Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog








Operation Unicorn



by Tom B




Volume XV


Old Admiralty Building 0915 hrs Tuesday January 12, 1915


The First Lord was meeting with the Admiralty War Group. The first topic of discussion was the sinking of the AMC, HMS Hilary off the Faeroes, which had occurred yesterday afternoon.

"Henry, what is our latest intelligence about these pestilent U-Boats off the Faeroes?" Admiral Fisher asked Admiral Oliver.

"Decrypted radio intercepts indicate at least two are currently on patrol off the Faeroes. One of them signaled during the night that it was preparing to return home today. However we have decoded message from another U-Boat that is on its way."

"The U-Boats, at least the newer ones, appear to be able to remain on station this far from their base much longer than we had anticipated," mused McKenna.

"Yes, they have, First Lord, which precisely why we need to promptly remove the Sixth Battle Squadron from the Northern Patrols. There is too great a risk we will ending up losing another battleship."

McKenna sighed. Fisher had always been difficult but in the last few days, he had managed to become nearly impossible. McKenna found himself contemplating the real possibility that he would soon need to replace him. For the time being realized he needed to reach some of working compromise with him, so he replied, "We now have some intelligence that with the possible exception of Moltke, all the German battle cruisers are undergoing repair. Furthermore. Sturdee is expected to arrive at Berehaven Thursday morning, finally giving us an adequate number of battle cruisers in home waters. Returning the Sixth Battle Squadron to Channel Fleet would therefore seem to be in order."

McKenna hoped that this would appease Fisher, but the admiral continued to glare. There was an uncomfortable silence. Fisher had wanted to keep Sturdee’s force off Cape Verde longer in case Spee tried to coal in the Canary Islands. Was that still bothering him?

Fisher finally spoke up, "Are you still thinking of giving Sturdee command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron?"

Oh so that’s what’s gnawing at him. "I think so. He now has some good experience working with those ships. He’s intelligent and demonstrates initiative. Unless you feel he should be returned to his prior position—"

"NO!" thundered Fisher.

"Well, there is no reason—no professional reason—to deny Admiral Sturdee an important command. And the only candidate I considered for Battle Cruiser Squadron is Admiral Bayly."

"Bayly? Everyone here knows that Jellicoe has strongly mixed opinions about Bayly. I see problems with the two working together if Bayly commands the battle cruisers. I would much prefer that Bayly takeover Channel Fleet. Burney has been scared of his own shadow since losing Implacable. With the Germans intensifying the pressure on the Channel, this could backfire. I do not see Lewis Bayly being paralyzed by the U-Boat menace."

McKenna tried again to be conciliatory, "I concur with that logic. So might I suggest that we give Admiral Bayly command of Channel Fleet. Burney will replace him at 1st Battle Squadron and Sturdee will assume of the reformed Battle Cruiser Squadron."

McKenna was still trying to be conciliatory. It did not seem to be working as Fisher continued to look unhappy. Fisher did not want to assign Sturdee any significant position.


------Viceregal Lodge, Dublin 1100 hrs


Sir John Redmond of County Wexford had attended the ball Thursday night, meeting only briefly with the new Viceroy. Redmond’s attitude had been civil and properly respectful, but he did not pretend to be overjoyed. The two of them had agreed it was best if that met in private later.

"Would you care for something to drink? I have several fine whiskeys, gin, sherry---" offered Lord Curzon.

"I do not require a beverage, My Lord," answered Redmond in a cold voice.

"No? Not even some tea perhaps?"

Redmond merely shook his head. He did not want to overtly hostile, but neither was he going to be chummy. "My apologies if it seems rude, Viceroy, but I think we should get started."

"An apology is not needed. There are occasions when directness is warranted."

"It is good that you see it that way, my Lord. While I have no intention to offend, I feel I must be direct. To start, do you have any idea of how your mere presence is unraveling the solution to the difficult ‘Irish Question’—a solution which so many have labored so hard to find and implement?"

Curzon shrugged disingenuously, "I have some heard vague chatter of their being symbolic import attached to my appointment. I readily concede that ymbols can be important but I mean to be much more than a mere symbol."

"Because of you, many an Irishman now doubts the inevitability of Home Rule."

"The Orangemen had their doubts ere I was appointed."

Redmond glared at him, "And what is that supposed to mean? Just what has Law been telling you? That there has been some secret deal involving four counties in Ulster? Y’a think I dunna know about that? I know all about it and while it does not make me happy, it is only going to be temporary."

"Sometimes what is labeled as ‘temporary’ can persist for a very long time—and it is to be six counties not four."

"Six! Six counties!" yelled Redmond who then shut his mouth lest he say something very ungentlemanly, "did Law tell you this or did it come from the ranting of Carson?"

"Both. And Birrell confirmed it as well the other day—though like you he has a decidedly optimistic understanding of what ‘temporary’ means."

The normally eloquent Redmond muttered, "Six counties, temporary or not so temporary, six not four, Birrell knows but --damn you, Herbert! Damn you!"

As Redmond was now speaking mostly to himself, Curzon decided to change the topic, "I am concerned about the recruitment figures. The Army is getting much more volunteers from England, Scotland and Wales than they are getting from Ireland. And to be frank in the last two months nearly half the volunteers from Ireland have come from Ulster. Some battalions of the 16th Division continue to be undermanned. And this trend started long before I was appointed, so please don’t try to blame this on me."

Redmond’s expression still looked distracted. Finally he focused on what the Viceroy had just said. He surprised Curzon by grinning, "Well that’s a bleeding shame. Well, I guess I will have to blame Lord Kitchener then—if that’s acceptable."

Curzon grinned and chuckled, "Perfectly acceptable. I would like however to now the logic behind such an appealing assessment."

"I have tried to get the National Volunteers recognized and properly armed by the government to guard Ireland thereby freeing up British units for France. He dismissed that idea with contempt. Then I tried to get him to set up a wholly separate Irish Army. Again he refuses. There are 3 divisions being formed in Ireland. The 36th Division is drawn almost completely from Carson’s Ulster Volunteers. There has not been a British military formation this blatantly political since the Civil War."

"Surely you exaggerate!"

"Oh but I wish I was, Viceroy. But consider this—all recruits who wish to join this unit must sign the Solemn league and Covenant—this pledges them to opposing Home Rule in Ulster. There are other things as well. They are allowed a flag emblazoned with a potent political symbol—the Red hand of Ulster. But when the sweet lasses of Ireland sewed a wonderful flag with a gold harp for the 10th Division to use, Kitchener disallowed its use. Likewise my recommendations for distinctive insignia to be worn on their uniforms has been denied. Worst of all Irishmen whose education and background suitable to be officers are being denied commissions if they happen to be Catholic. The senior officers in all of the New Army Irish Divisions are almost completely Protestant."

