by Tom B
------SMS Novara Cattaro Gulf 0010 hrs
Linienscchiffkapitan Horthy was now trying to make a dash back to the safety of Cattaro naval base. Unfortunately Saida was only able to make slightly more than 25 knots. Also the clouds had not thickened enough to block out the bright moon. The French commander had sent the armored cruisers Jules Ferry and Leon Gambetta plus 3 destroyers to try to cut off his retreat. They had an advantageous angle but Horthy had hoped his edge in speed would be enough to around them. When Spaida’s problems became evident, Horthy had not permitted Novarra to get too far ahead. So now they were both being shell by pursuing French cruisers. The moonlight was marginal for observing splashes so the gunfire was not very accurate. Novarra had been hit only once but Saida which was closer now took her third hit—a 7.6" shell which immediately ignited a very bright fire on Saida’s stern. The Austrian cruisers had returned fire with their 10cm guns and with their higher rate of fire they had scored more hits but their small shells were having a negligible impact on the armored cruisers.
Horthy ground his teeth in frustration. Haus’ original plan had emphasized hit and run. Horthy realized his ambitious alteration made the withdrawal more difficult. Reluctant to admit a possible mistake, Horthy preferred to place all the blame on Saida’s machinery. "Signal the flotilla to lay down a smokescreen between us and the pursuing cruisers," he ordered after a very pronounced sigh. As an afterthought he added, "The flotilla still has 3 unexpended torpedoes. They should launch those now. After that they should pray."
The orders took time to execute. Meanwhile the Novarra was hit again disabling one of her guns while poor Saida was hit 4 more times and was burning even brighter. She was also down by the stern and having trouble steering. While approaching to lay their smokescreen the Austrian destroyers drew some fire from the French cruisers and destroyers. Two Austrian destroyers were hit. One of those, a Huzzar class, was hit just above its fireroom. In a few minutes the progressive flooding extinguished most of the boiler fires. The destroyer could only make a few knots. With the French still in pursuit it was necessary to abandon her.
None of the 3 Austrian torpedoes hit anything but one came close to Jules Ferry and was spotted and that caused her to make a sharp evasive turn. The crews of the French cruisers had been told that the destroyers had made a torpedo attack previously but had not clear idea of how many torpedoes they had remaining. The cruisers were cautious in returning to the pursuit. When they finally emerged from the smokescreen enough range had opened up to make effective by moonlight impossible.
------HQ British VII Army Corps Macroom (Cork) 0020 hrs Monday May 4, 1915
General John Keir, the commander of VII Corps was again on the telephone with General Parson, the commander of the 16th Division. "So in the last 24 hours your been able to advance only one mile towards Killarney," Keir asked with exasperation.
"Yes, that is correct, sir. However I would point out that---"
"---I am not interested in your latest batch of feeble excuses! I have become seriously concerned about the 53rd Division, which has not been able to re-establish communications with my headquarters. I now fear that the enemy forces raiding in their rear area were stronger than originally thought. I want you send one of the yeomanry squadrons under your command and see we can make contact with 53rd Division and find out what the hell is going on."
------near Rathmore (Cork/Kerry) 0025 hrs
Lightning flashed in the sky and it had started to rain a few minutes earlier. The West Limerick Battalion had been joined by the 3 rifle companies of the 3rd battalion 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. The enemy they faced together was no longer merely rear echelon troops—engineers and quartermaster-- but elements of the Cheshire Brigade which constituted the left wing of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Derrynagassart Mountains which lacked north south roads effectively prevented the Cheshire Brigade from having contact with the 16th Division to the southwest. Cheshire Brigade first sent a company of the 5th Battalion Cheshires to assist the support troops in rescuing the division HQ. When this attack was stopped cold another company was sent as reinforcements. By this time the Welsh attack was about more than the division HQ. The Cheshire Brigade was being hit hard front the front by 5 Bavarian battalions and in the rear by Hell’s Brigade. The panic caused by being hit both in front in and rear was starting to take hold. The 4 parked armored cars were proving very effective as strongpoints dominating the road as long as they were supported by infantry.
Oberst Hell now arrived in person. "Congratulations, Major," he told Rotter von Thoma, trying with near success to avoid the sarcastic inflexion most German officers put on their pronunciation of IRA rank, "Your men have done more than I expected today. Let one of your companies get some sleep now. Hopefully we will let most of the rest get some sleep as well. But that is not a promise."
Hell then turned to the commander of the 3rd Bavarian battalion, "The tactical advantages resulting from the capture of their divisional HQ will greatly diminish come dawn. We need to take the maximum advantage of it before it evaporates. Originally this brigade was meant to be the anvil but I think it is time to do some hammering as well. Take three of the armored cars and launch a counterattack down the road with them in the van. Try to advance a full kilometres and do not let the armored cars get ahead of you. They are vulnerable to all manner of mischief in the dark left by themselves."
The attack Hell ordered caught what was left of the 2 companies of 5th Cheshires by surprise when 3 of the armored cars became mobile again. These scattered the Cheshires off the road and the Bavarian infantry following behind mopped up more than half of them. Meanwhile across the Blackwater River to the north the 2nd Seebattalion and 1st Kerry Battalion continued to cause havoc amongst the enemy’s artillery, most of which were also trapped in the pocket along with Cheshire Brigade and much of the division’s support troops. While they overwhelmed one more battery of 15 pounders an adjacent battery was able to turn a pair of their guns around to fire at short range by the light of flares. This spooked much of the 1st Kerry Battalion but the Marines of 2nd Seebattalion were only momentarily shocked and before too long overpowered that battery as well though taking significant losses in the process. Additional elements of Cheshire Brigade now arrived and with their help the rest of the artillery held off further attacks by the Seebattalion.
------Bandon (Cork) 0030 hrs
Thunder could be heard in the distance. Fighting continued between Flynn’s Sealgair Battalion and the 7th battalion Leinster Regiment. The rebels had initially retreated from the 7th Leinster but Flynn had rallied them. When the 7th Leinster made one very determined attempt to reach the train station before nightfall only to come under s storm of fire first from the rebel marksmen and then from a machinegun. Another attack had been attempted after last light. It had bogged down in house to house fighting, where the combination of shotguns and pistols some of the rebels were armed with proved troublesome. Another rude surprise was that some of the rebels had rifle grenades.
The commander of the 7th battalion Leinster realized his men were dog tired from their hard march to Bandon coming after several days of fighting the fiendish 6th Bavarian Infantry Division. Despite the claims made by the Protestant Local Defense Organization about inflicting severe casualties on the Catholic forces it now looked that they were nearly equal to the 7th Leinster in strength. The battalion commander grudging acknowledged that it was highly unlikely he would eliminate the rebels during the night. He ordered his strongest company to pin down the rebels while the other 3 companies would try to get some badly needed sleep. He expected to finish off the rebels in the morning.
------near Nolette (Picardy) 0050 hrs
Again the British used the cover of darkness to transport supplies to First Army using a mix of motor vehicles and wagons drawn by horses and mules. The random harassment of the roads by German artillery had been very light before the moon rose but now that it had there was now a sharp bombardment that hit hard one of the horse drawn ASC companies. The flesh of teamster and horses alike were shredded by shrapnel. Some of each were already dead; some were dying and many of the rest wished they were dead. One wagon was completed destroyed. Another was turned over and yet another had a wheel blown off and was burning. Some rounds of .303 on a machinegun belt were cooked off and fired erratically. The supply troops were usually thought of as being rear area support troops but in the course of the Second Battle of Crecy Forest they had suffered nearly 1,500 casualties.
------Castleisland (Kerry) 0105 hrs
It had started to rain around midnight and it was now coming down hard, accompanied by thunder and lighting. The lead company of the 1/6th battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers cautiously poked their way into the town. It had obviously been a base of some importance for the Germans. They had already found an abandoned supply dump with some ammunition, food, fodder +and medical supplies. The field hospital here had only been partially abandoned. No doctors remained but there were a few nurses and orderlies, including some Irish women. Only a few German patients remained. There were some wounded British soldiers and what was particularly galling to the Welshmen more than 30 wounded Fenians were there as well. Some of these were forcibly removed from the hospital due to a widespread misperception that the Germans had provided them better care than the British prisoners.
It was not clear to the battalion commander what he should do next. Messages from the North Wales Brigade HQ had indicated that to the south very confused fighting with the Germans and some more Fenians was still going on and strongly suggested that he should wait before continuing on to Tralee. The battalion commander anticipated a busy day ahead and decided it was best to let most of his men get a few hours sleep.
------Cattaro naval base 0125 hrs
Horthy’s task force now approached the base’s defensive mine field. A half dozen small coastal torpedo boats had been dispatched by Haus to attack Horthy’s pursuers. Horthy believed this attack was unnecessary—the French cruisers had fallen even further behind even though Saiida’s speed had dropped by a more than a knot due to the flooding in her stern. Horthy had requested by wireless that the coastal defense ships at Cattaro, Wien and the Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, be sortied to cover his return but Admiral Haus refused.
The attack by the small coastal boats did cause the two armored cruisers to give up their pursuit, but that pursuit was not overtaking Horthy so that was irrelevant. Three of the small torpedo boats were quickly sunk by French destroyers with the help of the guns on the cruisers. A fourth was badly damaged but was able to limp back to Cattaro.
Meanwhile Saida had struggled with her fires. The wind that night was not severe but it had some erratic gusts and they had spread her fires. One gust set off a few 10cm rounds at one gun position. Only now did her crew extinguish her last fire.
------Bandon (Cork) 0410 hrs
The rain had begun falling before Rommel had left Bantry. By the time he had reached Dunmanway for a brief stop it has was coming down in buckets. At Dunmanaway Rommel had talked briefly with Oberst von Frauenau, the commander of the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment. One squadron of cavalry was to follow behind him to Cork at first light. Even before he had reached Dunmanway, his motor vehicles with 2 wheel drive were struggling with the mud. What had been a neat column of motor vehicles earlier in the evening had become strung out over more than 10 miles. Even the 4 wheel drive vehicles, the armored car and the Tatra trucks, were starting to have a rough time.
Rommel was now at the outskirts of Bandon with the platoon of Bavarian Jaegers he had been provided. Together they had scouted the outskirts of the town on foot. "Did you hear that, Major," one of them said, "that’s not thunder. That’s small arms fire. There’s fighting going on in Bandon."
"There are no German units this deep into County Cork that I was told about," answered Rommel, "The 2nd Chevauleger will be sending a squadron into Cork but it won’t be leaving Dunmanaway for another hour."
"It must be some of our Irish allies, leut---I mean, major."
Rommel bristled at yet another instance of a lack of proper respect for IRA rank. He did not have time for a proper reprimand. He had gotten no sleep all night. Since arriving in Killarney he had pushed himself very hard and as a result had not had enough rest. It was starting to catch up with him. The rain partially muffled the sounds of distant gunfire, but he thought he was hearing it as well. "I think you are probably right. This must be another spontaneous Irish insurrection—like what happened in Galway," he answered while trying his best to suppress a yawn, "we need to identify the friendly forces and come to their assistance."
"It might best to wait until most of your unit has caught up, major."
Rommel shook his head vigorously, "No, it will be light before that happens. We need to strike now when there is a good chance to take the enemy by surprise."
Rommel abruptly dismissed further objection and ordered them to return to their vehicles. After that they proceeded into Bandon with the forces he had immediately available. All of the Jaegers and pioneers under his command had been in the Tatra trucks which were still moving in the muck. Kenmare Company along with his small staff were also in Tatra trucks, but most of the rest of the Irish Volunteers along with the machinegun section were in the laggard vehicles. With the armored car in the vanguard they quickly overpowered a roadblock then poured into town bursting into the camp of one of 7th Leinster’s companies which was trying to sleep. One of the sentries quickly raised the alarm and Rommel did not achieve the level of surprise he had hoped for. Coordination between Kenmare Company and the Jaegers was rather poor and so the initial advantage of the attackers in the first few minutes was soon dissipated.
------Siauliai (Courland) 0505 hrs
Yesterday afternoon a Landwehr division had reached Siauliai. It was only the second infantry division assigned to Army Group Marwitz, though two more were on the way from East Prussia—this reinforcement being another aspect of Operation Fulcrum that was behind schedule. It was assigned the mission of holding the communication center. With the help of 2 batteries of the ex-naval 15cm guns the German 5th Cavalry Division was now tearing a wide hole in the weak Russian defenses to the east. Meanwhile the 8th Cavalry Division and the rest of the motorized heavy artillery brigade as well as minenwerfers were preparing to head east through this hole. Overhead there was an Army airship. The clouds were steadily thickening and soon they would make it irrelevant. For the time being it reported what it could.
------Compiegne 0520 hrs
In France it was only partially cloudy, though they were steadily thickening. General Petain watched with great frustration but little surprise as German howitzers methodically demolished one of the pontoon bridges constructed during the night. Counter-battery fire by the French artillery had failed to silence the German howitzers sited on reverse slopes to the north. The 75’s were too low trajectory to reach him and the French howitzers with a modern recoil system had exhausted their ammunition during the attack on Compiegne. There was some ammunition left for the obsolete guns which had to be repositioned each time they fired. Petain was expressed his worries to General de Castelnau about the ammunition situation. From what he knew a large portion of the French stockpile of shells, esp. for the modern heavy weapons, had been expended in the lengthy preliminary bombardment.
------near Baraduff (Kerry) 0530 hrs
The Bavarian attack on Cheshire Brigade has dissipated in the predawn hours, with the heavy rain aggravating the usual confusion of night attacks. Pioneers had followed close behind the attackers during the night and they had prepared their light and medium minenwerfers despite the heavy predawn downpour. The rainfall had now moderated some. Visibility was adequate for their limited range. They now commenced firing. To the relief of the pioneers manning the weapons they drew no return fire from the British artillery. After 10 minutes the minenwerfers ceased fire and the Bavarian infantry resumed their attack.
------Athlone Barracks (Westmeath) 0545 hrs
"Does the prisoner have any last words?"
The condemned man—all of 17 years- trembled uncontrollably. He was crying as well but in the rain that was not obvious. He had avoided sobbing though and now he tried to say something heroic and defiant. All he could do was mumble something incoherent. The sergeant in charge of the firing squad, an AngloIrish Protestant, permitted himself a smug smirk. He had been in charge of a previous execution where the condemned prisoner was all serene in his Papist piety and Fenian Romanticism, which was thoroughly nauseating. This display of weakness and dread was much more to his liking. The Fenian was indeed terrified of dying but he could not stand the Prot’s attitude and spit in his face. "Your turn is coming, Prot," was his final words.
The startled sergeant was outraged and slapped the prisoner. It gave him some satisfaction but it also made him look unprofessional. Some of the members of the firing squad grinned with amusement but others looked askance at what they regarded as a breach of proper protocol. The sergeant wiped the spittle from his face and stepped back. "Ready you rifles!" he ordered, "Take aim!"
Shots rang out in the yard and the young lad crumpled to the ground. The body withed for a few seconds then was still. With grim irony it was the rifle company of the 13th Royal Irish Rifles that remained at Athlone which was getting to use its weapons, while the rest of the battalion was out hunting Fenians near Portumna. This was only the first of three executions scheduled this morning.
------Tralee (Kerry) 0625 hrs
General von François paced nervously in his new headquarters. He had not been able to get much sleep last night and his nerves were ragged. The forces he had assembled to defend Tralee were a heterogeneous mix. It included a rifle company from 1st Seebattalion which he had previously thought to be essential in case a British raid tried to take the coastal battery at Rough Point guarding Tralee Bay. It also included one of the landsturm companies formed from merchant sailors from the transports as well as another Irish company from the 2nd Kerry Battalion. There were also support troops in Tralee, mostly from the supply columns. This morning they manned the defenses as combat troops. Lastly it included a battery of 15 cm howitzers detached from the foot artillery battalion.
"Send another telegram to Killarney," the general ordered, "Get an update from General von Gyssling on the progress of our counterattack."
Major von Rundstedt sighed inaudibly and bit his lower lip. It was less than 20 minutes since they sent an identical request. It disturbed him to see signs of panic in the general. The acting chief of staff had gotten barely hour of sleep during the long night. "Yes, General, I will see to it immediately."
"And how soon before the 1st battalion arrives?"
"The lead company of 1st battalion 13th Bavarian should make it here in a little more than an half hour, General. The rest of the battalion in approx. an hour."
"Do we know yet if the British battalion they had engaged is following?"
"Yes, general, it is following but cautiously and is not attempting to resume the fight."
The general walked up to a window, and gazed out at the rain, "This accursed weather is going to reduce the effectiveness of the foot artillery. It is more vulnerable to infantry. We cannot rely on artillery alone."
"That is true, general," replied Rundstedt laconically. He was as concerned as the general but the time being he was doing a better job at being stoic.
------Castleisland (Kerry) 0635 hrs
The commander of the North Wales Brigade has arrived here a few minutes ago. The tactical situation was very confusing. There were signs of enemy weakness ahead of them, but the rear of the brigade has been attacked in strength during the night. Apparently the attackers were Prussian Guards! This posed a threat to both their line of communication and the North Wales Artillery Brigade which was supporting them. There had been no communication with the division HQ since yesterday evening. This made him uneasy about making a rapid advance on Tralee. So instead he had a few minutes earlier ordered 1/6th battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers to send only a single rifle company to reconnoitre Tralee and only try to take it if it looked undefended.
Now a messenger arrived on horseback from the HQ of the Welsh Border Brigade to the south. His letter read.
"The Germans have counterattacked the front of Cheshire Brigade in strength late yesterday.. Forces of unknown size have apparently attacked them from the rear as well. There is some threat to our artillery. Communication with division HQ remains severed. This brigade is coming to the assistance of Cheshire Brigade and the threatened batteries. All of the 2/4th Queen’s is being held in reserve and will continue to guard your left flank."
------Belgrade 0645 hrs
The Serbian chief of staff, General Radomir Putnik, met alone with Prime Minister, Nikola Pasic. General Putnik was not a well man, but this morning he looked worse than usual. Pasic knew what he was going to say before he said, "So you’ve come to tell me that the greedy Bulgarians have finally entered the war and that we must now abandon Belgrade once again."
Putnik attempted a grin and failed. He merely nodded his head wearily. "Field Marshal Misic wanted to withdraw 3 days ago when our counterattacks on the bridgeheads failed. This time I insisted on holding on to our capitol. He was probably right this time as well for in the last two days the Germans wear us down with their infernal artillery while making slow. For a while yesterday it seemed that only the Turks were attacking Macedonian Army. If that was the case I still thought we had a fair chance to stop them but during the night reports made it clear that the Bulgarians are attacking as well—and not just in Macedonia—in the last hour I have been notified by telegraph that Second Army has been attacked in strength as well."
"And what of the Russians? Can’t they see how desperate our situation is? Surely there must be something they can do to take some of the pressure off of us?"
"Their attaché keep telling us that something is being planned and will start very soon. Very soon is not soon enough."
"Was that division with the impossibly complicated name that you borrowed from General Birdwood of no help then?"
"Hmm. It was always my plan to use that unit in a counterstroke. I thought the opportunity would arise sooner but it has not happened mostly because Prince Rupprecht has been cautious and methodical so far. In the last two days he has been content to make small advances while wearing us down with his infernal artillery. The British colonial division has a weak artillery component, only 4 batteries. We used 3 of those batteries yesterday against the Austrians. Now that we are withdrawing the opportunity to use their cavalry may finally materialize. The only good aspect to the Bulgarian entry that I can see is that it may finally provoke our enemy to do something rash."
------HQ British VI Army Corps Maryborough (Queen’s) 0705 hrs
Lt. Gen. Stopford was meeting with Gen. Baddock and Gen. Mahon to review the overnight developments. "So you were unable to breakthrough the enemy defenses at either O’Briensbridge or Ballina?" Stopford asked Baddock with some irritation.
"That is correct, sir. I would hasten to point out that in both sectors my men are funnelled into tight avenues of attack against a well entrenched position with deep barded wire obstacles."
"I understand, General Baddock, but still you must have enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in numbers. According to our intelligence they only have a single division at Limerick and that has suffered serious losses during the capture of that city. I know from Gen. Powell’s report that many of the German Marines—he estimates at least 4 battalions-- were involved in the spirited action outside Ennis They must have very few unwounded men left in Limerick."
"As I just said, sir, the avenues of attack are tight. It allows a small number of troops to hold a much larger one at bay."
Stopford looked indignant, "Yes I heard what you said the first time. I am not deaf! But I think you exaggerate that aspect and ignore other possibilities. For one they have clearly reinforced their left wing at the expense of the center and right."
General Mahon wished this was true, but he had some serious doubts that it was true—at least to the degree, Gen. Stopford was suggesting. "So you think my division should make a full scale assault as well."
Stopford did not catch the undertone of worry in Mahon’s voice, "Yes, precisely! And not just their right flank. Let’s hit them head on in the center as well. As I understand it the water obstacle can be waded without too much difficulty in several places."
General Mahon was half expecting this suggestion and more ambivalent than opposed, "In that case we should wait until the artillery shells delivered to Dublin this morning was made its way to the batteries, sir."
Stopford’s annoyance grew, "Always thinking about the artillery situation. What ever happened to the importance of our infantrymen, the finest fighting men in the whole world?"
Mahon and Baddock exchanged glances then Baddock replied, "This war to date has repeatedly emphasized the importance of firepower, sir."
"Don’t you two be looking at me like I’m some old fossil that has failed to keep up with the state of the martial art!" Stopford bristled, "Of course firepower is important. That’s not what I’m saying. But the quantity and quality of the infantrymen means something and I firmly believe they will carry us through. "
-----north of Baraduff (Kerry) 0715 hrs
The Welsh Border Brigade had become concerned over the loss of communication with the divisional HQ. Despite the heavy rain it had also become aware of heavy fighting to the south with the latest reports indicating a threat to much of the division’s artillery. The brigadier decided not to wait for orders and ordered vigorous reconnaissance at dawn. When this confirmed a major Bavarian attack threatening to the south on Cheshire Brigade he immediately sent the 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex to attack the left flank of the German assault.
During the night the Germans had moved 2 batteries of 15 cm howitzers south to try to bring the early morning attack on Cheshire Brigade to a rapid resolution. The batteries had been escorted by 2 companies of 1st Seebattalion while they moved. Their repositioning was still now complete due to mud caused by the heavy rain. Meanwhile the 2 companies of 2nd Seebattalion joined the 2nd battalion 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment to act as a flank guard supported by a single battery of 7.7cm guns. The 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex had lost an entire company in the unsuccessful attempt to take Killarney. It now proceeded a bit more cautiously and soon realized it was not strong enough to overcome the flank guard and backed off.
------Clonmel (Tipperary) 0755 hrs
The British forces defending the sizable county town of Clonmel consisted of ‘B’ squadron 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry plus 47 constables armed with Lee-Enfield rifles and 60 militiamen armed with Martini-Henry’s. Two days ago they had easily driven off an attack by a single squadron of the 16th Uhlan Regiment. This morning the entire regiment attacked and supporting them was more than 1,000 of the Tipperary Volunteers. In a cold rain a troop of the yeomanry skirmished with the Uhlans north of Clonmel. It soon became clear to the yeomanry that the enemy was in greater strength this time and requested reinforcement from the regimental headquarters at Fermoy to the west. They lacked the strength to keep the Germans and Fenians completely out of Clonmel and found themselves squeezed into a corner. The primary intent of the Germans was not to eliminate all enemy resistance but to seize one of the 3 stone bridges that spanned the Suir. The British squadron commander eventually realized this but when he finally tried to fall back to defend the bridges he found himself pinned down by Fenian rifle fire, which he found to be deadlier than he had been told to expect. The Uhlans quickly secured one of the bridges and began crossing the river.
The news that the enemy had them encircled spooked the marginally trained militia and roughly a third of them soon surrendered. The RIC were agitated as well but the yeomanry rallied them and the remaining militia as well, telling them that they could hold out in a hedgehog defensive position until help arrived. Meanwhile O’Duibhir wanted to storm the enemy barricades but the commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment overruled him believing they could not afford to expend either time or ammunition. Instead he told O’Duibhir to let his men get some rest as they would be moving on at noon.
Embellished stories of the victories of the Tipperary Volunteers—with just a wee bit of help from a few German horsemen mind you---circulated rapidly in Clonmel. This prompted 37 men and 2 women to join the Tipperary Volunteers. One of the men was a physician who was immediately put to good use.
------Forest L’Abbaye (Picardy) 0800 hrs
King Albert watched with decidedly mixed emotions as the Belgian artillery began their bombardment. This is only a diversion, a mere feint he told himself over and over. He tried to shut out thoughts of Elisabeth from his mind Deep in his mind there was an urge to blame the British for her injury. The fully rational elements of Albert’s mind kept saying that was unfair, but the feeling would not go away. This feeling was nurtured in part by some negative emotions left over the Entente withdrawal from the Belgian pocket and the evacuation from Ostend.
There was some fear mixed with anger. The German Sixth Army had previously concentrated much of its heavy firepower against the Belgian 5th Division. General Plumer had reassured by saying that the British air patrols had reported that much of the German heavy artillery concentration had shifted to other sectors of the battle. The monarch wanted to believe this but was not completely convinced. They were on the southern edge of Crecy Forest which would help the Germans to hide their artillery. .
After a few minutes it became clear that the Germans had still enough firepower in the area to counter the Belgian artillery, which was forced to shift to alternative positions. By then the infantry assault had begun. It consisted of a mere 2 battalions. In both it had been explained to the officers that this attack was merely a feint. If they could they were would try to take a portion of the enemy front trench, which would threaten the key enemy road they had taken earlier if the battle. If the enemy resistance proved too strong they would fall back. If they did capture a stretch of trench they would make no attempt to advance any further.
Both battalions left their trenches with great enthusiasm, but were soon pinned down in no man’s land. They could see that the German wire barriers were thicker than in their previous attack and the preliminary bombardment had bounced them around instead of cutting them. First one battalion and then the other slithered back to its trenches. When King Albert learned of this he told his generals, "I want no rebuke, not the slightest, of the battalion commanders for not pressing forward with their assault under these conditions. I told General Plumer I would make a limited feint to the best of ability. We have abided by our word. There is not the slightest dishonor in what they did. Indeed the battalion commanders should be commended for their sound judgment."
------Old Admiralty Building 0810 hrs
Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty, was once again meeting with Admirals Callaghan, Oliver, Jackson and Wilson. "The loss of the St. Louis is causing some tension with the French Navy," Jackson informed the First Lord, "It seems they are unhappy that Admiral Limpus decided to withdraw his ships as far south as he did."
"It seems to have been a wise precaution in light of what happened," replied Carson, "I am certainly not going to question Admiral Limpus’ judgement."
"The French position is that someone had to remain in the area in strength to guard the transports and so Admiral Limpus’ withdrawal placed the responsibility all on the French who suffered for it."
"There may be some politics involved in this protest, First Lord," added Admiral Oliver, "Prime Minister Clemenceau does not support the Albanian expedition and is seriously considering withdrawing the French portion of it."
"Yes, I have heard that as well. As you all know the whole expedition was my idea from the start," said Carson. This was one of those simplifications that had some justification but was not 100% true as the Albanian strategy had been hashed out with some other Tories, who decided to let Carson take credit for it enhance his prestige as part of a campaign to get him appointed First Lord. "We need to handle this with some delicate diplomacy. The already grave Balkan situation will become even worse if M. Clemenceau foolishly uses this incident as an excuse to pull out altogether."
Callaghan drummed his fingers on the desk, then said, "We had been planning to withdraw 3 more of the old battleships from the Mediterranean to reinforce Channel Fleet, once this convoy was completed. Under these circumstances, maybe we should withdraw only one now and wait on the others."
Carson scratched his thin while giving that some thought, then finally answered, "Maybe we should just hold off on withdrawing any of them. You know, I’ve not been terribly impressed what the old classes we still have in the Med could accomplish in home waters. This whole idea was to meant reassure His Majesty, but we here are in general agreement that a full scale invasion of England is extremely unlikely---and if the Germans were so brazen to attempt it, can defeated without the use of those obsolescent hulks."
Callaghan nodded, "Yes, I am in general agreement with you about an invasion of England, First Lord. As for another British sortie into the Channel to disrupt the BEF’s line of communication is much more likely, but submarines, mines and torpedo boats are clearly a more effective counter to that threat than those old classes."
"However I do think they might prove of some use if the Germans attempt to reinforce their forces in Ireland," Admiral Wilson noted.
"Perhaps but that threat is rapidly waning," Carson answered, "The latest news we have from the War Office about Ireland is that General Hamilton’s counterattack is going very well in Kerry though we are encountering stiff resistance at Limerick. Nevertheless he remains confident that the enemy will be destroyed completely in the next few days. Admiral Oliver do you have any intelligence that suggests the Germans intend to reinforce their Irish expedition?"
"Nothing so far, First Lord," replied Oliver, "perhaps they have realized it was a bad investment and decided not to waste any more of their resources on it."
"It does seem that way, now doesn’t it? Part of me almost wishes they would try it. I’ve known a few men who have ruined themselves by throwing good money after bad."
"It was clear now that they wanted to use Bantry Bay to land a second wave." remarked Callaghan, "their dismal failure at Berehaven has apparently dissuaded them, despite their initial successes."
"Aye, but I for one thinks they expected a massive Irish uprising and it is the loyalty of our Irish subjects—the handful of pathetic traitors not withstanding---that has proven to be their greatest disappointment," said Admiral Wilson.
"Yes, yes, our loyal Irish subjects," replied Carson with a droll hint of sarcasm, "not quite loyal enough, I am afraid."
"I am sorry, First Lord, but I’m not comprehending you fully," old Admiral Wilson muttered hesitantly.
Callaghan and Oliver exchanged glances. They were more sensitive to the political nuances of the situation than Wilson. Callaghan caught Wilson’s eyes and shook his head slightly.
"Oh, it’s too early in the morning for us to get bogged down talking politics, eh, Admiral Wilson? Let us proceed to more direct topics. Assuming that Gen Hamilton’s assessment of the situation is correct, what about the German ships holed up in the Shannon?"
"With the collapse of the invasion there is a good chance they will try to leave the Shannon and return home, possibly splitting up into small groups. If they do not already have a safe channel they very probably have sweeping gear standing by," answered Jackson.
"Any hints of their plans from their wireless traffic, Admiral Oliver?" asked Carson.
"None so far, First Lord. In fact the wireless traffic between Ireland and Berlin ha s been rather light the last two days."
"The Germans are probably very uncertain at this point, First Lord. They are in a bad situation that is rapidly getting worse," remarked the First Sea Lord, "the pace of events may be proceeding too fast for them to react."
"That is certainly possible, but we should anticipate they will try something. Maybe send some of the older cruisers to raid the Western Approaches while the rest try to take advantage of the confusion to attempt to reach home," Carson speculated.
"We have strengthened our patrols off the west coast of Ireland. Once Tralee and Dingle are secured we will move a seaplane from Cork to Tralee Bay. Furthermore we are going to lay another small minefield off the mouth of the Shannon tonight, First Lord," replied Callaghan.
"Yes, those are good precautions, even though we do not have that many mines available at this time. But permit me to ask you this--what if they don’t leave? As I understand it, we have a force of minesweepers assembled at Lough Swilly and Berehaven. There is also that battalion of Royal Marines we sent to Lough Swilly which we considered using to raid the German batteries guarding the mouth of the Shannon and protect the minefield. What has become of that plan?"
"Half of that battalion was dispatched to guard the cable stations after Waterville was captured, First Lord. The remaining half battalion would a bit weak and that makes the proposed raid more risky. With the army making such splendid progress in the south it is much simpler for them to take out the battery on the south shore. We may still use the Royal Marines against the battery on the Clare side. However that raises the touchy question of what we would then want to send up the Shannon—a battle squadron by day or a flotilla of old destroyers and torpedo boats by night? We’ve looked at both options and each presents some risks."
"So what you’re telling me is that for the time being it is better to just let the invasion fleet sit there?"
