841D.01/204: Telegram

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

6266. Your message No. 5736, September 18, I gave to Mr. Eden today. He explained to me that the matter had been discussed with him before leaving Quebec.24 As I understand, the Prime Minister favors the action recommended but there appeared to be some opposition in the British Cabinet. Some of the members who before the war had favored a united Ireland now feel that if they had succeeded in their support of the South of Ireland in establishing unity that the Southern majority might have persisted in their present neutrality program, and without either the South of Ireland ports or the North of Ireland ports Great Britain would have been destroyed by the German submarine campaign and merchant shipping bombing. Only the day before yesterday the First Sea Lord25 stated this case to both Frank Knox26 and me when we lunched with him at Admiralty House. I happen to know that Attlee27 holds the same opinion and as Dominion Secretary has to do with the South of Ireland.

[Page 153]

Eden felt that the message was perfectly drafted, but he also explained to me that there was a real division in the Cabinet on this issue and that a reply would be delayed until there had been an opportunity for the Prime Minister to state the case in support of the message. He also pointed out that our wish to take the matter up with the de Valera Government directly although perhaps wise and understandable, still ran contrary to the theory that Ireland was an integral part of the British Empire. He appreciated the spirit of the message in our recognition that British Government opinion was a controlling factor in our approach to the problem.

I have just met the Prime Minister at the station. He had a comfortable trip and seemed in good spirits and good health.

  1. The Department of Defense has supplied information to the effect that no documentary evidence of JCS approval of the new draft has been discovered, but that, since such action would have been consistent with the views already expressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is believed probable that approval was given informally by the officers appointed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to consult with the Department of State on the matter.
  2. Possibly Albert V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty. The First Sea Lord, Sir Dudley Pound, apparently returned with the Prime Minister from Quebec, arriving in London September 19.
  3. U. S. Secretary of the Navy.
  4. Clement R. Attlee, British Secretary of State for the Dominions and Deputy Prime Minister; he was succeeded as Secretary of State for the Dominions by Lord Cranborne on September 24, 1943.