by Tom B
------Old Admiralty Building 0015 hrs Monday April 26, 1915
The Sea Lords were meeting with Carson. Saturday afternoon Col Maurice Hankey had been assigned to the Admiralty to provide additional insights into the Army aspects of the situation. Liaison with Lord Kitchener had been difficult and there was also concern that the news being sent to London from Dublin was being colored and redacted more than it should be.
"What is the situation with military aircraft in Ireland?" asked Carson, "it galls me no end that the enemy has had the benefit of air patrols and we have not."
"A pair of RNAS seaplanes arrived at Kingstown harbor yesterday afternoon, First Lord," answered Admiral Callaghan, "one of those will fly on to Queenstown this morning if the weather permits. The Army will fly two of its airplanes to an airfield near the Curragh this morning. The ground crews and equipment needed to operate these planes will cross the Irish Sea before noon."
"I wish the Army could spare more planes, but the situation of First Army in France remains critical and there is the obvious need for airplanes based here in England in case the Germans plan to invade here as well," remarked Carson who then turned to the chief of the naval war staff, "Admiral Oliver, as I understand it you’ve worked with Col. Hankey here in trying to determine the size of the enemy invasion force and how quickly it could be landed. What do you have to tell us?" asked Carson.
"Well First Lord, we have hypothesized two different scenarios. The first is that the invasion is meant merely to stir up a rising in Ireland and to tie down Army units when they are badly needed elsewhere. If that is the case then the size of the invasion could be only a reinforced division. It would have anywhere from 15 to 20 battalions instead of the usual dozen. It might also additional cavalry squadrons than German divisions normally—there is evidence that the Germans have landed at least 7 squadrons of cavalry."
"But it would have only a division’s establishment of artillery?"
"Yes, that is what we are assuming—though we do not they have a coastal battery sited at Rough Point. They will likely have a powerful wireless station as well and a few other unusual elements—such the handful of armored cars they are using."
"So if the German invasion force is only this size? How close are they to finishing their offloading," asked Admiral Callaghan.
Hankey turned to Admiral Oliver and let him answer for him, "It depends on how much supplies they intend to land, sir. With a force this size the Germans may feel they can live off the land so the critical item is how much ammunition do they feel that they need?"
"Yes, that is fairly obvious, I suppose. Surely you were able to make some reasonable assumptions about this."
"We have First Lord. Under some assumptions it is possible the Germans finished landing the entire force some time late yesterday. Again that is assuming it is a reinforced division."
"So the invasion force could now be on its way back to Germany—that is assuming it is merely a reinforced division. Is it really that easy to land men and equipment?"
"The Germans were able to capture several very useful harbors—Fenit, Blennerville, Kilrush, Foynes, Limerick and apparently Trabert as well. They may even be using Kilkee on Clare’s Atlantic coast, even though it is very exposed to submarines and torpedo boats. One of their considerations in planning this operation was the number of serviceable harbors in that section of Ireland. "
"Have you communicated this delightful dollop of information to Admiral Bayly?"
"Yes, First Lord."
"What are our plans if the Germans have put to sea?" Carson asked Admiral Callaghan.
"The Germans have two routes back to Germany, First Lord. If they go north by a direct route they will run into Admiral Bayly and the 1st Battle Squadron. More likely they will swing out the west first then head north. They might have some chance of sneaking around 1st Battle Squadron, but the 3rd and 5th Battle Squadrons were detached by Admiral Bayly and sent to Scapa Flow. These units are now available to intercept the German task force if they head north."
"That is all very well, Admiral but the more likely prospect is that the Germans will try to return home through the Channel, is it not?"
"That is correct, First Lord. To handle that contingency we repositioned 11th Cruiser Squadron off Dursey Island. They are too weak to stop the Germans but would give us a firm indication of their intention. We have contacted the French Navy and they have deployed an armored cruiser squadron further to the south. Meanwhile Admiral Bayly had anticipated this possibility and decided it was best to detach the 1st Cruiser Squadron and send it down the Irish Sea so it would be in position to intercept the Germans invasion fleet if they tried to enter the Channel. They are sufficiently powerful that they could slow the German advance if need be."
"Armored cruisers vs. battleships? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I assume Admiral Bayly is prepared to chase the Germans into the Channel with 1st Battle Squadron."
"Yes, he is well prepared, First Lord. The German transports will slow down their fleet to at most 10 knots. It should be easy for our dreadnoughts to overtake them."
"But that is assuming the German warships remain tied to their transports. Perhaps they intend to disperse the now empty transports and let the warships steam at maximum speed? If they do that can Admiral Bayly overtake them?"
"As the saying goes, First Lord, ‘A stern chase is a long chase." But in this case it shouldn’t be all that bad. These German battleships include either Brandenburg or Worth would be hard pressed to maintain even 15 knots for an extended period. The Grand Fleet should be able to overtake them easily sometime before dusk on Tuesday."
"Hmm. I want some additional precautions taken nonetheless. We are in the process of concentrating submarines in the eastern end of the Channel. I think it would be wise if at least two could be stationed west of the Isle of Wight as quickly possible. Does this present any problems, Sea Lords?"
Callaghan briefly thought it over and shook his head, "I see no problem, First Lord. It is a reasonable request that we shall implement."
"Good. And what about the alternative larger German invasion force you’ve considered as a possibility, Col. Hankey?"
"If the Germans actually intend to conquer Ireland it would require a minimum of 4 infantry divisions probably formed into 2 corps, at least one of which would possess a battalion of foot artillery."
"If this is the case Grand Fleet should be able to destroy at least half the force before it makes it ashore."
"Hmm, not exactly, First Lord. In terms of the men and weapons the Germans could have about 50,000 men and 150 pieces of artillery ashore by noon if they utilize all the captured harbors to the fullest---"
Carson and even Admiral Callaghan were visibly alarmed by that statement, so Admiral Oliver jumped in, "Yes, I am well aware how ominous that sounds, First Lord, but it would not be a good situation at all for the German invasion force. The Grand Fleet would still be able to destroy a portion of their units but what is more important, most of their supplies The Germans ashore would run out of ammunition in a few days."
"Not as satisfying as capturing most of the enemy before they could land, but I understand your point—the enemy would be rendered harmless—the endgame being a matter of days not hours. But this is all glorified guesswork. I must say Admiral Oliver, that I am more than a little disappointed that we do not have better intelligence about the composition of the invasion force."
Admiral Henry Oliver frowned again. There were still some intercepted enemy messages he was not sharing such as the enigmatic one which said "THE CASK IS NOW SHUT". What the Hell does that mean? He thought again about complaining that both Lord Kitchener and Lord Curzon seemed to be taking too much time forwarding intelligence to the Admiralty—complaints with some degree of validity, but these were points he had already made more than once this evening. So he answered Carson directly, "The civilians in the occupied territory do present us with an invaluable intelligence resource, First Lord. But it takes time for this information to work its way through. And then there is the tricky issue of reliability. We are already receiving reports that are clearly false. The most risible example is a report of Prussian Guards being in Ireland when we know they are playing a prominent role in the crucial battle south of Crecy Forest. On the other hand we do have good reason to believe at least one battalion of Bavarian Jaegers are involved in the operation. There are other reports of Bavarians, possibly not Jaegers but we cannot say for sure at this time, First Lord. By midday we should now better what we’re facing."
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse entering Jade Bay 0105 hrs
Grossadmiral von Ingenohl was glad to finally see the light house. Fog was starting to form but it was not yet a hazard. The High Seas Fleet had made it back safely back to the Jade after the second sortie of Operation Unicorn. Some of the torpedo boats were very low on coal and had a few were even being towed home by cruisers. Despite all the fatuous propaganda about his being the invincible German Nelson, Ingenohl still had grave misgivings about Tirpitz, Moltke and Operation Unicorn. In the last two weeks he had been in touch with a group of Reichstag members led by Prince Max of Baden. As soon as possible he planned to meet with them again.
He had been notified a few hours ago that repairs on Ostfriesland had finally been finished. This was good news. Ostfriesland had been severely damaged and nearly lost at the Battle of Dogger Bank way back in December. He had also been told that Derfflinger’s repairs were expected to be finished Thursday. This was good news as well—except it meant dealing with Hipper again.
Ingenoohl tried very hard not to think about either Hipper or the third sortie.
------Derreendaragh (Kerry) 0255 hrs
Rommel’s little caravan of 4 wheel drive motor vehicles had wound its torturous way along a narrow mountain road that snaked through a gap in the western portion of the MacGillicuddy Reeks, Ireland’s largest mountain chain. The roads were still fairly muddy from the earlier downpour so even with 4 wheel drive they struggled. On two occasions one of the Tatra trucks got stuck but with the assistance of the rest of the convoy they were freed in a few minutes.
Another problem was the fog which moved in reducing visibility forcing the convoy to travel slower. The combined effect was that Rommel was about an hour behind schedule when he reached the small town of Derreendaragh. There had been a skirmish with 3 constables manning a road block. It hadn’t lasted all that long but still it was yet another delay.
"You know what you are to do?" Rommel asked Jim Stack and the O’Rahilly.
"Yes, Major," answered the O"Rahilly, "we are to proceed to Kenmare with and make contact with the company of Kerry Brigade there. We had 80 of the Russian rifles with which to arm them. According to Austin Stack he sent them 3 motor trucks and a car that we now want."
"Yes! The fighting is likely to be over before you reach Killarney—but maybe there will be a pocket of resistance you can help cordon off. The motor vehicles there are useful but what is more important is that many of the horses Devoy sent are located on farms and ranges between Killarney and Kenmare. My first assignment for Kenmare Company will be to round up those horses. Understood?"
------Ballina (Tipperary) 0315 hrs
Patches of fog had started to build up after midnight and slowly thickened. The Irish Volunteers huddled in the trench line they had dug in an arc in front of the bridge over the Shannon. The companies which arrived here early in the morning contained a few men who had formerly served in the British Army. They showed the others how to dig a proper trench so when Sturm Company Calahan and Killaloe Company arrived just before dusk they found the rudimentary trench that ran in an arc 500 years long in front of the bridge more than half finished.
"Someone is coming!" a voice yelled.
"Who goes there?" yelled Calahan.
"Don’t shoot, it’s me, Timmy!" answered a scared voice. A shape emerged from the fog with his hands raised.
"Don’t shoot! He’s one of us," ordered Michael Brennan, the commandant of East Clare Battalion.
Timmy haltingly stepped forward to the edge of the single strand of barbed wire in front of the trenches. As he drew closer he yelled, "Soldiers are coming this way. Lots of them They will be here soon!"
"Do you think you can step over the war?" asked Calahan. There was only one small gap in the wire and the young lad was not near it. He did have long spindly legs and the wire barely came up 3 feet.
"Uh, well, uh, I think so."
"Go ahead. Take you time and be careful. You don’t want to get yourself caught."
Timmy approached the wire strand. He looked very nervous. He slowly raised his right leg as high as it would go. He stepped over the strand then brought he left leg over. Unfortunately it caught on the wire. "I’m stuck. My leg is caught in the wire."
"See if you can yank it free. Let it rip your pants."
Timmy tried that. "I can’t get loose. I’m stuck! Oh God, help me---" came a plaintive wail.
"OK, don’t panic! I’m coming," answered Calahan as he scrambled out of the trench. He trotted over to the lad and produced a knife. "Stay still so I don’t cut you," he ordered then hw began to slice away the entangled portion of pants’ leg. As he did so other voices could be heard in the fog.
"It’s them!" squealed the lad, "Oh, my Lord. We’re gone to die."
"No you’re not! Well, at least not this day if you stop fidgeting and let me cut you loose."
"Who goes there?" challenged Fritz, the Irish Brigade commander of Killaloe company and shapes started to become visible. He spoke English clearly but with a pronounced German accent.
Muffled voices could be heard in the distance. The shapes slowly became more distinct. Suddenly both sides began firing. The British soldiers withdrew back into the fog. Meanwhile Calahan had cut Timmy lose from the wire. He grabbed the lad’s arm and the sprinted back into the trench. Calahan had left bit his Mauser and his shotgun in the trench. He grabbed the former and readied it in case the British charged the trench, but the enemy had vanished."
"I guess we scared the damn Brits off, boys!" he yelled. This drew some cheers from the Volunteers.
There was a group of 15 German Marines who had been sent to Killaloe to help the Irish. The unteroffizier in charge of them wasted no opportunity to express how unhappy he was with the assignment. He spoke little English but the cheering made him think the stupid Irishmen had reached an erroneous conclusion. In German he yelled, "Don’t be patting yourself on the back. Likely that was only the vanguard of a larger force. The real fighting is yet to happen Heaven help us when it does."
"What is that German saying?" asked Timmy.
"He said the Irish Volunteers are the finest soldiers he’s ever seen."
"Yeah, really. Now make sure that pistol you are carrying is ready because the new act of this show is likely to start real soon."
A few minutes later the lead company of the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers emerged from the mists. Their captain was in the lead brandishing a sword. He was heard ordering his men to charge. "Commence firing!" yelled Fritz. Technically he had authority over only Killaloe Company but all 3 companies as well as the Germans opened fire. A few of the Royal Irish Fusiliers fell to the ground but most would have reached the wire barrier, which prevented them from overrunning the trench. The fire of shotguns at close range, esp. the autoloaders, was devastating. A few of the attackers made it over the wire by climbing over the backs of slain comrades in the wire. But this was not enough and it also became apparent that the defenders had at least parity of numbers.
The Captain in charge of the Royal Irish Fusiliers blew on a whistle and could be heard ordering a withdrawal. The few attackers who had made into the trench had some success with the bayonet but failed to cause a panic and were overcome before long. As the enemy retreated into the fog, Calahan turned to Timmy, saying, "See there, kid, everything turned---"
Timmy lay dead in the trench with trickle of blood oozing from the entry wound in his forehead. Otherwise his face was the picture of innocence. Rage consumed Calahan. He jumped out of the trench and ran to the edge of wire. He fired his shotgun wildly then brandished the weapon high in the air. "Come back and fight you cowards!" he screamed.
One of the Irish Brigade members spoke up, "Calm down Harry and get back in the damn trench. This is war, you know. Things like this happen."
The unteroffizier eventually made his way over to the Irish trenches. "I would not get carried with this small victory you have just won. I suspect another and stronger attack is coming. You need to send one of your men in the motor car to O’Briensbridge and warn the 3rd battalion that the enemy is making more of an effort here than was anticipated."
-----Muckross (Kerry) 0415 hrs
The constables manning the roadblock in the small town of Muckross on the outskirts of Killarney heard the motor vehicles nearly a minute before they could see them emerging from the fog with the Austrian armored car at the head of the column. Two of the four constables ran away immediately. When the Armored car’s machine gun fired a short burst the other two promptly surrendered. After that the Jaegers remounted and continued down Muckross Road heading for Killarney. Before they reached the bridge over the Flesk River they encountered the camp of ‘D" company of the 7th battalion Royal Irish Rifles, which they immediately attacked Rommel had achieved some degree of surprise initially and the Jaegers took 41 prisoners but the rest of the enemy battalion was rousted and recovered quicker than he had hoped and began to put up a stiff resistance. The Jaegers were able to able the deploy the two Maxim’s which helped them repulse counterattacks by an enemy that outnumbered them more than two to one, but proved unable to advance.
------east of Nouvion (Picardy) 0450 hrs
After a hard march during which the men of the Belgian 5th Division had passed through a hodgepodge of battered British battalions to reaching the jumping off point of their attack, they were allowed to get a few hours sleep—except for the artillerists who had urgent work to do. The men were now roused. The company commanders had been given a speech composed by King Albert to inspire their men in this vitally important attack.
Yesterday, once again, Germany failed at all rules of honor and betrayed the signature
had freely affixed to the most sacred covenants. The German army launched a vicious attack against the glorious British army by making use of poison gas, this dreadful weapon rightfully forbidden between civilized nations. Our British companion of arms, at first surprised by this unexpected blow, are now regrouping and reorganizing their front with all the gallantry with which we are now accustomed.
But in this endeavor, they need our help. Their commander, General Smith-Dorrien, came to visit our headquarters in person yesterday evening to request our assistance for the counterattack you will now be conducting.
Almost eight months ago, when Germany broke her pledge and
invaded our peaceful neutral nation for the sole crime of remaining loyal to our
duty, the forces of the British Empire sailed to our rescue without a moment of
hesitation. The time has now come to repay this debt of blood; we
are bound to it by honor, and by hope!
Today, you will fight to keep hope alive! The hope of
liberating our martyred country from the yoke of German oppression. The hope of
returning to your homes, of tendering to your fields and stock, of enjoying the
benefits of your trade. The hope of pressing again your parents on your chest,
of embracing your wives, of playing with your children under a peaceful sun.
Meanwhile to the southwest of the Belgians the 5 battalions of Tommies involved in the attack were witness to an even more extraordinary event. With them to lead the charge was the commander of Second Army, General Horace Smith Dorrien. He had gone to each battalion beforehand and delivered an impromptu speech, which varied somewhat with each telling. In the last version it went, "Men, I know you’ve given everything in the last few days in some of the most savage fighting mankind has ever known. In gratitude I’ve come here to express my gratitude by asking you to give still more. To do the damn bloody impossible because I know you can do it. As you must know by now First Army is in something of a pickle right now. We need to get them out of it. The Belgians have offered us some assistance and together I know we can pull it off. And to show the faith that I have in you, I’m here to do it with you. With soldiers like you fighting beside me I am sure no harm can befall me. That’s all I have to say. If you want a longer speech you’ll have to join the Belgian Army." The last remark elicited a few chuckles. Many of the men had tears in their eyes. .
It was now time for the attack. Forward saps had been dug in the last two days. Trench raids had gone as soon as it was dark and found a few weaknesses in the German lines. Smith-Dorrien was glad there was fog—he only wished it was thicker. The general find himself thinking of South Africa, which was the last time he had personally led troops into combat. The attack slithered through no man’s land untouched by artillery fire. It did come under machine gun fire but the British found two gaps in the wire which was not that thick to start with. A good portion of their attack made their muddy way into the forward trench of the 28th Reserve Division, including Smith-Dorrien who managed to kill a soldier half his age with his bayonet.
------Ballina 0505 hrs
After the impromptu attack by its lead company the rest of the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers assembled in some buildings in front of the Irish trench line. They sent our patrols to probe the Irish defenses. These had resulted in some brief exchanges of gunfire. Meanwhile Calahan had been persuaded to send one of his men to O’Briensbridge in a motor car An hour later the car had returned with 3 German Marines as passengers and word that a platoon of Marines were marching north as additional reinforcements. Meanwhile two brothers on the rolls of Killaloe company finally showed up, bring with them a cousin who previously been a Redmondite. .
The Royal Irish Fusiliers had set up a Vickers machinegun and it now opened fire on the Irish Volunteers, after a gust of wind briefly parted the fog. It’s stream of lead hosed the Irish Volunteers’ perimeter. One Volunteers was wounded by a ricochet. Two of the German Marines fired rifle grenades in response without much impact. The Vickers machinegun eventually stopped fired and the Royal Irish Fusiliers charged. .
This time it was most of the battalion and they were aware of the wire. The fighting this time was more furious, with the Royal Irish Fusiliers determined to make their way through the wire.. Irish story tellers in later years maintained that Harry Calahan knurled a dozen grenades while blasting away with his shotgun, killing 50 men. This version has been rendered on film 3 times. On the other hand there accounts of this engagement by spoil sport historians—including some who are not British---to the effect that he threw only two grenades and slew at most 10 soldiers, though perhaps wounding another dozen.
Then there came the point where this berserker, Harry Calahan, formerly of the New York Police Department, was hit in the side by a round that tore through his ribs. In agony he fell he fell back into the trench. "He’s down! Calahan is down," yelled the Irish Volunteers who moments before had been mesmerized by ferocity. The morale of the entire of company—and the other companies as well wavered just as the enemy was beginning to make their way in the trench over the bodies of their comrades.
For a few seconds Harry’s pain gave way to a vision. He had heard that’s people’s lives flash before them when they are near death. He now suddenly had a similar experience, but in a strange way. Certain aspects of his life were scarcely there at all --such is estranged wife Peg who had run off to California with a shoe salesman taking his two children. On the other hand, Morgan was very prominent in his vision. In particular there was the image of her washing his clothes.
Except he realized she had never ever washed clothes. This cliché about seeing your life pass before your eyes is not all that accurate Harry decided. He was very much aware of the pain in his side. It hurt to breathe. He wondered if he was dying Harry had no illusions of immortality. He knew very that one day he would die.
But not this day! With that though he dismissed the images of crows from his mind along with the pain. There was only rage. As he stirred he could see a Tommy taking aim with Leee-Enfield to finish him off. Suddenly the whole world was tinted red and Calahan emitted a blood curdling roar that momentarily distracted the infantryman. Calahan grabbed the soldier behind the back of his right knee and the man fell forward into the trench. There was a brief struggle between then two which ended when Harry snapped the poor fellow’s neck.
Calahan then fetched his shotgun and emerged over the top of the trench and fired again. Suddenly a cheer went up amongst the Irish Volunteers. "Calahan! Calahan!"
It was at roughly at this time that the attack of the Royal Irish Fusiliers was called off. Irish accounts are insistent that the berserk rage of the wounded Calahan was what demoralized the attackers. Some authors even go so far as to compare this incident to the Angels of the Mons. The official account of the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers provides inadequate clarification. It describes a confused savage predawn battle in heavy fog and repeatedly mentions the difficulty of getting through the wire which is described as being thicker than it really was. This official account also mentions the arrival of "massive" German reinforcements turning the tide of the battle. However there is a mystery here as well for while a mere platoon of German Marines did indeed arrive it was at least 15 minutes after the Royal Irish Fusiliers had begun to retreat. Some writers have conjectured that the small packets of Volunteers being brought up from the other side of the Shannon as reinforcements may have been mistaken for Germans, but this explanation is not particularly satisfying either and so the mystery remains.
When the German platoon did arrive they found that the Volunteers had suffered over a hundred casualties, including Captain Calahan who had swooned into unconsciousness. A German medic examined and determined his injury was not fatal. There was a strange almost epiphanic look in the eyes of the Irish Volunteers as Captain Calahan was tended to.
------Liverpool 0600 hrs
With the news of the German invasion of Ireland early Saturday, British and French vessels were not allowed to depart this key port. The inward flow was reduced but stopped as the ships with wireless had been rerouted to safer ports—but most merchant vessels lacked a wireless and those simply continued on their voyage. None of the incoming ships reported any German warships.
With the Grand Fleet arriving off Ireland it was now considered safe for the outward bound merchantmen to leave.
------Barefield (Clare) 0605 hrs
Intoxicated by their success at Crusheen the 9th Inniskilling Fusiliers pressed on towards the city of Ennis. At the small town of Barefield on the outskirts of Ennis under conditions of heavy fog they began to encounter serious German opposition from other elements of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers which had prepared a defensive position including some barbed wire. The attack of the Inniskilling Fusiliers faltered and they withdrew a few miles and awaited the arrival of their 4th company as well as the 14th Royal Irish Rifles.
------Lough Leane (Kerry) 0610 hrs
The trip up the Laune River by the 2 companies of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had proven more difficult than expected. The steam pinnace with the lead tow of the 4th company had run aground before it reached Beufort. The 3rd company proceeded on without it. Eventually after several failed attempts to free the pinnace the frustrated commander of the 4th company decided to landed his men on the northern bank of the river, where they joined Killorglin Company marching towards Killarney. The two tows with the 3rd company continued on their way but they were behind schedule. It had been hoped they would have strong moonlight when they finally entered into Loch Leane but the fog ruined that. Without their local guides they would likely have become hopelessly lost. Even with their guides it took longer than expected before they found Inniisfallen Island to serve as a bearing.
The pinnaces now released the longboats which rowed towards the shore. Before they landed a cry went up from the few constables posted as guard. A few shots were fired but they were in insufficient numbers to prevent the landing. They did however summon help which came in the form of some Royal Engineers belonging to the 75th Field Company, a portion of which was lodging in nearby Ross Castle.
------Rathmore 0615 hrs
The attack of the train at Kilmallock by German cavalry not only deprived the 16th Division of two batteries but it also highlighted a threat to the division’s line of communication. For that reason General Parsons, the division’s commander, decided to detach the 6th battalion Connaught Rangers from 47th Brigade with orders to march as quickly as possible to Kilmallock. Parsons had wanted to attack both north and south of the Blackwater River at dawn with artillery support. But the artillery was still being positioned and the fog interfered with its use so he ordered the 49th Brigade to proceed with its attack south of the Blackwater without artillery support.
During the night the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment had reformed. The entire 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion as well as the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment now lay south of the Blackwater River—except for a single cavalry squadron sent off to the west to probe the vicinity of Barraduff. The Bavarian Jaegers also had use of the 7 armored cars. The Millstreet Company of the Irish Volunteers was with them as well but the Irishmen were not manning the defenses. Instead the Volunteers were being trained hard while performing support roles including the guarding of a few prisoners.
The Jaeger regimental commander had received orders from General von François during the night. He was told that once the entire regiment was assembled in the vicinity of Rathmore there was no compelling reason to hold on that town any further. It was permitted to fall back towards Killarney to the west if pressured by the enemy. However he was strictly ordered to prevent the British attackers from reaching Killarney. The bulk of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division would be proceeding towards Rathmore through Castleisland with the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment in the van.
With great zeal the 7th and 8th battalions of the Royal Irish Fusiliers now began to engage the outposts of the 2nd Chevaulegers. The Bavarian Jaeger Regiment was still not yet completely assembled. Its minenwerfer company was still at least two hours away. The regimental commander therefore ordered his 1st battalion and the Chevaulegers to fight a delaying action. The defenders had had too long a perimeter for an effective continuous trench line. In the vicinity of Rathmore they had a rudimentary trench but elsewhere they had merely prepared a well positioned set of strong points. Both the Jaegers and the Chevaulegers were well experienced by now in defending long perimeters. The Jaegers had their machinegun company, the Chevaulegers had an automatic rifle section. Their attackers were not completely trained New Army units. The defenders were permitted to fall back slowly when the enemy attack was too strong. They whittled away their attackers and counterattacked only when they saw a clear opportunity to ambush.
------off Tralee Bay 0650 hrs
The 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron had arrived off Loop Head. It now consisted of Liverpool, Gloucester and Birmingham. Yarmouth which had been torpedoed by a U-Boat at the Battle of North Foreland was still being repaired but was expected back in two more weeks. Until then Read Admiral Napier flew his flag in Liverpool. The fog was beginning to burn off but still remained a major hindrance. The cruisers emerged from one fog bank and could see Rough Point which soon opened fire. The cruisers returned fire as they nosed into the bay, which they discovered to be empty of ships. This engagement did not last long with Gloucester suffering insignificant damage from a single hit. Napier communicated his discovery to Admiral Bayly nearly 60 nm away then awaited further orders.
The 1st Light Cruiser Squadron meanwhile was northwest of Sybil Point at the western end of the Dingle Peninsula. Their orders were to swing around Inishtooskert and Great Blasket Island and scout to the south along the Ring of Kerry.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0655 hrs
"Do you have any more bright ideas, Major?" the Bavarian Jaeger Leutnant asked Rommel after an attack ordered by Rommel had failed. The Jaeger officer was clearly one of those who had a low opinion of the Irish Brigade and outright contempt for Rommel’s IRA rank. There was obvious sarcasm in his voice, every time he addressed Rommel as "Major."
"You will show me proper respect," Rommel ordered sullenly. Since their initial success in overrunning a portion of British camp, the Jaegers had been pinned down. Rommel’s mood had gone from cocky optimism to frustration to a fluster tinged with hints of panic.
Contrary to what Rommel had told the O’Rahilly when they were together the plan General von François approved was not completely based on Rommel’s ideas but included suggestions by Plunkett and some ideas of the general’s own ideas. The basic concept wasto temporarily ignore the concentration of enemy forces at Farrenfore astride the most direct route, and instead to attack Killarney from other directions during the night. This included an attack from the west and northwest by the 1st battalion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment accompanied by Castlemaine and Killorglin companies and supported by a battery of 7.7cm field guns. Meanwhile the 2 companies of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment being towed up the Laune River would take the city from Loch Leane to the southwest after capturing Ross Castle. Rommel and his small Jaegers would hit it from the southeast. Plunkett had thought the capture of Ross Castle from the lake would prove decisive. He based this on his knowledge of the fall of Killarney during Cromwell’s infamous invasion. Rommel on the other hand firmly believed his own motorized force of Jaegers would prove decisive—because of his own involvement, of course. It was not complete hubris though—earlier in the war he had been able to achieve remarkable some victories in the Argonne Forest by infiltrating French positions with small forces.
General von François was far from certain that either attack would secure the city and ordered still another unit, the 2nd battalion of the 10th Bavarian Regiment to attack from the northeast in case the other attacks faltered. This battalion would not reach Killarney until just before noon due to the condition of the roads and the shortage of horses. Sporadic shelling of Farrenfore during the morning would hopefully prevent the British forces there from pulling back to reinforce Killarney. General von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, positively hated this plan maintaining it was too complicated and invited defeat in detail.
