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Ireland and German invasion during World War II

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  • Ireland and German invasion during World War II

    Couple of letters in the Irish Times on this subject.

    Irish neutrality during the second World War

    Offers of unity

    Mon Feb 13 2023 - 00:03

    Sir, – Reading Brian M Walker’s excellent letter (February 10th) on the high politics of Irish unity and neutrality in the second World War prompts a reflection on how the reluctant citizens of independent Ireland – the southern loyalists – viewed the conflict. These were people who had joined up in 1914 to fight on behalf of the British Empire.

    But they were more ambivalent in 1939.

    A debate in the Senate at the outbreak of war is prototypical. Of the southern Protestant senators who spoke James Douglas, Robert Rowlette, and EH Alton favoured neutrality from a practical viewpoint, while only Sir John Keane spoke against. Southern Protestants who went and fought in the British military reflected this balance between practicality and idealism. Brian Bolingbroke thought that “Generally I had no objection to Ireland being neutral and thought it was the right thing to do... Neutrality was a good thing. It saved this country the appalling devastation I saw in Britain. Frank McLoughlin thought that “We were better off out of it.” John Jacob’s view was that “Neutrality only possible thing – we were a young state.”

    The volunteers went because, in my uncle Michael d’Alton’s words, “that that bloody little monster from Germany had to be stopped”; Ireland would inevitably be next on Hitler’s hitlist. Nevertheless, he thoroughly agreed with the State’s neutrality. If Ireland had joined the war “. . . it would have been counter-productive and would have enabled Germany to invade from the west without international condemnation . . . We’d be more of a liability than an asset. Far more forces would have had to be devoted to our protection that were needed elsewhere”. John Jermyn was convinced that the German juggernaut would, if not halted, overwhelm Ireland; Hitler only had to send “a platoon of girl guides to take Ireland”. Perhaps all this subtlety is best summed up in the joke about the two Irishmen in the British army cowering in a foxhole in north Africa, under intense mortar and machine-gun fire, and they’re arguing politics, of course, as Irishmen do anywhere, and one shouts to the other, “Well, you can say what you like about de Valera, but at least he’s kept us out of this war”. – Yours, etc,

    Naas, Co Kildare.
    Irish neutrality during the second World War – The Irish Times

    Ireland’s defence in second World War

    Army’s capability was formidable

    Thu Feb 16 2023 - 00:15

    Sir, – A letter in your issue of February 13th contains some rather derisory remarks about Ireland’s ability in the second World War to defend itself in the face of a German invasion: Hitler only had to send “a platoon of girl guides to take Ireland” .

    During the war, the Army had two divisions, two independent brigades and three command (ie garrison) battalions – 40,000 in all, and probably 100,000 in the Local Defence Force. Artillery was the bare minimum to fill the establishment, and infantry mortars were scarcer still, but there were sufficient Vickers medium machine guns (at least 15 per battalion), formidable defensive weapons with a capability of firing 600 rounds per minute.

    A German invasion would have had to be either seaborne or airborne, or both. A seaborne force could not be amphibious, ie with a capability of landing on beaches, because the Germans didn’t have the necessary landing craft. Instead an invading force would have to be brought by ship, requiring harbour facilities. On the south coast, the large Cork harbour could have been defended by a brigade (three battalions) making it impossible to achieve a landing. An airborne force would have had to cross hundreds of miles from the French coast, most likely to the Rineanna area, through hostile skies. Our general staff thought the Germans could commit an airborne force of 10,000, but it has transpired that Germany would have had only 5,000. These numbers, even if they had succeeded in arriving, would have been easily defeated.

    It is no wonder that Operation Green, the German plan for the invasion of Ireland, was abandoned. – Yours, etc,

    (Colonel, retired),
    Newbridge, Co Kildare.
    Ireland’s defence in second World War – The Irish Times

    Defence against Nazi invasion

    Operation Green

    Tue Feb 21 2023 - 00:08

    Sir, – Col Donal O’Carroll believes that a single Irish brigade would have been sufficient to repel a German landing in Cork harbour during the second World War and that knowledge of this problem caused the abandonment of Operation Green, the plan for the invasion of Ireland (Letters, February 16th).

    There were, surely, still more fundamental reasons why no invasion was ever mounted: control of the sea approaches to Ireland by the Royal Navy and the presence in Northern Ireland of sizeable Allied forces, first British and then, from 1942, American. – Yours, etc,

    Defence against Nazi invasion – The Irish Times​​