“Suicidal Obstinacy”: Max Hastings And Irish Neutrality In The Second World War

The title comes from American writer Joe Dees, who so described the policy of Irish neutrality in the Second World War. I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while, but it was the book this quotation was used in that brought it up in the queue. That may excuse the length of the following rebuttal, considering the short length of what I am rebutting.

Max Hastings latest, All Hell Let Loose, is another triumph from the man, who brings such life and vigour to the over-done history of the Second World War. But his book contains one glaringly notable passage for me in particular, when he discussed the policy of neutrality that Ireland maintained during that turbulent period. That passage reads:

“Ireland had gained self-governing Dominion status only in 1922…as the former mother-nation began its struggle for survival against the U-Boat, Winston Churchill was tempted by the notion of reinforcing his country’s claims upon these naval bases and air bases…The Atlantic “air gap” was significantly widened, and many lives and much tonnage lost in consequence of the fanatical loathing of Irish Prime Minister Eamon De Valera for his British neighbours. The crews of almost every warship and merchantman that sailed past the Irish coastline in the war years felt a surge of bitterness towards the country which relied on Britain for most of its vital commodities, and all of its fuel, but would not lift a finger to help in its hour of need.”

It was after reading that passage that I decided to write the following. I’d like to respond to some of things that Hastings said in the above.

Hastings says that Ireland “would not lift a finger to help in its (Britain) hour of need”. The actual sentence here may be trying to speak in the guise of one of the seamen that he mentions, so it’s possible Hastings does not actually think this. Regardless of whether he believes this statement or choose not to respond to it, it is absolutely and utterly false. Ireland did plenty to aid Britain “in its hour of need”. Briefly:

Irish firefighters helped to put out the inferno that blazed in Belfast when it was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1941. De Valera sent those fire crews northwards without a second thought, and they stayed on scene for three days, before doing it all again three weeks later. Ireland kept open the “Donegal corridor” for British aircraft, reducing their flying time in the area round the north of Ireland. Ireland passed on weather reports to British military and merchant shipping. Ireland passed on any reports of submarine activity and unknown aircraft activity off the coast to British authorities. Ireland allowed the British the full use of Lough Foyle, a shared lake between the north and south, which included British aircraft flying in Irish airspace. Ireland allowed British airman who crashed on Irish soil to depart to the north and eventually to Britain, while German pilots were interned for the remainder of the war, as well as interning any escaped Germans from Northern PoW camps (one of whom was shot dead while trying to escape). Thousands of people from Ireland served in the British armed forces, with no check made upon them doing so (after the war was a different story for these men, but no one stopped them leaving). Ireland hunted down and captured all German agents who entered the country seeking to join up with IRA dissidents. Ireland accepted refugees from British cities during the German bombing campaign.

All of this is well known, none of it debatable, was acknowledged by the British in the Cranbourne Report, and shows clearly that Ireland was far from strictly neutral, and if anything, strayed a dangerous line with non-belligerence towards Britain. Ireland may not have given their troops to the British cause, and may not have given their Navy safe berth in our ports, but it is a total fabrication to say, in any way or form, that Ireland “did not lift a finger” to help Britain.

Hastings claims that De Valera had a “fanatical loathing…for his British neighbours”. It is certainly fair to say that De Valera did not like Britain (why would he?) but he was not so filled with hate that he was unwilling to acknowledge the benefits of an Allied victory to Ireland. He had acknowledged the danger to Ireland if Britain’s independence was “threatened” as far back as 1920 and even earlier, had committed himself to the policy of maintaining Ireland’s freedom from the control of any external power, especially if such a power wanted to threaten Britain.

De Valera was no fool, and no “fanatic” when it come to these matters. He could see the fall of Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Albania and Greece for himself. He knew that Hitler and Mussolini had no qualms about rolling over small states. He knew that Ireland would, if it came to it, be no more invulnerable to attack than any of the others had been. He even made his deference to Great Britain known to Berlin in 1938. To that end, he knew that a British victory in the War would be the best outcome for Ireland, hence the myriad of aid and effort that the country gave to Britain in the course of the war. Hastings comments on “Dev” stem from the overly simplistic view that many British historians have of Irish political figures of the early 20th century.

