by Tom B
------Shaiba (Iraq) 0125 hrs (GMT) Wednesday April 21, 1915
The moon had set leaving the battle field lit by flares, searchlights, tracers and a few small fires. Mustafa Kemal was at the front line personally commanding the attack. He had relieved one battalion commander for retreating from an enemy counterattack and replaced him with the only able bodied company commander remaining in that battalion. He almost relieved another for letting his battalion get badly dispersed in the night but decided merely to slap him hard a few times. Kemal now started to make his way back to his HQ. He had suspected that he would need to commit some of the units besides the 19th Division temporarily under his command and this visit had confirmed it. He would commit a full regiment at dawn coordinated with another artillery barrage.
------SMS Lothringen 0705 hrs
Admiral Graf von Spee had not slept well. This was the day he dreaded. The day when he feared a force of British Dreadnoughts—very likely preceded by a squadron or two of cruisers—would swoop down on the Sonderverband and destroy it completely. If the British only sent their two remaining battle cruisers after him he thought he had an even chance—if only a single battle cruiser he was certain he could prevail. But if it was a division of dreadnoughts—and it was possible they might send the whole Grand Fleet after him—then clearly he was doomed. His instructions for that contingency was to disperse the transports into small groups that would try to reach home by separate routes, while fighting a delaying action that would try to lure the dreadnoughts into the torpedoes of the U-Boats. Tirpitz had stated that if the U-Boats could sink a single British superdreadnought it would compensate for the loss of the entire Sonderverband. Spee thought this was empty posturing and eventually asked General von François if the army would see it that way. He received an emphatically negative answer.
The other threat was that they would be discovered by a British patrol today. If 2nd Scouting Group drove them off the Royal Navy might assume they were only some cruisers raiding the Atlantic. They would not likely dispatch a force of dreadnoughts after them. If they saw the transports things would be more serious but they might conclude it was a convoy bound for the USA and in their current situation the British might decide to await its return voyage and not chase them. Spee would not like to roll that set of dice though.
------Ahwaz 0905 hrs
"General, the reports have been confirmed. The Turks have abandoned the west bank and are in retreat to the northwest."
General Gorringe was only partially pleased. "I don’t want them falling back into hills. Pursue with utmost vigor. Destroy the filthy bastards."
------Old Admiralty Building 1015 hrs
Carson was again meeting with Admirals Callaghan, Oliver and Wilson. "What is the latest intelligence, Admiral Oliver?" he asked.
"The High Seas Fleet is in the Ems and is coaling. This we have confirmed from our agents on the Dutch side on the river, First Lord."
"Anything to suggest they are amassing an invasion force?"
"No, First Lord"
Turning to Callaghan Carson asked, "Am I correct that Marlborough has now completed her repairs and has rejoined the Grand Fleet?"
"That is correct, First Lord."
"We were planning to let Colossus begin her overdue and much needed repairs when Marlborough returned."
"Uh, with the High Seas Fleet becoming active earlier than we anticipated, I had thought it wise to postpone sending Colossus to the yards."
"But she is definitely not fully effective due to the damage suffered at Utsire because we delayed sending her to the yards"
"Before he was sacked, Admiral Jellicoe felt it was imperative to have a minimum of 7 dreadnoughts in the Grand Fleet operational at all times and therefore recommended a staggered repair schedule. I agreed with his logic and so did his successor, Admiral Bayly."
"I am not being judgmental, Admiral Callaghan. When do we expect repairs to be completed on Thunderer?"
"Thunderer should be rejoining the fleet on Monday, First Lord"
"Hmm. I say we should wait until then before sending Colossus to the yards."
------OHL Valenciennes 1105 hrs
"General von Falkenhayn, Feldmarschal von Moltke is on the telephone and wishes to speak with you."
Falkenhayn scowled. He had a good idea what this was about. He picked up the telephone receiver, "General von Falkenhayn speaking."
"This is Feldmarschal von Moltke. I want to know if Sixth Army has begun its attack yet."
"No, it has not, but will do shortly."
"What? It is already one day late. One of the many problems with your new weapon is so dependent on the weather. Delaying your attack throws Operation Unicorn into jeopardy!"
The fat old fool is panicking again thought Falkenhayn who answered, "My understanding was that Sixth Army was to initiate its attack sometime in the period from Monday evening to Friday morning Today is only Wednesday, Feldmarschal!"
"It may be too late if you wait to the very last minute. The British must be focused on the crisis with their army when the landing begins."
"They will be, Feldmarschal, they will be." Maybe even more than you want.
------HQ British Second Army 1250 hrs
Again General Smith-Dorrien had Sir John French on the telephone. "One of the airborne observers reports that he thought he saw what might be the gas canisters north of Crecy," he said.
"Hmm. How many aircraft went out on patrol?"
"Six went up but quickly turned back with engine trouble."
"And only one of the five than remained aloft reported anything, right."
"Yes, general, but---"
"—but what? You just told me only one observer thinks he saw something that just might be this devil weapon of the Germans. This is in incredibly strong evidence, you are giving me, Horace"
"I did not say this is conclusive, sir, but it corroborates the deserter’s story and we should—"
"You can warn your senior officers—again. I do not see a need for any further action at this time."
------Kassala (Sudan) 1340 hrs
General Maxwell had removed Brigadier General Noel Lee from the East Lancashire Division to lead the expeditionary force against Abyssinia. General Lee now paid an impromptu visit on Sir Ronald Graham, the Assistant Under Secretary of the Foreign Office "I think you would like to know that I just received a wireless message from General Maxwell," he announced, "Apparently Lord Kitchener has suddenly expressed displeasure to General Maxwell at the rate of progress of this expedition, esp. since the expedition out of Nairobi is now expected to cross their border Friday."
"I must say that I am not surprised. I got the distinct impression at times that Maxwell was deliberately dallying."
Lee had gotten the same impression but decided to defend a fellow senior officer, "You should not take it upon yourself as a bureaucrat to cast aspersions when you have only the faintest inkling of what’s involved in organizing a difficult campaign such as this."
Graham was not persuaded and certainly was not going to apologize but neither did he feel like arguing the point any further, "So then how soon do we leave? I do know that some of the Sudanese forces arrived early yesterday. Are they any others that we are waiting on?"
"No, that was the last of them. We do not have as much supplies with us as originally planned but what we’ll have by the end of today is enough. We are going to depart tomorrow morning."
------Old Admiralty Building 1425 hrs
Captain Hall approached Erskine Childers and put a hand on his shoulder, saying, "I think I’ve been a little rough on you the last few days, Lt. Childers. God only knows you’ve done a great deal for King and Country already. It’s just the possibility England might be invaded made us a little jittery the last few days."
Childers looked at Hall’s twitching face and smiled. His only complaint with the Captain was the same complaint with most of England—they took The Riddle of the Sands way too seriously and treated him like a Sibyl. "I thank deeply you for those kind words of encouragement, Captain," he answered, "I only wish there was more I could do."
"Oh, there is—but not today. You’ve worked very long hours for nearly a week now. I want you to take the rest of the day off and try to relax. We can cover for you. Just make sure you’re back first thing in the morning."
------Galway 1505 hrs
The Countess Markievirz had arrived in the city of Galway around noon and was now giving a speech to a crowd of several hundred. On the podium with her was Liam Mellowes, the commandant of the Galway Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. She spoke of the heroism of James Connolly and the need to expand the Transport Union beyond Dublin. She condemned both the tyranny of British rule and the exploitation of workers by heartless capitalists. She also mentioned the need for women to play a greater role in the Irish Volunteers.
One of the people who listened to her speech wore an artificial beard and pillow under his raincoat to make himself look heavier. This was Padraig Pearse who had fled to Country Galway after learning that Curzon was trying to have him deported. He owned a small summer house in the Connemara, the wild western area of County Galway. He knew the RIC would be watching there but he knew many people in the Connemara and was sure they would succor him. Before moving on to the Connemara he had stopped to talk with Liam Mellowes, who provided Pearse a safe place to hide in the city of Galway for a few days. Learning that the Countess was stopping in Galway on her tour, he decided to take a chance and listen to her speak before he left for the Connemara.
Leaving his beloved St. Enda’s was a terrible burden for Pearse. The school’s financial situation was so perilous he did not think it could survive even a few weeks without him. In the back of his mind he had abstractly considered that the revolution he longed for my also prove to be its doom, but that was all so very abstract and in a context he could accept. In his current situation with the rising merely a hope based on a senile Fenian in America claiming German arms were en route with no details provided, he was much more distressed. Before leaving Dublin he had told Sean McDermott to find a replacement for him on the IRB Military Council.
The revolution was coming. Pearse vowed that the only way he would miss it was if he was killed by the RIC. That he could live with.
------Djibouti 1530 hrs
"March like you were Ottoman soldiers, you sorry bunch of Arabs! Stop dragging your pathetic rumps! Get a move on!" Col Rabadi contemptuously yelled at the men from the first rifle company that had landed at Khor Angar, which were only now drudging their tired way into Djibouti after a long hard march across the rough Somali tracks. The feet of many of the men were raw and a few had become disabled during the march.
Convinced that the Senegalese were too weakened by their losses to attempt another attack without reinforcements, Rabadi had moved his headquarters back to Djibouti from Zeila
He had telegraph communications only as far north as Obock—the previously severed wires having been spliced. News of the problems suffered by the reinforcements ferried across the Red Sea were only now starting to filter back to him. He did have a short range wireless station. It was set up in the mountains north of Tadjouri, which protected them from possible shelling by Entente warships.
