by Tom B
------Addis Ababa 1040 hrs Tuesday March 30, 1915
Emperor Iyasu V and Ras Mikael received two unusual petitioners. With his usual tact Iyasu got straight to the point.
"What do you Falashas want?"
His father cringed. He knew that his visitors regarded that term as deprecating. Trying to soothe their feelings he spoke up, "What business does the great House of Israel have with the Lion Throne?"
The two visitors were Jewish priests (kesoch). Zalelew, the older of the two, addressed his monarch, "Emperor Iyasu. Aaron and myself come here before you to bid you honor. We have heard you overcome a French Army to capture the port of Djibouti, giving this great nation access to the sea."
"What you say is true," admitted Iyasu, "the capture of Djibouti is a great accomplishment. It is almost as great as Adowa." Ras Mikael groaned inwardly at the grotesque comparison. He had been at Adowa and the enemy force had been much more powerful than what he encountered in French Somaliland.
Aaron spoke, "In addition to offering congratulations, we have come here to offer the services of our people to your cause. We are a loyal people and ask merely that we be allowed to worship God in our way according to our sacred traditions."
"As long as you respect the authority of your rightful sovereign, your people and their traditions shall be respected. We know how much you have suffered over the centuries. It is not our desire to add to that suffering. But we do require loyalty. Will your men fight for us?" asked Ras Mikael.
Aaron and Zalelew exchanged glances. "As you have said, our people have suffered greatly. Mostly it has be the Christians but there are some recent bitter memories of certain Moslems following one they called the Mahdi."
"Moslems who read and understand the Koran would know that the People of the Book are entitled to respect."
"Father, do we really need their help?" Iyasu asked without looking at his guests.
Ras Mikael glanced briefly at his son and ruler, "Your Majesty, a wise emperor lets all his loyal subjects serve them even when that service is not completely necessary. And Gondar is a province we must worry about."
While his son pondered that tidbit of wisdom, Ras Milael turned back to the Jewish priests, "Let us be less abstract. How many men suitable for fighting can you provide?"
Aaron whispered something in Zalalew’s ear, who whispered something back then turned again to Ras Mikael
"He can assemble 2,000 soldiers in the vicinity of Gondar in two weeks. There another 1,000 in more distant areas that can be called upon eventually"
"And how many rifles will they have?" asked Ras Mikael.
The priests again briefly conferred in excited whispers. "Roughly 800," answered Zalelew.
"And of these 800 how many load from the front?"
The priests conferred again then Zalelew answered with a shrug, "Some."
Iyasu snorted derisively. Ras Mikael merely shook his head, then he said, "If you can in fact assemble 2,000 able bodied men in Gondar, I shall provide half of them with rifles. None of which load from the front."
"Father!" gasped Iyasu, "rifles do not grow on trees!"
"We captured over 200 from the enemy in French Somaliland and the Ottomans are providing us with some more, Your Majesty. We can spare some for loyal subjects guarding a critical region."
------east of Radom 1355 hrs
The lead battalions Russian 80th Rifle Division approached Radom after a hard march from Ivanogorod Fortress. Melting snow had made the roads increasingly muddy so the artillery and supply wagons were not keeping up with the infantry. Their commander had been told that German cavalry held Radom. Their first contact was indeed it with cavalry—the 5th squadrons of the 5th Chevauleger Regiment which were the cavalry component of the 4th Bavarian Infantry Division.
The sky was partially cloudy and the winds moderate. The Germans therefore were again able to deploy an airship over the battlefield. The 4th Bavarian Infantry Division had not had sufficient time to dig trenches but its men were allowed some rest after their hard march and a line of strong points were prepared. More importantly their artillery was now readied and it was augmented by a battalion of the ex-naval 15cm guns plus a battery of 21cm Morsers.
The Russian infantry began their attack. The 80th Rifle Division was a second line division. Most of its soldiers lacked adequate training—nearly a third of them didn’t even have a rifle. There were insufficient junior officers and NCO’s. They were attacking a battle hardened Bavarian line division. . In less than hour they suffered well over a thousand casualties without achieving anything.
------10 Downing Street 1430 hrs
The War Committee had summoned both Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of Ireland and Earl Frederick E. Smith of Birkenhead, the Attorney General to meet with them. The main topic of conversation was James Connolly.
"George, I must start by congratulating you on your deft handling of the threat posed by that swine, Connolly. Contrary to some irresponsible rhetoric in Parliament and some newspapers, you did not overreact to the situation, but acted appropriately," said Bonar Law.
"Hear, hear!" said Carson with great enthusiasm and Smith quickly echoed the sentiment. Curzon was pleased but he noticed a more ambivalent expression on the face ofLloyd-George, who remained silent.
"Thank you, Prime Minister," said Curzon, "and while I heartily agree that this rhetoric to which you refer, is downright fatuous and grotesquely ill-informed, we would be foolish to ignore its impact."
"Just what are you suggesting, Viceroy?" asked Bonar Law in a less laudatory voice.
Before Curzon could answer Lloyd-George unexpectedly interrupted, "I would hazard a guess that George here is referring to banning the Transport Union."
"Yes, Chancellor, as usual your intuition is spot on. A case can be made for banning the Transport Union because the Connolly’s Citizen Army was it paramilitary adjunct. The problem is that do so would confirm all the nasty speculation being circulated about the arrest of Connolly being merely an excuse to destroy trade unions. Disagreeable though it be, the most prudent course at this time is to allow the Transport Union to continue and merely ban the Citizen Army which has already been done."
Bonar Law was unhappy with this response, "I am not sure about this, George. Even if there is no armed uprising, this damn union is likely to call a general strike if Connolly is convicted maybe even earlier."
Carson then said, "I find myself in agreement with George on this Andrew. If the union does call a strike in support of Connolly then we should shut them down as a subversive organization. To ban them now only serves to support the Socialist misperception."
"We could ban the Transport Union and make it clear to other union leaders that they are not in any danger," suggested Smith.
"But will they believe that?" interjected Lloyd-George, "and for that matter will Socialists outside Britain? I think not. This situation with Connolly may well have been crucial in the Italian vote of no confidence yesterday. In Spain as well as Sweden for that matter the Socialists have opposed the elements in their countries yearning to enter the war on the side of Germany."
"My own instinct is to ban the union as well, but it’s your decision to make, George. Yours and not Birrell’s" said Bonar Law.
Carson then said, "Just so you know, George. The three of us have discussed Birrell at some length. We’ve come to the conclusion that it would be best if he continues on as Chief Secretary for another month, but after that we should find a suitable replacement, someone acceptable to both our party and David’s. In the meantime we do not want to provoke his resignation, but he is not to be granted a veto power over our policies by threatening to resign."
"Not a complete veto," added David Lloyd-George, "but you should look to compromise with him whenever possible."
"I would like to move on to the topic on Connolly," announced Bonar Law, "Sir Frederick, his trial is due to start a week from tomorrow. Have you found a way to see him hang without using his confession?"
The attorney-general shook his head, "Even if we have all of our informants testify –which will render them useless in the future, I remain pessimistic"
"And using the confession will make it nearly impossible to prosecute Mallin and the Countess," surmised Carson.
"If we use the confession we should be able to see Connolly sentenced to death. As far as Mallin goes I would recommend deportation."
