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30-12-2020, 14:36   #1
Samsonsmasher
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What if Ireland had not been neutral during WW2?

Irish neutrality was directly linked to De Valera and Fianna Fail who came to power in the 1930s having reluctantly recognized the Irish Free State in the late 1920s entered the Dáil contested elections won thumping victory over WT Cosgrave and the victors of the Irish Civil War a decade before. De Valera was determined to dismantle the Treaty get rid of land loan repayments dating back to the Parnell era buy out of Anglo Irish landlords, get back the Treaty ports to keep Ireland out of future British wars, dismantle British powers over the government of Eire as Ireland was renamed and pave the road for a full constitutional independent Republic.
De Valera did not declare a Republic while he was in office even during the Emergency because he did not want to politically abandon Northern Catholics cut off from the south under Protestant majority sectarian rule in Northern Ireland.

Twenty years on from the start of the War of Independence 1919-1921 there would be many men who have taken up arms if the Irish state Ireland took sides against Nazi Germany. Ultra conservative Catholics who had supported Franco most definitely would have seen this as a betrayal. Die hard nationalists in the ranks of the IRA would have taken the same line. Marxists around the world taking their orders from Stalin did not support WW2 until the Nazi invasion in 1941 and ideologues in socialist republican ranks would have been no different.

De Valera was almost shot after the 1916 Rising and could easily have died during the War of Independence and Civil War like many of his peers. It was not certain that he would emerge as the leader of Fianna Fáil led government in the 1930s after being sidelined by the IRA leadership during the Civil War 1922-23. Catholic Ireland could have adopted fascist rule possibly under Eoin O'Duffy who led the Blueshirts or some other hard line nationalists. Most of Europe adopted militaristic fascist style government at that time. If Michael Collins had lived and had filled the role De Valera had filled it is possible an Ireland less triumphantly Catholic - Collins held strong anti clerical views - and with friendlier relations with Britain - Churchill and Collins apparently grew to like eachother - might have emerged. Collins might have been quite like General Pilsudski of Poland - posing as a patriot soldier and politician.

In this scenario Collins would have allowed Royal Navy ships to use Irish ports allowed British troops and aircraft to use bases in Ireland while British money weapons and equipment would have been used to raise Irish divisions to fight alongside the Western Allies in North Africa Italy France Germany and Asia just as the Canadian South Africans Australians Indians and New Zealanders did. Luftwaffe air attacks on Cork Waterford and Dublin would have been devastating but outraged the Irish people against the Nazis.

American troops and aircraft would have been based across Ireland just as they were in the UK and because many would have been Irish American they would be warmly welcomed by the Irish people. However the "oversexed overpaid and over here" phenomenon that led to a sexual revolution in wartime Britain would also have played out in Ireland.

Irish troops would have landed in Normandy and perhaps an Irish parachute division like the American British and Polish units would have taken part in drops in Holland and Germany.

Post war Ireland would be part of NATO might have joined the EEC sooner enjoyed the benefits of the Marshall plan abandoning economic isolation industrializing during WW2 and benefitting from the post war boom without the plague of emigration. American and British air ground and nuclear forces would have been based here.

In the 1960s more positive relations between Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland might have existed due to the experience of war. Perhaps more reasonable government without discrimination against Catholic might emerged with bigots sidelined thus avoiding decades of the Troubles?