"Hmm. By this time tomorrow we should have a much clearer picture of the situation. I suggest we postpone a decision until then."
------Bandon (Cork) 0820 hrs
The rain had tapered off and stopped altogether an hour earlier and in the last few minutes the sun had even begun to peep through the clouds.. Lying on his belly behind a barn peeking up on his elbows our around a corner with a pair of binoculars Rommel tried and failed to suppress a yawn--failed miserably as it was an embarrassing loud yawn.
"You really need to get some sleep, major," said the Jaeger accompanying him, "you look like you could pass out any minute."
Rommel’s initial attack on the 7th Leinster had not been decisive. The enemy had rallied from their beds and after a few tense minutes repelled his attack. When they saw that more than half of their opponents were Irish Volunteers they made a hasty counterattack which failed but since then they called on another rifle company as reinforcements. Rommel had countered this by sending the Tatra trucks which had unloaded back to fetch more of his battalion from the vehicles that had become stuck in the mud, esp. the machine gun section. He managed to get one of the machine guns in place when then 7th Lienster made a second attack—the sight of fellow Irishmen fighting alongside Germans apparently upset them greatly. That attack was beaten off, but Rommel was still in a difficult situation. He was merely holding on when he need to defeat the enemy in Bandon and continue on to Cork. Furthermore if he took too many casualties in Bandon, it would sorely handicap him when and if he ever made it to Cork.
Rommel took one of the Jaegers along with him to try to scout the situation and come up with a new plan of attack. In particular Rommel hoped to make contact with the Fenian forces which had been fighting 7th Leinster before he arrived. He felt that might provide the edge he needed to prevail quickly at Bandon without excessive losses. Together they had skirted around to the north of the town. They had worked there way behind a rickety old barn atop a small hill that afforded them a good view of the eastern portion of Bandon. With his binoculars Rommel could now see that the 7th Leinster was also fighting several hundred Fenians. More than half appeared to be armed with military rifles. Rommel found this very encouraging. He was confident that if he could slip through and reach them he could lead them into attack that would take the 7th Leinster by surprise.
"Keep your voice down! And I keep telling you, Schneider, I cannot afford to sleep right now. There is too much hanging in the balance," Rommel answered with irritation.
"Well then Major. I really need to pee something bad."
"Go ahead and do it now. Be quick and stay out of sight behind the barn."
While the Jaeger was relieving himself, Rommel went back to using his binoculars. But it was so difficult to keep his eyes open. He willed them to stay open. He saw something that caught his attention—a man wearing arm bands was pointing a spyglass in Rommel’s direction. Was this coincidence or had he caught a glint of light reflected off Rommel’s binoculars? That thought made Rommel lower his binoculars but as he did he realized that the person with the telescope was an ally. Rommel decided to resume looking. But the exhausted feeling now returned. His arms felt like lead. It was all he could do to keep his eyes. And then he could not longer do even that. His head drooped and as he drifted off part of him thought he could hear a woman’s voice. That thought faded then disappeared as Rommel’s consciousness dimmed.
The door of the barn suddenly opened. Three British soldiers suddenly emerged. One of them was not fully dressed. Behind them was a young women puffing heavily on a cigarette. She was not completely dressed wither—nor completely sober. She had encountered these three soldiers out on patrol in the early morning and offered to show them how much she appreciated being rescued from the Fenians in exchange for all their cigarettes. While the soldiers were taking their turn the soldiers heard a loud yawn and some voices speaking what sounded like German.
The Jaeger was taken surprise with his member in hand. With a bayoneted Lee-Enfield starting in face he decided not to reach for his Mauser and sheepishly raised his hands. He noticed the woman staring at him. She had been a little bit scared but now she looked amused and gave the exposed soldier a wink, while taking another drag on her cigarette. Meanwhile another soldier, a lance corporal, ran over to napping Rommel, kicked his Mauser away then prodded him back to consciousness with his bayonet. "Achtung! Wake up you stupid Hun!" the corporal yelled.
"But is it a German? That’s not a German uniform he’s wearing," remarked one of the other soldiers. .
-----Athens 0830 hrs
Prime Minister Eleutherios Venezilos had requested an audience with King Constantine. "Your Majesty, I will not waste your time and come to the point. I feel compelled to bring up two issues. The first is your recent statement castigating the British government for the execution of James Connolly, even though the man was by his own admission planning to launch a rebellion."
"There were serious irregularities in his trial. The man’s life should have been spared. The British government was clearly trying to intimidate Socialists," answered King Constantine who avoided looking the prime minister in the eye as he really did not believe what he had just said.
Venezilos shook his head, "German agents are the ones making a mountain out of molehill about Connolly, Your Majesty. And gullible Socialists in several nations swallowed the bait. You have no right to involve Greece in a propaganda campaign."
Constantine tried to remember that he had once liked Venezilos. What a difference a war makes! The king did not wish to pursue the topic of Connolly any further as the prime minister was largely correct in his surmise. "We acknowledge your misgivings but our policy on this matter remains unchanged. What is your second grievance?"
"We are not meeting our treaty obligations to our ally, Serbia, Your Majesty."
"That treaty is subject to interpretation. The Bulgarians have not yet attacked and even if they do, the Serbs are not without serious guilt in this matter. They have brought their doom down upon themselves."
"We have discussed this before, Your Majesty. It is pure supposition that they had anything whatsoever to do with the assassination. And along with our obligation to come to the aid of Serbia, there is another still greater obligation being neglected."
"Why it is our solemn duty to the holy cause of Greater Greece, Your Majesty. This war remains an opportunity to realize our greatest dreams. It would be a tragedy of epic proportions to let this opportunity to pass us by."
"You dream too much, Eleutherios. Please open you eyes and wake up. The Central Powers are winning the war."
"I beg to differ, Your Majesty, I acknowledge the fact that Central Powers have won a few impressive victories, but as far as I can see they have achieved little more than a strategic stalemate. The recent invasion of Ireland appears to a desperate ploy to bluff the English out of the war. The Entente commands great resources and I am certain that the tide will turn in their favour before the end of the year. It will turn sooner if Greece enters on their side."
"At best this is speculation. At worse it is wishful thinking. The Entente have more weaknesses than you admit and likewise you dangerously overestimate the power of our own army and navy."
Venezilos shook his head vigorously, "But have you forgotten the greatness of the past, Your Majesty. It was boldness that made the Greeks greatness and it is boldness that will return them to greatness."
Constantine also shook his head but less vigorously, "Tsk, tsk. You live too much in antiquity, Prime Minister. This is the modern world."
------between Barduff and Rathmore (Kerry) 0845 hrs
The 6th Bavarian Division and Brigade Hell continued their hammer and anvil attack on the left wing of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The rainfall had finally stopped a few minutes and gaps had begun to appear in the clouds. The Germans intended to finish off the enemy pocket as quickly possible. In addition to the divisional artillery and the minenwerfers there were 2 batteries of foot artillery armed with 15cm howitzers. Furthermore positioned behind the pocket as part of Brigade Hell was a battery of 7.7 cm field guns and the mixed German and Irish battery equipped with captured 15 pounders. Inside the pocket the British had only 3 batteries of 15 pounders and one of 5" howitzers remaining, and some of the 15 pounders were close enough to the 2nd Seebattalion and 1st Kerry Battalion that its gun crews were hampered by German and Irish snipers. All of the batteries were short on ammunition and had so far carefully rationed what they had.
The German bombardment with the artillery to the west began in earnest, except for the minenwerfers which were held back. Once the shelling was underway the two batteries of Hell’s Brigade joined in as well. After 10 minutes the German 15cm howitzers switched from HE to T-shells. In preparing for Operation Unicorn, General von François had sought out General von Mudra who had conducted operational tests with the T-shell with discouraging result. Von Mudra maintained that the concept was sound but required modification to the shell and very specific tactics. The modification was to increase the size of the chemical payload at the expense of the bursting charge---even though this would remove the German fig leaf of maintaining that the weapon was legal because the chemical effect was only secondary. After much coaxing Feldmarschal Moltke reluctantly approved a small order of the modified T-shells and the initial batch that arrived was committed to the Operation Unicorn Sonderverband.
These shells now began bursting amidst the surviving Welsh batteries. A sufficient concentration of tear gas built up to incapacitate the gunners. Meanwhile the minenwerfers now joined in the bombardment. The Bavarian infantry resumed their attack. There was some fierce fighting for nearly half and hour and then the pocket began to collapse. Some of the Welsh soldiers surrendered but still more now tried to force their way through Hell’s Brigade and escape to the east. They abandoned their supply wagons along with their remaining artillery and machine guns.
Meanwhile the Welsh Border Brigade had continued its efforts to try to help and had sent the Kent Composite Battalion to attack Hell’s Brigade. This had caused the 2nd Seebattalion to make a hasty pivot while a pair of 7.7cm guns were shifted to meet the new threat. A small gap opened up for a while and nearly 600 men from inside the pocket, including some walking wounded, were able to escape to the northeast. It also caused the brunt of the eastward pressing tide to fall on the Irish Volunteers of 1st Kerry Battalion. The 2nd Seebattalion had left only a single platoon behind to act as corset stiffeners. If they had not had their 2 Russian made machineguns in well sited positions they would almost certainly have broken and even with the machine guns it was touch and go for a while. Then just as it seemed the Irish morale was about to crack, the Welshmen began to surrender in droves. To their utter amazement they captured roughly twice their number of enemy soldiers.
When the 2 companies of 1st Seebattalion advancing from the west covering the left flank of the Bavarian assault pressured the Kent Composite into withdrawing, after which it linked up with the 2nd Seebattalion can closed the gap in the pocket. The Germans and their Fenian allies had captured 3,700 prisoners, of which about half were wounded. The 53rd Division had lost 70% of its artillery and most of its engineer, supply, signal and medical companies. The Germans had captured ample amounts of food, fodder and .303 rounds but only a measly 87 artillery shells. The also captured 1,400 horses. A quarter of these were badly injured and had to be put down but the remainder meant that the German shortage of horses was effectively over.
------British VII Army HQ Macroom (Cork) 0920 hrs
The sun had come out but Gen. John Keir was still very much in the dark. The yeomanry squadron which had been dispatched to try and make contact with the 53rd (Welsh) Division had been blocked at Millstreet by German Marines, believed to be from a cyclist company. A spirited fire fight was underway but so far it had failed to reach 53rd Division. Meanwhile there was disturbing news from the 7th battalion Leinster at Bandon. Not only was the rebel presence there stronger than anticipated but he had just been notified that additional rebels accompanied by a few Germans had arrived there from the west. Also disturbing were the reports of the Irish rebels seizing the important communication enter at Mallow.
------southeast of Nolette (Picardy) 0930 hrs
.Having waited news of the diversionary attack by the Belgian 5th Division, General Plumer now watched as the British bombardment commenced. It was imperative that today’s attack succeed and Plumer had concentrated every RGA battery in Second Army. He had also removed some 4.5 howitzer batteries from II Army Corps to increase his firepower. Plumer had been informed of the very lengthy bombardment used by the French with some success at Compiegne and wished he could afford to do the same here, but he lacked enough shells and furthermore he wanted to rescue First Army as quickly as possible. Plumer had committed every HE shell for the 4.5" howitzers that Second Army possessed as well as much of the HE 18 pound shells. The artillery of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division included 4 batteries of 15 pounder guns and 2 batteries of 5" BL howitzers. These also participated in the bombardment but only with shrapnel. There was very little HE shells available for the old weapons. Smith-Dorrien had told Plumer before he was sacked that Lloyd-George had included HE shells for the older artillery pieces in his American ordnance purchases.
As the various artillery pieces blasted away at the enemy trenches, wire barriers and artillery positions, the French XXXVI Corps with the 38th and 67th Territorial Divisions were arriving. The French had brought no heavy artillery with them and the territorial division’s artillery consisted of a mix of 75mm field guns and obsolete pieces, for which they had been provided an inadequate amount of shells.
------Paris 0935 hrs
Queen Elisabeth of Belgium was having a great many visitors this morning. All 3 of her children, Prince Leopold, Prince Charles and Princess Marie José were with her. Then her nurse excitedly informed her that French President, Raymond Poincaré, had arrived with along with an impressive bouquet of flowers. There were also photographers from both Les Temps and Le Figaro accompanying him.
Poincaré had wanted to visit the injured Belgian queen soon after she had reached Paris, but he thought it best if Clemenceau went with him, but the premier kept refusing, saying that as a staunch Republican he had no need to bow before royalty, esp. a Catholic German. Poincaré was just as Republican and anticlerical as Clemenceau but he was more willing to be flexible. Action Francaise which had been surprisingly supportive of the new Clemenceau led government, was now strongly critical of what it perceived as a callous snub to the Belgian ally. Furthermore the story of how the brave Belgian queen had been gravely injured-risking her life to tend to the wounded and was saved from capture by a pair of giants had seized the popular imagination. But "the tiger" would have nothing to do with it. Clemenceau thought his victory at Compiegne along with his stern warn to the labor unions after the Paris general strike was all he needed to nail down the support of the right wing Action Francaise.
Perhaps he is right. the French president thought but still it displays a certain callousness that could prove dangerous. "Queen Elisabeth, the government of France wishes to express both our great admiration for your remarkable courage and our sincerest wishes for your speedy recovery," Poincaré said with great flair as he personally presented the queen with some of the flowers.
Elisabeth took the flowers with a smile then handed them to a nurse, "I thank you for your most kind sentiments, M.. President. I would hasten to point out that your wish has already been granted. I am already recovered and expect to be discharged in a few hours," she answered in impeccable French with only the slightest trace of a German accent. She tried not to be distracted by the flashes from the cameras,
There was a physician in the room and Poincaré turned to him and asked, "Oh, and is that your professional opinion as well, Dr?"
The physician shook his head and answered, "Unfortunately no, M. President. Her Majesty is recovering quite nicely but we still need to perform more tests to be sure. Also there are two specialists working on trying to reverse the partial hearing loss in her right ear—"
Elisabeth interrupted the doctor, "---Dr. LaRochelle, it is my understanding that the modest hearing loss I suffered in that ear is almost certain to be irreversible. Pretending to treat it is only a feeble excuse to delay my release!"
The physician was in an uncomfortable position. Part of the problem was that he suspected that the queen was close to being correct in assessment. He had been told by his superiors at the hospital that it was not clear if the queen would ever be allowed to return to the front and that the tests they were now running on her as a much about stalling as thoroughness. He strongly suspected something similar was going on with the ear specialists.
------Dublin 0945 hrs
"I am firmly convinced that today will prove to be the decisive moment in Kerry, Your Excellency," General Ian Hamilton exulted during his briefing for Lord Curzon and Birrell.
"Hmm. I would like very much to believe that, general, but must caution you that I have lost way too many games of chess I had thought I had won by blundering during the end game," answered Curzon in an icy voice.
"So have I, Your Excellency," replied the general who knew full fell that Curzon still bristled over the reduction in his authority since Hamilton had arrived. Sir Ian did not wish to rub salt in the wound.
"And even if we defeat the Germans in Kerry, there is still Limerick, where as I understand it we are making little or no progress," added Birrell.
"General Stopford firmly believes that the Germans are stretched thin at Limerick and our continued attacks will soon overwhelm their defenses. And once General Keir destroys the Bavarian division, I plan to send the 53rd Division to further reinforce VI Army Corps in the assault on Limerick, while leaving 16th Division to mop up in Kerry. I am confident that I can meet the prime minister’s deadline with at least two days to spare."
"Your confidence is most commendable. Yet I continue to worry that the simmering Irish revolt, which is not quite as trivial as we had first hoped, could get worse before it gets better. You’ve shuffled off Major Vane so I cannot speak directly to him and when I do manage to talk to Chamberlain I get the distinct impression he is holding back certain items."
Let’s see. If he’s doing what I very firmly ordered then you have an incomplete picture of what happened at Fethard and not the faintest inkling of what’s going on at Bandon, Portumna, Ballinasloe and Mallow. In fact Chamberlain himself shouldn’t even know anything about the situation in Mallow as Major Vane and myself have deliberately withheld news of it from him thought Hamilton who then said with a straight face, "Your Excellency, please. There is no justification for your suspicions. The Head Constable is a dedicated professional doing the best he can in a most difficult situation. What you are misperceiving as withholding is merely that the unfortunate fact it takes time for reliable information to work its way back here to Dublin. The man does not want to pass on to you unreliable information."
Birrell shook his head cynically. On the one hand he regarded Lord Curzon as being borderline paranoid about the possibility of a large scale rising. On the other hand he did sense that Hamilton was withholding something but thought that was likely only a defensive reaction to Curzon’s blowing any incident involving the rebels out of proportion. "Your Excellency, if the Germans are indeed teetering on the edge of destruction as General Hamilton keeps telling us, then the threat of a rebellion will quickly wane. Oh there may well be isolated incidents here and there—this is Ireland after all—but they pose no threat."
Hamilton nodded and was about to complement the Chief Secretary for his insight when Curzon angrily countered, "Yes, this most certainly is Ireland! And that’s precisely the problem--what could be more insane and therefore more Irish than to postpone launching their full scale rebellion until after its prospects for success have disappeared."
Hamilton did not know how best to respond and hesitated before he responded cautiously "London has made it clear that they do not intend to let their guard down once the Germans are defeated. For instance, the curfews will probably last until the end of the month."
"Except in Ulster, of course!"
"Your Excellency, with all due respect I do not intend to spend all my time in Ireland rearguing that issue with you." Hmm, that was a tad harsher than I intended but the Viceroy’s truculence is getting on my nerves.
"While I remain optimistic that the rebellion has already peaked, I would still feel better if both Pearse and the Countess Markievicz were apprehended," noted Birrell while he watched Curzon pout and fume, "The news that at least the Countess is in Dublin is at least a cause for concern."
"I am concerned as well. Perhaps we should arrest the entire Transport Union—we know that it is really the outlawed Citizens Army and last I heard from Chamberlain and Vane appeared to be growing."
"To at most 300 poorly armed men and women, Your Excellency. With two German divisions in Ireland I find it ludicrous to view them as a threat," answered Hamilton.
"I am not being ludicrous, General Hamilton! In themselves they represent a small nuisance, but they could trigger the Irish Volunteers in Dublin, esp. if London decides to put MacNeill on trial."
"Major Vane feels that a mass arrest of the Citizens Army might cause the Irish Volunteers to feel they might be next and spark the very rising we are trying to avoid."
Birrell jumped in before the Viceroy could reply, "And what does London suggest we do about Yeats? So far we’ve kept his arrest quiet in the hope he could lead us to the Countess."
"We will probably announce his arrest sometime tomorrow. Today if we manage to catch the Countess Markievicz. The War Committee intends to execute Yeats but realizes his trial will attract a great deal of attention. They would prefer to execute the Countess first, and then maybe that American accomplice, Mr. Pound and leave Mr. Yeats for last. By that time the Germans would be complete eliminated from Ireland." I am not going to mention the disturbing possibility that some of the Germans might hole up in the mountains of Munster to assist the Fenians in waging guerrilla warfare. The fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s Fortnight Speech may hinge a bit on semantics.
Meanwhile in another section of Dublin another meeting was underway. Patrick Pearse had made it back to Dublin late Sunday. What he discovered was that nearly all of the senior people in Dublin Brigade had been arrested. This included all of the commandants and vice commandants for all of the brigade’s 6 battalions with the exception of De Valera who was known to be in Spain. Most of the company commandants had been rounded up as well. There was essentially no one in charge. On two occasions men who stepped forward to try to take charge found themselves arrested the next day. Further complicating this situation the membership of the Irish Volunteers was in flux. In the first two days after the invasion, a considerable number of the Irish Volunteers left and joined the Redmondite National Volunteers. Those that did often reported that some of the Redmondite commandants had also been arrested and that there was considerable unhappiness amongst the Redmondites over that and Curzon’s insistence that they disarm. In the later part of the week there was a significant movement of disenchanted Redmondites into the National Volunteers. This flow had increased after the Prime Minister’s rash speech at Greenwich Park. When Pearse had fled Dublin the brigade, incl. the 6th battalion in nearby County Meath, had numbered roughly 5,200 men; now it appeared to be very close to 6,000. With the confused state of the battalion leadership and the daily shift in membership anything more than a rough estimate was impossible. Once again Pearse had trouble understanding why the Irish Volunteers had failed to grow even larger. To his way of thinking the continuing shift away from the befuddled Redmondite position was happening at a glacial pace.
What was encouraging was that the precautions Dublin Brigade had taken to disperse and hide its armory had proven fairly successful so only about a third of the weapons had been confiscated so far. This gave them at least a chance for some success.
Pearse now met with 3 of the acting battalion commandants. Only one had been someone he had known before his brief exile. "One of the men who joined us over the weekend works on the metropolitan police force," said the acting commandant of 4th battalion, "At first we were all sure he was another informant, but he fingered a real informant in our battalion for us, whom we took good care of. Not only did that killing eliminate one informant but I am sure it spooked some of the others. Two fellows very suddenly left Dublin with their families."
"Can he help us identify more of the informants?" asked Pearse, "and can he get us arms?"
"He’s doing what he can on both fronts. With regards to weapons he cannot get us rifles but has already provided us with two revolvers. He’s warned us that he for every informant he can find there are others he won’t know about. There is also a very real risk his activities will be discovered."
"I have decided to launch a rising in Dublin in the predawn hours Friday morning," announced Pearse, "what I worry about most is that informants will be our ruin."
This was the first time that the commandants had heard this. Up until now a rising had been discussed only in the most abstract terms. Two of the three faces staring at Pearse were excited but the commandant of 1st Battalion was frowning deeply. "What’s wrong, Dennis?" asked Pearse.
"With all due respect, Padraig, many of the men in my battalion think the opportunity for a rising has come and gone. The Germans were unable to advance beyond Limerick and look to be getting their arse whipped in Kerry as we speak."
"That’s what the government is saying. Are we trustin’ them to be telling us the truth? And even if it were true, it is time that the Irish people show that they are not German pawns, but the queen—and king--of the chessboard."
"Those are mighty fine words you be utterin’, Padraig. I imagine that the late Liam Mellowes spoke some mighty fine words as well. Unfortunately this is not a war of words, Padraig. This is a war of machineguns and howitzers, which the British have and the Germans have, but of which we have naught."
Pearse sighed. He had heard this line of argument before. "We will make due with what we have," he answered, "James Connolly, may God have mercy on his poor soul, firmly believed that the British would never dare to use artillery inside Dublin. He also laid out tactics for street warfare that I believe to be sound. Furthermore, we will not merely rise in rebellion. We will also make a political statement when we do. Words do make a difference! How can anyone truly be an Irishmen and not the magic that lies within words? Even if the British overwhelm us with force of arms our words written in blood will change Ireland forever."
------Mallow (Cork) 0955 hrs
The rain had ended here was well. The skies opened with strong gusty winds breaking up the clouds. The ‘C’ squadron of 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry had been dispatched from Fermoy to deal with the Fenian forces in Mallow. When they arrived from the east they decided against attacking on horseback and dismounted. Attacking the North Cork Battalion they soon found it to their opponents to be more in both quality and quantity than expected. The squadron commander prudently withdrew to the south of the town where they set up a defensive position in order to block any attempt by the Fenians to march on Cork. He also sent a messenger off to the regimental HQ urgently requesting reinforcements.
------Thika (British East Africa) 1005 hrs
It had actually stopped raining. Major Kraut gave thanks to the Almighty for the small miracle. Four days ago Lettow-Vorbeck had sent him out from Nairobi with 3 field companies under his command to follow the northeast extension of the Uganda Railway with orders to capture its terminus at the market town of Thika 40 km distant. After capturing Nairobi Lettow-Vorbeck had received some intelligence confirming that an expedition had been launched against Abyssinia out of Kenya before he arrived. He had eventually become convinced that Thika had likely served as a major supply base for this operation.
It proved to be a difficult march for Kraut’s expedition as it was still the rainy season. When he approached Thika late yesterday Kraut’s forces had briefly skirmished with some askaris of the King’s Africa Rifles out on patrol. After that Kraut decided to circle around to the north of the town under the cover of a heavy rainstorm so he could attack from the direction defenders would not be expecting an attack.
"It is time," he told his company commanders. Two of the field companies now stormed into Thika while the third was kept in reserve. There was a KAR company in Thika. Like most KAR companies it was small and it had more than a third of its strength in outposts and patrols to the southwest. The KAR were in general decent soldiers, more than a little underappreciated by the colonial administrators. News of the Battle of Nairobi had not been good for their morale, nor was being attacked from an unanticipated direction. To their credit they did not panic—at least not completely-- and fought as best they could in a difficult situation, but after some intense combat were ejected from the town. Kraut decided against trying to pursue.
The town of Thika was indeed a supply dump. The amount of weapons was disappointing though. Only 750 Lee-Enfield rifles of the old Mark I type earmarked for friendly Abyssinian elements were found and no heavy weapons. Ammunition was not much better—90,000 rounds of .303. There were also 1,200 obsolete Martini-Henry rifles as well with 60,000 rounds of ammunition along with an ample amount of food and some medical supplies. There was also cover from the rain which soon returned with a vengeance.
------Bandon (Cork) 1030 hrs
It was a very strange interrogation. Normally the interrogator was supposed to learn all he could from the prisoner. However the intelligence officer of the 7th Leinster felt it was important that this man in a silly uniform with golden harps on it, who dared to call himself a Major in the Irish Republican Army even though he spoke with a pronounced German accent, be the one to learn a few things. "This uniform you are wearing is not the uniform our government recognizes. Nor does it recognize this so called Irish Republican Army as anything but a nest of traitors. The status of Germans wearing this so called uniform—" he spat at Rommel one time as he said this, "is a matter for our superiors to decide but if I were to place a bet, I think they will treat you just the same as the vermin you lead into perdition. They will take you out at dawn some day soon and shoot you—and any other Germans they catch wearing that bloody monstrosity!"
Is he going to slap me again now? Rommel wondered wearily. His body still needed sleep something awful. His jaw ached and his lower lit was split.
"That Jaeger we caught pissing was wearing a proper German uniform," continued the intelligence officer, "and so his life is not in any danger. He will be treated in accord with the rules of war. He is only an enemy soldier doing his duty—but you, but YOU!"
Oh. Here it comes now thought Rommel with resignation. "You are a demon from the depths of hell. An incubus sent by Satan himself to seduce the souls of the Irish!" He slapped Rommel hard on the left with the back of his hand, then on the rebound slapped him again on the right. "Do you have idea of what you’ve done. Do you?" he roared.
Well he’s finally gotten around to asking a question but unfortunately I think it’s rhetorical. When Rommel remained silent the interrogator raised his hand as if to strike him again, but then decided not to. I am the one getting hit yet he’s the one with watery eyes Rommel noted sardonically. The irony in all this was his interrogator was a devoutly Catholic Irishman, same as those Rommel had been sent to lead. Every time I think this strange little island couldn’t get anymore confusing it does.
"We Irish were on the verge of working things out when you damn Germans showed up," continued the intelligence officer answering his own question, "Only some minor details about Ulster needed to be ironed out to make it work. It was so close to happening you could smell it. But then you fuckin’ Huns showed up and now it’s painfully clear to me that everything is ruined. Completely and totally ruined! Ruined! How could you? How could you?"
My God he really does have a few tears rolling down his cheeks now. That means he’ll probably need to reaffirm his manhood now by hitting me again. This time it was a punch to the ribs. Rommel grunted. "If only you Germans had left us alone, things would have been fine here in Ireland."
Oh would they? From what I’ve learned since I’ve come here I have some serious doubts about that. It seems St. Patrick left a few snakes in Ireland after all but if I tell him that this fool will hit me again. So far he’s done nothing that won’t heal. Let him indulge in his little fantasies of ‘If only’ and ‘What if’. Since arriving in Ireland, Rommel had thought about the possibility of publishing his memoirs once the war was over. Initially he had thought about titling them as War Without Hate. He now began to seriously consider alternate titles.
------House of Commons 1105 hrs
With the latest news from General Hamilton being very favorable Bonar Law decided to deliver to Parliament to deliver another speech in Parliament about the situation in Ireland. "There were those who after my last address to this august body--what has so commonly been labelled as the Fortnight Speech—might have been a tad hasty in its promises. There were indeed a few setbacks in the first few days. But it is my great pleasure to report that the tide was turned dramatically over the weekend and the German invasion is now collapsing. We hope to announce either later today or tomorrow morning the liberation of Tralee."
He paused for some "Hear, hear!" and even some applause after that line. He would’ve preferred to be able to report greater progress at Limerick but Tralee was of some importance as well. He continued, "One reason that the German invasion will be destroyed is that the Irish rebellion they had expected never happened. I say that knowing well that there are those in this room who have accused this government of wilfully understating the degree of the Irish collaboration. I will now admit that our original estimates were indeed on the optimistic side. What has now become clear is that most of those who came forward to serve the Huns did not do so all at once but after some waiting—the incident in County Wexford being a good illustration. But by now those surely all that have treason in their hearts have come forward. Any who are sitting on the fence will be dissuaded by two things. First is the immanent news that the Germans have been soundly thrashed. But just as important is the stern line that this government has taken against treason by our subjects in Ireland. Our policy is simple. Treason will not be tolerated. We will seek the most severe penalty against any and all who dare to aid the enemy."
At this Bonar Law paused to take a deep breath. He caught sight of Arthur Henderson, the head of the Labour Party. Henderson had tried late yesterday to argue that only the rebel leaders should be executed. Within the Labour Party this was actually a moderate position, as first Shaw and then MacDonald were arguing that the Irish should be treated as combatants. Bonar Law also looked at Redmond and Dillon, who had been strangely silent about the matter. Both of them looked unhappy. Lloyd-George had told him earlier this morning that Redmond had privately expressed agreement with Henderson’s position but felt to do so publicly at this time would further undermine the already dim prospects for Home Rule.
"So now we see why it is so important that we reject the unfounded complaints that certain foreign parties have raised against our completely justified execution of that despicable fiend, James Connolly. Failure to respond to these calumnies would cast doubt on his will to deal with the Irish traitors as they deserve. Some of our foreign critics are acting out of ignorance while others are acting out of a poorly concealed malice. In either case they will only strengthen our resolve to do what we must. This government has vowed to execute every single one of the vile traitors and nothing will stop us! Nothing!"
------near Nolette (Picardy) 1130 hrs
The British bombardment ended and it was time for the infantry assault by 6 battalions of the newly arrived 50th (Northumbrian) Division—three each from the 149th (Northumbrian) Brigade and 150th (York and Durham) Brigade—and 4 of the 5 battalions in the 3rd Brigade which was part of the 1st Division. The infantrymen emerged from their trenches. The preliminary bombardment had hurt the Prussian Guards, who had already suffered heavy losses in the previous fighting. The enemy was not obliterated and machineguns again erupted to send the bodies of attacking infantrymen falling back into their own trenches. The German artillery had been hurt but not completely neutralized as well and shrapnel began to burst in the middle of no man’s land. The infantry pressed on despite losses from artillery and machineguns. The wire had been tossed about but only in a few places could men slip through. Where they did the Germans had an advantage in grenades for close combat while the British attackers had to make do with improvised jam tin bombs with which the Terriers of the 149th Division had little training and no experience.
Before the attack General Plumer had impressed upon the divisional commanders the importance of their mission. More realistic than most British generals, Plumer did not expect them to advance very far, but in this critical sector any advance at all would reduce the German pressure on the main artery supplying First Army. These instructions were passed on down to the battalion commanders. Despite appalling losses the attackers persisted with the utmost courage to scratch and claw their way into the trenches of the depleted Prussian Guards in several sectors. Trench fighting in all its brutality ensued. In some places the Prussian Guards ejected the attackers but in others the Tommies held on, fending off the German counterattacks with the greatest tenacity.
