Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog









   Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog








Operation Unicorn



by Tom B




Volume XXX


Anwaz, Persia 0610 hrs Tuesday April 13, 1915


What was left of 2 Ottoman rifle companies plus a few stragglers from other outfits were trying to cross the bridge. Indian soldiers now made another assault. This time several reached the bridge itself There was savage close quarters combat.

"Blow the bridge now!" Major Katz ordered the Ottoman pioneer.

"But some of our men are still on the bridge!"

"Blow it now!" yelled the Major. Seconds later there was a loud explosion and the bridge over the Karun was debris. Ottoman soldiers as well as Indians had died on the bridge. Meanwhile to the southwest the Ottomans were fighting off the 24th Punjabis. The battalions removed from the east bank were thrown into this battle. The Ottoman artillery battalion soon began to fire on the 24th Punjabis.


------Prague 1430 hrs


General Herman von François had conducted a brief inspection of Division Prague in the morning. He was particularly interested in the Italian 75mm guns which had arrived Friday. He had spoken briefly to some of the Austro-Hungarian commanders. He was not pleased with the alcoholic acting divisional commander. Afterwards he spoke in private with Oberst Bauer and Hauptmann Rohr.

"There are many different types of drunks, general," Rohr commented, "this one is the passive type. For the time being it is actually advantageous. He never interferes with what I am doing. When the more hidebound Austrian officers complain he merely tells them to file a report and then he goes on drinking."

"Understood, but this division will need a real commander before too long. I will ask the Feldmarschal to pressure Conrad again," answered François, "I understand the first of the new Catholic chaplains recommended by the Erzherzog arrived yesterday."

"I remain skeptical of the Crown Prince’s ideas, but it is worth a try."

"I have been working with a very devout Catholic named Plunkett on a project. I have learned some things from him about how Catholics think. I believe the Erzherzog might be on to something."

"Is this Mr. Plunkett military? Is he someone new at OKW?" asked Bauer.

"He’s a Hauptmann He has been there for a few weeks."

"Strange. I never heard of him. What is this project you and he was working on?" asked a suddenly curious Bauer.

It doesn’t matter if Bauer learns of Unicorn now thought the general, who said, "It is called Operation Unicorn. General von Falkenhayn has complained that OKW has kept you way too long, Oberst. Tonight you are to prepare a report on the Italian guns and how they are to most effectively employed. Tomorrow morning a staff car will take you to Valenciennes."

"It would be good to get back to a German headquarters, general. But I am very curious about this Operation Unicorn you mention."

"General von Falkenhayn has a role in it. He will explain it to you in it when you return."

"It would help if I had overview before I left, general."

François shook his head, "No need for you to know before you get back to OHL."

Bauer was not satisfied with that answer, but remained silent. Instead Rohr asked, "How long will you staying here, general?"

"I will be leaving at dawn."

"Going back to Berlin."

"No. I will be going to Kiel."


------OKW 1510 hrs


"Karl, I was reading the report on the interview with that former British army officer, White, the one who knew Casement and we let join the Irish Brigade," remarked a naval Leutnant in the intelligence section to his coworker.

"What about it?" answered Karl, an Army Oberleutnat.

"I was reading the part where he talks about the British naval captain participating in his interrogation. He is sure this Captain Hall is an intelligence officer."

"I think White was correct in his surmise."

"So do I—but what suddenly got me particularly interested was how White said this Hall had some sort of nervous condition that made his face constantly twitch and blink."

"I fail to see the significance, Erich."

"Do you remember Beatty’s dying words?"

"Yes, I do. Oh, so you think Beatty was referring to this Captain Hall who blinks nonstop?"

Erich shrugged, "I admit it is a bit speculative, but it is worth looking into, don’t you think?"

"Our superiors had concluded that Beatty from merely raving as a result of his injuries. But giving them a new theory to play with cannot hurt."


------Paris 1605 hrs


Aristide Briand, the Minister of Justice, was meeting alone with President Poincare.

"Is Malvy still trying to negotiate a compromise peace settlement using his Socialist contacts in neutral countries?" asked Poincare

.Briand nodded, "He met with the Belgian, Vandervelde recently. Ostensibly it was to discuss the French Socialist discontents with Sarrail being sacked as well as the Connolly trial. It is practically an open secret that Vandervelde is assisting him in these negotiations."

"Is Viviani encouraging him to do this?"

"Not that I can discern. But as long as Malvy remains discreet he does nothing to discourage it either."

"He is keeping the door open, then. That does not demonstrate great faith in our ultimate victory."

"No, it does not Mr. President."

"I will be blunt, Aristide. I do not think it likely that the current government will survive much longer."

"I agree. Are you thinking about the next government?" asked Brian with some eagerness. He hoped Poincare was leading up to saying he would make him prime minister.

"That is correct, Monsieur Briand. This war is not going well and I feel that our resolve to persevere is beginning to crack. In desperation I find myself thinking the unthinkable."

Briand was aghast for he had good guess what that might be.


------Dublin 2035 hrs


There was a meeting of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood scheduled for Friday night to discuss among other things selecting a replacement for the deported Tom Clarke. Pearse was planning on recommending his good friend, Thomas MacDonagh. After receiving the message from Devoy, Pearse contacted Sean MacDermott and Eamonn Ceannt and they were both able to come tonight.

"When I first read this I thanked Our Savior and all the saints in Heaven, " confessed Pearse after he let the other two read the message, "but upon rereading the vagueness and lack of details is so utterly frustrating. When and where are the arms to be delivered? Just what weapons are we to be receiving? Is it merely rifles or are we to receive machine guns and artillery?"

"Could it be that our colleague, Joe Plunkett, will be coming back from Germany soon and he’ll spell out the details for us?" MacDermott speculated.

"That is what I thought as well," answered Pearse, "but why didn’t Devoy come out and say so?"

"Devoy is not as young as he used to be," said Ceannt, "it may have skipped his mind."

"Pretty important thing to be forgetting," replied Pearse, "if that’s the case what else of importance did he forget to tell us? Is the fate of the revolution to be undone by one man’s senility/"

Ceannt and MacDermott exchanged glances. Pearse was coming across as agitated as a bride planning a wedding. "Maybe another messenger will be coming soon from the US with more details," said Ceannt.

"Aye, Jim Larkin should be making his way home soon," added MacDermott.

Pearse shook his head, "I don’t think so. Mimi said Devoy told her Larkin was content to remain in the States. No one can rightfully figure why—except maybe he thinks he will be arrested on sight."

"Hey, it just occurred to me that the real reason Devoy wants us to send someone to Madrid is to meet up with a German agent and finalize the details," theorized Ceannt.

