by Tom B
GERMANS CLAIM KEY VICTORY IN KERRY
The commander of the German expedition to Ireland, General Hermann von François has publicly announced that a resounding victory over the British Army in Kerry occurred on Tuesday. He further claims that 5 battalions of the Irish Republican Army participated in this alleged victory which has allowed them to regain in the initiative in Kerry. They also maintain that a large rebellion has now begun in the city of Cork. Representatives of the British government initially denied these claims but now many are merely declining to comment. They do concede that the British Army has not yet captured either Tralee or Killarney, which they had been predicting earlier in the week.
-----NY Herald Thursday May 6, 1915
SMS Blucher 0010 hrs (GMT)
The last dregs of twilight had disappeared almost an hour ago. Admiral Maas met with his chief of staff "Despite good visibility for most of the day we only sank two prizes and both of them were outbound British ships loaded with food," Maas grumbled.
"The British do appear to be a hungry bunch, Admiral. More than half of my cruisers’ prizes with Britain as their destination have been carrying food."
"I was expecting more Entente sea traffic when we reached this point. I also expected to find more valuable cargoes. The motor vehicles yesterday has been the only real exception. I am now considering taking a food laden ship back as a prize but it has to be capable of sustaining 10 knots, with neither of today’s pair could do that."
"As we draw closer we should certainly be finding more prizes, Admiral."
"I certainly hope so."
------Perim Island 0325 hrs
The third and final wave of the Ottoman assault arrived, bringing few men but another disassembled mountain howitzer and barrels with fresh water. Some of the more seriously wounded Ottomans and Germans had been evacuated back to the mainland but von Mucke had decided to stay. The third wave had also brought a heliograph which von Mucke now used to establish communications with Fort Seyd. This time there was another round of shelling but unlike the night time bombardment Mucke hoped would actually do some harm on one of the enemy concentrations trapped in the open on a slab of basalt. When the guns of Fort Seyd commenced firing his men spotted their fall and signalled corrections via heliograph. This was a time consuming process but it eventually yielded some promising results, even causing a few of the Sikh Pioneers to surrender.
-----Limerick and vicinity 0430 hrs
It was pouring rain when the 10th and 49th Divisions resumed their attack on Limerick as a result of orders received from Gen. Stopford overnight. This included the first attack at O’Briensbridge since the German had released chlorine there. The poor visibility handicapped the use of artillery, so the German Marines decided to save their shells though they did use their minenwerfers and the Irish crewed infantry guns in sporadic bursts of fire. The British 10th Division shifted some of its artillery to take advantage of their limited gains, esp. those made on their left wing. In the mud this was proving to be an exhausting task. These attacks encountered stiff resistance and made minimal progress.
Meanwhile Gen. von Jacobsen had ordered the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment which was in Clare to send its most depleted battalion to Limerick as badly needed reinforcements. He did this because he felt that the British 109th Brigade no longer posed much of a threat. Jacobsen ordered their commander to make more use of the West Clare battalion. He also ordered Major White to commit another company of the Limerick City Battalion to the trenches on the southeast perimeter.. Jacobsen was actually wishing that the rain would continue as it would impair the enemy’s assault giving him time to strengthen his defenses.
------Athlone (Roscomman/Westmeath) 0455 hrs
The sun had risen it was obscured by the dense clouds which we pouring rain here as well. The company of the 13th Royal Irish Rifles which had been guarding Custume Barracks mounted an attack to try to retake the portion of the city east of the Shannon. They had success in taking one bridge but when they crossed the Shannon, they found both of the train stations had fallen and the armored train was a formidable strong point. More disconcerting the Irish rebels were more numerous and competent than expected, esp. with the German Marines directing them. This included roughly half of the Irish Volunteers that had been at Ballinasloe the day before which had arrived during the night despite the weather.
------Villers-sur-Authie (Picardy) 0500 hrs
It had begun to rain in Picardy before midnight and it was now coming down in torrents. There had been a series of small counterattacks by the 4th Division throughout the night but Gen. Pulteney had postponed the major counterattack ordered by Haig until after dawn. Their artillery may well have been fighting at night for all they could see but after receiving confirmation from Pulteney they proceeded to fire as best they could. The German artillery had exhausted most of their ammunition yesterday and so they decided to husband what they had left for the expected infantry assault—which was not long in coming. Five British rifle battalions emerged from their trenches to expose themselves to the elements as well as the enemy firepower. They were men who been on half rations for a dozen days and not completely hale.
The German artillery waited until the last minute to hit them. The attackers struggled with mud as well as some wire. What grenades they had were mostly jam tin bombs and not many of those. The rain caused some problems with the fuses. While the German artillery was restrained their machineguns were not and they cut a swathe of death in the British infantry. By dogged determination the Tommies forced their way—often slithering on their stomachs in the mud—into the German positions. The usual brutality ensued except there was mud everywhere and men on both sides got extremely dirty. As the morning wore on conditions became steadily worse. .
The British attacks continued. .
------Penevezys (Courland) 0530 hrs
The German III Cavalry Corps again encountered weak opposition from Cossacks and Russian territorial battalions to the east. It again used the motorized heavy artillery brigade to smash holes in the enemy defenses to the southeast. When it was obvious to the cavalry commanders that a path was open to them they mounted up. Accompanied by the armored car battalion they proceeded southeast towards Vilkmerge.
However when the motorized heavy artillery brigade was prepared for transport it did not follow III Cavalry Corps to the southeast. Instead with a single detached regiment of cavalry and Jaeger battalion as a close escort they and the motorized pioneer regiment proceeded southwest on the alleged road leading towards Kedainiai.
------Monaghan 0605 hrs
In pouring rain most of the 3rd battalion Royal Irish arrived at Monaghan where they found 170 constables well engaged with the rebels who had steadily grown overnight to over 300 men and a dozen women. Being a reserve battalion the 3rd Royal Irish lacked machineguns. Almost immediately they launched an attack to retake the railroad station, despite being warned by the constables that the rebels had established a strong defensive position there and were better armed than expected. The charge by the Ulstermen was repelled with more than 60 casualties after which they began to take the constables’ advice and began nibbling away at the rebel position house by house. This tactic was easier said then done but eventually began to make some gains.
