by Tom B
------southwest of Sandomierz Poland 1125 hrs Thursday March 26, 1915
The Archduke had now committed his cavalry corps. Like the German cavalry corps there was a component of motorized heavy artillery. It was weaker though consisting of only 2 batteries of the 10.4 cm M14 field guns and one battery of 15cm howitzers. Unfortunately weather had turned more difficult in the morning with fairly heavy mixed precipitation and the motorized batteries were not able to keep up. The Austro-Hungarian 10th Cavalry Division—which had been removed from Center Army—was in the van. Attached to it were 8 of the Austro Daimler armored cars, whose 4 wheel drive allowed them to keep pace with the horsemen despite the poor state of the roads.
The gap that had been driven between the Russian Third and Fourth Armies in the first 3 days of Operation Whisper had greatly reduced the danger of enfilading artillery fire. This was being reduced still more by the withdrawal of Third Army across the Vistula which was had begun soon after dawn as General Radko Dmitriev’s orders had filtered down. The German XXXIX Reserve Corps was starting to become aware of the withdrawal and preparing to pursue The Ural Cossack Cavalry Division though was trying to plug the gap the Austrians had created between XXV Corps and the Vistula River.
General von François had taken an interest in armored cars soon after he arrived at OKW. He learned that they had proved useful in certain circumstances but also had demonstrated serious limitations in terms of where they could operate. They also has also shown a pronounced vulnerability to artillery fire—make that direct artillery fire. There were several instances early in the war of armored cars trying to seize an objective by themselves and getting into trouble.
When he had visited the Austrian Cavalry Corps François had emphasized these points.
So the armored cars charged down the road had a loose escort of cavalry looking out for them as they ploughed into the entrenched Cossack positions at Sandomierz. The initial results were very satisfactory as a hole was punched in the Russian defenses. But the panic of the Russian defenders proved to be transient. Rallied by their officers they soon recovered enough to pressure the flanks of the Austrian cavalry, which greatly slowed the advance. .
------Rome 1350 hrs
The Salandra government had been hanging by a thread ever since the Battle of Utsire. The news of Russian offensives and CANZAC’ advancing into Herzegovina were the only things keeping him in power—and 2 of the 3 Russian offensives had been stopped quickly and the third in the Bukovina was now rumored to have stalled as well. In the Chamber of Deputies there was a vigorous debate over a bill reiterating Italy’s neutrality. This measure was seen by most of the deputies as a rebuke of the prime minister’s foreign policy.
A Liberal Party deputy who was well regarded by the Center, was speaking, "The government continues to tell us lies about the war! The latest example is the recent naval battle in the Adriatic. The government tells us what a great victory it was for the French. They imply that it in some way erases Lisa for us! Now we learn that it was not such a great victory after all. More damage was inflicted on the French Fleet than the Austrians. So much so that the French dare not send supplies and reinforcements into Albania until repairs are completed. When is this War of Lies going to stop?"
Next a Socialist spoke, "I wish to address a disturbing development that the prime minister willfully chooses to ignore. In Dublin the British secret police arrested a Socialist leader named James Connolly. They tell the world that Mr. Connolly was planning to overthrow British rule in Ireland with a group called the Citizen Army. He later learn there is only 200 people in the organization! This story is obviously an excuse by the reactionary government of Bonar Law to destroy the Labor movement first in Ireland, but then in the rest of Britain."
It was deputy from the Right who spoke next, "I too wish to address what is happening in Ireland. There is indeed signs of a sinister plot by the new British government. However it is not aimed at the few Socialists but rather at the multitudes of devout Catholics living in that troubled land. Bonar Law has long been an adamant fore of Home Rule. This is why they arrested Connolly—to use him to create a crisis in Ireland that will give them an excuse to abrogate Home Rule. This is plain as the nose on your face. And our government remains silent! The Holy Father issues a statement gently rebuking the British government for its actions in Ireland and esp. Belfast. And does our government support His Holiness. No! As always it ignores him! It is as if Pope Benedict was a German!"
The speeches grew more heated. One topic that as strangely neglected was Abyssinia. Neither side knew how to approach a topic that evoked unpleasant memories. One deputy did make a passing mention to it but no one could what his point was.
A vote was finally taken and the measure passed by a comfortable margin. Afterwards former prime minister, Giovanni Giolitti met in private with his inner circle. He was amply pleased, "My thanks to all for your fantastic work these last few days. I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the margin of victory. While I expected to win today’s vote I thought it would be closer. This encourages me to believe it is time to make our move. Unless there is some development over the weekend that strengthens the cause of the war advocates, we will go for a vote of no confidence on Monday."
------Grojec, Poland 1435 hrs
The German 5th Cavalry Division had penetrated to this communication center in the morning, routing an opolcheniye (the Russian Territorial forces) battalion guarding it. Despite the morning precipitation the lead battalion of the motorized heavy artillery regiment with its Tatra 4 wheel drive trucks was able to continue without too much trouble, but the other motorized battalions were struggling badly with the slippery roads. Likewise the heavy cloud cover made the airship overhead totally ineffective and it was ordered to return to its local base to refuel. .
The Guard Cossack Division had probed the positions of the German cavalry. Its commander decided against an immediate counterattack by itself but awaited the arrival of the 70th Rifle Division marching hard from the north. They now attacked together. The slushy roads hampered the deployment of the Russian artillery. The 70th Division attempted it first attack with only a brief preparatory bombardment by a single battery of 8 Putlilov field guns, plus the horse artillery of the Guard Cossacks. Then came the infantry assault. The single battalion of German 15 cm guns proved sufficient to severely disrupt the main attack. Two battalions as well as a dismounted regiment of Guard Cossacks did reach the German perimeter but machineguns had been positioned in a few strong points. The attackers did manage to come to grips with the defenders in two locations but being weakened by losses and isolated they lacked the strength to prevail quickly allowing the defenders to bring up reserves.
Elsewhere the 3rd Turkestan Rifle Brigade of the I Turkestan Corps had started to come into action after a very hard march to support the remnants of III Caucasian Corps and 4th Don Cossacks Division which were being hard pressed by XXIV Reserve Corps and the 4th Bavarian Infantry Division. The I Turkestan Corps was unusual in that it was composed of independent brigades instead of divisions and was weak in artillery. The increased delivery of artillery shells Falkenhayn had promised Tuesday were now showing up at the howitzer batteries Eleventh Army. These were used mostly north of the Pilica. On the south side of the river the Russian Grenadiers had inflicted serious losses on both their German and Austrian attackers in the early morning, after which General Mackensen ordered German and Austrian units to merely pin down the Grenadiers with machineguns and 77mm shellfire.
------Vienna 1550 hrs
Kaiser Franz Josef has just finished meeting with a delegation of Hungarian leaders. They apologized for the actions of Count Tisza but pleaded with their sovereign not to press criminal charges. Franz Josef thought they were probably right that an attempt to prosecute the Count would make him a martyr to the most rabid Magyars and would signal his nation’s enemies of their inner political turmoil. The Kaiser did promise not to prosecute merely to take their forthright counsel to heart.
When he was done he made an official announcement, "Two days ago Count Istvan Tisza had an audience with us where he demonstrated inappropriate and unacceptable behavior. After consulting with key Hungarian leaders we have selected Graf Guyla Andrassy von Csik-Szent-Kiraly and Kraszna Horka to be the new premier of Hungary."
"Because of the political crisis caused by Count Tisza’s actions, the process of selecting a commission to recommend structural changes in our country will be extended two more weeks."
------Kingston, Jamaica 1620 hrs (GMT)
The British has very reluctantly consented to taking custody of General Sam, the dictator of Haiti, from the Americans. Woodrow Wilson seemed to think that His Majesty’s Government owed him a favor. Amongst themselves the British diplomats expressed great irritation and annoyance towards what they perceived as yet another example of Yankee presumption and arrogance. In the midst of a very difficult war, they wisely kept their irritation behind closed doors.