Last edited by Samsonsmasher; 30-12-2020 at 14:48.
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30-12-2020, 14:47   #2
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I doubt Colin's or anyone else would have led Ireland into the war early on , we had feic all to gain and lots to loose...
We could have entered when it was fairly obvious that the Germans weren't going to win , but I don't think our assistance was a big deal by then ...and I don't think there's have been much change ,
Even If there'd been a facist style coup/take over in the late 20s / 30s I reckon we'd have stayed neutral during the war , although there could well have been a forced regieme change at the wars end ...
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30-12-2020, 16:48   #3
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Didn't Ireland let allied ships use the ports anyway, in a kind of Irish way of officially you can't, but do if you really need to just don't tell anyone? Also, allied airmen were immediately repatriated. Unlike the Germans who were sent to the Curragh.
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30-12-2020, 20:03   #4
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Didn't Ireland let allied ships use the ports anyway, in a kind of Irish way of officially you can't, but do if you really need to just don't tell anyone? Also, allied airmen were immediately repatriated. Unlike the Germans who were sent to the Curragh.
There was a lot of "neutral on the right side" stuff but part of the deal that brought an end to the Economic War between Ireland and the UK was the hand over of the so called Treaty Ports which had continued to be used by the Royal Navy. If that had not be concluded before the outbreak of world war Ireland would have come under Luftwaffe attack.
The Germans had a detailed plan to land forces on our southern coast and march on Dublin.
In the event of that happening British forces would have crossed the border to fight alongside Irish troops.
Realistically any invasion and occupation of Ireland would have followed a British defeat and surrender first.
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30-12-2020, 20:06   #5
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Allied airmen were not immediately repatriated at the start of the war but later, they were "allowed" to wander across the Border and in some cases, actively assisted to cross the Border. The Germans weren't and quite a few declined to make any attempt to escape.....it served Britain better that we were neutral.
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31-12-2020, 10:33   #6
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Originally Posted by Stovepipe View Post
Allied airmen were not immediately repatriated at the start of the war but later, they were "allowed" to wander across the Border and in some cases, actively assisted to cross the Border. The Germans weren't and quite a few declined to make any attempt to escape.....it served Britain better that we were neutral.
With better food, freedoms and conditions than a POW in a UK camp, why would you even bother?
Rather tough to make an escape as an Axis prisoner from Ireland anyhow, easy to get out of the camp, getting out of the country and back home? How would you even go about it?
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31-12-2020, 10:49   #7
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With better food, freedoms and conditions than a POW in a UK camp, why would you even bother?
Rather tough to make an escape as an Axis prisoner from Ireland anyhow, easy to get out of the camp, getting out of the country and back home? How would you even go about it?
Germany had plenty of sympathisers in Ireland. When pows were given parole to go to Dublin to study, and lot of people were eager to host them. If a German with connections had escaped, it wouldn't have been impossible to hide in the population. The ports were tightly controlled so access to ships was difficult but not impossible. It wasn't until later in the war and rationing began to bite that public sympathy for Germany faded.
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10-02-2021, 16:22   #8
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This seems to be the only thread on Irish WW2 Neutrality, so I'll post here.
I see from time to time accusations that German U-boats were serviced by Ireland during the war. I don't know if any of these accusers,who for the most part have no love for Ireland, are suggesting the the Irish government had a hand in this, but clearly that was not so. However, see this piece by a Canadian poster in another site:

John Fletcher, Canada:

"The Irish fishboats would rendezvous with U -boats out in the Atlantic to sell them supplies. I had a friend who was a tail gunner on a Sunderland Flying Boat, who hunted U boats, and they would often find the boats and the subs together at night. They never had any confirmed kills on the subs, but he had several stenciled ‘sinking boats’ on his turret, as by the time he could see where they were, only the fishboat was there as the sub had submerged. He said if all his four guns were working, which was rare, the boats would just about disintegrate if he was on target!"

Is there any truth in this? It is true that a few of our fishing ports had a strong anti-British element which might lend credence to this, but I doubt very much that the logistics of such an operation would make it possible. And at that time not many Irish fishermen had any craft other than currachs.

Any comments, please?

Last edited by feargale; 10-02-2021 at 20:08.
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10-02-2021, 16:34   #9
landofthetree
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Originally Posted by feargale View Post
This seems to be the only thread on Irish WW2 Neutrality, so I'll post here.
I see from time to time accusations that German U-boats were serviced by Ireland during the war. I don't know if any of these accusers,who for themostpart have no love for Ireland, are suggesting the the Irish government had a hand in this, but clearly that was not so. However, see this piece by a Canadian poster inanother site:

John Fletcher, Canada:

"The Irish fishboats would rendezvous with U -boats out in the Atlantic to sell them supplies. I had a friend who was a tail gunner on a Sunderland Flying Boat, who hunted U boats, and they would often find the boats and the subs together at night. They never had any confirmed kills on the subs, but he had several stenciled ‘sinking boats’ on his turret, as by the time he could see where they were, only the fishboat was there as the sub had submerged. He said if all his four guns were working, which was rare, the boats would just about disintegrate if he was on target!"

Is there any truth in this? It is true that a few of our fishing ports had a strong anti-British element which might lend credence to this, but I doubt very much that the logistics of such an operation would make it possible. And at that time not many Irish fishermen had any craft other than currachs.

