811.248/755: Telegram

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

5675. Your 6233, November 6.27 Quoted below is the text of a draft instruction to Minister Gray on this subject in reply to his [Page 770] telegrams of October 16 and 25. This draft has been approved by the War Department. Please discuss it with Mr. Gray during his forthcoming visit to London. If you and he agree with this proposed approach he may proceed with the matter upon his return to Dublin on the basis of this telegram. We shall appreciate any further comments from you and also any comments which the British may wish to offer. It would also be helpful to know of any arrangements which the British may have in mind or may have made to deal with this problem.

The text of the draft instruction reads as follows:

“In your discretion, please sound out orally and informally the Department of External Affairs along the following lines:

“With the growing numbers of planes which the United States is sending to the British Isles and which may be stationed in Northern Ireland, it is almost inevitable that American military aircraft will on occasion become lost and make forced landings in Ireland. The American authorities will, of course, take every precaution to prevent such landings but, in view of the geographic position of Ireland, it is too much to hope that such landings can be avoided altogether. It is hoped therefore that the Irish Government will make the necessary arrangements in advance to permit such planes with their crews to proceed, or to be removed, as soon as circumstances permit, to their destination.

“It may be emphasized that American planes which may come down in Ireland will ordinarily be on training or transit flights and not at the time engaged in any hostile activity nor on any hostile mission. It is evident that they are not on their way to bomb Germany. They are in a very different category from German planes which come down in Ireland. In view of distances from Germany and German occupied areas, it cannot even remotely be supposed that such German planes have merely lost their way on peaceful flights. On the contrary, their very presence over Ireland or Irish jurisdictional waters is conclusive proof that they are engaged in hostile operations either against the United Kingdom or its shipping or against Ireland itself.

“Hence different treatment is manifestly called for in the case of American planes. For these reasons, we are led to hope that the Irish Government will make the desired arrangements regarding them. We are further encouraged to hope for favorable action by reason of Mr. de Valera’s declaration of friendly neutrality toward the United States. Definite arrangements on the above lines would be very warmly appreciated by the American Government and the President as a practical demonstration of Irish friendship.

“Naturally no publicity would be given to these arrangements and they would be carried out by the Irish authorities themselves, with whatever cooperation might be necessary with the American command in Northern Ireland.

“If you believe that it would help in your presentation of the case you may add that there cannot be said to exist any definitely established principles of international law which oblige the Irish Government, as a neutral, to hold American planes or crews which for the [Page 771] above reasons find themselves in Irish jurisdiction. The Irish Government in releasing such planes is therefore fully within its rights and is not thereby open to any charges of violating its neutrality.

“Pending a further report from you, it is believed desirable to leave in abeyance the suggestion contained in your 210, October 25.”

The last paragraph relates to Mr. Gray’s suggestion that American plane crews be ordered to refuse paroles in case of internment in Ireland.

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