In the northern portion of French Somaliland the dominant people were the Afars who were generally favorable to the Abyssinian incursion. Their enthusiasm had some limits as manifested in the problems encountered with providing the Ottoman reinforcements with carts and draught animals. The Issa Somalis dominant in the southern portion of French Somaliland were unhappy with the Abyssinian presence. With a few exceptions they were not very supportive of Sheik Hassan either. Only a few had any strong loyalty to their French masters though so the predominant attitude was one of sullen resignation to the fact of the Abyssinian occupation. Where Afars rubbed shoulders with Issa Somalis there was some friction
The word from Yemen via wireless was that there would be no attempt to send the last riddle company in his regiment tonight.
------SMS Lothringen 1700 hrs
Despite Spee’s worries the Sonderverband’s voyage had been spectacularly uneventful this day. The seas had become heavy late in the day and the transports could now only make 8 knots. This did not worry the admiral much—they were still on schedule and even if it persisted for most of tomorrow there was some leeway in their plans. Both François and Plunkett were in their cabins fighting seasickness.
"It is time for us to update Admiral Tirpitz on our situation," declared Admiral Spee.
------Nairobi 1735 hrs
"What’s this latest bit of intelligence you are all so hot and bothered about, Captain?" General Wapshare asked Captain Meinertzhagen, his intelligence officer. Major O’Grady his adjutant was also present.
"Some of the Masai who work for us claim they have seen the German akarsis in the Nyiri," responded an excited Meinertzhagen.
Wapshare frowned, "Just how reliable do you consider this information? They are a strange bunch, these Masai. I know they do perform useful acts of savagery against the Germans from time to time, but still I do not completely trust them. We always assumed that the Nyiri was impassable to anything but a hit and run raid by a small force willing to drink their own urine on the way home. Just how many did the Masai claim to have seen?"
"They are very imprecise with numbers. It is one of their shortcomings. They do make it sound like it’s more than a small raiding party."
"I hadn’t given it much thought previously but it just occurred to me that the rainy season just might be the best time to cross the Nyiri in strength," speculated O’Grady.
"My exact thoughts, Major," remarked Meinertzhagen, "I think it could be an entire company."
A skeptical General Wapshare raised an eyebrow at that last comment while he made a tent with his fingers, "This is a great deal of speculation based on intelligence emanating from what I regard as a less than impeccable source. Just where in the Myiri did they see our enemy in the Nyiri? And more importantly where were they heading?"
"In the vicinity of Lake Amboselli—it is at least partially filled now. Nothing about where they are headed. They were seen milling around the lake hunting."
"Maybe that is all it is—game poaching if you will," wondered O"Grady.
Meinertzhagen disagreed, "I would think that to be highly unlikely, Major. The Germans are up to something."
"The logical target is for them to attack the railroad, possibly in sufficient force to overpower our sentries," said Wapshare, "though I have some doubts about all this there is enough of a risk that I think we should go ahead and reinforce the area around Simba by rail first thing in the morning."
"A company of the Gwaliors, sir" asked O’Grady.
"Hmm. Let’s go with quality over quantity. Send roughly half of the East African Regiment company we retained at Nairobi. Forewarned they should be more than enough to fend off any German attempt to destroy a portion of our rail tracks."
"Very well, sir. First thing in the morning it shall be. I will make the necessary arrangements once this meeting is over," answered the adjutant.
------Shaiba 1810 hrs (GMT)
The sun had set again but the last Ottoman attack had a great cost broken into the inner portions of the garrison where frantic close combat was raging. The defenders tried the best they could to disengage under the cover of darkness and retreat to Basra.
------Old Admiralty Building 1945 hrs
"We have two new radio intercepts of great importance, sir" Admiral Oliver said as soon as entered the First Sea Lord’s offices, "First there is a message from the mysterious Special Task Force saying that they crossed the blockade line without engaging in combat yesterday and are on schedule."
"Crossed in which direction? On schedule to what? Let me see the exact message in English," ordered Callaghan.
"Here it is, sir. As you’ll see it doesn’t answer either question. They could be entering the Atlantic or returning home from a mission. No hint as to what their schedule is."
"I do get the impression they must consider themselves strong enough to overpower AMC’s. Could the Special Task Force be a new designation for their battle cruisers entering the Atlantic to raid our trade routes?"
"Perhaps it is one battle cruiser plus some of their more modern light cruisers. It would make a potent group of raiders."
------Paris 2040 hrs
It was said that he had a great love of France but hated all Frenchmen. There was some truth to this but it was also true there were some French Georges Clemenceau hated some Frenchmen more than others. One of them was President Raymond Poincare. The hatred was mutual but despite that the two of them found themselves now trying to forge a marriage of convenience. The Chamber of Deputies had passed a motion of no confidence in the early afternoon.
"Briand must remain in the Cabinet. You and he were once allies," remarked Poincare.
"We have some differences but they are not insurmountable," answered Clemenceau, "I will gladly retain him as Justice Minister. There are other positions I am much more eager to change."
"Such as the Ministry of the Interior?"
"Yes! Malvy is a despicable pacifist! He seeks a negotiated peace with the Boche, which makes him a traitor in my eyes. I intend to do much more than merely remove him from the Cabinet."
"Yes! The reason I turned to you is that I sense our national resolve to see this struggle through to victory has begun to waver. Viviani knew of Malvy’s secret negotiations and did nothing to stop them."
"It is pacifism in all its pernicious forms that is our greatest enemy in our struggle. It is not just the spineless Socialists. Too many French Catholics listen to Pope Benedicts’s subversive propaganda---as if God were more important than France! The Pope has no right to interfere in affairs of state, most of all in a war."
Poincare frowned slightly. "Hmm. Unfortunately we cannot sack the Pope, eh? If we could you and I would have done so a long time ago,"
The harshness in Clemencau’s expression softened and he even chuckled, "Yes, that is completely true."
"Getting back to Malvy, if you remove him it will provide the Left with yet another grievance. They are already upset with General Sarrail’s removal. They also make some noises about the death sentence against Connolly."
"Hanging Connolly would set a wonderful example! As for General Sarrail my instinct is to find a position for him where he appears important but can do little real harm. If I do that most Socialists will accept the removal of Malvy and forget all about the Irishman. The few that do not I will destroy! Besides I expect some of them will be cheering when I remove General Joffre!"
Poincare suddenly gave Clemenceau a sharply disapproving look, "I knew this was a mistake! Papa Joffre remains too popular for you to remove with a whimsy. You must agree not to replace him without my consent or this deal is off."
Clemenceau and Poincare locked eyes and stared without blinking. Finally Clemenceau yelled, "This is outrageous! Joffre must be replaced! The Germans are at Compiegne!"
"Yes, I know I’ve read your newspaper," replied Poincare though he did not say how often. It did not matter as every issue had a headline reading, ‘The Germans are at Compiegne:.
"The great general Joffre has failed to remove the Germans from their dangerous proximity to Paris. He wastes his resources pursuing lesser objectives and even there his success is much less than he pretends."
Poincare shook his head, "You can leave now, Georges. If you have lost the ability to compromise in your old age then you are useless to me as your government would collapse in less than a month. I will appoint Aristide instead. He may offer you a Ministry, though I will advise him not to make you Minister of War."
Clemenceau continued to glare daggers at Poincare, Finally he said in a cold voice, "I would be willing to let General Joffre continue provided I am Minister of War as well as Prime Minister and he is reminded of Talleyrand’s adage about war being too important to be left to soldiers."
Poincare smiled, "Ah, so you have not lost the necessary political skill of compromise, Georges. France is saved! But being the Minister of War in your Cabinet would be extraordinary. Would it not be better to replace Millerand with Gallieni?"
Clemenceau had considered Gallieni was a possible replacement for Joffre though there were concerns about Gallienei’s health. Clemenceau’s other choice was Foch. He did not want to admit this because he had just reluctantly agreed not to remove Joffre. "Appointing Gallieni sidesteps the issue of subordinating the military to civilian authority. If I assume the position personally the principle would be made perfectly clear."
"I suppose so," answered Poincare. His deep seated antipathy toward Clemenceau would not go away even though he felt only Clemenceau had the resolve France needed at this time.
------Gaelic Athletic Association 2105 hrs
With the help of his cane Erskine Childers hobbled way in the Gaelic Athletic Association. He came to this place from time to time. It was a very popular place with the Irish men living in London Being a disabled war hero Childers was treated very well by most of the patrons but there were a few that let him know that they felt the Irish should be fighting against the British not for them. This sentiment had gotten stronger in the last few weeks—first with Connolly arrest and the subsequent troubles on St. Patrick’s Day and now with the introduction of a conscription bill
Childers could see that they were deeply confused and he couldn’t them for that because he was deeply confused as well. He kept trying to reconcile two events in his recent life. The first was back in July when he took a great risk to smuggle rifles from a German vessel to Howth aboard his personal yacht. He remembered waving happily at the Germans on that occasion. They had provided him to means to resist Sir Edward Carson and his Ulster Volunteers. The second event was the New Year’s Day Raid when he destroyed the airship shed at Nordholz but ending up losing his leg. For a while the two events were not dissonant in his mind. He was fighting for the Empire against the men who had violated and abused Belgium proving beyond any lingering doubt that the Irish deserved to be granted Home Rule.