"It is only a matter of time for them to find a way to sneak around and take us from behind.. But then again you know probably that already because you are so very smart, Major." replied the Jaeger Lt.
"No, no. I just checked a few minutes ago. There is no way for them---"
Suddenly they heard shots and barely audible shouts coming from the southeast. "Shit! I was right. They have gotten behind us. Here they come now!" snarled the Lt. in both alarm and disgust. He then quickly ordered a squad of his men to redeploy and the engine of the armored car started.
A group of Irish Volunteers emerged from the fog led by the O"Rahilly. "Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!" Rommel yelled in German, "they are friendly!" He then spoke to the O’Rahilly in English, "What are you doing here? You were ordered to round up the horses after arming Kenmare Company."
The O’Rahilly grinned, "I thought you might be needing some help, Major. So I when I managed to get more then 50 members of Kenmare Company assembled I loaded all but a few on to the trucks and brought them here. I left a few Volunteers at Kenmare who will round up the others and gather the horses---"
"There were shots fired a few minutes ago," interrupted Rommel, who wasn’t sure what to make of the O’Rahilly’s use of initiative. What he did like was the way the Irishman said "Major". It was much more appreciative than the Bavarian pronunciation.
"When we drew near here we dismounted from our vehicles. We came across 30 or 40 enemy soldiers looks like they were trying to sneak around and surprise you from the rear. My boys sort of stumbled on them. We fired a few shots. They were startled to see us and beat a hasty retreat while firing a few shots in return. I think we may have wounded one of them."
"What is the pompous Irishman saying?" asked the Jaeger Lt who did not speak English.
."You shut up!" Rommel replied testily in German. He thought matters over for half a minute, then turned to Jim Stack and asked in English, "Your brother said you know several members of Killarney Company well. Is that true?"
"Uh, huh. I know the company commandant and vice commandant real good and some others as well."
Rommel drew close to Jaeger Lt and showed him the local map he was provided, "There is a small road near here that leads from here to the larger road connecting Killarney and Macroom. I am going to take half of your platoon and the Irish Volunteers and load them back on the trucks. I am also going to take the armored car. We will try to penetrate into the town of Killarney and then we will assemble and arm the local Volunteer company—"
"What!?" exploded the Jaeger Lt, "this is completely insane! We can barely defend this position with the entire platoon. It is only a matter of time the enemy tries again to take us from behind—"
"--No, no, no!-- and how many times must I insist on proper respect! The arrival of the Volunteers from Kenmare rattled the British. They will wait before making another attempt. Furthermore, I shall leave you both machineguns, plus 4 or 5 Irishmen to guard the prisoners. Once we go let the machine guns do some extended firing and launch a few rifle grenades. That should dissuade them—"
"—A wanton waste of our precious ammunition, Major!"
"This is not a debating society! We need to act quickly You will do as ordered."
------SMS Lothringen 0700 hrs
Hessen and Schlesien followed in line behind Spee’s flagship steaming southwest at 15 knots. The overnight fig was burning off. About 10 km ahead of them was the destroyer, B.98, which was now their only true scouting force, though Admiral Mass and the 3 cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group, were expected to rendezvous before noon. Following far behind was the ocean liner Victoria Luise, which had carried a portion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division to Tralee Bay. This vessel had a troubled history. It had been originally built as the Deutschland by the Hamburg Amerika Line. Upon completion in 1900 she took the blue riband crossing the Atlantic at 22 knots. Unfortunately she made excessive vibrations at high speed. In addition to troubling the passengers, this vibration caused her rudder to fall off in 1902. She was rebuilt as the Victoria Luise in 1911 with the emphasis being on luxury instead of speed which was now reduced to 17 knots. At the beginning of the war the Admiralstab had wanted to convert her to a cruiser raider but an inspection found several deficiencies.
When Operation Unicorn was approved she was included in the Sonderverband. Repair work was done to ensure the reliability of her machinery. On the voyage to Ireland she only needed to make 10 knots. In this phase of the operation she was required to make 15 knots and was only making 14 ½ knots. Her captain was led to believe that the German battleships would be slowing down soon allowing him to catch up. The former luxury liner was now essentially a high speed collier and looked downright shabby having been used as a troopship and having carried coal on its decks in the early days of its voyage.
"Shall we wait for the cruisers to arrive before detaching the destroyer, Admiral?"
Spee shook his head, "I have been tempted to do that all morning. However let us stick with the original plan. Signal her to turn 6 points to port."
------southwest of Ballyhar (Kerry) 0705 hrs
The commander of the British 48th Brigade at Killarney had hoped to deliver a bloody nose to the German vanguard at Farrenfore yesterday afternoon. When the Germans made no direct assault of the communication center he realized that they might try to envelop his two battalions at Farrenfore during the night. With great reluctance—the brigadier ordered the 8th Dublin Fusiliers and what remained of 9th Munster Fusiliers to pull back to the south across the weak water obstacle which was the Gweestin River. The 16th Cyclist Company remained in the vicinity of Farrenfore to perform reconnaissance and act as a tripwire.
In the early morning hours the 8th Dublin Fusiliers received reports from the RIC of a mixed force of Irish rebels and Germans approaching their left flank of Ballyhar from the northwest. The RIC reports were very imprecise as to size of the enemy. The 9th Munster Fusiliers sent one a rifle company to investigate. At first it encountered the Castlemiane company of the Irish Volunteers which fled to the west. The Dublin Fusiliers gave chase but soon encountered the 1st battalion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment resulting in a small arms action. One of the companies in the Bavarian battalion was armed with the Madsen automatic rifle which was put to good use.
No longer pursued by the Dublin Fusiliers the Irish Volunteers of Castlemaine Company stopped running and resumed heading for Killarney.
------Dublin 0710 hrs
Constables discovered a body lying in a gutter. The victim had been stabbed many times. It was identified later as one of their informants in the Irish Volunteers.
------Oranmore (Galway) 0735 hrs
The National Volunteer companies in the vicinity of Galway city had hidden their weapons well and had lost little so far to the nightly raids by the RIC. This had caused some consternation to the local authorities. Late yesterday the company of National Volunteers had learned that the Irish Volunteers had attacked and eventually captured a nearby RIC Barracks. The Redmondites assembled and met contacted two other nearby companies to reinforce them.
Before these reinforcements arrived Liam Mellowes did. In the ensuing firefight the combination of superior numbers and the Mosin-Nagant rifles were too much for the National Volunteers which were forced to withdraw. Mellowes decided his enemy was beat and decided not to pursue but rather continue on to Galway city.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0750 hrs
The commander of the 48th Brigade at Killarney had been notified by Gen. Parsons that the attack this morning by the rest of 16th Division this morning would plough through the cavalry and Jaegers at Rathmore and reach Killarney in the early afternoon. The brigadier had deployed the 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers to the east of Killarney. This was both defensive—in case the Chevaulegers suddenly made a lunge for Killarney—and offensive for they would serve as an anvil against which the Jaegers would be smashed by the hammer of 16th Division. The ‘D" company which had been attacked by Rommel was the one deployed closest to Killarney as it was meant to be the reserve.
News of the attack by Jaegers up Muckross Road surprised and disturbed the commander of the 48th Brigade. Eventually he ordered the 9th Dublin Fusiliers in the north to send one of its rifle companies to reinforce Killarney. This company arrived shortly after the Bavarians landed from boats near Ross Castle, so the brigadier ordered them to reinforce the field engineers fighting the Bavarians near Ross Castle. However scarcely had the Dublin Fusiliers entered that fray he received a report from an RIC outpost 2 miles west of Killarney of a mixed force of Irish rebels and Germans marching towards Killarney. He sent a messenger to the Dublin Fusilier company that they were to break off and run to the west of Killarney to meet the new threat. In the meantime more than half of the 140 RIC and militia in Killarney itself were deployed to the west.
While this reshuffling of forces of forces was underway still another enemy blow emerged out of the fog—this time from the north by a mixed force of Irish rebels and Bavarian Jaegers in motor vehicles escorted by an armored car—in some versions are many as 3 armored cars. Most of the residual force of RIC and militia was quickly killed or captured. A dozen fled in the hotel which served as the Brigade HQ. Together with the Brigade staff they repelled an attempt to take the HQ by coup de main but the enemy cut their communication wires and now had them surrounded.
------east of Nouvion (Picardy) 0800 hrs
The British counterattack had clawed its way into the German trenches, where it now struggled to hold in the face of escalating German counterattacks. General Smith-Dorrien personally killed one German with a .303 round and another with his bayonet. Meanwhile the attack of the Belgians had been postponed on account of the fog. It had now burned off sufficiently for the Belgian gunners to begin their shelling. When they were done the infantry from one of the two mixed brigades made their assault.
They attacked the 28th Reserve Division as well. The Belgian infantry took losses from the 7.7cm field guns but this German Division currently had only a meager stockpile of shells on account of Gereral Fabeck ordering the Guard Corps to have priority. The previous British attack had served as an effective feint and initially the Germans worried the Belgians were still another diversion and so the defensive artillery fire was restrained. .
As this was going on the endangered First Army was fiercely attacking the German salient from the west. The principal units involved were the 48th (South Midland), 29th and 1st Division. Unlike the Second Army these units still had shells for their artillery brigades. The attack of the 1st Division, a unit of tough Regular soldiers long hardened from the very earliest engagements, had some degree of success, The western side of the German salient had been provided more ammunition and barbed wire than the eastern portion and made the Old Contemptibles pay a stiff price for the section of trench they took. Once they reached the trenches the British infantry were handicapped by the lack of an effective grenade and made use of improvised bombs constructed mostly from jam tins.
The troops of the 48th Division were Territorial Force. They had hurriedly deployed to France back in February and were quickly thrown into the Battle of Picardy, where they had learned the cruel lessons of trench warfare the hard way. They had suffered heavy casualties in that engagement which had only been partially replaced since then. They were repelled completely in one sector but in another they penetrated into the German trenches.
The 29th Division had lost half its men as casualties during the bombardment by the High Seas Fleet late Saturday. General Haig had initially regarded it as too devastated to contribute effectively to this attack, but its commander General Bulwer Hunter-Weston had pleaded for his men to join in. Haig should’ve stuck with his initial evaluation. The 29th Division’s attack had been hastily organized with Gen. Hunter-Weston giving vague and confusing orders as well as specifying goals that would be optimistic even if the unit was still full strength. He had ignored advice from his staff to delay the preliminary until the fog had lifted sufficiently and all it accomplished was to let the Germans know where the attack was coming. The end result was a miserable failure that the Germans butchered easily.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0825 hrs
Rommel’s mixed force of Bavarian Jaegers and Irish Volunteers had made it into the town of Killarney. In confused fighting he had killed 11 constables and militiamen and taken another 28 prisoner. There were two isolated packets of enemy resistance, the more significant being a hotel Rommel suspected of being a headquarters. He made sure its communication wires were cut and it access ways covered by fire. As this was going on, Jim Stack quickly found out that the local RIC had succeeded in arresting both the commandant and vice commandant of Killarney Company as well as seizing nearly all their rifles and most of their shotguns. Word was already circulating and the men of Kilarney company now made their way to where Rommel was. He still had a few Mosin-Nagant rifles with him but he started by first handing out the Lee-Enfield rifles he had captured.
Rommel had gone out alone on a brief reconnaissance patrol. He now returned and discussed what he found with Jim Stack and the O’Rahilly, "We appear to be in a very interesting tactical situation. There are 3 distinct groups of British forces with their rear exposed to us. The first is of course the force we ran into when we first tried to enter Killarney. We now know from the prisoners we took, that this is ‘D’ company of the 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers. They are now to the southeast of us. The second group, which I guess must also belong to the same British battalion, is to the south and it must be fighting the two Bavarian companies which were to land near Ross Castle by boat. It looks like the Bavarians have gotten themselves pinned down. Lastly there is fighting to the west of Killarney. My guess is this involves either Killorglin Company or Castlemaine Company—maybe both."
The O’Rahilly looked concerned at this and commented, "Even if it is both they will be hard pressed by even a single British rifle company. We need to go their assistance immediately, sir"
Rommel sighed deeply, "I understand your concern. I do not have enough men to attack in more than one direction. Unfortunately the highest priority must be freeing up the Bavarian infantry to the south. Once they are liberated then we will have enough strength to attack the other two groups simultaneously. How many men of Killarney Company have shown up so far."
"So far 65 men and one woman have arrived, Major. That’s less than half the number on the company rolls. In another hour—"
"—we cannot afford to wait another hour. Our opportunity can easily evaporate. We need to act quickly. I am going to talk with the Jaeger NCO’s. Captain O’Rahilly I am putting you in command of all the Irishmen, both Kenmare and Killarney companies. I am going to talk with the Jaeger NCO’s. and the crew of the armored car. We will begin our attack in the next 15 minutes."
------near Oranmore (Galway) 0830 hrs
The 10th battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers encountered the two companies of the Redmondite National Volunteers which had assembled to fight the Irish Volunteers. They assumed they were the Irish Volunteers that had attack Clarenbridge Barracks and opened fire immediately. Most of the National Volunteers dispersed but a few of those armed with rifles returned fire. The Inniskilling Fusiliers were determined to destroy the rebels as thoroughly as possible and soon charged. A few of the National Volunteers then tried to surrender hoping to explain themselves afterwards--but the Ulstermen did not feel like taking any prisoners.
------WSW of Barefield (Clare) 0835 hrs
The 109th Brigade made another attack on the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment with the 14th battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles attempting to turn the left flank the German Marines. What it found instead was that the Germans had curved their left flank back to the south. The fog had thinned and after a gust of wind parted the think patch that remained they can under effective fire from two batteries of 7.7cm field guns.
------Limerick 0900 hrs
The German 1st Naval Infantry Brigade had reorganized itself during the night.. Leaving its 3rd battalion to guard Newport Perry, King’s Island and the west bank of Shannon up to O’Briensbridge, the remainder of the 1st Naval Infantry Regiment was concentrated in Irish Town facing 10th Division, relieving 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment which instead moved into Limerick’s southeast suburbs. In addition to the company of MG 08/15’s assigned to each regiment, the 1st Naval Infantry Brigade also had a detachment of MG 08’s which had landed shortly after midnight and which were deployed in Irish Town with the 1st Naval Regiment.
General Mahan had also decided to concentrate on the southeastern suburbs. He sent the 7th battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers and the 7th battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers to make a vigorous attack in the suburbs while ordering his units in the eastern portion of Irish Town merely to hold. At first the German Marines offered stiff resistance. However in the last two hours they had begun to give up ground despite their modest numerical superiority. This was largely intentional however, as they sought to channel the enemy’s advance.
Much of the early morning fog had now burned off. The 24cm guns of the Kaiser Wilhelm II now opened fire. It could not see its targets from its anchored position in the Shannon but it was connected to forward spotters on the ground via a telephone cable brought on bard during the night. Its targets were the enemy positions in the southeast suburbs. It took a few rounds for the guns to register properly. Once it had it was soon supplemented by the light minenwerfers of the pioneer company and a battalion of 7.7cm field guns.
------Farranfore (Kerry) 0930 hrs
Two batteries of 7.7cm field guns began a sporadic shelling of the British positions in this area. It’s primary purpose was to keep the forces in the area from falling back to reinforce Killarney. The Germans were unaware that only the 16th cyclist company remained and the cyclists soon stated to evacuate in small bunches.
------Ballina (Tipperary) 0935 hrs
The 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers mounted no further attack on the Irish Volunteers. Their casualties had not been all that severe—only a about a quarter of its men. The officers had found the last attack unsettling and overestimated the size of the German reinforcements. They worried that even if they succeeded in breaking through to Killaloe on the other side of the Shannon they would not have time to attack the enemy artillery in the Slieve Brenagh Mountains before the fog lifted enough for them to come under fire. So they waited and harassed the Irish defenders with sniper fire.
The German Marines meanwhile sent additional reinforcements. Communications was established between Killaloe and the artillery to the west. The fog had lifted sufficiently for the 10cm field guns to commence firing on the British positions. It was a painstakingly slow bombardment, intended merely to register the weapons and deter the enemy forces. Meanwhile the Germans evacuated the more severely wounded to Limerick—including Captain Calahan.
------HMS Iron Duke 0940 hrs
"The Germans have abandoned Tralee Bay but they still have battleships in the Shannon," Admiral Bayly remarked to Admiral Madden, his chief of staff, after they had reviewed the latest batch of wireless messages.
"Could they be hoping to sneak out after dark, sir? Perhaps they anticipate our heading south and mean to head north." speculated Madden.
"No. If that was their plan they would try to remain inconspicuous."
"Maybe they left on of their older ones so we’d think they are still in Shannon. While we are resolving the situation the rest of the invasion fleet has more time to race for the Channel."
"A provocative hypothesis. My own wild guess was that the old battleship which shelled Limerick station probably ran aground in the Shannon and has been unable to get loose."
"Hmm. Hadn’t considered that but it is definitely a possibility."
"Yes, but as I said this is all guesswork. What we do know is there is still a significant German presence in the Shannon. I am not going to send this squadron charging up the Shannon. We are going to continue heading towards the south on the theory that the Germans are trying to reach home through the Channel. But we need to get a better idea of what is going on in the Shannon. To that end I am going to detach the Bellona to scout the Shannon. Let them know it could be very dangerous and they should proceed cautiously. In the meantime 1st Battle Squadron will continue to sweep around the Ring of Kerry."
"Understood, sir. Have you given any more thought to when our flotilla will refuel?"
"As they are running low right now we don’t have too many options. They will refuel in either Berehaven or Queenstown. I am hoping for some more definitive information about the German invasion fleet before I reach a decision."
"If we find that the invasion fleet is heading home through the Channel we will be without a flotilla, sir. There have been reports of periscopes and yesterday a trawler sighted a submarine on the surface. It was definitely not one of ours."
"Yes. If I were the Germans I’d try to set up a submarine ambush off Tralee Bay. It is one reason I am not going to tarry here even with a flotilla. If the chase of the invasion fleet is protracted we will have to do without our TBD;s. We will still have our cruisers and will need to zigzag frequently even though that will reduce our effective speed of pursuit."
"And if it turns out that the invasion fleet is still in the Shannon?"
------Duncannon Bridge (Keey/Cork) 0920 hrs
------Madrid 0945 hrs
Major Kalle, the German attaché was on the telephone with Eamon DeValera. "It will not be easy for you to return to Ireland just right now. No passenger liners with Ireland as their destination have been allowed to depart. This applies to neutral flags as well as the British and French," said Kalle in Spanish as his English was very poor.
"Yes, yes, I have made my own inquiries," responded a seething DeValera, "Do you have any information as to when they will resume?"
"Who knows, my friend. Ireland is a war zone now, you know."
"Of course, I know! Why the hell do you think I want to get back!"
"Yes, yes, I understand you feelings and they are very commendable."
"There must be some way to get to Ireland. Perhaps I should cross over the border into France—"
"Uh, before you go too far down that road, my Irish friend, there are some facts you should be considering—"
"Well for one, you have given a well publicized public speech expressing very strong Republican sentiments. A very good speech, I might add. British intelligence has a well established presence here in Spain. I only wish I had their resources—"
"Just what is you point, Major?"
"Why it is simply that your name is now well known to them and they may well try to prevent your return to Ireland."
"That possibility has occurred to me as well. Do you have any useful suggestions?"
"Yes, you should continue doing what you came here to do. Give speeches rallying Spanish support behind the Irish cause. I have made arrangements with your hotel to pay for your room and meals."
------Killarney (Kerry) 0955 hrs
Rommel’s latest attack had started well. He was able to take the Field Engineers by surprise from the rear with the help of the armored car. He had not completely overwhelmed the enemy but still to kill 10 and capture another 31. More importantly he had punched a hole in their left wing. This allowed him to join up with the Bavarian infantry near Ross Castle. He then encountered a bigger disappointment when he learned that it was only a single rifle company, not the two he expected. Rommel’s next frustration came soon afterwards when he met the Hauptman who commanded the company. He was another Bavarian officer who thought IRA rank was a meaningless hoax.
While he argued with Rommel about who was in charge there were two other developments that complicated the situation. Two of the field engineers had fled to the south and made contact with ‘D’ company south of the Flesk. Realizing a threat to their own rear ‘D’ company detached a platoon which attempted a counterattack. Likewise the remainder of the Field Engineers had rallied and regrouped to the northwest. Rommel had hoped that his his master stroke would cause a quick collapse of enemy resistance in Killarney but instead the situation remained complicated. The Bavarian Hauptman continued to insist he was in command.
------Ober-Ost 1005 hrs
"Feldmarschal von Hindenburg, the amount of heavy artillery ammunition we received this morning is nearly a third less than the General Staff and OKW had promised," General von Seeckt informed his superior.
"Have you communicated with OHL about this shortfall?" asked Hindenburg.
"Yes, General von Falkenhayn says the attack in Picardy has reached a critical junction and must take priority, Feldmarschal."
"This is not good," Hindenburg’s tone was simultaneously calm and ominous, "what do you recommend?"
"My professional opinion is that Operation Fulcrum lacks insufficient ordnance to start as scheduled tomorrow. We should order a one day postponement."
"Have you not done this already>" Hindenburg sounded slightly puzzled.
"No, Feldmarschal, I wanted to get your approval first."
"Oh," now Hindenburg sounded really puzzled. He scratched his chin for a second then said, "Approval granted. Make all the necessary arrangements. There is no need to pester me with details."
"Understood, Feldmarschal. I will see to it."
Hindenburg then got up out of his chair and strode over to Seeckt. "General Seeckt, you are a very dedicated officer and from what I see you are a very efficient staff officer. Extremely well organized. I like that."
"Why that you, Feldmarschal."
"Ah, don’t be so quick to thank me. In some ways you disappoint me."
Seeckt gulped, "How am I amiss, Feldmarschal? How may I serve you better—"
Hindenburg interrupted, "—If General Ludendorff was still here he would be making more noise—a lot more noise."
------HMS Venus 1015 hrs
This cruiser had just intercepted one of the Sonderverband’s transports, heading towards the English Channel without any escort. If the early morning fog had persisted or even it had been a few miles to the south where there was a sizable gap between the 11th Cruiser Squadron and the French squadron, it may have slithered its way through. When it was spotted it was flying an American flag but this desperate ruse la guerre was for naught.
The vessel had been stopped and boarded revealing its true identity. It had clearly been a portion of the transport force. It now functioned as a hospital ship as it carried some men all of them severely wounded. These consisted of 79 German soldiers, 86 Dublin Fusiliers, 47 constables and 7 Irish Volunteers belonging to Kerry Brigade. News of this development was quickly relayed via wireless to Admiral Bayly. It was a piece of information but also a deep mystery. Where was the rest of the German invasion fleet?
------HQ British 10th Division just east of Limerick 1020 hrs
General Mahan had tried to counter the Germans by using his two brigades of 18 pounders to support the infantry southeast of Limerick while his howitzer brigade engaged in counter-battery fire. Whet he did not know was that the Germans had landed a foot artillery battalion with 3 batteries of 15cm howitzers—two of which were ready for action and joined the Naval Division’s battalion of 10.5 cm howitzers in dueling with the now exposed British artillery. The German artillery had both combat experience and heavier firepower. Meanwhile the German battleship continued firing its 24cm guns. It soon became apparent that the British artillery were severely outmatched. The Germans were overpowering Mahan’s left wing turning his flank.
General Mahan had received an extremely vague intelligence assessment from Major Vane during the night. It said that the Germans might have as many as 2 divisions in the Shannon and most of the men and guns could be ashore before the Grand Fleet destroyed the transports. They would be spread out all around the Shannon and would have not much ammunition but they could still pose a threat to march on Dublin if the 10th Division was mauled by a flank attack.
The correct decision for the general was easy on the head but very hard on his stout Irish heart. He was already in a foul mood from learning that the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers had repulsed by a force of Irish Volunteers at Ballina. He had withheld news of the previous humiliating setback at O’Brinesbridge from Gen. Friend and Maj. Vane. He was in no hurry to t tell them about Ballina. It was bad enough that they would learn soon of what he was going to do next. "Damn the bloody Germans!" yelled Mahan to his staff as he pounded a fist on the map table, "we need to pull out of Limerick altogether. Pull back behind the Muklear River. It is swollen enough with the spring rains to have some limited worth as a water obstacle. Meanwhile we will see if our ‘friend’ will release some more of our units."
------Paris 1030 hrs
"The most shocking development this weekend was obviously the daring German invasion of Ireland," Briand commented at the Council of Ministers.
"Yes, isn’t it wonderful news," commented Clemenceau in a sarcastic voice.
The ministers turned to each other stunned. "Would you care to clarify that comment, Premier?" asked President Poincare.
"Yes, I certainly would," responded Clemenceau enthusiastically speaking to the ministers without looking at the president, "I can quite honestly say that I am overjoyed at this, because now at last the self-serving British Empire will know what it is like to have the accursed Boche violating their sacred soil. I only wish it was somewhere closer to London—as close to London as Compiegne is to Paris. Then I would begin to have some sympathy."
The ministers were all shocked, but none wished to risk Clemenceau’s wrath. Finally Poincare commented, "That is an interesting perspective. Perhaps the Minister of War would also address the German offensive in Picardy. I have heard alarming reports over the weekend that the entire British First Army is now in some danger."
Clemenceau sighed slightly and forced himself to actually look at Poincare, "It is a complicated situation made even worse by General Joffre. I looked into the matter talking with both General Foch and General Gallieni. There does appear to be some danger. The British have withdrawn several miles along the coast in the last few days. Thus more sacred French soil is surrendered to the Boche! Still another reason I am overjoyed by the German invasion of Ireland. I sent a cable directly to General French late last night, generously offering him a reserve division if they would guarantee me that they would make no further withdrawals. I have yet to receive a response."
"What did General Joffre have to say about this?" asked Briand.
"I do not know. I did not ask him. It was past his precious bedtime when I sent the cable. Heaven forbid I should ruin his precious sleep!"
------House of Commons 1040 hrs
Bonar Law and Lloyd George had consulted heavily with the leaders of Parliament late Saturday and much of Sunday. Bonar Law was relieved to discover a ‘rally around government in time of peril’ sentiment. Some actually expressed relief it was Ireland and not that England that had been invaded. There were a few critical comments that the War Committee was too small and should be expanded. There was a strong consensus that decisive action was required.
When he compared notes with Lloyd-George, he found the Chancellor’s reaction to be less sanguine. Lloyd-George had heard many of the same comments the Prime Minister had but his acute political senses now perceived the current political support as being broad but fragile. The public had never been made been informed of the full extent of the current danger to First Arm and was for now focused almost entirely on Ireland. This was not completely due to political concerns. News from the front took its bloody time getting to Lord Kitchener who then usually delayed in passing it on to the War Committee, and usually added an additional level of confusion to the situation. Lloyd-George warned against suddenly trying to replace Curzon as Lord-Lieutenant despite the War Committee’s dissatisfaction with his attempt to disarm the Ulster Volunteers. It was far wiser to minimize that the public perception of that disagreement and seek more subtle ways to keep Curzon in check.
Bonar Law took the Chancellor’s counsel to heart. Sunday afternoon he announced that he would deliver a very important speech to Parliament Monday morning. He now delivered it, "The Germans think they have discovered our Achilles heel—but they are wrong. It is the fatal mistake which will cost them the war. They think the Irish people will come forward and fight besides them—but they are wrong, all so very wrong in this. Only a wretched handful of traitors will help them. Only a handful I tell you! Oh there are difficult political problems in Ireland which are we are all painfully aware of. There is no gainsaying that—but they are problems we can and will resolve by ourselves and the Irish people know it! The exceptions will not fill this hall, I tell you. And to those few who dare to betray their King we shall show mo mercy! They who take up arms against us have signed their own death warrant. Each and every one of them!
And so now I make this I pledge to you. This invasion will not last a fortnight! This is my solemn promise, my holy solemn vow to the Crown and to the wonderful citizens of this great Empire. We will smash the German invader completely and utterly within a fortnight."
------outskirts of Galway 1100 hrs
The 10th battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers had now caught up with the Liam Mellowes’ band of Irish Volunteers. Their formation had spread out in the search. The commander of the company who located the rebel Irish force sent a messenger galloping off on horseback to ihe battalion HQ and then ordered his company to attack, expecting that they would run as had the others—and a few did run away. The rest however took cover and thinned the ranks of the charging mass of Ulstermen with their rifle fire. Some of the attackers reached the enemy to attack with bayonet but not enough to break the morale of a clearly largely force.
The initial attack failed. The company pulled back and waited for the rest of the battalion. In the meantime Liam Mellowes wanted to mount a counterattack but was persuaded by cooler heads tried to try to organize his men into a better defense. For all his charisma Mellowes was only an amateur when it came to war. When the entirety of the 10th Inniskilling Fusiliers had assembled they mounted another attack. This was less impromptu was the first but just as fanatical. The battalion commander was determined to annihilate the accursed Papist traitors. Minimizing their own losses was at best a secondary concern.
