by Tom B
HQ British First Army, Berck 0030 hrs Saturday April 24, 1915
The German 7th Cavalry Division had eventually succeeded in cutting the communication wires between First Army and the BEF HQ in Abbeville. British signal companies were doing their best to restore wire communications. General Haig was now handed a decoded wireless message from Sir John French. It was marked URGENT. .
GERMAN BATTLE FLEET HAS ENTERED ENGLISH CHANNEL BE PREPARED EARLY MORNING BOMBARDMENT GRAND FLEET PLANS TO INTERCEPT AND ENGAGE GERMANS AT MIDDAY
Some officers on the staff had seen the message and were visibly shake. Haig calmly took two minutes to think this over as he looked over a map. He had sent Cavalry Corps, 1st Division and the 29th Division hard marching to reinforce Second Army at Noyelles. He was also in the process of withdrawing the rest of I Army Corps and III Army Corps south of the Authie River. He did not see any possible danger to III Army Corps. The divisions closer to the coast were another matter .
"Cavalry Corps should be able to reach Noyelles before dawn," he conjectured aloud, "but all other units using the roads near the coast are in grave danger. We will need to alert 1st Division, 29th Division and I Army Corps so that they are safely entrenched at first light."
------Dublin Castle 0040 hrs
Lord Curzon, Brirrell, Nathan, Chamberlain, General Friend and Major Price had been informed by London of the possibility of a German arms shipment. They gathered now to discuss their plans.
"I still have no indication from any of our informants of an imminent rising," said Chamberlain, the head of the Royal Irish Constabulary, "do you have anything, Major?"
Major Price, the intelligence officer for Ireland shrugged, "I was informed a few days ago that Captain White made his way to Berlin after he was deported to Holland. We know he was pals with Casement. But I fail to see how that points to an imminent uprising since White was arrested before he could return to Ireland."
"Well there is that matter of those horses, motor vehicles and food that Devoy sent from America," noted Chamberlain.
"Maybe this German shipment of arms is going to turn out to be fairly small, like the one the Germans sent back in July," mused Friend in a tone indicating he doubted his own statement.
"Even it’s only 1,000 military rifles it is too much in our present situation," declared Lord Curzon, "it would embolden the Fenians just as tension is running high over Connolly and other matters."
"London is being very vague about just what they know," Nathan lamented.
"That’s for sure," Curzon and Birrell uttered simultaneously. Both of them were immediately ashamed that they had agreed on something.
"Should my men be making any arrests this morning—other than Sean McDermott that is, Your Excellency?" asked Chamberlain. Yesterday the Viceroy had browbeaten Birrell into agreeing to deport Seam McDermott
:Even though the question had been addressed to Curzon, Birrell answered, "No. You and the Major here have told me repeatedly there is no sign of an imminent rising. If we arrest MacNeill we will cause the very thing we are trying to prevent. And besides I have complete faith that the Royal Navy will intercept this shipment before it reaches our shores."
Nathan could see Curzon was very unhappy with that statement. In the hope of heading off an acrimonious argument between the two, he spoke up quickly, "But surely sir it would be a wise precaution if we determine the current locations of all the major ringleaders as soon as possible and have constables positioned to swoop down on them at a moment’s notice."
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 0050 hrs
Clouds had rolled in and it was beginning to rain. Admiral von Ingenohl could not see much. The British attempt at a torpedo attack had failed. Now that moonlight had ceased be a factor he worried there would soon be another. The 3 light cruisers of 5th Scouting Group were now off laying minefields in the expected path of the Grand Fleet tomorrow. This was very desirable but it temporarily weakened his already inadequate scouting forces.
"Admiral, the Danzig reports that flooding from the damage it has sustained is starting to leak into its engines".
Ingenohl sighed even though he had expected this development. He did not like thought of weakening his screen now but it was part of the plan. Best to kill two birds with one stone he thought. "Signal them to make for Boulogne. Signal the 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla to accompany the cruiser to Boulogne. When the flotilla arrives at Boulogne it is to begin coaling immediately."
When that order was acknowledged, Ingneohl added one more, "Signal all ships to slow to 12 knots."
------Nolette (France) 0120 hrs
The Prussian Guards made another attack against the British position. The defenders were a heterogeneous admixture of bits of what was once 80th Brigade, 2 field engineer companies and the 2nd Dragoon Guards which had arrived and dismounted just before midnight. The defenders were still without barbed wire in this section. They did had machine guns and these roared into action cutting down many of the attackers, but a greater number made it to the British line which was only a the most minimal of trenches. The Germans attacked making effective use of grenades in the darkness. After that men hacked, slashed, pummeled, impaled, kicked, and strangled each other in fierce hand to hand combat.
-------Crecy Forest 0410 hrs
Another cloud of chlorine wafted its deadly way to the trenches of the 46th North Midlands Division. Due to the darkness the men did not realize what was happening until their eyes began to water. Cries of ‘Gas! Gas!" were heard and the men who had been sleeping were quickly roused. A few of the men ran to the rear in panic but the rest did as their officers had instructed soaking a cloth in their own urine—or a friend’s if they were currently without—and wrapping it around their faces. They soon discovered that this crude mask did indeed provide some protection for their lungs but none for their eyes which continue to tear from the gas.
There was a brief German bombardment and then the German infantry began to arrive.
------Loop Head (Clare) 0450 hrs
Located at the far end of the Loop Head peninsula in County Clare at the mouth of the Shannon was a lighthouse. When the war began the light house was soon fortified with concrete gun emplacements armed an old 3 pounder gun and a pair of Vickers machineguns. A small contingent of Royal Marines and Coast Guard were stationed there. It was a damp chilly night with periods of light rain. The men had received soon after nightfall to be on the alert. There was some intelligence that the Germans were attempting to run weapons to the Irish Volunteers.
The conversation of the men in the manning the weapons had meandered over a wide range of topics—including speculation about what was afoot, debate over the execution of Connolly (most were in favor) and the imposition of conscription on Ireland (a roughly even split), complaints about the weather and mostly ribald attempts at levity.
Up in the tower some of senior men were now worried. "I tell you there is something out there," said one of them staring anxiously through his binoculars.
"Aye, and what has me really worried is that there is more than one," said another.
"Shit! I only see one. Are you sure?"
"Uh huh, at least two. Maybe three."
"I still only see one—no wait. Another is now signaling the first one with a light. Wireless! Send a message to command. Tell them we have observed at least two possibly three suspicious—make that highly suspicious—vessels heading into the Shannon."
"Aye, aye, sir,"
"Damn it, I think you are right there is a third ship out there"
"I am convinced at least one of them is a warship---"
"Sir, there is interference on the wireless wavelength. It started a few seconds after I started"
"Keep trying to send the message. Switch to an alternate wavelength if you have--"
A stars shell lit up the sky near Loop Head. Seconds later orange flashes were seen coming from one of the unidentified ships
:"—Christ! They are opening fire!"
------HMT Lord Heneage 0500 hrs
This armed trawler was on station at the mouth of the Shannon when it saw star shells and flashes of gunfire to the west. It transmitted its own wireless report to Queenstown, which unlike that of the lighthouse was not jammed. Meanwhile it bravely steamed towards the action. Suddenly a searchlight was turned on and swung over the water. A German warship commenced firing. Lord Heneage was armed with only a single 12 pounder forward and its commander, Lt. Bee almost immediately realized he was badly outgunned. He died soon afterwards.
-------Kerry Head (Kerry) 0510 hrs
"Your line to Dublin Castle is ready, sir" came to the voice of the switchboard operator. "Dublin, we have a problem," stated the Coastal Watcher
------SMS Schlesien 0520 hrs
The main guns commenced firing on Rough Point, which was at the far end of a spur of land that extended like a thin dagger from the Dingle Peninsula into Tralee Bay. The British had positioned a coastal battery there which dominated Tralee Bay though its guns were old and small. It posed enough of a threat that it needed to be neutralized.
-------Scattery Island (Clare) 0525 hrs
During the Napoleonic Wars there had been serious concern about a French invasion of Ireland. A series of forts had been erected esp. along key points of the Shannon which was regarded as one the more likely targets of a French invasion. After Waterloo these forts were neglected. The one on Scattery Island off the coast of County Clare near the port of Kilrush was being used as a coast guard station but other than a single machine gun it had no armament but there was a low power wireless manned by a very small garrison. They now found them under bombardment.
------Banna Strand (Kerry) 0530 hrs
There was light rain falling. The clouds hid the sun which was beginning to rise above the horizon. A group of 38 policemen of the Royal Irish Constabulary armed with Lee-Enfield rifles huddled behind the two small hills overlooking the very fine beach which the Banna Strand. They had just arrived in motorcars from Ardfert Barracks Their leaders had been told the night before that there was a chance a small group of German "irregulars" working with Fenians might try to land and bring arms into the country. This morning they received reports of ships—some of them warships—in Ballyheigue Bay. They had correctly deduced that the Banna Strand was the most logical area for a landing. From the crest of a small hill they could see boats approaching the shore--a great many boats.
"I would be sayin’ that there be more than a few Germans out there," said one of them with obvious sarcasm.
"That is for sure—" said another, who was interrupted by the ominous whistle of incoming artillery. Shells burst in the dunes. Some of the constables immediately ran back to their motor cars. Some of the others held their position but then when they saw their fellows getting into the motorcars decided they did not want to get left behind and withdrew as well.
The motorboats which now approached the shore carried men of the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment plus an attached platoon of pioneers. After the formation of OKW the 1st Naval Division was reorganized and some of its units began to receive training in amphibious warfare. After the Battle of Utsire, the entire division was set aside for a possible amphibious role, which materialized in the form of Operation Unicorn. In preparation for that they were subject to an arduous training regime by General von François up until their departure from Lubeck. In all 4 regiments of the 1st Naval Division the 1st company was armed with Madsen automatic rifles. It was the 1st company of the 4th Marine Fusiliers that were the first Germans to come ashore in Ireland. Some of the 2 man automatic rifle teams assumed a firing position in the dunes.
It soon became obvious there was no local opposition. They fanned out to secure the beach for subsequent waves. They reached the road to Ardfert. That was not their objective but an enemy strongpoint they would cordon off. Their main objective was less than 6 miles away—the deepwater port of Fenit Harbor.
------Brandon Beach (Kerry) 0530 hrs
The boats carrying 1st Seebattalion emerged from the smoke screen laid by B.98 into Brandon Bay, was famous for its heavy surf. Unlike the naval infantry and Marine Fusiliers which were sailors hurriedly retrained as soldiers the men of the Seebattalions were considered to be elite soldiers. For this operation they were reinforced with a platoon armed with 6 of the Madsen automatic rifles and 20 Pioneers. In their preparation for Operation Unicorn they had also received intensive training in amphibious warfare along with their designated boat crews. It was put to good use. Here too a member of the Irish Brigade familiar with Dingle came along and proved invaluable.
Nevertheless some of the boats were badly delayed fighting the currents. One boat was sliced open on a reef. Several boats almost foundered and one did, but close enough to shore that all but one of the men aboard were able to swim to shore. The beach itself was a very fine beach and initially they managed to land unopposed. Schlesien had switched from using its main battery to its 17 cm secondary in shelling the battery.
-------Cappa Beach (Clare) 0545 hrs
Boats approached the shore carrying men of the 1st battalion 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment plus a platoon of pioneers. This was a rocky beach and the motor launches carrying the Marines were cautious in their approach. The currents were particularly strong here. A member of the Irish Brigade was familiar with the Shannon and helped direct the boats as they approached the shore. Some of the boats got swept away from the rest and 2 boats had a grazing collision that sprang some leaks but did not immediately sink the boats.
On the shore there were exactly 9 RIC. They fired a few rounds and then realizing the strength of the opposition fled. Two German Marine had been wounded. One was only grazed but other was hit in the jaw and eventually died an unpleasant death. These were the first German casualties. The Marines began to disembark from their boats and fired a few shots at the fleeing RIC. The secured the beach for the rest of their regiment.
About a mile from the beach lay the deepwater port of Kilrush.. A few of the men carried special smoke candles and one of them a special flag.
------off the Dingle Peninsula (Kerry) 0550 hrs
The British torpedo boat once had a name. When TBD’s were introduced its name was reassigned and it was given a numeric designation instead. It had been assigned to the coastal defense command for Ireland. It had been ordered to sea late yesterday to patrol for a suspected German attempt to run arms into Ireland. With an overcast sky and some patchy fog visibility was not all that good, but for a brief time it had seen gun flashes.
As approached Tralee Bay its lookouts began to see more. The wireless began to transmit furiously. Soon it encountered jamming. At first the enemy did not see them but now a cruiser approached with increasing speed. They turned about hurriedly. On their trials the torpedo boat could make 27 knots but that was a long time ago.
------U.36 off Plymouth 0605 hrs
The U-Boat had just submerged. Her captain, Ernst Graeff, now scanned the seas through his periscope. His orders were to take station to the southwest of the Devonport. He was to attack any battleships he saw leaving the base—the Germans had intelligence that some very old predreadnoughts were sometimes stationed at Devonport. His orders were not to use his torpedoes on any target other than battleships, but to be willing to take extraordinary risks to attack the battleships. If he observed battleships at sea he was to make a wireless report even if he could not make a torpedo attack. Graeff found these orders to be a bit strange not because he was a coward but because he knew these battleships were only predreadnoughts.
------Dublin Castle 0610 hrs
General Friend hung up the telephone receiver. "The Coast Guard station at Kilcredaun Point has reported seeing warships, at least two of them large enough to be battleships, followed by at least a dozen liners and merchantmen heading up the Shannon," he announced with deep concern etched on his face.
"Christ Almighty! Do you think they will to try to take Limerick?" wailed Under-Secretary Nathan.
"Yes, .that would have to be my guess, sir,"
"I don’t like what I am hearing. This sounds like it is a much larger operation than London is expecting. Could this possibly be— wondered Birrell, his voice trailing off unable to utter aloud the horror he was suspecting.
"—a full scale invasion?" Lord Curzon completed the sentence for him, "I would think that is fairly obvious by now. A better question is what can we do to stop them? I know we neglected the might fortifications we erected along the banks of the Shannon when Bonaparte cast his dark shadow over civilization, but surely there is ---"
Friend shook his head in disgust, "Abandoned is a better word for it. Oh, some of them still have a tiny garrison with a machine gun and one or two small obsolete guns, but against what they are facing now they’re essentially impotent From what I know of the naval force most of them would be overwhelmed, though with some luck a torpedo boat might sink one of their battleships. Other than that we are pretty damn helpless."
"Are we? Is it not a fact that we still have 3 divisions in Ireland? If we use our rails to deploy them rapidly, the German beachheads can be cordoned off until the Grand Fleet arrives to destroy their fleet."
General Friend frowned, "The 10th Division is currently stationed at Kildare, Newbridge and the Curragh in the final phase of its training before it leaves for England on Thursday. It now has all its equipment –well, nearly all--but has only a very limited amount of ammunition available to it. The 16th Division is dispersed around Ireland and is currently training with mostly obsolete artillery pieces—15 pounders and 5" howitzers. It doesn’t have its full allotment of machine guns either and its training is not anywhere near to being finished. As far as the Ulster Division it doesn’t have any artillery or machine guns whatsoever and its training program is even more incomplete.". .
"I appreciate your concerns, General, but it seems that the 10th and 16th Divisions should be committed immediately while we use elements of Ulster Division if there is a rising. Hopefully we can prevent that by immediately arresting all leaders in the Irish Volunteers as well as any suspected IRB members. We will also need to impose marital law throughout the entire country."
Birrell blanched. This morning’s events coming after a night when no one got any sleep had left him visibly shaken. "So we are to arrest MacNeill as well?" asked Chamberlain looking at the Chief Secretary.
Lord Curzon acted as if Birrell was not even in the room, "Absolutely. He should be your top priority. Once the leaders are arrested, then –but not before--we should go after their arms caches. All of them."
Something about the way Curzon said "All of them" worried Nathan.
------Tralee (Kerry) 0620 hrs
The O’Rahilly had driven all the way from Dublin to Tralee late yesterday to confer with Austin Augustine Mary Stack, the Commandant of Kerry Brigade. Stack was too tired to talk at any length when the O’Rahilly had arrived but let him sleep in the guest room.
"You’re up early," Stack remarked to O’Rahilly as he finished his oatmeal, "I would’ve thought you’d sleep late after that long drive of yours last night."
"I could use one or two more sleep, that’s for certain," answered the O"Rahilly, "but I have a lot to do today and tomorrow. I woke up early and the thunder kept me awake."
"Yes, I heard that thunder too. Ain’t it queer how goes the weather? Doesn’t seem like the right clouds for a thunderstorm. Can I get you some tea? Something to eat, perhaps?"
"Not hungry right now but some tea would be grand."
As Stack prepared the tea he asked, "So just why did you travel half the night to see me on such short notice? Did MacNeill send you?"
"He and I agree something is going on that is being hidden from us. Pearse was up to something before he went into hiding. Devoy is definitely involved as well. We know he sent you and Coliver nearly 2,000 horses as well as trucks and a great deal of deal of food. Is there anything else we should be knowing about?"
"Aye, like weapons."
"Devoy managed to secrete a few dozen of those American pump action shotguns and nearly a hundred pistols. You’ll have to ask Manahn when you see him, what he got."
"I fully intend to."
"Here’s your tea."
"Thank you, Austin"
"Oh, and Devoy sent us some of these," said Stack popping out of the kitchen. He quickly returned wearing a steel helmet painted green, "What do you think?"
The O’Rahilly briefly gaped. Then he snorted derisively and brought his teacup up saying, "You look like a damn fool, Austin"
"Tsk, tsk. Don’t be so negative, Michael " replied Stack. He was holding another of the helmets in his hands and now raised it up invitingly, "I think this one would fit your big head. Would you care to try it on?"
.The O"Rahilly shook his head, "I think I’ll pass on that silly helmet. But what I do need from you right now, Austin, is the truth. Just what is going on here? We have heard rumors that a German arms shipment is on its way. MacNeill, Hobson and I strongly suspect that some people including Pearse and Devoy have something planned that they don’t want us to know about. Our best guess is will happen immediately after Connolly’s execution. We suspect Colivet and yourself might be in on this scheme."
Unlike the O’Rahilly, Stack was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The Military Council of the IRB had notified him that arms would soon arrive from Germany, but had provided no details as to where, when and how much. He knew that the O’rahilly was not a member of the IRB and was in some ways an obstacle to their goals. For that reason he briefly contemplated making a simple flat denial, but instead he answered cautiously, "And what if there was an arms shipment heading here?"
"If it is merely meant to supplement our stockpile of weapons then that’s all for the better. But if as MacNeill and I suspect it is meant to be the trigger for a rising then I am worried sick. Even if the Germans bring 50,000 or even 100,000 rifles and some machine guns to boot, the Irish Volunteers cannot hope to prevail against the British Army We still only number about 42,000 in all of Ireland. Outside Dublin most units are poorly trained."
Stack took umbrage at that remark, "I can’t speak for the rest of the West Counties but here in Kerry I have been conducting a great deal of training in the last two months. If and when we get arms my men will be ready."
"I will concede that from what I’ve heard you have done more training than most of the commandants outside Dublin, Austin, but don’t delude yourselves that your men are prepared to fight a modern Army. It is very simple. With a large shipment of German Arms the Volunteers gave make a good nuisance of themselves for a while, but in the end British manpower and firepower will overwhelm us. There is no way we can win at this time and so a rising will accomplish nothing but getting fine young Irish lads killed for nothing."
There was a loud pounding on the front door. "Austin, Austin! Let me in! Austin! You have to hear this!" came the loud voice of his brother Jim
Austin Stack trotted to his front door and let his brother in. "I’m coming. What is this all---" he started to say.
"The Germans, Austin! There are German warships in Tralee Bay and there are at least a thousand German soldiers near Ardfert marching south. They must be heading here."
Stack was momentarily stunned. He thought it over, "They will probably be heading for Fenit first as they’ll be looking to snatch a port for their ships. After they have captured Fenit they will be coming here."
"What should we do?"
"Why call out the entire Brigade of course. Tralee company must seize the railroad station here immediately. Go assemble the company, while I make some telephone calls—or at least try to. If telephone use becomes restricted we’ll have to send messengers to the other companies in Kerry Brigade."
When Jim left, Austin Stack turned to the O"Rahilly, "Now what was it you were just saying, Michael?"
The O’Rahilly fixed a bitter look on Austin Stack, then after a minute shrugged, "Maybe I should try on that helmet after all. I guess I deserve this. Because I helped to wind the clock I come to hear it strike."
------Old Admiralty Building 0625 hrs
"Captain, Room 40 has just decoded another German wireless message from the mysterious Special Task Force," Lt. Childers informed Captain Hall, "It is very short so we think we did not receive all of it."
"Just what did it say?"
"The Unicorn has landed—that’s all it said sir."
------Ardfert (Kerry) 0635 hrs
The Marine Fusiliers had cordoned off Ardfert Barracks a singe rifle company. Their preparation for this assault had included instructions for dealing with development. Other rifle companies had bypassed this strong point and were proceeding on towards Fenit. Meanwhile to the north elements of the 10th Bavarian Regiment were just starting to come ashore on a stretch of Banna Strand already secured by the German Marines.
------HMS Iron Duke 0640 hrs
"Tell me Charles, is there any place worse on this planet worse for conducting a fleet action than the Straits of Dover/" Admiral Bayly asked his chief of staff, Rear Admiral Charles Madden."
"The Sahara Desert perhaps?" answered Madden eliciting a small chuckle from Bayly.. Madden continued, "In all seriousness, sir they are without a doubt mighty tricky waters, what with all the shoals and sandbars. But I would hasten to point out that they are just as much a problem if not more for our enemy."
"Perhaps and then again perhaps not. We have more ships than our enemy, though fewer dreadnoughts. Having the larger formation in tight waters is a disadvantage."
-------Rough Point (Kerry) 0650 hrs
After a brief but furious fight involving considerable use of grenades and bayonets, the 1st Seebattalion had overpowered the coast guard gunners and captured the battery at Rough Point. One of the Marines was now lowering the flag while another held its replacement.
-------SMS Glyndwr 0700 hrs
Germany’s experimental seaplane carrier had anchored in what was hoped was safe spot in the Shannon and lowered one of its 4 seaplanes into the water. Within minutes it was in the air and flew out to the west to scout the Atlantic.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 0705 hrs
"Admiral, wireless message has just arrived from 4th Scouting Group. Admiral Boedecker reports that he is in sight of the Isle of Wight. He also reports that the last vessel he captured turns out to be collier full of Welsh coal and he--:"
"-and he wants to take her along as a prize?"
Ingenohl’s first impulse was to say no, but further consideration he answered "Hmm. If the prize can sustain at least 9 knots put a crew on her and send her into Boulogne. Otherwise scuttle her." The High Seas Fleet had not encountered as much sea traffic as anticipated—only 4 freighters. None of them had wireless and two of them were French. Ingenohl surmised the British had been able to keep most of their transports in the relative safety of their ports.
Ingenohl checked the chronometer and the map one more time then ordered, "Flag, signal all units to make a 12 point turn in succession."
------SMS Kaiser Friedrich III 0720 hrs
Through his binoculars the Kapitan zur See watched a flag being lowered. It was replaced with a new flag—green with a gold harp on it. There had been other signals but this was the definitive one. "Very good, they are nearly a half hour ahead of schedule," he noted with satisfaction, "Signal Admiral von Spee by searchlight that Kilrush has been captured. Prepare the transports for docking in the assigned sequence."
-----somewhere in the Connemara (Galway) 0725 hrs
Padraig Pearse was hiding from the RIC in the barn a childless couple who owned a small farm out is the Connemara. The husband was a member of the Irish Volunteers. He owned a bicycle and had returned from a jaunt into the local village to purchase a dew items. One of the things he brought was a local newspaper. He went to the barn and talked with Pearse. He looked upset and said, "You’ll never guess what our fine upstanding friends the Germans just did?"
"Land arms and maybe a few troops near here?"
"That’ll be the day. No, the damn Germans, our wonderful friends, used poison gas in France."
Pearse blanched and felt faint. Finally he replied in a weak voice, "No! It cannot be true."
"Here it’s on the front page. You can read it for yourself."
------HMS Doris 0730 hrs
The 4 Eclipse class protected cruisers of the 11th Cruiser Squadron had been deployed spread out to the west of the Connemara. The squadron had received reports first of suspicious vessels off the mouth of the Shannon which were soon amended to unequivocal reports of first German warships and transports and then of German soldiers coming ashore in Kerry. A seaplane now came into view. The executive officer was watching it through binoculars and made a strange hiss.
The Captain turned to him and arched an eyebrow, "What is it, Number One?"
"Take a look for yourself, sir, but it sure appears to my weary eyes like she has German markings."
The Old Man brought up his own binoculars and whistled, "Damn, I don’t think I am believing my own eyes. Wireless! Send an immediate message to Queenstown that we have seen a German seaplane off the Loop Peninsula."
As that message was being transmitted lookouts cried out that ships were visible 2 points off the port bow.
------HQ British Second Army 0735 hrs
General Smith-Dorrien was on the telephone with General Rawlinson in command of IV Army Corps. "We have been under steady artillery fire since dawn, sir," said Rawlinson over the telephone line, "they even hit us with that damn Big Bertha every now and then. It will be hard for me to release any more battalions before nightfall. I thought we were getting reinforcements from First Army."
"Cavalry Corps arrived but the rest of them are hung up because we think the German battle fleet is going to teat up our positions along the coast. That includes the main road that First Army is using to send reinforcements."
"Oh, dear. That most certainly is a problem. Fortunately I am too far inland to have to worry about German battleships. What about II Army Corps?"
"Same situation. The Germans are subjecting them to a steady bombardment as well. They are further off than you are.. I need help fast. The Prussian Guards advanced nearly a mile during the night. They also used chlorine again last night. This time against North Midlands Division . The stuff about breathing through a piss soaked rag proved only partially effective. The Germans advanced nearly a mile there as well. And to top things off due to the German Fleet running amok in the Channel I’ve been told we cannot expect any new delivery of shells before Monday afternoon."
"Monday afternoon! How are we going to hold out without shells, sir?"
"First Army was a large stockpile they were going to use for that offensive that has been thoroughly ruined. We were supposed to get some of their shells but it’s another bllody thing that’s royally fucked because everyone is too scared to use the bloody roads near the coast right now."
"And what about the Belgian Division? Are they being bombarded? I hear they like to hoard their shells as much as possible. Might they be able to render some assistance?"
Smith-Dorrien took his time answering, "Hmm. You know that is a very good question you just raised."
------Camp Beach (Kerry) 0740 hrs
Once Rough Point had been captured General von François ordered 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment to beginning landing near the town Camp on the northeastern coast of the Dingle Peninsula. The currents were difficult here but not as bad as they were at Brandon Beach. The first men ashore encountered only a weak resistance from the RIC and local militia. They quickly took the beach and began advancing east towards their objective, the small but useful port of Blennerville. .
------HMS Shannon 0745 hrs
Rear Admiral Somerset Gough-Calthorpe had unsuccessfully hunted Admiral von Spee in the Western Hemisphere and ended up missing the Battle of Utsire. He now ardently longed to play a role in the battle that reversed the course of the naval war. His flagship was in the van of his squadron which was out in front of the Grand Fleet as part of its scouting force..
Without warning there was loud explosion forward on the starboard. The ship began to list to starboard almost immediately.
------Tralee (Kerry) 0755 hrs
Nearly three quarters of the men of 245 men on the rolls of Tralee company of the Irish Volunteers had assembled with Austin Stack at the head of the formation. The O’Rahilly and his brother Jim were at the front of the formation. The RIC had become aware of the situation—but they had another situation to worry about as well and could not afford to spare many men. About a third of the men wore green helmets.
There were only a dozen constables. One was on horseback armed only with a revolver, which he had not drawn preferring to try to intimidate the mob by waving his club. The rest though carried Lee-Enfield rifles to which they were now affixing bayonets. Only 23 of the Fenians were armed with a rifle and that included thirteen 22 caliber hunting rifles. Two of the Volunteers were armed with Lee-Enfield rifles stolen from the RIC About 50 of the men carried shotguns—some of these were the American weapons sent by Devoy, a mix of autoloaders and pump action weapons. Stack carried one of the Autoloaders. The remaining men carried pitchforks and improvised pikes though about half of the also carried a pistol.
"Put down your weapons and return to your homes," demanded the constable on horseback.
Several things occurred to Stack. First was that the constables were treating this as akin to a riot control situation and were in close proximity to the Volunteers Another was that their leader was trying to intimidate them into going home, but he was also stalling for time so reinforcements could arrive. Lastly some of the constables fumbling with their bayonets looked shaky. He looked back and caught the eye of the O"Rahilly, who was armed merely with a pistol. The O’Rahilly nodded.
"For Ireland! Charge!" yelled Austin Stack and he let the twit on his horse have it with his shotgun. He fell backward on his horse which panicked and reared threatening with its hooves. The spectacle of the horse distracted some but not all of the men on both sides. Tralee company ran forward. Shots rang out and men fell The nervous RIC fired only 2 or 3 rounds before they tried to flee. Only four of them managed to escape.
------HQ BEF Abbeville 0805 hrs
"Where the hell are they?" yelled Sir John French simultaneously relieved and irritated.
"You mean the German battle fleet, sir?" asked Murray.
"Yes, God damn it. The German battle fleet, what the hell else would I be talking about?. The thrice damned Admiralty said we should expect enemy battleships off the coast at first light. Well that was hours ago and when we sent the flyboys up to find them they come back and tell there is no sign of them. The reinforcements from First Army are being held up because I Army Corps is hunkered down in its trenches. Meanwhile we’re holding on to Noyelles with our fingernails."
"Perhaps the Grand Fleet drew them into battle, sir?"
"Then why in hell hasn’t the bloody Navy told us so? Is it because they doing as bad as they did the last time they met the German?"
Murray visibly shivered, "I would not like to consider that possibility, sir."
"We have a very serious situation here. Send a wireless message to First Army. Tell General Haig to get those reinforcements moving again."
------Banna Strand (Kerry) 0810 hrs
Captain Joseph Mary Plunkett IRA had some trouble getting out of the launch. One of German sailors gave him a helpful hand. Plunkett almost said "Danke." But he did not want those to be the first words he uttered on the shores of Ireland. Instead he stumbled forward into the surf and onto the beach and then in a loud voice he said in Irish Gaelic, "Ireland, I have returned to bring you liberty." During the voyage of the Sonderverband he had fantasized about this moment and wanted it to be as dramatic as possible. He had pleaded unsuccessfully with both Admiral Spee and General François if a photographer might be made available to capture the historic moment. The Germans looked at Plunkett and shook their heads In addition to IRA officer’s uniform Plunkett wore one of the green steel helmets—General von François had persuaded Moltke to authorize a small production run of 2,000 in Germany. It was felt that in addition to whatever protection it offered it would be one way to identify friendly Irish troops in lieu of a uniform.
Accompanying Plunkett ashore were a sergeant from General von François’ staff aboard Lothringen, a junior naval officer and 5 seamen. .The sergeant was here to talk to with the commander of the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment and check on the situation on the beach to report back to General François. The sailors were to go to Fenit harbor to oversee the offloading process once it was captured.
They approached a group of German Marines and introduced themselves. They were given directions to the current HQ of the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment, which was set up in a prehistoric fortification which the locals called McKenna’s Fort. The seamen were also show the best way to reach Fenit and were warned to avoid Ardfet Barracks.
------Old Admiralty Building 0815 hrs
The War Committee, Bonar Law, Carson and Lloyd-George were meeting with Admirals Callaghan, Jackson, Wilson and Oliver to discuss their options. "Fortunately we were able to get most of the crew off—including Admiral Gough-Calthorpe before she sank. We lost only 31 men. We still have no idea as yet if Shannon was mined or torpedoed other than the fact that a torpedo was not sighted," announced Admiral Callaghan, "but to be safe Admiral Bayly has altered the course of the Grand Fleet to 95 ° and continues to make frequent zigzags."
"Don’t we have enough predreadnoughts left in Reserve Fleet to send to Ireland?" asked the Prime Minister.