It no longer seemed so simple. The same Sir Edward Carson he viewed as the enemy of Ireland back in July had gone on to become the First Lord of the Admiralty after the disaster at Utsire. In the last few days he had caught several glimpses of Carson in the Admiralty and every time he did it put his teeth on edge. And then another implacable enemy of Home Rule—Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law had shown his face at the Admiralty as well.
Childers took a seat. They were several prize fights scheduled this night. One had started just before he arrived. It was interesting but a bit disappointing. The next fight was much better. One of the fighters was a man Childers had met before—a tall handsome man with an athlete’s build. His name was Michael Collins and he was a popular figure at the Association. Childers had conversed with Collins on two occasions. He had learned that while Collins was from Cork he had some acquaintance with the leaders of the Irish Volunteers such as Pearse. Collins had made it clear –without being disrespectful—that he was one of those who thought the Irish should not being fighting England’s war
As he stepped into the ring Collins took a long hard look at Childers—a very long hard look. At first Childers thought Collins was merely feeling sorry for his disability. He then wondered for a few uncomfortable seconds if Collins despite his unmistakable manliness might be showing an unnatural affection towards him. When the fight began Collins fought at a higher level than anyone had ever seen him fight. It was not as a brawler intent on brutality—just the opposite he was almost poetic in his pugilistic art. His body weaved in its own private ballet while his arms delivered a drumbeat of steady punishment on his overmatched opponent. When at last this unfortunate fellow crumpled to the canvas and counted out the crowd was on its feet in thunderous appreciation of his performance. "Mick, Mick, Mick," they shouted in adulation and Childers shouted with them.
"Give us some words Mick!" some of the crowd yelled.
Sweating profusely Collins drank in their adulation. Suddenly his stare returned to Childers who felt a sudden chill run up spine. "I am the mood to perform tonight. Who amongst you would care to hear one of the greatest speeches ever given?"
The crowd expressed near unanimous approval. "What speech are you going to be giving us, Mick?"
"Robert Emmet’s speech from the dock."
This provoked hushed murmurs full of Ooh’s and Ah’s from most of the audience—though a few Protestants scowled.. After the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was crushed, Robert Emmet went into exile in France where tried unsuccessfully to secure Napoleon’s support. In 1803 Emmet returned to Ireland along with other revolutionaries intent on starting a revolution. This endeavor quickly went awry and Emmet was apprehended. Convicted of treason and sentenced to death Emmet delivered his famous speech in the dock.
Childers squirmed a little in his chair. He knew of this speech. This Michael Collins apparently had it memorized. The parallels of Emmet’s situation to Connolly’s was fairly obvious Childers’ position on Connolly whenever asked was that his death sentence should be commuted to lo life imprisonment. When he expressed this at the Admiralty he was always roundly rebuked for being soft on traitors.
Collins breathed deeply then began his speech. He had a fine speaking voice colored with the distinctive accent of Cork and the audience was entranced but soon Childers found himself becoming very uncomfortable esp. when Collins got to the part, "I am charged with being an emissary of France. An emissary of France! And for what end? It is alleged that I wished to sell the independence of my country. And for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? And is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles contradiction? No, I am no emissary; and my ambition was to hold a place among the deliverers of my country, not in power nor in profit, but in the glory of the achievement. Sell my country's independence to France! And for what? Was it a change of masters?"
Most unsettling to Childers was Collins seemed to be trying to make eye contact with him at that point. Childers began to sweat as much as Collins. After that Collins worked the crowd wonderfully. There was a hushed silence and wet eyes as he reached the famous conclusion, "Be yet patient! I have but a few more words to say. I am going to go to my cold and silent grave. My lamp of life is nearly extinguished. My race is run. The grave opens to receive me and I sink into its bosom. I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world. It is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace; and my tomb remain uninscribed and my memory in oblivion until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then let my epitaph be written. I have done."
Trembling Childers extracted his handkerchief and wiped away first the tears from eyes and the cold sweat from his brow. He had come to this place to find his bearings only to find his soul descending into ever greater turmoil. Leaning on his cane he rose and departed the building. As he did he could feel Mr. Collins eyes on him.
------Sultan Hamud (Kenya) 2300 hrs
A company of Schutztruppen had made theirs way through the passes in the high ground to the south during the night. They were no longer in the Nyiri per se but the rain this night was fairly moderate for the rainy season though there was occasional thunder and lightning. Still no one wanted to be out at night in the rain so the askaris encountered no until after they had cut the telegraph wires and approached the small cluster of dwellings near the railroad tracks. Then they encountered a long sentry, who managed to shriek a frantic warning before he died.
Ahwaz (Persia) 0320 hrs Thursday April 22, 1915
"This telegram just arrived from General Nixon, sir"
When General Gorringe read the telegram he groaned loudly in frustration.
STRONG OTTOMAN FORCES HAVE CAPTURED SHAIBA AND NOW THREATEN BASRA. LEAVE ARAB ALLIES AT AHWAZ AND BRING THE REST OF YOUR FORCE TO BASRA IMMEDIATELY
------HQ German Sixth Army 0520
General Fabeck was trying to get some sleep when one of his staff officers awoke him, "General Fabeck, I am sorry to awaken you but General von Falknhayn is on the telephone again and demands to speak with you."
Fabeck knew this telephone call was inevitable. The wind had once again been unfavorable to use the gas during the night. He knew Falkenhayn would be unhappy
------SMS Lothringen 0615 hrs
The heavy seas had subsided during the night. General von François felt a lot better. Joe Plunkett said he felt better yet still looked to be sick-- however Spee thought he always looked sickly. "So far this morning we’ve encountered nothing," declared the admiral.
"So that means we are not taking the Sligo Option?" asked François.
"That is correct, though technically it will remain open as an option if something happens before noon." The option of landing on the beaches west of Sligo was merely a contingency plan to get the troops ashore as quickly possible in te event it was felt that the British were pursuing with strong forces. As both of you know very well it has many serious drawbacks."
"And if we run into trouble in the afternoon, Admiral?" asked Plunkett.
"Then we pray with our hearts that the diversion is every bit as compelling as Admiral Tirpitz believes it will be."
------north of Sultan Hamud (BEA) 0740 hrs
A small train wound its way south from Nairobi through the rugged hills. It carried 2 platoons of the East African Regiment, which had been formed from settlers and great white hunters to defend British East Africa when the war began. Back then it was widely expected that the war would be short. When it dragged on and the two Indian Expeditionary Forces arrived as reinforcements some of the volunteers received permission to return to their homes. The companies of the EAR had been under strength to start with and were now still weaker. Despite this the men aboard this train were confident that they could easily route the German trained natives that had infiltrated their country through the Nyiri Desert.
As it approached Sultan Hamud on its way to Simba it rounded a curve. Suddenly there was an explosion and the train was blown off the tracks.
------Old Admiralty Building 0755 hrs
"It is good to have you back, Childers," Captain Hall said to Erskine Childers, "Room 40 decrypted two German messages after you left yesterday. One of them concerns that mysterious ‘Special Task Force’ but the more important one is that the German Fleet will sortie again tonight." He then handed Childers a Manila folder which included copies of the message plus some other intelligence.
"I did not think it would be this quick, sir" Childers answered as he pursued the folder’s contents.
"Neither did I, but apparently they are."
"Is Admiral Bayly going to sortie the Grand Fleet this time, sir?"
"That is a very good question, Lt. I wish to Hell I knew the damn answer."
------northwest of Ahwaz 1005 hrs
Col Al-Askary had lapsed into a deep depression in the last few hours. He kept muttering to himself how he had failed in his mission and disgraced the Sultan. Major Katz was becoming very worried about his mental state and was now trying his best to make things seem better than they were. "We still have more cavalry so the British should not be able to prevent us from reaching the hills."
"We have already lost 3 artillery pieces," lamented a dejected Al-Askar, "and the enemy pursues relentlessly."
"When we reach the hills we should be able to find a defensible—"
Suddenly an excited messenger approached. "What is it?" asked Al-Askary with alarm, "what new disaster has befallen my poor men?"
"Al-Askary Bey, there is wonderful news. The enemy appears to be breaking off pursuit and is heading back to Ahwaz."
------OKW 1120 hrs
"Any news, Admiral von Tirpitz?" asked Sir Roger Casement in his halting German.
"Nothing new to report, Sir Roger," answered Tirpitz with some annoyance. Unlike Plunkett, Casement’s return to Ireland was to be with the second wave. When Casement was alone Tirpitz usually refused to see him but Feldmarschal von Moltke had allowed Casement to hang around him and unfortunately Tirpitz could not avoid dealing with Moltke.
"I don’t understand, Admiral. Doesn’t wireless allow them to remain in constant communication with Germany?"
"There are reasons I am not at liberty to discuss why we thought it best to restrict the amount of wireless communication with the Sonderverband."
"The admiral explained them to me, Sir Roger," added Moltke, "it is just an extra precaution."
"I suppose you officers know what you are talking about, but I am worried sick about Operation Unicorn."
"So am I, Sir Roger," said Moltke.
"We all are," Tirpitz very reluctantly confessed.
------Old Basra 1155 hrs
In addition to the main Ottoman force with his best units, Der Goltz had sent to take Shaiba, he had sent a weaker force to Old Basra. This was partially intended has a diversion but it was also intended that this force cut off the retreat of the British forces at Shaiba, which they now attempted to do. Its attack on the flank on the fleeing AngloIndian forces was disorganized and somewhat tentative. It enjoyed some initial success but a desperate counterattack caused them to back off and regroup which all allowed most of the British to escape to Basra.