"And the Countess?"
Smith sighed deeply, "You are not going to like what I am going to say, Prime Minister. I sure and hell don’t. But we may have to let her go."
Bonar Law’s jaw dropped, "You are bloody damn right--I sure and hell do not like it!"
"I fail to see why we can’t at least deport her," said Carson.
Smith answered, "There is an additional complication in her case. Are you aware that Morley is her barrister?"
"I had heard something to that effect, Frederick, but Christ it must be ages since he last practiced law."
"But it wasn’t all that long ago that he was Chief Secretary of Ireland. He knows a lot of about things work there and he is making noises about what he can do if we start a deportation hearing against the Countess."
"She might be more of a threat if she was deported, prime minister" mused Lloyd-George, "I ask you to recall Lord Kitchener’s briefing on Poland yesterday. While he thinks this Austro-German attempt to encircle an entire Russian Army will fail, he does believe it likely that the Russians will be forced to retreat behind the Vistula River. The Polish Socialist agitator, Pilsudksi will soon have much more of Poland to manipulate. The Countess Markieviscz could well prove to be an effective propaganda tool for him."
"Holy Lord! Hadn’t thought of that angle, David!" exclaimed Bonar law, "And even if she doesn’t get involved with Pilsudski she could be used for enemy propaganda in Italy, Spain, Sweden or maybe even the United States."
"Women do make such dastardly wonderful victims, now don’t they?" quipped Smith.
Curzon had been strangely quiet in this exchange. The thought of releasing the Countess Markieviscz did not please him either. But he was now reminded of something else, "Sir Frederick what about Capt. Jack White?"
Smith frowned and sighed, "The evidence is weak there as well, Viceroy. The best we can hope for is deportation."
"In his case I’d suspect he’d head for the United States to link up with that silver tongued demagogue, Jim Larkin, who has surprised us all by making no attempt to return to Ireland," said Carson, " Captain Gaunt has assigned one of his best agents to following Larkin so we’ll know if he does."
"Maybe Mr. Larkin realizes that and that’s why he’s not even trying to return," said the Prime Minister, "which is fine with me. Even though he does us harm in America, he could cause us much more serious trouble if he returned to Dublin."
"However Birrell remains strongly opposed to deportations," remarked Curzon, "though he makes a grudging allowance that it might be necessary for dealing with Mallin and maybe even Captain White—but definitely not the Countess Markieviscz."
"Yes, we are well aware of Birrell’s views on deportation. This gives me a thought though," said Carson with a sudden sparkle in eyes, "What if you were to tell him that we are planning to deport the Countess, then coyly suggest a deal with him. The nature of this deal being that if we let the Countess remain in Ireland, Birrell does not make a fuss when we deport Tom Clarke."
Smith chuckled, "A brilliant suggestion, Edward! Once Birrell gives his consent it will be much easier for us to deport Clarke than the Countess."
"Yes, I would love to see us rid of Tom Clarke. There are some others such as Pease I would also like very much to see deported. For the time being let’s see if we can iron out this compromise with Birrell," ordered the Prime Minister.
------OKW 1600 hrs
In addition to Feldmarschal Moltke and Admiral Tirpitz, General François at Moltke’s insistence also attended the meeting with General Falkenhayn.
Moltke began the discussion, "I must apologize about letting General Conrad use the 2 reserve divisions I promised you for the Balkan offensive. It was becoming obvious that if something was not done to change the initiative I the East Tsar Ferdinand would never sign the treaty of alliance with us. Without that treaty there would be no Balkan offensive. General Conrad was told in no uncertain terms that those units were to be returned to us after two weeks of the start of the offensive. That gives them to recuperate and moved to the Balkans."
So that makes it all right to deceive me, Helmuth? thought Falkenhayn with ire It certainly does not! But he had come here to make a deal with these deceitful devils. "That is water under the bridge, Feldmarschal," he responded dryly.
"What exactly do you wish to discuss, General?" asked Tirpitz.
Falkenhayn decided to be direct, "I have several topics on my list, Admiral. but the most important is that I finally want to lay to rest the tension that exists between this office and the General Staff. There has been what I regard as some misunderstandings which in turn have led to a lack of communication. To this end I want to engage both of you in a frank discussion of strategy. I anticipate disagreements but they should prove intractable. All of us here are dedicated professionals trying to see that our country emerges victorious."
Tirpitz and Moltke exchanged glances. They both seemed relieved. "So you want us behind you when you confront Feldmarschal von Hindenburg about the Chancellor’s intervention," guessed Tirpitz. Moltke gaped at Tirpitz’s bluntness and François made a bemused grin.
Falkenhayn ground his teeth. His first impulse was to make a denial. After some deliberation he said simply, "In part."
"Greater or lesser part? You don’t have to answer that. We will support you in your struggle but only so far and only we can come to some basic understanding about strategy."
"Please, clarify what you mean by a limited degree?"
It was Moltke who answered, "We will not support a demand for Feldmarschal Hindenburg’s resignation. That would be counterproductive. He is still too popular due to Tannenberg."
"I will not let this episode go without consequence!"
"Nor should you. But we believe this situation requires more subtlety."
"What are you trying to say, Helmuth?"
François now spoke, "The real problem is Iago not Othello. You need to get General Ludendorff away from Feldmarschal von Hindenburg."
"What are you suggesting? Assign General Ludendorff command of a division? Make him chief of staff of an army?"
"No, that would make the vindictiveness too obvious. But if there was a truly challenging assignment where you could make an argument that only General Ludendorff’ would do then our primary motive would be obscured."
"And just what is this extremely important assignment?"
"Why the Balkan invasion, of course! We already have drawn up preliminary plans for it. Since it involves coordination with allies—all three of them—it lies well within what is allowed under our charter. We have even given it a codename, Operation Tourniquet. It will require an Army Group to command all the different forces. Conrad will make only token objection to it being a German commander because he knows very well that the Bulgarians will not allow their armies to be subordinate to an Austrian commander."
"And so you propose to make General Ludendorff chief of staff for this army group?"
"Exactly! Choosing the commander is obviously your prerogative. I would strongly suggest though that it be someone he cannot bully and manipulate."
"Is there any other plans you have concocted that I should be made aware of?"
Tirpitz turned to Moltke and said, "It is time we told him about Operation Unicorn."
"What? Operation Unicorn? Something else where you can claim you are coordinating with allies?" inquired Falkenhayn.
Tirpitz turned to him "No. For your information this operation is something the All Highest has already approved. It falls squarely in the clause about joint Army-Navy operations."
-------east of Radom 1735 hrs
The Russian 80th Division made another attack—this time supported by 3 batteries of Putilov 3" field guns. The brief bombardment proved inadequate and the subsequent infantry attack was again repulsed with heavy losses.
------edge of Heligoland Bight 0625 hrs Wednesday March 31, 1915
The British submarine D.2 was on the surface when its lookouts spotted first two then three ships approaching rapidly out of a fog bank The bridge was rapidly cleared and orders given for an emergency dive. The crew heard a shell exploding disturbing close. Less than a minute later they were submerged and feeling themselves safe breathed a collective sigh of relief. The skipper observed the approaching torpedo boats through his periscope for a minute. "Down periscope," he ordered, "helm, take us down 20 feet.". He would wait a few minutes before raising the periscope again.