------Athlone (Roscomman/Westmeath) 0615 hrs
The small flotilla of riverboats from Scariff carrying the company from East Clare Battalion had gun to arrive having sailed up the Shannon. It had been hoped that they would arrive at Athlone before dawn but the foul weather had presented some difficulty slowing their advance. They had also come under some fire from constables and coast guardsmen at Shannonbridge. Some of the boats had lagged behind but one boat with a 5cm gun and another with a Russian maxim helped in retaking the bridge the Ulstermen had captured earlier, which effectively trapped most of them on the east bank of the Shannon for while the river could be forded in spots it would be tricky to do in the current weather. Meanwhile most members of the small nearby Irish Volunteer companies at Ferbane, Moate, Ballymore and Ballymahon had arrived as reinforcements. The Irish Brigade commanders had a hodgepodge of different ‘companies’—some with fewer than 100 men—from Counties Clare, Galway, Tipperary, King’s, Roscommon, Westmeath and even Longford to control effectively, which was proving very difficult. They therefore divided the nearly 1,300 Irish Volunteers into two battalion they named 1st and 2nd Athlone Battalions.
------Lismore (Waterford) 0630 hrs
O’Duibhir had set up his HQ in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. He could hear the rain drumming on the roof. On arriving at Lismore last evening with most of his first battalion he had absorbed the local company of Irish Volunteers with 78 men and 1 woman. Together they had taken a small R.I.C. local station. It was one of those which had stored weapons confiscated from both the local Irish Volunteers and the Redmondites which proved useful in arming the new additions.
He was discussing the latest developments with the commandant of Lismore Company. "Looks like a mighty serious soaking we’ll be getting," O’Duibhir commented.
"Yes it certainly does," replied the Lismore commandant, "Maybe we should wait until it tapers off before heading on to Cork."
O’Duibhir frowned with indecision. Finally he said, "Complicating matters is those British forces that are chasing us. I left 2nd battalion behind if the Knockmealdown Mountains to hold them off which they did bravely yesterday afternoon. Do I now order them to come down and join us? The Vee Gap was a good defensive position. I am reluctant to fork it up, but I am also unhappy about creating a big gap between my two battalions. Dammit! For all their callousness and arrogance this is the sort of things the Germans could be giving me good advice concerning—and now the arrogant Uhlans are gone."
"So are you now regretting your fight with their adjutant you told me about?"
"Hell no! Oh, well maybe a wee bit. But I still believe I was right!"
"I didn’t say you were wrong. But the question remains what do you plan to do next?"
O"Duibhir took his time before responding, "I’ve made up my dense Irish mind. Even if the rain continues coming down hard I am go to press on with 1st battalion at least as far as Tallow today and try to persuade the company there to join us. I will keep 2nd battalion in the mountains to hold off the pursuers during the day but once the sun goes done they will follow us peeling off one company at a time. See—that wasn’t so hard. Who needs Germans?"
------HQ German Fifth Army Montmedy 0635 hrs
German von Falkenhayn had arrived here the night before on his way to Berlin to meet with Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke. The chief of staff for Fifth Army, Gen. Schmidt von Knobelsdorf had wanted to discuss something with him preferably in person. "The rain is steadily getting worse. I am worried that my motor car will have difficult driving ahead so I want to get on the road as soon as possible. For that reason I must insist on brevity," Falkenhayn curtly informed Knobelsdorf. They were meeting alone. Falkenhayn increasingly found Crown Prince Wilhelm difficult to work with and this meeting was very deliberately being held without him
"Yes, general. I fully understand. Driving a motor car in weather like this is very dangerous. Please tell your driver to be careful."
"I shall, thank you. I take it that the Crown Prince is still worried about a major French attack issuing out of Verdun?"
"Yes, that is the Prince’s concern—and mine as well. We had a tough time stopping the French at Gemilly back in December. We did have some intelligence in late May suggesting that the French were preparing for a renewed assault."
"I have seen reports on this matter. The intelligence so far is not conclusive and it may be intended as merely a strategic diversion. The current French schwerpunkt is at Compiegne, where they fired off a large quantity of shells. I do not think they have enough strength for another major attack, esp. since they had also tried again to take Amiens recently."
"Yes, unlike the Crown Prince, I am not worried about an immediate attack, but still there is a grave potential for the French to do us harm here sooner or later."
"Moltke failed to heed my warnings last year. If he had launched an offensive in the Woevre back then I firmly believe von Strantz could have advanced further than he did in February."
"Yes. the Crown Prince firmly believes that von Strantz must resume his offensive until the rail line is neutralized."
"I have looked at that option. We do not have the resources available for that operation at this time. And even if we did the cost in casualties would likely be very steep. However General von Strantz is going to try to take Les Eparges soon. That is a reasonable objective for which he has sufficient strength but that is all and even there I would only rate the odds for complete success as being even."
"Yes, these are my thoughts as well but His Royal Highness has trouble understanding them."
Falkenhayn looked annoyed, "Is the only reason you summoned me here—to indulge in backbiting against your commander and the heir to the throne?"
Knobelsdorf shook his emphatically, "Oh, no, general. I have an alternative proposal I wish to suggest. As you know General von Mudra advanced to Aubreville. Fierce French counterattacks pushed him back half a kilometer---"
"Yes, but our artillery makes that rail line unusable for the French. Having him attack Aubreville therefore does nothing to solve your problem."
"Yes, I am well aware of that. It is not my point. Since he was pushed out of Aubreville Mudra has made short sharp attacks to the east of his salient. The result is there is now a pronounced bend in the front at Avocourt and he thinks this presents an excellent opportunity. If his forces attacks south of Avocourt into the Bois D’Esnes heading northeast while Fifth Army attacks south out of Bethincourt he and I both agree there is a good chance for us to link in the vicinity of Esnes, encircling the important high ground prosaically name Cote 304. This section of the front is rather weakly held by the French—only a single French division as far as we can tell. If our advance is fairly quick we should be able to trap most of the French division, but the real prize would be the capture of the Cote 304."
"Hmm. Your men would be attacking uphill subject to fire from the batteries behind both this Cote.304 and this other piece of high ground which is called Mort Homme if my memory serves."
"Army Detachment Mudra will be able to enfilade both those positions esp. if it advances quickly. As for the slope it is not too bad because there is a gap in the ridge between Cote 304 and Mort Homme which leads to Esnes."
Falkenhayn rubbed his chin for a minute then said, "It does sound promising in summary but I would need to study it in more detail. Do you have a preliminary battle plan with detail?"
"Yes, but of course, right here, general," said Knobelsdorf who handed Faklenhayn a folder.
"What is Prince Wilhelm’s opinion on this? Or were you planning to spring it on him at the last minute?"
"Uh, the Crown Prince does not like it when I do that. Yes, he knows about it. He says it has some merit, but it does nothing to solve your vulnerability. He would prefer priority be given to a resumption of the Woevre offensive instead."
"And what has been your response to such criticism?"
"Taking this key piece of high ground would drive a dagger into the French position. From Esnes we could threaten Mort Homme which will force them to respond for if we seized Mort Homme our artillery could disrupt the assembly of enemy attack formation the east bank of the Meuse."