"Then why didn’t Devoy come out and say that. He makes it sound as if it is merely meant for propaganda." asked MacDermott.

"It could be the Germans did not trust Devoy with the bigger picture," Ceannt replied.

"In either case, Dev is the logical choice. He is half Spanish after all," said Pearse.

"Concerning which he does not like to be reminded! He is one of the battalion commanders in Dublin Brigade. Is it good to send him out of the country with the rising so close?" wondered Ceannt.

"If we can get him to leave promptly he should be back in less than 10 days. He can replaced while he’s gone."


------Nairobi 2145 hrs


General Wapshare was having a meeting with his adjutant, Major O’Grady and intelligence officer, Captain Meinertehagen. "The German led askarsis mounted what looks to be a series of probes in the vicinity of Mweraeri this morning, general" said Meinetzerhagen.

"There was some very brief exchanges of gunfire, then the German units withdrew. None of the enemy were killed or captured. Don’t know if any were wounded. Two of the Indians were wounded. One very badly in the stomach and is not expected to live," added O’Grady.

"Poor fellow<" replied the General, "It looks to me that the Germans are trying to find a weak spot to infiltrate. Is there anything else you report that sheds some light?"

"Hmm. I do know there is increased traffic on the German railroad the last few days."

"That would point to an offensive operation of some size," added O’Grady.

"So we still need to worry about a threat to Mombasa?" said the General, "I still find the audacity hard to believe."

There was nearly a minute of silence before O’Grady spoke up, "What are you planning to do about Captain O’Brien’s squadron, sir? Our border station sent 2 men to try to talk with the local Ethiopian officials—you know, ‘regrettable incident, old chaps, we’ll make amends but in the mean time we need to reach Ras Tafari’. But nobody on the other side is willing to talk to us."

"No bloody surprise! We slew 4 maybe 5 of their men," interjected Meinertzhagen, "So much for the quaint notion our men would be welcomed with flowers."

"That is unfair and uncalled for, Captain!" General Wapshare admonished, "it is perfectly clear that our men were trying to defend themselves. I know we will need to make some sort of apology, much as it galls me. Our plan had been that once he crossed the frontier General Tight would get half of his food and fodder from friendly locals."

"That is not looking too likely right now, General," replied Meinertzhagen, "as we will be needing to supply General Tighe with all his needs until he gets close to Harrar."

"We are obviously going to need more resources for the supply column, General," remarked O’Grady, "at a minimum company from King’s African Rifles is probably going to be needed to guard the line of communication."

"At a minimum, Major? One KAR company should suffice. No the hard part is going to be arranging for all the wagons and porters"


------Straits of Dover 0025 hrs Wednesday April 14, 1915


The German 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla despite the losses it had taken getting to Dunkrik decided to take advantage of the dark night to make a hit and run raid on Dover Patrol. They badly damaged the superstructure of an old ‘B’ class destroyer, including destruction of one of her torpedo tubes and then ran for home.


------Zeila, Somaliland 0245 hrs


Having failed to plough through the Abyssinian trenches the tirailleurs senegalais tried an envelopment. Their 1st battalion had suffered the heaviest casualties in the prior attack. It remained behind in the trenches with the 3 companies of King’s African Rifles facing the enemy along the coastal road. The other 2 battalions marched around during the dark night to attack the enemy right flank. In the dark the formation of both battalions became ragged. The 3rd battalion on the right encountered Oromo cavalry and the ensuing combat caused a few casualties and some further delay and confusion. The 2nd battalion continued on to find that the enemy had extended their trench line further south with curve to the west. Their night march had taken longer than expected and only their lead company managed to attack while still dark. When the rest of the battalion arrived it was twilight. .

Col. Rabadi had anticipated a flanking attempt. This portion of the trench was occupied by 2 Ottoman rifle companies and about 500 Abyssinian riflemen. There was also a pair of machineguns now being put to good use. Roughly 3 miles the first Abyssinian trench line there was a second. It had not been complete at the time of the prior battle but since then Rabadi had insisted on its completion and extension. He kept half his strength in the second trench line.

As it grew little the 3rd Senegalese battalion succeeded in driving off the Oromo cavalry. They now tried to swing around the right edge of the first trench line. As they tried to do so they came under fire from both the Ottoman field artillery and the Abyssinian mountain artillery which had been registered in that general direction yesterday afternoon. Some of Abyssinian mountain guns ranged too long and wounded a few of Oromo horsemen. The Ottoman guns did fire too long. They had not been able to bring that much ammunition with them from Yemen and had expended much of it in the prior battle. They now used up what little they had left. Half the Senegalese 3rd battalion were able to attack the forward trench line from behind. They captured the better part of an Ottoman rifle company along with 200 Abyssinians and a machine gun. Furthermore there was panic on the right portion of the Abyssinian trench line.

As a further complication the warships off the coast were now shelling portion of the trenches near the coast which pinned the Abyssinian and Ottomans there. The warships had been reinforced since the prior with the French bringing the coastal defense ship Requin down from Suez and the British adding two more gunboats. .


------Viceregal Lodge, Dublin 0855 hrs


Laying in bed Lord Curzon played with Mary’s hair, then gave her another kiss. "You were wonderful, my love," he whispered in her ear. Mary blushed but she smiled as well, "I am so very glad to hear you say that, my dearest."

"I wish I could stay with you all morning, my love. But alas I have an important meeting with the Chief Secretary at 10:30, that I cannot postpone."

"You look and sound as if you had an appointment for a dreadfully unpleasant medical procedure."

"The Prime Minister and First Lord were very much pleased with how smoothly Clarke’s deportation went. They now want me to get Birrell to consent to deporting Pearse."

"Oh, Pease, eh? I can understand Tom Clarke--everyone knew he was the most rabid of Fenians—but why is Pearse so dangerous?"

"For one thing he has been seen with Clarke a great deal the last three months. The two of them were seen talking with Connolly before he was arrested."

"Really? Find it a little hard to believe. Pearse is such an upstanding individual, a true gentleman scholar, what with that school of his, St. Enda’s"

Curzon shook his head from side to side, "I know what you mean. It pains me more than a little to do what must be done. No one I’ve met more embodies the mystery that is Ireland than Patrick Pearse. If he were to concentrate his energy solely on education he could make an immense contribution to Ireland. I went to St. Enda’s and tried to persuade him to do just that. I was given an smug diatribe for an answer. Underneath the gentle scholarly exterior there lurks a fanatic."

"I don’t know, my love. I just wonder if there aren’t other more deserving rascals you could deport. How many deportations do you think you browbeat Birrell into approving?"