------Nairobi 1125 hrs
Nature made war against man and best. Lightning flashed in the dark sky. The rain which had tapered off in the early morning now poured down from the heavens in a torrent which then roiled down the many slopes of the highlands. It was a good time for men to be under a sound roof. But there were men out defying the rain. They fought nature and they fought other men. Most of their faces were as dark as the sky. They were the Schutztruppen. Eight companies of them had made their way with their porters across the Nyiri Desert.
A company of the King’s African Rifles had arrived from Kampala after midnight. It joined the Gwalior half battalion, ‘B’ squadron of the East African Mounted Rifles and 2 under strength platoons of the East Africa Regiment constituted the defense of Nairobi. Two more KAR companies were due to arrive the next day—one marching from the south and another by train from Uganda. General Wapshare and his staff had thought they would have at least that much time, but this morning some of his outposts had come under attack So the soldiers manned the defenses muttering amongst themselves that their officers must be mad to believe anyone would try attack in this weather, esp. if it meant an uphill climb. Morale was particularly bad amongst the 2 companies of Indians.
Lightning flashed again. This tine it landed very close with an immediate clap of thunder. In the sudden flash of illumination the Indian troops glimpsed a company of askaris charging towards them. Shots were fired in panic. Like the rain the Schutztruppen were a force of nature and the Indians of the Gwalior half battalion were washed in the flood. .
------Castleisland (Kerry) 1155 hrs
"Meteorological section reports thick cloud moving in from the northwest, General. They believes it is highly likely we that will get more rain later in the day," Oberst Hell reported to Generals von François and von Gyssling, "it could be heavy."
"Another heavy rain will slow our progress. Not what we need right now. Is there any further word on what is happening at Killarney?" asked a nervous Gen. von François. .The latest wireless from Limerick was promising but inconclusive and as long as the Germans remained in control of Limerick’s docks it was much less important to François than Killarney.
"Nothing, General," answered Oberst Hell.
"And the Jaeger Regiment is still being pushed back at Rathmore?"
"Yes, General but we had told—"
"There is no need for you to remind me of my own orders," snarled François, "and is there any indication of a rising underway in either Dublin or Cork?"
Hell looked at the intelligence officer who merely shook his head. He then gazed at Plunkett who looked very uncomfortable. "Not to the best of our knowledge, General."
"And what is the combined strength of all the Irish Volunteer units we have taken under our command so far?"
"A little over 3,000 men according to my latest numbers."
François turned to Plunkett and pointed an accusing finger, "You told us that within 48 hours of our landing a minimum of 50,000 Irishmen would rise up in arms all over Ireland, including at least 8,000 in Dublin alone. One of our working assumptions was that the Dublin rising would tie down an entire enemy division."
Plunkett coughed nervously and squirmed. It was not just François but Hell, Gyssling and several other officers in the room who were gazing sternly at him. Where is the Irish rebellion? That’s what they all want to know. I would like an answer to that one myself! Has MacNeill ordered everyone to disarm? The O’Rahilly doesn’t think so, but he is not completely certain.
"Well, what do you have to say about this, Captain Plunkett?" asked François, pointedly with some sarcasm in his pronunciation of Captain.
Plunkett wanted so very much to disappear. He sucked in his breath and attempted an answer, "I frankly do not know, General. It is very possible that the rising is underway and the British are suppressing news of it."
"Do you really think they could suppress news of rising in any of the major cities? If something of any size happened in Dublin or Cork we would know it by now."
The General is so keen to see Dublin and Cork rise up. The Germans have no plans to march on Dublin before the second wave arrives. They expect the rising in Dublin to be massacred eventually but their hope is that it will tie up an entire British division for two maybe three days. The entire Dublin Brigade is expendable as far as the Germans are concerned.
------Dublin 1205 hrs
The men of the 11th battalion Hampshire Regiment were getting off an Isle of Man packet ship at Kingstown. These were the first Army reinforcements to arrive from England. They were technically part of the 16th Division and had been selected to be that division’s pioneer battalion once training had been completed. Along with them were support units—a signal company, an ASC company and a hospital.
------HQ Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht 1210 hrs
Ludendorff was making a lot of noise. Crown Prince Rupprecht strode over while he was still on the telephone with Gen. von Hanisch, commander of the XIV Army Corps. When Ludendorff hung up the telephone receiver, Rupprecht chided him, "Must you always be so loud?"
Ludendorff reddened still more and glared at the prince, "It was an extremely serious matter, Your Royal Highness. The 29th Infantry Division failed completely—"
"—in its attempt to bridge the Danube. Yes, I heard. We all heard, General Ludendorff. The Serbs probably heard it in Belgrade. So much for our precious security. And what of the overnight attempt by the Austrian VIII Corps to establish a bridgehead? Did it fail as well? Third Army HQ should know by now."
"Yes, Your Royal Highness, as I feared it failed as well though their headquarters only admitted it in the last hour. I suspect they knew earlier but were too embarrassed to acknowledge it."
"Given your constant belittling of them, I’d probably do the same thing if I was in their place. I have warned you repeatedly there would be some negative consequences to your methods. Is there any word from the Austrian Sixth Army?"
"Yes, Your Royal Highness, but it is inexcusably terse. They claim that they are sporadically shelling the British and French forces in Herzegovina. They also claim that there is no sign that those forces are moving north to assist the Serbs. I would not place too much trust in the reliability of this intelligence."
"There is some truth in what you say—but not simply because of your low opinion of our allies. It has been my own sad experience that all intelligence is suspect even if it comes from Prussians."
Ludendorff made no response to the last jab, though he chewed on the inside of his cheek. "Do you have the figures on the delivery of shells we received this morning?" asked Rupprecht.
"Yes, I have. They are another cause for concern. Overall they are 16% below what General Falkenhayn promised us. I do not have a breakdown by caliber as yet but when I do I suspect that I will find that the percentage is worse for the heavier calibers."
"I take it you’ve already sent rabid telegrams to OHL regarding the shortfall?"
"I have made our disapproval abundantly clear, Your Royal Highness!"
"Yes, yes. I can well imagine. Did you receive a reply?"
"Yes, I did, Your Royal Highness. OHL claims that the offensive against the British in Picardy is at a critical juncture and needs to take priority over own needs. I fully intend to make it clear to them how unacceptable this is."
"Hmm. Has it possibly occurred to you that General Falkenhayn just might be correct in this decision. No, of course, it hasn’t. As usual you think only in terms of your own little corner of the war. From what I’ve heard Sixth Army now has an opportunity to destroy several British divisions. .Part of me wishes that I was still there to savor it but part of me is completely disgusted by the moral abomination we committed in that battle."
Ludendorff was disgusted by the prince’s hand wringing. "I am confused, Your Majesty. Just what are you trying to tell me?"
Rupprecht glared harshly at Ludendorff, "You will not cable your reply back to OHL without letting me look at it first! Are you still confused?"
"No, Your Royal Highness. I understand now" replied Ludendorff biting his lip so hard it drew blood.
------Tipperary 1300 hrs
A little more than a 100 men as well as 4 women of the Tipperary Company had assembled at Eamon O’Duibhir’s orders. They were all armed with the Russian rifles and given extremely brief instructions as to its proper use. They then attacked and quickly overran a very small RIC station on the outskirts of the town netting them 4 Lee-Enfield rifles and some .303 ammunition. After that they headed to the southeast towards the town of Cahir where there was another small company of Irish Volunteers. The truck with the rest of the Mosin-Nagants followed them slowly. Meanwhile messengers had bee sent to the companies at Clonmel, Clogheen and Cashel to assemble at last light and then march on to join O’Duibhir at Cahir.
------Nairobi Hill 1305 hrs
The rain continued to pour though it was now not as overwhelming. Oberst Paul Lettow-Vorbeck accompanied the field company that had captured Nairobi Hill, which lay about a mile to the southwest of the town They had with them serving as guides two members of the Nandi tribe. Led by an Orkoiyot, a form of shaman, named Koitalel Arap Samoei, the Nandi had fought the British for 10 years opposing the construction of the railroad. Eventually the commander of the British forces invited Koitalel Arap Samoei to peace talks. When he accepted the British callously shot and killed him. Lacking a strong leader the Nandi rebellion disintegrated but a deep resentment lingered in many of them.
"This is where we will site the artillery," announced Lettow-Vorbeck. He had not taken much in the way of artillery on this expedition, only a 4.7cm rapid fire gun and a revolver gun. Just moving infantry was difficult in the rainy season. "We will also need to disrupt the railroad line to the west as soon as possible," he added.
After the Battle of Jassin back in January, Lettow-Vorbeck had become conservative, wishing to preserve both manpower and ammunition for what he perceived would be a long struggle. However when news of the Battle of Utsire reached him, he began to wonder anew if the war would really be that long. Then when he heard about the developments in Abyssinia, Lettow-Vorbeck saw an opportunity to do something that would make a strategic difference. He guessed correctly that that the British would send an expedition to strangle their new enemy in the crib before it grew into a serious threat to their interests. He also guessed that part of the expedition would come out of British East Africa. His spies in Nairobi eventually confirmed his suspicions. Lettow-Vorbeck decided he would strangle the strangler.
But where best to strike? Initially he looked longingly at the obvious target, the key port of Mombasa. Immediately he saw serious difficulties. He had tried to take Mombasa early in the war. It was a very obvious target and he suspected they would leave behind enough strength to defend it. Part of that strength was now likely to be naval. The arrival of the cruiser, Konigsberg had probably drawn at least an armored cruiser to the area. His Schutztruppen could find themselves shredded by naval gunfire.
Being the obvious target, Mombasa would be a difficult place to attack but a great pace to launch a feint. Lettow-Vorbeck looked for other objectives of strategic significance. His gaze turned to Nairobi. The supply lines for a British invasion of Abyssinia would surely go through Nairobi. He also knew that Nairobi was the capital of British East Africa. Between Mount Kilimanjaro and Nairobi lay a formidable obstacle—the Nyiri Desert. However the main problem with the Nyiri was its aridity. The rainy season was really the only time it could be crossed in strength. When Lake Amboselli filled it would not only provide a source of water, it would draw the local wildlife which could be quickly killed as a source of meat.
So his plan was to build up forces in the east making moves that suggested an advance towards Mombasa. Then he used his railroad to bring some of them to the vicinity of Mount Kilimanjaro and march them into the Nyiri. Their next objective was to cut the rail link between Mombasa and Nairobi. They then followed the rail line to the northwest, tearing up the rail as they went. This prevented Nairobi from being reinforced by the concentration of units drawn to defend Mombasa. Lettow-Vorbeck knew the British had some forces in Uganda as well that could reinforce Nairobi by rail. As a partial solution Lettow-Vorbeck fomented a small native uprising professing ‘Ethiopianism’ in order to draw a portion of Kumpala’s garrison out into the bush. It would take time for the British to recall them. Very soon the Schutztruppen will cut the rail line to the west as well.
------SMS Lothringen 1330 hrs
The 2nd Scouting Group had finally rendezvoused with Spee’s battleships. "Flags officer. Signal a 1point turn to starboard and reduction in speed to 12 knots," he ordered.
------west of Baraduff (Kerry) 1340 hrs
The commander of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment was using the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion and the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion to fight a delaying action against the westward advance of the British 16th Division. A morning reconnaissance by a squadron of Chevaulegers had revealed substantial enemy forces dug in between his current position and Killarney. Clearly the enemy planned to smash his regiment between these units and the 16th Division. The Oberst therefore sent the rest of the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment and the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion to attack the enemy forces to the west. He only sent a single armored car with them because the cavalrymen had revealed that the British had constructed obstacles on the roads effectively neutralizing the armored cars. The Germans already experiencing some problems with the Daimler armored cars. One of them had broken down completely late yesterday and another was burning oil and vibrating from cylinder misfire. The lone car the Oberst was sending to the west would be used very cautiously to provide covering fire for the infantry attack.
------Killarney (Kerry) 1350 hrs
The Bavarian Hauptman had assumed command of the Jaegers with Rommel as well as the armored car. He used the car as strongpoint which Rommel regarded as a waste of its true value. Meanwhile a fire fight continued to the west with the Field Engineers and to the southeast withThe Royal Irish Fusiliers. Rommel and the Irish Volunteers were ordered to keep the two pockets of resistance in the town of Killarney trapped and to patrol to the north. They were sternly warned against wasting ammunition.
In the meantime Killarney Company steadily grew and now numbered over 110. One of the recent arrivals came from the small village of Kilcummin to the northeast. He brought news that there was still another force of British infantry to the northeast of Kilcummin. He also mentioned that German cavalry had been seen in the distance.
"What are you thinking, Major?" asked the O’Rahilly,
"That Bavarian lout—who I will see brought up on charges when this is over—took the armored car but left us with possession of the other motor vehicles, including Killarney Company’s truck as well as the truck and ambulance we captured. I’m thinking we have enough trucks to carry most of Killarney Company."
"And just where might you be taking Killarney Company, Major?"
"Oh, to attack the rear of the enemy forces near Kilcummin. A battalion from the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment is supposed to heading here and it should pass through that area. The British attention will be focused on the Bavarians."
"I thought you were given firm orders to remain in Killarney with all of us filthy untrained Irishmen?"
"That man has no right to issue me orders! I outrank him. Assemble Killarney company and the trucks."
------eastern outskirts of Galway 1355 hrs
The Inniskilling Fusiliers continued their attack on the Irish Volunteers. Though the two forces were roughly equal in size the superior training of the Ulstermen was paying off. Initially a third of the Irish Volunteers but like the Russians which had once shouldered the Mosin-Nagants the men lacking a rifle waited for those who had one to be wounded. In the last hour though the fact they were losing the battle was becoming increasingly clear to the Volunteers. Some tried to run away. Initially those who did had a good chance of getting away but the officers of the Ulstermen became aware of the phenomenon and were determined that no more traitors should escape. They had been slowly enveloping the Irish Volunteers and had a good field of fire and when they saw someone trying to flee he drew their fire.
A few of the Irish Volunteers had tried to surrender waving a white flag. They were all gunned down.
Whistles now blew and the Iniskilling Fusiliers made a final charge. Some fell from the fire of the Volunteers but most made it into the Volunteers position where they went on a killing spree. One of the Ulstermen in his bloodlust began yelling, "Exterminate! Exterminate!" and some of the others took up that chant as well. Initially they killed anyone trying to surrender, in some cases slicing them viciously with their bayonets. Towards the end though, their officers insisted on taking a few prisoners including a badly wounded Liam Mellows. This was not intended an act of mercy.
There had been 43 women Irish Volunteers along with the men. Half of the women had merely performed nursing and other support roles but the other half had taken part in the fighting before it was over. Of the women who fought, 7 had been killed. Two of the women who had merely served as nurses managed to escape. The rest of the women were taken prisoner was well. Contrary to some accounts of this event, none were raped but most were groped and molested. The Ulstermen had taken significance losses—83 of them had died so far and in the next few hours that number would slowly increase. Nearly 200 had been wounded in various degrees.
"So you’re the one in charge of this pathetic bunch of traitors, eh?" the commander of the 1oth Inniskilling Fusiliers asked Mellowes.
"I am their leader if that’s your damn question," responded Mellowes sullenly He was nursing a fractured forearm.
The battalion commander reddened and stepped forward. He spat in Mellowes’ face then twisted the prisoner’s broken arm causing him to scream. "Watch your German loving Papist tongue, you miserable traitor. You’re in big trouble as it is."
------HMS Bellona 1405 hrs
At the mount of the Shannon Bellona had come under fire for a few minutes by the beached protected cruiser, Freya, with one 21cm shell landing close enough to cause a little splinter damage. After that she worked her way up the Shannon. As she approached the narrow point in the Shannon near Taebert she came under fire from a German coastal battery of 10.5 cm guns firing from behind the reverse slope of a hill. The cruiser returned fire as best she could. After taking two hits there was a much louder explosion underwater. The ship’s captain realized he had been mined and quickly swung the badly damaged ship around. .Her boilers soon flooded and men hurriedly took to boats. About three quarters of the crew made it off before the cruiser capsized in the middle of the Shannon. One of the boats foolishly landed along the Kerry shore just east Ballylongford, and was soon rounded up and captured by a mixed group of Prussian Guards and Irish Volunteers. The other boats realized that the Shannon was enemy occupied territory and headed out into the Atlantic.
------northwest of Kilcummin (Kerry) 1430 hrs
Rommel was seated in the back of the lead truck. "I still don’t like it," he grumbled in English to the O’Rahilly, "I don’t like it at all."
"You mean our using Mary? Is that what you’re referring to, sir?" answered the O’Rahilly uneasily.
"Of course, that’s what I mean! I should not have let you talk me into it. You Irish have some very strange traits that I do not care.. In particular I do not think you respect your women enough."
There were some members of Killarney Company in the back of the truck as well. At the last comment they exchanged frowns. The O’Rahilly bristled. "Now listen, Major," he said huffily pronouncing ‘Major’ almost as sarcastically as the Bavarian Jaeger Leutnant had previously, "You are a stranger in our country and I believe that you’ve come here to do the Irish people a great service. So I feel obliged to forgive you for the great insult you just uttered. But I will only forgive you once. Do you understand me, Major?"
Rommel did not like the O"Rahilly rebuking him—a superior officer-- in this manner esp in front of enlisted men. However he kept silent. His fellow Germans had not been giving him respect all day. Up until this last outburst the O’Rahilly had shown a proper attitude. What he did not realize was the O’Rahilly was having serious misgivings about his proposal and redirected some of his own irritation at Rommel.
Ahead of the trucks was a British motor ambulance they had captured in Killarney. The vehicle’s driver was a member of Killarney Company. Next to him was a woman, also a member of Killarney Company. She was dressed in a nurse’s uniform.
They were stopped by a group of 6 soldiers manning a road block. A corporal approached the ambulance. When the driver’s window was lowered the corporal said, "You’re early but I’m sure we’ll be needing your services right soon."
The driver did not know how to respond. Rommel had told him it was best to get as much information as possible. "I’m afraid I don’t understand, Corporal—"
"—well then here’s what’s going on as we speak. Several hundred Germans had been spotted to the northeast. They are either trying to come around our left flank or are unaware of us and making a beeline for Killarney. We are now pivoting to attack their flank instead," answered the corporal who then looked at the 9 trucks behind the ambulance and pointed, "what’s the story with them he asked?"
Suddenly Mary, the nurse, spoke up, "I am not feeling well. I need to get out and stretch my legs and get some fresh air."
At this she exited the passenger side. She was an attractive woman of 20 years. She could fell the eyes of the soldiers on her as she walked about. Suddenly she fell to her knees and stooped over as if in great pain. All the guard soldiers including the corporal ran over to her. They did not notice the driver exiting with a revolver in his right hand. As the soldiers gathered around Mary asking if she need assistance, she suddenly righted herself and pointed a pistol at them as well. "Get you hands in the air or I’ll shoot you!" she ordered. All of the soldiers hesitated. Two then raised the hands but then the corporal said, "Listen here, Missee. You wouldn’t—"
"---yes, she would and so would I," yelled the driver whom they suddenly noticed, "Now drop your weapons and raise your hands we’ll kill one of you Prod bastards."
As this was going on the driver of Rommel’s truck yelled, "Major, it’s started."
"Out , out. Schnell --I mean quick," ordered Rommel and the Irish Volunteers poured out of first his truck and then the rest. They quickly secured their prisoners and sped on to attack the rear of the ‘A’ company of the 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers. The German unit they had been preparing to attack—the 2nd battalion 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment—had become very much aware of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and were quickly shifting their own formation. The Bavarians discovered the Royal Irish Fusiliers in a state of disarray from the attack on the Irish Volunteers and the company was quickly overrun.
------HMS Iron Duke 1445 hrs
"The seaplane sent out of Kingstown reports at least 20 German transports and 2 large warships—either predreadnought battleships or armored cruisers—as well as some smaller warships still in the Shannon, sir" Madden informed Bayly.
"I suppose the Germans hoping we’d blindly charge up the Shannon with 1st Battle Squadron?"
"It would look that way, sir."
"Sorry to disappoint them. Too bad that we used poor Bellona as the canary in the coal mine, though. So what are the bloody Huns up to? There is some possibility that the Germans may have a thin channel open through their minefield. They could be planning to leave at night and then circle around to the north. Send a wireless message to Admiral Bradock at Scapa. Tell him to proceed immediately towards Ireland with 3rd Battle Squadron and the 4th Destroyer Flotilla. Once it crosses 55º N the battle squadron is make frequent zigzags. I still think submarines are part of the surprises the Germans have in store for us. They are to enter neither Tralee Bay nor the Shannon but are to take up a patrol position off the Connemara."
------Foynes (Limerick) 1500 hrs
This small town on the Shannon had become the Germans’ largest supply dump. Even though Fenit was an excellent harbor and there were several good beaches, there had been barely enough time to land the men, weapons and draught animals of the 6th Bavarian Division, 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment and Bavarian Jaeger Regiment at Tralee Bay. Only minimal supplies had been landed there. Likewise at Limerick the emphasis had been on landing the combat units—it had only just finished landing the last of them—the independent pioneer battalion in the last hour. The town of Tarbert to the west had also become a supply dump of some significance but it was now regarded as dangerous to use esp. for offloading ammunition.
After the 2nd Seebattalion had captured Foynes the 16th Uhlan Regiment, a cyclist company, coastal defense battery and lastly a small aviation detachment were landed there Foynes lacked a suitable dock but it possessed a very fine harbor allowing the cargo ships to get close to the shore. Once that was done the emphasis was unloading supplies and by now had over 1,200 tons ashore, most of it ammunition. Two small companies of Irish Volunteer with a combined strength of 191 men and 8 women had assembled at Foynes—somewhat fewer than the Germans had expected. The Germans alternated between provided them training as assigning them chores.
The German plan had been for all of the 4th Marine Fusilier Regiment, which had landed at the Banna Strand to march into northern Kerry to eliminate enemy resistance in that area and make contact with Irish Volunteer companies. After that there were to proceed on to Limerick coming under the command of the 1st Naval Division Except for the 3rd battalion which had deployed in the vicinity Listowel, this process was seriously behind schedule for a variety of reasons including but not limited to the shortage of horses. The 1st battalion had only reached Abbeyfeale in the last hour while the 2nd battalion and the machinegun company were lagging further behind.
------HQ Belgian 5th Division Crecy Forest 1510 hrs
Despite the misgivings of his generals, King Albert had insisted in accompanying the relocated headquarters of 5th Division "We have received word from General Smith-Dorrien just a few minutes ago, Your Majesty. He is no longer in the trenches. He has returned apparently without injury to his headquarters," reported General Guiette, the division’s commander.
"Horace Smith-Dorrien is a most unusual man, is he not?" answered an enthused King Albert, "I know full well that he has a temper that gets him in trouble, but he is most incredibly brave. I find myself overwhelmed with admiration. I even offered to send Bastien to paint his heroic charge instead of my own troops on this occasion, I was so impressed. I don’t think I have ever seen a general that brave."
General Guiette ground his teeth in irritation. Amongst themselves the Belgian generals expressed the opinion that Smith-Dorrien has clearly insane and should be committed to an asylum for his own good. "There are different styles of effective leadership, Your Majesty," he replied evasively, "The British Army can afford loses amongst their generals that would be devastating for us."
Albert thought that over. He wasn’t sure he agreed with that line of reasoning but he did not wish to debate the point. Instead he inquired, "Was there any significant tactical news in his message?"
"Yes there was, Your Majesty. Some of Second Army’s batteries have received shells. They are now able to provide supporting fire."
"Excellent news! We have learned the hard way what a horrible thing it is to be without artillery in this awful war. Fortunately the German fleet was not able to maintain a prolonged presence in the English Channel."
"That is most certainly true, Your Majesty."
"What then is our own situation?"
Guiette stopped grinding his teeth and allowed himself to smile, "We are doing very well, Your Majesty! We have cut an important road in one place. The Germans as usual are making determined counterattacks but our men are holding on tenaciously."
"I am afraid I must ask about casualties. How bad are they?"
"They are serious but not devastating, Your Majesty. In another hour I should be able to provide a more precise figure."
"You will let me those numbers as soon as they become available! I know well from prior experience that they are only preliminary and will be extensively revised later. Still I need to see them. My great fear is that in trying to save an entire British army I am destroying what is left of my own. I hope the British fully appreciate our situation and---"
The Belgians had positioned their HQ where they were sure they were not observed by the Germans. They were at the edge of Crecy Forest and selected a spot where trees hid them from enemy airplanes. Despite these precautions two enemy shells suddenly exploded uncomfortably close to HQ. The staff officers dive under cover. King Albert defiantly remained standing.
"Your Majesty, please get under cover. We are under fire!"
Albert remained standing. Two more shells exploded. "Shells will keep protocolary distance!" he shouted imperiously.. After that there were no further detonations anywhere near the HQ.
------BEF HQ Abbeville 1535 hrs
"Our rambunctious little hero, Horace Smith-Dorrien has finally remembered that he is a British general officer as had returned to his HQ having had his fill of the most nauseating grandstanding I have ever seen in my long career in the British Army," General French sneered to his staff.
"It is most unusual, sir. I am terribly glad he was not injured," commented Gen. Murray, the chief of staff.
French made a strange face, then sighed and answered with a hint of sarcasm, "Well of course, so do I. We all do. It goes without saying. We can’t have generals getting injured now can we? What could we possibly do without the great Smith-Dorrien? That’s why it was such an irresponsible thing for him to do. You’d never see our fair haired boy, Douglas Haig, do anything so utterly foolish. Never! And what did Horace’s big show accomplish? Nothing!"
"Uh, but according to our latest reports, the German salient has been pushed far enough back that First Army should be able to squeeze through during the night., esp. if the cloud cover thickens as our meteorologists predict."
French transfixed Murray with a withering look, "You are not interpreting the tactical situation correctly., general. The attacks by First Army this morning are responsible for this favorable development not this circus Smith-Dorrien put together featuring the clowns from Belgium."
The officers on French’s staff looked at him strangely. It was not the first time they had done so but this time it was particularly strong.. Maybe I went too far he thought relucantantly, "Er, just so no one misunderstands my last comment, I have nothing but admiration for the Belgians. They have fought hard in a difficult struggle—no one can gainsay that. It is only they sometimes get carried away with their own importance. Smith-Dorrien impudently imposed himself on their impressionable young monarch. I am not going to tolerate what I sure will be exaggerated claims of success from either of them!"
------Bruree (Limerick) 1550 hrs
The 16th Uhlan Regiment had taken nearly 100 casualties in its attack on the derailed train carrying two field artillery batteries. It had managed to capture 3 of the obsolete 15 pounder guns in working condition. When the regimental commander received word that a sizable body of infantry was heading his way from the south, he decided to abandon Kilmallock, carting off the captured field guns and ammunition. He moved 3 of his 4 squadrons to the village of Bruree to the northwest while the remaining squadron conducted reconnaissance. It was brought to his attention that one of the members of the local Irish Volunteers named Donovan had served in the Boer Wars as an artillerist and was thoroughly familiar with the 15 pounder gun. Donovan had tried to given lectures to some of the Volunteers some knowledge of how to operate artillery on the off chance a Fenian insurrection might come into possession of a few guns. He was sure that he could put together a gun crew that could fire effectively over open sights at moderate range
The Uhlan Obesrtleutnant initially denied this request but was eventually persuaded to permit it as as a stopgap measure while he sent a messenger galloping off to Limerick requesting German artillerists be provided as soon as possible. In the meantime he gave Donovan possession of one of the guns and permission to fire off 10 practice rounds.
General Parsons had dispatched the 6th Connaught Rangers to Kilmallock. The battalion commander sent 2 rifle companies to Kilmallock as fast as their legs would move. His wagons including those with his sole Vickers machinegun lagged behind and were escorted by another company. Receiving reports of a concentration of German cavalry near Bruree he sent the fourth rifle off in that direction. The company commander was brave and bit impetuous. Finding the enemy at Bruree with an effective strength close to his own, he ordered an immediate attack. The Uhlans had prepared a rudimentary defense which included Donovan’s gun crew and the rest of the Volunteer company.
Light rain was beginning to fall. The captured 15 pounder erupted sending the first of several shrapnel shells to burst amidst the ranks of the Connaught Rangers. By itself the obsolete piece fired slowly by its improvised crew was far from being decisive in this encounter. The British attack would have failed without their participation. Still to the Irish Volunteers operating field gun it as an intoxicating experience.
------HMS Iron Duke 1610 hrs
"We’ve waited as long as we can. We cannot put it off any longer" announced Admiral Bayly, "Signal the 1st Destroyer Flotilla to detach and proceed to Queenstown at 15 knots to refuel. We shall continue on into the Celtic Sea without them."
------HQ British First Army 1650 hrs
"Air patrols have confirmed that the Prussian Guards were pushed back far enough today for you to begin squeezing your corps through to safety during the night starting with the 1st Division," declared Gen Haig to Lt. Gen. Sir Charles Monro, the commander of I Army Corps, "They still dominate the main road with observed artillery fire. It will be too risky by day unless there is heavy fog again."
"I heard we might get some rain, sir. There should be enough cloud cover to blot out the bright moon. Of course, the Germans could have some howitzers already registered on the road."