Redmond looked Curzon straight. He saw no clear cut reaction. Curzon was troubled by what he had just heard. He paused to consider his response, tapping his lips. Finally he said, "This seems rather short sighted on the Field Marshal’s part. I will not deny that he has strong Unionist convictions. Let me assure that while I too have opposed the Home Rule Bill in Parliament, I have no truck with those who wish to take this matter outside the political system. For this reason, I find these private armies—both Carson’s Ulster Volunteer Force and your own National Volunteers—to be completely reprehensible. One of my highest priorities is going to be the disbanding of all of them."

Redmond sighed and wondered. Was the Viceroy disguising his Unionist agenda—or merely being naïve.


------KM Dresden north of Hispanola 1810 hrs (GMT)


The Germans were sick of banana boats. Yesterday they had captured a cargo of coffee out of Colombia, which was much more appreciated. But now they had chanced upon a real treasure! The British freighter out of Jamaica carried what the Royal Navy regarded as a precious commodity, one of the traditional linchpins of their sea power.

The Pirates of the Caribbean had just taken a ship full of grog.


10 Downing Street, 1410 hrs Wednesday January 13, 1915


The War Council had reconvened to further discuss the Dalmatian Campaign recommended by Carson. The debate continued to be intense. Bonar Law, Chamberlain and Lloyd-George strongly supported Carson’s plan. Lord Kitchener remained adamantly opposed. Some of the Liberal Ministers still had high regards for Kitchener and therefore supported his opposition. Grey initially saw considerable merit in Carson’s plan but unwilling to oppose Kitchener continued to be strongly opposed. Asquith sensed that Carson’s Plan was a device for Law and the Unionist-Conservatives to establish themselves as experts on strategy. For largely political reason he wished he could find a compelling argument against their plan, but he could not formulate one—other than repeating the refrain that the great Lord Kitchener must be right.

Admiral Fisher supported the Dalmatian Strategy—but with several strongly suggested modifications. Fisher supported the initial phase of the operation but he believed that Greece would join the Entente "within a week at the most" after the British force was landed in Albania. After that Fisher maintained that the focus of British strategy should shift to an attack on the Dardanelles by a combination of naval power and ground troops--the Greeks constituting most but not all of the latter.

Carson went the offensive, "Lord Kitchener, you continue to oppose my own plan. Might I ask yet again if you can offer an alternative response to the urgent Russian request for assistance?"

Kitchener’s nostrils flared, "The navy can bombard the outer forts of the Dardanelles in the next month. In early April we can land three divisions at Alexandretta. By then we should be able to get at least one French division to participate in that operation as well. Having the French participate would eliminate most of the political problems. The capture of Alexandretta will cut the Turkish communications to Syria and eliminate any threat to the Suez Canal. It will cause them to forget all about the Caucuses."

"I, see, Field Marshal," countered Carson, "but this alternative plan of yours relies on sporadic naval bombardment to both divert the Turks and intimidate the Bulgarians for a critical period of nearly 3 months. Also you mentioned ‘political problems’ attendant to this scheme. Would you care to elaborate what they are exactly?"

"There are some problems with the French," came the answer through clenched teeth.

"Could you be more specific, Lord Kitchener," interjected Lloyd-George.

Kitchener glared daggers at both Carson and Lloyd-George. He took his time replying.

Grey answered instead, "The situation is that the French have expressed their own interest in Syria and would disdainfully view any unilateral action on our part there as an encroachment."

"So a further limitation of this plan is that it requires French participation?" asked Carson.

"As does your own plan," snarled Kitchener.

"True, but only their fleet in an area to which it is already committed. It requires no major shift in their naval policy, only some coordination."

The arguments raged on long into the night.


------HMS Arethusa 2310 hrs north of Ostend


In the morning the Naval Intelligence Division had intercepted and decrypted German radio messages about another destroyer sortie from Zeebrugge. This time Harwich Force was positioned north of Ostend to pounce on the German destroyers.

The dinner table was set but the guests failed to arrive. Instead a storm arrived with violent winds and heavy seas pounding the ships of Harwich Force. Commodore Tyrwhitt fretted. None of his destroyers were in any real danger of foundering, but prolonged exposure to a storm this intense would cause some damage to his vessels and possible sweep an unfortunate sailor or two overboard.

What he did not know was that the Germans had decided to cancel their raid at the last minute due to the weather. A brief wireless message had been transmitted that the sortie was being cancelled. Room 40 received this message but there was some uncertainty about whether it applied to the destroyer sortie or another operation. Admiral Oliver decided not to pass the message on to Operations.

Tyrwhitt thought about Dover Patrol. They were out in force tonight—a division of 3 old ‘C’ class destroyers was positioned as bait off Dunkirk. Those small TBD’s were even less suitable for this weather than the modern destroyers of Harwich Force.


South of Perthes, France 0930 hrs Thursday, January 14, 1915


The French offensive had not been limited only to Champagne. For instance, two days ago there had been a determined attack near Montdidier. But Champagne remained Joffre’s major objective. It was there that he hoped to achieve a breakthrough and cut a vital east-west rail line. At the beginning of the campaign he had captured Suippes and held it despite the many fierce German attempts to retake it. But since then the French progress was painfully slow. Sometimes their attacks failed completely. Sometimes they had some limited initial success advancing perhaps a mile only to lose most of their gain to the nearly immediate German counterattacks. While Joffre told the government and the press all was going well, he expressed mounting displeasure to his generals. Today there was to be a major effort. If they could not achieve a breakthrough Joffre was adamant that they at least capture the key city of Perthes..

There was poor visibility with strong winds driving heavy snow. The division commanders had all requested that the attack be postponed. They were ordered to go ahead with the planned attack. There was dawn bombardment by a concentration of 75’s with a smattering of heavier guns. Given the visibility it fired almost blindly.

It was now time for the infantry. They charged into no man’s land. The German artillery was untouched by the preliminary bombardment but it was severely handicapped by the weather as well. Only a few rounds were fired as the gunners decided it was best not to waste shells. So initially the French soldiers were hindered more by snow than shell. But they soon found thick uncut wire in front of them. Machine guns opened fire—even in a snowstorm the red pants stood out.


Carpathian Mountains 1030 hrs Friday January 15, 1915


The offensive by the Austro-Hungarian Seventh Army had begun the day before in a snow storm. General Pflanzer-Baltin had used it to hide his preparations. He struck in an area where his largely Cossack opposition had not bothered to entrench. There were only a few strongpoints to overcome. Despite the weather and the terrain he had accomplished most of his initial objectives. He realized that going forward there would soon be serious problems with communications, supplies and frostbite. Still he was satisfied. Even Conrad seemed satisfied—or so it appeared from the wireless message Pflanzer-Baltin had received an hour ago.

Not everyone was pleased, though.

"I can’t feel my toes, I can’t feel my toes!" yelled one of the Bavarian infantrymen with some alarm. There had already been several toes and even a few fingers amputated in the battalion. The men were too exhausted to continue marching. The prior days advance had been mostly downhill but this morning they were now forced to march uphill. Fortunately today there had been only one instance of combat—a troop of Cossack cavalry had erupted out of copse and caused some trouble.

Conrad had requested a German division to reinforce Seventh Army. Ludendorff decided to give them the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division. Yesterday their performance had been barely adequate. Even though Bavaria was more mountainous than most of Germany this was not a form of warfare they had trained for. The Hungarian units had done appreciably better.