"All we have left in Reserve Fleet at Portsmouth is Canopus, Mars and Illustrious, Prime Minister," answered Callaghan, "those are very old battleships to be sending against the German force we now believe to be off Munster."
"Furthermore the High Seas Fleet now appears to be not that far from the Isle of Wight. It would be dangerous for Reserve Fleet to leave Portsmouth until we are sure the High Seas Fleet is gone," added Admiral Oliver.
"The Germans have obviously set a trap for the Grand Fleet as part of this diabolical plan of theirs," Prime Minister Bonar Law declared pounding the conference table with his fist in utter frustration, "I say we should frustrate their intentions by sending the Grand Fleet to Ireland to destroy the invasion fleet."
The admirals stared at each other. They did not agree with course of action, but none of them felt like contradicting the Prime Minister at this moment. Lloyd-George could read their faces and intuited that they were thinking. He tried to speak up for them, "Ahem. I do not pretend to be an expert on naval matters, yet I must say that it seems to me there are far greater threats than the landing in Ireland, which still may turn out to be a hit and run raid."
"Er, I essentially agree, Chancellor," said Callaghan," and while I do not wish to belittle the importance of Ireland still—"
"-still what, Admiral Callaghan?" interjected an obviously annoyed Carson, "Despite your protestation I think you are belittling the importance of Ireland. Let me bring up some facts, if you will. You yourself have said several times in the last few hours that the short range of the German destroyers will compel Ingenohl to turn around and head for home any minute now. While he returns home to refuel Admiral Bayly can take 1st Battle Squadron to Ireland and destroy the invasion force before they have finished offloading. You and Oliver have both told me that it would take the Germans three days to unload."
Oliver squirmed. He did recall saying that it would take "close to three days." But that was based on the assumption that the Germans would need half a day to take a significant port. Oliver had learned minutes before this meeting that the Germans had apparently taken Kilrush and that it would be suitable for their needs—and seriously threatened to take Fenit soon as well.
"Perhaps we should first get some clarification from both Lord Kitchener and General French about the situation of the BEF?" suggested Admiral Wilson. Sir John French had not completely told Kitchener the extent of the German threat to First Army. Further complicating was Kitchener as usual presented what knew to Bonar Law in a vague fashion. The Prime Minister knew that the German use of chlorine had allowed them to advance as well as causing several thousand British casualties but he was not informed of all the possible implications.
"That would waste precious time!" countered Carson, "we need to send the Grand Fleet to Ireland immediately!"
Callaghan wondered if he should strenuously object. The idea of sending the Grand Fleet all the way to Ireland initially seemed outrageous when the Prime Minister said it. Yet on further reflection it was not unreasonable. There were indeed signs that the Germans were again trying to lure the Grand Fleet into a trap involving mines and/or submarines. Furthermore Thunderer was due to return from the yards shortly. If there was to be a showdown with the Germans her presence could be decisive. And destroying the so called Special Task Force would give the badly battered morale of the Royal Navy the boost it so badly needed right now.
Callaghan decided to let the Prime Minister and the First Lord have their way.
------SMS Blucher 0820 hrs
Admiral Maas watched in satisfaction as the forward 21cm guns fired on what appeared to the British Eclipse class protected cruise fleeing NNW. Rostock had sunk a British torpedo boat earlier in the morning. The British cruiser he was pursuing had briefly engaged Hessen but seeing itself badly outgunned withdrew. Hessen was also pursuing the cruiser as well and had already inflicted some damage.
Lookouts now called out that they saw another ship approaching. In a few minutes it was confirmed as being another British cruiser, probably a sister ship of the one they chased.
------Kilrush (Clare) 0825 hrs
A pair of large trucks drove off the ramp from the freighter to the pier. Each contained crates containing 100 Lee-Enfield rifles, 150 Mosin- Nagant rifles, 2,000 rounds of 0.303 for the former and 8,000 for the latter. Assigned to each truck were 2 members of the Irish Brigade—a driver and gunman. The later was provided a sawed off shotgun in addition to a revolver. They did not wear the IRA uniform. The driver for the lead truck was someone familiar with Counties Clare and Galway Their instructions was to deliver the arms to the Galway Brigade of the Irish Volunteers.
It was hoped that the RIC would not have road blocks up for several hours, but in the event they were implemented sooner, the driver in the lead truck was given phony papers to back up a story that he was delivering rifles and ammo to the RIC in Galway city. The crates containing the Lee-Enfields were stacked on top in case constables at a roadblock decided to open one. All the crates were marked as containing the British rifles and ammunition. However the ones marked in green ink were the Russian arms while those marked in blue were British.
------Foynes (Limerick) 0830 hrs
Brandenburg’s 28cm guns fired slow salvoes at the coast guard post on the island offshore. This fortification had predated Napoleon but it had been strengthened during his reign and like the other Sahnnon defenses neglected afterwards and ultimately abandoned with only a feeble reinvigoration occurring with the current conflict. A company of the 2nd Seebattalion was beginning to land at Foynes after a rather brief bombardment by Vineta against the positions of approx two dozen defenders on the shore. The bombardment causes a few to flee but the rest put up a fight causing some casualties on the first Marines to come ashore here, but after a few tense minutes they were either dead, captured of fleeing.
The German landing here served multiple purposes. First, Foynes was another good deepwater port on the Shannon. Secondly, it provided a German presence in western Limerick and soon afterwards northern Kerry. Lastly, it was hoped it would serve as a diversion for the more important assault about to begin on Limerick city.
------HMS Iron Duke 0835 hrs
When Admiral Bayly read the message from the Admiralty he was just handed his jaw plummeted. "Ireland??" he thundered.
"Did you just say ‘Ireland’, sir?" asked Admiral Madden, perplexed his chief of staff, "What could Ireland possibly have to do with our current situation?"
"Never thought I’d find myself going to Ireland," replied Bayly shaking his head in disbelief as he handed Madden the message, "her, read it for yourself, Charles. Please tell me I’m hallucinating or having a crazy dream or something."
------Fenit (Kerry) 0845 hrs
A company of German Marines had reached the outskirts of this key harbor. A small mixed group of RIC, coast guard and minimally trained militia opened fire on them The fire was rapid and while it was not particularly accurate, it was enough to dissuade the lone Marine company from rushing their position. Instead they cordoned off the area and waited for reinforcement while the pioneers with them destroyed a section of the track connecting Fenit with Tralee.
------SMS Blucher 0850 hrs
A third British protected cruiser had joined the fray, but Admiral Mass was watching the one he had originally chased. It was burning nicely in several places, listing to port and down by the stern—definitely badly damaged but Admiral Maas could not honestly say she was in an obvious sinking condition. She had had been slowed which had allowed Hessen to catch up—for a while the British cruisers had managed to get beyond her range. Blucher had taken some damage to her superstructure—only two small fires and all her guns remained fully operational.
He could taste a great triumph—but it was not to be. Admiral von Spee had sent a message to both Hessen and himself ordering them to break off the pursuit and return to the mouth of the Shannon. Apparently he felt that had gone too fair afield and might be heading into a trap. Admiral Maas was not happy. To say the least.
------Shannon River west of Limerick 0900 hrs
Kaiser Wilhelm II had penetrated deep into Ireland. Protected by her great strength—as well as that of Arkona and Panther which had preceded which had followed, soldiers from the 1st battalion 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment began on the north bank of the Shannon about 5 miles from the city There was no real beach here and getting ashore what essentially a slippery riverbank entangled with reeds was proving tricky. A small band of RIC had arrived and were subjected to brief bombardment by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Most of the constables retired towards Coonagh but a few remained to inflict a few casualties before being overwhelmed.
------Dublin 0905 hrs
What was left of the Military Council of the IRB—Eamon Kent, Sean McDermottt and Thomas McDonagh had just begun their meeting. Originally the most important topics on their agenda was to discuss whether or not they should add additional members However this was replaced with another more urgent topic.
"The Germans have landed in force in Kerry---" declared Kent.
"---and I heard maybe Clare as well," added McDermott.
"With this development our moment has arrived. Dublin Brigade must rise up this evening," continued Kent.
"Should we talk to MacNeill?" wonder MacDonagh, "surely even he must see how the Germans have altered the equation---"
There was a loud sound as the battering ram crashed open the door and a combination of Dublin municipal police and the RIC stormed into the room in large numbers.
------Shannon River west of Limerick 0915 hrs
Supported by the Panther and Arkona the German Marines from the 1st battalion 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment began to land on the south shore of the Shannon about 5 ½ miles from the Limerick docks. The RIC and militia defenders here were in greater numbers than on the north shore and erected a few strong points including a Martello Tower. The German landing had the most difficulty here it had so far this day but after some initial difficulty they drove the defenders off and cautiously made their way towards Limerick.
------Fahamore (Kerry) 0930 hrs
The commander of the 1st Seebattalion called a meeting of his company commanders in a warehouse he was using as his HQ. "First, I would like to congratulate everyone a difficult mission well done with the capture of the battery near here. However, we cannot afford to spend the rest of the day frolicking on these delightful Irish beaches. Instead we have the mission of subordinating the entire western half of the Dingle Peninsula—which would be a daunting task for a regiment.
Our wagons and supplies will begin to land on Brandon Beach in about an hour. Since 1st company and 2nd company bore the brunt in the assault on the battery, they will remain in this area to guard the beach and assist in the offloading of supplies. They will also make contact with the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment which is landing to the east at Camp Beach. I want 3rd company to head south and secure the Connor Pass immediately. Once that is done send a small patrol towards Dingle. If they encounter heavy resistance, do not engage but fall back to mountain pass" ordered the battalion commander.
The battalion commander then turned to the member of the Irish Brigade who had accompanied them, "Accompanied by St. Donovan here and the automatic rifle section, the 4th company advance into the western portion of the Dingle Peninsula. One thing you will do is establish an observation post atop Mt. Brandon. However you are also to eliminate the RIC posts and other enemy forces in the west. There is supposedly an artillery range for British horse artillery at Glenbeigh."
------SMS Lothringen 0940 hrs
"Any sign that we’ve captured Fenit yet?" an impatient General von François asked Admiral von Spee.
Spee took another look at his chronometer, then chided, "No. It is only a few minutes behind the schedule. To be frank I thought your several elements of your timetable were overly optimistic."
"Hmm. I know you said that before. Well, maybe slightly. We captured Kilrush and Rough Point ahead of schedule."
"In both cases only by a little and now you’ve gotten spoiled."
"It is important that we capture Fenit quickly as possible! It is much better if we can offload the Jaeger Regiment at Fenit rather than either Foynes or Limerick—even if we can capture those two quickly. The 1st Naval Brigade could find itself facing heavy resistance at Limerick. The enemy has had time to react. I wish that damn light house had not spotted us."
Spee shrugged then shook his head, "It compromised our surprise by at most 20 minutes, General. I do not regard that as critical. But I would not deny that unless the High Seas Fleet engages the Grand Fleet today our schedule is tight."
------Madrid 0945 hrs
Eamon De Valera had entered the German embassy. He spoke German as well as Spanish with considerable fluency. As he approached the receptionist for the military attaché he considered the question of which one to use. He decided he would be less embarrassed if he used German, "Could you tell Major Kalle, that nightingale from Ireland is here to see him."
She was not surprised and answered, "The major is expecting you. Just for the record I will need your real name as well."
Anticipating a certain problem De Valera ground his teeth then said, "I am called Eamon De Valera"
She looked at him funny, then said, "Pardon me for saying this but the major was expecting an Irishman not a Spaniard."
"My father was from Spain, but I am Irish as they come."
"Come from where? I must admit you speak German with a very strange accent—definitely not Spanish."
"I’ll take that as a compliment."
She continued to look at him a bit strangely but she escorted him to see Major Kalle, the German military attaché to Spain.
"So, Mr. De Valera, I must say that is an unusual name for an Irishman."
Must I go through this again? De Valera moaned to himself, "My father was of Spanish ancestry."
"Oh, yes, but of course, the Armada was wrecked off Ireland."
"No, this was more recent." Can we please move on to another topic? He feared his being born in New York City would come up eventually.
"Well I guess that was one good reason you were chosen. How well do you speak Spanish. I must say your German is not too bad."
De Valera switched to Spanish, "I speak Spanish about as well as I speak German."
Major Kalle then continued in Spanish as well, "In that case shall I start explaining just why my government made its request?"
"Yes, by all means, please do."
"Well to be blunt Spain is a neutral that we think may eventually become an ally of Germany. If it does it should make it easier for us to ship arms into Ireland."
"Why is that so? I thought Germany now controlled the seas."
"Uh, yes and no. Our margin of superiority is not that overwhelming and geography unfortunately works against us. Spain’s entry would go a long way to overcoming most of those problems."
"Hmm. Spain, eh? Well I’ve seen nothing in the newspapers that would lead me to believe Spain is about to enter the war on either side. You think the Irish gift of er, gab-- I don’t know a good Spanish translation, this so called blessing of the Irish can work miracles and completely change the policy of the Spanish. You may be placing your trust in a myth."
"Yes, yes. To be honest I have my doubts as well. However Berlin is adamant that we must try. They say that Spain has a long history of trying to help the Irish. Though I may not go into details—and to be honest I do know many of the details---I have been told there are things which will happens soon that will draw the attention of neutrals like Spain."
"Are you referring to Connolly’s execution? I can see a clamor amongst the Socialists for 2 or 3 days after he’s hanged, but then the noise will away and by the end of May he’s largely forgotten."
"Connolly’s execution is one matter, but I’ve been told there other more developments coming soon."
De Valera’s interest was now very stimulated "And just what might that be? Is a large arms shipment coming? Is it related to conscription being forced on Ireland. Last I heard it could well be several weeks before that happens—if it happens at all."
Major Kalle shrugged, "As I said I have not learned any of the details but I do know it goes well beyond Connolly and is supposed to happen very soon."
------Ballyheigue (Kerry) 1025 hrs
The 1st company of the 3rd battalion 4th Marine Fusiliers did not head south after it landed nearly half an hour ago. Unlike the rest of the regiment then 3rd battalion’s orders were not to participate in the capture of Fenit, but rather to extend the left flank of the beachhead to the north. One of the 3 cyclist companies of the Naval Division was due to land just before noon to scout the northern portions of Kerry.
They had a member of the Irish Brigade along with them as they marched into the coastal town of Ballyheigue at the north end of the Banna Strand. They reached the town without any resistance. When they got there a group of roughly 80 men approached. A dozen were carrying rifles, including some .22 caliber rifles. About 20 were carrying shotguns. Most of the rest were armed with some combination of revolver, pitchfork, improvised pike and sword.
The German Marines readied their weapons. "Some of them are wearing the Green Helmet!" shouted a leutnant, "hold your fire!" Nearly a third were wearing the green steel helmet. Other than that only 7 wore something that resembled a uniform.
The company was part of Kerry Brigade which Stack had managed to reach by telephone. A little more than a third of the men on its roster had yet to show. The commander of German company spoke a very limited amount of English. He fetched the member of the Irish Brigade to do the introduction. Meanwhile each side eyed the other warily.
Acting a sort of translator Sgt. Casey of the Irish Brigade made the introduction—the first real meeting of the Irish Volunteers and the Germans.
-------Berlin 1030 hrs
The Under Secretary of the State, Arthur Zimmerman had early this morning summoned the ambassadors to be present for an important official announcement. The American ambassador Judge James Gerard sat in the front row. Correspondents were also in attendance. Sitting in a chair behind him was Sir Roger Casement.
Zimmerman delivered his announcement, "A few hours ago German soldiers landed on the shores of Ireland, supported by German warships. I cannot give out an figures on the size of the forces involved. I can however clarify what the purpose of this expedition. It is to assist the brave people of Ireland in their brave efforts to free themselves from the yoke of English oppression. We have absolutely no hostility towards the wonderful Irish people as we realize that they have impressed into the European War as cannon fodder to serve the interests of English militarists. If the Irish people truly love freedom then they have nothing to fear and everything to hope from the German force now on their shores. To make sure there is not the slightest doubt on this matter, we have concluded an agreement with the distinguished Sir Roger Casement,"
Zimmerman at this point gestured in the direction Casement who half rose out of his chair in acknowledgement. Zimmerman was particularly pleased by the look of utter astonishment on Judge Gerard’s face. Zimmerman had considered making this speech in the early afternoon, but the American ambassador would likely have heard the news by then. Zimmerman continued, "Under the provisions of this agreement, copies of which will be made available, Germany pledges to support the Irish people and in return asks only for the friendship of the Irish people. Kaiser Wilhelm himself was in his great wisdom…" Blah, blah, blah
Zimmerman’s speech went on for a while. When he was done he let Casement say a few words in English. Tears rolled down Casement’s haggard face. He had not slept well since the Sonderverband had put to sea. The German military expedition he had fantasized about and come to Germany to beg for—was now a reality. The Germans had not disappointed him. He wished he could say the same for the Irish. Now we will see if they really want to be free he kept saying to himself
-------Lissadell (Sligo) 1050 hrs
Countess Constance Markievicz was back in her ancestral home, the Gore-Booth estate called Lissadell House. She had traveled to Sligo during her tour of Ireland to form sister chapters of the Transport Union which unofficially would also serve as sister chapters of the now banned Citizen Army She was also trying to encourage the woman’s auxiliary to the Irish Volunteers. She had a special reason to visit the estate house this trip. The poet William Butler Yeats who she had known from their childhood together in Sligo had been very supportive of her while she was in prison. When she was released he said he would like very much to meet with her—preferably back in Sligo which held fond memories for him.
The Countess has agreed to this request and now she was entertaining him at Lissadell. Yeats had brought a friend with him—a fellow poet from the United States named Ezra Pound, who had served Yeats as an assistant for over a year. "I must tell you Countess in the strongest possible terms how much I admire James Connolly and yourself," stated Pound with iron conviction, "it is time someone stood up to the capitalists and their henchmen. The world is in a vortex of change right now. Incredible good can be accomplished by a few operating out of the focal point—but so can the darkest evil."
The Countess did not now what to make of this strange Mr. Pound from some place she never heard of called Idaho. Yeats had clearly changed over the years and she was bewildered by his pronounced mystical side and he talked about his involvement with first the Theosophical Society and then with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Mr. Pound also shared Yeats’ fascination with the occult. Yeats in turn saw that his apprentice had become smitten with the Countess. Yeats was terribly fond of her himself but there was something disturbing about the intensity in Pound’s eyes, esp. disturbing since Pound unlike Yeats was married—only a few months earlier.
The butler approached, "Countess, I am most sorry to interrupt but there are four constables at the front door and they demand to see you immediately."
The Countess Markievicz did not like the sound of this. She frowned for a few seconds then forced a stoic smile, "Bring them here, please."
A group of four very serious looking constables approached. The early morning showers had given way to mostly sunny skies and they no longer wore their raincoats. One from his demeanor appeared to be their leader and as he approached said to the others, "That’s her all right."
The Countess stood up as did Yeats and Pound. "What can I do for you, gentlemen?" she asked nervously.
"Countess Constance Markievicz, I hereby arrest you in the name of the Crown in accord with the Defence of the Realm Act," announced the leader and two others sprang forward. One grabbed her right arm and seized her pocketbook, while the other grabbed her left.
Pound was outraged. "Now see here!" he shouted
"And who are you, might I be asking, sir?" asked the head constable.
"I am Ezra Pound, a poet and an American citizen."
The head constable turned a dark glare at Pound and replied in an ominous voice, "A poet, eh? Like Mr. Yeats, there? Probably not half as good—not that I read all that much poetry, mind you. Well as you are indeed a Yank then I’d say this is not a concern of yours."
"Ezra, please this is bad enough as it is," muttered Yeats who was irritated and embarrassed but note irate, "Surely constable, the Countess Markievicz is not a common criminal to lay your hands on in such a manner—"
The head constable softened his expression for Yeats, placing his hat over his heart, "Pardon me, Mr. Yeats, but I don’t have time to be arguing protocol what with the state of emergency—"
"What state of emergency?" asked the Countess and Yeats simultaneously.
"As if you don’t already know?" sneered the constable holding her right as he handed her purse to fourth constable, "Why the German invasion of course! You probably in cahoots with them, you and Connolly and Pearse and all the other treacherous scum—"
"German invasion? You mere here in Ireland?"
"No I mean the Fiji Islands—why of course I mean---"
"---well, now, will you loolee here," said the constable who had opened her purse. He held up a pistol.
"Well ain’t you been the naughty one," said the constable holding her right arm with his left. He then proceeded to deliver a hard slap on her backside with right hand.
The head constable disapproved. "We’ll have none of that!" he reprimanded.
Pound snapped at the last indignity. He quickly moved to forward to grab the the right arm of the right arm of the offending constable who had turned his head towards his superior. Pound spun him around then kneed him viciously in the groin. He fell to the floor doubled over.
"Get him!" yelled the head constable. At that the constable holding the Countess’ pistol ran towards Pound intending to club him with it. Likewise the constable holding her right arm released it and moved forward while he reached for his club. Sensing her opportunity the Countess tripped him and he fell forward. She moved forward as she was trying to escape. The constable saw this and moved in front of her saying, "Where do think you’re going?"
When she had been in Kilmainham Prison the Countess was upset that it been so easy for the officers to arrest. She promised herself it would be different if and when she was released. One change was to the pistol she carried in her handbag. Another was the small Italian stiletto secreted in her garments. This time she had it the sash she wore. As the senior constable reached with arms to grab her, she grabbed the stiletto and sprung the blade out with flick of a lever. Too late he saw what she was up to and she plunged the stiletto into pit of his stomach and twisted it at which he screamed in agony.
"Sorry about that," she said with a twinge of compassion but not the slightest regret. Despite his pain the senior officer fumbled weakly for his revolver. The Countess tabbed him again.
Meanwhile Pound after evading two attempts of the constable to bludgeon him with the Countess’ pistol managed to grab the man’s arms and then delivered a savage head butt. At that he dropped the gun which fell to the floor and slid a little in the direction of Yeats who so far had merely witnessed the struggle transfixed and gaping in horror. The policeman tripped by the Countess had now gotten to his feet and again came at Pound with his club.
"Don’t just stand there, William! Grab the fuckin’ gun!" yelled Pound who had in mean time had wrestled his opponent to the ground and banged his headed against the wooden floor. managed to get his hands the neck of the constable he had head butted.
Yeats quickly reached down and grabbed the Countess’ pistol. Suddenly the officer with the club transferred it to left hand and reached for his revolver, while saying," Don’t you be doing anything foolish, Mr. Yeats---"
"Shoot the fucking bastard!" yelled Pound, who now had his hands around the neck of his opponent, "Shoot!" Markiewiscz meanwhile reached for the revolver of the dying constable who in his final agonies still feebly tried to struggle. She found herself drenched in blood.
Yeats awkwardly aimed the pistol at the constable, who continued to say, "You haven’t committed a crime yet, sir, so think about it."
"Stop!" yelled Yeats as the constable raised his weapon to fire.
Yeats fired first hitting the constable in the left shoulder. He was momentarily stunned then managed to fire in return, but distracted by pain he missed—but only barely. Yeats could hear the bullet whistle past his right ear. In the background he could hear a maid screaming. Yeats now fired again. This time he hit the man in the neck and blood began to squirt out from a severed artery. The constable took half a step forward as he tried to fire again, then he fell forward and lay on the floor twitching for a nearly a minute then he lay motionless.. His blood continued to spray out and a few drops splattered on Yeats’ spectacles.
Meanwhile the police officer with a ruptured testicle tried to ignore his pain and get his own gun out. His arm shaking he tried to raise it to fire at Yeats. Once again Yeats had withdrawn into a reverie and failed to see the new threat. Pound was too rapt up in the pleasure of killing a man with his bare hands to notice. By this time the Countess had control of the senior officer’s weapon and fired. Her first shot hit in the spine and the constable stopped trying to fire. She scrambled over to him and administered a coup de grace.
The Countess’ shots had drawn the attention of Pound, who asked after the last shot, "Why did you do that, Countess? After what he did, you should’ve let him suffer for a while."
The Countess made no reply. She turned to Yeats who was taking out a handkerchief to wipe away the blood on his glasses and the tears in his eyes. "Are you alright, William. Were you hit?" she asked with deep concern.
"We are changed, changed utterly," Yeats declared with sad resignation as he wiped his glasses. His soul searched for something to clarify his predicament. Finally he recalled Arjuna’s conversation with chariot driver, Krishna as they rode to Kuruksetra. The tears stopped flowing and instead his eyes burned with a terrible beauty.
------Limerick 1105 hrs
Ireland’s fourth largest city had begun to panic. For nearly 3 hours rumors had circulated about a German invasion, though the reports varied as to what combination of Counties Galway, Clare, Kerry and Limerick had been invaded—and the latest rumor claimed that there was a landing in Bantry Bay as well. German warships had been sighted in the Shannon heading towards Limerick—and in the last half hour a German gunboat had anchored in plain sight at the edge of the harbor.
A small group of people were already fleeing the city. This included a fair number of priests who had heard that the Germans had liked to shoot Catholic clergy in Belgium. Martial law had been declared. Additional RIC had moved into the city itself and the immediate outskirts. There were persistent rumors that these forces were now fighting German soldiers advancing on Limerick. The RIC had managed arrest Mick Collivet the commandant of Limerick Brigade and Liam Manahan, the commandant of Limerick City Battalion before either was able to cause any trouble. However the commander of the King’s Island company in the Limerick City Battalion took it on his own initiative to call out his company.
He had now assembled 53 of the 141 men on the rolls. Their firearms initially 6 single shot rifles (including 3 of .22 caliber), 13 shotguns (including a pair of American pump action weapons received recently) and 28 revolvers. They had stumbled into a pair of RIC and killed them both, taking their Lee-Enfield rifles and revolvers, while one of their own men was killed and another lightly wounded. After that more RIC arrived in force and they were forced to hole up in a pub and a flower shop.
------Farranfore (Kerry) 1055 hrs
The 8th and 9th battalions of the Muster Fusiliers regiment had been formed in Tralee back in late September as part of Kitchnener’s Second New Army. In January the 9th battalion had been moved to the Ballyvonare Camp near Buttevant in Country Cork. It had experienced trouble recruiting and was still a bit short of its established manpower. This morning its men had been hurriedly assembled and to their horror informed that the Germans had landed at several places including the vicinity of Tralee. They were hustled aboard an improvised troop train. There was sufficient room for the men but they could bring along only 4 wagons and 6 horses.
Initially it had been hoped to bring them directly to Tralee. However reports arrived of Fenian activity in Tralee that denied them the safe use of the train station. So their train was brought to the town of Farranfore less than 10 miles from Tralee. The men sprang off the train eager to sweep the Germans into the ocean.
------SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II east end of Shannon 1115 hrs
. Glyndwr had launched a second seaplane. This one scouted to the east of Limerick. It came down of the Shannon near where the battleship was anchored. The observer signaled with a flashlight. "A train is approaching Limerick from the northeast, Herr Kapitan."
------Limerick 1130 hrs
The 8th battalion Munster Fusiliers had been relocated twice since it was formed in Tralee—first to Mitchelstown in November then again in February to Templemore in County Tipperary. They were quickly assembled and loaded aboard another hastily improvised troop train.
The German gunboat Panther had moved close enough to Limerick to observe the railroad station. They could see the troops pouring out. It was definitely a troop train. The gunboat’s two 10.5 cm guns opened fire. A brief wireless message was transmitted to the Kaiser Wilhelm II Less than a minute later fired a half salvo with its 24cm guns in the direction of the train’s plume of smoke. In addition to its own gunnery Panther was spotting for predreadnought which did not have direct observation of the target. Kaiser Wilhelm II deliberately fired what was meant to be intentionally long on its first round and it was nearly 3,000 yards long. Panther communicated that information to the battleship and the next half salve was also long but closer. The third half salvo landed near the rear cars of the train and caused some casualties.. The fourth half landed close to the middle of the trains and Panther indicated that Kaiser Wilhelm II should fire for effect. This continued for 6 minutes, wrecking the training and badly damaging the station.
The poor soldiers aboard tried to reach safety and some did but total casualties were nearly 600 of which more than 200 were killed. The battalion commander had been incapacitated by the blast of a 24cm shell which ruptured his ear drums and damaged his lungs. A group of 40 odd RIC who guarded the train station also took heavy losses
The Irish Volunteers in the flower shop witnessed the bombardment, esp. since it distracted the attention of constables outside. "What was that?" more than one of them exclaimed when the first pair of 24cm shell exploded
"Jesus that was loud! The German must have brought some of them there Big Bertha’s to Ireland!"
"But why are they shelling Limerick? I though they were coming here to help us?"
"That’s right! They’ll turn the people against them—and us-- if they level the city."
"Look where those two large shells just landed. It’s clearly the train station which appears to be where the small artillery has been aiming."
"Yes, yes! The British must have brought troops in on a train and that’s what they’re after. It’s a legitimate military target."
"Let’s hope the people see it that way!"
"Aye, I wish they wasn’t doin’ this. Not that I mind seeing some British soldiers getting their brains splattered."
"But it could well be some Irish lads in one of their regiments who are on the receiving end over there."
"Depends what you mean by Irish. If it’s just a bunch of them fuckin’ Prots. I say the Germans should fire faster."
"Hey, watch your tongue. I happen to be Protestant."
"No, Henry you’re one of them socialist atheists, which ain’t half as bad in my book—and besides Ian meant was Orangemen, the lowest form of Prot."
"Aye, blow all those damn bastards to smithereens I say."
------Fenit 1140 hrs
The German Marines made another attempt to storm the barricades. In many cases the defenders were down to their last 2 or 3 rounds. These were quickly fired off and then many of them began to raise their arms to surrender. This had a ripple effect on the other defenders and before the Germans reached them nearly all had surrendered. Soon afterwards colored smoke candles were activated as a preliminary signal while the flag was lowered.
------Tralee Bay 1205 hrs
The net layer, SMS Eskimo began laying an antisubmarine net off Rough Point. SMS Rossal would start to lay her nets beginning at the edge of Banna Strand within a few minutes. The plan was for their nets to come together in the middle of the bay. Lothringen, Schlesien and Heesen were already anchored inside the planned barrier Second Scouting Group would join them later. Right now it was conducting a sweep along with the B98, which was equipped with 4 depth charges. This patrol had multiple purposes including a hunt for submarines approaching on the surface. Admiral Maas had in fact sunk another armed trawler and taken a small inbound grain freighter without wireless as a prize.
A small defensive minefield had already been laid off the Seven Hogs as well. A more powerful coastal battery with strong searchlights was scheduled to be installed at Rough Point before dusk. Lothringen had begun to coal a few minutes ago. Schlesien and Hessen would be doing the same later in the day. A portion of the transports were also inside the planned Tralee Bay barrier. Some of these were starting to dock at Fenit and would soon begin to offload. Some would continue sending troops to land via the motor launches at either Camp Beach or the Banna Strand. Later other transports laden with the 6th Bavarian Field Artillery Brigade and supplies would dock at Fenit or if they were small at Blennerville once it too had been captured.
However less than half of the Sonderverband’s transport was in Tralee Bay. The rest were clustered at various places in the Shannon. Spee thought the Shannon would be difficult waters for submarines to operate in, but as a precaution a small stretch of net would be laid off Beal Point at dusk.
------Tralee train station (Kerry) 1215 hrs
Inside a tool shed on the periphery of the railroad station the O’Rahilly sprang up from behind his cover and fired off a quick round with the Lee-Enfield, then just as quickly dropped back down. It was one of the rifles they had captured when they overran the RIC patrol. Austin Stack was sitting on the floor in obvious pain. He had taken a bullet in his right thigh when they had charged the constables. He brother Jim was with him in the shed as well, periodically checking of his brother’s dressing as well as firing at the enemy. Austin Stack had lost considerable blood but had not gone into shock. There were 6 other Fenians in the tool. One of them lay face up on the floor with a hole in the green helmet he was wearing. A few of the Fenians had innocently asked if the helmets offered protection from rifle bullets. They no longer asked that question.
"Are you sure they’re coming?" the O’Rahilly asked Austin.
"Stop askin’ me that, of course I’m sure," Austin replied testily, "as I keep telling you this is the next logical objective for them once they capture Fenit."