Much more than that, De Valera was, despite his alleged “loathing” of Britain, prepared to invite its forces into Ireland, both in the event of a German invasion of the country, and also in the event of a German invasion of Britain. When France fell, the respective militaries collaborated on contingency plans if Ireland was to be a victim of an invasion, as they both knew it would be in British interests to intervene. Much more importantly, the Irish Air Corps facilitated the possible use of Irish Airfields to the RAF, in the event that Britain fell, and the British plans needed bases from which to continue the fight, as outlined by Donal McCarron in his history of the Irish Air Corps. This would indicate that De Valera would not have jumped for joy in the event of a successful German invasion of Britain, and would have recognised the awful position that Ireland would have been in because of it.

And it should go without saying if Germany had invaded, I am sure that Britain would have sent forces to fight in Ireland out of their own self-interest only, not ours.

Hastings also over-estimated De Valera’s power. The neutrality of Ireland was a policy that was supported by all but one of its 138 TDs. “Dev” was Taoiseach, not a dictator.

And briefly, Hastings says Ireland was dependent on Great Britain for “all of its fuel”. This is factually incorrect, as Ireland made substantial use of turf cuttings during this period to make up the numbers in regards to decreasing volumes of oil and petrol.

Moving away from that, which is well established, the question must be asked: Why should Ireland have joined the war as an Ally?

Well, the most obvious point is that it was not our fight. Germany made no direct, purposeful aggressive moves on Ireland before or during the Second World War (“accidental” bombings can be debated I suppose). Neither did Italy, or any Nazi satellite nation.

Ireland was under no legal obligation to join the war. The Anglo-Irish treaty expressly left defence and foreign affairs under the Irish people’s purview and had no references to defence pacts. The “Treaty Ports” had, as the treaty outlined, been left in the hands of the British, but they had surrendered them back to Ireland in 1938, with the “Eire Act” at the end of the 1930’s trade war. Hastings uses ridiculous words regarding Churchill and his possible military action to retrieve “his country’s claims upon these naval bases and air bases”. But Britain had no claims on them, legal or moral, at all. None. They had given them up, just over a year before the war started and Ireland did not force them to do so.

Ireland had made no guarantees for the independence of Poland, or any other European nation, as Britain had. It is simply put: from the most cynical, realpolitik angle, the Second World War was not Ireland’s fight.

Moving beyond that, it would be impossible to ignore the traditional enmity between Ireland and Britain. Today it is an almost friendly rivalry. Then, less than twenty years after the Revolutionary period, and within a few years of the Economic War, wounds were still fresh. Hastings’s uses another ridiculous term in that above paragraph, “mother-nation” to describe the relationship of Britain to Ireland. 1940’s Ireland did not see Great Britain as its “mother-nation”. Far from it. Such a maternal description does not do justice to the bitter and ugly warfare of 1916 to 1923, the centuries of failed rebellions, the massacres and the oppression. I am not one to blindly follow the line of England bad, Ireland good, (see here for an example) but even I can only deride the use of the words “mother-nation” in this context. Britain was rarely motherly towards Ireland in the long history of the two nations.

In that context, the British are doing a disservice to their own intelligence if they were (or still are) shocked that Ireland did not race to join the other Dominion nations in declaring war on Germany. Ireland and Britain were not friends at the time. Plenty of people in Ireland (though less than many today make out) would have cheered a German victory. If Britain was relying on Irish support, it was a truly stupid assumption to make.

Of course, the aggressive posture that Britain occasionally held against Ireland is another reason. Churchill had plans to seize the Treaty ports by force if needs be. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland encouraged him to invade and occupy the entire south of the island, instituting military rule. In his victory speech in 1945, Churchill spoke almost casually about how easy it would have been to do so, with the tone of someone who thought he should be congratulated for resisting the impulse. “Mother-nation” is certainly something you can imagine Churchill thinking. With all that, why should Ireland have leaned towards engaging in a war alongside Britain, whose leaders were so willing to plan for its re-subjugation, the same kind of subjugation that Iceland suffered under the realm of “the greater good”?

Another brief point. Hastings suggests Ireland should have helped Britain in its struggle for survival against the U-Boat. Aside from the fact that Ireland did plenty, Hastings himself in the same book expands at length how over-estimated the U-Boat threat was to Britain, especially by 1942. He cannot do so, and than change his mind when he needs a stick to beat Ireland with.