------north of Baraduff and Rathmore (Kerry) 1150 hrs
Hoping to save most of the division’s artillery, which he know realized was in grave danger, the commander of the Welsh Border Brigade in desperation ordered a renewed attack by 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex and the Kent Composite Battalion, with the 2/19th battalion Middlesex, which had been very badly mauled by Hell’s Brigade yesterday assisting Kent Composite Battalion. What he did not know was that the battle was essentially over in the pocket to the south. While the Irish Volunteers who had participated were getting some badly needed rest, the German infantry and artillery battalions had begun to reposition to the north. So the 1/4th Royal Sussex found itself attacking most of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment with 2 batteries of 7.7cm guns in support. The Germans were very tired but the combat hardened Bavarians had enough stamina to defend properly. The commander of the 1/4th Sussex pressed on as best he could but taking heavy casualties without any success was forced to call off the attack. The Bavarians were too exhausted to pursue.
The attack of the Kent Composite Battalion and 2/10th Middlesex started better. They only had 2nd Seebattalion and half of 1st Seebattalion to fight. There was a battery of 7.7 guns supporting the German Marines but this battery had expended nearly all of its shells in the desperate fighting earlier in the morning. What little it had left was quickly used up in less than a minute and it ceased to be a factor in the battle. The men of 2nd Seebattalion were very tired and this British attack pressed them hard for a while. Both seebattalions had an automatic rifle section which proved useful but lacked water cooled machineguns and so Oberst Hell called on the machinegun section of 1st Kerry Battalion to come to the aid.
Hell took other steps as well. First he summoned the armored cars which had been with von Thoma and the West Limerick Battalion. Meanwhile he had already been disappointed by the results of the 3rd battalion 4th Foot Guards in attacking the rear of North Wales Brigade. He had already ordered south and now ordered them to march as rapidly possible. The Prussian Guards had been embarrassed by their engagement with the 1/1st Herefordshire and now longed to prove themselves. Their proud spirit overcame their exhaustion and a rapid pace they arrived to storm into the rear of the British formation. The attacking British forces were now themselves in grave danger. The Prussian Guards took over 300 prisoners, as well as most of the supply wagons and 2 intact machineguns. It would have done still better if the Marines of the Seebattalions had not been too exhausted to counterattack and pursue.. The rest of the 2 British battalions escaped in disorder to the northwest.
------Potsdam 1230 hrs
As Tirpitz had dreaded, Kaiser Wilhelm had insisted on Admiral Muller being present for their conversation. The three of them had lunch together though Tirpitz had little appetite. Finally the Kaiser got to the point, "Admiral von Ingenohl’s speech before the Reichstag yesterday has created quite a stir," remarked Wilhelm, "I had hoped he would put out the fire and instead he pours kerosene on it. Did you have inkling that he would say what he did?"
"But of course not, Your Majesty. He and I almost never discuss politics. My impression was he had little interest in it." This was only partially a lie. Tirpitz did converse with Ingenohl about wait aims on a few occasions. Ingenohl had wanted to avoid a heated argument with Tirpitz but he gave some hints of the pessimistic attitude which came out in the speech.
"Hmm. An admiral with no interest in politics—how unusual," commented Muller with a hint of sarcasm.
Tirpitz cast Muller a withering look. "Yes I recall my meetings with him and he generally sidestepped the topic. I simply assumed that an officer with his accomplishments would have to be motivated by the deepest love of the fatherland. I am beginning to wonder if I made a mistake suggesting that he address the Reichstag."
Titpitz and Muller exchanged glances, challenging the other to answer the Kaiser’s question. They both decided it was prudent to wait for the All Highest to continue, which he soon did, "I have read the text of Admiral Ingenohl’s speech several times. At first I was furious, but after reading it several times, I begin to wonder if he said what he meant to said. He is clumsy in his rhetoric and I believe that made him sound more caustic and self-righteous than he intended."
"It is most unfortunate then that Admiral von Ingenohl, could not be with us today so he could clarify his position," noted Admiral Muller pointedly.
"Yes, I really must take him aside and give him a lesson in the proper political principles of German statesmanship," declared Wilhelm, shaking his head.
Tirpitz blanched at that thought. "When Admiral von Ingenohl has some time, he would of course be delighted to spend some time with you, Your Majesty. Unfortunately he is busy preparing the High Seas Fleet for its next sortie."
"Oh? And just when is this next sortie?" asked Muller, "From what I’ve heard Operation Unicorn has experienced some very serious setbacks."
"Yes, I was meaning to bring that up as well," added the Kaiser, "I keep hearing from Feldmarschal von Moltke that the Irish rebellion has yet to materialize and that our soldiers have been forced to retreat in the last few days."
Tirpitz squirmed and bristled. His recent disgust with Moltke now waxed still greater. He had no right informing the Kaiser of Operation Unicorn’s setbacks! "In all candor, Your Majesty, I believe that the Feldmarschal is interpreting the latest intelligence with an unwarranted pessimism. When the Irish situation becomes clearer I believe he will reach a different conclusion."
"That is most interesting. You will, of course, keep us fully informed of all developments. We look forward to hearing this new information," added Muller with obvious scepticism..
------Gondar (Abyssinia) 1315 hrs
The remaining differences between His Majesty’s Government as represented by Sir Ronald Graham and Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis Dinagde representing the followers of Zauditu had been easily reconciled and now the treaty was signed by Graham and Hapte Giorgis. When the signing was complete the Fitawrari spoke, "Tell General Lee he can cross the border now. I well send two of my men who speak passable English to coordinate between my forces and his. First order of business will be to collect the rifles and ammunition you promised."
When that was translated the major who had functioned as Graham’s military was exuberant, "Smashing, simply smashing, governor. Things are starting to come together now. This campaign is starting to roll. And you should give yourself a pat on the back, Ronald for such a splendid job negotiating this so quickly."
Graham grinned but not without some ambivalence. The fact that he had failed in all attempts to communicate with either Zauditu or her husband bothered him. He was starting to suspect that she may have been reduced to a mere figurehead by the real powers headed by Hapte Giorgis, who claimed 50,000 men were already in his army and predicted that number would double once it was known that Britain was backing Zauditu. Graham thought the 50,000 was likely rounded up and had his doubts about the predicted doubling—at least before the big battle with Iyasu. He was also troubled about the quality of the rebel forces. Hapte Giorgis had boasted that most of his men were armed with rifles—but that left the troubling inference that the rest were armed with what—spears? General Lee had told them that the rifles of the rebels were a confused mix of different types, very few of which were considered worthy of a modern army. General Lee had brought with him 1,600 Lee-Enfield Mark I rifles and 4,000 Martini-Henry rifles for friendly Abyssinian forces. Hapte Giorgis had also claimed to have 3 cannons but was vague about them. General Lee suspected that they were at best suitable weapons for the Crimean War. Lee’s force which consisted of the reinforced brigade brought down from Egypt plus 2,000 men stationed in the Sudan still only had a single battery of obsolescent 15 pounders for artillery.
------Tralee (Kerry) 1410 hrs
General von François was on the telephone with General von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division at Killarney going over the latest developments. He was very happy with what he was hearing. "Yes, yes, I knew it would work. I never doubted it for an instant!" François exulted. Standing behind him was Major von Runstedt who recalled how nervous the general had been less than 2 hours earlier when some enemy infantry had probed the outskirts of Tralee, shook his head and rolled his eyes. Oh, well at least OberstHell will be returning soon and then I can go back to trying to administer the occupied territory he consoled himself.
"So do you intend to disband Brigade Hell, general? Oberst Hell wishes to know if he should return to your headquarters" asked von Gyssling.
."No. Tell Hell to remain where he is. This battle is not over yet. We have only taken a bite out of the enemy. He remains dangerous and we are still hungry." Rundstedt frowned and sighed inaudibly I guess spoke too soon, eh?
"As a good Christian I would caution against gluttony, general. When Hell brought the Prussian Guards south to crush the enemy counterattack he removed our only realistic hope to encircle the rest of the 53rd Division."
François frowned with some frustration as he examined the tactical map. He drummed his fingers on the desk. Finally he conceded the point, "Yes, yes, I can see that but still we must follow up on this morning’s success."
"Yes, but as you aptly noted, general, the enemy is indeed still dangerous. The 6th Bavarian Regiment reports it is no longer able to hold the British 16th Division in the mountains."
François initially frowned when he heard that. Then suddenly after more staring at the tactical map he grinned then answered, "Good!"
After a delay, "Uh, pardon me, general. There must be a problem with the telephone line. What I was trying to say was that the 6th Bavarian Regiment is no longer able to hold. I need to reinforce it with at least 2 battalions of 11th Bavarian---"
"No, no! I understood you the first time. Order the 6th Regiment to make an orderly withdrawal to Killarney immediately. Meanwhile relay the following orders to Oberst Hell as soon as possible….".
------Ballinasloe (Galway/Roscommon) 1435 hrs
The Irish Volunteers the Germans had assembled at Portumna had moved north to Ballinasloe to join the local company of Irish Volunteers and the Marine Cavalry Squadron. Also joining them were other small companies from counties Galway and Roscommon. The Irish Volunteers assembled now numbered over 900. This presented something of problem because it was more than the Germans had expected and therefore exceeded the number of modern military rifles—mix of Moisin-Nagant’s and Lee-Enfield’s—that the Germans had brought. So some of Volunteers ended up being armed with obsolete single shot rifles, shotguns and handguns with those known to be adequate marksmen receiving the better rifles.
While they were sorting things out the 13th Royal Irish Rifles had followed them up from Portumna after receiving reports from the RIC. The Ulstermen had taken a half dozen stragglers and when they arrived at Ballinasloe the battalion commander, having heard stories of the Irish Volunteers being easily annihilated outside Galway and Enniscorthy made an immediate attack. Initially it went well. The Marine Cavalry Squadron had thought an attack would most likely come from Athlone to the east and so had had concentrated there and erected defenses. South was regarded as the least likely avenue of attack. So there was only a handful of German Marines to stiffen the Irish there. The attack of the 13th Royal Irish Rifles initially fared well and caused some panic in their enemy. But the two small companies from Clare which had under German leadership and training for over a week and which had absorbed Borrisokone and Portumna companies rallied making good use of cover. It was these two companies that proved critical, when the commander of 13th Royal Irish Rifles decided to finish the battle quickly with a bayonet charge. While many of the new arrivals scattered in fear these 2 companies plus the sprinkling of German marines methodically cut down many of the attackers. Yet for a few tense moments the Irish resolve quivered. Then in a loud voice one of the Volunteers shouted, "Remember the Boyne! Remember the shame of what happened at the Boyne! Let there be no repetition of that shame today! If we must die today let be like nearby Aughrim where the Irish fought hard and made the enemy pay dearly. Do not give the Orangemen another cause to celebrate!"
"Remember the Boyne!" was taken up by the Irish Volunteers chant. The morale of the Irish Volunteers hardened. Those armed with shotguns delivered an unpleasant surprise to the Ulstermen and their bayonets. The attack failed to break the rebels and the battalion commander reluctantly ordered it broken off even before the German Marine Cavalry Squadron arrived as reinforcements. .
------Gaelic American office, Manhattan 1545 hrs
John Devoy was busy working on the next edition of the Gaelic American when there vigorous knocking on the door. Devoy was not expecting anyone. The Germans were very organized and always notified him in advance. I hope it ain’t that uppity darkie again thought Devoy with annoyance. "Who’s there?" he growled.
"Mr. Devoy, Mr. John Devoy?" half asked an officious, "could you please let us in, sir?"
"I don’t recognize that voice. Who the hell are you and what’s y’er damned business?"
"My name is Hendrix, John Hendrix. I, uh, work for the US Government. Please let us in, sir."
Devoy did not like the sound of that. "Work for the US Government, eh? Does that mean you work for the British loving son a bitch, Woodrow Wilson? And why are you here?"
The door wasn’t locked. The two men on the other side took the liberty of opening it and entering. Before Devoy spouted a string of obscenities they said, "We’re agents with the Secret Service, Mr. Devoy. We have a warrant for your arrest for violation of US neutrality laws."
------west of Penevezys (Courland) 1625 hrs
After tearing open a hole in the weak Russian defenses with the help of the heavy artillery brigade the German III Cavalry Corps made rapid progress to the east. It was only when they reached the outskirts of the small city of Penevezys did they encounter and significant opposition. This consisted of a regiment of second line infantry. Unlike the majority of Russian infantry regiments it had only 3 battalions. Just like all too many second line Russian regiments only half of the men had been provided a rifle and in two of the battalions that rifle was a Berdan II not a Moisin-Nagant. The men were led by an inadequate number of officers and NCO’s and had received only brief training. They had no artillery, machineguns or even barbed wire and an inadequate number of entrenching tools, which they were only beginning to use in the last hour.
The defenders to their credit repelled an attempt by German cavalry to take the town by coup de main. With the help of some stout barricades they held off a second attempt supported by armored cars. However when the German brought their artillery into action---not just the horse artillery but the some of the 15cm guns towed by motor vehicles, their morale soon broke and their defenses disintegrated. Inside the city itself there was pandemonium. This town had a large Jewish population and at the last minute the Russians who regarded them as German sympathizers were trying to move them en masse into the interior.
The German artillery soon sliced holes the defenses. Some of the cavalry squadrons penetrated into the town itself. House to house fighting with the usual resulted for a while. Other squadrons circled around to attack the town from the rear. The already teetering morale of the Russian defenders began to collapse. Though some stubborn pockets of resistance held out the Germans began taking prisoners in large numbers.
------HQ Brigade Hell Rathmore (Kerry/Cork) 1640 hrs
Oberst Hell was meeting Major Ritter von Thoma.. "To be brutally honest the Irish battalions performed better than I had expected," said Hell, "though you will not catch me admitting that in front of Plunkett."
Ritter von Thoma nodded and grinned, "To be honest they exceeded my expectations as well, Oberst."
"The 1st Kerry Battalion suffered more than 300 casualties and while its commander thought its morale was cracking in the last stages of the battle, the fact is it did not break. I have ordered that battalion to proceed to Killarney escorting most of the prisoners. Once they have arrived there they will go back to rear area duties while they train further and rebuild with new volunteers. But I have very different plans for your battalion."
"My battalion did not do that much better, Oberst. We suffered well over 200 casualties."
"Yes I well aware of that, but I am impressed by your ability to use those armored cars and those infantry guns so effectively in combination with infantry. So I am not done with your battalion. We captured 2 motor cars and 3 trucks in working condition this morning, along with a useful amount of gasoline. Today’s winds have dried the roadways. I need temporary use of one of the cars but am willing to assign the rest to your unit."
"It sounds like you a specific mission in mind, Oberst."
Hell nodded and with just the slightest trace of grin replied, "It appears that we have some unfinished business with 16th Division."
------Bandon (Cork) 1655 hrs
After Rommel’s rough interrogation he was brought to another rickety barn, which was where the 7th Leinster battalion was holding its prisoners. Besides himself and the Jaeger Schneider, there were 31 Irish Volunteers. One of these, O’Sullivan, was a member of Rommel’s 3rd Kerry battalion and wore a crudely fashioned IRA tunic. The others were not familiar to him and wore armbands with green letters saying either IRA or SEALGAIR. These men belonged to the Irish Volunteers who had been fighting the 7th Leinsters when he had arrived at Bandon. Seven of these men were wounded, though not severely. It was rumored that the 7th Leinsters were holding the most badly wounded prisoners elsewhere.
Rommel has wanted to find out as much as possible about this mysterious Sealgair Battalion—something in the back of his mind said he should know what that meant. He learned that the man leading was the Sealgair Battalion was the commandant of Ballybourney Company, Joe Flynn. There were 2 members of Rommel’s battalion who had been part of that company. They had missed the assembly of that company and it had left their camp without them. They both described Flynn as a very colorful character. Rommel heard some more stories about Flynn but after a while his need for sleep caught up with again. The bruises he had sustained from his beating were not quite as bad as they looked and he managed to sleep in spite of them. The Irish Volunteers took care to speak softly while he slept.
Rommel had a strange dream, involving a woman—not Lucie—and some birds. As it faded from his mind and he became awake he heard someone say, "They should not have beaten like that. They had no right to do that."
"Look I think he’s coming to," said another. As Rommel opened his eyes he heard another sound, a weird howling resulting from one of the still strong wind gusts. "Are you feeling any better, Major?" asked O’Sullivan.
Rommel nodded, "Yes, I am. Thanks for asking."
There were 3 guards posted outside the barn. Two of them had been wounded. One had been hit by a bullet in his left arm and now carried that arm in a sling. He was armed now with only a sidearm. Another had taken German shrapnel in the face, losing his left eye and half his nose. He wore an elaborate bandage on the left side of his face. There were plenty of cracks in the barn and the men inside now heard the one eyed soldier say, "What? Look at this now."
"Aye, that constable is coming our way with two prisoners, one of them a German," answered the unwounded guard.
The prisoners inside the barn remained quiet and strained to hear what was going on outside. A minute later they heard them, "Good day, constable, what have you got here for us," asked the guard with wounded arm.
A new voice spoke, "When the rebels attacked the station the other constables killed but I held out. I later snuck out when your men attacked and drew the rebels’ attention. I managed to surprise this German and this Irish traitor while they were sniping on your men. I took them prisoner and reached your battalion’s position where your men said to bring them here."
"Well done, constable! The brass will probably want to interrogate the German before too long. But in the meantime we’ll put both of them in with the others."
The barn door had been locked with a chain. The prisoners inside could hear one of the guards, removing the chain. The door soon opened. The two wounded guards pointed their weapons at the prisoners as a precaution. "Get back, get back, all of you," ordered the one with a wounded arm, "we have two more to keep you company." The unwounded guard held the door open with his rifle over his shoulder.
Three figures now slowly approached the entrance to the barn. One was an Irishmen with IRA armbands. Another was a German in a Jaeger uniform. When Rommel had been assigned the platoon of 40 Jaegers for this mission he had tried to familiarize himself with at least the faces of all of them. This Jaeger did not look familiar. Behind those two there was a rather young constable brandishing his revolver threateningly at both of the prisoners. He carried his Lee-Enfield over his right shoulder and the captured Mauser over his left. "Go on you two!" he ordered the two new prisoners while waving his pistol who then slowly walked inside with the constable following close behind. The new prisoners passed between the two wounded guards. Rommel had stood up and positioned himself at the head of the prisoners as he considered himself to be their leader and felt it to be his unfortunate duty to welcome the new arrivals. It now struck him that there was something a bit odd about the attitude of these two new prisoners.
Suddenly the constable turned to his left and shot the guard with the wounded arm in the kidneys, who immediately fell to his knees. "Get his gun, Sean!" yelled the constable to his Irish ‘prisoner’ as he turned and fired at the other wounded guard, who was turning around to see what was happening. Despite the very short range the sudden turn caused the constable’s first shot to miss but before he could fire his rifle the constable second shot hit him in the stomach and he dropped to his knees in agony. Believing this opponent to be eliminated the constable then turned and trotted towards the unwounded guard at the door who was trying to ready his shouldered rifle .The constable’s first shot only grazed this guard’s ribs but the next one punctured a lung and he collapsed. With wicked smirk on his face and a cruel glint in his eyes the constable triumphantly sauntered over to his body and very deliberately aimed his revolver at the man’s head.
While he did this the other two guards had partially recovered from their latest wounds and were causing trouble. It took Sean nearly a minute wrestling the guard with the bad arm to get his pistol. Meanwhile the one eyed guard had heroically willed himself into a firing position despite his pain and was taking aim at the rogue constable when Rommel, who had reacted quickly to the new situation, dove on him from behind. The other prisoners soon joined in helping him subdue the wounded guards.
Despite the interruption the constable gleefully finished off the guard at the door. He then removed the rifles from his shoulders giving the Lee-Enfield to Sean. He then held out the Mauser teasingly towards the Jaeger, "I am not sure I should be letting you have this, Julius. You weren’t much help in this fight. Couldn’t you see that guard was going to blow me fuckin’ head off? Flynn was right about you being next to useless."
"Who are you?" asked a very confused Erwin Rommel.
"Oh, good, you speak English. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s one of them fancy IRA uniforms ain’t it?" replied the constable who slowly approached while reloading his revolver, "Y’re some sort of officer, ain’t you?"
"Yes, I’m Major Erwin Rommel, commandant of the 3rd Kerry Battalion, Irish Republican Army. And whom do I happen to be speaking to?"
"Jesus! A bloody fuckin’ Major, f’r Chrisake, now don’t that beat all," replied the constable who then extended a hand, "My name is Tom Barry and I’m part of Joe Flynn’s Sealgair Battalion. One of our men saw you being captured and it made Flynn decide to go ahead with an idea he had to free the prisoners."
"You are a constable fighting with the rebels, Mr. Barry?" asked Rommel incredulously as he shook hands with this wild eyed young man. In war you learn that a few men really enjoy having an excuse to kill. He strongly suspected he was shaking hands with one.
"Hell, no, Major! My da was one for a while but I’d never join the RIC. Flynn has a collection of uniform parts he took from the constabulary by force. That sly devil has found it very useful to impersonate constables on occasion. Since I know something about the RIC from my da, he’s agreed to let me be his understudy."
"Oh great! A Flynn doppelganger, just what the world needs," grumbled the new Jaeger in German. Barry had yet to give him the Mauser.
Rommel was shocked, "Using enemy uniforms in this manner is completely contrary to the rules of war. You could be shot for doing this!"
Barry’s expression darkened, "I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, Mr. Bigshot Major in a fancy uniform, but the British prime minister has promised to shoot all Irish rebels no matter what. So don’t you be talkin’ to us about rules of war!"
Rommel now recalled his unpleasant session with the intelligence officer and how he boasted that the British government would shoot Rommel on account of the uniform he wore. This was making it hard for him to refute Barry’s position, though he was still disturbed the fanaticism he saw burning in the young man’s eyes. Rommel was curious about the Jaeger and asked him in German, "Who are you? I don’t recall you being part of the platoon I was assigned."
"I am Gefreiter Julius Gaulart with the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion, Major. I was given an assignment to assist a company of Irish rebels at Ballyvourney. They have moved around a great deal since then. Their leader, a Mr. Joseph Flynn is not completely sane in my estimation. In all honesty I frequently wish I had remained with my unit."
Schneider, the Jaeger who had been captured with Rommel and did not speak English now finally spoke up, "If you had you would probably be dead now, Gefreiter. Most of the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger was killed in the disastrous assault on Bere Island--."
"--we don’t have time now for socializing," Rommel abruptly interrupted in German. He then switched to English and addressed Barry, "We need to get moving. The pistol shots may have been heard and draw attention.. And they may send men soon to either relieve the guards or do more interrogating. Did you come here with an escape route planned? We have only 4 rifles and 2 pistols as weapons."
"The enemy has been taking us for granted most of the day while they are concentrating on fighting your men. Flynn eventually found an avenue of attack with which he can take the enemy by surprise. He is sending his best company to attack very soon. While that attack is underway we will----"
The captured guards had been steadily groaning in pain and at this point, the one who had been shot in the stomach screamed loudly. "Could you please hold on a wee minute, Major? There is something that needs attending to," asked Barry who then scrambled over to where the captured guards lay. He fired a round into the man’s forehead. He then went over to the other prisoner whose pain was less intense but now weak from blood loss. Looking into Barry’s eyes he was suddenly afraid, "Please, I am Irish like you."
Barry answered with a sneer, "But didn’t you hear? Bonar Law had decreed that all Irish prisoners are to be executed." With great satisfaction Barry pulled the trigger. .
------off Le Havre 1710 hrs
Most of the German submarine force had been involved with Operation Unicorn and its preparations since the end of March. After that maximum effort there was a period where most were back in port. The U-Boats were now finally to return to patrols in some numbers and with the second phase of Operation Unicorn being put on hold the Kriegsmarine decided to use its U-Boats to make their most determined effort to date to disrupt the BEF’s line of communication. Sixth Army had for some time been having some success decoding low level British and French military ciphers. When Sixth Army’s chief of staff Generalmajor Krafft von Delmensingen had been moved to OKW to replace General von François after he departed for Ireland, he had impressed upon Admiral Tirpitz the usefulness of this intelligence source.
It was now clear to the Germans that nearly all of the BEF’s supplies and reinforcements were funnelled through LeHavre—the enemy had long since given up on using Dieppe and the BEF had not yet grown large enough to overwhelm Le Havre’s capacity. The Admiralstab decided after some debate that all Entente merchantmen—except properly marked hospital ships—in the vicinity of Le Havre we to be attacked without warning, even if unescorted by warships. Today they had their first success torpedoing a British ammunition ship which soon exploded.
------Old Admiralty Building 1735 hrs
Lt. Erskine Childers, VC could tell trouble was coming from the look on Quentin’s face. He had in the last few days tried to avoid political discussions as Capt. Hall had wisely advised, but there was a veritable gang of Unionist bullies which persisted in trying to draw him into one. Sometimes Childers’ anger got the better of him and heated arguments had resulted. He had hoped that once the German invasion of Ireland was eliminated—which he had thought was now only a matter of a few days —things would ease up.
"Childers! Room 40 just decoded this and I would very much to hear your assessment," said Quentin, thrusting a manila folder at Childers, who tried to be as professional as possible when he read it.
HAVE WON LARGE VICTORY IN KERRY THIS MORNING WITH MORE THAN THREE THOUSAND PRISONERS, TWENTY SEVEN GUNS AND ONE THOUSAND HORSES CAPTURED STOP FOUR IRISH BATTALIONS ASSISTED IN BATTLE AND DEMONSTRATED USEFUL COMBAT VALUE STOP AS A RESULT OF THIS VICTORY I HAVE SEIZED INTIATIVE OFFENSIVE AND MOVING INTO CORK AGAIN STOP
"It looks like the Prime Minister won’t be announcing the liberation of Tralee as soon as he thought," answered Childers.
"Oh, and does that fact make you feel happy, Erskine? We all know you don’t care much for the PM, so wouldn’t you like to see him embarrassed?"
"This is outrageous! I would not wish for an instant that any ill fall upon our brave fighting men and I certainly derive no satisfaction from an enemy victory."
"Well then what about these 5 Irish battalions, General von François says were so useful? Can we finally get you to admit that the Prime Minister is absolutely right about executing any and all of those Irish Catholic weasels that we capture?"
"No, no, no! I stand by what I’ve said. The Prime Minister is wrong. By insisting that he intends to execute them he ensures they will fight to the death. By the Germans’ own admission they have played a role in this setback. For that alone they deserve to die—every last stinkin’ one of them!"
There were others in the room watching this argument. He knew that the onlookers sided with Quentin’s position. This sickened Childers who decided it was best to follow Capt. Hall’s advice. He tried to shift the subject, "Why is it so important to you to bust my chops over this, eh? Don’t you have something more important to do, Quentin? Has Captain Hall or Admiral Oliver seen this message yet? The War Office will need to be informed of this immediately."
Quentin scowled. This was an obvious evasion about what he really wanted to talk about. However someone else answered Childers’ question, "How long have you worked here, Childers? Surely you must know by now that Admiral Oliver only passes on information when he’s good and ready."
"But surely the War Office will need to know---"
"—Yes, but just as surely the Germans are telling us nothing that the War Office doesn’t know this already. That’s how I see this and would hazard a guess that Admiral Oliver will see it the same way."
-------near Nouvion (Picardy) 1730 hrs
The deployment of the French component of Second Army’s assault was nearly 4 hours behind schedule. This was a combination of arriving late and difficulties in moving through the moonscape of the battered British V Army Corps. As it was only a single brigade of the 38th Division was now ready to spring its attack. The division made only a brief bombardment with 6 batteries of 75mm guns under the optimistic assumption that the British bombardment had already devastated the Germans and only some freshening up was required.
When the Frenchmen emerged from their trenches they discovered the Boche still possessed some teeth. Their attack was directed at the boundary between the left wing of the 2nd Guard Division and right of the 28th Reserve Division which was part of XIV Reserve Corps. The Belgian attack in the morning had served to draw the attention of the XIV Reserve Corps for a while but with every passing hour their commander, Gen. von Stein, felt increasingly certain it had been a feint and now felt free to counter the newest threat vigorously. As usual the French infantry demonstrated incredible bravery but as usual paid a steep toll when flesh met firepower. Despite their losses they managed to enjoy some measure of success against the Prussian Guards who were already sorely pressed by the British attack. Against the 28th Reserve Division they failed badly and once that division had beaten off the attack they came to the aid of the hard pressed Prussian Guards. It was all over before the last dregs of sunshine left the sky and all the French attack had accomplished was to force the 28th Reserve Division to take over a half kilomter of trench from the 2nd Guard Division, though it took considerable time for this success to filter its way to higher headquarters. .
------Macroom (Cork) 1745 hrs
General Keir still did have any word from the 53rd (Welsh) Division. He did have suspicion that the 16th Bavarian Infantry Division had concentrated its strength against the Welshmen while trying to hold the 16th (Irish) Division with a very weak force. The commander of the 16th Division, General Parsons, had encouraging reports during the afternoon. He had broken through the enemy defenses in the Derrynasaggart Mountains and was headed for Killarney. See riding Parsons hard has paid off Keir congratulated himself.then addressed the Corps staff, "It is necessary to move again. With 16th Division driving towards Killarney, we are too far away from the action here in Macroom. Prepare to move out immediately for Ballyvoureny."
------Listowel (Kerry) 1805 hrs
Cpl. Bridget Donahue, IRA was interviewing her newest IRA recruit, "Have you ever fired a rifle, Martha?"
"My brothers taught me how to fire a .22 when I was thirteen. It’s mighty useful f’r takin’ care of rodents. I never fired anything more powerful," answered a woman in her mid 20’s. Mary was the wife of one of the men in the 1st Kerry Battalion. She had two children but her older sister had been persuaded to take of them.
"We have some Lee-Enfield’s and more of Russian rifle called the Moisin-Nagant. The men in 1st Kerry Battalion, including your husband, were all armed with the latter. It is a very sound rifle but I’ve fired both and have come to the conclusion that the British rifle is superior. When you get the hang of it you can really lay down a rapid stream of lead."
"If I had a choice, I’ll go with the Lee-Enfield then."
Early Sunday morning the 1st Kerry Battalion had assembled at Listowel and the able bodied marched out after Mass to join Brigade Hell. The 17 women who were part of the battalion had been left behind to watch the town which had an important train station as well as 10 prisoners and 11 men who had been wounded in fights with the RIC. The battalion commandant had promoted the least severely wounded man, Terry McAndrews to sergeant and put him charge of running the town while the battalion was away. Bridget had already established a reputation as being the most military of the women in the battalion and had helped recruit 2 other women. She was an unmarried 25 year old woman. She had on two occasions seriously considered becoming a num. The last was a little more than a year ago after her father had died from a brain tumor. With her strong will many of her friends told Briget that she would certainly have become the Mother Superior before too long. She still thought about it but she found herself too interested in politics for life in a convent. She had heard the Countess Markievicz speak in Limerick after she was freed and was deeply impressed though she did like the fact that neither the Countess not Connolly was a Catholic and some of their supporters seemed hostile towards all religion.
The battalion commandant was persuaded to give Bridget a "temporary" rank of corporal and appointed her to be McAndrews’ deputy while they were gone. There had been controversy in the battalion over the role of women. Some of the women wanted to fight alongside the men and others thought they should merely perform support roles such as nursing. With the men away there was no alternative but to arm all of them.
McAndrews had been recovering from an infection as well as well as a bullet in his left shoulder. Sunday night the infection which had seemed to be going way returned with a vengeance. For most of Monday he was completely incapacitated with a dangerously high fever. So Cpl. Donahue was essentially running the Listowel detachment. In dribs and drabs additional male volunteers continue to come forward to join the Irish Republican Army, esp. as reports of the Prime Minister’s provocative Greenwich Park Speech began to reach more remote areas. Those in the northeast sections of Kerry such as Ballylongford tended to report to Tarbert where the Germans had a detachment, but much of northern Kerry reported to Listowel. The 37 men who came to Listowel since the 1st Kerry Battalion had left accepted Donahue’s authority with little complaint because they thought she was merely serving a conduit for McAndrews’ decisions. Hearing that the responsibility of controlling more than 200 sq. miles of Kerry had been thrust on a handful of women, some men were now coming to Listowel out of a mix of chivalry and concupiscence. The latter bothered this woman who had nearly become a nun, and she tried her best to discourage socializing between the men and women under her command.