The British really did not know what to do with the rascal. He had collaborated with the Germans, letting Spee use Tortuga as a base for a while so he was viewed as an enemy. As with the Yanks a few made semiserious comments about the desirability of an "unfortunate accident."
They brought him to Kingston and kept him under a form of house arrest. For a few days they let him speak to no outsiders. Then yesterday they agreed to let people they regarded as harmless speak with the general.
General Sam had such a visitor now. His name was Marcus Garvey. General Sam spoke very little English; Garvey still less French so an interpreter was provided. The interpreter worked for the British government and would file a brief summary of the conversation for his superiors at the Foreign Office
"Mr. Marcus Garvey introduces himself," said the interpreter, "He says that he is a big admirer of yours and thinks it was just horrible what the Americans did."
General Sam looked critically at his guest and was unimpressed by what he saw—a pudgy dark complexioned Negro looking to be in his late 20’s, dressed like a gaudy middle class dandy. "Tell this Mr. Garvey I am glad to make his acquaintance and that I heartily agree with what he said about the vile Americans."
When the translator did that Garvey commented which he rendered as, "He says that he is the head of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and asks if you have heard of it?"
"Tell him, no, I have never heard of it."
Garvey looked disappointed when that was translated.
"Mr. Garvey says that he while he has never been to Haiti he has traveled extensively.
looking for a donation to his cause tell him to leave."
When that was translated, Garvey again looked disappointed. His frown evaporated after a minute and he spoke again.
"Mr. Garvey says he would like to know more about the Germans."
General Sam looked hard at the interpreter. He knew very well that the man functioned in part as a spy. "Tell Mr. Garvey that the Germans were not saints, but all in all they tried to help Haiti. The French are all evil bastards and the damn Americans are still worse. The British sometimes have good manners but they treat the black man as a willful child. As I said, only the Germans tried to do anything good for us."
Garvey looked mildly surprised.
"Mr. Garvey says that he is very impressed by what is happening in Abyssinia. He wonders what your reaction is?"
"Abyssinia? I heard they did something to piss off the French, which of course pleases me."
When translated that response drew a mixed reaction from Garvey, as if he agreed with the sentiment but expected something more detailed.
"He says that the black man should look to Africa and Abyssinia in particular for inspiration."
"I do not give much thought to Africa."
That response caused Garvey’s jaw to drop. For a minute he looked like he was going to leave but then he asked a new question.
"Mr. Garvey would like to know if you have heard of an American called Cornelius St. James?"
"No, I have not. But if he is an America he must be a devil from the deepest pit of hell."
Garvey shook his head vehemently when that was translated.
"He says that while Mr. James is an American he is also a Negro and that Mr. St. James says that the black race should support the Central Powers because Abyssinia has joined them."
"I have not given this topic much thought previously. Hmm, I guess this Mr. St. James is one American I can agree with. It’s a miracle!"
This response pleased Garvey.
"Mr. Garvey says he is thinking of traveling to America to meet this Mr. St. James."
------ Grojec, Poland 1730 hrs
After the failure of its first attack the 70th Rifle Division had rushed the rest of its artillery into position. Meanwhile two more batteries of 15cm guns had arrived and were dug in. When the Russians invited them to an artillery duel the 15cm batteries accepted. In the last the cavalry had been able to lay down a strand of barbed wire in the most threatened sectors and one of the reserve Jaeger battalions arrived to defend a key roadway. .
------Sofia 2005 hrs
"So Kaiser Franz Josef has replaced that jackass, Count Tisza with Andrassy? There is definitely some political turmoil going on inside the Dual Monarchy, yes?" Tsar Ferdinand asked prime minister, Vasil Radoslavov.
"It appears so, Your Majesty. I take it you see this as a reason for us to continue stalling?" replied the prime minister. There was a hint of disappointment in his voice but not so blatant as to imply disapproval of his monarch.
"I did when I first heard about Kaiser Franz Josef’s declaration. I knew Count Tisza would vigorously oppose it and cause trouble. But it seems whatever he did he went too far."
"He is not the only unhappy Hungarian, Your Majesty. Others with more tact will surely take his place".
"There is no denying that, Vasil, but bear with me now. Might this not turn out to be a blessing for us? Hungary will make its move either at the peace conference ending this or after the peace treaty is signed. If the Dual Monarchy is divided at the conference they will be too weak to oppose our desire for a window on the Adriatic. This works for us not against us."
"I had not thought about it in that light, Your Majesty. Does this mean you are now inclined to sign the treaty of alliance?"
"It is good to be cautious, but not too cautious. He have delayed long enough!. The Russian advance in the Bukovina has ground to a halt and there have been reports of a promising counter offensive by the Germans and Austrians in Poland the last few days. The great victory the French claimed in the Adriatic now appears to have been something of setback, making it very difficult for them to reinforce the Albanian expedition. Verify one more time that Enver Pasha is willing to commit 3 divisions. If that can be confirmed quickly then tomorrow we will sign the secret treaty of alliance with the Central Powers."
------Army Group Mackensen HQ 2105 hrs
The reports were good but not without some setbacks. The Russian Grenadiers were proving to be even more of a pain than expected. The deterioration of the weather had impaired the deployment of the motorized heavy artillery regiment. Despite that the cavalry corps held off counterattack by an entire enemy division. Another setback was at Sandomierz where the Austrian Cavalry Corps was still struggling with some Cossacks, even though a portion of the 2nd KuK Cavalry Division had joined in the attack as well/ But reports coming back from the late afternoon air patrols confirmed that Third Army was tucking its right flank behind the San as he had hoped.
Even before he had received that he had ordered General Dankl, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian First Army to make morning pinning attacks against the Russian divisions in the center of Fourth Army which previously had been unmolested.
The general had two airships are his disposal. He had not sent the second airship to relieve the first due to the weather. But the clouds had begun to thin at dusk and it was now on its way to Grojec There was also confirmation that the rest of the motorized artillery regiment had reached Grojec and that supplies were reaching there including fodder and gasoline.
It was time to see if the bold plan OKW had devised would really work. "Send a message to our Cavalry Corps that they are to make every effort to continue according to their plan," he ordered.
------Northwestern Front HQ 0040 hrs Saturday March 27, 1915
Less than an hour ago reports had arrived from Fifth Army admitting that 70th Rifle Division’s counterattack at Grojec had failed. Since then General Ruszki stared almost catatonically at the tactical map. Now he was beginning to tremble. Ever since Twelfth Army failed in the invasion of East Prussia, he had asked Stavka for permission to shorten his lines. Stavka had refused permission. He had found himself compulsively working long hours and unable to sleep or eat properly.
A new report from Fifth Army was now handed to him. III Caucasian Corps continued to lose ground to German night attacks despite being reinforced by most of I Turkestan Corps. Ruszki stared at the piece of paper for two minutes as if he was staring at his death sentence. Now because his lines were too long, the left flank of Fifth Army—which meant the left flank of Northwestern Front, had been turned. He made an audible groan. His staff turned to him with worried looks, then turned away lest they embarrass their commander.
Ruszki realized he was hyperventilating. He sat down, held his head in his hands and eventually got his breathing under control. Then he arose despite feeling faint and ordered, "Immediately send wireless messages to Fifth and Second Armies ordering them both to pull back behind the Vistula"
----- Sandomierz 0730 hrs
Oberst Bauer had been assigned to oversee the morning artillery bombardment. In addition to the horse artillery and the motorized artillery battalion the German 78th Reserve Division had been repositioned during the night so its artillery firing across the Vistula could enfilade the Cossack position. The Austrian gunners were once taking too long to register on their targets but the Cossack horse artillery was too weak to offer effective counter battery fire.
------Bialobrzegi, Poland 0755 hrs
The FL Abt. returned to their boats the night before with a new mission. They were to proceed downstream of the town of Bialobrzegi, where there was bridge over the Pilica. They landed their boats on the right bank in the predawn twilight. They had managed to climb up the river bank without being discovered. The reached a thin road that ran parallel to the river. Sending out a few scouts in advance they proceeded until they reached the town. There they encountered their first sign of resistance when a policeman fired 2 rounds from his revolver at too long a range and than ran off After that the German soldiers realized they would soon lose any measure of surprise. They rushed into the town—killing one policeman and capturing 2 more.