Any comments, please?
They sold them fish according to Joe Sweeney
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose...sh_politician)

@34.15


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJQ3KDFGgig&t=1223s

Last edited by landofthetree; 10-02-2021 at 16:39.
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10-02-2021, 23:09   #10
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How much would a Deutchmark buy in Donegal at that time?
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10-02-2021, 23:33   #11
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For the anti British sentiment, it’s better the devil you know as your neighbor....

That said, the only interest the British may have in us around WWII would have been a tactical one.

Had we not been neutral, the only help to the allies would have been a strategic one.
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11-02-2021, 01:49   #12
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How much would a Deutchmark buy in Donegal at that time?
Nitpick: The currency of Germany in Nazi times was the Reichsmark. The Deutschmark wasn't launched until 1948.

What would a Reichsmark buy in Donegal? Nothing, basically. It would have been impossible to convert to Irish currency or to sterling. None of the banks would touch it.

If German naval vessels had a need to purchase supplies for cash while on mission, I imagine that the captain was issued with a float of suitable foreign currencies that he could use for that purpose.

But its very unlikely that the Germans would have planned naval missions in which feeding the crew required a fortunate rendezvous with a fishing vessel in order to purchase a few pilchards. Vessels were issued with the food supplies they needed for the mission. If that wasn't possible then the mission would be planned to include stops at regular ports where supplies could be purchased, and German consular officials would arrange for settlement of the cost.

Which is not to say that there might not have been the odd opportunistic purchase as a result of a chance encounter with a fishing vessel; fresh fish would make a pleasant change from tinned beef and powdered eggs. But it would be unplanned, occasional, and a decision made by the captain when the occasion arose. And not, of course, if it threatened the safety of the vessel or the successful completion of the mission.

The suggestion that these encounters were planned, that the RAF were patrolling to detect them, and that they were sinking the fishing vessels involved is, I think, wholly incredible.
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11-02-2021, 17:32   #13
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It probably also would have fairly close to shore , not a lot of big Irish fishing boats back then , not a lot of need to go far offshore ...
And if an armed submarine surfaced next to you and politely offered to buy your catch you'd wanna be pretty brave to argue with them ...
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11-02-2021, 17:43   #14
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Such a pity that De Velera was not shot in 1916. Some lucky alternate reality got that one. We unfortunatly had to suffer him for many more decades to come.i am glad it was not De Velera that declared a Republic. It should have been Micheal Collins that got that honour but because of the civil war and some of De Veleras goones killing Collins he never did. Do I think Collins would have let the British use bases in Ireland during WW2 no not a hope not unless there was a big payment for it and I doubt there would have been as every cent Britain had then was going to the war effort. Its not like it would have benefitted Britain much anyway. Maybe a few naval bases on the west coast might have but that's about it.
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13-02-2021, 14:38   #15
whisky_galore
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Originally Posted by Peregrinus View Post
Nitpick: The currency of Germany in Nazi times was the Reichsmark. The Deutschmark wasn't launched until 1948.

What would a Reichsmark buy in Donegal? Nothing, basically. It would have been impossible to convert to Irish currency or to sterling. None of the banks would touch it.

If German naval vessels had a need to purchase supplies for cash while on mission, I imagine that the captain was issued with a float of suitable foreign currencies that he could use for that purpose.

But its very unlikely that the Germans would have planned naval missions in which feeding the crew required a fortunate rendezvous with a fishing vessel in order to purchase a few pilchards. Vessels were issued with the food supplies they needed for the mission. If that wasn't possible then the mission would be planned to include stops at regular ports where supplies could be purchased, and German consular officials would arrange for settlement of the cost.

Which is not to say that there might not have been the odd opportunistic purchase as a result of a chance encounter with a fishing vessel; fresh fish would make a pleasant change from tinned beef and powdered eggs. But it would be unplanned, occasional, and a decision made by the captain when the occasion arose. And not, of course, if it threatened the safety of the vessel or the successful completion of the mission.

The suggestion that these encounters were planned, that the RAF were patrolling to detect them, and that they were sinking the fishing vessels involved is, I think, wholly incredible.
It's not like a u boat could stop off at a Centra, it had to be self sufficient for a patrol.
If an opportunity for say, a small amount of fresh fish was presented, barter would be the done thing. Bottles of beer or bottle of schnapps, chocolate, cigarettes etc.
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