"So you believe the capture of this Cote 304 would compel the French to launch a counterattack to recapture it and that will disrupt their original plans. I will need to review this is more detail before I come to a decision. Let me now ask the most important question. How many additional divisions will you require?"
"That is the beauty of it, general. I think only one more would suffice—as long as it not Landwehr. We will also need additional heavy artillery. Prince Wilhelm’s opinion though is that we need two more divisions."
"Hmm. That is for your portion of the assault. How many more will General von Mudra need?"
"I have spoken at some length with General von Mudra and he claims that he already has enough divisions but would need more firepower, both heavy howitzers and minenwerfers."
"That is typical of him. I will need a preliminary estimate of how much additional artillery and minenwerfers would be required for both Fifth Army and Army Detachment Mudra. I will be frank and say that with everything else going on now it will be not be feasible for at least 2 weeks, probably more. I might be able to free up a division as early as this evening but nearly all our heavy artillery is already committed. Is there anything special you or von Mudra would need?"
"Both General von Mudra and myself as intrigued by the potential of gas. I am more interested in the chlorine you have used with great success in Crecy Forest. General von Mudra sees serious drawbacks in canisters and so he asks if the improved T-Shell has been used yet and if so what were the results? Apparently he discussed this matter with General von François, yes?"
"Yes, General von François took some of the improved T-shells with him to Ireland. I am going to OKW this afternoon and will inquire if he has used them yet. I know that he did use the small ration of chlorine he was provided as the British newspapers are complaining mightily."
------Dublin Castle 0730 hrs
Gen. Hamilton still did not want to deal face to face with Lord Curzon, but he knew there were certain things he could not hold back much longer from the Viceroy. He therefore assigned Maj. Vane and Chamberlain the unenviable task of briefing Curzon along with Birrell and Nathan this morning.
"Just what has happened in Kerry that General Hamilton has gone out of his way to conceal from me, major?" an irate Curzon demanded to know.
"The Germans are claiming a big victory which has allowed them to seize the initiative there. Is there any truth to this?" added Birrell.
Vane was prepared for this and gave his well rehearsed answers, "In the last two days a very complicated battle has been waged in Kerry. The 6th Bavarian Division seeing itself in a desperate situation was forced to gamble on a daring counterattack against the Welsh Division, when it was isolated from 16th Division by a mountain range. This gamble paid off for the Germans and they succeeded in inflicting serious harm on the 53rd Division including a loss of some of its artillery. Gen. Keir feels it is best in this situation for his two divisions to pull back and regroup. We are sure that the 6th Bavarian Division took heavy losses in the recent attack on top of the already heavy casualties it has already suffered. Many of its battalions are now barely the size of a company. Once we regroup we can overpower them."
"I demand a detailed summary of this battle before sundown!"
"I will pass that on to General Hamilton, Your Excellency."
"The Germans go on to claim that several battalions of Irish rebels played a significant role in this battle. Is there any truth to that?" asked Secretary Birrell.
"We believe that to be either an outright lie or a gross exaggeration, Mr. Secretary. It is propaganda intended to convince the Irish that the rebellion is larger than it is."
"You believe? Why don’t we know this for certain?" asked Curzon.
"Uh, well as I said the battle was very complicated and there was some breakdown in communications in its most critical phase---
"---so there could have been an entire division of Irish rebels involved for all you know?" Lord Curzon snarled.
"We estimate the entire rebel strength in Kerry to be somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 men, Your Excellency. That is not even a tenth of a division."
"Again more estimates—are these any more reliable than those we have had previously? Last I heard was that there were at most 4,500 able bodied rebels left. Has that number been revised again?"
"Yes, but only by about a thousand more, Your Excellency."
"And more than half of the increase is due to the trouble in Cork city, Your Excellency," added Chamberlain. Major Vane cringed when the head constable said that. Vane had been told by Hamilton that it was time to inform Curzon about Cork but he planned to segue into the topic with more tact. Vane braced himself for the blast.
"What?! What trouble in Cork? When did it start?" Curzon exploded.
"Yesterday a band of Irish rebels infiltrated the western section of Cork and managed to stir up a portion of the Irish Volunteers in the city."
"How did this happen?"
"We are still a bit baffled ourselves but it is our current belief that the rebels came to Cork through Bandon, Your Excellency. A battalion detached from the 16th Division was in Bandon and should have barred their way but failed to do so for reasons which remain unclear at this time. An investigation is being conducted," replied Vane. He knew this was not completely accurate—he was deliberately omitting the prior disturbance that drew the 7th Leinster to Bandon.
"I demand a copy of the written report of that investigation! And more importantly what is being done to smash this revolt as quickly as possible?"
"General Hamilton has already moved 2 battalions to Cork and 3 more on their way and should arrive in the evening, Your Excellency." Vane did not want to volunteer the fact that the 2 battalions already sent were weak reserve battalions, nor mention the possibility that the weather might delay the arrival of the others."
"Assuming the worst case and all of the Irish Volunteers in Cork joining the rebellion—even though the Prime Minister is sure he has them all too scared to even go ‘Boo!"---what are we talking about in round numbers?" asked Birrell.
Vane turned to Chamberlain who answered for him, "The Irish Volunteers in Cork split into 2 battalions at the beginning of April, Your Excellency. There combined strength is somewhere between 1,200 and 1,300 according to our latest intelligence. There is some uncertainty however because there has been substantial flow in both directions between the Irish Volunteers and Redmond’s National Volunteers ever since the invaders landed."
"Still despite some uncertainty it is safe to say that the 6 battalions we have will soon have at Cork would have more than enough strength even if 90% of the Irish Volunteers there joined the rising," added Major Vane. He believed what he had just said but was also deliberately omitting some facts, such as half of the /4th Cheshire having been sent to Mallow. Hamilton and Braithwaite had been optimistic that the rebels at Mallow could be easily routed and the half battalion returned to Cork before the Viceroy found out about it.
Curzon hesitated before conceding, "That does seem to be an appropriate preponderance of force. Still I must impress upon all military commanders involved in this operation that it is imperative that this outbreak of rebellion be obliterated before it can inspire additional trouble elsewhere."
"I will pass your instructions on to General Hamilton, Your Excellency," Vane answered. Not that it makes any difference, you blowhard! .
------southeast of Kedainiai (Courland) 0725 hrs
The Guard Cavalry Division began to encounter more serious resistance in the form of an entire Russian brigade dispatched from the nearby fortress of Kaunas. The brigade was supported by an 8 gun field artillery battery which it put to good use but it had no machineguns and a quarter of its men lacked a rifle. Russian warplanes, previously quite rare in this sector, were now being seen in greater numbers with the weather being favorable to flying but threatening to turn worse. Mechanical problems had forced the German airship to return to base. II Cavalry Corps probed the Russian defenses and decided to await the arrival of the motorized heavily artillery brigade and motorized pioneer regiment coming from the northeast as well as the 119th Infantry Division coming from the west.