No one paid much attention to the sound of something falling into the water. Seconds later there was a loud explosion nearby that made the submarine tremble violently. One of the lights went out. Water began to leak inside the vessel.
"What the hell was that?" yelled one frightened crewman. "We’re flooding!" shrieked another, "we must surface immediately!"
"We are going to sink!" cried another. Nearly half the crew had soiled themselves.
"Stop it!" yelled the captain, "that water is coming from a leaking pipe. Henry, find the valve and shut it off. We are not surfacing."
Though the damage turned out to be rather light, it was not negligible and the captain was leery about continuing his patrol. When the submarine surfaced he discovered that the wireless which in the past had never worked well, now did not function at all. A homing pigeon released with a message that they had been damaged while submerged by a new German weapon.
------HQ Southwestern Front 0840 hrs
"The 80th Rifle Division was unable to retake Radom yesterday, sir" announced General Alexeev, the chief of staff to his commander, General Ivanov, "furthermore we still have no word from General Evert and Fourth Army Staff.. Even though the Germans have yet to announce it, I now feel certain that they were all captured by the Germans at Radom."
Ivanov shook his head , "I am greatly disappointed. I thought there were only German cavalry at Radom. Surely one of our infantry divisions can dislodge cavalry? Do we know if Fourth Army is trying to withdraw across the Vistula?"
"We have been able to bypass Fourth Army and make direct contact with III, XVII, XXV and Grenadier Corps by wireless. There are in retreat but all report heavy enemy attacks on what has now become their rear. In addition Grenadier and XXV Corps have strong enemy pressure on their flanks and they both have been badly hurt by the enemy attacks of the last week. The reports coming from XXV Corps are extremely pessimistic."
"What would you have me do, Mikhail? Commit the other division at Ivanogorod to Radom? I am not going to do that for reasons we have discussed too many times. It occurs to me now that Third Army should send cavalry to erect pontoon bridges over the Vistula to replace those destroyed by the Austrian cavalry. Send word that 80th Division must persist in its attacks. Our retreating divisions should be able to claw their way through the weak enemy forces in their path. Otherwise all we can do is blame that insipid moron, General Ruszki!"
------OKW 0915 hrs
Capt. Plunkett’s German had been getting steadily better in the last month. "How did it go with Gen. von Falkenhayn yesterday?" he asked Gen. von François with some anxiousness. Oberst Hoffman who had been brought into the planning for Operation Unicorn a few days earlier, was also attending the meeting.
François had been working on his English, but for the benefit of Hoffman, he answered in German, but spoke slowly, "As we expected. his initial reaction was very negative. After a half hour of heated arguing he changed his opinion markedly. Unicorn gives a strong justification for a simultaneous attack on the Western Front—that is part of our current plan. He likes that aspect of it very much."
"So he is not going to try to stop it as we feared?" asked Plunkett.
"He would not commit himself. He merely said he would give the matter serious consideration."
"Did Admiral Tirpitz have to promise him Ludendorff’s head on a silver platter to get his cooperation?" asked Hoffman, who did not speak slowly for Plunkett’s benefit. Hoffman had found the Irishman to be presumptuous and tried to pretend as if he did not exist whenever possible."
"Not exactly—but close."
"Just his testicles then? All five of them?"
François laughed. Plunkett had not comprehended all of the joke and stared in bewilderment. "I take it then that the Feldmarschal is happy? Are we still on schedule?"
"Feldmarschal von Moltke said it went better than expected. We are still on schedule," said the general. What he was not going to share with either Plunkett or Hoffman was that afterwards Moltke speculated that Falkenhayn’s concurrent offensive would involve something he strongly disapproved of.
------CANZAC HQ Herzegovina 1215 hrs
General Birdwood brought General Bridges, Alderson and Godley to discuss the current situation over lunch. Each of the divisional commanders briefly outlined their progress over the last week. When they were done, the general summarized, "Pardon my French, gentlemen, but it sounds like we haven’t done shit the last few days."
From many generals Birdwood’s remark would have been regarded as intensely critical. Coming from him it was more matter of fact even a bit humorous. So Alderson replied in an even tone, "That’s about it, sir. Have the Frenchies been able to do any better?"
"Not really. They have many of the same problems—difficult terrain, poor roads, improved enemy defenses and the need to conserve shells. Though they don’t seem to be having any trouble with their rifles, like your men have been having."
"Have the Montenegrins and Serbs having much luck with getting the local population to back them, sir?" asked General Godley.
"Hmm. Some but not a whole lot as far as I’ve been able to determine. Apparently the Kaiser—the ancient Austrian one not that fat loudmouth in Berlin—made some proclamation about making the Slavs equal to the Austrians and Hungarians. I won’t pretend that I know much about Austro-Hungarian politics but this proclamation is making it harder for our friends to seduce the locals."
"I certainly can’t make heads or tails of it, either, sir," commented General Bridges.
"Well, I have a mixture of good news and bad news to report. I will start with the good news. I received word from London late last night that our next convoy is expected to arrive her Saturday. In addition to supplies it will be transporting some Canadian and Australian replacement levies. Don’t know the exact number as of now. No new units will be joining us this time around."
"Nevertheless this is wonderful news, sir. The need to conserve shells has seriously hampered all of my recent attacks," replied Bridges
"I agree completely with William, sir. Dare I ask what the bad news is?" asked Godley.
Biirdwood frowned, "The bad news comes in two pieces. The first is that there is a joint offensive by the Austrians and Germans underway in Poland. Our latest information is that it is having some success. Our intelligence chappies think it likely that in the next week or so the Austrians may be able to free up one or even two divisions to ship off to our neck of the woods."
."That is hardly comforting sir" remarked Alderson, "and what’s the other bit of bad news?"
Birdwood leaned forward and spoke in an almost conspiratorial voice, "You are not to share what I am about to tell you with anyone, understand? We do not want this bit of information getting to the Montenegrins At least not right away."
"Understood, sir" the divisional commanders answered.
"Our intelligence boys have information that the Bulgaria had decided to cast it lot with the Central Powers."
------south of Radom 1645 hrs
Trying to retreat to Radom the already savaged 1st Grenadiers Division found itself unable to defend its left flank which was soon overrun by the 3rd Bavarian Infantry Division. The 2nd Grenadiers Division on its right managed to limp its way to Radom with the KuK 14th Division in enthusiastic pursuit. The weather had turned warmer with a brief early afternoon shower. This kept the Germans from deploying an airship, but melting snow mad the roads muddy slowing the movement of the artillery. The German cavalry and Jaeger were well entrenched and could call on most of the motorized heavy artillery regiment. The Grenadiers attacked without artillery support. They were very brave but it was one of those instances all too common in this war where bravery was not enough.
------Rome 1920 hrs
King Victorio Emmanuele III was having dinner with his new Prime Minister, Giovanni Giolitti. After making some small talk the king took another sip of wine and broached some more substantial topics, "There are been recent indications of a political crisis in the Dual Monarchy."
The Prime Minister would only let the monarch partially distract him from the food. "So I heard, Your Majesty," he replied laconically.
"Kaiser Franz Josef rashly issued a proclamation stating he intends to give his Slavic subjects equal footing with the Austrians and Hungarians."