"Yeah, yeah, you’ve told me. Did it ever occur to that Fenian mush that passes for your brain, that maybe, just maybe this is only a small raiding party? Maybe all they want is to use of Fenit for few hours and then they’ll go back to their ships and hightail it over the horizon. The whole idea might be to spark a revolt with no hope for success."
"And why in hell would they do such a pointless thing?"
"To tie down British forces that might otherwise be used in France."
Austin Stack made no immediate reply. Instead he reviewed his current tactical situation. There were fighting what he was sure was less than a hundred RIC, more likely a lot less. The RIC had made one attempt about two hours ago to rush the train station and had been driven off. Since then they engaged Stack’s men with rifle fire from range which made the Irish shotguns useless and the revolvers not much better. The Lee-Enfield rifles that they had captured earlier in the day were now well appreciated. However the men they overwhelmed to get those rifles had not carried much ammunition and Stack feared they would soon run out.
"Do you hear something?" said one of the other men in room.
"Aye, something’s going on out there---" said Jim Stack.
"D’ya think maybe it could be?"
The O’Rahilly suddenly removed his helmet. He placed it on top of his bayonet and raised it up so it was visible over the ledge. Nothing happened. He wiggled it a little. Still nothing happened.
Except he saw someone running towards them. The O’Rahilly quickly shouldered his rifle. The man in the street was not wearing a uniform but he was not wearing a green helmet. One of the men behind the O’Rahilly laid a hand on his shoulder, "Don’t shoot he’s one of our men."
"The Germans are less than a quarter mile distant" the man in the street yelled, "The constables are all running away!"
"Jim, Michael, can you please give me a hand if you don’t mind," said Austin Stack, "I need to go welcome our guests."
The O’Rahilly and Jim Stack got Austin on his feet even though it caused him great pain. Putting his weight on their shoulders he hobbled out into the street. Soldiers in feldgrau with spiked helmets approached, led by an officer. "Irish Volunteers cease firing! My men may shoot if you do!" he yelled.
"Cease firing! Cease firing" yelled Austin Stack.
The German officer looked at Stack and guessed he was someone in authority. "Are you Austin Stack?" he yelled, "we are looking for Austin Stack?"
"I am Austin Stack. What is it that you need of me?"
The officer turned to one of his men and ordered in German, "This man is badly wounded. Get medics immediately!"
"I am supposed to take you to meet with Captain Plunkett but I can see that you are in no condition to walk."
"Plunkett? Do you mean Joe Plunkett? Is there something in particular that he needs from us?"
"Yes, Joseph Plunkett. You were sent some items from America—horses and trucks that we now need. Quickly!"
------Kingsbridge Station (Dublin) 1220 hrs
The 5th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers had been formed in Dublin as part of Kitchener’s First New Army. In January it had moved to the Curragh after being stationed in Dublin for a while. It now returned to Dublin. The soldiers on the train were confused about why they were going to Dublin when the Germans were on the west coast. There were rumors of a rising in Dublin. When they arrived they learned to their relief that there was no rebellion in Dublin, though martial law and a curfew had been declared as a precaution.
------Foynes (Limerick) 1235 hrs
The local resistance had broken into two groups. The larger portion had withdrawn towards Limerick. The smaller group consisted of 14 members of the coast guard were holed up in an abandoned mill. The Germans had gained control of the harbor and were starting to unload the 16th Uhlan Regiment.
------Limerick 1245 hrs
Kaiser Wilhelm II had managed to create utter pandemonium in the poor city of Limerick. The trickle of refugees became a flood after the shelling of the train station. Some small fires had been started but the fire department was too scared to put them out. What was left of the 8th Munster Fusiliers bravely struggled to defend the city against the pincers of the German 1st and 2nd Naval Infantry Regiments, setting up its HQ in King John’s Castle. It also tried to arrange for ambulances to remove its most seriously wounded men to Nenagh. Meanwhile two companies of the Redmondite National Volunteers decided they would arm and try to assist in the defense of Limerick against the fiendish Huns. Unfortunately their assistance was not welcome. One of them ran into the RIC who seeing armed rabble without a proper uniform opened fire. The other company ran into a company of Munster Fusiliers with similar results.
Meanwhile the German Marines approached Limerick in two pincers. The RIC and what was left of the 8th Munster Fusiliers concentrated on opposing the 2nd Naval Regiment on the south bank because that was where the docks were located. Panther sporadically shelled the defenders but they had slowed the German advance there to a crawl. On the north bank the defenders made a fighting withdrawal and were holding off the Germans in Newtown Perry along Ennis Road trying to prevent the enemy from taking Sarsfield Bridge.
Meanwhile though the 1st company 2nd battalion of the 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment was sent with a special 11 man detachment of the Irish Brigade, one of which was an American would spent the early part of his life in Limerick. He guided them to the north, which proved to be undefended. They quickly overpowered the 5 constables guarding the bridge there to enter the suburb of Ardnacrusha. The company commander decided not to advance much further but sent messengers to the regimental HQ and sent out a few patrols while letting the rest of the men get some rest and eat.
------Killarney (Kerry) 1250 hrs
The 8th battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers had been formed as part of Kitchener’s First New Army. It was part of the 30th Brigade in the 10th (Irish) Division, and the brigade HQ was also aboard the train which was now unloading at Killarney. The brigade commander had very firm order not to march on Tralee. It was the vanguard of 10th Division and it was for the time being its orders were merely to make sure the area was secure for the rest of the division.
------Castleconnel (Limerick) 1310 hrs
The 6th battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers had been formed as part of Kitchener’s First New Army. It was part of the 30th Brigade in the 10th (Irish) Division. When it hurriedly boarded an improvised troop train at Naas it was told that was being sent to Limerick. But word of the disaster at Limerick station had caused the train to be stopped at Nenagh and its conductor was told to proceed only to the small station at Castleconnel only 7 miles from the city of Limerick. The conductor was far from happy. He had learned about what had happened at Limerick and worried the same fate might befall him as well despite assurance that the guns of the German battleship could not reach this far. If he was not blown away by artillery in the next few minutes he would then have to back up the train all the way to Nenagh.
------Fenit (Kerry) 1325 hrs
The first of the armored cars drove down the ramp to the pier. These were Austrian made Daimler vehicles purchased by OKW from Kronprinzessin Cecilie’s gold. Ten had been ordered but Daimler only delivered 8 before the Sonderverband sailed. . One of these now experienced engine trouble. The remaining 7 assembled at on the road to Tralee, while 20 Tartra trucks with 4 wheel drove off another vessel. At the beginning of the war the regular Jaeger battalions—but not the reserve battalions—had a column of 10 lorries. For Operation Unicorn the 1st and 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalions plus the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion have been combined to form the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment. Their motor pool had been consolidated and increased to 50 tracks plus a half dozen staff cars. The Tatra trucks carried a rifle company belonging to the 1st Bavarian Jaeger battalion plus a squad of Bavarian pioneers. Lastly there were 4 more trucks carrying a total of 1,000 rifles each with 2 man Irish Brigade crews
When they were properly formed up they roared down the road to Tralee. Meanwhile another ship at Fenit was unloading the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment.
------Gaelic American (New York City) 1330 hrs (GMT)
"I have a call from Count von Bernstorff, the German ambassador," said the operator, "do you wish to speak with him?"
"Yes, by all means out him through, operator," answered John Devoy. He wondered what this was about.
"This is Count von Bernstorff, the German ambassador. Am I speaking with John Devoy?" came the ambassador’s voice. He sounded excited with was very unusual for the smooth Bernstorff.
"This is John Devoy."
"Good morning, Mr. Devoy. I have just received some news I think you would love to hear. Are you sitting down?"
"Yes, I am. What happens to be this bit of wonderful news, Count?"
"Before dawn this morning thousands of German soldiers landed on the west coast of Ireland."
For more years than he cared to count John Devoy had waited for something like this to happen. The crotchety scales that had encrusted his soul for so long fell away. He was glad no one could see him crying.
"Thank you, Mr. Ambassador."
-------Athenry (Galway) 1340 hrs
The two Irish Brigade trucks carrying rifles had only been stopped once by the RIC and their phony documents had easily persuaded the constables, who seemed disoriented and apprehensive at the news of a German invasion. When they reached Athenry they tried to contact the young but energetic commandant of the Galway Brigade, Liam Mellows. They were unable to get a hold of Mellows, so they contacted a local pub owner name Larry Lardner instead.
"The RIC came looking for Liam a few hours ago. Fortunately Liam had heard a rumor about the German invasion and promptly went into hiding. They may come looking for me self soon so I’m thinkin’ I’ll be going to be going under cover as well," Lardner told them after they explained the details of the weapons.
"Do you know how to get in touch with Mellows?" one of the Irish brigade drivers asked him.
"I can and will find him when we need him, make no mistake. I’m sure he will be tickled pink about these. But a question if you dunna mind, me darlings. First, why no Mausers? Two of my men have Mausers brought home as war souvenirs from the Boer Wars--very satisfactory weapons. Secondly, where is a more ammunition per rifle for the Russian weapons than there is for the Lee-Enfields, eh?"
"As for why there are no Mausers, well, that’s a good question. The Germans apparently do not have too many of their own they can spare at this time—though I do think they plan to equip Kerry and Limerick Brigades with Mausers. As for why you have more ammunition for the Russian rifles that’s because the Germans think you will be able to capture some at the local RIC stations while it is bloody unlikely you will be capturing any Russians out here."
------Madrid 1355 hrs
Major Kalle returned from lunch and reviewed the latest information. One item was very unexpected. "Should we tell our advocate from Ireland about this, Major?" asked his assistant.
:"He is due to give his first speech a few hours from now, yes?"
"That is correct, Major."
"It will throw off his concentration if we tell him now. We will wait until later this evening and then tell him. That will give him plenty time to edit revise tomorrow’s speech."
"News travels slow in this country, Major. I am not sure it will even make it into their newspapers tomorrow."
------Dublin Castle 1405 hrs
Lord Curzon met with Nathan, Chamberlain and Friend. Birrell had in the last few hours alternated between panic and sullen passivity. Curzon decided not to invite him to this meeting. "Let’s start with the latest military developments, General," he started the meeting.
"Well, Your Excellency, We have lost all communication with Fenit, Tralee, Blennerville and Foynes. There may in fact be some continuing resistance that we are not aware of—esp. in Tralee--but I am afraid that we must assume that the Germans will capture all of them in a few hours—if they have not done so already. So far the only port we know for sure that they are using is Kilrush."
"I take it that the 16th Division is being assembled by rail at Killarney as we decided earlier? How long will that take?"
"Yes, it is being moved to Killarney. Your Excellency, with the exception of 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers which we are sending to Cork---" answered Friend,
"—as well as the Munster Fusiliers battalion you get butchered at the Limerick train station," chided Curzon.
General Friend was already well aware that the Viceroy was upset with him over what happened at the Limerick train station. He remained silent for a minute as he maintained his professional composure. Then answered the Lord-Lieutenant’s question, "As for how long it will take, uh, again I must state that will we had plans for using Ireland’s excellent train system in the event of a rising, this situation goes beyond that and we are encountering difficulties—"
"--Less excuses for your lack of preparation! What is your best estimate, General?"
"And what about Limerick? Has your catastrophe with the 8th Munster Fusiliers doomed any hope of holding on to that city?"
After some hesitation he shook his head and responded, "The reports from Limerick give use us cause for optimism, Excellency. Despite their heavy losses our men are putting up a heroic struggle and inflicting serious losses on the enemy. The 8th Munster Fusiliers detrained at Castleconnel about an hour ago. They should reach the city before dusk. With our assistance I am confident that while the Germans may penetrate into peripheral portions of the city we can hold on to its heart, including the docks for at least two days. In the meantime the rest of 30th Brigade is being assembled at Nenagh along with 3 of the 10th Division’s 4 artillery brigades."
"How soon can 30th Brigade reach Limerick?"
"The infantry should be able to reach Limerick Monday afternoon. It will be difficult to get any our artillery sited before nightfall, though. But seeing that the Grand Fleet is due to arrive Monday morning to obliterate the invasion fleet, this Germans should be in an awful predicament, esp. as they won’t have had use of the port" The Admiralty had informed them just before noon that the Grand Fleet was heading for Ireland as quickly as possible.
Curzon shook his head, "I have serious reservations. You have already acknowledged that the Germans have captured Kilrush and will soon have Fenit for their use. I am more concerned about other strategic and political aspects of losing Limerick even temporarily goes well beyond its value as a port. I for one do not believe our problems will instantly evaporate when the Grand Fleet arrives Monday morning."
General Friend wondered if "political" was the most important word in what the Viceroy just said. "The loss of their invasion fleet would be a crippling blow to the morale of the German forces, even if by some miracle of logistics they managed to land all their artillery, supplies and draught animals,." he answered.
"I do not want you proceeding on the presumption that Admiral Bayly and his warships will solve all our problems for us!"
"But I am not, Your Excellency! The 29th Brigade is being moved here to prevent a rising. Steps are being taken to counterattack both at Limerick and Tralee."
"—You can over the details of the rail movements with me later. Right now there are other matters I am much more interested in. Do we still believe there was a Fenian attack on Tralee? Have there been other incidents of rebellion?" asked Curzon, looking at both Friend and Chamberlain.
Chamberlain chose to answer, "In addition to the attack on the Tralee train station, there have been some small incidents reported in Limerick, Your Excellency. So far the reports are very sketchy."
"Nowhere else? And how small is small? We suspected that Stack was a member of the outlawed Irish Republican Brotherhood so his action does come as any great surprise. What is imperative is that the rebellion not spread beyond Kerry and Limerick. What is the current status of the arrests of the suspected Sinn Fein leaders?"
"Very good, Your Excellency. In addition to MacNeill, Hobson, McDermott, Kent and MacDonagh we have captured all the 4 of the 5 battalion commandants for the Irish Volunteers here in Dublin the sole exception being Eamon De Valera. We also have been unable to locate MacNeill’s secretary, Michael O’Rahilly."
"And outside of Dublin?"
"In Limerick we quickly captured Mick Collivet the head of the Limerick Brigade as well as Liam Manahan, believed to be the commandant of Limerick City battalion. They are both being held in King John’s Castle for the time being."
"Then why is there insurrection in Limerick?"
"As I said before, Your Excellency, the activity, was reported as small. I do not have any details but it could be not much more than 100 rebels involved. Likely some spontaneous action by a subordinate commander."
"What about elsewhere? Did we get MacCurtain, the brigade commandant in Cork?"
Chamberlain was finally able to grin, "Yes, we most certainly did, Your Excellency."
"Good. How about Pierce McCan in Tipperary and Liam Mellows in Galway?"
"I received word that McCan has been arrested. Unfortunately Mr. Mellows remains at large at this time, Your Excellency."
"Is there still no clue as to what rock, Pearse might be hiding under? And what of the Countess Markievicz?"
"We still have no lead on where Mr. Pearse is hiding, Your Excellency. We believe the Countess is staying at her family estate. A team of constables was sent to arrest her there, but I have yet to receive confirmation."
"Continue finding and locating the key leaders. Spare no effort in the search for Pearse! He may the key player in all of this. But it is now time to plan for the next phase which is to take place during the night."
"Do you mean seizing the weapon caches of the Irish Volunteers?" asked Chamberlain.
"Yes, but not just the Irish Volunteers! I want you to seize them all—Redmond’s National Volunteers and yes, even the Ulster Volunteer Force."
Nathan, Friend and Chamberlain all exchanged long looks. Nathan expressed what all three were thinking, "Uh, shouldn’t we cable London before---"
"No!" thundered Curzon, "I will remind you that I am the Viceroy. I have full authority to make this decision without going to the Prime Minister. I am utterly convinced that the root cause of our current crisis has been the toleration of armed political factions in this eccentric land. The German invasion has given us the justification to finally do what is necessary."
General Friend found his voice, "Your Excellency, there is no reason to seize the arms of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Clearly they pose no threat in the current situation and besides they generously donated most of their rifles to us.. The Ulster Division in fact used them as drill rifles when there was a shortage of rifles during their training."
"We both know very well that they donated only a fraction of their rifles, General. The 10th and 16th Divisions also experienced a lack of rifles so they had to train with pieces of wood as a substitute The UVF did not donate any rifles then. The largest stash of arms remains in the hands of the Ulstermen. If they pose no threat then there is no reason they should offer any resistance tonight They should set a good example for the Redmondites."
"But what? But maybe the First Lord of the Admiralty won’t like it. I take full responsibility for this decision and will deal with Carson when the time comes. And the prime minister as well if I must."
----- Ardnacrusha 1420 hrs
The German Marines had their weapons ready. Seven poorly armed Irish men plus a woman with a pistol and a butcher’s knife were approaching. One of the men was quite old and coughed a great deal. Another was heavily freckled young lad looked to be only one or two years past puberty. Only two wore green helmets and they were leading the others. This pair resembled each so much that some of the Marines correctly concluded they were brothers. One of the carried a .22 caliber rifle and the other a double barreled shotgun. The only other weapons carried by the men in the group consisted of one sawed off shotgun, 2 pistols, 2 pitch forks and a machete.
"I am Dennis O"Connor," said one carrying the rifle as he slowly approached the German, "and this here is my brother Kevin. We are part of the King’s Island Company of the Irish Volunteers. Our commander sent word this morning for the company to assemble in King’s Island but when we tired to join them we found all the bridges guarded."
A German Lt. who had learned a little English in the preparation for Operation Unicorn looked at them shaking. In particular the sight of an armed woman disturbed him. "Wait. Some Irish to you come."
"Other Irish? Splendid!"
In a few minutes 11 men wearing the IRA uniform arrived. They were are all carrying shotguns—10 autoloaders and one pump action. The man carrying the pump action shotgun talked briefly with the German Lt. who pointed to Dennis O’Connor. The IRA officer turned to Dennis, and said, "The Leutnant here tells me you appear to be in charge of this little group."
"Ah, well, sort of, uh, sir. You’re an officer, right? Sure like your uniform. My name is Dennis O’Connor by the way," he said with a friendly grin extending his hand.
"I am Captain Harry Calahan of the Irish Republican Army," said Calahan as he shook hands.
The Irish hissed and gaped. "Are you the Harry Calahan, the one who—"asked the woman in the group.
"Yes, ma’am I happen to be the Harry Calahan, the man responsible for the Germans winning the Battle of Utsire," he answered pointing proudly at his Iron Cross. Some of the German Marines who spoke English better than the others rolled their eyes at this. "Now I am going to liberate Limerick," he continued boastfully.
------Killarney (Kerry) 1455 hrs
Another troop train arrived at Killarney. In addition to the 9th battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers the division’s cyclist company was aboard.
------BEF HQ Abbeville 1505 hrs
"General French, one of our pilots returning from a patrol over the Channel says he has spotted a large fleet of warships roughly WSW of here heading in our direction. He further claims that he got a good look at their ensigns and they were German."
It took about a minute for this to sink in. "Get more planes in the air to confirm this report as soon as possible."
"Are the cables to First Amy working, again?" asked French.
"Then send a wireless message to First Army immediately. Tell them German battleships have been sighted approaching the coast and that it is too dangerous for I Army Corps to make use of the coastal road."
------SMS Freidrich der Grosse 1530 hrs
Admiral von Ingenohl could see the French coast as well as the Zeppelin out of St. Omer which had joined them. "Flags. Signal all ships to make an 8 point turn to port in succession. Execute."
-----White House 1535 hrs
"This is likely to have domestic repercussions," President Wilson told Secretary Bryan, "though it is not clear to make right this instant what they will be I think most Irish Americans have moved beyond the romantic balderdash which is Fenianism."
"I would like to think so, Mr. President," replied Bryan, "will you be convening the Cabinet this afternoon."
"Uh, no. It’s Saturday. I don’t see our problems will blossom instantaneously—if they blossom at all. The Cabinet will meet Monday morning. You should spend the rest of day getting what information you can. Tomorrow we should pray more than ever."
"I could not agree more, Mr. President."
-------Baal’s Bridge, Limerick 1545 hrs
The 2nd battalion now had 3 companies across the Shannon. Leaving behind a platoon to guard its line of communication at Ardnacrusha, the rest followed the O’Connor brothers towards Ball’s Bridge which crossed the Abbey River into King’s Island. Dennis left Kevin and his other compatriots with the bulk of the battalion and proceeded with 6 German marksmen—one who spoke very good English--to a church which was hidden from the bridge on its ground floor but which had a clear view from its tower. Dennis entered the church unarmed and found two women in it. The older woman was saying her rosary and barely noticed him. The younger turned to him, "There are no confessions today if that’s why you’ve come. The priests have all left on account---"
Her eyes widened with fear and she stopped speaking when she saw the German Marines entering. The older woman turned around and opened her mouth as if to shriek.
"Shhhh" went Dennis with a reassuring smile and a wave of his hand. "It will be alright. They mean you no harm. You have my word on it. Go back to saying the rosary."
The German Marine who spoke English handed Dennis a Lee-Enfield. The women were transfixed with apprehension but remained silent. Dennis quickly led the Germans up into the tower. One of the Germans genuflected and crossed himself as he passed the altar. Up in the tower they could see that there were only 4 constables guarding the bridge. Two of them were engaged in a heated argument while another was urinating in the Abbey River.
When then firing began the two woman screamed then ran out of the church. Meanwhile rest of the battalion charged the stone bridge. The guards did not present a problem when they got there. The 2nd battalion –as well as their Fenian friends--stormed across the bridge into King’s Island.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 1555 hrs
"Flags, signal commence firing," Admiral von Ingenohl With the Zeppelin helping it to spot the High Seas Fleet commenced its bombardment of the British I Army Corps. Some of the battleships targeted the coastal area but the primary target was the main road heading south from Berck. First Army HQ had insufficient time to get a warning to the divisions using the vulnerable road. The 1st Division fortunately had largely left the road but its howitzer brigade, most of its ammunition columns and the 26th field company had lagged behind on the portion of the road targeted by the High Seas Fleet. These units suffered heavy casualties with half of the howitzers destroyed. The elements of the division that were not shelled left the road and sought cover. The result of this was the 1st Division was dispersed just at the time it was trying to enter the critical fighting around Noyelles.
The 29th Division to the north suffered the worst. It was completely strung out along the road. Men scrambled about in a frantic search for cover and found little. Men in the open perished from shrapnel and blast. When the shelling moved on over 2,000 men had been killed and nearly 5,000 more wounded. More than half the draught horses were dead or dying. They had lost a third of their artillery and more than half their ammunition. What remained was scattered all about the road which had become seriously obstructed for a protracted stretch.
North of the 29th Division were 6 RGA batteries—half armed with 4.7" guns and half with 60 pounders. They lost nearly half their men and a third of their guns.
As the bombardment advanced it took less of toll of the 48th South Midlands Division to the north. For one thing the patchy clouds began to interfere with the Zeppelin’s ability to observe and the shelling wandered off the road. But more importantly a false report of a periscope caused Ingenohl to order the bombardment terminated a few minutes earlier than planned. The 48th Division’s total casualties were barely 400 men. But it too had dispersed seeking protection.
North of the Authie River, the 2nd Division found itself only indirectly impacted by the bombardment. It was involved in fighting a rear guard action against the German XXVII Reserve Corps which had finally become involved in the pursuit of First Army. It had hoped to withdraw across the Authie at dusk but now find its route barred by the dispersal of 48th Division to the south.
------Rathmore 1610 hrs
This small town was on the border of County Cork and County Kerry. The rail line which connected Kerry to both Cork and Dublin ran through Rathmore and there was a small rail station located there, now guarded by 15 members of the RIC. They had been told that in Kerry some members of the Irish Volunteers were aiding the Germans and that Rathmore was a possible target.
And it was—but the attackers were not poorly armed Fenians. Strange looking motor vehicles encased in metal roared down the road from Castleisland towards the station. As they drew near the constables could see a turret atop these demonic contraptions. It began to dawn on them that there just might be Germans inside these vehicles. The lead armored car opened fire on the station with its machine guns.
Soon armored cars dominated the station with machine gun fire the Tatra trucks with the Bavarian Jaegers arrived. They occupied the station and quickly set up strong points. Soon the pioneers began destroying the tracks with explosives. The 4 trucks carrying rifles and ammo did not stop when they reached Rathmore but continued on into County Cork.
------Tralee (Kerry) 1625 hrs
After a hard march from Farranfore the 9th Munster Fusiliers flung themselves at Tralee with heroic determination but little caution. Their wagons including the one with their only Vickers machine gun had lagged behind. They had been very little intelligence about the enemy strength at Tralee. It now consisted of 6 rifles companies from the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment, plus 4 rifle companies and the machine gun company of the 4th Marine Fusiliers. The Germans had positioned a battery of 77mm field guns belonging to the 6th Bavarian Field Artillery Brigade Neither the Marine Fusiliers nor the Bavarians had not entrenched nor laid any barbed wire (all of which was still aboard the ships) but they had strong points set up. The commander of the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment told Austin Stack in the most emphatic terms not let his Irishmen get in the way. He did let Stack and the O’Rahilly have a good post from which to watch the way war was waged.
-----King John’s Castle (Limerick) 1635 hrs
The Marine Fusiliers had swept through King’s Island, encountering little resistance—though there was maybe three dozen constables engaged in an urban firefight with what they assumed was the company of Irish Volunteers that the O’Connor’s had told them about. Both the German battalion commander had agreed to let Captain Calahan’s men take part in the assault on the castle itself, thinking that inside the castle their shotguns may indeed prove to be a superior weapon. Kevin O’Connor claimed to be have been inside the Castle several times before and so he was allowed to accompany Harry Calahan. The rest of Volunteers were told very strictly to keep out of the way.
"Why are you all armed with shotguns?" Kevin asked Harry.
"That’s a good question, Kevin," answered Calahan, "I have this notion that there are a lot of tactical situations where a shotgun might prove to be very effective weapon. One of them is trench warfare but another is house to house urban fighting And it looks like this here castle is going to be another. So I persuaded General von Frenchie to investigate the potential of shotguns. Now apparently the Browning autoloader is made somewhere in Belgium. So he sent some people out and while the Belgians trashed the factory they found some parts lying around and were able to assemble about 70 without too much of a bother. Supposedly Devoy sent you some autoloaders and pump action types."
"Yes, that’s true, our company received two of each," answered Kevin
"Hmm. It doesn’t sound like the old coot was able to get too many. Maybe that British lapdog, Woodrow is causing trouble. Anyway the general then goes ahead and let’s me form a small unit. I hand picked 10 men in the Irish Brigade who were both willing to participate and showed some promise. We worked out tactics for using shotguns in small groups. I am supposed to given command of a company of you Volunteers pretty soon and I working on the idea of arming at least half the men with autoloading shotguns and grenades."
While Kevin found this all very interesting noticed something strange about two of the German pioneers. "Do you see those men with tanks on their backs, Captain Calahan?" he asked, "what’s that all about?"
Harry grinned, "I make fun of the pig headed Germans a lot, but I have to give the devils their do. They do come up with some nice toys. You see, there is this engineer, I think his name is Redman He had a really good idea and the Germans have had some success with it in the Argonne Forest. General von Frenchie thought it might come in handy here in Limerick. Plunkett and I pointed out that the version they were using was just too good damn big for this sort of an operation—you need something that can be brought into action quickly. So we got them to make something smaller even though Krauts like everything big--"
The explosive charges detonated. One of those men Kevin was referring to jumped in front of the hole just created and a dragon breathed fire into the castle’s courtyard. "Jesus Christ! Bloody fire!" he shouted in astonishment and horror.
"Nice isn’t it?" replied Calahan, then in a louder voice he commanded, "We have a castle to take. Let’s do it."
With that all twelve of them sprang out from behind their cover and the Germans hosed the courtyard with flame. As they ran in the courtyard they see and smell screaming men burning. Calahan was in the lead. There was two men in a doorway into the keep. One was trying to help the other who had been burned. Too late he saw Harry barreling down on him and he caught a shotgun blast before he could fire his Lee-Enfield. The burned soldier had taken a few pellets from the blast but still tried to close the door. Harry slammed into the closing door taking the impact on his helmet. He burst into the entrance way and when the burned soldier tried to resist him he smashed him in the solar plexus with the stock of his shotgun and when he fell to floor struck him again at the back of his head..
He then quickly pumped his shotgun striding forward. A Tommy came rushing forward. Harry wounded him badly with another blast of his weapon. Meanwhile the rest of men were entering behind him. Kevin was with them but the sight and smell had made him nauseous.
"Which way do we go?" Harry demanded.
Kevin tried to answer, but instead vomited on the floor. Shouts in Germans could be heard behind them. "Now that you got that out of your system?" sneered Calahan, "Can you please tell me which motherfuckin’ way do we go?"
The infantry then charged from their positions into the Castle After a half hour of desperate fighting inside the walls during which the Germans made good use of the grenades the defenders lacked the Germans had captured King John’s Castle. It had served as the HQ for both the RIC in the city as well as 9th Munster Fusiliers. More than half the ammunition for the RIC and militia was stored there along with a large stockpile of food.
The Germans released Mick Collivet, the commandant of Limerick Brigade and Liam Manahan the commandant of the Limerick City battalion.
-----Chicago 1650 hrs
Sandeep Singh Puri was giving his stock speech to a modest crowd of Irish Chicagoans with varying degrees of interest in the cause of Fenianism, "The aspirations of the Indian people are basically the same. They want to be masters of their own destiny. It is to be free of bondage to plutocracy which rules the British. It for this reason that the plight of James Connolly is felt just as deeply…."
He stopped speaking because he sensed a change in his audience. They were murmuring amongst themselves instead of listening to him. He looked at his few Ghadars who look disturbed. He looked at Agnes Smedley who threw her hands up in the air and shrugged. It was only a modest crowd so he took the liberty of asking them directly, "Er, ah, excuse me, kind people, but has something happened that I should know about?"
"The Germans!" someone yelled.
"Well what about the Germans? What have they done now?" he asked the crowd. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Only in this morning’s Chicago Tribune did he learn they had used poison gas.
"Ireland! The Germans have invaded Ireland!"
------King John’s Castle 1655 hrs
They heard another explosion. This time it sounded like it was just down the hallway.
"Granate," commented the German prisoner with his right arm in a sling.
"I think that means, ‘Grenade’" Liam Mahahan said to Mick Collivet, the commandant of Limerick Brigade. There were 9 prisoners in the cells. In addition to Manahan and Collivet, there were 2 German prisoners—the one wounded fellow who just spoke and another who had gotten separated from his unit and had been captured without a scratch. He appeared to be deeply ashamed about his capture and talked little with the other prisoner. Three of the prisoners belonged to the King’s Island company of the Irish Volunteers. They had tried to join their company after the fighting started and had been caught on the way and arrested by the RIC. One of them had a black eye, a swollen jaw and a badly cut lip as a result of saying things he probably shouldn’t have after being arrested. Lastly two of the prisoners were members of one of the National Volunteers companies which had assembled. Those two kept telling the constables how they were only trying to defend Limerick from the Germans. Nobody listened to them.
Harry Calahan burst into the room followed by Kevin O’Connor and two of his men. There were red stains on Harry’s uniform. A little portion of it was his own—caused by a small bit of shrapnel from one of his own grenades. He moved around the room with his shotgun ready to blast away.
Kevin knew the battalion commandant well, "We’ve taken the castle, Liam! We’ll get you out now!"
"Where the hell are the damn keys?" Harry asked the prisoners.
"They’re in the desk, top right hand drawer," answered Collivet.
"Sprechen Sie, Deutsch?" the wounded German prisoner answered hopefully.
"Ich habe deine Mutter Gefichte," answered Calahan with a wink.
The wounded prisoner gaped. The unwounded German prisoner briefly chortled at that then went back to feeling ashamed.
"Do you know who this is, Liam?" said Kevin, "This is Harry Calahan, the Harry Calahan!"
"Oh my, well, uh, this is a great honor, Mr—"
"It’s Captain. Though they should make me a fuckin’ major for this don’t you think?"
"Well, yes I suppose so. I am Michael Collivet, the commandant of Limerick Brigade. We are in forever in your debt, Captain Calahan."
"You and the German Navy."
"So if there is anything I can do—"
"—King’s Island company."