"Yes, we should assume so. And for that reason the transit of 1st Division will have to be spaced out. Send one battalion down the road at a time."
Monro looked closely at the current tactical map on the table, then said, "We can get 1st Division through before dawn, but not much more, sir. Certainly not 29th Division as well."
Haig nodded, "Move one brigade of the 29th Division part of the way down the road. If there is a heavy morning fog Hunter-Weston should take advantage to bring the rest of his division through. Otherwise we will try to send both 29th and 48th Divisions through tomorrow night."
Monro frowned, "The Germans are sure to attempt to retake what they lost today with their usual ferocity. This narrow gap could be gone this time tomorrow. I am particularly worried that a portion of the enemy attack will fall on 29th Division—what’s left of 29th Division that is.. Between suffering the worst of the naval bombardment and this morning’s heavy fighting that’s not much." Monro had opposed letting 29th Division attack this morning but Hunter-Weston had gone over his head to Haig. Monro was still unhappy about esp. as the attack had failed so miserably.
"I must say that I have been most impressed by Gen. Hunter-Weston’s fighting spirit. I have every confidence he can hold his position," commented Haig.
"I must remind the General that 29th Division has sustained horrific casualties. It is not longer an effective formation."
------White House 1705 hrs (GMT)
"As you are all aware by now there was a startling development in the European war over the weekend," announced President Woodrow Wilson, "The Germans have invaded Ireland. Admiral Fiske, I find it most extraordinary that they could pull off such an enterprise."
"You happen to be in good company, Mr. President. Over at the Department of the Navy we were completely flabbergasted," replied Admiral Fiske, "At first we thought maybe it was only a small hit and run raid to cover landing arms but it is now obvious that it is something much more serious. Our analysts are arguing what route the Germans took. At first they thought the invasion fleet had traveled through the English Channel. However we are now starting to think it is just as likely if not more than the Germans went around the—" .
"--they could have gone through China as far as I am concerned." interrupted Wilson huffily, "that’s all water under the bridge now. What does matter is the Germans are in Ireland. What are their goals? You’ve said you’ve ruled out a hit and run raid. Well then, is it to instigate rebellion then make an exit? Or have they grown so bold that they mean to take control of the entire island?"
Fiske pursed his lips and responded cautiously, "It is nearly impossible to tell from the information we currently have available, Mr. President."
"Hmm, from what I’ve read in the newspapers the Germans must be sorely disappointed if they were expecting a large scale insurrection by the Irish Catholics."
Wilson’s last comment was not directed at anyone in particular. It was Secretary Daniels who chose to respond, "That is most correct, Mr. President. So far only a few hundred Fenians are fighting against the British government. We think the Germans made a major miscalculation."
"Probably because they listened to that senile fool, Devoy," grumbled Col. House.
"Yes, yes. The Germans have become too clever for their own good. Then they listened to Devoy and likely a few other sorely deluded Fenians as well. In all honesty I cannot say that I feel the least bit sorry for the Germans. Unfortunately for us though, John Devoy is here in the United States and his involvement in this matter is likely to cause us some embarrassment. While I can personally commiserate with Sir Cecil’s complaints about our permitting Devoy to purchase and ship to Ireland, horses, motor vehicles and food, which the British now believe are being used by the German invasion force as President of these United States I feel myself obliged to insist that our policy was appropriate. It was justified on sound principles."
"Sir Cecil is fit to be tied," commented Secretary Bryan uneasily, "He claims our neutrality is a cruel hoax perpetrated on the British people.. When I reminded him that we’ve turned a blind eye to American citizens fighting for the Entente and had been allowing the purchase of munitions on credit, he shouted insults at me which at one point bordered on profanity."
"He is under immense stress at this time, Mr. Secretary" offered House.
"I understand that, Col. and as a Christian I can find it in my heart to readily forgive his unprofessional behavior on a purely personal level. But as an official of this great God fearing nation, I must insist on proper protocol."
"Protocol is secondary right now," said Wilson, "I am more interested in these so called demands he’s making?"
"Well for one he is insisting on a public letter of apology to King George from you."
"Well he’s not going to get it. As far as I’m concerned Ridgeway is ancient history. What are the other items?"
Bryan looked at his notes, "He wants the Clan na Gael and the Fenian Brotherhood outlawed. He has a list of prominent Fenians he wants arrested. Devoy heads the list but it includes Jim Larkin, Tom Clarke---"
"---Clarke is here because they decided to boot him out of their country! This is too much. What else?"
"I would point out that not everyone they want arrested is Irish. For instance, St. James and Garvey are also on the list."
Wilson made a brief ironic smile, "Nothing would warm my heart more than to put those two loud mouthed insolent darkies in their place, but under our current circumstances that would cause trouble. Trouble we don’t need just now. What else does Sir Cecil want?"
"He wants a suspension of all US trade with the Central Powers. He also wants Count von Bernstorff and Captain von Papen dismissed immediately and sent back to Germany as he is sure they are behind the plot. He also insists on long term loans backed by our government to finance increased Entente purchases including ammunitions as recompense."
Daniels gasped then interjected, "Mr. President this is outrageous! Ambassador Spring-Rice is completely out of line. Recompense? Did he have the audacity to say recompense?"
"Yes. He did. He also insists that we shut down what he calls ‘obvious German propaganda outlets’. By this he means certain newspapers."
"Let me guess. The Chicago Tribune and the Hearst papers?" asked Wilson.
"Yes, Mr. President but he also included the Baltimore Sun as well. Apparently there is some columnist who writes for that newspaper Sir Cecil can’t stand."
"Instead of a letter of apology maybe we should send King George a copy of the Constitution," quipped Thomas Gregory, the Attorney General.
Col House was sweating and squirming in his seat. The Cabinet meeting was going even worse than he had expected. He cleared his throat then said, "Uh, again I must point out that the British Ambassador is under immense pressure. Before we get carried away, I suggest that we all sit back and think about how we would feel if we learned Saturday that the Germans—or the Spanish for that matter--had landed in Long Island and supplies from a supposedly neutral country were waiting for them. I think our legation would be livid as well."
The others thought about what House had said and the expressions on their faces softened. "I understand what you’re saying, Ed. Still the ambassador has no right to make demands on us."
"It is my belief that Sir Cecil is largely acting on his own instincts. Captain Gaunt has taken me aside and told me that Sir Edward Grey has become alarmed by Spring-Rice’s behavior and that very specific orders will be cabled to the ambassador once Grey has had a chance to talk face to face with the Prime Minister, who delivered a major address to Parliament this morning. We should give the ambassador one more day to cool his heels."
"That indeed is sage counsel, Col answered Wilson, "I will certainly not permit the ambassador talk to me today. You will have the pleasure of dealing of dealing with him, William. I will deal with him tomorrow. Make it abundantly clear to him that Bernstorff may not be the first ambassador I run out of town on a rail."
"Understood, Mr. President."
"The Count is a silver tongued snake oil salesman, but at least he’s able to keep himself under control. I’ll give him that. As far as Sir Cecil’s demands, I do want an investigation of Devoy’s dealing with the German legation. I want it to go beyond a formal criminal investigation. We need to know if there is any other shenanigans in the works. I am thinking of giving this assignment to the Secret Service. And it’s not just Devoy that needs watching. There is a whole host of dangerous characters out there."
The Cabinet members digested this and some exchanged wary glances. Finally a worried looking Gregory spoke up, "I feel that it is my duty to inform the President that the role he is suggesting for the Secret Service falls way outside the mission intended for that organization in its charter. Furthermore, an open .investigation of suspected criminal violations is one thing but to have agents of the Federal government openly spy on American citizens is something else entirely. We must be very careful to stay within the legal—"
"—if you haven’t noticed, this is a time of crisis for not only our nation but the entire world as well," countered an obviously irritated Wilson, "I am not going to permit this government to be blinded on account of the sophistries emanating from a gaggle of Philadelphia lawyers."
The Attorney General winced, "I did not mean to rule out the use of the Secret Service altogether, Mr. President. All I was trying to say was that we need to be cautious."
"I am glad to hear it. You work out the details. The problem as I see it is that we have too many disgusting halfway Americans. By that I mean those so called hyphenated Americans, such as the German-Americans and now the Irish-Americans. As I said on more than one occasion: Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready. Even though I am Irish ancestry myself, I am worried about those Catholic Americans of Irish descent who dare to label themselves Irish-Americans. I had hoped the monstrosity which is Fenianism had wasted away with the old exception such as Devoy not worth worrying about. Last night I had a long talk with Ryan about this. He was very uneasy about what has happened. He warned me that in recent years with Home Rule being widely perceived as inevitable, the Irish Catholic still bore no love for the England. Their antipathy had merely softened from intractable hatred to an almost casual contempt and disdain. Amongst his fellow Irish Catholics in America he said that he had perceived a gradual shift back to the more severe hostility ever since Curzon became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. If there is a major uprising in Ireland, this ominous shift could accelerate."
"The British keep telling us that only a ‘few hundred’ Fenians are fighting alongside the Germans, Mr. President," replied Lindley Garrison, the Secretary of War, "They go to claim this even this very limited involvement is mostly due to the treacherous machinations of a Mr. Austin Stack, who they are now sure belongs to an outlawed Fenian organization. We have not reason to believe that the British are misleading us."
"This is excellent. We must take every step to keep American citizens from becoming involved in this mess"
Bryan cleared his throat, "Unfortunately Mr. President one already has. It was another of Sir Cecil’s complaints. According to him a Mr. Ezra Pound—"
Wilson’s eyebrows shot up, "—surely you don’t mean that poet fellow that hangs around Yeats."
"I’m afraid I do, Mr. President. He’s wanted for murder and so is Mr. Yeats for that matter, though for the time being this information is not being publicly released. As I understand it there was a failed attempt to arrest the infamous Countess Markieviscz upon learning of the German invasion, which resulted in 4 police officers being killed. The British have evidence that link both Yeats and Pound to this shocking incident."
Wilson paled, "Good Heavens. What is this world coming to?"
------Nairobi Hill 1725 hrs
Unlike the Indians, the two platoons of the East African Regiment and ‘B’ squadron East Africa Mounted Rifles had put up a stiff resistance. However they cooperated poorly with the nearby askaris of the King’s African Rifles, whom they wrongly thought would bolt and run just like the Indians. The Schutztruppen exploited this lack of coordination and were now moving the fight into the town itself where the support troops had barricaded themselves.
An askari messenger approached Lettow-Vorbeck. In the heavy rain it was next to impossible to write a message so it was delivered verbally. "Oberst! Major Kraut has good news to report. The wireless station has been captured. The British caused some damage to it, but the Major thinks it can be fixed quickly."
Lettow-Vorbeck stepped forward and hugged the thoroughly drenched African. "This is good news indeed. You have all done incredible work fighting under these miserable conditions. The world deserves to know what you have accomplished. And they will!"
------SMS Rostock 1805 hrs
Admiral Spee had granted Admiral Maas permission in the afternoon to spread out 2nd Scouting Group. Rostock encountered a 4,400 ton British freighter out of Charleston. It too lacked a wireless. Its cargo consisted mostly of pork sausage and canned peaches. The cruiser had more leeway to dawdle that before allowing them to ferry over a little bit of the food to add to their stores. After that the merchantman was quickly sunk.
------Barefield (Clare) 1810 hrs
The commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment at Ennis had for most of the day thought the British force attacking him was at least an entire British brigade of 4 battalions, possibly with some supporting artillery. In the afternoon one of the airplanes from the improvised airfield near Foynes scouted the area and landed at a nearby field to report what it had seen. This gave the 3rd Marine Fusiliers a better picture of the enemy’s size and the commander began to consider a counterattack. Meanwhile the 109th Brigade prepared itself for a nice attack against the German right flank. Aided by the air reconnaissance, the commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers had some idea of what his enemy intended. Supported by the battalion of 7.7cm field guns, the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment made an attack against the enemy’s right flank. The Ulstermen had not entrenched and had prepared only a few strongpoints and not laid down any barbed wire. They fought stubbornly for a while but it soon became clear to the brigadier that he was in serious trouble and ordered a withdrawal to the north.
------HQ British 16th Division Rathmore 1820 hrs
Maj. Gen Parsons looked again at the message that had been just been brought by a messenger in a motor car from Banteer, which it had arrived by telegraph from Dublin.
WE KNOW BELIEVE THE ENTIRE SIXTH BAVARIAN DIVISION LANDED IN KERRY IN ADDITION TO AT LEAST TWO JAEGER BATTALIONS AND A MARINE REGIMENT STOP
He now looked at again at the prior cable from Major Vane, the Intelligence Officer, he had received just before noon.
CURRENT ESTIMATE OF ENEMY FORCE IN KERRY IS TWO REGIMENTS OF BAVARIAN INFANTRY. TWO JAEGER BATTALIONS, A CAVALRY REGIMENT AND FROM ONE TO THREE FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALIONS. STOP THERE IS ALSO A MARINE REGIMENT BUT THAT COULD BE SERVING LOC DUTY STOP
There were now a pair of British Army warplanes operating in Ireland. Both operated out of an airfield set up at the Curragh which was to far away to do Gen. Parsons much good. He had been forced to rely mostly on his squadron of the South Irish Horse for reconnaissance. He already new that the enemy was moving south from Castleisland in strength, posing a threat to his right flank. Based on the earlier intelligence assessment he had assigned the 6th battalion Royal Irish Regiment supported by a battery of 15 pounders to act as a flank guard. He had thought they would suffice while he tore through the Jaegers and linked with his 3 battalions isolated in the vicinity of Killarney. Once that was down he would rely on his preponderance in artillery to defeat the Germans on his flank and then march on to Tralee. It had seemed relatively straightforward.
The Jaegers were proving troublesome. They did not attempt to rigidly hold a line but rather made short withdrawals taking advantage of the hilly Kerry terrain and a series of strongpoints that had prepared for this contingency. This was making it difficult to bring the British artillery to bear with any effectiveness. Sometimes if the British forces were clumsy in their advance and an opportunity presented itself the Jaegers would make brief hit and run counterattacks.
Now there was news that he faced an entire enemy division in addition to the Jaegers. The potential threat to his right flank was very serious. He now worried if the enemy was trying to lure him into a trap at Killarney. If the 16th Division was eliminated the Germans could easily march into Macroom and then on to Cork. What was particularly frustrating was that all communication with the 48th Brigade at Killarney had been lost at the morning. With an entire German division in Kerry, the 48th Brigade could very well be in serious trouble right now. From that reason simply halting the advance of 16th Division was out of the question. But the threat to his right flank could not be ignored.
"I have decided that the 47th Brigade is to halt its advance and serve as a flank guard, " Parsons announced to his staff," The entire LLVIV Artillery Brigade will support it."
------Galway 1845 hrs
Unlike the area around Athenry there was little sympathy for Fenianism in the city of Galway. The Irish Volunteers company there was quite small while there was an entire battalion of Redmond’s National Volunteers. Rumors about what had transpired east of the town were now running through the town like wildfire. Initially relief had been felt that the despicable Irish Volunteer traitors had been turned back from their fair city. But already this mood was starting to shift noticeably as the news about the National Volunteers being attacked by the Ulstermen as well was circulated. The word ‘massacre’ started to be used about what happened to the Irish Volunteers.
------Massawa (Eritrea) 1855 hrs
With only a few weak wisps on cloud in the sky the moonlight was bright. A vessel flying an Italian flag and calling itself the Marcus Aurelius steamed into the harbor. It had not long ago called itself the Bayern. Its cargo consisted mostly of arms. It had originally been intended by the Germans to sail to India in February under a neutral flag. When it reached India it was to have armed an uprising by the Gaidar Party. Unfortunately for the Germans an Italian customs inspector had detected the subterfuge and the vessel had been seized by the Italian government.
That happened back when Salandra was Prime Minister. When Giolitti took control the situation was reexamined. Secret negotiations were conducted with Berlin. The end result was that there was some exchange of funds—half of it going to the Italian government and the other half to Giolitti personally. The Bayern suddenly became an Italian ship with a completely Italian crew. Nearly a quarter of the vessel’s armaments were transferred to an Italian cargo ship. In its place other provisions such as food were stored. The vessel departed Genoa and proceeded on to Suez. There it was thoroughly inspected but the ship’s commander had been very forthright about the mix of cargo his vessel was carrying. He claimed it was meant for the Italian garrison in Eritrea. The British officials suspected otherwise and were decidedly unhappy. They had stalled the ships passage through the canal but soon Italian diplomatic pressure had forced them to relent and allow it through. Even then they sent one of their larger gunboats to tail her.
------HQ German Sixth Army 1905 hrs
The news had not been good all afternoon. General Maximilian von Fabeck, the commanding officer shared his thoughts with his chief of staff, Oberst Freiherr von Wenge and the intelligence officer. "When I first heard that Belgians were involved in the attack on the 28th Reserve Division, I was deeply surprised. In the last two days I have worried that the French might send a corps to rescue the British First Army, but I never expected the Belgians. We all knew that they held down a sector of the British line north of St. Ricquier. That sector has long been quiet and our intelligence had led us to believe they were disinclined to mount any offensive action because they had great difficulty replacing losses. We also speculated that they might be having problems with morale. Today’s events have laid that speculation to rest, yes? Have we determined yet if these Belgians are from the 5th Division or has their king committed additional forces from those evacuated to England?"
"We have not been able to determine that as yet, General," answered the intelligence officer, "Hopefully the counterattacks currently underway will take some prisoners."
"If they are to do so, they should do it quickly. I am ordering a cessation of all counterattacks in the salient. Not just the XIV Reserve Corps but Guard Corps and the III Bavarian Corps as well."
This caused two sets of jaws to drop. Fabeck permitted himself only the faintest trace of a grin, "No. Your commander have not lost his fighting spirit. It has occurred to me in the last hour that it is what is painfully obvious from the Belgian participation in today’s attack—whether it from elements of 5th Division or fresh units brought over from England makes no real difference—in either case what is crystal clear is that the British Second Army must be in even worse shape than we had thought. It further suggests French help in any significant strength is not expected soon. This means that this is an opportunity for us to exploit. When is the repositioning of the Big Bertha projected to be completed?"
"It will be ready for action before noon tomorrow, General," replied Wenge.
"Noon? That works well. Here now are my orders for tomorrow. All howitzers and minenwerfers in the salient are to be repositioned during the night for a concentrated bombardment of the Belgian position, which will begin promptly at noon. It is my firm belief that the British First Army used up the last of its shells in today’s attack. The Bavarians and the Prussian Guards should be able to repel unsupported infantry attacks by First Army with their field guns alone, esp. as the British lack a decent grenade. We will obliterate the Belgian positions with a concentration of pure firepower. So total will that destruction that 7th Cavalry Division should be standing by to exploit it once our infantry have secured the trenches. The tattered patchwork of decimated remnants belonging to the British Second Army in that area can be swept up in the resulting tide."
------10 Downing St. 2010 hrs
The War Committee was meeting along with Lord Kitchener. "Grey came to see me this afternoon. Spring-Rice had been told to express our dissatisfaction over the US permitting the Clan na Gael to send supplies that the Germans are now using. The ambassador has been going to extremes. He is making demands on the Yanks which will only serve to ruin our good working relationship with President Wilson. I do not want to recall Sir Cecil. For one thing his love for the Empire is truly inspiring. It is just a diplomat needs to temper it with prudence. For another our enemies would view his sudden removal as an admission of incompetence. It is best if he remain, but I will recall him if it proves necessary."
"It is a similar situation to the one we face with the Lord-Lieutenant," mused Carson.
A few seconds after Carson said that Kitchener’s usually taut visage became agitated and he spoke, "What does that mean, First Lord? Are you implying that you intend to keep Curzon as Viceroy? How can you say that after what he did to the Ulster Volunteer Force? The man must be removed!"
"The damage he did to the morale of the Ulster Volunteers was admittedly unpleasant but it is reparable. A vote of no confidence would not be reparable."
"Amen," said Lloyd-George.
"I simply do not believe this. You must get rid of him immediately! He is the most dangerous man in the British Empire—with Birrell a close second"
"No, Lord Kitchener, we are not removing Curzon. And neither will I tolerate you ordering us about like we were a bunch of subalterns!" Bonar Law reprimanded.
"Removing Birrell is more the likely prospect, Lord Kitchener, but not in the next few days," added Carson. He and the prime minister had received a cable from General Henry Wilson this morning insisting that Birrell should be arrested, court-martialed and hung.
"It is my duty to report things as I see them, Prime Minister. As I predicted the 10th Division is proving incompetent. Just before I departed for this meeting I learned that they had been forced to withdrawn completely from Limerick."
"This is most unsettling news. Has the 10th Division been smashed? Are the Germans marching on Dublin?" asked a worried Bonar Law.
"Well. not exactly, prime minister. The 10th Division not been routed completely—well at least not yet. General Mahan is trying to form a defensive line based on the Mulkear River east of Limerick. It should delay the Germans slightly but I seriously doubt that it will hold in the face of determined attacks."
"So there is a genuine threat of the Germans marching on Dublin?" asked a very agitated Bonar Law, who then turned to Carson, "I thought one way or another, the Grand Fleet was going to eliminate that possibility today."
"As did I, Prime Minister. However while the German ships have completely abandoned Tralee Bay, they remain in strength inside the Shannon," replied the First Lord.
"And so they are still unloading vessels in the Shannon?" asked Lloyd-George.
"Presumably so, Chancellor. We think that the vessels which had already unloaded as of yesterday were sent back to Germany possibly escorted by some of the warships. We did capture one ship this morning. Meanwhile the remainder continue to unload at Foynes and Limerick—and possibly other harbors as well."
"That means the situation in Ireland is turning into an utter calamity," interjected Kitchener, "I keep repeating myself but it bears repeating the forces we have in Ireland are completely inadequate. There is no way the situation in Ireland can be resolved without reinforcements. And by that I mean at least one complete infantry division plus a brigade of yeomanry."
"Again I must remind you, Lord Kitchener, that King George was very worried that the enemy of Ireland was intended merely as a diversion in preparation for an invasion of England and that we all promised that we would hold off sending reinforcements to Ireland until the Grand Fleet returned the North Sea." Bonar Law admonished.
"His Majesty is not the only one who is deeply concerned about that possibility. Lord Northcliffe’s newspapers continue to ruthlessly exploit the fear running rampant amongst our citizens in southeastern England that they are next," added Carson.
"Once the Grand Fleet returns to the East Coast we can reinforce Ireland as much as necessary and still honor our commitment to His Majesty," noted Lloyd-George.
"How long will it take to arrange for minesweepers to clear a path for the Grand Fleet to enter the Shannon and destroy the German fleet?" Bonar Law asked Carson.
"I put that one to the Sea Lords, but failed to receive a satisfactory response. They are very nervous about the whole concept. They do not want to risk the 1st Battle Squadron in the Shannon under any circumstances. They would prefer to use the 5th Battle Squadron instead—and it’s at Scapa at this time in case the Germans try to return home via the northern rout. The Sea Lords say that they would need at least one full day just to plan the operation properly. For one thing they fret about reports of German submarines being sighted near Tralee Bay and the mouth of the Shannon. They also warn that more than one section of the Shannon could have been mined and a cautious methodical advance up the Shannon is likely to be very slow."
"So by the time they do reach and engage the German ships in the Shannon, most if not all of them would have finished unloading?" asked Lloyd-George.
"I’m afraid so, Chancellor."
"Might it not be best to return the Grand Fleet in its entirety to either Scapa Flow or Rosyth? Then we can proceed to properly reinforce Ireland. While you have persuaded me that the risk of England being invaded is small there still remains the very real threat that the High Seas Fleet will return to the Channel to cut our communications with France. Given the current grave situation of First Army I do not think it wise to rely on mines and submarines alone to solve that problem."
:"Neither am I," conceded Carson.
"Blast this is most frustrating. It sounds like you will need to spend the night in the Admiralty again, Sir Edward," said Bonar Law, "The Chancellor and I will come pay you a visit in the morning. Hopefully you will be able to tell us that a portion of the invasion fleet was destroyed. In any case a decision will need to be reached quickly."
------OKW Berlin 2035 hrs
"Where is the great Irish rebellion? Cork and Dublin should be in flames by now. Would you please be so kind as to tell us what happened to the great Irish rebellion?" an irate Admiral von Tirpitz demanded of Sir Roger Casement. He spoke in German. Also in the room were Feldmarschalgeneral von Moltke and General von Delmensingen.
Casement began to cry. Moltke looked at the poor wretch of a man and could not help to fell some measure of pity. The wrath of Tirpitz was not an easy thing to bear. "I do not know, I do not know, Grossadmiral," sobbed Casement.
"We trusted your word, Herr Casement. He accepted you—and that arrogant autodidact Plunkett-- as what you said you were—as spokesmen for the oppressed Irish people. Send a small German army to invade Ireland and they will rally to our side. Well, where are they?"
"Perhaps there is a rising and Bonar Law is suppressing news of it for political purposes," answered Casement clutching at straws.
"Bah, you don’t believe that drivel and neither do I."
Casement made no answer but merely sobbed. Tirpitz looked at him in disgust. Moltke spoke instead, "You need to understand Sir Roger that the wisdom of sending the second wave of Operation Unicorn is going to be seriously challenged in the next two days. The attack by the German Sixth Army against the British has succeeded beyond our expectations. There is an excellent opportunity to destroy the British First Army."
"B-but I don’t understand. Just how does that present a problem?" a quivering wet faced Casement haltingly asked in a timid voice.
"Falkenahyn is coming to see us tomorrow. We have learned in the last hour that he has already reduced the delivery of munitions for Operations Fulcrum and Tourniquet, causing a delay in the onset of the former. He made inquires this afternoon about the High Seas Fleet making another sortie into the Channel, this time staying longer to cut the British supply lines, " said Tirpitz.
"When he arrives here I am expecting him to make an argument that absent a full scale Irish rebellion, Operation Unicorn can only serve as a strategic diversion and should not be reinforced.," added Moltke, "It is an argument I will find difficult to refute."
Tirpitz turned his harsh glare from Casement to Moltke, "In that case I strongly suggest you try extra hard, Generalfeldmarschal."
------Killarney (Kerry) 2055 hrs
The commander of the 3rd company, 3rd battalion of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment was most upset, "This Major Rommel-- he is really only a Leutnant you know---deliberately disobeyed my orders, Oberst. He was specifically told to keep his entire force of Irishmen inside the town of Killarney. He deliberately drove off on a hastily improvised mission—"
The commander of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment sighed wearily. He had arrived at Killarney 15 minutes along with 2 companies of the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion, 3 armored cars and a squadron of Chevaulegers. He promptly set up his HQ in the second best hotel in Killarney because the enemy was still holding out in the best hotel. In the preparation for Operation Unicorn it was realized that it would not be a good thing for the Germans in the Irish Brigade given temporary promotions to be ordering German formations on that basis. The problem had been "solved" by General von François indicating that such situations should be avoided. Unfortunately that "situation" was precisely what had happened here at Killarney. Still the end result had turned out quite well despite the friction.
"---Because of Rommel’s use of initiative the enemy’s defenses east of here---which had been causing my 2nd Battalion and the Chevaulegers considerable difficulty—was completely breached. Due to the disruption caused by Rommel’s bold attack, the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Bavarian Regiment rapidly eliminated an entire enemy rifle company. After that it was easy to roll up the rest of the British defensive line. We have taken more than 300 prisoners and my regiment is now able to withdraw into Killarney unimpeded."
"A stroke of blind luck does not justify blatant disobedience, Oberst."
"You are free to file a complaint with General von Gyssling, if you feel you must. But I would think twice about doing that. I know full well that your general is under a great deal of pressure from General von François to complete the capture of Killarney as speedily as possible. The reason I know this is because I myself am under the same pressure. Our plan was for my regiment to reach Killarney on the morning of the third day. Here is it after dark and only one battalion of my regiment has arrived here—and that due in large part to this act of initiative by Major Rommel."
The Hauptman folded his arms and sulked silently, only partially persuaded by the Oberst’s logic. "Yes, think over what I have just said. While you do, I need a clearer picture of what is happening here."
"It is complicated, Oberst. The enemy has several isolated groups nearby. The largest group is to the north. A messenger arrived from the 6th Bavarian Regiment within the last hour and related that they are busily engaged with this force. They warn that some of the British might slip through to Killarney during the night. The Irish Volunteers were to be on guard against this threat and this is one reason why I am incensed at Major Rommel’s actions."
"Duly noted, but I still do not concur with your assessment. Let’s move onto the other enemy pockets."
"There is one to the west of Killarney. It consists of a company of engineers that have linked up with some infantry—either one or two companies. There is also some local militia and RIC as well. It was this band of field engineers who opposed my men when they first landed from their boats. We overcame them eventually but they were able to withdraw to the northwest and link with the infantry there who were fighting the 4th company of my battalion as well as some Irish Volunteers."
"How is that battle coming?"
"Despite being attacked from two directions, the enemy is holding on most stubbornly."
"And the other pockets?"