------SMS Regensburg 1215 hrs
Lookouts suddenly reported a vessel to the south.
------Old Admiralty Building 1400 hrs
Admiral Callaghan and Admiral Oliver were meeting with Sir Edward Carson. "Admiral Bayly still does not want to sortie with the Grand Fleet unless we have clear proof the Germans are attempting to invade," said Oliver.
"Does that mean the Prussian Guards will be marching into Folkestone before he raises steam?"demanded Carson, "I know we told him to be cautious. I am guilty as charged on that count. But he has Marlborough back now. I say he should be at sea and formed up this time."
"To add to that, First Lord, the Germans are departing from the Ems this time. That in itself is very suspicious," Oliver noted.
As usual Carson was willing to back down if the admirals were strongly opposed. Callaghan took his time before saying, "It is time Lewis Bayly to stop sulking over Formidable being sent to the Med. I agree with you, First Lord. He should put to sea this time."
------Kigali (Rwanda) 1450 hrs
Fearing a German ambush a company of Force Publique out of the Belgian Congo cautiously entered the capital of the Rwandan Protectorate. They were the vanguard of a considerably larger force a few days behind. They soon rounded up a grand total of 6 Germans in the city. Only one of them—an old man plagued with a very bad back—wore a uniform. The Rwandans were uneasy with the arrival of the foreign troops. The Germans had told them that the tribes recruited by the Belgians were mostly cannibals and the Belgians fed them prisoners whenever they could.
------SMS Lothringen 1510 hrs
"Does capturing this British freighter present any problems for us, admiral?" asked a worried Plunkett.
"The Duchess of Malfi lacked a wireless. When she fails to arrive at Glasgow, it will cause some concern but by then it should be irrelevant," answered Admiral von Spee.
"What was her cargo?" asked General von François.
"Sausage and bacon from the United States. I am thinking of letting her follow behind us. She can make a steady 8 knots from what the prize crew was told."
The general grinned, "It is theoretically possible for an army to have too much food but I’ve yet to see it happen. By all means, bring her along, Admiral"
------HQ Australian and New Zealand Division 1540 hrs
General Birdwood paid a visit on General Godley, the division commander. He recounted his meeting with the Serbian general. "When that meeting was over I thought I would either decline or give them the French division."
"I take that you are here sir, because you changed you mind and are nowthinking about sending my division to assist the Serbs?" asked Godley.
"A good surmise. There is a change of government underway in France right now. Moving the French division will require informing Paris and we’re not sure who we’ll be dealing with. There is another consideration as well. You have much more cavalry than my other divisions. Right now it hard to make a proper use of your very capable horsemen. The Serbs have shown them to be good a delivering a clever riposte again an invasion. I think your unit should be able to render very good service in that role."
General Godley scratched his head for a minute before responding, "There is something to what you say, sir. Still this is more than a tad unusual. I can see problems with command structure and supply that will require some very serious staff work to solve.. How soon will this be happening?"
"The convoy will be docking tomorrow morning with supplies and replacement troops. I want you ready to move out come Monday afternoon."
------German Sixth Army HQ 1600 hrs
"General the wind has shifted direction and is now optimal for release of the gas."
General von Fabeck frowned. The plan had been to use the chlorine with a night assault. If it was relatively ineffective and an attack was made in daylight the losses would be very heavy. The pressure emanating from General von Falkenhayn was becoming intense.
"We will attack in the next hour. Release the gas into the wind and have the infantry prepare for an immediate assault."
------Nairobi 1635 hrs
Captain Meinertzhagen was trying very hard to think of himself as Cassandra, "It is fairly obvious now that a substantial German force—likely an entire company-- crossed the Nyiri and attacked the rail line between Simba and Sultan Hamud either last night or very early this morning. There is a good chance the train carrying men of the East African Regiment this morning was ambushed."
General Wapshare gave Meinertzhagen a very sour look. Major O’Grady, the adjutant took notice and was motivated to say "That is a premature assumption, Captain. For all know they made it safely to Simba."
"I still can’t believe they could move so far, so fast in the rainy season," lamented General Wapshare.
"They’re probably hightailing it back to their own territory right now," commented O’Grady.
"That is likely true, Major but nevertheless we should verify that," said Meinertzhagen, " I recommend dispatching Captain Bawker’s squadron to perform a thorough reconnaissance of the area immediately."
Wapshare bit lip and rocked his head from side to side thinking over that suggestion. While he was thinking O’Grady said, "I don’t see why it has to be the whole squadron and it is a foul night to be sending them out. We can wait until morning."
"The day is not likely to be much better and a full squadron could do the German some harm, sir" replied the intelligence.
"It would be very pleasing right now to do some harm to the Germans and their African thugs," said the general, "By all means send out all of ‘B’ squadron. Notify Captain Bawker to ready his squadron. They are to ride out an hour before dawn."
------just north of Crecy Forest 1710 hrs
A pale green cloud wafted its ghastly way towards the trenches of the British 27th Division plus a small portion of the 46th North Midlands on its right and Meerut Division (which was part of First Army) on its left.. When the gas reached the trenches the men’s eyes watered and their nostrils tingled. Meanwhile German infantry could now been seen approaching through the green haze, For a little more than a minute the British fired fiercely but then as they felt their lungs burning a few men collapsed in agony while other ran to the rear in terror.
------Gaelic American 1855 hrs (GMT)
Cornelius St. James stopped to deliver the last batch of reports on the rifles he was testing. He noticed someone with an air of importance in the office with Devoy, who introduced them, "This is Captain von Papen, Cornelius. He’d like to look over your reports and ask a few questions—if you don’t mind."
"Ah shucks, Mr. Devoy I’d consider it an honor," gushed St. James.
Papen was dressed in neat but innocuous civilian clothes. "Pleased to finally meet you Sergeant St. James," he said and extended his hand. After that he took Cornelius over to a work desk and sat down. Cornelius sat on a stool nearby. Captain Papen reviewed the reports and asked a few questions, which Cornelius answered.
After looking at the last report he inserted all of them in a valise he carried. "Have you wondered why we have given you only hunting and sporting rifles? Have you wondered why you haven’t seen a Springfield yet?"
"Well, uh, well yes, the thought crossed my mind a few times," St. James responded and then remembered he was speaking with an officer, added ‘sir".
"There is nothing you could tell us about the Springfield we do not already know. Hell, we practically invented it. "
"Yes, I have heard that it is very derivative of a Mauser. How stupid of me not to think of that, uh, sir."
"Very derivative? That is one way to put it, yes? You were in Cuba, right? From what I hear our Mauser rifles impressed you Americans very much there and that was the origin of the Springfield."
"Yes, Captain. I did serve in Cuba and the Mauser was an impressive bit of work if I do say so. I sure was looking forward to firing a Springfield."
"For the time being concentrate on those speeches. If you do a good job at that we’ll see if we can arrange for you to play with one."
"Why think you, Captain. I would deeply appreciate that, yessiree"
"Now then the problem with the Springfield are far as we are concerned is quantity not quality. We think we might be able to arrange to get perhaps 200 of them with ammunition. That is not much. So we wanted to see what else in available that might make a useful weapon .if we can arrange to purchase in modest quantity, which is where you came in."
"I see, sir. Mighty clever you Germans are. I reckon though you won’t able to purchase artillery or machine guns."
Papen nodded vigorously, "You have that right. We are on thin ice as you, trying to buy some rifles."
St. James hesitated a bit and fidgeted on his stool. Finally he decided to share a wild thought he had recently, "Have you by any chance looked into purchasing rockets?"
Up to this point von Papen had fairly respectful, but his expression suddenly grew contemptuous. Shaking his head he said, "If I may be blunt, Mr. St. James that is a silly idea. We would have to find a manufacturer that would make rockets with either a shrapnel or high explosive warhead. Even if this could be done quickly it would clearly be a weapon and cause the same trouble for us as trying to purchase artillery. But most important drawback is that while rockets may have been a useful weapon a century ago today they are much inferior to artillery in all respects."
Cornelius saw that the German officer was deeply disappointed in him. Part of him wanted to admit he was just a stupid nigger and not make things any worse. However it was the stubborn part of him that spoke up, "I wasn’t thinking of using the rockets to deliver shrapnel or high explosive warheads. What I was thinking was that they were a good way to lay down a whole lot of smoke real quick."
-------Dublin 1945 hrs
Eion MacNeill, the head of the Irish Volunteers, was meeting his Secretary, Bulmer Hobson and his Treasure, Michael O’Rahilly. "I just found out this morning that horses and motor vehicles have arrived from America at Kilrush, Fenit and Limerick in the last few days. There were supposedly delivered into the custody of Kerry and Limerick Brigades. Somehow Devoy got a hold of enough money to arrange this. My understanding is that Clarke and Pearse both knew about his. Did either of you?"
The O’Rahilly exchanged a glance with Hobson then cleared his voice, "I had heard something about some horses arriving in Kerry. I wasn’t sure how many."
"Close to 2,000 is what I’m now hearing," replied MacNeill.
The other two simultaneously whistled. "2,000 horses! The Germans must be behind this," Hobson surmised, "Are there any weapons?"
"First I heard no. Then there was some mention a few shotguns and revolvers mixed in with the other items. There is also a large amount of food."