Now they were attacking the bridge itself. It was being guarded by a company of opolcheniye, Russian Territorial troops. Less than half of them had rifles and none of them had any training. Furthermore the greater part were still on the far bank. The portion on this side put up a brief resistance. A few tried to flee across the bridge—2 of those were shot in the back by the Germans. The rest surrendered.
On the far side of the bridge some of the opolcheniye could be seen running away in panic. But there were a few with rifles who had taken cover and fired a few shots. The commander of the FL Abt. had their prisoners interrogated. One them showed them where the dynamite was. There was a squad of pioneers attached to the FL Abt. Their professional opinion when they saw the dynamite was that the charge would’ve been insufficient to completely destroy the bridge. The prisoners claimed there was no more dynamite on the other side. The commander decided it was too risky to charge across the bridge and instead set up a defensive perimeter and waited for the cavalry to arrive.
When they would arrive was the tricky question. They were supposed to arrive this day but the commander knew that if they were held up he might need to hold on to the bridge until tomorrow. That was not something he shared only with the officers.
----------- Grojec, Poland 0950 hrs
The Russian 70th Infantry Division had made another attack at dawn. This time the German artillery included the 21cm Morser batteries as well as the 15cm guns. There was an airship overhead to observe for the Germans. The Russian attack failed. What the crew of the airship were now beginning to see that they were finding very interesting was that the Russians had not only ceased their attack but appeared to be withdrawing to the northeast.
------Bialobrzegi, Poland 1135 hrs
A large portion of Bialobrzegi’s population was Jewish. Many of them were happy to see the Germans. Some were downright helpful. The women brought the soldiers flowers and food. The men pointed out where some police and opolcheniye were hiding. A few even volunteered to fight alongside the Germans but their commander would not agree to arming them.
Then some cavalry had arrived. Unfortunately for KL Abt. it was Russian cavalry. Their initial attempt to charge the German barricades on horseback was easily repulsed. The cavalry—which appeared to be at least an entire regiment had dismounted and were attacking on foot.
----- northeast of Sandomierz 1205 hrs
The Austro-Hungarian Cavalry Corps had broken through the Ural Cossack Division. The KuK 2nd Cavalry division pursued the Cossack remnants fleeing in disarray to the north. With its contingent of armored cars the KuK 10th Cavalry Division proceeded down the road alongside the Vistula. Following close behind the division was an Austrian cyclist battalion Their objective was the town of Maruszow.
------Bialobrzegi, Poland 1315 hrs
The Bavarian Cavalry Division had moved through the 5th Cavalry Division during the night then proceeded SSE along the main road leading to Radom. Their lead squadron now arrived at the bridge. The handful of Russian Territorial troops they discovered there quickly surrendered. On the other side of the river the Russian cavalry regiment had been reinforced with an entire battalion of Territorial infantry and was making another attack. The Bavarian squadron galloped across the bridge to render assistance.
------Army Group Mackensen HQ 1355 hrs
When the report first came from the airship of the Russian withdrawal from Grojec, General Mackensen at first thought it was merely tactical—either to pivot the flank or prepare an attack from a different direction. But in the last hour he began to receive other reports including those from his airplanes. It was starting to look like most of the Russian Fifth Army was pulling back.
"Send a message to the Landwehr Corps to conduct vigorous patrols. If they see signs that the Russians are withdrawing they are to attack immediately," he ordered. He then wondered if he should pass on this information to Ober Ost. Communication with them had not been good since they learned of the formation of Amy Group Mackensen. The general decided to hold off on that until things were clearer.
------Russian Fourth Army HQ Radom 1510 hrs
General Evert looked at the tactical map again. He had been concerned all morning. Now he was starting to get worried. The enemy attacks on his center did not worry much. He thought it likely they were some combination of feints and pinning attacks. Because his divisions had to defend a wide front, Every could not completely ignore these attacks but he was more concerned about what was happening on his wings. The left wing was his greatest concern. He had been informed yesterday afternoon that the adjacent Third Army was pulling back behind the San. Evert knew that meant that the wedge the enemy had driven between Fourth and Third Army would widen still more. The general needed to pull back his left flank but instead Austrian cavalry had punched their way through his line there. He had already committed the lone rifle brigade he had in reserve to shoring up the left wing.
Evert viewed the situation on the right as less threatening but far from good. The Russian Grenadiers were fighting fiercely but they had taken heavy casualties in 4 days of continuous fighting with only a cavalry division as reinforcement. They appeared to be holding their position but their attempts at counterattack had failed. Evert wanted to believe that the enemy would any minute now run out of men and shells. He had released some of Fourth Army’s stockpile of shells but still held back a substantial reserve at bunkers near his HQ.
Yesterday Southwest Front had promised to reinforce him. It was to be only s single second line infantry division and maybe another cavalry division. Ivanov had no said then they would arrive. In the meantime Evert had repeatedly tried to get one of the 2 infantry divisions inside Ivanogorod Fortress. So far that request had been ignored.
-----north of Bialobrzegi, Poland 1630 hrs
Two batteries of the motorized 15cm guns added their considerable firepower to that of the Bavarian horse artillery bombarding the Russian forces around Bialobrzegi. The airship overhead tried its best to spot for them. There was enough cloud cover to make task difficult but not impossible. As the shells burst around them the Russian Territorials fled in panic. The cavalry held their ground but since they had not been able to entrench and so were obliterated.
------Pilica River 2030 hrs
Again there were boats heading down river. These did not carry an elite raiding unit. Instead they ferried supplies to Bialobrzegi for the cavalry corps. Meanwhile other boats were working their way down the Vistula to bring supplies to the Austro-Hungarian Cavalry Corps at at Sandomierz.
------ Maruszow Poland 2120 hrs
With the help of their armored cars the KuK 10th Cavalry Division had just routed a battalion of opolcheniye guarding the town, killing a few, capturing most of the rest though some had managed to flee in panic. There was now a large explosion and the local bridge over the Vistula was no more.
------Hackensack NJ 2245 hrs (GMT)
The Romantic Egotist came up from Princeton for the weekend to see his good friend and mentor, Fr. Sigourney Fay, one of the trustees of the Newman School, a Catholic prep school he had attended. The Romantic Egotist was pleasantly surprised to find the aspiring author, Shane Leslie of County Monaghan was also visiting Fr. Fay. The Romantic Egotist had met Shane 3 years ago and since then they had had exchanged letters on a regular basis and occasionally met.
Fr. Fay took his two friends to a very fine local restaurant. The heavyset Fr. Fay loved food but he also appreciated a good conversation.
"I didn’t realize you were back in the States, Shane?" asked the Romantic Egotist, "last I heard you were planning to become an ambulance driver."
Leslie’s expression grew somber as he finished swallowing, "You raise a very pertinent question, Francis. As you may recall after I converted to Catholicism I joined Redmond’s Irish Volunteers, even though my father was a leader in Carson’s Ulster Volunteer Force."
When he went to Princeton the Romantic Egotist decided he preferred his middle name Scott to Francis, but decided not to press that issue in this company, "Yes, I do. I even recall that you wore a kilt for nearly a year because you regarded trousers as an English invention, but my understanding was that you were fully in accord with the ideas of Sir John Redmond. You said that you felt that passage of a Home Rule Bill would ensure the loyalty of the great majority of Irish Catholics."
"I know, I know. I said that and at the time I meant it. Things have happened since then."
"Such as the new Prime Minister?" speculated Father Fay.
"That’s one though in truth I started to second guess myself when Lord Curzon became Viceroy."
"So you think the Unionists will try to derail Home Rule even though it’s on the books?" asked Father Fay.
"I wouldn’t put it past them. And even if I’m wrong and that is not their intention it still looks like they are blindly propelling Ireland towards an eruption that will ruin any chance of implementing Home Rule."