"There are those squirreled up in the hotel, which you are already aware of. We suspect that an enemy brigade may have its headquarters in that building. There is another still smaller bunch holed up in a warehouse. More sizable is the enemy rifle company to the southeast of Killarney straddling the Flesk River. It was these men that Major Rommel first encountered when he attacked Killarney from the south with one of your platoons."
"I am glad you mentioned that. Where is that unit currently?"
"Rommel split the platoon in two. He left one half of the platoon along with the 2 machineguns where they were and took the rest plus some Irishmen in motor trucks to attack Killarney from the north. I soon assumed command of the half he took with him. We have had no communication with the other portion. I would not be surprised if the British have eliminated it."
"Was that intended to make me dislike Rommel? Even if that unit is lost it is a sacrifice that paid off richly. As I understand it you were pinned down near the lake shore and were only freed when Rommel’s forces attacked the British engineers."
The Hauptman squirmed a little, "We would have soon prevailed against the engineers without their intervention!"
"Well, of course, you would have," countered the Oberst sarcastically as he folded his arms.
The Hauptman sighed deeply. "I presume that your highest priority will be to eliminate that company fighting your Jaegers on the other side of the Flesk?"
"Yes, that is a good guess. But it is not simply because they are my own men. That is merely secondary. My primary reason is that my regiment will need to use Muckross Road soon. Very soon."
------Dublin Castle 2105 hrs
Curzon, Birrell and Nathan were being briefed by General Friend and Major Vane on the day’s military developments. "To the east of Galway city the 10th Inniskilling Fusiliers attacked two formations of Irish Volunteers. The first formation is estimated to be anywhere from 300 to 500 men. It was poorly armed and dispersed as soon as fighting started. The second formation was stronger—anywhere from 800 to 1,000 men plus a handful of women. It was much better armed than the first formation. More than half the men had either Moisin-Nagant or Lee-Enfield rifles which the Germans had provided them."
"So the ruse which the Germans tried unsuccessfully at Cork, appears to have succeeded in Galway?" asked Curzon.
"It does look that way, Your Excellency."
"And happened next? Did the larger formation disperse in panic
"No, Your Excellency. They foolishly chose to engage the Iniiskilling Fusiliers in a savage struggle. Some eventually did flee but only a few dozen managed to escape. They took 127 men and .34 women prisoner. The rest—678 men and 9 women were killed."
"Why were 7 women killed? I could see one or two by stray rounds—but seven?"
"The report says some of the women were fighting alongside the men, Your Excellency."
"Good Heavens. What is this world coming to?"
"What are you planning to do with the prisoners?" asked Birrell.
"You’ve seen the orders from the Prime Minister. They are to be tried by court martial, every last one of them. Same goes for the handful we captured at Crusheen yesterday evening."
"Including the women?" asked Birrell.
Curzon winced. He hesitated before replying, "London will have to make the final decision on that one. Blast it! This is all the fault of those insane suffragettes. On account of their misguided efforts women are now so terribly confused about their proper role in society."
Birrell shook his head and grimaced.
"Do you have something you wish to say, Mr. Secretary?" asked Curzon gruffly.
Birrell did not say exactly what he was thinking when responded, "The government’s official line since the Germans landed has been that less than 1,000 Irishmen are actively supporting them. This new band which took the field in County Galway is over 1,000 by itself. It makes it clear that the official number needs to be revised, don’t you think?"
"You’re stating the obvious," Curzon grudgingly conceded. He then looked at Gen. Friend, "The most shocking news at all is what happened at Limerick today. Can the 10th Division hold its new position? Is there a real threat of the Germans marching on Dublin?"
Friend bit his lip and after a slip pause answered cautiously. "We do need to reinforce the 10th Division still further, Your Excellency. The 31st Brigade and the LVI Artillery Brigade should be released."
"Those were the units we were holding in reserve in case there was a major rebellion."
"So far there has been no sign of an insurrection with the partial exception of this incident near Galway. We should treat the Germans as the real threat, Your Excellency," answered the general.
"There is some further to consider, Your Excellency" added Vane, "I have received cables from London that there is a possibility that the Germans have another division aboard their transports in the Shannon which they can land in another day."
Curzon let that sink in, "So what you are implying is that if there is another division, the Germans could defeat General Mahan and then march on Dublin?"
"Yes, that is now a distinct possibility, Your Excellency. In addition to releasing all of 10th Division I would like to bring most of the 36th Division by rail to Dublin and the Curragh."
Curzon grimaced unhappily. After a minute he sighed deeply then answered, "I will allow the commitment of the artillery as well as whatever deployment of the Ulster Division you feel best. However I insist that you hold off on releasing 31st Brigade to General Mahan until the morning, when we should have a much better understanding of just what we’re facing."
------HMS Iron Duke 2120 hrs
"The more I think about it the more I doubt our squadron is going to find anything in the Channel tomorrow except maybe another lone transport," Admiral Lewis Bayly conceded to Admiral Charles Madden.
"Are you figuring they are all sheltered behind their minefield in the Shannon, sir?" asked Madden.
"That is one possibility but my best guess now is that their more modern cruisers are not in the Shannon. My hunch now is that if there are any warships in the Channel it will be the cruisers. If they are by themselves we obviously can’t catch them. I’m going to recommend to the Admiralty that they deploy the Channel Fleet near the western mouth of the Straits. They can box them in until we arrive."
"Channel Fleet only has 3 very old predreadnoughts currently, sir. What if the Germans send their battle cruisers to the Straits to rendezvous with the cruisers?"
"The Admiralty’s latest intelligence is that only Moltke is operational at this time. They are not going to risk sending her out alone. And even if they did the 3 of them should be enough to drive her off"
"But what if the Admiralty’s latest intelligence is wrong again, sir?"
"Fair point. It certainly wouldn’t be the first that’s happened, now would it? Having said that I’m still in favor of taking the chance. Though trying to return home through the Channel is only one of their options with the cruisers. They could send them north to attack the 10th Cruiser Squadron to disrupt the blockade. Another lovely thought is that they could be out in the Atlantic raiding the Western Approaches as we speak."
"The Admiralty gave permission for merchantmen to leave Liverpool and Milford Haven this morning, sir"
"We should advise them to seriously reconsider that decision—at least until we know better the disposition of the German warships. As far as our own situation I am going to order this squadron’s speed be reduced to 18 knots, as the extended steaming at high speed has been putting too much of a strain on out dreadnoughts’ machinery."
------Crusheen (Clare) 2205 hrs
The 109th Brigade regrouped in the vicinity of Crusheen. The attack of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment had lost its cohesion in the darkness and the rain. Moreover the commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment remained anxious about the prospect of the enemy receiving strong reinforcements and restrained his battalion commanders in their pursuit. The Marine Cavalry Squadron was expected back from the Burren shortly and he planned to use it in the morning to get a better picture of the situation. In the meantime the supporting battalion of 7.7cm field guns were repositioned.
------Belgian Field Hospital 2230 hrs
Queen Elisabeth watched with compassion but no unease the familiar sight of Doctor Depage sawing through bone. Shrapnel had turned the poor soldier’s left leg into a hideous mess. It was necessary to amputate above the knee.
The Queen did not usually make idle conversation while assisting the doctor in surgery but her mood was a little bit darker than usual this day. She felt it necessary to unburden herself, "This was a bad day. There will be more I’m afraid. An additional mixed brigade will be arriving from England tomorrow morning."
The doctor wore the uniform of a Belgian colonel. He paused his sawing momentarily. "You should not be speaking state secrets aloud in this place, Your Royal Highness. The enemy is here as well, you know," he chided
There was some truth to that. The Belgians had captured a modest number of prisoners this morning. More than half of those were wounded to some extent. The more seriously wounded Germans were here as well. Elisabeth considered defending herself. The Germans here were not going to wander off. Besides she had spoken softly in French. The defensive impulse quickly dissipated.
"You are right, Doctor. I wasn’t thinking. It won’t happen again."
------east of Limerick 2045 hrs
When the German 1st Naval Infantry Brigade determined that the British had retreated across the Mulkear and Dead Rivers, they made not attempt to pursue. Instead word had just filtered its way down from General von Jacobsen to begin entrenching.
------north of Rathmore 2300 hrs
The rain was slowly intensifying. The 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment probed the flank guard of the 16th (Irish) Division. Night infantry attacks always wrestled with problems of chaos and confusion. Bright moonlight can help somewhat but the clouds thoroughly obscured that orb. The men of the 6th Bavarian Division had learned some hard lessons about the proper way to make night attacks in the first 8 months of the war. These lessons were now put to good use as they infiltrated the position of the inexperience 47th Brigade.
------Mexico City 2320 hrs
General Obregon was far from sure he wanted to make this telephone call. Part of him wanted to cancel the telephone call and give the matter more thought. There was no need to make a hasty decision. Then again by making this telephone call he was not crossing the Rubicon. Not yet but he was moving in that direction. His hands were trembling and the palms sweated.
"This is Senor Jahnke," came a voice over the telephone line, speaking Spanish with a German accent, "Am I speaking with General Obregon?"
Obregon had a sudden urge to hang up the telephone. He resisted it, "Yes, I am Obregon. Are you still interested in speaking with me in person about certain matters?"
"Why yes, but of course. I can come this evening if you—"
"No, no!. Not tonight. Tomorrow afternoon. It needs to be somewhere uh, inconspicuous, what I mean is someplace—"
"—Someplace safe? Yes, I understand your concerns. We fill find a suitable place. Shall we call you when we do?"
"No, it is best if I call you in the morning."
------Dublin Castle 2330 hrs
"Are you going to end the countrywide curfews, Your Excellency?" Birrell asked Curzon, "The lamentation of the pub owners is starting to become deafening."
"They should be thing about their country not their profits," snarled Curzon.
"Well, it is an Empire built on profit," quipped Birrell.
"So it seems," sighed Curzon, "You have seen the cable from London. The War Committee has instructed me to lift the curfew in Counties Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry and Down tomorrow as they believe there is no the slightest possibility of unrest there."
"But you realize, Your Excellency, that lifting the curfew in only those counties will cause resentment in the other counties. It will sharpen the very resentment we are trying so hard to dampen. It is not just the pub owners that are upset but their patrons as well."
Curzon reluctantly nodded. Birrell could on occasion make a good argument. "Yes I well aware of that. Nevertheless it is too dangerous here in Dublin or in Cork. In both of those—and I mean the entire county and not just the city—the curfews must remain in effect. Same goes for the occupied counties. I don’t know if Major Vane told you but the Germans have instituted curfews in Tralee on account of looting."
"No, I hadn’t heard but it doesn’t surprise me. Does this mean you intend to lift them everywhere else?"
"No. I want them to remain in effect in Counties Galway and Tipperary as well."
------Addis Ababa 2345 hrs
Iyasu had just finished enjoying his newest concubine and was getting ready to get some sleep, when his father came to see him. "What news has arrived at this late hour, father?"
"We have just received a most interesting wireless message from Nairobi, my son."
"Hmm. Nairobi is in the British colony to our south. Why would the British send us a message? What would they have to say to us? More threats, perhaps? Or did you intercept something? "
Ras Mikael grinned mischievously, "Oh, it was certainly intended for us but it was not the British who sent it."
Maryborough (Queen’s County) 0015 hrs Tuesday April 27, 1915
The town of Maryborough had a large company of Redmond’s National Volunteers and a small company of Irish Volunteers. Saturday night the RIC arrested the company commander for the Irish Volunteers and seized the arms cache of first the Irish Volunteers and then the National Volunteers. The raid on the former tipped off the Redmondites as to what was happening and a portion of their company defended their main armory fiercely driving off the constables. However as Sunday wore on the constables were reinforced and cordoned off the armory. Yesterday the National Volunteers had surrendered.
However less than half of the National Volunteers were in the armory. Of the rest 19 were so upset that they joined the Irish Volunteers company, whose deputy commander, Peter Clancy, had assumed command once it was learned that the commander had been carted off. One of the new Irish Volunteers was staying overnight with Clancy and his wife.
"There are others within the National Volunteers doing some heavy thinking tonight," Liam commented, "by this time tomorrow more of them will join us. I’m certain about that."
Peter smiled as he answered, "I’m glad to hear you say that. As for my own men right now there are perhaps two dozen or so who say that we shouldn’t be helping the Germans. They are upset about the German warships shelling Limerick. Right now they’re doing some hard thinking as well. Some Irishmen just like to brood, you know."
"Now ain’t that the truth, eh? Do you think they’ll come around soon?"
"Aye, that is most will. A few will hold out. So we’ll have a goodly number of fighters. The problem is that the constables carted off nearly all of our arms. We have only 7 revolvers, 4 shotguns and one lone .22 caliber rifle."
"What you are planning to do? What can we do?"
"Looking at the map of Ireland, we have the good fortune of being close to the middle of the main route between Dublin and the German occupied territories. We still have some crowbars and sledgehammers. If the weather blots out the moon again tomorrow night—or if the curfews are lifted--there’s been some hints in the newspapers that that might be happening soon-- in either case I am going to send out some of my most reliable men and they will be having themselves a right fine party with a section of the railroad track. Meanwhile some more of the men will be clipping wires."
------near Nolette 0040 hrs
The Germans had assigned 5 batteries of 7.7cm guns the task of harassing the main road used by the British during the night. These batteries had registered their guns on observed sections of the road just before sunset. Soon after last light one of these batteries fired as fast as possible for one minute. The battery’s officers had been told that the British First Army had run out of shells and were rudely surprised when their flashes quickly drew heavy counter-battery fire from 1st Division. A little more than an hour later the Germans tried again with another battery. It too came under a fierce counterfire.
After that the German guns remained silent for a long time as the artillerists requested clarification of their orders from higher headquarters. The transit of the 1st Division through the danger zone proceeded smoother than expected. It had begun to rain just before midnight but it was little more than a drizzle and presented no problems. The thick cloud cover obscured what would’ve been a dangerously bright moon. However the rain did present one complication. It had originally been intended to speed a modest convoy of motor trucks with supplies—mostly ammunition-- to the First Army after 1st Division had completely its transit. When it began to rain the supply officers worried that it would intensify making the roads difficult later. Since there had been less German artillery fire than expected they decided to send the trucks now.
The result was the trucks heading north ran into the units of 1st Division marching south. It wasn’t too bad with the infantry who moved to the side of the road but by this time the 1st Division had limbered most of their artillery as well. The trucks were working their way past the 1st battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and the XXV Artillery Brigade behind them when the German artillery opened up again. The soldiers in what had long ago became a conditioned reflex dropped to the ground The vehicles, wagons and draught horses remained more exposed. Once again the bombardment lasted only a minute. This time there was no return fire. The 29th Division’s artillery was supposed to have taken over the counter-battery assignment at midnight but it was in bad shape from the day’s hard fighting which Hunter-Weston had needlessly prolonged and so its repositioning was still not complete.
Despite the congestion on the road the brief German shelling had caused only limited casualties. When it lifted the uninjured men soon rose to their feet. Medics tended to the few who were wounded. Motor vehicles are vulnerable to shrapnel was well and two of the more trucks were now disabled. Several of the draught horses had been hurt as well. Officers quickly tried to resolve the problems and get the columns moving again. As they were doing so the German guns resumed firing. This time it was 2 batteries and the shelling lasted for 3 full minutes. .This time the casualties were more serious In particular the engine on one of the trucks carrying ammunition had caught on fire. It gasoline tank exploded setting off the ammunition.
------Dublin Castle 0045 hrs
Lord Curzon had just left a briefing by Chamberlain, Friend and Vane, telling them he intended to get some sleep. After he was gone, Major Francis Fletcher Vane, the intelligence officer confessed to the others, "I did not want to bring this up while the Viceroy was here, but I have been bothered by all the false rumors that we’ve been getting. This afternoon I’ve received reports of German seaborne landing at Sligo Bay, Clew Bay, Hook Head and Dundalk Bay. The one at Hook Head was said to include severe thousand Fenian Irish Americans. Now we know that at least a portion of the German fleet is holed up behind a minefield in the Shannon. The Admiralty thinks any ships not in the Shannon are trying to make their way back to Germany. Yet still I am getting these preposterous reports."
"Some people are prone to hysteria and will see all manner of things that are not there. It is best if you rely only on the designated Coast Watchers," remarked Chamberlain.
"We have lost members in that organization in the last few months, and there is sections of the coast were they are very thin in number. If we cannot rely on anyone else, it is not good. And worst of all a Coastal Watcher at Westport confirmed the presence of German warships in Clew Bay. Furthermore there are so many absurd reports coming from inland. This afternoon alone I’ve been told that German artillery is shelling Kilkenny while German cavalry has been sighted in both County Roscommon and County Longford."
"The Coastal Watcher at Westport may have seen a few British gunboats prowling the area and mistaken them for Germans," theorized General Friend.
"Doesn’t speak much for their training if they did," commented Chamberlain, "but as for the utterly absurd rumors about the Germans being far from where they know them to be, well again I say it’s just human nature."
"That was my own thought as well. And clearly the follies of the human imagination must be part of the answer. But I think something else is at work as well."
"I think some of these false rumors are intentional."
------Droom (Kerry) 0205 hrs
It a dank chill night of steady cold rain and patchy fog. The ‘B’ company of the 8th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers had been dispatched to probe the southern flank of the Jaegers’. defenses. The soldiers were inwardly full of zeal to smite the invaders. However they had a day’s worth of frustrating fighting against the Jaegers coming off a hard march. The men were now fighting fatigue instead of the enemy.
Flares were another item the 16th Division had in very short supply. The Royal Irish Fusiliers were instructed to use theirs sparingly. Suddenly one of their scouts reported a large body of Germans to the west. Shapes emerged indistinct from the mist. The Royal Irish Fusiliers began firing. Their fire was returned. One of the precious flares was fired. The rain and fog distorted its light into an unearthly glare. Shots continued to be exchanged when then the commander of the lead platoon realized in horror that the "enemy" uniforms were all wrong.
"Cease Fire! Cease Fire!"
"We’re British! We’re British!" came first one voice then another out of the fog.
"Cease fire! Cease fire! They are friendly! CEASE FIRE NOW DAMMIT!" roared the platoon leader.
When the firing stopped, 2 British soldiers lay dead and 7 more of were wounded---one of which would die before dawn. The 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers had encountered ‘C’ company of the 7th Royal Irish Rifles, which had been on the southern end of the defensive line the 7th Royal Irish Rifles had erected. The Bavarians had with the help of some Irish Volunteers had rolled up that line in the afternoon. Only ‘C’ company had escaped and it had lost nearly a fifth of its strength.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0225 hrs
"So you are the infamous Major Rommel," remarked the dog tired commander of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment.
Rommel was badly in need of sleep himself. His mind was not particularly sharp at this moment and he was now worried that he was going to be reprimanded. "Yes, Oberst. I am Major Irwin Rommel, commander of the 3rd Battalion Kerry Brigade of the Irish Republican Army," he replied formally.
The Oberst smiled slightly, "Your methods are unusual to say the least. However they proved rather useful this afternoon. You will likely receive a medal for this."
Rommel now brightened. Then he remembered something, "Oberst, I wish to file charges against one of your men. Leutnant Yost was placed under my command and he was repeatedly insubordinate and disrespectful."
The Oberst rolled his eyes and sighed wearily, "As I understand it, it was you abandoned Leutnant Yost in a precarious situation, yes? We have not yet rescued that party. At dawn I am going to use my minenwerfers to remove the enemy position blocking Mucross Road. I am would not be surprised to find that Leutnant Yost has perished. He was a brave officer."
"His conduct was completely unacceptable, Oberst! I insist—"
"---If we find him alive, a proper investigation will be conducted." The Oberst’s tone of voice hinted that it was not high on his list of priorities. Determined to change the subject he said, "The Tatra trucks you were provided for this mission must be returned to us immediately."
"I will see to it promptly, Oberst." .
"My regiment made contact with a small company belonging to Cork Brigade. They now have had two full days of German training. From what I’ve been told they need a lot more. We brought them with us when we withdrew from Rathmore. I am placing them under your command. The fact that they belong to Cork Brigade not Kerry seems to be an administrative abstraction to me. I have been told that you speak the native Irish tongue a little. Is that true?"
"Uh, yes, Oberst. Captain Plunkett gave me some lessons before we arrived in Ireland. I still can only speak it a little."
"Interesting. I previously labored under the misconception it was a completely dead language, not unlike Etruscan. I was astonished when I learn that many members of Millsteet Company still speak it. Apparently it is fairly common in that section of Cork. You should be able to make a good impression on these men."
"I will do my best, Oberst."
"My understanding is you already have a portion of Kenmare Company here at Killarney. Am I correct?"
"Yes. Captain O’Rahilly brought some of them in motor vehicles. Supposedly the rest are forming up and headed this way, bringing the many of the badly needed horses with them."
"My English remains very poor. Do any of the men from Kenmare happen to speak German?"
"Why yes, two of them claim they do, Oberst.. One of them is actually very fluent."
"Once this conversation is over, you will fetch both of them. There are some questions that I need to ask them."
------Zaila (Somaliland) 0405 hrs
Two days earlier Col Samir Rabadi had received word from Sheik Hassan, known to the British as the "Mad Mullah" that he was being hard pressed by Anglo-Indian forces, and for that reason no longer opposed the Abyssinians entering deeper into British Somaliland to divert enemy forces. Rabadi had responded cautiously to the request as he still worried about another attempt by the French forces to mount an offensive to retake their occupied colony. He sent 800 Abyssinian infantrymen along with one of his Ottoman rifle companies and 60 Oromo horsemen to mount a night raid into the enemy territory.
Now a rider had galloping back. He brought with him a brief written message but most of his report was oral. The Senegalese had ambushed the attacking force, which was quickly routed and feeling back in disorder to the frontier. Rabadi uttered several colorful curses then withdrew a cigarette from the silver case. Since the incident with the British gunpoint there had been no further attempt to reinforce him from Yemen. He had received a vague wireless message that something might be attempted around the new moon. In the meantime all the rifle companies which had landed in the northern part of French Somaliland had reached Djibouti except for a single company he kept in the vicinity of Tadjora both to guard his small wireless station and to be ready to counter a possible enemy landing in the northern portion of the colony. Just yesterday he received a report of the Afars skirmishing with a British landing party near Khor Angar. The Italians had been sending some aid down from Eritrea. Mostly nonmilitary aid such as wagons, mules and food, though 150 Mannlicher Carcano rifles and some ammunition had also been included. Rabadi’s supply lines to both Yemen and Eritrea ran through the north and that is why he feared a counterstroke would land there sooner or later. .
------North of Rathmore 0510 hrs
The rain had come down steady since midnight, but was starting to taper off. It was mixed with some patchy fog. The 1st and 3rd battalions of the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment each had an Irish Volunteer guide familiar with the area. With their help these highly experienced Bavarian solders were able to discover and exploit gaps in the British defenses. The 1st battalion did well at first forcing the British infantry to retreat from their defensive position but then the fighting dissipated into the confusion and chaos that frequently ruins night attacks. The 3rd battalion did better with one of their companies stumbling upon a battery of 15 pounders that had minutes before been warned of possible danger and were limbering up. Flares were fired into the air and the Bavarians descended in a fury upon the gunners. All four guns were quickly captured, two of them still in working condition.
------Old Admiralty Building 0555 hrs
Lt. Erskine Childers VC hobbled his way into the Naval Intelligence Division slower than usual this morning. He was not feeling at all well. He had worked extremely long hours since the invasion scare a fortnight ago. Once the Germans had landed in Ireland it had gotten worse. Since then he had not been able to get any decent sleep. At first it was anger at the German impunity and the fear they would rape Ireland as they had raped Belgium. But deep inside something more was troubling him deeply. Certain Irishmen—Casement, Plunkett and Devoy---had invited the Germans. It was Wolfe Tone all over again. Childers was encountering a great deal of Unionist sentiment in the Admiralty and since the invasion it had become aggravating in its ferocity.
As he approached his desk he encountered another Lt in NID named Quentin talking with a warrant officer. Quentin was among the more obnoxious Unionists. When he saw Childers he grinned in a way that Childers knew signaled aggravation was heading his way.
Quentin walked towards him holding a folder, "Good morning, Erskine. The brainy boys in Room 40 decoded this a little more than an hour ago. I think you’ll find it interesting."
"After you left, sir, OKW sent a radio message to General von Frenchie demanding to know how many Irishmen were now under German command. This is the response," said the warrant officer.
IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST THERE ARE 3400 ABLE BODIED IRISHMEN UNDER OUR DIRECT COMMAND STOP
"More than the ‘few hundred’ that been the government’s official line so far now isn’t it?" asked Quentin after Childers had a chance to read the decoded message.
Childers did not know what to say. "Aye, and more than the ‘at most 1,000’ Dublin was telling us up until yesterday," added the warrant officer.
"Well I say it’s right good of old General von Frenchie to be clearing this point up for us. Don’t you think so, Erskine?" added Quentin.
Childers finally spoke up, "Why yes, this is good intelligence, indeed. I take Captain Hall and the Admiral have seen this by now?"
"Yes, they have, sir." answered the warrant officer," As usual the Admiral is taking his time passing it on. I am wondering though if these figures include the blokes in Galway "
"Galway? What’s happened in Galway?" asked Childers.
Quentin shook his head, "Oh, yes, I forgot. That’s more good news that came in after you called it a night, Childers. About a thousand Papist traitors in County Galway rose up with the help of arms provided by the Germans. They tried to take the city of Galway and were soundly thrashed by one of the battalions of the 36th Division. I tell you if the 36th Division had artillery and been at Limerick instead of 10th Division there is no way the Germans would have ejected them."
"That’s all idle speculation, Quentin" replied Childers with some annoyance, "I am more interested right now in what happened in County Galway."
"It is pretty much as the Lt said," answered the warrant officer, "there were two groups of Irish Volunteers. The smaller group ran away when they ran into the Ulstermen. Unfortunately most escaped. The larger group arrived and tried to fight. They were obliterated."
"Obliterated? Were any prisoners taken?" asked Childers with great sadness.
"A little more than a hundred prisoners, sir."
"I don’t see why any were taken alive," interjected Quentin with disgust, "If it was up to me they’d all be killed on the spot. Oh, I guess as we work in intelligence I should acknowledge that you a few prisoners you can beat useful information out of. A dozen should be sufficient for that purpose, don’t you think, Erskine? They are all going to be executed soon enough. It will just save us some paperwork and going through all the rigmarole that goes with a court-martial. Simplify is what I say. What you think about all this, Erskine?"
Childers felt anger and nausea. "It may be wise to execute only the leaders," he found himself saying.
Quentin was aghast, "Now listen to you. Are you saying we should have mercy for the bloody Fenians? I say execute all of them. Every single one of them. And you know what? I am overjoyed by this message we intercepted. That’s right, Erskine, I’m delighted. You wanna know why, Erskine? Because if it really was only just a ‘few hundred’ Fenian scum aiding the Germans there was some chance that Redmond—may he rot in Hell forever—will find some devious way to salvage Home Rule when this is done. But now that it’s several thousand Papists showing their true colors there is no way in bloody Hell that Home Rule is going to happen. A few thousand inept Irish Catholics isn’t going to help the Germans one iota and we are going to prevail there in the end. So this invasion may just the best damn thing to happen in Ireland in a long while. So what do you think of that, Lt Erskine Childers, eh? Great war hero who sympathizes with those who fight alongside our foe--"
"---That’s not what I am saying at all. This invasion should not be used by unscrupulous Unionists as an opportunity—" yelled Childers in response.
At this point Captain Hall approached looking stern, "Stop it, both of you! Childers come with me now. I want to speak with you in private."
Childers with his cane and wooden leg followed Captain Hall to his office. He was sure the Captain was going to reprimand him for this latest tiff even though it was Quentin who had gone out of his way to goad Childers. When Childers had closed the door, Hall came quickly to the point, "As things remain frightfully busy and I have little time to waste right now, I must need be blunt. Lt. Childers you are a frightful mess."
In a reflex Childers looked down to see if something was wrong with his uniform. Captain Hall blinked a few times then shook his head, "No, son. Nothing is amiss with your uniform. It is that you look so dreadful. Are you feeling well? I know you’ve been putting in long hours as have nearly every one here. However you just got out of the hospital after losing a limb. So are you ill? Be honest with me."
Having expected a reprimand, Childers was temporarily rendered speechless. Finally he answered, "I am a wee bit tired, that’s all. Nothing to get all up and worried about, sir. And I am very much worried about Ireland, sir. I’ve not been sleeping all that well, truth be told."
Hall arched an eyebrow then blinked compulsively, "Well that is good to hear, Lt. Still I am going to insist you see the surgeon again in the next day or two just to make sure that there is nothing serious. Understood?"
"I will do as you order, Captain and I appreciate your concern, but really there is—"
"—and I also think you are working too many hours. From now on you will work a maximum of 12 hours a day. So I do not want to see you in this building after six today? Is that clear?"
"Perfectly clear, Captain."
"Try to relax, this evening, Lt. Do something to take your mind off the war and Ireland."
Childers realized that would be nearly impossible to do but he did not want to contradict his superior. He forced a grin, "I will do my best, sir."
"That’s the spirit! One final thing before I send you back to work. Consider this a friendly word of advice, not an order. I would avoid conversations of a political nature if I were you.". .