"If weapons were to arrive soon from another source, then the western counties would be in good shape for a rising," speculated The O’Rahilly.
"Clarke, Pearse and Devoy are up to something, maybe in cahoots with what Casement and Plunkett doing in Germany. Our current plans were we’d start a rising only if the British try to impose conscription on Ireland. According to the newspapers legislation may not pass at all and if it does it is at least a month away. I am now starting to think that Clarke and Pearse were not planning on waiting. My hunch is that arms are due to arrive soon from Germany and they were planning to launch a rising soon afterwards—without my approval."
"Connolly is scheduled to be executed a week from tomorrow," Hobson noted, "perhaps they were planning to start a rising then."
"Oh, damn them the bleedin’ lot of them. I am running the Irish Volunteers not Pearse and Clarke—and certainly not John Devoy. Something is afoot. Clarke got hauled off to the States and now Pearse has either gotten himself killed or has gone into hiding."
"De Valera suddenly took a mysterious leave of absence yesterday, telling Joe O’Connor to take over command of his battalion for what he said would be a week," commented Hobson.
MacNeill’s face reddened and his nostrils flared as he shook his head. "Still another mystery! We need to get to the bottom of what’s behind all this" he barked, "Michael, take that fancy motorcar you have and go pay a visit to Tralee and Limerick over the weekend. See if you can out just what in blazes is going on."
------HMS Formidable 2005 hrs
Admiral Limpus could see the Zeppelin in the moonlight and was sure the Zeppelin could see him as well. In the afternoon the Mediterranean Fleet had arrived off Durazzo while 1ere Armee Navale escorted the freighters bringing supplies and replacement troops to the AngoFrench forces in Herzegovina. There was also a hospital ship for evacuating the more seriously wounded.
The Austrians had laid more mines off Durazzo. It was necessary to sweep a lane clear before the convoy could safely offload. Austrian seaplanes had discovered his fleet fairly early. There were the usual reports of periscopes and one of his cruisers reported evading a torpedo. The Zeppelin had arrived and dusk and was now tailing them.
"Admiral, we have just received a wireless message from Mount Lovcen. At least a dozen Austrian torpedo boats were seen leaving Cattaro after sunset."
Limpus could see the Austrian plan. The Zeppelin would report his position to the torpedo boats while the moon was visible. When the moonset the torpedo boats would then attack his battleships. After thanking the messenger, the Admiral reached his decision. He would frustrate by withdrawing to the southwest for the evening and then try to trap the torpedo boats at dawn. This would delay the offloading tomorrow by several hours. He took another look at the Zeppelin through his binoculars. You helped the Austrians bugger the Frenchies you bastard but I won’t let you bugger us. So why don’t you just bugger off, eh?
------German Sixth Army HQ 2200 hrs
The German attack had been made by 2 corps—the III Bavarian Corps on the right with the 5th Bavarian and 8th Bavarian Reserve Divisions, and the XIV Reserve Corps with the 26th and 28th Reserve Divisions plus the 4th Ersatz Reserve Brigade. The reports General Fabeck were receiving were very favorable. There was some initial losses and then the British resistance abruptly collapsed—except on the German left where the 4th Ersatz Brigade attacked a portion of the 46th North Midland Division unaffected by the gas. A large hole had been torn in the British line. The town of Crecy had quickly fallen and his men had proceeded into the forest itself though sometimes the lingering gas had slowed the German advance despite their protective apparatus they had been issued before the battle. Still they had advanced roughly 4 kilometers. The 28th Reserve Division and the 4th Ersatz Brigade were reporting increasing pressure on the left flank from elements of the British 46th North Midland Division that had not been exposed to the gas.
Despite some significant problems today’s success had exceeded the expectations of General Fabeck and his staff. If he lacked reserves Fabeck would have been forced to call a halt to the advance and order his troops to consolidate their gains by entrenching. However he did not lack for a reserve—indeed Falkenhayn had provided him with a very unusual one.
"The advance is to continue through the night," he ordered, "The 5th Bavarian Division with pivot to the right while 26th Reserve Division will pivot to the left. In the lane opened up in between the 7th Cavalry Division will advances. Its primary objective is Nouvion. The Guard Corps will follow behind the 7th Cavalry Division."
------Crecy Forest 2215 hrs
The commander of British V Army Corps, General Herbert Plumer had struggled in the last few hours to try to contain or at least slow the German advance. That task was still not accomplished but he now visited on of the field hospitals to see with his own eyes the horror inflicted by the Germans. He had seen hideous injuries before but the rows of men--nearly 2,000 in this one hospital alone--gasping and choking in a desperate struggle to breathe was heartrending. Yet he could not afford to let sentimentality cloud his thinking. His tactical situation remained most serious. With its trench system breached the 27th Division was struggling to hold the line against superior numbers. It had to pull back its forward artillery batteries which were in serious danger of being overrun.
In the meantime General Plumer had removed 2 battalions from 46th North Midland Division to reinforce the center of the defenses. The 46th Division was also putting pressure on the left flank of the German advance. Plumer wondered how much pressure the German were experiencing on their right flank from Indian Corps. There were unsettling reports that there was a more general panic occurring in Meerut Division after a portion of it had been gassed. Coordination with Indian Corps was not good at the moment in part because Indian Corps was part Haig’s First Army. General Smith-Dorrien had detached 24th Brigade and 2 batteries from 8th Division as reinforcements but they would not arrive until nearly dawn. In the meantime it looked to be a long night for General Plumer and V Army Corps.
------SMS Lothringen 2250 hrs
Admiral von Spee had been summoned to the bridge. The night sky held only a few clouds and a bright moon. "Our lookouts reported a vessel heading west across our path. We have just identified her as a freighter. We are intercepting her now," the captain reported, pointing as he spoke.
Spee raised his binoculars. He could see a good sized merchantman. At first she seemed oblivious to them but then he saw a light. "She is signaling us Admiral"
"I can see that," replied Spee, "wait a full minute then signal her to prepare to be boarded. She may think we are British but if so that won’t last."
. Soon after the Lothringen began to signal, a wireless operator cried out, "She is trying to send a wireless message! We will try to jam, Admiral"
"Do that!" ordered the worried captain, "Searchlights on the freighter now."
Two beams of light fanned out from the Lothringen and quickly fastened onto the freighter. Spee could now discern her flag which was British. It was good she was not a neutral, esp. an American because at a minimum they would have to wreck her wireless. .
"Her wireless is weak, Admiral. Our jamming looks to be effective."
Though deeply worried, Spee tried to be cheerful, "It is not often a battleship gets to take a prize, eh?"
------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 2310 hrs
Lord Curzon had returned late from his trip to London. Mary was eagerly waiting for him. They were now in engaged in a most passionate coupling. With one final thrust and a groan the most urgent item on the agenda was fulfilled and their minds remembered other topics.
"Anything exciting happen in London, me darlin’?" Mary asked as she sat up besides her naked lover.
Curzon reached out and played with her hair, "Why, yes there was some unplanned excitement. The German Fleet put to see earlier than expected causing a bit of a stir, but nothing came of it."
"German soldiers didn’t storm the shores of the Wash as in Erskine’s book?" she teased, knowing full well they had not.
"No, my love. Nothing of the sort."
"How is he doing by the way?"
"How is who—oh, you mean Childers. He is currently working at the Admiralty, doing something they call intelligence analysis. Sir Edward runs into him on occasion. Says he works hard, is a frightfully clever chap and is ding a bang up job. Don’t you get letters from Molly?"
"Aye, she doesn’t know what to make of London. Says he gets annoyed when people ask her stupid questions about The Riddle of the Sands. Says she now wishes Erskine had stuck to writing children’s books. She worries about him. Says he is a troubled man and she thinks there is more than losing the leg which is bothering him."
"You Irish are so prone to brooding."
"Why speak for yourself, George!" she yelled as she jabbed him with a finger, "as if you never indulged in any brooding."
Curzon momentarily frowned then sighed, "Let’s not fight tonight, my dearest. I shall be getting more than my fill of that tomorrow."
"Another meeting with Birrrel? What are the two of you going to argue about this time?"
"One of our favorite topics –the deportation of Ireland’s leading trouble makers. Since we’ve been unable to get our hands on Patrick Pearse, the Prime Minister feels we should go ahead and deport someone else high up on our list. I may be mistaken but I don’t think Birrell will be seeing it that way."
"It is certain that thing are going to become hectic in the weeks ahead. Once the disagreeable meeting with Birrell is over, I want the two of us to have a nice quiet weekend together."
HQ British First Army Rue 0035 hrs Friday April 23, 1915
General Douglas Haig was reviewing the plans he and had his staff had composed for their upcoming offensive. He was very proud of this plan. Up until this afternoon his principal misgiving was that he had not been given more time. Initially it had been scheduled to begin on April 30. Haig had wanted another week but General French had only officially postponed it one day to May 1. The 29th Division which was expected to play a key role in the assault had been delayed in its arrival for reasons that has never been made clear to Haig. It had only detrained at Rue Wednesday afternoon. The 50th Northumbrian Division was also to take part in the planned offensive but it was still at Newhaven waiting to embark for France. Counting the newly arrived 29th Division, the First Army had 9 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions at its disposal. Seven infantry divisions as well as Allenby’s Corps were deployed north of the Authie River.