"Pearse is likely to be the last we request from Birrell. It is not that the Prime Minister would not like to see others deported as well. Rather he is hoping to replace Birrell at the end of the month, and is willing to postpone any further deportations until after the change."

:"I can’t say that I’m surprised. Have they picked the new Chief Secretary, yet?"

"No. It is proving to be a difficult process. There are those Unionists like Landsdowne and FE Smith who would love the job but are completely unacceptable to the Liberals. On the other hand, at least three suitable compromise candidates have made it abundantly clear they have no interest whatsoever in what they regard as a hopeless and thankless position. Since it took a great deal of persuasion to overcome my own resistance to becoming Viceroy, it would by hypocritical for me to fault these men."


------east of Awash (Abyssinia) 1015 hrs


Two of Ras Tafari’s agents had just returned from Addis Ababa. "Were you able to contact the garrison commander?"

They both shook their heads. "Ras Mikael carefully picked loyal officers to run the garrison force he left behind They would not treat with us," said one of them.

Ras Tafari was disappointed but not surprised, "Were you at least able to find out the size of the garrison?"

"Yes, some of the lower ranking men were willing to provide information for money. The garrison is between 3,000 and 4,000 men—all of them armed with good rifles. It has 4 cannons and 2 machineguns. In addition several hundred horsemen patrol the nearby countryside."

"And what is the mood of the people? Is there rioting?" asked Ras Tafari.

"The people are tense and anxious," said one of the agents, "and spend much their time circulating rumors."

"Some whisper that they hope you will come and rescue them from Iyasu," said the other

"What did you learn about Zauditu?" asked Ras Tafari.

"There are many rumors, but they are wildly inconsistent. Some say she is leading an army towards Addis Ababa as well. Others say she has agreed to support Ras Tafari. Others claim that she has pledged her support to you. Still others say she has fled to the Sudan."

"Is there any reason to think one set of rumors is more reliable than the others?" asked Ras Tafari.

The two agents looked at each other and shrugged while shaking their heads, "Even the officials in our pay gave conflicting stories."

Ras Tafari pondered this news. He had marched from Harrar with 29,000 men and only 5 obsolete pieces of artillery and 2 machine guns. He left only 2,000 men in Harrar. He marched quickly at first but he did not expect to take Addis Ababa by stealth, so he slowed the advance as he grew closer to the capital. His scouts consisted of 1,700 cavalry plus 900 light infantry skilled in navigating rugged terrain.

During the march nearly 3,000 men had joined up with them. These were poorly armed. Nearly half were eager adolescents without any real training. Ras Tafari’s had hoped for more. He had also hoped that most of Ras Mikael’s army was in Somaliland. But his latest reports made it clear to Ras Tafari what his enemy was at least twice as strong in terms of men and several times more powerful in artillery. Already there were cavalry skirmishes.

"You may go now," he told his spies, "I may have more questions for you later." To his staff he then spoke, "I advanced against my enemy to test his strength and to awaken our people to our cause. The people remain half asleep and our enemy makes no obvious mistake. He is too strong for us to meet in open battle. Let us know return to Harrar. Perhaps in pursuing us he will make a mistake we can exploit.

British agents had been in touch with Ras Tafari for a fortnight. They had told him that there would be a British force from India arriving at Berbera and another coming north from Nairobi. They suggested that he amass his strength at Harrar and when await the force out of Berbera. What did they did not realize was this gaze Ras Tafari an additional reason to move before they arrived at Harrar. If Iyasu’s political support was weak a march on Addis Ababa might precipitate his overthrow with minimal bloodshed If that had happened Ras Tafari planned to demand the British forces leave Abyssinia in exchanged for an immediate Abyssinian withdrawal from Somaliland. Ras Tafari did not trust the British very far. He knew that would use Iyasu’s attack as an excuse to turn Abyssinia into a protectorate

Ras Tafari’s march on Addis Ababa did not produce the overthrow of Iyasu. Ras Tafari would have preferred not to have to rely on the British strength but now he saw no other choice.


------Vienna 1450 hrs


In the morning Kaiser Franz Josef had promoted General Conrad to Generalfeldmarschal for his great victory over the Russian Fourth Army in what was now being called the Battle of Radom. He now granted Conrad a private audience.

"I have heard of Count Tisza’s impudence," declared Conrad, "For a long time I have felt a showdown with Hungary was inevitable. We must make preparations for a war against Hungary."

"Do we suddenly find ourselves with a shortage of enemies to fight? Count Tisza is now serving in the Hussars. Andrassay is now the Hungarian Prime Minister. He does not deny that there is tension in Hungary but believes he can work out an acceptable compromise once he accomplishes electoral reform in Hungary."

"Count Tisza has not been removed from the picture, Your Majesty! He continues to intrigue through his contacts. His military service is merely a disingenuous demonstration of Magyar loyalty. Complete and utter hypocrisy because his real objective is the most fiendish treason."

"Tsk, tsk. General—oops I mean Feldmarschal-- Conrad, once again you get carried away. Was not the punishment of the Serbs the reason we went to war? Should we not at least finish that job and remove the Entente forces from Albania before we tear ourselves apart? Have the Bulgarians begun to mobilize?"

"Yes, they finally started mobilizing yesterday, Your Majesty. I must warn against hoping for much from the Bulgarians. They are very much overrated as soldiers. Hopefully they will pin down a third of the Serb army with the assistance of the 3 Ottoman divisions.. Even that may exceed their capability, Your Majesty. It would be better if this campaign was run by one of our own generals and not the Germans who are only contributing 6 divisions."

"Now, now you know very well that the Bulgarians will not permit their army to be led by one of our generals. German participation and leadership was a prerequisite for their alliance."

Conrad clenched his jaw and ground his teeth before answering, "The Bulgarians have their own interests. I will repeat myself, Your Majesty. We should not expect too much from their army, but they will nevertheless present outrageous demands at the peace conference."

"Are you then predicting another round of humiliation for us in Serbia?"

The veins on Conrad’s neck bulged as he clenched his fists. He reminded himself of what happened to Count Tisza. Finally through clenched teeth he answered, "Rest assured, Your Majesty, this time we will crush the murderous scum."

"Good! When that promise has been fulfilled come back and we’ll talk some more about Hungary."


------Old Admiralty Building 2005 hrs


Room 40 had just decoded another important German wireless message. Captain Hall notified Admiral Oliver immediately, "The High Seas Fleet will sortie again before dawn on Friday!"

"And then there is that mysterious ‘Special Task Force’ that is supposed to set sail from Kiel tomorrow morning?"