------SSE of Killarney 0605 hrs
The minenwerfer company assigned to the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment had 4 medium and 6 light minenwerfers The task of eliminating ‘D’ company Royal Irish Rifles was given to the medium minenwerfers, which were carefully positioned during the night. Rain and fog were still impairing visibility and the detachment commander considered a delay but after some hesitation decided that his pioneers manning these weapons could see well enough for the close range. He repeated his previous orders emphasizing accuracy over rate of fire and then ordered them to commence firing. The defending Royal Irish Rifles had already been forced into an awkward hedgehog defensive position. They were not prepared for the intensity of firepower that hit them.
The bombardment did not last long. The pioneers also had a flamethrower detachment which had both the large and small flamethrowers. The 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion quickly attacked the pummeled defenses assisted by the flamethrowers. Weakened by the powerful 17cm shells and intimidated by the unexpected use of fire, the British resistance was feeble and eliminated in less than an hour. The Jaegers soon linked up with their comrades to the south. Lt Yost was still very much alive. He had been reinforced eventually by the arrival of another 47 members of Kenmare Company along with 160 horses, some wagons and a motor car. They had also intercepted 2 horse drawn British supply wagons coming from Macroom. The wagons contained mostly food and medicine but they also had 1,500 rounds of .303..
With the elimination of the Royal Irish Rifles the key road was now clear. The commander of the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion permitted most of his men to get a few hours of badly needed rest. He had been told to be ready to march out again in the early afternoon.
------Nairobi Hill 0610 hrs
There was brief respite in the rain, with the clouds breaking up and allowing a rare glimpse of the sun. Lettow-Vorbeck knew this would not last long. British resistance in Nairobi had been reduced to a single building he strongly suspected was an important HQ, quite possibly the HQ for all of British East Africa. From the top of the hill he could see it clearly now. So could his gunners.
"You may commence firing," he ordered the battery officer.
The 4.7cm gun began to methodically shell the enemy holdout. The nearby revolver gun was not used. There was no need for it to fire as rapidly as possible. It was more important that precious ammunition not be wasted. Its fifth round ran hit the target squarely after which the rate of fire increased. The shells it fired where small and so was the damage it caused. The shelling was intended more to intimidate and harass than anything else.
"Cease fire!" ordered Lettow-Vorbeck after a few minutes. Meanwhile Major Kraut was walking up the hill and soon approached, "Oberst. We have completed the preliminary inventory of the weapons and supplies we have captured. In the town we discovered about 900 Lee-Enfield rifles in crates, which agrees with your suspicion that they were planning to use them to arm a cadre of friendly Ethiopians."
"Hmm. I had hoped to capture at least 2,000 rifles. From the battle we took about 230 in working condition plus one working machinegun. I don’t suppose you found any machineguns or artillery in Nairobi?"
"No, sadly I did not find any of those Oberst. We did find about 300 kg of explosives."
"What about ammunition?"
"A rough estimate of what we found in the supply dump looks to be somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 rounds of British .303, Oberst."
"Hmm. Again I had hoped to find at least twice that. Still it is nothing to sneeze at. How about food?"
Kraut grinned, "Enough to feed our entire force for at least a month, Oberst. I have already given orders to distribute some of it to our men."
"That’s good. Our men have been on half rations the last 3 days so they deserve it. However, we need to be careful that they don’t gorge themselves and become lethargic. We need to keep our edge. There are still many things that could go wrong. The Indian unit we routed last night can easily rally and regroup. The British likely have some forces to the south they ordered to Nairobi once they recognized our intent. We need to have one field company spread out and alert to the west and another to the south."
------Athlacca (Limerick) 0630 hrs
Despite having repulsed an attack by British infantry at Bruree late yesterday, the commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment remained deeply concerned about a renewed British attack. He therefore move his forces a few miles north to the village of Athlacca during the night. There another small company of Irish Volunteers arrived to reinforce Kilmallock Company. The requested artillerists from Limerick did not arrive until well after midnight; their motor vehicles having gotten stuck in mud more than once during the trip. There were only 10 of them, one of which spoke English fluently. They were accompanied by an Irish Brigade Captain assigned to command Kilmallock Company.
The artillerists quickly acknowledged they were too few to effectively utilize 3 field guns. They readily consented to letting Donovan and his improvised gun crew assist them, esp. since Donovan was more familiar with the 15 pounder than the Germans. Later they told the new commander of Kilmallock Company—who had absorbed the other company as well—to let any healthy Irish Volunteers with even a limited understanding of German assist them which turned out to be 14.
------Limerick 0710 hrs
With the situation at Limerick stabilized for the time being, the commander of the 1st Naval Division, Gen. Jacobsen decided to pay a quick visit to the main military hospital Limerick. It was a crowded place. More than a thousand German Marines had been wounded in the Battle of Limerick so far. Most of those were here though some of the more lightly wounded remained at dressing stations. Jacobsen made his way through their sections, stopping briefly here and then to make short speeches praising the valor of the suffering.
There were more than 200 wounded enemy prisoners being treated here. And there was also more than 100 wounded Irish Volunteers as well. The number of Irish Volunteers that had come forward to join the Germans in the area controlled by General Jacobsen, essentially County Limerick and the southern half of County Clare, so far numbered about 2,800 men which was only a little more than half he had been told to expect. This shortfall had caused him some bitterness but now looking at the mangled bodies of their wounded suffering in their beds, his bitterness faded. The Irish Volunteers had seen more action than anticipated. On some occasions such as Crusheen they had quickly collapsed but at O’Briensbridge and Ballina they had fought as well as could be expected of such poorly trained troops. There was one in particular Irishman Jacobsen wished to see "See if you can wake him," the general ordered one of the orderlies.
Captain Harry Calahan had been dreaming again of crows and cattle when he was shaken back to consciousness. His ribs still hurt but the pain was not as sharp. He muttered a few indecencies in English.
The orderly spoke in German, "Captain Calahan, General von Jacobsen is here to speak with you."
As his mind became fully awake, Calahan noticed Jacobsen, "Pardon me if I don’t salute, General."
The general decided to ignore the hint of insolence in Calhan’s voice, "Understood. I just came to express my gratitude and admiration at what you accomplished since we landed in Ireland. At St. John’s Castle, Ennis, O’Briensbridge and last but definitely not least-- at Ballina—you have demonstrated remarkable heroism. I realize now that the enemy battalion you held at bay at Ballina posed a serious threat to an important artillery battalion. You will get another medal for this."
"Just as long it’s a German medal and not a French one!"
Part of the general wanted to laugh at that comment. Another part of him wanted to reprove Calahan for disrespect. The strongest part of the general decided to indulge a wounded hero a little. With a grin he answered, "Do not worry, Hauptman Calahan. The medal we award you will definitely be German. Maybe even another Iron Cross."
"That’s good, General. Sure appreciate it. Uh, by any chance do you know how long the silly doctors plan on keeping me here?"
"Yes, I talked with your physician. All in all he thinks you were fortunate. The bullet and the bone fragments could easily have done much more damage to your lungs and other vital organs. He says that if you do not develop a serious infection, you should be able to return to limited duty in 4 to 6 weeks."
"Four weeks!" bellowed Calahan. He raised himself abruptly but this caused a sharp pain in his ribs. It hurt to breathe. After 2 seconds he collapsed back down on his cot.
------SMS Lothringen 0715 hrs
The German warships had run into a squall during the night. The clouds had broken up and Admiral Graf von Spee was now witness to a particularly spectacular dawn. He permitted himself to appreciate it making a brief silent prayer of gratitude. "Admiral Maas reports no sightings, Admiral," came the report. If enemy capital ships were chasing him, Spee thought there would be some indication of at least their scouts at this time."
There were things to do. "Flags officer, signal all ships to reduce speed to 10 knots."
When that was executed Spee issued his next order, "We cannot keep the submarine with us any longer. Signal her using Victoria Luise as a repeater that it is now time for her to return to Germany."
------HQ British 10th (Irish) Division, Lisnagry (Tipperary) 0750 hrs
After the violence of the last 3 days, General Mahan was more than a little surprised by just how quiet this morning was. The German Marines had made no attempt to pursue his division across the Mulkear River. What little action there was, was being fought on his left wing where both sides nervously probed the open flank.
Neither side appeared interested in an artillery duel. The 10th Division had only a small stockpile of shells for its 18 pounders and 4.5" howitzers. General Mahan had been warned not to expect a flood of shell for these weapons anytime soon on account of the crisis the BEF was undergoing in France. The ‘D’ battery in the LV artillery brigade however was armed with obsolescent 15 pounders and ironically that made that battery’s ammunition situation better as there was still a substantial stockpile of ammunition for those weapons in England which was now being sent to Ireland. The entire LVI Artillery Brigade which was now finally on its way was armed with 15 pounders and that was one reason Mahan had not objected more vociferously when General Friend held it back at Curzon’s assistance.
Mahan had lost the initiative at Limerick, at least for the time being. His troops dug in and awaited the arrival of reinforcements and ammunition.
------west of Baraduff (Kerry) 0800 hrs
The Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, 2nd Chevaulger Regiment and the 2nd battalion 10th Bavarian Regiment spent most of the night improving the defensive line they had captured from 7th Royal Irish Rifles near Baraduff. They extended and deepened the trench line and laid down a single strand of barbed wire.
The attempt by the 16th Division to envelop the right wing of the Bavarian line had been frustrated by Chevaulegers reinforced with elements of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion. Moreover the terrain in that sector was very rough. General Parsons therefore decided it was best to use his artillery to blast his way into Killarney via the most direct route. The bombardment commenced with 5 batteries of 15 pounder guns and 4 batteries of 5" BL howitzers. . The 15 pounders were almost completely ineffective against the trenches, though they did push around the German wire some. The obsolete howitzers did manage to inflict some casualties on the relatively shallow trenches but their rate of fire was slow. Their gunners were inexperienced and not completely trained and were hampered by the residual fog. The bombardment lasted nearly 20 minutes then the infantry attack by the 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 7th Royal Iniiskilling Fusiliers started. These Second New Army troops had been trained mostly in accord with prewar doctrines. In the meantime their Bavarian opponents had been experiencing up close and personal what war had become.
The attackers bravely charged in a dense mass. The defenders lacked artillery but they had 4 of the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger’s battalion 6 machineguns positioned. These tore into the attacking Irishmen soon supplemented by the Mausers of the defenders. The attackers fell in great numbers but in their great bravery continued. Then 3 of the light minenwerfers positioned in isolated slit trenches behind the main German trench lobbed their deadly ordinance into their midst. Shrapnel tore cruelly into flesh but still the attackers continued and some began to reach the wire. A few became entangled but others found two small gaps in the single strand. This channeled the attacking infantry which suffered from the concentration of firepower. A few made it through but they lacked grenades and trying to overpower the trench with their bayonets, they discovered an enemy more experienced in hand to hand combat than themselves. Despite their bravery the British attack never had a chance.
------Bremen 0825 hrs
Grossadmiral Frederich von Ingenohl did not hide from his staff the fact that he was taking a motor car to a hotel in Bremen. He did not tell his staff why—only that he would not be gone long. When he arrived at the hotel he told his aide to wait for him in the lobby. The aide did not smirk but suspected that the German Nelson was having a rendezvous with one of the many women who had been throwing themselves at him since Dogger Bank. .
Ingenohl proceeded unaccompanied to a suite. When he knocked on the door, Philipp Scheidemann, a Socialist member of the Reichstag opened it and quickly admitted Ingenohl. Inside the room there were 3 other members of the Reichstag, Prince Max von Baden, Matthias Erzberger, a prominent member of the Catholic Center Party and Friedrich Ebert, head of the Social Democratic Party.
"I thank you all for taking the time to meet with me on such short notice," said Ingenohl.
"On the contrary, Admiral, the demands on out time pale in comparison to your own, what with the daring invasion of Ireland," answered Prince Max, "My congratulations on yet another great demonstration of German naval prowess."
Ingenohl darkened visibly, "With all due respect, Your Royal Highness, what you have just thanked me for is not a great accomplishment but the opening act in what is sure to end as tragedy. Perhaps I should say tragedy mixed with farce."
Prince Max had heard that despite his reputation in the press as the German Nelson, Admiral Ingenohl was cautious and frequently pessimistic. Nevertheless the dark mood he saw on the admiral’s face shocked him.
"So far you have only given us vague hints of your dissatisfaction with Admiral von Tirpitz and the need for political action by moderate and progressive figures," remarked Erzberger, "I think it is time you were more specific, Admiral."
Ingenohl took a deep breath before answering, "The public perception that we have now supplanted the British as masters of the seas is an exaggeration at best. Furthermore the notion that the combination of our allegedly superior warships and my presumed tactical genius will inevitably lead to a succession of great victories is a most dangerous delusion. The British have demonstrated certain deficiencies that they will soon remedy. Combined with their superior numbers of light warships and their immense construction program, the pendulum will sooner or later swing in the opposite direction. It is too bad that Admiral von Spee did not bring a witch doctor back with him from Haiti, so I could exorcise this fiendish one eyed ghost that haunts me mercilessly."
Ebert rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Are you saying that Admiral von Tirpitz believes that you can win endlessly."
"No, though he pretends as much when he is around reporters. He recognizes the truth but his solution is insane. He thinks one more decisive victory is possible and in conjunction with the invasion of Ireland it will end the war. Germany will then get everything it wants. Or should I say thinks it wants."
"And I take it that you disagree?" asked Ebert, "How can we help?"
"Our enemies have suffered several setbacks in the last few months, both on the seas and on the ground. If we avoid making a stupid mistake, I think we can coax them into making peace. With skillful negotiations he can come out of the war with some small gains. Germany must stop acting like a small child in a candy shop. If we do not our enemies will marshal with their great resources and even if we avoid the blunders I see OKW leading us into we will be worn done eventually."
"Unfortunately Germany is ruled by a small child," remarked Scheidemann, "and a very spoiled one at that."
Prince Max knew of Scheidemann’s antimonarchist sentiments but still that remark made him cringe. Ingenohl grimaced as well. "There is some truth, I fear, though I would counsel you to be more respectful. Admiral von Muller has had serious reservations about the invasion of Ireland but he did not wish to directly oppose his former mentor. If I can get your backing I will work with him to try educate the All-Highest as to the realities of our situation."
"Don’t you fear the wrath of Tirpitz?" asked Erzberger.
Ingenohl trembled visibly, "Of course I am afraid! Tirpitz can be so intimidating. After he had poor Admiral von Pohl sacked he terrified me. He said I was weak that I was afraid to stand up to the enemy. He may have had a point—initially. I did let fear get the better of me sometimes. But I am stronger now. I have met the Royal Navy twice. If I can take on the Grand Fleet I can take on Alfred von Tirpitz."
His fingers were crossed when he said this.
------Cahir (Tipperary) 0915 hrs
On its grueling night march to Cahir, one of men of Tipperary Company had composed a satirical marching song, entitled ‘It’s a Long Way From Tipperary’. On their war they surprised and overpowered a small RIC station, capturing 4 Lee-Enfields and some ammunition. When it arrived at Cahir it was joined by 91 members of the local company of the Tipperary Volunteers, whom they quickly armed with the Moisin-Nagants. The small company from Cashel arrived with 87 men and then the large one from Clonmel with 185 men and 6 women. Another group of 15 constables briefly engaged the combined force but wisely decided to escape in motor vehicles. After that the company from Clogheen arrived finally arrived with 95 men and 3 women. The Moisin-Nagants were again redistributed so each company had roughly equal share.
Eamon O’Duibhir met with the company commanders to discuss what to do next. "For the next few hours our men need to get some rest and those with the Russian rifles some familiarization with their new weapons," he ordered and no one argued with that. What did generate a vigorous discussion was what to do afterwards. Simply staying at Cahir and waiting for the Germans to show up was quickly rejected as too passive while marching on Cork was deemed too dangerous esp. with the army base at Fermoy directly in their path. Marching on Waterford was discussed at some length, but nobody was really enthusiastic about that idea. So they finally agreed on the idea of heading for Limerick to link up with the Germans and get additional rifles and ammunition. "Well then that’s what we’ll be doin’, me darlings. But let’s go to Cashel first so we can rendezvous with our large company from Thurles," O’Duibhir decided.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0935 hrs
Major Rommel had finally got some badly needed sleep. He also let Killarney Company get some rest as well, assigning Millstreet Company to take over the cordon around the hotel and the warehouse where the enemy continued to hold out. When Rommel awoke he learned that the men in the warehouse—RIC and militia-- had finally surrendered. They had fired off all the rifle ammunition but nearly 4,000 pistol rounds remained. There was also food and fodder plus some a goodly amount of petrol and medical supplies .
He also found that his battalion had new members. In addition to the 47 men from Kenmare Company, 13 of the 21 men on Killarney Company’s roster who had not reported yesterday finally showed up. A man named Daniel Cummins who had been vacationing with his fiancé in scenic Killarney belonged of one of the 2 Cork city battalions of the Irish Volunteers, now came forward. There were also 6 erstwhile members of the National Volunteers who decided to join, inspired by the inflated tales of glory told by the men of Killarney Company. A young lad with no experience in any of the Volunteers units also came forward. He claimed he was 16 years. Rommel had some doubts about that and was considering asking if anyone in Killarney Company could verify it. Lastly no less than 3 women came forward inspired by Mary’s part in yesterday’s battle. Two of the woman went out of their war to mention their admiration for the Countess Markieviscz. From what Rommel heard he thought this bizarre Countess must surely be some form of Socialist lunatic. However conceded that there were also crazy women in Germany such as Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg. For the time being he assigned them to help attend to the wounded—not just the dozen Irish Volunteers wounded in yesterday’s actions but the German wounded and the British prisoners as well.
Rommel fretted about Castlemaine and Killorglin Companies which were also to be part of his battalion. He was sure at least one of them, quite likely both, was engaged with the pocket of enemy forces to the west of Killarney. Supposedly there were fighting alongside the Bavarian rifle company whose pinnace ran aground coming up the Leane River. Rommel wanted very much to try to come to their aid, but the Jaeger Regimental commander had insisted he stay put. In addition to the cordon around the hotel, Rommel’s band of Irishmen had responsibility for guarding the nearly 600 prisoners which had been taken so far in the Battle of Killarney. He had been used to thinking of the enemy as being British, but it began to dawn on him that his prisoners were almost entirely Irishmen as well.
Rommel had in the last half hour noticed something else he found very strange. He had seen along with the Jaegers in Killarney more than 100 men in naval uniforms. At first he thought they were German Marines, but from comments he overheard in the meeting with General von Gyssling and General von François the German Marines were scheduled to move to Limerick to join 1st Naval Division. Furthermore of the naval personnel he was seeing in Killarney roughly half carried a carbine and the rest were armed only with a pistol.
------SMS Rostock 0940 hrs
Lookouts had spotted another freighter heading east a few minutes ago. They could now see its flag. It was American. The 2nd Scouting Group had been given firm instructions to stop American, Italian, Spanish and Swedish only if they had some exceptionally good justification for believing that the flag was a ruse. In this case there was no such justification. It did not appear that this merchantman had a wireless. The cruiser’s captain ordered a change from the intercept course. Admiral Spee was warned as he did not want the battleships seen by merchantmen.
------Dublin Castle 1005 hrs
General Friend and Major Vane were briefing Lord Curzon and Birrell. "London is mighty unhappy about our being ejected from Limerick, Your Excellency," declared the general. He had a strong hunch that the Viceroy knew this already.
"Yes, General, I am most painfully aware of their displeasure," answered Curzon, who had received a rather heated cable from the Prime Minister in the last hour. "But blast it all, it was London who warned us that the Germans might have an additional division disembarking in the Shannon. General Mahan made the correct decision as far as I am concerned."
"Do we have any better intelligence now about whether there is indeed a third German division coming ashore?" asked Birrell, looking at both Friend and Vane. The Prime Minister’s angry telegram had been addressed to him as well.
Friend turned to Major Vane, the intelligence officer, who answered, "Nothing definitive I’m afraid to say, Mr. Secretary. We do know that ships are continuing to offload at Limerick and Foynes. It is not clear whether this is additional combat units or merely supplies. This remains difficult weather to make effective use of airplanes. They are forced by the clouds to fly low which makes them much more vulnerable to ground fire. One of our planes was hit this morning over Limerick. The pilot was wounded and the controls damaged but he somehow managed to make it back to the Curragh. Unfortunately the landing was very rough and that plane will not be going back up in the air any time soon. Neither are the observer and the pilot though thankfully both survived."
"Which means we only have one Army airplane left available to us." added Friend.
"You must reemphasize to Lord Kitchener yet again our urgent need for additional warplanes," Curzon admonished. .
"I have done so repeatedly, Your Excellency" answered Friend, "but the response remains that the BEF in France has priority on account of its current crisis. However, there is some very good news from Lord Kitchener this morning. The 1/1st South Midlands Mounted Brigade will arrive at Queenstown tomorrow morning and the West Riding Division at Kingstown sometime Thursday."
"Finally some substantial reinforcements!" exclaimed a delighted Curzon.
"Unfortunately the Field Marshal has ordered that a counterattack at Limerick must not wait for the arrival of West Riding Division. I have already passed this on to General Mahan, who has yet to respond."
Archduke Friedrich, the supreme commander of the Austro-Hungarian Army was meeting with Generalfeldmarschal Conrad von Hötzendorf. "Dare I ask how the Serbian invasion is coming?"
Conrad smiled slightly, "I have received word in the last hour that V Corps managed to establish a bridgehead over the Danube during the night but the Serbs have begun a counterattack. We must hope the best."
"And have the Germans succeeded in establishing a bridgehead?"
"Not so far. At least as far as I’ve been told by the insufferable General Ludendorff. He was so confident that he would demonstrate German superiority. Prince Rupprecht manifests a similar attitude though I admit he has better manners. Now they are both finding that things are mot easy as they blithely assumed. It still irks me that they were put in charge even though our component in this operation is larger."
The archduke sighed gently, "We’ve been over this more times than I care to count, Franz. The Bulgarians would not join unless there was a German in overall command."
"Yes, yes. I remember. But does anyone with half a brain expect the Bulgarians to do any serious fighting? No they will wait until we have done all the hard fighting drawing the last Serbian reserve, and then they will make their belated move and sashay unmolested into the territory they desire."
"You know I do not completely agree with that. Let’s not waste time rehashing old debates and move on to other topics. Is there any fighting going on now with the Russians?"
"None to speak of. Oh, there is a little bit in the Bukovina. Nothing you need to be concerned about."
"So the overall situation remains that while our casualties in the destruction Russian Fourth Army were wonderfully small, we used up much of our stockpile of artillery shells in that battle and what remains is committed to the Serbian offensive. That is why we are not trying to immediately follow up on out great success in Poland."
Conrad did not like the way that sounded. "In two more weeks we will launch an offensive that as a minimum will liberate Lemberg. We will permanently control the initiative thereafter," he replied defensively.
"Yes, I know all this already. Are you sure you will ready by then? Is it not at least partially contingent on the unfolding of events in Serbia?"
Conrad shook his head and waved his right hand, "Only slightly. We cannot afford to give the Russians too much time to recover from their latest disaster."
Archduke began to say something, then shrugged, "I will trust you judgment concerning the upcoming offensive. I take it that you’ve heard that His Majesty is going to offer to Kaiser Wilhelm the so called Division Prague to participate in the Irish invasion."
Conrad rolled his eyes and snorted, "Yes, I heard. There is a rumor that Erzherzog Karl talked him into this nonsense. Is it true?"
"That is what I heard from His Majesty. I also heard that the Karl volunteered to personally lead the division. What do you think of that?"
"I do not see the Germans accepting this offer. If they intend to reinforce this ill conceived Irish expedition, they must have already set aside units for that purpose. Moltke despises us as much as Rupprecht and Ludendorff. I do not see the Germans accepting this offer. I don’t think His Majesty does either. It’s a grand gesture designed to impress Wilhelm, and viewed in that light it may have some abstract political justification. But if the Germans do accept we simply cannot send our heir on a mission so dangerous."
"That is fairly obvious to everyone but the Erzherzog. Kaiser Franz Yosef told me he is pleased to see Karl taking such an intense interest and is merely humoring him for the time being."
"Yes, I know all too well that ever since he served as head of that commission, Karl has become overly fascinated with General von François’ ideas esp. Division Prague. Not long ago this arrogant pedant, Hauptmann Rohr, that the Germans put in charge of training Division Prague got wind of this new weapon we’re developing, the so called priesterwerfer and had the temerity to insist we provide some to his unit. My staff of course refused but then Karl learned of this matter and interceded on Rohr’s behalf. I reluctantly gave in to this pressure. I deeply regret doing so."
"If Kaiser Wilhelm accepts it will be difficult for His Majesty to renege on the division. Will that set back you plans?"
"I have many reservations about this Division Prague. I did plan to use it as a reserve for the upcoming Galician campaign. It is not irreplaceable, however I am uncomfortable with the idea of sending any of my country’s brave soldiers—even Czechs—to what appears to be a suicide mission."
Archduke digested that. Suddenly Conrad grinned his eyes sparkling. "I know that look," commented a curious Archduke Friedrich," Just what idea has crossed your naughty mind, Franz?"
"I am starting to warm to the idea of sending Division Prague to Ireland. It is fitting payback for the British expedition to Albania.. However it occurs to me that we’ve neglected to assign any cavalry to Division Prague. The fighting in Ireland has been very open warfare so far. Division Prague could make good use of cavalry there."
"I am trying to recall what Hussar regiment Count Tisza is serving in."
------Old Admiralty Building 1030 hrs
The War Committee of Bonar Law, Carson and Lloyd-George was meeting with the Sea Lords to discuss the recent developments. "We have no indication of any German warships in the Channel at this time, Prime Minister," stated Admiral Callaghan, "Admiral Bayly has strongly recommended that the 1st Battle Squadron return to Scapa as soon as possible via the Irish Sea."
"So we are assuming that the invasion fleet remains in the Shannon?" asked Bonar Law.
Callaghan glanced at Oliver, who answered the question, "We know for a fact that most of the invasion fleet remains in the Shannon. The vexing question is whether a portion of it has been detached and if so to what end. What has us most concerned right now is the possibility that the German cruisers are now roaming the seas. They may attempt to attack the 10th Cruiser Squadron or shipping in the Western Approaches."
"We had ordered a resumption of sailings from Liverpool and Milford Haven yesterday. I wonder now if that was premature," Carson remarked.
"We decided this morning to postpone any further departures from Liverpool and Milford Haven. Of those that had already departed, we quickly contacted the two equipped with wireless and ordered them to take shelter in Cork for the time being. Another merchantman without wireless was overtaken by a fast motorboat and instructed to do the same, but there are 4 more still at sea. Likewise vessels equipped with wireless that are inward bound for English ports are still being redirected to Glasgow and those bound for Ireland are being sent to Belfast."
"This is all very interesting, but it rests on speculation about the possibility of German vessels outside the Shannon," said Bonar Law, "while I remain more interested in what we intend to do about the vessels which we know for a fact remain in the Shannon. Vessels we suspect are still offloading men and material. Don’t we have minesweepers available that can clear those mines and let the Grand Fleet ravage the Germans?"
"We have only 5 small vessels in all of Ireland equipped with minesweeping gear, Prime Minister," answered Callaghan, "The enemy may have laid more than one minefield in the Shannon. In fact a patrol boat this morning spotted and destroyed a mine floating north of the Dingle Peninsula, which has us worried. Making sure the waters are clear of mines will take some time. There is also some risk from German submarines which have been observed in the area. We are reluctant to commit any of battle squadrons at this time, esp. the 1st Battle Squadron with our dreadnoughts."
Bonar Law made a deep frown followed by an equally deep sigh. He turned to Carson and raised an eyebrow, "Do you agree with this, First Lord?"
"I am afraid that I do, Prime Minister. As an alternative we are looking into the possibility of sending torpedo boats up the Shannon either tonight or tomorrow."
"I would prefer tonight? What are our options?"
"We have 2 torpedo boats from Queenstown available. By themselves they are an inadequate force. There are 3 old destroyers in North Channel Patrol one of which is out on patrol off Dublin now. These cannot make to the Shannon before first light. We could use the some of the destroyers from the 4th Destroyer Flotilla which is with the 3rd Battle Squadron currently off the Connemara."
"From your tone of voice I conclude that you are unhappy with that option, Admiral. Why so?"
"A night torpedo attack up the Shannon is not without some risk. The German minefield off Tarbert could be fairly dense as the Shannon narrows at that point. The Germans may also have coastal artillery deployed to defend the minefields. The weather forecast I’ve been provided for Ireland tonight is decidedly ambiguous—there could well be enough breaks in the could cover for tonight’s bright moon to be a factor. If we were merely sending torpedo boats and the older destroyers, I would say the risk was fully justified. I am uneasy when it comes to sending our modern destroyers as one of the factors which contributed to the disaster at Utsire was an insufficient screen."
"We are in the process of transferring additional light torpedo craft to Queenstown from Devonport. They should be available for a raid tomorrow night along with the destroyers from North Channel Patrol," added Carson who was worried about the look on the prime minister’s face.
