possibly still existing loopholes could be closed. Indeed, it was difficult for Intelligence people in this country to come to any other conclusion than that the move was an exclusively political one.

I spoke so freely to Marlin because he showed himself what I believe to be sincerely friendly, and I thought it would be no harm to get over our views to Col. Bruce and the State Department through a friendly American channel.