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"I want command of King’s Island Company. Except we need to give it a new name. This island ain’t the King’s no more."
"Uh, well, uh, what would you suggest?"
"I don’t know--how about Sturm Company Calahan?"
------Lissycasey (Clare) 1705 hrs
A cyclist company of the German Marines had pedaled their way up from Kilrush and reached this village on the main road to Ennis a little more than an hour ago. There had been a fairly brief firefight with a dozen RIC, killing 3 of them and capturing the rest. Their orders were not to try to take Eniis themselves but to reconnoiter the area looking for good places to site artillery and to make contact with friendly Irish forces. They would be joined soon by the Naval Division’s sole cavalry squadron. After a long sea voyage horses needed a few hours to recover. The 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment advancing from Kilrush was to make the attack on Ennis early the next day supported by artillery.
Art O’Donnell was the Vice Commandant of the West Clare Battalion. He had been unable to get in touch with Eamon Fennell the battalion commandant and suspected that he had been arrested by the RIC. He came up from Kildysart with a contingent of 28 men. There was a member of the Irish Brigade with the cyclist company and he acted as translator for cyclist company commander. .
------Limerick 1710 hrs
Despite being slowed some by refugees fleeing the city, the lead company of 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers now entered the city of Limerick to witness with a mixture of anger and worry the wrecked train and damaged station. There were still corpses—not all of them in uniform lying around the area. Crows and a few dogs were already feeding on some of the corpses. The soldiers did not get too close both out of horror and fear that the Germans might resume shelling this target. Almost as disturbing was the sense of chaos. A bus arrived from Tipperary to discharge 15 more constables who had no idea of where they were to go or who they were to report to.
The company moved to the southwest where the heaviest fighting was going on. The commander was so upset with what he had seen he ordered an immediate counterattack on the German positions. Even before Utsire, OKW had considered possible amphibious operations. One of the things that had occurred to them was the need to get their Maxim machine guns into action quickly. They had designed a less heavy version of the machine gun which they called the Maxim 08/15. The machine gun companies of the 1st and 2nd Naval Infantry Regiments were armed with this experimental weapon. The weapon was still sufficiently cumbersome that there had been problems getting into action this day but the 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment had 4 of them deployed by this time—in addition to their automatic rifle company. On British platoon was almost completely wiped out. Another lost half its men as casualties.
The battalion commander arrived on the scene and seeing what was happening rebuked the company commander and ordered an immediate cessation of the attack. He then located one of the company commanders of the 8th battalion. "You can’t believe how happy I am to see you, colonel" the captain said, "The damn Germans have been steadily pushing us back. We were not provided any bombs and the Germans had plenty and know how to use them As far as rifle ammunition we were not able to get much ammunition off the train and pretty soon my boys will be running out. Some of the constables already have and they tend to surrender almost immediately when that happens."
"Where can I find Colonel O’Meagher? He did survive the--"
The captain frowned, "Oh, he survived the train station, sir, though he was lightly wounded—in one ear I think. The problem was that somehow the Huns managed to infiltrate King’s Island and that’s where his HQ was set up—in the castle. We received word that the castle was under attack and send reinforcements but all I could spare was 10 men—things are that desperate here."
"I understand, holding the docks is the most important ---"
"Captain, Colonel, sorry to interrupt, but I think you should take a look at this," said a corporal, pointing in the direction of King John’s Castle.
The two officers looked. "Why is someone raising our divisional flag over the castle?" asked the corporal.
------Tralee (Kerry) 1715 hrs
The commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, General Otto von Gyssling, had landed at Blennerville and now met with Austin Stack and Capt. Plunkett. After Austin watched the beginning of the slaughter of the 9th Munster Fusiliers—which both gratified and disgusted him, German medical personnel tool him to an improvised field hospital and removed the bullet in his thigh. He was now groggy from morphine, but level headed enough to ask, "You’ve come to ask me about the horses, right?"
"As a start, yes. Herr, er, Commandant Stack," replied the general, who had gone through a cram course in English as preparation for this expedition.
"Well, uh, let me see. I received roughly 600 horses from the Clan na Gael in the United States, which Joe here has told me was paid through some complicated loan you arranged for Devoy. I was told to keep them in either Kerryor Limerick—and when I found out Collivet had received even more I decided not to send any to Limerick. Uh, where was I? Oh, where in tarnation did I put them. I kept about 80 out on the Dingle Peninsula. A little less than 200 are in the north in a couple of places. The rest I sent well to the south, most not too far from Killarney."
The General reverted to German. Stack was pretty sure that were profanities of various sorts. "We are you upset?" moaned Stack, "nobody told me I was supposed to keep them all in any particular place. Is there a problem I didn’t send any to Limerick?"
Plunkett laid a reassuring hand on Stack’s shoulder, "No, Austin, it’s not your fault. It’s just we had made certain assumptions. First, that Devoy would send 3,000 horses and that half of them would go to Kerry and lastly that most of them would either be here or in the north. That means we thought at least 1,000 horses would be available here very quickly—and now we find there are less than 300."
"Just what is the damn problem, Joseph? Did the Germans forget to bring their own?"
Plunkett cast a glance at the fuming general, then answered, "It’s like this Austin. He had some constraints about how many we could bring with us. We only had so much transport and the more horses we brought the fewer men, weapons and ammunition we could bring. So it was decided not to bring the full establishment of horses. The 6th Bavarian Division arrived with only half its usual number of horses—except for its cavalry regiment which has all of theirs. The German Marines have only about a third of their horses. The Germans were counting on making up the about half the shortfall with the horses Devoy sent from America."
"Well I only got 600 and I didn’t lose them or anything. Can’t you fetch them from Killarney?"
The general answered, "No, we cannot. The British moved sizable forces into Killarrney. We had a plan we hoped would prevent this but it took longer than planned to take Fenit and the British organized trains faster than anticipated---"
"---we have good trains in Ireland," interrupted Stack groggily.
The general scowled at being interrupted. He then reminded himself this was a wounded man, and softened his expression. "So our airplanes report a sizable concentration of forces around Killarney," he concluded.
"Well then why don’t you taken your division down, their kick their damn ass and take the bloody horses?"
The general shook his head in disgust. Plunkett answered for him, "They were going to go to Killarney anyway, Austin. In fact it’s important that we take Killarney as quickly as possible. To that achieve that objective the 6th Bavarian Division needs hoses. The lack of them is going to impair its mobility."
Before Stack could reply to that, the general asked, "You were also supposed to get some motor vehicles from America—what happened with those?"
"Oh, I got 55 trucks and 8 motor cars from the Clan na Gael. Since you don’t have to feed them but they do need petrol, I kept 20 trucks and 4 of the cars here in Tralee. The rest I distributed around the County in little bunches—about half to the north and half to the south."
"Well that isn’t too bad---" Plunkett began.
"—Nein! No! We had hoped Devoy had sent you least 100 trucks," the general contradicted testily, "I do not see anyway I can tell General von François that we can capture Killarney Monday as scheduled."
------Ennis (Clare) 1720 hrs
The commander of the Ennis battalion of Redmond’s National Volunteers had just before noon issued orders for his men to assemble in order to defend Ennis from the Germans. A little more than an hour ago the local RIC had arrived and ordered his men to lay down their arms. Since then the standoff had continued. The number of National Volunteers had grown to nearly 250. Some men had begun to slink away in the last few minutes muttering things like, "If they are going to be that way, to hell with them."
The RIC had grown as well reinforced by packets of constables arriving in motor vehicles as some of members of the less well armed militia so that the National Volunteers only outnumbered them by about two to one. Like the Sinn Feiners the Redmondites were poorly armed. Only about 30 of them had rifles and half of those were .22 caliber. None of the other rifles were Lee-Enfields—unlike the Sinn Feiners, Sir John Redmond had forbidden any attempts to pilfer from the RIC. The rest were armed with shotguns, pistols, knives and pitchforks.
"Put down your arms now!" yelled the leader of the RIC for nearly the hundredth time. One of the other constables came over and whispered, "Er, we need to wrap this up soon, sir so we can begin preparing our defenses against the Germans. Perhaps if we make it clear that we will let everyone go once they lay down their firearms. We can let them keep their pitchforks and knives for the time being."
"No! My orders are very clear. We are to arrest the obvious leaders. That’s plural. Dublin will decide later whether or not to press charges or to release them with a warning. For the time being Chamberlain simply want them in custody."
"If was up to me, sir, I say let them go fight the Germans. They wouldn’t last 5 minutes!" remarked another constable.
"While we just might survive maybe 15 minutes," sarcastically remarked still another very worried looking constable.
A Sinn Feiner had joined the group. He had left the National Volunteers only three weeks ago and some of the men thought he still belonged though one person eyed him suspiciously---for good reason. The Sinn Feiner suddenly raised his revolver and fired two shots at the constables and then ran away. The nervous constables immediately opened fire. The National Volunteers were bewildered. Most tried to run away but a few with firearms returned fire.
------Bruff (Limerick) 1735 hrs
"What the hell is wrong with this darn contraption," yelled the driver and beat the engine chassis with his floppy hat in frustration. . It was not the first time he had asked that question. Still another pair of arms trucks with a crew of the Irish Brigade had landed at Foynes soon after it was captured. Their destination was the town of Tipperary. Unlike the similar convoy which had left Kirlrush no one was particularly knowledgeable on the county, First they had gotten lost for a while but eventually they overcame the usual male reluctance to admit they were lost and asked for directions. The next problem was that one of the trucks suddenly stalled and refused to start up again. That was nearly an hour ago. Since then they had tried to everything to get the truck moving again—to no avail.
After two minutes of yelling, kicking and flailing futility with his hat, the driver turned to the crew of the other truck and said, "Maybe it’s best if you go on without us."
------King John’s Castle 1750 hrs
Collivet and Manahan discovered to their pleasant surprise that the telephones were still working at the castle and tried to make several telephone calls. Manahan was unsuccessful in contact his officers in Irish Town company—the shelling of the train station at had disrupted all phone service in that part of town. He did succeed in reaching the deputy commander of New Town Perry company and ordered them to form up and move to King’s Island. Collivet had failed to reach either the commandant or the vice commandant of the Ennis District Battalion. He did manage to contact the commander of the fairly large Ennis city company and learned to his amusement that a confrontation between the RIC and National Volunteers had degenerated into an exchange of gunfire. Many of the Redmondites had fled but others fought.
"Here is more good news, " said Colliver as he hung up the telephone, "Michael Brennan is already calling out the entire East Clare battalion. Once Killaloe company has assembled it will march here."
"What about the horses?" the battalion commander asked Collivet.
. "I received a around 1,100 horses from the Clan na Gael in the last week.. It was a generous gift but it also presented the problems of where to keep them. Devoy had sent us about a 10 days supply of fodder for them I could only keep around 80 around here. The rest I split up. There’s close to 400 scattered around other places in County Limerick. The largest concentration is at two farms on the outskirts of Ennis each of which about 200 horses. There is another ranch near Crusheen with about 150 horses."
"And what about motor trucks?" asked Captain Calahan, "you were supposed to get some of those as well."
"I received exactly 92 trucks. I kept 18 in and around Limerick. There are two dozen at Ennis. The rest are scattered in small groups in both counties."
"There is six of those trucks not too far north of here—they were assigned to King’s—I mean Sturm Company Calahan—for safekeeping," remarked Kevin O’Connor.
"What sort of trucks?" asked Calahan.
"American Mack trucks. Most of them were one and three quarter ton load vehicles."
"We took along only a fraction of the horses we need. We can also make good use of motor vehicles, esp. trucks. Taking control of the Limerick docks is our most important objective but once that is done we need to get those horses and the trucks."
"Why wait?" asked Calahan, "it sounds like there is a whole gaggle of goodies just waiting for the taking at Ennis. If we wait until tomorrow the British may move some real soldiers into Ennis. There is a rail station in Ennis, isn’t there?"
"Yes there is a rail station, but taking Ennis is the responsibility of the 4th Marine Fusiliers. I can’t spare any men to go marching off to Ennis."
"I wasn’t thinking of your precious Germans. I know for a fact you captured a bus, 2 trucks and 4 motor cars here at the castle. I also heard you captured at least 70 Lee-Enfields so far today. You should also have some spare Mausers from your own casualties. Let my company have those and give us the bus. Together with the Mack trucks they have nearby I can quickly load my company aboard and go pay a visit to Ennis. If we arrive with some good weapons we can help the local company of Irish Volunteers take the town and round up all the trucks and horsies Commandant Collivet here says are nearby."
"The British could have an entire battalion at Ennis by now. I cannot authorize it."
"Oh, come on, Major. Didn’t you hear what Commandant Collivet said a few seconds ago? The Volunteers in Ennis are going to rise up one way or another. From what I’ve seen of Irish weaponry in these parts they are likely to get themselves slaughtered. General von Frenchie isn’t going to like that. I think we can prevent. If the garrison Ennis proves too strong for us then we’ll hop back on the bus and skedaddle but at least we’d have done some importance reconnaissance."
"Show some respect! It is General von François! I can see you Irish are going to be much trouble. But against my better judgment I will let you have ---what is the word, uh temporary, right, I well let you have temporary use of the bus. So you can go get your big Irish balls shot off!"
"Well that is mighty kind of you, Major. By any chance might we have a little bit of that dynamite we found here—"
"What! Don’t tell me you know how to handle explosives—"
"I don’t personally. But Andy here," Calahan pointed to one of the members of his Irish Brigade shotgun unit, "It so happens he worked in coal mine in West Virginia and has some experience with the stuff. I want him to be the first official Irish pioneer."
"I hope that doesn’t mean I have to give up drinking," remarked Andy.
"Only while you’re handling dynamite."
"OK then. That makes sense. Though I may need a drink afterwards."
The battalion commander could not believe the gall of Calahan and wanted very much to say no. He had been instructed by the brigade commander to give the colorful Captain Harry Calahan some leeway and reluctantly admitted to himself that the crazed Celt had proven useful in the capture of the castle. "If I give you some dynamite will you promise not to blow up the bus?"
The major didn’t know what that meant, but assumed it was yet another flip American slang that amounted to an affirmative. "Do not ask for anything more! Nothing! Not a verdammt ding! Get out of my hair! Leave before I change my mind and decide to have you arrested. GO!"
"Mucho gracias, Herr Major. You have yourself a pleasant evening now."
------just east of Banteer (Cork) 1805 hrs
The train was carrying the 7th battalion Royal Irish Rifles to join the rest of 48th Brigade at Killarney. The 75th field engineer company was also aboard. If the train had made it to the station at Banteer it would have been stopped there and told the Germans had seized Rathmore, which was the next station down the line. However, before it reached Banteer it set off an explosive charge laid by Bavarian pioneers brought to this area in one of the Tatra trucks. Four of the Daimler armored cars lay waiting nearby. They emerged to strafe the derailed train with their machine guns then sped off back to Rathmore.
------Gaelic Athletic Association London 1815 hrs
The club was abuzz with the news of the German invasion. There was a considerable range of opinion and a fistfight had already begun. Michael Collins took Sam Maguire aside and told him. "Forget everything I said about the Germans leading us on. If I ever meet Kaiser Wilhelm I will shake his hand and apologize profusely for ever doubting him."
"Just be careful what hand you shake. So are you going to try to go back to Ireland—or are you going to take that pretty woman up on her offer."
"Going back to Ireland may prove to be difficult now. On the other hand, she said Plunkett thought we could serve better here. I’ve been thinking. We both work in the post office and handle a great deal of military mail. I bet we could find out a lot that our allies might find helpful."
------Limerick 1825 hrs
After the slaughter at the train station, ‘B’ company was the strongest company in the 8th Munster Fusiliers. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. O’Meagher decided to send it across Sarsfield bridge to shore up the militia and RIC trying desperately to hold off the German Marines in Newtown Perry. Nearly 50 soldiers had made it across the bridge when the gunboat Panther realized what was happening and opened up on the bridge. This caused only 9 casualties but it prevented the rest of ‘B" company from reaching the other side of the Shannon.
The RIC in this area had not husbanded their limited ammunition. When they ran out they usually surrendered almost immediately.. The German strength in Newtown Perry steadily increased as more and more Marines were offloaded downriver. The Munster Fusiliers had hoped to hold on until nightfall when it was hoped reinforcements could cross the bridge in dribs and drabs but the German Marines now mounted a determined assault covered by a pair of MG 08/15 and overwhelmed them.
The 6th battalion of the Munster Fusiliers had meanwhile sent its ‘C" company to try to retake King John’s Castle only to be driven off Thomond Bridge by the German Marines. In the sector southwest of the docks Munster Fusiliers from both the 6th and 8th battalions fought together to stop the Germans. When the two Vickers machine guns belonging to the 6th battalion were positioned things began to look better. The Germans were now deploying still another new weapon in the attack of Limerick—1st and 2nd Naval Infantry Regiments each had a platoon armed with four 3.7cm infantry guns. These weapons were small and agile—making it easy to land them from the transports and bring them into action. Their shell only held a weak bursting charge and they were having a very limited impact on the battle. At one time General von François had considered giving some of these weapons to the Irish Volunteers but had concluded that they would require a level of marksmanship he could not expect from the partisans and instead pursued another option.
Then came anxious reports that the German 2nd Naval Regiment had taken Sarsfield Bridge and were crossing the Shannon in strength covered by their machine gun company and the gunboat. This meant the enemy was now to the northeast of the docks outflanking their position. The Munster Fusiliers of both battalions tried franticly to redeploy to meet this grave new threat.
------SMS Blucher off Valencia Island (Kerry) 1850 hrs
Admiral Maas watched in satisfaction as the British torpedo boat burned. Second Scouting Group together with the B.98 had gone out on a patrol along southern coast of Kerry. They had spotted a British to the east a few minutes ago and quickly trapped it along the coast. It likely had been approaching the landing area to make a night torpedo attack. Maas was still upset at Admiral SPee for letting the damaged British protected cruiser slink away earlier. He took out his frustration on this poor torpedo boat.
------Nolette (France) 1900 hrs
The bombardment by the High Seas Fleet delayed the planned counterattack by the British 1st Division by an hour. Even with the delay the 5 batteries of 18 pounders could provide a brief preliminary bombardment due to the disruption to their ammunition column caused by the German fleet. A further delay in the attack was considered but the situation to the south at Noyelles was desperate as the defenders there had completely exhausted their stock of shells, while the Germans had brought up additional 17cm minenwerfers during the day and the Prussian Guards were now slowly clawing their way into Noyelles..
------south of Tralee 1905 hrs
The men of the 9th Munster Fusiliers had with the utmost bravery attacked the Germans at Tralee. If courage was all that was needed in this war they surely would have succeeded. But as many others had discovered to their sorrow in this cold frustrating war, courage was not enough. They encountered 77mm artillery and machine guns. They were outnumbered and most of their enemy were the hardened veterans of one of Germany’s finest units—the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division. When their assault failed with bodies piling up on the verdant Irish fields they had tried to retire only to be counterattacked on their left flank by companies from a different regiment in the same accursed division. Most of their wagons were captured as the battalion fled in disarray to the south—towards Killarney where the rest of their Brigade and ultimately the rest of their division would assemble. What had started the day as battalion was now barely a company.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse 1920 hrs
Admiral Ingenohl watched in trepidation from the bridge of his flagship as he again entered the Straits of Dover. He tried not to think about all the possible threats to the High Seas Fleet. He stared at the sky. It was mostly cloudy but there were gaps in the clouds that would let light from the waxing gibbous moon through. He hoped that by entering the Straits at twilight was his best to minimize the potential threats. There was still enough daylight to handle a torpedo attack by Dover Patrol and what was left of Harwich Force. The shoals and sandbars of the Straits themselves were difficult waters for submarines. Ingenohl had sent 6th Scouting Group and 2 of his flotillas ahead to scout for submarines. One of the flotillas was to coal at Dunkerque later British submarines were more likely to be stationed on the outer edge of the Strait. When the high Seas Fleet arrived there it would be dark—except possibly for the bright moon—which might peak out from behind the broken clouds. Strong moonlight would increase the otherwise negligible possibility of submarine attack but on the other hand it would make it easier to defend against torpedo attacks by British destroyers while he was in tight waters that would give him little freedom to maneuver.
There was also the possibility that the British had laid mines in his path. Minesweepers covered by costal artillery had scoured the waters from Boulogne to Gravelines during the day. They had found only two mines—hopefully leftovers from previous British mine-laying and not indications of a fresh effort. Still mines were yet another worry of the Grand Admiral.
His greatest fear remained the Grand Fleet which he assumed to be lurking on the other side of the Straits to pounce on a High Seas Fleet weakened by a combination of mines, submarines and night torpedo attack. The fact that Zeppelins and airplanes had failed to find the Grand Fleet did little to reassure his worrisome mind. The fact that he only had 12 dreadnoughts plus Moltke made him uneasy. Since he had begun this sortie Kaiserin had been released from the yards and awaited his return at Cuxhaven. There was also the heartening prospect that Ostfriesland, which had been so severely damaged back at Dogger Bank in December should be finally completing its repairs in the next two days.
------Limerick 1945 hrs
The 1st and 2nd Naval Regiments had finally linked up. There was a trapped pocket of 21 Munster Fusiliers holding out at the docks. A flamethrower was brought in and that problem was soon eliminated. After that a signal was given to Panther, which relayed it to Admiral Spee aboard Lothringen in Tralee Bay via short range wireless, that the Germans could begin using the docks.
Meanwhile on King’s Island a bus followed by 6 trucks rolled up to the flower shop and pub where much of King’s Island company had taken shelter. Before the German Marines had arrived two more members of the company had been badly wounded in the fight with the RIC. When the Germans had arrived the 20 constables who had pinned downed the Volunteers were soon overcome with the Volunteers awkwardly fighting alongside the German Marines towards the end. They decided to celebrate and invited their rescuers to share some beer. Some of the Germans accepted the offer. In the meantime six more men of King’s Island –plus another armed woman who claimed to be a nurse--finally showed up.
The O’Connor brothers now entered the pub with Calahan following behind them.
"Well, lookee here," said the company commander, then that they were simply more stragglers, "Now that all the fighting is over you two finally show your faces. Must’ve heard there was free beer. Well go ahead and pour yourselves a pint, while you tell us what you were doing while—"
"They were helping me and the Germans take King John’s Castle," answered Calahan.
"And who might I be talkin’ to—you in them there fancy uniform?"
"I happen to be your new company commander."
"Hold on, me darlin’, I happen to be—"
"--This is Captain Harry Calahan—yes the Harry Calahan," interrupted Dennis O’Connor, " He and some other specially trained Irish Americans helped the Germans take the Castle. We freed Collivet and Manahan and the commandants both agreed to give him command of King’s Island company."
"Except we’re calling it Sturm Company Calahan from now on," added Harry.
"You’re, you’re the Harry Calahan of the Vaterland at Utsire?" asked one of the Volunteers in amazement.
"And you really captured King John’s Castle?"
"With a little help from these folks," replied Calahan as he walked over to where some of them were sitting and drinking and wondering what the hell was going on with their new Irish friends. They stared at Calahan with idle curiosity as he approached. One of them raised his pint of beer as if to toast. "Haben sie nicht eine Krieg zu siegen?" Calahan asked them pointedly. He then turned back to the Irishmen and ordered, "There is a bus and some trucks waiting outside to chauffeur your pampered Irish fannies to Ennis which I intend to capture before midnight. So get your sorry asses out of your chairs, and move it. NOW!!!"
------HQ Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht 1955 hrs
"General Ludendorff, I have Feldmarschal Conrad on the telephone. He insists on talking with you immediately."
Ludendorff gritted his teeth and prepared himself to do battle! "This is General Ludendorff speaking."
"You insufferable braying German jackass! I have been able to do nothing this day but deal with cables and telephone calls from my generals about the abuse you are putting them through. I have already sent several messages to both Feldmarscal von Moltke and Crown Prince Rupprecht about your intolerable lack of courtesy."
Hmm, whom do I loathe, detest and despise more—Conrad or Rupprecht? Ludendorff thought to himself. Definitely Conrad. Is there anyone I hate more than Conrad? .
"General Conrad, please show some respect. If you haven’t forgotten I am in the midst of planning an invasion of Serbia to begin tomorrow morning. This time we are going to do it right. To that end I insist that all elements on the coalition follow my orders---"
"What? This you are doing it right? How dare you insult the Imperial and Royal Army. How dare you insult me, you steaming pile of weasel shit! Why couldn’t it be you they sent to Ireland?"
HUH???? Did the bastard just say Ireland? Ireland!!! "Uh, could please you repeat that, Feldmarschal?"
"Certainly! I just called you a steaming pile of weasel shit! Which is what you are!"
"Grrr. No, no, you Austrian swine, you said something about Ireland."
"Oh, didn’t your friends at OKW tell you? Your Army invaded Ireland this morning! An utterly stupid move! Moltke and Tirpitz must have lost their minds. They never listen to me when it comes to Grand Strategy. If they had this war would be over by now."
"Invade Ireland! Is this a joke?"
"You are the joke, General Ludendorff. I am serious about the invasion of Ireland. It will be the newspapers soon."
"This is insane! This expedition is doomed to failure. What a waste of good German troops. I pity the poor General assigned to lead this suicide mission!" thundered Ludendorff, who then realized with the utmost disgust that he had just admitted agreeing with Conrad on something.
"We have no official word, but rumor has it that General von François is leading the expedition. It would explain why he suddenly disappeared with General von Dellmensingen filling in for him."
Ludendorff suddenly recalled that there was indeed one person he detested even more than Conrad. Could this be true? Could his archenemy be the one assigned a mission sure to lead to failure and capture—maybe even death? Conrad only claimed it was a rumor but on pure intuition Ludendorff concluded that it must be true. He smiled broadly, "Thank you, General Conrad. Thank you so very much for sharing that with me."
"What?! You being sarcastic you insufferable little worms—"
"I have to hang up now. It really has been nice chatting with you, Feldmarschal. You probably think I am being sarcastic but I really mean it."
"Was that General Conrad again?" asked Prince Rupprecht, who had walked over during the conversation..
"Yes, it was, Your Royal Highness."
"Hmm. Might I ask why you look so contented right now? Normally you and he fight like cats and dogs."
"If he were here today, I would kiss him, Your Royal Highness."
------Dingle (Kerry) 2005 hrs
The 1st Seebattalion had been relieved at Rough Point by a Bavarian rifle company. A coastal artillery battery including a searchlight detachment has landed Blennerville in the last 3 hours and was being moved to Rough Point with one gun at time being towed by a motor car. The Seebattalion had received its wagons but its draught animals were currently only 12 horses and 8 mules which made it difficult to move. Nonetheless it was now told to complete the subjugation of the western half of the Dingle Peninsula. Some its men were climbing up Mount Brandon, which was the second highest mountain in Ireland to establish an observation post. Along the main path coming from the west the ascent required no special mountain skills but a lot of walking. It was hoped to have a communication wire laid before mid-morning the next day.
Meanwhile a company of the Seebattalion had reached the sea town of Dingle on the south side of the peninsula to find a curious situation. A company of about 60 Irish Volunteers had attacked 7 man RIC station, fatally wounding one. The remaining constables held off the Irish Volunteers and a company of 110 National Volunteers arrived. For once the constables were glad to see the National Volunteers and fought alongside them. It was now the Irish Volunteers who were in a bad situation—that is until the German Marines arrived.
------Ennis (Clare) 2010 hrs
Harry Calahan with his 71 armed men and 2 armed women had approached Ennis from the ENE. They dismounted from their lorries. The RIC had expected the main threat to the Germans advancing out of Kilrush through Lissycasey and so concentrated mostly in Castleclare, the small port of the Fergus River to the south of the town
The morale of the RIC in Ennis was shaky. The bizarre fight with the National Volunteers had not made things better even though only two constables had been hurt—one lightly wounded by a .22 bullet and another badly bitten while trying to arrest one of the Volunteers. In return they had killed 3 Volunteers, wounded a dozen and arrested more than 30. The encounter made the RIC extremely suspicious of the local inhabitants. They had fairly good intelligence that a large German force including artillery had heading for Ennis. The Royal Irish Constabulary had been trained to be more than policemen but they were not meant to take on a modern army with artillery and machine guns.
There was a lone constable as a sentry on the road where Sturm Company Calahan approached. One of Harry’s 10 shotgun specialists had been lightly wounded in the fighting in the Castle. The other nine now accompanied at the head of the company. Four of the larger members had a Mauser and carried their shotgun over their shoulder. In the fading twilight the sentry saw men in uniforms approaching. He had been told that the Germans wore Green uniforms and wore helmets. These men wore helmets and green uniforms. The sentry did not notice that the shade of green was not feldgrau--neither did he notice the absence of pickelhaube on the helmets which were steel not leather. Behind them he could barely make out other shapes heading towards him. Other than the fact they were carrying rifles he could not make out much.
The sentry did not want a closer look. He fired one very hurried shot than ran screaming into Ennis, yelling, "The Germans! The Germans are here!" Fearing that the sentry might be leading his men into an ambush Calahan pursued cautiously. Before he had arrived the constables had seen a few real Germans on bicycles to the southwest. They were also reports of German cavalry approaching. The constables now feared they would be caught between two pincers and full fledged panic set in. Some quickly boarded motor vehicles and headed out for Inagh to the northwest. Others fled on foot to the west. Now and then a shot or two was hastily fired at Sturm Company Calahan and they just as ineffectively returned a few rounds. Eventually they were all gone leaving Calahan’s small company in charge of the town. He reached the small railroad station and Andy soon destroyed a section of track with dynamite.
After that they quickly located the local jail where there were 26 prisoners. Only one looked to be wounded and not very seriously. The Redmondites who had been severely wounded in their skirmish had been moved to a nearby hospital. "Well, well what have we here?" asked Captain Calahan who pumped his shotgun ominously
"Please, please! I am not one of them," shrieked one of the prisoners, "I only stole a rich lady’s purse."
"The Captain here is none other than the famous Harry Calahan," remarked Dennis O’Connor, "and he doesn’t mean you any harm."
"Are you of that Dennis?" said the Captain with a wicked grin as he turned his shotgun towards the cells.
"The Harry Calahan who stormed the bridge of the Vaterland?" asked one of the prisoners in awe.
"You’re lookin’ at him," replied Calahan.
Dennis was beginning to worry that the Captain might be seriously considering executing all the captured National Volunteers. "Listen," he said addressing the prisoners, "we will be willing to let any of you go who is willing to swear by Jesus and his Blessed Mother that he will not fight against either us or the Germans—"
"I swear, I swear by Jesus, Mary and all the saints in Heaven—" said the thief.
"Shut the fuck up you pathetic little cutpurse!" snarled the leader of National Volunteers to the thief, who then turned to Dennis and Harry, "you’re all fools—and worse than fools-- to be trusting the despicable Germans. Haven’t you heard of Belgium?"
"And you’re a bigger fool to be thinkin’ that Home Rule is ever going to happen. Pope Benedict will take a bride before this Unionist government will ever let the Irish control their own country" replied Dennis, "And who was it that shot at you today, eh? Was it the Germans? Doesn’t that tell you something?"
"He’s right, Timmy," said the wounded prisoner, "I for one would be willing to swear an oath."
"And I for one would be willing to join them," said another.
"Now that’s what I like to hear--"
One of members of Sturm Company Calahan suddenly burst into the room, "Captain Calahan, you better come outside, sir"
"Don’t let anyone out before I return," Calahan told Dennis O’Connor then went outside.
The sun had set but there was some street lamps lit in this section of town. A group of men approached. A dozen were German Marines with bicycles. About 60 were members of the local company of the Irish Volunteers. A few of them appeared to be familiarizing themselves with newly acquired Mosin Nagants.
There was also someone wearing the uniform of the Irish Brigade. When he saw Calahan, he saluted. "Captain Calahan! This is a surprise! I thought you were involved in the assault on Limerick. What are you doing here? I am Sgt. Ned Donoghue. I came up from Kilrush with a bicycle company. We were ordered to make contact with the Irish Volunteers and prepare for tomorrow’s attack on Ennis by the 3rd Marine Fusiliers. We met the men of Ennis company here a little while ago and they said a several hundred Germans had made a surprise attack on Ennis from the northeast which caused all of the RIC to run away. We were a bit surprised by this news because we had been told 1st Naval Brigade would be too occupied with the assault on Limerick to send units to Ennis."