"That gives the Germans an extra day to unload that they have in the Shannon. It could be another division. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read this morning Times but Northcliffe is making a big deal out of my speech before Parliament yesterday. He’s calling it the Fortnight Speech and is treating it as if it was a Holy Solemn Vow on my part. This government is in extremely serious trouble if that commitment is not met. I do not like to interfere directly with the Admiralty, but it seems to be a reasonable risk to detach 3 or 4 destroyers from the 4th Flotilla and add them to the 2 torpedo boats. I do not want to be unreasonable. If I am acting like Churchill please let me know now."
Carson sighed then glanced at Lloyd-George who merely shrugged. "Why no, Prime Minister, you are not being unreasonable at all. We shall act on your sound recommendation."
------north of Rathmore 1040 hrs
The 6th Bavarian Infantry Division had sited its howitzer battalion plus 2 batteries of 7.7cm field guns during the night. The light rain persisted but the early morning fog had dissipated. One battery of field guns opened fire on the 6th Connaught Rangers. This soon drew a response from 2 batteries of 15 pounders. They in turn came under heavy counter-battery fire from the German 10.5cm howitzers, which had been sited well on the reverse slopes of the Kerry hills. The other 2 batteries of 15 pounders joined in the artillery duel. The German howitzers fired a mix of shrapnel and HE. The Bavarian gun crews were highly experienced veterans. Their British opponents were not. Meanwhile the 1st battalion of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment arrived.
------Galway 1055 hrs
Padraig Pearse had slipped into Galway the previous night and made contact with the commander of the small Galway city company of the Irish Volunteers, which had not been part of Mellowes’ ill fated band. Some of the survivors of slaughter had made it to Galway. Most of these had abandoned their arms, but 4 managed to keep their rifle. This morning the company commander let Pearse interview 3 of the survivors. Each time he heard their story it produced a strange reaction in Pearse, an almost religious reverence. The first two had been part of Mellowes band of Irish Volunteers. The final witness had been part of the National Volunteers, which the 10th Inniskilling Fusiliers had attacked earlier. "The Ulstermen had no right to attack us. We were trying to defend Galway from you. Now it is clear to some of us that we were trying to defend Galway against the wrong enemy. It’s the damn Prods from Ulster that are the real enemy. When it was over and I heard what they did to the Irish Volunteers, of how they killed many who tried to surrender, I decided to come over and join you. Truth be told I’ve been thinking about doing that ever since Bonar Law became Prime Minister," he confessed.
When the former National Volunteer left them the commander told Pearse enthusiastically, "Joey there has not been the only National Volunteer to join us! There have been 17 others since this awful massacre. Before this day is over there will be a good many others, mark my words"
"Only 17? " asked Pearse shaking his head sadly, "Why isn’t there a hundred? For that matter, why isn’t it four or five hundred? I must confess I’ve been having trouble understanding the Irish people the last few months. When Curzon became Viceroy I had assumed that most of Redmond’s followers would see what was happening and join us. And a few thousand did—but most remained loyal to Redmond. Not long after that Andrew Bonar Law, the implacable foe of Home Rule became Prime Minister and included Carson in his small War Committee and again I was sure it would mean most National Volunteers would come to MacNeill. Why I even thought Redmond himself might see the folly of his ways. Yes, I did in my naïve foolishness. Several thousand did join us so that we had more than doubled our size since the split with Redmond. For this reason some in the organization were very satisfied and they would constantly tell me, ‘We are growing stronger every day, Patrick. Pretty soon most of the rest will join us as well’ Oh, how I wished that it was true! And again there came Connolly’s ridiculous arrest and the St. Patrick’s Day disturbances and we grew some more but still the National Volunteers have twice our numbers And now again we get little more than a trickle when there should be a flood!".
The Galway city commander did not how to respond to this. Finally he said, "There are many who have no love for the English but don’t trust the Germans."
"Truth be told I don’t trust them much neither. But as the saying goes, ‘You must dance with the girl you bring to the ball.’ We did invite them." Pearse paused and his features softened and tears began to roll down his cheeks. In a reverential voice he moaned, "Oh, how I wish I was them—with Mellowes and men!"
"If you had likely you’d be dead. Or else captured and awaiting execution."
"Oh, yes indeed but what could possibly be more grand, more sublimely glorious than to die in the cause of Irish independence?"
The commander had great admiration for Pearse but was now finding him more than a little strange. All morning long he thought he sensed that Pearse was implying something. The last remark annoyed him greatly and he decided to get things out in the open, "Are you saying that I am a coward for not taking the company out? Is that what you’re saying, Padraig? I’ve told you more than once that the constables confiscated most of what little weapons we had. None of the Russian rifles made it here before the massacre and when a messenger from Mellowes finally reached me it was too late. So don’t you be acting so high and mighty!"
Pearse responded to the man’s anger with gentleness. He reached out and gently touched the commander’s face. "You misinterpret me, Kevin. I am not calling you a coward. Far from it! You have difficult work in the days ahead. When the time is ripe I have the utmost faith that you will do what Our Lord and His Blessed Mother want. I wish I could stay here and help you but I must be on my way."
"I, uh, guess I did misunderstand you, Padraig. And where are you headin’ off to now—to meet up with Germans, I reckon?"
"Oh no, I need to return to Dublin as soon as possible. It is Dublin where the fate of Ireland will be decided."
------near Nouvion 1200 hrs
Misinterpreting the lack of German counterattacks as a sign of enemy weakness, General Guiette ordered an attempt to expand the penetration on the flanks of yesterday’s success. These late morning attacks failed and generated more Belgian casualties. Queen Elisabeth had decided to go along with an ambulance to fetch the latest batch of wounded. She was doing so when the massive German bombardment started. "Your Majesty, get into the trenches immediately!" more than one soldier yelled at her.
The bombardment was heavy. The Belgians heard a sound they recalled from both Antwerp and Ostend but which they had not experienced since. It sounded like a training going through the air. When it stopped there was an extremely loud explosion.
------near Wachile (Abyssinia) 1210 hrs
The southern British expedition against Abyssinia had crossed the border Friday morning. They had hoped they would be welcomed as liberators, but were prepared for armed opposition, esp. after the previous incident. Neither happened. There was one brief skirmish Friday with a small detachment of poorly armed locals. In another incident an old women blocked the road and ranted at them waving her arms. Two soldiers eventually had to cart her off kicking and screaming. Otherwise the men and women who lived in the area glared sullenly as the mostly Indian force passed by. .Brigadier General Tighe had been astonished to learn that Christianity was largely unknown in this part of Abyssinia where the local pagan tradition coexisted with Islam. No group of Abyssinians came forward to join the expedition and only two shady merchants were willing to sell provisions—in both instances marginally edible food and still worse fodder. It was now clear to the general that at least until they reached Shoa, they would not be able to live off the land.
Saturday was also uneventful, except for a sudden squall in the afternoon that greatly slowed their advance. Sunday morning there was a brief unsuccessful attack by a sniper, who managed to slip away. Late Sunday small bands of Oromo horsemen where seen in the distance. The East African Mounted Rifles gave chase but the Oromo eluded them. There was also an incident where a group of children threw rocks at the soldiers causing 2 light injuries. The soldiers then fired their guns in the air which sent the children fleeing.
Yesterday morning they received word of the invasion of Ireland, which became the popular topic of conversation. In the afternoon Oromo horsemen tried to ambush a column of horse drawn supply wagons. The attackers were driven off but one of the teamsters was fatally wounded. Early this morning more Oromo cavalry were seen in the distance and this time ‘A’ squadron EAMR was more determined in its pursuit and were able to kill two of the enemy scouts, though they lamed 3 of their mounts in the process. The long hard trek first through the heavy rains and then the parched deserts of northern Kenya had taken a toll on the expedition and nearly a quarter of the men were sick.
A motorcycle now sped towards them from the south. There was only a single motorcycle available for carrying messages and its use was restricted to only the most important communiqués. After receiving the message, Tighe summoned his battalion commanders and staff. "I have just received word that the Germans attacked Nairobi in strength late Sunday. Soon afterwards all communication with General Wapshare and his HQ were severed. The Germans gained control of the wireless station at Nairobi and transmitted messages claiming that they had captured Nairobi. We do not know for certain that they have, but for the time being I must assume the worst. We will remain here and await clarification of the situation. If it turns out that the Germans have indeed captured Nairobi, we must go back."
------near Nouvion 1235 hrs
The heavy German bombardment continued. The howitzers chewed up the trenches which the Belgians had seized the day before. A HE shell from a 15cm howitzer squarely hit the trench where Queen Elisabeth was huddled. Seconds later first one voice then another shouted in horror, "The queen, the queen is injured!"
------British 16th Division HQ near Rathmore 1305 hrs
General Parsons looked in vain for any good news in the reports arriving at his headquarters. The frontal attack was by 49th Brigade had turned out to be a costly failure. So far he had managed to rescue only a single company of the 3 battalions trapped in the vicinity of Killarney. From the accounts of the rescued company, the Germans were doing bad things to the 3 battalions. The Germans handily won the artillery duel to the north and their infantry were making good use of the Kerry hills to infiltrate his position there. Topping everything off was a report which arrived from London that the main enemy unit he faced, the 6th Bavarian Division, was regarded by Sir John French as the deadliest German division the BEF had faced. Though he still lacked any air assets there were reports from spies behind the German lines of a large mass of infantry heading south from Castleisland.
The 11th Hampshire had detrained at Banteer soon after dawn but that meant they would not arrive until around midnight. General Parsons had already ordered the LXXVII Howitzer Brigade redeployed to counter the threat to his flank, but the ponderous old 5" howitzers took time to move and prepare. He had already made inquiries to Gen. Friend if the battalion he had in Cork could be relieved by one or more battalions of 36th Division. He had received no reply as yet. In the mean time he told 49th Brigade to probe the southern end of the Bavarian defensive line despite the problems of the rough terrain. He sorely doubted this would accomplish anything but he was not ready to abandon with trapped battalions without doing something more.
------Kenmare (Kerry) 1315 hrs
Preceded by 5 of the Daimler armored cars, the Tatra trucks with 4 wheel drive brought one of the rifle companies of the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion to Kenmare. The armored cars killed 2 constables manning a roadblock at the outskirts of the town and sent 3 more scurrying. The rifle company dismounted and secured the town. Priority was given to cutting telephone and telegraph wires. With them were the two members of the Kenmare Company who spoke German. They talked to the townspeople trying to reassure them. Four more members of their company finally showed up bringing with them a converted Redmondite.
------Metema (Abyssinia) 1350 hrs
The cavalry of the northern British expedition against Abyssinia had arrived late yesterday at the town of Gallabat on the Sudanese side of the border. When they arrived they could see a force of Abyssinia infantry waiting for them. They estimated that the force was close to 1,000 men. Today that force had more than doubled. The Abyssinian forces belonged to the faction which had rallied around Zauditu. The British infantry and the single battery of 15 pounders would not arrive until tomorrow morning and most of the baggage train were a day behind that. Sir Ronald Graham and Brigadier General Noel Lee arrived by motor car and few hours ago to negotiate with the Abyssinians. They now learned the military leader of Zauditu’s forces, Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis Dinagde had arrived and indicated he was willing to speak with them. They were not permitted to bring their own interpreter nor any other aides. Neither was the general allowed to carry his sidearm.
Escorted by 4 soldiers in fancy uniforms they were brought to a room where there were 4 men. One of them was Hapte Giorgis, who had served as Menelik’s Minister of War. Another was a cleric in the Ethiopian Church. For a second Graham wondered if the man was the Coptic archbishop, Abune Mattiwos, who was believed to be another key figure supporting Zauditu, but realized the cleric in the room was too young and was probably merely a minion of the prelate. The other two Abyssinians in the room wore civilian clothes. One was seated at a desk ready to take notes. The other was the interpreter, who made the formal introductions. Then Hapte Giorgis came to point. It was translated as, "The Fitawrari says that he is authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Queen of Kings Zauditu, the rightful ruler of Abyssinia. He wishes to know the intentions of the British Empire towards the sovereign nation of Abyssinia."
One of the questions that complicated the British diplomatic efforts in Abyssinia was just how much authority Zauditu really had. Was she really little more than a figurehead with the important decisions being made by a small group of nobles and clerics? All attempts by British agents to talk directly with either Zauditu or her husband had been rebuffed. "Tell Fitawrari that His Majesty’s Government wishes what is best for the people of Abyssinia. The rash actions of Lij Iyasu have brought great peril to Abyssinia. You already know this. His Majesty wishes to resolve this crisis in concert with all friendly elements in Abyssinia."
The interpreter had some difficulty with this. When he finished his halting translation Hapte Giorgis’ expression was a mixture of irritation and confusion. Finally he said something which was translated, "The Fitawrari says you did not answer his question and asks that you speak more, uh, more directly. He also would like to know that when you say ‘all friendly elements’ are you including those who do not submit to Zauditu’s authority?"
Graham bit his lip then replied, "Tell the Fitawrari that I personally apologize if my language seems unclear. I will strive to do better. If he wishes to know whether His Majesty wishes to include Ras Tafari in the coalition to unseat Iyasu, then the answer is ‘Yes’. I hope that is a clear enough response."
The interpreter translated and it did not please Hapte Giorgis. "The Fitawrari says you are mistaken when you bestow the title of Ras on Tafari Makonnen. He had wrongfully assumed that title. He remains only a Dejazmach. He is arrogant beyond belief."
Graham sighed. The Foreign Office knew that there was some friction between the supporters of Zauditu and Tafari, but with having no contact with Zauditu and only a very limited amount with her inner circle they were unclear as to its severity. Zauditu’s supporters were those most opposed to any significant modernization in Abyssinia while Tafari’s support from those supporting at least the cautious modernization of Menelik. From Hapte Griogis’ attitude it was not evident that the animosity ran deep. "Well it seems I was ill informed. What I believe is an accurate section is that even though he is only officially a Dejazmach, still Tafari has substantial forces backing him. The overthrow of Iyasu will go much more smoothly if he is included in our coalition."
The response came back, "If he were to surprise us all with a show of humility, acknowledging Zauditu and not making demands, we would welcome him as a brother in this struggle. He has been told this already. His answer was not satisfactory. We do not need Tafari’s assistance."
Graham was disappointed though this had been anticipated as a very real possibility. He was mulling over the most appropriate response, when Gen. Lee asked, "Then you have what you consider to be sufficient forces to defeat Iyasu?"
Graham quickly cast the general a disproving glance. Hapte Giorgis scowled when the he heard the translation. We waited nearly a minute before answering. He said something and then paused changed his tone to the interpreter. Based on his diplomatic experience and limited knowledge of Amharic Graham thought the officer was telling the translator to ignore what he just said. .Hapte Giorgis then said something else which was translated, "The Fitawrari says that each day his forces grow stronger. He acknowledges that he is not ready today to topple Iyasu but he will be before very long."
General Lee snorted audibly and shook his head disparagingly. Graham wished he could find a way to remove the general from this important meeting. Before the general could make another stupid remark Graham responded, "We are glad to hear this. But tell Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis that he need not wait any longer. If he combines his forces to those we bring we can march on Addis Ababa tomorrow. Victory is certain."
Hapte Giorgis’ expression remained taciturn when he heard this in Amharic. His answer was terse, "Victory at what cost?"
Graham understood what Hapte Giorgis was asking. Noel did not and replied, "There will be casualties, of course. Being a seasoned military man you must know that. Still if we win a quick early victory over Iyasu’s forces his army could easily abandon him In that case our losses would be very small."
When this was translated Hapte Girgis shook his head slightly. Again he started to say something then told the translator to disregard it. After that he asked, "What strength have you brought with you to our border? How many men? How many cannon?"
Lee fidgeted when he heard the question. He answered formally, "Unfortunately until a treaty has been signed I am not at liberty to divulge that information."
The reply came quickly, "The Fitawrari says you expect Zauditu to trust you with our nation, but when we ask you to trust us with the truth, you refuse."
Graham inwardly groaned. Trying to remedy the situation he said, "As a demonstration of our good faith I will tell you that in addition to the forces we have at Gallabat, there are two other expeditions of roughly equal strength. One is coming from the Somaliland and the other is issuing from our East Africa Colony."
From the change in Hapte’s expression, Graham realized that this was news to him. The interpreter spoke, "The Fitawrari wants to know if either of these other two expeditions has crossed the border into our country."
It was now Gen. Lee who cast a withering look at the diplomat. Graham suddenly wondered if he had opened Pandora’s Box, "Uh, the expedition from Somaliland has been delayed by the need to remove the Mad Mullah from certain key mountain passes. I do not know if they have yet accomplished this and have entered Abyssinia. My understanding is that the southern expedition should have crossed the border a few days ago."
Hapte Giorgis was not pleased, "So at least one and maybe two of your armies have entered our territory without the permission of the Queen of Kings?"
Graham squirmed, "Representatives of His Majesty have requested an audience with the Queen of Kings for several weeks now only to be constantly rebuffed."
"And that granted you permission to invade us?"
Having tried courtesy and grace with ill results, Graham decided it couldn’t hurt to try some righteous indignation, "Well, I must point out that Iyasu’s forces seized the entirety of French Somaliland and a portion of our colony. This is a clear act of war against both France and Britain. With the advent of the rainy season it was necessary to take firm action. I don’t know if you are aware but more than a thousand Ottoman soldiers have crossed the Mandab and are assisting Iyasu in Somaliland. Would you like to see Ottoman soldiers marching into your country? Or the French for that matter?"
"It would be best if no foreign soldiers whatsoever entered our country."
"We do not live in a perfect world, Fitawrar Hapte Giorgis. These are difficult times for many nations. Abyssinia has some very serious decisions to make. The British Empire has sent troops it could well use elsewhere as sincere friends of the Abyssinian people. We desire what is best for you."
"It is for the Queen of Kings to decide what is best for Abyssinia. If you could use these troops elsewhere, then you could have sent us arms instead. It would have made it much simpler for everyone."
Graham did not have a ready answer to that and decided merely to ignore it and prayed that Gen. Lee would do likewise. After a minute he opened his briefcase. Inside were various documents inside manila folders. These included 6 different versions of a treaty between His Majesty and Queen Zauditu written in both English and Amharic. .The main differences in the documents were the role to be played by Tafari and whether a British protectorate over Abyssinia was explicitly enumerated or merely hinted. There were colored markings on the folders so Asst. Under-Secretary could rapidly identify the version he wanted. From what he learned in this conversation he immediately picked the version which had the vague language about the status of Abyssinia and did not mention Tafari at all. He brandished the folder high in the air and announced dramatically, "Fitawrar Hapte Giorgis, what I hold in my hands is a draft of a treaty between His Majesty King George and the Queen of Kings Zauditu. If wish to deposit this document with you now. It will make it perfectly clear—which apparently my words have not—that Great Britain extends its hand to Abyssinia with the most honorable of intentions.".
"The Fitawrar gives you leave to approach with your document. He will give it due consideration and bring it the Queen of Kings. He cautions you and the general that any attempt to cross the border by your men before a treaty is signed will be considered a hostile act."
------Gaelic American Manhattan 1410 hrs (GMT)
Tom Clarke was with John Devoy. The two of them planned to leave soon for another public appearance to rally Irish Americans behind the German invasion. After his initial ecstasy over news of the invasion, Devoy’s mood had darkened. "What in blazes is wrong with Ireland, Tom?" he asked grumpily, "Wolfe Tone’s dream has finally come true—and they are sitting on their fat asses doing nothing. Holy Mother of God what the fuck are they waiting for? Will you please tell this very old Fenian, Tom, what the Hell is going on?"
.Clarke had been asking himself the same question for more than a day. He bit his lip and attempted a response, "Can we be sure nothing is happening? We rely on the British for nearly all our information. The British could be hiding things, figuring that if the Irish Volunteers can be led to believe only a few hundred in the occupied territories are disloyal, they’ll think that MacNeill has decided against a rising."
"Sweet Jesus, are we Irish really that fuckin’ stupid? And what a blunderin’ moron MacNeill must be to let himself be captured so easily! Still he has made no public statement."
"But Hobson has. He’s ordered all Irish Volunteer units to disarm and support the government."
"Hobson is a bloody damn fuckin’ Judas. When this is over we should cut his balls off before we strangle the filthy whoreson with his own intestines!" snarled Devoy. Suddenly he heard a knock at the door. A voice with a pronounced German accent could be heard, "Mr. Devoy, we need to speak with you."
Devoy turned to Clarke, "That’s von Papen’s voice. He is probably going to yell at us about the lack of an Irish rising. I have half a mind to tell him to go fuck off."
Clarke frowned deeply. Devoy was likely right, but still he said, "Even if you’re right, John, we still need to hear what he has to say. Maybe it’s good news for a change." At that Clarke went over and opened the door. Hauptmann von Papen stepped in accompanied by St. James.
The sight of the former Buffalo Soldier did not improve Devoy’s mood. "What the Hell do you two want? Make it quick. Tom and myself will be going off to a rally very soon."
Papen gestured towards St. James, "The sergeant here says you have what he wants to arm his rockets with—something called Fenian fire."
------near Nouvion 1415 hrs
The fierce German bombardment had lifted. General von Fabeck had hoped that this would obliterate any effective resistance by the Belgians and indeed it had caused fairly heavy casualties but enough remained to put up a fierce fight, inflicting serious losses on the German attackers. In some sectors the Germans were repelled but in others they reached the trenches where their grenades served them well. There was now savage hand to hand combat in several places. Men stabbed, clubbed, kicked and clawed. The fighting was particularly fierce in the trench where Queen Elisabeth lay wounded. She had a few small shrapnel wounds which but more seriously had suffered some blast damage to her lungs and her right ear drum was ruptured. She was conscious but in a dazed state. Her own professional opinion made her suspect she may have sustained a concussion as well. She observed the fighting going on in front of her with a surreal detachment. She had often wondered at what could’ve caused some of the strange wounds she saw at the hospital. She now learned. The fighting was close enough that some of the blood joined the stains she already had.
"We are cut off from the rest of the battalion. We cannot hold, they are too many," announced the Belgian Lt. with his head bandaged on account of a scalp wound, "We must evacuate Her Majesty to safety NOW. You there, de Frondville. Take the Queen and carry her on your shoulders. I will let you know when it is safe to go." Under these circumstances safe was at best relative. Private de Frondville was a burly but polite almost gentle man. He came over to the queen and peered into her glassy eyes. "Your Majesty, you are in grave danger. We need to go. I will carry you. Do not be afraid. Understand?" he asked with the utmost awe.
She looked at him and then muttered something. He did not understand. "What was that, Your Majesty?" She spoke again. De Frondville still did not understand.
"She’s speaking in German, you idiot!" yelled the Lt, "Can’t you see she’s in shock? Grab her NOW!"
Whispering "Begging your pardon, Your Majesty," de Frondville scooped up queen as gently as possible. She squirmed a little in his arms. That was good, she would not be dead weight. While he was doing so a German who had slithered forward on his belly lobbed a grenade into the trench. It landed beside de Frondville who gazed in horror. Suddenly another soldier jumped on the grenade smothering the detonation and its fragments with his body.
"St. Yves, you go with de Frondville. Let me take a look," said the Lt as he peered over the top of the trench, "Yes, go, GO NOW!"
Carrying the queen fireman style with Pvt. St. Yves alongside him de Frondville scampered out of the trench. Bullets were still whizzing all around. The air was rife with the bitter smells of war. The dazed queen on his shoulders stirred and muttered something else in what he guessed was German. "It will be alright, Your Majesty, don’t be afraid," he replied warmly. De Frondville half ran half stumbled through the battlefield. He did not get too far when he heard 2 more explosions coming in quick succession from behind him. These explosions did not sound muffled like the one previously.. Part of him wanted to look back and try to see if what he feared had happened. He recalled Orpheus and Lot’s wife and did not dare to look back. He kept on running.
Suddenly St. Yves screamed, "Arrgh! I’m hit, I’m hit." De Frondville stopped for a second. St. Yves was crumpled on the ground. Blood was squirting out of his right thigh from just above the knee. De Frondville regarded St. Yves as a friend and tried to think if there was anything to do.
"Ahhh. Don’t stop, Alex!" yelled St. Yves in obvious pain, "You have the Queen! You must get her to safety. Get your fat ass moving! Arggh"
"God be with you, my friend," answered de Frondville with wet eyes. He then resumed his run.
------Nairobi 1440 hrs
Messengers had arrived at Lettow-Vorbeck’s headquarters about an hour ago with news that some of the Indian troops that had been routed and fled in the jungle the previous night had skirmished briefly with the field company positioned to the west of Nairobi. The Indian troops still did not have any stomach for battle and their half hearted attack fizzled out. Now another messenger arrived with news that British askaris, presumably King’s African Rifles, were engaged with another field company to the south. This fighting was much more serious but the Schutztruppen were able to hold their ground. Lettow-Vorbeck issued orders for one of the field companies resting in Nairobi to reinforce them at once.
Having done that he turned his attention back to his guests. A group of 87 men belonging to the Nandi tribe had arrived. When they learned the Germans had taken Nairobi from the detested British they came to Nairobi as quickly as possible and offered to assist the Germans in their fight. Lettow-Vorbeck took them up on their offer. Some of the Schutztruppen had been equipped with Lee-Enfield rifles captured at Tanga but others still used the old black powder rifles. Lettow-Vorbeck could now replace those with the Lee-Enfield’s he captured yesterday. He would give the Nandi warriors the obsolete weapons. They thanked him for his generosity and praised him for his boldness. They promised him that more of their fellow warriors would be joining them tomorrow.
Mt. Mullaghanish (Kerry/Cork) 1505 hrs
Ten went out. Eleven came back. Now accompanying the 9 men and 1 woman of Ballyvourney Company who had crossed the Derrynasaggart Mountains, was Bavarian Jaeger Gefreiter Julius Gaulart. A Jaeger company commander decided to send Gaulart along with the Irish Volunteers. Gaulart was chosen because he spoke a modicum of English and had a reputation for being an excellent mountain climber. Gaulart was given the option of backing out of this rather unusual assignment but decided to go. This was more informal and impromptu than the Irish Brigade officers. While Julius was to help train the men of Ballvourney Company for a few days, he was not intended to be their commander. He was also ordered to conduct reconnaissance in the Muskerry region of County Cork and evaluate the suitability of the mountain peaks for observation posts.
. Each man and Una as well carried 2 rifles along with 60 rounds of ammunition on the return journey. There were 14 Moisin-Nagant’s, 5 captured Lee-Enfield’s and Gaulart’s personal Mauser 98. With this heavy load, Gaulart only brought a single grenade with him. To save weight the Irish were not provided bayonets. Julius had thought himself to be an expert climber but he had trouble keeping up with the Irishmen. He asked if everyone in their company was so proficient and at first their leader. Liam Kerns said yes but later admitted he was only teasing, This group had been selected for the mission on account of their mountain skills and stamina. During their walk back they talked a great deal so Julius could improve his limited English and Liam’s not much better German. The Gefreiter learned to his dismay that yet another language was very frequently used in this part of Ireland. The two of them talked about a variety of topics including religion. Liam was delighted to find that Julius was devoutly Catholic.
Gaulart was exhausted and sore when they arrived at Mt. Mullaghanish, the tallest peak in the Derrynasaggart Mountains. Liam led them to a hidden camp where a little more than a hundred men and 4 more women belonging to Ballyvourney Company were waiting for them. The presence of a German soldier with them caused quite a stir. The company commander, Joseph Flynn stepped forward to greet them, "Well there, Liam, welcome back. I see you made contact with the Germans. I didn’t expect you’d bring one home with you? Is he a stray? Is he house broken? Does he speak---"
"---English, yes I Speak English.. Irish, no," answered Julius, "though there being some idioms I no understand like ‘break house’...What that mean? Oh, and I am Gefreiter—that means Lance Corporal—Julius Gaulart." The Jaeger extended his hand.
Flynn extended his hand, "Glad to meet, you Julius. I’m Joe Flynn, the commander of Ballyvourney Company."
Julius shook hands with the Irish leader, "Is this all of your company?"
"No. There are a dozen out on patrol. And there are still some members back in town. They are trying to scrounge up as much food as possible. It’s important we have a good supply of food in the days ahead.. They are also there to keep an eye on things. There are a also few men on our rolls I’m sad to say, are still holding back. We are trying to persuade them to honor their commitment."
"Might I ask how you got that?" Kerns asked in Irish pointing to the Lee-Enfield Flynn carried on his shoulder.
Flynn responded in Irish, "We bushwhacked 2 constables sniffing around near here yesterday. We captured two of these now along with two more pistols. Too bad they were only carrying 30 rounds of .303 each. The other bad news was that they were missed quicker than I expected. Even though we started cutting wires last night at least 20 more constables arrived this morning. I am sure they will be heading out this way. If not today then tomorrow morning. So that’s why I’m glad to see you got these rifles from the Germans. We can sure make good use of them."
"Is that the only violence so far?"
"No. I killed McGowan last night."
Kerns’ jaw dropped, "What, what? Are you serious? Why the hell did you do that? That man has 8 children"
"Because he was a dirty damn informant, that’s why."
