by Tom B
IRISH REBELS CAPTURE WATERVILLE CABLE STATION
"This newspaper has obtained exclusive information that Irish rebel forces led by a German officer captured the important transatlantic cable station at Waterville in County Kerry Friday night. Soon after capturing the station the rebels began transmitting their own messages to the United States via the Azores. These telegrams accuse the government of Prime Minister Bonar Law of seriously underestimating both the size and effectiveness of the Irish insurgents, who call themselves the Irish Republican Army."
----NY Herald Sunday May 2, 1915
------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 0010 hrs
Lord Curzon briefly groaned as he finished making love to Mary Spring Rice for the second time that night. Mary was definitely not complaining. It was even better than the first round. She had even made some very unladylike noise of her own at one point. However as the sated Viceroy collapsed naked beside her, she was realized with some unease that this recent increase in ardour was only partially motivated by his love for her. It was also intended as a release for all the tension that was falling on his shoulders in the last tumultuous week. She knew that it went beyond Germans—no longer feared to be marching on Dublin—and Irish insurrection, which to date had been limited. There was also Lord Curzon’s authority at stake for he had been reassuming powers the Lord-Lieutenant had not dared to wield in decades. Now with arrival of General Hamilton he knew that his authority would be reduced. It was only a question of how much—a prospect made all the more ominous by shadow of his old nemesis, Lord Kitchener. And so he needed to reassure himself by demonstrating his manly prowess another way.
She nestled his head on his bare chest. Now before he drifted off to sleep was the time to raise the topic which bothered her. ‘Does the Prime Minister really intend to kill all 6,000 of the rebels?" she asked.
A few hours earlier Major Vane, the intelligence officer, had presented General Hamilton and Lord Curzon with the revised estimate of how many Irishmen where participating in the rebellion. It had not yet been decided whether to make this number public. That would be yet another decision made in London not Dublin. Curzon had decided to share this Mary. There were some details of the conflict he was holding back from his beloved but others he shared with her on the firm understanding that she breathe not a word of it to anyone else. She was more interested in the Irish rebels than the Huns and he in turn found her an honest sounding board for his policies.
Curzon’s postcoital bliss quickly faded. He made a sour look, "That is my understanding and it is obvious that most of England hearkens to the sentiment."
"But you are hesitant are you not, my beloved?"
"Hmm. There are some voices—in the minority mind you--who counsel that at some point we should publicly offer to spare the lives of those who surrender within a certain very short deadline. Your cousin, the ambassador is one of those. He has expressed concern that Americans of Irish Catholic descent are starting to show some renewed sympathy for the abomination of Fenianism."
"I do not always see eye to eye with Cecil esp. when it concerns Ireland but in this instance I find myself in agreement and methinks that I should write him a lengthy letter on the topic. But how do you feel about all this, my love?"
"I will review the arguments of your cousin at length in the days ahead. My inclination so far is that those we do catch are traitors and so roundly deserve to forfeit their lives. However I am convinced that many of those currently in rebellion have been catalyzed by the German victories to date. Now that we have finally received proper reinforcements, the tide of battle will sharply reverse itself in the days ahead. When it does I suspect most of the traitors will slink away into the darkness at the first opportunity. Once the Germans have been defeated, His Majesty’s Government will make every effort to determine the names of all Irishmen who assisted them. Bit I do not expect these efforts to have overmuch success except with the leaders. This could be one of those paradoxical instances where a measure of failure turns out to be good. The total number of executions should be not much more than 1,000."
"Over a thousand! Do you have any idea of what the consequences of this will be—both here and in the United States?"
Curzon made an ambivalent expression, "I have told you repeatedly that Ireland is an endless source of bafflement to me, so perhaps there is some cause for concern. As for the Yanks, I think you cousin and yourself are being alarmist."
------northeast of Castletownbere (Cork) 0030 hrs
The defenders of Berehaven naval base were intoxicated with their defeat of the attempted coup de main by the Bavarian Jaegers. They overestimated the enemy’s losses somewhat and so brought the 1/5th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment ashore at dusk to counterattack what was left of the Bavarian Jaegers. Initially they took their enemy by surprise and captured some prisoners. However the Jaeger commander had anticipated this possibility and the British surprise was short lived. They soon found that the Jaegers still had their machinegun companies and minenwerfers largely intact and were still capable of putting up a stiff fight. The Jaegers were actually delighted to have an enemy on whom they could take out their anger and frustration This British attack therefore completely failed at eliminating the Jaegers but it did make it much more difficult for them to withdraw from the Beara Peninsula.
------Ballinskelligs (Kerry) 0135 hrs
Rommel suppressed a yawn and tried to forget his need for sleep.. After his early morning failure to take the cable station here, he had travelled by motorcar to Portmagee where he made contact with the local company of Irish Volunteers. So far 66 of their men and 2 women had assembled. Rommel armed these men with Moisin-Nagant rifles and after taking out a small RIC station led them to Ballinskelligs to assist with another night attack on the cable station there. This attack didn’t do much better though an attempt by some of the Royal Marines to counterattack failed as well. Rommel did not let the latest setback discourage him. Already he was planning to use small fishing boats at Portmagee to attempt a landing on Valencia Island to attack the largest of the cable stations.
There was intermittent exchanges of rifle fire in the distance. Rommel had already warned his men once about wasting ammunition and thought it was time to remind them. But before he could do that he heard the roar of a motorcycle coming down the road that led from Waterville. The 3rd Kerry Battalion’s motor pool included 2 motorcycles. The battalion had 2 messengers that new how to ride a motorcycle. He had taken one motorcycle messenger with him during the attack on Waterville and left the other behind at Killarney. As the motorcycle approached Rommel could see that it was the latter and that worried him a little for he had left orders that it be used only for exceptionally important messages.
"Major Rommel, Major Rommel, I have a message for you. It comes from General von François!" That automatically made it exceptionally important. Rommel’s tiredness disappeared. His ego was pleased to be receiving direct communications from a general. "Hold a lantern so I can read," he ordered one of his Irish soldiers, who promptly complied.
ALL OF THIRD BATTALION MUST RETURN TO KILLARNEY BEFORE DARK ON SUNDAY REPEAT ALL OF TEHIRD BATTALION MUST RETURN TO KILLARNEY BEFORE DARK ON SUNDAY STOP LEAVE LOCAL VOLUNTEER UNITS AND THE PIONEERS TO HOLD CABLE STATION WITH ORDERS TO DESTROY STATION TO PREVENT CAPTURE IF NECESSARY STOP YOU PERSONALLY WILL REPORT TO ME AT CASTLEISLAND AT 1900 HRS
------Kriva River gorge (Serbia) 0320 hrs
The Ottoman III Corps had consisted at mobilization of the 7th, 8th and 9th Infantry Divisions. It had soon thereafter lost the 8th Infantry Division which was sent to participate in the unsuccessful attack on Suez. For a while the 19th Infantry Division had replaced the 8th Division. III Corps had been the linchpin of the Gallipoli defenses but in February the combination of the CANZAC expedition to Albania and the Battle of Utsire convinced Enver Pasha that such first rate units were wasted defending Gallipoli. He let Feldmarschal Freiherr von der Goltz persuade him to commit III Corps to assist in an invasion of Serbia if Bulgaria would join the Central Powers. Later Baron von der Goltz persuaded him to send the 19th Infantry Division to Mesopotamia instead and in its place assign the 2nd Infantry Division to III Corps.
When Tsar Ferdinand finally decided to sign the secret treaty of alliance the III Corps was hustled off to Bulgaria. In the preparation for Operation Tourniquet there was some controversy about how best to use the Bulgarians. Falkenhayn had wanted the major Bulgarian effort directed at capturing Nish in order to open the railroad link as quickly as possible. Tsar Ferdinand and the Bulgarian General Staff wanted to place a greater emphasis on an attack into Vardar Macedonia. Ludendorff was eventually persuaded that the Bulgarians were correct in the overall strategy though he harped on some of the details. Conrad was sure that the Bulgarians wanted to establish a claim to an Adriatic presence that he felt was contrary to Austria’s interests, but he could also see the desirability of moving into Albania as quickly as possible to prevent Entente reinforcements from landing. Rupprecht was also ambivalent initially. He was still furious with Falkenhayn over the use of toxic gas but he was always suspicious of any idea heartily endorsed by Ludendorff.
Rupprecht eventually decided that the Bulgarian First and Second Army should be of roughly equal strength but the Second Army would be strengthened with the addition of the Ottoman III Corps The Bulgarian resisted this idea at first saying that the best plan was to use the Ottomans to pin the Serbian forces near Pirot. but eventually they accepted the proposal. Esat Pasha, the commander of the III Ottoman Corps was put in the awkward position of being operationally subordinate to Gen. Todorov’s Second Army but still reporting directly to HQ Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht. When the Bulgarians grew unhappy with the slow progress of the initial phase of Operation Tourniquet and stalled their own entry, Rupprecht contacted Esat Pasha at III Corps assembly point at Kyustendil and ordered him to begin his attack Sunday morning.
Last night Gen. Todorov had tried to order Esat Pasha to hold off on his attack until the Bulgarian Army attacked, which he claimed was still scheduled for Monday, though he now talked about Monday at dusk. The Pasha was no stranger to the complex vagaries of Balkan politics and sensed that the Bulgarians were waffling in their resolve and that in turn Crown Prince Rupprecht was using III Ottoman Corps to catalyze the Bulgarians into action. Esat Pasha was all too happy to serve that role.
Here is the Balkans the sky was clear. The towering mass of Planina Osogovska was visible in the bright moonlight. The askers of the Ottoman 2nd and 7th Infantry Divisions advanced across the Serbian border into the gorge and very soon found themselves engaged with strong outposts of the Serbian Macedonian Army. Putnik had been forced to keep most of his strength in the north but there was enough left in Macedonia to put a stiff resistance.
------Lough Derg 0210 hrs
Augmented by some of their captures from the previous night a flotilla of 9 Shannon river vessels had departed from Scariff Bay at dusk. The largest of the boats was now armed with a 5 cm light naval gun in addition to a machine gun. The boats now carried 32 German Marines, 9 Pioneers and the 91 men of the 4th company Central Clare Battalion The clouds had begun to thicken around midnight and the bright moonlight was now partially blocked. As they approached the north end of the lake they were challenged by a small boat with a half dozen riflemen. "Stop you engines!" came the gruff voice of patrol vessel’s captain.
"Go to bloody hell!" came the reply and weapons commenced firing in 3 seconds The battle was a mismatch but the wooden patrol boat was hard to sink and was left burning and down by the bow with its crew riddled with bullets. The commander of the flotilla considered aborting the mission but continued on any way. The landing force was put ashore to the west of the market town of Portumna at the north end of Lough Derg where the Shannon empties into it. There was a privately owned forest there. They assembled in the forest and sent ahead 2 men who knew how to contact the Irish Volunteer company in Portumna.
------Fethard (Tipperary) 0400 hrs
The lead company of 1/4th battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment had arrived just north of Fethard soon after dark after a gruelling march all the way from Maryborough. The battalion commander had conferred with the commander of ‘C’ Squadron 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars, who had told him that most if not all of the German cavalry had departed Fethard, leaving behind what they thought was about 700 Irish rebels incl. at least 200 wounded. The battalion commander decided to encircle the town from a distance then let his men get a few hours sleep and then attack before first light. The machine gun section was deployed to the south of the market town along with the Yorkshire Hussars in case the Irish Volunteers tried to escape in that direction.
The attack was made by 2 rifle companies assaulting the eastern entrance of Fethard and the other 2 attacking the western. Clouds had now attenuated the moonlight and it was hoped that they could achieve some measure of surprise and they did manage to capture 2 outposts manned by Irish volunteers. But the Germans had turned all the entrances through the walls into strongpoints with barbed wire, barricades and sandbags. Each entrance had an automatic rifle in addition to riflemen and some Tipperary Volunteers armed with double barrelled shotguns and pistols.
In the dark it was impossible for both British pincers to arrive anywhere close to simultaneous. The attack from the east hit first. A bugle sounded a warning call and Uhlans on top of the walls fired 2 parachute flares. The riflemen already on the wall opened fire on the lead company while men wakened by the alarm scurried up the wall to join them. An additional automatic rifle crew was rushed to the attacked entrance. The initial rifle fire merely thinned the attacking English herd and was insufficient to stop their determined charge. It was the barricade and wire that halted their attack and at short range the Irish shotguns proved deadly. The attackers had been sent to Ireland with only a few jam tin bombs and had not been planning to use those in this assault. So they struggled to press their weight by sheer weight of human flesh into the entranceway while the number of riflemen pouring down fire from the walls steadily increased.
The attack on the western entrance arrived minutes later by which time there more men on the walls and suffered heavier casualties on its approach. They too were stopped by the wire and barricades at the entrance. The commander of the 1/4th Duke of Wellington’s was with this half of his battalion. The darkness caused some trouble in seeing what happening and he was very reluctant to accept that a force that was overwhelmingly Irish partisans could be hurting him badly but before too long he ordered the bugles to sound retreat and sent a messenger over to the other half of the battalion. On the way the messenger was badly hobbled by a round in his right calf. When he reached the eastern half of the battalion they had already lost nearly half their strength. They had finally overpowered the enemy at the entrance; with some of their men climbing over the dead bodies of their fellow soldiers caught on the wire. What was left of ‘A’ company forced its way inside the town walls only to find itself fighting more Irish Volunteers behind barricades and inside buildings. Further compounding the situation the commander of ‘A’ company was the acting commander of the half battalion and had been badly wounded.
The first rosy hints of dawn were starting to manifest. Once it was clear that the threat to the west had left the Uhlan squadron commander ordered a reinforcement of the eastern side. The British retreat there was not easily accomplished on account of ‘A’ company being partially in the town. Some of the more seriously wounded Tommies and nearly all the dead were left behind in the retreat. When it was over ‘A’ company had been nearly obliterated and ‘B’ company had suffered more than 100 casualties.
------Millstreet (Cork) 0420 hrs
In the early twilight the 1/6th battalion Chesires stumbled into Millstreet. There was some groups of men ahead that looked to be soldiers. The Cheshire’s prepared to attack and then realized the men in front of them were also British—the 7th Inniskilling Fusiliers who had arrived only a few minutes earlier. They Ulstermen told the Welshmen that the Bavarians had apparently fled to the northwest.
------Le Crotoy (Picardy) 0530 hrs
Despite pressure from General Fabeck to take Morlay during the night the commander of the Guard Corps ordered very limited attacks Though they were underfed and demoralized the Indian troops the Prussian Guards faced could still be ferocious in the close combat of trench warfare. The usual back and forth ebb of attack and counterattack ensued. When the first hint of dawn lit up the sky the Prussian Guards had advanced only 400 yards in one small sector. While this was going on the Guards moved their foot artillery battalion forward so that two batteries of 15cm howitzers were in range of le Crotoy, the fishing village their aviators had observed being used as an improvised supply route to the British First Army. They had also set up an observation balloon. The batteries now commenced firing on the village. Their initial salvos were way off the mark but were soon corrected. However even the errant early salvos helped cause panic amongst the largely civilian trawler crews. British fighters made several attacks on the observation balloon and eventually destroyed while their own artillery tried to suppress the German foot artillery. Neither countermeasure was unanticipated but the Germans had not intended a sustained bombardment but only enough to intimidate the civilian boat crews.
Meanwhile the nightly shipment of supplies to First Army continued to be an adventure. With the Germans on the outskirts of Morlay the section of road vulnerable to harassing artillery fire had more than doubled. The men, vehicles and draught animals of the ASC companies involved suffered additional losses though most of the supplies transported did eventually reach First Army. This flow of supplies was still only a little more than the minimum that First Army needed to survive.
------Compiegne Forest 0600 hrs
The weather was evaluated at first light as being satisfactory for the infantry assault. The French 75s now joined in the final phase of the bombardment. The infantry earmarked for the assault were now grouped in the front trench receiving their last minute instructions from their officers.
------SMS B.98 eastern English Channel 0625 hrs
During its night voyage through the English Channel, the destroyer’s lookouts had spotted 3 merchantmen, one of which was fairly large and very tempting, but the ship’s captain thought the delay in capturing her could wreck his chances for making it to safety. He did consider a quick torpedo attack but in addition to being against the roles of war it would still have necessitated a change of course and there was a very real chance he would need his torpedoes later. There was also a brief sighting in the early twilight by one lookout which was never confirmed by anyone else of what he thought was a warship, probably a cruiser.
The sky was partially cloudy. Visibility was better looking east though the sun sometimes broke though the clouds. The lookouts reported a surfaced submarine to the NNE. The ship’s captain after some hesitation decided this was a target too tempting to pass up thought he was worried that it might be German. The destroyer charged towards the submarine whose lookouts soon saw her but failed to recognize the class and did not immediately see the ensign. They at first thought she was too big to a German destroyer and as we was coming the west must certainly be friendly. The Germans had finally identified the submarine as being a British ‘C’ class submarine. She was part of the British submarine patrols which the Admiralty had concentrated in the eastern portion of the Channel in the case the High Seas Fleet returned.
The 8.8cm gun fired and missed. The crew of the C.3 now desperately prepared for an emergency dive. Shells now splashed near her and the destroyer closed in an attempt to ram. With only seconds to spare the C.3 slid beneath waves as another shell burst close enough to rattle the hull slowly. The crew of the submarine breathed a sigh of relief. Then they heard one ominous splash, and then another. Second later there were two extremely loud explosions. The pressure hull was ruptured and water poured into compartments.
Aboard the B.98 the captain resisted the temptation to bring the ship around and drop the remaining pair of depth charges. Part of him wanted to believe he had succeeded but another portion, a larger portion, of his mind had serious doubts. Since the German Navy had begun using them against the pesky British submarines that hovered around the edge of the Bight the new weapon had been used several times but there had been only one known instance of a submarine being destroyed as a result. Part of B.98’s mission had been to attack British submarines trying to attack the Sonderverband off Ireland though the OKW had placed more hope in the expedition’s netlayers as an antisubmarine measure. The destroyer’s captain now found it ironic that it was here that he finally got to perform that role. He hoped that he had done some good but knew very well this attack would decrease his own ship’s chances for survival. He turned to his first officer and said with a grim smile, "If this is to be our last day then at least we started it off with a brave effort, ja?"
The first officer grinned but worry showed in eyes, "We do our duty as best we can, my Kapitan. That is how an officer faces death."
------HQ German Sixth Army Crecy 0620 hrs
"General von Armin should have been able to advance further during the gas attack," General von Fabeck complained to Oberst Freiherr von Wenge, his chief of staff.
"He was told his attack was intended to pin the enemy. Our orders said nothing about attempting a maximum advance, General."
"There is no need to remind me of my own orders!" barked an irritated Fabeck. Just a few minutes ago he received another cable from Falkenhayn requesting an update on the progress made in destroying British First Army. Fabeck knew that Falkenhayn would be disappointed at Sixth Army’s small progress. In fact Fabeck was disappointed at himself for the results to date. He felt that he should have completely obliterated at least a half dozen enemy divisions by now. He had also received some intelligence based on radio intercepts in the last hour that British reinforcements, perhaps an entire division, had arrived at LeHavre during the night. This contributed to his feeling that his window of opportunity was rapidly closing.
Wenge was more optimistic. "British First Army is receiving inadequate supplies, General. I still believe it is not necessary for our men to reach the sea to complete their destruction. We have suffered relatively modest casualties in this battle. The enemy continues to throe himself at us in desperate attacks. I suggest we refrain from further infantry attacks. The British stubbornly keep their IV Corps in a position vulnerable to enfilading fire. We should intensify that bombardment weakening Second Army while First Army is steadily weakened by lack of supplies and the need to mount desperate counterattacks to relieve our pressure on their supply line. We should also prepare to launch another gas cloud."
"That will take time. I am willing to pursue this course of action during the day. I know that the Guard Corps is suffering from exhaustion and it is dangerous if we press them into useless attacks. However when night falls there is something else we are going to try."
------Millstreet (Cork) 0635 hrs
Gen Keir, the commander of VII Army Corps was meeting with Gen Parsons, commander of the 16th (Irish) Division and Gen. Lindley, commander of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. "I cannot believe that the infernal Bavarians were able to withdraw so quickly and so completely." a very disappointed Keir remarked shaking his head, "what was the prisoner count for the night?"
"We captured 22 Germans and 27 Irishmen, sir" replied Lindley.
"Please, General Lindley, nearly all my poor brave men happen to be Irishmen!" growled Parsons, "What you mean to say is that you captured 27 turncoats, who disgrace the name of Ireland."
"I am in no mood for hair-splitting, General Parsons," Keir countered, "I am sure that General Lindley meant no disrespect whatsoever for your soldiers. Now if you would kindly answer my question."
"Yes, sir. According to my latest reports we took 13 German and only a single traitor prisoner We also captured a single wrecked 77mm artillery piece and one of them pestiferous armored cars which the Germans had destroyed with explosives. We also took some enemy wagons and supplies. Only a tiny bit of ammo. Some food and fodder Some---"
"--Yes, yes. Both of you prepare detailed reports on what we captured before noon," Keir interrupted, "I want to concentrate of what we are going to do next. Even though our enemy is nimble we still have him on the run. I intend to chase him all the way to edge of the ocean if needs be. Is he still retreating, General Lindley?"
"Uh, no, sir. That is, Cheshire Brigade reports they’ve formed a line just east of Duncannon Bridge. North Wales Brigade is still trying to regroup after falling into a chaotic mess during the night. It is not exactly sure where the enemy line is in their vicinity but has reported coming under sporadic artillery fire northeast of Knocknagree."
"So they are making some sort of a stand after all. Make every effort to locate their left flank. Have North Wales Brigade concentrate on pushing through to Ballydesmond and then on to Castleisland. We have good intelligence that is an important base of theirs."
"What about my division, sir?" asked Parsons, "I have 47th Brigade and 3 batteries of 15 pounders pressuring the Germans southeast of Ballyvourney while 49th Brigade and the rest of my artillery is hear at Millstreet where there is congestion with the Welsh Division using the same roads."
"Yes, that is fairly obvious. Move 49th Brigade and the artillery to join 47th Brigade and then renew your attack on the southern portion of the 6th Bavarian Division. Proceed to take Ballyvourny and then continue on to Killarney. Ultimately your pincer and General Lindley’s should converge in the vicinity of Tralee and that should spell the end of the 6th Bavarian."
Neither Parsons and Lindley were as optimistic as Keir. "There is the question of ordinance, sir," said Lindley, "Cheshire Artillery Brigade has not a single shell left."
"I am well aware of that, General Lindley," replied Keir testily who then turned a withering look on Parsons, "When I sent to Ireland Lord Kitchener and General Hamilton both told me that 16th Division had an ample supply of shells. However when I arrived I found that was no longer the case."
"It was my artillery that prevented the Bavarians from destroying my entire division!" Parsons protested.
"Why of course, it was," Keir replied with droll sarcasm, "but it now presents us with a problem. We must be very parsimonious with our artillery today and tomorrow. You will immediately send General Lindley, 200 of your remaining 15 pounder shells---"
"—but I have less that 500 remaining, sir---"
"---and Cheshire Artillery Brigade has none at all right now!"
Parsons sighed, "I will see to it immediately, sir."
"Good. Now then, General Lindley, I have also made arrangements for some additional motor trucks to be put at our disposal. They will rendezvous with your II and IV Welsh Artillery Brigades in about an hour. These trucks will speedily convey the 15 pounder shells from those brigades to Cheshire Artillery Brigade which has a much more immediate need for them."
"These are stopgap solutions, sir," Lindley remarked, "What is now painfully obvious is that the Corps needs more ammunition."
Keir bit lip, "General Hamilton has already contacted the War Office on this matter. Lord Kitchener has promised only a small shipment and not before Tuesday morning. In the meantime we shall have to make do with what we have."
------Farran Forest (Cork) 0655 hrs
Having received reports from 2 local hunters of a suspiciously large number of people camping in Farran Forest the 4 local constables set out to investigate. They did not get too deep into the woods when they saw signs of activity ahead of them. Suddenly they found themselves under fire from few riflemen. They returned fire but the numbers of the enemy quickly grew. The head constable realized he was badly outnumbered and called for his men to withdraw. However one had already been badly wounded and trying to assist him the head constable was hit as well. He yelled to the other two constables to get away. Seconds later he was hit again and killed. The remaining pair managed to escape.
Flynn wanted very much to slay the wounded constable but his men and even Julius were squeamish about killing prisoners. He took the weapons and ammo from the two constables and told Sealgair Company, "The two that got away are going to fetch some help. We were going to leave this forest anyway but it now has to be quicker than I planned."
"And just where are you planning to go, Joe?" asked Kerns.
"First to Crookston where there is another small company and then on south to Brandon where there is a bigger one." .
------middle of nowhere Herzegovina 0700 hrs
Realizing that without shells for their artillery they would be impotent once the sun rose the 1st Australians Division counterattacked the Kaiserjaegers in the trenches all through the night. They discovered to their chagrin that the Black Legs had a new toy—a small mortar they mysteriously called a presterwefer—literally a priest thrower. Even at night it was a dangerous weapon, yet despite having priests thrown at them the Australians were able to regain nearly a third of the territory they had lost the other day. At first light the combat had waned with both sides seeing a need for caution. The Austrian artillery now resumed a methodical pounding the Australian positions.
------Mt. Knockacummer (Cork) 0705 hrs
Yesterday at dusk as it became apparent that the North Wales Brigade would eventually turn its left, the 3rd battalion of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment along with a machine gun platoon and the North Cork Battalion fell back to the west. As it retreated its commander received unusual orders. He began to detach one rifle company and together with the North Cork Battalion ordered to it to proceed to the northwest instead of due west. As this was underway he fought a brief delaying action with the vanguard of his pursuers. Later he detached another rifle company and set it off to join the other. Then finally after midnight he detached a third company and accompanied it personally as it set out to join the other pair. What remained behind to distract the Welshmen was his strongest company and the machinegun platoon. The inexperienced pursuers had lost their cohesion in the dark which grew worse as thickening clouds negated the gibbous moon.
The detached companies marched hard up until first light where they made camp in the foothills of the southeast corner of the Mullaghareirk Mountains which lie along the border between Counties Cork and Limerick. This was a very wild portion of County Cork and the men were ordered to camp in the dense woodland in scattered groups, except for one Bavarian rifle company which was mostly housed in the small village of Meelin. Assisted by local Irish Volunteers a small band of Bavarians established an observation post on the nearby mountain peak. The Germans were ordered to stay hidden as much under the trees as much as possible and if they must travel in the open to do so in small groups. The battalion set up camp and sent out small patrols then waited for Hell to take them.
------Woodford (Galway) 0750 hrs
The Marine Cavalry Squadron had a few days earlier been sent to scout the northwest portion of Clare, including the Burren district. There they had made contact with 2 small companies of the Irish Volunteers which they armed. After that they moved over to the eastern portion of Clare. Here there was a bit of gap where neither side had invested much strength. The cavalry were sent into County Galway. In the small village of Woodford they were are able to make contact with a small ‘company’ of Irish Volunteers who had not been part of Liam Mellowes’ group but had heard of what happened and spoke darkly to German Marines of a massacre. They said that this story had circulated throughout most of the Galway and was causing many Redmondites to join the Irish Volunteers.
A dispatch rider now arrived from the south. After reading it the squadron commander summoned his troop leaders and told them to get the men and their mounts ready to move in the next hour. After that he told the Irish Volunteer company to get ready as well.
------Istanbul 0805 hrs
"I received a cable this morning that the III Corps went ahead with its attack," Enver Pasha told Generalmajor Otto Liman von Sanders while they shared a bowl of sweetened figs, "But will the Bulgarians continue to hold back? Should we be worried that they might continue to stall allowing the cunning Serbs will concentrate against Esat Pasha?"
Sanders was worried about this possibility as well but decided not to acknowledge it, "The Serbs have other problems at this time, Pasha."
"Yes, what you say is true. Still this so called Operation Tourniquet of yours is behind schedule, is it not? Shouldn’t Prince Rupprecht have taken Belgrade by now? This is the main reason for Tsar Ferdinand’s dallying."
."The Danube is a formidable water obstacle, esp. in the early spring, Pasha. The German Tenth Army has now established a secure bridgehead. The most difficult task in the operation has been accomplished. I am confident that progress will become more rapid in the next day or two," replied von Sanders. Again he had some personal doubts about what he was saying.
Enver Pasha had a bowl of sweetened figs in front of him. He ate one while thinking over what the German had told. When he was done he moved on to a new topic, "The 5th Infantry Division finally reached Diayarbakir yesterday. The addition of II Corps to Third Army is taking longer than I had hoped."
Liman von Sanders frowned slightly. "The deployment of III Corps to Bulgaria and 19th to Mesopotamia has strained your railroad system, even though the Bulgarians sent us a few of their trains. Under these conditions Oberst Zadernstorn is to be commended." Sanders personally blamed his rival, von der Goltz for causing this delay as the Baron had been the one to persuade Enver to move III Corps and 19th Division despite Sanders’ misgivings about both missions.
"Our railroads continue to be a source of frustration. Perhaps we should have sent the rest of II Corps all the way to Third Army by foot. At the rate the deployment is going it will be be two more months before my Pan-Turanian offensive starts," Pasha lamented, "The decision to send 19th Division worked out well though the British invaders continue to hold out at Basra. I wonder if Der Goltz has succeeded in disrupting the oil pipeline?"
Sanders could not resist the opportunity to do some backbiting, "That is only a moderately important objective Pasha. In all honesty Pasha I think part of Fifth Army’s difficulty in finishing at Basra can be attributed to Der Goltz’s fixation on Persia."
"Tsk, tsk. You badmouth your countryman too much, General von Sanders. Now that he is no longer in my face pestering me, I am starting to appreciate the Baron’s prowess. Another wise move on my part sending him to Mesopotamia, yes? But speaking of Persia, I just learned that there had been another Russian attack at Kotur Friday. The 1st Expeditionary Force and Van Jandarma Division were once again hard pressed but able to hold their position."