"The only Germans here are those fellows with the bicycles you brought with you. Sturm Company Calahan—formerly known as King’s Island Company captured Ennis all by itself. Now let’s ask the leader of Ennis Company where he keeps all his horses."
------HQ Belgian 5th Division 2040 hrs
General Horace Smith-Dorrien had arrived by motor car at what he sarcastically referred to as the City of Brass. That was because the Belgian 5th Division called itself the Belgian National Liberation Expedition and had many Belgian generals running around in addition to its divisional commander, Lt. Gen Guiette Whenever Smith-Dorrien tried to get the Belgian division they would interfere with all manner of protests about their standing an independent national army. Smith-Dorrien could not afford to argue with a legion of frustrated under utilized Belgian generals for several days. So in the motor car we decided it has necessary to cut the crap and go the top.
It was not something he had been looking forward to.
When he arrived at the HQ the first Belgian general he met was Harry Jungbluth. Smith-Dorrien considered this as a favorable development for several reasons. Jungbluth spoke good English, and was one of the more practical Belgian generals.
"Let me make this simple, General Jungbluth, I do not have time for fuckin’ protocol bollocks. I have a very serious situation. I need a decision made quickly. And the only way that is going to happen is if I speak with King Albert. Immediately if not sooner!"
A major at General Jungbluth’s side was upset. "General Smith-Dorrien this is unacceptable behavior and you know it. How dare you treat His Majesty as if he were some page boy you can summon on a whim. General French, will hear of---"
General Jungbluth was staring hard at Smith-Dorrien. He could see the seriousness of the situation writ large on the man’s face. Furthermore some news of the German offensive in Crecy Forest had reached this HQ in the morning, though the details were vague. Jungbluth now suspected the situation was extremely serious. He placed a hand on the major’s should and said, "Protocol is indeed important but other things are more important. Go find His Majesty and tell him that his presence is urgently required."
------Buckingham Palace 2105 hrs
The War Committee had bee summoned to brief their sovereign on the day’s awful developments. This did not come as a surprise nor the fact that Lord Kitchener had also been summoned as well. What did come as something of a shock was the presence of Sir John Redmond.
"Yet another dreadful day in this awful war!" King George lamented, "Now that it has happened, it seems fairly obvious I suppose. My cousin is not the first to think Ireland is the Empire’s Achilles Heel. I remain confused about the Germans were able to get to Ireland. Did they go through the Channel?"
Carson answered, "The Admiralty thinks that to be highly unlikely, Your Majesty. It is much more likely the Germans went around the Faeroes."
"So they managed to elude the Northern Patrols?"
"You see, Your Majesty, when the German fleet…" Carson began and suddenly stopped himself. What he was going to say was, "When the German fleet recently sortied 8 days ago, we felt they might be sending battle cruisers to raid Northern Patrols and withdrew them." The reason he did not say that was he remembered that they had not informed the King of that sortie.
"When the German fleet did what, First lord?" asked King George curious at the abrupt stop in the Caron’s statement.
Carson began to feel like a witness who had said too much on the stand He thought Kitchener was about to speak—Kitchener knew of the prior sortie. Sweat broke out on his forehead and he responded before Kitchener could comment, "Uh, er, well uh, you see, er, what I meant to say , Your Majesty, was that when the German invasion fleet reached the Faeroes there had just been a period of intense activity by German submarines off the Faeroes and we temporarily reduced our patrols there and there never were as thorough as we have wished." Carson felt relieved that he had not had to lie outright to the Crown—there had indeed a series of German U-Boat attacks on the 10th Cruiser Squadron earlier in the month.
"You should revisit the admittedly tricky topic of how best to balance scouting needs of the Grand Fleet and the valid requirements of the various patrols. Accelerating the conversion of suitable merchantmen into AMC’s may be called for. What is your best estimate as to the size of the invasion force both in terms of men and the warships?"
"The nucleus of the force appears to be predreadnought a very strange mix of the 11" gunned classes and the totally obsolete 9.4" gunned battleships. There are also some cruisers involved as well as the hybrid cruiser, Blucher. Even if Inflexible was out of the yards this force would be too strong for her to handle alone. As for the troops, so far ie have only firmly identified only components of the German 1st Naval Division"
"Could they really believe they could conquer Ireland with a single division?"
"I did not say they only have one division, Your Majesty, only that we’ve have only identified one division so far."
King George turned to Kitchener, "Lord Kitchener the topic has now shifted to your area of expertise. But I must say this that you must be finding this German invasion particularly distasteful. If I recall correctly you hail from Kerry."
"That is correct, Your Majesty. Ballylongfourd to be precise. It’s in the north near Beal Point. If the Germans and the Irish traitors have not captured it already I am sure they will do so in a few hours. And yes it makes this situation even more painful."
"And what is your assessment of the military situation in Ireland? Is my understanding correct that we have 3 divisions in Ireland."
"We and we do not, Your Majesty."
"Parson me, Field Marshal but I fail to understand what you are trying to say."
Kitchener turned sideways to give Redmond a withering look, then turning back to his sovereign, "We do indeed have 3 divisions of the New Army in Ireland. However none of them is completely trained nor fully equipped. Furthermore, I consider two of them to be of questionable loyalty under these circumstance—"
Redmond exploded, "Lord Kitchener, if you are saying that the 10th and 16th Divisions cannot be relied on to defend Ireland from the Huns, I must protest in the strongest possible terms. That--that is utter calumny!"
Bonar Law was glad it was Kitchener and not himself that made that bold assertion. While King George generally sympathized with the Unionists, Kitchener’s insinuation had shocked him as well. "Lord Kitchener, I too am taken aback this evaluation I know full well there are traitors in Ireland—we have the vivid example of James Connolly, but I cannot believe there could be more than a thousand who would welcome the Germans and surely not a single soldier serving in my Army."
"There is only one division we can rely on in Ireland and they have no artillery whatsoever, Your Majesty. Even if the Germans have landed only a single division, we will need to send reinforcements to Ireland. The sooner the better."
"Again I must protest this slander, Your Majesty," interjected Redmond, "Not only can 10th and 16th Divisions be relied on but I shall go further and offer to call up the companies of the National Volunteers to assist---"
"Absolutely not!" thundered Bonar Law.
"But Prime Minister, the National Volunteers were formed precisely to defend Ireland," countered Redmond. He could see Carson shaking his head in disgust.
"Gentlemen! I respect differences of opinion but must insist on civility!" commanded King George.
"Yes, Your Majesty," was muttered by all in attendance.
"Good. Now then let us make a few observations if we might. First, we think it unwise to send as much as a single battalion to Ireland as long the Grand Fleet is away. You should not loose sight of the very real possibility that Ireland as even the disturbing enemy offensive in France are merely feints meant to seriously weaken our home forces."
"If I might be so bold to interrupt, Your Majesty, I might add that it would dangerous to send troops to Ireland until the Grand Fleet arrives. In the late afternoon our station at Valencia Island reported seeing what they believe was Blucher and one of the enemy light cruisers heading southwest. This may portend a raid into St. George’s Channel."
"There seems to be no limit to the temerity of the Germans. But you are right—this is another reason to hold off on reinforcing Ireland. Another is that I had full confidence that all the divisions in Ireland are loyal. I concede however that there are valid concerns about their equipment and perhaps even their training. If the Germans have landed only a single division then they should be more than sufficient—even if a few malcontents aid them. Indeed I expect that the fact that they are literally defending their homes should make them downright ferocious! If the German force turns out to be more than that they should still be able to cordon them off until we feel it is safe to reinforce Ireland."
Kitchener did not look at all pleased but made no comment. Instead Bonar Law said with some sincerity, "This is most prudent advice, Your Majesty."
"Good. Now our next point carries that logic further. There is no need for anyone but the military and the Royal Irish Constabulary to take up arms in this situation. Is the Ulster Volunteer Force assembling and arming, First Lord?"
"Er, I have only recently received unconfirmed reports that some of the units may be assembling, Your Majesty. With the enemy threatening their homes and families—"
"Yes, yes. We most certainly can appreciate and sympathize that but still we do wonder if it is wise. If they assemble then the National Volunteers will want to assemble and that will only add to our problems."
Redmond felt besieged. The whole fabric of all that he had painstakingly worked for was unraveling. The only person present besides himself that he did not regard as a Unionist was Lloyd-George but the Welsh Wizard was something of chameleon and the dominant color here was orange "I must again state that my National Volunteers are totally loyal. There is some possibility MacNeill’s .tiny splinter group may rise up an apparently some elements of it have gone and done so in Kerry—"
"If I might interrupt, has MacNeill and his entourage been apprehended?"
Bonar Law nodded with a trace of a smile, "Dublin has informed us that MacNeill was promptly arrested, Your Majesty, along his many of the leaders of his so called Irish Volunteers. We hope to make still further arrests of leaders within that organization during the night."
"Well that at least is promising. Sir John, we have no doubt that many of your followers are loyal subjects. Our concern at this time is public order must be upheld. To that end it is our wish that you to sign a declaration tonight—to be reaffirmed in a public speech tomorrow morning---firmly ordering the members of your organization, the National Volunteers, immediately surrender all firearms to the Royal Irish Constabulary."
Redmond’s jaw dropped and he trembled. For a nearly a minute they were all silent while Redmond stared hard at Bonar Law. The Prime Minister was sure Redmond had wrongly concluded that he had counseled the Crown in advance to make this request. When Redmond finally spoke he turned instead towards Carson and pointed angrily, "And will the First Lord sign a statement asking his men, the Ulster Volunteer Force, to lay down their arms, Your Majesty?"
"We do not see any reason to make that request."
"The Ulster Volunteers are also an armed paramilitary group."
"Yes, we readily concede that. It is just, well, uh, it is just they pose no threat and in fact may serve as an invaluable reserve if the situation deteriorates."
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, I again sense an implication that the National Volunteers are not completely loyal."
Lloyd-George could see Redmond was in agony and tried to extend a sop, "What His Majesty is asking is really for their own good, Sir John. From what I understand the armament of your forces is woefully inadequate for them to be taking on the German Army."
"That is because the Kaiser gave the First Lord here a great deal more rifles than he---," Redmond’s voice was shrill at the beginning of the sentence but faded at the end, unable to finish it.
Lord Kitchener finished it for him "More than he gave you, eh?"
"That was MacNeill’s doing—him and Pearse and a few others."
The atmosphere had become very tense. Carson was barely controlling his outrage. Lloyd-George made one last attempt at least partial reconciliation, "First Lord, I have heard reports that several companies of the Ulster Volunteer Force had begun to arm themselves."
Carson turned an ominous eye on Lloyd-George. He had indeed received cables that some companies had begun doing so spontaneously while others were requesting his permission to do so. He decided to downplay his knowledge and his role, "A few reports to that effect came to me in the last hour or so. I want to make it clear that I did not take the liberty of calling them up without first consulting the prime minister and Lord Kitchener."
Redmond shook his head and snorted in disgust. Carson glared at Redmond and was about to say something heated when Bonar Law spoke, "You were quite right of you to hold off until consulting us, but I think it is a plainly good idea if they do form up."
"Is it, Prime Minister?" asked Lloyd-George, "Are they to march on down to the south and take on the Germans? If they are seen bearing arms while the National Volunteers have been instructed to surrender their arms won’t that provoke resentment? And even if they remain in Ulster is it not a fact that many of them work in key war related industries. Unless there is an immediate threat to the north we would be served better if they disbanded. They can always be called up if --Heaven forbid-- the situation deteriorates."
King George now spoke, "I was on the verge of concurring with you, Prime Minister, but the Chancellor here has just raised some excellent points."
Slowly intuiting that Lloyd-George was trying to patch together a compromise, Bonar Law scratched his cheek pensively then forced a smile and said, "Why yes indeed, Your Majesty. The Chancellor does indeed make excellent points. Don’t know what we’d do without him. Perhaps the best solution—for the time being mind you—is that the First Lord should call upon the Ulster Volunteer Force to postpone assembling while Sir John here calls on his so called National Volunteers to surrender their arms. This does indeed seem to a course of action both prudent and fair."
"It is not!" yelled Redmond simultaneous with Carson simply yelling,"NO!"
"Show some respect in the King’s presence—both of you!" the prime minister reprimanded.
.King George looked most uncomfortable and was on the verge of saying something when Lord Kitchener spoke up, "Sir Edward, while I would love to throw the entirety of the Ulster Volunteers against the accursed Germans and not just those in the 36th Division, I feel compelled to urge restraint. While they would without a doubt rend the invaders limb from lib with their great ferocity they would I fear also suffer serious casualties in the process—such being the cold nature of this inhuman conflict. We cannot afford to waste too many of these precious warriors now for surely we will need them later."
While the words were addressed to Carson, it was Redmond who answered with suspicion, "What is it you are implying Field Marshal? Just where will you be needing the Ulster Volunteer Force later?"
"Why in France, of course, Sir John. Don’t be a complete fool," said Bonar Law tartly.
Kitchener nodded just slightly, "Yes, France and elsewhere."
Redmond’s fury and suspicion continued. "Aha! And just where is this elsewhere, Field Marshal? By any chance are you referring to Ulster, hmm?"
Kitchener remained silent and merely stared at Redmond as if he was an annoying insect. Lloyd-George stared at Sir John Redmond and felt pity as if he were some poor wretch in the final stages of consumption wheezing away his last tortured breath of life. Lloyd-George then cast a quick disparaging side glance at the Field Marshal. He sensed that Kitchener was taunting Redmond. The country—not to mention my own immensely important political career—stand in dire peril and these stubborn Unionists recklessly persist in pursuing their agenda!
------Limerick 2110 hrs
Elements of both the 6th and 8th battalions of the Munster Fusiliers made a combined counterattack on the German 1st Naval Brigade in a desperate attempt to regain control of the docks. The attack failed suffering 75 casualties. The RIC continued to arrive by car, truck and bus in penny packets from as far away as Thurles but their combat value remained limited. The commander of the 6th battalion had assumed command of the 8th battalion as well. He saw a real threat that the Germans might encircle both battalions in their present position esp. if they came across Thomond Bridge in strength. He reluctantly ordered the two battalions and the RIC still fighting alongside them to pull back to east. For the night he would try to hold a line that ran through the damaged train station. During the night he was confident it would be safe and they would be able to retrieve the bodies there as well as the ammunition that had never been unloaded.
Before dawn he planned to pull back still further. There was a possibility that the German battleship might resume shelling come twilight with the German Marines spotting for it. The Munster Fusiliers would try to maintain a toehold on the eastern portion of Irish Town while the waited for 30th Brigade and the artillery to arrive from Nenagh.
------Kilkee (Clare) 2115 hrs
A company of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers had marched up from Kilrush at midday to seize control of this port. It took them a little more than an hour to overcome 10 constables and 12 members of the coast guard. Towards evening a company of the Irish Volunteers made contact with the German Marines. Of the 98 men on its rolls, 77 had assembled so far at the school which they had appropriated to be their base. The company now had a new commander. His name was Hans and he had previously been an efficient unteroffizier in the Heer. He had volunteered to be part of the Irish Brigade and now wore the German devised IRA uniform with a brevet rank of captain. He had been assigned command of Kilkee company.
The Germans had initially given Kilkee a few Mausers and captured Lee-Enfields—and very little ammunition. Less than an hour ago a horse drawn wagon arrived with 80 Mosin Nagant rifles in crates and some ammunition. The Irishmen gleefully unloaded the crates inside. Hans wondered if should arm the entire company with the Russian rifles. It would make the possibility of confusing ammunition in the middle of a battle less likely. He wasn’t keen on giving up his own Mauser though. He put off that decision as he demonstrated to the Irishmen in the auditorium how properly to use their new weapon.
One of the two men assigned to be a sentry entered the room escorting a young woman. Her name was Barbara. She was an unmarried 20 year old woman who lived with her parents on a nearby farm The former commander of Kilkee company recognized her. "What brings you here, Barabara?" he asked.
"I want to do you boys a favor. In return I want you to do me a favor."
Barbara was a not particularly attractive woman being overweight with a masculine jaw. Still some of the soldiers nudged each other and muttered risqué speculation about the nature of the favor she would be asking.
"I make no promises but if your favor is meaningful, I will find some way to repay you," replied the former commander.
"Stop sayin’ what y’er saying and thinkin’ what y’er thinking," she snarled giving them all a reproving look with her fierce green eyes.
"Well, then get to the pernt, Barbara. Don’t be wasting our bloody time because if you haven’t noticed we happen to be in the middle of a revolution."
"Oh, I’ve noticed and that’s why I’m here. My da is part of the local National Volunteers company. They are assembling now and plan to attack the Germans before midnight. Their commander though had no chance against the Germans during the day but might surprise them at night. My da decided not to answer the call. He is thinking things over right now and I have a sneaking suspicion that he be will joining you fellows sooner or later---"
Hans had some limited knowledge of English before volunteering for the Irish Brigade. He had become rather fluent in the preparation for Operation Unicorn. He now interrupted, "From which direction will they be coming?"
"From the north."
Hans was one of those people who struggled when it cam to remembering people’s names. Speaking to his assembled company he asked, "Which of you men said you spoke German fluently?"
One man then two more raised their hands. Hans pointed to the one who raised his hand first, "You there. Go—I mean run as fast as you can to the German HQ and tell their commander that there is going to be an attack by the Redmondites coming from the north very soon. Go, quickly!"
"Jawohl, Mein Kapitan! Ich gehe!"
.Hans shook his head and frowned. Plunkett had warned the Germans in the Irish Brigade that the Irish would like appear to insubordinate at times.
"Thank you, Barbara. Now what is the favor you be askin’ of us, eh?"
At that Barbara strode over to one of the open crates and grabbed a Mosin Nagant. She raised it high and declared in a loud voice, "I want to fight beside you!"
------HQ Belgian 5th Division 2125 hrs. .
King Albert entered the room accompanied by General Jungbluth. "I am so very glad you consented to see me on such notice, Your Majesty," said General Smith-Dorrien.
"General Jungbluth here has informed me that the situation is very grave."
"That unfortunately is most correct, Your Majesty. If anything it is an understatement."
"Oh dear, How can we be of assistance, general?"
Smith-Dorrien licked his lips briefly, "I need your division. One mixed brigade can hold your sector of the line—at least for two days. I want to use the rest to counterattack the German salient into our position, which threatens to destroy First Army."
King Albert sighed then alternated between deep frowns and unconvincing attempts at reassuring smiles, and finally responded, "General, you put me in an awkward situation. You must know that we were ably to field this one division at an effective strength by reinforcing it with troops and equipment from the other two divisions we were able to save at Ostend. As the Germans occupy the entirety of my unfortunate land, I can only call upon émigrés as a source of further manpower and as anticipated that source is very limited. Yet it is vital that Belgium field a credible force at the front, a force which is ready for the cherished day when they can return to their homeland as liberators."
King Albert paused. It was not clear if he would continue his thought. General Smith-Dorrien did not wait to see if he would elaborate further, "Your Majesty, let me be blunt because the situation now is truly desperate. If the Germans cut off and destroy the British First Army it will be more than a year before your men will be returning to Belgium. It may even allow them to win the war in the next few weeks. If that happens I do not know if there will even be a Belgium."
Albert raised an eyebow at the last item then tapped his lips pensively. After nearly a minute he turned an acquisitive eye towards Jungbluth, who took it as his cue to comment, "We have only had very limited information of the current German offensive which did not give us a full picture of just how serious the situation is, Your Majesty."
"So you feel committing most of our only fully operational division is justified? And that the line can be held in this sector can be held with only a single brigade?"
"Our intelligence boys believe the Germans holding this sector are thin. That is because they do not expect an attack from you."
A few seconds King Albert’s expression grew stern, "Are you implying that we are cowards."
Well sort of. "Uh, nothing of the sort, Your Majesty! I am afraid you misinterpreted what I was trying to say. You Belgians have perfectly good reasons to husband your limited manpower," replied Smith-Dorrien who wanted to cross his fingers as he said that.
Jungbluth frowned. It was good that Smith-Dorrien was in the military and not the Foreign Office. He worried that his king was deliberately looking for a reason to take offense so as to have an excuse to turn down the request.
Albert looked only partially appeased by Smith-Dorrien’s clarification. He took his time before replying, "I sympathize with the plight of your army, but surely you have other alternatives—the French surely must have at two divisions they can provide quickly."
"That’s a good point, Your Majesty but General Foch has made it clear that they are tied up in their offensive trying to take Amiens. General Wilson is going to talk with General Joffre early tomorrow morning," replied Horace, "and even if they had spare divisions, they are further away and would take longer to arrive. I cannot overemphasize how critical time is in our current crisis."
"Well then, I will convene my own staff first thing in the morning and we will see if we can afford to comply with this request."
Jungbluth cleared his throat, "With all due respect, Your Majesty, it is my professional opinion that a decision cannot wait until the morning."
King Albert continued to resist an immediate decision. Finally he asked Smith-Dorrien, "Come now, is it really that urgent that it can’t wait until the morning, general?"
Smith-Dorrien began to lost hope. He envisioned the king convening his assorted generals tomorrow morning and reaching no conclusion. He tried a desperate device, "Let me make clear just how serious this situation is, Your Majesty. Tomorrow afternoon I am personally leading the attack that I hope will let First Army escape. You heard me, Your Majesty. When it’s time to go over the top I am going to lead the charge. It’s that serious."
Both Albert and Jungbluth gaped in astonishment. Albert sighed deeply then looked at Jungbluth who merely nodded.
------Castleisland (Kerry) 2130 hrs
The town of Castleisland had once been the capital of County Kerry, which had moved to Tralee. Since then Castleisland had declined but still remained a local market town of some significance perched on the River Maine. It had begun this day like many other Saturdays. Then news had come of a German invasion fleet landing at Tralee Bay. The small contingent of RIC in the town being slowly reinforced by the tiny outposts in neighboring villages when suddenly German armored cars thundered into Castleisland. Some crossed over the Maine on the strongest bridge. Some of the RIC fled in panic immediately. The rest fired their Lee-Enfield rifles as rapidly as possible. When they saw some of their shots bouncing off the vehicle’s armor they tried to retreat but after two of them were mowed down by the machine guns on the armored cars they surrendered to a platoon of Bavarian Jaegers dismounting from some trucks which had followed behind the armored cars.
There were other trucks carrying men who did not dismount. Instead when it was determined that the communication center with its bridges were secure, crossed the Maine and headed southeast with the armored cars again in the van. The Jaeger platoon had with them a single Pioneer assigned to inspect the bridges and two members of the Irish Brigade—an Irishman possessing some familiarity with the area and the other a former German unteroffizier in an IRA uniform to take command of Castleisland company.
Reports of the armored cars terrified the local Redmondites and they gave no trouble. The area around Castleisland was a Sinn Fein stronghold and the local company had more than 160 men on its rolls—plus 7 women supposedly to work in support roles. By this time more than a hundred had assembled at Castleisland which was quickly becoming an important base for the Germans. Trucks and an occasional motor car were frequently seen heading in both directions. Most did not stop but one trick did drop off crates containing 100 Mausers plus ammunition for the Irish.. Another truck dropped off the supply officer for the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, 2 quartermasters and 4 telegraph operators.
The lead squadron of the 2nd Chevaulegers Regiment now trotted down the broad main street of Castleisland. Some of their horses though had not full recovered from the sea voyage and had lagged behind. The squadron would stop here and let their stragglers catch up, then spend the rest of the night camped on the edge of the town. The Bavarian horsemen brought word that the cyclist company of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion was only a half a mile behind them.
The Germans had already reorganized Kerry Brigade somewhat with Austin Stack’s consent. The Castleisland company was now part of the 1st Kerry Battalion which was provided one of German Lt promoted to IRA Major as its new commander. There was also a 2nd Kerry Battalion being organized with an Irish Brigade German commander and its HQ at Ballyheigue. Ludwig, the new commander of Castleisland company had stopped his instruction on the proper handling of the Mauser for a few minutes to let his Irish soldiers watch the cavalry. It provided a good egue to another topic he needed to bring up. "How many of you own a horse—or a pony, mule or donkey?" he asked in clear English though with a noticeable German accent.
Some of the Fenians looked at each other uneasily. Roughly a third raised their hand.
"The German Army has a critical need for horses, though any form of draught animal can be used. They are willing to provide compensation but to be honest it may be less than market value and the compensation may not be immediately available. How many of you would be willing to give up their horses under those terms."
Some of the hands which were raised were now lowered, but most stayed up. One person who lowered his hand raised it again after further thought
------Dublin Castle 2135 hrs
Eion MacNeill the leader of the Irish Volunteers, was brought in chains by the RIC to see Lord Curzon.
"Let me get to the point, Mr. MacNeill. As you are well aware by now—and possibly days earlier—the Germans invaded Munster early this morning. For a while we thought this might be a modest hit and run raid but before noon we were certain it is a full scale invasion."
"Somewhere in there you hinted that I knew of this in advance, Viceroy" MacNeill interrupted, "let me male it clear that I did not."
"You didn’t know then that Casement and Plunkett were in Germany?"
"I heard rumors that they had gone to Germany. They did not go at my behest if that is what you are insinuating."
Curzon wasn’t sure if he believed that, but it let lead into his main topic, "So you are saying that you are in no way connected with this invasion?"
"That is what I am saying, Your Excellency."
"Though I would like to be able to take you at your word on this, Mr. MacNeill you must surely know that His Majesty’s government will insist on a thorough investigation. However if what you just told me is true and you are willing to cooperate with us in this time of crisis, I promise that no criminal charges will be pressed." Curzon paused and decided it was best to be at least close to candid and so he added, "I refer only to criminal charges. You may, of course, be deported. Let me rephrase that –it is almost certain that you will be deported."
"What is it that you want, Viceroy?" asked MacNeull in a sullen voice that Curzon did not find encouraging.
"I may need several things, but the most important is a signed declaration from you ordering all members of the Irish Volunteers to render no assistance whatsoever to the Germans and to immediately surrender all of their arms to the Royal Irish Constabulary"
MacNeill glared daggers at Curzon. After a minute he shook his head vigorously, "Not tonight, Viceroy. I need to give this matter some careful thinking. Ask me again in the morning."
"Mr. MacNeill, I think you fail to appreciate the gravity of your situation. There have already been incidents involving some of your paramilitary units. If there is an escalation, your failure to comply would be regarded most harshly. You could well face—"
"A death sentence? You threatenin’ to hang me if I don’t lick the shit off your boots, Viceroy? If that’s the case then you can go to bloody hell! As I said ask me again in the morning. Maybe a good night’s rest will have me forget how much I hate England. Don’t you be placing any bets on that."
------Limavady (Derry) 2150 hrs
There was a local company of the 2nd North Derry Regiment here. Many of the men had gone off and joined the British Army as part of the 10th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The men who remained tended to be older men with large families to support. When rumors first began to circulate there was some confusion about whether the company was to assemble. The regimental commander sent a cable to Carson in the late afternoon and received no answer. Then martial law and a curfew was proclaimed and there was further confusion about whether it applied to members of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
The end result was only 26 members of the company were in their armory when a telephone rang. The company commander answered. It was the regimental commander, who said, "Something utterly unbelievable is going on Rodney! The Germans have landed on our shores to threaten our very homes and the Viceroy has apparently ordered our weapons are to be confiscated."
"Jesus Christ! I don’t believe it."
"Well you had better. Some constables came around to the Derry City Barracks. One of the constables telephoned in advance warning our men. When the constables arrived our men had their weapons ready. A confrontation occurred with the constables demanding the surrender of the rifles."
"The constables saw they were badly outgunned and eventually left. I don’t think any of them are happy about their orders and are merely looking for an excuse not to enforce them."
"Uh, won’t our men be getting themselves in trouble doing this?"
"Nah, once the bloody Germans and their Papist allies have been firmly dealt with this will all be forgotten. You mark my word."
------Rathmore (Kerry) 2205 hrs
The 1st company of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion --minus a platoon left behind at Castleisland—had arrived at this town along with the armored cars and a handful of Pioneers. This was not intended merely as a hit and run raid. While the Pioneers wrecked a section of track the Jaegers did in and awaited reinforcements to be transported by motor vehicles.. First came the battalion machinegun company and after that the 2nd rifle company had arrived in pieces. The battalion commander arrived a few minutes with his small staff. He conferred now with his two company commanders plus the commander of armored car section.
"When can I get my missing platoon back, Oberst?" asked the commander of the 1st company.
"Sometime before midnight is all I can say," answered the Oberstleutannat, "The road between Tralee and Castleisland has become clogged with the Chevaulegers as well as our regiment. It is making it difficult for the trucks and Tralee is badly congested with the shortage of horses making things worse. When the bicycle company reaches Castleisland it will relieve your platoon, which lorries there bring here. We should be getting additional supplies by truck throughout the night as well as the 3rd company."
The battalion commander paused and pointed up to the sky, "However it looks like we could be getting some rain tonight. If it rains with any intensity this time only the Czech trucks with 4 wheel drive will be able to use the roads. If it rains very hard even they will have trouble as will the horse drawn wagons."
"What about tomorrow?" asked the commander of the machinegun company.
"The Chevaulegers will rest their horses at Castleisland tonight than mount up at first light. The lead squadron should be arriving here around noon. Our bicycle company will follow the Chevaulegers."
"And the rest of our battalion—including our wagons?"
"The lack of horses is causing problems. OKW’s clever solution is not working that well. We have been given priority over the other battalions in the regiment but as I now understand it we will not be seeing our wagons and horses until late Monday."
"And it’s worse for the other battalions. Except for their bicycle company the 2nd battalion won’t make it here before Monday," added the adjutant.
"Even with good weather it doesn’t sound like we are going to be able to reach Kenmore by Tuesday as planned," commented commander of the 2nd company.
"And what of the enemy forces nearby? Will they be able to counterattack while we are still weak and isolated?" asked the commander of the machinegun company.
"One of our seaplanes spotted a large number of troops disembarking from a train at Killarney in the early afternoon," answered the adjutant.
"How large is large?"
"Size is even harder to estimate accurately from the air than it is with cavalry. Our intelligence thinks there could be only a single battalion at Killarney or an entire brigade with some artillery—a British brigade of four battalions is what I mean" answered the battalion commander.
."And then there is the troop train we ambushed near Banteer," added the adjutant, "We inflicted some losses on them but likely most have nothing more than a few bumps and bruises. Once they recover they are likely to be coming here—perhaps as early as tomorrow afternoon."
"A hard march would get the troops at Killarney here as well by tomorrow afternoon."
"We have our machine guns and the armored cars. If the British do not have artillery we should be able to hold them with the help of the Chevaulegers—provided we do not let them take us by surprise. Have we had any luck so far contacting friendly Irish forces? I do not expect much of them as soldiers—but they should know the area well and can provide us with valuable information," asked the battalion commander.
"The Irish Brigade member we were given has not contacted any so far, Oberst, but now thinks there may be a company near Millstreet," answered the 1st company commander, "He left a little over an hour ago with one of my squads which includes someone who speaks English a lot better than I do."
"Hmm, Milltreet? Remind where that is, please?"
"It’s in Cork--about 12 kilometers ESE from here, Oberst"
------Limerick 2210 hrs
The Munster Fusiliers had withdrawn to a line running through the train station. Despite being hard pressed by the German Marines, some of the men were dispatched to hunt for ammunition in the devastated train. When they reached the station they encountered some members of the Irish Town Company of the Irish Volunteers who had begun to scavenge to dead abattoir at twilight. The Munster Fusiliers were outraged and attacked furiously. They killed 7 of the scavengers—included 3 of the 5 men who tried to surrender, one of which was brutally eviscerated by bayonet. In the close quarters melee where the Irishmen could make effective use of their shotguns the Munster Fusiliers ended up with 1 man killed and 4 wounded of which one died later.
News of these skirmishes reached the battalion. He had enough to worry about already but the realization that there enemy forces behind his line made him even more anxious. He reduced the time he would spend near the train station and accelerated his withdrawal to the east.