"So I’ve heard, Your Majesty."
"Of course the Hungarians were outraged and there was a heated confrontation between Count Tisza and the Kaiser. It is said the Count may have committed lese majesty. The Kaiser removed him shortly thereafter."
"I remember Count Tisza’s temper very well, Your Majesty. I can’t say that I was surprised by this turn of events."
"But my understanding has always been Kaiser Franz Josef actually liked Count Tisza despite his ferocity, in fact he admired him because of it-- finding the Count to be reliable and dependable."
"I have heard that, too, Your Majesty, but things can and do change, esp. in times of war."
The king did not particularly like Giolitti’s attitude which while outwardly respectful seemed to be more interested in his food than his sovereign. Still he decided now to press his point, "Precisely Giovanni! That is exactly my point. Things can change and so you should be alert to opportunities and open to possibilities."
"It is because I am alert to opportunities, Your Majesty, that I am here having dinner with you now."
"Yes, that is so. When it comes to Italian politics you are very alert. All I am saying is that you should be just as sensitive to what is happening beyond our borders."
"I will take those words to heart, Your Majesty."
"That opportunity may require that this nation to go to war."
"It might, Your Majesty."
"If it does I would be prepared to stand beside you."
"I appreciate that deeply, Your Majesty. Of course, we both know war is a great burden to impose on a country."
"Yes, but of course. Still if it is necessary to secure our vital country’s interests, then we should be willing to take that step—as you have done in the past," said the king making reference to the Italo-Turkish War.
"Our nation has many interests, Your Majesty. Some of those are vital but others are not."
------San Francisco, CA 2210 hrs (GMT)
Sandeep Singh Puri was giving a speech to a modest sized crowd. His topic was James Connolly. "As time goes on the similarities between the Irish situation and our own grows more and more evident. Two months ago our efforts at revolution were disrupted due to informants. Now in Ireland informants betray the Irish Revolution. The British Empire thinks itself so very clever but its days of dominion are numbered—both in Ireland and in India."
When the speech was over a group of six men approached Sandeep. Three of them were senior leaders in the Ghadar Party, which sought the armed overthrow of British rule in India. Two of them were local Fenians who had become were very supportive of the Ghadar Party since the European War had started. The sixth man, Kurt spoke with a pronounced German accent. On of the Fenians named Brendan spoke up, "That was a mighty fine speech there Sandeep. If only most Irish Americans had the sympathy for the cause of Irish liberty that you do!"
"I wish that as well, Brendan."
"Well in appreciation for what you’ve been doing to help the cause of Ireland, my wife had baked the most incredible peach pie. She would be honored if you came over and had a piece."
"I accept your king invitation, my friend," he replied. Looking in the faces of the others he realized that more than casual socializing was involved.
Brendan owned a small cottage nearby. When they arrived there was indeed a peach pie. When they were done eating Brendan’s wife left the men alone.
"I have received news this morning that the Clan na Gael has been granted a very large loan recently," declared Brendan, "it appears we had some prominent people as co-signers." He gestured with his head in the direction of Kurt as he said that.
"Brendan here knows John Devoy very well," declared the oldest of the Ghadar leaders, "and Kurt has suggested that he bring some of us to New York to discuss some mutual interests with him."
Another Sikh spoke, "Initially my plan was for just the three of us here accompanied Brendan and some of his Fenian colleagues to go and meet Mr. Devoy in private. But Kurt here has suggested that we should make ourselves conspicuous and go in a much larger group—perhaps as many as 50—to make people on the East Coast familiar with our cause, spending a day or two in Chicago on our way east to drum up support among the large number of Irish there. Ireland was been garnering a great deal of attention of late—first with that brave Fenian Calahan playing a key role in the recent sea battle and now with this daring Mr. Connolly trying to start the Irish Revolution."
"I take it that you then that you wish me to come along with you on this journey to New York City?" asked Sandeep.
"Aye, me laddy, that they be doing," said Brendan, "because without a doubt you are their finest speaker on the topics of Connolly and the common bond between the cause of Irish and Indian peoples."
Part of Sandeep longed to go to India to fight the British, but after the failure of the attempted rebellion in February it was clear to him that subsequent efforts required careful planning and preparation to have any chance of success. "I would be honored to accompany you. I have long desired to see New York," he answered.
------south of Radom 2315 hrs
The temperature continued to slowly rise after sunset, with fog soon forming. Companies belonging to the Russian XVII Corps stumbled their way through it. The officers had been told that the enemy may have them surrounded them. They were forbidden to pass this on to the enlisted men—even the NCO’s. The soldiers could sense something was wrong and several rumors were circulating-- some of which guessed the truth esp. after rations were halved.
Some of these companies were driven back by the entrenched positions of either the Bavarian Cavalry Division or the KuK 2nd Cavalry Division to the southeast.. In one instance as the company fell back it stumbled into another Russian company moving forward resulting in a tragic firefight between the two units.
. Some of the companies had a bit of luck though, wandering into a gap between the positions of the German cavalry and those of the Austrian cavalry. The weather was a boon to the Russian infantry but the warming weather was steadily melting the snow. The roads were poor in this part of Poland—deliberately so due to prewar Russian policy. The poor roads and mud slowed the artillery and supply wagons. Russian artillery batteries were fond of abandoning infantry when there was any threat of being overrun—esp. in second line divisions where the infantry were regarded as ‘cattle’. This time it was the infantry who abandoned the artillery.
------Berbera 0725 hrs Thursday April 1, 1915
Senegalese Tirailleurs began to march down the gangplank. The transports in the harbor carried an entire regiment. plus a battery of French mountain artillery. The British officials had expected them and welcomed them at the docks with a marching band and refreshments. Meanwhile their regimental commander asked to speak with the commander of Indian Expeditionary Force ‘E’. He was not happy to learn that Indian expedition had not yet arrived.
-----south of Radom 0905 hrs
While a portion of the infantry of Russian XVII Corps had succeeded n making their way through a gap between the Bavarian and 2nd KuK Cavalry Division during the night, when the sun rose more than half of the corps including all of its artillery were strung out. Early morning cavalry patrols—it was still too foggy for aircraft—revealed what had happened. The 15cm field guns at Radom fired a few rounds in the gap. Visibility was not good—this was intended only to intimidate. The cavalry redeployed on horseback to try to seal the gap.
A series of small engagements ensued. As the day wore on the visibility improved making the heavy artillery concentration at Radom more of a factor. Meanwhile the Russian 80th Rifle Division to the east made another unsuccessful attack.
------east of Starachowice Poland 0950 hrs
Battalions of the Russian III Corps were proceeding northeast with the Austro-Hungarian units of the Imperial and Royal First Army in pursuit. They now encountered entrenched Austro-Hungarian cavalry, the German 78th Reserve Division and a Polish Legion Brigade. The defender’s line was thinly held in places but the Russian infantry—tired after 2 days of hard marching—attacked in frantic waves without artillery support. The defenders had their own artillery ready including the motorized Austrian heavy battalion. The attacks failed with heavy losses.
------10 Downing St. 1030 hrs
The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Carson, handed one copy of his report to Prime Minister, Bonar Law and another to David Lloyd-George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "This spells out the details of my analysis, but I want us to discuss the problem in general today."