"That force is leaving from Kiel. It is quite likely its mission is confined to the Baltic. The two missions may not be strongly connected."


Khor Angar (Somaliland) 0010 hrs Thursday April 15, 1915


Another Ottoman rifle company was unloading from dhows out of Mocha at this sleepy fishing village. This time another battalion staff was also ferried. As usual there was a modest amount of ammunition including 60 shells for 77mm guns. There was still a problem with getting wagons and draught animals from the locals. The rifle company which had landed the previous night was still there and the engineers who had arrived still earlier had finally departed only a few hours earlier. There was also a disturbing problem with getting enough food.


------Lubeck 0215hrs


Supply officers seldom get the respect they deserve Oberleutnant Franz Halder thought to himself as he made sure all the items on his checklist were loaded aboard the right ship. He was never one to be sloppy but the importance of this assignment had been impressed on him—along with the unpleasant consequences if he screwed up.


------Gaelic American office (NYC) 0535 hrs (GMT)


Despite being a first rate curmudgeon, John Devoy did not hate blacks quite as much as most Irish Americans. This was good for he had one in his office now.

"I will start off my saying I understand you to be an excellent orator, Mr. St. James," he said trying his best to polite under these trying circumstances, "and that you are performing a great public service. Why I even understand you even mention the Irish situation on occasion."

Cornelius St. James did not feel completely at ease either. "I thank you very much, for your kind words, Mr. Devoy," he replied cautiously, "and I must tell you what a really great newspaper you are putting out."

"Oh, so I take it that you are a regular reader?"

St. James squirmed, "I read it on occasion." Twice to be exact.

"Well at least you can read. You do seem to be a step or two above most of your race."

This damn Irish coot means that as a compliment St James reminded himself as he ground his teeth. He wondered if coming here was a mistake.

"Well as I said your speeches are very good but you should mention the plight of the Irish people more often," continued Devoy, "and try to rein in that Jamaican loudmouth Garvey. He goes too far sometimes."

"I will see what I can do, sir"

Devoy reached into a manila folder of his and extracted a document. "I have a present for you," he said as leaned forward to hand it to Cornelius.

Cornelius inspected the document and his jaw dropped.. It was a gun permit authorizing him to own a concealed weapon under the provisions of the Sullivan Act. His service revolver— which he had nearly used to commit suicide—was now a legal weapon.

"You don’t have any idea how hard it was for us to get you a permit. I think you must be only the third nig—er, man of color--to get one. The fact that you are a decorated war veteran did help some."

"I greatly appreciate this, Mr. Devoy. I most certainly do," answered St. James with honest enthusiasm.

Devoy raised his hand, "You should be grateful, boy. But truth be told your activity has come to the attention of the damn British, may they rot in Hell forever. They would like nothing better than to put you behind bars for violating the Sullivan Act. So our mutual friends suggested it was best to take some preventive action."

Cornelius almost asked Devoy who the "mutual fiends" were—but he had a pretty good guess so instead he replied, "Uh, well yes I must thank you –and those mutual friends you mentioned--for being so considerate."

"I think you know who I am talking about."

St. James nodded, "I think I do."

"You are a smart one--must have some white blood in you somewhere. Well, then these mutual friends would like it very much if you were to do them a wee favor."

"Uh, well just what sort of favor?"

"Since you served in the US Army, our friends would like you to evaluate certain American made small arms. It is another reason they got you the permit, so you can handle pistols without having to traipse all the way over to Jersey."

"I would love to!"

"We are going to arrangements so not only can you fire on foot but you will also be able to test the weapons while mounted—you were in the cavalry, right?"

"Yes, sir. 10th Cavalry Regiment. Uh, I must be fessing up that I’m a bit surprised by this request. If our mutual friends are who I think they are it seems hard to believe that they never did their own evaluation of American weaponry."

"I didn’t say that, boy," growled Devoy, "so don’t you go jumpin’ to any silly conclusions. Of course, they did their own evaluation. It’s just they’d like a second opinion, a fresh look if you will. Don’t take it personally if they ignore your recommendations, which they would like typed. Do you own a typewriter?"

"No, sir."

"Then you don’t know how to operate one, now do you?"

"I know how to use a typewriter."

"Hmm. Out of the goodness of my Irish heart I am to make a gift of one of the old ones I have lying around here I was fixing to buy all new ones anyway. Now what the Ger—er, our mutual friends want, is an evaluation of each weapon as far as how useful it would be in regard to 3 categories—trained infantrymen, cavalrymen and lastly, irregulars with limited training."

For a few seconds St. James puzzled over what was meant by the last category. Then it dawned on him, "You mean they are going to ship these weapons to Abyssinia? But how are they are going to get past the Royal Navy? And how—"

Devoy scowled, "No, you dumbass, they sure and hell ain’t intended for no pitiful Ethiopians."

St. James was both disappointed and confused, "Well then just who are these irregulars?"

Devoy looked like he was going to say something then his expression abruptly changed. St James had been fond of poker when was in the Army. Devoy looked like someone holding a straight but trying not to show it.

"Don’t be askin’ too many damn questions, boy."


------St. Pol, France 0820 hrs


The Germans had assembled 22 Army Albatross B-2 airplanes on the airfield here. These now began to take off. Two of these developed engine trouble soon after take off and was forced to land. Off Dunkirk 4 Albatross W-1 seaplanes were being towed by the Second Torpedo Boat Flotilla. When they saw the Army airplanes they took off as well. The combined formation then headed NNW.


------Rosyth naval base 0905 hrs


"My gut instinct is simply not to sortie," Admiral Lewis Bayly admitted to Admiral Madden, who was still the chief of staff for the Grand Fleet, "at least until we have a better idea of what the Huns are up to."

"I can understand the wisdom of not engaging the Germans right now, sir" answered Madden, "but don’t you think we should at least put to sea?"

"We still only have 7 dreadnought battleships in 1st Battle Squadron—counting Iron Duke which is on 4 hour notice in the basin undergoing minor repairs. Of the 5 badly damaged dreadnoughts Jellicoe sent to the dry docks, only Vanguard has returned and we immediately sent Temeraire to the yards to start her sorely overdue repairs."

"Marlborough is expected to return Tuesday, sir."

"But that doesn’t do us any good today or tomorrow, now does it? Furthermore. we have not a single operational battle cruiser, while there is a fair possibility that the Germans will have both Moltke and Blucher."

"Even if they do, our cruiser squadrons are much stronger. We should have a clear edge in scouting even if Moltke and Blucher have been repaired."

"The Germans still have their bloody Zeppelins! You read the reports about Cattaro Gulf. That infernal airship gave the Austrians all the scouting they needed."