A familiar form now came into sight running up the road—barely more than a forest trail. It was the loud mouthed messenger.

"What’s the news Adolf?" one of them asked as he passed them, "Are we heading for lower ground at least?"

Hitler would not have stopped if had a message to deliver, but he was now merely on his way back to his headquarters after making adelivery. He had inhaled cold mountain air deep into his lungs the last few days. He paused now to indulge in a coughing fit.

"Sounds like smoker’s cough, Adolf, you really should quit, remarked one of the soldiers and the others had a good laugh, mocking Hitler’s well known disdain for smoking.

Hitler glowered at his mockers. When he was done hacking he answered the original question, "As far as heading out of the mountains that is correct."

"They why are we marching uphill?"

"There is a ridge we must cross. The crest is not far off. We will be heading downhill again before nightfall."

"That at least is good news. But there is another question I have been meaning to ask you, Hitler. Didn’t you tell that once Feldmarshal von Hindenburg was put in charge of the German forces in the East he would never let any of them be used in a winter offensive. So here we are on a paid vacation in the Carpathians."

This prompted some snickering. Hitler did not have a ready reply. He regarded it as a sign of grotesque incompetence for a general to order an attack under these conditions. He could believe it of the Austrians who had many incompetent generals. Previously he had great admiration for Hindenburg. Now he was appalled that his hero could be browbeaten by an Austrian cur like Conrad, into allowing a German division to participate in this foolhardy adventure.

He made one more cough, "I must be getting back to headquarters."


------Berlin 1615 hrs


Rudolf Steiner, the head of the Anthroposophical Society, had just arrived in Berlin ostensibly to given a series of lectures. This was the first time had left Switzerland since the war had started. Before the war Steiner had been good friends with the French Theosophist, Edouard Schure, whom he considered a fellow Adept. He had hoped that the war would not drive a wedge between Schure and himself, and so far had avoided taking any actions or positions to alienate Schure who intensely supported the French cause.

Now he had suddenly decided to come to Berlin. Before departing Dornach he sent a word to Feldmarshal von Moltke that he wished to speak with him as soon as possible. He asked that the Feldmarshal come alone, not even bring his wife, Eliza, who was an even more believer in Anthroposophy than her husband.

Moltke had been able to free up some time. In this regards his current position has better than his previous one. Nothing currently underway OKW required an immediate decision. He left General von François running the shop and had a motorcar take him to Steiner’s hotel.

Moltke knocked on the door.

"Who is it?"

The Feldmarshal momentarily wondered why Steiner needed to ask if he was indeed clairvoyant. He quickly dismissed such thoughts as unsettling and counterproductive. "It is I, Helmuth, Herr Doktor."

The door opened. Behind the door was Rudolf Steiner, a tall lankey man in his mid-fifties. In his left hand was a burning cigarette. "Come in please, Herr Generalfeldmarshal."

As Moltke walked in he was mildly surprised to see another man in the room. An elderly gentleman with a well trimmed beard, who stood up respectfully as the feldmarshal entered the room. There was an eager expectant look on his face. Moltke turned towards Steiner with a quizzical look.

"Feldmarshal, this is Sir Roger Casement. I think you should talk with him."


"So today I propose to speak to you about the influential Mysteries once centered in the troubled island of Ireland, to the west of England, the Mysteries of Hibernia, to which I also referred in my Mystery Plays. Speaking comparatively, it is much more difficulty than in other cases to approach these Ancient Hibernian Mysteries in what I have called in many of my writings the Akashic Record. It is much more difficult for subsequent vision to find in that eternal record the pictures remaining there of these Mysteries than it is to find those of other Mystery Centers, for in trying to approach the Hibernian Mysteries the impression is that the pictures contain extraordinarily powerful forces that repel one and thrust one back. Even if the pictures are approached with a certain courage of vision—a courage which in other cases meets with less resistance than is experienced here—the opposition is so intense it gives rise to a kind of numbness. Knowledge of what I am about to describe to you is therefore fraught with hindrances.

However there is one image that does arise to assist in this investigation. It is that of the fabled unicorn…"

-Rudolf Steiner, lecture given in Berlin, Monday, January 18, 1915


Tortuga Haiti 0905 hrs


"It is time to leave," announced Admiral von Spee.

Perlmutter nodded, "That would be prudent. The British are beginning to get suspicious. Their agents are making inquiries. They are working with the Americans in this. President Wilson would love to invoke the infamous Monroe Doctrine here. They are waiting for an excuse to move in and take over this poor country "

Spee nodded, "I would not want to have a confrontation with the Americans under these circumstances. I do not completely General Sam either. His ruthlessness will be his downfall. Be careful, my friend."

"I do not trust him either."

"And there are other aspects of my situation. For instance my ships are long overdue a proper refit."

:"I understand. I own a few fishing boats, but the principle is the same."

Spee grinned slightly, "My ships are in a sense merely another form of trawler. We harvest the sea just like you."

"You flatter me, Admiral. But didn’t you tell me that the Admiralstab recommended postponing your return to Germany until the beginning of March."

"Yes, they did indeed send such a message. From the newspaper accounts about what happened the Battle of Dogger Bank—sketchy and speculative as they are-- I can understand why and I shall take that into consideration. But I am mot sure my ships can wait that long. It was only a recommendation, not an order. We will see."

Perlmutter shrugged, "Your choices are not easy ones to make. You will do as you see best." He then turned towards his Germanophile Haitian henchman, "Well, Claude, do you still want to take up the admiral on his offer."

Claude shook his head with great enthusiasm, "Jawohl!" Spee repressed the urge to laugh.

"Then go get your men. Your ship will be sailing soon."


------Southwestern Front HQ 1525 hrs


General Nikolai Ivanov read the telegram with disgust. He shook his and handed it to Mikhail Alexeev to read, grumbling, "STAVKA apparently agrees with you. They view the enemy offensive in the Bukovina as their main effort, while I still see it as merely a diversion. Lemberg remains Conrad’s primary objective."

Alexeev read the telegram with little visible emotion. He knew better than to show too much satisfaction in situations like this. Ivanov was a fool but a dangerous fool. He weighed his words carefully, "STAVKA is right but only because they share an error with our foes."

Ivanov gave Alexeev a look of total bewilderment. It was unfortunately an expression Alexeev had seen all too often. "And just what is that supposed to mean?" growled Ivanov.

"It means that both STAVKA and Conrad are focused too much on the insurrection in Transylvania, and its potential for bringing Romania into the war as an ally. I think they both wildly overestimate the potential military power of the Romanians. I see them being of limited assistance. In fact they might end up becoming on a drain on our own forces if they get into trouble."

Ivanov raised his bushy eyebrows and scowled, "Always think you’re smarter than everyone else, Mikhail. Smarter than Conrad, smarter that the Grand Duke and of course, smarter than me. "

Well to be perfectly blunt I am smarter! What Alexeev said though was, "Please General Ivanov, it would be much more constructive if we concentrate on how we will comply with this message from STAVKA."