The odd situation at Listowel was only serving as a spur for more women to join the IRA. Four women had joined yesterday and Martha was the seventh to come forward today. If any of these women had been clearly unsuitable material, Bridget Donahue would’ve told her to go home, but so far that had not proved necessary. In addition there were another 11 local women who while not willing to join the Irish Republican Army had made it known that they would perform useful services such as cooking and laundry in their spare time. One chore Bridget saw she needed from them was to help make more IRA uniforms for the women.
"Well then that’s decided., " Bridget continued, "You said you rode a bicycle here. Do you consider yourself to be a good cyclist? I have 3 women who are sent them out together on patrols twice a day. You could join them but not if you’ll be slowing them down—"
"Hmm. I think I can keep up with them—"
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "Bridget, it’s Terry, can I come in? I have some important news!" came McAndrews’ voice unexpectedly. Bridget did not like the fact that Sgt. McAndrews persisted in calling her by her Christian name, even though she had told him repeatedly how unmilitary she thought that was. More importantly though she deeply was concerned that he was out of bed. She sprang to her feet and opened the door.
While Sgt. McAndrews looked better than when she had last checked up on him a few hours ago, he still did not look well. "Sgt. McAndrews, with all due respect, I don’t think it was wise for you to leave the infirmary in your present condition."
"Me darlin’ Bridget, such a mother hen you are! Well then, I be bringin’ you a heap of news and the first item on my list is that I am feeling better now. Only a trace of fever remains and I even feel hungry. Now I am not going to pretend I’m completely better and don’t you worry, Terry here is not going to start working himself to the bone and risk another bloody relapse. Oh and who we have here?"
"It’s another new recruit, sergeant."
"Another woman, eh? Good Lord, it seems that I have a veritable harem now."
Bridget noticed Martha suddenly frowning and tried to reassure her, "The sergeant is only jesting, of course. We insist on the most proper behavior in this outfit."
"Quite true, quite true. And we have the Mother Superior here to thank for that."
Martha looked puzzled. Bridget bristled. Some had started calling her that even before the battalion had marched out and since then it had become very popular among both the men and women she supervised. "It’s an inside joke and not a very good one at that. I’ll explain later."
"Yes, but before you do there is some very important news I must pass on. I was just on the telephone with Commandant Stack. He says that the Germans won an important victory over the British near Rathmore this morning and that 1st Kerry Battalion played a very important role in the battle."
Bridget was ecstatic, "Why that’s wonderful, sergeant! I was more than a little worried these last few days. Will the battalion be returning soon?"
Martha was more ambivalent, "Did the commandant say anything about casualties, sergeant? My husband happens to be a part of that unit."
The light jocular expression on McAndrews’ face gave way to a much more somber one. "Ahem. Well, uh. the commandant did say that they took some pretty serious losses. He wasn’t able to be any more specific right now but he did promise to send us a complete list of casualties tomorrow. As he tells it the 1st Kerry will spend at least the next two days at Killarney, so it will be Saturday at the earliest before they make it back here. In the meantime we are to make sure news of the victory gets widely circulated."
"It is only proper for a wife to be concerned about her spouse," Donahue told the new recruit, "but this is a war and some fine Irish blood is going to be shed before this is over." As she was saying it, Bridget wondered if that sounded cold. People did sometimes accuse her of being cold.
Martha started to mumble something in response, but McAndrews interrupted. "Oh and there is still more good news. Austen said that he was very impressed with how well we’ve run this section of Kerry while the battalion was away. He’s promoting me to staff sergeant effective immediately."
"Congratulations, sergeant," said Donahue with mixed enthusiasm. She sort of liked Terry personally but did not think he was much of a soldier.
"And wait there is still more. I told Austen that I really hadn’t done squat these last few days, and that you’ve been the one running things while I was fighting for my life. He was rather surprised to learn how much you were in control. Perhaps shocked is a better way to describe his reaction."
I did not exactly go out of way to tell Kerry Brigade HQ the details of our situation Bridget confessed to herself. She wondered if the Brigade would send a healthy man out here to rectify what they would regard as an aberration.
"Well, I told him that he should promote you as well. He was reluctant to do so at first, but I finally persuaded him, Sgt. Donahue."
------Bandon (Cork) 1810 hrs
Rommel led the freed prisoners towards where Barry told him the attack by a Sealgair company was supposed to coming. He had 3 Lee-Enfield rifles and a Mauser. He gave Private Schneider the Mauser and armed Gefreiter Gaulart and himself with Lee-Enfields. Rommel had early one decided that the SMLE was superior to the Moisin-Nagant that had been intended for the IRA. He had been quite vocal in expressing that opinion. Of late he was leaning towards another evaluation he kept to himself—that the British rifle just might even be a little bit superior to the Mauser. His arrogant young Celtic rescuer, Tom Barry had insisted on keeping the fourth Lee-Enfield He had also insisted on remaining in the constable’s uniform despite Rommel’s hectoring him about rules of warfare.
Barry was very familiar with the local area and with his aid Rommel brought his ragtag group to a position with good cover overlooking the fire fight now going on between the Sealgair company and what looked to be a platoon of the 7th Leinsters. The marksmanship of most of the Sealgairs was nearly as good as their opponents and they had roughly thrice their numbers... Rommel was able to move his contingent with 500 yards with a good line of fire of fire and the 4 men with rifles opened up.. Barry proved himself to be a very good shot. Their intervention was not decisive—the Sealgar company was already winning the fight when they showed up but they fanned the flames a little. .
The British platoon soon realized it was beaten. It would have done so earlier but had trouble accepting the fact that band of partisans could have any real combat value. "Look they are withdrawing. If those Irishmen really were Jaegers, they would be pursuing."
Julius looked at Rommel strangely, "Why did you say that, Major?"
Rommel grinned slightly, "Didn’t they tell you that Sealgair is the Irish word for Jaeger?"
Gaulart’s jaw dropped, "Why the nerve of that arrogant bastard, Flynn. He picked that name just to insult me! I know he did! But how come you know this, Major? Did one of the prisoners tell you? They never told me."
"No. I have learned to speak the Irish language some. It is strangely beautiful once you get used to it." Julius’ jaw dropped even further.
"Hey, could you fellows please speak some English," Barry complained, "and you might be interested to know we have some company coming."
Rommel could see some of the Sealgairs coming their way. One of them was a woman carrying a rifle. That no longer shocked him but he still did not approve of that. "The tall man with bright red hair in the front is Liam Kerns, the company commandant," Gaulart informed Rommel, "He is fairly decent person. Even speaks some German. But he lets his wife, Una fight alongside him so he is insane as well. They all are. But Flynn is the most insane of all."
Rommel permitted himself a grin. He had very similar thoughts sometimes. Why couldn’t they send m somewhere where the people were relatively normal, like Turkey? He would ask himself. "Lets walk towards them," he ordered in English.
As they approached the Sealgairs, Erwin suddenly asked Julius in German, "Does this Herr Kerns happen to speak Irish?"
"Oh he certainly does. In the part of Cork they come from most of them do.. Or so they tell me."
When the two groups met, Kerns yelled to Barry, "I see your mission was a success, Constable Barry."
Barry grinned and answered, "Nuthin’ to it. Piece of cake! Look here. I brought you someone you should talk to. He claims to be a Major. Looks a little young to be a major if you ask me." Barry nodded in the direction of Rommel, who grimaced uncomfortably at the barb.
With a friendly smile Kerns approached Rommel and extended his hand speaking in German, "My name is Liam Kerns. I am the commander of the 1st Sealgair Company."
"Good to meet you, Mr. Kerns. I am Major Erwin Rommel, commander of the 3rd Kerry Battalion, Irish Republican Army. I congratulate you on your hunting," Rommel answered in Irish and he shook hands. At that Kerns jaw dropped and so did many of his fellow Sealgairs. One of them even dropped his rifle on the ground.
"I didn’t mean to startle you," Rommel continued in Irish, "and in truth my English is better than my Irish so maybe it is best if I switch to English so we can go over the next phase of your attack."
------Fethard (Tipperary) 1855 hrs
The commander of the 108th Brigade arrived at the walled town of Fethard in a motorcar and experienced both disappointment and relief. His disappointment was because the enemy had decided to evacuate the town. He hungered to obliterate the Papist traitors. Defeating some German cavalry would be icing on that cake. However taking a good look at those walls he realized that this town was actually close to being a fort. He had no doubts that he would prevail but suspected the losses he would incur would more than Gen Powell had envisioned.
The 9th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers had detrained at Thurles in the early morning. The muddy roads had slowed the pace of the march though conditions slowly improved during the afternoon. Their lead company of that battalion had arrived a half our ago and found the 11th Royal Irish Rifles as well as most of C’ squadron of the 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars waiting for them. . The rest of 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers was a good hour behind. The third battalion assigned to this operation, the 12th Royal Irish Rifles did not finishing detraining at Thurles until just before noon.
The commander of the11th Royal Irish Rifles had perished at Dundrun. The acting commander, a Major, briefed the brigadier, "Most of the enemy, both the German cava;ry and the rebels, were involved in an attack on Clonmel to the south this morning, sir. They were unable to eliminate the defenders, a single yeomanry squadron and some constables, which I see as a sign of weakness on their part. They were able to capture one of the bridges and crossed the Suir."
"You said most of the enemy, Major. Are you implying that a portion of them may have separated and are raiding elsewhere?"
"The truth is it we’re not sure, general. There have been some other reported sightings of both Irish rebels and German cavalry elsewhere. I tend to think it’s hysteria, but you can’t be sure. It is not unusual for a cavalry regiment to send a squadron off on a separate raid or patrol."
"It is imperative that we eliminate the traitors as quickly as possible. If some of the German cavalry escapes they can be dealt with later," the brigadier replied with a hard glint in his eyes. The Ulsterman believed it was his sacred mission to deliver the Papist traitors to perdition for what they did to the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers.
"I concur with that sentiment, general."
"Well then here is what we are going to do. When the remainder of 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers arrives we will give them one hour to east supper and rest. Then both battalions will proceed to Clonmel. I doubt the enemy is still near Clonmel but maybe we’ll get lucky. If the enemy has in fact moved on our men with spend the rest of the night there. The 12th Royal Irish Rifles will camp here in Fethard. Our men must be ready to do some hard marching tomorrow and maybe Thursday as well. If the Papist vermin are indeed fleeing I mean to overtake them and destroy them."
------Ardfinnan (Tipperary) 1910 hrs
The two battalions of the Tipperary Volunteers had marched west from Clonmel to this small town. They would spend here. Despite their losses fighting in Clonmel they had grown with additional men joining in dribs and drabs for most of the day and so they had a slightly greater effective strength than when the day began. The 16th Uhlan Regiment had pushed on further west to Clogheen with 3 squadrons, leaving the fourth behind to watch over the Irishmen like a baby sitter. The regimental commander was in Clogheen but his adjutant was here to discuss their plans with O’Duibhir.
"Your men should anticipate a hard day’s march tomorrow starting an hour before first light," said the adjutant.
"Are you still planning to go through Mitchelstown?" asked O’Duibhir.
"Yes, it is the most direct route."
"How about going through Fermoy? We could attack the army base there."
"The army base is likely to be partially fortified by now.. Even if it is manned by only support personnel could be very difficult to take quickly. We cannot to waste either time or ammunition now," replied the adjutant. What he knew full well but had no intention of sharing with O’Buibhir is that the commander of the 16th Uhlans was not going to let the Tipperary Volunteers slow him down tomorrow. If their way was clear at Mitchelstown the Uhlans would make a dash for either Foynes or Limerick. If however the way was blocked by the enemy at Mitchelstown –a very distinct possibility as it was the most likely route—then they would resort to using the Irishmen to help bash their way through.
"I guess I’ll have to trust your judgment on that," answered O’Duibhir unenthusiastically. He paused and then with more enthusiasm visible in his face said,: "You know the more I think about the more I’m convinced we should march on Cork now. If we show up there and tell the Irish Volunteers of how we defeated the enemy at Dundrun and Fethard, I am sure the two Cork city battalions will join the rising. That will more than double our numbers---"
"---No, no! We’ve discussed this before. We do not have enough rifles for all your men now—so doubling your size is pointless. No we are going through Mitchelstown tomorrow. I am not going to discuss this matter any further as it has been decided."
O’Duibhir had developed mixed feelings about the Germans. He acknowledged that the arrival of Uhlans had turned things around at Dundrun and without their help most of the Tipperary Volunteers would be either dead or captured and awaiting a death sentence from one of Bonar Law’s bloodthirsty courts martial. Yet he did think they were pig headed at times and clearly lacked any sort of intuition about what the political struggle in Ireland was all about. The attitude that they were running things and O’Duibhir’s role was merely to convey their wishes, was starting to get on his nerves. No you uppity pipsqueak German horseman this matter has not been decided!
------HQ Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht 2010 hrs
General Erich von Ludendorff was ecstatic as he briefed Rupprecht on the most recent developments, "It is absolutely clear now, Your Royal Highness, that the enemy is abandoning Belgrade. We must not be content with that prize alone! We must pursue the retreating Serbs with the utmost vigor!"
Prince Rupprecht’s antipathy towards his chief of staff was not of a constant antipathy. There were many times he wished he could shoot the fat Prussian pig, but there were also times such as now when he could respect the man’s determination and willpower. "The arms shipment Admiral Haus was unable to hinder may give them some strength," Rupprecht observed, "but I am otherwise inclined to think you’re right this time. We must not wait until dawn to pursue. Send orders by wireless to the Austrian Third Army to do likewise immediately. Take the time need to encrypt the message properly."
"Oh, they will probably go back to bed after they get them, Your Royal Highness---"
"---I happen to be in a good mood right, General Ludendorff, please don’t spoil it with another of your slanderous tirades against our allies."
------OHL Valenciennes 2040 hrs
General von Falkenhayn was on the telephone with the commander of the Sixth Army, General von Fabeck, who was relating the day’s events, "I have followed the recommendation of my chief of staff and remained on the defensive today, general. The initial Belgian attack is now believed to be a feint. The main British attack was preceded by a fairly heavy bombardment and caused substantial losses to the 2nd Guard Division. We retained enough strength to inflict heavy losses on the infantry assault that followed but the Prussian Guards, already badly weakened in this battle, lost control of much of the forward trench. Counterattacks are of course continuing but Gen. von Plettenberg will not guarantee their success. I have already expressed my concern about the Prussian Guards losing their fighting spirit."
"Yes, you have done so repeatedly so let us not waste any more time with recapitulation," replied a disappointed and testy Falkenhayn, "How far have the British advanced? And is it true that the French have attacked as well?"
"Less than 500 meters, General. That will not totally eliminate our ability to disrupt the supply route to First Army with artillery. I had long feared that we would see French participation in this battle as well and in the late afternoon a French division attacked the boundary between Guard Corps and XIV Reserve Corps. The latter dealt with them harshly but the Prussian Guards are badly worn and so lost a portion of their front trench to the French attack. The 28th Reserve Division is assisting them now in making counterattacks but I have yet to learn the results."
"I warned you against wearing down the Prussian Guards! They are made of flesh and bone not steel. If anything they present larger targets," Falkenhayn chastised, trying to remember why he once had a high opinion of von Fabeck.
"I was given the destruction of First Army as my mission and the Guard Corps was the tip of my sword, General," von Fabeck defended himself,
"Yes, yes, so they were. I would be as upset with the Guard casualty figures if you had succeeded in your mission."
"While the British generals often demonstrate a lack of imagination, the soldiers they command often show themselves to be fearsome warriors, general."
"So I’ve been told all too many times," answered Falkenhayn with some irritation, "I have two immediate questions. The first is can you hold? The second is whether you have completely relinquished the initiative?"
Fabeck took his time replying, "If I could get another division as well as more artillery shells, general, I would be able both tot hold and regain the initiative, general."
Falkenhayn in turned, paused before replying, "That was not a satisfactory response. However I am not surprised by your implied request so let me address them. The German Army has neither unlimited men nor materials, esp. ordnance. Right now we have a serious commitment to the invasion of Serbia. As it has brought Bulgaria into the war, I cannot forsake it but I have cut back on the amount of ordnance they are receiving, mostly to meet your needs. Then there is Operation Fulcrum which is currently underway the Baltic region. It is already behind schedule, mostly because I have cut back their shipment artillery shells and delayed the deployment of an infantry division. At least these operations we had planned. What we had not anticipated is ferocity of the French attack on our First Army which has already taken Compiegne and is now trying to cross the Aisne. It is imperative that I reinforce General von Kluck."
"Is there no place on the Western Front where you could safely afford to remove a division? Just one more infantry division could make all the difference in the critical days ahead."
"Hmm. There is one possibility, but I had wanted to avoid going down that road."
"Which road, general? You have me a bit confused."
"I was planning to meet with Moltke on Thursday about other matters. I have heard rumors of a widening rift between Admiral Tirpitz and himself. Perhaps it is time to see just how wide it has become, eh?"
"Yes and compounding that the disgusting speech Admiral von Ingenohl delivered to the Reichstag must surely have undermined Tirpitz’s support amongst the heavy industrialists.."
"Yes, that is what I’ve heard," answered Falkenhayn without much enthusiasm. Bauer had been in his office this morning gleefully relating how much the industrialists loathed Ingenohl’s address. The problem was that Falkenhayn largely agreed with what he thought Admiral Ingenohl was trying to say while admitting that the admiral had been foolishly blunt in his rhetoric.
------Bandon 2050 hrs
The O’Rahilly had spent most of the day fuming. The whole gunrunning mission to Cork had gone very wrong. He was one of the better drivers in the battalion and had been assigned to drive a 2 wheel drive Mack trucks. The night drive in the rain and ensuing mud was a nightmare. His truck got stuck in the mud many times. The roads slowly improved and he finally made it to Bandon just as the sun was starting to set.. What he found in Bandon did little to improve his mood. He learned that Major Rommel had failed to return from an early morning patrol. The ranking company commandant didn’t have much initiative and when a squadron of Chevaulegers showed up around noon he decided to let the squadron leader take charge.
The squadron leader had a low opinion of the combat value of the IRA. He had for w while considered withdrawing completely from Bandon. He was eventually persuaded to stay put but insisted upon a purely defensive strategy. Meanwhile elements of the 3rd Kerry Battalion arrived in dribs and drabs. There was sporadic fighting with the 7th Leinsters during the day. When night fell the squadron commander was still mulling over a withdrawal. . He did speak English and the O’Rahilly struggled to make his case for a more aggressive approach—including trying to contact a mysterious independent group of Irish Volunteers on the other side of town-- had to go through and interpreter and made little impression.
The O"Rahilly had only taken short naps all day long. He failed to suppress a yawn and decided it was time to take another. Before he did the commander of 1st company approached him with a smile. "There are signs that the British are pulling out of Bandon, Lt. O’Rahilly. The Chevaulegers do not understand why and their wet blanket commander doesn’t completely believe it."
Suddenly the O"Rahilly no longer felt tired. Initially he found this latest news too good to be true, but then something clicked deep inside him. "Oh it’s true and I think I know why, Captain" he said with a Cheshire cat smile.
"Well then what’s your guess?"
------SMS Blucher 41° 33’ N 52° 25’ W 2105 hrs
Admiral Maas, the commander of 2nd Scouting Group, watched with satisfaction the 3,400 ton British prize this cruiser had taken through his binoculars. It had been out of New York with a cargo that was mostly motor vehicles and spare parts for the same. Previously the only vessels they had kept as prizes had been ships that could be used as colliers and the one vessel they used to release prisoners. . They were now at the point where certain esp. valuable prizes could be kept. This one met the criteria of cargo, speed and coal.
A seaman approached with a slip of paper. "Admiral, this wireless message just came in from Admiral von Spee."
Perhaps von Spee will think it is still too soon Maas wondered as he took the slip of paper. He opened and soon grinned. "He has approved keeping her."
------O’Briensbridge (Clare) 2130 hrs
Operation Unicorn had been provided a small amount of chlorine in cylinders before it had left Germany. This was before the larger release in Crecy Forest so there was great uncertainty about its utility as a weapon. The special group of pioneers in charge of cylinders was assigned to the German 1st Naval Division as it was felt that the most likely use of the gas would be in clearing the British out of Limerick. However the German Marines were able to accomplish that task without needing the gas. The course of the British assault on Limerick as well as news that the gas had proven effective in France persuaded General von Jacobsen to use it in a place where it could use the prevailing westerly wind direction reducing the likely waiting time.
An hour earlier an attack by the 147th (2nd West Riding) Brigade had discovered that the German Marines had unexpectedly abandoned their forward trench. They even found a few dummy soldiers. When the attackers tried to advance towards the next trench line they encountered stiff resistance. Now under the garish illumination of their flares they vaguely noticed something strange. Under more normal light they would have perceived an emerald cloud drifting across the emerald isle and into the cramped position of the 147th Brigade. Initially what was happening was not evident to the defenders but soon cries of ‘Gas! Gas1" were being shouted by men, many of whom were clutching their throats. Flares suddenly lit the night followed by German rifle and machinegun fire which strafed those British soldiers rising up out of their trenches. Minutes later German light minenwerfers began to fire as well.
Unlike what was going on France this use of gas was defensive. The 147th Brigade suffered more than 900 casualties from this attack including nearly 200 fatalities. Most of the casualties were due to the gas cloud. Many of the casualties who survived had badly damaged which would never fully heal to the point they could again serve any role in the war. The 147th Brigade was not destroyed but its attacks on O’Briensbridge was now completely disrupted. This let the German Marines reinforce their defenses at Ballina to the north, where the 146th (West Riding) Brigade was continuing its attacks without success.
------Bandon (Cork) 2120 hrs
"I say we should kill them all," Tom Barry snarled looking at the 3 dozen prisoners they had taken, most of whom were wounded, "I’d be willing to do it the rest of you don’t have the guts to do it."
Rommel’s attack had gone well. He had captured one of the 7th Leinsters’ Vickers machineguns and turned it against the enemy with Julius as the gunner. Coming under machinegun fire from an unexpected sector had spooked the men of 7th Leinsters who had been in the dangerous tactical position of being sandwiched between two opposing forces. As long as they regarded the Irish rebels to the east as incompetent their commander had shrugged that off but the loss of the machinegun made him reassess and he decided to withdraw.
"We are not killing the prisoners!" Erwin Rommel yelled back in annoyance.
"How can you say that, Major? That intelligence officer said they would probably execute you. Bonar Law has said time and gain that he wants to kill us all. Turnabout is fair play, don’t you think?"
There was a part of Rommel that wanted very much to agree with Barry. He tried to remove those thoughts from his mind. He tried to forget the beating he had been given in the morning. He stopped trying to make sense out of Ireland. Which was good as another Irish mystery was heading his way.
"Flynn is coming! Flynn is coming," someone shouted.
The moon was not yet up. The sky was only partly cloudy allowing for some feeble starlight. A small group of men approached barely visible in the darkness. One of them suddenly roared, "What in bloody fuck is going on here? Where the hell is Kerns? Somebody told me Barry freed some prisoners including a few Germans. Where the hell are they? And where is that useless German shit, Julius?"
"I’m over here, Joe," answered Liam Kerns, "Una was grazed in the leg and I’m dressing her wound. Barry did free two Germans. One of them is the head of the 3rd Kerry Battalion. I let him lead us and we took another machinegun---"
Una being wounded after he took charge was another thing Rommel was trying desperately to forget.. "I told you to free the Germans not to let them run things!" thundered Flynn, "where is---"
"I am the one. My name is Major Erwin Rommel," he said in Irish, hoping but not believing that it might impress this swaggering lunatic.
Flynn strode over to Rommel. The darkness seemed to cling to him like it was his lover. He wasn’t very tall but neither was Rommel. Flynn was smoking a cigarette. He very deliberately blew smoke into Rommel’s face. "A major, eh? I don’t care if you’re a motherfuckin’ field marshal. This is my unit and you’re not taking over."
------Millstreet (Cork) 2145 hrs
There had been some changes made to the composition of Brigade Hell. The 3 rifle companies from the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment were now released to rejoin their regiment which was defending the area to the east of Tralee. Replacing them was the entire 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Its men had participated in the elimination of the enemy pocket on the left wing of the Welsh Division. The men were given some brief rest but now the combat hardened veterans had been given a new task. Two battalions attacked the British yeomanry squadron south of Millstreet. The cavalrymen had neither machineguns nor barbed wire and were unable to hold off the superior force for very long.
Once the Bavarians had cleared the road of obstacles the motorized elements of the West Limerick got rolling. One of the armored cars was having engine problems, so Ritter von Thoma had only three to lead the way. They were followed closely by the motor cars, trucks and buses. The roads had dried out and presented no problem. Following behind the motor vehicles was the battalion cyclist platoon. Behind them came the German Marine cyclist company which still remained part of Brigade Hell. After that came the 3rd battalion and machine gun company of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment followed close by the rest of West Limerick Battalion.
Their ultimate destination was Macroom. The motorized vanguard encountered no resistance until it reached the town and even then it was a ragtag mix of support troops and a few constables. Ritter von Thoma’s had received more shells for his infantry guns from Killarney at dusk and he quickly positioned those weapons and his machineguns before the defenders of Macroom could make a concerted counterattack and with the aid of those weapons and the armored cars he beat them off without much difficult. His goal was merely to dominate the road not to seize the railroad station, much less the entire town.
------around Limerick city 2200 hrs
In accord with Gen. Stopford’s orders Gen. Mahon sent much of his 10th (Irish) Division to attack the German defenses along several different avenues of attack. One route had 3 battalions wading through the Mulkear River. Mahon had not been enthusiastic about this assault but Stopford had insisted. It turned out to be the most successful as the Germans had placed too much faith in a relatively weak water obstacle and defended the sector with only a single depleted battalion. The attackers were able to make their superiority of numbers count initially but in the usual confusion of a night battle it was not immediately evident that the defenders were retreating to the west.
Another area of attack was to the southeast where the British and German lines were in very loss proximity. There was always a little bit of fighting in this sector—sniping and rifle grenades and some small hit and run raids. This and the fact that the German Marines expected at least another serious feint meant the attackers were unable to achieve much surprise even at night and could only squeeze two battalions into the assault. The men tried to emerge from their own trenches as quickly as possible but again it proved difficult esp when machinegun fire immediately cut down men causing them to fall back into their own trench. Since the last attack the German Marines had managed to thicken the barbed wire despite harassment by enemy snipers. This effort now proved worthwhile as the enemy struggled.
Once again Sturm Company Calahan was in the trenches fighting alongside the German Marines. Since the last action Major White had reassigned only 8 men from the other companies in Limerick City Battalion as replacements on the advice of Harry Calahan who argued that it was important to preserve the elite nature of the company. Once again in the frantic close fighting their autoloading and pump action shotguns proved invaluable. The attack was more serious this time however and some of the attackers by sheer stubbornness refused to die quickly and somehow wormed their through the wire Only a few of the Irishmen were trusted with hand grenades but the sawed off shotguns kept ready in the trench then proved quite useful. They suffered 2 dozen casualties this time but were able to hold their own allowing the nearby German Marines to concentrate on their own tactical situation.
The third prong of Mahon’s attack involved 3 battalions sent to try swing around the right flank of the German defenses. This attack had the furthest to march and took the longest to develop. In the dark it was already losing cohesion when it encountered the German strongpoints. The attackers persisted this time. The German plan for this sector was to fall back to another line of prepared defenses if the enemy strength was too much. The defenders in this sector were a single Marine battalion and a company of the East Limerick Battalion. Before long the decision was made to withdraw, while requesting reinforcements from the regimental HQ. The British attack was already becoming chaotic in the darkness and one of the attacking battalions pursued ardently thinking that the enemy was panicking. It suffered a rude shock when it reached the fall back line where the defenders had received 2 more companies and 2 more machineguns.
------Bandon (Cork) 2210 hrs
Major Erwin Rommel had returned to 3rd Kerry Battalion, bringing Joe Flynn and his Sealgair Battalion with him. He rounded up his company commanders and staff. The O’Rahilly had been taking another nap and had arrived a little late. He was introduced to Joe Flynn. "We heard quite a bit about you and Ballyvourney Company back in Dublin," the O’Rahilly remarked, "though we didn’t always believe some of the things we were hearing."
"Yeah, and we’ve all heard a lot about the high and mighty head of the O’Rrahilly clan," Flynn grumpily conceded, "Could you please tell me what in bloody hell happened in Dublin? Why isn’t the IRB leading a general revolt like they were supposed to?"
."The Germans dropped in without telling us they were coming. Not very good manners, don’t you think?" the O’Rahilly answered with just a hint of levity but then his expression darkened, "It looks like they rounded up nearly every one in a leadership position. The only reason I wasn’t arrested is I happened to be in Tralee conferring with Austen Stack when the Germans landed."
"And nobody is stepping forward to take charge? Besides me wonderful self that is."
"In Galway and Wexford some brave Irish souls did but the results were massacres."
"Oh yes, the Bavarian blokes did had told me about the former. That was a real mess. Something similar happened in Wexford?"
"Apparently there was another rising near Enniscorthy soon followed by another massacre."
"Grrr. Damn the British to the lowest level of Hell I say. And what about Cork, the city I mean?"
"I’m glad that you asked. Nothing so far, but the Major and I are on our way to try to stir something up. We encountered some problems on the way but it now looks we can now get going again. You are welcome to join us."
------just outside Mexico City 2315 hrs
General Obregon met again in private with Kurt Jahnke, who handed him an envelope, "Zapata sent this," said the German, "He has become favorable to my proposal but he wants certain aspects of this relationship clarified. There are certain topics that obsess him. Quite frankly the man is a bit strange."
Obregon began to read the letter. "Yes, he is a fanatic about certain things. At a first glance I do not see anything that is unacceptable, though. I think we can work this out. However I am not going to write a detailed reply. It is too risky. He could threaten to send it to Carranza, who would surely kill me in a most gruesome manner."
"Yes, that it is wise. The arrangement I worked out with Zapata is that you will relate your comments to me. All you need to commit in writing is a brief letter saying that you reviewed certain proposals and have entrusted with me with the details. You need not –and probably should not--mention Zapata by name. Thus if the document were to fall into Carranza’s hands, it will be too vague to prove anything."
Ah German but an equally important question is do I trust you? wondered Obregon. That question remained unanswered in his mind. "Yes, this will work. Let’s now go over senor Zapata’s demands in detail and see what needs addressing."
------Monaghan city 2350 hrs
With the lifting of the curfews of Ulster, Eoin O’Duffy decided it was time to go ahead with his plan. During the day he brought 90 men from his Clones Company to the city of Monaghan, leaving behind in Clones though he suspected as possible informants and a few he considered worthless, including the 3 women. They travelled in small groups so as to not attract attention. In Monaghan he contacted the local company of the Irish Volunteers. He did not share his intentions with the Monaghan commandant but made it seem to be little more than a courtesy call. He already had access to a small motor truck on account of being a surveyor and with the company’s funds he rented 3 more trucks and 2 cars. Of the men he had brought to Monaghan most only knew in vague terms that he intended to make an attack but not what the intended target was. There were 10 men he trusted more than the rest and they knew what his plan was.
O’Duffy now told the rest his plan, "Me brave Irish lads. As you know very well, we have inadequate weapons. But there are those who have been allowed to keep their weapons---yes, I referring to the detestable scum who call themselves the Ulster Volunteer Force. I have located what I am sure is the main armory for their Monaghan battalion. They know believe both the Germans and the Irish Volunteers to be on their last legs and with the lifting of the curfews in the Ulster Counties have drinking themselves into oblivion in the local pubs celebrating what they think is their immanent triumph. Having a little party for themselves because they are certain that this invasion spared them the horror of Home Rule. Well this night is over we are going to spoil their party. We are going to seize their armory and distribute the weapons amongst the other Irish Volunteers companies in this county. This should be the spark to set all of Ulster on fire."