------Tralee Bay 2215 hrs
Two more British torpedo boats had rendezvoused at dusk and tried to infiltrate Tralee Bay. During the day the Germans had taken a few prizes—a 3,500 ton British freighter out of Argentina carrying mostly beef, a 2,900 ton freighter outward bound from Limerick carrying smoked salmon, a 1,200 ton collier out of Wales heading for Tralee and 3 large trawlers. One of the trawlers was lightly armed performing coastal patrols and had surrendered after a brief battle. The Germans had provided the other 2 trawlers with a light gun and some sailors and now used them as patrol vessels. They were supported by the B.98 and the two old protected cruisers, Freya and Vineta.
There was thickening cloud cover but it still had a few gaps which let some of the bright moonlight peep through. In approaching Tralee Bay the torpedo boats briefly passed unharmed through a corner of the thin minefield the Germans had laid off Rough Point. The torpedo boats had some familiarity with the area and were trying very hard not to run aground on the Seven Hogs. The lead torpedo boat now encountered one of the German trawlers and commenced firing. This firefight expanded to include the other torpedo boat, the German battery at Rough Point, B.98 and then the protected cruisers. The torpedo boats began taking heavy damage. They fired their torpedoes and tried to retire. One managed to escape but the other was finished off by the B.98. The British had some luck with their torpedoes, one of which blew off the tip of Freya’s bow. The cruiser was soon down by the bow and the captain deliberately beached her on the northwest portion of Kerry Head.
------Limavady (Derry) 2230 hrs
"Be sharp now, lads. Here they come," orderedd the company commander as he watched a band 15 constables approach the armory. The leader was armed only with a pistol. The rest had Lee-Enfield rifles readied. There was a knock on the door. The Ulster Volunteers readied the Mannlicher rifles Kaiser Wilhelm had provided.
There was a knock on the door.
The company commander opened the door, "Why good evening, constable, what brings you on a dank night like this."
The head constable strode into the main room with the others following nervously behind him. "We are here to confiscate all your weapons. Every single firearm and pistol. You can keep any swords you have," he said addressing the company commander. Then in a louder voice he addressed the men armed volunteers, "You men will put down those rifles immediately! If you do not do so right now I am placing you under arrest. All of your!"
There was a hard glint in the constable’s eye that worried the company commander. He was unsure what precise attitude to take in this unexpected set of circumstances. He tried to grin, "I am very sorry, Constable but I can’t let you do that. If you haven’t heard there the Germans have invaded Ireland and these men here are defending not only their country and their King, but their homes and families. Furthermore"
"Silence! I am not here to listen to political speeches! I am giving you and your men one last warning. Lay down your weapons now and go home to your families and no charges will be pressed."
"We can’t let you—"
The head constable turned to the one immediately to his right. "Arrest this man!"
The Ulster Volunteers—some of them with tears in their eyes made a show of taking aim. The constable who was ordered to make the arrest hesitated. "Uh, sir, begging your pardon, don’t you think---"
"Do your duty constable! These men are in violation of the law!"
The company commander was armed only with a pistol. The constable orderly trembled as he awkwardly stepped forward and tried to relieve the commander of his pistol. At this Rodney stepped back and aimed his pistol at the approaching constable as if to fire. Some of the other constables readied their own riddles.
Accounts of what happened next differ on who fired first.
------Nenagh (Tipperary) 2235 hrs
Lt. Gen Sir Brian Thomas Mahon, the commanding officer of the 10th (Irish) Division had arrived at Nenagh with his divisional staff nearly 3 hours Major Vane, the intelligence officer for all of Ireland arrived a few minutes ago.
"We have received word from a motorcyclist who returned from Limerick just a few minutes that the Germans probably have captured the docks," General Mahon informed Major Vane.
"Disappointing—I knew already about the castle falling which was a shock but the docks are the most critical area and we had hoped the Munster Fusiliers along with the RIC could hold on until you arrived, general. Any possibility that they can retake it?"
"They already tried and failed. I have been told that with the Grand Fleet heading here, holding the Limerick docks was desirable but not critical, esp. since they have other ports they can use."
"That is how General Friend sees it, sir—as does the Viceroy. The control of Limerick is a matter of prestige as much as logistics. The dissident elements in Ireland would be encouraged to support the Germans if Limerick should be lost. The Munster Fusiliers are still holding on to most of Irish Town, are they not?"
"Hmm. By dawn it will probably be half of Irish Town. They are being pressed from many different directions. There is also the possibility that the damn German battleship will start firing again once the sun comes up."
"Before I left I Dublin, our best information --based mostly on a few captured prisoners--is that the German forces in and around Limerick consist of the 1st and 2nd Naval Infantry Regiments—both of which are probably completed landed except for their supply trains. Is that still your assessment?"
"Yes, but obviously it will soon change since they control the docks. Do you still think this whole operation just might be a singe naval division?"
Vane frowned and shrugged, "Several possibilities exist, sir. It could be the division has another brigade attached to it. There is some reports from Kerry that suggest other units may be involved. These reports are preliminary and require confirmation. We are certain that German armored cars attacked Rathmore and Banteer—though not about how many."
"Banteer? That’s well inside County Cork!"
"I didn’t know much about armored cars until a few hours ago, but I cabled some blokes in London who do and they replied that this is within the capability of those contraptions provided they have good enough roads. Have there been any reports of them near Limerick, sir"
"No But now I’m dreading that this might what they’re landing at the docks right now."
"As I understand it you have all of 30th Brigade unloaded by now, general."
"That is correct. All 3 battalions are marching out to Limerick with the cyclist company out ahead scouting. I have only received only a single battery so far. According to my latest update on the train schedule, the last of the trains carrying the 3 artillery brigades is not expected to arrive here until just before sunrise."
Vane did not know if Mahon was being critical. "Arranging for troop trains out of the blue like this is a difficult thing to do, General."
"That’s what they keep telling me, Major," answered Mahon, "it’s just that I’m bringing 3 battalions to reinforce 2 battalions—one of which is really little more than a company to engage what looks to be at least 6 German battalions with machine guns and probably some artillery come tomorrow Having artillery support could prove to be critical."
"When I return to Dublin, I will make sure General Friend is made aware of this, sir."
"Is he still planning to bring the 108th Brigade from Belfast by train tomorrow to relieve 31st Brigade."
"Yes, general. However Lord Curzon is deeply concerned about the possibility of a rising in Dublin and wants to retain one of 31st Brigade’s battalions in Dublin and send you the other three."
Mahon scowled, "With all due respect, the Lord Lieutenant is overreacting. Is there any clear intelligence of an immanent rising in Dublin? Aren’t you panning to disarm the troublemakers tonight?"
"The RIC will try, general. I am not sure how successful they will be."
------SMS Lothringen anchored in Tralee Bay 2300 hrs
News of the small battle with torpedo craft had dominated Admiral von Spee’s attention for a while but now he along with General von François turn their attention to a briefing by the Freegattenkapitan in charge of the tricky task of coordinating the offloading.
"Here is current status of the offloading. Once the harbor at Kilrush was captured, we stopped using Cappa Beach. It is a rocky beach and there are tricky currents there. We did land a company on Scattery Island and eliminated all resistance there—mostly coast guard and a few RIC. At Kilrush we put ashore the remainder of 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment, the Marine cavalry squadron, a bicycle company and a coastal artillery battery. In the afternoon we turned next to the 1st Naval Field Artillery Regiment and I am happy to report that the last battery of howitzer was landed about a half hour ago."
"How about the draught horses and the ammunition columns?" asked François
"That regiment was assigned only about 40% of its establishment of horses. All of the horses for the field gun batteries and more than half of those for the howitzer batteries have been landed, general. As far as the ammunition columns, we are just starting to land them."
"What about here at Tralee?"
"We used the Banna Strand to land the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment and the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment as well as a Marine bicycle company. At Camp Beach we have landed all of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. For the Bavarian regiments most of the wagons and their draught animals were landed at either Blennerville or Fenit. The sea state gradually got rougher in the afternoon. We decided to stop using the beaches at last light feeling that it is too hazardous even if we illuminated the beaches with the searchlights of the warships—which presents other risks. At Fenit and Blennerville we landed the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, including its minenwerfer company, the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment, the armored car detachment, a coastal artillery battery for Rough Point but only a single Bavarian field gun battalion so far."
"Landing the Jaegers at Fenit is going to make it hard to finish landing the rest of 6th Bavarian Division tomorrow," commented Spee.
"If we landed them at Foynes the timetable would be pushed back nearly two days. Maybe more because it would be more difficult to cut the enemy’s lines of communications to Killarney," countered an anxious François. Unlike Spee he had thought there would have been another meeting of the High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet today. Even a brief indecisive encounter would give them more time.
"I know you have your reasons, general. I am merely pointing out some facts of our situation."
"If we can use the beaches landing for the infantry regiments tomorrow we can make it."
Spee turned back to the briefing Fregattenkapitan and asked, "Do you agree with that assessment?"
"Yes, that would allow us to land the units but not much in the way of supplies."
"Can’t we use Dingle as well now for supplies?"
"Only to a limited extent. And only if there is no enemy naval threat tomorrow." This evoked a sour expression from both the admiral and the general. The possibility that a strong force of predreadnoughts dispatched from the Channel might arrive as early as noon tomorrow had them both worried.
"At Foynes we landed the 2nd Seebattalion, 16th Uhlan Regiment, a cyclist company, the heavy wireless station and the aviation section as well as some supplies. As far as Limerick so far we have concentrated on landing the 10cm field gun battalion as per your instructions, general That should be completed around midnight."
------northwest of Millstreet (Cork) 2340 hrs
The market town of Millstreet in the West Muskerry region of Country Cork had both a National Volunteers company and an Irish Volunteers company. The former had lost quite a few members to the latter in the last few weeks and now it was only slightly larger. Rumors had run rampant in the town all afternoon. Germans were reported nearly everywhere. The local parish priests fled to the south. Then at dusk two constables sternly warned the leader of the National Volunteers company not to assemble. News of this reached the Irish Volunteers who had planned to assemble at last light anyway.
The company assembled initially with 65 men and 2 women. They had only 9 rifles but 21 shotguns. While they were assembling there was a ruckus in Millstreet where the RIC were demanding the National Volunteers surrender all their firearms. Bloodshed was avoided but just barely with many a frightful curse and foul obscenity uttered in two languages.
The Irish Volunteers wended their way towards along a dark road heading for Rathmore where the rumors were most consistent about where the Germans were located. The clouds had now thickened blocking out the moon completely. They had picked up another 11 members of the company when encountered two constables on patrol. A brief firefight ensued. One constable was badly wounded by buckshot. Another escaped into the woods. The Irish Volunteers debated what do with the wounded constable. A few suggested finishing him off. Others advocated simply leaving him and still others wanted to take him along. Some first aid was administered and they were still arguing amongst themselves when they heard men approaching at hurry from behind.
It was a band of 10 constables led by the one who got away. A confused firefight in the dark ensued. As it was going on men approached from up the road. One Volunteer raised his .22 rifle and almost fired at them, but another Volunteer next to him grabbed his arm and shouted at the newcomers.
"An bfhfuil sibhse saighduri na Gearmaine?"
GERMANS INVADE IRELAND!
In a shocking new development to the European conflict, German forces invaded Ireland yesterday. Both the British and German governments have publicly acknowledged this. Few specifics of the invasion have been confirmed at this time. The British government has alleged that German warships penetrated deep into the Shannon and in an act of barbarism shelled Limerick. They have been unconfirmed reports of German landings in Counties Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry. The Royal Navy claimed there was a minor sea battle off the western coast of Ireland but is withholding details for the time being.
The British government strongly denies that any significant element of the Irish people is assisting the Germans. Nevertheless they have taken the precaution of declaring martial law and imposing a curfew."
--- NY Times Sunday April 25, 1915
------Belgrade 0010 hrs
General Godley, the commander of the Australian New Zealand Division, together with Admiral Troubridge, who commanded a mixed force of French and British naval guns plus some Russian monitors, were meeting with Field Marshal Radomir Putnik, the Serbian chief of staff in a bunker to discuss Serbia’s defensive preparations.
A Serbian interpreter spoke, "The Field Marshal is very upset with both the British and French governments. He says they have prevented him from disrupting the Bulgarian mobilization with a preemptive spoiling attack. Now it is too late."
"As I understand it, out government as the well as the French still have some hope that Tsar Ferdinand can be dissuaded," commented Troubridge, who was decidedly unhappy with the critical tone of the Serbian comments.
His comments were translated. Putnik snickered sarcastically then replied. "The Field Marshal says that he regards your diplomats as well as the French as complete fools."
Troubridge was outraged, "Now see here, I must protest this utter lack of courtesy and gratitude towards those countries that have given so much to assist the Serbs in their moment of crisis."
The usual delay in translation. "The Field Marshal says the time for being nice has long passed. He believes the Austrian and German forces will begin their attack either today or tomorrow."
Artillery could be heard sporadically exploding in the Serb capital. "It sounds to me like it already has begun," commented General Godley.
When this was translated Putnik shook his head vigorously. "The Field Marshal says this is next to nothing compared to what is coming. It is only harassing fire by some of the lighter Austrian guns."
Godley had learned that Troubridge on the last two days did not have much respect for the Serbs. The general was not as contemptuous but he did find them in many ways baffling since he had been transferred north by Birdwood. Trying to make sense of the situation he asked the main question on his mind, "There is one thing that I would like the field marshal to, uh, clarify if he would be so good. Why is it that my division is not stationed closer to the either the Sava or the Danube?"
"The field marshal says that you are not listening well. A heavy weight of artillery is about to fall on not just Belgrade but the whole defensive line. Even if you have good entrenchment it will cause serious casualties. He wants your force intact to act as mobile force to deliver a counterthrust when the time comes."
------Dublin Castle 0030 hrs
Chamberlain, the head of the RIC, was briefing both Curzon and Birrell about the raids on the arms caches. In the afternoon Birrell had been in something of a state of shock over the events unfolding but as the evening wore on recovered his nerve and was determined not let Curzon run amok. He had learned about the Viceroy’s orders a little more than an hour ago.
"I want a detailed typed report on my desk by noon. In the interim I want an overview of how the raids on the various arms caches went. Let’s start with what happened here in Dublin," commanded Curzon.
Chamberlain nodded glumly. Some of the news was bad. "In Dublin we raided we raided the main armories of both the Irish Volunteers and the National Volunteers.. There was some resistance at the former but less than expected—only two of my men were wounded. On the other hand the haul of weapons, particularly rifles turned out to be smaller than expected—only 591 rifles altogether of which 477 were Mannlichers. Now we know they landed at least 1,000 at Howth back in July and either all or most of those were Mannlichers."
"So what you are saying is that the rebels here in Dublin still have more than half of their military grade rifles?" asked Birrell uneasily.
Chamberlain hesitated then answered, "It looks that way, Mr. Secretary. We also rounded up some other weapons—"
"---let’s skip those for the time being—though I wanted them included the report," ordered Curzon, "What about the Redmondites here in Dublin?"
Chamberlain stared briefly at the sheet of paper he was holding, "In Dublin the National Volunteers offered no resistance though one man was arrested for spitting on a constable and 5 more for curfew violations. We confiscated 730 rifles from them—but less than 40 of those could be considered of military quality."
"What about---" started Birrell only to have Curzon jump in saying, "—Cork? What happened there—it is the city I am most interested in."
"As far as the city of Cork, Your Excellency, both groups put up more of a struggle. I had 2 constables killed and 3 more wounded fighting to capture the known Irish Volunteers weapons cache. We killed 3 men and arrested another 14 some of whom we had wounded. The haul there was not large, esp. in terms of rifles. Uh, let me see here, oh yes, only 94 rifles and at most only 11 were contemporary military models."
"And the National Volunteers—you said they had resisted as well in Cork/"asked Birrell.
"Yes, sir, they did indeed resist us at one of their armories in Cork, though at others they did not. They killed one constable and wounded 4 more before it was over. We captured a total of 109 rifles, mostly single shot weapons."
"Where was it that the National Volunteers actually defeated your men?" asked Curzon.
"That was in Marychurch, Your Excellency. I would hasten to point out that additional constabulary was quickly dispatched and the armory where this happened is now completely surrounded."
"It would seem that between conducting these raids and fighting the Germans the constabulary must be stretched to the breaking point," noted Birrell.
Curzon sensed criticism of his policy that remark and before Chamberlain could respond he asked, "Let us move on to the situation in Ulster. Having been repeatedly assured that the Ulster Volunteer Force is completely loyal, I find myself appalled what has happened there."
"Well, it’s not all that bad, Your Excellency. There have only been 4 instances of the Ulster Volunteers firing at my men. In two of them I have reached a tentative conclusion that they were meant merely as warning shots as none of my men were hit," answered Chamberlain who decided it was best not to mention the incidents where the Ulster Volunteers readied their rifles and the constabulary backed down.
"Not that bad--Only four? I do not believe what I am hearing. There should not be any! Are you trying in any way to justify this as permissible behavior? Just because men miss their target in the dark doesn’t necessarily mean they intended to." Curzon asked testily
"I did not say that, Your Excellency. It is a serious matter and is being investigated thoroughly."
"Has anyone been arrested?"
"Not so far, Your Excellency."
"And the other two incidents where the Ulster Volunteers openied fire?" asked Birrell.
"The incident at Armagh resulted in only a single constable being seriously wounded. And yes, we have made some arrests there. The real mess by far though is what happened at Limavady in Derry. Of the 15 constables who went to the armory only 4 made it out and one of them was lightly wounded. The rest were either killed or have been taken prisoner by the Ulster Volunteers there, who are using them as hostages."
"And what is the current situation there?"
"We rushed additional men there—as the Secretary says we are extremely stretched at this time what with the German invasion—""
"Enough with your pitiful excuses! What is the current situation there? Answer me!"
"The Ulster Volunteers there refused to surrender their arms to us. Their leader has communicated that he would be willing to surrender themselves to the custody of the 10th Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers. I have discussed the availability of that unit with General Friend and he is—"
"You have done what?" yelled an indignant Curzon, "Once again I do not believe my own ears. These men have blatantly violated the law. We do not let criminals decide which policeman gets to arrest them!"
Birrell shook his head in disgust and chuckled. Curzon temporarily turned away from Chamberlain and stared at him, "You find something funny in all this, Birrell? Have you completely gone off the deep end?"
"Oh, I am just wondering when you were planning to tell London about all of this, Your Excellency."
------HQ Belgian 5th Division (France) 0105 hrs
General Smith-Dorrien was gnawing a hole in his cheek trying to hold his temper. King Albert has given his preliminary approval to letting him use the Belgian Division but the Belgian monarch had insisted on going over every detail of the planned attack. "Now let’s see if I have this correct," asked King Albert, "The British 20th Brigade will launch a counterattack along the road leading to Nouvion at least two hours before first light on Tuesday. This is the attack you will leading personally. You said 20th Brigade would be reinforced with another battalion from 7th Division. Have you determined which one that is going to be?"
"General Rawlinson has not yet gotten back to me on that, Your Majesty."
"Oh. Well then, at dawn my Belgian gunners will make a through bombardment. There will be no British guns involved because as you have informed me Second Army has completely run out of shells. Is that correct, general?"
"I am hoping to have First Army launch a simultaneous against the opposite side the enemy salient. General Haig still has some shells—well at least he did, last I heard."
His brow deeply furrowed King Albert stroked his chin pensively. He turned briefly to General Jungbluth and General Guiette, the division commander, seeking some guidance. The former gave no visible hint of what he was think. Guiette required a translation and seemed as frustrated as the king about the impromptu improvised nature of Smith-Dorrien’s plan.
"Well when do think you will know more about whether First Army’s will attack ass well and if so have the necessary detail we need to reach our decision."
"Jesus, Your Majesty. It could still be hours away. I have to coordinate this General French, you know."
"Perhaps we should reconvene until you have more detailed information?"
Smith-Dorrien inwardly wailed. He was beginning to wonder if coming to the City of Brass was a big mistake. The Belgian artillerists had a very good reputation—something to do with so many of them being former engineers—and right now they were the only artillery he had available. If the German battle fleet had indeed left the Channel, supply ships should be departing from English ports in the early afternoon. They would not reach Second Army’s batteries before nearly noon.
"Perhaps a short break is in order now, Your Majesty," suggested Jungbluth, "let us say one hour. That we give us an opportunity to freshen up and will General Smith-Dorrien try to clarify First Army’s role in the upcoming attack."
"First Army’s role is to try to survive!" yelled an exasperated Smith-Dorrien.
General Guiette looked unhappy with Smith-Dorrien’s tone of voice. Jungbluth with his eyes indicating that the general’s temper might be serving his cause no good.
"I apologize for yelling, Your Majesty," muttered Smith-Dorrien.
"Apology accepted, General," replied King Albert, "Though one is scarcely required. We accept without question that your situation is most grave But as the expression goes haste makes waste, yes? I think General Jungbluth is right. We should adjourn now giving you a chance to coordinate again with General French and General Haig. We will reconvene in one hour."
After King Albert made his exit, Jungbluth took Smith-Dorrien aside. "I know full well your, uh shall we say, tempestuous nature. But you must be careful around King Albert."
"There are times, when detailed planning is the important thing and there are times when it is necessary to do with what you got—and do it quickly. This falls into the latter category. Every hour we delay works in the bloody German’s favor. I had hoped to be gone long before midnight. If this drags on into the morning some of the other generals hanging around here will learn of it and find an excuse to butt in," answered Smith-Dorrien his nostrils flaring and his face bright red.
Jungbluth nodded appreciatively.
------near Tipperary 0140 hrs
It was a long way to Tipperary. The truck carrying rifles there had tried to use back roads to avoid RIC roadblocks. They had managed to get lost again. It was raining now and while the roads were still passable Donald and Peter were starting to get worried. And now up ahead there was a road block with 3 constables. Two of them readied their Lee-Enfield rifles while the third approached with a lantern in one hand and a revolver in the other.
Peter the driver had the papers the Germans provided them He glanced at Donald who looked like he was going to piss in his pants. "Get a grip," Peter hissed.
"There is a curfew on," stated the constable, "I am going to have to place you both under arrest and impound your vehicle."
"Uh, before you do that, sir, could you take a look at this, please. All we’re trying to do is help out with the invasion going on and all. These are rifles and ammunition for the constables in Tipperary and this says we are authorized to transport them," replied Pete as he handed the constable the constable the phony authorization document.
The constable turned to the others, "They are carrying rifles and ammunition to the barracks in Tipperary. But they have some piece of paper, says they are supposed to. They are for our men in Tipperary."
The constable then studied the document. He suspected it might be a forgery but he wasn’t sure. A German invasion of Ireland was not exactly a topic covered in the manual and the documents these fellows produced did look very official.
"Go check these, rifles, Patrick," he ordered, "let’s make sure they are British weapons."
One of the constables scampered to the back of the truck and soon said, "The crates are marked as being Lee-Enfield rifles and .303 ammo, sir."
"See?" said Peter, "Now if you don’t mind, we had best be going. The weather’s turning wet and we need to get there before the roads get too muddy."
The head constable had been on the verge of ordering one of the crates opened, but instead he had another idea. "Preston, come over here. You are going to take the place of the man on the passenger side. You’ll make sure that this truck arrives where it is supposed to, eh."
Peter and Donald exchanged nervous glances. When Preston came around to the passenger side and said, "Please get out, sir." Donald reached under the seat and pulled out a sawed off shotgun as he opened the door and blasted Preston. The head constable meanwhile saw this as it was happening and too late, "Preston, watch out." He then fired at Donald with his revolver wounding him in the stomach. Donald screamed in agony.
Peter swung the driver’s side door open causing the head constable to fall down. He took out his own revolver and fired twice. He then put his truck in drive and ploughed through the roadblock. The third constable fired at them as they sped down the road with one .303 round going though the rear windshield.
"I am hit bad, Peter," Donald wailed and he writhed on his seat, "God, it hurts!"
------Tarbert (Kerry) 0215 hrs
While Kaiser Wilhelm had been an enthusiastic supporter of Operation Unicorn, there was some things about the plans that bothered him. In particular he felt that the expedition needed more Prussians. He decided that it would be best if there were Prussian Guards in the expedition and repeatedly pestered Moltke and Tirpitz with the idea of sending an entire regiment of Prussian Guards to Ireland. They responded that they did not have the space aboard the transports of the first wave to send an entire regiment. Eventually they agreed to bring along a single battalion—the 3rd battalion of the 4th Foot Guards just to appease the Kaiser’s obsession.
So while the rest of the 4th Foot Guards were fighting furiously at Noyelles, their 3rd battalion was landed at the ferry port of Tarbert, which had been captured just before midnight by a cyclist company landed at Foynes after a spirited fight with a coast guard detachment and a few RIC. When the Prussian Guards landed some of them relieved the cyclists who had cordoned off 11 constables in a telegraph office—the last remaining enemy resistance in the area. The Prussian Guards had been provided only 5 horses and until they received more they really going anywhere.
It had started raining nearly an hour ago and it was now coming down hard. There was a small company of the Irish Volunteers nearby who had partially assembled. They tried to find some decent shelter for their German guest. A company of the Prussian Guards—very few of whom were Catholic--ended up in a Catholic Church.
------Limerick 0605 hrs
The intensity of fighting had tapered off. The combined battalions of Munster Fusiliers had withdrawn to the east on the rail station and established a defensive. Both sides were tired. Both sides had casualties to tend to. Both sides had command and control problems in the dark. Both sides disliked being out in the open in the cold rain, which was now coming down heavy. The German Marines quickly learned their enemy was not routed and contented themselves with consolidating their position and probing the enemy perimeter. A dozen RIC who had been left behind in the British withdrawal were captured.
------HMS Iron Duke 0625 hrs
"Emperor of India’s condenser troubles continue," Madden reported to Admiral Bayly, "the best speed she can maintain is between 18 ½ and 19 knots."
Bayly rolled his eyes. He had hoped to have the 1st Battle Squadron off the mouth of the Shannon by 0900 on Tuesday. To meet that objective he let the 3rd and 5th Battle Squadrons with the predreadnoughts lag behind and then detached them with orders to anchor at Scapa Flow along with 4th Destroyer Flotilla. Bayly had insisted on zigzagging until last light as an antisubmarine measure. The 1st Battle Squadron was trying to make 20 knots. The first battleship to come up lame was Colossus. She was one of those who repairs had been postponed after Utsire. Her bow had taken considerable damage in that battle and now the prolonged attempt to make 20 knots was causing some of the interim repairs to deteriorate and she was starting to leak. Bayly didn’t need Colossus to deal with Spee and had soon detached her with 3 destroyers as an escort to head back to Scapa as well.
"We don’t need the Emperor of India either," he decided quickly. Signal Admiral Burney that he is to immediately detach her as well along with a single destroyer as an escort to return immediately to Scapa Flow."
"Aye, aye, sir."
"We could still detach Queen Elizabeth and send her on ahead, sir," suggested Madden, "she could destroy the ragtag German invasion fleet all by herself as I see it."
"Too dangerous. She’d be arriving while it’s still dark. It’s too big a risk to be taking with our most prized possession."
-------Tralee (Kerry) 0740 hrs
An Irish woman approached the HQ of the 1st battalion of the 19th Bavarian Infantry Regiment south of Tralee accompanied by an IRA sergeant. "What is this about?" asked the sentry.
"She demands to see the highest ranking officer available."
"The battalion commander is currently unavailable. I may be able to let her talk with the adjutant."
"That may suffice. See if he can spare the time."
The sentry brought the two visitors inside. The adjutant, the quintessential barrel bodied German, was Oberleutant Ernst Roehm. He had a reputation for being very efficient and having little if any tolerance for nonsense. He had orders though to be helpful to the Irish in small ways when it did not interfere with the mission. "What is this all about?" he asked the IRA sergeant with annoyance.
The sergeant turned to the woman who then said, "We need a pries to say Mass, sir.. Our parish priests all ran away yesterday. There are very few priests left in this area. Can you get us a priest, please?"
The IRA sergeant translated. Roehm did not take religion seriously but he had learned it was often necessary to handle carefully those who did. "Maybe one of chaplains can be persuaded to say an extra Mass," he mused out loud in English. He turned to one of his messengers and ordered in German, "Go find Father Joseph and see if he will be able to say Mass in one of the local churches."
------somewhere in the Connemara (Galway) 0725 hrs
Wearing a disguise Pearse attended an early morning Mass. The priest now ascended the pulpit to give the sermon, "As you must have heard by now the Germans landed in Munster early yesterday morning. The Great European War has come here to Ireland. In this time of trouble we must turn our thoughts to Jesus, Our Savior and His Blessed Mother."
Despite his deep religious ardor, Pearse had trouble concentrating on the Mass after that.
------GQG Chantilly 0740 hrs
General Joffre had just finished with breakfast and consented to see both General Foch and the British liaison, General Henry Wilson, who spoke French better than most Frenchmen. Joffre had a good guess why they were here, "This is about the German offensive in Crecy Forest, where they used a poisonous gas. Chlorine, if I heard correctly."
"Yes, General, that is correct," answered Wilson, "and by this most barbaric tactic they were able to create a rupture in our lines. The German Sixth Army is at the outskirts of Nolette and Noyelles. If they succeed in capturing either then our First Army is effectively trapped against the sea."
"What General Wilson says is not in any way exaggerated," added Foch.
"Compounding our problems the German battle fleet yesterday afternoon shelled one of the divisions in First Army as it was marching south, suffering heavy casualties," said Wilson.
"This sounds like a most dreadful situation. You should ask the commander of the French Army to help you."
Wilson and Foch exchanged dumbfounded glances/ "But General Joffre---it is you who are the leader of the French Army," stated Wilson.
"Oh, no, monsieur. I am nothing more than a figurehead! Less than two days ago, Prime Minister Clemenceau took the liberty of paying me a visit. Did you know he that he is also serving as the Minster of War in his own Cabinet?"
"Yes, I had heard and I did suspect that he might prove, uh, less accommodating than Millerand."
"You have such a way with words, Henry—even in French. You should go into politics one day."
Wilson sensed an underlying sarcasm in Jofrre’s remarks and tried his best to deflect his ire replying with a reassuring smile, "You apparently know me all too well, General. Now if we might return—"
"You are not listening, my English friend—no wait you are from Ireland now that I think of it. Just where in Ireland, I forget?"
"I do indeed come from County Longford, General. It is not where the Germans landed if that is what you are alluding to. In fact it is well inland and should be in no immediate danger." Wilson had been outraged by the news of the German invasion, but even though he was AngloIrish, he would not let his sympathy blind himself to the fact that the possible destruction of First Army was the greater threat at this moment.
Foch did not want the conversation to wander off, "General Joffre, the BEF is in a desperate situation--"
"-and I am little more than a cadet, it seems. The great Clemenceau has ordered me—that is right, he has the gall to order me, the man who saved France at the Marne, to make retake Compiegne. Nothing else matters to him. That is why he puts it on the front page of his newspaper everyday. So there will be no commitment of our forces. Not a single brigade—for they are not mine to command. They report to the War Minister!"
Neither Foch nor Wilson had never recalled seeing General Joffre—so famous for being imperturbable —so visibly upset. Foch had told Wilson late yesterday that surely some French units could be made available though they might be only reserve or even Territorial and would take a while to get into action. The two of them were momentarily dumbfounded. Before they could Joffre’s expression softened just slightly and after a pronounced sigh, said, "Perhaps a cavalry brigade might be made available, but that it is all. If the British soldiers and their horses are short on food we can feed them. However as our ammunition is not compatible with their weapons, that is all we can do."
------SMS Lothringen 0800 hrs
The wind and the rain had subsided in the last half hour. The 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had been instructed to cautiously begin landing at the Banna Strand while the 11th Bavarian Regiment would try to do the same at Camp Beach. General von François had decided it was time that he came ashore as well. He was receiving a final hurried briefing on the status of the offloading.
"At Limerick we unloaded the Marine pioneer company including its minenwerfers after we finished unloading the 10cm field gun battalion as per your instructions, General, and are now concentrating on offloading ammunition for those units before we proceed to the other artillery battalions," stated the briefing officer still unable to hide that he found that sequence a bit odd.
"Good, and what about Fenit and Blennerville?"
"The last of the Bavarian artillery battalions is landing at Fenit now and should be finished in a little more than an hour, General. After that we will concentrate on the ammunition columns. At Blennerville we finished unloading the Bavarian pioneer company and should be done with the field hospital in a few minutes."