Ivanov continued to scowl, but after a minute he shrugged, "Oh, what the hell? Why not? What do you suggest?"

"We should permit Dniestr Group to continue making a fighting withdrawal, while we reinforce Eighth Army---"

"—we sent a rifle division to Brusulov just yesterday."

"That is true. It was a newly formed second line division with minimally trained infantry—a nearly third of which want for a rifle."

"Regrettable but the rifle situation should correct itself once they get into combat."

"It is insufficient! We need to reinforce General Brusilov with at least one first line corps. Then he can attack the left flank of the current enemy offensive and still fend off the Austrian pinning attacks .he has been experiencing.."

Ivanov scratched his right ear and thought it over. Finally he stopped scowling, "If I am proved right and Conrad does march on Lemberg, having a stronger Eighth Army will let us attack the right flank of that operation. So now let us see can find a first line corps we can spare."


------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 1940 hrs


Lord George Curzon, the Viceroy of Ireland, was delighted that Miss Mary Spring-Rice had consented to have dinner with him in the Lodge. She was not the only woman in Ireland that he found "interesting" but she still headed the list. The others were married women and he could therefore be more direct in expressing his intentions in private. With an unmarried woman of the upper classes things were more complicated.

As she finished her lamb, Mary tried to decipher her own feelings. She knew full well that the Viceroy had a reputation as a womanizer. He provoked mixed feelings in her. He could be witty and charming one minute and insufferable the next. True, she had known other men who provoked a mixed response but none so sharply as what she experienced now with the Viceroy. Her interest in coming here was as much political as romantic. Many in Ireland saw in Curzon’s appointment the ruination of Home Rule—some with trepidation, while others with jubilation. She had learned third hand that his meeting with Sir John Redmond had been stormy. She needed to find out what she could.

Initially what she discovered was reassuring. Curzon again reiterated his belief in the rule of law and convinced her that he sincerely intended to implement Home Rule once the war was over. Then he lurched into another topic, "What is most intolerable in the convoluted political situation here is the secretly armed private armies. Even though I am a Unionist, I make no excuses for the Ulster Volunteers. The organization should not exist. The fact that many of its members—after an initial period of hesitation—are enlisting in droves is all well and good, but it does not excuse their near treasonous behavior last summer. There is evenless excuse for the existence of the National Volunteers --for unlike the Ulstermen they have not been enlisting in anything more than a trickle. Did you know that both groups have some received arms from Germany? Utterly contemptible—what is it, my dear, is something wrong>"

Mary’s heart raced at his last question, and she choked slightly on her wine. She recalled how she accompanied Childers and his wife on his yacht, and how she had helped them load the boxes of rifles and ammunition from the German vessel.

"Ugh, gasp, uh, some wine went down the wrong pipe, My Lord. That is all. Uh, as to your question I did hear some rumors to that effect."

"Hard to believe, is it not? Our chief enemy in this current conflict sought to divert us from doing our duty by stirring up discord in our own backyard. The Germans are scoundrels, but they not anywhere as despicable as the wretched Irish traitors who accepted their arms. Are you sure you are well? You look flustered."

"I am well, My Lord. Think nothing of it. Uh, might I ask what you propose to do about this matter?"

Curzon scowled, "For the time being, bloody well nothing it seems. Birrell refuses to take action. He claims that attempting to seize the arms by force will precipitate a rising. Furthermore he maintains that this matter is the prerogative of his office not mine. He has the cheek to say that I should bring the issue before the Cabinet if I am dissatisfied."

"And are you going to do that?"

"Do what, my dear?"

"Take this matter before the Cabinet."

Curzon shook his head, "Sadly no, much as I would like to. You see what I propose is to seize all the arms—both the Ulster Volunteers and the National Volunteers. Carson will oppose this and Bonar Law will side with him. My own party would embarrass me if I go before the Cabinet. And Birrell damn well knows this."

Mary grinned disingenuously, "Politics can be so complicated.."

Curzon’s nodded grimly. An added complication to this situation was that Bonar Law had told that the Cabinet was deeply embroiled in a fierce debate over British strategy. This thoroughly distracted them from any issue relating to Ireland. He made a stoic grimace, "Yes, that it is most certainly true. And for precisely that reason it is best that women are not plagued and pestered by it. For even men often have trouble making sense of it. How could women be expected to?"

That was a topic Mary felt best to leave for another time. She had too much to think about just right. Memories came back of the dreadful storm. She had expected to die that awful night. She had risked her life bringing those guns to Ireland. Now this man wanted to take them away. Not if she could help it. There were those who should be forewarned of the Viceroy’s intentions.


OKW HQ Berlin 1025 hrs Tuesday, January 19, 1915


There were three officers in the room with Feldmarshal von Moltke—two from the Army and one from the Navy. They had just received a remarkable assignment. None was openly scoffing but Moltke noticed a skeptical look in their eyes. That was not surprising. He himself thought it was incredible. He tried not to think about what Tirpitz would say when he found out. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. He tried to reassure the staff officers, "You understand, of course, this is only to be a staff study of what our possible options are."

The three of them nodded. There had been other plans, which had been drawn up in the past that had also been very strange. The plan for invading the United States, which the Kaiser had once requested was a prime example. What the Feldmarshal had now demanded was not any more bizarre than that plan. Perhaps this new assignment was another whimsy of the All-Highest. They were officers of the Reich. They had been given orders. They would carry them out to the best of their ability.

"Will you be assigning this staff study a name, sir?" asked one of the staff officers.

Moltke sighed slightly then grinned. "Oh, why not. Let’s call it, er, uh, what’s a good name?" He paused and then he remembered a lecture he had attended the previous night, "I know, let’s call it Operation Unicorn."


------HMS Arethusa north off Ostend 1410 hrs


Once again Harwich Force and Dover Patrol had been alerted that there was "good intelligence" of a sortie by the German destroyers based at Zeebrugge. Neither Admiral Bacon nor Commodore Tyrwhitt knew that this intelligence came from an intercepted wireless message. Neither of them knew of the existence of Room 40.

The disposition of the British forces was a repeat of the prior occasion. Dover Patrol again had 3 old ‘C’ class destroyers off Dunkirk. It was hoped that the Germans would again try to attack them at dusk. Further west Bacon had 3 of the more powerful Tribal class destroyers plus 4 well armed French destroyers. Harwich Force meanwhile was positioned to swoop down on the rear of the attacking German flotilla, and hopefully destroy most of it.

Some of Tyrhwitt’s destroyers had been damaged by the weather the last time. One of them was still out of action. Likewise Dover Patrol had lost 2 French sailors swept overboard and 2 of its destroyers were still out of action from storm damage. After the Germans had failed to show the last time Tyrwhitt had been informed by the Admiralty that the weather had caused them to cancel their sortie at the last minute.

So the commodore reviewed this evening’s weather forecast. "Patchy fog with a strong possibility of snow after dark." Would that cause the Germans to abort again? The wind, however, was supposed to remain moderate so maybe they would make an appearance this time.


