London’s wartime emissary to Dublin

Lieut Col Dudley Clarke

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – In the article “How an enigmatic, cross-dressing British spy became London’s emissary to Dublin” (News, May 13th), the impression is given that the visit of Lieut Col Dudley Clarke to Dublin in “the summer of 1940″ has been virtually unknown “until now”. This is according to a new book on Clarke by Robert Hutton, The Illusionist: The True Story of the Man Who Fooled Hitler.

In fact full details of this visit by Clarke to Dublin were published for the first time 49 years ago in my book, Ireland in the War Years 1939-1945. When researching the book I had been tipped off by Col Dan Bryan, former head of Military Intelligence, to read Clarke’s book, Seven Assignments, in which he describes a mission to an unnamed neutral country in vague, unprecise details. Thanks to Dan Bryan, I realised this was a visit to Dublin and with his encouragement I visited Clarke in his London apartment where he generously gave me a copy of his original version which had been censored to spare any Irish embarrassment even years after the war had ended. Clarke in the original version had disclosed the first steps in the secret military cooperation between neutral Ireland and Britain which evolved into Plan W whereby in the event of a German invasion British forces would cross the Border and link up with Irish forces to repulse the invader. He had orders from London to try and persuade the then-taoiseach Eamon de Valera to agree to a British military presence before a German invasion but without success. He had more success later in his wartime career in other clandestine activities such as setting up the Special Air Service (SAS) in North Africa and deceiving Germany over the D-Day landings. – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.