Haig had led the First Army in the Battle of Picardy back in February. Despite some serious difficulties encountered ---including the notorious 6th Bavarian Division, Haig had thought that Sir John French had ordered its cessation too soon.. Haig’s current plan this was not to strike directly for the Channel Ports with I Army Corps but rather to reinforce III Army Corps and use it to breakthrough the German lines between the Authie and Canche Rivers. Haig was supremely confident that he could achieve a breakthrough against what appeared to be relatively weak German forces in that sector provided he was given enough heavy artillery, ammunition and sufficient time to prepare properly. Mines were to be an important component of this attack with British sappers working around the clock to prepare 2 medium sized mines beneath the German trenches.
Oncethe breakthrough was achieved Haig intended to lunge for the important crossroads town of Hesdin, cutting a key German artery connecting Sixth Army and Flanders. Meanwhile into the rupture created in the German lines he would send Allenby’s Cavalry Corps galloping off to attack the German positions between Etaples and Montreuil from the rear. This would allow his I Army Corps to cross the Canche easily and advance north to take Boulogne.
Haig had a few minutes earlier terminated a telephone call with the commander of the Indian Corps, Sir James Willcocks. A portion of the German gas—which they were now certain was chlorine—had blown into a section of Meerut Division’s trenches. The Indian troops had fled in panic. Bavarian infantry soon captured the abandoned trenches.
The news from Willcocks was decidedly mixed. It was reassuring to learn that the preliminary Indian casualties from the gas appeared to be well less than a thousand. General Willcocks promised a more accurate count by dawn. The Germans did not appear to be rolling up the trench line of the Indian units. They did appear to be advancing into Crecy Forest driving a wedge between First and Second Army. Haig had only extremely vague and somewhat contradictory indirect information about what had happened to Second Army.
Indian Corps was the weakest element of the BEF. It was relatively weak in artillery while its strong cavalry element was wasted in trench warfare. The Indian units had initially been very fierce soldiers but a cold winter in the miserable trenches had dimmed their ardor, though they still demonstrated an enthusiasm for trench raids. Haig was worried about their situation but he did not want to do anything premature that would jeopardize his coming offensive. For the time being he had ordered Indian Corps to have priority on ammunition shipments for the next two days, but otherwise he would await the dawn when he would concentrate the air patrols over that sector.
------HMS Arethusa off Terschelling 0215 hrs
Another star shell burst in the partially cloudy sky. German warships had pounced on Harwich Force while it was silhouetted against the setting moon The attackers included 4 light cruisers and 9 torpedo boats. The engagement was not going well for Harwich Force with the German superiority in night fighting again becoming evident. One British destroyer was already dead in the water with engine damage. Another was burning badly. Commodore Tyrwhitt was lingering in the hope of trying to save those vessels and to determine the possible presence of German capital ships but he realized he would have to run for port soon. Despite German attempts to jam his wireless transmissions he had made his report to the Admiralty. He did not like to speculate what the possible objectives of this German sortie.
------Old Admiralty Building 0240 hrs
"The First Lord will be arriving within the hour," said Admiral Callaghan to the other 4 admirals in his office—Wilson, Jackson, Oliver and Ballard. Their minds were focused on naval matters—except for the dread possibility of Kent or Suffolk being invaded. They had not heard anything of a German attack in Crecy Forest.
"What is the status of the Grand Fleet?" asked Wilson.
"The 1st Battle Squadron out of Rosyth is due to rendezvous off the Tyne at 0630 with the 3rd and 5th Battle Squadrons out of the Humber," answered Callaghan.
"Should we recommend to the First Lord that the Grand Fleet proceed to the coast of Suffolk once they formed up?" asked Jackson.
"Yes, but I do not want the First Lord to expect a fleet action today. We are agreed that the last thing we want is a night battle. The Grand Fleet would be arriving dangerously late in the day. We should get the First Lord to see the situation as how best to position the fleet tonight for an advantageous engagement tomorrow morning."
------Crecy Forest 0530 hrs
There was patchy early morning fog. A company of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry escorted a battery of 4.5" howitzers trying to reposition to the rear. They had not been in the front trenches when the gas cloud was released and had not suffered casualties from that but had suffered losses from confused fire fights in the woods during the harrowing night, as both sides were plagued by a growing lack of cohesion.
The men could artillery fire in the distance. The men did not let that bother them much. Then for a little more than a minute they could hear other noises to the northeast. The company order 3 men to reconnoiter but just as they moved forward, a squadron of the 11th Uhlans Regiment exploded out of the fog and trees. The British infantry managed to fire off some rounds to bring down a few riders and their mounts but then most were cut down by saber and lance. Still the Canadian riflemen may have stood a chance at repelling them when another squadron of the 11th Uhlans arrived.
------SMS Lothringen 0610 hrs
"What was the cargo of this freighter which you captured during the night?" asked General von François
"Manufactured household items, most clocks. Nothing of any great importance."
"Clocks, eh? So I take that you sank her?"
"No. She was outward bound for Mexico and has a full load of coal. She can make 9 knots and will not lag too far behind. We can use the coal."
------HMS Arethusa 0630 hrs
Commodoire Tyrwhitt had managed to disengage from the German vanguard force with only the loss of 2 destroyers. Orders had arrived from the Admiralty ordering him to scout the German Fleet again at dawn. After detaching a badly slowed destroyer to continue on to Harwich. The brave Tyrwhitt had steamed back to the Dutch coast. He now encountered the German scouting force again--only this time they had a battle cruiser with them. Arethusa was already in range of its guns when Tyrwhitt ordered his force to turn away.
An 11" shell now exploded amidships.
------off the Tyne 0645 hrs
The Grand Fleet was now formed up. Iron Duke remained the fleet flagship. The Queen Elizabeth was the flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron, commanded by Admiral Cecil Burney. The rest of the squadron consisted of Marlborough, Emperor of India, Colossus, Neptune, Vanguard and St. Vincent. The 3rd Battle Squadron consisted of 7 King Edward VII class predreadnoughts. The Agamennon was the flagship of the 3rd Battle Squadron. The rest of that squadron was composed of the Lord Nelson, Prince of Wales, Queen, London, Irresistible and Venerable. The Grand Fleet’s scouting force consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 6th Cruiser Squadrons plus the 1st and 2nd Light Cruiser Squadrons with a total of 11 armored and 6 light cruisers. The screen consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Destroyer Flotillas with 2 light cruisers, 2 flotilla leaders and 43 destroyers.
-----SMS Vineta 0725 hrs
The vessel stopped was a large trawler out of Sligo. She had already caught a decent haul of fish and had her coal bunkers were nearly three quarters full. She was in good repair and looked to make 7 knots. It was decided to take her as a prize as well.
------Cattaro Gulf 0755 hrs
The Austrian flotilla of torpedo boats had aborted their mission when the Zeppelin had radioed that the British fleet was withdrawing. Admiral Limpus had hoped to destroy most of the attackers with his light cruisers at dawn but when they arrived they discovered that the flotilla was approaching the protective minefields and forts of the Austrian naval base. There was one unfortunate torpedo boat that had developed serious engine trouble and lagged behind the rest. The cruisers were able to pounce before she could reach safe waters. As they watched her sink a lookout spotted what he thought was a periscope and they returned to fleet.
------Harrar (Abyssinia) 1015 hrs
Ras Tafari permitted the leader of the British diplomatic contingent at his court to meet with him in private. The diplomat brought documents with him in a briefcase.
"Here you are, Your Majesty. This is the finalized version of secret treaty between our two great nations, which we had discussed previously. It recognizes that Iyasu has forfeited his right to rule by becoming a Muslim and that you are now the rightful ruler of Abyssinia."
"Ras Tafari looked at the treaty. Before he got too far he asked, "What is the significance of the other documents you are holding?"
"Ah, well in addition to additional copies of the treaty, there is this official proclamation you will be issuing."
"Let me look at that first," said Ras Tafari as he grabbed the proclamation. He read it quickly. It stated that the British forces entering Abyssinia were doing so at his invitation and that his loyal subjects were to render them "every possible assistance".
"How soon do you expect me to issue this proclamation?" Ras Tafari asked pointedly.
"Why today, Your Majesty. It is one of the conditions stipulated in the treaty. British expeditions will be crossing the borders soon so this needs to be done quickly."
"I had been told by your English that the expedition out of Berbera was to have arrived here already bring my forces weapons and ammunition they need. Instead I now learn that they have not yet crossed the border."
The diplomat squirmed uneasily, "Your recollection is most accurate, Your Majesty. We did indeed tell you that. It is just that the Mad Mullah is putting up an unexpectedly stubborn resistance along the main road leading here. In the short term it is causing so delay but in the long term it will work in our favor as the Mad Mullah is wasting his men and will soon become so weak he will no longer pose a threat to our line of communication."
Ras Tafari frowned and then turned back to the secret treaty. His frown soon deepened. "I am disturbed by some of the things I see here. For instance, it says that my country is to become a British protectorate."
"Why, yes, it does. It’s best for all parties concerned. That way difficult situations like the one you are currently experiencing now can easily be prevented. It would mean no serious challenges to your authority."
"Other than yourselves, of course."
The diplomat squirmed some more, "Our presence here would be merely as a mentor, a big brother if you will."
"I am equally concerned about what I do not see."
"Oh, such as?"
"Such as the lack of any guarantee of my empire’s borders."
The Englishman fidgeted, "Uh, It is not necessary to spell that out, Your Majesty."
"Just as it is not necessary for me to sign this treaty today! I need to give this treaty very serious thought. I will notify you when I have reached a decision. You may leave my presence now."