"Back at Princeton, there has been a lot of talk about Ireland of late," said the Romantic Egotist, "First it was about that former New York policemen, Calahan and what he did at the Battle of Utsire. But now it’s about this Mr. James Connolly who the British say was planning to take over Ireland with an awesome army of 200 men."
"What are your fellow students saying about Connolly?"
"Some of what I am hearing is surprising me.. Take my friend, Ed—"
"--Is this Edmund Wilson you’re referring to? The son of the rich railroad attorney?"
"Yes, Father, that’s the one. Early in the war Ed was rather sympathetic to the Entente—or perhaps I should say he disliked Germany, esp. Kaiser Wilhelm. But Ed is fascinated by the ideas of Marx. Now he is worried that this incident with the Irish Socialist Connolly is merely part of a plot by the new British government, which he regards as reactionary, to discredit all Socialists and gut the trade unions."
"Connolly is a miserable atheist," remarked Shane with disgust, "Is it only the Socialists amongst your classmates who see something ominous in this situation, Francis?"
"No there are others such as those who believe Mr. Bonar Law is using this as an excuse to do what you were talking about earlier—you know, undermining Home Rule and clamping down on the Catholics. And here’s the real kicker—some of those who say that think it would be a good thing."
Shane slammed his fist on the table, "God damn them all!". He paused a second then turned to Fay and said, "Pardon my language, Father, but don’t this beat all. Even in this country there are still those who would like to see Home Rule gutted and the English tyranny reasserted. It makes me want to vomit."
"If you can see fit to spare us the vomit, I will pardon you for the profanity," answered the priest nonchalantly, "It is not that I do not I share your revulsion. It’s just that I never let politics ruin a good meal."
"The pathetic Socialists were merely a secondary target for Bonar Law. It’s plain as the nose on your face he’s trying to provoke the Catholic population so he can have a pretext for abrogating Home Rule. The debacle on St. Patrick’s Day proved that."
"It is a terrible, simply terrible, about that poor woman in Belfast losing her baby. A poor innocent soul denied Baptism and therefore relegated to Limbo and denied the Beatific Vision for all Eternity" commented Fr. Fay.
"Aye, that it was, Father. But here is what really has me worried. When I was in Ireland Lord Kitchener was traveling around the country trying to drum up volunteers. I got to meet him briefly and he persuaded me to help out with recruitment esp. in County Donegal What he made clear to me was that if they did not get enough men from the south of Ireland, the government would have no choice but to introduce conscription. He was saying this when Asquith was still prime minister. Now with Bonar Law in charge I fear that conscription is inevitable."
"And you don’t think it will sit well with the Catholic population?" asked the Romantic Egotist.
"No, Francis, it will not sit well. A rising is certain if they try to impose conscription on Ireland and I’m not talking about just the pitiful little Citizen Army."
."You referring to those so called Sinn Feiners?" asked the priest, "Just what is the story with them? I heard something about MacNeill splitting with Redmond. It does sound to me like the handiwork of the IRB."
"Just what does ‘Sinn Fein’ mean? And what’s the IRB?" asked the Princeton student.
"As Father Fay here surely knows, ‘Sinn Fein’ means ‘We Ourselves’ in Irish Gaelic, The Nationalists who split from Redmond sometimes refer to themselves as Sinn Fein" answered Leslie. Father Fay sometimes said the Mass in Gaelic, even though it violated the canons of the Church, "And the IRB is the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Francis. It’s an outlawed Fenian organization. Some people think Eion MacNeill’s splinter group, the Irish Volunteers, is in fact run by the IRB. Others like myself are not sure just what his agenda be—except that he is adamantly opposed to Irishmen fighting for England. If conscription is imposed MacNeill will put up a fight."
"It pains to say I can very well see that happening. T’is a shame. Home Rule was not a perfect solution to Ireland’s problems, but it was an acceptable solution provided Carson and his band of fanatics up in Ulster did not find a way to ruin things. At first I thought the one good thing about the war in Europe is that it might unify the Irish people in a common cause. But now I see it is doing the exact opposite."
"As you probably know Sir Edward Carson is now First Lord of the Admiralty. What you may not know is that the high level decisions in Britain are now being made by only three men—Bonar Law, Carson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. David Lloyd-George."
"Hmm. I didn’t know that Great Britain is now ruled by triumvirate. Even if it didn’t involve Unionist blackhearts I would find that a disturbing development. But before I forget, while we are the subject of First Lords, I would like to know if you have heard from your cousin?" asked Fay.
"I did in fact have a chance to talk to Winston whilst I was over there, Father. After his dismissal following the Battle of Dogger Bank, several of his relatives were worried he might take his own life. Fearing for his immortal soul, I did my very best to steer his thoughts away that deadliest of sins. Last I heard he had been given command of battalion up in Scotland. I think combat may do his soul some good—even though I now sorely doubt the righteousness of that cause."
"And it is that doubt what made you return to America?"
Shane sighed deeply then made a wry smile, "Once again you see right through me, Father. I saw that what I had regarded as the firm foundation of my position--Sir John Redmond and Home Rule--is crumbling beneath my feet. So I returned to my wife’s estate up in Vermont."
"To avoid choosing sides if Ireland erupts? Ulysses was forced to choose between Scylla and Charybdis because he wanted to reach his home."
"Ulysses then is a wonderful metaphor for Ireland—wonderful and terrible. For as you say that surely is my deepest dread. To find myself given a choice between the likes of Tom Clarke and John Devoy on the one hand and Bonar Law and Edward Carson on the other. That is why I came here to see you, Father Fay, for I respect your counsel on matters such as this more than anyone else."
"Well then I will just have to conjure up some pearls of wisdom for you, Shane."
Fay’s tone of voice was more ironic than sarcastic. Shane was amused not offended, "I could use one or two right now if it pleases you, Father."
With a heroic effort Fay put down his fork and rubbed his 3 chins. He then ostentatiously stared up at the ceiling. He closed his eyes for a minute and when he was done he turned towards Shane and said, "Don’t place your bet until all the cards are dealt."
The Romantic Egotist chuckled. "What, what? Is that all, Father?" complained Shane, "No quotes from Cicero or Pascal? No reference to Holy Scripture? Not even a witticism lifted from Oscar Wilde?"
"The Sibyl has spoken, Shane! A little wisdom is good for the stomach. Too much causes heartburn," the priest then turned to the student, "What do say about all this, Francis? Should Shane be willing to fight for Ireland even it means fighting against the British Army. For that matter, how about yourself? Would you, my fair lad, be willing to fight for Ireland?"
The Romantic Egotist gulped at the question. His mind had been fixated on the notion of Ulysses as a symbol of Ireland and whether that image might be good material for a play or maybe even a a novel. He looked at the priest and did not want to disappoint him, "I am not sure, Father. I feel unworthy to tell Mr. Leslie here what he should do. But as for myself I would like very much to think that I would—if it was necessary, of course."
Fr. Fay smiled with the warmest beneficence and nodded, "If Ireland needs you, I think you will, Francis. There is no denying your origins. Celtic you’ll live and Celtic you’ll die."
IRISH DISSIDENT GROUP SHAKES UP ALL OF EUROPE
Throughout the continent of Europe the recent arrest in Dublin of James Connolly and two of his personal friends is causing controversy. At the core of this controversy is the credibility at face value of the claim by the current British government that Connolly was planning to start a revolution in Ireland with an "army" of 200 armed workers. One aspect of this situation is that the current British leader, Mr. Andrew Bonar Law of the UNIONIST-Conservative Party who is a vehement OPPONENT of the Home Rule Bill, which was to finally bestow on the long suffering Irish people a limited degree of self-determination. In the British House of Commons there have been voices accusing the Prime Minister and the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord George Curzon of OVERREACTING to the pitiful threat posed by James Connolly and his Citizen Army.