------HQ British Second Army 0815 hrs
The rain kept coming down. Gen. Plumer had postponed a resumption of full scale assaults all morning. He was still very short on artillery shells and was not going to waste them attacking in this weather. He did order 1st and 50th Division to send teams out on a series of hit and run bombing raids with jam tin bombs starting before dawn while trying to expand laterally in sections of trenches they had captured the day before. These tactics yielded at best mixed results. Plumer continued to see that the British Army was badly handicapped in trench warfare by the lack of a satisfactory bomb (grenade). Meanwhile he waited for the inevitable telephone call.
"General Plumer, I have a telephone call from Field Marshal French demanding to speak to you immediately."
With a stoic grin of a condemned man on the gallows Gen. Plumer strode over to the telephone. "This is Gen. Plumer speaking."
"This is Field Marshal French. Let me get straight to the point. The reason that I am calling is that I would like to know when are you planning to resume your attack?"
"As soon as there is a break in this weather, sir."
"Meteorological section thinks this could last well into tomorrow. There is now additional cause for concern about First army. Are you aware that the Germans released another gas cloud against III Corps yesterday? The Huns were able to advance more than a mile before they were halted."
"No, I was not aware of that, sir. It does not sound from your précis that there is an imminent threat to III Corps though."
"I do not share that evaluation! Like you they just might be waiting for the weather to clear. In the meantime they could be preparing their next gas cloud. What this means we cannot assume that the Germans will leave First Army alone while we relieve the pressure on the line of communication."
Plumer hesitated before answering trying to find words that would not pour kerosene on the fire. Finally he said, "I understand that, sir. However I would care to point out that we are pressuring the enemy, sir, trying to consolidate our salients so we will have a better jumping off point for the next phase. Hopefully the additional time would allow for the delivery of more shells."
"Hmm. Always using the shell situation as an excuse. We cannot wait indefinitely. I’ll bet you are wondering if I am going to order you mount an attack before noon or something."
You’ll win that bet you bloody jackass thought Plumer glumly.
"Well I am not going to do that. I simplify do not understand why some people—who I could name but I won’t-- accuse me of being rigid. It must be that my enemies will stoop to any calumny they can get away with. Well I know your boys fought bloody damn hard yesterday, taking on the elite Prussian Guards no less, so it would be awfully cruel to ask them to make an attack on a day like today."
Dear Lord, Sir John French has some sense after all! It’s a miracle! Thank You, Lord, thank You!
"But obviously we cannot afford to wait indefinitely. So let your boys get some rest, for tomorrow morning I expect a full scale resumption of the attack—rain or no rain. Is that understood?"
Hmm. I guess I will now have to pray for some decent weather tomorrow, Lord. Unfortunately you usually ignore us Englishman when we do that.
------Paris 0835 hrs
Leon Trotsky was brought from solitary confinement to meet with an official of the Ministry of Interior. He had been beaten repeatedly by his jailers since being imprisoned and fed only break and water. He had been denied any communication with the outside world including his wife. Very deliberate care was taken so that Trotsky did not appear too bruised. When the bureaucrat introduced himself Trotsky complained about his treatment. He was rewarded with studied indifference. Then with a faint trace of a smile the bureaucrat said, "I will request an investigation into these complaints. However I can assure you that one way or another, what you perceive as ill treatment here will come to an end very soon. The Ministry of Interior has decided you expel you from France Saturday morning." He then handed Trotsky the written order signed by the Minister of Interior.
Trotsky was stunned, "First I am arrested without even a semblance of cause, hauled off to a prison where I am abused without even the slightest recourse to justice. And now I learn that I am to be expelled from France in two days. What inspires France to such perfidy? Is this about the strike or is the Russian embassy behind this? I demand to be told!"
"I am not here to discuss why with you, Monsieur. What we need to discuss is where. What country would you like to go to?"
"France! I want to stay here in France. You have no right whatsoever to do this. We always complied with the demands of the censor, even though many of them were outrageous."
"Again I must reiterate that I am not at liberty to discuss the reasons behind your expulsion with you, M. Trotsky."
"Then let me speak with the Minister of Interior. Let him explain what duplicity is behind this! I insist on a fair audience. It is my right!"
"You are wasting my time, M. Trotsky. Your requests are denied. We are willing to let you pick your destination provided that country is willing to accept you."
Trotsky glared daggers at the official. Finally he said, "My family is going with me, I presume?"
The official nodded, "Yes, but of course."
"England—send us to England"
The official shook his head, "No the British government have already made it very clear that they do not want you as a guest. They also made it clear that they would not let you go to Holland either."
Trotsky was not completely surprised by that, "In that case either Italy or Switzerland. would do, though I would prefer Italy."
The official nodded, "Very good. We will approach both legations. We will do what we can but I am under a tight time restraint. My superiors are adamant that you leave Saturday. Arrangements had already been made to send you to Spain. If Italy and Switzerland have not provided you a visa by Friday we will ship you to Spain."
"Spain! I do not want to go to Spain! You must give mo more time. I have important friends in Switzerland that I trust will intercede for me but it will take a few days." I am not sure about Italy either-- Giolitti is at best a liberal democrat who manipulates Socialists and at his worst he is a gangster!
"I am sorry, M. Trotsky but ‘when’ just like ‘why’ is not a topic open for discussion."
"I refuse to go to Spain! You must give me more time. I am sure I can get permission from the Swiss and maybe the Italians as well."
------Killarney (Kerry) 0900 hrs
It had taken a long long time to complete St. Mary’s Cathedral at Killarney. The foundation stone had been laid way back in 1842. Construction of the cathedral was interrupted several times. In 1855 it was consecrated and open for worship in an incomplete state. It later became the driving ambition of Dr. John Mangan to see this work completed. He labored relentlessly towards this goal raising badly needed funds in America and Australia as well as in Ireland.. Finally after becoming the bishop of the diocese of Kerry and Aghadoe he saw the cathedral completed in 1912. That had been a wonderful day! Recently he had worried that it would be his wyrd to witness its destruction.. When the Germans landed and an early battle was fought in Killarney he had worried that German artillery would reduce it to ruins. While many of his priests fled for their lives the elderly bishop feared for his cathedral and remained behind.