------Basra 1040 hrs
After Mustafa Kemal’s success at Shaiba and the disappointing performance of the other Ottoman force at Old Basra in failing to cut off the retreat of the British forces escaping from Shaiba, General Der Goltz recommended to the Ottoman commander that Kemal be given temporary tactical command of the forces at Old Basra as well. Approval of this recommendation now reached Old Basra. Meanwhile Kemal had already begun his attack on Basra.
------Moyale (Abyssinia) 1105 hrs
The men of the 2nd battalion Lancashire’s Regiment with their rifles at the ready defiantly stared at what they estimated was about 200 Ethiopian militia, nearly half of which were armed with only matchlocks, who blocked the road. Behind the men the expedition commander, General Tighe conferred with the battalion commander, who asked the general, "You we ask one more time for them to step aside and let us pass."
"No. These bloody savages are pissing me off something royal. They had their chance to step aside. Tell them to surrender immediately and we will spare their worthless lives."
"And if they refuse, sir?"
"Give them 5 minutes—oh, better make that 10 minutes and if they have not surrendered by then the battalion with attack immediately."
------HQ V Army Corps, Nouvion 1125 hrs
The HQ of 27th Division had just joined the V Army Corps HQ in a small office building in the French town of Nouvion. "General Plumer, the enemy is breaking through our perimeter," declared General Snow, the commander of the 27th Division.
"They are able to break through with just cavalry?" asked an incredulous Plumer.
"No, sir. A fresh batch of infantry arrived in strength. They have powerful artillery support."
"Do we have sufficient reserves available to contain the breakthrough."
Snow licked his lips nervously, "We have 2 badly depleted companies available."
Plumer stoically digested this latest batch of bad news. Part of the problem is that the forest to the north was hiding the size of the German forces advancing through it and well as providing it protection from observed artillery fire.. General Smith-Dorrien had detached 20th Brigade and an field artillery battery from 7th Division to reinforce Nouvion but it now looked they would not arrive in time. After nearly a minute Plumer sighed and ordered, "Send a wireless message to General Smith-Dorrien informing him that the enemy will likely take Nouvion in the next 3 hours and that this headquarters will immediately withdraw to Noyelles."
A few seconds after Plumer gave those orders, the sound of incoming artillery shells could be heard followed by explosions not far away. "As I just said, gentlemen—immediately!"
------Addis Ababa 1150 hrs
A convoy of trucks out of Eritrea arrived at the Abyssinian capital. While his men carted off the boxes of Mannlicher Carcano’s and 6.5mm bullets, Ras Mikael met with the Italian in charge of the operation. "One of the things that I am supposed to tell you and your son is that this is only just the beginning."
------Old Admiralty Building 1255 hrs
"Room 40 just decrypted this, Admiral," Captain Hall said as he handed the slip of paper to Admiral Oliver.
SPECIAL TASK FORCE REMAINS ON SCHEDULE WILL ARRIVE AT IRELAND BEFORE DAWN SATURDAY
Oliver had been expecting something about the intentions of the High Seas Fleet. "Ireland? What do you think, Captain? An arms shipment to the Sinn Feiners while they have us distracted tomorrow. Maybe even a small raiding party? Might make an effective diversion if they really are planning to invade England."
------HQ British First Army 1320 hrs
General Haig was having the pleasure of conversing with Sir John French over the telephone. "Second Army is not holding. The Germans have either taken Noivion already or will be doing so shortly.. What is left of poor 27th Division has fallen back on Nolette and Noyelles. You must send Cavalry Corps to Noyelles immediately," came the frantic voice of French.
"I will see to it immediately, sir" answered Haig with calm professionalism.
"Do not hang up the telephone, Douglas! German cavalry are loose along your line of communication and Second Army can only defend Noyelles itself at this moment. They could be cutting these lines any minute now and we’ll be forced to rely on wireless."
"I understand, sir," replied Haig, then after a pause, "You don’t think there is any chance that the Germans could capture Noyelles, sir? If they wee to take Noyelles…" Haig’s voice trailed off uneasily.
"—if they take Noyelles your entire army is cut off. And yes there is a chance, Douglas. How does that make you feel, Douglas?"
"Not very well, General."
"I can imagine. It’s all Smith-Dorrien’s fault, you know. If fuckin’ Horace had properly warned me of the threat of this infernal new German weapon, this situation could’ve been avoided easily. Now First Army is in danger. In addition to Cavalry Corps I am ordering you to send 2 infantry divisions to Nouvion by forced march immediately You will withdraw all forces south of the Authie immediately—and be ready to move behind the Somme if things go bad."
Haig hesitated before responding, "Do you think this is necessary, General? It means abandoning territory we fought hard to take—not to mention all the preparations we’ve made for the coming offensive."
"I am not going to argue with you, soldier. You have your orders. Carry them out!"
------Old Admiralty Building 1500 hrs
Carson was having another meeting with Admirals Callaghan, Oliver, Wilson and Jackson. "I’ve just been informed that the Prime Minister and Lloyd-George will be arriving here later this evening. General Hamilton is also sending additional Army liaison officers."
"I think this time we should notify Buckingham Palace about the German sortie, First Lord," recommended Admiral Callaghan.
"I am afraid I must agree with that," answered Carson., "what is the status of Harwich Force?"
"Arethusa was badly damaged by a German battle cruiser which we think is probably Moltke. Commodore Tyrwhitt was able to escape and even though Arethusa is not in any danger of sinking he was compelled to retire to Harwich. This evening he will transfer his flag to the flotilla leader, Swift—even though that vessel has sustained some damage as well-- and with his 8 remaining seaworthy TBD’s, attempt to reestablish contact and make a torpedo attack on the German battle fleet if at all possible."
"We have developed a new bit of intelligence of some import, First Lord," spoke Admiral Oliver, "Room 40 has decrypted a message from the so called Special Task Force. It says it is to arrive at Ireland tomorrow morning."
"Ireland!" thundered Carson, "what in bloody blazes would they…" His voice suddenly trailed off and he looked uncharacteristically sheepish.
"Our best guess right now is that it is an arms shipment to dissident elements there. Most likely a large arms shipment possibly including some machine guns and artillery. Maybe even a small raiding party to help the rebels in the offloading."
There was more than a minute of awkward silence in the conference. Not too long ago it was the current First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Carson, who was the Irish dissident receiving arms from the Germans. Carson tried with success not to look embarrassed.
Admiral Wilson finally broke the silence, "It is imperative that we intercept them. The last hing we need right now is trouble in Ireland. Our forces in Ireland must be warned."
"We will do that," answered Callaghan but I worry that the Germans may have provided a cruiser escort. Or perhaps a light cruiser is the arms ship. The local defense forces we have stationed in Ireland are obsolete torpedo boats and weak patrol craft. They would have a hard time with a cruiser. We should bring 11th Cruiser Squadron off the west coast of Ireland. Was there any hint as to where in Ireland they are heading, Henry?"
"No, sir. The message just said Ireland."
:"I don’t think the Germans have the testicles to try to land them on the East Coast. We’ll station 11th Cruiser Squadron off the Connemara."
Callaghan turned towards Carson after saying that. Carson could feel their eyes staring at him. A cold seat broke out on his forward. He wanted to say nothing, but he could feel the admirals expecting him to make some comment. "That is a most sensible suggestion, Admiral," he forced himself in a subdued voice they could barely hear, "I trust your judgment completely on this most serious matter."
------HQ British IV Army Corps
The Corps commander, General Rawlinson was on the telephone with his superior, General Smith-Dorrien, commander of Second Army. "We have been under a steady shelling by German heavy artillery all day, sir," said Rawlinson, "I won’t be able to send anything more to reinforce General Plumer until after dark. Even then I am worried that the Germans might attack my sector as well."
"Are you worried they will use their gas on your men next?" asked Smith-Dorrien.
"To be frank, General. Hell yes!"
"Well then, you will happy to know that some of the clever blokes on my staff have come up with an incredibly simple idea about how to counteract this chlorine the Germans are using. Right now tey are scrimmaging around looking for textbooks to corroborate what they are telling me. Once they do I will send telegrams to all headquarters outlining this procedure."
"I would like very much not to wait, General."
"Well it goes like this. Chlorine is soluble in water. What this means is that men can give themselves some protection by tying a wet cloth around their faces. This protection is increased is some ammonia is in the water."
"Uh, I do think we have enough ammonia to go around at –"
General Rawlinson was annoyed. He had become all too familiar with Smith-Dorrien’s salty language in the last few months but he saw no reason for the general to take that tone with him right now. "I beg your pardon, sir?"
"There is ammonia in piss! Enough to do some fucking good. Talk about the Almighty providing us with what we need. So tell your men if they see or smell chlorine not to piss in their bloody pants but wait until they rip off some clothe and then can pull out their manhood and piss on that real good. Then tie it tight around their smiling faces and they can start breathing again."
-------northwest of Ahwaz (Persia) 1625 hrs
Colonel Al-Askary’s mood had changed markedly. "Our cavalry patrols report that at least some of the British forces marching south along the river bank," he said to Major Katz with some eagerness, "could they be abandoning Ahwaz? I am tempted now to return there immediately"
Katz worried that the Ottoman commander might be swinging too far in his optimism. "Let’s not be rash. I suggest we should wait here until tomorrow. Take this opportunity to let the men get some rest here. Hopefully our overdue supply caravan will arrive tonight. Tomorrow morning our cavalry should concentrate scouting the outskirts of Ahwaz. Our Arab friends should try to infiltrate some spies into the city."