------Bridgetown, Barbados 1530 hrs


The combined British, Japanese and French task force under Rear Admiral Gough-Calthorpe, which was hunting Spee was nearly finished with its coaling. They had just returned from patrolling off French Guyana and the Mouths of the Amazon.

There was increasing intelligence that at least some of Spee’s warships were operating to the north of Hispanola. The Admiralty feared he might attack the Bahamas, where the defenses were much weaker than Bermuda or Kingston. Again they warned against letting his cruisers get too distant from the battleships lest they risk being defeated in detail.


SMS Dresden 0910 hrs Wednesday January 20, 1915


"Are you sure?" Kapitan Ludecke demanded of the lookouts.

"Yes, Herr Kapitan, the warship has cage masts. That is good news, ja?"

"Should we stand down from general quarters?" asked the executive officer.

The warship was American. It had changed course, not trying to intercept but to come closer as it passed them. The American skipper wanted a better look at them.

Ludecke was not sure what to make of the situation. He hesitated then ordered, "When the American ship is out of sight, the men can stand down. Not before then. And signal Admiral von Spee of our discovery."


------Wilhelmshavem, 1400 hrs


The Admiralstab was in session. Admiral von Bachmann had requested the attendance of Admiral von Ingneohl and Admiral Hipper, who had recently been promoted to Vizadmiral. Admiral von Tirpitz was also in attendance. Hipper once again had the impression that while it was Bachmann who outwardly performed, it was Tirpitz who pulled the strings.

"After some initial bottlenecks with labor and materials, I am pleased to report that repairs on the High Seas Fleet are progressing in a most satisfactory manner. And the first contingent of Austrian shipyard workers will arrive tomorrow morning.. That should accelerate things further."

"Good! Then the new battle cruiser can be laid down before the end of February," interjected Tirpitz in a gruff voice. He was still seething over the delay in the construction of the Mackensen.

Bachmann nodded, "Yes, that looks likely, Grand Admiral."

"The repair work is progressing faster than I thought possible, " remarked Ingenohl, "we should be grateful to Feldmarshal von Moltke and Herr Rathenau for their assistance."

Tirpitz rolled his eyes and snorted. When it came to gratitude he was a firm believer in moderation.

"Ah, yes, that is quite so," answered Bachmann with little enthusiasm, "But the real reason I have called you here is that the Admiralstab wants you-- with the assistance of Franz here-- to work up a plan to achieve control of the seas in early March, when most of the repairs are expected to be completed."

"I see—well actually not completely. Could you please clarify what is meant by ‘control of seas’?"

Before Bachmann could speak, Tirpitz loudly interjected, "It is extremely simple. It means you are to destroy the Grand Fleet. Is that clear?"


------Straits Of Dover 2025 hrs


The weather was deteriorating but it as the seas remained only moderately heavy, the German destroyers persisted in their sortie. This time their mission was not to raid the Dover Patrol off Dunkirk but to move to Boulogne, which was to be their new base. With banks of fog and thickening snowfall, they managed to penetrate unobserved south of the Sandette Bank between the forces of Dover Patrol off Dunkirk and Harwich Force to the north.

Off Calais there was another division of 4 old ‘B’ class destroyers, which had not been intended to participate in the ambush. They were merely out in the usual night patrol of the Straits. The German flotilla now brushed against the port flank of these weakly armed destroyers. In wretched visibility there was some brief exchanges of gunfire. The German destroyers moderately damaged one of the British destroyers then continued into the English Channel.

The stronger British forces to the east now sped to the scene of the encounter. Being closer the French destroyers of Dover Patrol arrived at the scene first and in their confusion fired on the British destroyers. The British briefly returned fire but before any damage was done both parties realized their mistake. While this was happening Tyrwhitt mistakenly concluded that the German sortie was another hit and run raid and tried to intercept their flotilla on their way to back to Zeebrugge—but they were not heading back to Zeebrugge.

The Germans pushed on towards Folkestone. They were disappointed to find no shipping. Their commander briefly considered shelling the shore but decided the visibility was too awful to do accomplish anything useful. The flotilla than swung around the south end of the dangerous Varne Shoal. As they approached Boulogne they encountered a sloop and a very old torpedo gunboat standing patrol Neither of them was expecting an attack from due west. Both were quickly sunk.

Alerted by the gun flashes powerful searchlights from Boulogne fanned over the ocean. The falling snow was strangely beautiful in their glare. The German destroyers turned on their recognition lights. They steamed into their new home.


northeast of San Salvador 1210 hrs Thursday January 21, 1915


Leipzig had stopped a British merchantman carrying a cargo of petroleum stored in barrels from the Mexican oil fields at Tampico. This was good news for the Germans. They knew that the Royal Navy was moving towards oil fired boilers for its warships. The bad news was that this freighter was equipped with a wireless. Leipzig had tried to jam its distress signal it was not clear if the jamming was successful.

Aboard the Scharnhorst Admiral von Spee digested the latest report. It appeared now that the wireless aboard the merchantman was fairly weak. Its signals may not have had sufficient strength to reach either Bermuda or Kingston.

It was another thing to worry about. The Vizadmiral already had an ample supply of those. He frowned slightly.

"We shall continue."


------10 Downing Street 1705 hrs


Sir Edward Carson was yelling, "This is inexcusable! We are letting a priceless opportunity slip through our fingers. If we can reach a decision today this operation can still succeed. But we do not the luxury of endless wrangling. There are signs that the Romanian revolt in Transylvania is failing. Now we receive news of an Austrian offensive underway in the Bukovina—quite possibly with German assistance. It is their only major enemy offensive currently underway on any front. Why are they attacking there I ask? And the answer is simple. The reason for it is that our enemies have come to realize their vulnerability and are trying desperately to do something to rectify it. And if we go on blistering our tongues—they will succeed! The time for talk is over. Decisive action is needed!"

Asquith was miserable. With the ardent support of Bonar Law, Lloyd-George and Chamberlain, Carson had virtually demanded that the War Council reach a decision this day. Lord Kitchener remained adamantly opposed and that was good enough for most of the Liberal Ministers. Admiral Fisher had come out in favor of Carson’s proposal, and in return for his support Carson made a few modest alterations. The remaining differences between Carson and Fisher were set aside with the two of tem agreeing that it was best to get the initial phase underway immediately and then discuss the follow on phases.

McKenna had tried in vain to find a middle ground between Kitchener and Fisher. He arguments were turgid and unconvincing. That there was tension between the Admiral and the First Lord was now painfully obvious. News had arrived in the afternoon that another AMC had been torpedoed by a submarine off the Faeroes. This made Fisher even more irascible.

While Carson was speaking, Asquith stared at his Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was just now becoming apparent to the prime minister that there was something afoot between the Welsh Wizard and the Unionist-Conservatives. Just yesterday Lloyd-George had been most insistent that today’s meeting produce a decision. He had been very critical of the whole structure of the War Council, saying that it was a major ingredient in the unhappy course of the war to date.