The question has been asked, what about the Holocaust? That horrific event that made the Second World War such a vital struggle, worthy of casting aside such trivial disputes as those between Britain and Ireland? The Nazis were butchers and evil, no doubt. All should have united to stop them.

All true…if the details of the Holocaust had been known. I’ve seen people throw this argument in the face of those who defend Irish neutrality in the war – Godwin inverted I suppose – but the facts are clear. Very few outside continental Europe knew the extent of Nazi “solutions” for their Jewish “problem” until after World War Two ended, Ireland even more so since it was not a belligerent and had no troops to see the evidence for their own eyes. Rumours abounded of course, but who could possibly have believed it? Who wouldn’t have suspected Allied propaganda? How could you have comprehended, if you had been Irish in those times, the idea that Germans were gassing people for the crime of their race and religion? Would you have honestly believed it? As is so often the case when we look back on events past, we apply our own modern sense of outrage and foresight. The liberation of the Belsen camp in 1945 was the first really incontrovertible evidence of the Final Solution to be released to public at large at a time when the progression to victory was being counted in weeks. Ireland’s behaviour towards Jews during the war was hardly sympathetic of course, but we are no more guilty of that than most European nations of the time.

And any attempts to “guilt” Ireland into feeling bad about its policy of neutrality from Britain are hilariously hypocritical, considering the behaviour that the Empire undertook throughout the war. Hastings goes into extraordinary detail about the abandonment of the south-east colonial holdings when the Japanese attacked, how refugees who didn’t happen to have white skin were left to fend for themselves, the oppression in India throughout the war, the famines in Bengal and other places, all down to a lazy and corrupted British administration and political system, more concerned with a largely pointless fight in North Africa (Hastings feelings) than feeding the people they claimed to be a “mother-nation” to. Britain has little moral high ground with which to cast aspersions down on Ireland (to be clear, Hastings does not use the Holocaust as an argument against Irish neutrality, but I’ve heard that argument made).

Much is also made sometimes of the “offer” (that Hastings wisely ignores) from Churchill of a United Ireland if De Valera would only agree to play ball. This little nugget of history should only ever be treated for what it was: a joke. The idea that Churchill would just hand over the six counties in return from support is laughable and De Valera knew it. Can you imagine how the northern Unionists would have reacted if that had happened?

Which brings me neatly to my final point. What was in it for Ireland? No United Ireland, no gains of territory, little chance of reparations or spoils of any great deal, in return for what? More dead in bombings and sunk ships? Better relations with Britain, the nation that would have had to threaten us into joining the war? Cynically speaking, there was no substantial gain for Ireland in joining the struggle against Hitler.

It is easy for Max Hastings to criticise from 60 years away from the events. But there was no convincing reason for Ireland to join the Second World War as an ally of Britain, and many reasons for us not to. Ireland played a delicate game in the war years, but it worked out. We may have been left behind in the wake of the UN (temporarily) and Anglo-Irish relations suffered (not that they were stellar to begin with) but how can we expect Ireland’s leaders to have taken the plunge in 1939 or 1940, with the outcome so in doubt? We cannot judge. Ireland remained neutral, and got through the war without huge loss of life or destruction of the nation. Maybe’s, buts, perhaps, could haves, should haves are meaningless. Alternate courses and counter-factual histories are impossible to analyse. We know only what actually happened and the results of the same.

I would not expect an accomplished historian like Hastings to spend too much time in such an ambitious undertaking as All Hell Let Loose to discussing the pros and cons of Irish neutrality, But it would have been better if he had ignored the topic completely than to come out with such a badly flawed commentary.

Postscript 2015: This piece of mine has been the subject of the most vitriol and insults since I started this site. It’s seems to be a topic that attracts the unhinged, who forgo any kind of rational discourse in favour of screaming abuse (and terrible, terrible history).

NFB follows a very strict moderator policy. Spam, insults, moronic hyperbole and anything related, gets deleted. Anything else those commenters write is deleted unread, something WordPress thankfully makes very easy. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to stick around.

Following yet another appearance of someone more interested in writing insults in “wall of text” form – I lost count of how many after the fifth or so, but one included threats of physical violence against me (nothing I took seriously, but just an indication of what I’m talking about here) – I have unfortunately decided to take the decision to end the ability to comment on this piece. Regrettable, but I am in no way obligated to allow these people a forum, no matter how small.

