740.0011 European War 1939/19100: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

451. Following up my message 428 sent yesterday.6 I received a letter from Gray, Dublin, this morning and am quoting below an extract from it. I have great confidence in his knowledge of the Irish position and thought that you should have his estimate of the situation.

“Sir John Maffey yesterday notified Mr. de Valera that American troops were coming in. As he expected, he found the Prime Minister, although prepared by rumor for this move, nevertheless disconcerted and resentful. There seemed to be two grounds for this attitude: First, that the landing of American troops violates a sovereignty which [Page 755] Eire claims to assert over the six counties; second, the resentment which the left wing of the Irish Cabinet representing anti-British elements entertains toward America for its aid for Britain policy. It is quite clear now that Irish policy had very largely been based on the conviction that our country would never enter the war.

Information to this effect was brought back by Aiken7 when he returned from his fruitless quest for arms and supplies. Ever since I have been here I have made myself unpopular warning Mr. de Valera and any members of the Government who would listen to me that this was a very unsound line, inasmuch as it seemed inevitable that we would be embroiled and that, in consequence, the whole strength of the isolationists and anti-British opposition would disappear overnight as has, in fact, been the case.

These people are now out on a limb with no place to go and are in a very ugly mood. I feel that the only thing to do is to avoid any aggression and to let the inevitable shortages, which British and American self interests must without coercive design bring about, liquidate the aspirations for a practicable isolationism which have been accepted as gospel for the past 20 years.”

  1. Not printed.
  2. Frank Aiken, Irish Minister for Co-ordination of Defense Measures.