The UVF armory was in a hunting lodge on the outskirts of the town. O’Duffy and the 10 handpicked men approached the lodge on foot. Two of these men carried sawed off shotguns under heavy raincoats. The rest of the men, including O’Duffy were armed with pistols. The rest of men in the company were kept further back with the motor vehicles. O’Duffy strode up to the main entrance of the lodge. He pounded on the door and yelled, "Open up, open up! There is an emergency."
Eventually someone opened the door and a middle aged man peered out, "What in blazes is this commotion about?"
"Constables are coming to raid the armory," said O’Duffy, "we’re here to help you drive them off."
"What?! Why in heavens are they raiding the UVF again? I thought Carson put in an end to that nonsense. We’re not the problem. It’s those despicable Papist traitors who are the problem."
"How the Hell do I know? Maybe the Viceroy is behind this. What I do know is that they’re coming this way?"
"What is it, Preston?" came a voice from inside the lodge.
"The man in the doorway turned inside, "Someone is here claiming that constables are on their way to raid us, Charles. A bunch of our men are here to help us fight. See if you can get the commandant on the tele and ask him what he wants us to do."
"Good Heavens! I’ll do that right away. Why don’t you let our brave men come in."
"Yes, yes. Come in please. I’m afraid I don’t recognize you, Mr?"
"Jones, Ronald Jones," said O’Duffy as he entered, "How many men are guarding tonight?"
"Huh, just the two of us. There was another, Henry, but we decided to let him go to the pub," answered Charles, who looked a little older than Preston.
"Hmm, Ronald Jones, that name does not sound at all familiar though some of the men on the roster seldom show up for training. What company are you---" Preston suddenly stopped speaking as the barrel of a revolver was pointing straight at him.
"Get your hands up. You too, Charles! Put down the telephone and get them up, now!" growled O’Duffy. The rest of men now had their weapons out. "Liam, go run and tell the others we’re inside and bring the trucks up. Sean, use their telephone and try to reach Commandant McGraw and tell him we have plenty of arms for his men now."
"You, you’re a bunch of the filthy Papist traitors!" Preston suddenly realized. O’Duffy slapped the man hard across the mouth with the back of his hand, "And you two are a pair of AngloIrish imbeciles, if you pardon my redundancy."
O’Duffy then inspected the armory. He had been warned that the UVF favored Antrim, Down and Derry with its best weapons and to his chagrin he now saw that was true. The only truly state of the art rifles were 60 Austrian Mannlichers and a mere 4 Mark I Lee-Enfields. There was nearly 500 of the old single shot Martini-Henry rifles plus some hunting rifles and 80 double barrelled shotguns. It will have to do he muttered to himself.
MUNITION SHORTAGE BADLY HANDICAPS BRITISH ARMY
With the recent successes of the British Army in Ireland, the fighting in France has not been receiving as much attention as it should. The British Expeditionary Force has been locked in a gruelling struggle with the German Sixth Army since April 22. Without a doubt part of the problem of the BEF in what is being called the Second Battle of Crecy Forest, has been the inhumane and completely illegal use of poison gas by the Germans. However there does appear to some other problems which our government cannot blame on German immorality. Of particular concern has been the fact that the BEF has experienced a disgracefully inadequate supply of shells for its artillery."
---The Times of London, Wednesday May 5, 1915
HQ 158th (North Wales) Brigade Castleisland (Kerry) 0010 hrs
The brigade commander had in the morning expected the day to be one of triumph, despite the disturbing enemy attack upon his rear the previous night. He had under his command the support of the North Wales Artillery Brigade with 3 batteries of 15 pounder guns. In the early morning he fully expected to capture Tralee before the day was over. As the day wore on though, it became more and more mysterious. First there was the loss of communication with General Lindley, the division commander. Combined with this the delivery of supplies abruptly ceased. In the afternoon he learned that at least a single battery of what was thought to be the dreaded 5 9’s was helping to defend Tralee. Meanwhile he received alarming reports from the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade on his left flank of a strong German counterattack underway to the south on the 159th (Cheshire Brigade) and most of the divisional artillery from both the front and rear. By dusk the 160th Brigade had suffered serious losses and signalled that it would no longer be able to cover the left flank of 158th Brigade. Still worried about his own rear the commander of the 158th (North Wales) Brigade sent one rifle company to cautiously probe to the east to see if there was any further indications of a threat. According to the last message he had received from them they had found nothing which was encouraging but far from conclusive, esp. as it was nighttime.
In less than a day there had been a complete change of attitude at this HQ. The confident expectation that they were pursuing a beaten enemy and were on the verge of a great victory had been replaced by much anxiety and uncertainty. Where before they had relished how many avenues they had with which to attack the foe, they now worried about how exposed to counterattack from different directions they were in their current situation. Compounding their apprehension less than half the local civilians were cheering them as liberators. All too many of the locals stared at them with a strange ambiguity and uneasiness.
------HQ German Sixth Army (Crecy) 0030 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of the German Sixth Army, felt with some justification that Falkenhayn had been disappointed with his performance during the past week. He therefore angrily rejected the suggestion of his chief of staff, Oberst Freiherr von Wenge, that he move the 52nd Infantry Division from IV Army Corps to XIV Reserve Corps. This argument reminded Fabeck of what he regarded as one of the main reasons for his frustration and he placed a telephone call to General Sixtus von Arnim, the commander of IV Army Corps.
"You were too cautious in your prior attack," Fabeck chastised, "I gave you the 52nd Division as reinforcements and except for its artillery you failed to make any use whatsoever of it."
"My men achieved a favorable ratio of casualties against an entrenched enemy of high quality, general. I thought that was more important than trying to advance the trench line. My understanding at the time was that my attack was intended primarily to pin," von Arnim defended himself.
"I am correcting your defective understanding now. The favorable casualty rate you crow about was due in large part to the gas cloud as well as the fact that the enemy soldiers have been weakened by being on reduced rations for a week. The same factors could have led to a more decisive result had you pressed more vigorously. There is a difference between a pinning attack and a feint."
Fabeck thought he heard a sigh over the telephone. Eventually he heard von Arnim reply in an icy formal tone, "Thank you for the clarification, General. My next attack will be more vigorous.. Should I still wait for the next release of gas? Right now the pioneers are not finished and the wind is blowing the wrong way."
"Yes, you should wait for gas release. I am also increasing your shipment of artillery shells this morning, so I do not want to hear you use a shortage of shells as an excuse later."
------HQ British VII Army Corps Ballyvourney (Cork) 0125 hrs
Gen. John Keir, the corps commander could see that he was not going to get much sleep this night. He was on the telephone again with Gen. Parsons, the commander of 16th (Irish) Division once again. "We lost communication with Macroom before midnight and now we have received word that there has been a raid there by armored cars and a handful of rebel Irishmen in motor vehicles," said a concerned Keir, "and we still have next to no information about what is going on with 53rd Division. Come dawn I sincerely hope we can establish heliograph communication with then from the observation post on Mt. Mullaghanish. However in the meantime send your remaining yeomanry squadron to Macroom immediately."
"I will do that, general. Do we have any word about the squadron sent to guard Millstreet?"
"No we don’t. It’s not even clear if this raid came via Millstreet. And if it did then how did it get past 53rd Division? Maybe the Cheshire Brigade has reached Killarney. If that is the case then things should be very easy for your division in the next few hours."
"That would indeed be wonderful, sir, but this is all supposition."
"Perhaps.. Continue pressing the Bavarians with at least 2 battalions while you let the rest of your division sleep. If we find out that the Cheshire Brigade has broken through to Killarney then we all can get some bloody decent sleep finally. Oh, and have you heard any more from 7th Leinster about what is going on at Bandon?"
"Not yet, general."
"Another thing we need to sort out as soon as it is light."
------Cork city 0320 hrs
The central section of Cork lies between two channels of the Lee River. After the St. Patrick’s Day riots, the Cork City battalion had grown rapidly and at the end of March, Tomas MacCurtain, the commandant of Cork Brigade decided to split the city battalion into 2 battalions with the South Channel forming the dividing line with the larger 1st battalion to the north and the 2nd battalion to the south. One of the men in Rommel’s 3rd Kerry Battalion was Daniel Cummins who had been spending his honeymoon at Killarney when the Germans landed. He was a member of D Company in the 2nd Cork City Battalion and when Rommel formed the 3rd Kerry Battalion Cummins immediately joined it. He was able to provide Rommel with valuable information about Cork city and the structure of its battalions. When Gen. von François had ordered 3rd Kerry Battalion to make contact with the Irish Volunteers in Cork, Cummins was granted a temporary promotion to Lt. and assisted in the planning of the mission.
Before leaving Bandon, Rommel had a fight with Flynn who was livid when Rommel had insisted on taking along the Vickers machine gun he had captured whilst leading the 1st Sealgair Company. Flynn was also upset that Gefreiter Gaulart was also going with Rommel as he had come to think of the Jaeger something of a personal pet. The O’Rahilly did his best to calm things down between the two of them. Despite the losses suffered at Bandon, Flynn’s ‘Sealgair’ Battalion still had an effective strength of 491 men and 15 women. Rommel decided he might need those men in the days ahead and decided not to risk alienating them by shooting Flynn. As compensation for the machinegun, Rommel provided Flynn with 50 more of the Moison-Nagant rifles along with 6,000 rounds of ammunition because he knew Flynn was already desperately low on ammunition for the Moisin-Nagant rifles he already had. Despite his antipathy towards Rommel, Flynn was very eager to stir up trouble in Cork city. He agreed to march on Cork during the day, hopefully absorbing another small company of Irish Volunteers at Ballinhassig along the way.
Another source of aggravation for Rommel was the Oberleutnant. commanding the Chevauleger squadron in Bandon. As usual this officer had little regard for Rommel’s IRA of Major and refused to take orders from him. He had received orders from Oberst von Fauenau to wait at Bandon until a troop arrived in the morning to take charge of the prisoners and wounded. After that he was to lend assistance to Rommel delivering 200 more of the Russian rifles with 10,000 rounds of ammunition to Cork. However this Oblt.was very pessimistic about his mission. He made it abundantly clear that he would proceed only to the southernmost outskirts of Cork to deliver his ordnance after which he then promptly return to Bandon. He was not willing to let his squadron participate in the fighting inside the city.
With the armored car in the van Rommel’s column of motor vehicles rode out of Bandon. Patchy fog gradually developed after midnight. The armored car proved very useful in quickly overpowering 2 weak RIC roadblocks before they reached the southern outskirts of Cork. Escorted by 8 IRA soldiers Lt Cummins was let off to make contact with his company of 2nd Cork City Battalion over which he was to assume command. .Rommel continued on and overwhelmed the guards at Donovan’s Bridge and crossed the South Channel. Having entered the heart of Cork his next goal was to leave it as quickly as possible. He proceeded north and took Wellington Bridge. Leaving his machinegun section and 1st company behind along with 600 Moisin –Nagant rifles, Rommel crossed the North Channel and went directly to the infamous Cork City Gaol, which he attacked as soon as he cut their telephone wires. There were certain people in Cork we needed to confer with and the British had generously done him a favor by gathering most of them in one spot. Only at the last minute did the night shift at the jail realize it was under attack. The Jaegers were able to seize the entranceway without having to call on the Pioneers, who were standing by, to use explosives.
There was some confused combat inside the jail for the next half hour. When it was over Rommel and the O"Rahilly sat down with Tomas MacCurtain, the commandant of Cork Brigade, Terence MacSweeney, commandant of 1st Cork City Battalion and Sean Sullivan, the commandant of the 2nd Cork City Battalion. "Before you Germans showed up the two city battalions had a combined strength of around 1,460 men plus 40 women," MacCurtain told Rommel, "We were trying to contact Dublin for orders when the RIC and the metro police swooped down on us."
"As far as we can tell they captured everyone of any importance in Dublin," replied Rommel, "but there is one leader of the Irish Volunteers they did not capture and he’s sitting beside me now."
The O"Rahilly took his cue, "You know me, Tomas. I am now the senior living member of the Irish Volunteers not in British custody. I say living because I don’t know if you’re been told but several senior men in Dublin, including Kent and MacDonagh, have been executed."
"Yes the jailers told us. Also about Galway and the execution of Mellowes. And about Vinegar Hill. Everything thing they told us made it seem those in open rebellion were a small and miserable lot of worthless rabble easily defeated."
Rommel let the O’Rahilly respond, "Well then did they tell you about what happened at Killarney? I was there with the men of 3rd Kerry Battalion and it was the mighty British got their arse whipped."
MacCurtain turned to Sullivan and MacSweeney and they all shrugged shaking their heads. "No, that they didn’t tell us about, Michael," MacCuratin answered with a curious smile, "But would be delighted to hear you tell us what happened."
The O’Rahilly shook his head, "I will tell you that story and some others as well later. For the time being what we did in Kerry you can do as well here.. We brought nearly a thousand military grade rifles with us and some more are on their way. .Ireland is like a bottle of champagne. I say it’s time we pop the cork!"
------Macroom (Cork) 0435 hrs
Major Ritter von Thoma IRA was glad that the cyclists—both the German Marine company and his own small platoon-- had arrived before the British cavalry did. He now appeared to be holding his own in a confused battle fought by dog tired soldiers in patchy fog weakly illuminated by the first faint hint of dawn. If we could get a little more visibility he could then put his machineguns, infantry guns and armored cars to better use. Soon the rest of his battalion along with the entire 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment would arrive from the north and then the British cavalry would be in deep trouble. In the meantime 6 local men had come forward asking to join his unit. They told von Thoma that most of the local company of Irish Volunteers had gone off to join a commandant named Flynn at Coachford a few days ago but for various reasons a handful had remained in Macroom and each day a few more disaffected Redmondites joined them When they learned that a great victory had been won the day before at Rathmore the new recruits predicted that many more would come forward as the day wore on.
------Dublin Castle 0600 hrs
General Sir Ian Hamilton was being briefed on overnight developments by his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sir Walter. Braithwaite, his intelligence officer, Major Vane, and Chamberlain, the head of the R.I.C. "London will want to announce the liberation of Tralee as soon as possible," remarked Hamilton.
Braithwaite frowned, "I’m afraid that that they are going to have to wait a while, sir. The reports coming from VII Corps indicate that the 6th Bavarian have concentrated its remaining strength in a counterattack against the Welsh Division. One result of that move is that the16th Division is now weakly opposed. It was stalled for a while in the Derrynassagart Mountains but has now broken through and expects to take Killarney before noon, which should seal the doom of the 6th Bavarian Division."
"Hmm, that’s all well and good, but you will recall that the prime minister promised Parliament that Tralee would be liberated late yesterday."
"I’m afraid the MP’s will just have to accept Killarney as a substitute, sir."
"The War Committee is not going to be very happy about accepting Killarney as a substitute."
"Well then how about Limerick? We made some progress there last night, sir. Gen. Stopford believes the German use of poison gas was an act of desperation. He is convinced it was the only thing that prevented a total collapse of their defenses. If so the prime minister can report the capture of Limerick tomorrow, surely it will be seen as vindication."
Hamilton brightened, "Yes, yes, now that would indeed be most gratifying to all concerned. As you are already well aware London has expressed some disappointment that we concentrated on Kerry and not Limerick".
"Which is an inaccurate assessment as we committed roughly equal forces to each. It is merely that the situation at Limerick has allowed the German Marines to entrench, while against the Bavarians we could wage open warfare Surely Lord Kitchener must have explained this to them."
"One would think so, but sometimes politicians and generals fail to communicate properly. Make that most of the time come to think of it. Our frequent problems with the Viceroy provide a good case in point."
Braithwaite made a sour face, "I fear that those problems are likely to get much worse before the day is over, sir. We have received a wireless message from Queenstown a half hour ago that says that there has been a raid on the west end of Cork by German and rebel forces in motor vehicles."
"Good heavens! How large a raid? And where it did it come from? I thought General Keir had dispatched half of the 1/4th Cheshires to Mallow and that the 7th Leinsters was in control of Bandon."
"That is correct, sir, though there was some word that 7th Leinsters was having some trouble in Bandon. For the time being we are uncertain where this raid came from and estimates of its size are still very hazy. It could be less than a hundred or several hundred."
"Curzon is going to explode when he hears this! Unlike some of the other annoying pockets of rebel resistance, this will next to impossible to keep from him. My guess is that it is probably only a small force meant as a desperate diversion but it probably brought rifles to arm the Irish Volunteers in Cork. General Keir must take prompt and decisive action to prevent a rising from erupting there."
"He has already dispatched the rest of 1/4th Cheshires from Victoria Barracks to the central portion of the city."
"Hmm. We moved the 5th Royal Munster Fusiliers to Berehaven when we learned that the Germans planned to attack there but the 3rd and 4th battalions are still in Cork guarding the harbour forts are they not?"
"That is correct, sir. The 3rd Royal Munster Fusiliers remains at Aghada guarding Fort Carlisle while the 4th battalion is at Crosshaven guarding Forts Camden and Templeready."
"Strongly recommend to Gen. Keir that he should not hesitate to use both of these formations to reinforce 1//4th Cheshires in Cork esp. if there is indications of a rising underway in the city."
"I will see to immediately, sir."
"I am going to postpone the Viceroy’s briefing until mid-afternoon. None of you will speak a word to him, not a blessed syllable! Do your bleeding best to avoid him and Birrell as well."
"Understood, sir. But what may I ask do you intend to tell London right now?"
Hamilton scratched his chin for a few seconds, "Lord Kitchener likes to have the big picture and not getting bogged down in petty details. Let us hold off on telling them until we know better just what is going on. It may turn out this was merely a hit and run raid of no real consequence."
------HQ 158th (North Wales) Brigade Castleisland (Kerry) 0620 hrs
The dawn brought little action for this brigade. One of its patrols had briefly skirmished with a Bavarian patrol northeast of Farranfore. A German seaplane had flown over the artillery brigade and dropped two small bombs which only served to scare a few draught horses. There was still no word from either their division HQ, corps HQ or the 16th (Irish) Division to the south. Ominous dispatches were arriving from the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade to the south, which now believed that the Bavarians had somehow managed to obliterate Cheshire Brigade and the other 3 artillery brigades as well as much of the division’s support services. This was confirmed by those local civilians who remained sympathetic to the Britain. They reported hearing stories being circulated of a great victory by the Germans with some Irish assistance in the vicinity of Rathmore. The 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade was badly hurt with 3 of its 4 battalions below half strength and only 5 machineguns. The commander of 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade felt that the Bavarians would follow up on their success but rolling up the line—meaning 160th Brigade was next and it had no artillery support.
The inescapable conclusion was that that was left of the 53rd (Welsh) Division was in grave danger. It was now painfully obvious that the two surviving brigades along with the North Wales Artillery Brigade needed to withdraw to the east as quickly as possible.
------Cork 0635 hrs
When the 53rd (Welsh) Division had arrived in Cork the 1/4th battalion Cheshire Regiment had been detached and assigned to Victoria Barracks northeast of the city. Some of its men reinforced the RIC and lightly armed metropolitan police in patrolling the city. Late yesterday half of the battalion plus its machinegun section had been ordered to march north to Mallow to reinforce ‘C’ squadron 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry. This morning those of its men of the remaining 2 companies not out on patrol were roused from their sleep. Leaving one platoon of ‘C’ company behind to guard the barracks they marched at a rapid pace to the eastern portion of Cork between North Channel and South Channel, which was the key mercantile section of the city. The speed of Rommel’s attack had caused the defenders some confusion as to where their enemy was concentrated. South of the South Channel Lt. Cummins had most of ‘D’ company assembled and armed by dawn and was beginning to contact the rest of 2nd Cork City Battalion. Meanwhile MacSweeney and his company commandants had begun contacting the 5 companies of 1st Cork City Battalion.
The wee morning hours was a state of utter confusion in Cork with skirmishes between constables and small bands of suspected rebels. Compounding the bedlam the Protestants in the city had recently formed a Local Defense Organization. They had not yet been provided arms in any quantity but had told that they would soon be receiving some. In the meantime a few Protestants had already acquired some pistols, sawed off shotguns and .22 calibre rifles. Some of these tried to assemble when it was learned that Cork was under attack and were sometimes misidentified as part of the insurgents..
Even after the sun rose it took some time for the commander of the 1/4th Cheshires to get a picture of any clarity. He now decided his best course of action was to send ‘D’ company to eliminate the enemy in the western portion of the city between the channels. This would cut off the enemy north of North Channel from those south of South Channel. As ‘D’ company quickly marched down the broad thoroughfare of St. Patrick’s Street it came under heavy rebel rifle fire from the Woodford Bourne Building, a prestigious grocery and liquor store constructed from limestone located at the junction with the Grand Parade. On the advice of those familiar with Cork, Rommel had selected this as a key site for his men to take as soon as possible. The Cheshires now attempted to storm the building but the intensity and accuracy of the rifle fire coming from inside—a mix of some men from 3rd Kerry Battalion in IRA uniforms and a platoon of 1st Cork City battalion proved too much and the attackers were driven off with substantial losses. After that the Welshmen took cover and exchanged rifle fire, while trying to infiltrate through the narrow side streets.
------HQ British VII Army Corps Ballyvourney (Cork) 0655 hrs
The morning fog was now burning off. The observation post on Mt. Mullaghanish was now starting to report some things that Gen. Sir John Keir found difficult to believe, such as artillery—German artillery to the east moving south towards Macroom. Disturbing confirmation of this came from the messengers of the yeomanry squadron sent to Macroom who brought reports of a steadily strengthening enemy presence there. Meanwhile Gen. Parsons was reporting that the Cheshire Brigade was definitely not to be found in the vicinity of Killarney. What was being encountered in that area was much more German artillery than the day before, which now included a full battalion of 10.5 cm howitzers. The 16th (Irish) Division was once again finding it very difficult to advance. With a growing knot in the pit of his stomach Gen. Keir was beginning to realize that advancing towards Killarney was the probably the last thing they should be trying to do now.
A little more than a hour ago Keir had learned that the 7th Leinster had withdrawn from what its commander had regarded as a dangerous tactical situation at Bandon. At the time Keir had been greatly annoyed that the 7th Leinster had let itself be spooked by a force that was mostly Irish rebels. Right now he considered the situation at Bandon to be well down on his list of problems.
------Penevezys (Courland) 0710 hrs
The German III Cavalry Corps had eliminated the last Russian resistance here soon after dawn. Meanwhile an under strength Cossack cavalry division had arrived from the northwest and briefly attempted a counterattack. It nibbled at a few German outposts and patrols but it was soon dissuaded from making a serious attack by a pair of German 15cm gun batteries. While this was going on, the poor overworked mechanics assigned to the motorized heavy artillery brigade, motorized pioneer regiment and armored car battalion struggled to fix the damage caused to their precious motor vehicles caused by what pretended to be roads.
Meanwhile to the SSW the Guard Cavalry Division, still at the head of the II Cavalry Corps punched its way into the modest town of Kedainiai which was defended by handful of police and a single Territorial battalion where half the men had a Bresdan II rifle they barely knew how to use and the other half were told to wait for someone with a rifle to become wounded. It was not necessary to call up anything heavier than their own horse artillery to take this objective.
------Clogheen (Tipperary) 0720 hrs
O’Duibhir demanded to speak with the adjutant of the 16th Uhlan Regiment. They met outside a stable where the Uhlans were busy tending to their mounts. They were planning on riding on towards Mitchelstown and the rest of their regiment in the next half hour. "What is it now?" the adjutant asked with minimal civility, "I already said your men can rest here for an hour. Do they need more time? We have a long day ahead of all of us."
"I have made up my mind," the leader of the Tipperary Volunteers said with some hesitation as if steeling his resolve, "The Tipperary Volunteers are going to make a dash for Cork city."
"No, no, no, you damn stupid jackass. We have been over this several times and the Oberst has decided that we are both going through Mitchelstown then north to Charleville."
"It is not for him to decide! I am in charge of the Tipperary Volunteers and so it is for me to decide. And my decision is that we are going to Cork!"
"You cannot do this!" yelled the adjutant reaching for his revolver, "You will obey my orders or else!"
"Or what? Are you going to shoot me? " roared O’Duibhir who then stretched his arms wide inviting him to fire, "Go ahead and shoot. I dare you, you dumb fuckin’ German. But don’t think anywhere here is going to follow you anywhere if you do. So go ahead and shoot, I dare you."
The adjutant was now aware that the argument and attracted the attention of more than a few Irishmen, some of whom were carrying weapons. He started to sweat. This whole country is insane he thought we rescued them and this is how they repay us! This madman wants to go to Cork and die—so be it, wunderbar!
------Mitchelstown (Cork) 0725
Meanwhile 3 of the 16th Uhlan Regiment’s 4 squadrons had made it to Mitchelstown. To their relief they found only a small RIC station and a few militia opposing them. The regimental commander was content to merely pin them down in their station. He sent the Irish Uhlans to make contact with what he told was a substantial local company of Irish Volunteers. What the Irish Uhlans discovered was that most of the local company had marched off to the west heading for Mallow where there was supposedly something called the North Cork Battalion with ample Moisin-Nagant rifles and ammunition. This news baffled the regimental commander. He had been hearing reports---mostly based on what he read in day old copies of the Cork Constitution and Irish Times—that the British Army had seized the offensive in Cork and was pushing deep inside Kerry with the fall of Tralee regarded as imminent. The regimental commander therefore strongly suspected that the so called North Cork Battalion was likely another of those tall tales the Irish loved. His best guess was that the North Cork Battalion consisted of 2 or 3 small local Irish Volunteer "companies" which had risen up spontaneously and numbered less than 300 men.
So he decided that he would stick with his plan to continue on towards Charleville to the north, after he finished resting his horses. He did send a single troop to Mallow to make contact and strongly recommend that this North Cork Battalion follow him north to Charleveille.
------10 Downing St. 0800 hrs
The War Committee had summoned Lord Kitchener to brief them on the latest developments in both Ireland and France. "So has General Hamilton managed to liberate Tralee yet, Lord Kitchener?" Bonar Law demanded to know.
"Not according to his latest report, Prime Minister. It appears that the fighting in Kerry became more complicated than we had anticipated. The 6th Bavarian Division managed to concentrate against the Welsh Division, even going so far as mounting a counterattack. This has delayed the capture of Tralee. However this means we can now easily advance into Killarney, which should turn the enemy flank leading to their destruction."
Bonar Law was decidedly disappointed at this, "I had practically promised Parliament we would be announcing the liberation of Tralee, Lord Kitchener. Furthermore, the king has requested that I brief him in person on the latest developments this afternoon."
"And you will, Prime Minister, but this merely means that it will take a little bit longer, that’s all. In the meantime, you can announce the liberation of Killarney."
"And what about Limerick? When can I announce that our flag once again flies over King John’s Castle?"
"The Germans have entrenched at Limerick and so it is taking some time to weasel them out. As an example of just how desperate they are they released chlorine gas at O’Briensbridge yesterday evening."
This was the first time that the War Committee had heard this and they were all appalled. For nearly a minute they were all too stunned to speak. Bonar Law then mumbled, "Oh the despicable horror, the utter monstrosity."
Suddenly Lloyd-George lightened, "This may be for the good---"
"---What, what? How can you possibly say that? Really, I do sometimes wonder what is going on in that devious little skull of yours, Chancellor—" snarled Law.
"Please hear me out, Andrew. I am not an insensitive cad, it is a most horrible event. But precisely because of its horror perpetrated on our own soil, it will shift the tide of opinion both in Ireland and abroad."
"And I tell you there is no tide that needs shifting. You are being an alarmist about the Irish rebellion. The combination of our firm stance and the collapse of the German invasion has nipped that in the bud. As for the foul stench coming in from overseas it is mostly a matter of Socialist loons being manipulated by German propagandists."
"I think there is a little too much wishful thinking in that assessment, Prime Minister. The Foreign Office has told me---"
"The Foreign Office is a bunch of weak kneed school girls worrying themselves sick over next to nothing!"
"Prime Minster, let us not get embroiled in an argument. While I agree with your evaluation I also agree with David so far as using this latest German atrocity to our advantage," Carson remarked trying to smooth things over, "If we might return to the topic of Limerick, how badly has the gas attack hurt our attack? How long can the Germans hold out there?"
"Casualties from the gas cloud are close to 1,000 men belonging to the 49th Division. If need be I can have a more precise figure available before the end of the day. As for how long the Germans can hold out there is no way to tell, First Lord."
Bonar Law’s irritation shifted from Lloyd-George to Kitchener of Khartoum. There were many in Parliament who complained that the War Committee was too small and should be expanded to at least 5 members with Kitchener and Grey as obvious additions. But the more he dealt with Kitchener the more the prime minister was glad that strange man was not a member of the War Committee. Carson and Lloyd-George were in complete agreement with him on this. "I do not require an exact figure with regards to the gas casualties. I would however greatly appreciate a more specific appraisal of the situation at Limerick," he said with obvious irritation.
"As I said Prime Minister VI Army Corps made significant progress last night. The German gas cloud caused some problems but it is only a matter of time before we prevail."
"Yes, yes, but how much time?"
"As much as much as is needed, Prime Minister."
Bonar Law reddened and pointed his finger threateningly at Kitchener and thundered, "That milk sop, Asquith put up with cheeky double talk like that, but as you must know by now I am certainly not Herbert Asquith and I am not going to put up with your nonsense. Now answer my question! How bloody long will it take before Limerick is liberated?"’
Bonar Law and Kitchener locked their eyes in a contest of will. Neither was prepared to blink. Carson shook his head sadly. He understood all too well the Prime Minister’s frustration with Kitchener—but what in reality could they do? Sack the Secretary of State for War? The no confidence vote would come in mere hours. In his most soothing tactful voice Carson spoke up, "Uh, Prime Minister there is precious little that is certain in life much less the all too difficult art of war. So let us concede that there is some basis to the Field Marshal’s nescience and move on, shall we? Let us proceed to the situation in France where Second Army is trying to free First Army now with some long overdue French assistance."
"Geeeral Sir John French reports some progress was made though casualties were quite heavy—preliminary numbers as of the late afternoon wee nearly 5,000 and that does not count the French and Belgian losses. There was a very powerful prolonged bombardment by our artillery before the attack and we believe the Germans sustained heavy losses as well, mostly amongst their elite Prussian Guards."
Bonar Law was not completely happy with Carson’s intervention. He was tempted to return to the topic of Limerick but instead asked, "How much progress is ‘some progress’, Field Marshal? To make this simple for you, is the First Army now finally out of danger?"
"The German pressure on First Army’s line of communication has been substantially reduced as a result of today’s attack, Prime Minister."
Bonar Law was not completely happy this answer but before he could speak Lloyd_george asked, "But there is still some danger to First Army is there not, Lord Kitchener? And this prolonged bombardment you spoke of has me worried. As Munitions Minister I know full well that we remain dreadfully tight on artillery shells and wonder if Second Army cleaned out the cupboard with this prolonged bombardment."
"I have faith in General Plumer’s judgment and believe he did what he thought was necessary. If it had been totally irrational, Gen. French would not have---"
Kitchener was interrupted by a brief knock on the door and the voice of the head butler, "I beg your pardon, Prime Minister, but I have the War Office on the telephone. The colonel on the other end says it is imperative that he speak with Lord Kitchener immediately."
"Tell him that I am speaking with the Prime Minister and will speak him with later," Kitchener shouted testily in reply.
"I beg you pardon, M’Lord, but the caller is well aware you are meeting with the War Committee yet nevertheless says it is urgent that he speak with you."
Kitchener was about to speak when the prime minster, "Tell the caller that the Field Marshal will be out in a few seconds." In a softer but no less firm voice he ordered Kitchener, "By all means take the call, Field Marshal. We will wait for you. Maybe when you come back you will have something clear and definitive to say for a change."
Kitchener looked ready to explode but he kept his ire in check. Though clenched teeth he hissed and he got up, "By your leave, Prime Minister. This won’t take long. I will likely dismiss one or two members of my staff today."