"If the weather deteriorates again so you cannot use the beaches send the 11th Bavarian Regiment into the Cask of Amontillado. And give food the lowest priority—the Irish are supposed to feed us after all."
The general turned to Spee and extended his hand, "Admiral von Spee, I now have a greater appreciation of the German Navy then I ever had before."
Graf von Spee smiled, "Isn’t that what OKW is all about?"
"Well said, Admiral. On that note I must be going."
------Istanbul 0815 hrs
"I must say you Germans are a bold bunch," Enver Pasha remarked to General Otto Liman von Sanders.
What has Der Goltz done now? Sanders wondered grinding his teeth Oh wait I am being a silly goose. "You must be referring to Ireland, Pasha, yes indeed, a most startling development," he replied.
"It goes beyond bold, I think. I am beginning to fear that you Germans are becoming reckless."
Look who’s talking. "Uh, I am not privy to the wealth of sensitive information Feldmarschal Moltke and Admiral Tirpitz must surely have at their disposal, so I should withhold judgment at this time. I will confess that my initial reaction was one of incredulity, but now on further reflection I wonder if OKW is attempting a stratagem vaguely similar to the British expedition in Albania, which had us all worried for some time."
Enver Pasha arched an eyebrow at that, "Hmm, that’s an interesting comparison, General. It had not occurred to me. Hopefully the Balkan campaign which is supposed to start either today or tomorrow will resolve quickly enough for our III Corps to join in the Caucasian offensive."
Sanders frowned slightly. The commitment of an elite corps to the Balkans was certainly not his own idea but the prospect of it being hurriedly transferred to Caucasian Front was not reassuring either. "If it will depend on the course of the Balkan campaign, Pasha. While I remain confident of the eventual outcome, the Balkans offer advantages for the defenders and the Serbs have shown themselves to be a ruthless foe. We should not expect that campaign will end quickly and went it does we should anticipate substantial casualties."
"Hmm, I will admit that the prior Austrian efforts there give us a reason to worry. With German involvement I expect better results this time around."
"I did not say that I expected a repetition of the prior Austrian disasters, Pasha. I merely point out it may require some time to reach fruition."
"Tsk, tsk. You are too pessimistic sometimes, General von Sanders. You were not very optimistic about the Mesopotamian campaign and now there comes word of a victory at Shaiba."
"Yes, that was very gratifying, Pasha. It is obvious that you were right to send der Goltz to Mesopotamia."
"That move does appear to have as you Europeans like to say, killed two birds with one stone, yes? Except he has yet to take Basra, so perhaps the relevant cliché is the one about counting chickens, no?"
"Well put, Pasha. From what I heard Kemal Bey performed most vigorously in the battle. That too was an excellent choice of yours."
Surprisingly the Pasha frowned noticeably. "Yes, Kemal has performed quite well—at least so far. If and when he does capture Basra he will tell everyone how he and he alone won a great victory. It may be the source of some trouble eventually. Truth be told he and his division were Der Goltz’s choice. What is the saying about dark clouds?"
"Are you referring to every dark cloud has a silver lining?"
"Yes, that’s the one. It seems it sometimes works in reverse does it not?"
Sanders made an ironic smile and nodded, "That is most certainly true, Pasha."
-------Madrid 0855 hrs
Eamon de Valera was attending Mass at a local church. The priest was giving the sermon. De Valera’s knowledge of Spanish allowed him to follow most of it but some parts he did not understand. The monsignor’s sermon meandered all over the place and eventually touched on the war. De Valera though he said, "the dreadful war which just yesterday has spread to Ireland."
Did he really say that or am I mistranslating? thought de Valaera with sudden interest.. He wanted very much to torn to a parishioner and ask confirmation, but felt it to be inappropriate. When Mass was over he did ask a parishioner, "Pardon me, but the Monsignor mentioned the war had spread to Ireland."
"I am sorry, sir but I did not pay much attention to much of his sermon."
Another parishioner heard the conversation and interjected, "Ah, yes, what the Monsignor said is most true! The Germans have invaded Ireland!"
------Sava and Danube Rivera 0900 hrs
The combined artillery of the Austro-Hungarian Third Army and the German Tenth Army—including 35 pieces of at least 30.5 caliber-- began their bombardment. Operation Tourniquet was now officially underway.
------Farranfore (Kerry) 0920 hrs
Drenched from a hard march through the heavy rain with their wagons lagging far behind the lead company of the 8th battalion Dublin Fusiliers rendezvoused with the remnants of the 9th Munster Fusiliers which had suffered horrendous losses in yesterday’s counterattack at Tralee. That battalion had been reduced to a strength of at most 300 effectives with nearly an equal number of wounded. The horrendous losses dissuaded 47th Brigade from contemplating further attacks. The Dublin Fusiliers were here to assist the Munster Fusiliers in their withdrawal and to slow the likely German advance on Killarney.
The Dublin Fusiliers had on their war passed the divisional cyclist company dragging their bicycles through the mud. Like the rest of 16th Division they only had a single machine gun for training and it is in one of their lagging wagons—along with the entrenching tools which was barely half what a battalion in the field was entitled. The battalion commander had no illusions about how long he could hold and merely hoped to nip the German vanguard. He was more than a little surprised to learn that the Germans had advanced lethargically from Traleee. He did had troubling reports of a German concentration of forces including cavalry at Catleisland to the northeast.
The fourth battalion in the 48th Brigade—the 9th Dublin Fusiliers—was the one aboard the train ambushed by the Germans east of Banteer. That unit had suffered less than 300 casualties in that incident and the remainder had formed and up and were advancing to test the German strength at Rathmore in the afternoon.
The rest of the 16th (Irish) Division was assembling at Mallow—except for the 8th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers which General Friend had dispatched to Cork in case there was a rising there. The 47th Brigade had already started marching west but the last of the artillery brigades would not arrive at Mallow until nearly dusk. The divisional artillery consisted of mostly obsolete 15 pounders and 5" howitzers. It did not have its full establishment of draught horses and Dublin was now trying to rapidly purchase the additional number it required.
------Limerick 0930 hrs
The German 76mm minenwerfers of the Naval Pioneer Company commenced firing on the positions of the Munster Fusiliers in Irish Town. They concentrated on a particular area that their intelligence—some of it coming from the Irish Volunteers—looked to a relatively vulnerable spot. The muddy roads was delaying the arrival of 10th (Irish) Division . The division cyclist company had arrived less than an hour ago and the lead company of the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers was still more than two miles off.
------Tralee (Kerry) 0955 hrs
General Herman von François had managed to get Obesrt Hell, who had been his chief of staff when he was in command of the mixed Austrian and German Center Army, assigned as the chief of staff for Operation Unicorn. Hell had traveled aboard on of the transports not the Lothringen in case Spee’s flagship was sunk en route. This was the first time they had seen each other since the Sonderverband set sail. Also in the room were General von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division and Captain Plunkett.
"Intelligence section is now very sure that one of the battalions we are fighting in Limerick is part of the 10th Division," Hell related.
"Hmm. We had hoped the British would have moved them by now—either to England over even France," sighed François, "so we would only have the other two to deal with. That is still another bit of bad news. By itself it is not critical but there are other disturbing developments. Has there been any news of a rising in either Dublin or Cork?"
"No, General. Not even a hint," answered Hell.
Plunkett had predicted a rising in Dublin would start within 24 hours of the invasion becoming general knowledge. "Perhaps it has already begun and the British are keeping a lid on it so it doesn’t spread," he speculated aloud.
"Perhaps," was all François would say.
"And even it they haven’t then they will surely rise up tonight," continued Plunkett.
"We will see. There are other problems as well that I must address.. The amount of horses that is readily available is a fraction of what we expected and the number of motor vehicles is only about half. How badly is the rain affecting our mobility?"
"The Tatra trucks and horse drawn wagons are struggling but still moving. The two wheel drive motor vehicles are largely immobilized for the time being," replied Hell.
"It is fairly obvious that we have to proceed with Plan Caesar," commented General Gyssling, "but we will be more than a full day behind schedule." In planning for Operation Unicorn there were three plans for the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division after it landed. The first was called Plan Anton and envisioned the 6th Bavarian Regiment supported by a lone battery moving quickly into Killarney while the rest of the division swung through Castleisland to relieve the Jaegers and Chevaulegers. The second, Plan Bruno was for the division to essentially split in half—with the 12th Bavarian Brigade supported by the 3rd Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment going to Killarney while the 11th Bavarian Brigade with the 8th Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment proceeds to Rathmore. The last plan, Caesar was in case the British could get substantial forces into Killarney by rail and envisioned 10th Bavarian Regiment supported by a single field artillery battalion would go to Rathmore while rest of the division assaulted Killarney
François shook his head grimly, "None of those plans is satisfactory in our current situation. There is a real risk that the forces were can bring to bear against Killarney by Tuesday will still proved insufficient for a rapid victory. A prolonged struggle there could end up having severe consequences for this entire operation. No, we need to come up with a new alternative—and quickly."
"Oberst Hell and myself have been at it all morning and we’ve come up empty, General" replied Gyssling.
Plunkett now spoke up, "Ah, well, there is one of German officers in the Irish Brigade—one of those not yet assigned a command—who approached me late last night with a very interesting idea. General von Gyssling here doesn’t it care for it, though"
"It is a silly patchwork of amateurish improvisation A waste of precious vehicles!" erie Gyssling.
In the planning for Operation Unicorn, François had found Plunkett to be the quintessential autodidact. Some of the Irishman’s ideas had proven quite useful while others were wild nonsense. François was willing to hear the details, "Is this officer readily available? If he is have an orderly run and fetch him immediately."
"Yes, he is, General," answered Hell, who strode quickly to the door and opened it. He addressed the soldier standing guard. "Do you know where the Irish Brigade officers are billeted?" he asked the guard.
"Good. Run over there and fetch Major Rommel for us. Make it quick."
"When we arrived at Cuxhaven in April we were not told why but had assumed that we were intended to be part of an invasion of England and everyone was very excited. Then came word that Germany had in bold move invaded Ireland. This remarkable development left us speechless but not for long. Soon speculation arose about that would be our own destination as well."
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 1005 hrs
After capturing Ennis, Calahan had let most of his men rest while he helped organized the transfer of the nearby horses with the help of the local company of Irish Volunteers. Shortly after midnight he loaded Sturm Company Calahan back on their lorries and headed for the town of O’Briensbridge, which was the west of bank of the Shannon about 6 miles north of Limerick. He found that the Killaloe Company belonging to the East Clare Battalion had driven off a measly 4 constables guarding the venerable stone bridge from which the town derived its name. Killaloe had made contact with the German Marines in Limerick during the night and received orders to entrench where they were and guard the bridge until relieved in strength by German Marines. They had been promised military grade rifles, ammunition and an Irish Brigade company commander but neither had arrived when Calahan joined them. Soon after he arrived a 9 man German patrol showed up, bringing only a single Lee-Enfield taken from a constable plus 40 rounds of .303.
The assembled Killaloe company numbered 98 men and 4 women. They had some of the horses Devoy had sent and a few wagons. They had no idea how to entrench, though they had thoughtfully brought some shovels along. Calahan along with the German patrol and his fellow Irish brigade men gave a quick lesson. The rain made the ground soft, but it caused the trenches to almost immediately fill with water. The rain began to taper off about an hour after dawn. Soon afterwards a group of 19 constables approached the bridge from the County Limerick side. There was a brief exchange of gunfire, which convinced the RIC they were not strong enough to capture the bridge and backed off. Calahan set the Volunteers back to work on the trenches, including trying to drain them.
A half hour ago a German messenger arrived from Limerick on horseback. He delivered a message which said that both the rifles and the new company commander accompanied by a platoon of German Marines would arrive before noon. Callahan ordered the messenger to stay until they arrived and very seriously threatened to shoot him if he tried to leave.
A half dozen constables now approached the bridge. This time they were followed by a rifle company of the 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which had been detached from 30th Brigade with orders to secure the bridge as quickly as possible. One platoon laid down covering fie while the rest charged the bridge. The group of 45 Irish Volunteers from Killaloe company fired a few rounds then suddenly broke and ran down the main road in the direction of Bridgeton. The Dublin Fusiliers pursued
In accord with Calahan’s orders two unconnected trenches had been dug at a 45 degree angle to the road. In the trench north of the road lay Sturm Company Calahan. To the south of the road was the rest of Killaloe Company as well as the 10 Germans. Calahan had given some of his company’s Lee-Enfields to Killaloe Company though usually in exchange for a shotgun. The lead platoon of the pursuing Dublin Fusiliers soon found themselves in a crossfire from the two trenches. The company commander was in the lead and collapsed when a bullet entered his lungs. The trained but inexperienced troops milled about indecisively returning fire as best they could. After some hesitation the platoon commander decided to retreat. The commander of the next platoon meanwhile ordered his men to charge the trenches wherein lay Sturm Company Calahan.
Calahan had armed himself with a Mauser rifle but his pump action shotgun was beside him in the trench. As there was nearly 3 inches of muddy water at the bottom of the trench, he was particularly careful not to knock it over and warned the men in his company he would kill anyone who did. The other 9 men of the Irish Brigade he had trained also had their shotguns ready.. As the Dublin Fusiliers approached they ducked down in the trench. Calahan peeked of the top and then ducked down again. A few seconds later he yelled, "Grenades now!" And threw the potato masher he held. It was soon joined by 9 more. When the grenades exploded in the midst of the charging Tommies, they reared up over the top of the trench and started blasting the enemy with their shotguns. . Disrupted by the unexpected explosions the charging platoon wavered as more than half had been cut down. Only two of its soldiers reached the trench while the rest retired. A third platoon had arrived and after some confusion laid down covering fire to cover the withdrawal. The pair of Dublin Fusiliers in the trench had each mortally wounded an Irish Volunteer but after that one was shot by a pistol and the other overpowered and subdued.
As they withdrew part of Calahan wanted so very much to order his men to pursue but a wiser part of him recognized that they were not yet ready for that. He realized that while he had taken a bite out of the enemy but the greater part of their strength remained unharmed and if they rallied would eat the Irish Volunteers alive in an open field battle. On the field in front of the trenches lay 39 soldiers in British uniforms, more than half of which were either dying or already dead. The rest were badly wounded—the enemy’s walking wounded having escaped in their retreat.
Sturm Company Calahan had suffered 3 men killed and 5 wounded. Killaloe Company had 2 men killed, 2 more wounded and 3 missing—the last presumed to be captured by the enemy during the chase. None of the Germans were injured. Their Gefreiter got up out his trench and approached Calahan’s trench. Meanwhile some of the Irish had gotten out of their trenches to examine the bodies on the field. Some of the retreating Dublin Fusiliers had set themselves up in a house 800 yards away with a clean field of fire. A few of them now opened fire. The Irishmen scrambled back into their trenches—a few holding rifles they had taken fro the dead, while the Gefreiter jumped into Calahan’s trench then snaked his way closer to Harry. "Snipers are going to be a nuisance for a while, but otherwise I must confess this turned out better than I expected, Hauptman Calahan.," the German shouted ending it with a crisp salute.
------Ahwaz (Persia) 1020 hrs
News had reached Ahwaz of a decisive Ottoman victory at Shaiba. Encouraged by this, Col Al-Askary ordered his cavalry to probe the western outskirts of Ahwaz. Reports came in indicating there appeared to be no AngloIndian forces still in the vicinity but a sizable contingent of Marsh Arabs friendly to the British were holding the city. With the approval of Major Katz, the Ottoman infantry supported by artillery attacked the Marsh Arabs. The initial attack was almost timid and easily repelled. Embarrassed the officers berated their troops and a more serious second attack managed to pierce the defenses of the Marsh Arabs, who then began to withdraw to the east bank.
------Donegal 1035 hrs
The priest raised the consecrated host aloft as one of the altar boys rang a bell. Suddenly he heard a loud voice yelling behind him. "Traitors! You Papists are all traitors! You invite the Germans into Ireland and fight alongside them!"
The priest hesitated. This was the most solemn point of the liturgy. There was a barely audible murmuring amongst the parishioners.
"Did you hear me, you idolatrous Papists? Hic. I said you are all traitors. The whole stink’ lot of y’er." The speaker was obviously drunk.
Forgive me Lord for interrupting this Holy ritual. The priest turned around visibly angry.
"How dare you! This is a House of God. You will not violate its sanctity! Get out of her immediately or I will have you arrested."
The drunken man was wearing a raincoat. He reached inside his raincoat and pulled out a large revolver, which he pointed at the priest as he swayed on his feet.. "Sanctity! Phew!. You dare speak of sanctity you Devil worshiping scum. Death to the Papist traitors."
An old woman screamed. He fired twice at the priest and missed. More women screamed. A young men jumped out of the pew and grappled with the shooter. Some parishioners fled from the Curch in panic but others came forward to help subdue the assailant. Before they did he managed to free his gun hand and fired point blank
------HQ German Sixth Army 1050 hrs
General Fabeck, the Army Commander, was on the telephone with General von Falkenayn. "We have effective control of Nolette, General," announced Fabeck with relish.
The voice on the other end did not sound overwhelmed, "What does effective control mean? It sounds like you still have not taken the town itself? Am I right? And what about the roads?"
"We have not yet captured the town but I firmly believe it is only a matter of time. As for the main road we are within a few hundred meters to the north of Nolette in two places. We are denying the British its use with our artillery, minenwerfers and even our machineguns. We are moving searchlights forward so we will control during the night even if the blocks out the moon again."
"And what about Noyelles? I think you would have told me already if we had taken it."
Fabeck bit his lip and paused before responding, "Enemy counterattacks have pushed us back a little at Noyelles."
"Be more precise! How far back? One kilometer? Two?"
"Oh, not that bad, General. Less than a kilometer. The exact number fluctuates as the battle is continuing with great ferocity. The British can be very determined at times. But they are bleeding themselves to death in their attacks and furthermore we strongly suspect that their Second Army has expended the last of its artillery shells. So with the High Seas Fleet cutting their line of communication—"
"No, no. The High Seas Fleet is returning to Germany as we speak.. The enemy probably knows they are withdrawing by now. Their Second Army will have more shells before noon tomorrow."
"Oh, I was not informed of that. We will still prevail in the end but having our fleet in the Channel would make it easier."
"The fleet would still be there if the decision was mine to make," Falkenhayn conceded.
"Oh, if that’s the case, might I ask if the High Seas Fleet be returning soon?"
"Hmm. Yes and no. That’s an evasive response, but unfortunately I am not at liberty to go into details at this time."
------Old Admiralty Building 1105 hrs
The meeting at Buckingham Palace had dragged on for a long time. Sir John Redmond had become frantic. Eventually pressure from King George had caused him to promise to sign a public statement before noon on Sunday calling on the National Volunteers to disarm. In return Carson signed a statement while they were still at the palace calling the Ulster Volunteer Force to refrain from assembling "for the time being." Carson had made a big display before the Crown of how willing he was to make "fair compromises for the common good." Redmond continued to complain and afterwards the Unionists speculated about whether he would actually issue the statement he had promised.
This morning Carson had attended religious service this morning. When he returned he was told that Lord Kitchener had called several times asking to speak with Carson—and only with Carson. The First Lord immediately returned the call.
Lord Kitchener quickly got to the point, "He is a dangerous dilettante of the worst sort. He was nothing but trouble in India and now he’s running rampant in Ireland! With all the fine men in your party why did you have to pick him?
Oh, dear, he must be referring to Curzon. The two of them never got along. This is probably some little issue that the Field Marshal is blowing all out of proportion. Not what I need just right now! "Uh, I take it you are referring to Lord Curzon, am I correct, Field Marshal.?"
"Of course, I am referring to that self-righteous toad! How can you of all people be so passive and contended after what he’s done."
"What specific action are you referring to, Lord Kitchener?"
"What do you mean ‘what specific action’---Good Lord, man, don’t you know?"
"Know what, Field Marshal?"
"That dumb fool ordered the Royal Irish Constabulary to raid the all civilian weapon caches last night—"
"Well that’s splendid! The unpleasant confrontation with the despicable Redmond distracted the Prime Minister and myself from recommending that very course of---"
"You are not listening, First Lord. I said all the civilian weapon caches---"
"Now surely you don’t mean—"
"That’s precisely what I mean! The blithering moron ordered the RIC to seize your men’s weapons as well!"
"WHAT!!! This is unthinkable! Are you sure? Could it have been an isolated incident—a local constabulary getting its orders confused perhaps?"
"No, no! It’s him I tell you. The position has gone to his head and he’s up to his old tricks. You need to inform the Prime Minister immediately and have him put an end to his foolishness."
------Kilmallock (Limerick) 1120 hrs
The local company of Irish Volunteers had fought off an attempt by a half dozen constables to raid their armory during the night—the local barracks having been weakened by sending some of the constabulary off in motor vehicles to fight at Limerick city. The heavy downpour later in the night had discouraged the Irish Volunteers from assembling. The rain had now tapered off to mere drizzle and their commander had ordered the 91 men to march on the train station, sending a few of his men to cut the telephone and telegraph wires. They were armed with only 13 rifles including 8 of .22 caliber plus 29 shotguns and 40 pistols.
The local constabulary had been reinforced in the early morning after the failure at the armory. A group of 14 constables now defended the train station—all of them armed with Lee-Enfield rifles. One of the Volunteers in the lead was quickly killed and another wounded in the right shoulder. The rest scurried away and found cover in nearby buildings.
------KIlbane (Clare) 1145 hrs
It had been anything but easy getting them here up the narrow roads made muddy by the early morning downpour but one battery of 10cm field guns was now positioned on the reverse slope of one of the foothills of the Slieve Brenagh Mountains which lay to the north of Limerick. Unlike the 7.7cm field guns these had enough range to hit the main road leading from Nenagh to Limerick. It was a good idea but though the rain had finally stopped they still could not see the road.
------near Nolette (Picardy) 1155 hrs
Supported by the 18 pounders of the 2nd South Midland Artillery Brigade 3 battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment belonging to the 48th Division joined with the elite 1st Coldstream Guards and the 2nd Black Watch in counterattacking the German positions near Nolette Worming their way through the chaos and devastation inflicted on 29th Division by the German battle fleet the day before the 48th Division was only now beginning to enter the storm of fire, blood and iron raging near Nolette and Noyelles.
In the morning orders had come down from General Haig to place all the men of First Amy on half rations. The rumors that the army was completely cut off had spread like wildfire through the battalions. In only a very few soldiers did it cause panic. In the rest it elevated the determination of those involved in the efforts to break out of the German trap. The enemy artillery and machineguns exacted a heavy price but in a series of short assaults they sliced off small portions of the line.
------Nairobi 1240 hrs
The rain had briefly subsided. News of the German invasion of Ireland had reached Nairobi via the wireless station a few hours earlier. Now however came word that some riders had returned from the ‘B’ squadron of the East African Mounted Rifles, which had been sent out to reconnoiter the German incursion. One of these riders was its commander, Captain Bowker, who sent word that he had urgent news. General Wapshare called an immediate staff meeting.
"I will get the point, General. Things are much more serious than we imagined. To start with there is at least 4 companies and a battery of light artillery and I have sinking feeling there is still more."
"And where did you encounter these forces? Was it in the Nyiri? Or are they still between Simba and Sultan Hamud? Why would Lettow-Vorbeck bring so large a force there?"
"They were already in Kiu when I got there. We engaged them for two maybe three hours then withdrew. They were obviously following the main rail line behind us."
It took a minute for the significance of this information to sink in.. It was Captain Meintertzhagen, the intelligence officer who dared to ask the dreaded question, "And where do you think the enemy is heading?"
"I think they are coming here," answered Captain Bowker.
------on the road to Castlemaine (Kerry) 1315 hrs
Erwin Rommel had earned a Iron Cross 2nd Class back in January in the Argonne, when he had been assigned temporary command of a company. When Operation Unicorn was given preliminary approval OKW had looked for German Lt’s who had demonstrated imagination, bravery and charisma. Rommel possessed all of those quantities in spades and was selected to be in the first batch of Lt’s to serve as IRA battalion commanders. He was given a brevet rank of Major in the Irish Brigade.
Rommel had studied hard in the training for Operation Unicorn. Unlike most of the other German officers in the program Rommel found Plunkett interesting and they became moderately friendly. When he had come ashore at Blennerville late yesterday, Rommel had expected to be the first to be assigned a battalion in Kerry. He was more than a little resentful when others were chosen for the first two assignments.
For his current mission Rommel had been temporarily assigned a rifle platoon plus 2 machineguns from the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion to command. He had also been provided 15 of the Tatra trucks with 4 wheel drive. The Daimler armored car which had been inoperative the day before had been repaired and assigned to him as well. There were 3 Irish Brigade commanders going along and a few Irishmen .as well Austin Stack had worried that there might be some members of Kerry Brigade reluctant to take orders from Germans. He had wanted to accompany Rommel but the German doctors forbade it and so he suggested including both his brother Jim and the O’Rahilly, who came from Kerry and was a well known figure to the local Irish Volunteers. .
Rommel personally drove one of the Tatra trucks with some of the Jaegers in the back. Originally he wanted the Bavarian platoon commander sitting beside him but at the last minute he changed his mind and asked the O’Rahilly to sit there instead. The platoon commander had been already been thoroughly briefed on the plan. When they arrived in Castlemaine Rommel would go over it with him one more time. On the other hand the O’Rahilly was someone who could come in very handy if he was properly motivated. Rommel had studied English very hard in preparing for Operation Unicorn and tried his best to inspire the O’Rahilly who he had been told by Plunkett was participating with considerable misgiving. Rommel saw that he wasn’t doing very well and biting his lip decided to try a daring tactic. With Plunkett’s help he had studied more than English though not anyway as thoroughly.
"An bhfuil Gaelige agat?" asked Rommel causing The O’Rahilly’s eyes to jump out of their sockets.
------Limerick 1340 hrs
The German Marines had made a series of small attacks supported by the Minenwefers methodically gnawing away at the enemy positions in the eastern portion of Irish Town, despite the Munster Fusiliers being reinforced by the arrival of the 7th Dublin Fusiliers. A battery of 18 pounder guns was now finally in place and it tried to suppress the Minenwerfers with counter-battery fire. The Minenwerfers almost immediately fell silent and were soon repositioned.
-----Gort (Galway) 1355 hrs
The 9th battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers were speedily disembarking from a troop train. But for a handful of exceptions these men had not long ago been part of the Tyrone Regiment of the Ulster Volunteers and back in September they had been incorporated into the 109th Brigade within the 36th (Ulster) Division. They had been undergoing training at a camp in County Donegal when yesterday afternoon they heard of the German invasion. Soon afterwards they received orders to get their gear and march as hard as possible to Sligo where trains would be waiting to whisk them to Ennis in County Clare.
When they reached Sligo they learned that Ennis had already fallen to the Germans with the assistance of Irish Catholic traitors. The men wanted very much to kill Germans but even more they wanted to annihilate the treacherous Fenians. Their destination was changed to the station at Gort in the southern portion of County Galway. Along with two more battalions of the 109th Brigade they were ordered to assist the RIC subdue rebel Irish activity reported in north Clare and southern Galway counties and to counterattack the Germans at Ennis.
------German Embassy, Madrid 1405 hrs
"Sorry to interrupt, Major but that Irishman, De Valera is back and insists on seeing you, immediately," the receptionist informed Major Kalle, the German military attaché to Spain.
"Hmm. He’s probably found out about the invasion. He is probably not thinking clearly now. Tell him I will speak to him later. Right now I have much more important matters to attend to. Just don’t say it in those words. We don’t want to hurt his feelings."
"Understood, Major," answered the receptionist who then closed the door and left.
"What’s that all about?" asked General Victoriano Huerta in Spanish. The former President of Mexico then took another slug of cognac from his snifter.
"It is a small matter," replied Kalle in Spanish, "We asked the Irish rebel forces to send a spokesman to Spain so as to present our expedition there in the best possible light. Propaganda if you will."
"Oh, yes, your big Irish adventure! Be careful, my friend. The Irish are a feckless and degenerate breed. That accursed bastard Obregon is part Irish, you know. I now propose a toast. To Alvaros Obregon--may he die screaming in agony!" groused Huerta. He then looked down at his snifter and suddenly raised it aloft, "But Hennessey is a fine Irish name if I do say so, hic."
"Yes, it most certainly is," agreed Kalle trying his best to be amiable with a drunken former dictator.
"So when am I going to New York, Major? I had been told for some time you were sending me to New York with funding to mount a coup. Damn it! My enemies are bleeding to death fighting amongst themselves right now. If I was in America rightnow it would be so easy to sneak into Mexico and reclaim what is rightfully mine!"
"Alas. all that Berlin has told me, General Huerta, is that you must be patient. Other operations are underway that are making it necessary to delay your restoration. Rest assured--we have not forgotten you. Would you care for some more cognac?"
"Yes, yes! More cognac!" demanded Huerta holding out his snifter for replenishment as if the major were a waiter, "But don’t think getting me drunk will make me forget what your people have promised me!"
------Kilmallock (Limerick) 1415 hrs
The main mission of the 16th Uhlan Regiment which had landed at Foynes was to cut the direct rail line between Dublin and Cork. For Operation Unicorn it had been assigned a section armed with 6 of the Madsen automatic rifles as well as 20 mounted Pioneers. Portions of the regiment had been delayed during the morning by the need to eliminate the RIC stations in central Limerick and assist friendly Irish forces. The lead troop of the regiment now finally approached the objective. Its order had been merely to scout and report but when its commander learned of the Irish Volunteers involved in a fire fight near the station he sent a messenger back to the squadron HQ and then dismounted his men to assist the Volunteers,
------KIlbane (Clare) 1425 hrs
A second battery of 10cm field guns were now in position. Visibility had slowly improved during the day and the cloud cover was thinning steadily. . The German spotters could see British artillery being transported along the road. The battalion commander decided not to wait for the third battery. The guns commenced firing on the British columns causing havoc.
-----near Sligo 1455 hrs
A pair of well to do spinster sisters who lived together had agreed to hide the Countess Markievisz and her fellow fugitives Yeats and Pound. The American poet had a noticeable gash on his forehead where he had head butted the constable yesterday. The younger sister had now returned from a trip to the city of Sligo.
"Earlier this morning there was a great many British soldiers in Sligo," she reported, "but many of them have already departed by train."
"Departed where? To Clare to fight the Germans, I imagine," asked the old sister.
"Their destination is being kept secret but that is the prevailing speculation."
"Is there any word of a rising here in Sligo?" asked the Countess.
"No, there are rumors flying about that the local commandants have all been arrested and most of the arms caches raided as well. Apparently they also raided the Redmondite armories as well."
"So they don’t trust Sir John Redmond’s followers, eh? Can’t say that I’m much surprised. This may work in our favor. Any news of a rising in Dublin or Cork?"
"I heard some people whispering about a rising in Cork, Countess. I am not sure I trust those. Apparently Dublin remains quiet. The government has announced that it has arrested MacNeill. Could that be why?"
"Gasp! I certainly hope not. Is there no one left in the Irish Volunteers with enough initiative to launch a rising? I am often disappointed by that bunch."
"While there are many contradictory rumors making the rounds about uprisings all that the government has officially acknowledged is that what they are calling a ‘very small group of rebels’ is apparently helping the Germans at Tralee and Limerick city."
"Perhaps that is where the three of you should be heading," remarked the older sister, "you should be safe once you reach the occupied area."
The Countess shook her head vigorously, "I am not going to run to the Germans for sanctuary. Part of me wants to try to launch the revolution here in Sligo, but deep in my soul I know that I must return to Dublin and the Citizen Army, which took the untraditional step of asking me to be their leader. I owe that to the oppressed working men and women of Dublin. And I owe that to James Connolly. But I think I should go alone. These heroic poets should try to make it to Limerick—"
Yeats nodded abstractly as she said that but Pound roared, "Fie, Countess, fie! We will not slink away to be Germans so they can distort this world shaping situation for their propaganda. We must follow the vortex to its center—which is most obviously Dublin."