So fearing again that there was a new threat to his governance, Herbert reluctantly pressed his War Council for a decision. Just before midnight one was reached.

It satisfied no one.


Beachy Head 0245 hrs Friday January 22, 1915


The German torpedo flotilla left Boulogne soon after the moon set. They managed to evade Dover Patrol in the dark and headed west. They had encountered, stopped and inspected a trawler on the way. Now they chanced upon a freighter. One of the destroyers stopped her while the rest of the flotilla continued. She turned out to be a mere coaster hauling wool to London. The Germans removed her crew and sank her with explosive charges.

Continuing west they the flotilla found another freighter. This one was a supply ship heading for France. Her cargo was mostly bully beef but also included tea and some pudding. The Germans could not afford the time to take a prize ship home. The boarding party removed two crates of tea and then sank the freighter.

Four of the German destroyers were carrying mines. They laid these mines off Newhaven. The flotilla then steamed back to Boulogne. They passed two more trawlers on the way home but decided not to take the precious time to stop them. They reached Boulogne in the predawn twilight. Coming from the west they surprised 3 old British destroyers. These realized they were outgunned and tried to escape. Two of them did escape but the HMS Quail, was quickly crippled by a shell bursting in its boilers and was sunk a few minutes later. The Germans suffered only light damage to two of their own destroyers, but as they expected British and possibly French reinforcements to arrive anon they decided not to pursue the other two, which had suffered only limited damage to their superstructure.

Dover Patrol did indeed converge on Boulogne. A French destroyer came too close to shore and was straddled by the German coastal batteries. It beat a hasty retreat and was not hit. .


------Old Admiralty Building 0935 hrs


Admiral Fisher was meeting with Admirals Oliver, Wilson and Jackson. He was not happy and made sure it showed.

"Oh, please why don’t one of you say it and get it over with! " he thundered. They looked at him not knowing what to say. They remained silent.

"Cowards! Craven bloodless spineless jellyfish! I am waiting to hear it! I am waiting to hear, "But it was only one very old itsy bitsy little destroyer, Admiral, of a class we will scrap soon after this war is over."

Admiral Oliver stirred uneasily. He had indeed been ready to say something along those lines. He decided to take another tact, "Dover Patrol with its current mix of mostly obsolete vessels is clearly at a disadvantage now the German have more modern destroyers at Boulougne. It will be more difficult for Harwich Force to intervene than when they were at Zeebrugge."

"That’s putting it mildly, Henry," snorted Fisher, "the Battle of the English Channel is be heating up. It’s a battle we can ill afford to lose."


Dublin 1405 hrs Saturday January 23, 1915


After Lord Curzon was installed as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had created a committee consisting of Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Kent to develop plans for a rising.

Pearse was late for the meeting. Plunkett was regarded as the great strategist of the group and so Kent asked him his opinion on where the stood and what was happening of late.

"Not all that much, it seems," answered Plunkett, "The Germans seem to be hibernating. There is something to be said for that, mind you. Winter adds some additional problems to any offensive. Oblivious to this precept the French are on the offensive in several places. They are claiming many a victory but I am more than a wee bit skeptical. This ‘Papa’ Joffre is one of those da’s who likes to add something to his stories if you know what I mean."

Kent smirked, "Yes, I know that type all too well. And from what I can glean from the newspapers, the British adjunct to the offensive—which they were calling the Battle of Picardy had a nice beginning but then soon petered out."

"That’s a right fair assessment. There is some fighting underway between the Austrians and the Russians. The reports in the papers are very unclear about what in Hades is going on there"

"Not sure I believe everything in the newspapers. That Turkish offensive in the Caucuses they reported beggars all belief. Do you have any idea formidable those mountains are?"

"Not really. Worse than Kerry I take it?"

"A lot worse. And to be trying that in the dead of winter? No bleedin’ way I tell you. Another thing I am taking with a grain of salt is all the predictions of a big battle between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet happening any day now."

"And why not? Now that the Germans have cut the British margin of superiority, it would make sense that they would they would try to take the seas away from them. Be a damn fine thing if they did!"

"Oh, I think they will challenge the British if they are nearly equal in strength. But what the newspapers forget is that their ships were damaged at Dogger Bank. They won’t be ready to challenge the British for another month---"

There was a knock at the door. Kent got up and opened it. Pearse walked in, "Sorry I am late, my darlings."

"Joseph here was just enlightening me about what’s happening the war," remarked Ken, "were you able to talk with MacNeill?"

Pearse sat down, "Yes. He’s calling a meeting Tuesday night. He’s going to organize the Volunteers in Dublin into four battalions. Eamonn, here is going to be one of the four battalion commanders."

"Is that a sign he will actually order a rising?" asked Kent in a skeptical tone.

Pearse frowned and shook his head, "It does not look that he will. However, he does equivocate a bit."

"Oh, how’s that?" asked Plunkett.

"Well, for one thing he’s deeply concerned about what he learned from Mary Spring-Rice. The Viceroy has apparently taken an interest in her, and told her that he wishes to disarm all the groups in Ireland but has been frustrated so far by Birrell."

Kent shook his head vigorously, "Did you just say all the groups as if he meant to disarm the Ulster Volunteers as well?"

Pearse nodded tepidly, "Yes, however neither MacNeill nor I believed that. We think he said it just to impress Mary."

"Aye, most men will say almost anything to impress a lovely woman. But I take it Eion was worried the Viceroy might be wee bit more serious about disarming our organization."

"Precisely! He says that if Curzon tries to seize our weapons he will not hesitate to call a rising. But even on that point he equivocates. He wants us to slowly disperse our cache of rifles in Dublin. He is almost certain the RIC know the location of our main cache."

"If we move it all at once the RIC will get suspicious," said Kent.

"Which is why we are going to remove it gradually in small bunches."

"Which will take time. In the meantime we pray."

"We should always pray," remarked the devout Pearse.

"Amen," said Plunkett who was nearly as religious, "By any chance did MacNeill mention what he thinks our current membership is?"

"Yes, I asked him. He figures it to be around 20,000."

"Is that all? I had expected that having Curzon as our Vicrey would have at least doubled our numbers."

"That was my expectation as well. There is a considerable delay in getting up to date numbers from Munster and Connaught, so perhaps Eion’s estimate is bit conservative. Still it appears Redmond’s followers are taking their time coming to their senses."

"Well, Patrick, in light of those disappointing numbers are we still looking at June?" asked Kent. The last time they met there had been some discussion of when with Pearse deciding tentatively on June.

"I still do, but with the limited forces which are available, it would be a good idea to ascertain just what assistance the Americans and Germans are prepared to render. I will send a letter to Devoy inquiring about the former. As for the Germans I think sometime in February Joseph should make a social call on Sir Roger and see how the poor fellow is doing."


------HQ 6th Bavarian Reserve Division Bukovia 1940 hrs


The commander of the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division, General of Infantry Count Felix von Bothmer had assembled his staff.