"Go ahead, Edward," replied Bonar Law.
"Thank you, Prime Minister. The issue I wish to address today is the industrial distribution of the recruits our armed forces have been receiving. What I have been able to determine is that enlistment is not coming equally from all sectors of our economy. As my report demonstrates recruitment has been very successful when it comes to workers in certain occupations and deeply disappointing in others instances. There are multiple facets to this problem but there is one that I find particularly worrisome as First. Lord—namely shipyard workers."
"Is it that the Army is again actively recruiting in the vicinity of shipyards?" asked Lloyd-George, "I recall Churchill complaining about that to Kitchener and secured a promise that the Army would immediately cease those efforts."
"Admiral Wilson told me about that and his understanding is that the Army recruiters continue to abide by that commitment. Nevertheless patriotic zeal is particularly strong amongst our shipyard workers and they continue to enlist in large numbers despite the absence of recruitment campaigns. This is causing the serious labor shortage we have been experiencing in our shipyards," said Carson.
"Is it impacting our construction schedules?" asked Bonar Law.
"It is not too serious as yet, prime minister, though it is making it very difficult to accelerate further the scheduled completion the vessels already in the water."
"It is going to get worse when we try to form the next wave of New Army Divisions whilst we lay down the keel for the 9th battleship in the Royal Sovereign class in a few days," noted Lloyd-George.
"In the short run can we make do by shifting workers from commercial shipbuilding?" asked the Prime Minister.
Carson frowned, "We already have done that to a large extent, Andrew but it seems that most of those shipyard workers who are not strongly patriotic strongly motivated by greed instead."
"I take it you have a remedy for this?"
"Shipyard workers who have enlisted in the last two months should be discharged and returned to the labor pool. Men currently working in the shipyards should be barred from enlisting for the remainder of the year."
"Won’t this make it more difficult for our army to raise additional divisions?" asked Law, "Complaints from the Field Marshal about inadequate numbers of new recruits have been increasing."
. "This sounds like a policy of neglecting the Army to save the Navy," mused the Prime Minister, "an unfair accusation I am already hearing from some quarters."
"Is the primary reason behind this report to convince me of the need for conscription?" asked Lloyd-George with a hint of annoyance, "If so I would then remind both of you that we have had this discussion before. I agree there is a need to impose some form of conscription. In fact I have begun to look into the munitions situation and a similar problem with key workers lost to the army has been occurring there. However the fact remains that there are many in my own Party who remain adamantly opposed to conscription. If we move too hard and too fast on this issue our coalition could dissolve."
Carson and Bonar Law looked at each. The prime minister weighed his words carefully, "I recall agreeing to waiting a while before getting a conscription bill passed. It has been more than a month though and in light of the disturbing facts the First Lord has just revealed I think we’ve waited long enough. It’s time to get the ball rolling. I want a bill introduced before the end of next week and approved before the end of the month."
"I think that is still too soon. We need to work out the details. For instance, will it apply only to unmarried men? Will Ireland be included?"
"Hmm, I would be amenable to exempting married men. But as far as Ireland goes there is no good reason it should be exempt," said Bonar Law, "I know for a fact that except for Ulster enlistment in Ireland has gone from marginal to virtually nonexistent in the last month."
"Yes it has. The 16th Division remains seriously undermanned," added Carson.
Lloyd-George frowned, "If we want to get a conscription bill passed quickly it have to exempt Ireland."
"It would be a grave injustice to impose conscription and not include Ireland," replied Bonar Law.
------OKW 1150 hrs
Oberst Max Bauer was back in Berlin. He was now debriefing Feldmarshal von Moltke, General von François and Oberst Hoffman about the use of artillery during Operation Whisper. His briefing was thorough but it tended to inflate his own importance in the success of the operation. As Bauer was coming near to the conclusion a messenger intruded on the session with what was announced as an important telegram for the Feldmarschal. After Moltke read the message he shared it with François and then the two of them had a spirited discussion amongst themselves. They spoke in hushed voices so Bauer could only pick out a few words—such as artillery, evaluation and his own name. François more than once pointed in his direction. Hoffman did not participate in the discussion but he was closer and so could hear what was being said. He looked at Bauer with a bemused expression.
This things made Bauer both curious and apprehensive. Finally he dared to intrude, "Ahem, generals. Is there some news from General von Mackensen I should know about? Has something gone amiss with Operation Whisper?"
Moltke looked at Bauer and replied, "No, Oberst this cable is not from General von Mackensen. It comes instead from the Italian government."
"Oh. The Italian government? Might I ask what it says, Feldmarschal?"
François answered instead, "Remember those Italian field guns, we both thought were very interesting? I wanted to arm 2 battalions of Division Prague’s artillery regiment with them."
"The 75mm Deport guns? Yes, I remember that, general. I also recall that their government adamantly refused to sell them to us."
"I don’t know if you heard it while you were away, Oberst Bauer," said Moltke, "but there is a new Italian government. Giovanni Giolitti is the new Prime Minister."
"And he’s personally approved the sale of this artillery. A dozen of these guns plus ammunition are to be shipped out on Tuesday," said François, "and another dozen to be sent later in the month."
"It seems that Prime Minister Giolitti wants to demonstrate his friendship to the Reich," added Moltke as he demonstratively waved the telegram, "he also makes a vague but intriguing reference to ‘our mutual interest in the Horn of Africa.’."
Bauer knew that he should be pleased by this development but part of was strangely uneasy, "This is good new, Feldmarschal. Though I must confess that have not been following the Ethiopian campaign in much detail. The fate of the German Empire will not be decided by a bunch of jungle bunnies."
"When you have finished with this presentation, your are to leave for Prague immediately," announced François. Moltke arched an eyebrow at that but made no immediate comment.
Bauer’s anxiety grew stronger, "But, but, general von François I am needed back at OHL where I have urgent duties to perform as well.—duties that have been neglected since my involvement with Operation Whisper."
Moltke and François exchanged knowing looks that made Bauer feel even more uneasy. Moltke answered with a shake of his head and a wry grin, "Your concern about your duties at the General Staff are most commendable, Oberst Bauer. But in your absence General von Falkenhayn paid us a visit and certain important topics were ironed out to our mutual satisfaction. I shall contact him later and inform of your new assignment.
"And just what is this new assignment, Feldmarschal?"
Moltke turned to François who answered the question, "Hmm. You are to evaluate this weapon to make sure it is as promising as it sounds. You are also to instruct the artillery regiment of Division Prague. Get them organized properly, teach them effective tactics, that sort of thing. Hauptman Rohr, whom you recommended, is already there to teach them infantry tactics. His assignment is indefinite. Yours is not because you have other duties to perform for this office and OHL. .It should take a week, maybe a little longer."
While Bauer was proud that he played a role in the success of Operation Whisper, he longed to return to political intrigue either at both OKW and OHL. He had had his fill of teaching Imperial and Royal imbeciles how to shoot straight using indirect fire. Grasping at straws he asked glumly, "Shouldn’t this be cleared with the Austrians before I arrive?"
General François snorted, "I would not worry much on that account. As General Conrad is rather contemptuous of this project, he has appointed an ancient alcoholic to serve as the acting commander of Division Prague. . He spends most of the time in a drunken stupor. Eventually he will need to be replaced, of course, but right now he lets us do pretty much whatever we want."