-----Rathmore (Kerry/Cork) 1510 hrs
The 9th battalion Dublin Fusiliers had recovered and assembled after their train he been derailed and they were strafed by armored cars. They had arranged for their wounded to be evacuated to Mallow and then pressed on to the west towards Rathmore. The morning downpour and resulting mud had slowed the well conditioned solders only a little but it caused the horse drawn wagons—including those with battalion’s sole machinegun—to lag behind. The men were eager to smite the invaders One company remained behind with the wagons. The 2nd rifle company proceeded north of the Blackwater River while the other two companies marched on the south side of the river passing through Millstreet on the way.
The Germans had 3 Bavarian Jaeger companies plus a Jaeger bicycle company, a Jaeger machinegun company, 7 armored cars and the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment. They also had the services of the Millstreet company of Cork Brigade. They had been given Mosin-Nagant rifles, a few of the steel green helmets and an Irish Brigade commander, but were so far had been assigned support roles and sternly told not to get in the way.
The initial attack by 7th Dublin Fusiliers was by its 2nd company which tried to capture the bridge over the Blackwater River at Duncannon Bridge. The company commander had been provided somewhat ambiguous orders—on the on hand he was to make a serious effort to capture the bridge and on the other that this attack was meant primarily as a diversion. The attack found a trench line with 3 machineguns and a single strand of barbed wire. The British captain in charge soon realized it was hopeless and broke off the attack before his casualties became heavy.
Soon afterwards the 2 companies to the south launched their attack. The Jaegers only had a partially complete shallow trench line and no wire, but they had set up strong points including some with machineguns. The Dublin Fusiliers were more persistent here. The Bavarians counterattacked sending 4 armored cars down the road towards Millstreet. Meanwhile a squadron of Chevaulegers trotted through Caherbranagh to the south to swing round the attacker’s left flank and erupt in gallop to attack their rear on horseback. The Jaegers then counterattacked. The Dublin Fusiliers fell back in disarray towards Millstreet. Fearful that the enemy were merely the vanguard of a larger force, the Jaegers were very cautious in their pursuit. Ultimately they turned back to the vicinity Rathmore and prepared for tomorrow. This allowed the Dublin Fusiliers to regroup in front of Misstreet and establish a defense. They were content to merely await the arrival of additional elements of 16th Division.
------Clarenbridge (Galway) 1605 hrs
Liam Mellows and had assembled and organized more than 700 men plus 22 women from the Athenry/Oranmore/Gort district of Galway Brigade and distributed the 200 Lee-Enfield and 300 Mosin Nagant rifles the German had sent. Another company of Volunteers in County Galway had assembled and would be joining them later. Mellows planned an eventual march on Galway city but his preparatory move was to attack nearby RIC Barracks starting with the one at Clarenbridge on Galway Bay.
------Kilmallock (Limerick) 1610 hrs
The 16th Uhlan Regiment had concentrated around KImallock where they had taken they had finally captured the train station. The mounted pioneers had planted a charge in the railroad and they had now derailed a train carrying 2 batteries of 15 pounder guns belonging to the LXXVI Field Artillery Brigade. The artillerists who were not badly hurt in the derailing tried to resist the attacking cavalry as best they could, but in accord with standard British practice on 36 men in each battery had been issued a rifle, none of which carried a bayonet.
The Uhlans charged as the men struggled to get out and tried to form an effective defense. Many fell victim to saber and lance The Uhlan regimental commander had been persuaded to let the Irish participate as well and their charge followed in the wake of the cavalry.
------Limerick 1630 hrs
While 2 batteries of 10th Division’s 18 pounders had been battered by the German 10cm guns in the Slieve Brenagh Mountains which in turn delayed the movement of the howitzer brigade down the same road until nightfall, other batteries had now been positioned east of the city. They now began a preparatory bombardment. The Germans by this time had landed most of the 10.5 cm howitzer battalion of the Naval Division but decided against engaging in counter-battery fire. Instead the howitzers along with the minenwerfers waited for the 30th Brigade to make its attack. They did not have to wait long, and were richly rewarded for their patience.
------Athenry (Galway) 1725 hrs
When the 10th battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had boarded the train at Sligo, their officers had been told that they would detrain at Gort to join with 2 other battalions of the 109th Brigade in counterattacking the Germans north of Ennis. When they reached Athentry their train was stopped and the men ordered to disembark. As they did they were told of a large force of Irish rebels threatening Galway city.
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 1730
On schedule one battery of the German 10cm field guns sited in the Slieve Brenagh foothills opened fire on the company of Dublin Fusiliers holed up in the small town of O’Briensbridge. One shell was very short and landed about 25 yards from the trenches of Sturm Company Calahan.
"Jeezus! Why are the fuckin’ Germans shelling us!" yelled one of the Irish Volunteers.
"Keep your damn head down and you’ll be safe in the trench," yelled Captain Calahan, "the German gunners need to find the range, that’s all."
After the attack Dublin Fusiliers had been repulsed, the Irish Volunteers had expanded their trenches. A few of the badly wounded enemy in no man’s land had managed to limp and crawl to their trench to surrender. Some of the other wounded moaned and occasionally shrieked. Harry couldn’t stand one fellow’s shrieking and used him for target practice with his Mauser. Eventually the shrieking stopped. Now and then some of the Irish Volunteers would scramble out of the trench to grab a Lee-Enfield rifle from one of the corpses. Sometimes this drew fire from the enemy.
About two hours ago the promised German platoon finally arrived. They brought with them an Irish Brigade commander for Killaloe company, along with 60 Mosin Nagant rifles and some ammunition. Accompanying them were 6 men on the rolls of the former King’s Island Company who finally decided to show up as well as a pair of disaffected Redmondites, who now wanted to join the rising. They also had a horse drawn ambulance with them and removed the seriously wounded back to the field hospital in Limerick.
The Germans discovered an intact phone line connecting the nearby village of Bridgetown to Kilbane and this allowed them to coordinate the current bombardment. The German artillery took their time registering on their target. In the preparation for Operation Unicorn General von François had stressed the importance on not wasting ammunition, esp. artillery shells. Accuracy was emphasized over rapidity of fire. The German battery took its time registering and when it had the target its rate of fire steady not frantic.
The shelling did not last long. It was primarily intended to discourage the British from making another attack. It would the guns registered in case the British tried a night attack. The Dublin Fusiliers had not bothered to entrench though nearly half were sheltered in the buildings. Even a short bombardment with 10cm guns would inflict additional casualties. Calahan was disappointed that there was to be no infantry charge after the bombardment. Still he saw this was a good opportunity to get his men accustomed to what bursting shells were like. Once the artillery had registered on the enemy he took some men out of the trenches and recovered some of the bodies on the field.
When it over the German platoon commander called him and the new Irish Brigade commander of Killaloe company over to talk. Technically Calahan outranked him but the nearly all the German officers regarded IRA rank as a hoax and this one treated Calahan as if he was merely an senior NCO. Harry didn’t like this one bit but the thrill of his morning victory had put him in a forgiving mood,
"The rest of my company will be arriving here in less than half an hour followed by still another company from our battalion an hour later. I have recently received word that Michael Brannan, the commandant of East Clare Brigade has assembled two more companies at Killaloe to the north. I want both of you to proceed there. Ger your men ready and march out when my company arrives."
"What about the trucks were using earlier?" asked Calahan, "the roads have gotten less muddy in the last few hours. I think we can begin driving on them again."
"I am glad you mentioned that. I was told that regimental HQ insists that they want them back as soon as possible—except you can keep a single small motor car for ferrying messengers."
------Tralee Bay 1740 hrs
A gap was opened in the antisubmarine nets. First a group of 8 transports emerged. These had unloaded their soldiers, equipment and supplies during the day These all headed north towards the mouth of the Shannon. After them came the 2nd Scouting Group, Blucher, Rostock and Regensburg quickly emerged and headed west making frequent zigzags.
------Dublin Castle 1745 hrs
Major Vane, the intelligence officer, had returned to Dublin and joined Chamberlain and General Friend in briefing Curzon and Birrell on the latest developments. "The most disturbing news is that there appears to be an attack by a sizable force of Irish Volunteers on the RIC barracks at Clarenbridge in County Galway not that far from Galway City. This is the first major act of armed insurrection outside the areas occupied by the Germans," reported Vane.
Birrell turned to Chamberlain, "Did you ever manage to grab the rabble rouser, Liam Mellows? If he’s still loose, I’ll bet you that he’s the one behind this development."
"Mr. Mellows remains at large, Mr. Secretary. While we do not know as yet who is leading the Volunteers in this action, he is an obvious suspect."
"Might there be a German officer leading them, though?" asked Curzon.
"That is possible as well, Your Excellency It is also possible they have received arms from the Germans. Last night we intercepted 4 motor trucks heading towards Cork carrying a total of 1,000 rifles—most captured Russian rifles—as well as ammunition. The men in the trucks were Irish American Fenians helping the Germans. They had forged documents on them meant to mislead our men manning the roadblocks. In this instance they failed but perhaps this ruse succeeded in Galway."
"And maybe that ruse enjoyed some success elsewhere," commented Birrell.
"But first we need to put out the fire in Galway," said Curzon, "General Friend, has the army responded to this latest development?"
"Yes we have, Your Excellency. On of the battalions we were sending by train to Gort was stopped on the way at Athentry just a few minutes ago and ordered to attack the rebels as quickly as possible," answered General Friend, who looked haggard. The Viceroy had been very critical of his decisions since the Germans landed. In addition he was in the difficult position of issuing orders to an officer who outranked him, Lt. General Mahon in command of the 10th Division. This was already causing friction and he anticipated that it would get steadily worse in the days ahead. Lastly he had a strong suspicion that once Lord Kitchener learned of all that was going on, the Field Marshal would be most unhappy.
"Is this one of the units we were going to use in the counterattack on Ennis?" asked Birrell.
"That is correct, sir. I thought it more important to stamp out the insurrection before it spreads."
"I concur with that general line of reasoning," said Curzon, "and Ennis to my thinking is much less important objective than either Limerick or Tralee."
"Is it true that 10th Division is barely holding on to a corner of Limerick? And what exactly is our strategy in regards to Kerry?" Birrell asked General Friend..
"The deployment of long range German artillery in the Slieve Brenagh Mountains caused some disruption to the deployment of our own artillery at Limerick. We will move the remaining artillery tonight—along with the 3 battalions being released from Dublin this afternoon. That should be enough to turn the tide at Limerick. As far as Kerry the 16th Division will make a major attack at Rathmore tomorrow. This should remove the weak German presence there, After that it will continue on to join the forces already near Killarney and from there they will advance on Tralee," answered General Friend who decided not to mention that today’s encounter near Rathmore had not gone well..
"It sounds like the assault on Tralee is several days—" began Curzon. It was interrupted by a loud knock at the door. A head poked in and a warrant officer poked his head in to say, "Sorry to interrupt, Your Excellency, but we have just received an urgent message from the Prime Minister with strict instructions that it be delivered immediately.
"Let me look at it," answered Curzon. He had intuition that he would not like it. His hunch was correct.
MAKE NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS TO DISARM ULSTER VOLUNTEER FORCE REPEAT DO NOT TRY TO DISARM ULSTER VOLUNTEERS STOP FURTHER CLARIFICATION OF POLICY WILL BE TRAMSITTED LATER THIS EVENING
------east of Limerick 1820 hrs
The commander of the 10th (Irish) Division was Lt. General Sir Bryan Mahon, who outranked Major General Lovick Friend, who was the commander of British forces in Ireland. An ardent supporter of Sir John Redmond, Gen. Mahon was eager to destroy the German invasion of his beloved Ireland. Still it rankled him greatly to be taking orders from a lower ranking officer. He told himself that General Friend was really just coordinating and not commanding but was already drafting a letter he planned to send to Lord Kitchener saying the situation was unsatisfactory and needed to be remedied.
The letter could wait as the General was having other problems at this time. The counterattack by 30th Brigade had failed to gain more than a building here a street corner there and at a serious cost in casualties. For the time being he needed to hold in Irish Town. The battle was already shifting to the southeastern suburbs of Limerick where both sides looked to outflank the other.
What was the day’s biggest aggravation was the failure of the attack by the Dublin Fusiliers at O’Briensbridge, where reports indicated that they faced only Irish Volunteers. Mahon did want word that the Irish rebels could win an encounter with his loyal Irishmen. For this reason he had not informed Friend of this encounter. .
The train carrying the 5th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers had just arrived at Nengah. General Mahon was on the telephone with its commander. "There has been a change of plans, colonel. You are to march as fast as possible to Ballina. Let your wagons lag behind if need be. There are reports of about 200 Sinn Feiners massing across the Shannon at Killaloe. Secure the bridge and then vigorously attack the traitors. Once you have annihilated them split your battalion. Send half to attack the German artillery near Killbane and the rest south to attack another packet of rebels at O’Briensbridge."
"Hmm. Understood, sir. Will the rest of the brigade be following me across the Shannon?"
"No, they will still be heading for Limerick when then arrive. You are temporarily detached from Brigade HQ and will report directly to this HQ?"
------Manhattan 1830 hrs (GMT)
When Cornelius St. James returned from his trip to Worcester, he received word to meet Hauptman von Papen—not at the Gaelic American but at a safe house the Germans had set up.
"How did you trip go?" asked the German military attaché, "Were you able to meet with this physics professor—what’s his name again? Munchhausen, perhaps?"
"Goddard, Robert Goddard, sir," answered Cornelius, "and yes I did meet with him. It was all we had hoped for. Professor Goddard is most willing to purchase rockets for us as long as they do they do not have explosive warheads. He will use some of them in his research—he certainly is most enthusiastic about them—but he is willing to show me how to launch them properly."
"So you gave him the money we provided with no more than his word? Are you so sure we can trust him?" asked the attaché. In the back of his mind he still trusted this former Buffalo soldier, with his amateurish fantasies of using rockets. St. James had read about a professor who had been granted not one but two ambitious patents relating to rocketry in 1914 and persuaded von Papen to use this academic as a front to get their hands on rockets.
"Yes, I did. I made it clear what we need and the conditions he must meet to receive further funds. He is a bit of a dreamer—why he even talks about sending a rocket to the Moon some day—but I believe we can trust him."
"The Moon? The man must be a lunatic? And you gave him our money?"
"Be calm, Captain. These rockets are not going to the Moon. We both know they are going to Ireland, eh?"
Papen continued to scowl, "That is mere supposition on your part, Sgt. St. James. I said nothing about Ireland."
"I think it’s fairly obvious, now isn’t it, sir?"
------Caherbranagh (Kerry/Cork) 2015 hrs
A single platoon of Jaegers were currently occupying this town. To the south of this town lay the imposing Derrynasggart Mountains. Sentries reported a group of 9 men and a woman were approaching the mountains. Three of the Irishmen carried revolvers but otherwise they were unarmed. One of them acted as a leader and actually could speak some halting German and asked to be brought to the commander in the area. The sentry brought them to the platoon commander.
. "We are from a nearby company of the Irish Volunteers. We are on the same side. Have your leaders told you about us?" asked the Irish spokesman.
"Yes, we have been told to help you. Am I right that you are looking for good rifles and ammunition? We can provide that. Where did you come from?"
"Hmm. We live near Ballyvourney. The Irish Volunteers company there is fairly large—we have over 180 men on the rolls. We don’t have much in the way of weapons though. That is why we came here."
The Jaeger Lt frowned. "Ballyvourney? Where is that? Is it near some place larger?" he asked looking at a map open on his desk.
"It is south of here," said the Irishman. He came closer to the Bavarian officer and leaned over his map. He then pointed to a spot, "There it is."
"But that is on the other side of the mountains!" The Bavarian had some appreciation of mountains. This portion of Ireland bore considerable resemblance to much of Bavaria.
"We know our way in these mountains. We can cross them when we need to."
------Tralee Bay 2040 hrs
The cloud cover had gradually thinned during the afternoon. An hour earlier the destroyer B.98 had abruptly emerged from the gap in the net to search for submarines. Now Lothringen, Schlesien and Hessen departed as well. Once they passed the Loop Head they proceeded on a WSW course at 15 knots. One of the U-Boats had been waiting for them off the coast. Like the destroyer it had been refueled by transports since arriving at Ireland. It now joined the formation though it soon began to fall behind.
------Killorglin (Kerry) 2045 hrs
The Irish Volunteers had a small company at Castelemaine and a somewhat larger one at Killorglin. Before Rommel had left the Germans were already in communication with the former with a rifle company from the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment arriving in mid-morning to secure the bridge over the Maine River there are after a grueling march through heavy rain. Rommel’s caravan had stopped there for a little more than an hour. The O’Rahilly had delivered a spirited pep talk before introducing both their new company commander and Rommel who would be their new battalion commander.
After that Rommel had delivered his own speech mostly in English but in accord with the O"Rahilly’s suggestions he threw in two phrases in Irish for effect. The O’Rahilly had warned against overdoing that trick as regrettably more than half of the men understood only a spattering of their mother tongue.
Rommel’s speech was well received. .Several of the Irish Volunteers who had looked at him suspiciously when he started, were dewy eyed and enchanted when he finished. After that he turned things over to the company commander who distributed the Mosin-Nagant rifles they had brought with them. After that Rommel got his expedition back on the trucks and proceeded south along the coastal road. Before he reached Killorglin they encountered a roadblock but their armored car scared off the constables.
When they reached Killorglin there had been another short skirmish with a dozen constables. With the help of the armored car the Jaegers killed 2 constables and captured 6 more with the other 4 running off into the nearby woods. After that it took a while to assemble the local company of Irish Volunteers. Their commander had been arrested by the RIC during the night and hauled off to Killarney. Most of their weapons had been seized as well. Rommel had both rifles and a new commander for them, but first he needed to spread the word and fortunately Jim Stack knew a few members of the company and proved very helpful.
------10 Downing Street 2100 hrs
Lord Kitchener had been summoned to meet with the War Committee.
"I should have seen this coming. You know George has often said that he regarded the existence of armed paramilitary forces as a disgrace, and he made it pretty clear he did not regard the Ulster Volunteers as an exception," commented the Prime Minister, "Anyway I put I stop to it immediately once I found out."
"The man has obviously become insane, Prime Minister. You should have him committed to an asylum as soon as possible!" Kitchener declared.
Good Lord I believe the Field Marshal is being completely serious! thought Lloyd-George who quickly countered, "Now, now, Field Marshal, such a drastic measure would cause immense damage to our credibility. We are already in a difficult situation as it is."
"Smashing the invasion fleet tomorrow should go a long way to keeping Parliament under control," Carson commented
"Even so, the Germans may have enough men and material ashore to still allow them to wage a prolonged campaign provided they can live off the land," replied Kitchener, "They could meet us in open battle for a while then switch to guerilla warfare I hope you have not forgotten the Boer Wars."
"The scenario you have just described would be a threat only if a sizable portion of the Irish people assist them," answered Lloyd-George, "and so far only a few hundred in Kerry and Limerick have joined them."
"If we do not smash the Germans quickly more and more of the Catholics will come forward to serve them. It is only a matter of time before something serious happens in Dublin. Merely containing the German forces and cutting their supply line is not enough. They must be engaged with overwhelming force eliminated altogether and all their Papist lackeys exterminated."
"Just what are you suggesting, Lord Kitchener?" asked the Prime Minister, "That we send additional forces to Ireland?"
"Yes, Prime Minister. At least one of the Territorial Force Divisions plus a mounted brigade—and that’s if the German force is merely a reinforced division."
"Lord Kitchener, you were with us at Buckingham Palace," stated Lloyd-George, "Surely you must recall that His Majesty was worried that the real German purpose for the Irish invasion was as a diversion to draw forces away from England which would then be invaded. Surely you must recall that we promised him to hold off on sending substantial reinforcements to Ireland until after the Grand Fleet has returned."
"There is no need for you to remind me, Chancellor."
"Hmm. I would say an entire division constitutes substantial reinforcements, does it not? Even if all goes well tomorrow morning the Grand Fleet won’t be back at Rosyth before Wednesday," remarked Carson, "so that is the earliest we will be sending an entire division. However, sending some yeomanry in the meantime sounds reasonable to me."
"I must reiterate the dire consequences of delaying the needed reinforcements, First Lord," Kitchener replied, "but I must also bring up another consideration. We must replace General Friend with a higher ranking officer as soon as possible. The commander of the 10th Division is Lt. Gen Mahon, who has already made it clear that he finds it completely unacceptable that he is now under the command of an officer he outranks."
"We could give Gen. Mahon command of the forces n Ireland and find someone to replace him at 10th Division," suggested Lloyd-George.
Bonar Law and Carson exchanged glances and grimaced uncomfortably at that suggestion. Mahon was an ardent supporter of Sir John Redmond and was not the man that wanted to see in charge of Ireland.
Kitchener frowned as well. Shaking his head he said, "I do not regard Gen. Mahon as a good choice to replace Gen. Friend."
"Well then just whom do you recommend?" asked Lloyd-George.
"My first choice would be General Hamilton."
------Vienna 2105 hrs
Kaiser Franz Josef had invited Erzherzog Karl to discuss the commission appointed to devise structural changes in the Habsburg Empire. After a while the topic wandered.
"Our allies did something very daring yesterday," noted the Kaiser.
"You must be referring to the invasion of Ireland, Your Majesty," replied Karl, "Yes that was something of a shock when I first heard about."
"Do you think it is too bold? Admiral Haus has promised to provide me a confidential evaluation Tuesday. Feldmarschal Conrad has made it known already that he believes Tirpitz has become intoxicated by his successes and has bewitched Kaiser Wilhelm. He is very negative. What do you think?"
"My initial reaction was much the same as the Feldmarschal, Your Majesty. However this morning after Mass it suddenly struck me that the Germans are trying to do to the British exactly what they were trying to do to us when they landed in Albania."
The old sovereign raised an eyebrow at that. He tapped his lips pensively and took his time replying. Finally he started to nod, "Yes, yes, I do see some similarity, now that you mention it. Viewing it in that light I now feel glad the Germans did it!"
"Yes, indeed, Your Majesty. In fact, I suggest it might be a good idea if we show our appreciation?"
"What are suggesting, Karl? That I send a personal letter to Wilhelm thanking him?"
Karl bit his lip and hesitated. Finally he answered, "I was thinking it might be worthwhile to go a step further. We should offer some of our own units to participate in the expedition."
Again Franz Josef took his time replying. "That is an interesting thought. I think I like it. How about a feldjaeger battalion and a Hussar regiment, eh? Mind you, I am not sure the Germans would accept but it would make a splendid gesture."
Karl sighed, "I was thinking something more substantial, Your Majesty. Perhaps I am getting carried away?"
"Hmm. Just how much more substantial, Karl?"
"I was thinking an entire division, Your Majesty."
"An entire division! I don’t think our Army could spare an entire division right now—what with the operation underway in Serbia."
"I was thinking about that experimental division in Prague, Your Majesty. The one we are letting the Germans assist in training. It is supposed become ready for combat by the end of the month, yet I have heard that Feldmarschal Conrad remains skeptical of its value and is not in any hurry to use it. This division was the inspiration of the General von François whom we have been told is the commander of the Germans expedition in Ireland."
Kaiser Franz Josef thought it over. He doubted that the Germans would use an entire division—surely they needed to reinforce their forces in Ireland they would have their own units scheduled for such duty. So offering an entire division would make a good impression on the emotional Wilhelm but in the end it was not likely to be accepted. Still he knew that expressing it that way to Karl would sound cynical and disingenuous.
"I recall that the commander of this division is, if I might be blunt, far from being one of our best officers. Has he been replaced yet? If we were to offer this division to the Germans, we cannot afford to embarrass ourselves."
Karl shook his head, "Last I heard he is still there. Deciding on a replacement was one of those matters Feldmarschal Conrad had managed to put it off."
"Well he has a lot on his mind, yes? Since you have such a great interest in this matter, is there by any chance someone you would care to recommend, Karl?"
Karl made a strange face which surprised the Kaiser. He reminded Franz Josef of a school girl with some secret crush she was dying to confide. The Erzherzog squirmed then answered, "Well in fact I do, Your Majesty. But, you see, er, well I find myself embarrassed to say it, Your Majesty."
Franz Josef shook his head, "You have thoroughly confused this poor old man. Come, come. Now what is it that you find so embarrassing? Come on, don’t be shy. Tell me whatever it is you’ve dying to tell me."
Karl blushed and them in a shy voice answered, "Well, uh, you see, Your Majesty. I, uh, well would consider it a great honor if I was to be given command of this division."
------Connemara (Galway) 2125 hrs
Padraig Pearse had spent much of the day in prayer, beseeching Jesus and His Holy Mother to guide him. He now made up his mind and announced his decision to the couple who had been sheltering him, "I will be leaving you very early in the morning. Once again I must express the strongest gratitude in letting me hide out here. I know full well the awful risk you have been taking."
"And where might you be going? To Mellowes in Athenry? Or is it the Germans to the south you be seeking? Them scoundrels that used poison gas in France and ruthlessly shelled Limerick," asked the husband.
Pearse shook his head and answered, "No. I must be making my way back to Dublin. That is where Irishmen will form the free Irish State—whether it is republic or a constitutional monarchy is not all that important—just as long as it is Irish and free. By the time I get to Dublin we should know better if the Germans can be trusted."
The husband spat in disgust. The wife spoke up, "Do what you must, Padraig. Just be careful, you hear. The British will be looking for you ten times harder than before, you know. They will believe you are in league with the Germans and they will either hang you or shoot you if they catch you."
Pearse nodded, "Thank you for the warning, Susan. I will do my best to avoid capture. I may well die before this is all over—Ireland will born in the blood of martyrs. I do not fear death—part of me would gladly welcome it—but there are things that must be done and if I cam caught before I reach Dublin, I fear they may not get done."
"In that case, may the Good Lord watch over you, Padraig."
------Foynes (Limerick) 2145 hrs
In addition to the 4 seaplanes aboard Glyndwr the Germans had brought 3 disassembled land planes. The ground crew was now working furiously and hoped to have the first ready by dawn.
------Crusheen (Clare) 2205 hrs
The Germans had sent both the Marine cavalry squadron and a bicycle company here in the early morning to assist the local company of Irish Volunteers and secure the large number of the horses from America that were nearby. In the afternoon they had left after being relived by a rifle company of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers.
The commander of the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was determined to mount an attack before midnight. His wagons had been impeded somewhat by the muddy roads so he held back one rifle company but hurled the rest against the enemy positions. Coordination in this area between the Germans and the local company of Irish Volunteers, which had yet to receive an Irish Brigade, was rather poor. The Irish outposts were quickly overrun by the Iniiskilling Fusiliers who then fell upon the camp of the Volunteers with savage fury. They achieved only partial surprise against the nearby German Marines nearby. There was an exchange of gunfire in darkness weakly illuminated by shards of moonlight eking through the gaps in the clouds. The Germans had not prepared a strong defense and fell back in disorder towards Ennis. The inexperienced Ulstermen began to suffer the usual problems of confusion in a night attack which hampered their pursuit of the Germans. The Irish Volunteers who escaped ran off in several directions adding to the confusion. The Ulstermen had captured 14 German Marines but only 9 Irish Volunteers—most of the Irishmen who had tried to surrender were killed anyway.
------SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II west of Limerick 2235 hrs
The battleship remained anchored without steam in the Shannon close to Limerick. A boat approached from the shore. It carried a cable.
------Celaya (Mexico) 2250 hrs (GMT)
General Alvaros Obregon inspected the trenches. His men had finally removed and buried the last of Villistas from the barbed wire. For days Pancho Villa had launched wave after wave of his Division of the North against these defenses Villa was fiendishly clever in guerilla operations but he had proved unimaginative in a formal battle. Obregon on the other hand had studied what was going on in Europe. He had even consulted from some German advisers. He had held against Villa’s fanatical attacks, inflicting devastating losses. What was left of the the Division of the North had retired to the north. President Carranza was already pressing General Obregon to chase Villa and finish him off.
An excited captain now came running towards him. "General Obregon, have you heard the news?"
"I am not sure what you are referring to—is it about Villa? Or has Zapata done something in the south?"
"No, no, Generals. It’s about the Germans!"
Obregon frowned. "This is not about Huerta is it? " he asked. Since the Battle of Utsire had broken British command of the seas, Obregon and Carranza worried that German warships might escort Huerta back from his exile in Spain.
"No, General it has nothing to do Huerta—and everything to do with Ireland. Yes, I said Ireland. The Germans have invaded Ireland—can you believe it?"
"Hmm. Not completely, Captain. Are completely sure you about this information? It is not just some rumor you heard in Boy’s Town, eh?"
"Oh no, General. It was included in a cable from Mexico City, sir."
"That means it is probably true—but not 100% certain by any means. Still if it is true it is a bold move on their part."
"Is it true that you are part Irish, general?"
"My grandfather was named O’Brien which became Obregon."
------SMS Kaiser Friedrich III 2255 hrs
The gaps in the cloud cover admitted enough moonlight so that the men on the bridge could see the last batch of the transports which had steamed into the Shannon after they had finished unloading at Tralee Bay. Some were blowing off steam. Beside them lay a 4,300 ton freighter the Germans had captured in the early afternoon. It had come all the way from India with a cargo of tea intended for Limerick It lacked a wireless and had not been warned to avoid the invasion area.
The battleship’s captain and first officer of the anchored battleship largely ignored them and concentrated on watching the light cruiser, Arkona laying her mines. "For the love of God, Montressor!" quoted the first officer attempting a bit of levity.
"Yes, for the love of God," answered the captain, nodding grimly.
------off Berck (France) 2300 hrs
Escorted by 7 old ‘B’ and ‘C’ class destroyers of Dover Patrol, 3 British minelayers began to lay defensive minefield that would extend from Berck to the northern edge of the Baie de la Somme.
------Killorglin (Kerry) 2335 hrs
The 2nd Scouting Group had steamed around the Dingle peninsula into Dingle Bay and now lay anchored in Castlemaine Harbor off the mouth of Laune River. They communicated with Major Rommel’s contingent using lanterns and searchlights. A rifle company of the 3rd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry had been transferred to Rostock and Regensburg in the early afternoon. Each light cruiser had lowered its steam pinnace to tow 3 boats loaded with half of the company. A small fishing boat brought two of Irish volunteers familiar with the Laune to the lead pinnace. After that two tows proceeded into the mouth of Laune River
Blucher had arrived a bit later carrying another company from the same battalion. It had lowered a pair of steam pinnaces and was now forming its tows that follow the other up the river. Rommel watched this by moonlight. It was a pretty sight, but he only had a limited amount of time for aesthetic pursuits. He had sent Killorglin company off marching upriver more than hour ago. He turned to the Jaeger Lt and ordered in German, "It is time to get back on the trucks and be on our way. Go fetch the Irishmen who know this route through the Reeks."
------Tipperary 2350 hrs
The Vice Commandant of the Tipperary Volunteers, Eamon O’Duibhir had spent most of the day hiding from the RIC. He had learned that the Commandant, Pierce McCan had been arrested so he the acting commandant. He spent much of the day trying to decide if he should call out the companies in Tipperary. He had fretted over the lack of weapons and had gone to bed at a friend’s house still undecided.
He had barely drifted off to sleep when he was awoken. He was taken a brisk pace to a farmhouse on the outskirts of Tipperary. There he found a truck. There were two men in the truck. The one who was alive wept as he cradled the one who had died in his arms. The crying man was filthy. On the way here the truck had gotten stuck in mud twice and both time me managed to push it loose but fell headlong into the mud on one occasion. It was a moving sight but there was it was not what interested O’Duibhir most.
"There are 250 rifles with ammunition—Russian rifles if you can believe it," one of the Irish Volunteers informed him, "but the driver says they are good rifles. He is going to show us how to use them properly after we bury his friend. There was to have been another truck with a similar load but he says it broke down on the way here."
"Is 250 rifles going to be enough?" asked another Volunteer.
O’Duibhir sighed deeply scratching his chin. He looked again at the crying man, then he began to nod, "Those two risked a lot to get them here. They will have to do."
"Now this leads us back to the topic of the karma of this extraordinary man, Harold Calahan, who entered the recent maelstrom virtually out of nowhere. Now there was a time in Hibernia’s past before the Mystery of Golgotha, where the portion of the island called Ulster was at its zenith…"
---Lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Limerick, May 21, 1917