"I have just received an urgent message from Seventh Army HQ. Late yesterday the Russian Eighth Army launched a counterattack against the left flank of Seventh Army. General Pflanzer=Baltin had anticipated this attack but he underestimated its severity. The division he positioned as a flank guard is under great pressure. He has ordered us to force march to the left flank immediately to counter this threat."


Off Asbury Park, New Jersey 0745 hrs Sunday January 24, 1915


The AMC was a mass of flames Leipzig had stumbled upon her at dawn and found her 4.1" guns able to start fires in the superstructure. Dresden soon joined in the fight and eventually Gneisenau as well, though by that time the AMC was already doomed. Meanwhile Scharnhorst and Dresden headed northwest. They were intercepted a large American destroyer on patrol.


------White House 1915 hrs


Meeting in the Oval Office with President Woodrow Wilson were Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, the Naval Aide of Operations, Admiral Bradley Fiske, Attorney General Thomas Gregory and "Colonel" Edward House, the President’s key political advisor.

President Wilson was decidedly unhappy, "I just got off the telephone a few minutes ago with Governor Whitman. There is some panic in New York City. Some people think the Germans mean to attack Manhattan and are fleeing the city. He is doing everything to reassure the population. He’s thinking about calling out the National Guard, though and I told him to hold off for the time being."

Secretary Daniels glanced at Admiral Fiske, then decided to speak, "The Germans are not going to attack the city of New York, Mr. President. We need to reassure our citizenry of that fact."

Admiral Fiske decided to speak up, "New York is not threatened. Ships offshore though are another matter. Even those flying an American flag may be at risk, because the Germans might think they are Entente vessels flying false colors."

President Wilson rewarded Fiske’s comment with an irritated stare, saying "Admiral! Friday afternoon you told me that Spee’s ships were in the Caribbean. We were all worried that he was up to mischief in either Haiti or the Dominican Republic. Now he turns up unexpectedly at New York. Why were we so unprepared?"

Fiske squirmed and then with a quick nervous glance at Secretary Daniels said, "Spee probably headed due north from Hispanola, staying beyond our coastal patrols., Mr. President. Then last night he turned hard to port and made a bee line for Manhattan."

"If Admiral von Spee grabs the liners and skedaddles back to Germany, then this situation will quickly rectify itself. If there any chance that the British will destroy the Spee’s squadron while he is still on our doorsteps?"

Secretary Daniels answered, "I spoke with Captain Guy Gaunt, the British Naval Attache about two hours ago. He’s been in touch Admiral Phipps-Hornsby, their Chief of North America Station. He concentrated his forces in the Caribbean, leaving very little at Halifax and Bermuda. They are now steaming north towards New York but are not expected to make it there before early Thursday morning. Another British force including two predreadnought battleships will arrive at Halifax from England in a about a week."

"I am more interested in this force coming up from the Caribbean. Is that the one that includes some Japanese warships?" asked the President.

"Yes, Mr. President that is correct," answered Admiral Fiske.

"F’r Chrisake, well isn’t that simply wonderful! If we have panic with the Huns in New York, think what will happen when those yellow bastards show up! William can you and Ed try to impress on Sir Cecil, Captain Gaunt and this British admiral—what’s his name again?"

"Phipps-Hornsby, sir"

"Contact all three of them and impress on them—strongly-- that we do not want to see that damned Japanese flag off our eastern seaboard."

"Yes, Mr. President," replied Secretary Bryan who after a pause continued, "If I might bring up an aspect of this situation. I am concerned that there are going to be some American citizens aboard the German ocean liners that leave tomorrow. Is there any way we could prevent that?"

Wilson’s reply was to stare at the Attorney General, who answered, "Not without getting Congress to pass a bill, by which time these liners will be long gone."

Col House then spoke up, "Which is fortunate. This proposed policy would extend to all passenger liners belonging to any of the belligerents. This is a one time happenstance for the Germans. Once they are gone we won’t be dealing with them again. It would therefore be on the British and French that this policy would have a lasting negative impact. I am for that reason strongly opposed."

"Ed is quite right, William," decided President Wilson, "Instead of worrying about the so called Americans who will be leaving tomorrow, why don’t you and Joe had a nice long talk with that silk tongued dandy, Bernstorff and make it perfectly clear how displeased we will be if Spee lingers off our coast to take prizes."

"Uh, we are pretty sure Spee’s ships has taken at least two already, Mr. President," noted Secretary Daniel.

"That’s water under the bridge, admiral, and if one or two merchantmen wander into his waiting arms tomorrow, well that c’est la guerre if you pardon my French. We have sent out wireless messages that all incoming Entente merchantmen should divert to either Halifax, Charleston or Bermuda, while all of them still in our ports are being delayed. Yes I know that more merchantmen are not equipped with wireless. Admiral Spee can snack on a few more appetizers, just as long as he foregoes the main course."

House’s eyes lit up, "And if the Germans persist in maintaining a presence offshore, would we consider that a causus belli?"

Bryan looked at House with disgust. Wilson rolled his eyes and responded, "Now, now, Ed. Don’t always be so damn eager to get us into that God forsaken mess over in Europe. Let William here use his famed eloquence on the Count and pray that it works."


------Vaterland New York Harbor 2130 hrs


William Randolph Hearst had staged several parties aboard the Vaterland during its captivity in New York. He now staged one more on short notice. Tomorrow would see the huge German liner dash for home along with the Kaiser Wilhelm II and the George Washington. Admiral von Spee had decided that the other liners were too slow and would impede his already extremely dangerous return voyage.

Spee had not come to New York to party. He had a busy time arranging for the details of the coaling with the local Etappen officer. He was also trying to purchase rubber and some metals badly needed by the German economy, which he could load aboard the liners. He had a lengthy telephone conversation with Count von Bernstorff, the German ambassador, who thought it best to remain in Washington. Bernstorff strongly recommended putting in an appearance at the Vaterland party and meeting the powerful publisher, William Randolph Hearst in person

So here he was aboard Vaterland. Accompanying him was the HAPAG administrator for the United States. Spee delivered a very brief improvised speech to the assembled guests. It was translated as he spoke. Spee did not say anything particularly provocative. He avoided even a vague reference to anything about his planned return. Nevertheless it evoked strong applause when he finished.

Alongside Hearst was a bearded man He looked to be in his late 50’s and his complexion was decidedly unhealthy looking. He puffed heavily on a thick cigar.

Hearst introduced them with the help of his translator, "This is James Creelman. We go back together a long ways. I can honestly say that Jim is the finest reporter in the whole world. There is over a dozen reporters who want to go back with you to cover this story, but I ask that you give Jim here a little special attention."

The admiral did not what to say to this. Eventually he stepped forward and extended his hand to Mr. Creelman, saying in German, "I am honored to make your acquaintance, Mr. Creelman. We shall take good care of you."

"I am honored to meet you, " said Creelman, "perhaps before you leave, you will permit to interview you?"

Spee thought that one over and after a few seconds he shrugged, "Yes, but it must be brief and I may decline any question which I feel endangers my mission."

When this was interpreted Hearst said, "Smashing. Oh and there is one other matter. Tomorrow morning Doktor Karl Fuehr of the Hearst Selig Newsreel Service is going to bring a camera crew aboard to film this historic journey."