"Holding their position is one thing. It should not lead us to believe he can conduct a major campaign in Persia anytime soon. Russian strength in the region is steadily increasing. It is best to remain on the defensive."
Enver began to eat another fig. He did not like the taste of this one and spit it out, "Ugh. Things would go much more smoothly there if the Armenians would behave themselves. There are many of them who serve the Russians in various ways. Each week it gets a little bit worse."
"Yes, I have been told there is a serious problem. How do you intend to remedy it?"
"Certain severe measures are now being very seriously considered, including relocating most of the Armenians in eastern Anatolia."
------SMS Lothringen middle of Atlantic 0815 hrs
Second Scouting Group had taken two interesting prizes in the early morning. Blucher had intercepted a British freighter out of Philadelphia with a cargo of spare parts for motor vehicles including a considerable amount of tires. This merchantman had a wireless but it was a weak one and the Germans were confident that they been successful in jamming its transmissions. Admiral von Spee knew how much Germany needed rubber, but there was little prospect at this time of getting a prize back to Germany. So he reluctantly ordered Admiral Maas to sink her. The other interesting prize was collier without a wireless out of Bristol headed for Venezuela. This required another decision by von Spee.
"I know we are already a little behind schedule, but I am not going to pass on some more Welsh coal," he informed his chief of staff.
The 2nd Scouting Group had also encountered a passenger liner coming from the United States this morning. She was the Napoli and currently belonged to Navagazione Generale Italiana. She was equipped with a wireless of uncertain strength. Spee had decided against having Rostock stop the neutral liner. Only Rostock had come within sight of her and so far she had made no wireless transmissions.
------Newcastle West (Limerick) 0825 hrs
The Irish Brigade commander assigned to the West Limerick Brigade was brevet Major Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma IRA. He had already earned an Iron Cross 2nd Class serving as a leutnant with the 3rd Bavarian Infantry Regiment and had demonstrated many of the traits OKW was looking for in its Irish Brigade commanders. His Catholicism was considered another plus for this assignment. He had received orders from Oberst Hell late yesterday and had assembled his entire battalion in the town of Newcastle West. Previously his mission in addition to training was to guard the railroad track and provide an outer screen to stop a possible British cavalry raid on the important supply center at Foynes.
Even before Operation Unicorn landed in Munster, von Thoma was interested in the possible uses of motor vehicles in open warfare. He had shared some of his ideas with his fellow Irish Brigade officers. Major Rommel had expressed some interest in them though he did not get along with von Thoma and once accused him of being the quintessential Bavarian pedant. Rommel put some of von Thoma’s ideas to use at Killarney and then had the audacity to claim they were completely his own inspiration without giving von Thoma any credit.
Meanwhile Thoma experimented less dramatically with his own battalion. He formed a 31 man cyclist platoon for reconnaissance. He also managed to accumulate 7 motor cars and 3 trucks, though 2 cars and one of the trucks were very unreliable. West Limerick had been the very first Irish battalion to receive a 2 gun section of the chopped down Pulitov cannons. He was using motor cars to tow them into action with a truck hauling their ammunition. He also had assigned motor vehicles to transport his machinegun section. He had led his battalion in a dozen attacks on local RIC stations, sometimes with the help of a German Marine cyclist company. Half of the stations had been abandoned when they are arrived but the others proved to be useful training exercises. Yesterday afternoon he had used the infantry guns for the first time to finally capture an 8 man station that had been stubbornly holding out.
Major von Thoma had with his ideas generated some enthusiasm amongst the local populace. In the last 4 days 59 Redmondites had decided to join his outfit as well as some young kids, a few elderly men and 2 more women. .There was also a local priest, Fr. Moriarity who volunteered to be the battalion chaplain. The battalion had just finished attending Mass together. The men had been told that they would be marching out to likely combat as soon as it was over. Fr. Moraiarity was Fenian to the core and delivered a sermon that assured the Irish Volunteers that were pursuing a just and holy cause. When Mass was over Major von Thoma asked the chaplain to accompany him as he addressed his battalion.
"Father Moriarity, I am now going to ask you to bless these brave Irish souls that will soon be marching forth to fight for Ireland," the IRA major said to the priest in a tone that tried to show that the Germans were not completely humorless, "but I am afraid that it is going to sound a wee bit blasphemous, esp. on the Holy Sabbath."
The priest did not know what to make of this and waited a few seconds, then with a confused shrug replied, "I am afraid I dunna follow you, Major? What could possibly be blasphemous for fighting for a free and holy Ireland?"
"Well, you see, Father. These men are going to be joining Brigade Hell."
"Oh, the dreaming! the dreaming! the torturing, heartscalding,
never satisfying dreaming, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming! [Savagely] No
debauchery that ever coarsened and brutalized an Englishman can take the worth
and usefulness out of him like that dreaming. An
Act I, John Bull’s Other Island, George Bernard Shaw
------Borrisokone (Tipperary) 0915 hrs
The 3rd battalion of the Leinster Regiment was a regimental reserve battalion stationed at Birr in King’s County.. As such it was not intended to see combat itself but rather to supply replacement levies to the other battalions in the regiment. It had sent many men to the front and in recent months the rate of enlistment in Leinster had sharply declined so it currently had a strength of only 408 men with varying degrees of training. All its men had Lee-Enfield rifles, but they did not have a machinegun section. Their stockpile of ammunition was more parsimonious than a front line unit.
Yesterday reports of rebel activity in the large town of Borrisokone in the northwest corner of County Tipperary had filtered back to VI Army Corps HQ at Maryborough. . General Stopford had initially hoped the RIC would be able to take care of the situation but later reports indicated that the rebels were too numerous and well armed.. General Stopford then became concerned that the rebels might pose a threat to the railway going into Nenagh. So before retiring to bed for the night he ordered the 3rd Leinster to proceed to Borrisokone to remedy the situation. However the wires to Birr had been cut and it was necessary to dispatch a messenger with these orders. In the meantime most of the members of the local Irish Volunteers in Birr had slipped away in the darkness had slipped away to join the rebels at Borriskone, though the local constables had managed to arrest 5 men for violating curfew.
After a hard night march the 3rd Leinsters reached Borrisokone. They did not find the rebels, and the only constable they found was dead. Civilians came forward and related how a band of Fenians, some of them wearing steel helmets, had overpowered the small RIC station. The civilians differed widely on the number of rebels—a few said it was less than 100 while others spoke of several hundreds. Two of them described the leader of the rebels as wearing a strange uniform and speaking with a pronounced German accent. All of the rebels had left a few hours earlier heading NNW on the road to Portland and Portumna.
The battalion’s wagons had lagged behind. The battalion commander decided to give his weary men an hour to east and rest while the wagons caught up then he would pursue the rebels. He sent one messenger back to Birr and another south to Nenagh to update VI Amy Corps on the current situation.
------SMS B.98 west of Etaples 0940 hrs
The B.98 had ended its radio silence an hour earlier and contacted Flanderen Flotilla. It learned that British artillery was no longer in range of the small port of Etaples so that was its best bet. The B.98 was trying to do just that but there now were 3 obsolescent British ‘E’ class destroyers belonging to Dover Patrol in its way. The B.98 did not have much oil left. Running to the west to make another attempt after dark did not appear to be a realistic option.
"Helm! Ring the flank bell!"
The B.98 soon bore down on the enemy warships lancing her way through the waves at her maximum speed of 35 knots. At first the commander of the destroyer division thought the German was trying to swing around them and turned so as to interdict the German destroyer but that was not the kapitan’s intentions and he came straight at them. The old British destroyers mounted only 12 pounders. The B.98’s forward 8.8cm guns opened fire on the middle British destroyer. .The British guns soon returned fire but had trouble distinguishing the splashes. Despite this handicap they eventually peppered B.98. Some of the hits did nothing but others caused small fires and two admitted water into the bow. The middle British destroyer was hit in the engines and hauled out of line. The B.98 shifted its two forward guns to the rearmost destroyer.
One 12 pound shell and then another hit the mainmast near the bridge, killing 3 seamen and starting a fire in the chartroom. Still the B.98 continued on its way. The fire in the mainmast was proving difficult to extinguish and threatened the bridge. Lookouts reported 3 additional warships, believed to be more British destroyers approaching from the north. Each minute brought several new damage reports.
"Kapitan, the forward magazine is flooding!"
"Kapitan, the helm is slow to respond!"
"Kapitan, there is a dangerous fire in the galley."
"Kapitan,seawater is starting to leak into the forward fireroom."
"Kapitan, there---" Then a 12 pounder shell exploded just below the bridge. There was a moment of confusion. One seaman on the bridge was eviscerated. The Kapitan was down on the deck he was bleeding esp. from the stump of the right forearm which no longer had a hand.
"Kapitan, we must get you to sickbay," said the first officer, who was also wounded but not as badly.
The Kapitan screamed in pain and for a few seconds his crew thought he would leave. "Nein! I will stay," he said, "someone fix me a tourniquet now!"
"Kapitan, the lead British destroyer has fired a torpedo at us."
"Take evasive action at the last second. Do not turn us about."
The B.98 had lost some speed but it was still rapidly closing on the British destroyers. The British 18" torpedo missed by only a dozen yards. The British destroyers were still baring its way. "Ram the rear destroyer," the one handed Kapitan ordered, "Order everyone to prepare for collision."
The HMS Eden was this destroyer and it had been damaged by the B.98’s guns. When the Eden’s captain decided to swerve his own helm was sluggish to respond. CRUNCH. The much larger German destroyer slammed into Eden’s bow and sheared it clean off.
Ahead lay Etaples. The B.98 with its one handed Kapitan tried to limp its way home. The ramming had worsened the leaks in own bow. Her many fires steadily increased with chocking smoke entering the shambles of the bridge. The remaining ‘E’ class destroyer turned around to pursue. The new British forces entering the fray were a trip of the more powerful ‘F’ class with 4" guns. They soon began to fire on the B.98 as well. However the German coastal artillery was now entering the action.
Seawater began to extinguish the B.98’s boiler fires. She slowed more and more. The German coastal batteries hit and damaged the HMS Saracen. But despite that the B.98’s Kapitan suddenly turned gloomy. "We are not going to make it," he told his first officer.
The Kapitan’s complexion was turning blue. The first officer realized now that the lost and was not the only injury. "Hold on my Kapitan, hold on," he said almost sobbing, "we are almost there. The coastal batteries are driving off the British destroyers. We are---"
"Kapitan, there is no pressure in the water hoses—"
"Not now, not now!" reprimanded the distraught first officer who now actually shed a tear, "We are going to make it I tell you!"
:The Kapitan made a strange grin then slipped into unconsciousness. A second later the bow of the B.98 which was very down in the water struck one of the mines the British had laid off Etpales. Krumph! The battered bow of the B.98 was now itself blown clear off. For nearly a minute this seemed like a good thing as the flooded bow was removed and the ship righted. It crawled to the edge of Etaples then stopped dead in the water. A lightly armed German tug approached to render assistance.
"Kapitan, water is still leaking into the compartments. Our fires are out of control. This ship is doomed. We must abandon ship immediately."
This was addressed to the first officer. He looked down at the one handed man and realized he was holding a corpse.
------HQ Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht 1035 hrs
General Ludendorff approached Prince Rupprecht and handed him a manila folder, "Your Royal Highness, we just finished decoding a lengthy wireless message from Sofia. Here it is for your perusal. In a nutshell Tsar Ferdinand is very upset that we ordered the Ottomans to begin their attack ahead of the Bulgarians. He still claims that he intends to launch his own attack tomorrow after dark."
Rupprecht looked strangely sad. Ludendorff did not think it had anything to do with Tsar Ferdinand. The Prince took his time reading it as if he was having trouble concentrating. Finally he said in a sombre voice, "I think this is encouraging. It proves we struck a nerve."
"Yes, but I still don’t think we should count on either the Bulgarians or the Turks doing anything productive. I know you’ve told me before that the recent Balkan Wars demonstrates that the Bulgarians have some prowess on the battlefield. Even if that was true their recent dallying proves that they’ve lost their fighting spirit. As for the Turks they do seem to have some courage at least, but what the Balkan Wars make abundantly clear is how inept they are. When I was working for Moltke, he thought the Turks had some potential and worked with his friend Baron von der Goltz to try to make something of them but I always thought it was a lost cause."
Ludendorff expected the prince to dispute that assessment but in a nearly abstract tone, Rupprecht replied, "Well then, we will just have to see what happens now won’t we?"
Ludendorff didn’t know what to make of that. Before he could speak Rupprecht asked, "I received a telegram from my wife this morning.. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth of Belgium was seriously wounded in the fighting going on in and around Crecy Forest?"
"Oh, why yes, Your Royal Highness. We received a telegram late yesterday that briefly that—"
"What did you say? Late yesterday?! Why wasn’t I informed?"
"I did not think it was all that important---"
"Elisabeth only happens to be my wife’s sister. I was one of the best men at her wedding. Of course I am interested."
"Oh, I did not know that. However I do know that she is now the
consort of an enemy monarch. And it is not just a case of a wife being properly
submissive to her husband. I hear she enthusiastically supports the enemy cause.
So you should no longer think of her as a German---"
"—but, but, Your Royal Highness---"
"I said SHUT UP!"
-----Compiegne 1100 hrs
The French bombardment lifted from the forward trench to targets behind it. It was now time for the French infantry to emerge from the trenches. There were 3 corps involved in the assault against a single German corps. On the left was Colonial Corps and on the right was the XIV Corps. In the center was the XXXIII Corps under General Petain with the 70th, Moroccan and 77th Divisions. They did so in a great mass of men. They soon found that while the German defenders had been seriously weakened by the bombardment, their concrete bunkers had allowed them to retain enough strength to inflict heavy losses on the attackers. The attacking French infantry, esp. the Moroccans in the center, ignored these losses and worming their way through some precious gaps in the thick wire barriers overpowered the forward trenches.
------London 1210 hrs
John Dillon had returned from Dublin in the morning and was now meeting with Sir John Redmond to discuss what he had learned. "These are my best figures based on the information provided me by our brigade commandants. It does not include what’s happening in the occupied territory. There have been roughly 900 of MacNeill’s Irish Volunteers who switched over to us since the Germans landed," reported Dillon.
"Only 900! But surely with their country violated by the Germans, they must see that it is time to unite in a common struggle," lamented Redmond.
"No, 900 is my best estimate for outside the occupied territory. And nearly all of that occurred in the first two days of invasion. Since then more than a hundred of those who switched to our battalions switched back. But the really bad news is that 4,300 of our men have switched over to the Irish Volunteers in the last week."
Redmond paled and then began to shake his head vigorously, "No, no. I simply cannot believe that!"
"I didn’t want to believe it either but it is the picture I am getting from our commandants. And unlike the switch of Irish Volunteers this reverse current seems to be a steady drain. Each day a few more leave."
"I know we have been slowly losing men to MacNeill starting with the Coalition Cabinet and Lord Curzon being appointed Viceroy but now that the enemy has landed in force---"
"The problem is some people are talking about the Spanish and Kinsale as well as Wolfe Tone’s involvement with the French. They are seeing the Germans in the same light."
"Irish history is something the English should remember but the Irish should forget," quoted Redmond, "Dallying with a foreign power, esp. one as ruthless as the Germans, is not the answer. The Irish people were on the verge of having everything they ever hoped for."
You mean everything you ever dreamed of thought Dillon we both know there are others with different dreams. We had hoped they were too few to worry about. It is obvious to me now that we underestimated them. "Mind you this was all before the Prime Minister’s speech in Greenwich Park. Bonar Law thinks that his dire threats will cower the Irish people. I believe it will have the opposite effect."
"I believe it was a mistake as well. But how bad could it be. Surely those in our National Volunteer battalions who were ambivalent and waffling have nearly all made their switch."
Dillon shook his head again, "From the communication I had with our commandants, the impression I get is that they feel that perhaps as many as a quarter of their men are deeply mixed in their feelings and seriously considering switching other."
"Again I must deny what I am hearing. I think you must be talking the fears of one or two paranoid commandants as the norm. Is it Dublin that has made you so cynical?"
"No, John. I heard the same tale from all over Ireland. In fact
Dublin is not the most worrisome spot by any reckoning. The Irish Volunteers
used to be tiny in Galway city—that is no longer the case. Likewise some spots
in Ulster where the Irish Volunteers were weak, are now downright hemorrhaging,
esp. County Monaghan. The disarming was sorely resented esp. when the government
backtracked on disarming the UVF as well. The constables are rounding up people
they think are commandants and other leaders in the Irish Volunteers
organization. Sometimes they get confused and arrest our own commandants as
well. But the county that has me alarmed the most is Cork."
"Cork? What in blazes is going on there? Surely with the Germans on the doorstep—in fact with a foot inside the door like a pushy salesman---the Irishmen of Cork should be rallying to the Crown."
Dillon shook his head vigorously, "Have you heard what the Cork Constitution has been writing lately?"
"No it has not. At least not as far as I know—my day is hardly ruined if I am denied the ordeal of reading the offal in that despicable mouthpiece of Unionist fantasy But what can they possibly be saying?"
"They ran a very provocative article Friday. The first was how the Catholics fighting alongside the Germans have ruined any chances for Home Rule."
"That is absolute reeking garbage! The small number of traitors will be dealt with harshly. I know that many in Ireland will be uncomfortable with that, but the last vestiges of the Irish Republican Brotherhood will be torn up and thrown into the fire. Cleansed of that pollution the Irish people, the good loyal Irish people, can step forward and claim what has been promised them."
Does he really believe that? Dillon wondered. "There is something that’s happening in County Cork that is even more disturbing. There have been rumors going around in the last few days that in the predominantly Protestant sections of County Cork, particularly Bandon and Skibbereen, that the Protestants have formed so called local protection groups, and that the RIC has provided these groups the very same weapons they recently confiscated from both the Irish Volunteers and our Irish Volunteers."
"Do these rumors have any credibility? I’ve been told that wild rumors, things like additional German landings and Irish American troops continue to run rampant in Ireland."
"Yes, indeed, I am very well acquainted with those. A very popular one in the last few days has been about the Pope committing suicide. Our people made some inquiries though and there does to seem to be something to the armed Protestant groups, at least in Skibbereen and Bandon."
"If that is so why has nothing appeared in the Irish Times?"
"Oh, there is a very good reason for that, Sir John. When General Hamilton arrived in Dublin, he brought a fairly large staff with him. Some of those men in uniform went to the Irish Times and told them that all newspapers in Ireland are now subject to strict military censorship. The editorial staff was told not to send any reporters into western Cork claiming that it had become a combat zone now—the Germans having penetrated deeper than is being publicly acknowledged. I believe this is one reason the RIC decided to allow—some say promote—the formation of these armed Protestant groups."
"And how are my men in those areas responding to this?"
"How do you think? There is a great dealt of tension between Catholic and Protestant in much of County Cork right now. There have several been incidents of petty violence between the two groups in the last few days including a stabbing in Bandon. Perhaps as much as a fifth of our Bandon Battalion has joined the Irish Volunteers."
"Hmm, this nightmare gets worse and worse! Is there any sign that these Protestant self protection groups are sprouting up elsewhere?"
"When I left Dublin we only had some unsubstantiated rumors about this groups elsewhere.. Our biggest fear is that one will spring up in Cork city."
------Rosscarberry (Cork) 1230 hrs
"You better get going, Tom, if you are going to make it back to Bandon before curfew," Kathy Hayes told her boy friend, Tom Barry, who had ridden more than 20 miles from Bandon yesterday afternoon to see her.
"There is something I need to tell you before I go, my dear, Kathy. I have reached a very important decision," Tom said with a very serious look in his eye. He spoke in a firm but subdued voice as if he was afraid somewhere might hear them even though the two of them were alone by the side of country road. For a second she wondered if he was going to propose. "What is it, Tom?" she asked breathlessly, "you are not still thinking of running off and joining the army?"
He made an ironic grin, "You read my mind, me darlin’ but not too clearly I’m afraid. I know I talked once about joining the British Army but that was before the accursed Unionists took over. So yes I am a joining an army—the army that is going to save Ireland from us from the English and the damn Prots. Tomorrow I am going to join the Irish Volunteers."
This surprised her a little. Many people regarded the Irish Volunteers as traitors because some of them were now helping the German invaders. The leaders of the Irish Volunteer units had been taken into custody soon after the Germans landed. For an instant she was speechless, then she said in an equally hushed voiced, "Are you sure of this, Tom? Things went very bad for the rebels in Galway and Wexford. I would not want anything bad to be happenin’ to the man I love."
"War is full of bad things, Kathy, but sometimes there is no avoidin’ it. It galls me to admit but I see now that the loathsome Cork Constitution was for once absolutely correct. They said Home Rule is dead and by all the saints in heaven it indeed just as dead as Liam Mellowes and James Connolly. Deader in fact for the names of those brave men will live on in the free Ireland that is coming while Home Rule and even Redmond will soon be forgotten. Ireland has been fighting this war for centuries. It is now time for the final battle."
Again Kathy did not know what to say. She kept looking around, worried that someone might overhear what was being said. Finally she asked, "What about your da—him being a former constable and all that?"
Barry nodded and sighed, "I’ve worried about that. He’s not too happy himself with the arming of the Prots. He says that many of the Catholic constables are ashamed about it but the orders were given the leaders who are Unionist Prots. I know for a fact that at least one Catholic constable has resigned in protest—and was promptly arrested for dereliction of duty. So I hope my da will understand my decision. But even if he doesn’t my mind is made up."
------Dundalk (Louth) 1305 hrs
"Once again I must compliment you on disguise, Your Excellency," the head of the Louth Volunteers, Sean MacAntee told the Countess Markievicz, "though I must say it hides your great beauty."
The Countess had disguised herself as a working class man since they had killed the arresting constables in Sligo. Pound and Yeats were also sitting in the same room, a very damp musty basement in a farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. Their disguises also tried to make them into common workmen. It was only marginally successful with Pound and still less with Yeats.
MacAntee’s remark was intended as humor and elicited a polite chuckle from Yeats. Pound on the other hand scowled then countered, "Hogwash. Utter hogwash! Her beauty remains as resplendent as the sun!"
The Countess and her poet companions had reached Dundalk late Thursday making contact with the Louth Volunteers who assisted them. At that time the authorities had not publicly declared Yeats and Pounds as fugitives, only the Countess. The RIC had initially been told to pursue Yeats in secret fearing that public knowledge of his involvement with the rebels would grant them some legitimacy. However when Friday arrived and the fugitives were still at large the newspapers printed the shocking announcement that Ireland’s greatest literary figure and his American assistant were suspected of aiding the vile Countess Markievicz in the brutal murder of 4 constables.
The next morning MacAntee contacted them. He too was in hiding from the authorities and invited them to share his refuge, which they accepted. Since then he found them to be a strange group. The Countess was a strange creature—undeniably feminine in some ways but with some very unladylike tomboy elements he found disconcerting. She had cried upon hearing of Connolly’s execution but not too fiercely as it was something she had long been long reigned to. Yeats was admittedly a wee bit eccentric but no more than to be expected from a poet, though there was a pronounced melancholia to him. What had happened in Sligo had left its mark on his soul. Most disturbing of all was the American Pound whose eyes burned with a terrible ferocity. The fact that all three of them carried pistols and knives accentuated the bizarreness.
"Than you very much for that compliment, Mr. Pound," replied the Countess, who made it a point not to call him Ezra despite him insisting that she do so, "but I think it is time that I try to reach Dublin. There is much that needs to be done. Mr. Pound and Mr. Yeats can stay here under the protection of the Louth Volunteers but I needs to get going---."
"---Countess, I will not leave you! We shall all go together to Dublin!" Pound protested virulently.
One of the things that bothered MacAntee about Mr. Pound was the way he looked at the Countess. "Mr. Yeats and Mr. Pound are welcome to stay here, however I am not so sure that this luxury suite here will be all that safe. The constabulary is looking for me as well as you three. We could be discovered any day now. I am thinking of going to Dublin myself. From what little I’ve been able to learn about what’s happening in Dublin they are sorely in need of some leadership right now. The constables have apparently snatched anyone capable of making a bloody decision."
"Pardon me for asking what will seem like an impertinent question, but just what is it that we hope to accomplish in Dublin?" asked Yeats, "Are you planning to start a rising there? The rebellions in Galway and Wexford were quickly crushed. The Germans have been unable to advance beyond Limerick."
"The late, great James Connolly had some brilliant ideas about how to fight in a large city. I think we will give the daman Brits something they weren’t expectin’,." the Countess answered.
"That’s provided the Volunteers still have any weapons left," remarked MacAntee, "here is Louth they confiscated all but a few sawed of shotguns and pistols."
"My understanding is that MacNeill and Pearse went to great lengths to disperse their weapons caches. I think we will have enough weapons." She did not sound very certain of that.
"We shall see when if we get to Dublin—of perhaps I should say ‘if we get to Dublin’. If we are all going to Dublin, might I suggest that we travel separately. The police are going to be on the lookout for you three as a group. If you go separately you will be less conspicuous---"
"---I will not leave the Countess’ side!" Pound insisted.
MacAntee was about to argue with that when Yeats spoke up, "Perhaps it is best if Ezra go with Constance and I go alone as—well this is going to sound rather vain—but I have the most widely known face in the group and therefore am the most likely to be recognized. On the other hand Ezra is not familiar with Dublin and his unfamiliarity combined with American accent might make him stand out, but not if Constance is with him.".
------Nenagh train station (Tipperary) 1355 hrs
"Isn’t the Daily Sketch a rather superficial newspaper?" CP Connolly asked Keith Murdoch as they waited at the train station, "Mostly pictures and simply written stories looking to accent the sensational as much as possible."
"Something like yellow journalism, eh?" jibed the Australian.
Connolly was still finding it a struggle to like Mr. Murdoch. "Yellow journalism is a clever phrase invented by people with something to hide," he countered.
"The more I think about the more it makes sense that the current government would pick them. Underneath the superficiality they are Conservative paper but not they are connected with Lord Northcliffe. The main thing is that paper does take some very good photographs. Now that the counteroffensive had begun the Prime Minister is anticipating some opportunities for some deeply moving photographs—the Union Jack flying over Limerick once again, lone lines of German prisoners---"
"---not to mention piles upon piles of Fenian corpses!" Connolly retorted. They had learned of the Greenwich Park speech less than an hour earlier.
Murdoch rolled his eyebrows. "Look here comes the train now. I
wonder what hack reporter they decided to accompany their ace photographer."
The train reached the landing platform. Not of the men who got out were either soldiers or constables. A few were civilians. Most of those appeared to be bureaucrats of some sort. But a pair got off the train and one of them was lugging a bulky camera. "There they are," declared Connolly and with Murdoch in tow he walked towards them waving.
"You must be the pair from the Daily Sketch," Connolly said extending his hand, "I am Charles Connolly—but please call me CP, everyone else does. I work for an American magazine called Colliers. And this here is Mr. Keith Murdoch, come all the way from Australia."
"Glad to meet you Mr. Connolly, Mr. Murdoch," said the photographer, "I am William Gore and this here is Mr. Arthur Henry Ward, but he prefers to go by a pseudonym."
"A pseudonym? And just what clever name did you dream up for yourself?"
"Sax Rohmer—perhaps you’ve heard of it."
"Oh, yes, I have. Colliers published one of your stories. Something about a devious Chinese criminal. What’s the name again—don’t tell me. Uh, The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu—am I right?"
"Yes, that’s correct. Did you like it?"
CP made an uncomfortable grimace, "To be perfectly honest, Mr. Ward, I only got about halfway through. In the American West it is not uncommon to run into coolies, and while I think you were correct about some aspects of the Oriental mind I do think that you went seriously astray about some others."
------Portland (Tipperary) 1410 hrs
The 3rd Battalion Leinster Regiment caught up with the rebels in the small town of Portland on the east bank of the Shannon in County Tipperary. The rebels had set up crude defensive works on the outskirts of the town. They consisted of 429 men and 5 women from the 2nd company East Clare Battalion, 4th company Central Clare Battalion, Portumna, Borrisokane company and Birr company. The first two had about a weeks worth of training under an Irish brigade commander. Its men all wore steel helmets and a dozen wore IRA uniforms. The rest had large armbands with IRA in dark green letters. The other three companies had only the very limited improvised training of the Irish Volunteers. Birr company was armed with an odd assortment of weapons which had been taken from the local RIC which had confiscated them from both the Irish Volunteers and Redmondites—a very heterogeneous assortment of old rifles, shotguns and pistols. The other four companies were armed with Moisin-Nagant rifles. Borrisokone company had been allowed some practice with them the day before but not too much as their available ammunition was limited.
The commander of the 3rd Leinsters had a low opinion of the effectiveness of the partisans he faced as well as a low estimate of their numbers and so ordered his men to charge the defenses, even though they were thoroughly tired from a long march. He watched in stunned incredulity as the Irish riflemen cut down more than a 100 of his men while making good use of their cover suffered few casualties in return. He finally ordered the bugler to sound a retreat. They were forced to leave some of the dead behind and concentrated on assisting the wounded. He withdrew 2 miles to the southeast and sent another messenger to Nenagh.
------Prague 1435 hrs
Archduke Friedrich had arrived via motorcar and summoned the royal heir to meet with him in private. "Karl, I have come here from Vienna because I heard you were telling the officers in Division Prague that you were probably being going to be selected as the new divisional commander. This is very presumptuous on your part and is causing unnecessary complications."
Karl’s eager grin evaporated, "So you have come here to tell the divisional command has been granted to another?"
Conrad had only made the selection just before the Archduke had left Vienna, "Yes, after most careful consideration we have selected Feldmarschalleutnant Alfred Krauss to command Division Prague. However His Majesty has been most impressed by your enthusiasm for this project and has ordered that you be named honorary commander of this division. In fact Division Prague shall henceforth be known as the Erzherzog Karl Division instead."