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15 Responses to “Suicidal Obstinacy”: Max Hastings And Irish Neutrality In The Second World War

  1. Owen Kelly says:

    This is an excellent piece. I am surprised at Max Hastings, most of whose works I have read and admired. You should seriously think about sending a copy of this to him. His reaction would be interesting.
    I apologise if my comments below on your piece are a trifle long. The issue is one that interests me greatly. I have a couple of observations which you might wish to take on board. What follows takes full account of the points you make, particularly regarding the definite pro-British line our neutrality took.
    De Valera came to power less than 10 years after a bitter civil war and the earlier war of independence. As well as his constitutional and nationalist agenda, he had an economic depression and potential subversion from both left and right to contend with. He had been a supporter of the League of Nations and had seen it’s effective demise as the 30s progressed. He was also Irish Foreign Minister, which is sometimes overlooked. He was well positioned to see what was happening in Central Europe and elsewhere. Like most of Europe’s leaders his fervent wish was to stay out of the conflict. In 1939, and indeed 1940, no one could foresee how the conflict would develop or end.
    There should be no qualms about Irish neutrality in World War Two. We were quite right to stay neutral. The Low Countries, Norway and Denmark (and later Greece and Jugoslavia) were neutral until invaded. We were fortunate to be able to remain neutral, thanks to our geographical position and to the fact that we did not feature in the war (or post war) aims of the belligerents. The USA remained neutral until Pearl Harbour was bombed. I have used this last fact to shut up Americans who have criticised De Valera, together with the reminder that Germany declared war on the USA, not vice versa.
    Hindsight being a wonderful thing, the interpretations of the War by the (western) victors have in the main cast it as some sort of morally justified crusade because of the Holocaust and the evils of Nazi Germany. The picture has been clouded further by the treatment accorded to Churchill by most commentators. His stirring oratory, his equally superb manipulation of the written word in his memoirs, and the fact that he was on the winning side to write his account, have all contributed to the popular image of him.
    Yes he gave leadership in1940 and 1941, but how serious actually was the threat of a German invasion? The Channel was no Maginot line to be by- passed, and the logistics of any invasion by sea were daunting, in particular since occupying Britain, which was militarily inferior and had been dealt a technical knockout, was not in Hitler’s war aims. Merely saying an invasion was imminent, however eloquently, did not make it real. And after 1941, once the USA and USSR were in the War there was going to be only one outcome, however long it took.
    Churchill was quite prepared to invade (neutral) Norway to get at (neutral) Sweden in 1940, but the Germans forestalled him – all brushed aside now by the morality argument that the “good guys” won. And no doubt he would have invaded Ireland had he thought it necessary or vital for Britain’s survival (whether it would have gone so smoothly or been worth the candle is another matter). Interestingly, after his intemperate outburst about De Valera in May 1945, he never attempted to respond to the points made so superbly by De Valera in the famous radio broadcast. Churchill’s particular virtue was that he blundered early into the realisation of the extent of the threat Hitler and the Nazis posed and had been consistent in condemning appeasement as the Nazi menace grew.
    Nazi Germany was certainly evil and the Holocaust a particularly horrendous and inexcusable event on a massive scale. But no discussion of the War, particularly one that brings in moral arguments can avoid the other major entity on the allied side – the Soviet Union. The Second World War was dominated by the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union. Britain’s role was a sideshow to this main event. Any attempts to censure Ireland for remaining neutral must take account of the criminal nature – and the on-going crimes -of Stalinist Russia.

    The liquidation of the kulaks, the mass starvation in the Ukraine, the purges and the Gulag, all pre-war, put the Nazis, up to 1941, in the minor league. The invasion of Poland – by the USSR – was followed by the Katyn massacre of 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia, before, incidentally, the German offensive in the west in May 1940. Neutral Finland was attacked on a pretext, and after a bloody war, a large part was annexed in early 1940.
    The Baltics, likewise neutral, were invaded and annexed in 1939 and 1940. In Estonia, thousands were imprisoned in 1940, and 10,000 deported as the Soviets retreated in 1941. Many of these were murdered, including half the members of the Estonian parliament. Their names and dates of death are on a plaque outside Ireland’s embassy in Tallinn; the Estonian President died in a KGB prison “psychiatric hospital” in 1956 ( his thought-crime was to persist in claiming he was President of Estonia). Latvia suffered similar treatment with 35,000 deported by the retreating Soviets and many murdered.
    Apologists for these acts of blatant aggression (there wasn’t even the pretext of a Sudeten-like minority) have given the excuse of the Soviet need to protect Leningrad’s flank in the event of a German attack. This, of course, is back to Dev’s riposte to Churchill about Britain’s necessity becoming a moral code. The later incidences of cooperation with the Nazis (particularly in Lithuania) in deporting and murdering Jews have also been used to justify, or at least whitewash Soviet actions.
    The Second World War was a tragedy of epic proportions. Our participation one way or another would have had little or no effect. But we certainly have nothing to apologise about for remaining neutral.
    O.K.