After Kitchener had angrily stomped out the room, Lloyd-George spoke up, "While we wait for Kitchener to return I would like to discuss the munitions situation. As you know since the fall of Asquith I’ve taken on the role of Munitions Minister with the express purpose of rapidly increasing both the quantity and ammunition supplied to our Army. I firmly believe that the munitions shortage is responsible for many of our problems in the war—both in France and Albania and even in Ireland. If the Germans do indeed intend to invade England it will hurt us here as well. I have studied the matter in great detail and while there are several things we can do to enhance our domestic production they all take some time to implement and to some extent they are in conflict with both the massive naval construction program and the manpower needs of the New Armies."
"Yes, briefed me on this before, David," answered Bonar Law huffily, "is there some specific policy you feel compelled to discuss at this time?"
"I believe the Chancellor wants to bring up the munitions we purchased in the United States," remarked Carson warily.
"Yes, the First Lord is quite accurate in his surmise. I had concluded that in the short run our best bet was to buy more of the infernal stuff from the money hungry Yanks. This was not without some problems. Their sanctimonious Secretary of State, Mr. Bryan has long opposed the sale of munitions to combatants by his country. However President Wilson is a true friend of the British Empire and is deeply sympathetic to our plight and has overruled the Secretary on this point. Another stumbling block has been credit. Again Secretary Bryan is opposed to any form of credit but again with the intercession of Col House and JP Morgan Jr. we have been permitted short term credit. However our reverses, most particularly the debacle at Utsire, have made some American banks nervous about extending us even short term credit. We therefore find ourselves deeply beholden to the good graces of Mr. Morgan.
It took some time for the American factories to gear up but the Yanks are a resourceful lot where there is profit to be made. The irony of our current situation is just when the American production of artillery shells was reaching substantial levels, the dastardly Germans invaded Ireland. Since then we have be downright phobic about sending valuable cargo across the Atlantic even by routes toward destinations that skirt around the Western Approaches. The end result is that 34,000 artillery shells languish in New York harbor and another 18,000 in Philadelphia. With our army hard pressed in several key theatres these munitions could make an important difference."
Bonar Law arched an inquisitive eyebrow at the First Lord who took the cue, "The Admiralty thinks there is still too much risk. Last year Emden shut down traffic in much of the Indian Ocena for several weeks and now we believe there are at least 3 German cruisers loose in the Atlantic and one of them is very powerful. However we cannot afford to completely shut down the Atlantic Ocean. After a brief interruption the Admiralty decided to permit some traffic along diverted routes but we are holding back on the most precious cargoes, esp. munitions. Based on scheduled arrival dates it seems most merchantmen are getting through but it is also clear that there have been some losses. The Admiralty believed that the raiders probably planned to use Ireland esp. Berehaven as a coaling base. The deteriorating situation in Ireland makes that unlikely. They may be trying to coal at sea from prizes but that takes a toll on their hulls and is another reason to cut back on our traffic. They may try to coal in Spain, incl. the Canary Islands, but our best guess is that with Ireland no longer available they will soon try to return to Germany. If they return via the North Sea they may pose some threat to ships we rerouted to the north."
"Hmm. Captain Hall’s bright boys have not been of much help then?" asked Bonar Law.
"Not so far. There are contingency plans to form a convoy if we must formed around a pair of very old battleships but we decided not to take that step until additional predreadnoughts return from the Mediterranean. Quite frankly Admiral Oliver is not very keen on the idea of convoys."
Bonar Law turned back to Lloyd-George, "What is your suggestion, Chancellor? Ship the arms in neutral freighters?"
"I had thought of that, Prime Minister. However the Germans will likely be stopping all ships to confirm identity. If they find munitions they may not respect the neutrality of the carrier. Unfortunately it is we who have opened Pandora’s Box in this regard."
"Nevertheless the French decided to go that route, Prime Minister," noted Carson, "an American freighter left Charleston just yesterday with American made 75mm shells and some toluene."
"And even if we went with a Yank merchantman, most of them are dreadfully slow. Given our current crisis in France and the Balkans speed is most important."
"So what do you suggest?" asked the prime minister.
"We have for the time being completely curtailed all our transatlantic passenger traffic. One of our most prized liners the Lusitania, sits n New York harbour waiting for permission to sail. I suggest that we transfer all the artillery shells in New York to her tonight and she set sail tomorrow morning. I have already made some preliminary inquiries and there are people standing by in New York waiting for the cable saying that the plan has been approved. If we can reach a decision and send the cable before noon, the liner can depart tomorrow morning. Her speed gives her an excellent chance to elude the German cruisers, which may not be interested in passenger ships anyway."
"We are still risking a lot of shells on one vessel," noted Carson biting his lower lip ambivalently..
"And I therefore have two refinements to the plan. The first is that Lustinia fly an American flag as soon as it out of sight of the American coast. The second is that Inflexible which is now repaired, rendezvous with Lusitania in the middle of the Atlantic and escort her the rest of the way."
"Uh, Admiral Bayly is not going to like sending Inflexible off on this mission one bit," noted Carson, "he constantly complains—something he does very well-- that the scouting elements of the Grand Fleet are too weak, esp. with repairs on Australia projected to last until the end of the month."
"With the high speed of the Lusitania the amount of time Inflexible will be away from the Grand Fleet will be minimized. And if there is any intelligence of an immanent sortie by the High Seas Fleet this portion of my plan can be dispensed with."
Bonar Law gave the matter some thought, "Hmm. Let us finish with Lord Kitchener. I am particularly interested in what this urgent telephone call is all about. It sounds like more problems—iI wonder if it is in Ireland or France. We shall discuss David’s clever plan further once he leaves but right now I find myself inclined to approve it. What say you, First Lord?"
"I will need to return to discuss this with the Sea Lords, but it is as you say very clever—
Kitchener now returned from his telephone call. Reading his facing expression was often a frustrating exercise but right not he was plainly upset. "What is it, Lord Kitchener?" asked Bonar Law.
"There has been a serious setback in Kerry, prime minister."
"Would you care to be more specific?"
------Belgrade 0815 hrs (GMT)
The men Baden soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division had forced their way past the Serb rearguard detachments and had finally entered the city of Belgrade. Here and there snipers were a problem and a few booby traps had already been encountered. The soldiers who had fought through the night were now finally allowed some rest, except for the poor Pioneer companies who were clearing away the barricades. Elements of the Austro-Hungarian Third Army would join them at Belgrade in two hours. Meanwhile the rest of the German Tenth Army pursued the Serbian forces.
Fires were burning in portions of the town. The Germans who had done a lot to start them now had the chore of putting them out. From a few miles away Crown Prince Rupprecht and General von Ludendorff observed the captured capital through binoculars.
"I say we should not be in a great hurry to put out the fires, Your Royal Highness. It does please my soul to watch that nest of vipers burn," remarked the chief of staff.
Rupprecht put down his binoculars and made an ironic grin, "I do sympathize with that sentiment, but on a purely logical level it is quite wrong. Belgrade is now one of our resources not the enemy’s. We will need it as base of operations in the days ahead."
"Yes, I cannot argue with you there, Your Royal Highness. When the war is over I hope the Austrians blow it to bits and sow salt in the ground. If they have trouble doing that, I would be more than willing to help them."
"That’s most generous of you, general. I will tell Conrad of your kind offer the next time we speak."
------outskirts of Monaghan 0820 hrs
The prisoner screamed horribly. It was not his first scream and his throat was starting to hurt. But that was least of his pain right now. "I am going to ask you again, where are the other arms caches?" asked Eion O’Duffy. The basement air was scented with a rank mixture of sweat, blood, urine and smoke.
"I don’t know, I don’t fuckin’ know!" the Orangeman shrieked, "No more please! A few men keep a rifle in their homes. There is a small arms cache somewhere to the south but I do not know where. That’s all I know and I sear it’s the truth! I am tellin’ ya the truth. By God almighty I’ve told you all I know. Give me a Bible and I’ll swear on it. Oh, please, no more."
A half hour ago two men had approached the lodge. They were the relief for the night shift guards. O’Duffy’s men had managed to take them prisoner without too much trouble. O’Duffy had been disappointed by the quality of the weapons they had captured at the lodge and was sure that there must be another armory nearby. There was a basement in the lodge with thick walls and no windows. It was a good place to conduct an interrogation. They had already been working on Preston and Charles for several hours before the relief guards showed up. At first it had merely been some slapping around and no one in O’Duffy’s outfit complained. Charles and Preston both proved stubborn and initially refused to say anything. The cruelty of the interrogation escalated. Some men refused to watch after and three who vomited from what they saw. On the other hand there were a few with twinkles in their eyes and one cretin even drooled with excitement. Some of those who enjoyed torturing managed to feel some pang of guilt. O’Duffy was one of those but he saw torture as a test of will not only for the victim and for the interrogator as well. He steeled his will and silenced the voice of conscience. The war in Ireland was only beginning and he saw it as a war of wills. He was ready to do what was necessary.
Eventually a fiendish torment had inspired Charles to make up locations for two satellite armories, with the result that O’Duffy had sent some of his men off on a wild goose chase. Torture obviously had some drawbacks. The current victim was one of the relief guards, a young fellow named Keith.
To prove to himself that he possessed the will O’Duffy mocked his victim, "Oh, but I am so sorry, Keith, but you see I happen to be a Papist and we Papists believe it is a mortal sin if we so much as touch a King James Bible. So we are just going have to continue."
"For Chis’ake, Eion. Can’t you see he’s telling us everything he knows," complained one of the onlookers, and then another chimed in, "Yes, he’s not holding anything back. Come on--you can see it plainly in his wild eyes."
Conscience dost make cowards of us all, eh? he thought Keith here probably is telling us everything. But I need to demonstrate I have the will. "More! I say more," and two men for whom there is never enough pain set about to obey. But before they did one of O’Duffy’s men came running down the stairs, "Eion, Eion! We just had a fight with two constables out on patrol. We killed one but the other got away."
After they had captured the lodge and its weapons, O"Duffy had sent word to local company of Irish Volunteers. He had also sent 3 motor cars and 2 trucks back to Clones to fetch the men n his company he had left behind, even though he thought there was a better than even chance one of them was an informant. He thought he was now past the point an informant could do him much harm as one way or another the constables would find out soon. The constable who escaped would bring back others, but as far as O’Duffy was concerned he had crossed the Rubicon when he attacked the hunting lodge.
He turned to one of his men, whom he knew could drive, "Take one of the motor cars, Petey and go tell the commandant of the local company to bring his men her immediately. Aloysius, you ride with Petey. Both of you take pistols and sawed off shotguns. Rifles would be way too conspicuous."
O’Duffy turned back to Keith, the prisoner and sneered, "I think I see a glimmer of hope on the face of our Protestant friend. He thinks the constables will come and rescue him. Ironic don’t you think. Last year the UVF were arming themselves to fight the RIC and even the British Army. Now he prays that the RIC will kill us dirty Papists and rescue him."
The screams soon resumed. .
------Admiralstab offices Berlin 0830 hrs
Grossadmiral von Tirpitz was attending the meeting of the Admiralstab. Admiral Bachmann knew all too well that Tirpitz was in a foul mood of late on account of serious problems with Operation Unicorn and that made Bachmann even more deferential than usual. The main topic today was construction priorities. "Repairs on the Kronprinz took somewhat longer than anticipated but nevertheless she rejoined the High Seas Fleet yesterday which means the repairs on the dreadnought battleships are now complete, admiral," reported Bachmann, "We are giving the repairs on Seydlitz and Von der Tann our maximum effort. Our latest report indicates that repairs on both of them might be finished in a week, a little bit ahead of our original estimate."
"What about the predreadnoughts? We were forced to put most of them on the back burner while we concentrated on the dreadnoughts," asked Tirpitz.
"Repairs on Hessen will definitely be finished in less than 2 weeks. Preussen and Schleswig-Holstein however will not be ready before early June."
"And the cruisers?"
"Hmm. Roon and Nurnberg should both be ready around the end of this month. We are hoping Leipzig will be ready by the middle of June."
"So we now find ourselves with some spare capacity in shipyard workers, yes? General von Falkenhayn is visiting OKW tomorrow and I am sure he is going to make a case for returning the workers we removed from the Army. Quite possibly he will also bring up the allocation of steel and other resources as well. I am worried that weak willed Moltke will give in to him. It is vital that neither Faleknhayn nor Moltke get the impression that we now have excess capacity."
"I have already gone ahead and ordered additional workers assigned to finishing Lutzow, Elbing, Frankfurt and Weisbaden. However as we believe another major naval battle is immanent, shouldn’t we be anticipating another round of frantic repairs? I hesitate to begin major new construction for that reason."
"Hmm. The industrialists are increasingly upset that certain capital ships that have been ordered have not been laid down as yet. Right now they are livid over Ingenohl’s foolish speech before the Reichstag. Some appeasement is in order. My understanding is that we can begin construction on the next battleship very quickly as the first round of materials are already delivered."
"That is correct, Grossadmiral. Construction could begin Monday morning if we give the authorization today."
"Yes, go ahead sign the authorization immediately. That ship is several months overdue. I would also like to get the next battlecruiser laid down before the end of the month. As for the next battleships mandated by the Fleet Law I would still want to review the recommendations of the committee studying the lessons of Dogger Bank and Utsire incorporated into the design before we begin construction."
"And what about cruisers, torpedo boats and submarines?"
Tirpitz waved his right hand dismissively, "Appetizers and desert, let’s stick to the main course today."
------between Nolette and Nouvion (Picardy) 0845 hrs
The combined attack of the British Second Army and the French XXXVI Corps continued. The British were hampered by a shortage of shells for their artillery. The French were actually in a better situation with the stockpile of shells for their 75mm batteries as well as the 6 batteries of the obsolete 90mm de Bange guns assigned to the 67th Territorial Division. However most of the ammunition for the 75s consisted of shrapnel shells, which were of negligible effectiveness in bombarding trenches. The infantry attacks by the British 1st and 50th Infantry Divisions as well the French 28th Infantry Division continued to suffer heavy losses to the German firepower. However the 2nd Guard Division, badly weakened by its cumulative losses in this battle, sometimes lost bits and pieces of trench as the British and French by a combination of courage and superior numbers scratched and clawed their way forward.
US GOVERNMENT ARRESTS IRISH LEADER DEVOY
Agents of the US Secret Service arrested John Devoy, the controversial head of the Clan na Gael yesterday on charges of violating US Neutrality Laws. This move occurs at a time when many Irish Americans had been expressing increasingly strong sympathy for the spreading revolt in Ireland against British rule. This has placed President Wilson in an extremely awkward situatiom."
----NY Journal American Wednesday May 5, 1915
YEATS CAPTURED IN DUBLIN!
The poet William Butler Yeats was arrested in Dublin yesterday on a charge of murder in connection with the April 24 killing of 4 constables who had attempted to arrest the Countess Constance Markievicz, a dangerous provocateur, after the Germans landed. His assistant, a young American port named Ezra Pound, who is suspected by the authorities of being an accomplice in the murders, and the Countess Markievicz both remain at large. They are considered to be armed and extremely dangerous and are probably wearing disguises.
---Irish Times Wednesday May 5, 1915
------Limerick 0910 hrs
The artillery of the German 1st Naval Division broke up attempts by the 10th (Irish) Division to make further advances beyond its overnight gains. The anchored Kaiser Wilhelm II now fired two dozen 24cm HE shells as well. General Mahon still felt he had too few shells to fight an effective artillery duel with the Germans, esp. as General Stopford was been extremely evasive about when he would receive more shells. This let the German guns and mortars disrupt attempts by the British to advance. The German Marines lacked the strength to make serious counterattacks. Combined with fatigue from the night fighting the end result was combat steadily taped off during the morning. The 10th (Irish) Division tried to consolidate its gains while the German Marines work to shore up their defenses. Snipers made deadly work on both sides. Rifle grenades were intermittently fired by the both sides with the German version being more effective. Once the German pioneers saw that the 10th Division was reluctant to use its artillery they made brief minenwerfer bombardments of British concentrations.
------Nenagh (Tipperary) 0920 hrs
"The more I think about it the more I am convinced that the execution of captured rebels, esp. those wearing a uniform, violates the rules of war established under the Hague Treaty," the American journalist CP Connolly told Keith Murdoch and Arthur Ward as they walked back to their rooms after their morning briefing by the military staff, where they had learned about the German gas cloud at O’Briensbridge.
Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, answered, "Go tell that to the man on the street back in London right now and you’d wind up in a hospital, CP. There is a great deal of support for the prime minister’s hard stance, esp. amongst the lower classes. Some of them believe it is a bloody shame we don’t burn traitors at the stake anymore. And they’re serious!"
"That might depend on which section of London you’re in, though," mused Murdooch.
"What do you mean?" asked Ward.
"Oh, how about Kilburn?"
Ward now realized Murdoch’s point and answered, "Oh, I think most of the Irish blokes would agree—and those that don’t would know to keep their mouth shut for fear of what would happen to."
"I wish I could be as sure as you on this point, Mr. Rohmer. You see .many Australians came from Ireland. I am not sure the prime minister’s stern policy is going to play all that well back home."
"Perhaps--but who the hell in London is going to give a damn about what the bleeding colonials think!"
Murdoch grimaced and Connolly laughed, "From one bleeding colonial to another, you have my sympathy, Mr. Murdoch."
-----HQ Brigade Hell Macroom (Cork) 0945 hrs
Oberst Hell had sent for Major Ritter von Thoma. "Have your men been able to get some sleep?" Hell asked.
Thoma shrugged, "A little, Obert. They could use some more but if there is a mission that needs doing---"
"There is. General von François sent 3rd Kerry Battalion in motor vehicles Monday on a mission to try and infiltrate Cork city and contact the Irish Volunteers there. The general hoped to trigger a revolt in Cork."
"Rommel was given enough motor vehicles to motorize his entire battalion?" von Thoma inquired with obvious envy.
"Yes, he was and 2 armored cars as well. Rommel was supposed to arrive in Cork early yesterday but we’ve received no word of a revolt in Cork and General von François fears that Rommel has probably failed and wants to make another try. In the next hour assemble your battalion. I understand some of your vehicles have broken down."
"Yes, Oberst, a motor car and a light truck."
"We have captured a few vehicles in Macroom. That will make good your losses but we do not have enough to motorize even half of your battalion. Your orders are to proceed eastward to Blarney, where your motorized vanguard will try to seize the castle there by coup de main. If the castle proves to be well defended do not waste your strength on it though, understood?"
"I understand, Oberst."
"Good. Now there is a very real risk that the British could be assembling strong forces in Cork. These could present serious danger to us as we attempt to finish off their badly weakened 16th Division. So the initial part of your mission will be a straightforward reconnaissance in force. We also have good intelligence that there are 3 small Irish Volunteer companies to the east at Coachford, Ballincollig and Donoughmore. Make contact with those and take them under your wings. If a major enemy attack spews out of Cork warn us then pull back. If not once the rest of your battalion has caught up with you at Blarney you will try to infiltrate Cork and make contact with the Irish Volunteer battalions inside the city."
"Yes, I understand this as well, Oberst," answered von Thoma, who after a small pause added, "But what if I discover that Major Rommel has made it to Cork after all?"
"Hmm. I fairly sure that Rommel is senior to you. You will notify this headquarters but until you receive orders from us you should obey Rommel’s commands."
"Uh, yes, Oberst."
Hell noticed a distinctly sour expression on von Thoma’s face, "What is wrong, Major? Is there something about you and Rommel I should know about? You may speak off the record."
Major von Thoma wet lips and answered, "You see, Oberst, when the Irish Brigade was formed, it was I who came up with the ideas about using motor vehicles. However Rommel stole my ideas and after buttering up Capt. Plunkett, even going so far as to request lessons in the dead Irish language, he then led everyone to believe those ideas of his own invention."
Hell shook his head wearily and sighed audibly, "I too have noticed those traits in Rommel. He is definitely one who likes to draw attention to himself. Unfortunately that is not uncommon in the Heer. I do not particularly like Rommel and keep waiting for him to stumble badly. Perhaps he already has which is why he did not make it to Cork yesterday, yes? Still the general is most impressed with him and I must respect the general’s wishes. I will expect you to do the same."
------Crusheen (Clare) 0950 hrs
The possibility of using an armored train in Ireland had been discussed in the planning for Operation Unicorn. General von François had only limited enthusiasm for the idea feeling that they would be useful only after the second wave arrived. The difficulties experienced since landing in Ireland caused a change of plans and he decided to construct a makeshift one using a locomotive and some cars captured at Ennis. All of the Central Clare Battalion as well as one of the landsturm companies made up of sailors from the transports were put into the project under the supervision of German railroad experts. Last night they had worked around the clock and now their improvised creation was on its first mission.
After Dogger Bank the Kriegsmarine had decided to reduce the tertiary armament on its capital ships. A pair of the surplus 8.8cm naval guns which had been landed was sent to Ireland with the Sonderverband. These now resided on a pair of flat cars. There had not been time to construct proper armored boxcars with turrets so the gunners—sailors taken from the warships in the Shannon—were protected only by shields affixed to the sides of the weapons. The armored locomotive was not at the front of the train. Instead there was a flat car with railway repair tools and materials. If there was mine on the tracks it was hoped that this pushed flat car would absorb the blast sparing the locomotive. .
The train had a pair of armored boxcars for infantry. These now carried 139 men from a rifle company of the Central Clare battalion as well as its 12 man machinegun section. These could fire through slits in the armor siding. They were doing so with great enthusiasm right now. The armored train was now attacking the British 109th Brigade at Crusheen. While the train threw the Ulstermen into disarray the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment made a counterattack with the additional support from the battalion of 7.7cm field guns at their disposal. Disconcerted by the armored train attack the commander of 109th Brigade beat a hasty retreat heading for Gort to northeast. As usual the commander of 3rd Marine Fusiliers was overly cautious and once it was clear that he had had ejected the 109th Brigade from County Clare he made no immediate attempt to pursue them into Galway.
------Mallow (Cork) 1015 hrs
After a hard march from Cork, the 2 detached companies of 1/4th battalion Cheshire arrived at the southern outskirts of Mallow. The battalion commander briefly conferred with the commanding officer of ’C’ squadron 1/1st Berkshire Yeomanry who had sent out mounted patrols to reconnoitre the enemy position since first light. The commander of 1/4th Cheshire thought the cavalrymen were overestimating the size of the enemy force and even if they were not he felt certain that the Irish rebels were nearly worthless as soldiers. He quickly ordered the make an immediate assault on the town straight up the main road. The cavalry were told to be prepared to cut off the expected panic stricken flight of the Fenian rebels.
The yeomen had in fact underestimated the size of the North Cork Battalion which had now swelled by new arrivals to more than 700 able bodied men. They had erected more than adequate defenses including slit trenches and strong points under the supervision of their Irish Brigade officers. The attacking Welshmen easily overpowered a rebel outpost but after that came under a hail of fire—some it quite accurate—as they approached the heart of the town. The commander of 1/4th Cheshire soon realized his mistake and broke off the attack before his losses became severe. He let most of his men get some rest while sending out patrols to probe the enemy’s position, which resulted in some minor skirmishes.
------Barcelona 1040 hrs
Eamon De Valera was delivering yet another speech—this time in Barcelona. His Spanish was getting steadily better and he was discovering that he possessed considerable skill as an orator. He was becoming something of a sensation in Spain. His audiences were no longer limited to hardcore Socialists idolizing Connolly. . He even saw a few men wearing cassocks and military uniforms in the audience this morning. He wished he could dispense with talking about Connolly altogether, but the British government’s shrill proclamation defiantly defending its execution of Connolly fanned the flames amongst the Spanish Socialists.
"Have you read as I have?" de Valera rhetorically asked his audience, "that the British government vehemently rejects any and all condemnation of their execution of traitors? This is about James Connolly but not just about Connolly. There are others who have been executed---brave men such as Liam Mellowes, Tom MacDoangh, Eamon Kent, and each day the bloodthirsty British government relentlessly executes still more. And when the voices here in Spain and elsewhere dare to question the propriety of these executions, the British response is to tell you to shut your months. They are the mighty British Empire and they firmly believe that they can kill whomever they want and no one has the right to judge them! Spain along with Italy, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands have with one voice condemned the execution of Connolly and the British government makes ominous noises and says we all risk their displeasure. Oh woe is Spain for it risks the displeasure of the British Empire! Are the brave people of Spain going to lose their moral conviction and soil their pants because the almighty British Empire threatens you with their displeasure?"
"No, No! Never!" cried out voices in the crowd. De Valera was pleased.
"If the government of Spain is to preserve its honor it must stand firm! It must reiterate its condemnation of Connolly’s execution but it must now go a step further and condemn just as strongly the foul murders of war prisoners now being carried out by the British government in contravention of all established rules of war."
De Valera paused to look at the audience. Most of them were already enraptured by his speech. Ironically those who looked a bit uncomfortable were the Socialist leaders who sat in the front row. In the last day they had begun to complain that de Valera was talking too much about the righteousness of the Irish rebellion and was neglecting the martyrdom of Connolly and the plight of the workingman. The Socialists—many of whom are despicable atheists-- have their agenda and I have mine. It is called a free Irish republic de Valera mused.
He continued to say what he felt needed to be said.
------near Nouvion (Picardy) 1125 hrs
The attacks by the British 1st and 50th Infantry Divisions continued to be handicapped by a shortage of artillery shells and were now unable to make any further gains. Disgusted at the waste of good men, General Plumer ordered a temporary cessation to the attacks drawing the ire of Sir John French, who maintained that the Guard Corps must be on the verge of disintegration. The Prussian Guards had been steadily worn down and were no longer capable of effective offensive action but were still strong enough to put up a stiff defense, esp. as Sixth Army had provided them additional machineguns before dawn so nearly all their machinegun companies now had 15 Maxims.
Meanwhile the French XXXVI Corps was encountering a new problem. Gen. von Fabeck had removed the 65th Infantry Brigade from the relatively inactive XXI Army Corps and sent it to reinforce the XIV Reserve Corps. The addition of this brigade to the trenches occurred at roughly the same time that the French 67 Territorial Division was being thrown into a renewed French assault. With the help of its reinforcements XIV Reserve Corps not only repelled the 67th Territorial Division but mounted a sharp counterattack which captured a small portion of trench and what was more important took some of the enemy pressure off the sorely pressed Guard Corps.
------Mt. Mullaghanish (Cork) 1140 hrs
Nearly two hour earlier the men manning the observation post spotted a band of 5 men in British uniforms less than 3 miles to the north. The outpost dispatched 3 of its men to contact them. The patrol now returned bringing with them 4 men belonging to the ammunition column of the CCLXVII (Cheshire) Artillery Brigade. One of them was a corporal with a crudely bandaged scalp wound resulting from shrapnel. Their trip through the Derrynassagart Mountains had taken of toll on the men. One had injured his right ankle and walked with pronounced limp and all of them were covered with scrapes and bruises.
The outpost commander remained skeptical. "Why was it necessary to flee into the mountains?" he asked, "You should have been able to withdraw to the west and await infantry support. And what about the brigade’s artillery?"
"No, no, no. You simply don’t understand When we decided to flee into the mountains the Germans were overrunning the Cheshire battalions to the west. There was no safe rear area for us to withdraw. As for the guns we lost them all as far as we could tell."
------Clogheen (Tipperary) 1150 hrs
The commander of the British 108th Brigade called a brief meeting of his staff along with the commanders of the 9th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers and the11th battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Both of those battalions had arrived at Clogheen in the last half hour after a hard march. For the moment the brigadier was most interested in what his intelligence officer had to say.
"We have a bit of a mystery, general. We have good intelligence that the German cavalry—at least most of them—rode off in the direction of Mitchelstown. However we also have some intelligence that a large part —maybe all— of the Papist traitors headed south from here apparently heading south for Lissmore."
"So the rebel traitors and the Germans have split up? Is there any indication that the rebels are disbanding? With the news that the Germans have been routed maybe they hope to slink back to their homes and pretend that nothing ever happened."
"Hmm. There is an unconfirmed report of a heated argument between the German officers and the leader of the rebels. It could well be that the Germans were more than a little upset when the rebel cowards announced that they were leaving in order to disband."
"Makes me feel a little bit sorry for the poor Germans having to deal with such worthless allies! But it does present us with a problem. Do we chase the German cavalry or the Irish traitors."
"Now that they are no longer encumbered with the rebels, the cavalry can easily outpace us, sir. But with a hard march we should be able to overtake the rebels before nightfall."
"Hmm. Yes that is my thinking as well. Let the men rest here for a half hour while the lagging wagons catch up then we will head south. The11th Royal Irish Rifles will leave behind a platoon to guard our line of communication until the 12th Royal Irish Rifles arrives. With no German cavalry to complicate things I’d say two battalions is more than enough to eradicate the accursed Fenians before they have a chance to disband."
------Cork 1215 hrs
The city of Cork was dissolving into chaos. Nearly 600 members of the 1st Cork City Battalion had now turned out so far and had been promptly armed with the Moisin-Nagant rifles. Small pockets of the RIC and the metropolitan police—the latter armed only with pistols—had been becomes isolated throughout the city. The main fighting continued to be in the vicinity of the Woodford Bourne Building, though the Chesires had also sent a platoon and 20 constables down Oliver Plunkett Street in an attempt to out flank the enemy, which also got bogged down in street fighting as additional elements of 1st Cork City Battalion arrived. Men fired from windows and rooftops while other assembled barricades in the streets. Meanwhile there was pandemonium in the main commercial district even though the fighting was only on its periphery. Ironically several thousand refugees from Kerry and West Cork had streamed into Cork city in the last week. Some of those who had fled into the city were now trying to flee out it.
Rommel was finding it daunting to control the fighting citywide. He sent Sean Sullivan to resume his command of 2nd Cork City Battalion. He gave Sullivan more freedom of initiative than he gave MacSweeney with 1st Cork City Battalion, though he did insist that Lt. Cummins remain in charge of ‘D’ company for the time being. News had now filtered its way back to Rommel that several hundred British soldiers were spotted coming from the south as reinforcements. These men belonged to the 4th battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers which had been assigned to help defend Fort Templeready and Fort Camden. They were an extra reserve battalion and so were less than half strength. It was not intended for a combat as a unit but rather to provide a steady stream of reinforcements to the other battalions of the regiment. Not all its members were fully trained yet and it lacked a machinegun section.
Rommel was not surprised that the enemy was reinforcing its forces at Cork. His main attack was concentrating on moving eastward north of North Channel. This was where he had most of 3rd Kerry battalion as well as his small Jaeger platoon. These were forces he could trust to carry out orders much more capably that the newly roused Cork City battalions. Rommel’s main objective was to cut off Cork’s communications to the north. He had just attempted to take to take St. Patrick’s Bridge by coup de main. That attack failed. Rommel was now planning to methodically cut off its northern approaches as an alternative.
------Athenry (Galway) 1235 hrs
The armored train had proceeded up the rail line to reach its next objective, the town of Athenry. Here their mission required to seize the railway station, esp. the track switches at it was at the intersection of north/south and east/west lines. They had hoped that the defenders would consist of merely a few dozen constables but Gen. Powell, the commander of the 36th (Ulster) Division had decided to station his divisional cyclist company here. One platoon was out on patrol riding on their bicycles in the countryside. Athenry had been Liam Mellowes’ home territory and of late there had been reports that some of the local Redmondites had been outraged by the reported massacre and left the National Volunteers to form a new small Irish Volunteers company. Their entire arsenal consisted of a single Colt revolver.
As the Irish Volunteers from the armored car struggled to gain control of the train station men of the new Athenry company came forward and asked to join the fight. The train carried 500 Moisin-Nagant rifles in boxes. Some of these boxes were opened early and soon some of the men of the local company were fighting alongside the IRA company from Clare. One of the 8.8 cm guns was brought to bear at near point blank range again the cyclists from Ulster.
------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 1240 hrs
Lord Curzon was having lunch with his fiance, Mary Spring-Rice. "I am deeply worried, my dear. With each passing hour I grow more and more convinced something has gone seriously amiss. General Hamilton insists that he is too busy to brief either Birrell or myself today. Furthermore we are denied all access to his staff, including Chamberlain. At first we were told there would be a late afternoon briefing. Now we learn that General Hamilton is suddenly moving his headquarters to the Curragh and has no time for us--the apparently inconsequential civilian government."