"Weather is a lot different in the southern Adriatic than it is here, sir"

"Does that justify taking a risk which could lose the entire war? I think not. I believe the best course of action is to remain in port. Tomorrow we should get Iron Duke out of the basin and raise steam at noon but not put to sea unless there is a clear indication that the Germans are attempting an invasion. .I am going to send a cable to the Admiralty notifying them of my decision."


------Harwich naval base 0950 hrs


A German Army airship had been seen loitering off the coast of Suffolk for nearly two hours. After some initial alarm it was decided it was merely on a reconnaissance mission. In the last 6 weeks German warplanes had made sporadic small raids on the naval bases at Dover and Sheerness when the permitted—which frequently it did not. Some of these airstrikes caused some light damage to the warships of Dover Patrol. In response the British installed antiaircraft weapons around those key bases. They also tried to use their own aircraft as a counter. Air to air combat was still an embryonic air form so while several German raiders were fired on there was only one instance of an aircraft being down by a British interceptor. More productive was British raids on the German airfields, but they soon installed antiaircraft guns so this was done at considerable risk.

The Royal Navy thought Harwich to be out of the effective range of German airplanes and worried only about a possible airship attack. A pair of heavy antiaircraft guns were thought to be sufficient. The German Albatross airplanes heading towards Harwich were not very fast but they had a long endurance. Even then they were operating at the limit of the range. What was critical was they not get lost for they would not have time to locate their targets. The mission of the Army airship was twofold. First it was to radio to St. Pol whether or not the destroyers of Harwich Force were in port but just as important it was to serve as guidepost to point the warplanes towards their target.

Three more planes had developed engine trouble during the long trip and turned back—one which failed to make it home. But now the 21 warplanes swarmed down on Harwich in waves. Contrary to the famous movie depiction of this raid only one German observer hummed ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ during the attack—not the whole formation. The Army airship decided to use the distraction to attack as well. It was this airship that scored the most dramatic success of the mission when one of its bombs burst in the boiler room of one of the moored destroyers causing first a boiler explosion and then seconds later a magazine explosion. These proved to be a costly success for the airship which as it tried to get away was caught by antiaircraft guns and soon turned into a ball of flames which crashed into the sea.

The airplanes carried much lighter bombs and achieved much less dramatic success. Arethusa was hit twice but suffered no real damage though one sailor was lightly wounded. Three destroyers did suffer damage of some significance. One had its bridge seriously damaged. Another had its main steam pipe holed and the third had a 4" gun mount ruined. On two other destroyers a small fire was started that looked worse than they really were and were quickly extinguished after the raiders left. Only one warplane had been shot down but two more were seriously damaged by the antiaircraft fire and one of them failed to make it back to St. Pol. The fuel margin for the return trip was tight. One land plane did not make it and crashed off the French—its crew was rescued hurt but alive by a torpedo boat covered by the powerful coastal batteries. Another straggler got lost and ended up making a rough landing in an onion field, which he limped away from. .


------St Enda’s 1005 hrs


Padraig Pearse had an unexpected visitor—Mary Spring-Rice. Pearse knew her from when she had helped Childers smuggle German rifles into Ireland back in July. She made it clear it was urgent that they talk in private. He readily consented.

"Is this about Connolly?" Pearse asked.

. "No. It’s about you! They are going to deport you, Padraig."

Pearse had heard the rumors about Mary and the Lord-Lieutenant. With a sinking heart he asked anxiously, "Did you hear this from, uh, well uh, Lord Curzon?"

She sighed deeply but avoided blushing, "Yes. He told me that he was able to get Birrell to approve your deportation yesterday. The RIC could be coming here sometime today to arrest you. It would be very embarrassing if I was still here when they do."

She paused looking closely at Pearse. He had become pale and was trembling. There was sweat on his brow. "Are you feeling ill, Padraig?" she asked with some concern.

"I have felt better," he answered in a weak voice.

She attempted a reassuring smile, "I know this must be difficult for you. I dunna know what you are going to do. I am not sure if I want to know. You must never tell anyone that I warned you. I don’t completely with George’s policies myself, but he’s a good man and I love him so very much. I think we are going to get married. So I was never here. Do I have your word on that?"

Pearse gulped and nodded, "You have my solemn vow. I cannot begin to express---"

"—then don’t even try, Padraig. I am going now."

As she left she thought she heard sobbing


------OKW 1040 hrs


There were three officers in the conference room. One was Oberst Max Hoffman, who had been the Operations Officer for Ober Ost but for several weeks had been assisting OKW Plans Section in a temporary capacity. The others were Generalmajor Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen and General der Kavallerie Georg von der Marwitz. The former had been the chief of staff for Sixth Army. When Crown Prince Rupprecht had refused to use chlorine gas, Dellmensingen had also expressed grave reservations so General von Falkenhayn decided to reassign him as well. When he learned that General von François was to command Operation Unicorn, he recommended Dellmensingen to Moltke to be his replacement at OKW.

General Marwitz had been selected to head the Army Detachment involved in Operation Fulcrum. He had spent the last 3 days at OKW discussing their "suggestions". This was rather unofficial as OKW was still not supposed to have any operational authority unless it involved cooperation either with the Navy or an ally. Since Seeckt had persuaded Hindenburg to approve Operation Fulcrum no one was complaining.

"You should have seen Ludendorff’s face when he found out he was going to be serving under Prince Rupprecht!" said Hoffman with a chuckle to the others. Actually he had not been present at that precise moment but it made a better story to pretend that he was

Both generals roared with laughter. "I would have loved to see that. General Ludendorff is very adept but he has a few rough edges that the Crown Prince will be rounding off very soon" commented Dellmensingen.

"Good, very well put. But if I might change the subject, how soon will be rejoining Ober Ost, Oberst Hoffman?’ asked Marwitz.

Hoffman rolled his eyes and shrugged, "Who knows, General? Feldmarschal von Hindenburg has been very insistent about it. I am supposed to be back there a week from tomorrow but Admiral von Tirpitz is busy scheming ways he can postpone that. Do not become alarmed if you hear that I’ve suddenly become ill."

This elicited a chuckle from the generals. The door was only partially closed and suddenly an NCO appeared escorting General Hans von Besler, the former commander of Tenth Army, who announced himself with, "Sorry I am late, gentlemen."

"Bah, it is just a few minutes and Oberst Hoffman was telling us a very amusing story, which he will share with you later" answered Dellmensingen as handshakes were exchanged.

"The security in this building is much stricter than I expected," commented Beseler.

