Red Bay Defences in WWII (4)
Bob McMullan speculates on German intentions towards Antrim
Over the years, questions have been asked as to why this part of the province received such defence attention. We may never know, but the secret service wartime files released by the Public Records Office in 2001 may give cause for speculation.
According to MI5 records, Germany parachuted a spy into Southern Ireland in 1940, to assess the feasibility of linking up with the IRA to invade Northern Ireland. But the plan was foiled after the spy, Dr Herman Goertz, aka Heinz Kruse, or just ‘K’, was arrested a year later by the Irish Government.
The memorandum, written in 1943 read: 'On May 5 1940 Goertz landed by parachute at Ballevor, Co Meath. Earlier that year the IRA had been in touch with the German SS through the intermediary of Stephen Carroll Held. Held had visited Berlin with a proposal from the IRA for an attack on Northern Ireland by the Germans to be supported by the IRA.
Goertz’s mission was to examine this proposal. The report says that he met Stephen Hayes, then leader of the IRA in Dublin, but the meeting was raided. While money, a radio transmitter and a German airman’s cap were seized, along with manuscripts of the plan, code-named ‘Kathleen’, Goertz escaped.
For the next year Goertz lived in a number of IRA safe houses. Incidentally, he had been arrested in England as a spy before the war and deported. During his year ‘on the run’, he was approached by a member of the Irish Army, Major General McNeill, a fascist, the files say.
‘It is believed he was hoping to resurrect some kind of Fascist ‘Blueshirt’ organisation with the help of the Germans. At first, British intelligence believed McNeill’s involvement meant that the Irish Government was collaborating, but subsequent investigation showed he was acting independently’.
McNeill’s operation to link up with the Nazi’s came to nothing, when the Irish authorities arrested Goertz in November 1941.
The files make good historical reading, but could they throw any light as to why Red Bay area was selected for special defence against a German invasion? It is speculation. But could the seized documents in Dublin have made reference to the Glens as a suitable bridgehead?