The archduke had hoped that this clever last minute ploy would appease the earnest Erzherzog, but it brought only a brief ambivalent semblance of grin to Karl’s face. "So I am not considered competent to command such a vital mission," he said with a deep sigh, "You are of course right to think so. I know that it is very irregular for one such as I to be entrusted with such responsibility---"
"Karl, Karl, please do not consider this as reflecting any doubt as to your competence. It was felt that this expedition entails special risks. We felt that the risk of your capture by the enemy was too great for us to grant your wish."
Karl made no immediate answer but looked glum. Trying to cheer him up Archduke Friedrich extemporized with things he only partially believed, "Look here, Karl. I meant what I just said. Feldmarschal Conrad and myself both feel that you are eminently qualified to command a division and before too long we will find you a division to command. You have my solemn word on that."
After a few seconds the eager grin returned to Karl’s face, "Make a second Division Prague! I know you have newly formed Czech battalions not formed into divisions. I also know that another class has graduated from the Przemysl training center in the last week. It is my understanding that the rifle shortage has not completely disappeared. The Germans must realize the combat value of the division they helped to create—why else would they have requested it for so important a mission? So, having generously offered the first Division Prague to the Germans, would it not be unreasonable to ask that help us to create another? More times than I can count I have heard about poor morale and disaffection amongst our Czech subjects, yet her in Prague I sense enthusiasm. We would be fools to waste this?"
Archduke Friedrich resisted the urge to roll his eyes. For the last two days Conrad had repeatedly vilified his decision to permit the creation of the present division. He also knew that in its impatience OKW was feeling less than grateful right this instant. "Uh, this is a very clever suggestion, Karl, when I return to Vienna I will suggest it to the Feldmarschal."
------just northeast of Compiegne 1505 hrs
General von Kluck had arrived to confer with General von Gronau, the commander of IV Reserve Corps. The sound of artillery—mostly incoming—remained very loud. "The enemy is too strong, general," declared von Gronau, "the French have been slowed by the need to fight in house to house in the rubble of the city so we can hold onto to a portion of it city during the night but in the morning it will fall."
"No, we must hold! I will arrange further reinforcements! Surely the French will run out of shells any minute now."
"We cannot hold here! We lack sufficient reserves to hold. We have some intelligence that the French have assigned an extremely high priority to the capture of Compiegne. I believe they are sending nearly all their ordnance to support this offensive. This is good news for the other armies on the Western Front but it means we cannot expect them to run out soon. For the time being we are inflicting far more casualties than we are suffering. Only the Moroccans have penetrated into the city so far and they are even less comfortable fighting in urban areas than European soldiers. But the other enemy divisions will soon penetrate into the city. Those of my men who remain come dawn will be taken prisoner. We must use the night to withdraw across the Aisne, blow up the bridges and prepare our defense on the river line. If too much of our strength is lost in the city itself the French will able to continue their attack either by capturing an intact bridge by crossing the Aisne tomorrow night."
With any of his other Corps commanders, Kluck would’ve insisted on holding Compiegne at all cost, but he had trusted Gronau’s judgment. "I am not at all happy with this situation. I believe not keeping most of our men in the forward trench is partially responsible for out current situation, but that is water under the bridge. I will permit you to make this withdrawal. The French have won their greatest victory of the last several months here today. This galls me no end."
"They have won a battle but a great cost here at Compiegne. But if we can hold them at the Aisne they will not win the war at Compiegne."
------Greenwich Park, London 1530 hrs
After listening to Bonar Law’s inflamed speech in Greenwich Park the day before, George Bernard Shaw announced publicly that he would be delivering a personal response to it Sunday afternoon in the very same park. Ramsey McDonald was worried and warned him to be careful. There were others in attendance. Most but not all were in greater or lesser measure favourable to Socialism. Some had come to London on account of Connolly’s execution.
"My main reason for delivering this speech today is to make amends. You see, my dear fellows, I have done a terrible thing. In the last three days I have delivered a grand total of 5 speeches about how wrong the execution of James Connolly was. Now what I am going to be ask your forgiveness for is not that I condemned that shameful atrocity. Oh, no my darling listeners, I stand by everything I said in that regards, though I wish I might have said them better and to a larger audience. No, my shame comes not from what I said but what I did not say. Did I even once mention Liam Mellowes? Did I even once mention Tom MacDonagh or Eamon Kent? Oh, no, I did not. Not a word. Yet they were also brutally murdered by this bloodthirsty government of ours. With poor James Connolly the government at least made a proper spectacle in its farce of a trial and at least made arrangement for a appeal, while these poor men were dragged before so called courts martial that do not even pretend they are being fair. They were convicted without the benefit of counsel or even the right to call witnesses. The next morning they were dragged out from their cell, and shot like an animal."
"And so yesterday the Prime Minister calls them vermin and vows to exterminate them. What lovely sweet eloquence we now hear from Unionist lips. Eradicate. Exterminate. And the crowds in their lust for blood roars approval. The British pride themselves on their culture and traditions and how this makes them far superior to everyone else, and now they howl for blood like Aztec hierophants. And again I must admit some culpability in this matter because for these last few days I have been acting as if only the lives of Socialists mattered. And unfortunately there are still those who would proclaim themselves and say Mellowes and Kent were only Nationalists so their lives are of no significance. Nationalists are not human beings—only Socialists are human. And I ask you if this sort of snobbery---for that is precisely what it is—is this snobbery real Socialism?"
"No. it is not. We may regard Nationalism as a false path and an error. But that gives no one the right to treat the Irish Nationalists as less than human. The courts martial in Ireland are an abomination. We must demand that they cease immediately. At a minimum the government should treat the captured rebels as accused criminals and afford them all the rights due the accused in a fair criminal proceeding. This is the absolute minimum of decency. But I am not in the mood to settle for a bare minimum. I am in a mood for real justice. I think this administration has been goading the Irish people to rebel and have gotten what they asked for. This is as much a war as what is going on in France. So I dare to say what many will deem to be unthinkable. I call upon our government to treat the Irish men who are now fighting against them in Ireland as what they really are—armed combatants in accord with all the treaties and conventions governing warfare---"
It was a predominantly sympathetic audience but there were some exceptions. "They are traitors not soldiers!" screamed one red faced heckler. "Kill them all!" yelled another. "You are just as bad as they are!" screamed a third.
One of the prominent foreign Socialists in the audience was Per Albin Hansson, a reporter for a Swedish Socialist newspaper based in London. Early in the war he had been moderately favourable to the Entente despite finding the sharp British class distinctions disgusting. His sympathy for Britain waned once the Tories took over. Like a great many Swedish Socialists Hansson had been outraged by the Connolly Affair. When the Germans landed in Ireland, Hansson found it to be merely a confusion distraction from the plight of Connolly. Like Shaw, who was known and respected by the Swedish Socialists, he had barely noticed the other Irishmen being executed. Then he heard the Prime Minister’s speech here the day before and was appalled—not just by the speech but the popular reaction. He now nodded his head in agreement with what Shaw was saying.. There was more to this story than James Connolly.
------Bandon (Cork) 1610 hrs
In the morning Flynn had taken Sealgair Company to the small town of Crookstown, where he quickly overpowered a small RIC station with the help of Julius’ machinegun. There he was joined by a 51 men of a small local ‘company’ of Irish Volunteers. He quickly armed them and incorporated into the Sealgairs as a separate platoon.
After that skirmish he quickly moved south to the larger town of Bandon. When he got there Flynn was surprised by two things. The more pleasant surprise was that the local company of Irish Volunteers had grown considerably. It was now roughly 190 men and 6 women. Nearly half of those had already gathered to join the Sealgairs, which Flynn he would rename the Sealgair Battalion despite Julius’ sarcastic remarks about ‘battalion’ meaning company and ‘company’ meaning platoon in Irish. The more unpleasant surprise was the considerable number of armed Protestants who were now emerging to fight his men. The Prots were not as well armed as the Sealgairs. Only half had a rifle and those were the same strange mix of obsolescent Martini-Henry’s, Gras, Krag-Jorgensen rifles that was found in the Volunteers before the Germans landed. The rest were armed with shotguns and pistols.
The result was steadily growing pandemonium. Unlike the Ulster Volunteer Force the Protestants in Bandon had no military training and were fighting in small groups without much coordination. The Sealgairs were proving to be only a little bit better though and Flynn quickly grew frustrated at his inability to lead effectively. In the last 2 days his men had discussed wearing a distinctive armband. Flynn had resisted the suggestion saying that their enemy would be wearing a uniform and that was all that was needed to tell them apart. Now he was regretting that decision as he faced an enemy without a uniform and it was becoming very hard to distinguish friend from foe. The local constabulary was equally perplexed and were content to hole up in their station.
Flynn’s tactical concept of a ‘flying column’ was now bogged down in the street fighting. He had managed to capture the important railroad station and that was where he set up Julius and the Vickers machinegun. He tried to send word to the Irish Volunteer companies at Clonakilty and Kinsale to join him. In the meantime he was forced to satisfy himself with killing AngloIrish Protestants. He would have preferred to be killing English soldiers, but hey, life isn’t always perfect.
------FS Jean Bart Ionian Sea 1615 hrs
"What is the status of the Italian cruiser?" Admiral Augustin Boue de Lapeyrere, commander of the French Mediterranean Naval Forces asked his chief of staff.
"She continues to shadow us and make coded wireless transmissions, Admiral."
The 1ere Armee Navale was in the vanguard of the convoy which had departed Malta yesterday afternoon bringing badly needed supplies to Durazzo for the Entente expedition and the Serbs. The British Mediterranean Fleet accompanied them. During the night they would be entering the Strait of Otranto. An hour earlier an Italian cruiser out of Taranto had encountered them. It approached and then turned on a parallel course. It had transmitted a wireless message to Taranto that she had discovered the French battle fleet. It received a reply from Taranto that ordered her to make all further transmissions in code. Since then it had sent and received coded messages.
Boue de Lapeyrere was well aware of the latest intelligence evaluations regarding Italy. They said that Premier Gioliltti favored the Central Powers but lacked the needed political support to bring Italy into the war at this time so instead he was doing small favors for the Central Powers.
"Perhaps our Italian friend likes the shape of our derriere and wants to give us a pinch, eh?" the admiral joked. His staff briefly chuckled. "What shall we do admiral?" asked his chief of staff.
"Send the following message to our Italian admirers by wireless and then repeat it by searchlight.. WE ARE A NATION AT WAR YOUR PROXIMITY WILL PUT YOU IN DANGER DURING THE NIGHT REPEAT YOUR PROXIMITY WILL PUT YOU IN DANGER DURING THE NIGHT STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO LEAVE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY REPEAT STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO LEAVE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY STOP CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED STOP"
------5 km southeast of Cordal (Kerry) 1625 hrs
Tralee Company had arrived an hour ago to reinforce the defensive line, which here consisted of the remaining rifle company of the 3rd battalion 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment, Castleisland Company, a German machinegun section, the newly formed machinegun section of 2nd Kerry battalion and a pioneer company. The defenders were stretched to thin for a continuous defensive live. Instead there was a series of strongpoints plus some slit trenches. To the northeast anchoring the line was Mt. Knockanfune, where the Bavarians had set up an observation post. Some of the pioneers were helping the Irishmen construct defenses but other pioneers manned light minenwerfers sited in foxholes behind the main line. There was a single stand of wire and it was not continuous but had several gaps covered by machineguns.
Most of the men of Tralee had seen action at the Tralee train station, but that fighting was merely against some constables, not true British Army soldiers. The men of Castleisland had not even had that limited combat experience. In the last week the Irish Brigade instructors of both companies had trained their men intensely but it was only one week. The men were honestly told that several thousand Welsh soldiers were approaching. Less than 12 km behind them was Gen. von François’ HQ. It was important to stop the enemy. Many of the Irish Volunteers while they were being trained complained that their German instructors had too little faith in them. When they took up their positions in the slit trench and strongpoints they worried, sometimes aloud, that the Germans were now expecting too much from them.
Without a telescope they could now see the enemy advancing towards on the road leading towards Castleisland. These belonged to the 1/5th and 1/6th battalions Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who quickly attacked the Irish positions controlling the road. "Stay calm boys, stay calm," their company commanders tried to reassure them, "Very soon you are going hear some very powerful artillery firing. Do not let it frighten you."
Nestled behind the reverse slopes of the foothills of the Glanaruddery Mountains to the northwest was Operation Unicorn’s foot artillery battalion with 3 batteries of 15cm howitzers. These now erupted at one on the approaching Welshmen. Initially they fired slowly as they registered, then increased their rate of fire once they found their targets. Both the Welshmen and the Irish were startled by the ferocity of the bursts. The commander of the North Wales Brigade was some way behind his battalions and hesitated, The commander of the 1/6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers almost immediately ordered a retreat while the 1/5th battalion tried to press on for a while until the brigadier decided upon a withdrawal.
"Well that wasn’t so hard after all," one of the Irish Volunteers quipped to his fellows inside a slit trench.
------Limerick 1630 hrs
Gen. Jacobsen, in command of the 1st Naval Division, had some intelligence that a major British counterattack was about to fall on Limerick. Despite the heavy clouds mixed with showers one of his warplanes spotted a concentration of infantry assembling near Birdhill, just out of range of the 10cm guns in the Slieve Brenagh Mountains. This strongly suggested that at least one major component of the counterattack would fall on his left flank which the enemy had not bothered since their failed attack at Ballina Monday morning. He also guessed this assault would probably wait until nightfall. Still he could not rule out attacks in other sectors. He reluctantly ordered Sturmcompany Calahan to join the German Marines defending the portion of trenches on his right wing where the British 10th Division had captured some strongpoints and trenches Wednesday night. He also permitted the machinegun section of the Limerick City Battalion to be used there.
An afternoon shower had trailed off to drizzle. The British artillery commenced firing on the German positions. General Mahon had little ammunition for his artillery and could not afford a lavish bombardment. This attack was merely a diversion to draw German strength away from Shannon where the 47th (West Riding) Division would make the main attack. The 10th Division’s first attack would be in the previously sector where the British were practically on top of each other, which meant neither side could use artillery. The brief preliminary bombardment was being directed not at the target zone but rather at adjacent areas to prevent them from reinforcing the defenses.
The acting commander of Sturm Company Calahan was Subaltern. Robert Monteith, IRA. He had once served in the British Army as a drummer. Even though he was a Protestant Monteith had become associated with the IRB. In the Dublin strike of 1913 he had seen a man clubbed to death by the police and his own daughter, Florrie was badly injured by police batons. This incident hardened his resolve and increased activity had come to the attention of the Under Secretary for Ireland, who banished him to Limerick. Monteith had been helping train the Limerick City Battalion when the Germans landed. Once the Germans were firmly in control of Limerick, Major White had decided he was the best replacement for the injured Harry Calahan and granted Monteith a commission in the IRA.
There were now 127 men in Sturm Company Calahan, organized into 3 platoons. In two of the platoons there was one squad armed with shotguns—a mix of autoloaders and pump action. The rest of the men were armed with Moisin-Nagant rifles. There were exactly 9 men in the unit who were allowed to carry hand grenades but no one had rifle grenades. Most of the men armed with rifles and all of the men armed armed with shotguns were also equipped with a pistol. There was also collection of machetes and blunt instruments at hand. The Irish Volunteers were told to use those and their pistols for close combat and not to affix their bayonets. All of the men wore the steel helmet. Men with any sort of rank down to lance corporal had been provided IRA uniforms while the rest had armbands. Most of the men in the unit had seen action under Calahan’s command at Ennis, O’Briensbridge and Ballina, but there were others who had not—a mixture of late arrivals and converted Redmondites.
"Don’t panic! Keep your heads down!" he yelled as he heard the whistle of incoming artillery. Monteith had been told by the Germans their proximity to the enemy made it unlikely they would be targeted, but Monteith did not want to rely on this supposition. He was more worried about the bayonets he could see poking up over the enemy trenches. None of the British shells landed near her company. Alongside the Volunteers was the better part of a battalion of German Marines. A messenger from the Marines scampered over to Monteith. "Leutnant Monteith," he said with a heavy accent, "The Major say expect soon enemy bayonet attack!"
Scarcely had he spoken when the British riflemen erupted en masse from their trenches. "Here they come now! Let ‘em have it!" yelled Monteith. The British attack consisted of two battalions. The British had hoped that their artillery had at least suppressed the defending machineguns but they promptly came into action pouring a stream of lead into the attackers along with the rifle fire of German Marines and Irish Volunteers. The jumping off point for the enemy battalions was cramped and it was proving difficult for the attackers to emerge rapidly—a problem compounded when bodies fell back into the trenches.
The enemy pressed on nevertheless and it was only short distance for them to cover. On account of the previous fighting in this sector only a thin strand of wire was in place right in front of the German position. It was not think enough to stop the attack altogether but it was enough to stagger and break up the onslaught. None of the attackers had been provided any form of grenade. At very close range the shotgun squads of Sturm Company Calahan proved devastating. Only 5 British soldiers reached the Irish Volunteer trenches before whistles blew and the enemy commanders called off the attack—3 were soon killed and the other two overpowered and taken prisoner. Only a fraction of the enemy attack fell on the Irish, the rest was very roughly handled by the Matrosen. .Monteith was pleased to hear the much prettier sound of outgoing artillery as the German howitzers belatedly began punishing counter battery fire on the British batteries. Meanwhile Monteith counted his own casualties. Three men were already dead and 7 more were wounded—one which died screaming from a gut wound.
The adjutant from the German Marine battalion soon came over and reviewed the battle with Monteith. "Your men did fairly well," the adjutant conceded.
"Better than you expected, eh?"
"Hmm, well yes, but only a little. You are the famed Sturmcompanie Calahan after all," he replied with a slight grin and good natured dollop of sarcasm.
"Yes, we are. I am sure the Captain will be proud!"
The adjutant’s grin faded, "Do not get carried away with yourselves. This British New Army division appears to have been trained mostly in the form of open warfare expected before the war and little in the lessons of trench warfare. They are learning those lessons the hard way but they will learn. Also I suspect this is not their main attack. If it was they would’ve committed greater strength. So this may well have been only a feint. Their next attack could be much heavier."
------London 1650 hrs
Michael Collins had sent a coded signal to Clara Benedix that he had uncovered worthwhile information to report. She in turn gave him the address of a safe house where they could meet.
Collins and Sam Maguire worked in the London postal system and had been able to read articles of military mail that passed through the system. Collins was willing to tell Clara that he had a partner but was unwilling to tell her his name in case she was apprehended. "So what have you and your mysterious partner managed to uncover this week?" she asked. Now that Collins was actually committed to espionage, all traces of her previous flirtatiousness had evaporated from her demeanor.
"Well as a starter I know what reinforcements the War Office sent to Ireland this week—the West Riding Division, the Welsh Division and the 1/2nd West Midlands Yeomanry Brigade."
The pupils in her pretty eyes dilated and Collins could hear her inhale sharply. "I really do hope you are not making this up just to impress me," she replied pointedly when she finally exhaled.
"No I am not. Why in hell would I do a damn foolish thing like that. If you are going to be taking that attitude then maybe I shouldn’t waste my breath tellin’ ya what else we uncovered."
"I did not mean to be rude, but I know from experience some men will do anything to impress a woman. Please go on."
"Yeah, I know what you are referring to but I ain’t one of those. So let’s see now, what else did I learn? Well, for one thing the battleship Colossus entered the docks this week, while the battle cruiser Inflexible has rejoined the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow."
"You have gotten all this just from reading the mail?"
"Yes, though I am working on some other sources of information."
"Would you like to tell me what they are?"
"I would like to keep them to myself for the time being, if you don’t mind."
"Have you had any success with the great Blinker Hall Mystery Berlin is so interested in?"
"Nothing yet, but we’re working on it me darlin’":
BONAR LAW VOWS TO EXTERMINATE IRISH REBELS
"British Prime Minister Bonar Law delivered a very controversial speech at Greenwich Park in London yesterday afternoon, during which he conceded that he had underestimated the size of the Irish rebellion triggered by the recent German invasion. He did not elaborate on how large he thought the Irish rebel forces were, but he vowed to ‘exterminate’ them completely no matter how large they are."
------Boston American Sunday May 2, 1915
------HQ Army Detachment Marwitz, Siauliai 1705 hrs
There were multiple reasons causing a delay in the next phase of Operation Fulcrum. The fairly rapid movement of heavy artillery by motorized tractors played an important role in Operation Fulcrum. Unfortunately the poor Baltic roads had been less than kind to the German motor vehicles. German mechanics struggled to make quick repairs on the battered suspensions.
In the meantime the German cavalry engaged in a series of skirmishes with Cossack units.
------SMS Seeadler mid Atlantic 1740 hrs
Luckner had now taken his third prize. The second had been only a 600 ton British schooner of no significance. Now he had taken a 2,100 tom British steamship out of Philadelphia with a cargo of canned vegetables. Luckner regarded this as fortuitous as food would eventually become a problem on his long voyage to East Africa. He could now replenish his stores.
Luckner was surprised to find a ship out of Philadelphia this far north. He learned from the captain of his prize that their destination had been rerouted from Liverpool to Aberdeen after the invasion of Ireland. This was the first time the crew of Seeadler had learned of Operation Unicorn. .
------Patrickswell (Limerick) 1845 hrs
The German defensive line at Limerick swung to the southwest roughly following the railway. This sector was thinly manned and consisted of a series of outposts and strongpoints instead of a continuous trench line. In the quaint village of Patrickswell the German pioneers assisted with some Irish muscle had erected an observation tower. From the German observer now spotted several thousand British soldiers to the east. There were 3 battalions from the 10th (Irish) Division that Gen. Mahan had sent to try to turn the flank of the German Marines.
Inside Patrickswell there was only a single rifle battalion of German Marines, 2 machineguns and the 3rd company of the East Limerick battalion of the Irish Volunteers. The observation tower contacted the pair of 7.7cm field guns assigned to guard this sector. The tower also had a telephone cable that ran all the way the battleship, Kaiser Wilhelm II anchored in the Shannon. In less than 2 minutes the rear turret of the battleship opened fire on the enemy infantry. The initial salvo of 24cm shells was both wide and long but guided by the observers in the towers its next salvo was much closer. Meanwhile the 7.7cm guns had joined in shelling the enemy. The position in which the Kaiser Wilhelm II was anchored did not let it bring its forward turret to bear but the rear turret fired steadily for a little more than 10 minutes. The attacking infantry---which had only a vague idea of how the German flank was disposed soon dispersed and withdrew, seeking cover.
------Baie d’Authie 1900 hrs
When then Second Battle of Crecy Forest began the British 2nd Division had been part of Gen. Munro’s I Army Corps. When the corps withdrew to the south of Authie River, the 2nd Division was assigned the difficult role of rear guard. It performed this well holding off the dogged pursuit by the German XXVII Reserve Corps and it escaped the bombardment by the High Seas Fleet. When the rest of I Army Corps was moved through the Nolette bottleneck the 2nd Division was not. Instead it was transferred to the command of Gen. Pulteney’s III Army Corps. It remained in a difficult tactical position because in addition to defending a stretch of the Authie River to the east it was also being subjected to enfilading fire by German artillery across the bay of Authie to the north.
Previously this enfilading fire had been only sporadic—the German Sixth Army having other ideas about what to do with its precious artillery shells. Still it had been enough that General Haig had positioned 3 RGA batteries armed with 60 pounders near the shore of the bay facing north to provide counter-battery fire. Now suddenly the enfilading fire was more intense and prolonged than usual and included a battery of 21cm Morser. The 60 pounders had only a limited amount of ammunition but duelled with the German artillery as best they could.
------Castleisland (Kerry) 1910 hrs
Major Rommel IRA was meeting with General von François and his acting chief of staff, Major von Runstedt.
"There are four of them," said von François, "Templebready, Camden, Westmoreland and Carlisle. We will need to neutralize all of them."
------Buckingham Palace 1915 hrs
King George had invited Prime Minister Bonar Law to have supper with him. The main course was poached salmon. "My chef has told me that the price of salmon has gone up in the last few days," King George remarked.
"It is probably due to the invasion, Your Majesty. Ireland is an important source of salmon," answered Law.
"Southern Ireland is an important exporter of food to England."
"Yes, it is, Your Majesty. The invasion is causing a few minor problems. Nothing to worry about.--the disruption will soon be over. Our counterattack is currently underway," replied Bonar Law, thinking There—I’ve given him an opening to ask the obvious question. Let’s get this over with.
"Counterattack, eh? Last I heard there was an impasse at Limerick and the Germans were having their way in Kerry and threatening Cork. What accounts for the sudden shift of initiative?" King George asked with deep suspicion in his eyes indicating he had a strong hunch about the answer and did not like what he was guessing.
"We were forced to send reinforcements to Ireland, Your Majesty. There was no alternative."
"Just how much reinforcement? An entire division?"
"Two divisions, Your Majesty, plus a brigade a yeomanry."
"Two divisions! Did I not clearly express my concern that the invasion of Ireland could be intended as a diversion to weaken England’s defenses? We now only have 5 Territorial Force divisions remaining in all of Britain."
Shall I tell him? Dare I tell him? thought an anxious Bonar Law who made no immediately
King George did not like what he was seeing in the Prime Minister’s eyes, "What? Is there something else I should know?"
"Northumbrian Division was sent to France yesterday, Your---"
"---What! Have you lost your wits, Prime Minister? Our country is exposed to the greatest threat of invasion it has faced in centuries and I personally exhorted you not to weaken our defenses and now you have the bald audacity to tell me that 3 of the 7 Territorial Force divisions in Britain have been sent away. Should I send my dear cousin a dinner invitation? He can bring his army and together we can discuss surrender terms."
"Please, Your Majesty, hear me out," Law practically begged, "There have been developments both in France and Ireland we have not fully shared with the public. The military situation in Ireland was deteriorating. There was a very real risk that the Germans were going to reach Cork city if we did not send some reinforcements."
The monarch’s ire dimmed slightly, "Yes, I was worried as well. When I summoned you here today I was expecting you to try and convince me that it was necessary to send one division to Ireland. That would have kept the Germans away from Cork. But now I am told two divisions to Ireland and a third to France. I know First Army has had a difficult time in the last week but I was also led to believe it was now out of danger."
"Uh, that again is what we’ve been telling the newspapers, Your Majesty. The situation of First Army has improved but at least half of it remains in jeopardy. The French have not been very cooperative, complaining loudly about the territory we’ve surrendered. Finally General Wilson interceded directly with Clemenceau, who reluctantly agreed to provide 2 divisions on the condition that we make no further withdrawals and that we send one more division to France."
"Clemenceau was always a disagreeable chap, downright contemptuous of royalty. Still when we heard Poincare had selected him we were pleased. We thought he might just the man to give the French a badly needed focus. It now seems that our optimism may have been a tad premature. For the time being I will accept you case for sending a Northumbrian Division to France, though I would like some more details about just what is going on from the War Office tomorrow."
"But of course, Your Majesty. I will---"
"---I still question your decision to send 2 divisions to Ireland. A single division would have been sufficient to counter any possible German advance on Cork. Do you feel that what the press has glibly entitled the Fortnight Speech as some holy solemn vow you now must keep at any cost? I certainly hope not. We would like to rid Ireland of the Huns as quickly as possible but not at the risk of leaving England vulnerable. Capturing Limerick will mean nothing if we lose London."
Bonar Law was sweating. Lloyd-George had warned that there would be political consequences if the Fortnight Pledge was not fulfilled, but to admit it to the king would sound as if his primary concern was political. "Your Majesty, I must respectfully differ. The defense of England no longer falls only on the shoulders of the Territorial Force. The First New Army divisions are extremely close to being ready and if the Huns dared to violate England they would give a smashing good account of themselves."
"Hmm. We are not as sanguine as yourself on that score. The 10th Division is a K1 division and the Germans Marines were able to take Limerick."
"Yes, that the defense of Ireland was hastily improvised and so the 10th Division was committed in pieces. And despite that it has prevented the Germans from advancing further."
King George gave that argument some thought but when he finally spoke looked unconvinced, "The weakening of the Army means the role of the Grand Fleet in countering an invasion has grown heavier. What is the current disposition of the Grand Fleet?"
"The 5th Battle Squadron is at Cromarty Firth, the other two are anchored at Scapa Flow."
"Back at Scapa? Why? Does the Admiralty intend to keep them there? It will take them too long to react to an invasion."
"The Sea Lords were hoping to pounce on the German invasion fleet if it returned home via the northern route, Your Majesty. It is now apparent though that the invasion fleet is content to remain in the Shannon. The First Lord has been discussing with them going back to having the First Battle Squadron at Rosyth and keeping the predreadnought squadrons in the Humber"
"That seems the frightfully sensible thing to do in our current situation. The sooner the better. You should discuss it with the First Lord first thing the morning."
"I certainly will do just that, Your Majesty."
There was an awkward pause between the two. Finally King George said, "I do not wish to sound completely critical. Your handling of the noisome Continental unrest caused by Connolly’s amply justified execution has been most proper. We cannot let the riffraff of the world think we can be swayed by their fatuous posturing. Those nations that have dared to criticize us are testing us, testing our strength and resolve. We would be more than happy to affix our name to any statement you wish to proclaim on this matter."
The worst of this meeting is over Law thought with an inaudible sigh of relief, "You have my deepest gratitude for that generous offer, Your Majesty."
"You know, if we let them get away with criticizing Connolly’s execution, they will soon be criticizing the other Irish traitors we shall be executing in great numbers. We are not surprised in the slightest with neither Giolitti nor King Gustav, but we are terribly disappointed in King Alphonso. Apparently Spain is not as friendly as we had been assuming. Let none of them come away from this with the impression that we are wilting from their pompous posturing. Despite our recent setbacks we are still the world’s mightiest power and we will insist on being treated with respect we deserve"
"Well said, Your Majesty, very well said."
Suddenly King George looked profoundly sad, "I am sorely disappointed in my Irish Catholic subjects. We had hoped your original estimate of only a few hundred was true, but now it is apparently worse. Tell me candidly how bad you think it is."