The initial Battle of Killarney had spared the cathedral. The bishop thanked the Blessed Mother and her Son with many rosaries and other prayers. Then just yesterday there had come word that the British Army was approaching Killarney and his dread returned. Perhaps it would be British guns that wrecked his holy creation. Once again Our Lady answered his prayers and the British had turned about as suddenly as they had approached. An obvious miracle. God had been testing his faith.
The crisis now being over—or so the poor old prelate hoped—he was reading his Breviary when his caretaker knocked on the door. "Your Excellency, I hate to disturb you but Peter Dunleavy’s daughter, Caitlin is here. She is very distraught and insists on seeing you. She says it is most urgent."
Peter Dunleavy was a prominent local merchant of moderate affluence. He had contributed a great proportion of his wealth to the completion of the cathedral and so the bishop knew him very well. Caitlin was the fourth of his five daughters. Her father had been in ill health in recent years from a variety of ailments including Parkinson’s, gout, shingles and cataracts. After her mother had passed away Caitlin decided to postpone marriage and remained with her father to take care of him.
The caretaker took Caitlin’s hat and raincoat. She was a scrawny young woman with a plain face, except for intense hazel eyes. Those eyes burned particularly bright this day. The bishop guessed this urgent visit must be about her father. "What is it my child, is it your father?"
"Oh, no, Your Excellency. Da is no worse than usual. No the reason I came here is about the prisoner the Germans are keeping near here. I went to have a look at the camp where they are staying. There was a big battle recently and the Germans took a lot more prisoners. It has more than doubled the number they are keeping in the camp and it’s badly overcrowded. There is inadequate shelter right now and many are exposed to the storm. And I have more than a sneaking suspicion they are not being adequately fed. Many of the prisoners are as Irish as you and me, Your Excellency, though I’ve heard this latest bunch are mostly Welsh."
The bishop’s mind had been fixated on his precious cathedral since the invasion. He had been upset with so many of priests leaving. Of those that remained more than a few had pronounced sympathies for Fenianism. Dr. Mangan was uneasy with this and he intended to steer clear of politics in this difficult situation but not at the cost of neglecting the rigors of Catholic ethics. So though he strongly condemned the Prime Minister’s promise to execute all rebels, he also condemned those in the IRA now calling for the execution of the British prisoners. As long as they were still alive he felt he had done his duty.
Until now. "Yes it sounds most dreadful. What do you want me to do, Caitlin?" he asked with humility, "Should I speak to those in charge of the camp?"
"Yes you should, Your Excellency. However I already talked to the Irishmen running the camp. Some of them are mean to the prisoners on purpose because of that monster in London. You can tell them how gravely sinful that is—two wrongs do not make a right. But you will find others who sincerely mean to do the right thing but the camp lacks both the material and men of good will to treat the prisoners properly."
The bishop did not completely understand where Caitlin was heading, "I understand about the problem of spite and will address that topic most sternly.. But what can we hope to do about the second problem? I can go talk with the Germans but I am afraid that in war the care of prisoners nearly always gets short shrift."
"I understand that, Your Excellency. Maybe I am being a silly little girl, but my idea is this. There is a small minority of Irish Catholics that have joined the rebellion. There is a larger number who have not. Some are Redmondites who wish they had been given a chance to fight the Germans. Many of those are less than happy with decisions coming from Dublin and London, but are still not ready to throw their lot in with the rebels. Then there are others who never really cared one way or the other—like my da who always found politics to be silly."
"Yes, what you say is quite true, my dear. But I still don’t see where this helps us?"
"What I am suggesting, Your Excellency is that we appeal to those people within the occupied territory and ask them help with the plight of the poor prisoners, many of whom are Irish Catholics like themselves. If we can get enough people interested we can form an organization to funnel aid to the prisoner camps. If we can persuade the Germans maybe they will even let some people perform some useful labor. I think we can some physicians to help that now refuse to help the rebels."
"Hmm. That is an interesting proposal. To make this work there would have to be some way that contributors are assured than their contributions go to helping the prisoners and not feeding the rebels."
"Yes, Your Excellency. That is why I think you are the most logical choice to head this organization. People here know that you are not a puppet of either the Fenians nor the Germans."
"Hmm. Perhaps you are right. Have you by any chance given some thought to what we should call this organization?"
Caitlin shrugged, "I have, Your Excellency, but I am afraid I am not very good when it comes to names. All I can think of is Irish Mercy."
------Perim Island 0910 hrs
With the help of the two mountain howitzers as well as the artillery at Fort Seyd, the Ottomans had in the last few minutes eliminated the last remaining enemy resistance on the island. Mucke took that as an indication that their enthusiasm for the British cause had become tainted. This was a question of degree though for most of them had fought fiercely since the Ottomans had landed. Nearly half the Ottomans and Germans landed in the first two waves have become casualties.
Out in the Mandab there were a pair of British gunboats, and another gunboat could be seen approaching from the south. They clearly knew that Perim was under attack. They had made several attempts to signal the garrison. Mucke had repeatedly warned the Ottoman soldiers that the gunboats would likely open fire at some point. The larger of the two gunboats now did with a 6 pounder. The Ottoman soldiers, nearly all of them Arabs, dropped to volcanic ground. "Should we try to return fire with our howitzers?" asked a nearby Ottoman officer.
"No! Not now. Later."
------Athlone (Roscomman/Westmeath) 0925 hrs
The boats from Scariff Bay had brought with them a 9 man team of German pioneers led by an English speaking unteroffizier. While the Irish rebels and the Ulstermen were waiting for the rain to lighten up he saw his opportunity when it suddenly intensified. The pioneers managed to reach one of the walls of Custume Barracks and set charges. The detonation created a breach which allowed the Irish Volunteers starting with those of the East Clare company to pour into the barracks. Fighting raged inside the building where the defenders were from roughly half of the division signal company and about two thirds of 121st Field Engineer Company.
------Dunmanaway (Cork) 0940 hrs
Oberst von Frauenau, the commander of the 2nd Chevalauger Regiment was another who spent the rainy morning trying to figure out what to do next. He had received what he regarded as vague orders from General von François about proceeding to Cork with "most" of his regiment as "soon as the opportunity presents itself." As a cavalry officer Frauenau appreciated not having leeway for initiative. In a war which had frequently demonstrated the vulnerability of cavalry rigid orders often resulted in catastrophe for them. Was ‘opportunity’ presenting itself to 2nd Chevaulegers at this moment? Frauenau didn’t see it that way. There had been an attack by British cavalry to the north. It may only by a single squadron but von Frauenau could not be sure. He sent 2 squadrons to guard his left flank. He had sent one squadron on to Cork to deliver weapons to the rebels as ordered. He had lost communication with that squadron. There were conflicting reports about whether the British were in control of Bandon. The latest report from a patrol that had just returned was that previous reports that the British had abandoned Bandon to the rebels were in error. Bandon lay between the Chevaulegers and Cork so this presented a serious problem.