  2. HandsofBlue says:

    Thank you. Bit of a blog post in the making their I think.

  3. Lesley Stainer says:

    Sorry to intrude on the Brit bashing, but you may be interested to know that not all Irishmen are comfortable with the Free State’s conduct during the Second World War: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Irish-Minister-says-Irelands-neutrality-on-Hitler-was-morally-bankrupt-138191239.html.

    It may not be quite true that the Irish Free State “didn’t lift a finger” to help Britain, but I think it’s fair to say that the country did very little in the early years of the war. If you don’t believe me, then try reading “That Neutral Island” by Clair Wills. Even though the author is evidently pro-Irish, the actions of the Free State do not come across in a very favourable light.

    To address some of the issues that have been raised, is the author of this piece seriously suggesting that the British should feel grateful to the Free State for the use of the “Donegal Corridor”? The reality is that as Ireland had no means of intercepting the RAF’s frontline aircraft, there was nothing to stop the British using it anyway – with or without De Valera’s “generous” permission. The problem with hyping-up the “Donegal Corridor” is that the Luftwaffe used to make use of Ireland’s airspace too. In the early years of the war Germany’s Focke Wulf Condors frequently flew over southern Ireland (see “Scourge of the Atlantic” by Kenneth Poolman) and the only opposition they met was the occasional letter of protest. Doubtless these useless missives gave Goering many a sleepless night! The Loch Foyle concession is also an irrelevance, bearing in mind that a) the Free State could not have stopped its use by military means and b) half of the inlet is in UK territorial waters anyway.

    The fact of that matter is that the only meaningful contribution that the Free State could make towards the Allied war effort was to make her ports and airfields available. I can understand why the Free State did not declare war on Germany in 1939, but I am struggling to find a valid reason for her neutrality after Pearl Harbor. From that point onwards surely it would have been possible to allow the United States the use of southern Ireland’s airspace and harbour facilities? Even Salazar’s regime allowed the Allies to use Madeira! As Claire Wills’ book makes clear, the Americans were, if anything, even more annoyed by the Free State’s intransigence than the British.

  4. HandsofBlue says:

    I gave several reasons why Irish involvement in the war did not happen. I’m not copy-pasting them into the comment section.

    You ignore numerous other aspects of Irish aid to Britain to focus on the use the Donegal corridor and Lough Foyle only. I’m not copy-pasting them into the comment section.

    Give me proof that Britain would have violated Irish sovereignty if permission to use the Donegal corridor or Lough Foyle had been refused. If this is the case, why did Churchill not just seize the ports his government had willingly given up a short time before? We couldn’t have stopped him, not really, as you say.

    America’s feelings toward Irish neutrality are not the focus of the piece.

    The thoughts and opinions of Alan Shatter mean very little to me and should certainly not be taken as representitive of Ireland as a whole. I never said “all Irishmen” thought the same way I did. He can think whatever he likes.

    Don’t use such a crass term as “Brit basher” here please.

  5. Lesley Stainer says:

    Hi, it’s actually NFB here. Lesley Stainer’s reply to the above contained some decent talking points, but want on to re-affirm the “Brit basher” insult, then outrightly called me a liar for expressing critcism of the British administration during WW2. I’ve always adhered to a pretty standard protocol regarding comments on blog posts, which is that personal attacks are never acceptable. Such comments are deleted, such commenters are not permitted to continue posting comments here. Take the manufactured outrage somewhere else.

  6. Pingback: NFB’s Top Ten For The Year (2012) | Never Felt Better

  7. lego says:

    Now you have sets of some of your favorite subjects that you can build
    and then use your imagination on to decide what’s happening with what you built. So (1) leave them alone and (2) let them learn by experimenting. He really hated his name, and eventually he went to court and changed it.