After that Bauer finished his presentation and departed, followed soon afterwards by Moltke. Hoffman then asked François, "There was something going on back there that I didn’t comprehend, General"
François nodded in agreement, "That is because it was only in part as it seemed, Max. When he is not distracted by political mischief making, Oberst Bauer has a very useful technical proficiency esp. with artillery. So he is a good choice to help with organizing Division Prague’s artillery regiment, esp. since he is well acquainted with Hauptman Rohr. But there is as you guessed another reason of at least equal importance. The Feldmarschal and I do not want him finding out about Operation Unicorn. If he is hanging around here or even OHL he will certainly sniff it out."
"Hmm. General von Falkenhayn already knows. So you figure that he rat us out to General Ludendorff, who is almost certain to oppose it vigorously."
------Hackwood 1305 hrs
Lord Curzon was a little surprised at the return of King Albert to Hackwood. "Is something amiss, Your Majesty," he said, "from what you had told me previously I expected you to return directly to France."
King Albert smiled but there was a worried look in his eyes, "What an incredible memory you have George! Yes, that was indeed my intention. Nothing will keep me from sharing the most sacred feast of Easter with the soldiers in the trenches—and my loving queen. However I had a little bit of time to spare. Something happened yesterday that prompted me to return here to try to talk with you."
"To talk with me, Your Majesty? Well I must say that I am deeply flattered. Is it something personal or does it concern Belgium? Is it about sending the brigade to Albania? To be honest I do not see where I could assist you there. It does not fall even remotely in my sphere of governance."
"It is not personal. As far as Albania Lord Kitchener proved to be unexpectedly flexible yesterday. He was content to hold off on that for the time being. No it concerns Ireland, which I believe does fall within your—what was your obscure phrase—spear of governance? I am not familiar with that idiom."
"The idiom was ‘sphere of governance’, Your Majesty. I must ask your pardon. You see, your English is so excellent, Your Majesty, that I occasionally forget it is not your native tongue and speak in showy idioms. But just what is it about Ireland that caused you go out of your way to speak with me?"
"Yesterday in London, Emile Vandervelde sought me out and requested a meeting with some urgency. He is a friend of mine of long endurance—is that the correct idiom?"
"Of long standing is the optimal phrase, Your Majesty. He is the chairman of the Bureau of International Socialists is he not?" answered Curzon with an uncomfortable suspicion about where it was leading.
"Yes, he is. He just came back from Stockholm. He tells me that this incident with Mr. Connolly being accused of plotting a Socialist revolution in Ireland is being discussed by prominent Socialists all over Europe. He warned me of serious repercussions if. Connolly ends up being executed or if his union is banned. I felt obliged to pass this information on to you directly."
Curzon sighed. He had the highest regard for King Albert and this was now putting him in an awkward situation. "I thank you deeply for taking the time and going out of your way to share this bit of information with me."
The Belgian monarch stared intensely at Lord Curzon, then cautiously commented, "I do not mean to interfere with what is clearly a matter of domestic policy. But I feel obliged to share this information. Mr. Vandervelde believes the Irish situation was an important element in toppling Prime Minister Salandra and could end up toppling the French government as well. It is also irritating Swedish Socialists who have been a major force in restraining King Gustav’s well known desire to wage war on Russia. And it is even having an impact in Spain."
"I will be frank, Your Majesty. The Prime Minister intends to see Connolly hang and so do I. This is not subject to the whimsy of international committees and salons. Whether or not to ban the Transport Union on the other hand, is a serious matter where we’ve not yet reached a decision."
"Perhaps Connolly’s trial could at least be postponed. Vandervelde also informed me that this Countess you arrested at the same time is also starting to gather sympathy."
"Connolly’s trial was been pushed back two days to allow the prosecution more time to prepare. It is up to the Attorney General now. As far as the Countess Markieviscz it looks like we will be releasing her soon," admitted Curzon.
------Baghdad 1920 hrs
"You are not happy to be here, Colonel Kemal?" asked Generalfeldmarschal von der Goltz as they ate. He spoke in Turkish. His tone made the remark somewhere in between a statement and a question.
"I am an officer of the Ottoman Empire, general. It pleases me to serve wherever I can do the most good," Col. Mustapha Kemal replied. There was a hard look in his eyes. From that and his tone of voice the general got the impression that the answer was honest at one level but there was some regret he was not acknowledging.
"That is a commendable attitude, colonel. Coming here means it is almost certain to be involved in combat in the next month."
"Yes, I understand that, General. I look forward to combat."
"Esat Pasha speaks very highly on you. I was allowed only one more division. I picked yours."
The hard look did not leave Kemal’s eyes. He took his time answering, "My men and myself shall not disappoint you, Field Marshal."
Der Goltz took time for another morsel of food.. Finally he said, "You know, Colonel. I think Enver Pasha sent me on this mission primarily to get rid of me. What do you think about that?"
Kemal arched an eyebrow and his nostrils flared. He took his time answering, "I have no comment to make on that hypothesis, General."
"I think we have several things in common, Col. Kemal."
------east of Starachowice Poland 2015 hrs
Have failed to breach the German and Austrian forces barring their escape during the day the Russian III Corps attempted again after last light. Here and there small groups of Russians managed to barge their way through but mostly they were repulsed in the chaotic fighting.
------Dover 1055 hrs
The weather had cleared overnight. German airplanes made a determined attack on the naval base. One was shot down by the antiaircraft battery protecting the base. An old ‘C’ class destroyer belonging to Dover Patrol was lightly damaged by a bomb. A sloop was also hit starting a fire which was taking a while to extinguish.
Suddenly there was a sharp whistling sound soon followed by another explosion—this time louder than the previous bombing. Some thought it might be from a Zeppelin but when the next round landed 2 minutes later it dawned on them that it came from a gun sited on the far side of the Channel.
------OHL Valenciennes 1430 hrs Good Friday April 2, 1915
Since his meeting with Moltke and Tirpitz at OKW, General von Falkenhayn had periodically questioned his own sanity. He could scarcely believe he had let himself be cowed into passively accepting a scheme as wild as Operation Unicorn. It had not been a complete acceptance by any means. What Moltke and Tirpitz viewed as an elaborate feint to assist Unicorn, Falkenhayn saw as the main event with Unicorn as essentially a strategic diversion. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the commander of the German Sixth Army had been promptly summoned to OHL to meet with Falkenhayn. He was not told in advance what was to be discussed only that it was urgent.
"Is there signs on an imminent attack by the British?" asked Prince Rupprecht, "Except for their annoying trench raids, they were very docile in March."
Falkenhayn shook his head, "No, Your Excellency. There is however some intelligence we’ve received in the last two days pointing to another attack on Seventh Army by the French—possibly as early as Sunday. Joffre may be hoping to catch us unprepared on Easter Sunday."
"It is deplorable that our enemies would use the more solemn of religious holidays in that way. However we both know Joffre wants very much to recapture Amiens. My own intelligence section suspects that the British have taken over a little more of the front in the last week. This may be to allow the French to concentrate their attack. But if the attack is directed at Seventh Army why is it so urgent for you to see me? I hope you are not planning to reinforce Seventh Army by removing units from my army!"