There was some difficulty translating this and Hearst was forced to explain the use of motion pictures to convey news stories.

"Is this possible?" asked the befuddled admiral.

"Oh, most certainly. Well it will depend on the quality of the light when you shoot out of doors?"

There was again some problem translating, which caused Spee to remark, "My ships can shoot in the dark! We demonstrated that at Coronel."

"I was referring to the film. We say that we ‘shoot’ film."

"Ahh, now I understand, " replied Spee in a tone that hinted that he really did not, "Yes, of course, as long it is safe—for instance it does not run a risk of starting a fire, I can permit this." He glanced at the HAPAG official, hoping for some guidance, which he did not receive.

Hearst soon left allowing Creelman to interview Spee. The interview went smoothly with Creelman putting the admiral at ease. The reporter did have a very bad coughing spell at one point and terminated the interview soon after he got it under control.

After that the Admiral consented to a few brief meetings with important officials. By far the strangest was with a Mr. John Devoy, the head of an organization called the Clan na Gael, which supported the cause of Irish independence. Bernstorff had recommended that Spee meet with Devoy, but cautioned that the old Fenian was hot tempered, stubborn, vain and prone to wild fantasies. He was also going slowly deaf so the admiral instructed his translator to speak loundy.

"Mr. Devoy, the admiral will see you now but as his time is precious, this meeting must be no more than 5 minutes."

Devoy was short old silver haired man, wearing a cheap suit and grizzly beard. He was remarkably spry though and bounded forward extending his arms around the startled Spee, saying "Danke, Danke, Herr Admiral!"

"Mr. Devoy, please!" implored the shocked translator.

Devoy stepped back and extended his hand. The still shocked Spee hesitated, then finally shook hands.

"I know why you are here!" said Devoy. When it was translated Spee still did not understand.

"Casement sent me a cable about his meeting with Field Marshal von Moltke. That is why you are here," continued Devoy.

Spee remained at a loss for words. He had no idea at all what the Irishman was talking about. He let the old man continue ranting.

"I wish I had more time. If I had more time I could get you ten thousand Irish Americans willing to fight for Irish independence. But as you must be leaving tomorrow it will only be a few hundred. I take it there won’t be any problems finding rooms for them on the liners?"

Spee pondered this point. Less than half the ticket passengers would be leaving tomorrow morning. There would plenty of vacant rooms. He had hoped to get a thousand German reservists to come back with him, but it was already becoming apparent that he was only going to get a mere fraction of that. If Irishmen were willing to fight the British, then he would be willing to take them along as well.

"Your volunteers are welcome, Mr. Devoy" said Spee in a cautious voice, "we will find rooms for them."


Without warning the powerful squadron of German cruisers, which defeated the British at the Battle of Coronel appeared off New York, throwing the city into panic. There is an unconfirmed report of an engagement with at least one British warship off the American coast. The US Navy intercepted and challenged the German force offshore. The US government graciously granted the German warships permission to provision two of their warships in New York harbor for a maximum period of 24 hours. Even if the Germans take no overt action against the United States, there is concern that their presence could disrupt American commerce.

----NY Times Monday January 25, 1915



The decline of British naval power was convincingly demonstrated to New Yorkers yesterday when a squadron of German cruisers led by the audacious Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee reached New York yesterday afternoon. Earlier in the day they had quickly destroyed a British warship blockading the American coast. While a handful of overcautious New Yorkers left the city as an unnecessary precaution, many more milled around the docks to cheer the triumphant Germans.

----NY Journal American Monday January 25, 1915


In both newspapers however there was the following advertisement:

Travelers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Great Britain and her allies and Germany and her allies; that the zone of war includes the North Sea; that, in accordance with formal notice given by His Majesty’s Government, vessels flying the flag of Germany, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travelers sailing in the war zone on ships of Germany or her allies do so at their own risk"


------SMS Nurnberg off Boston 0950 hrs


Their lookouts did not see any British warships. There were some American warships but they were not interfering as long as Nurnberg made no move to enter US territorial waters. . They had sent their wireless signal and now they could see Kronprinzessin Cecilie emerge from the harbor assisted by tugs. Admiral Spee had decided that Amerika should remain in Boston.

Soon the Kronprinzessin Cecilie was headed in the direction of Cape Cod. The Nurnberg followed her to the east. Lookouts reported a ship approaching rapidly from the northeast. . Soon it became clear it was a British armored cruiser steaming on a course to cut off Nurnberg and the liner, which were slowly increasing their speed. Eventually the British cruiser, the Suffolk, got within range and her 6" guns opened fire on the Nurnberg After 5 more minutes the lookouts aboard the Suffolk became aware of another larger cruiser rapidly approaching from the south. It was the Gneisenau. The captain of the Suffolk hesitated for more than a minute then realized he was outgunned and retired to the northeast. Gneisenau pursued half heartedly, not wishing to strain her ailing machinery. When the Suffolk moved out of range she was burning from two medium sized fires and down by the stern.

At the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown Americans gathered to watch the brief engagement in strange fascination. When it was done they argued amongst themselves about what it meant. Nearby American warships did essentially the same thing.


------SMS Leipzig off New York 1025 hrs


Leipzig had taken two prizes the previous day. It’s primary mission right now was to act as a sentry off New York while Scharnhorst and Dresden coaled . During the night Nurnberg and Gneisenau had departed to rendezvous with Kronprinzessin Cecilie off Boston. This morning more American warships were in present, including a predreadnought battleship, the Vermont. They had not interfered with her taking an inbound French freighter as a prize.

Lookouts had sounded the alarm. Another AMC was approaching. This time they did not open fire.


------New York harbor 1450 hrs


Scharnhorst’s coal bunkers had been more than two thirds full when she had arrived at New York. Spee was in a hurry to leave and with Vaterland, Kaiser Wilhelm II and George Washington now steaming into international waters it was Scharnhort’s time to go, even though it had an hour to go under the terms of the Hague Treaty. Dresden would soon depart as well within a half hour. He had not been able to purchase as much metal as he hoped. The British had anticipated and bought up as much as they could preemptively. In particular nickel was difficult to buy on short notice.

Spee was reviewing a report on the Americans who volunteered to come along and fight for Germany. There were 127 men of German descent, of which 43 were reservists with at least some military training—one was even a retired Major. Devoy’s promised "hundreds" of Fenians turned out to be only 86 men, of which only 5 had any military training. However another 9 of the Irish Americans were either current or former policemen. There were a handful of others—5 Austrians, 2 Hungarians and 3 Turks plus a Russian Jew who wanted more than anything to kill the Tsar.


------Sayville, NY 1730 hrs


There was powerful radio station capable of transmitting across the Atlantic stationed at Sayville on Long Island. It was in communication with a German radio station at Nauen. The Hearst chain made frequent use of it to get news from Germany. At the instructions of Admiral Spee they now transmitted the following message to the Admiralstab:



On to Volume XVI

Please Leave Your Comments In The Discussion Forum!

Hit Counter