European labor leaders are deeply concerned that Prime Minister Bonar Law has plans to use the supposed plot by Connolly to discredit and suppress trade unions, starting with the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union in which Connolly had a prominent role. These arguments have been made repeatedly not just in the British Parliament but in the American Congress and the legislatures of Spain, France, Sweden and Italy. In the case of Rome it was felt to be a major contributor to passage of bill strongly opposed by the Italian Prime Minister, Antonio Salandra. There are rumors afoot that Salandra’s government which is widely believed to be in secret negotiations to enter the war on the side of the Entente is in grave danger of collapsing this week.
-----NY Journal American Sunday March 28, 1915
Ober Ost 0045 hrs Sunday March 28, 1915
General Ludendorff was on the telephone with General Herman von Eichhorn, the commander of Ninth Army. "In the afternoon some of our airplanes noticed sizable movements away from the front," came Eichorn’s voice over the telephone.
"Why wasn’t I notified earlier of this? Were these sightings limited to one sector?"
"The airborne observers were not consistent in their reports, which is why I did not report this earlier. Those that did report signs of a withdrawal were not concentrated in one area. I ordered all my divisions in line to make at least one trench raid tonight. I just received a report from one of them that their raid yielded prisoners who claim their units are withdrawing completely during the night. Feldmarschal von Hindenburg should be notified."
Ludendorff required only a few seconds to reach his decision, "There is no need to wake the Feldmarschal. You should order an immediate attack by all units in your front line."
"This was only one trench raid, Erich. It does not mean there is a retreat all along the line. My divisions are not in an attack posture. I think it would be better to begin preparations for an assault now and then attack at first light if the other trench raids confirm this discovery."
"No, I say attack with all front line units now!"
"Erich, please! The Russian defenses are quite formidable here as we learned the hard way back in December. A spontaneous night attack all along my front could suffer massive casualties if this proves to be merely a local phenomenon. If you insist on this broad attack then I must insist that the Feldmarschal confirm these orders."
Hindenburg did not like to have his sleep interrupted. It was not unthinkable to do so, but Ludendorff wished to avoid it. General Eichhorn was in his mid 60’s and could be very stubborn. The more rational side of Ludendorff reluctantly acknowledged that Eichorn’s caution had some merit. "The division that took these prisoners must make an immediate attack! If our trench raids return with similar reports then those divisions must attack immediately and this headquarters notified immediately. You do you understand the meaning of ‘immediately’?"
"I understand, General. It shall be done as you order."
------HQ Russian Fourth Army Radom, Poland 0515 hrs
Having wakened just a few minutes earlier General Evert, the commander of Fourth Army, was using the latrine when one of the junior officers on his staff burst in on him.
"General! German cavalry have broken through are lines and heading here. They could be here in an hour."
------Djibouti 0615 hrs
All of the Somalis and nearly 20 of the Foreign Legionnaires had surrendered yesterday. Some of the prisoners told Col. Samir Rabadi that the main reason the Legionnaires were holding out despite running out of water was the prevalent notion that they would be tortured and killed once they surrendered Yesterday evening Rabadi accompanied by an interpreter went in under a flag of truce and talked with the commandant, who was surprised to find a senior Ottoman officer in charge. Rabadi did his best to reassure the commandant that his men would be treated humanely if they surrendered. For a few minutes it looked like the commandant was going to surrender then and there. But he in the end he refused and asked that Rabadi leave.
Early this morning the French commandant emerged with a white flag. He asked to speak with Rabadi again and asked him to swear what he said was true. The commandant looked around and seemed to be reassured by the fact that there were Ottoman soldiers present in some number, not just Abyssinians. He then handed Col. Rabadi his sword and asked for some water.
------Army Group Mackensen HQ 0825 hrs
The morning reports had dispelled General von Mackensen’s remaining doubts. The entire Russian Fifth Army was now clearly withdrawing behind the Vistula.. This was an unexpected development. Mackensen had not been surprised by the withdrawal of the right wing of the Russian Third Army behind the San after the beating they took the first two days of Operation Whisper. That contingency had been considered in the planning phase as a likely development if things went well. On the contrary the most they hoped to accomplish against Fifth Army was to bend back its flank. Its complete withdrawal was now making the left pincer in the double envelopment much easier. If the cavalry corps succeeded in capturing the critical city of Radom the Russian Fourth Army would be in a grave situation.
Things continued to go reasonably well with the right pincer. The KuK 10th Cavalry Division patrolled the left bank of the Vistula destroying the bridges south of Ivanogorod Fortress. The KuK 2nd Cavalry Division was now hurrying north to link up with the German cavalry at Radom. The German 78th Reserve Division had crossed the Vistula around midnight to reinforce the pincer. There was also Pilsudski’s Brigade of the Polish Legion which followed behind 2nd Cavalry Division. Pilsudski was to make another attempt to arouse the zeal of his fellow Poles.
The pincers remained important but the center now required some attention as well. "Send a message to General Dankl that First Army is to proceed with the planned attack all along the line," he ordered.
------Stavka 0935 hrs
Grand Duke Nicholas had urgently summed General Yuri Danilov, the Stavka deputy chief of staff to see him. "General Ruszki has suffered a breakdown. You will leave within the hour to assume temporary command of Northwestern Front."
Danilov was rather fond of Ruszki and asked, "How serious is his breakdown, Excellency?"
"He has been hospitalized. I do not yet have even a preliminary physician’s report. However, General Ruszki’s health is a secondary concern at best. It is more important to correct the current chaos at Northwestern Front. Before his collapse Ruszki ordered both Second and Fifth Armies to withdraw behind the Vistula. He did this because he apparently felt the Germans had turned the left flank of Fifth Army."
"As you are well aware I have had confidence in General Ruszki’s abilities but worried that in trying to meet the great demands we have placed on him, he overworked himself, which is both admirable and regrettable. We should not presume General Ruszki’s breakdown caused him to make an erroneous decision, Excellency. It would be dangerous to countermand his orders before we know more of the tactical situation."
"Agreed. But even if it is justified it bares the right flank of Fourth Army."
"Fourth Army must retract at least its right flank quickly. I shall notify Southwestern Front."
------off the Faeroes 1015 hrs
HMS Laurentic an AMC assigned to the 10th Cruiser Squadron was on routine patrol enforcing the distant blockade. Yesterday her lookouts had reported seeing a periscope when in fact there were none. This morning they missed a real one. The torpedo struck amidships. It took her an hour to sink.
------Old Admiralty Building 1405 hrs
The First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Edward Carson, was meeting with Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord and Admiral Oliver, the chief of the naval war staff. The loss of Laurentic was briefly discussed but there was something else that the First Lord wanted to discuss, "I received a hand written letter from Admiral Bayly yesterday."
"So did I, First Lord," answered Callaghan, "I would hazard a guess they said pretty much the same thing. Lewis seems to working himself into a snit over losing Formidable to the Mediterranean Fleet."
"That’s putting it mildly. If it were a dreadnought or even one of Lord Nelson class I would be able to fathom his truculence. But this is one of his least powerful battleships. He makes it sound like the absence of Formidable will prove to be the decisive factor in a confrontation with the High Seas Fleet. Many people including you two warned me that the man could be difficult and downright strange at times when we picked him to replace Admiral Jellicoe. Now I am starting to get a wee bit worried."
Callaghan folded his arms and sighed deeply, "Lewis is demonstrating some of his less than admirable traits right now, First Lord---"
"---Lewis is being a stubborn ass, is what he is," added Oliver with some contempt.
"I was trying to be Christian about this situation, Henry," continued Callaghan, "so we must take into consideration the enormous pressure Admiral Bayly is under at this moment. He had been told repeatedly that he needs to be cautious for if he were to suffer another loss as awful at Ustire, Britain would be forced to sue for peace and the infernal Huns will have won the war. After impressing upon him the enormous weight which rests upon his shoulders we then go tell him to cough up one of the ships in his battle line."
"It is only Formidable, f’r bloody Chrisake!" Oliver growled.
"Actually he is bitter about losing Phaeton as well—at least that’s what’s in my letter. He has the temerity to remind me that insufficient scouting strength was the most serious element in what happened at Utsire. Or so he says."