Here at Dunmanaway he only had the regimental HQ and a single squadron—and much of that was out on patrol. Early this morning officers of the Irish Brigade had created a new IRA battalion, the South Cork Battalion from Irish Volunteers that had assembled. So far it consisted of 311 men and 10 women, but their officer had hopes it would grow rapidly. Frauenau suspected the wet weather might slow the pace of new arrivals. When the 6th Bavarian Division had been with Sixth Army von Frauenau had become dismayed with trench warfare and the negligible role it provided cavalry. In Ireland he thought he would again have a chance to participate in open warfare—and he did. But now he remembered all the headaches and confusion that went with it.
------Cork city 0955 hrs
Despite his disagreements with Major von Thoma, still Rommel was still glad he was in Cork. For one thing he appreciated the strength of West Limerick Battalion. He ordered them to reinforce his position controlling the approaches to Patrick’s Bridge, which had come under pressure from the 3rd Royal Munster Fusiliers which had arrived from the northeast before dawn. But just as importantly it allowed Rommel to put von Thoma in charge—temporarily of course-- of operations north of North Channel so he could go pay a visit to the fighting south of the South Channel, about which he was receiving very confused reports. Ritter von Thoma sent messengers to Oberst Hell informing him of developments-- probably hoping he would crimp Rommel’s authority and initiative, but Rommel couldn’t fault him from complying with Hell’s orders.
On their voyage to Ireland Plunkett had told Rommel about James Connolly’s ideas concerning urban warfare. Rommel saw some merit in them and implemented some of them since reaching Cork, pretending that the ideas were entirely his own. Barricades were erected wherever possible and marksmen posted in upper stories and on rooftops would dominate the streets with rifle fire. In order to advance his men would tunnel through adjacent building. This was obviously a slow time consuming tactic. Rommel concentrated on the section north of North Channel while in the heart of city he was content to remain on the defensive, hoping that they enemy would expend themselves. Before dawn the Cheshires had made another large assault on the Woodford Bourne Building which was repelled. The heavy rain was now interfering with the street combat in Cork. Before leaving the jail Rommel instructed von Thoma to use his armored cars as strong points but to hold off using his infantry guns unless absolutely necessary. Rommel worried if their artillery suddenly began demolishing buildings it might turn much of the population against him. He was somewhat surprised when von Thoma agreed with Rommel’s recommendations. Maybe he did have some competency after all.
For all his difficulties with Ritter von Thoma, Rommel knew he faced much larger ones in the southern part of the city—Joe Flynn and his presumptuously named ‘Sealgair’ battalion had arrived. Anticipating trouble he asked Commandant MacCurtain, supposedly Flynn’s superior, to accompany him. As he approached what he had been told was Flynn’s HQ a lad with IRA arm bands came running enthusiastically towards him. It was Tom Barry. "Major Rommel, Major Rommel, I found me a good spot to do some sniping. Killed two British soldiers and wounded one more. Don’t that beat all?"
There was something in Barry’s bloodthirstiness that made Rommel wince though before coming to Ireland he had seen more than a few German soldiers who had a similar attitude. "That is very good, private. Keep up the good work," he answered stiffly, "This here is Commandant MacCurtain. He was in command of all the Irish Volunteers in County Cork when we came ashore. He is commandant Flynn’s superior." Rommel wanted people like Barry to understand the notion that Flynn had a superior and should not be regarded as a law unto himself.
Barry was not impressed with MacCurtain and gave him a critical eye. "Where were you and the battalion commandants when the Germans landed? Why wasn’t there a rising throughout Cork immediately! Instead you let the damn constables disarm everyone—well nearly everyone. What sort of daft leadership is that? The only one in the whole County who acted like a real leader is Joe Flynn. If you ask me he’s the one who should be running Cork Brigade."
Rommel felt nauseous at Barry’s suggestion. He hoped MacCurtain would cuff Barry for his lack of respect. Even by the low standard of Irish discipline it was out of line. Instead MacCurtain looked a bit sheepish. In a sense Barry was asking some of the same questions he had been asking himself. He still did not have a good answer. "You have zeal, Mr. Barry. Zeal is good," was all he would say disappointing Rommel.
Flynn’s current HQ was located in a pub. MacCurtain had told Rommel a few things he knew about Flynn. One of them was Flynn seldom drank but on the few occasions when he did he would sometimes go completely crazy. Another was that there was a persistent rumor that Flynn suffered from tertiary syphilis and he might not have long to live. Flynn had been married but his wife had left him a long time ago after he had beat her nearly to death. None of this surprised Rommel.
Rommel and MacCurtain entered the pub with Barry following. "Well look who finally decided to show up?" Flynn asked sarcastically when he saw MacCurtain, "Have you finally realized there is a war on?"
"Hello, Joseph. Good to see you making a name for yourself," replied MacCurtain uneasily, "I am not sure if you knew but the constables arrested within a few hours of the German landing. Same with my staff and the battalion commandants. However Major Rommel captured the jail and freed us yesterday. We have mobilized most of the two city battalions. We are also trying to summon the companies near the city."
. "Well, Major Rommel wouldn’t have been able to rescue anyone yesterday if I hadn’t sent Barry here to rescue him after he was taken prisoner in Bandon. These silly Germans are always getting themselves into trouble and need us Irishmen to rescue their sorry heinies. When I got here this morning the first I find is that those feckless Bavarian horsemen had gotten themselves in a mess. Naturally when my men showed up things ended quickly. But once the fighting was over the cavalrymen mounted their horses and rode off the west What cowards!"
Despite the insults and obvious distortion this was useful information to Rommel, who wanted to know what had become of the Chevauleger squadron. "Do not be so quick to judge by your own very limited perspective! Their commanding officer was merely following his orders," Rommel countered. Actually Rommel had his own misgivings about the Chevauleger’s bravery as well but certainly wasn’t going to admit that to Flynn.
"Just following orders, eh? Sounds like his superior must be a feckless coward as well, if you ask me."
"Now, now, Joe. Don’t get carried away. We both owe the Germans and esp. the Major here a big—"
"-- big swift kick in the arse is what we owe them. Did your Kraut buddy here tell you that he stole one of my precious machineguns, eh? Not to mention Julius! When I am going to get Julius back, Erwin?"
"Gefreiter Gaulart’s assignment to you unit was only intended to be very temporary and you know it!" Rommel shouted, "He would’ve left sooner but you blackmailed him."
"Please, Joe. You are not helping and there are important things for the three of us be to discussing now," MacCurtain pleaded.