"Do you have any real proof of that, Joe? You’ve been saying that for nearly two weeks, but never once—"
"Bah, the toad was an informant. I just know it. We can’t afford to be taking any chances right now. While you were away two brothers showed up saying they were part of Macroom Company. They say that their company ihas been completely paralyzed after its commandant was nabbed. It was completely disarmed by the RIC without so much as lifting a finger. They claim they came here looking to see some action. I’m not sure about them either even if it confirms our suspicion abot Macroom Company so I’ve kept them in town for the time being."
"Well it looks like we are going to be see some serious action soon. Tell me who you think our best marksmen are and we’ll start distributing these rifles the Germans gave us."
------northwest of Limerick 1530 hrs
There were 4 companies marching in sight of each other. Two of them were Irish Volunteers belonging to Limerick City Battalion. The other two companies were somewhat larger in size and consisted of German sailors from the transports anchored in the Shannon. In the preparation for Operation Unicorn it was decided that Landsturm units would be formed in Ireland by essentially drafting some of the sailors aboard the transports once they reached Ireland. The sailors were not told this in advance. A few hours after the transports departed Lubeck the Army units aboard their vessels began conducting some limited military training for the ship’s crew in their off hours. During the voyage 40% of each ship’s crew were identified as being most suitable for the Landsturm companies. Factors considered in compiling the ‘A’ List were health, marital status, prior military training, shipboard function and even the knowledge of English. There was also a ‘B’ List which comprised another 25% of the crew, but OKW hoped it could avoid using them.
After the ships had finished offloading the men on the ‘A’ List were sent ashore. There were now 3 companies in the Limerick Landsturm battalion. Like the Irish Volunteer units in the occupied territories the role of the Landsturm were to assist in handling supplies and to guard rear areas, including supply dumps, telegraph centers and prisoner camps. The 3rd company in the battalion was currently at the Limerick docks helping out. Foynes, Kilrush and Tralee each had a single Landsturm company and there was a small detachment of them at Tarbert.
------Emly (Tipperary) 1545 hrs
With the arrival of 2 battalions of 4th Marine Fusiliers in the west portion of County Limerick in the morning the 16th Uhlan Regiment resumed its attack on the railway. It crossed over the border into Country Tipperary and attacked a weakly defended stretch of track. It also sent one squadron deeper into Tipperary. Given intelligence provided by an airplane out of Foynes soon afterwards they were able to ambush a small supply train. Its cargo consisted mostly of bully beef and canned fruit but there were 60,000 rounds of .303, 80 shrapnel shells for the 15 pounders and a small amount of barbed wire.
------OKW 1600 hrs
Generalfeldmarschal Helmuth von Moltke was not feeling well. The ups and down of Operation Unicorn were taking a toll on his constitution. He was having trouble sleeping and when he did get to sleep was plagued by strange dreams. His wife Eliza, was very worried about him. Late yesterday he began to have heated arguments with Grossadmiral von Tirpitz over the future of Operation Unicorn.
General Falkenhayn had arrived on schedule to confer with Moltke and Tirpitz. He soon got to the point, "It is obvious that the most important objective we have at this time is the destruction of the British First Army. It must take precedence over all other operations."
"We have heard that you cut back ammunition deliveries for both Operation Tourniquet and Operation Fulcrum. The postponement of the latter was due in large part to the reduction. I regard that decision as sound even though there are some very senior officers who have proclaimed their abundant dissatisfaction," answered Moltke cautiously.
"Yes, I am glad you agree but more is required, Feldmarschal."
This time it was Tirpitz who responded in an icy voice, "What are you saying, General? How much more?"
"The salient we drove into the British line came tantalizing close to completely isolating the British First Army. A desperate fanatical resistance by the British has prevented us from shutting the door completely. In fact we have been pushed back slightly in the last day. If I had 2 more divisions I am certain we can close it before they can escape."
"And so you are asking for the two divisions of the second wave?"
"Yes, Feldmarschal. Without a massive Irish rebellion there is no way for Operation Unicorn to do anything more than act a diversion, albeit a very useful one. Even if General von François captures his primary objective I see no justification for wasting any further commitment of forces there, when a great victory can be attained in Picardy. The entirety of the second wave should be released immediately to Sixth Army."
"You can have 52nd Infantry Division immediately, along with the minenwerfer company and the 21cm Morser battery," replied Moltke. He tried not look at Tirpitz when he said this.
"No, no, no! Have you lost your mind or merely your courage? This will ruin everything!" shouted Tirpitz.
Falkenhayn grinned though he tried not to make his satisfaction too obvious. Moltke and Tirpitz were falling out. OKW was unraveling. "I need both divisions, Feldmarschal."
"No. For the time being we are going to hang onto the 111th Infantry Division as well as 10th Jaeger Battalion. Getting trains rescheduled for one division on short order is difficult enough. And besides we’ve learned the hard way in this war that throwing too many men into a constricted area is frequently counterproductive."
Poor old Helmuth is trying to work out a compromise. thought Falkenhayn. How very typical. Still it serves my purpose for the time being. One division should suffice to insure the destruction of First Army. I need the second division for the great Western offensive that comes after. With no Irish rebellion sending a single division makes no sense whatsoever. Helmuth will realize that soon enough. In the meantime Tirpitz will be at his throat. Delicious! Hmm, I agree too easily they may suspect my motives. "I need both divisions, Feldmarschal. As Sixth Army still have a large Bavarian component I also need all of the Bavarian Ersatz companies you were sending—five if I am not mistaken. You can keep 10th Jaeger if you insist. Oh and before I forget, is there any 15cm gun batteries that you are hiding from me like you did with Operation Whisper?" he responded.
"No, we committed all that are available to Operation Fulcrum," replied Moltke testily, annoyed with Falkenhayn’s sarcasm. "Yes there are 5 Bavarian Ersatz companies and you can have all of them, but I repeat that 111th Division will remain in OKW Reserve."
"NO! I have still not agreed to the release of 52nd Division!" Tirpitz roared.
"You serve as my deputy at this, Grossadmiral. I can and will send 52nd Division on the next available train. I have already made arrangements with Groener. They will leave before dawn."
------Castleisland (Kerry) 1610 hrs
A motor car was waiting to take the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, Gen. von Gyssling to his new headquarters at Killarney. Some of his staff had already departed in a horse drawn wagon. Gen. von Gyssling was eager to get away from Gen. von François, who had been very difficult to work with the last two days. It did not help matters that most of the morning the news from Killarney and Rathmore had been sparse and confusing. Just before noon things became clearer. They had secured control of Killarney, and had trapped two sizable pockets of enemy infantry. The attack of the British 16th Division had been halted. Later there came news that the Bavarian artillery had prevailed in their duel with their British counterparts allowing his battalions to continue their attack on the British flank guard. Surely his division was performing as well as could be expected. Yet despite these successes, François remained unhappy and repeatedly fumed about his timetable being a whole day behind schedule. He also repeatedly berated Plunkett for the lack of an Irish rebellion. Gyssling did not like Plunkett, whom he regarded as a self important autodidact but he was starting to feel a little bit of pity for the sickly Irishman..
"You must be more cautious in your expenditure of shells until we can move more down from Foynes and Tarbert. According to the figures, Oberst Hell just provided me you shot off more than half your howitzer ammunition," chided François.
"You will recall that we had very limited time to offload ammunition at Tralee," replied Gyssling defensively, "You insisted I exert maximum pressure of the British right flank to relive the pressure on the Jaeger Regiment so it can continue on to Kenmare.. To accomplish this objective it was necessary to make good use of our howitzers."
François pouted but on reflection saw that Gyssling’s argument was sound. "You must follow up the attack on the enemy flank tonight as it appears we now have a marked superiority in numbers and the enemy has only entrenched a small sector along the road that can be outflanked. Use artillery very sparingly this afternoon and even less in the morning. Attack all through the night with your infantry."
"My men will need to rest sometime soon, General. There is only so much that can be done in a night attack even with seasoned troops. Without vigorous artillery support we will very likely miss our opportunity to smash 16th Division against the Derrynasaggart Mountains."
"Yes, yes, I realize that," answered François with obvious irritation, "You should get going soon."
------SMS Blucher 1625 hrs
A 2,800 ton British freighter out of Baltimore was intercepted. Its cargo consisted entirely of mules intended to be used as draught animals on the Western Front. Admiral Maas was pleased that had taken a vessel with a cargo directly related to the war effort. He realized with considerable disappointment that it would not be a good idea to try to send the prize to occupied Ireland where he had been told the German invasion force lacked adequate draught animals. The crew was removed and the ship promptly scuttled. The animals drowned.
------HQ British V Army Corps 1635 hrs
The day had started encouragingly for Ger. Horace Smith-Dorrien. During the night the British 1st Division had threaded the needle of the narrow corridor suffering very acceptable casualties for sporadic 7.7cm fire in the transit. Once it had completed its passage it passed to Second Army’s command and Smith-Dorrien assigned it temporarily to Gen. Plumer’s battered V Army Corps. Tonight first the 29th Division followed by the 48th (North Midlands) Division would try to slither their way through. General Monro, the commander of I Army Corps, would move his HQ with them, having already transferred the 2nd Division, which was acting in the difficult role of rearguard during the withdrawal, to General Pulteney’s III Army Corps. Tomorrow morning I Army Corps would then come under Second Army and would then resume command of 1st Division.
The German Sixth Army did not mount the first dawn attacks Smith-Dorrien expected. In particular the dreaded German howitzers were quiet all morning, raising Smith-Dorrien’s hopes that the enemy might have temporarily exhausted his stockpile of shells. In the afternoon news began to arrive of the plight of the 2 Belgian mixed brigades who had been so very helpful yesterday. Smith-Dorrien now reached a decision. "You must position 1st Division to take over as much of your perimeter as possible as quickly possible. This will release enough of your strength to send at least 6 battalions and 2 batteries north to help the Belgians."
"I will remind the general that I only have 4 battalions that are more than half strength—and all 4 are less than three quarter strength."
"Yes, I am well aware of the severity of your losses," Smitth-Dorrien replied tartly, trying to keep his anger under control, "I know this is going to inflict further loss on brave units that have already suffered dearly. There is both practical and moral justification to what I am asking. The practical is that a total collapse by the Belgians at this time will make our own tactical situation much worse. The moral is that we owe it to the poor bastards."
------Dublin Castle 1720 hrs
"What? Another train ambushed?" thundered an unhappy Curzon.
"Yes, Your Excellency. This time it was only a small train carrying supplies---" General Friend responded nervously.
"---and because of its size you expect me to casually accept this? Well, I certainly do not accept it! Does this raid mean the German cavalry can plunder our railways at will?"
"The problem is there is two main concentrations of forces at this time—one outside Limerick and the other between Rathmore and Killarney. This leaves a large open space for the German cavalry to exploit. When the mounted brigade is deployed we can begin to exploit it for our own purposes but for the next two days there is some vulnerability. We had thought it was more likely that the German cavalry would lunge towards Cork or attack the rear of 16th Division. That would bring them into the clutches of the yeomanry but instead they are heading into Tipeerary."
"Might this have something to do with the several hundred Irish Volunteers assembled near Cahir?"
"I think that is at least part of their strategy, Your Excellency."
"Well then, what do your suggest we do?"
"General Mahan says he cannot spare a single man if he is to make the counterattack London demands for late tomorrow, Your Excellency. So what I propose is that we send one or two of the battalions from 108th Brigade we are currently holding in reserve to Thurles by rail. From there it can move by foot to counter either the Fenians or the German cavalry."
Curzon thought it over before answering, "Go ahead, but only one battalion. I know there are some who think along the lines that if Dublin and Cork were going to explode they would have done so already. I do not share that blithe optimism. The bands of rebels in first Galway and now Tipperary, suggests the rising is spreading."
------Valencia Island (Kerry) 1750 hrs
A single company of Royal Marines was landing at Knight’s Town. Except for s pair owned by Western Union emanating from Land’s End, the British transatlantic cables all had their terminus in southwestern Kerry. At the beginning of the war, a small detachment of militia had been set up to protect them from sabotage. With the German invasion of Ireland they were an obvious target. Initially all that could be done was to reinforce its guards with RIC and still more militia. To the north along the Ring of Kerry at Glenbeigh there was a training ground for horse artillery. This training unit was now being moved along with it weapons to nearby Cahersiveen. The main hope though had been that the current attack by 16th Division would neutralize the German threat to the cable stations once it reached Killarney. .Up until this morning the advance of the 16th Division was looking very promising so London decided to send only this single company.
------HQ German Sixth Army 1845 hrs
"So the Belgians still have not been completely eliminated?" an irritated General von Fabeck asked his chief of staff, chief of staff, Oberst Freiherr von Wenge. .
"That is correct, general. According to the very latest reports we have captured portions of the trench line but in others the Belgians are holding out stubbornly. Where they have been dislodged they are falling back in decent order to the trenches from which they launched yesterday’s attack. Our infantry have not yet reached their artillery positions."
"So committing the cavalry at this point would be premature, yes?"
"Yes, that is my evaluation of the situation, General."
Fabeck was disappointed with the results of his counterattack against the Belgians. While it was not a complete failure it certainly was not the decisive counterblow he had anticipated. General von Falkenhayn would not be happy either. "We must press the Belgians relentlessly. We must continue the attack through the entire night."
------SMS Regensburg 1855 hrs
The Germans found another merchantman. This one was outbound and flew a Dutch flag and so the Germans stopped and inspected it. It was indeed Dutch and bound for Brazil. If it had a wireless the Germans would have wrecked the apparatus but it did not. The boarding crew departed and the freighter steamed on.
------Nairobi 1920 hrs
Lettow-Vorbeck did not want to wait until the defenders of the enemy HQ ran out of ammunition. It was night and the rain once was torrential. A pair of his pioneers made it to one of the walls and set explosive charges. When the charges blew the askaris stormed in the building. There was some brief frantic fighting at close range and then it was over. General Wapshare had been wounded in his left arm and was captured along with most of his staff.
------Gaelic Athletic Association (London) 1940 hrs
Part of Erskine Childers did not want to come to this place. Another deeper part of him demanded that he come to this place. A man now came over and sat next to him. Childers recognized as him as one of the regulars at the club. Michael something--that very good boxer who had delivered an excellent rendition of Emmt’s famous Speech from the Box. "Mind if I sit next to you?" Michael Collins asked.
"Not at all. Go right ahead."
"Thank you. By the way, my name is Collins, Michael Collins."
. "Glad to meet you. I’ve seen you around here fairly regularly. I am Lt. Erskine Childers."
"Well then, have you come here to see the fights?"
"Among other things. I heard you had a real doozy here last night and it wasn’t in the ring."
"Oh, you’re referring to that unfortunate difference of opinion."
"From what I heard there were some people here that had the temerity to say that the Irish people should use the invasion as an opportunity to free themselves from English tyranny. I take it they got properly trounced."
"Er, the fight looked to be fairly even—that is until the police showed up."
Childers looked at Collins. There was something in his eyes that made Childers extremely uncomfortable. "Ah, well that’s interesting and what side were you on, if you don’t mind me askin’?"
Collins gave him a piercing look in return, then shook his head, "I did not participate in that senseless brawl. I helped clean things up when it was over. There is a time to fight and time to mind your own fuckin’ business, if you know what I mean."
Childers wondered if there were more levels of meaning being hinted at. "The brawl drew some attention to this place. It isn’t just here. Some of the London taverns catering to an Irish clientele have had some altercations as well. People—some very important people-- are starting to wonder if the large Irish community in London is completely trustworthy."
"And is this sudden scrutiny merely on account of some drunken Irishmen getting into some fisticuffs?"
Childers bit his lip. He them leaned towards Collins and spoke in a near whisper, "No there is something else as well. It seems that there are more Irishmen fighting with the Germans than the government has been admitting publicly."
"Oh? How many more? And how did you learn this?"
"I’ve said too much already. It will be in the newspapers soon enough, quite possibly tomorrow."
Collins’ gaze became even more piercing. He lowered his own voice and asked, "Did you by any chance ever meet Patrick Pearse?"
Childers began to sweat. He pursed his lips and finally he answered haltingly, "No. Well I may have. Maybe. Uh, I don’t really know."
"Hmm. Begging me pardon, Lt. Childers but you don’t look very well. Is there something bothering you?
"No, well maybe. You see, Mr. Collins, I don’t bloody know what’s going on and what’s my purpose. The whole darn world is making me dizzy."
Collins reached over grabbed one of the club’s flyers from off the floor. He tore a corner of it off as he removed a fountain pen. We wrote on the back on the speck of paper, then handed it to Childers, "Here is a telephone number where I can be reached. If you feel like talking over some of these things that are troubling you in private sometime, give me a call."
------White House 2030 hrs (GMT)
The last 3 days had been utter hell for Ambassador Spring-Rice. First there was the awful news that the Germans had violated the British Isles. Then came word that the Germans had sent supplies to facilitate their invasion purchased in the United States by Fenians using loans backed by Germany. Shocked that the ostensibly pro-British Wilson had permitted such a development prompted the ambassador to send a list of demands to Secretary Bryan. The ambassador soon found himself under fire from all directions. Bryan personally told him that he was completely out of line. Col. House met him in private and said he was juggling nitroglycerin and sternly warned him aagainst involving the press. The Irish invasion made the demand for precious transatlantic cable time even more precious than previously, but cables from London criticizing Sir Cecil’s actions were apparently assigned top priority, and warning that they were willing to immediately replace him if he did not mend his ways.
A chastened Spring-Rice was now at last permitted to meet in private with President Wilson. Grey had bluntly ordered him to avoid using the word ‘demand’. Instead he was to offer President Wilson suggestions to defuse the tension that had risen. "Mr. President, allow me to apologize to you personally. A few days ago I let my own personal feelings color the language I used with Secretary Bryan. This has led to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings."
President Wilson looked at him in a way that Sir Cecil found confusing and said, "Yes, I know. I understand that His Majesty’s Government is unhappy. I would like to reiterate again the special relationship that exists between our two great nations."
Spring-Rice took the President words as encouraging, "A public letter from you to King George expressing your deep regret over what has occurred---"
"---Is not going to happen."
Sir Cecil frowned. Grey had allowed Sir Cecil permission to suggest ---not demand--- a letter of ‘regret’—apology being considered too strong a term—but not to regard as a primary goal. The ambassador was trying to work within those limitations but down deep he still believed America owed the Crown an apology. "But Mr. President, surely you realize that as our Prime Minister comes from Canada, the memories of Ridgeway---"
Wilson’s expression was no longer inscrutable. He was clearly angry, "---I am glad that you getting that out of your system. You are not going to make a mountain out the pathetic molehill of Ridgeway. The next time you so much as mention it I will send you packing. Am I clear?"
"Yes, Mr. President, most clear," replied a flustered Spring-Rice.
"And as far any letter of regret, I will remind you of another bit of history—the Great Irish Potato Famine. A great many Irishmen came to our country on account of the Potato Famine. Now a good portion of the controversial supplies Devoy sent to Ireland was food. There are those newspapers that will say I am expressing regret at sending food to Ireland."
"Yes, it is a very serious problem that so many of your newspapers are propaganda outlets for Germany."
"Sir Cecil, for the life of me I do not know what American papers you are reading. Not even the Hearst papers—not that I would ever read them of course, but some members of my staff have been assigned that disagreeable chore---are given any credence to the disingenuous German claims that they came to Ireland to give liberty to the long suffering Irish people."
"They are sometimes subtle in promoting their cause. Jews in my experience frequently are."
Wilson shook his head, "I would warn you that Hearst and McCormick—neither of whom are Jewish—have gotten a whiff of the current tension between our countries and have been playing that story to the hilt. So let me reiterate what I am sure Col. House has already told you about the danger of the press learning about your previous list of demands. So what’s next on your revised list? Is it cutting off trade with the Central Powers? Don’t waste your breathe trying to argue that one. The answer to that is going to be an unambiguous ‘No’."
"Uh, His Majesty wants to see a resolute enforcement of the American Neutrality Laws, with the Fenains involved in the invasion of Ireland punished. We also want Count von Bernstorff and Captain von Papen sent back to Germany. If it is necessary to conduct an investigation—despite the obviousness of the facts, we expect to investigation to be completed speedily."
"The investigation you have suggested is already underway, Sir Cecil. I do not intend to rush it to a preordained conclusion if that’s what you’re suggesting. What’s next?"
"Given the current peril that faces the British Empire—not just in Ireland but also in France where the diabolical use of poison gas has given them an opportunity to inflict grave harm on an entire British Army, it is imperative that purchases of key materials including munitions been accelerated. To this end permitting us to purchase on credit would be a great boon."
Wilson’s expression softened, "I understand. We are looking into that matter and I would like very much to accommodating, however Secretary Bryan remains adamantly opposed. If there is a change of policy it will not be coming in the next few days"
------Limerick 2135 hrs
"They tell me you’re my direct superior now, sir" Harry Calahan remarked to Major Jack White, his latest visitor.
"Why yes, the Germans finally got around to selecting a commander for Limerick City Battalion Sunday night. I heard that you’ve put on quite a show."
"I guess I did. To tell the truth I don’t know what came over me."
"War does strange things to men. I saw that all too often in the Boer War. The Germans say you were a hero. They appreciate that. But I think you are something more, something that they don’t fully appreciate. I think you are an inspiration."
"That’s real nice of you to say that, Major. Even though it makes me sound like I’m a poem or something."
:"The Germans foolishly want to rename your unit again. In their prosaic drabness they want to call it 1st Company Limerick City Battalion. They want to appoint a new commander. Essentially they want to forget you ever led the unit."
"Why the ungrateful---"
"Oh, no, Harry. It’s not gratitude they lack but sensitivity and imagination. Consider this juicy little tidbit. There are been 21 men not previously in the Irish Volunteers who came forward today asking—in some cases pleading-- to join Sturm Company Calahan—though most of them say ‘Storm Company’. And all but one of the men on the company rolls have finally turned up for duty. Both of my other two companies have at least ten who are holding back. There is definitely some enthusiasm here that we should use to the utmost. Don’t be spreading this around but the senior German officers are more than a little disappointed with the size of the Irish Volunteer units. I think Plunkett and Sir Roger colored their estimates with their own fantasies. I worked with Sir Roger in Ulster a while back and he can be dreadfully naïve at times."
"I am not going to assign another Captain to your company. I am going to put Lt. Ruschmann in charge. He is a little more flexible than most of the Germans—"
"—that ain’t sayin’ much!"
"True. As I was saying, I am going to put Ruschmann in charge telling the men that he is only the temporary commander until you get well. All of your fellow Irish Brigade shotgun specialists will remain with the company. We have been told that unlike the operations currently underway in Kerry, which is relatively open, the fighting here is Limerick could become mostly trench warfare. I am thinking that your ideas about shotguns could be put to a serious test before this is over. Another thing is some men in the other two companies are already asking to transfer into your company. I am not got to approve all of these transfers but instead will allow a few of the best from each to transfer. I want to forge Sturm Company Calahan into an elite Irish unit---even though the Germans think that is a contradiction in terms. The real battle what is going now is the battle for the heart and soul of Ireland."
------outside Mexico City 2215 hrs (GMT)
General Obregon had arrived at the hacienda Kurt Jahnke had arranged for their meeting. He had considered several times backing out of this meeting, but now he was here. "It is best if we not waste time, senor," he told Jahnke, after declining a drink.
"As you are probably aware, the German government has for some time had a policy of viewing Huerta as the proper ruler of Mexico."
Obregon suddenly regretted coming to this meeting. He rose to his feet as if he was going to leave, "Huerta? Carumba! Is this why you asked me here? You have some plan to sneak that filthy drunken bastard, Huerta back into Mexico. Last we heard he was still in Spain. If you think I would have anything---"
"--Please, please, General. You are jumping to conclusions. Please sit down and hear me out. Please?" Jahnke implored.
Shaking his head and scowling Obregon reluctantly said down. Jahnke then continued, "Good. Now what I trying to say is that a nexus of recent developments has caused that policy to reexamined. Some of them are things connected to the Irish expedition. You have heard---"
"---That Germany invaded Ireland? Yes, I have. Please go on."
"Good. Another of them is your recent victory over Pancho Villa. We were very impressed by your generalship."
"Gracias. But what is your point, senor?"
"My government still feels that Carranza is the not best man to lead Mexico. Surely you must see that he only pays lip service to reform. You think Huerta is corrupt but is Carranza, despite that fatherly image she assiduously cultivates, any better?"
Obregon was well aware that Carranza was far from sainthood, though not as awful as Huerta. "You have me confused, senor Jahnke. What are you implying? If not Huerta---"
"---why you General Obregon. You are not a corrupt scoundrel like Carranza, but neither are you a crazy Socialist fanatic like Villa and Zapata. We believe that you are the one who will do what needs to be done. Villa’s Division of the North is shattered. If you call off the pursuit and return to Mexico City with the army you can oust Carranza. We are willing to throw our support—including a great deal of money behind you. We may be able to persuade Zapata to support you if you remove the bounty Carranza has offered for his assassination."
Obregon was surprised but not completely surprised. Down deep part of him thought this might happen. It now occurred to Obregon that the good of Mexico was not what this was all about. "And what exactly is it that you feel ‘needs to be done’?"
Jahnke smiled broadly, "Isn’t it obvious that the time has come for Mexico to nationalize its oil industry?"
Obregon was shocked. Finally he said replied, "That is not as easy to pull off? There is likely to be a struggle. And more to the point, how does this help Germany?"
Jahnke continued grinning, "As you said there is likely to be a struggle. That is what we want. We are counting on it to cut off Britain’s supply of oil from Tampico for a few months. That is all we need. When this war is over the triumphant German Empire will view you as a great friend. We will take good care of both you and Mexico."
------Belgian Field Hospital 2240 hrs
King Albert was distraught. "Is she going to be alright, Doctor? Speak honestly with me. She looks so awful. I am so worried about her."
Doctor Depage decided it was best to tell the truth, "Those wounds you see are not anywhere as bad as they appear, Your Majesty. What has me concerned is she has blast damage to her lungs. It also appears she has sustained a concussion. Both of these are very tricky injuries. My professional opinion is that the odds are good that she will recover from both, but I am compelled to warn you where patients appear to be recovering and there situation suddenly worsens."
"By do mean by ‘worsens’, Doctor. Are you saying there is a chance that the queen may, may---" King Albert choked on the vile words and after some difficulty completed the dreaded thought, "that she might even-gasp-die?"
"Your Majesty, the queen has a strong constitution. I reiterate that her survival is most probable. I am just warning you that there is some small but significant chance—please do not ask me to quote odds—that she will not."
A tear rolled down the King’s cheek as he gulped twice. Finally with a sigh he said, "I thank you for your candor, Doctor Depage. I know she will receive the best possible treatment in your capable hands."
In the late afternoon Albert had overrode Gen. Guiette’s intent to withdraw his division.. The king insisted that they put up as much resistance as possible. When he had learned what had happened to his beloved Elizabeth, Albert’s mood alternated between grief and rage. He insisted that the heroic private Defrontville be immediately awarded a commission and the Article 4 military decoration.
------Shannon 2305 hrs
The ‘M’ class destroyers Mansfield, Mentor, and Murray had been detached from the 4th Destroyer Flotilla and had rendezvoused with the two torpedo boats out of Queenstown off Loop Head. They were now proceeding in a line up the Shannon at 24 knots with the torpedo boats 2nm ahead of the destroyers. The cloud cover was not sufficiently thick to block out the bright moon. They passed by the beached protected cruiser at Kerry Head without being challenged. They continued on past Scattery and Carig Islands without any trouble. However, as they passed by the town of Killimer on the north bank of the Shannon the torpedo boats came under fire from a coastal defense battery armed with 10.5cm guns which first fired some 2 star shells. The torpedo boats tried to press on with their 12 pounders returning fire as best they could. The destroyers behind them soon joined in with their 4" guns. The lead torpedo boat was hit twice and started to burn but bravely continued on. Soon a second German coastal battery located on the south bank opens fire with a quartet of 10.5cm guns on the second torpedo boat which they disable with a hit in the boilers. This battery also had a pair of 15cm howitzers which soon opened up on the Murray, the acting flagship pf the expedition.
The lead torpedo boat makes through the minefield only to discover a net laid across the Shannon. It also comes under fire from Arkona, Panther and a pair of transports armed with 8.8 cm guns (and now empty of cargo). Meanwhile Murray strikes a mine which blows off its bow. The acting commander orders the mission aborted. The British launched a half dozen torpedoes without success. Both of the torpedo boats and Murray are eventually lost, though most of their crews are rescued. During the retreat Mansfield suffered some damage from the short batteries including destruction of one of her 4" guns.
------north of Rathmore 2230 hrs
The Bavarian night attack involved all of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and 2 battalion of the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. The defenders consisted mostly of 3 battalions but one of those was the 9th Dublin Fusiliers which had already lost half of its strength in previous combat. Unlike the previous night moon played more of role and the inexperienced 15 pounder batteries tried to fire by moonlight. This did not cause many casualties but it did disrupt the German formations and slow—but not stop—their advance.