Dellmensingen and Hoffman briefly exchanged glances. Operation Unicorn was not to be mentioned in front of either Beseler or Marwitz. "Admiral Tirpitz has been very worried about a suspected security leak recently," he answered which was true but incomplete.

"Oh? That is a bit disturbing. I hope he’s rectified the problem. As I understand it I am here today to discuss what I know about using siege artillery. Is this in connection with the bombardment of the outer fortifications of Novo-Georgievsk I am to conduct next month?"

"Yes and no, general," replied Hoffman, "We do wish to discuss that briefly before you leave. Before than operation gets underway, there is another operation codenamed Fulcrum that will start in less than two weeks. General Marwitiz here will be leading the forces involved but can make good use of your experience and insight. Early tomorrow morning both of you are scheduled to leave for Ober Ost."

"Very flattering. I will do my best. But one thing has me curious. Why is neither Feldmarschal von Moltke nor General von François present now?"

Dellmemsingen and Hoffman again exchanged glances. They both knew Moltke’s nerves were badly frayed the last few days worrying about Operation Unicorn. On his doctors’ orders he was working a very limited schedule. Dellmensingen answered, "The Feldmarschal I am sorry to say has taken ill. As far as General von François, he is away on, er, an assignment. I am filling in for him until he returns."

Marwitz looked at Beseler and said, "If you’re think about asking just what General François’ ‘assignment’ is, don’t waste your breath. They won’t tell me and I don’t think they’ll tell you either."


------Central Criminal Court, London 1105 hrs


"James Connolly, this court has found you guilty of the crime of High Treason. Before sentence is passed is there anything you would care to say?" declared the judge.

"Yes I would, Your Honor," replied Connolly in a loud voice. He briefly turned his head to catch a glimpse of his dear wife Nora and his oldest daughter, Lillie. He noticed the prosecutor, Attorney General FE Smith storming out of the chamber in disgust.

"Let this court and let the world know just what it was I meant to do. It was to break the connection between my country—Ireland—and the British Empire and to establish an Irish Republic. The call I was going to issue to the people of Ireland is a nobler call in a holier cause than any issued to them during this war, having any connection with this war. It would prove that the Irish are willing to die to win for Ireland those national rights, which the British government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium."

The judge stared at him with cold contempt. More than one court officer went out of his way to yawn. Connolly continued, "Believing that the British government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence in any one generation of any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes the Government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress. Mark my words their time is coming. Do with me what you will. You cannot stop the inevitable."

Connolly spoke those words with all the enthusiasm he could muster. Yet inwardly he was afraid. Not of dying. What he deeply feared was that Ireland would choose to shame him and still worse shame itself by remaining docile.

"Are you finished?" asked the judge.

"I am, Your Honor."

"James Connolly it is the sentence of this court for the despicable crime of High Treason in a time of war, that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead."


------Old Admiralty Building 1430 hrs


"Admiral Bayly does not want to sortie at all," the First Sea Lord, Admiral Callaghan informed Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Also sitting in his office were Admiral Wilson and Admiral Oliver.

"I still find it hard to believe that the Germans are making a sortie," replied Carson who then turned to Admiral Oliver, "Is there any intelligence about what the Germans intend to do, where they intend to go?"

"No, sir. For all we know this could just be a training exercise—though normally those are performed in the Baltic for obvious reasons. However in the aftermath of Utsire they may feel it is now safe to perform exercises in the North Sea."

"That’s an interesting point, Admiral Oliver. But in any case I know we had impressed on Admiral Bayly the need to be careful but isn’t this taking it a little too far?" said Carson as a question for any of the admirals to tackle.

"If you ask me, sir, he is still sulking over Formidable being sent to the Mediterranean," answered Admiral Wilson. Carson could see Callaghan and Oliver nodding their heads.

"I agree that losing Formidable is still eating away at the stubborn old mule," elaborated Callaghan, "but in Bayly’s defense, there is something to be said for remaining at port right now—at least until we have a better idea of what the Huns are up to."

"What has the Royal Navy come to that it cowers in its ports?" lamented a shocked Carson.

The three admirals exchanged sheepish glances. Callaghan cleared his throat and said, "If you wish I will order Admiral Bayly to sortie, First Lord."

Carson shook his head with regret, "No, I must ask your pardon, my dear Admirals for that ill tempered outburst. I was out of line just now. I know very well that you are doing what you think is best for King and Country. It just galls me so that we’ve fallen to this sorry state of affairs which mocks the traditions we hold so dear. I am not Churchill. Do what you think is best."


------Anwaz 1840 hrs


General Gorringe had ordered another of his Indian battalions to march south, cross the Karun and then join with 24th Punjabis in making a renewed attack on the Ottoman positions there supported by the British artillery on the east bank during the morning. The fighting went on for several hours, but by the early afternoon it became clear that the Indians had merely chipped away at the outer perimeter.

He now received a message from General Nixon, ordering him to complete the defeat of the enemy forces at Anwaz because the Persians were taking a keen interest in the situation. He had also received in the last hour word that the Ottomans had been reinforced by more than a thousand soldiers. This report was misleading—it was merely 600 friendly Marsh Arabs that had arrived.

General Gorringe had been disappointed by the performance of his Indian battalions. He had a low opinion of the Ottoman soldier and had expected his men would smash them easily. It was now apparent the Indian battalions were not as good as he expected. His battalion commanders believed they were inflicting more casualties than they were taking—but not a lot more. Likely he could eject the Ottomans from the western portion Anwaz in a few days, but the casualties would be large and the enemy would likely escape to the northwest with sufficient strength to wage a nettlesome guerilla campaign as they had done previously. With a single battalion of British soldiers at his disposal –and maybe another battery of artillery--Gorringe was certain he could destroy his enemy quickly and completely. Gorringe turned to his signals section, "I have a message to be sent to General Nixon."


------Gaelic Athletic Association London 1950 hrs


Michael Collins and Sam Maguire had been talking about Connolly’s death sentence. Collins then confided to his fiend, "I’ve made up my mind, Sam. Ireland is going to rise up some time in May. I need to be there when it does. I am going to go back the end of next week. You might give some serious thought to coming along yourself."

Maguire sighed and shook his head. This was a conversation they had had several time before. Finally he answered, "Go, if you think you must, Michael. I think I can do more for the cause here in London. Would you be goin’ back to Cork?"

"No, I wasn’t thinking about going to Dublin."

"You’re not very well known in Dublin, Michael me buy."

"The Military Council knows me!"

Maguire swung his head around and then chided Collins in a hushed voice, "Shhhh! Keep your voice down. Never can tell who is listening. As far as that body of distinguished Irish gentlemen they know your name all right, but have had no face to face dealing with you. That makes a difference."