-------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 1645 hrs
The High Seas Fleet was now off Ostend. It had not exceeded 15 knots and had frequently zigzagged. Moltke had arrived off Dunkirk more than 2 hours ago with 3rd Scouting Group which consisted of Graudenz, Pillau, Strassburg and Stralsund and the 3rd Torpedo Boat Flotilla. They were joined by the 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla out of Dunkirk. They sank 2 armed trawlers and an old torpedo gunboat, chasing away the rest of Dover Patrol. This allowed the minesweepers which had been working close to shore covered by coastal artillery since dawn, to sweep further out to sea.
"Signal the 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla to relieve the 3rd Flotilla in the vanguard," ordered Admiral Ingenohl, "Once it is relieved the 3rd Flotilla will proceed at full speed to Dunkirk, where it is to dock and commence coaling as rapidly as possible."
------HMS Iron Duke steaming south 1805 hrs
"Wireless message from the Admiralty, Admiral."
Admiral Lewis Bayly read the message.
GERMAN FLEET BELIEVED TO BE OFF BELGIAN COAST DO NOT GO SOUTH OF 53 N BEFORE DAWN TOMORROW AVOID ALL FORMS OF NIGHT BATTLE
-------GQG Chantilly 1915 hrs
Georges Clemenceau, the new Prime Minister as well as Minister of War for the Republic of France decided to pay an unannounced visit on General Joffre, When he arrived at the general’s office there was a sergeant standing guard. "I am sorry, Monsieur but you may not enter until the General has finished eating," he said and he physically barred their entrance.
Clemenceau slapped the sergeant hard, yelling, "How dare you bar me entrance! I am the War Minster! I outrank General Joffre. You are hereby reduced to private. Be glad I do not have you shot!"
At that Clemenceau opened the door and strode defiantly into Joffre’s office. The general was indeed enjoying a leisurely dinner, seated at an ornate dining table in his office. He looked up angrily at the intrusion. "Who dares to---" he started to say but then he recognized the Prime Minister and instead sighed. He turned back to his food and his fork brought the next morsel to his mouth.
It didn’t make it to its destination. Clemenceau sprang forward and snatched the fork out of Joffre’s hand. Ominously pointing a finger at the general’s face he yelled, "The Germans are at Compiegne!"
Joffre bit his lip and remained silent. Clemenceau swept Joffre’s half consumed plate of food off the table crashing to the floor, then yelled again, "The Germans are at Compiegne, General Joffe! I am your superior, you will answer me!"
"Uh, yes, Prime Minister, the Germans do indeed occupy Compiegne at this time. However it is better from both a tactical and strategic perspective—"
"Shit! I have had enough of your shit! You will make plans to liberate Compiegne within two weeks from today. Two weeks not a day more! Do you understand what I just said?"
"Yes, I understand, Prime Minister."
"I cannot hear you General!"
------SMS Lothringen 1925 hrs
"So tomorrow is the day, Admiral?" asked an eager Plunkett.
"Yes, my Irish friend, tomorrow is the day," replied von Spee, who had developed some affection for Plunkett during their voyage, "all of us are not going to get much sleep tonight as we make our final preparations."
"Weather appears to be holding up," commented von François, "that is more of a concern to us right now than the British navy."
"That is correct, general. If the weather is too rough at dawn to launch the assault force we do not have the luxury of waiting for it to subside. In that case we would have to use our fallback plan and pour everything into the Cask of Amontillado."
------HQ German Sixth Army 2030 hrs
General von Fabeck was on the telephone with General von Falkenhaym giving a status report, "The 7th Cavalry Division overran some British artillery in the early morning and caused havoc near Noyelles, cutting wires and even destroying a section of track. It was driven off by an assemblage of British infantry."
"And the Guard Corps?"
"The 1st Guard Division captured Nouvion around noon in heavy fighting. It tried to continue on to Nolette and Noyelles but encountered heavy resistance and determined British counterattacks by reinforcements arriving in the area. Both Guard Divisions will make a renewed attempt to advance towards Noyelles this night."
"It must make a maximum effort. If we can take—and hold-- Noyelles the British First Army is trapped. If there any sign that their First Army has begun to evacuate?"
"Yes, there is, General. Our dusk air patrols believe they saw signs of artillery and support units being moved in the sector between the Authie and the Canche. I have ordered IV Army Corps to make several trench raids tonight. If they find any indications of a withdrawal they are to attack at first light. I will point out though, that my artillery in that sector is very limited while we know that the British are strong there, so we need to be cautious."
"Hmm. I understand the value of caution but even if the trench raids give no clear indication of a withdrawal send up vigorous air patrols at dawn if the weather permits."
"As you wish, General."
"Will you be able to use the gas again? I know you did not completely expend the stockpile."
:"We are readying another battery of canisters to use on the left shoulder on our break through. It will, once again, depend on the wind, of course."
"Understood. There is one other development that will further degrade the situation of the British Army tomorrow.". .
-------La Coruna (Spain) 2120 hrs
Eamon de Valera patiently waited for the train to Madrid. He had arrived at La Coruna lin the afternoon. He had considered getting an inexpensive hotel room for the night but decided he that he wanted to get this "mission" of his over with as quickly as possible. "Nightingale" he kept repeating to himself, shaking his head. What a silly codeword! When he arrived at Madrid he was to go to the German embassy and ask to speak with the military attaché, a Major Walle. He was to identify himself as "Nightingale from Ireland" and the German officer would then explain his role. De Valera understood very well the need for code words but cursed the idiot that dreamt up such a silly one.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 2135 hrs
Gazing out to the port side from the bridge Admiral von Ingenohl could make out Cape Griz Nez in the moonlight. The High Seas Fleet entered the Straits of Dover about 2 hours ahead of his schedule. There was a bright moon but the clouds were thickening and Ingenohl wanted all the moonlight he could get in case the enemy made a torpedo attack. He had received a report from a seaplane at dusk about British destroyers heading for his fleet. After subset Zeppelin redirected to the area also spotted the British warships for a while in the moonlight though it eventually lost them. Ingenohl moved up his passage through the Straits so he might have a chance to elude them altogether. He also sent 6th Scouting Group and 2 TB flotillas to intercept.
------HMS Swift 2155 hrs
The flotilla leader which now served as Commodore Tyrwhitt’s flagship was hotly engaged by a small German cruiser. Harwich Force had been trying to claw its way through the German screen for nearly a half hour. This was the third time today his ships had been in combat and some of his ships were nursing wounds from the prior encounters. Two of his destroyers were already gone—one of them in a violent explosion. Two more were dead in the water and another was out of control with jammed steering. There were conflicting reports about German torpedo boats being sunk.
Only two of his destroyers, Badger and Myng, had penetrated the screen. Illuminated by fairly strong moonlight both of them now reported being under heavy and accurate fire from the secondary guns of German battleships that were SSW of them heading southwest This was not a good position for firing torpedoes. Tyrwhitt had assumed the Germans were heading towards Kent but now it was clear that they were plunging into the Channel itself. He had managed to pass that information on to the Admiralty despite German attempts to jam this transmissions.
Another 4.1" shell hit Swift and burst near the mainmast. The cruiser had taken some damage in this engagement but Tyrwhitt realized his flagship was getting the worst of it. He reached a decision, "Signal Badger and Myng to fire all their torpedoes at the German battleships. This vessel will fire a torpedo at that cruiser out there." he ordered, "What is left of this flotilla will retire to the northeast."
------Union Station, Chicago 2305 hrs (GMT)
Sandeep Singh Puri got off the train. He was part of a group of 53 Ghadars from California which had decided to journey to the East Coast to promote the cause of India. They would try to link it with the Fenian cause, which they expected to be a popular topic in the days leading up to Connolly’s scheduled execution. In addition to publicity---Hearst had promised coverage of their trip they hoped to persuade John Devoy to share some of the funds had recently acquired. Chicago had a large Irish population. They would spend Saturday and much of Sunday addressing crowds in Chicago at events organized in advance by friends in the Clan na Gael, then depart for New York Sunday evening.
Waiting for them at the station was a party of 11 Ghadars from the Midwest who had already assembled in Chicago. They would accompany them to the East Coast. Looking over his shoulder Sandeep saw Agnes Smedley following him. She lived in San Diego where she worked as a teacher and had taken an interest in Ghadar cause. She had communicated with their leadership both by letter and telegram. When Smedlay heard of their little expedition to the East Coast she expressed an interest in accompanying them and had come up from San Diego. She was apparently a married woman, but she was not accompanied by her husband. She eventually made it clear to all who were interested that there were serious problems with her marriage. During their train trip she took a particular interest in Sandeep, who had left his wife behind with his 5 children in San Francisco. Sandeep was trying to sort out his feelings towards Agnes. She was moderately attractive and very passionate about many of the same political causes that stirred Sandeep. But his fellow Ghadars warned him that she was trouble and deep in his heart he knew they were right.
------BEF HQ Abbeville 2340 hrs
"Message from the Admiralty, sir"
Sir John French turned his chief of staff, Sir Archibald Murray and said, "Wonder what the Royal Navy wants to tell us at this late. Please tell me that they agreed to bring Northumbrian Division to Dieppe as I strongly suggested."
Murray was closer to the messenger and took the slip of paper. He read it and promptly fainted.