WI: Britain invades Ireland in WW2

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Von Tyrconnell, May 24, 2018.

  1. Von Tyrconnell Well-Known Member

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    During the Battle of the Atlantic some British military leaders resented Ireland's neutrality and wished to invade Ireland to take control of the Treaty Ports and protect Atlantic trading routes, and military plans were drawn up for it. What if they had gone ahead with the idea perhaps using the German-backed IRA campaign as a pretext for war?
     
  2. ASUKIRIK Well-Known Member

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    It would end in disaster for British. US will back Ireland and end up at best becoming the third side (or fourth if Soviet exploit this to break with entete as well).
     
  3. Catsmate Well-Known Member

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    Nasty guerilla war, with German and US support; huge loss of moral authority; significant boost to German espionage/sabotage campaign in the UK; probable end of Lend-Lease or other US assistanc.
    A massively stupid move.
     
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  4. yulzari Well-Known Member

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    Wished to invade? Were prepared to if Ireland became Axis by policy or invasion yes. Planned to? Certainly. Wanted to have naval forces operate from the Republic, yes. They would have been fools not to have the planning in place during a war. There was a certain tacit understanding with Dublin, albeit well larded with caution. Britain had better things to do with an army at the time than be saddled with yet another commitment.

    What are the sources for this 'wish to invade'? A wish for more overt support from the Republic was pretty well general. From 1870 Britain was doing it's best to divest itself of Ireland in some way acceptable to all. It is not that I object to this as an ATL but with the OTL wish.

    One might also look at the actual invasions of Iran, Iraq and Iceland. Not to mention India and Italy..................... Possibly the mistake is to have a country with a name starting with an I?
     
  5. Von Tyrconnell Well-Known Member

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    According to Nigel Hamilton's Montgomery Making of a General in June 1940 plans were made to invade Ireland but cancelled on the 28th of June:
     
  6. Knightmare Monthly Donor

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    Would end poorly. Ireland is going to rise up en masse, and given how it's going to be mid '40s, meaning they might not have a lot of reserves on hand to really consolidate gains.....

    Oh, and let's not forget the US's reaction. You know, country with a lotta Irish-Americans? Who supplies you guys with a lot of stuff? They might just stop sending over goods. I'm sure England can survive not having as much food...
     
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  7. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    Other Allies would be deeply pissed about this and other neutral nations wouldn't trust to UK. It would be hellish hit to United Kingdom and great propaganda victory to Nazis and later Soviets. And in United Kingdom government hardly would last very long and Churchill would be soon ex-prime minister.
     
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  8. David T Well-Known Member

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    In wartime a lot of crazy "plans" are developed which have very little chance of being ultimately adopted. Montgomery's memoirs make it clear that this was how he felt about this and other "wild-cat schemes" of the time:

    "The planners were now getting busy in Whitehall and various schemes were being considered. When it came to deciding which troops would carry out these wild-cat schemes, the answer was always the same: it must be the 3rd Division since there was no other formation yet ready for active operations. And so the planners decided as a first step that I must be ready to take my division overseas to seize the Azores; this was duly worked out, models of the islands were prepared, and detailed plans worked out for the operation.

    "Then I was told it was not to be the Azores, but the Cape Verde Islands. Then after much work, I was told to prepare plans for the seizure of Cork and Queenstown in Southern Ireland, so that the harbour could be used as a naval base for the anti-submarine war in the Atlantic. I had already fought the Southern Irish once, in 1921 and 1922, and it looked as if this renewed contest might be quite a party with only one division.

    "None of these plans came to anything and I imagine that any work we did on them is tucked away in a cupboard in the War Office which is labelled "war babies." I have seen that cupboard. It seemed curious to me that anyone in his senses could imagine that, at a time when England was almost defenceless, the Prime Minister would allow to leave England the only division he had which was fully equipped and fit to fight in battle..."

    https://archive.org/stream/memoirsoffieldma000362mbp#page/n67/mode/2up
     
  9. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

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    To get this to actually happen you would need a 1930s POD and the Republic having a fascist government and actually attacking Britain or inviting in German forces. And actually if that was the case, the USA would probably be OK with it and even some Irish would assist the invading forces.
     
  10. hipper Well-Known Member

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    The POD would have to be some Bizarre occurrence that rendered the North west approaches unusable by merchant convoys. and merchant ships had to use the South west approaches In which case Irish treaty ports and aircraft would be required.

    in that case the UK would invade and capture the country, significant portions of Irish society would resist, which would be suppressed in the usual manner. after the war an Republic of Ireland elections would happen the new government would ask for the removal of British troops which would occur.
     
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  11. Catsmate Well-Known Member

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    I find the use of "Irish Republic" curious as this didn't exist in 1940.

    Indeed.

    The Irish-American block was already deeply suspicious of Roosevelt's attempts at bypassing the US state of neutrality. Such an invasion would have either forced FDR to condemn the action and curtail support to Britain or split the Democratic party and neutered his presidency (and negated his re-election prospects). Plus they'd have arranged for unofficial support to Ireland which would have worsened the situation.