"Your Majesty, our best intelligence right now believes that roughly 6,000 Irishmen are either serving under Germans command or have openly rebelled such as happened in Galway and Wexford. At least 1,000 have already perished. We have captured a little more than 200 so far. We also believe a few hundred more have been wounded and are recovering in German field hospitals."
"So that means that more than 4,000 remain in the field to fight us and that nearly 5,000 more die before this horror is over?"
"Perhaps not that many, Your Majesty. More likely it will be only half that number. We anticipate that there will be massive desertions by the Fenians once the German forces have been broken Once the invasion has been crushed we will of course mount thorough investigations and prosecute those we believe to have served the enemy. I doubt that we will be able identify more than a third of the rebels."
"Still that will mean a great many executions."
"We must not shirk from what needs be done, Your Majesty.:
------Barefield (Clare) 1930 hrs
As usual the commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment looked for the dark cloud in the latest silver lining. Earlier had received reports of several hundred enemy soldiers approaching Crusheen from the north only to be driven off by the 7.7cm guns. Now he had reports of a larger column of enemy troops hard marching south well to the east of Crusheen. It was clear that the initial attack was meant merely as a feint and the enemy’s real intention was to envelop his right during the night trying to capture both his artillery and HQ. His divisional commander, Gen. Jacobsen in Limerick had recently warned that a major enemy counteroffensive was imminent. In the past the enemy force he faced in County Clare—identified as the 109th Brigade had lacked artillery, but he now feared that deficiency had been rectified. Gen. Jacobsen had made it quite clear that an engagement that resulted in roughly equal casualties was to be avoided in their current situation. The fact that he had lost the Marine Cavalry Squadron to a mission into County Galway did not help matters.
"Send orders to all battalions that we are withdrawing from Crusheen back to an arc with its left anchored here at Barefield but its strength concentrated on the right flank. The field artillery will redeploy on the outskirts of Ennis."
------Paris 1950 hrs
Julius Martov and Leon Trotsky were working on the next edition of the Marxist newspaper, Nashe Slovo, which would be devoted to the events of what was coming to be known as Connolly Day. "The Paris strike was haphazardly organized but at least it was something. It shows that the French Socialists have not completely lost their fiber," remarked Martov.
"As usual you are more pleased with token gestures and halfway measures than I am," replied Trotsky, "The French Socialists have lost their heart since the mighty Juares was assassinated. They are even more pathetic than the German Socialists who have not known what to do with themselves since Bebel passed away."
"The German Socialists are concentrating on the war aims debate and largely ignored the Connolly Affair. Perhaps they have not forgiven Connolly for his attack on Bebel’s Women and Socialism?"
Trotsky cocked his head and raised and eyebrow, "You may have a point there, Julius I had not considered that. What is it with the Irish—do even their Socialists wear hair shirts?"
"Have you heard from Lenin?"
"Yes, I received a telegram from Zurich late yesterday. He says we should not allow the Connolly Affair to fade from people’s mind. He also said that we should not let the German invasion of Ireland confuse people about Connolly’s purpose."
"Easier said than done! Typical Lenin," Martov snorted derisively then decided to change the subject, "How soon will your family get here?"
"Hopefully by the end of next week, I am trying to find a place---"
Suddenly there was a loud banging on the front door. "Open up, open up! This is the police," came a loud authoritative voice.
Matov and Trotsky exchanged worried glances. "I wonder what this is about?" speculated Martov.
The banging continued. "Open up or we’ll break down the door!" continued the voice of authority.
One of the other workers was about to open the door, when Trotsky approached and told him, "Let me get it." Then to the man outside Trotsky yelled, "One second. Do not break the door. I am opening now."
Trstsky then opened the door and saw two gendarmes. The older one closer to the door was the men who had been shouting, "We are looking for M. Leon Trotsky and Julius Martov."
"I am Leon Trotsky and that is M. Martov," replied Trostky pointing to Martov inside.
"I have orders to close this newspaper and place both of you under arrest."
------Foynes (Limerick) 2005 hrs
The men of the 3rd battalion 4th Foot Guard Regiment had been sent to Ireland to appease a whimsy of Kaiser Wilhelm who found the makeup of the Operation Unicorn Sonderverband insufficiently Prussian. These men of the Prussian Guards had had seen very little action since coming ashore at Tarbert, mostly neutralizing a handful of small RIC stations. The men had been told that fierce battles had been waged at Limerick and Killarney and were disappointed not to have shared in the glory. They were getting sick of the Irish asking if all Prussians were so tall. They knew nothing of what was happening to the Guard Corps in Picardy.
Yesterday they were suddenly told to march out to the supply center at Foynes. The shortage of draught animals had gradually improved since they had arrived in Ireland, though some wagons were being drawn by 2 horses that should have had four. When they got to Foynes they found the 2nd Seebattalion which previously been stationed there had departed. The improvised landsturm battalion formed from sailors from the transports was still there—in fact there were 2 of them; a second was now being formed from the ‘B’ list.
The men were told that they would soon see some serious combat. Foynes was not their ultimate destination. They waited by the railroad station for the train that would take them to Hell.
------HQ British 36th (Ulster) Division Athlone (Westmeath) 2010 hrs
In the defense of Ireland from the German invaders the 36th (Ulster) Division was not deployed as a complete division but rather parsimoniously parcelled out piecemeal to various missions. When it was originally feared that there might be third German division in the Shannon and a march on Dublin, 3 battalions of the 36th (Ulster) Division were moved to Dublin and 3 more to the Curragh, with the divisional commander, Maj. Gen. CH Powell setting up his HQ in the Curragh. Meanwhile 10th battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers was sent to quash Liam Mellows’ rising in Galway after which it joined 2 more battalions of the 109th Brigade in fighting the German Marines in Clare. They were unsuccessful in Clare but their presence at Gort prevented a German advance into central Galway.
Likewise when rebellion broke out in Enniscorthy the 15th battalion Royal Irish Rifles was dispatched from Dublin to deal with the problem, which is promptly did. Meanwhile the 12th Royal Irish Rifles had been sent from the Curragh to deal with German cavalry and Fenians in County Tipperary and had an embarrassing encounter with both. Rumors that Pearse was organizing a rising in the Connemara with the help of some German irregulars caused the division’s cavalry squadron, the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons to be sent there.
In the last few days Powell had increasingly frustrated. Where divisions in France were frequently crowded into a narrow stretch of trench the 36th Division was being scattered all over Ireland. Nothing the division did escaped criticism. There were serious allegations of massacres in the quelling of both the Galway and Enniscorthy risings, esp. the former. Lord Curzon was unhappy that he had temporarily reduced the Dublin garrison to 2 battalions. The failure of the attack on the German Marines in Clare was criticized even though he had been ordered to attack without any artillery an enemy force which had artillery. Most galling of all was the small battle at Dundrun where German cavalry assisted the Fenians in defeating part of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. In disgust Gen. Powell had moved his headquarters and most of his signal company to the barracks at Athlone, where the 13th battalion Royal Irish Rifles had been deployed.
In the morning he had travelled by motor car to Gort in County Galway to go over in person with the commander of the 109th Brigade plans for the diversionary attack into Clare that Gen Stopford had ordered. Powell watched the beginning of that attack then left in motor car stopping on the way in Athenry where his division’s cyclist company was now stationed. Powell ate supper in Athenry as he was briefed by on the security of the line of communication by the cyclist commander and a senior constable.
Powell had just returned to Athlone. He immediately met with his staff and the commander of the 13th battalion Royal Irish Rifles to review recent developments. Powell was furious when he learned that a force of Irish Volunteers had repulsed the attack of the 3rd Leinsters near Portland. "The local vermin are too tough for the men of Leinster," he commented mockingly, "are they too fierce for the men of Ulster to handle?"
"No, sir!" his staff replied as one.
"Good. The 13th battalion will march out an hour before first light to deal with this disgraceful situation. They will leave one battalion behind to guard this base. We all know there has been criticism of our men’s behavior in Galway and Enniscorthy. Now I would like very much to never again hear accusations of poor discipline and unethical behaviour, but still worse—infinitely worse---would be a bloody repetition of Dundrun. Go find the rebels and destroy them. Avoid a massacre if you can."
------Boston 2035 hrs
Patrick Kennedy was on the podium. He held the current issue of the Boston American up in the air with his right hand and waved it. "This is what the English think of the Irish! Vermin! He calls us vermin to be exterminated! Are we vermin?" he asked the crowd.
NO!" came the response.
"And who are the real vermin, the real parasites in Ireland?"
A few yelled out, "The Germans." A much larger group yelled out, "The English!" Sometimes they added an adjective.
"That’s right, that’s right. The accursed English are the real vermin. My namesake, St. Patrick, drove the snakes out of Ireland—but after he died and went to Heaven, something far worse than snakes slithered their evil way into Ireland. This brood of vipers has found Ireland to its liking and made themselves at home."
Seated close to the stage an obviously pregnant Rose Kennedy sat between her husband, Joseph and her father, John Fitzgerald. She could see that Joe was sharing his enthusiasm, but her won father looked troubled, "What is it, da?" she asked him in a soft voice, barely more than a whisper.
"Your father-in-law seems to be throwing his lot in with the Fenians. Patrick, you know, comes from County Wexford. He didn’t particularly like what happened at Vinegar Hill the other day—but what really has him spitting nails is that drooling idiot of a Prime Minister’s speech yesterday."
Rose cast a glance at her husband and saw that he was completely absorbed in his father’s oration. She brought her head closer to her father and whispered, "Joe is the same way. I am a little bit scared to tell the truth."
------HQ British VII Army Corps Millstreet (Cork) 2105 hrs
Gen. John Keir, the commander of VII Army Corps was again meeting with his divisional commanders. "After yesterday’s promising start, things have been more than a little bit disappointing today. The unexpected appearance by the German 5.9’s foiled our direct assault on Castleisland while 16th Division has inexplicably advanced only a mere 2 miles. Our best performance today has been by Cheshire Brigade which took Rathmore, but even there progress is slower than I had hoped."
"As I explained earlier, sir, the Germans have prepared a series of defensive positions near Rathmore. We took the first with some artillery support but found they had scampered back to the next line to renew the fight," answered Gen. Lindley, "the enemy is definitely not routed but is slowly whittling us down according to some plan."
"Perhaps. The last casualty figures are not that troubling and at least we are advancing. Are they heading straight towards Killarney or more to the northwest?"
"Both. One battalion is heading for Killarney through Barraduff, the rest are heading northwest to Farranfore."
"Hmm. I have no objection to that. What is bothering me is North Wales Brigade is not contributing. That mountain, what’s its name again?"
"Mt. Knockanfune, sir."
"It is only one mountain. You should send at least one battalion around to the north to turn the enemy flank and maybe even overrun one of 5.9 batteries."
"I will remind the general that the men of Cheshire Brigade and North Wales Brigade had been allowed a mere 4 hours of sleep since the landed at the Cobh."
"Oh, well let’s give them four more hours. But I want a flanking operation underway well before first light—is that clear? "
"Tomorrow morning you will commit most of the Welsh Border Brigade to reinforce the Cheshires. You will, of course, hold back a battalion to guard the line of communication."
"Yes, sir. As for my artillery, I was going to use them to support the Cheshires and not try to engage the 5.9’s in an artillery duel."
"I heartily concur with that," answered Keir who then turned a withering gaze on Gen Parsons, "Gen. Parsons, your division is not making satisfactory progress. You should have at least secured Ballyvourney by now. Your men are not facing 5.9’s like Gen Lindley’s are, in fact they are facing very little German artillery whatsoever."
"But likewise I am forced to use my own artillery very sparingly, sir, on account of the shortage of shells. I have been able to force the enemy back with small local flanking movements but that is proving time consuming and fatiguing in this rough terrain. And lastly I must now worry about my line of communication what with reports we’ve received of a major Fenian force causing havoc in Bandon."
"Yes, I just learned of that mess. You still have command of 2 of the yeomanry regiments! Send a squadron galloping off to set things right at Bandon."
"Begging your pardon, sir, but I sent my divisional cavalry squadron yesterday to attack a group of Fenian traitors at Coachford—quite possibly the same group now at Bandon-- and it proved completely inadequate.. We cannot afford to underestimate the rebels right now. I intend to send an entire battalion once this meeting is over."
Keir shook his head disparagingly, "Send an entire battalion if you think you must, but I still think that is excessive. For one thing the arming of the local patriots has proven to be a wise and timely decision. They are holding their own there from what I’ve heard. It is good to see that some Irishmen now how to fight."
Parsons bristled at Keir’s slur, "Arming the Protestants in Bandon and Skibbereen was short sighted, sir. It is causing a great deal of resentment---"
"---I am not going to debate politics with you, General Parsons," rebuked Gen. Keir, "gi ahead and send a battalion to Bandon but I do not want this to become your newest excuse for failing to make better progress."
-----off Gravelines 2120 hrs
The German 4th Torpedoboat Flotilla had been detached from the High Seas Fleet to coal at Dunkerque during it’s the late phase of its sortie into the English Cannel. It had remained at Dunkerque since then. Today it received orders to make a hit and run night attack. The tragic attempt by the B.98 to reach safety at Etaples had drawn much of Dover Patrol into the area around Etaples and Boulogne leaving the area east of the Straits of Dover weakly guarded. Air patrols in the afternoon found only a single division of 4 small destroyers—either ‘C’ or ‘D’ class on patrol northwest of Dunkerque.
The flotilla left Dunkerque at last light with 6 torpedo boats to engage this division after minesweepers protected by the powerful coastal batteries made sure there was a safe channel. The engagement was brief with the superior German night fighting skills letting them damage two of the obsolete British destroyers with one of them, HMS Violet burning bright and down by the bow, while suffering only light damage to their own vessels. The flotilla commander wanted very much to finish off the Violet but his orders were clear and he broke off the action and promptly returned to base. Help did eventually arrive from both Dover Patrol and Harwich Force. Violet’s fire was eventually extinguished and she was able to limp into Dover under her own power. .
------Ballina (Tipperary) 2200 hrs
Once the sun had set the 146th (West Riding) Brigade hurriedly marched to Ballina where they contacted the 5th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, which was being temporarily placed under the command of the brigade. The newcomers were shocked to learn that the previous attempt last Monday by the Royal Irish Fusiliers to take Ballina and the bridge over the Shannon had been defeated by a force that consisted of mostly Irish Volunteers. Since then German Marines had arrived in strength and had been able to position a pair of machineguns and to slowly increase the wire obstacles and improve the trench system. Since the failed attack there had only been sniper activity and some very sporadic shelling by the German 10cm guns to the west. Every now and then the Germans would harass them with rifle grenades which the Royal Irish Fusiliers lacked. The previous night the Royal Irish Fusiliers had attempted their first trench raid. None of the men sent on the raid came back
The Germans still had only a little more than 500 yard perimeter to defend. The British assault consisted of the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 1/7th West Yorkshires both simultaneously attacking. Both were equipped with some wire cutters and jam tin bombs. The men were given last minute instruction and the whistles blew. Men poured out of the trenches to enter no man’s land—the Royal Irish Fusiliers on the right, the West Yorkshires on the left. Flares were fired almost immediately lighting up the night sky. These were soon augmented by a small searchlight. The German Maxims and rifleman poured fire into the attackers. The wire obstacles were more formidable than the brigadier had been told to expect from the intelligence VII Army Corps had provided and this more than anything else doomed the attack. A few soldiers got close enough to throw their improvised bombs and still fewer managed to make it through the wire somehow, but between Ballina and Killaloe on the other side of the Shannon there was an entire battalion of German Marines at roughly three quarters strength.
The British attackers were unable to expel the defenders from their trench. The brigade commander ordered the 1/8th battalion West Yorkshires to reinforce the attack. In the cramped conditions its men were forced to step on the bodies of the dead and dying and then were stymied by the wire as well. The German Marines had the 1st Company East Clare Battalion in reserve. These Irishmen were mostly the Killaloe Company which had helped repel the prior British attack at Ballina alongside Calahan’s company. The German Marines had planned to use them only if they were forced to retreat across the bridge. This did not prove necessary for while they suffered some losses at Ballina they had inflicted far worse and had held on to their trench.
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 2215 hrs
To the south the 147th (2nd West Riding) Brigade arrived after dark with orders to relieve the 6th Dublin Fusiliers, sending them to join the rest of 10th (Irish) Division. Men of the 1/4th battalion Duke of Wellington’ marched in a column over the bridge crossing the Shannon while the Dublin Fusiliers marched in the opposite. At dusk the commander of the German 1st Naval Regiment decided to accept the offer of the infantry gun section of the Limerick City Battalion which was armed with the truncated Pulitov cannons. These were positioned close to the river bank overlooking the bridge. The moon had not yet risen but the local commander expected that an attack was imminent. Parachute flares were fired illuminating the bridge. Seeing the mass of men on the bridge a 60cm searchlight snapped on; it’s beam just barely reaching the stonework but together with the flares it was sufficient. The infantry guns soon opened fire with shrapnel shells. One gun was aimed by the Irish Brigade instructor and firing at a range of about 1,200 yards found the target almost immediately though with his Irish Volunteers crew loading the rate of fire left something to be desired. The other gun crew was less accurate but not hopeless and soon contributed to woes of the soldiers trying to use the bridge.
The British soldiers were driven off the bridge after suffering more than 60 casualties. Unable to properly deploy for his attack the brigadier in charge of 2nd West Riding Brigade postponed the assault and sent a messenger off to notify division HQ.
------Baie d’Authie 2250 hrs
Boats carrying the 26th Reserve Jaeger Battalion plus a platoon of Pioneers rowed their way across the bay under cover of darkness. They landed to the west of the Canal du Marquerterre which proceed due south from the bay. The shores of the bay were very weakly guarded in this sector. The handful of defenders did cause considerable losses to the Jaegers coming ashore but lacking machineguns were overwhelmed. The Jaegers pressed on an soon captured two of the 60 pounder batteries. For this mission they had been provided a machinegun company armed with the new lighter MG 08/15 which they quickly brought into action sited along the west bank of the canal. These produced heavy casualties on the infantry of the 2nd Division sent back to counterattack. The Jaegers also fired signal rockets which resulted in some off the artillery of the XXVII Reserve Corps resuming fire on targets east of the canal which they had registered on before dark. With the help of the pioneers the Jaegers destroyed the 60 pounder guns and what little ammunition they found and then scrambled back to their boats. Of the prisoners that had captured, they only took officers and senior NCOs back with them and left the others behind to be liberated.
The withdrawal of the Jaegers was not easy. Complicating matters the engineers of the 11th field company were to the west of the canal and they began to engage the Jaegers in a confused fire fight in the dark. The machinegun company bore the brunt of holding off the British counterattack while the rest of the battalion returned to the boats. When it was time for them to withdraw additional signal rockets were fired indicating that the German batteries to the north should move their bombardment west. This was a risky move and 2 German machinegun crews were slaughtered by friendly fire. Less than half of the machinegun company made it to the boats.
In the meantime Dover Patrol had been notified of the raid. It had a division of 3 ‘B’ class destroyers nearby. The problem was that the Royal Navy had laid minefields off the Picardy coast after the High Seas Fleet had shelled I Army Corps and the most direct route for the British destroyers would take them through one of the minefields. It was decided to send the division via a longer safe route through a gap in the minefield. When the destroyers finally arrived nearly all the German boats had made it back across the bay. While searching for stragglers the destroyers were caught in large searchlights on the shore they under fire from German artillery. The old destroyers quickly withdrew from the bay. One destroyer had suffered light damage to its stern.
------Fethard (Tipperary) 2255 hrs
The commander of the 1/4th battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment had informed General Stopford of his failure to eliminate the enemy inside the walled town of Fethard, while he surrounded the town to prevent escape. He expected to be reinforced with at least more infantry. A messenger on a motorcycle brought back a message from VI Army Corps. Gen. Stopford was very upset that they were unable a bunch of Irish Volunteers reinforced with only a smattering of German cavalry. Stopford declined to provide them any reinforcements and insisted that they make another attack once it was dark. Stopford suggested using the 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars in the attack.
The battalion commander considered that suggestion and decided to use the cavalry to mount a feint as he was sure he would not be able to achieve even the limited amount of surprise he had the night before. They did so now galloping pell-mell towards the eastern gate as it they planned to trample the defenders. They caused a great deal of commotion. The German parachute flares were the agreed upon signal for the British infantry to attack. The ‘C’ company moved out to attack the northern entrance and the ‘D’ company attacked the western entrance, while ‘B’ company was held in reserve. What happened next was largely a repetition of the prior night’s frustrations. Both attacking companies suffered heavily from riflemen posted on the walls and the defensive position around the entrance ways was not easily overwhelmed. Somehow ‘D’ company managed to do so but again it was frustrated inside the town itself. ‘C’ company never got inside the city before the commander decided it has hopeless and ordered a cessation to the attack. His men withdrew and together with the 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars they surrounded the town with a less than hermetic cordon.. One messenger was dispatched to VI Army Corps HQ at Maryborough and another to 47th (West Riding) Division HQ near Birdhill.
------Hackensack (New Jersey) 2340 hrs (GMT)
The Romantic Egoist same up to visit Fr. Fay this weekend to discuss what was happening in Ireland, which he was finding very confusing. Initially the Romantic Egoist wanted the United States to join the Entente to rescue Ireland from the Huns. In the last few days his opinion shifted. When he arrived at Hackensack, he found Shane Leslie was paying Fr. Fay a visit to discuss exactly the same topic. The priest insisted that the three of them go to a nice local restaurant after which the Romantic Egoist would have to return to Princeton.
As usual Fr. Fay’s appetite was huge. Shane was so upset the barely touched his food. "Does Home Rule have a ghost of a chance now, Father?" Leslie asked.
Fr. Fay finished chewing and washed his food down with some wine. He was shaking his head before he started speaking, "Maybe in another decade, Shane. But for the near future it is utterly ruined. What little chance it had left was destroyed by Andrew Bonar Law yesterday."
Shane who was fond of ghost stories looked like he had just seen one. "Damn!" he yelled pounding his fist on the table, then in slightly softer voice, "Pardon my language, Father. We were so close. No it is all for naught. All on account of this invasion."
Fr. Fay consumed more food before replying, "I am more upset with you deceiving yourself, Shane, than I am with your profanity. Hell, I feel like saying some strong words, me self. But as far as Ireland is concerned the wheels were coming off Home Rule long before the invasion fleet arrived off Kerry and you know it. All the Germans have done is accelerate what otherwise would have been a lengthy process."
"I am not sure about that Father. Oh, there were problems before the Germans showed up, I be grantin’ you that. Curzon as Viceroy, Bonar Law becoming Prime Minister, the Connolly trial and all the rest. But a week before last Friday—it now seems a century ago-- I still held onto some hope that these problems could be solved somehow. In fact for the first few days of the invasion, I thought it might perchance be a solution in a perverse way, by convincing England and Ulster alike of Catholic Ireland’s loyalty. But instead of being reassured the Protestants now jump up and down like crazed Hottentots complaining about the Papist traitors, and how this proves the Irish are not worthy of Home Rule."
"What does this all mean, Father?" asked the Romantic Egoist, "Is there anything we can do over here in the United States to help poor Ireland? Is there anything I can do personally?"
The priest put down his fork making a sigh that could be heard in Manhattan. "The Germans have now taken away some of options. We can cry about that fact until we’re blue in the face, but that won’t make it any less true. But the other fact is even scarier. They’ve given Ireland some new options."
Shane’s mouth dropped, "I cannot believe I just heard you say that, Father."
Fr. Fay nodded his head, "I have trouble believing it myself. But face the facts squarely, Shane. If the Germans in Ireland surrendered tomorrow, do you think Ireland’s troubles would be over? Will the Irish people simply stand around and applaud the execution of several thousand Irishmen? No, the troubles would only be starting. They will get worse before they get any better. It will be another war—a war the Irish people cannot possibly win, a war without friends to help them. And when they lose, many of them will ask, ‘Why did we wage war when there is no one to help us when we held back while a mighty ally was at our side?’ Can we be so bloody stupid? Oh yes, we can. We’re Irish.’"
With those words something snapped in Shane Leslie. His complexion had suddenly changed from an unhealthy melancholic pallor to bright red. He trembled with fury and rage. He smashed his right fist on the table, then rose from his chair and leaned forward so his lips were inches from Fay’s face. His fists were clenched and there was infinite darkness in his eyes. His lower lip quivered with menace.
"Shane, no! Don’t you dare!" yelled the alarmed Romantic Egoist, "It is a mortal sin to strike a priest!"
Father Fay did not look afraid, "Don’t worry, Francis. It is not me that Shane is angry at—am I right, Shane?"
Shane Leslie made a strange sound. It began as a roar but transformed itself into sobbing. As a very concerned waiter approached, Shane collapsed into his chair weeping uncontrollably. "Is something wrong here?" asked the waiter, "You have been a very faithful customer, Father Fay, and I do not want to have to ask you to leave, but you are disturbing the other customers."
"Poor Mr. Leslie here has suffered a shock and is grief stricken, Anton. He must now make some difficult choices. I ask you as the good Catholic I know you to be, to extend him some sympathy. We will not be staying here much longer, much as I would love to. Francis here needs to be getting back to Princeton will I must leave for Baltimore. You see, Cardinal Gibbons wishes to speak with me tomorrow."
------Charleveille (Cork) 0015 hrs Monday March 3, 1915
Brigade Hell, which the Irish preferred to call Hell’s Brigade, was now experiencing its first combat action. The commander of the West Limerick Battalion, Major Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma IRA was fascinated with the possibilities of motorized warfare, and had persuaded Oberst Hell to provide him with 3 of the 4 Daimler armored cars assigned to Brigade Hell as well as a few more captured motor vehicles., including a bus. Tucked up in the northeast corner of County Cork was the market town of Charleville. It had an Irish Volunteers Company of decent size which had not yet made direct contact with the Germans after being disarmed by the RIC. One member of the Charleville Company had made his way north and joined the West Limerick Battalion. He convinced von Thoma that nearly all his company would quickly join his battalion if he showed up with arms. He also warned that there was a small garrison of soldiers nearby as well as the local constabulary in order to guard the nearby railroad line.
Most of the West Limerick Battalion had marched south from Newcastle West during the evening to Freemont where they would link up with the mixed German/Irish battery armed with captured 15 pounders. The Germans had rather unimaginatively decided to call this ad hoc unit the Irish Ersatz Field Artillery Battery. The battery was escorted south by a company detached from the Central Limerick Battalion which would subsequently be assigned to the West Limerick Battalion. This rendezvous had occurred just before midnight after which the weary Irish troops were allowed to sleep until dawn.
That is except for the motorized elements of the battalion. which Lt. von Thoma took with him to Charleville. They consisted of the machinegun section, the towed infantry gun section and now that he had more vehicles a platoon of riflemen as well as the armored cars. During the night it had begun to rain. While it was not too heavy and barely bothered the armored cars with their 4 wheel drive, 2 motor cars had gotten stuck on the way, including one of those used to tow one of the infantry guns. Not waiting for those vehicles to catch up, von Thoma proceeded with his attack. He hoped to use the armored cars to intimidate the enemy into a quick surrender. When the armored cars burst into the camp of Connaught Rangers 4 of them did surrender but the rest recovered from the shock leaving 3 slain and 2 badly wounded compatriots. .Soon finding good cover the defenders put up a stiff fight even after one of the infantry guns shelled them at close range a few times.
Ritter von Thoma had no time for a prolonged fight. It is probably best that I did not capture more he rationalized his disappointment to himself, too many prisoners will slow me down in the nest crucial hours ahead. Still he had hoped to capture the supplies and wagons of the British garrison, maybe even a motor car. He had even hoped to destroy a portion of train track as Hell had provided him a 10 man section of Pioneers which he had brought along. What Ritter von Thoma did accomplish though was to call up the local Irish Volunteers, with the help of their former member who he had brought along. In less than an hour 73 men and 2 women mustered. He would wait a little while longer for stragglers then leave to rejoin the rest of his battalion at Fremont. On the ride to Freemont we would go over what had gone well and what could use some improvement. He saw that armored vehicles did have some shock power it was not irresistible and while they could help take ground they would not be able to hold it without infantry support. This raid was in all candor, little more than a live ammunition training exercise. What lay ahead would be no exercise.
------Le Crotoy (Picardy) 0040 hrs
The supply line of the British First Army remained severely restricted. During the night the French fishing boats returned to the bay to resume the task of trying to what they could to the underfed First Army. Now suddenly there was a concerted German bombardment of the fishing village. In the dark the shelling was completely unobserved. Some of the German guns had registered on this area at dusk assisted by an observation balloon. Other batteries were essentially firing completely wild. The Germans knew this would not do much physical damage under these conditions. Their intent was psychological-- to scare the almost completely civilian crews and cause confusion. The initial shelling soon died off but through the rest of the night there was brief reminder burst at random intervals, often just a dozen rounds.
Meanwhile the movement of supplies along the narrow strip of land along the coast proved hazardous for the ASC companies who were also subject to random shelling both at the old bottleneck near Noleette and the newer one near Morlay. Shrapnel did bad things to unarmored motor vehicles, draught animals and teamsters. Most of the intended supplies got through to First Army but a significant portion did not.
------Fethard (Tipperary) 0155 hrs
After leaving Fethard 16th Uhlan Regiment had sent one squadron to Cahir and another to Clonmel. In both they found that British yeomanry had reinforced the RIC contingent. After some unpromising skirmishing the Uhlan squadrons had withdrawn from both. Another Uhlan squadron had reached Carrick-on-Suir and found only RIC, some of which they eliminated and the rest they pinned down in their stations. They contacted the local company of Irish Volunteers, which turned out even larger than expected---178 men and 5 women turned out. The commander of 16th Uhlan Regiment decided that abandoning his squadron at Fethard along with the Tipperary Volunteers to make a dash west with the rest of his squadron was not a good prospect.