Flynn darkened and sputtered "But, but—oh dammit it all to fuckin’ Hell—just what is more important than getting my machinegun and Julius back?"
MacCurtain answered, "We have a company at Passage West. Your men are the closest to them right now. We want you to make contact with them and bring them to Cork."
Flynn’s scowl diminished as he digested that. He was always looking to add more men to his command. "I might be able to manage that," he conceded coyly, "But they likely will have little or no weapons. Right now I don’t have any weapons to spare."
"A cart will be arriving here soon with 40 of the Russian rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition," Rommel answered, "The usual procedure—give a rifle to those who have some idea of how to use one. We are a bit short on rifles ourselves right now but we will try to find arms for the rest when they arrive. In the meantime they should hold on to any firearms they already have, no matter how obsolete."
"Oh, come on, Erwin. Surely you can spare more than 40 of those barely mediocre Mossy Nags. And how about some Lee-Enfields? For your good friend, Joe, eh? What do ya say, darlin’?"
It was now Rommel who darkened clenching fists and jaw. MacCurtain tried to again to intercede, "The Major here is quite right. The key battle is being waged between the Channels right now and that is where we need the weapons most."
"So that where the real action is! Well then after I go and fetch Passage West company I should work my way north. Then your worries will be over."
"No stay here on the south side for the time being assisting 2nd Cork City Battalion," Rommel ordered.
"What? Is that an order, Major? Haven’t I made it clear that I don’t take orders from you, you little German shit. I am going to take my elite battalion any damn place I fuckin’ feel like taking them."
Rommel glanced angrily at MacCurtain who said, "Listen, Joseph, the Major here is right. For time being it is best if you remain on the south side. If you suddenly move now 2nd Cork City Battalion’s flank will be exposed. And you do fall under my command jurisdiction."
Flynn ground his teeth and said something to himself neither MacCurtain nor Rommel could make out. "Good! Now that is settled we can move on," said Rommel, "Since we have captured the Cork City Jail, it provides us with the perfect place to keep prisoners. You send all your prisoners with an escort north to the city jail."
Flynn was still fuming. Finally with a sardonic grin and a dark glint in his eyes he replied, very deliberately, "Uh, we haven’t been taking many prisoners, Erwin."
This statement was subject to several different interpretations. Rommel did not like one of them and was ready to explode. Before he could did MacCurtain jumped in, "I know there is a lot of ill feeling right now about the Prime Minister saying he intends to execute every last one of us---"
"---That’s putting it mildly, Tomas!" Flynn retorted, "What does it say in the Good Book? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?"
"And the Devil can quote Scripture when it serves his purpose."
"What? Are you calling me a devil, you weak kneed little coward who let the constables take you like a baby!"
It was now MacCurtain’s turn to redden with a strange admixture of shame and rage. Finally through clenched teeth he said in an icy voice, "I made some mistakes, there is no denying that. But you, Joseph, me boy, are one of those who sods who thinks he never makes mistakes. Ain’t that right? Think y’er so fuckin’ special."
"I think I’m making a mistake right now just listening to this crap!" countered Flynn.
"Mock me all you want, Joseph. I will sign orders relieving you of command and ordering your arrest if I hear that you’re killing prisoners."
"You spineless piece of shit! You don’t have the balls."
"Do you really want to find out?" answered MacCurtain and his eyes were as dark as Flynn’s.
< more music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly >
------Croom (Limerick) 1005 hrs
The 16th Uhlan Regiment had departed Charleville just before dawn for a very wet ride north. Their commander decided to send one squadron to Foynes and try to make it to Limerick with the rest of his regiment. If the way to Limerick was blocked he would then head west to Foynes. When the lead troop reached the town of Croom on the way they discovered a small company of Irish rebels, consisting of 94 men and 2 women. They called themselves the Southeast Limerick Company and were mostly Redmondites disgusted with Bonar Law’s Greenwich Park Speech plus a few Irish Volunteers who had previously held back. They had formed in the southeastern portion of the county where neither side was currently maintaining much of a presence. They were heavily armed with a .22 caliber rifle, 2 sawed off shotguns, 4 revolvers, a crossbow, a 19th century duelling pistol, 3 swords, 2 authentic pikes and an assortment of machetes, knives, clubs, hammers and shovels. They had headed for Limerick yesterday afternoon and were now sheltering at Croom waiting for the rain to let up.
The regimental commander decided Croom was a good place to rest his horses before making a final dash for Limerick. He decided to furnish the rebels with 5 Mausers he didn’t really need any more on account of recent casualties along with 20 clips of ammo. He also gave them a Lee-Enfield and 30 rounds of .303 they picked up after yesterday’s skirmish with Connaught Rangers at Charleville In returned they provided fodder and help tend the mounts. What the oberst wanted even more from them was information. Before the Uhlans arrived the rebels had send out 2 small teams to reconnoitre to the north and expected them both to return before noon.
------southeast of Kedainiai (Courland) 1030 hrs
The lighter regiment of the motorized heavy artillery brigade had arrived and was set up. It now commenced a brief but sharp bombardment of the nearby Russian brigade supplemented by the horse artillery of the Guard Cavalry Division. The lead regiment of the 119th Division had passed through Guard Cavalry Division and was assigned to make the infantry assault though its divisional artillery regiment would not be ready to join in the shelling. The ferocity of the shelling shocked the Russian infantry who were expecting merely horse artillery and were only beginning to entrench. Some began to flee before the German infantry began their assault. Seeing this, the supporting Russian battery began to limber up fearing they could be overrun and lose their guns.
The infantry assault hit an enemy whose morale was already sorely weakened. Some of the Russians fought bravely and the Germans took some casualties from their rifle fire. But a German bayonet charge broke what little morale that remained in the Russian brigade and its men fled south back towards Kovno from whence they had emanated. The German infantry pursued but they had marched hard to reach the battlefield and quickly tired. The pursuit was a job for the Prussian Guards on horseback. They performed it well.
Meanwhile the rest of II Cavalry Corps where hotly engaged with some Russian cavalry that had covered the flanks of their infantry brigade. These were not Cossacks and were proving nettlesome though handicapped by a lack of artillery, even horse artillery. With the collapse of the center their own position became perilous and they were forced to retreat as well albeit in a more orderly manner. The German cavalry eventually broke off their pursuit. With the Guard Cavalry Division again in the van they headed southeast towards Jonava with the 119th Infantry Division proceeding more slowly on their right flank.