"Maybe. Then again maybe not. I am sure they can find an important role for me."

Maguire didn’t immediately respond. Something was distracting his attention. Finally he said, "Mick, remember how I said there was this very fine looking English woman looking for you the other day? Well she just walked in the door."

Collins turned to stare where his friend was looking. He saw a well dressed woman looking to be in her late 20’s. She looked to be small breasted but otherwise fairly attractive.

Maguire’s elbow gave Collins a playful jab in the ribs, "Come with me, Michael and I’ll introduce you."

Michael Collins followed his friend trying to figure out what this was all about. The mysterious woman suddenly noticed Maguire approaching and smiled warmly with a very sensual mouth.

"Mr. Maguire. It appears you remembered me. And is this man by your side by any chance—"

"Yes, this here is Mr. Michael Collins. I am afraid I don’t recall you giving me your name, ma’am."

"My name is Clara Benedix. You can call me Clara," she said then approached Collins very closely, "Mr. Collins there is something I’ve been dying to tell you." She drew invitingly drew her face close to his and whispered in his ear as if she was being flirtatious, "Joe Plunkett told us to contact you.. Is there somewhere we can talk alone?"


------Khor Angar 2250 hrs


When the nightly flotilla of dhows carrying another rifle company arrived the battalion commander met with its commander immediately. "I have still not received from the Afars the wagons and animals for the 2 companies landed before you," the battalion commander said with great irritation, "and we are not receiving enough food either. With the arrival of your company I am worried that we may not even receive enough water."

The company commander was shocked. This was not what he was told to expect. "What are we to do, sir?" he asked glumly.

"I sent one company marching to Obock at sunset without waiting any longer for wagons. Let us send a message back with the trawlers that they are to send no more combat units. The next crossing should bring only a few quartermasters and supplies including some food."

"I was told the next crossing will not in two nights not tomorrow."

The battalion commander swore bitterly but finally decided it was wrong to blame the messenger for bad news. "We must make do with what we have," he said, shaking his head.


------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 0240 Friday April 16, 1915


With a sense of dread Grossadmiral von Ingenohl watched as the 12 dreadnoughts of the High Seas Fleet steamed out to sea. Ostfriesland was not among them—the severe damage it had suffered at the Battle of Dogger Bank back in December was still not completely repaired. The Second Squadron was not present this time either. What was left of it after Utsire had been disbanded. Three of them were assigned to Spee’s Sonderverband. Tirpitz was confident he could prevail against what was left of the Grand Fleet with just the dreadnoughts.

There was no First Scouting Group. Only Blucher had been repaired. Moltke’s repairs were expected to be completed either Sunday or early Monday.. Ingenohl thought that would persuade Tirpitz and Bachmann to postpone Operation Unicorn at least a few days, but Tirpitz insisted Moltke would more important for the second sortie.

Hipper was not going to be present this sortie. Blucher was serving as the flagship of Admiral Maas’ 2nd Scouting Group which would also include Regensburg and Rostock. The rest of Ingenohl’s scouting element would consist of 2 armored cruisers and another 9 light cruisers. There were 5 torpedo boat flotillas screening the High Seas Fleet this time with a total of 42 torpedo boats. Most of them had piles of coal on their decks.

The Admiralstab had provided him with an intelligence estimate that the Grand Fleet had only 6 operational dreadnoughts—including the Queen Elizabeth but not Warspite. Ingenohl suspected a lot of wishful thinking went into that estimate—including the theory that HMS Audacious had been sunk by mine which Ingenohl continued to doubt. The British were also expected to have Lord Nelson and Agamennon as well 6 or 7 King Edward VII class predreadnoughts They were not expected to have any operational battle cruisers but as many as a dozen armored cruisers and perhaps 10 light cruisers. This would give the British a powerful advantage in their scouting forces. Tirpitz had argued that Zeppelin patrols would compensate but this was contingent on favorable weather. The weather had been unseasonably good for April yesterday and 3 Zeppelins had been dispatched on reconnaissance missions. The Meteorological Section was moderately optimistic about today but after that it was likely to deteriorate again. Tirpitz actually thought that was favorable because cloudy wet weather would make the Sonderverband’s smoke much less visible. Pentland Firth, Comrarty Firth and the Firth of Forth each had a single U-Boat stationed off them. These were ordered not to attack but merely to observe and report.

Tirpitz’s logic was very simple. The Grand Fleet had a modest superiority at Utsire but suffered a sharp defeat. If they now dared to challenge the Germans with only half the number of dreadnoughts they would be destroyed. Tirpitz regarded the British predreadnoughts as irrelevant because the Battle of Utsire had demonstrated how feeble predreadnoughts were. Ingenohl regarded that assessment as too sweeping. When people had first begun to call him the ‘German Nelson’ Ingenohl was amused but now he regarded the mantle as an albatross.

Tirpitz had once mentioned to Ingenohl that he had doubts about Kaiser Wilhelm’s sanity. Ingenohl in turn had some doubts about Tirpitz’s sanity—though apparently Wilhelm was in favor of Unicorn. If the Sonderverband was destroyed the Army would be sufficiently upset that they would find a way to curb Tirpitz’s power. Ingenohl would never admit it to anyone but he seriously wondered if that might not be for the best.


------OHL Valenciennes 1005 hrs


"Close the door, Oberst" General von Falkenhayn ordered as Bauer entered his office. When Bauer had done he asked, "So, you want to know about Operation Unicorn?"

Bauer nodded and grinned eagerly, "Yes, General I do. I would like very much to participate in it."

Falkenhayn eyed Bauer warily. Tirpitz had warned him against trusting Bauer too much. Still Bauer could be very effective when he was not causing political mischief. He had thought what he was and was not going to share with Bauer since Bauer returned to OHL yesterday "Ironically given its name Operation Unicorn has two very distinct elements though they strategically interconnected. This HQ and Sixth Army are very much involved in one of those elements. This is where we can make good use of your knowledge of artillery. But the other aspect of Operation Unicorn is not your concern."

"I am, uh, a little bit confused by all this, General," Bauer candidly admitted, "for one thing all the while I was at OKW I heard nothing about this Operation Unicorn."

"Knowledge of Operation Unicorn is being restricted to the minimum number of people. Let me be clear that there are many things about it I will not be sharing with you. Those that I do you will share with only those who have a clear need to know. As an excellent example what I just told you about there being a second aspect of Operation Unicorn—vague as that information is—is not to be shared with everyone at this headquarters."

Still very much confused Bauer shrugged, "Well then General, just what can you tell me about Operation Unicorn?"