So he ordered the regiment to return to Fethard, bringing the Irish Volunteers from Carrick-on-Suir in tow. .These now arrived one by one and engaged the British cordon around the town of Fethard. A completely confused night action ensued. It was further complicated when the Tipperary Volunteers inside Fethard sent a large patrol out of the northern exit to investigate the signs of battle. Having lost half of effective strength and now finding himself attacked from several directions in the dark the commander of the 1/4th battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment ordered a immediate withdrawal northwest towards Cashel. In the meantime the enemy had overrun and captured one of the Vickers machineguns and half the British supply wagons.
------Portland (Tipperay) 0215 hrs
Another small flotilla of late boats out of Scariff Bay arrived at Portland where the Shannon empties into the north end of Lough Derg. This time it was merely a supply run, mostly ammunition but also 200 more of the Moisin-Nagant rifles. When they were done offloading the men who were sleeping were roused. As the lake boats made ready to leave the commander of the Marine Cavalry Squadron asked the flotilla commander, "So when will it be ready? Have you heard anything more?"
"They are still hoping to have it ready Wednesday. That’s all I’ve been told."
------Newmarket (Cork) 0250 hrs
The 2/10th battalion of the Middlesex Regiment was assigned by General Lindley, commander of the 53rd (Welsh) Division to guard his line of communication. It was divided in two halves. One half along with the battalion HQ and machinegun section was sent to Newmaket, and the other half was positioned at Kanturk. Its men were very tired from a hard march all the way from the Cobh. . They did not get as much sleep as they wanted. Their outposts reported a group of well armed Irish civilians—almost certainly Fenians—approaching from the northwest. The half battalion formed up and in the dark illuminated by a few parachute flares they engaged in a vigorous fire fight against what looked to be a little more than 200 Fenians. The rebels did not appear quite as inept as the Middlesex soldiers had been told to expect but neither were they a match for the Tommies. When one of the battalion’s Vickers came into action Fenians soon realized this engagement was a big mistake and retreated in disarray. The commander of the 2/10th Middlesex ordered his half battalion to pursue, dispatching a rider to inform Welsh Border Brigade HQ because the cut telephone wires at Newmarket had not yet been restored.
The men they pursued were 2 companies of the 1st Kerry Battalion. They had marched all the way from northern Kerry coming south through Rockchapel. During the night North Cork Battalion and the 3 companies of the 3rd battalion 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment which had hidden with them in the woods north of Neelin had marched south as well. Many in the North Cork Battalion were very familiar with the local area and showed the Bavarians the way to attack Newmarket from the east. Oberst Hell was on the scene to direct the attack in person. He had allocated this operation a single armored car. Following Hell they fell upon the right flank and rear of the British half battalion. Speeding up the road in the vanguard of the attack the lone armored car which added to the enemy’s shock but was not crucial to the outcome The British machinegun section had been left behind in the pursuit and the attackers overran it with acceptable casualties, capturing 2 of the weapons in working condition. They also overran the battalion HQ and captured the supply wagons. After that they proceed to eliminate nearly two thirds of the British half battalion. The rest, including a few of the less seriously wounded, escaping to the southwest in small groups into the darkness.
Hell’s victory does not come without a cost. His brigade had taken nearly 200 casualties, about half of them coming from the 1st Kerry Battalion. One of the German cyclist companies which was supposed to arrive before the battle finally made it to Newmarket as the battle was winding down. Hell took the commander aside and gave him heck.
------Compiegne 0310 hrs
Under the cover of darkness and the expert guidance of Gen. von Gronau, the German IV Reserve Corps was performing the difficult task of withdrawing from the city of Compiegne. House to house fighting continued in the city between the German rear guard and the Moroccans, which were proving less formidable in an urban environment than they were in the open. Meanwhile the French Second Army struggled to bring up its artillery as well as reinforcements—the woods of Compiegne Forest which had partially concealed their attack hindered this deployment. It also made it difficult to bring reserves up quickly.
------Kriva River gorge (Serbia) 0445 hrs
The attack of the III Ottoman Corps continued. During the night it had brought up 5 batteries of mountain howitzers. One of the things Esat Pasha was liking about this assignment was that he had been usually well supplied with both artillery and shells. There was now sufficient light to make effective use of the artillery. The Serbs had fought hard and the Ottomans had taken over 5,000 casualties. This did not surprise Esat Pasha; he knew they would. The Serbs were of course very familiar with the terrain but some of the Ottomans had some familiarity with this area from the First Balkan War so the advantage was reduced.
The III Ottoman Corps outnumbered their opponents more than two to one. One thing that did surprise the Pasha was that some of the Serbian fighters were women. They fought almost as hard as the men. Allah the Merciful, what is this world coming to? he asked himself
The mountain howitzers proved to decisive. The Ottoman troops broke through the main line of resistance. The Serbian defenders withdrew to the west to regroup. There would be more resistance without doubt but the time being the important element was to hold on to the initiative.
A pleased Pasha summoned a dispatch rider. "Ride quickly to Kyustendil. Politely inform General Todorov that we have seized the gorge and expect to take Kriva Palanka before nightfall. Invite him to join us."
------Johannisburg Forest (East Prussia) 0500 hrs
In almost 3 weeks the German Eight Army had slowly concentrated more than half of its heavy artillery in this wild forest area. The artillery now commenced firing on the position of the Russian division to the east. There was a very large no man’s land in this sector; so large that it was not possible to make effective use of minenwerfers. Even with the delay the Eighth Army still had not been provided with all the ordnance OHL had promised for their phase of Operation Fulcrum. General Otto von Below shortened the preliminary bombardment from 3 hours to 2 ½. The Russian defenders were a single second line division belonging to the XVI Reserve Corps on the left flank of the Russian Tenth Army. German warplanes had thoroughly scouted the area to be attacked which was not as thickly wooded as the section of the forest where the attackers had assembled.
------southern Adriatic Sea 0535 hrs
The vanguard of the AngloFrench convoy arrived off Durazzo. Their Italian admirer had taken their hint and departed during the night. First one Austrian float plane then another out of Cattaro flying overhead strongly hinted that the enemy had been expecting their arrival. There was no Zeppelin so far. They had brought along a British seaplane carrier, the Empress, this time in part to deal with that contingency. They had also brought along more minesweeping vessels this time and that was good because it was evident that the minefields that the enemy had laid off the north Albanian coast were denser this time.
Already there had been several periscope sightings. One of them was real.
------Drimoleague (Cork) 0615 hrs
The 2nd Chevauleger Regiment had received new orders from General von François and penetrated deeper into County Cork into the early morning hours. A squadron riding east out of Bantry now reached the small town of Drimoleague. They eliminated the small local constabulary then armed the 47 Irish Volunteers who came forward. After that they scrounged for fodder and awaited further orders.
------Montpelier (Tipperary) 0630 hrs
Despite overcast skies and intermittent showers visibility was now sufficient for one of the German 10 cm gun batteries in the foothills of the Slieve Brenagh Mountains to open fire on the concentrated forces of the 147th (2nd West Riding) Brigade. They did not target the forward British trench as it was too close to the German trenches. Meanwhile the 49th (West Riding) Division had positioned I West Riding Brigade RFA to the east of Birdhill, out of range of the German 10cm guns. Annoyed by the failure of the night attack the divisional commander, Maj. Gen. Baldock gave them permission to engage a suitable target. Similar to the German artillerists they were disinclined to target trenches in close proximity to friendly troops. One battery did find a suitable target—the odd pair of truncated cannon that had disrupted the attack on O’Briensbridge.
From a nearby slit trench Major White IRA, the commander of the Limerick city battalion, watched with some satisfaction as the 18 pounders began shelling the two wooden dummy guns. He had ordered his Irish lads to make those when the infantry gun section was formed. Once it was clear that the British had given up on using the bridge except in tiny dribs and drabs not worth shelling, White ordered the real guns withdrawn to a safe spot and replaced with the decoys.
It didn’t long before one of the dummy guns was burning brightly and then the other one was suddenly turned into wood chips. The shelling soon ceased. The enemy had wasted more than 20 HE shells. That did not sound like much but White knew that the British in France were always complaining that they didn’t have enough shells, esp. HE shells.
Jack was satisfied with the performance of his men in this engagement. Sturm Company Calahan had done well even though the Germans kept downplaying it by saying that the attack they faced was probably only a feint. White hoped he could hold off for a while on sending his other 2 companies into battle though. They could both use more training. Saturday morning White decided to do what he had heard Rommel was doing with his battalion. He moved the least fit 10% of his men along with the women into a separate unit meant to guard prisoners and perform support functions. He then made this unit common knowledge in Limerick to entice elderly men who felt they were no longer suitable for combat but still wished to serve. Then yesterday afternoon there had come news of Bonar Law’s impetuous speech at Greenwich Park. General Jacobsen and his staff had not seen much significance to it but White thought it was a godsend and made sure that news was widely circulated. The weekend had been extremely fruitful for recruiting in Limerick city with 82 men and 3 women joining. Jack was hopeful that today would prove to be just as fruitful. He made a mental note to have the support section start working on making more dummy guns.
------east of Barefield (Clare) 0650 hrs
The attack of the Ulstermen of the 109th Brigade in County Clare went differently than expected. The southerly pinning attack by the 11th Inniskilling Fusiliers encountered no resistance whatsoever as it advanced into Crusheen where it found signs that the Germans and their detested Irish Catholic allies had recently abandoned their camp. Some supplies were taken mostly food and fodder. Encouraged by signs of enemy weakness this battalion probed SSW towards the important city of Ennis.
Meanwhile the rest of the brigade was trying to envelop the right flank of the Germans, hoping possibly to surprise the artillery battalion from the rear. Instead as the 14th battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers approached the town of Barefield from the east it encountered dug in German Marines and came under fire from the 7.7cm field guns. The brigade commander reluctantly remembered that his mission was merely intended to pin the German Marines in Clare. Having forced them back to the outskirts of Ennis he thought his mission had been more than accomplished and ordered his brigade to pull back. After that he dispatched messenger to inform Gen. Powell and request new orders.
------Bandon (Cork) 0700 hrs
The chaotic fighting between the Protestant local defense organization and Flynn’s so called Sealgair Battalion continued. Armbands had been introduced by both sides. The Sealgair armbands were either completely green or had IRA in green letters. The Protestant bands were either all orange or had UNIONIST in orange letters. A few even had PROT in crude orange letters. The Sealgairs enjoyed an advantage in both numbers and weapons as they had started out with nearly a 3 to 1 advantage in men and had many contemporary military rifles. During the night though, shotguns and pistols had dominated the fighting and effective coordination had proven to impossible. Now that it was light Flynn was better able to use his advantages. He had also been reinforced by 91 men and 2 women of Conakulty Company, and the still larger Kinsale Company would be arriving shortly
Flynn had wanted to be able to use his tricks with wearing enemy uniforms to set up ambushes, but the Sealgair Battalion now required his full attention as the commandant with no opportunity to traipse off on a mission. However in the last hour he had learned of a promising new recruit whom he now eagerly interviewed.
"They tell me that you’re the son of a constable, Mr. Barry."
------Johannisburg Forest (East Prussia) 0730 hrs
The XXXX Reserve Corps had been assigned to make the assault. It had prepared for the attack by digging saps and raiding some of the Russian outposts. There was at most a single strand of wire and in some places none at all as the Russian officers felt the terrain itself provided sufficient protection. This had long been a very quiet sector and the defenders were completely unprepared for the ferocity of the German bombardment. Many in the shallow forward trench were killed and most of those who survived were dazed. Most of their artillery had been neutralized by counter-battery fire. Here and there the advancing German infantry encountered some significant resistance but that was the exception not the rule. The surviving Russian artillerists had no faith that the infantry would hold and quickly limbered up and retreated to prevent capture of their guns. When the infantry saw this their already shaky morale disintegrated and they fled in panic towards the rear. The artillery managed to escape but advancing German infantry quickly took more 3,000 prisoners while they pursued the enemy to the southeast.
------HQ British 53rd (Welsh) Division Rathmore 0740 hrs
"Just between the two of us, I will admit that I may have been a tad harsh towards General Parsons," Gen. John Keir, the commander of VII Army Corps, confessed to Gen Lindley, "But I have had more than ample cause for my dissatisfaction. Now on account of my insistence, the performance of 16th Division is starting to show some marked improvement. His most recent report indicates a more satisfactory rate of advance towards Killarney. On the other hand it may well be that the Bavarians are pulling forces from the south to counter your own attack."
"That could well be true, sir. We have encountered some difficulty in the last few hours," replied Lindley, "The 1/7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers was sent to march around the base of Mt. Knockanfune only to find that several hundred Bavarians had been deployed to guard the flank. They have also moved the 5.9’s back a bit so they are less vulnerable."
"Still there is cause for optimism. The Bavarians are increasingly spread out. Their battalions must be half strength at best. So there must be at least one gap that we can exploit. I know you have been holding back on the artillery on account of the shortage of shells, but even a brief bombardment should be helpful in this situation."
"Well, there is now the threat to my line of communications to consider, sir." Two hours ago news had arrived from the 2/10th Middlesex that they had routed a band of Irish rebels. Then in the last 15 minutes more chaotic reports filtered back of the battalion being badly defeated by a German attack.
"Ah, but it is a stroke as desperate as it is clever. By threatening your line of communication with what must be only a half strength battalion and some Fenian riffraff the Germans hope that we will halt our attack."
"Still it does pose a threat to our line of communication, sir. We cannot afford to ignore it."
"I was not saying that we should ignore it. Detach a battalion from North Wales Brigade and send them off on a rapid march back to Newmarket. Together with what remains of 2/10th Middlesex that should be more than enough to deal with the situation. In the meantime you will continue your advance. I remain confident that we will shatter the Bavarians before the sun goes down."
------Gondar (Abyssinia) 0805 hrs (GMT)
Two British motor cars cautiously snaked their way up the narrow mountain roads leading to the city of Gondar. In the lead automobile was the Asst. Under Secretary of the Foreign Office, Sir Ronald Graham along with an aide and a translator. The passengers in the car behind were a Major acting on Brig. Gen. Lee’s behalf as a military liaison and his batman. Both motor cars had military drivers, each armed with only a revolver. They now approached their destination, the ancient city of Gondar nestled in the Amhara highlands overlooking beautiful Lake Tana. Graham found Gondar to be a pleasantly exotic city that looked more medieval than African.
At the outskirts of the city they encountered guards who were expecting them. One of the guards spoke a smidgen of broken English and directed them to the Royal Enclosure. When they arrived they were greeted by more soldiers and one of those spoke reassuringly decent English. The drivers remained with their cars while the rest of the party was ushered in and served water and fruit. Before long Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis Dinagde arrived to meet with them. He was accompanied by a translator and two scribes bearing documents.
"These are copies both in Amharic and English of the treaty of alliance with the revisions that the Queen of Kings has demanded after consulting with his advisers," the interpreter announced as he handed Graham and then the Major a pair of Manila folders.
Graham began to review the English version of the document. As he did he remarked almost casually, "I would very much to have an audience with Her Majesty Zauditu so we can quickly iron out any differences."
When this was translated Hapte Giorgis frowned slightly. His answer was translated, "It is not necessary for you to have an audience. The Fitawari here is fully empowered to negotiate on Her Majesty’s behalf."
This did not come as a shock to Graham. "I am perfectly willing to negotiate with our dear friend, the Fitawai. Still I would like very much to be able to have an audience with Queen of Kings in order to pay respect. It can be brief if there are other demands on her time."
When this was translated Hapte Giorgis’ frown deepened into a scowl. His response was translated, "That is out of the question. The Queen of Kings is ill and cannot see anyone."
"Oh, dear. That does not sound good. Is it anything serious, anything we should be concerned about?"
"The Queen of Kings has a fever. It is likely contagious but her physicians have it under control."
"In that case we would be more than willing to have our physicians examine her."
"The Fitawari thanks you for your offer but says that Queen of Kings will only let her own personal physicians attend her."
Bloody damn witch doctors are likely to making her condition worse thought Graham "Tell the Fitawari that we are not impugning the quality of Zauditu’s doctors, but would merely like to point out that it always good to have a second opinion." Especially one based on science not superstition!
When this was translated Hapte Giorgis’ scowl deepened. "The Fitawari says that the Queen of Kings will not permit that."
Graham mulled it over. Perhaps we can persuade her husband on the wisdom of letting a proper physician see her. "Well then might we meet with her consort?" he asked.
Hapte Giorgis continued to scowl and took his time replying. As he did Graham finished his scan of the revised treaty. He was pleasantly relieved that the revisions were relatively minor. The treaty now had some more vague language to further sugar coat the fact that Abyssinia would become a British protectorate after the war. Graham made a note to check that the Amharic version was in accordance and that this was not a translation anomaly, either deliberate or unintentional. If it was not a translation problem then the change was obviously cosmetic. Someone was willing to make it seem that Zauditu was demanding better terms when it was really without substance.
There were a few other changes which were more of a concern. The document affirmed the primacy of the Abyssinian Coptic Church in a way that made it clear that Anglican missionaries were not welcome. Graham could see some problems arising from that in the postwar period but for the time being he did not want it to be a stumbling block. Lastly the document explicitly made it clear that Tafari was to have no role whatsoever in the governance of Abyssinia and that the British government would refrain from entering into any arrangements with him. That could be something of a sticky problem as Graham knew that other British diplomats were in Harrar trying their best to enter into an agreement with Tafari. Graham wondered if it was necessary to argue that clause. General Lee had made it abundantly clear in the last few days that with the imminence of the Abyssinian rainy season it was imperative to finalize the treaty with Zauditu as quickly as possible.
Hapte Giorgis now finally made his response which was soon translated as, "Unfortunately Ras Gugsa Welle has come down with the same illness as his wife."
Sir Ronald’s diplomatic intuition suddenly felt uneasy. He looked intensely at the Fitawari’s face. What he saw merely fuelled his suspicions about what he was being told.
------Old Admiralty Building 0900
Sir Edward Carson, First Lord of the Admiralty, was being briefed on the last developments. Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, summarized, "There were 2 small actions yesterday, First Lord. In first action, an unusually large German destroyer tried to reach Etaples from the west. We believe it is probably the same vessel that took on oil at La Coruna and briefly raided commerce in the Bay of Biscay. It was intercepted by 3 ‘E’ class destroyers of Dover Patrol and a very intense struggle ensued at the German tried to force its way past them. The German destroyer actually rammed the Eden slicing her bow off. In the late phase of the battle a division of 4 ‘F" class destroyers arrived to help but the encounter had moved close enough to the French coast that German artillery opened fire."
"Did we sink the German destroyer? How bad were own losses?" asked Carson.
"One of our seaplanes flew close to Etaples taking some light damage from heavy ground fire. The observer claims he saw the destroyer sunk at the mouth of harbour. The wreck does not appear to completely block the harbour but will make entrancing and exiting at night hazardous. As far for own losses, we were able to tow poor Eden back to Dover but what’s left of her is not worth repairing. Boyne suffered some serious engine damage and is going to be out for a while. Ness took some very minor damage to her aft superstructure. Saracen had her forward 4" gun and a smokestack wrecked by the German coastal batteries."
"Hmm. So Dover Patrol is weakened further at this critical time. What was the other engagement?"
"After dark before the moon rose a formation of either 5 or 6 German destroyers—probably out of Dunkirk, clashed with a division of 4 ‘C’ class destroyers off Gravelines. The encounter was brief and then the Germans withdrew. Violet was hard hit and struggled with some serious fires and a flooded bow but managed to make it back to Dover under her own power. Bullfinch took some damage that has jammed her forward torpedo mount."
"So two more destroyers of Dover Patrol out of action for a while. Do we know if there was any serious damage to the German warships?"
"It was pitch black, First Lord. The division commander believes hits were scored but no fires or other visible damage was observed."
"I would to commend Admiral Bacon for sinking the first encounter, but I am not happy with the second. We continue to have difficulty with hit and run night raids. There is likely to be at least one more as we approach the new moon. Is it worthwhile trying to lay more mines off Dunkrik. I know we’ve discussed our shortage of mines before."
"That is correct, First Lord. We have given priority to the defensive field off Picardy, Etaples and Boulogne as well as the offensive mines around the Bight and defensive fields off our own cost."
"Plus the few we just laid off the Mouth of the Shannon. Are you saying we are out of mines right now?"
"Very close to it, First Lord. We expect to get another shipment
from the factories, later this week."
"We ordered an increase in mine production after Utsire."
"There has been some increase but not as much as we wanted. There is a general problem with munitions, and as you are well aware Lord Kitchener has tendered some complaints that we are in direct competition with the War Office for explosives contributing to the alleged shell shortage in France."
"I am certainly well aware of that. The Chancellor is chairing a small commission that is looking into the matter. He is confident that we can dramatically increase domestic production in two or three months, but in meantime increased purchase of munitions from the United States is our best hope."
Admiral Wilson spoke up, "We must be careful about getting carried away with the use of mines in and around the Straits. It is we not the Germans who are trying to maintain a continuous presence there in the form of Dover Patrol. This Saturday the destroyer Locust struck a mine that fortunately failed to explode. We believe it is one of our own mines that slipped its mooring."
"Admiral Oliver, I want you to prepare a detailed report with concrete recommendations about our use of mines on my desk first thing Thursday morning."
"Yes, First Lord."
"Now turning to other matters. The Prime Minister had supper with His Majesty last night. He tells me they had a very frank conversation. One of the topics King George brought up is the current anchorage of the Grand Fleet. He is concerned that we’ve moved it back to Scapa Flow and suggested to the PM that we return to our previous disposition of having the 1st battle squadron at Rosyth and the predreadnought squadrons stationed at the Humber, which would allow us to respond quicker to either an invasion of another sortie into the Channel. I know you’ve been considering this as well. Have you reached a decision?"
"Yes, we have, First Lord, though we wanted to discuss it with you before implementing it. We agree with His Majesty that Scapa Flow is too distant. However the previous disposition, which His Majesty recommends upon detailed analysis has some problems esp. the High Seas Fleet makes a thrust to the north, say to attack the 10th Cruiser Squadron again. Admiral Wilson and Admiral Oliver completed a report of this matter Saturday going into this in detail. I have a copy with me her for your perusal," stated Callaghan who then produced a manila folder he handed to Carson.
"I will review this in detail. What disposition does this end up recommending?"
"First Battle Squadron along with the cruiser squadrons and a flotilla will be stationed at Cromarty Firth. Third Battle Squadron and a flotilla will be stationed at Rosyth and only Fifth Battle Squadron and a flotilla will be stationed at the Humber. The possibility that the Germans might be able to engage First Battle Squadron alone, which had us worried, is nearly eliminated."
"Your logic is sound, Admiral. While I still plan to review this report and may wish to go over some of the details later, I give my approval to your recommendation. Feel free to implement it immediately."
"Of all his remarkable accomplishments Admiral von Ingenohl has repeatedly said that he considered his speech before the Reichstag to be his greatest victory."
------Ingenohl’s Glory, Augustine Wolf
------Reichstag Berlin 0910 hrs
Grossadmiral Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl strode to the podium to the sound of the thunderous applause. Outwardly he was the epitome of military confidence. Inwardly he had never felt more afraid. He tried not to look a certain member of his audience, who also wore an admiral’s uniform and had a forked beard. I will not be afraid of that devil anymore he told himself but that proved only partially effective.
Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg made the introduction. "It is now my pleasure to introduce a man who needs no introduction. Some call him the German Nelson, but I say they are wrong. Nelson was never this good---"
Horatio forgive them for they know not what they do Ingenohl prayed sarcastically I do hope the Chancellor doesn’t forget to mention the cure for cancer I invented. Eventually the Chancellor exhausted his stockpile of obsequities. Ingenohl would now be permitted to speak. His palms were wet but his throat was dry. He tried again to avoid looking at Tirpitz and failed. He noticed Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke in attendance. Even from a distance the man did not look well. Ingenohl knew that there were some heated disagreements between Moltke and Tirpitz of late. He did not know if that was good or bad.
Ingenohl felt another spasm of fear. He had trouble opening his mouth. He weakly mumbled, "Thank you, Chancellor for your kind words." People sitting in the front could barely hear his words. The admiral paused before continuing. He took a deep breath and spoke in a much stronger voice.
"Distinguished gentlemen of the Reichstag! I have been invited here today to speak on the topic of ‘war aims’. Now I happen to be a naval officer. When people talk to me about ‘war aims’ I am immediately reminded of gunnery. When I aim my guns at a target, let’s say a British battleship, I always ask myself, ‘Can I hit that target?’. Very often the answer is negative, for example the enemy warship could well be out of range. In that case firing the guns would only serve to waste precious ammunition. It is not a matter of what I would like to hit. It is a matter of ‘what can I hit’
Ingenohl paused to take a sip of water then he continued, "Now the reason I make this analogy is all too often people who talk about ‘war aims’ are aiming well beyond the range of their guns. They act as if they are a badly spoiled child in a candy store. You know this type of child. Everything is ‘I want this, I want that.’ This brat has an indulgent father and he gets way too much of what he wants and ends up with a bellyache.
For some in Germany discussing ‘war aims’ is a sort of parlor game. It is called ‘Who is the Real Patriot’. One person makes up some list of ‘war aims’ and his buddies try to top him by adding to the list. The one whose list is the longest gets to call himself, ‘the real patriot.’ Anyone who objects is labelled a defeatist. It is a stupid game if the people happen to be drunk, but what distresses me more is that many people play this dangerous game when they are completely sober."
Ingenohl took another sip of water. He scanned some of the faces. Many of those who previously had only adoration in their eyes, now looked rather uncomfortable. A few were even gaping. He continued, "So it is my sad duty here today to tell that Germany should only aim at what it has a chance to hit in this war. We entered this war very much worried about how we would prevail fighting a war against two powerful adversaries. We thought there was a way to defeat one of those powerful opponents quickly. Not only did that plan fail to do this but it brought a third great power into the war against us. We worried about how we would win against two great powers and now we are fighting three. But do the people who play ‘Who is the Real Patriot’ take this consideration? No they do not. Does the spoiled child in the candy store stop to think about this? No he still goes on whining, ‘I want, I want.’ I dare say that even if we were to find a clever war to bring in a fourth great power against us, the spoiled children will mere add more items to their infantile wish list.
"So I do not do win at this sick game of ‘Who is the Real Patriot.’ I now tell you this. It is a game that nobody really wins. It is a game where everyone loses. We expend our moral ammunition firing at targets we cannot hit and when our magazines are empty then the Reich is doomed. Yet it need not be that way. Against all three of our might enemies we have won impressive victories. There are targets that we can hit! But only if we act like adults and not like spoiled children. When we entered this war we felt that we were defending German Culture, a culture who regarded as superior to all others. I too felt this way. I am proud to be a German, but the Culture of which I am proud—the culture I regard as truly German is one of wisdom and prudence, not slobbering avarice. If Goethe were still alive would he be playing ‘Who is the Real Patriot?’"
As Ingenohl paused to catch his breath he cast a sideways glance at Bethmann-Hollweg. The chancellor had gone pale. Ingenohl was not surprised. He continued anyway, "I did not come here to discuss specific ‘war aims’ in detail. I did not come to tell you that there should not be any annexations. But neither did I come here to tell you that there must be annexations. What I will say on that subject is merely to repeat that we should aim our guns at only what we can hit and when it comes to annexations, that at best we will be able to hit only a few very small targets. We must not listen to the spoiled child crying, ‘I want, I want’. We should also do well to remember the troubles we’ve experienced in the past when we’ve annexed territory with large populations who are not German. Furthermore if we choose to aim our turrets at annexation then I very seriously doubt that we can get reparations—any reparations-- as well. And for overseas colonies, I will remind you that the spoiled child often asks for strange candy and then spits them out the moment he tastes them."
------Castleisland (Kerry) 0935 hrs
"General, the British infantry are getting dangerously close to this headquarters. I strongly suggest that we move it to Tralee in the next hour," Major von Runstedt, the acting chief of staff, recommended to General von François.
The general was indeed worried himself but he did now want it to show, "You don’t believe this is going to work, eh, Major?"
"You are an imaginative commander, General von François, but as your chief of staff I must in all candor state that I have serious doubts."
"Have you no faith in Hell, Major?"
"Oberst Hell is a competent officer, General. It is the Irishmen I am worried about—starting with Plunkett," replied the humorless von Runstedt.
"I appreciate your candid counsel, Major. However, I must demonstrate to my men both German and Irish, my confidence in this plan. If it fails, moving this headquarters would postpone the end by one or two days. We have our backs to the sea. I will stay and face my fate today."
"As you wish, General. But even if this plan succeeds Operation Unicorn has other problems, very serious problems."
"I am working on those as well, Major."
------middle of nowhere Herzegovina 1015 hrs May 3, 1915
With the attack on Belgrade proceeding slowly Crown Prince Rupprecht decided it would be best if the AustroHungarian Sixth Army concentrated on wearing down the CANZAC as much as possible before the latest convoy with supplies unloaded. He was able to persuade Conrad to reroute some deliveries of artillery shells to Sixth Army. This morning Feldmlt. Roth, the commander of the XXIV Corps decided to batter the Canadians instead of the Australians today. He waited for the last bit of morning fog to burn off and now the howitzer batteries commenced firing. The enemy did not respond. They were completely out of 4.5" howitzer shells and carefully husbanding their few remaining 18 pound shells.
------Dublin Castle 1030 hrs
General Ian Hamilton was briefing Lord Curzon, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and Augustine Birrell, the Chief Secretary. He was assisted by Major Vane, whom he had retained as his intelligence officer. "The attack on Bavaria 6th Division is progressing most satisfactorily," announced Hamilton with considerable satisfaction, "The Germans have retreated into Kerry. They will soon run out of room with the ocean at their back. Two more days should complete their destruction."
"This is very encouraging, yet I would prefer that we liberated Limerick first," replied Curzon, "How is the counterattack at Limerick progressing?"
"Not as well as General Stopford had hoped, Your Excellency. He had expected that the 47th Division would overwhelm the German Marines at the Shannon crossings during the night. The enemy was weakened and Gen. Stopford plans to persist but it now looks like it will take some time."
"So we are unlikely to be taking the historic picture of the union jack being raised once again over King John’s Castle tomorrow?" asked Birrell.