  8. Paddy Finucane says:

    Interesting comments on Irish neutrality. 15 pilots from the Irish Free State fought with the RAF in the Battle of Britain, more than twice the number than the USA pilots who flew at the same time with the RAF, USA was neutral like the Irish Free State in1940.
    Brendan Finucane from Dublin was the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF and was credited with downing 32 axis aircraft before being Killed in action. Countless RAF and American planes were repatriated to N Ireland by the Irish Air Corps, who patrolled the Irish airspace from 1939 to 1945 at considerable risk.
    Facts like theses are often overlooked when commenting on Ireland’s neutrality.

  9. NFB says:

    When the Russian war started, Britain absolutely became a sideshow. Any cursory reading of how Germany allocated its resources post 1941 will tell you that.

    The Holocaust did not start in 1933. It was not public knowledge until 1945.

    There was no “moral” issue with Ireland’s lack of involvement. Hindsight blinds.

    Would you have preferred the fire engines were not sent?

    Calm down and try not to get too outraged by events that happened 70 years ago.

    • NFB says:

      I thought you were leaving? Which is good, because you are clearly not able to discuss this issue with any kind of rationality. Your comments, which are moronic, jingoistic and now insulting as well, will be deleted as per site guidelines. Any further comments you make will be deleted unread, as you are either under the age of 12 and not worth discussing anything with, or just somewhat unhinged. Either way, stay away.

      • NFB says:

        One commenter has just left 12 (literally 12) angry comments in a two hour space, getting increasingly abusive with each one, even after I told him/her to stop. I didn’t even read the last half dozen. This kind of behavior is genuinely concerning. I would advise anyone with angry feelings on this issue to take a deep breath before they post here. Attempts to harass me or spam the comment section are pointless, since I can shut down commenting with a click.

        As for that specific commentator, you’re done here. Nothing you are spending hours writing to post is being read. Walk away and get some fresh air (and some sense).

  10. Sorry to enter this discussion so long after the event, but I am interested in this viewpoint inasmuch as it has resonance for the current debate about the future of Faslane (nuclear submarine & nuclear weapons base) in Scotland. At the moment of writing we don’t know whether the vote for independence will succeed, but in that event it raises interesting questions about Little British policy towards Scotland. Would NFB care to respond, and does the Cyprus Model (of sovereign territory ceded to the former colonial power) fit the situation?

  11. NFB says:

    I’m not sure what it is exactly you are asking. Is it whether I think a “Treaty ports” type arrangement between an independent Scotland and Britain would be a workable or a good thing?

    It would be workable, if a newly independent Scottish administration was able to arrange a deal that was beneficial to themselves, through sufficient financial remuneration. I would imagine that a substantial portion of the Scottish people would not be onboard with such a scenario though, and, aside from the unpopularity of nuclear weapon bases, examples in history would show why. One only has to look at things like the Anglo-Irish economic war of the 1930s, when the Treaty Ports became a negotiating pawn to be bartered around, or, more recently, the Black Sea Fleet base that was surely part of the Russian motivation when deciding to enact an invasion of the Crimea.

    But I don’t think it would be wise for me to offer a cast iron comment on what the best course is for the Scottish people – they’ll decide that themselves in a week. I’m given to understand that the minutia of independence will be worked out in scheduled negotiations in the event of a “Yes” vote. Cameron (or whoever is in charge in his place if we’re being realistic) and Salmond will come to some arrangement.

  12. Michael Cannon says:

    I have felt bad about the IRA and their violence! I have felt extremely upset about the inhumane atrocity of England against Ireland and Scotland!
    Yet, these two nations are so forgiving of what has happened to them.
    I remember what Churchill said about my nation during the war. “Don’t let the Australian troops return to defend Australia! Let the Japanese take it and we will get it back later!”
    England wasn’t capable of that at close of hostilities!
    Winners write history but folk songs often tell a different story.

  13. shanebrowne says:

    Is that supposed to be a counter argument to Irish neutrality? I personally view De Valera’s decision to offer condolences as a bad move, it garnered much bad press in the United States, but it has no relevance as a counter-weight to Ireland’s neutrality policy. How about instead you post a link to declassified British intelligence files whereby they continuously agree Ireland’s help in different matters was invaluable, despite Churchill’s latent hostility in the Commons.

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