"How about this? The portion of Operation Unicorn with which you will be involved is regarded by Feldmarschal Moltke and Admiral Tirpitz as little more than a grand diversion. That is definitely not how I view it. Moltke fails to appreciate the potential of our new weapon! What General Fabeck does with Sixth Army could well become the main action and what happens elsewhere is merely a feint—and a completely expendable one at that."


-------Dublin Castle 1130 hrs


The Under Secretary Sir Matthew Nathan was on the telephone with Chamberlain, the Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary. "My men have been unable to locate Pearse. He simply left that school of his without telling anyone why or where he was going. The faculty and even some of the students claim he was distraught before he left," said Chamberlain.

Nathan was not as opposed to deportation of suspected Fenians as Chief Secretary Birrell was, thought he didn’t regard it as the complete solution to Ireland’s problems. "Pearse is a strange one. Very sentimental as I understand it. So it could be anything. But we can’t rule out that he either knew or suspected we are after him."


------Paris 1635 hrs


The Council of Ministers was again in an emergency session. "There has been another setback in our Somaliland campaign," the Minister of War Alexandre Millerand grimly announced.

"How big a setback?" asked an anxious looking Viviani.

Millerand shrugged, "An attack yesterday morning on the Abyssinian position near Zeila failed. The cumulative losses suffered by our expedition appear to rule out another attempt—unless we are heavily reinforced perhaps with the local British forces."

There was some murmuring amongst the minister. "How is this possible?" asked Poincare, "We have been repeatedly told that the upstart pretender Iyasu could only spare a few thousand of his poorly armed savages for the conquest of Djibouti."

"One thing that was revealed in the last battle is that there is now a substantial Ottoman force assisting the Abyssinians."

"What? How is this possible? Do we not control the seas?"

"Our current working hypothesis is that the Ottomans crossed from Yemen on dark nights to our coaling station at Obock, which they had captured. Yesterday we stationed a gunboat off Obock to prevent any further infiltration."

"We should withhold this information for the time being—" remarked Viviani.

"—No!" Poincare interrupted, "It is time you stop misleading the French people! I expect to see some statement in the newspapers Sunday and I will expect it to have some relationship to the truth. If I see nothing I will release my own statement to the press."

"M. President, I must protest most strenuously! This is most rash!" objected Viviani.

"It is not! Our nation is in dire peril and too many people think only in terms of their own political advantage. Some truth for once should serve as a badly needed physic. If by the Grace of God General Joffre retakes Amiens today or tomorrow then by all means print that as well."


------SMS Lothringen 1945 hrs


Admiral von Spee asked General von François and Captain Plunkett to have supper with him. He had been told that Plunkett’s command German was now fairly good provided you did not speak too quickly.

"Grossadmiral von Ingenohl views Operation Unicorn as utter folly," he spoke slowly..

"I already know that," answered the general with a frown.

"If there is an engagement with the Grand Fleet, my orders are to return to Germany even if the outcome is favorable--even if it is just a skirmish. Operation Unicorn would be postponed quite possibly cancelled altogether."

. "Hmm. I was told something to that effect but it sounded a little more flexible," answered François. Plunkett did not look happy but made no comment. He had sensed that a lot of Germans were having second thoughts about Operation Unicorn in the last few days. He worried that they might look for any excuse to cancel the mission.

There was a knock at the cabin door. A junior naval officer poked his head in, "Admiral von Spee, the U.20 reports that the crank controlling her diving planes has snapped so she needs to return to base for repairs."

Spee sighed then ordered, "Signal the U.20 that she should return to Kiel immediately."

After the junior officer left, Plunkett asked in halting German, "Will we be able to get a replacement for the U.20, admiral?"

"No. Operation Unicorn is already using all available long range submarines in one way or another."

Plunkett’s heart sank. Could this be the excuse they were looking for? "But you still have 3 submarines, yes? Isn’t that enough?"

Spee placed his right hand on Plunkett’s shoulders, "Yes, my Irish friend, 3 subs is enough. The mission will continue."


------Old Admiralty Building 2035 hrs


"We have no indication that the High Seas Fleet is heading west," declared Admiral Oliver, "the subs we stationed off Terschelling have seen nothing so far. The weather worsened late in the day rendering air patrols useless. The NID has yet to detect any signs of a preparation for a full scale invasion in the Channel Ports."

There were 4 admirals in the room—Callaghan, Oliver, Wilson and Jackson. While there was no panic there was a pervasive anxiety in the air. The possibility that the German invasion of England might actually be underway was something they could not get out of their minds. Since Utsire a special group joint Army navy committee had been formed to study the problem from all angles. The Naval Intelligence Division had participated in that committee including Lt. Erskine Childers V.C., who every assumed was an expert on the subject. The bold German air raid on Harwich had intensified their concerns—it was precisely the sort of the thing the Germans would do to prepare for an immanent invasion. The debarkation of the 29th Division for France scheduled for late yesterday was indefinitely postponed at the last minute.

The Sea Lords had reluctantly acceded to Bayly’s suggestion. The Grand Fleet had yet to sortie, though it did raise steam. Harwich Force was now at sea with those warships still battleworthy. Their mission was strictly reconnaissance as their own destruction –along with Dover Patrol—was one possible mission of the German sortie.

"Maybe it is just an exercise after all," mused Admiral Wilson. His tone of voice he didn’t particularly believe it himself.

"Or maybe they plan to attack the Midlands," wondered Admiral Jackson, "that was apparently what they were planning to do at Dogger Bank."

"Since the First Lord is not with us this morning I can admit that we would just have to accept that. Maybe our coastal batteries will do some significant damage or still better they run into one of our minefields," said Callaghan.

"Another possibility is they plan to attack the blockade line again with their battle cruisers," said Admiral Oliver, "we do know they have 2 U-Boats currently off the Faeroes—one north and one south."

"Despite the air raid on Harwich, Admiral Bayly believes that to be a very real possibility," answered Callaghan, "He strongly suggests we recall the Northern Patrols including 10th Cruiser Squadron at noon tomorrow if we still think there is any possibility the Germans are heading north."

"That means lifting the blockade," said Wilson.

"Yes it does but it will only be for at most 72 hours. The Germans are only capable of a hit and run operation like they did before Christmas. Admiral Oliver is there an indication of a group of blockade runners with contraband en route to exploit the situation?" asked the First Sea Lord.

"No, sir. Though admittedly there is the possibility that the Germans arranged for a single American blockade runner without our learning of it."

"To be safe we can send 2 or 3 cruisers to the east of the blockade line to see if anyone tried to slip through once the danger is past," suggested Jackson.


On to Volume 31


Hit Counter