"But didn’t Sir Ian tell you when he arrived that he would probably move to the Curragh at some point?" asked Mary.
"Yes, you’re memory as usual is quite accurate, my dear. If General Hamilton had provided Birrell and myself with a proper briefing this morning and then announced that he was moving to the Curragh, I would find it all perfectly agreeable. But this sudden flight to the Curragh has me convinced that he is hiding some very serious setback."
"Hmm. Do you have any clue as to what it might be, my darling? Does it involve the Germans or the rebels?"
Curzon made a very sour expression then said, "Oh, there is one thing they deigned to tell me—the Germans apparently used poison gas on the outskirts of Limerick—a place called O’Briensbridge—yesterday."
"Oh, good Heavens, they did that here in Ireland? Oh, how awful!"
"Yes it is most hideous. Still Braithwaite thinks we can use this for propaganda purposes and I’m inclined to agree with him. But don’t you see, my love? If they can see fit to tell me this foul bit of news it makes me fear that what they’re hiding must be very serious. I know Tralee has not yet fallen, because there would be an immediate public announcement if it had—so that leads me to believe Gen. Keir’s VII Corps has suffered a reversal of some sort."
"Maybe it is just that the Germans are holding out longer than expected at Tralee, merely postponing the inevitable."
"Oh, how I wish that were indeed the case, but my intuition is that it is something more ominous has happened."
"I don’t see how it could be. You’ve said yourself that with the recent reinforcements we outnumber the Germans by more two to one and that the rebel units are of no consequence."
"Battles are not always decided by numbers. The German general, von François has a reputation as a bit of a fox. I fear General Hamilton may have underestimated him."
"So the problem comes from the Germans and not the Fenians?"
Curzon drummed his fingers on the table and took his time replying, "If there is only one problem, yes, then I’d say it is the Germans but I had been worried for at least two days now that I am not being provided complete and accurate information. Some of what is being held back may involve the rebels as well. Yesterday Chamberlain did admit that he had some evidence that Patrick Pearse is back in Dublin. By this I mean reliable evidence—not those wild rumors that have sprung up like locusts."
Mary tried not to outwardly show her interest in this topic. She continued to worry that if Pearse was captured he might reveal that she was the one who had warned him of his imminent arrest. "Well, if this is reliable information, can Pearse do that much harm? You’ve told me repeated that we have rounded up nearly all the Irish Volunteer leaders in Dublin. Pearse will need battalion and company commandants willing to obey him and who can in turn exercise authority over their units."
"Yes, Chamberlain makes a similar argument. He also shares General Hamilton’s conviction that the deteriorating situation of the Germans has demoralized the Irish Volunteers."
"You sound unsure about that, my love"
"Oh, it sounds bloody reasonable—and that’s the problem. This is Ireland where nothing ever makes a damn bit of sense!"
------Dublin 1300 hrs
Pearse was having another meeting with battalion commandants. "I just learned that the metro police arrested O’Toole, the commandant of 2nd Battalion this morning," Pearse announced, "and unfortunately no deputy commandant had been decided on so I am going to need to talk with the company commandants tonight and appoint his replacement."
"Another loose end that needs attending, Padraig," muttered the commandant of 5th Battalion, "The more I think about the more I’m convinced Friday morning is too soon to hash out all the details of the rising. We should postpone it until Saturday or even next week."
Part of Pearse was starting to have some doubts as well, but he silenced that voice, "No. It is not too early. Each day that passes these is a risk that the constables will stumble on one of major remaining caches. We are weak enough as it is. It is not too early"
"I agree with you on that, Padraig, it is not too early," remarked the commandant of 1st Battalion.
Pearse was more than a little surprised to hear support from this commandant, who had regarded as the most pessimistic of all his commandants. "I thank you for your support on this, Deniis---"
"---don’t thank me too soon, Padraig! I agree with you that Friday is not too early. That’s because it’s too late! Today is too late! The German invasion is crumbling and we don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell if we rise up now.! Good Irish lads will die and nothing will be accomplished!"
Pearse sighed then answered, "We all know that there is going to be a great deal of Irish blood shed in the birth agony of the Irish Republic. I think it highly unlikely that I will be alive a month from now. But once Dublin rises up the Irish people will awaken and never again will they go back to the deluded trance of the last few years. Two battles will be fought in Dublin. One will be fought with fire and steel. We may well lose that battle. But another battle, a spiritual battle, will be fought for the soul of the Irish folk. It is not the British who can defeat us in that battle if we have faith. We shall be like the Hydra of legend. Every head that the Brits cut off will be replaced by two more."
Dennis shook his head in disgust, "Will you listen to yourself, Padraig. You are worse than Don Quixote! This is the real world and not some bloody fairy take you’re livin’ in." .
-----HQ British VII Army Corps Ballyvourney (Cork) 1305 hrs
General Parsons, the commander of 16th Division had just arrived in person at this HQ to confer with Gen. Kier, the corps commander. "I have left one battalion and a battery of 15 punders behind to act as a rearguard, sir," reported Parsons, "The rest of my division has turned about and is doing a forced march towards Macroom just as you ordered. Is the situation of 53rd Division really that bad?"
Gen. Keir frowned deeply, "Worse I’m afraid. Some of its artillerists showed up at Mt. Mullaghanish a short while ago. They claim that the Germans with some help from rebel Irish units managed to encircle the left wing of their division. It now looks like half of the division’s artillery was lost as well as Chesire Brigade and much of its support units. Furthermore I know think there is a distinct possibility that the division HQ including Gen. Lindley was captured."
"So my instinct that this corps needs to pull back has turned out to be completely justified. The Bavarian division badly hurt the Welsh Division but they in turn must now be badly weakened by their cumulative casualties. Once we eliminate the threat in our rear at Maroon we can regain the initiative and march back into Kerry. I have just sent a wireless message to Gen. Hamilton requesting reinforcements as a precaution but I still think we can meet the prime minister’s deadline even if we do not receive any reinforcements. However to do that I need your division to prevail quickly at Macroom tomorrow. Is that clear, general?"
------Ober Ost 1350 hrs
"Eighth Army reports that the enemy has rallied and is now encountering much stiffer resistance and will at most be able to advance only one more kilometer, Fedlmarschal," Oberst.von Seeckt, the chief of staff, reported to Feldmarschal Paul von Hindneburg.
Hindenburg arched an eyebrow and pensively tapped his lips with his forefinger. "Is that good news or bad news?" he asked.
"Uh, I would be so bold as to say that it is good news, Feldmarschal. It means that the Russian Tenth Army is reinforcing its left wing. Hopefully it is doing this at the expense of its right wing. That was the main purpose of Eighth Army’s attack."
"Yes, yes. Still it is heartwarming that we chased the Mongol hordes off another slice of precious East Prussian soil, yes?"
"Yes, most gratifying, Feldmarschal. Once Operation Fulcrum has achieved its objective, it will be easy to remove the Russians from all of East Prussia."
Hindenburg took his time digesting that. Finally with a shrug he said, "Good. The sooner the better. How soon does Gen. von Marwitz hope to make his next rapid advance?"
:"According to his latest report, tomorrow morning, Feldmarschal."
------Vee Gap (Waterford) 1415 hrs
The 9th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers was in the van of the 108th Brigade as it chased after the Tipperary Volunteers. As it headed south from Clogheen it steadily climbed into the Knockmealdown Mountains on the border of counties Tipperary and Waterford. Before their angry parting of the ways the 16th Uhlan Regiment had provided O’Duibhir with some intelligence that a strong enemy force including some cavalry was apparently pursuing them. O’Duibhir decided to post one of his 2 battalions in the Knockmealdown Mountains where a rearguard defense would be the most effective, while the other battalion continued south towards Lissmore where there was another small company of Irish Volunteers they hoped to absorb.
Already tired from their long march the day before, the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers were nearly exhausted as they approached the summit of the straddle at the Vee Gap. It was there that they came under the determined fire of the Tipperary Volunteers who had established themselves from behind good cover. Refusing to countenance the possibility that Papist riffraff could defeat his band of invincible Orangemen the battalion commander stubbornly persisted in his attack. Only when more than a third of his men had become casualties did he finally relent.
------German Embassy Washington D.C.1435 hrs
Hauptman Franz von Papen had arrived to confer with Count von Bernstorff about recent developments. "If I might be permitted to pat myself on the back," said the ambassador, "it was good foresight on my part to put Mr. Darrow on a retainer so he would be available on a moment’s notice."
"So Mr. Darrow has agreed to be Devoy’s counsel?"
"Yes, we have been in communication. He will make a public announcement this afternoon."
"Hmm. Begging your pardon, Your Excellency, but how is Mr. Darrow going to be compensated. Like most Americans he is a bit of a mercenary, only more so. Money is all that matters to him. I know the retainer was done in secret, but going forward there is going to be intense scrutiny by our enemies. If it is revealed that---"
The count grinned and interrupted the officer with a wave of his fancy cigarette holder, "—yes, I have already considered that since Mr. Devoy is charged with violating neutrality laws, it will not look so good if we are the ones paying his lawyer. With the help of Herr Warburg I have found the perfect benefactor. A young Irish bank president named Joseph Kennedy has recently converted to the Fenian cause and has pledged a considerable amount of his own money to get Mr. Darrow started and will start a defense fund amongst Irish Americans to raise still more."
"Oh, I have heard of him. Your Excellency. His father is a prominent Boston politician who came out in support of Senator O’Gorman at a big rally last weekend. Sounds like the perfect choice."
"Yes I think so. Meanwhile how much does Devoy’s arrest hurt our operations?"
"A little, but not too much. Anticipating that this might happen we had already established direct contacts with many men in his organization. In some ways I regard them as more dependable than the Bund right now. In the cities with large Irish populations we have a veritable horde of spies we can call on."
"That includes the docks in New York and Boston?"
"Absolutely! Philadelphia as well. The southern ports pose more of a challenge, though. And I will note that few of the Fenians have made it abundantly clear that they’d be more than willing to do some sabotage."
Bernstorff shook his head vigorously, "You know very well that Berlin has told us to hold off on sabotage operations! By the way, did Sgt. St. James ever get that mysterious ‘Fenian fire’ for his rockets that Devoy promised? Did you ever figure out what it is?"
"St. James received delivery of some of it Monday and expects to receive the rest tomorrow, so Devoy’s arrest is not presenting a problem, Your Excellency. As to what it is---it seems that Fenian saboteurs have been using it as an incendiary for some time. It involves phosphorus is a special solution which evaporates quickly. These Irish do demonstrate some cleverness as saboteurs but I find it difficult to believe that this mixture could have genuine military value. If it did it would already be in use by the Heer. St. James has infectious enthusiasm but he is a quixotic dilettante and this Dr. Godard he works with is a madman."
"I do find Sgt. St. James more than a little strange, but the time being I am willing to indulge him. He at least has some military experience. In fact I think we should offer him a commission if he joins the third wave."
Von Papen shook his head, "I haven’t told him about the third wave, yet, Your Excellency. The fewer who know, the better right now. As for granting him a commission I doubt that many Americans would serve under a Negro officer."
"Perhaps then he could serve as a staff officer. We are going to be short on officers, which is why I was forced to ask that imbecile, Dr. Dumba to see how many he could scrounge up."
------Buckingham Palace 1500 hrs
"I read in the newspapers that we are on the verge of destroying the Germans in Kerry and that it is only a matter of time before we take Limerick, " said King George, "Have we indeed liberated Tralee?"
"Not yet, Your Majesty" replied a very uncomfortable Bonar Law, "Things are not going quite as well as being reported in the newspapers."
King George did not like the sound of that. He had worried about what he saw written on the prime minister’s face since the moment he was admitted. "Just what do you mean by ‘not as well’, prime minister?"
Law had decided in advance what to mention first, "Uh, several things, Your Majesty. To start with the Germans used poison gas against a concentration of our forces involved in the siege of Limerick!"
The monarch look shocked but to Law’s disappointment not completely distracted, "This is most reprehensible. However since they have already perpetrated such perfidy in France I hope it has come as no surprise to the War Office that they would dare to do so in Ireland—or here in England for that matter. Surely our losses were not severe enough to derail our offensive."
I see that His majesty is still deeply worried that Ireland is merely a diversion to prepare for an invasion of England the prime minister reflected. "Yes, General Stopford was able to make some progress in wearing down the Germans at Limerick despite the poison gas, Your Majesty. Still we must worry that they could have still more gas to use in Ireland."
King George continued to see things he did not like in Bonar Law’s eyes, "Yes, I can see where that would be a concern--but it is not just the gas that is troubling us in Ireland right now, Mr. Law. What else has gone wrong? What happened at Tralee? I thought we were on the verge on liberating it?"
"As we approached Tralee, Your Majesty, the Germans managed to launch a counterattack. We believe they held off the 16th Division in some mountains with a weak screen and concentrated their remaining forces on the left wing of the 53rd Division. They apparently managed to drive a wedge between the two divisions. This has greatly complicated our tactical situation. Our generals in Ireland now believe it is best if the 53rd Division hold off on assaulting Tralee while the 53rd Division regroups and the 16th Division takes advantage of the German weakness to reach Killarney, which will serve to badly outflank the Germans." I do hope that makes military sense. It is my best rendition of what I think Kitchener was trying to tell me.
King George had a map of Ireland open on his desk. He looked carefully at it for nearly a minute then nodded and said. "Yes, I could see how that could happen. We have been told that the Germans are holding several hundred of our soldiers prisoner at Killarney. If it falls quickly the Germans might not be able to move their prisoners. I take it that we’ve not yet secured. Killarney, though."
"We may have, Your Majesty. The battle is underway as we speak, and it takes some time for news to reach London from the battlefield."
"Yes, but that applies just as much to bad news, does it not? I have refrained from pestering the War Office for details about the fighting on the Continent in this war—but Ireland is one of our own lands and warrants a greater attention to detail—esp. as it now seems the situation has become more complex. "
"As you wish, Your Majesty."
"Despite this setback, do you feel that you can meet the promises of your so called Fortnight Speech with the forces you have already committed. Or have you come here to persuade me that additional reinforcements must be dispatched to Ireland immediately?" King George said with a dark look in his eyes.
"No, Your Majesty, that is not necessary," Bonar Law replied with some sincerity, "We still outnumber the Germans by more than two to one. The Germans have at most bought themselves another day in Kerry. Limerick is turning out to be more of a siege than we had anticipated---"
"---it is hardly it’s first! You should brush up on your history of Ireland, Mr. Law"
"Yes, that is sage advice, Your Majesty. Still the use of gas bespeaks a certain desperation. Our forces in Ireland have had to make due with a meager ration of artillery shells, very little of which are high explosive shells. This presents problems, esp. in assaulting a fortified position."
"Why have you been so pusillanimous with shells when you have been so generous—excessively so in our opinion—with men?"
"Because the situation of our First Army in France remains deadly serious and the fighting in France with its continuous line of fortifications is dominated by artillery, while in Ireland we had an opportunity to engage in open warfare where infantry and cavalry carry greater weight."
"We remain deeply concerned that our home defenses are too weak if the Germans attempt an invasion. You had given us assurance that at least one of our divisions now in Ireland would be able to return to England quickly."
"That has not changed, Your Majesty. A few more days—at most a week."
"We would like very much to believe that. We are very much worried though that even after the Germans are defeated the Irish rebels will try to hole up in the mountainous areas of Munster and wage guerilla warfare. While I support your hard line against the rebels surely you must realize that it gives those already involved a very strong reason not to surrender. I hope you haven’t forgotten the Boer Wars."
Bonar Law ground his teeth. With a great effort he remained properly deferential, "I have not forgotten the Boer Wars, Your Majesty. However I must point out that there are more striking differences than similarities between the two situations. Most importantly most of the population, indeed most of the Catholics, remain loyal to the Crown and will not lend the traitors any measure of support. No, instead they will betray the traitors at every turn. So if I might anticipate your question the eradication of the vermin will not take that long and will not tie down large number of battalions. If there is any resemblance to southern Africa, it is to the short lived rebellion of last year."
"But we did not commit ourselves to executing the Boer rebels."
"Such a policy would have stirred up too much sympathy for the Boer rebels, Your Majesty."
"But it won’t in Ireland? I am not being critical mind you. As I have already said I support your policy, but we are not as sure as you sound, prime minister. We see more parallels to Africa than you do. The Boers fought alongside the Germans just as the Fenians are doing now."
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, I beg to differ. The two situations are completely different. The Boers were a formidable fighters and we hope to use them against the Germans in East Africa in the next few months. The Fenians are a tiny pitiful bunch of inept malcontents. Oh, they will try to perpetrate some minor raids and ambushes from their rabbit holes during the summer. .They will achieve very little and before long the R.I.C. will be all that is needed to deal with them."
"If they are not, we should be prepared to offer to spare the lines of guerillas who surrender. This may be necessary in any case. I know it is very invigorating to say we are prepared to execute thousands. It is another matter to actually execute thousands."
"So there is safety in numbers for traitors, Your Majesty?" asked Bonar Law. That sounded harsher than I intended he chided himself.
The king was not offended but sighed deeply, "No, no, not all but I can understand how it would seem that way. If this war lasts as long as we think it must to achieve decisive victory, we cannot afford to sour our relationship with the most powerful neutrals---"
"---meaning the United States, with its large Irish population?"
"Well of course! Isn’t it obvious?"
Andrew Bonar Law almost made another testy reply to his monarch. He bit his tongue and reminded himself sternly of where he was. He forced himself to smile, "As you have said before, Your Majesty, this is a matter to be addressed after the Germans have been removed from the Irish equation. I suggest we postpone further discussion of this topic until that time. I would however note that the committee chaired by the Viscount Bryce will be releasing its report on German Outrages some time next week and the War Committee expects that to have an explosive impact in the neutrals, esp. the United States."
King George thought that over and finally said, "Well that at least is some good news. There are however other more pressing matters we need to discuss, such as the shortage of munitions. It has been our understanding that the Chancellor was looking at possible solutions. Have none of them borne fruit so far?"
. "It takes time to increase our domestic production, Your Majesty. The large scale of our naval construction program is creating shortages and bottlenecks in raw materials and the New Armies are starting to create labor shortages in strategic industries, which is a major reason why we will need conscription enacted. We can and will overcome these problems but it will take some time. In the short term though the Chancellor has made arrangements to purchase artillery shells from the United States."
------Mogaghan 1500 hrs
Eion O’Duffy had managed to take the main RIC station in Monaghan just before noon but it had cost him 19 casualties. These were losses he could ill afford as the number of Irish Volunteers in Monaghan under his command remained far below his expectations. He had absorbed most of the local company but that amounted to 104 men and 2 women. Another 8 disgruntled Redmondites had decided to join him during the day, but this was a mere fraction of what he had been expecting and the flood of Irish Volunteers from the southern part of County Monaghan and nearby County Tyrone he had envisioned had yet to materialize.
Now word had come that a force of at least 50 constables had arrived at the edge of town in trucks and buses. If that was all that the enemy O’Duffy would not be worried. However he was sure they were only just the beginning.
------Curragh Army Base (Kildare) 1520 hrs
"The latest news from Cork now makes it clear that several hundred of the Irish Volunteers have risen up," Gen. Braithwaite, the chief of staff informed Sir Ian Hamilton.
"And what is our current estimate of the size of the Irish Volunteers in Cork?" Hamilton asked Major Vane.
"The Irish Volunteers in Cork split into two battalions a month ago, general," Vane answered, "Combined they numbered about 1,300 when the Germans landed. I should not that we were very successful in Cork in arresting nearly all of their officers quickly."
"Who are being held in the city jail which is in the west end of the city and that happens to be where the enemy is in control. They may well have succeeded in capturing the jail by now," remarked Braithwaite with dismay.
."Oh, wonderful. Simply splendid," muttered Hamilton sarcastically, "It now looks like we have a major uprising underway in Cork. If we fail to crush it quickly it could inspire a revolt elsewhere esp. when it is learned that the Germans have regained the initiative in Kerry. Maybe even spread to Dublin, which would be a total disaster."
Major Vane made an unpleasant grimace, then spoke, "In that regard I received some disturbing news from Chamberlain in the last hour, general. One of his informants has picked up some talk of Pearse being in Dublin and trying to schedule a rising for Friday."
"Oh great! How reliable is this information? Is this some drunkard passing on some wild rumor so we will buy him a bottle?" asked Braithwaite, "There have been rumors of an imminent rising in Dublin since the minute the first day of the invasion."
"As I know all too well, general. Other informants have told us that Pearse is back in Dublin but this one informant is the first to say that he is planning a rising."
"Have you notified Gen. Stopford yet? VI Army Corps is responsible for Dublin though we tend to forget it."
"Not yet, general."
"Do so immediately. We have 3 battalions belonging to 36th Division stationed inside Dublin. General Stopford should increase their level of alert immediately. If we receive any trustworthy corroboration of this informant’s story, VI Corps will have to reinforce Dublin In the meantime I m going to order Chamberlain to bring 500 more constables to Dublin immediately, And I want the efforts to apprehend Pearse intensified" ordered Hamilton. After a pause he added, "However neither you nor Chamberlain are to breathe a word of this to Curzon and Birrell! Not a word! It is bad enough that I am going to have to tell them this evening about Cork and the setback in Kerry."
"Will do so, general."
"The Viceroy and London are both going to want the revolt in Cork stamped out as quickly as possible, sir," noted Braithwaite, "I think we will need to send additional forces to Cork as soon as possible."
"I concur wholeheartedly. What about the 108th Brigade? What is its current situation? Last I heard it was still chasing the 16th Uhlan and a few hundred Irish rebels.
"We received some unconfirmed intelligence in the last hour that the 16th Uhlan Regiment and the rebels from Tipperary may have split," answered Vane, "The cavalry are heading either west or northwest while the rebels are believed to be heading south into the western extension of County Waterford."
"Hmm. Infantry chasing cavalry is all too often an exercise in futility," Braithwaite noted, "And mopping up what is left of the Tipperary Volunteers is clearly less important than the pacification of Cork. So this seems to be the best course of action, sir."
"Since this would effectively move the 108th Brigade from the command of VI Army Corps to VII Army Corps I would feel comfortable ordering its commander directly. Now urban fighting can be an awkward and nasty thing. For that reason we should anticipate the very real possibility that it will take more than a day to eliminate the resistance. I am therefore inclined to order it to move first to Fermoy where it can pick up provisions and then continue on to Cork. Do you see any problems with that?"
Braithwaite took his time studying the map before shaking his head and replying, "No, that seems to be very sound logic, sir."
------Killarney (Kerry) 1640 hrs
Even though he had learned that the enemy had abandoned Castleisland, General von François had decided to move his headquarters to Killarney instead. Clouds had steadily thickened during the afternoon and light rain had just started to fall. The meteorological section had predicted that the rain would intensity in the coming hours.
With Major von Rundstedt beside him von François met with Gen. von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Division. "What remains of the Welsh division is slowly withdrawing into County Cork," declared von Gyssling, "As you ordered the 11th Bavarian Brigade plus 1st Seebattalion and a battalion of 7.7cm guns is gently pressing them."
"The battery of foot artillery at Tralee will be released to support this operation immediately," von François. ordered von Runstedt.
"Jawohl, Herr General," replied the acting chief of staff.
"However even with the foot artillery you are to merely pursue and pressure the Welsh Division with caution. Gen. von Gyssling. It will be best to harass them and capture a few stragglers, but not try for a decisive battle. The main goal of 11th Bavarian Brigade is to prevent the Welshmen from interfering while we concentrate on destroying 16th Division. Is it clear now that the 16th Division is pulling back to Macroom? Your earlier reports equivocated somewhat."
"They have left behind a rearguard including some artillery but the main body is clearly heading towards Macroon and Brigade Hell."
"Most of what remains of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment is heading towards Macroom to reinforce Brigade Hell. This should be adequate strength to stop the 16th Division cold. In the meantime send 6th Bavarian Regiment plus the artillery at Killarney to pressure the enemy rearguard. Use good judgment in this pursuit. Be aggressive but not too aggressive. It is not imperative to overwhelm the rearguard of 16th Division and trying to force the matter at this time is likely to result in excessive casualties. Until the second wave arrives we cannot afford to waste our soldiers."
"Good. There is another bit of encouraging news we need to factor it. Just before we left Tralee the wireless monitoring station intercepted a British transmission in the clear. It was advising civilian vessels about rebel activity within the city of Cork. It now appears that Rommel’s mission to Cork may have succeeded after all. Major von Rundstedt—do we have working telegraph lines to Waterville?"
"Good. It is time the world should learn what is really going on in Ireland, yes?"
-------Ballinasloe (Galway) 1655 hrs
After ejecting the 36th cyclist company from Athenry the armored train was partially replenished with water and coal. It now made its way down the tracks to the east and arrived at Ballainasloe where the Irish Volunteers assisted by the Marine cavalry squadron had been fighting off attacks by the 13th battalion Royal Irish Rifles on and off throughout the day, with each side taking a little more than 200 casualties. The Irish Volunteers though had been reinforced by over 150 new arrivals during the day while the 13th Royal Irish Rifles only received a dozen constables. The Ulsterman were now less than half the strength of their opponents but nevertheless their confidence in their innate superiority caused them to continue their attacks.
With the arrival of the armored train, the defenders became the attackers. The Ulstermen were stubborn at first but eventually tried to retire to Custume Barracks to the west. The armored train chugged eastward splitting the one company north of the track from the two south of it. The German Marines and Irish Volunteers then concentrated on the isolated company north of the tracks with the supported of the armored train. The isolated company was shattered with only a handful of men reaching what the thought would be the safety of Custumee Barracks.
------Blarney (Cork) 1710 hrs
The famous castle at Blarney defended by a single elderly guard armed with a pistol when Maj. von Thoma arrived with the motorized vanguard of West Limerick Battalion though there were some signs that it had been briefly used as a British Army Corps HQ a few days earlier. Underneath the castle there were some decent caves, which had been used as a dungeon by some of the castle’s previous owners.
The battalion’s cyclist platoon had just arrived. The rest of the battalion would not arrive for 3 more hours, maybe more if the dense clouds delivered the heavy rain they promised. Of the 3 local companies of Irish Volunteers that Oberst Hell had told him to contact the one at Donoughmore was now assembling and should be reaching Blarney with more than 70 men about the same time as the rest of his battalion. As for the company at Coachford, von Toma learned in the afternoon that it had joined the enigmatic commandant Flynn several days earlier. In the last hour von Thoma received word that most of the small company at Ballincollig had gone off to Cork to join a rebellion which had started there before dawn. This was the first intelligence that Maj. von Thoma had received of a rising underway in Cork...
The major now had a decision to make. He went outside and stared at the dark clouds. It hadn’t started to rain but it looked like they could get a soaking before very long. Von Thoma made up his mind. He selected a driver and another soldier and quickly wrote a report for them to take to Oberst Hell at Macroom. When they left he assembled the motorized element of this battalion and told them, "As I believe most of you have already heard, we have some intelligence of a rising underway in Cork city. I had thought about waiting for the rest of the battalion to arrive and then heading out for Cork in the early morning. However I am deeply worried that an overnight rainstorm will make the roads impassable for our motor vehicles. So I am going to leave the cyclist platoon here to guard the castle and wait for the rest of the battalion. In the meantime I have decided to take the motorized section on to Cork, where I believe our heavy weapons would prove highly useful. You have 15 minutes to get ready."
------Van (Armenia) 1715 hrs
Armenian rebels had been stockpiling arms for several months. Their leaders had waited for word that a Russian offensive was imminent. News of the British defeat at Utsire had arrived in March and caused a few of the Armenian rebels to worry that the war might be ending soon. They asked the others to make sure that Russia was prepared to continue. In the last few days Ottoman officials had begun mass arrest of suspected Armenian dissident leaders. Yesterday the Russians had informed them that the war was not going to end soon and their Caucasian offensive would start in about a week. This was all the Armenian rebels needed to know.
The rebels launched their attack in the afternoon and city’s Ottoman garrison proved too weak The rebels had effective control of the city and were starting to abuse the Muslim quarter.
------GQG Chantilly 1735 hrs
Prime Minister and War Minister Clemenceau decided to pay Gen. Joffre another visit. This time he was in a better mood and decided not to interfere with Joffre’s supper. "What is the latest progress of Second Army’s offensive?" Clemenceau demanded to know.
"There has been a small advance on the left west of the Oise, Minister. On the right we have not yet reestablished a bridgehead over the Aisne."
"You must reestablish the bridgehead! How small is the progress of the left?"
"It was more than a kilometer but the Germans have mounted a counterattack last I heard."
"What-- at most only one kilometer and we may loss even that? This is unacceptable! Tomorrow I will visit Gen. de Castelnau and find out the reasons for the slow progress."
Joffre’s face had turned sour. He opened his moth and said ‘Now listen." Then suddenly he had second thoughts and closed his mouth.
"Now listen to what, general? Are you upset I am visiting the front and will be talking directly to the generals and their staff?"
Joffre indeed was but paused before he finally said, "Not in the slightest, Minister. Go right ahead and take your sweet time. If you stay until Sunday, perhaps Gen. de Castelnau will take you to Mass."
The tiger bared his fangs, "Go ahead and mock me! The generals of France need a firm civilian hand around their fat necks right now. The Germans remain too close to Paris. We must push them back still further!"
I really should at least threaten to resign Joffre mused. My resignation will surely precipitate a voice of no confidence. However returning under the next prime minister may prove awkward and may even present accursed Gallieni the opportunity he is looking for. "The terrain was favorable at Compiegne itself and we expended an unprecedented amount of shells in the preliminary bombardment. Those conditions no longer hold. The terrain to the north presents problems and we used up much of our stock of munitions. We can make some additional progress but not much and the casualty figures are steadily increasing. Furthermore our meteorological section warns that heavy rain is likely the next few days. But even if the weather cooperates we should plan on terminating the attack and concentrate on holding on to our gains. "
"Quite frankly there is a whiff of defeatism in such talk. You are anticipating failure and so help bring it about. This attack so far has had the most success of any since we captured Suippes. You are minimizing its success because it was my idea not yours!"
"That is an absurd accusation! The Germans are rushing reinforcements to their First Army using the rail lines. They do that very well. We would be better served looking for another place to attack at the end of the month."
"And just where would you like to attack? Amiens? Champagne? "
"There are good reasons to go after Amiens which is an important rail hub while a critical German rail line can be cut by an advance in the Champagne plain. However there is a third possibility. We could mount an attack out of Verdun advancing towards the rail hubs at Montmedy and Longuyon which was also vital to the Germans."
"Hmm. How could such an offensive be supported? I know that we pushed the Boche out of Aubreville but surely they dominate the rail line there with artillery."
"There are two other rail lines which connect to Verdun from the south. One is only narrow gauge but the other which proceeds along the Meuse has more than enough capacity to move supplies and reinforcements. It just takes a little longer for them to arrive."
"If this is such a good idea, general; then why haven’t you done this before?"
"Ah, but we did make one attempt there in early December, M. Minister. It was one of the secondary attacks going on while we attacked in the Champagne. General Sarrail was in charge and he failed to take even his initial objectives—Azannes and Gemilly. I decided that effort was not worth reinforcing. I am convinced that the incompetence of Sarrail was the major reason we did not do better. That man should not be entrusted with a major command---"
"---I did not come here to defend my appointment of Sarrail to lead Seventh Army, General Joffre!. I do not have a favorable opinion of his competence either but we both agree Seventh Army is where he can do the least harm. You know as well as I do that there are political reasons for his appointment. Contrary to that jackass Poincare thinks I can be flexible when it is absolutely necessary. Which is why I haven’t removed Corps D’Orient from the Balkans or replaced you with either Foch or Gallieni."
With a supreme act of will Joffre kept his rage in check. This old fool thinks he can goad me into something he can claim is insubordination and use as an excuse to have me removed Joffre concluded cynically. Through clenched teeth he responded, "I am well acquainted with politics, M. Minister. More than you might guess."
Clemenceau sighed deeply, "Oh no my dear general. Your skill at politics is one thing I do appreciate. I am not sure I can think of another. Perhaps your fondness for food and a good night’s sleep, but yes?"