"I would think that Wednesday afternoon or early Thursday to be more likely, Mr. Birrell. The fancy photographer we brought from England will just have to wait a little while longer. One unexpected success last night was in County Clare where the 109th Brigade was able to advance all the way to the suburbs of Ennis. General Stopford had merely asked that they pin down the German Marines in Clare. This could be a sign that liberating Clare might to be fairly straightforward."
"It might indeed and is welcome news, general. And how about the previous cable stations? Is there still any danger that they enemy will take Ballinskelligs? And when do we anticipate the recapture of Waterville?" asked Curzon.
"We land an entire company of Royal Marines at Ballinskelligs yesterday. That should be more the enough to defeat any attack in the days ahead. As Waterville its recapture should be almost trivial once we have defeated the Bavarian division in Kerry."
"And what about the combination of Fenians and German cavalry at Fethard? Have they been eliminated yet?"
Hamilton sighed inaudibly. He knew this would come up. "Last night a second attempt was made to storm Fethard and it failed as well. The city’s antiquated walls still make it something of a fortress. The enemy is trapped there for the time being. Eliminating them can wait while we liberate Limerick and destroy the Germans in Kerry."
"And what about Bandon? Chamberlain tells me has told me that 300 well armed Fenians are raising Cain in Bandon, which dangerously close to Cork."
Hamilton gave Curzon a peering look. Neither Curzon nor Birrell had been told of the decision to permit some Protestant enclaves in County Cork to form armed defense organizations expecting that he would be adamantly opposed. Chamberlain and Vane knew but were ordered to withhold that information from the Viceroy. "Not to worry, Your Excellency. A battalion from the VII Army Corps is hard marching there as we speak. The rebels were stronger in both Galway and Wexford and we crushed them easily with a single battalion."
If Curzon knows has somehow managed to learn of the Portland skirmish he’ll throw it in my face now thought Gen. Hamilton. The engagement at Portland where the 3rd Leinsters were driven off by Irish Volunteers was another bit of news Hamilton had ordered Vane and Chamberlain to withhold from the civilian worrywarts. Being well versed in history Ian Hamilton knew that Curzon was justified in fearing an Irish uprising and thought that in the main the Lord-Lieutenant had acted well so far. However he found Curzon to be obsessive, bordering on paranoid at any sign of a rebellion. As far as Hamilton was concerned most of those who were going to rebel had done so already and had in the process accomplished very little. The main enemy was and would remain the Germans. Once the Germans were defeated most of the Irish rebels will lose heart and hide. A handful will probably try to continue fight making hit and run raids with the arms and ammunition the Germans provided. For that reason Ireland will need some serious watching in the coming months but it posed no serious threat. Already preliminary plans were being developed by his staff to deal with Ireland after the Germans were defeated.
"Keep me informed about Bandon—and any other instances of rebellion," Curzon demanded.
Oh splendid. He hasn’t heard a bloody thing about Portland. We’ll tell him about it when the war’s over. "But of course, Your Excellency, you shall be kept abreast of all developments," answered Hamilton, "However before I forget there is a matter we need to discuss at this time. London is insisting that the curfews be lifted in Ulster. They believe there is no threat of any significance in Ulster and by lifting them we demonstrate that the corner has been turned in defeating the invasion."
Curzon ground his teeth for nearly a minute, then spoke, "So the Lord-Lieutenant is to have no say in this matter?"
"Uh, London leaves it up to you whether the ban is to remain in effect in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan. They insist that it be lifted in---"
"—the predominantly Protestant counties. And no one in London understands what a wrong message lifting the curfews in only those counties would be!"
"Then we will lift them in all nine counties. Mr. Birrell you will carry out the His Excellency’s wishes."
"My wishes are for the curfews to remain in effect for all of Ireland!" Curzon snarled.
Should I spell it out for him? Yes I think its time. "Lord Curzon, permit me to be direct. The Prime Minister has graciously permitted you to wield more authority than any Irish Viceroy has been granted in over a century. But you are being foolish to take that for granted. What you and do not wish is not my primary concern. Ireland is now effectively under military jurisdiction subject only to the policies decided on by the War Committee."
------HQ British 53rd (Welsh) Division Rathmore 1040 hrs
.General Keir had returned to VII Army Corps HQ at Millstreet. Before he had left General Lindley has again brought up his devision’s lack of either a cavalry squadron or a cyclist company for performing reconnaissance. General Keir was persuaded before he left to send the Welsh Division 1 of the 4 squadron of the 2nd South Midland Brigade currently supporting the 16th Division, but this squadron would not arrive for several hours.
Less than hour ago the 53rd (Welsh) Division had some mixed news. The Cheshire Brigade had been able to advance 2 more miles in the direction of Killarney taking the small town of Baraduff. The unfortunate side of that was the Welsh batteries supporting that attack had come out the worst duelling with the Bavarian artillery. More vexing still was that the Germans had once again quickly fallen back to another line of strong points prepared in advance. The Cheshire Brigade had been stopped cold by the last fall back position, suffering serious losses.
Only a minute ago a motorcyclist had delivered a heartening dispatch from the commander of the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade. Not only had that brigade found a gap in the German lines but it looked to be a very big one. The 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex had reached the tiny hamlet of Anablaha unopposed while the 2/4th battalion Queen’s Regiment had advanced into Knocknaran to the north without any sign of the enemy. This gap appeared to offer several appealing opportunities, but between the two forward battalions there was a piece of high ground topped by a small mountain. This had the effect of temporarily splitting the brigade in two. One option would be to strike north towards Castleisland with the 2/4th Queen’s in the lead, hopefully rolling up the enemy’s defensive line Another option would be to proceed to the west north of the rough ground heading Farrenfore, which was on the railway connecting Killarney to Tralee and Limerick County. From Farrenfore they could attack either Tralee or the dreaded German 5.9’s NNW of Castleisland. .
The third option was to strike west on the road to south of the high ground with the 1/4th Royal Sussex in the lead and try to take Killarney from either the north or northwest. With the capture of Killarney VII Army Corps would have the greater part of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division encircled Once that portion was destroyed the forces around Catleisland could be mopped up rather easily. With a little bit of luck they should be able to capture some of the mighty 5.9’s intact. It was believed that the Germans were holding over 1,500 British prisoners at Killarney.
"Prepare the following response for the Welsh Border Brigade and deliver it as quickly as possible. CAPTURE OF KILLARNEY IS YOUR PRIMARY GOAL STOP"
------Dundalk train station (Louth) 1050 hrs
The plan they had worked out was for the Countess Markieviscz accompanied by Ezra Pound to take the train from Dundalk to Dublin early in the morning. Yeats would take a later train and Sean McAntee an early afternoon train. They had agreed upon a rendezvous location in Dublin. Yeats now nervously waited at the station for the train to arrive. There were a few constables in sight patrolling the station. Yeats knew that he should avoid doing anything suspicious but he could not resist the impulse to stare at them. He kept expecting that any instant they would swoop down on him like birds of prey. It was not a warm day but he was seating profusely. His fake beard itched and he was constantly worried that it was slipping. He touched it repeatedly just to make sure. He tried to distract himself by trying to compose a poem—and he did have several strange ideas for poems in the last few days—or by trying to use some form of Hermetic mediation he had learned in Golden Dawn. Neither strategy worked more than a little.
He carried a pistol inside his jacket. He wore a raincoat to make its bulge less noticeable. It was not currently raining but there had been some drizzle earlier in the morning so there was nothing incongruous about the raincoat. Yeats did not find being armed reassuring in the slightest. On the contrary it reminded him that he had killed. He told himself over and over that killing was necessary and if he had to he would kill again. He wasn’t sure that he could though.
Just before the train arrived Yeats managed to take his eyes off the constables long enough to notice that there was one man, possibly in his mid 20’s, staring rather intensely at him. This made him all the more anxious. He tried not to meet the young man’s gaze. That was almost as difficult as not looking at the constables. Now don’t panic William, maybe he just finds you attractive Yeats told himself. That thought almost evinced a chuckle.
The train coming out of Belfast pulled into the station. Yeats momentarily resumed worrying about constables instead of his admirer. After touching his beard one more time he entered the train and hunted for an empty compartment. The best he could find had only one very old man occupying it. The old man looked to have jaundice and emitted a foul odor. He mumbled something incoherent when Yeats sat down across from him. The poet decided that the stench was actually a blessing as it would keep others away.
Unfortunately it did not. Scarcely had they departed the station when the young man who had been starting at him previously poked his head into the compartment. "Well there you are!" proclaimed the admirer, "I was worried I that I might have lost you." At that the young sat down besides the sickly old man who he acknowledged only with a brief disagreeable sniff.
Yeats didn’t quite know what to make of this and remained silent. The young man leaned forward. There was a faint smell of whiskey on his breath. "You’re William Butler Yeats, aren’t you?"
Yeats felt himself falling into an abyss. After a few seconds he feebly, "I am afraid you have the wrong person. I am Aloysius O’Brien—"
The young man shook his head and then nudged the sickly old man beside him, "Hey, there! Do you know who we have the great honor to be sitting in this car with us? Why it is none other than William Butler Yeats, poet and murderer!"
"I tell you that are mistaken---"
"Don’t lie to me! I’ve heard you recite your poems twice. You ain’t doing much of a job disguising your voice, Mr. Yeats.. It’s almost as bad as that fake beard you’re wearing. Ain’t that right, Pops?"
The jaundiced old man mumbled something incoherent culminating in some rasping coughing.
."Please, please. I am not who you think I am. You obviously been drinking and have gotten yourself confused."
"Oh I’ll admit that I’ve had a few drinks. Now will you admit that you’re William Butler Yeats, the murdering traitor poet? And where’s you American accomplice, the insidious Mr. Pound? Or that infernal slut of a Countess with a Polish name who helped betray Ireland to the Huns--that Jezebel who seduced you into treason. Did she reward you properly when it was over, eh? Was it as good as you imagined?"
"Please, my dear young fellow you are becoming tiresome. If you don’t stop I’ll have to---"
"---have to do what? Shoot me?"
Yeats had not thought of using his pistol until the youth mentioned it. But he was on a moving train full of people. What could he hope to accomplish with a pistol? He made no reply. The sickly old man in the compartment did not seem to be following their conversation, but he did become a tad more aware. He finally said something intelligible, "Did ya hear about the poor Pope killin’ ‘imself on account of Ireland?"
"Yes, I did, Pops. It ain’t true. Don’t you believe everything you hear," answered the young man.
"Aye, you two are all worked up over it too I see. Saints preserve us! What is this world comin’ to?" he said then his voice trailed off into more unintelligible muttering.
Yeats shook his head. Oh the workings of the Web of Wyrd! Yeats speculated I am now forced to deny my own identity. To insist that I am not the man I am. "If Benedict were to commit suicide I wouldn’t blame him though," he answered sardonically in a sighing voice.
The young man grew louder and there were hints of tears in his eyes, "I once thought you were the greatest living poet. I practically worshipped you? How could you do it? My brother lost an arm at the Somme and you protect a German puppet!"
That is a very good question--how did we come to this? wondered Yeats. He was about to make yet another feeble denial when a conductor poked his head into the compartment. "This man is Willaim Butler Yeats, poet and murderer!" the young man yelled and then he lunged forward. Before either the conductor or Yeats could react he yanked off the false beard.
Yeats briefly considered the pistol. What the Hell am I going to do with the damn thing? Kill everyone on the train?
------Paris 1100 hrs
Premier Georges Clemenceau was ecstatic at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, "I have been informed this morning by General Joffre of the wonderful news that Second Army liberated Compiegne this morning. The German dagger pointed at the heart of France has been blunted. This is a turning point in the war, I am sure of it! Now that the accursed Boche is on the run we must continue our offensive for the enemy is still too close to Paris."
"Does General Joffre agree with continuing the offensive?" asked Aristide Briand, the Minister of Justice.
"It does not matter if he agrees! I am the Minister of War. It is I who make the important decisions," roared the tiger. He then his glare grew less fierce and he softened his voice, "But to answer the question, General Joffre is in favour of continuing the offensive. We merely differ on some details."
"Will continuing the offensive interfere with our promise to send 2 infantry divisions to help rescue the British First Army," asked Foreign Minister Theophile Declasse.
"No, I fully intend to honor my commitment to our British ally. Moreover I will extend them my full support over the Connolly Affair. We are going to issue a statement apologizing for the disgraceful display of sympathy towards an obvious German agent that happened last Friday and applaud the British government for taking proper action in the matter."
There were worried looks on the faces of the Ministers. "Do you think that is wise, Premier?" asked Briand, "While I am personally glad that they executed the Irish bastard, I think it unwise to provoke our own Socialists any further on the matter."
"But no! At my urging General Joffre has decided to place General Sarrail in command of Seventh Army. It will be in tomorrow’s newspapers along with the news of our stunning victory at Compiegne. My support in the Chamber of Deputies will be unassailable. Only the most fanatical devotees of Marx will oppose us. Speaking of which, have we arrested those Russian agitators as I ordered?"
"Yes, Premier," answered Briand, "we arrested M. Martov and Trotsky yesterday evening and closed their propaganda newspaper. Still I must point out that our basis for criminal prosecution may prove weak."
"And doing so will surely cause at least some of our Socialists to rally to their cause," commented Theodore Steeg, the Interior Minister, "they would see in them an analogue to M. Connolly. It may be better if we just deport them."
"We will decide the late. In the meantime make sure their experience of our justice system is not a comfortable one."
------Fethard (Tipperary) 1120 hrs
O’Duibhir, the acting commandant of the Tipperary Volunteers was having another meeting with the adjutant of the 16th Uhlan Regiment. "T’is a great victory we’ve won here at Fethard, a great victory indeed," gushed O’Duibhir, "t’is will prove to be the rallying point for the great Irish revolution!"
"You are getting carried with your small success, Irishman. The British underestimated your combat value. The colonel and I both believe that is the main reason they attacked the way they did. They will be coming back and they will bring reinforcements. We now have a brief opportunity to escape to County Cork. We must take it. Have your men ready to pull out an hour before first light tomorrow. The wagons carrying the gravely wounded will leave even earlier to get a heads start."
"No! Fethard is a fortress. From here we will grow; why 11 more men have already joined us this morning and we can count on----"
"—No! If we remain here we shall either die or be captured. The British may send a battery of howitzers next time. That will let them fire over the walls and slowly kill us. Even if they can’t spare howitzers they will certainly send more infantry allowing them to cordon us off properly. We have less than a week’s worth of food, still less fodder for the horses. We cannot remain here. So prepare your men to move out early tomorrow. The colonel has decided to organize your men into 2 battalions. One battalion will be armed with Moisin-Nagant rifles the other with captured Lee-Enfields."
"Are these battalions to be of equal size? As I recall we still dunna have enough Lee-Enfields for half my men."
"Yes, there is some shortfall. In that battalion allocate the Lee-Enfield’s to your best riflemen—we both know some of your men are useless with a rifle---and the rest will get a shotgun and pistol. That well leave us with a small excess of Moisin-Nagant rifles that will be held in reserve in case we run into more Irishmen we want to arm quickly. Right now one of our problems is that we are starting to run short of ammunition for the Russian rifles."
------10 Downing St. 1130 hrs
The attorney general FE Smith had been summoned to meet with the Prime Minister. There was one topic of discussion. "MacNeill remains uncooperative," said Bonar Law, "I think we should make an example of him to prove just how serious we are."
Smith shrugged his head ambivalently. "If you want to see him sentenced to several years in prison I think we have sufficient evidence to manage that, Prime Minister. However if you are looking to convict him on a capital offense, then we have a serious problem even if it was before a court martial."
"MacNeill is the instigator behind the invasion---I am certain of it. Casement was merely his point man in Germany. This should be obvious by now. I want the scoundrel either shot or hanged. Letting him with a prison sentence, even if was for life, would be a mockery of justice."
"I have no doubt that what you say it is true, Prime Minister. Personally I have nothing but contempt for the likes of John MacNeill, but there is unfortunately a paucity of evidence---"
"---damn the bloody evidence! MacNeill is as guilty as hell and I want to see him pay with his worthless life. You’re a solicitor. Be creative."
------Banteer (Cork) 1155 hrs
Upon leaving Charleville Major von Thoma took his motorized detachment south on the main road to Mallow. On the way he raided Buttevant which was the site of an important army camp while distributing rifles and ammunition to the small company of Irish Volunteers there. Even with the aid of the armored cars he was unable to penetrate too deep into the camp where the instructors put up a determined resistance. The Irishmen were unable to loot any ammunition but they did capture a light motor truck in working condition as well as some gasoline. The 53 men and 2 women of Buttevant Company were given 50 additional rifles and instructed by von Thoma to head east to Doneraille where there was another slightly larger company of Irish Volunteers which they would arm with their excess weapons. The combined unit would then march to Mallow.
.After that von Thoma continued south but not all the way to Mallow, where he thought it likely he might encounter resistance of some strength. Instead he veered to the west and seized the bridge over the Blackwater River at Lombardstown, which had been guarded by a pair of constables who fled at the sight of the armored cars. After crossing the Blackwater dispatched a messenger on a motorcycle to inform the rest of his battalion then sped off to the west to attack the key communication center at Banteer which was guarded by only elements of the 481st ASC company and the 53rd Signal Company plus a dozen constables. The element of surprise let von Thoma captured a fodder wagon and cart with supplies for the British signal company. . He was also able to establish a position on the eastern edge of the town. The defenders quickly rallied though and prevented von Thoma’s men from reaching the railroad station. So he then sent the German pioneers plus 4 Irishmen familiar with dynamite to blow up a portion of the train track outside the town. This catalyzed a hastily improvised British counterattack. The armored cars had been position as strongpoints and together with the machinegun and infantry gun sections the counterattack was easily defeated. About an hour later the small cyclist platoon of the West Limerick Battalion arrived. An hour after that the main body of the battalion arrived as well and he then was finally able to eliminate the remaining British resistance.
------southern Adriatic Sea 1210 hrs
The armored cruiser, FS Victor Hugo was part of the scouting forces for the 1ere Armee Navale. A pair of Austrian warplanes had just made a bombing run on the British and French minesweepers. None of the ships was hit but it did cause a few minutes disruption. Now lookouts on the cruiser suddenly spotted the wakes of two approaching torpedoes. The helm made a desperate last minute turn. One torpedo missed but the other burst on the amidships flooding the boilers. The cruiser capsized a half hour later.
------Libau (Courland) 1225 hrs
The lead squadron of the German 2nd Cavalry Squadron cautiously scouted the outskirts of the Russian naval base on the Baltic at Libau. The Germans expected stiff resistance here and the divisional commander had been ordered not to suffer excessive casualties if the Russians proved too strong. These orders proved irrelevant. Within an hour it became evident that the Russians had abandoned the base. .
------near Kilcummin (Kerry) 1230 hrs
One of the scouts of the 3rd Kerry Battalion came pedalling hard as he could on his bicycle. "Major Rommel, Major Rommel!" he yelled, "they are coming now. The British are coming!"
"How many did you see?" asked Rommel, "don’t exaggerate."
"Hmm. It is more than a hundred, sir."
"Good. Good. So it’s not just a small reconnaissance patrol. At least a full company. Are they coming down the main road? How far off?"
"Uh, yes, the main road? How far? I dunna know. At least a mile off. Maybe even two. It’s hard to tell. A few of them are ahead of the rest."
Rommel, then addressed the entire company in a louder voice, "Everyone get ready. But do not look sharp. No! Look like the worthless Irish louts the British think you are!"
This drew some nervous laughter from his men. Rommel had told the men of his 2nd Company that what they were going to do next was a favourite tactic of the Mongols. .His men assumed a slovenly formation and some pretended to be inebriated. The British infantry soon came marching down the road. They were the lead company of the 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. They had 4 men a half mile out in front as scouts. These caught sight of Irish Volunteers first and 2 of them ran back to alert the rest of company which then spread out in a line. As these approached a dozen of the Irish Volunteers immediately ran off. Believing that a convincing panic doesn’t afflict everyone at once, Rommel had selected these men to flee at the first sight of them. He called them the first wave. The rest of the company we divided into second wave and third wave.
The British came closer. "Second wave, now!" he shouted. More of his men began to run. Rommel’s criterion for selecting the waves was not exactly random. He wanted the best runners in the third. He was glad that he removed the least fit from the combat companies of his battalion. Rommel took a very distant shot at the British with his own Lee-Enfield, having given up his Mauser. "Third wave! Now!" he yelled. He fired off on more round then joined them.
The British infantry fired a few rounds then set off in dogged pursuit, while dispatching a messenger to inform the rest of the battalion not far behind them. As part of the Welsh Border Brigade the men of the 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex were more than a little fatigued after their hard march all the way from the Cobh. The very slowly gained grown on the slowest of the Irish Volunteers. In the distance there was ridge of small hills. Rommel could see two Russian Maxim machineguns poking out from behind some camouflage. These belonged to his battalion’s machinegun detachment. Some other heads were poking up from behind the hills. These belonged to German pioneers.
Next to Rommel was a bugler. In the morning the bugler had practiced an unusual call. As the Irish Volunteers turned to him Rommel turned to him, "Get ready. Get ready."
The bugler brought his instrument to his lips.
The bugler began to play his odd call. A few of the Irish Volunteers had already made it the crests of the ridge. When they heard the bugle call they dove forward. The rest of the company fell to the ground. Behind the hills were 4 medium minenwerfers belonging to the independent pioneer battalion of the Sonderverband. These now opened up on the pursuing British infantry. The 17 cm HE shells exploded in their midst. This was soon joined by the two machineguns and then within a minute the men belonging to3 companies of the 2nd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment appeared over the crest along with the 1st company 1st Kerry battalion and together they poured their rifle fire into the British ranks. The 2nd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had just returned after its unsuccessful attempt to take Cahirseveen and the cable stations on Valentia Island. Its wagons had lagged behind and were being escorted by the 4th company.
The lead company of the 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex was quickly annihilated. Its poor men only managed to fire off a few quick rounds before they succumbed. The rest of the battalion soon arrived but the commander almost immediately realized that the situation was hopeless and mainly assisted in extricating the wounded while laying down cover fire. . The men of 2nd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment were very tried from their extended marching in the Ring of Kerry. The battalion commander was content to harass the enemy withdrawal without attempting a pursuit.
None of Rommel’s men had been killed and 3 had been wounded of which 2 were men who had lagged behind during the chase and had been injured by the nearby detonations of the 17cm rounds. The third man had been hit in the calf by a bullet, probably a ricochet. As the British retreated one of his men yelled out mockingly, "Hey, Bonar Law! Who is doing the exterminating today?"
This generated some hooting amongst the men. "T’is a darn shame the O’Rahilly wasn’t here to see this," another shouted. Rommel had ordered his adjutant, Lt. Michael O’Rahilly, to remain behind to oversee the preparation for the battalion’s next mission. While the wounded were being tended to Rommel informed the Bavarian battalion commander, "My men and I need to return to Killarney now, Oberst."
"Yes, yes. This special mission General von François assigned you. Well then don’t just stand there—get moving, soldier."
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 1330 hrs
The night attack having been frustrated by the disruptive fire of the 2 Irish infantry guns, the 147th (2nd West Riding) Brigade was forced to send men over the bridge only in small dribs and drabs. The German 10cm guns to the west periodically harassed them with a few rounds, but just before noon the deployment was completed. The brigadier was not happy with attacking in daylight but General Stopford insisted so the delayed attack finally went ahead with the 1/4th and 1/6th battalions Duke of Wellington Regiment suddenly going over the top of their trenches without any preliminary artillery preparation. The British had hoped that by not using their artillery they would have a small element of surprise but two German machineguns began firing almost immediately and some of the attackers fell back into the trenches from which they sprang hindering the men below them.
Meanwhile the attackers continued on. A third German machinegun began firing as well—apparently its crew had been surprised. Then when the attackers were about midway into no man’s land two German light minenwerfers which had been brought up from Limerick before dawn opened fire as well. The no man’s land was dangerously narrow foe either side to use their artillery but it was not too narrow for the minenwerfers. The German defenders here were the 1st battalion 1st Naval Regiment. This battalion’s 1st company was a Musketen company armed with 30 Madsen automatic rifles. So together with the Mausers in the other companies they poured out a torrent of lead into the British attackers. The wire barriers had been thickened during the night. As they struggled with the wire the attackers were mowed down. The defenders suffered a few casualties from rifle fire and jam tin bombs but the attack which was difficult enough at night was impossible by day. In the second trench behind most of the Germans the 2nd company of the Limerick City Battalion was held in reserve. The German Marines did not need them to repel the attack and so they did get to participate in any meaningful way but the encounter was still proved to be a useful albeit grisly training mission.
------Teschen 1405 hrs
Conrad von Hoetzendorf took the telephone call from Archduke Friedrich in Vienna. Conrad asked the obvious question, "How did it go in Prague with Erzherzog Karl?"
"It was a little awkward, but but too bad. The two of us reached a mutual understanding."
Conrad did not exactly like the sound of that, "Pardon me. I am a little bit confused. Mutual understanding about what? The Erzherzog is not in command of that accursed band of misfits, but we will let that division carry his name, even though that is really an insult. Being an officer in my army the Erzherzog he accepts that. End of story. Please tell me that it is that simple."
"Hmm. It’s a little more complicated than that. You see His Royal Highness made a very interesting suggestion. I discussed it with Kaiser Franz Josef this morning and he agrees as well that it is a splendid idea."
"What, what? Just what is this so called ‘splendid idea’? And why didn’t you discuss it with me first?"
"It is nothing much really. Karl feels that we should try to create a second Division Prague. When it is ready he will be given command. He has done some research and apparently we do have some free battalions, esp. Czech battalions, not assigned to divisions. And we still have a rifle shortage---"
"---I am working on that!"
"So I went ahead and contacted OKW to see if they would be willing to provide arms. I was unable to get a hold of either Moltke or Tirpitz---apparently there is something important going at the Reichstag I don’t understand. I did get in touch with General von Dellmensigen, who is the number two Army officer there, and he was very favorable to the idea. He is going to check this afternoon but he believes he can procure 30 more of the interesting Italian 75mm cannon he gave Division Prague on short notice. As for rifles we may have to settle for captured Moisin-Nagant rifles. So you see---"
"---No, no, no! I do not see! One Division Prague was too much to suffer! And now you want to create another?"
"For the life of me, Feldmarschal, I could never understand why that unit riles you so much about that unit. The Germans certainly think it has great potential. As for the second one we are not going to promise it to the Germans this time. When the time comes we will let the Erzherzog command it on some front where we can be sure he is safe. I think it would do wonders for our morale---"
"---No, no! I am in charge of the army and I absolutely forbid this insanity."
The sigh on the other end could be heard over the scratchy telephone line. "Feldmarschal, you forget yourself. I am in command of the army. I have allowed you great leeway in this war but in this matter, I have the interests of the House of Habsburg to consider. This matter as far as I am concerned has been decided."
Soon after that the call ended. Conrad then hurled the telephone receiver against the wall.
------HQ Belgian 5th Division (Picardy) 1415 hrs
King Albert permitted Gen. Plumer, the new commander of the British Second Army to meet with him. "How is Queen Elisabeth doing right now, Your Majesty?" Gen. Plumer asked.
Albert attempted a smile, "She is doing fine, thank you. The doctors now think she is out of any danger. But they do think the partial hearing loss in her right ear is likely to be permanent. That would be a shame as she had such a great ear for music. I am not resigned to that. I have sent men to Paris to see if there is a specialist who can fix that."
"How are the children taking this?"
"They are with their mother now. I have ordered Leopold to keep a strict watch over his mother lest she secretly depart the Paris hospital and try to sneak back to the battle zone. She has already asked when she can return. I have told her it is out of the question. She can be so stubborn though."
"Yes, some women are like that, Your Majesty," Plumer answered trying to be diplomatic.
"You did not come here to talk about my wife."
Plumer paused, then responded with a shrug, "You are very shrew, Your Majesty. That is correct."
"Hmm. Let me ask you something that has bothered me. Is General Smith-Dorrien really sick?"
Plumer again hesitated before replying cautiously, "So I’ve been told, Your Majesty."
"And just what is his illness?"
"Uh, I am not sure, Your Majesty. I think some uh, digestive ailment, but, uh, then I am not really sure."
Albert gave the general a piercing look then asked, "He’s not really sick, now is he?"
Plumer took a very long time before replying. He’s testing me Plumer though he wants to know if I can be trusted. Plumer eventually nodded grimly, "He is not really sick, Yuur Majesty."
"There has been some difficulty between him and Marshal French, is that not so?"
That question was not completely unexpected but Plumer gulped nevertheless, "You must realize, Your Majesty, that I am not at liberty to criticize a superior officer." Much as I would like to.
Albert nodded in return, "I understand. I am merely curious. There are things about you British I find baffling, sometimes even irritating. Sir John French is one of them. But there are others. This morning I received a letter from your government demanding that the forces I sent to relieve the British at Kampala now be placed under British command to be used as part of an operation to retake Nairobi, which the Germans recently captured."
"I had heard a little bit about Nairobi, but scarcely paid it any attention, Your Majesty. As far as I am concerned the war will be won here in France not in Africa."
"I agree. What particularly annoys me is that when this came up before and I offered to send Force Publique to relieve your units at Kampala I was rather strictly warned by your government not to send too many men. They were very worried that if we did send too many men we might lay claim to a part of Uganda when this war is over."
Again Plumer paused, then he finally answered, "We have some morons in the colonial office, Your Majesty. Please do not judge the British Empire by their stupidity."
This time King Albert paused before answering, "You have come here because you want us to participate in an attack to help your First Army." His tone of voice indicated it was a statement not a question.
"Well, you see it goes like this, Your Majesty. Tomorrow we are going to make an attack that we hope will finally clear the line of communication with First Army. The Northumbrian Division has arrived but it won’t be in position to attack before mid-morning. The French was sending the XXXVI Corps with 2 infantry divisions tomorrow but they will not be able to participate until well into the afternoon. We want to begin our attack before noon and then use the French divisions later in the day."