    Assuming the late JUN1940 date:
    The US might have been forced by internal pressure to intervene in the British invasion/occupation of Iceland.
    Certainly the requested increases iN military spending would carry requirements that the UK wasn't supported.
    The Tizard mission would probably have been less successful.
    No destroyers for bases agreement.
    Oh and don't forget the US elections of NOV1940; FDR will be forced to condem the invasion.
    Finally such an invasion would have, in some eyes, legitimised German espionage and sabotage efforts in the USA.

    Quite likely the UK would have been rapidly forced to back-track with Churchill ousted (forced resignation or lost vote of confidence) and British forces withdrawn.

    Plus there were a lot of Irish in the UK; plenty of opportunity for German recruiting for sabotage and espionage.
     
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  12. sparky42 CMII Donor

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    As I've said before at this stage invading to take the harbour wouldn't have gained them much and only added the defence burden, I mean first assuming Camden and Carlisle resisted the main forts would be damaged, the two graving docks are run down (and perhaps the main docks are already damaged to the point of rebuild (the main door on the inner graving dock in Haulbowline was destroyed at some point, and the pump rooms filled with concrete, not sure what happened to the out graving dock), there's also the need to seize and defend land to see up airbases, stores, barracks etc. All going to be exposed to risks of attacks (remember the Irish would have plenty of veterans of the war of independence).

    If you have active and passive defiance happening (i.e. Workers not supporting the occupation) how much more does the UK have to push into to make use of the harbour?
     
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  13. GermanDjinn Steve Bullock/John Bel Edwards 2020

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    Invading Ireland would've only soured relations with the US and galvanized the IRA
     
  14. TruthfulPanda Well-Known Member

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    The USA would not lift a pinky to help the Irish. Who cares - besides the Irish themselves, of course - about a bunch of unwashed Catholics? Who vote Democrat anyway?
    FDR would have a more difficult time to slip through aid for the UK then in OTL - but as in OTL he was doing it under the table through loopholes and other law bending schemes, this would not be a change. But he'd get less support/even more obstruction from The System.
    FDR had his sights on bringing Hitler/Germany down - he'd not let the fate of Ireland distract him from that goal.
     
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  15. sparky42 CMII Donor

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    However the impact of it might make it more difficult for him to do so, or slow the pace of the support with knock on's elsewhere. And of course for the UK the question becomes what impact does it have on the Irish there, those that are working in the UK industries and the ones that were in the Commonwealth forces, I doubt the British High Command will have forgotten the the impact of the Rising and the War of Independence had on Irish units at the time, up to mutiny in some units.
     
  16. GermanDjinn Steve Bullock/John Bel Edwards 2020

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    The Irish already abandoned the Democratic party once in 1920 due to the US helping the British while they were putting down an Irish rebellion, they would do it again. Just remember that the IRA for most of it's history got funding from Irish-Americans of all social classes.
     
  17. sparky42 CMII Donor

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    The long term impact for Ireland would be "interesting", if the UK had seized the port would they seek to hold it afterwards, would US forces replace them when they enter the war? In terms of post WW2 politics, the Anglo-Irish relations are even more in the crapper than they were OTL and likely to last well into the future. In terms of how Ireland viewed Defence, would we see more willingness to spend on defence to defend the country? An invasion by the UK would kill any chance of joining NATO however...
     
  18. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    I have to seriously question the sanity of this plan.

    The last troops had only been pulled off Dunkirk on June 3rd. While the situation was not quite as dire as some of the movies have made out, the British Army had been utterly decimated, had lost virtually all of its heavy equipment, including 45,000 soft skinned vehicle, ~850 anti-tank guns and 700 tanks of various types. There was enough equipment in the British Isles on June 5 1940 to fully equip two Commonwealth divisions, one of those was the Canadian 1st ID which was recently arrive in-country. Montgomery's 3rd ID has been part of the Dunkirk evacuation, it had rifles for all of its troops, but had virtually no trucks or other heavy equipment worth mentioning.

    The British command, while not defeatist overall, DID seriously worry about a German cross Channel assault at a time when the British army was a force with firepower closer to 1880 than 1940 standards. To take HALF of the equipped Army forces on Britain and try to invade what was likely going to be a fairly unhappy Ireland would have been way beyond idiotic, it would have been criminal.
     
  19. sparky42 CMII Donor

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    I think from memory you had Craig pushing for a full invasion and placing a Governor-General in Dublin, that along with Churchill's long standing position on the Treaty Ports might have combined to get this idea floated (and lets face it Churchill had these flights of fancy fairly often). While there's no question of the state of the UK Forces, Irish Forces would have been in a weaker state in such a situation (one of the reasons why we went and bought some 10K of US rifles around this period from memory. But yes it would have been nuts, but the butterflies would have been "interesting".
     
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  20. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Or they could just ask/wait for the Irish government to shoot, hang and mostly intern the known IRA Members in the republic effectively breaking the organisations back in that period.
     
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