Falkenhayn had anticipated Rupprecht would express that concern. Trying to disarm him Falkenhayn smiled reassuringly, "I have no intention of weakening Sixth Army, Your Excellency. On the contrary I plan to reinforce it in the next two weeks."
Prince Rupprecht was surprised. With a mixture of eagerness and caution he asked, "Are you planning an attack for my army later in the month, General? I long to go on the attack, but the reinforcements must be substantial, esp. the heavy artillery. The British entrenchments are most formidable. Sixth Army will require massive firepower if it is not to suffer unacceptable losses."
. Falkenhayn tapped his lips. It was time to get to the crux of this conversation. "Your reinforcements will include additional heavy artillery. Furthermore your army will be provided with a new weapon that my staff believes will be decisive in overcoming the British trenches."
"Just what is the nature of this new weapon, General von Falkenhayn?"
Rupprecht could be very intimidating. Falkenhayn licked his lips nervously before replying, "Chlorine gas will be released in a massive concentration from cylinders."
Rupprecht gasped in shock then recovered his poise, "Poison gas! This is utterly immoral and violates the conventions governing warfare."
"No, it is not. If you read the treaty it clearly talks about bursting weapons. It says nothing about canisters."
"Quibbling of the worst sort, general. You dodge the ethical question! This is barbaric! I absolutely refuse to use this despicable weapon."
"Use of this weapon could be the key to German victory! Do you not want to see Germany victorious?"
"How dare you question my loyalty, because I take a stand against your abominable lack of ethics!"
Falkenhayn realized further discussion was pointless. The Crown Prince could be very stubborn. The problem was that he regarded the use of the chlorine as critical to the success of the operation. Because he was the Bavarian heir, Rupprecht could not be removed at a whim.
Suddenly Falkenhayn recalled he had a challenging command position still open. A position that needed someone hard to bully and intimidate.
------south of the Faeroes 1205 hrs
HMS Orotava was a 6,000 ton AMC belong to the 10th Cruiser Squadron enforcing the distant blockade. She had intercepted a Norwegian merchantman she suspected on being a blockade runner. Since the Battle of Utsire there had been a noticeable increase in the attempts to run the blockade by neutral vessels.
A boarding party was sent over. Soon after they arrived at the Norwegian vessel the boarding heard an explosion and turned back in horror to see the Orotava soon capsize.
------Mount Kilimanjaro 1615 hrs
"You were right again, Oberst," said Major Kraut with a grin as he handed a typed report from the intelligence section to Oberst Lettow-Vorbeck, "there is indeed some interesting news coming out of British East Africa."
After reading it Lettow-Vorbeck smiled broadly and said, "I realize this is only preliminary intelligence based mostly on what was provided by a single agent. Still it is in accord with my hunch. We will make plans while awaiting some confirmation of this report."
Ivanogorod Fortress 1805 hrs
Several companies of Russian infantry that had escaped the enemy encirclement slinked into the might fortress. The men were tired and hungry. Last night more than a few had deserted their units and now roamed the Polish plain.
------HQ Army Group Mackensen 2230 hrs
Today had been the day of harvesting. By his latest reports over 37,000 Russian soldiers and 130 guns had been captured. A large number of horses had been captured as well. As a former cavalrymen it pained Mackensen to learn most of these captured horses were in poor condition but he hoped it was in most instances due to being seriously underfed the last few days.
The fighting was not completely over. A pair of cavalry divisions detached from Fifth Army had tried to break the encirclement near Radom in the late morning. They had been driven off without too much trouble. There were several trapped pockets of Russian resistance holding out, including the remnants of 2nd Grenadier Division. There some isolated units that had slipped through the Austrian lines but now found the route to Ivanogorod barred and no other way to cross the Vistula. It should be easy to mop them up before they erected a pontoon bridge.
Tomorrow should wrap things up nicely—just in time for Easter. One detail to take care of tomorrow would be to remove the artillery belonging to 6th Bavarian Infantry and 1st Naval Divisions and return them by train to OKW. General von François had made it clear they would be needed soon for another project.
------Old Admiralty Building 1020 hrs Saturday April 3, 1915
"Another AMC lost! It appears 10th Cruiser Squadron has become the favorite target of the U-Boats. Do the Huns really think they can destroy the blockade this way?" asked Sir Edward Carson, First lord of the Admiralty. He had just arrived at a meeting with Admirals Callaghan, Oliver and Wilson.
"The Germans might be having that fantasy, sir, " answered Admiral Oliver, "as our latest intelligence has a force of at least 7 possibly 8 U-Boats deployed in the vicinity of the Faeroes. These are all from their limited contingent of larger diesel subs. This is a major peak effort on their part and this force will be heading back to base very soon. They may follow up this attack with either another frenzy later this month or attempt to have at least U-boats always on station off the Faeroes."
"And would either of these strategies allow them to effectively eliminate 10th Cruiser Squadron over time?"
"Yes and no, First Lord. They can continue to cause us some losses. We are looking at ways to reduce those losses—one obvious step is to require frequent zigzagging whilst on patrol. Requiring the AMC’s to move around after a boarding party is dispatched now appears to be necessary precaution. Reinforcing Shetlands Patrol with additional destroyers is under serious consideration. Possibly changes in the patrol routes when we have intelligence of U-boat concentration."
"But judging from your tone of voice, Admiral Oliver, I sense that the bottom line is that while there are indeed prudent measures we can—and will-- take to reduce the risk they will only be partially effective and the ships enforcing the blockade will continue to suffer serious losses."
"Yes, but we can and will replace our losses with further conversions. At best the Germans will thin the blockade so that few more runners can leak through. They cannot succeed in stopping it so trade can resume anything close to prewar levels."
Admiral Callaghan now joined in, "I agree with Admiral Oliver if all we are talking about is submarines. But I am worried that this is merely the overture to another German battle cruiser raid up there."
"Aye, that’s what I’m thinking as well," said Wilson, "I don’t know if you are aware, First Lord, but at the recommendation of Admiral Bayly, our current policy is to recall all of 10th Cruiser Squadron if and when the High Seas Fleet sorties again."
"No, I was not aware of this, Admiral. Doesn’t this in effect lift the blockade?"
"For a day or two a blockade runner would not be challenged. But the German battle cruiser attack is simply hit and run. They cannot maintain a presence and when they leave our AMC’s return and the blockade resumes. What is important is that their battle cruisers not be allowed to destroy 10th Cruiser Squadron."
"Hmm. I am forced to agree with that, I suppose. Still there is all so very hypothetical. As you’ve heard me say repeatedly, the Germans are not going to sortie before late May at the earliest."
------Viceregal Lodge, Dublin 1105 hrs
The Chief Secretary of Ireland, Augustine Birrell, was meeting with the Lord-Lieutenant George Curzon. The main topic was deportation. "You Unionists think deportation with solve all our problems with dissidents, but it won’t" chided Birrell, "it’s like the Hydra Hercules fought. When you chop off one head two more take its place."
"That is only partially true. Certain individuals are esp. dangerous. Even if individuals come forward to replace them those replacements will be constitute less of a threat."