Callaghan unfolded his arms and shrugged, "Again in the man’s defense he has a good point but as usual he overstates it. There definitely was a failure in our scouting at Utsire and that failure played a major role in what happened. That goes without saying, but to suggest losing a single light cruiser will blind the Grand Fleet is too much."
"I deeply appreciate what you just said, Admiral," answered Carson, "but it is my opinion that Bayly’s attitude is bordering on hysteria. As I have said many times before it is my firm belief that the High Seas Fleet will not sally forth to challenge us again before the end of May. In the meantime the Albanian expedition is our one hope to win this war quickly. There have been some very encouraging signs that this expedition is causing serious political rifts between Austria and Hungary. If we let this opportunity pass then the best we can hope for is to force the Germans out of France a year from now with a massive costly buildup of the British Army. Now I understand very well that your duties as senior officers require you to consider all possible enemy threats. For that reason I did not object to your adopting Admiral Jellicoe’s suggestion for staggering the repair of our damaged ships. But there is a point where concern loses its rationality and that is how I view Admiral Bayly’s letter."
"Formidable and Phaeton left together for the Mediterranean late yesterday morning, First Lord. As far as I am concerned the matter is settled," remarked Oliver.
------Radom 1430 hrs
The Bavarian Cavalry Corps had not rushed Radom when the arrived in the morning. Instead its squadrons circled around to cordon it off, cutting the railway, roads and telegraph wires. Meanwhile the motorized heavy artillery regiment arrived and dug in, starting with the 1st battalion. The 5th Cavalry Division and one of the reserve Jaeger battalions arrived in the last hour. An artillery bombardment was now underway. It lasted 30 minutes with the observation assistance of an airships due to heavy cloud cover which moved in during morning with intermittent rain. Nevertheless the artillery had found some targets. When they finished firing an assault by Jaegers and dismounted cavalry commenced.
The defenders turned out to be mostly opolcheniye Territorial infantry and support units. Only half of the opolcheniye and maybe a quarter of the support troops had rifles. The former had been badly shaken by the shelling and surrendered in droves. Here and there some members of a supply train held out and the Army HQ guard company was very fierce. A regiment of Cossack cavalry had arrived while the assault of the city was underway. One Cossack squadron managed to penetrate the cordon and for a while caused some mischief without altering the outcome of the battle. At sunset the Fourth Army HQ remained defiant but the German cavalrymen had control of the city, along with its supply depots. They were content to wait a day for the HQ to surrender.
The 4th Bavarian Infantry Division had crossed the Pilica during the afternoon. The afternoon rain had not been heavy but some snow had melted as well, causing some muddiness. The infantry marched on towards Radom but the supply wagons and artillery were experiencing some difficulty.
------Southwestern Front HQ 1750 hrs
The chief of staff, General Alexeev was sure General Ivanov had said it at least 20 times in the last two hours. Ivanov now said it again, "It’s all Ruszki’s fault!"
Alexeev also repeated himself, "General, I must again strongly recommend we immediately order both of the divisions at Ivanogorod to Radom by forced march."
Previously Ivanov had merely denied the request and then proceeded to blame General Ruszki at Northwestern Front for the plight of Fourth Army. This time after an audible groan he answered, "We dare not send both divisions and leave the fortress unprotected. I say send only one division."
Alexeev was glad that he was finally making at least some delayed progress with Ivanov, "We must retake Radom to save Fourth Army. One division may not be enough. I recommend that we remove a regiment from one division to guard the fortress and send both division to Radom."
"Bah, there is only pathetic German cavalry at Radom. One infantry division should be able to overcome cavalry, esp. when General Evert’s own cavalry come to his aid. Have you forgotten there is Austrian. cavalry galloping up the west bank of the Vistula? There is definitely a threat to Ivanogorod!"
"The Austrian cavalry are destroying bridges over the Vistula, not crossing the river. It is now obvious that their objective is to isolate Fourth Army not to attack the fortress."
"No, no and once again NO! I hereby order that one and only division from Ivanogorod be sent to Radom. Is that clear?"
His nostrils flared but otherwise Alexeev maintained his professional composure, "Perfectly clear, General. It shall be done as you command."
Ivanov nodded satisfied. Then he took another look at the map and groaned,"It’s all Ruszki’s fault!"
------OHL Valenciennes 0850 hrs Monday March 29, 1915
General von Falkenhayn had not slept well. Yesterday he had learned several things which he struggled to absorb. First there was some additional confirmation that Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg had pleaded with the Kaiser to put Feldmarschal von Hindenburg in charge of the General Staff. On the other hand there was some news about the combined German and Austrian offensive in Poland. The offensive appeared to be having great success. There was a good possibility that they had encircled the Russian Fourth Army. It still might turn out to be a profound disappointment like the Battle of Sambor where the Russian Eighth Army had fought it way out a trap, but that was not what was bothering Falkenhayn. He had finally learned yesterday that OKW had given the last pair of reserve divisions for Conrad to use with his Fourth Army. At first he thought Moltke had outright lied to him but he know recalled Moltke merely promised not to give those divisions to Hindenburg and had said nothing about Conrad. Falkenhayn had also learned about the converted naval 15cm batteries being used and about the 2 Army airships.
He was now certain that Eleventh Army’s attack had not been meant as a diversion. An ambitious plan to encircle Fourth Army had been the intent from the beginning. He had a good suspicion that it been planned by OKW, but he knew that if he confronted Moltke he would claim it was all Conrad’s idea and all OKW did was "coordinate" some assistance.. It was all so diabolically clever of Moltke—more so than Falkenhayn had previously thought him capable of. He suspected that since OKW had been formed Admiral von Tirpitz and possibly the headstrong General von François had shown him some new tricks.
Falkenhayn had good reasons to be upset with several people—Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, Feldmarschal von Hindenburg, General Ludendorff, Feldmarschal von Moltke and Grossadmiral von Tirpitz. Privately he could and would detest them all. But he realized to lash out against all of them would inevitably result in his own defeat. If Russian Fourth Army was indeed destroyed in the next few days Ludendorff would see it as justifying a complete emphasis on the Eastern Front. Falkenhayn looked at a map and saw that the Russians would now entrench behind a strong water obstacle, the Vistula backed by huge fortresses at Novogeorgievsk, Warsaw and Ivanogorod An excellent defensive position for them but less of a threat to Germany and its ally. To Falkenhayn this was a good reason to go on the attack on other fronts.
One of those fronts would be the Balkans as Bulgaria had finally signed the secret treaty. Moltke had been favorable to an operation there. While Falkenhayn saw nothing but relentless opposition coming from Hindenburg and Ludendorff, what was going on at OKW was something of a mystery. He strongly suspected that OKW had other plans besides what was happening in Poland. It was time he learned about them.
So he made up his mind. It was a classic case of choosing the lesser evil. Addressing his staff he ordered, "Send a telegram to OKW. Notify them that I will be arriving in Berlin tomorrow. Tell that I request a meeting in the afternoon with both Feldmarschal von Moltke and Grossadmiral von Tirpitz."
------Addis Ababa 1015 hrs Monday March 29, 1915
Ras Mikael had arrived at the capital late last night. He was now meeting in private with his son, Emperor Iyasu V.
"The French garrison was still holding out when you left?" asked Iyasu a tad disappointed, "Why did you not overwhelm them and be done with it?"
"It would’ve cost us needless casualties, Your Majesty. The defenders are penned up and cut off from water. Their surrender was only a matter of time."
"And so you left the Somaliland expedition in the hands of this Ottoman officer, Samir Rabadi?"
"Yes, I thought it best. The Ottomans can perform some training our men can use. I expect the main British and French counter offensive to come from reinforcements they will send to Berbera I believe we have at least two more weeks. When they arrive this Ottoman officer, Rabadi will be put to the test."
"I am confused by all this, father. How will the French and British ships be able to reach Berbera once the German Fleet arrives?"
"It may take the Germans some time to make it here, my son. It’s a long way from Wilhemshaven. It’s a long way to go."