"And you want me to participate in your morning attack? Do you know that we suffered well over 2,000 casualties—including my queen-- in this battle so far?"
"Yes, I have heard those numbers, Your Majesty. And I fully realize that it is esp. difficult for the Belgian Army because you have an extremely limited manpower pool to call upon. It is for that reason I am not going to ask you to participate in the main attack this time. All that I ask is that you mount a realistic feint supported by a decent bombardment. I know you still have a good stockpile of shells while we remain tight."
"Not as much as you think. I have used more than half my stockpile in this battle so far! "
"What you can spare is all I ask, Your Majesty."
For a minute Plumer was sure the monarch was going to flat out refuse. Then Albert’s face became less intense, "If this was French asking me I would refuse. But I know Gen. Smith-Dorrien thought highly of you. For that reason we will talk some more about my army might be able to do tomorrow."
------White House 1500 hrs (GMT)
Wilson was meeting with the Cabinet. "There has been a dangerous shift in American opinion, esp. Irish-American opinion, about the German invasion in the last few days, Mr. President," Col House announced, "beginning with O’Gorman’s exchange with Lodge in the Senate. Things deteriorated still further over the weekend, with Mayor Curley in Boston calling a rally Sunday afternoon. The Sunday edition of all the Hearst newspapers led off with distorted excerpts from Bonar Law’s controversial speech at Greenwich Park. This produced an intense reaction amongst some Irish Americans who had not previously been associated with Fenianism. A Mr. Patrick Kennedy, a prominent figure in Boston politics, along with his son Joseph, were particularly intense in their vilification of Bonar Law. Neither of them explicitly said that they supported the German invasion yet they both allowed that inference to be drawn. In addition to Boston there was been a dramatic shift towards supporting both the Germans and the Fenians in Chicago, which has both a large German and Irish population."
"How quickly things change!" chafed an obviously irritated Wilson, "Last Monday our major concern was the British ambassador and his unjust accusations. After that it was Lodge and Roosevelt calling for us to join the Entente immediately. Now it is our own citizens drifting towards Fenianism that we need to worry about. I have asked Senator O’Gorman to come have a chat with me but he’s been making up some silly excuses to postpone it until later this week."
"O’Gorman is an opportunist of the worst sort," Treasury Secretary William McAdoo commented, "He sees that things are in flux right now and wants some time to see where they a heading."
"He is a scoundrel, there is no gainsaying that," replied the President, "So he’s he taking his time before he places his next bet. What will the military situation in Ireland look like when he does, Lindley?"
The Secretary of War, Lindley Garrison, answered, "The British sent substantial reinforcements to Ireland late last week and that has turned things around there. The British have the Germans on the run in Kerry and claim to have begun an assault that will liberate Limerick. This week should see the invasion force completely defeated. Right on schedule to meet the goal set by Bonar Law in address to Parliament."
"But will it be completely over a week from now?" asked Attorney General James McReynolds, "There is a good chance some of the Germans together with most of the Fenians will hole up in the rougher areas and wage a guerrilla campaign. That could drag on for several months."
"The guerrilla war would be seen as the English vs. the Irish by many Irish Catholics here in America. That would tend to harden anti-British sentiment amongst our many of Irish Catholics."
"But for the British Ireland would still be in the Middle Ages," snorted Wilson contemptuously, "Just many are Irish Catholic romantic imbeciles are we talking about? The last I recall the British were saying it was at most 2,000? Are they still saying that?"
"It is a topic that they are not very comfortable talking about right now, Mr. President," Garrison answered, "They have acknowledged that the 2,000 figure is probably somewhat low but are unwilling to share with us what they currently think the real number is. I have a hunch that they are not all that sure themselves."
"We need to start taking some definitive action to stabilize things," Wilson decided, "Let’s start with the most obvious troublemaker."
------Ballinasloe (Galway) 1505 hrs
The German Marine Cavalry Squadron now arrived at Ballinasloe in the far east of County Galway on the border of County Roscommon. It followed the usual tactic of trying to eliminate the local constabulary by a combination of shock and surprise. This did not work and the cavalrymen resorted to plan B which was to pin down the constables while making contact with the local company of Irish Volunteers. Ballinsloe’s company had not joined Liam Mellows in his ill fated campaign. Accounts of what happened outside Galway city had worked its way back. This had caused some of the local Redmondites to switch and when reports of the Prime Minister’s speech at Greenwich Park arrived, the defections increased still more.
So more than 140 men as well as 6 women members of company quickly turned out, with more than 30 stragglers arriving later in the evening. Meanwhile to the south the conglomeration of Irish Volunteers from counties Clare, Tipperary, Galway and King’s County had gown to a little over 600 men after absorbing companies of Irish Volunteers from Clonfert and Banagher.
------Blueford (Cork) 1530 hrs
Now part of Brigade Hell, the 2nd Seebattalion had arrived at Newmarket in the last morning having marched all the way south from Foynes. Around noon it was joined by a battery of 7.7cm guns which General von François had moved by rail from Killarney to Abbeyfeale accompanied by the 3rd company of the 2nd Kerry Battalion which escorted them to Newmarket where they joined the 1st Kerry Battalion as reinforcements. The Seebattalion formed its defenses a few miles to the west centered on the tiny town of Blueford on the road running west. A company was sent to Boherboy to the south as it was another possible avenue of approach from the west. The 1st Kerry Battalion was under his command and deployed it on his right flank which he regarded as an unlikely avenue of approach, but its machinegun section was sited in a farmhouse at Blueford turned into a strong point. He made no attempt to dig a continuous trench line. His Marines found what cover they could and in some instance dug slit trenches and foxholes. He held off on using any of the limited amount of barbed wire he had.
. Word had come back from his outposts that several hundred British infantrymen were now approaching along the most direct route from the west. The commander had ordered the field gun to wait until the Tommies were within 2 kilometers of the main position. He wanted to seriously hurt to his opponent not just drive them off with a few shells. The men approaching belonged to the Regiment, part of the North Wales Brigade. They had not seen much action so far having been the reserve battalion for the brigade. Coming under artillery fire their commander, who had not told not to expect enemy artillery in this sector, was momentarily nonplussed. With the enemy not that far off he persisted in the attack despite the shelling. The German Marines were too well prepared and with the Irish machine gunners and their own automatic rifle section were able to withstand the attack without much trouble.
------Dunmanway (Cork) 1540 hrs
The 2nd Chevauleer Regiment continued pushing east into County Cork. A few hours before they arrived, the local constabulary had agreed to permit the formation of a local defense organization amongst the Protestant community and handed out the weapons confiscated from both the Irish Volunteers and the Redmondite National Volunteers. The impromptu organization was still working out its structure when the Bavarian light cavalry arrived. Together with a handful of constables they delayed but could not prevent the Germans from taking the railroad station. Soon the local company of Irish Volunteers began to turn up to receive Russian rifles.
------HQ British VI Army Corps Maryborough (Queen’s County) 1600 hrs
When General Powell learned of the setback at Fethard he travelled by motor car from his divisional HQ at Athlone to Gen. Stopford’s HQ to discuss the situation in person. When he got there Gen. Stopford would not immediately see with him. Powell learned from the staff that Stopford was not feeling well and was finding it necessary to take frequent naps. This was not the first time that Powell had heard that story.
The two generals were now meeting in private. Stopford was feeling cranky, "Of my subordinate generals, I think you have the most fighting spirit, General Powell. But in other ways I find you baffling bordering on annoying. Why the hell did you come rushing here from Athlone abut what happened at Fethard? Now I am not happy with what happened there either but it is of secondary importance at best. And the battalion involved is not part of your division, so I cannot fathom why you are all steamed up. I would think you would be glad about the success the 109th Brigade had in Clare. It is only thing in the last 24 hours to go better than planned."
"Because the men at Fethard are the same despicable compost heap of Papist traitors and German cavalry who abused my men at Dundrun, that’s why, sir. We cannot afford to let that act of defiance go unpunished. It is a very matter of prestige."
"Why is everything in Ireland always about religion?" asked Stopford who suddenly had a fit of coughing and wheezing. When it finished he added, "I too believe in the importance of prestige but there is much more prestige at stack in Limerick then there is at Fethard."
"I beg to differ, general. Previously we’ve slaughtered the traitors with ease, but now this bunch with some German assistance is defying us. If word of this gets out it will encourage rebellion elsewhere in Ireland."
"Bah, you are exaggerating. What happened at Fethard was mostly due to the German cavalry and those archaic walls that weird town has. Hmm, and maybe some bad decisions by our battalion commander. Once Limerick is liberated I intend to convene a board of inquiry."
"We need to take swift action to finish the rebels off, sir! They pose a grave danger."
"Hmm. The German cavalry probed both Cahir and Clonmel, and in both cases yeomanry and a few constables drove them away. Kilkenny has a battalion guarding it. One of my two working airplanes swings across northern Tipperary in case they think they can attack our lines of communication."
"I heard the German cavalry raided Carrick-on-Suir. They could be a threat to Waterford city, sir."
"Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that. I guess it is remotely possible. Any suggestions?"
"Move the 15th Royal Irish Rifles by rail from Enniscorthy to Waterford as soon as possible."
"Hmm. Some of the rebels at Enniscorthy escaped. General Hamilton tells me that the Viceroy would like to keep a battalion there to discourage another outbreak."
"We soundly thrashed the rebels at Enniscorthy, so I don’t expect any further trouble from them there. Waterford is much more of problem."
"Let me think about it. General Hamilton would like to keep Lord Curzon happy but has made it clear that he does not take orders from the Viceroy. Any other suggestions?"
"Yes, sir. Move the two battalions of 108th Brigade still at the Curragh to Roscrea by rail along with the Brigade HQ. When they move south they can join up with 12th Royal Irish Rifles which is currently guarding Cashel. I know they can overcome Fethard’s wall without excessive casualties."
"Oh, good. I was worried you were going to ask for some artillery and I cannot spare a single piece until we finish at Limerick. I wasn’t planning on using the battalions at the Curragh, so I really can’t find a flaw with you plan."
-------Rathcool (Cork) 1610 hrs
A German Marine cyclist company accompanied by the same armored car that had fought at Newmarket early in the morning had seized the bridge over the Blackwater near Rathcool a little more than an hour ago. Ten minutes ago they had come under attack from elements of the 436th Field Company. The cyclists used the parked armored car as an improvised strong point. Initially it discouraged the Royal Engineers but they were beginning to lose their fear of it. However it was rekindled when 3 more armored cars roared in from the east. These were accompanied by other motor vehicles which discharged Irish Volunteers who made an immediate attack on the Royal Engineers who beat a hasty retreat.
The Oberleutant commanding the cyclist approached von Thoma. He did not treat him as a superior officer. "Obserst Hell told us your band of Irish partisnas would be waiting for us, when we crossed the Blackwater," the Marine officer complained.
"We were delayed by enemy forces at Banteer," replied von Thoma, who had decided not to salute, "How soon will the Bavarian battalion be getting here?"
"They soundly defeated some British infantry at Newmarket before dawn but in the late morning they had to deal with other units British units coming out of Kanturk. Last I heard they were prevailing but the fighting is confused and taking time so they are delayed as well."
------Dublin 1615 hrs
The Countess Markievicz and Ezra Pound had reached Dublin without a problem. However when they arrived at the agreed upon rendezvous point, MacAntee showed up but Yeats did not and the Countess was very worried. McAntee remained near the rendezvous spot in case Yeats showed up late. In the meantime the Countess tried to contact some people she believed she could trust in the Transport Union. She guessed correctly that the women would not be as closely watched as the men. She found one who brought them to a place they could be safe. Agnes made them some tea and they talked.
"I can’t get over your disguise, Constance" said Agnes, "I always knew you were a bit of a tomboy."
"I’ll take that as a complement. How has it been this last week?"
"Besides arresting four of us, the metropolitan police and the RIC keep us under surveillance. Despite that or maybe because of it we’ve grown. Over 300 last I heard and what with the Prime Minister making that speech Saturday we could be getting close to 400 soon."
"But they seized what few firearms you had, right?"
"Yes. We still have 2 sawed off shotguns and 5 or 6 pistols. Not counting those you’re carrying, that is."
"What about the Irish Volunteers? Have you been in contact with them? Who is in charge of Dublin Brigade now?"
"The authorities rounded up all the senior people in the Dublin Brigade and anyone they suspected of being in the IRB. Oh there’s a rumor that the O’Rahilly and de Valera managed to get away. Never did like Dev as he was so opposed to women joining the Volunteers. So far a while no one was in charge and there was utter chaos. But this morning I heard a rumor that gives me some hope that they might finally get organized."
"A rumor. I can’t begin to tell you some of the ridiculous rumors I’ve heard in the last few days," chided Pound, "Like the one about the Pope---:"
"---committing suicide, yes I’ve heard that one as well," replied Agnes, "but this one came from someone who I think may know what he is saying."
Pound shook his head dismissively at Irish gullibility. "Well, I for one would like to hear this rumor. Grain of salt and all that hocus pocus," the Countess declared.
"He claims Pearse is back in Dublin."
------between Farranfore and Scartaglen (Kerry) 1635 hrs
The 2/4th battalion Queen’s had yet to see combat in the war. In the morning it had been positioned on the right wing of the Welsh Border Brigade. Then it been redirected to the south to bring up the rear of the brigade as it attempted to swoop down on Killarney from the north. But after the brigade had been repulsed at Kilcummin the battalion received orders to turn around and become the brigade’s vanguard in an advance towards Farranfore. Meanwhile the remaining squadron of the 1/1st Buckinghamshire Yeomanry.Regiment had arrived in answer to Gen. Lindley’s request for cavalry. They had already begun scouting Farranfore which they hoped to capture its train station. At Farranfore they encountered 2 companies of the 1st Seebattalion which had arrived in the early afternoon after a tiring march from the Dingle Peninsula. Still being pulled by inadequate teams of draught animals the wagons of the 1st Seebattalion had lagged behind and were still 3 miles off being escorted by the a 3rd rifle company.
The yeomanry probed Farranfore and soon realized they could not take it by themselves. They notified the nearby 2/4th Queen’s who marched quickly as they could to reinforce, even though they were already nearly exhausted from all the marching they had done since arriving at the Cobh on Saturday. As they approached Farranfore they can came under for from a battery of 15cm howitzers to the north which they had repositioned behind some hills 2 hours earlier. This battery had been instructed to withhold its fire when the yeomanry had moved across their field of fire but now opened up on the British infantry. They concentrated on the rear of the column which was where the wagons were. The British soldiers quickly scrambled for cover. Meanwhile the 2nd battalion 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had marched hard from the north in the hope of taking the disrupted British battalion from behind and then playing hammer and anvil with the help of the 1st Seebattalion.
The jaws of the trap did not fully close. The 2/4th Queen’s recovered while the 2 companies of 1st Seebattalion, tired from their hard march were sluggish in their attack and allowed the yeomanry to seriously delay them. At the last minute the 2/4th Queen’s were able to bring one of the 3 Vickers machineguns to action. The Bavarians soon overpowered and captured the hastily sited weapon but they suffered a dozen casualties and in the meantime more than half of the British battalion escaped to the south and southeast. They were soon joined the galloping Buckinghamshire horsemen. Along with 60 prisoners the Bavarians had captured all the wagons including another intact Vickers machinegun and those belonging to the yeomen squadron. The German shortage of horses had been only partially alleviated since arriving in Ireland. Unfortunately nearly two thirds of the British draught horses with the 2/4th Queens were either already dead or so badly hurt they had to be put down. In the 36 hours much of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment ate a lot of horsemeat.
------HQ British VII Army Corps Millstreet (Cork) 1720 hrs
After some argumentation with the Marine cyclist company commander, Major Ritter von Thoma took the motorized vanguard of his battalion on to attack Millstreet. They encountered one half of the ‘D’ company of the 1/5 battalion Welsh Regiment along with 20 constables and a few Royal Engineers defending the town. Barriers had been hastily erected at the outskirts of the town which barred the way of the armored cars. Lt. von Thoma dismounted his Irish Volunteers and German pioneers from their motor vehicles and deployed his infantry guns and machine guns. Thoma had discovered that his Irish troops varied widely in soldierly skill so he selected the best to be in his motorized vanguard. The fire of the infantry guns did not break the defenders’ position but it caused some shifting of their position. It also unnerved General Keir, the commander of VII Army Corps whose headquarters were currently in Millstrret. He placed a hurried telephone call to General Lindley, the commander of the 53rd (Welsh) Division.
"There is too much of a risk to my HQ, I am moving it along with the radio station back to Macroom as soon as possible," Keir informed Lindley over the telephone, "You should also move the field hospital you have here to the south. The small supply dump here is also at risk. You have the other half of ‘D’ company and some more engineers at Rathmore. Send them as fast as you can and try to hold Millstreet. Make sure the engineers bring their explosives. I am sure they can find a way to blow up those infernal armored contraptions."
"Yes, sir. Will attend to that immediately."
"Motor cars are standing by to take myself and my immediate staff post haste to Macroom. I expect to have my relocated HQ partially functional within an hour. Before I leave I need to know how well your attack is progressing."
"Cheshire Brigade continues to make decent progress advancing towards Killarney, sir As you know already the Welsh Border Brigade failed to take Killarney by coup de main and so is now trying to exploit the gap near Farranfore."
"And you still plan to make a night attack on Castleisland with North Wales Brigade?"
"Yes, two battalions will attack soon after dark, sir."
"You need to deal with this German raid into your rear but I don’t want your attack to come to a grinding halt either. I can’t believe that you don’t have enough resources to do both. This German attack is mostly a desperate attempt at distraction on their part."
------Barefield (Clare) 1730 hrs
During the morning the British 109th Brigade had probed the defenses of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment and Central Clare Battalion on the outskirts of Ennis suffering light casualties in the process. Its mission had been intended merely as a diversion and the brigadier was uncertain as to what he should do next in the light of unexpected success in forcing the Germans back.. He made no effort to entrench and continue his probing of the German defenses while requesting new orders from Gen. Powell. .
Meanwhile Gen. von Jacobsen, the commander of the Naval Division, was furious about the developments in Clare. He was particularly worried that the 109th Brigade threatened the 10cm gun batteries in the eastern part of Clare He ordered the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment to counterattack. The overly cautious regimental commander took his time preparing but with reports from a Marine cyclist company that the 109th Brigade was starting to probe to the east he finally attacked supported by his field artillery battalion. The 109th Brigade had received finally orders an hour earlier about trying to mount a night attack on the German artillery in eastern Clare. The German attack caused the brigadier to hold off on those plans.
The German Marines assigned Central Clare Battalion a cautious and limited role in the attack. The commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment did not expect much from them but while not as good as the Germans they did have a gritty instinct for the use of cover and some of them were rather good marksmen. This also produced the odd benefit that when then Ulsterman saw the IRA unit they tended to become reckless. In particular this provoked the 11th Inniskilling Fusiliers into a disastrous bayonet charge.. Even after that setback the 109th Brigade persisted in trying to attack.
At dusk the Germans were able to bring their artillery in action at short range, while 2 companies of the West Clare Battalion arrived as reinforcements. After this the commander of the 109th Brigade acknowledged he was beat. Fighting tapered off in the dark and the 109th Brigade broke contact and withdrew to Crusheen.
------Baltimore Maryland 1735 hrs GMT
James Cardinal Gibbons, the 80 year old Archbishop of Baltimore, had for many years been the public face of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. He had asked that Fr. Sigourney Fay pay him a visit to discuss the implications of the German invasion of Ireland with him. Cardinal Gibbons had his staff prepare enough lunch to feed three men—himself and Fr. Fey. It was barely enough. While his visitor ate with his usual enthusiasm the elderly cardinal said, "I just got off the telephone with Archbishop Ireland before you arrived.. He says that opinion throughout of his archdiocese appears to be shifting in favor of the Irish rebels and is hailing the Germans as liberators. He feels that the large German Catholic population out West is slowly persuading the Irish Catholics that the Germans came to Ireland to help them."
"Aye, among other things—many other things, Your Eminence," commented Fey as he finished one sandwich and longingly picked up another.
"By that you mean they hope to succeed at doing what the Spanish and French tried to do and failed. Use Irish dissatisfaction as a way to hurt England. As far as I can tell it is isn’t working this time either."
Fr. Fey made an ambivalent expression, "I would counsel against reaching premature conclusions, Your Eminence. Nearly all of what we know about what is going there in being censored by the British, and they very much want to minimize the Irish involvement to present this a simple case of German aggression against Ireland."
"Which is what Lodge and Roosevelt have been saying. Last week they almost had even me persuaded. I said almost. So you think the Irish involvement is being deliberately understated by the British?"
"For now it is. But once they finish dealing with the Germans I would look for them overstate it."
"Huh, I’m afraid I am not following you, Father. Why would they do that?"
"Because the Unionists are in power now and will see it as the perfect excuse for discarding the Home Rule Bill."
The cardinal thought that over. After a minute he nodded his head then said with slight grin, "You have a good grasp of political deviousness, Father. You should have been a Jesuit."
Fey chuckled and in a good natured voice feigned indignation, "Saints in heaven, I didn’t come here to be insulted, Your Eminence!"
Gibbons chuckled then his expression became sombre, "I realize that as a matter of sound Catholic doctrine the English are just as much God’s children as the Irish. Still I must say that I’ve always found them difficult to like. Home Rule was never a perfect solution to my thinking but it at least seemed to be an acceptable solution. And that made me fear that it was too good to ever really happen, that it was like one of those desert mirages. The Irish version of the myth of Tantalus, if you will.."
"And not just for the Catholics in Ireland, Your Eminence. Here in America the prospect of Home Rule dampened the Fenian ardour."
"And now that fire is being rekindled. This war has divided America from the very beginning. Now it will divide her even more. So what is our role in this situation? Do I merely wring my hands and give vague sermons extolling peace."
"Hmm. I think a good place to start would be to condemn Law’s recent speech at Greenwich Park and demand the captured Irish rebels be treated as combatants."
------off Durazzo1800 hrs
The German Zeppelin had been bothered more by random gusts of winds, cloud cover and mechanical problems with its steering than it had been the British seaplanes. It attempted another sweep over the north Albanian coast. There were some gaps in the clouds now and so it could occasionally get a glimpse of something meaningful. It had been hoped that the Entente minesweepers would not finish sweeping a safe channel before nightfall. The Zeppelin had not been able to spot neither the transports nor the minesweeping vessels. It had intermittently spotted what it thought was 1ere Armee Navale and reported its position to Admiral Haus. However an Austrian seaplane had spotted at least 2 large freighters docked at Durazzo so it seemed that the French had completed their minesweeping..
------Bandon (Cork) 1810 hrs
After a very hard march the 7th battalion Leinster Regiment finally reached the troubled town of Bandon. After the hard fighting of the last week this battalion was left with an effective strength of 614 men. When they arrived at Bandon they came under fire by men wearing green armbands. The fire was not as incompetent as they had expected and suffered 4 casualties in the process of overpowering the rebel outposts. After that they rescued the last remnant of the Protestant Local Defense Organization—46 men including 11 wounded holed up in two adjacent stores. The 7th Leinster was overwhelmingly Catholic and most of its soldiers felt disgusted by the sight of the armed men wearing the orange arm bands.
The leader of the Protestant forces was brought to meet with the battalion commander. "Thank God, you arrived. My brave men cut down many of the Papist traitors but they outnumbered us and had better rifles. We found ourselves being broken up into isolated groups. I don’t know if any of the other groups survived."
"So far you’re the only ones we’ve found—found alive that is. However so far we are finding it difficult advancing into the rest of town."
"Well as I said we already killed at least half of the Papist swine so it shouldn’t be too hard finishing off the rest. Do you have a few Lee-Enfield rifles you could spare my men—"
"---No! And your men will turn in their firearms immediately. Not just the rifles but the shotguns and pistols as well."
"Now see here, colonel. I appreciate you coming to our rescue and all that, but we have written authorization permitting us to use those weapons. Many of my men gave their lives defending Bandon from that horde of savages—far worse than the Germans I can you that so---"
"Your men fought for the King and Country, but in your damn AngloIrish pride you don’t realize that County Cork is starting to unravel and you’re part of the reason why. So you will surrender your firearms. We will see that your wounded receive proper medical attention. We will deal with the remaining rebels, not you"
"What! Why of all the ungrateful---my men shed their blood here and now you treat us like ruffians. This is utterly outrageous. I have half a mind to refuse your request as---"
"---you have half a mind because you have half a brain. I am fully prepared to order my men to use force to disarm your men. Look me in the eyes if you dare. I am not bluffing."
And he did stare straight into the officer’s steely eyes. He did not like what he saw. "I demand to see your superior immediately!"
"He’s somewhere between Ballyvourney and Killarney right now fighting a very mean bunch of Bavarians. You can speak to him eventually but I am not going to let you stall."
"Oh, what’s the bloody Hell of it. We will disarm and go home. But you haven’t heard the last of me."
------SMS Novaro off Cattaro 1830 hrs
Linienscchiffkapitan Horthy was in overall command of the forces that would attack the enemy convoy this night. The consisted of the light cruisers Novaro and Spaida, plus one flotilla with 9 destroyers—3 Tatra class and 6 Huzzar class and another separate flotilla with 8 torpedo boats. The plan was the cruisers and destroyers to make a hit and run torpedo attack on either the French or British fleets before the moon rose and then in the resulting confusion the torpedo boats would try to sneak in and sink the transports with torpedoes. In briefing Horthy for this mission Haus had emphasized that the torpedo boats were expendable –but not too expendable for he refused to commit any more---but Horthy was strictly enjoined to avoid undue risk with the two very precious light cruisers, esp. with the repairs on Helgoland from the damage she suffered at Cattaro Gulf expected to take at least 6 more weeks. Horthy was respectful and professional but inwardly he chafed at Haus’ attitude which he found overly cautious despite the limited victory Haus had won back in March.
The task force slipped out of Cattaro naval base at last night to avoid being observed by the French observation post atop Mt. Lovcen.
------FS Jean Bart off Durazzo 1905 hrs
"Admiral we have just decoded a wireless message from Admiral Limpus. It says that the British Fleet is in the process of assuming a southerly course which it will hold until midnight," the chief of staff for 1ere Armee Navale informed his commander, Admiral Augustin Boue de Lapeyrere.
"Admiral Limpus is worried—I think a little too worried about a night torpedo attack. I really do wonder if the vaunted British, the once great masters of the sea, have lost their fighting spirit. I intend to remain close to Durazzo to protect the transports. Unless the clouds thicken—which our meteorological section thinks is unlikely-- we should have a bright moon."
"That is once it rises, sir. The greatest threat is the period between last light and moonrise."
"And that why we have concentrated our screen to north. There is a risk, there is always a risk, but frankly I am more concerned about the thoroughness of out minesweeping."
------between Killarney and Baraduff (Kerry) 1840 hrs
A German seaplane now sailed overhead. It had flown from Foynes late yesterday and was now operated out the large lakes at Killarney. Two battalions of the Cheshire Brigade continued to advance towards Killarney. They were the 1/4 and 1/5th battalions Welsh Regiment. The latter had only 3 companies as ‘D’ company had been detached to guard the division and corps HQ. They approached another set of German trenches. They were encouraged by the fact that it had no wire whatsoever. The two battalions made a combined charge without any artillery support as they had progressed beyond the range of their supporting artillery. They could see only a few faces peering over the tops of the trenches. There were a few machineguns but they waited longer than usual to open fire as did the German artillery.
They did finally open fire along with 6 light minenwerfers deployed in slit trenches behind the infantry trench belong to the independent pioneer battalion. Also a lot more heads emerged over the tops of the trench with their Mausers—a total of 5 battalions, all of the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and 2 battalions of the 11th Bavarian Regiment. The 10th Bavarian Regiment had taken the brunt of much of the early fighting and was now only at half strength but the two battalions of the 11th Bavarian Regiment were each at least three quarters strength. Fire poured into the attacking Welshmen. Their charge faltered and a retreat was sounded. When the Welshmen fell back the Bavarians emerged from their trenches and pursued. The British machinegun sections had fallen behind and could provide no immediate support. The British turned around and tried briefly to engage their pursuers before their commanders realized that they were outnumbered at least two to one. They fell back to the positions they had captured from the Bavarians earlier.
------STAVKA 1910 hrs
Grand Duke Nikolai and his assistant chief of staff General Yuri Danilov were discussing recent developments, in particular the German attack on Tenth Army which they had just learned about from Northwestern Front. "As usual details are sketchy and imprecise, Your Grace," Danilov remarked, "It could be the beginning of a German attempt to envelop Tenth Army. It is however too soon to tell."
"General Alexeev continues to believe that the cavalry thrust into Courland is a either a pure diversion or the Germans are foolishly wasting resources on tertiary objectives. However His Majesty is beginning to worry about a possible threat to Riga. Alexeev believes some relatively small precautions are all that is needed Riga. I have asked Admiral Essen to look at the naval aspect just in case, but still I do not think Riga is the German objective," stated the Grand Duke.
"That is my opinion as well, Your Grace, though to be safe Alexeev has reinforced Riga’s garrison with a an infantry brigade and a Cossack cavalry brigade. Admiral Essen has already begun strengthening the naval forces in the gulf. But still I feel that Alexeev is correct in his assessment. Since the wretched Battle of Radom we have felt that a simultaneous offensive by the Germans and the Austrians was highly likely in late April. The German incursion into Courland could be a diversion to draw our forces away from the main attack. And today’s attack makes that seem to be the case, though it would mean the diversion was more tactical than strategic."
"Yes, it is meant to entice Tenth Army into extending its right flank and then they attack its left—which they have are now doing." . .
"But what are they hoping to accomplish? If the threat proves grave Tenth Army can always pull its left flank all the war back to the fort at Osowiec."
"Hmm. Doing that would give up a fair bit of territory."
"Yes, but it is not particularly valuable territory, Your Grace."
