331 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Cablegram M2 LONDON, 4 March 1941, 8.24 p.m.

MOST SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL

I have been interested to find here from discussions in the highest quarters that there is intense feeling against the neutrality policy of Southern Ireland. I can tell you quite positively as a result of very long and intimate discussions with Churchill and others that the real fear here, though it is for obvious reasons not publicly discussed, is that losses of shipping may have a strangling result. German technique has developed very much, long distance dive bombers and U-boats co-operating by wireless and for the most part operating West of Ireland. Naval shortages render surface convoy extremely difficult while fighter aircraft cannot be used except at relatively short range. Real problem therefore is not so much the use of Irish ports as the use of land bases from which to employ fighter aircraft. If pressure continues to grow I will not be surprised to find very drastic measures being seriously considered by Cabinet here. I have in mind paying quick visit to De Valera [1] and my hand would be greatly strengthened if Cabinet in Australia could arm me privately with most emphatic expression of opinion that this problem concerns the security of the whole British Empire and that Australia cannot and will not remain indifferent to the continuance of a policy which materially helps Germany and may vitally injure us. [2]

MENZIES

1 Prime Minister of Eire. See Document 388.

2 On 5 March the Commonwealth Govt suggested to Menzies that he should visit Ireland 'to clarify the position by discussion with the President [sic]'. See cablegram 97 on file AA:A1608, L41/1/2.

[AA:A1608, L41/1/2]