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

No. 317

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith my memorandum on the invasion and defence of Ireland, together with the report on this subject prepared at my request by our Military Attaché, Lieutenant-Colonel John Reynolds, and other papers relative thereto.12 Lieutenant-Colonel Reynolds has forwarded copies of his report to the Chief, Military Intelligence Division, War Department, Washington, and to Major General Chaney13 at London.

Perhaps the most disquieting feature of the existing situation is the circumstance that those of us who are here on the ground have been so slow in appreciating the gravity of the menace. Possibly this is in part due to the fact that British opinion, entirely without warrant, has assumed that if Hitler attempted an invasion of Britain, there would be a feint attack on Ireland, which could be repelled in our own time and at our own convenience. Since analogous assumptions [Page 760] have already cost Britain much of her colonial empire, it should not be relied upon.

As regards a policy in anticipation of attack, there seems to me to be a choice between two courses:

To obtain possession of all desirable strategic points in Eire at the earliest possible moment by the most practicable means;
To make the best of an admittedly unfavorable situation by making such concessions of armament to the Irish Army as may increase its morale and good-will, without materially increasing its effectiveness in the event that it were to be used against us.

The small amounts of matériel which the British Army have recently transferred to the Irish Army have produced favorable results beyond reasonable expectation. A definitely friendly attitude between the High Commands of Northern Ireland and Eire has been established. It would be desirable on our part, with as little delay as possible, to arrange the transfer of some items, however insignificant. It should be clearly understood that this recommendation does not contemplate any measure of reduction of responsibility for the defence of Ireland by Britain and ourselves. It is purely a political gesture for political ends. In the light of recent events, it is obvious that, without an air force superior to that which the invading force could employ, a defence of Ireland by Irish military power is unthinkable.

I call attention to the communication addressed to me by Lieutenant General McKenna, Chief of Staff of the Irish Army, attached hereto.14 In the conversation with him and the Minister for Defence, at the time he delivered the communication to me, I made it plain that his suggestion that “Partition” be considered as a factor in the Irish case could not be entertained. I pointed out that the attitude of his Government toward the landing of American troops in Northern Ireland had cost the Irish Government whatever sympathy American majority opinion may have cherished for the Irish viewpoint and that the sooner that aspect of the situation was suppressed, the better for Irish security.

Respectfully yours,

David Gray
  1. None printed.
  2. Maj. Gen. J. E. Chaney, named Commander of U. S. Army Forces in British Isles in January 1942.
  3. Not printed.