"Oh, yes, I suppose that is, so. It’s just when the Ottoman diplomats explained it to me I got the impression that it would happen very quickly. I don’t recall their exact words though. Strange it it not-- how diplomats can sometimes create an impression that something will without specifically saying so?"
"Most of them are trained to do precisely that, Your Majesty."
"Alas, what is this world coming to? So the British and French may land their own expedition at Berbera before the Germans arrive. Now that we have the mighty Ottomans aiding us they are in for an unpleasant experience."
"It may not be that easy, Iyasu! For one thing the Ottoman expedition is
somewhat less than I had expected. Sneaking across the Red Sea during the night
is not that easy. We must be cautious with out strength. From what I know it
appears you followed by advice whilst I was away. Is this correct, my son?"
Iyasu pouted, "I had done as you suggested, father. I have kept most of our army camped with a 2 hours march of the capital. I have sent only cavalry into the predominantly Christian areas, esp in the south where Ras Tafari is holed up. This has produced several skirmishes."
"How have these skirmishes gone?"
"The results have been mixed. I think our officers are breaking off too soon. By fleeing so many times they lose prestige and jeopardize the morale of our forces. Still worse they encourage Ras Tafari and his rabble. So a few days ago I gave instructions for the cavalry to persevere."
"The officers require cavalry need to be able to exercise their own good judgment about when to break off And Zauditu—is it true that she has been in contact Is she trying to negotiate?"
Iyasu sighed and pouted still more, "Yes, yes. She has sent messengers, even a few gifts. I have done as you suggested and said encouraging things without making any specific commitments. These pretenses make me feel weak and unmanly. Now that you have returned it is time to deal firmly with our enemies! We should march south and crush Ras Tafari. Once he is dead I will demand Zauditu’s surrender. I will promise to spare her worthless life, but she must spend the rest of it in a nunnery, which is where she belongs."
Ras Mikael sighed. He was glad he had returned as quickly as he had. "My son. My Emperor. Please listen to me. There is a time for boldness and a time for caution. We should hold off on attacking Ras Tafari. There are tactical advantages to forcing him to come to us. As far as Zauditu, you should explore the possibility of bringing her to our side even if it means making some concessions. If that does not work we can hope to stall her if and when Ras Tafari forces a showdown."
Iyasu was not happy with those suggestion and pouted. Then he relented with a grin, "I will give your words some thought, father, but first let me tell you about my new concubine."
------Vienna 1120 hrs
"Before I forget there is some interesting news out of Budapest, Karl"
"Does it concern Count Tisza by any chance, Your Majesty?"
"Good guess, there, Karl! It most certainly does! Who you like to guess what he is planning to do?"
Karl frowned but not too much. The Kaiser looked cheerful so Tisza could not be doing something evil, "Perhaps he has decided to retire. Could we be so lucky?"
"No, something better. He has decided to serve in the Army. Says he wishes to personally demonstrate the Magyar commitment to the war."
------Manhattan 1520 hrs (GMT)
Mimi Plunkett’s boat had docked at New York harbor early this morning. She notified John Devoy by telephone that she was back from Ireland then took a taxi to meet him. She now found herself staring at Devoy’s head with bewilderment. He was wearing a bright green helmet. It appeared to be made of metal. It a golden harp crudely painted on the front of it.
"What’s that you’re wearing, John?" she asked gaping.
Devoy pointed to his head and grinned, "What does it bloody look like I’m wearing? Open you’re your eyes, girl, it’s a bloody helmet."
"I can see that John, but what da heck is it f’r?"
"It’s a prototype. We are going to be shipping nearly 2,000 of these to Ireland in the next few days."
Mimi noticed another thing was different about John Devoy—he was wearing what looked to be a new suit and a pretty good one for a change. "Seems like a waste of money, John. This ain’t the Middle Ages, you know."
"Bah, just goes to show you don’t know anything, girl. Helmets are making a come back. The Frenchies are already using them. The Germans, of course, have come up with a better design. An example of which just happen is to be sitting on my head right now."
"And just where is the bleedin’ money for all these helmets coming from John?"
"A local bank saw fit to except the Clan na Gael a very large loan. I had to shake hands with a money grabbing Jew bastard, but it was worth it. These here helmets are only a small portion of it. What would would you say if I told you that I was buying 2,000 horses to be used for the revolution?"
"Two thousand horses! Ah, you must be fooling with me, Mr. Devoy. There is no way a bank would ever lend you that amount of money."
"Don’t you be calling me a liar, you damn fool girl! And there is going to be some other things that I’ll be sending over besides these helmets and the horses. Like some trucks, for instance, and a lot of food. It’s a damn shame that I can’t send any weapons though due to this pathetic English loving excuse for President we have right now."
"I don’t be meaning to call you a liar, Mr. Devoy. It’s just for the life of me I can’t figure out why would a big shot Jew banker would be entrusting the Clan na Gael such a large amount of money."
"Maybe your brother has something to do with it."
"Oh, you heard from Joe? How’s he doin’ When’s he fixing to come home?"
"He is still in Germany. Remember to be careful whom you tell that to. He has sent some very brief cables in which he can’t afford to waste words with personal items. He is doing great work over there. You should be proud of him! He will return to Ireland when he’s finished over there."
"I was just askin’. Joe is not in the best of health you know."
Devoy softened only slightly, "Yes, I know. Neither is Casement. There is a war on. People need to do what they need to do, even when they are not feeling well. Now then ain’t you forgetting something?"
"I didn’t forget," Mimi sniffed. You stepped into a closed and partially closed the door. She then removed a letter secreted in her undergarments. Fixing her clothes she handed it to Devoy.
He read the note and groused, "This can’t be right! The Irish Volunteers have about 33,000 on their rolls now. With all that has happened they are only 33,000? They must be having administrative problems causing them to undercount the men outside of Leinster. I told the Count just yesterday the Volunteers number at least 60,000 men. I was sure that was a conservative figure."
"Just before I left I overheard Pearse saying we have been growing rapidly in Cork since what happened St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t know if he meant the entire county or just the city though."
"Hmm. Now then, Mimi, when you get back to Dublin, there is something extremely important that I need for you to do. I am going to include it in the letter you will be carrying, but just to make sure it gets through and has a proper emphasis there is something I want you to say to the IRB boys. Can you do this one little thing for this tired old man?"
"Sure. What’s the message?"
"These things that I am going to be shipping should be arriving at Fenit and Limerick in about 3 to 4 weeks. I want you make it very clear to Clarke and Pearse that items are to be kept in Counties Kerry, Limerick and Clare. Do y’a think you can remember that?"
"The goods are to remain in Kerry, Limerick and Clare. Might I be asking why?’
Devoy made an exasperated scowl then yelled, "Because I said so, you wool headed nag! I’m the one paying for these goods and if I say that stay in those counties that is damn well where they will stay."
"Jesus! No reason to be jumpin’ on me like that! The boys will want to know, that’s all."
Devoy hemmed and hawed. Mimi had a strange hunch—that John was not sure why it was so important either.
"Just tell them to do it and that the reason why will become clear later," he finally said.
"They will also want to know about Jim Larkin. Has he left yet?"
"I don’t think so. Just yesterday I heard him giving a speech. He sure likes to give speeches."
"So when is he planning to return to Ireland?"
Devoy scowled even more fiercely. Larkin was proving to be a first rate disappointment. "I am beginning to think he is not planning to go back at all," he answered.
------Radom 1630 hrs
Fourth Army HQ had surrendered at noon. One of the prisoners was a lightly wounded General Evert. Soon afterwards a Russian cavalry division reached the outskirts of the city. The skies had cleared by then and an Army airship again circled overhead providing useful tactical information the German cavalry corps. The Russians made a first attack on horseback and were quickly driven off by artillery fire. Their second attack was made dismounted with the support of their horse artillery. The powerful concentration of German artillery at Radom drove it off. The Russians now encountered a new problem as the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Cavalry Division coming up from the couth attacked their flank. Meanwhile the lead battalion of the 4th Bavarian Infantry Division reached Radom after a grueling march.