"Who are we talking about? Mallin? He was Connolly’s right hand man so I am forced to agree with you there, Excellency. Captain White? Hmm. He is a strange one but he’s not under our jurisdiction so I am not going to press the issue. But if you are thinking about deporting the Countess Markieviscz you are making a very big mistake."
Time to put on my act! thought Curzon, who answered "She is most certainly dangerous. She is on record making seditious speeches. Connolly lived at her flat."
"The latter is very weak circumstantial evidence. Prosecuting a woman, esp. a member of the nobility, is hazardous. Doubly so because one of my predecessors is representing her."
"Morley’s involvement does present a bit of problem. Carson and Smith, mind you, think he would be easy meat in a courtroom. Listen, I am willing to concede that there are others in Ireland who pose more of a threat to the realm than the Countess and should present no problem in persuading a deportation hearing."
"Just what are you getting at, Excellency? Is it that you would be willing to release the Countess if I agree to deporting one of the suspected IRB leaders?"
"I think I could persuade the Prime Minister to go along with."
"Who do you have in mind? Tom Clarke? Patrick Pearse?"
Birrell sighed very loudly and made several sour faces. Finally he said, "We will release the Countess tomorrow—in the spirit of Easter. Monday the RIC will arrest Clarke and we will try to schedule a deportation hearing a week later. In his case our barristers would not need long to prepare."
"It’s too dangerous to release the Countess tomorrow. We both know that there is going to be an attempt by the malcontents to use the Easter parades to make the political they were denied St. Patrick’s Day. The Countess might try to use these crowds to start a rising."
"This is absurd, Excellency! For one thing the Irish prelates are not sympathetic to notions of armed rebellion. They will not tolerate abusing the holiest day in the Church Calendar to make political statements. Furthermore they would not want to show any support for an avowed atheist like Connolly. Finally nobody is got to let the Countess lead them into anything. Have you forgotten that she’s a woman?"
"No I haven’t forgotten though in our befuddled modern times many women seem to have great trouble remembering that fact."
"I knew it! It’s your blasted phobia of woman’s suffrage that is making you see this woman as danger to the realm."
"That was uncalled for! Come dawn Monday morning she will go free, while the RIC apprehends Clarke. This is my decision. I am trying to meet you half way, Gus, but if this compromise does not suit you, too bloody bad. It’s what is going to happen."
------HMS Vengeance Durazzo Bay 1230 hrs
Admiral Limpus was admiring the weather. It was cold and damp with light rain and gusting winds. To his thinking it was perfect. This time he was in command of a dozen predreadnought battleships. He had kept his flag aboard the Vengeance resisting the temptation to move it aboard the newer Formidable. His deployment was much different this time. The British squadron was no longer viewed as bait to lure the Austrian Fleet into the arms of the 1ere Navale Armee. That tactic had been tried and found wanting. The French Fleet was in close proximity this time. If the Austrian Fleet attacked again the British and French would fight them together.
Admiral Limpus secretly hoped that the Austrians did not attack this trip. The battle of Cattaro Gulf had demonstrated some serious French weaknesses. Everyone knew the Royal Navy was having problems as well. One day the Royal Navy would regain it stride and smite its enemies on the seas as it had done so often in the past.
But not this day. The difficult problems of working with the French in a combined battle had not been worked out to Limpus’ satisfaction. Admiral de Lapeyrere remained outwardly confident. The French admiral still maintained Cattaro Gulf was a French victory and said that with "a little" British help he would destroy the Austrian Navy the "next time." Admiral Limpus had learned the truth was that the current French government was tottering. Prime Minister Viviani hade made it clear to Admiral de Lapeyrere that any naval encounter which could be construed as even a small defeat could topple him.
The current weather would neutralize many of the Austrian advantages in the previous battle. The Zeppelin would be useless and the effective battle range much less. Their best intelligence was that the Austrian heavy units had returned to Pola, but there remained substantial light forces at Cattaro. The British had increased their submarines in the Mediterranean since the Battle of Cattaro Gulf. There were 2 ‘E’ Class subs off Pola, 2 more in the central Adriatic and another off Cattaro—this in addition to the French submarines.
There was of course the Austrian and at least one German submarine in the Adriatic to worry about. As usual there had been several periscope sightings. A French cruiser claimed it had seen the track of a torpedo.
The transports this time carried mostly ammunition. There were a few hundred Canadian and Australian replacement troops. There was a hospital ship in the convoy. The most serious CANZAC casualties were to be evacuated back to Malta.
-----British Embassy, Washington, DC 1605 hrs (GMT)
The British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Cecil Spring-Rice had urgently requested Col Ed House, President Wilson’s key political adviser to meet with him. Capt Guy Gaunt RAN, the British Naval Attaché was also present.
"We have very good information that the Fenian organization, the Clan na Gael, was able to secure a very large loan from the Kuhn and Loeb banking firm---" reported Capt Gaunt.
"---The damn Jews are way too powerful in banking and the newspapers in this country," interjected Spring-Rice.
"We believe the loan to the Clan na Gael was backed by the German government," continued Gaunt, "With these funds John Devoy, the head of the Clan na Gael is making large purchases of materials to support a Fenian rebellion in Ireland."
"What do you mean by materials? Are you talking about weapons? Ammunition, explosives?" asked House.
"Some far he has not purchased any weapons or ammunition that we know of. He may have purchased some firearms—such as hunting rifles—in limited numbers at the retail level," answered Gaunt.
"Now I’m confused. What then are these ‘materials’ for a rebellion that he is purchasing in large quantities?" asked House.
"Large quantities of food. Over a thousand horses."
House continued to look bewildered. He shook his head and said, "Let me see if I have this straight. You want me to go to the President and ask him to prevent a shipment of food to Ireland?"
"Have you never heard the expression, ‘An army marches on its stomach.’?" Spring-Rice’s voice was very agitated.
Col House continued to shake his head. "Well what about the horses, then?" asked Gaunt, "Devoy is also purchasing some trucks and petrol."
"All of which have very good commercial uses," replied Col. House, "there is insufficient reason for the President to see a violation of our neutrality in these shipments. If this is really so important why don’t your own authorities seize these items yourselves when they reach an Irish port?"
Gaunt and Spring-Rice exchanged looks. The ambassador looked frantic. Gaunt remained calm and finally answered with a shrug, "There is some thorny legal issues with doing that. There is a publicity problem with it as well. Things are already tense in Ireland and trying to confiscate these items would make things worse."
"It would be much better if they were never allowed to leave the States!" added the ambassador.
Col House shook his head but resisted the urge to chuckle, "Sir Cecil. You know very well that the President and myself was very fond of the British people. If you find clear evidence that Mr. Devoy is buying rifles or explosives in quantity then we can do something. Otherwise president Wilson’s hands are tired."
"I cannot believe what I am hearing," lamented Spring-Rice, "Civilization itself hangs in the balance! Not only does our so called friend, the United States of America fail to join our righteous cause, but it constantly demands its right to trade with our enemies and now it impudently denies us this tiniest of favors. And to hear it you lips, Edward! You who we thought to be a true champion of justice! I am cut to the very core by this fiendish act of ingratitude." .
Col House knew very well that Spring-Rice was one of those people whose patriotic ardor caused his reason to misfire allowing his eloquent tongue to get carried away. The twerp didn’t mean to be insufferable.