740.0011 European War 1939/19101: Telegram

The Minister in Ireland ( Gray ) to the Secretary of State

11. With reference to my telegram number 9, January 28, 3 p.m. Yesterday afternoon at his request I conferred with de Valera on the subject of American troops in Northern Ireland. He expressed deep regret that he had not been consulted in time to have protested. I replied that I was sure no discourtesy was intended, that it was [Page 754] purely a military measure reenforcing British forces, and that I had not been notified. I said further that in my view it was obviously the course least embarrassing to him for if he had had time to protest and his protest had been ignored he would have been in a difficult position. He admitted the force of this but expressed grave fears for the deterioration of Irish-American relations due to border incidents. I said that I was prepared to do everything possible to prevent incidents, that I had already requested our Military Attaché, Colonel Reynolds, to call on General Hartle5 and advise him of the delicacy of the situation, that Reynolds had reported that Hartle was most understanding and sympathetic and ready to cooperate in any way. I told the Prime Minister that I was entirely at his service in endeavoring to continue the happy secret liaison between the British and Irish Armies in case the area came under the American command.

The truth is the de Valera Government is chagrined at our ignoring their claims of sovereignty over the six counties. I can thus far find no general resentment or bitterness. There is general fatalistic apprehension that seizure of the ports is indicated but no suggestion of popular protest. I recommend that if and when we take control of the area I be notified in time to arrange for continuance of friendly liaison between the armies. A typically incongruous feature of the situation is that on the day after the Prime Minister’s protest he ordered that an American Eagle squadron flier who came down on the Dublin airport secretly be given gasoline and told to hurry off over the border. This would cause trouble if released.

  1. Maj. Gen. R. P. Hartle, Commander of American Forces in Northern Ireland.