------Hackwood (Hampshire) 1905 hrs
Lord George Curzon, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, was having supper with King Albert of Belgium. Curzon had returned from Dublin to meet with the War Committee tomorrow. King Albert had returned to England after spending several days with the Belgian Division serving in France under the command of the BEF. Hackwood still remained his official residence while he was in England. Theoretically this was only temporary but as finding him a "permanent" residence would imply an admission that Belgium was not likely to be liberated for a long time the decision kept getting put off.
"Have you been able to pay a visit to the trenches, yet, George?" asked King Albert.
"No, I have not, Your Majesty."
"It seems that war was found a new way to be horrible. There has been very little action for my men since the Battle of Crecy Forest back in December. Now and then there is a brief exchange of artillery fire and the snipers constantly do their fiendish work. Your British units like to raid the enemy trenches at night. General Smith-Dorrien insists my men do the same but they are unenthusiastic about the practice and neither am I. Other than that they about in the their trenches Some of chores to perform including digging more trenches and some are given training but most simply wait in their trench for the next German attack. For a short period of time conditions in the trench are just barely tolerable. But to endure it for days is simply a form of torture."
"I have not had an opportunity to see the trenches myself, Your Majesty. From what I have heard in Parliament and what I’ve read in the newspapers the conditions there must be appalling."
"It is worse than that. Bodies are left to rot on the barbed wire because it is too dangerous to bury them. Rats infest the trench. Melting snow and rains often flood the trenches—something which will surely get worse in April. Adequate hygiene is nearly impossible. Their bodies develop many strange ailments. But still worse is the sickness of the soul that results from living under those conditions. When Elisabeth first decided to join me at the front she wept for two straight days then she decided to work as a nurse at one of the field hospitals. She is very dedicated. I will not be staying long in England. If I stay too ling your government will try to shuffle me around the country making speeches again. There is only so many of those I can do effectively. No, I must resolve things here quickly then return to the front. And return to my queen."
As usually Curzon was deeply impressed with King Albert. There was still an aura of melancholia emanating from the exiled monarch but it seemed to Curzon that with remarkable stoicism the monarch was not permitting it to interfere with his duties. "Might I ask what issues prompted your return to my fair land?"
King Albert sighed deeply, "Have you heard of what has happened within Abyssinia and their attack on French Somaliland."
"I know little more than what I have read in the newspapers. A very complicated mess it appears"
"It certainly is. Do you know of your government’s plans in this matter?"
"No. They have not seen fit to share them with me."
"Then I cannot say too much. But I will say that I offered the assistance of the Force Publique in Congo."
"What is the problem? Please do not tell that this generous offer was rejected."
"No. Though it took a long time for a decision to be reached my offer was eventually accepted. But it turns out there are problems in working out some of the details. What’s the right word. Coordination! Yet there were problems in the Congo coordinating our involvement. I was able to meet with Secretary Grey and Lord Kitchener in the morning, then with your Prime Minister in the early afternoon. I believe this matter as resolved. Elements of the Force Publique should be on the march by Thursday."
While Curzon did have any direct knowledge of what was going on in Africa, he had a good grasp of the colonial situation in Africa. He thought it likely that there was some mutual distrust between the British and Belgian officials in Central Africa, stemming from competing national interests in the area. "In that case you will be returning to France tomorrow."
"No. There is another matter I want to discuss further with Lord Kitchener. I want to contribute a mixed brigade from my forces still here in England to the Albanian expedition. I mentioned this briefly to Lord Kitchener who did not seem very enthusiastic about the idea."
Curzon did know of Kitchener’s persistent antipathy towards the Albanian Expedition Resisting the temptation to say something nastier Curzon remarked, "Lord Kitchener can be difficult to persuade sometime, even if the logic is overwhelming. He can be extremely stubborn. I am now learning that is a common shortcoming of the Irish."
"Yes I agree with you about Lord Kitchener. But as I understand it the Albanian Expedition is considered the only hope that the Entente can defeat the Central Powers this year. If it fails, this war will drag on at least another year. That would mean a very long German occupation of my country, something I would do anything to avoid."
"I deeply sympathize with your concern for your nation, Your Majesty."
King Albert suddenly realized how sad he must be looking and tried to force a smile, "You are a good friend to the Belgian people. Might I ask what is happening in Ireland. People are talking a lot about this man Connolly you arrested for treason. I find it a bit confusing. Did the man really hope to seize power with just 200 men."
Inwardly Curzon groaned—even King Albert was repeating that line of argument! Outwardly he continued a friendly smile and gave what was becoming his stock answer, "Connolly only had about 250 men but his hope was that once he started his rebellion a much larger group called the Irish Volunteers would be drawn in as well. So the plot is not as silly as some newspapers are making it sound."
"I see. So is this man Connolly why you are meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow?
"Hmm, it is one important item I will be discussing with the War Committee. The problems stemming form our arrest of Connolly are largely the fault of the demagogic publisher, Lord Northcliffe. He kept sunning articles trying to use Connolly to portray all Socialists as being disloyal. While some British Socialists such as Ramsey MacDonald have taken a pacifist stance in opposing the war, a majority have supported the war and took offense at Northcliffe’s unwarranted speculation. Meanwhile Socialists outside Britain began to take an interest in the story. A theory originated in Spain that Connolly is merely a scapegoat in some sinister plan by Bonar Law to destroy the trade unions. As the man who ordered Connolly’s arrest I can assure you that this theory is complete and utter rubbish but unfortunately some people are taking it seriously. Frankly I would not be surprised if the Spanish Socialists were bribed by German agents to print that story."
"So you still plan to go ahead with trying Connolly? Are you still planning to seek the death sentence? And weren’t there two other people arrested—one of them a Countess with a Polish name I cannot remember? Will they be tried as well?"
"As far as Connolly his trial will start soon and we still intend to see that traitor hang. As far his two accomplices, Michael Mallin and the Countess Markievisscz a decision has not yet been reached. The attorney general will also be at the meeting tomorrow to help sort things out."
------OKW 2315 hrs
General von François and Oberst Hoffman were briefing Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke on the progress of Operation Whisper François spoke, "The attempt by Russian cavalry to retake Radom failed miserably with the arrival of the Austrian 2nd Cavalry Division routing them completely. The latest report is that the Russian XXV Corps on the enemy left flank has simply disintegrated. The Austrian Fourth Army reports taking nearly 9,000 prisoners and 70 guns. Air patrols report the rest of Russian Fourth Army retreating to the northeast in disarray with the partial exception of the Grenadier Corps---" .
Hoffman was ebullient and interrupted, "What this means is we got them, Feldmarschal-- the whole fuckin’ Fourth Army."
"I would not go so far to say that just yet, Max," said François, "There is still some things that can go wrong. In particular this formation of infantry our planes observed marching towards Radom out of Ivanogorod."
Hoffman waved his hands and shook his head, "I tell you General, we got the bastards. It’s just like Tannenberg! You should know what it feels like—you were there, General. Hell, it was you who took most of the prisoners."
François found himself thinking more of Masurian Lakes and Sambor, "Yes, Max I was there. But I have been to other places where things did not turn out as well as we had hoped."
Moltke yawned loudly then said with a grin, "Please forgive me. This is anything but boring,. but this poor old man is feeling his age right now. My doctors will give me Hell if they knew I was up this late. And do I need to look my best when General Falkenhayn comes a calling tomorrow."
At that Moltke arose and patted first François and then Hoffman on the back, "Good work you two. Send a telegram expressing my appreciation to General von Mackensen as well. I think it is time we sent Oberst Bauer back to Falkenhayn. That little devil finally did some good for a change. Dr. Steiner says that the opposing spiritual powers have their role in cosmic evolution. Once again he was right. With that bit of wisdom I will bid you gentlemen good night."
After Moltke left Hoffman said to François, "You know Herman, I think there is another place this tactic you came up with --using cavalry and motorized heavy artillery-- would work very well."
"Hmm. Are you referring to Operation Tourniquet?"
"No. Well, at least not in the initial phase of that one. No it was here that I was thinking it was made to order," he said pointing to an area on the map.