Joffre tried to incinerate Clemenceau with his eyes but the tiger did not even blink. Finally the general said, "Preparations for another attack out of Verdun were underway when you ordered the capture of Compiegne to receive the highest priority. It is my professional opinion that the attack of Second Army having achieved its main objective should now be terminated soon while we concentrate on preparing for the Verdun offensive."
"Why is this being presented as either/or, general? Quite frankly the more I think about this Verdun offensive I do see some merit but what I fail to understand is why we cannot do both. The Germans are badly stretched with their attacks on British First Army as well as the invasions of Serbia and Ireland. There is also something going on in Courland. Under these circumstances we should try to hit them as many places as possible."
"Our experiences had shown that attacks on the entrenched defenses of the enemy require heavy artillery, of which we have a very limited amount and more than half of it is committed to Second Army."
"Which I will concede was the correct decision. However now that Second Army has pierced the enemy’s main fortifications, it can make do with its 75s and has less need for heavy artillery some of which can be sent to Verdun in the next few days."
What a miserable little dilettante! Butting his insufferable head into what should be left to professional officers! "So I have your approval to resume preparing Third Army for an offensive, M. Minister?" Joffre answered. Not that I really need it.
"Yes you have my permission. But I want no misunderstanding. Second Army will continue advancing until it reaches Noyon! Is that clear, Gen. Joffre?"
This insufferable twit has the gall to address me like a cadet? He will pay! ."I understand all too well." he replied. I will let de Castelnau continue for a few more days. If he can take Noyon that would indeed be wonderful but if not I will find an excuse to end Second Army’s attack
------Perim Island (off Yemen) 1840 hrs (GMT)
Kapitanleutnant Helmuth von Mucke had decided not to wait until the new moon to launch his attack as that would be when the enemy would be expecting it. He believed that the select force of Ottoman soldiers and sailors picked for this mission now had adequate training. At beach near the fort at Sheik Seyd they boarded 15 dhows along with the other German survivors from the Emden. These now approached the north side of Perim Island with moonrise an hour away.
The main force defending Perim were a portion of the 23rd Sikh Pioneers under the command of Captain AGC Hutchinson. They were not on a high state of alert but they had their regular patrols out. One of these noticed the dhows and began to fire. "We are discovered! We must turn back," cried the German speaking Ottoman officer in the lead boat with von Mucke.
"No, no. We are almost there and the enemy fire sounds light. This is our only chance! We will continue!" replied von Mucke, hoping that he would not soon be hearing the distinctive sounds of a machinegun. There was one of Emden’s sailors aboard the dhow with a signal lamp. "Send the message for the fort to begin firing!" von Mucke ordered.
Despite all the training the landing on Perim was far from being a textbook demonstration of amphibious warfare. It was dark and there was a great deal of confusion. One of the dhows did turn around before landing its troops. With greater numbers or a single machinegun the Sikhs on the shore would have defeated the landing. As it was they caused substantial casualties but were driven back before reinforcements arrived. When they had done unloading the Otttoman soldiers, the dhows departed to pick up the second wave which would include a machinegun and mountain howitzer broken down into pack loads.
The Ottoman guns at Fort Seyd took their time opening fire after the message had been transmitted by the lamp and von Mucke had ordered the message retransmitted. Finally the guns which had previously registered on the center of Perim Island opened fire. This shelling was not intended to cause significant casualties but rather to disrupt the assembly of a counterattack.
------Cork City Jail 1850 hrs
It had not taken long for the motorized section of West Limerick Battalion to reach Cork city. Once there they found confusion and it took a while to find a company of the 3rd Kerry Battalion fighting alongside a company of 1st Cork City Battalion. The commander of the former told von Thoma that Rommel had established his HQ in the city jail for the time being. Light rain had just started to come down when von Thoma arrived at the jail.
Rommel had been meeting with Commandant MacCurtain discussing the turnout of the Cork city battalions. He left MacCurtain with the O’Rahilly and met von Thoma alone.
"Wonderful! Reinforcements have begun to arrive so soon," Rommel gushed, "What forces did you bring?"
"In terms of weapons I have 4 armored cars, 2 machine guns and 2 infantry guns. Not counting the armored cars I brought 92 men including 9 German pioneers. At Blarney there will be another 371 men not counting a small Irish Volunteers company from Donoughmore we will be absorbing tonight."
"How much German training do your men have? Have they seen any action?"
"Most have at least a week of German training. As for action we were at the vanguard of Brigade Hell at when it crushed the left wing of the Welsh Division," von Thoma began to boast, "we even captured the division commander!"
"Well isn’t that special," remarked Rommel with a twinge of envy, "Are you sure it wasn’t a brigade commander that you captured? British rank can be a little bit confusing sometimes."
"No, no, no. It was the division commander!" von Thoma defended his accomplishment testily, "His name was Major General John Lindley and we has the commander of the 53rd Division, also called the Welsh Division. There is no confusion. I even had dinner with him afterwards."
"Oh my. Dinner with the model of a modern major general! I am most impressed. What wine did you serve?"
"We shared some of that dark Irish beer. No wine. No brandy."
"Hmm. Making a general drink beer--where is your sense of proper protocol? Still I imagine Oberst Hell was much impressed nevertheless. Did he tell you what medal he is recommending for you?"
Good God, this short Wurttemberger prima donna is so jealous. I should tell him a Blue Max! He will shit in his pants! But instead Ritter von Thoma said, "No he did not tell me. I have faith in Hell. He will make the proper recommendation. There is more to war than medals you know."
"But of course," replied Rommel unconvincingly, "I am so glad you were able to put my ideas about using motor vehicles to such good use. It is so good to have one’s vision vindicated"
"What! Just what are you talking about, your ideas? I was the one to develop them. It was you who stole them and presented them as your own!"
"Tsk, tsk, your memory is not accurate. Most of the ideas were mine. I will concede that you understood the concept better than the others and made some small contribution."
"No, no, no. The ideas were all mine. Your only original thought was telling them to Plunkett first!"
Rommel darkened, "I am not going to debate this now. There is too much that needs to be done right now. I am certain that I am senior or does your memory have a similar problem with dates?"
"Yes, you are senior. Oberst Hell has made it clear that I am to obey your orders until a more senior German officer shows up. That would include even an Oberleutnant as we both know IRA rank is a faction meant to impress the Irish," answered von Thoma. I cannot believe I just said that. He has made me so irate that I denigrate IRA rank just to spite him!
"I am a Major!" shouted Rommel, "If you want to think of yourself as a leutnant be my guest but it amazes how your men could have any respect for you!"
------Bandon (Cork) 1855 hrs
The commander of the 7th battalion Leinsters Regiment had not been able to establish communication with 16th Division HQ at Macroom. In fact he had word of German forces in strength at Macroom. He had considered making a counterattack on Macroom but this was well beyond scope of the orders he had been given which had stated that he was to put down rebel activity in Bandon. In the early afternoon he had received word from the Protestant Local Defense Organization in Bandon that most, perhaps all, of the enemy forces in Bandon had departed. They told of atrocities committed by the Papists in Bandon and pleaded for protection. Meanwhile he tried to get what information he could from the local R.I.C. and received a disturbing picture of a near total breakdown in order in the southwestern part of County Cork with German cavalry and strong formations of Fenian rebels being reported nearly everywhere.
The battalion commander decided to send one company to scout Bandon. With reports that the enemy including the German cavalry had apparently departed, the colonel decided to return to Bandon with the rest of the battalion. His supply situation was troubling but not grave. He had at least a 2 day supply of food and fodder and was sure contributions by the local citizens would stretch that. They couldn’t help with ammunition though and he now issued orders for his men to conserve. Fearful of an attack from any direction they were forced to camp in a hedgehog formation with outposts on all sides.
------Cork 1920 hrs
With a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder Joe Flynn and his Sealgair Battalion arrived at Cork. On the way he had absorbed a dozen late arrivals from Kinsale and then later 79 men and 3 women belonging to Ballinhassig Company. He also attacked a small R.I.C. station on the way and this ended up taking longer than expected though ultimately successful. .The Irishman who been assigned to fire the machine gun after the Jaeger Gaulart had been taken from Flynn, was having some trouble even though he had been part of Julius’s crew as a loader for a while.
Flynn saw that Cork was in chaos and he was pleased as he thrived on chaos. He did have to wait long to find some action. When the Chevauleger squadron had arrived in the late afternoon to deliver arms to 2nd Cork City Battalion it had come under attack by elements of the 4th Royal Munster Fusiliers. The squadron commander had not wanted to get drawn into a firefight but found it difficult to disengage and mount up. First one then another company of 2nd Cork City Battalion came to his aid but he was still pinned down.
Flynn spat on the ground when he saw this, "Damn Germans got themselves in another fix, I see. Can’t they do anything right!" . .
------HQ Belgian 5th Division (Picardy) 1955 hrs
The French XXXVI Corps when it was deployed to assist the British Second Army ended up with the active portion of the Belgian 5th Division adjacent to its right flank. The British War Office had repeatedly ordered Smith-Dorrien not to deploy next to the French units on the right flank of Second Army. The British government wanted to keep the Belgians under their thumb and feared the French might try to seduce King Albert into becoming part of their army is they were too close to his position.
When he was abruptly ordered to replace Smith-Dorrien, Gen. Plumer knew nothing about these orders and positioned the newly arrived XXXVI Corps where he thought they could do the most good. While his infantrymen of both his divisions continued their desperate assault the commander of the XXXVI Corps, Gen. Hely D’Oissel paid a courtesy call on his new neighbor. He had indeed received orders directly from the Ministry of War ordering him to politely suggest the homeless Belgians would be better off incorporated into the French Army.
Both of them had already had dinner. The king had his kitchen serve some pie for them which they shared over coffee. The general knew better to jump directly to the point. After initial formalities he remarked, "The incredible story of your remarkable queen has all of Paris enchanted, Your Majesty," he remarked, "She is of course receiving the very finest medical care and I hear that she is expected to make a full recovery. President Poincare himself visited her this morning."
D’Oissel had expected that to soften up the monarch, but instead his face hardened, "Your hearing must be defective, M. General because it appears that hers will be as well! I do not consider that to be a full recovery!"
"Your pardon, Your Majesty. I was not informed of this. But she is not deaf in either ear, am I right?"
"No, she is not deaf, praise be to God. But there is a serious loss of acuity in one ear that is expected to be permanent."
The general had witnessed much of the unspeakable horror that war con inflict on a human body. Compared to all the mutilation he had seen a partial hearing loss in one ear seemed almost trivial.--like losing a tooth. He knew that he dared not say that, and so tried to fain sincerity when he did say, "Yes, that is most dreadful, Your Majesty. At least she is far from harm now."
"Yes, that is something to be grateful for. And I am grateful that President Poincare took some time to pay his respects. I am curious though as to why Prime Minister Clemenceau has not seen fit to pay her a visit as well."
"Uh, the Prime Minister currently has a great many matters to attend to, esp. as he is the Minister of War as well. He will find time very soon, I am sure of it."
"Oh? Are you really sure? Or are you saying that to butter me up, but yes?"
Gen. D’Oissel began to squirm, "I cannot say with absolute certainty what the Prime Minister’s intentions are, Your Majesty but I am not trying to deceive or manipulate you."
"And why not? My own generals do that all the time. So do the British generals. Why should French generals be any different?"
The French general began to sweat. It too nearly a minute before he could think of a response, "Sometimes etiquette and protocol can appear as something else, Your Majesty."
King Albert frowned, then after a sighed grinned slightly, "Yes. They certainly can! Is there something wrong with the pie? I enjoyed it but if it is not to your taste I can have the kitchen prepare---"
"---that will not be necessary, Your Majesty. This pie is most delicious. I was so distracted by your wit that I momentarily lost all interest in food." D’Oissel picked up the fork and began to eat another bit making exaggerated facial expressions to show how good it was.
"That is good. I will let you finish without further interruption. Then you can tell me why I should let my army be absorbed into the French Army."
The general gaped and a half eaten piece of the pie fell on his plate. Embarrassed to the point of blushing, he stammered, "I am most sorry for my crudeness, Your Majesty. It is so delicious I ate too fast."
"Are you sure that it is not too sweet? Things that are too sweet often make me choke with nausea. So tell us please—just what it is that we stand to gain by becoming part of the French Army?"
No sense putting it off the general admitted to himself glumly. "The War Ministry feels that there are several reasons. For one Belgium is culturally closer to France than it is to Britain—more of your men speak French than English. Secondly the French Army is now in the midst of a great offensive that will break the back of the Boche. Just recently we have liberated Compiegne but that is only the beginning. Our new War Minister is confident that we have now reached the turning point as long as we stay resolute and concentrate of the Western Front. Unfortunately the British are badly distracted by the Irish situation and are neglecting France. And the road to Belgium goes through France."
"Yes it does. A clever phrase, I must say. Did you dream it up yourself or did the War Ministry suggest you use it?"
"Please, Your Majesty, do not give in to cynicism! It is time for the Belgian Army to make a maximum effort so that together---"
King Albert suddenly darkened again, "---now wait just a minute, General D’Oissel. Are you implying that my army has not been making a maximum effort--that somehow we’ve been shirking?"
"Uh, well, uh, not at all, Your Majesty. You see---"
"---with all due pardon what I see is a messenger boy wearing a general’s uniform. Others have tried to tell me what you are trying to tell me know. Three things have changed of late. One is the plight of the British First Army. If the Germans succeed in destroying it their position on the Western Front is strengthened. Despite its difficult situation the Belgian Army has able to lend some very important assistance, while the French government took way to long to realize the urgency of the situation. Next there is Ireland. That was a shock at first but it now appears to have been a very serious German mistake. Last but not least there is M. Clemenceau. At first I thought he was just what France needed as I had been seeing a lack of direction in recent months. However I have begun to have doubts—and not just because he snubbed my dear queen."
"I, uh, have little interest in politics, Your Majesty."
"But of course, generals are never interested in politics, but yes?"
------10 Downing St 2010 hrs
The War Committee had reconvened. "How bad was it, Andrew?" asked Lloyd-George.
The Prime Minister made an ironic grin while rubbing the tips of his fingers along the side of neck and answered, "His Majesty wanted me beheaded but I managed to talk him out of it as you can plainly see."
"Was that before or after you told him about the rising in Cork?" asked Carson.
"Uh, I somehow managed to avoid that topic altogether, Sir Edward. Must have slipped my mind, eh? I did let him know that there was a setback in Kerry and that the Germans used poison gas near Limerick. The king continues to worry about an invasion of England and wants at least one of the divisions we sent to Ireland returned before the end of next of week. Hmm, just how bad is the situation in Cork? I’ve heard nothing from the War Office since our meeting with Kitchener."
"Reports that the Admiralty is receiving from Queenstown indicate that there are serious disturbances in the northern and western portions of the city with a breakdown in order but the main commercial district remains safe for the time being and that reinforcements are already beginning to arrive."
"Unless the revolt in Cork is crushed very quickly it will raise more questions in Parliament and the press about our estimates of the size of the rebellion," Lloyd-George remarked.
"Yes and there is something else that might raise similar questions," added Carson, "I received a telegram from my associates in Belfast less than two hours ago. There appears to be some insurrection in Monaghan as well today."
The Prime Minister and Chancellor knew that the ‘associates’ Carson referred to were the Ulster Volunteer Force. "I thought Ulster was the one place we had no reason to worry, First Lord," said Bonar Law, "Is it that the R.I.C. is harassing the Ulster Volunteers again? I thought we had put an end to Curzon’s ‘disarm everyone’ balderdash! And Gen. Hamilton was told to ride roughshod over the Viceroy if needs be."
"No it is not that at all, Prime Minister. A rebel force of indeterminate size has apparently seized control of the town of Monaghan. My associates are deeply concerned and wonder if they should begin mobilizing again. I am going to strongly suggest that they wait until we get a clearer picture of what is going before taking that step."
"A sudden mobilization of the Ulster Volunteers will only buttress those in Parliament who think we’ve deliberately undercounted the size of the Irish rebellion for political reasons," Lloyd-George commented, "and it would negatively impact the heavy industry in northern Ireland, esp. Belfast."
"I agree with that logic. I am appalled however that I have not been notified of this development by the War Office."
"I am worried as well that the War Office is not keeping us fully abreast of the latest developments. Did Lord Kitchener inform you today that the Serbian government has completely abandoned Belgrade? The Sea Lords learned this from the naval mission to Serbia."
"Ho he most certainly has not. It sounds like the Serbs, for all their pluck, are not going to be able to frustrate the Central Powers this time."
"Yes, it now appears clear that the Bulgarians are making a very serious contribution. We had hoped that they would either continue to stall about entering the war or make a token effort. There even appears to be some Ottoman divisions participating in the offensive."
"And our expedition there can do nothing to help?" asked Lloyd-George.
"General Birdwood provided Putnik with the Australian and New Zealand Division which apparently is not enough. The rest of our forces including French Corps D’Orient are pretty much tied down in Herzegovina. In the middle of April we had discussed with Lord Kitchener the possibility of moving the 42nd Division from Egypt as reinforcements. Since then the invasion of Ireland and the plight of First Army have dominated our attention. We thought we had some time in the Balkans but we no longer have that luxury."
"Lord Kitchener commented back in April that Gen. Maxwell in Egypt was worried that if he loses the 42nd Division in addition to the forces he committed to the invasion of Abyssinia he might not be able to fend off another Turkish attack on Suez,." Lloyd-George noted.
"We should have asked Kitchener to revisit this topic this morning when he told us about the treaty with Zauditu being signed It was never clear to me whether he agreed with Gen. Maxwell about the risk to Suez. Perhaps we should summon him back tomorrow to address this point. There were some other topics he practically ignored like Mesopotamia
Carson frowned, "I really don’t think that will be necessary. The Naval Intelligence Division believes there is no real sign of a renewed assault on Suez. This is the worst time of the year for an attack across the arid Sinai. The real threat to Suez will come in the winter once the Turks have been reinforced with German officers and equipment after the railroad is opened. The way to eliminate this very real threat is to save the Serbs while it is still possible. I really do believe that we cannot afford to lose an entire day. If Serbia is to be saved we need to reach a decision tonight!"
Edward likes to think of the Albanian expedition as his own idea Lloyd-George surmised He now frets that the famous Carson Plan is all coming to naught. He spoke, "I partially concur, First Lord. I am persuaded by your logic but yet we cannot rule out the possibility that there is something we might be missing."
Carson was not satisfied, "What are you saying, Chancellor? That we should wait for Secretary of War to befuddle us some more tomorrow. Let me reiterate that we cannot afford to wait."
Bonar Law also looked confused. Before the prime minister could speak Lloyd-George replied, "Not exactly, First Lord. What I propose is that in the next hour we send in writing our tentative decision to commit this division to Albania. We will instruct Lord Kitchener and his staff to begin with all necessary speed to undertake all activity to implement this transfer but if they feel that there is a strong reason against this undertaking they must inform us of those concerns before noon tomorrow and we would then immediately reconsider the matter. That way if there are some overlooked reasons against the deployment we can revoke the orders but if not then no time is lost."
"I had been thinking of ordering Lord Kitchener to come over here immediately to succinctly explain his position on this matter once and for all, but I find that I like David’s very sensible suggestion much better," remarked the prime minister, "so are we all in agreement now?"
Carson scowled briefly unhappy with even this degree of equivocation but then he nodded, "Yes, prime minister. I just hope we do not have to reconvene in the morning."
------Villers-sur-Authie (Picardy) 2030 hrs
The German IV Army Corps had not seen much heavy fighting during the Second Battle of Crecy Forest. It had followed and harassed the British III Army Corps during the precipitate retreat of the British First Army in the early days of the battle. Told that the British First Army was going to be starved to death the corps commander, Gen. Friedrich Sixtus von Arnim saw no reason to press too hard and risk unnecessary casualties once the enemy had dug new trenches. In the last few days Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, sensing that the noose around First Army’s neck was slowly loosening, became increasingly dissatisfied with IV Army Corps’ passivity. He reinforced it with the 52nd Infantry Division and additional foot artillery as well the chemical warfare companies. Saturday afternoon there had been a small release of chlorine gas against trenches occupied by elements of the British 6th Division. Gen. von Arnim was still being cautious and instead of trying to seize any portion of the enemy’s defenses merely sent small teams of infantry to infiltrate communication trenches from which they lobbed grenades and then withdrew. This resulted in a relatively few German casualties but von Fabeck was not satisfied feeling that an opportunity to rupture the defenses of the British III Army Corps had been squandered. He ordered von Arnim to make a more vigorous attack as soon as there were favorable conditions for another gas cloud.
Yesterday night IV Army Corps made 5 trench raids, taking some prisoners from both the 4th and 6th Infantry Divisions. These raids yielded useful intelligence including locating the boundary between the two British divisions. The Tommies had been on half rations for 10 days and the cumulative effective was now taking a toll on their combat effectiveness. Since the BEF was a volunteer army the impact on morale was not as severe it would have been with conscripts, but some of the prisoners did grumble about their perception that Haig was feeding his horses better than his soldiers. There was other encouraging news. British First Army was short on barbed wire and had given most of what it had to Indian Corps which had suffered badly in the initial German attack so the wire barriers of 4th and 6th Divisions had remained temptingly thin.
The wind was now coming out of the southeast. A very heavy bombardment by German howitzers had begun 90 minutes earlier. In the last half hour minenwerfers and 7.7 field guns had joined in. Now the pioneers were releasing the valves on the gas cylinders, which had been placed with the intention of hitting the 4th and 6th Divisions equally at their boundary. The wind blew the gas more to north than desired so the 4th Division ended up getting most of it. The 6th Division got much less and was able to repel most of the attack by the 13th Infantry Brigade to the east of the village of Vercourt.
. Meanwhile on their right the attack by the 16th Infantry Brigade found the forward trench of the British 12th Brigade near Villers-sur-Authie badly weakened by HE shells and chlorine gas. They also hit the 1st battalion North Staffords, which was part of 6th Division on the boundary with 4th Division so unlike the rest of 6th Division had suffered severely from the gas cloud. The attackers were well equipped with hand and rifle grenades which they put to good use in clearing out the remaining resistance.
The German 52nd Infantry Division had been positioned behind the point of attack to act as a powerful reserve. If both of the initial assaults succeeded it would have moved up between them as the13th and 16th Brigades would move laterally to widen the breach. Learning that the attack of the 13th Infantry Brigade had failed while the 16th Infantry Brigade had succeeded the commander of the 52nd Division, Gen. Karl von Borries decided instead to begin feeding his battalions one by one to reinforce 16th Infantry Brigade, which was trying to roll up more of 4th Infantry Division’s forward trench line was well as advancing forward..
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 1950 hrs
The armored train had continued east from Ballinasloe. It now arrived at the city of Athlone which was divided up the middle by the Shannon River. On the western bank of the Shannon lying on the County Roscommon side was Custume Barracks built near the old castle. At the end of the 18th century extensive fortifications had been built but in the late 19th century they were neglected and much of it was now abandoned. The armored train was attacking the barracks from the track to the north. The train had picked up some additional Irish Volunteers at Ballinasloe. Some of them rode on the flat cars and a few even on the roofs of the boxcars. Most of these had been let off on the outskirts of the town. This group included some who had some familiarity with the fairly large company of Irish Volunteers at Athlone and were now trying to make contact with them.
It was dusk with a dark grey sky. Light rain had begun to fail. The train had used up all its shrapnel shells earlier in the day but it still had some HE shells left which they used to shell the barracks while there was still some light. The infantrymen from Clare fought from their armored box cars but soon enemy resistance withdrew into the barracks and they dismounted. They did not attempt to rush the barracks but concentrated on cordoning off the barracks from most of the town.
------HQ British VI Army Corps Maryborough (Queen’s) 2100 hrs
The commander of VI Army Corps, Gen. Stopford had not been feeling well most of the day and spent most of it in bed. He was on the telephone with Gen. Hamilton. Last night the telephone lines connecting it to Kildare and Dublin had been cut. This was hardly a unique occurrence of late as rebel sympathizers went out at night in most of Ireland—Ulster had been an exception--and wrecked as many telephone and telegraph lines as they could. Some bands even tried to sabotage train tracks as well. A handful of these saboteurs had been caught in the act and were being charged with treason. More had been arrested for violating curfew a less serious offense. Stopford wondered if the lines were be cut again tonight. The sooner the better he groused to himself.
The corps’ signal company had reestablished wire communications before noon. Stopford secretly wished they were still down. That would make his life a lot easier. While he was sleeping some well meaning fool on his staff had fired off a telegram to the Curragh about an attack on Custume Barracks by an armored train. There had been reports of an armored train at Athenry earlier in the day but Stopford thought it was most likely a manifestation of hysteria.
"How did an armored train get all the way to Athlone without us knowing about it?" Hamilton demanded to know.
"General Hamilton, sir. With all due respect there happens to be 32 counties in Ireland. Gen. Keir is responsible for Kerry and Cork and that’s it. I am responsible for the other 30 counties. Most of my men are tied up with the siege of Limerick right now, sir. I don’t have enough men to watch every nook and cranny of this convoluted island. And I only have 2 working warplanes now and both were busy with Limerick until the worsening weather grounded them. You know as well as I do the complete and utter frustration we have been experiencing due to continual sabotage of our communications"
Hamilton’s sigh was audible over the telephone line, "What is the latest news?"
"We just received a telegram saying that the train had departed Athlone to the west. It looks to me that this is just a raid and we should take care not to overreact. If we are lucky it’s headed to Galway city where one of our gunboats can put it out of its misery in the morning."
"That would be most scrumptious, but we cannot hardly count on it. We need to reinforce Athlone and maybe Galway as well."
"Hmm. The 3rd Connaught Rangers is in Galway now so I really do not see a need to reinforce it further, sir. As for Athlone a single battalion should suffice and the obvious choice is one of the 3 battalions we still have in Dublin.
Another deeply audible sigh issued from the telephone, "That is not a good idea right now. We have inconclusive intelligence that there might be a rising in Dublin Friday. You are not to mention this to Birrell or the Viceroy. The intelligence is far from conclusive and I don’t want them overreacting."
Now it was Stopford who sighed audibly, wondering why this wasn’t shared with his staff earlier. Dublin was also one of the counties he was responsible for as well, "Well in that case we need to scrounge up something else, sir. Let’s see what do I have left? What’s that battalion we left behind in Belfast? Let me take a look here. Hold on, please, sir. Oh yes, here it is the 16th Royal Irish Rifles. It had been selected to become the division pioneer battalion if my memory serves."
"Yes that is my recollection as well. This pretty much strips Ulster. That wouldn’t bother me as much if we didn’t have that situation in Monaghan. How are you handling that?"
"Hmm. He is reinforcing Monaghan but thought you were sending at least a company."
"I do not know where he got that idea, sir. As I said before I have 30 of Ireland’s 32 counties to look after and I would deeply appreciate it if we could get a little help from the R.I.C for once."
"The constables have done their best in a difficult situation, Gen. Stopford. At first I was determined to avoid using the reserve battalions unfortunately but it is proving necessary. The 3rd Royal Irish is at Armagh. Leave a portion behind to guard the barracks at Armagh and send the rest to assist the constables."
"I will see to that immediately sir."
"Good. I have been so distracted by other things today that I’ve nearly forgotten about Limerick. I have heard little about the status of our attacks today."
"Well, since the early morning there hasn’t been any, sir. We’ve been worried about another release of gas and wanted to consolidate the gains 10th Division made last night."
"Hmm. Perhaps a brief lull is all to the best. I am not questioning your judgment. But we still have a deadline to meet. I expect a fresh series of attacks at the earliest opportunity."
------Charleville (Cork) 2115 hrs
Rain was now starting to come down heavy. Two squadrons of the 16th Uhlan Regiment had arrived at Charleville where they found a platoon of Connaught Rangers had been assigned to guard the nearby railroad tracks. The Uhlans had skirmished with the Connaught Rangers who eventually realized themselves to be outnumbered retreated into a strongpoint they had set up in the town. The Uhlans decided against trying to eliminate this pocket of resistance, but made their own camp and awaited the arrival of the rest of the regiment. In the morning they would make a dash for Limerick.
However complicating matter a messenger arrived from the troop sent to investigate Mallow. The messenger brought news that the Irish Volunteers are Mallow were not as weak as expected and were not a spontaneous uprising by poorly armed units but instead were well armed with Moisin-Nagants and some captured Lee-Enfield with Irish Brigade officers in charge. . There was also some news that there had been something of a reversal in Kerry which allowed the Germans to regain the initiative. The Uhlan commander did not know what to make of this. The Irish were not always the most accurate source of information. He still had his mind set on the notion of lunging for either Limerick or Foynes as soon as possible.
He ordered his regiment to be move out at first light. They would have a hard ride ahead of them tomorrow, esp. if the rain continued. The commander would try to get some sleep eventually. There was much for him to look at with a fresh eye in the morning.
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 2155 hrs
The armored train had discharged the company from the Central Clare Battalion it backed up and picked up more than 100 Irish Volunteers from the band that had assembled at Ballinaslow but which was now working its way towards Athlone despite the wind and rain. It now returned to Athlone with the reinforcements. The lead troop German Marine Cavalry Squadron had arrived a few minutes earlier. The train now learned that while it was gone the Irish Volunteers had captured the swing railway bridge over the Shannon so the train could not close over to the Leinster side of the town. After some discussion the train commander decided to do cross the river and try to capture the city’s two train stations—both on the east bank-- instead of discharging his latest batch on the west bank and going back for more. Irish Volunteers checked the tracks ahead for mines and then signaled for the train cross over. .
------Lough Derg 2140 hrs
Another group of IRA river boats had departed Scariff Bay soon after last light and were now sailing north on Lough Derg. They carried a small company of 91 men from the East Clare Battalion organized in 2 platoons plus a machine gun section of 11 men and 2 Russian Maxims. There 300 Moisin-Nagant rifles in boxes as well as 15,000 rounds of ammunition. The wind had begun to pick and the water had become choppy which slowed their progress.
------Perim Island 2245 hrs
The fighting continued. The moon had risen. Most of the second Ottoman wave had arrived. The artillerists were assembling the mountain howitzer and the machinegun brought with the second wave was already seeing action help driving off a Sikh counterattack. Von Mucke had taken a round in his left calf in the fighting. He suspected it may have been a ricochet. There were quite of those on this barren slab of volcanic rock. He tried to ignore the pain caused by the wound and continued to direct the fighting.
The Ottomans had taken a few prisoners so far. One was now brought to him. "This man says he would be willing to fight with us. He also says that there are others in his unit who will do the same," an Ottoman sergeant told him.
Mucke was startled, momentarily forgetting his pain. "Why in good heaven would he do that?" he asked.
"He says that a few months ago, literature by something called the Ghaidar party was covertly distributed in the outfit. This group advocates armed revolt against British rule in India. There were a few incidents and some of the men were arrested."
Mucke managed a grin, "Well then. It appears that they have a bit of a morale problem, now doesn’t it?"
------British First Army HQ Rue (Picardy) 2320 hrs
General William Pulteney, the commander of III Army Corps was on the telephone with Gen. Haig. "How deep is the German penetration? Did they take Villers?" asked Haig
"Yes, the Germans the Germans have advanced a little more than a mile and have captured the town, sir."
"You need to counterattack with the utmost vigor. Not just at the spearhead but also along the flanks of the salient. Since the 6th Infantry Division did not suffer much in today’s gas attack it should be able to exert strong pressure on the enemy’s left."
"The 6th Infantry Division may not have suffered much today but it took nearly 2,000 casualties from the gas cloud on Saturday, sir. Furthermore it has lost 3 battalions sent to reinforce Indian Corps in the last 3 days. I would like to get at least one of those battalions back, sir."
"For the time being I will refuse that request. This attack could well be a diversion and Indian Corps is the main target. We will now better in the morning. In the meantime you will counterattack with what you have available. In the meantime I will inform Field Marshal French. Though I see no immediate peril our situation now reveals itself to be less secure than I had hoped so he should try to get Second Army to accelerate its advance."