"In the immediate context of the war that is correct, but please bear with me as I make a lengthy argument. After the severe losses suffered by the British fleet at Dogger Bank and Utsire we worried greatly that the British would open secret negotiations with the Germans and make a separate peace in direct contravention to the secret treaty we all signed. When Bonar Law became Prime Minister he steadfastly denied that any such secret negotiations were going on but still our doubts persisted. Then came the incredible news that the Germans have invaded Ireland."
"Which I have persistently said is a strategic mistake."
"That has been my thought as well, but there is one context I think it makes some sense and that is that the Germans and British are indeed already in secret negotiations. They are close to reaching an agreement but the British are holding out on a few points. The invasion of Ireland is intended as a form of pressure on the British negotiators."
Danilov scratched his chin pensively and took his time before responding, "An interesting hypothesis, Your Grace. I must concede that it could explain the Irish invasion but how does it relate to our own situation?"
"I think the Germans expected that once Britain concludes a separate peace both France and ourselves would soon throw in the towel as well. They want as much territory in their pocket as possible to strengthen their bargaining position at the peace conference."
"In that case the Germans assume too much, Your Grace! We can continue the war without the arrogant British, whose main contribution to date has been a series of embarrassing naval disasters."
"Ah, but if that happens it could cause the French to bow out as well, and then we would be in dire straits. His Majesty believes it is imperative that we continue to show our willingness to fight. Our losses at the Battle of Radom proved to be a little less severe than initially thought."
"In terms of men, yes, that is somewhat true but our greatest weakness now lies in weapons and ammunition."
"I would have to agree with that. We are not ready for a major offensive against the Germans. Still His Majesty insists we must undertake some significant attack. With their First Army in peril the British attaché has repeatedly asked to do something to pressure the Germans. Likewise His Majesty feels we need to do something to help the Serbs."
"Alexeev is pessimistic about attacking the Germans without heavy reinforcements. We cannot afford to weaken Southwestern Front too much in order to reinforce Northwestern Front as there are some signs that Conrad is preparing a new offensive."
"Yes and with our railroad problems it would take nearly a month before Alexeev would be ready. The Tsar feels we need to do something dramatic in the next two weeks He even went so far as to suggest a landing at the Bosphorus! He feels that the Ottoman commitment to the Balkan campaign has made them vulnerable."
"The Tsarina must be listening to Rasputin again! What does Admiral Eberhardt think of that idea?"
"He is deeply opposed—downright horrified to tell the truth. I agree with him completely on this topic, though I think Eberhardt could afford to be a little more aggressive. I am taking this opportunity to press him for assistance in Lazistan once Yudenich begins his offensive. His Majesty is correct that we should attack the Turks. He and I merely disagree as to where our attack should fall."
"And so I take it that he accepted you logic?"
"In substance, yes, but he made one point that I found difficult to refute. A Caucasian offensive would make less of an impression on the British and French than an attack on the Bosphorus. He insists that we quickly mount a more visible offensive somewhere that will demonstrate our strength and resolve to our allies."
"More likely it will display our weakness and foolishness! So from your tone I infer that you agreed to this glorified demonstration? Here?"
The Grand Duke made a small shrug as we nodded, "The Bukovina makes the most sense and presents the least risk. General Brusilov already has a small operation planned. I have already ordered Southwestern Front to move that up a few days and broaden its scope with Ninth army joining in the attack as well. We can then point to it and tell the Serbs we are coming to their rescue. If the Bulgarians have still not entered the war—our latest intelligence from Sofia indicates some last minute cold feet of the part of Tsar Ferdinand-- it may impress them as well."
------Millstreet (Cork) 1920 hrs
When the rest of his battalion arrived at Millstreet, Major Ritter von Thoma promptly launched a renewed assault on the town. He quickly overpowered a half dozen soldiers guarding the barriers blocking the road leading into the town. As he entered the town itself it soon became apparent that the British units there had made a hasty withdrawal to the south. Confirming this hypothesis his scouts had spotted an additional obstacle which had been erected on the road south of the town. Ritter von Thoma had hoped to capture a large supply dump, but the enemy had evacuated all the ammunition except for a single box with 600 rounds of .303. They did leave behind a fair bit food and fodder, which was good as the West Limerick Battalion only had brought barely 3 days of each with them. They also found unused barbed wire strands, gasoline and some medical supplies such as bandages and antiseptics. Seven horses and two mules were captured along with 3 wagons. The British had also abandoned a motor car but it adamantly refused to start.
Thoma had learned from documents on a slain British corporal at Banteer that the HQ of the 53rd (Welsh) Division was currently at Rathmore. He did not know the corps HQ had been at Millstreet. Hell’s orders had been to attempt the capture of Millstreet and await the arrival of 3rd battalion 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and the German cyclist company. Frustrated in his attempts to pursue the enemy south, von Thoma decided to use some initiative and try to disrupt the enemy HQ instead of passively waiting for the reinforcements to arrive. He again ordered his motorized column to assemble and sped off with them down the westward road towards Rathmore with the 4 armored cars in the vanguard.
On the way to Millstreet von Thoma encountered the other half of ‘D’ company 1/5 battalion Welsh Regiment marching hard towards Millstreet. The armored cars thundered down on them in the twilight and forcing them to leave the road and seek cover. After that the unarmored vehicles sped down the road. They came under some hurried fire from the Welshmen but only a single Irish Volunteer was wounded. On reaching Rathmore they found 4 guards manning a makeshift roadblock. Again his men along with the German pioneers quickly dismounted and supported by the machineguns on the armored cars quickly removed the barrier. They then brought the armored cars to where their machineguns covered the main entrance of the division HQ. The two infantry guns were soon deployed with a direct and fairly short line of fire to the HQ and commenced shelling. They soon set the building’s roof on fire. Eventually the divisional staff tried to escape the burning building by slipping out the back door. As they did they found that von Thoma had set up one of his machine guns to cover that as well. A captain and a sergeant were quickly cut down. The others quickly raised their hands.
One of them was a general.
------Mallow (Cork) 1935 hrs
The North Cork battalion had been formed by the Germans Friday morning from Irish Volunteer units in northern Cork. It had received a quick baptism of fire when the 53rd (Welsh) Brigade tried to attack the Bavarian flank Saturday. After briefly engaging the vanguard of the North Welsh Brigade near Kanturk it had managed to disengage from the enemy in the dark and withdraw to the north along with 3 Bavarian rifle companies to form the nucleus of Brigade Hell. This morning it had participated in Brigade Hell’s engagement of the 2/10th Middlesex first at Newmarket and later with the rest of the battalion issuing of Kanturk.
After that Oberst Hell ordered the North Cork Battalion to head east to Mallow. Despite the losses it had suffered in the morning the battalion arrived at Mallow stronger than it had been it day before because it had absorbed additional newly armed Irish Volunteer units in the area, incl. those from Charleville and Buttevant. When the battalion arrived at Mallow the small local detachment of constables quickly withdrew in motor vehicles east to Fermoy, taking all their .303 ammunition but leaving behind some shotguns and pistols they had confiscated as well as most of their stockpile of food.
There were no German Pioneers accompanying the North Cork Battalion but had some dynamite and 5 people who knew how to use it properly. While most of the battalion prepared defensive positions they could hear explosions in the distance as portions of the railway just outside town were blown up.
------Kriva River gorge (Serbia) 2010 hrs
The Bulgarian 7th (Rila) Infantry Division marched into gorge. Like all Bulgarian infantry divisions it was huge with 22 rifle battalions organized into 3 brigades as well as an artillery regiment with 9 batteries armed with Russian made Puitilov field guns. With them was the commander of the Bulgarian Second Army, General Georg Staponov Todorov. Esat Pasha now arrived to meet with him.
"I am so glad you decided to join us, General Todorov," Esat said in his best Bulgarian, "It seems the Serbian forces regrouped quicker than I expected and our first attempt to take Kriva Palanka failed. I was preparing another attack when you arrived. Would you care to assist?"
Todorov ground his teeth, annoyed by undercurrent of sarcasm he found beneath the Pasha’s polite voice. Tsar Ferdinand had been greatly upset that he had "permitted" the Ottomans to attack before he had made up his mind about when Bulgaria should enter the campaign. The Tsar did not liked to have his hand forced and chided the general on that account.
"Only this single infantry division will be available in the next few hours, Pasha," he replied stiffly, "the rest of the Second Army is on the way but won’t be in position before first light."
"Ah, but even one of your massive Bulgarian divisions combined with his my corps should be more than enough to ensure a quick victory, don’t you think?"
"I have insufficient intelligence at this time to render a conclusion."
"Then it is fortuitous that I brought my chief intelligence officer along with me," Esat pasha replied cheerfully pointing to one of his officers a few years away, "Summon your own intelligence section and then we can plan the attack together,"
Todorov was annoyed with the Pasha’s presumption but did not want to make any remark that would make his own army seem cowardly. "I will summon my intelligence section and they will debrief your officer. Based on what they tell me I will make my decision."
"That is very sensible, but please don’t take too long. I want to make another attack while it is still dark. If we must we will start without you. Oh and before I forget do you happen to know if your First Army has begun its attack as well?"
This was too much for General Todorov, who snapped "That is not your concern!"
"No need to be harsh, General. I was only curious."
------Wilhelmshaven 2030 hrs
Grossadmiral von Tirpitz had summoned Admiral von Ingenohl to see him. Alone.
<theme music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly> .
Tirpitz was not in the mood for mincing words, "Do you have the slightest idea, any idea at all-- of the trouble your idiotic speech before the Reichstag is going to cost us?"
Ingenohl tried not to look afraid. "I said what needed to be said. I steered clear of specifics because that would be going too far for an officer---"
"Hah! What delusions you have in that thick skull of yours, Admiral! The relationships I have spent years developing with the men who really count in Germany, the leaders of our heavy industry, are now polluted maybe spoiled altogether by your foolish interference. And for what? For what?"
"Why for the good of Germany!"
"What utter garbage! It is either blind ambition or fear. Do you think the damn Socialists and the pathetic Catholics will make you Chancellor when the war is over? Can you really be that stupid? Or maybe it is cowardice, heh? You have been hesitant every since this war started. It I hadn’t gotten of ridden that scared rabbit, von Pohl and exerted my will over the Navy, you would be nothing! Nothing, you hear me! I made you and I can just as easily destroy you!"
"Admiral von Tirpitz, I must protest! I have won two great victories over the English navy and yet you accuse me of cowardice. This is utterly and completely absurd! And as for German war aims, you have told me on more than one occasion that we must be prepared for a few disappointments at the peace conference which will end the war."
Tirpitz’s eyes were coals of incandescent rage, "Don’t you dare throw my own words back at me. I know very well what I said and it’s not the same as that defeatist drivel you pandered to the weakling factions in the Reichstag. You must be the biggest imbecile in all of Germany if you can’t see that. And just as importantly it is one thing to admit reservations of that nature in private and another to proclaim it openly in public. But again you are too stupid to see that either."
Ingenohl experienced a tense combination of fear and anger. The latter was suddenly stronger, "It is you, not I, who is having trouble dealing with reality. Our victories have intoxicated you. You think we are invincible but we are not. You pursue fantasies like Operation Unicorn----"
"I will not discuss grand strategy with you! It was always beyond your grasp. Apparently so is politics. Reports of your rash speech have made their way to the All Highest, and he has demanded that you and I explain the situation to him in person. In your present state of mind it would be the worst possible disaster to have you talk with the Kaiser. That jackal, Muller is probably licking his fiendish lips at the prospect. So I told them you were needed here to prepare for the next phase of Operation Unicorn. Tomorrow I will go alone to Potsdam to try to put out one fire. It is bad enough that treacherous Muller will be present."
"What? I thought Moltke had put the next phase on hold?"
Tirpitz shook his head vigorously, "See--that proves you really are an imbecile. Yes, the Generalfeldmarschal is having some very serious doubts about the second phase. I brought that insipid weakling back from political oblivion and this is how he repays me!"
. "No he is being perfectly reasonable. Not only has the Irish rebellion been a small fraction of what we expected but General von François has failed to capture a secure anchorage."
------Rathmore (Kerry/Cork) 2040 hrs
After the capture of their divisional HQ there had been 2 attempts by British quartermasters and engineers to rescue their commander. The first had been very haphazard and had had assumed that the next to worthless Irish Volunteers could be speedily overcome. Aafter that assault ended in costly failure, the next was more methodical.. Ritter von Thoma’s men with the help of their own machine guns and infantry guns as well as the armored cars which functioned as strongpoints, managed to repel both assaults A few minutes ago the small cyclist troop of the West Limerick battalion arrived providing him with news as well as reinforcements. The Bavarian rifle companies had finally crossed the Blackwater at Rathcool. .They released the cyclist company of German Marines who helped the rest of West Limerick battalion finish off the Welsh half company which they already outnumbered nearly 4 to 1
Major von Thoma IRA decided his tactical situation had now stabilized sufficiently that he could afford to take a few minutes to have supper. He invited General Lindley to be his guest. He had never had the honor of dining with a British general before. He wondered if he would get in trouble for doing so.
------Compiegne 2055 hrs
General Petain watched with deep concern as his bridging engineers tried to erect a pontoon bridge over the Aisne. The attack on the city itself had been far from painless but judged by the dismal record of other French offensives it could be considered a success. What worried the general was the attempt to pursue the Germans across the Aisne River to the north and the Oise River to the west. Compiegne Forest had helped conceal the French preparations for this offensive but now it was proving a hindrance to bringing up supplies and reinforcements. If he had been provided more time to prepare Petain would have improved the existing roads to ameliorate this problem. Petain disagreed with his superior, General de Castelneau who thought the German withdrawal to be panicked and disorderly. If the Germans had been in a panic Petain’s men would have captured a much larger haul of supplies.
------Portumna (Galway) 2105 hrs
"There is no sign of them, sir" the first sergeant informed the commander of ‘B’ company 13th Royal Irish Rifles.
"It’s pitch dark, sergeant, they could be hiding somewhere—anywhere," the captain answered.
"Beg to differ, sir but it’s not that easy if they’re all together. And besides we’re talked to friendly civilians and they all claim that they headed either northwest or north. That would gibe with the reports from the RIC."
Yesterday Gen Powell had ordered their battalion to leave Athlone Barracks and hunt down a group of Irish rebels in the area of Portland and Portumna, leaving 1 company behind to guard his division HQ which was also at Athlone. They had marched hard to Birr. It was felt the greatest threat from the rebels was if they moved into County Tipperary and tried to disrupt VI Army Corps’ line of communication to Dublin. It would also block an attempt to move into King’s County. When they reached Birr they began to receive reports that the rebels had moved deeper into County Galway instead. This development struck them as a bit surprising as they had been told that the Fenians in most of County Galway had already been annihilated. They thought therefore that what was being reported moving north in Galway was possibly a reconnaissance in force and that the main force was still in the Portuma/Portland area. So the battalion commander left Birr and decided he would try to surprise the rebels in the dark. There was no sign of them in Portland and so he sent ‘B’ company over the Shannon.
"Can we trust the locals to tell us the truth, they’re nearly all Papists around here. They could be sympathizing with the damn traitors and trying to help them."
The first sergeant shook his head, "My gut feeling is that most Catholics remain loyal, sir. I really do think the rebels are gone."
"We will continue searching for another half, in the mean time send a messenger back to battalion. If they are really gone the colonel will probably want us to spend the rest of the night here."
------2 miles north of Kenmare (Kerry) 2125 hrs
"We simply do not know what is wrong with the engine, sir," the mechanic informed Major Rommel IRA, who then pounded his fist in prostration on the disabled vehicle’s armur.
Rommel’s orders from General von François involved transporting the entire 3rd Kerry Battalion except for the so called support unit with the women and marginally fit men---in motor vehicles. They were to make a lightning dash for Cork city during the night, bringing along 1,000 Russian rifles and 40,000 rounds of ammunition. It was hoped that this would start a large rising in Cork.
The Germans had no real intelligence on the British strength in Cork. General von François was merely hoping that the British were throwing most of their strength into the attack and keeping minimal forces to guard their rear areas. He felt that the southern approach to the city would be less guarded than the northern and western ones—provided the operation could reach the city before first light. The provided Rommel with additional motor vehicles including 2 more captured buses but they were not quite enough to move the entire battalion. When he reached the Beara Peninsula, many of the Tatra 4 wheel drive trucks used by the Bavarian Jaeger Battalion would be assigned to Rommel. He was also to receive a platoon of 40 Jaegers plus 20 pioneers to reinforce his unit.
One of Rommel’s rifle companies was Kenmare company. One of its platoons was still at Kenmare to help the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment in its ill fated attack on Berehaven. The rest of the company was at Killarney. At first light Rommel had sent the rest of that company marching back to Kenmare to wait for the arrival of the rest of the battalion by motor transport.
Rommel had delegated the last minute preparations of the motor vehicles to the O’Rahilly while he had taken his #2 company to act as bait at midday.
Rommel saw this mission as another opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities of motorized warfare. He knew from his previous sorties that they were temperamental machines but this night they seemed to have it in for him. The worst of it was that the general had given him 2 of the precious Daimler armored cars. The mechanics had checked both of them thoroughly before departing Killarney but they had not made it all the way to Kenmare when one of them made a bizarre whining noise then abruptly stopped dead. The two mechanics who examined it could not figure out what was wrong. .
"Keep trying to fix it," Rommel ordered, "However I cannot afford further delay. My schedule is tight as it is. We will have to make do with the one remaining armored vehicle."
------southeast of Castleisland (Kerry) 2150 hrs
General von François’ plan was for the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and a single battery of 7.7 cm guns to hold off the badly weakened 16th (Irish) Division, where the main road runs through the Derrynaggasart Mountains while the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division withdrew into Kerry. It would then hit the right wing of the 53rd (Welsh) Division with 5 battalions and most of the divisional artillery plus some support from the independent pioneer battalion. Meanwhile the improvised Brigade Hell would take the Welshmen from behind.
There were several risky elements to this desperate plan. One was the threat posed by 16th Division. Another was the gap in the middle of the Bavarian position. The gap had been reduced but not completely plugged with the arrival of 2nd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and 3 companies of 1st Seebattalion. A third problem was the right wing of the position was fairly weak. It consisted of 9 rifle and 1 machinegun company belonging to the 13th Bavarian Regiment plus 2 companies of 2nd Kerry Battalion and the division’s pioneer company. These units had powerful artillery support from the foot artillery battalion, but this left it vulnerable to a night attack. Countering the morning attempt by North Wales Brigade to envelop their left flank had stretched the German defenses and reducing the gap aggravated the problem further.
The Irish Brigade commander of Tralee company was very worried as well. He had been told that a night attack was likely. His sector was too wide for a continuous trench line. Instead he had pair of strongpoints, one of which had a Russian Maxim machinegun, and several slit trenches including a few outposts set forward of the main position. At the boundary with the Castleisland Company to the south was another strongpoint with another machinegun. There was only a single strand of barbed wire and in some places there were modest gaps. The company had been provided only a single searchlight of mediocre intensity. Behind them were 2 light minenwerfers from the division pioneer company sited in slit trenches. .
"They’re coming! They’re coming!" came the frantic shout from one of the outposts.
Two seconds later another voice in the outposts shouted, "Yes, yes, I can see them, too!" And 3 seconds later a flare lit up the sky. The flare revealed the men of the 1/6th battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. This unit had seen some fighting including being shelled by 15cm howitzers the day before but could still muter 740 men. One of the IRA machineguns opened fire along with most of the men. The minenwerfers took too long to come into action and each managed to fire only 2 rounds before the British attackers were too close to the Irish Volunteers. Three of the outposts were quickly overwhelmed by the attackers. The single strand of wire slowed the advancing Welshmen and broke up their formation but it did not stop them. To add to the Irishmen’s troubles, the machinegun suddenly jammed.
The Welsh Fusiliers had taken more losses from the Irish Volunteers but now many of them were reaching the enemy position. A few of the attackers tried to use crude bombs but most relied on the bayonet. At short range they found some of the Irishmen armed with shotguns, including 3 autoloaders and 1 pump action. Only a few of the defenders, mostly the officers, had been issued grenades. The mass of the attackers proved too much for the defenders. Some of the defenders ran away in panic and others began to surrender. More would’ve surrendered but for Bonar Law’s promise to exterminate them all. These fought as best they could and in the savage melee of trench combat which not that far removed from a brawl they extracted an impressive toll on the Welshmen, but in the end the attackers’ numbers were simply too much for them.
------SMS Novaro heading SSE 2200 hrs
"Our lookouts still report nothing, Kapiten," came the report from the first officer, "and we’ve heard nothing from Saida." The cruisers were abreast with Saida 4,000 yards to the starboard. The destroyer flotilla was in line 3,000 yards behind Navaro..
A disappointed Horthy looked at the chronometer, then shook his head a few time. "Ask Saida by searchlight one last time if they’ve seen anything. If the response is negative we will turn 10 points to port in turn. The flotilla will follow.."
The first officer quickly looked at his charts and did not like what he saw, "That course would soon take us dangerously close to our own minefield, Kapiten."
"I understand that risk. Work that out as precisely as possible. It will not change my mind about the course but I will reduce our speed if that is the case. When this operation was planned we assumed the enemy would not finish sweeping a safe channel before our attack. Then we were told that may have indeed done so before dark. The enemy battle fleet could be closer to Durazzo than we expected."
"Or further away anticipating a night torpedo attack, Kapiten"
"And leave the transports unguarded? I think not. At a minimum they have left some light forces patrolling within the safe channel. At a minimum we will sink some of them and then hightail it back to Cattaro."
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 2210 hrs
The British made another attack on the German Marines at O’Briensbridge as soon as it was dark. Again the German Marines were able to hold them off. Meanwhile the men of the 2nd company of the Limerick City Battalion were assigned to assist some German pioneers preparing a fallback trench line. During the afternoon the Irishmen had helped dig trenches but now that it was dark they were assigned to moving some heavy metal cylinders. These had to be positioned along the edge of the new trench line in a special way. It was hard work and the German pioneers eventually let the Irishmen have small rest break after one of the landsturm companies created from the crews of the Sonderverband’s transports arrived to help as well.
"Did the rest of you happen to be noticin’ that all these lovely metal cylinders have the word ‘GIFT’ stamped on them in several places in large letters?" one of the Irish Volunteers commented, ‘am I the only one that thinks it’s a wee bit strange, even for Germans?"
"Me too. I thought it to be mighty strange as well. I just wonder what sort of a gift the Kaiser is planning to give Ireland."
------off Durazzo 2215 hrs
The flotilla of Austrian torpedo boats were trying to infiltrate their way into Durazzo’s open harbour to savage the Entente transports before. The plan had been that the cruisers and destroyers would create a massive diversion that would assist them in penetrating the screen. That was not what was happening. They had run into at least 6 French destroyers much better armed than themselves. One Austrian torpedo boat was already dead in the water and two more were burning brightly. One of the burning vessels was the flotilla flagship. The flotilla commander saw his mission as hopeless and tried to withdraw as best he could.
------Knochnagree (Kerry/Cork) 2235 hrs
The hordes of Hell descended upon the rear of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. Under the cover of darkness the 2nd Seebattalion and the 1st Kerry Battalion were able attack the Welsh artillery from behind. They had already surprised and quickly overwhelmed a battery of 15 pounder guns, capturing 3 in working condition but finding only 19 shells. Now they were attacking one of the division’s two howitzer batteries. The last ditch resistance by the artillerists were better organized this time, .but the gunners had suffered substantial losses in the morning artillery duel with the Germans. After a spirited fight under the garish light of flares the Germans and their Irish friends captured 2 intact 5" BL howitzers.
------Ballydesmond (Cork) 2245 hrs
The last element of Brigade Hell to join the party was the 3rd battalion 4th Foot Guards, which had marched all the way from Newcastle West. .Their mission was to attack the British artillery believed to be dug in near Ballydesmond. Before they could find the artillery they ran into the 1/1st battalion Herefordshire, which had recovered from their prior nasty encounter with the 2nd Seebattalion. What ensued was a night battle which degenerated into confusion in the darkness.
------Castleisland (Kerry) 2300 hrs
A messenger from the pioneers brought word that the British had broken through Tralee company and overrun the minenwerfer position behind them. "General, we not longer have a choice!" insisted a deeply worried Major von Runstedt, "we must evacuate immediately! There is a motor car standing by. I am glad I persuaded you not to give it to Rommel along with the others."
General von François’ indomitable spirit had deflated in the last hour. His earlier optimism had given way to pessimism and despair. The plan which had seemed a sound gamble in the morning, now looked to be only a desperate gamble. "Yes, we must evacuate to Tralee immediately," he conceded.
------SMS Novaro off Durazzo 2305 hrs
When the moon came up the Austrian cruisers were finally able to see a portion of the French Fleet. With the enemy silhouetted against the newly risen moon the approaching Austrians had an advantageous visibility. Horthy ordered his ships not to initiate shellfire. The French screen was relatively weak here but eventually they were challenged by an old protected cruiser. When they failed to answer the challenge the French cruiser hesitated in opening fire concerned that ships approaching from the southwest were well be British.
Eventually it did and Novaro’s 10cm guns immediately returned fire with Saida joining in as well. Belatedly 4 French destroyers approached but not before the destroyers got in torpedo range of what appeared to be a battle squadron. And it was the French Second Line Squadron. Alerted to the imminent danger the predreadnought opened fire. The lead Austrian destroyer was quickly disabled by a 6.5" shell bursting in its boilers but the rest valiantly pressed on and managed to put at least 2 torpedoes each into the water. Another Austrian destroyer was torn in two when a shell penetrated its magazine soon after launching its torpedoes.
Horthy had decided against trying to use the torpedoes on his cruisers and instead held the cruisers back to engage the French screen. Some of the French battleships tried intermittently to shell the Austrian cruisers with their main battery but had trouble seeing splashes in the moonlight and failed to score any hits, though one very near miss had hammered Novaro’s hull. She had taken appreciable damage to her superstructure from the French protected cruiser. In turn the protected cruiser was burning in several places and a French destroyer was down by the bow with a serious list. The Austrian force now began laying a smoke screen and tried to escape on a WNW heading.
------FS St Louis 2328 hrs
This old predreadnought battleship suffered two explosions . The first came from the torpedo which struck on the forward port side and then a much louder one a minute later, when the forward magazine erupted. After that she quickly sank. There were only 2 survivors.
------Dublin Castle 2315 hrs
"WHERE IS THE COUNTESS HIDING? TELL ME!" roared the interrogator shaking William Bulter Yeats.. Yeats shook his head feebly. The interrogator then slapped twice. "You will tell me where she and Mr. Pound are hiding!" he snarled in the poet’s face.
The interrogation had gotten progressively rougher with each passing hour. The main thing the agents wanted to know was how to find the Countess Markiecicz, whom they viewed as embodying a menace equal to a German brigade. Yeats did not know where she planned to stay in Dublin though he did know where their rendezvous point was and how she was disguised. Yeats was firm in his resolve not to tell them that. There were some other topics on the interrogators’ minds such as who had helped them since the incident in Sligo. They seemed deeply interested in the possibility that the fugitives had teamed up with Pearse, whom they regarded as even more of a threat than the Countess. Yeats had blurted out at one point that there had been no contact with Pearse.
This was not the first time Yeats had been slapped. They had refused to give Yeats food or water until he told them something they wanted. They had also refused to let him use the toilet and there was now a sordid mess in his pants. He thought this was intended to humiliate him into collaborating but with a typically Irish sense of irony he regarded it as a fitting metaphor for the sordid mess his life had suddenly become. He did find it difficult to remain completely silent in this situation. So he eventually decided it wouldn’t hurt to tell them what had transpired during the foiled arrest of the Countess. It was something that had bothered him and he felt like confessing. Deep in the back of mind he knew they would use this as evidence to have him executed, but he thought that if they wanted him executed they wouldn’t need his confession. He even secretly hoped the truth might somehow help his case.
The interrogators were happy to have their prisoner talking. They saw it as a sign his resistance was weakening. Some of them though were deeply sceptical about his story. They preferred to believe that what had happened was much more deliberate; that Yeats was already deeply involved in a Fenian conspiracy with German agents perhaps using Golden Dawn as a cover organization. This group tended to think that if there was an innocent bystander it was Pound..
Besides the man who had just slapped Yeats, there were other interrogators in the room. The oldest of them was a chain smoker. He removed his current cigarette from his mouth and approached Yeats. His left hand roughly grabbed Yeats by his hair while his right hand brandished the lit cigarette in front of Yeats’ eyes making it seem ominous. "Listen here, William, old chap. Out of respect for your stature as a poet, my men have been going easy with you so far, even though you are by your own admission a murderer and a traitor. But I’ve had it with your silence. We are ready to go all night. We will have answers to our questions."
------Bantry (Cork) 2350 hrs
"I was told you’d be here at least an hour earlier," the irritated commander of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment chided Rommel who had just arrived.
Romml was even less happy. He had started out with what he thought was a very realistic schedule. It included a half stop at Kenmare, 15 minutes at Glengariff and then another half hour here at Bantry. "Yes, I am well aware of that, Oberst. He had some problems with vehicles breaking down, including one of our armored cars."
"I take that you got the eventually got the armored car repaired?"
"No, Oberst, it was necessary to abandon it, along with 2 other motor vehicles."
The Oberst hissed, "What? You simply abandoned it? Do you know how precious that vehicle is?"
"Yes, Oberst I am well aware of that but my mission is even more important. I need to reach Cork before dawn."
"Good luck. You are going to need it. I will not waste your precious time, Major," replied the Oberst with the usual sarcastic tone attached to Rommel’s IRA rank, "The Jaeger platoon and pioneer section I was ordered to provide you are standing by as well as the Tatra trucks and some gasoline for the vehicles you already have. The Jaeger platoon leader I selected speaks a limited amount of English. Rations have been made available for your men if they so require even though my own men’s ration have been cut since yesterday because we’ve not received the amount of food we were promised."
Before Rommel could answer there was lightning in the west soon followed by thunder. "Looks like we’ll be getting some more rain," commented the Oberst, "it’s still another reason for you to hurry. I’ve seen what happens to two wheeled vehicles when it gets muddy."