------northwest of Macroom (Cork) 1050 hrs
The soldiers of the 16th (Irish) Division had marched back down the road from Macroom they had just recently marched up. The wet weather had slowed their march. The artillery had lagged behind. General Parsons knew there was an enemy force in his rear occupying the key communication center at Macroom. He believed it must be weak though probably just one half strength enemy battalion with a single battery of 7.7cm supporting it. Apparently there were some Irish rebels as well but he regarded those as irrelevant. He was more worried about the reports of armored cars. For that reason he saw the heavy rain as favorable for he could not see those vehicles operating in this weather. He also saw the enemy article as handicapped and so order the vanguard of his division, the 8th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to attack off the march. Close behind them were the 7th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers who were to reinforce the assault. A preliminary reconnaissance had disclosed a wire barrier but it appeared to be only a single strand and it was felt the attacking battalions could overcome that.
Hell was waiting for them. The Bavarian Jaeger Regiment was still arriving with the weather causing some delay but the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion was already in line with the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. There were 2 batteries of 7.7cm guns already registered on the road as well as pair of 17cm minenwerfers. Due to the poor visibility these did not fire on the 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, which only had to deal with rifle fire and machineguns as well as the single strand of wire and the rain. The minenwerfers never came into play at all but the 7.7cm guns did fire briefly on the 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers as they tried to enter the fray which caused relatively few casualties but considerable disruption. The rain added to the confusion of the situation but it did not take too for the battalion commander of the 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to realize the enemy had much greater strength than expected and soon whistles blew and the bugle sounded retreat. After that they spread out to look for gaps to exploit but this took time. The terrain was rough, the men dog tired and the weather most foul. It took a lot of time.
------Dublin 1215 hrs
Pearse was meeting with 5 of Dublin Brigade’s 6 battalion commandants. He looked very sad. Pearse got straight to the point, "I have reached two decisions. The first is that I learned that Sean McAntee the senior IRB man with the Louth Volunteers is now in Dublin. I met with him during the morning and have decided that I want him to take over as commandant of our troubled 2nd battalion. I know him fairly well. He is a fine man who loves Ireland deeply and should make an excellent commandant. He informed me that the Countess Markievicz is in Dublin as well and is going to arrange for me to treat with her tomorrow. Sean was unfortunately unable to stay for this meeting so I could introduce you to him."
"So she really back in Dublin, eh?" remarked one of the battalion commandants, "I’ve been hearing a great many rumors to that effect lately."
"Yes, the Countess is back. And she is accompanied by that American poet, Mr. Ezra Pound, who did play a key role in avoiding capture along with poor Mr. Yeats, just as it says in the papers. She has contacted the Transport Union which is really the outlawed Citizens Army and they have agreed to follow her orders."
"Jesus! What a silly bunch of addlebrained Socialists to be lettin’ a woman lead them," another battalion commandant expressed agreement.
"Isn’t giving Mr. McAntee command of the 2nd battalion going to cause confusion with the rising scheduled for tomorrow, Padraig?"
The look in Pearse’s eyes became even sadder and he shook his head, "Uh, no it won’t. You see that is my other decision. I am going to postpone the rising we had been planning for tomorrow morning."
"What? This is mighty short notice to be calling things off, Padraig!"
"Until when, Padraig?"
"I am not sure," said a dejected Pearse.
"Good! I’ve been saying all along that we needed more time to plan. Two more days should be all we need to do this right."
"But that would be two more days for the metro police and the constables to find us and the remaining rifles."
"I am not calling off the rising in order to take more time planning. That’s not the reason at all," said Pearse, who then held up a copy of yesterday Irish Times for all to see, "I did it account of this."
"I’m afraid that I’m not exactly followin’ you, Padraig,".
"The Germans did a fiendish thing at O’Briensbridge. Contrary to the rules of war, contrary to basic human decency they unleashed a cloud of poison gas. Yes, I know that they’ve done the same abominable thing in France, but I had expected to show some decency as they are guests in our country, we had every right to expect them to behave."
"Beggin’ your pardon, Padraig, but I heard this so called poison gas cloud derailed the British counterattack at Limerick. I for one applaud it! I hope they brought some more with them! It will make things a lot easier!"
"Oh, no, no, Stephen! The spirits we must invoke are the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael not Mephistopheles! If we lose our righteous purity the whole endeavor is ruined. We must hold off on our rising else Ireland will think we condone the German barbarism."
"So just how long are you planning to delay the rising, Padraig? One day? Two?"
"I haven’t made up my mind. It could be more," replied Pearse. He had not been truthful when he said that McAntee had been unable to attend the meeting. Sean had guessed correctly that Pearse had intended to delay the rising at least a week and had berated him for that.
"For Chris’ake, Padraig, what has gotten into you? This is is what we’ve all been waiting for. Take another day to plan and write that political statement we all know you feel is so damn important. But we cannot afford to wait too long."
------Gumbinnen (East Prussia) 1300 hrs
The German I Army Corps had fought one of the earliest engagements of the war near Gumbinnen under the aggressive leadership of General von François, who had gone on to other assignments. Some of the men marvelled that their former leader was now leading the daring invasion of Ireland. The I Army Corps now under the command of Gen. Robert Kosch, had been assigned by Gen. von Below to attack a portion of the Russian XX Corps nearby. Originally this attack had been scheduled for early tomorrow morning but fearing that the weather was starting to deteriorate, von Below decided to move it up after conferring with Seeckt by telephone. The process of moving most of Eighth Army’s heavy artillery from where it had been used on Monday to the vicinity of Gumbinnen had not yet been completed. In particular, more than half of the powerful 21cm Morsers had not yet arrived.
The bombardment opened up with all the howitzers available. It lasted 90 minutes. The infantry assault was made by the 1st Infantry Division plus a regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. They found the weak Russian trenches over the 4 kilometers stretch being attacked had suffered greatly from the shelling. They captured over 3,000 dazed defenders but two stubborn strong points held out causing some casualties and slowing further advance. These were eventually eliminated but it gave the Russian XX Corps time to move up additional battalions. Fearing possible capture the Russian batteries had withdrawn to new positions further back at the edge of a forest but before too long they were again in action. By nightfall the German advance was only 3 kilometers at its deepest and was beginning to suffer enfilading fire on its flanks. Since the primary purpose of this attack was to pin the Russian XX Corps so both Kosch and the hard to please von Below was inclined to feel satisfied as total German casualties had been only been just under 1,200. Fighting continued through the night but at a much lower intensity, while the Germans strove to consolidate their gains and broaden their salient.
------Manhattan 1335 hrs GMT
Kapiten Karl Boy-Ed, the German naval attaché met in private with two of his new Irish spies. Yesterday afternoon the Cunard Steamship Company had abruptly announced that their ocean liner, Lusitania would finally depart New York this morning. The British and French had indefinitely postponed the departure of all ocean liners heading for Europe since April 25 due to concerns about German raiders in the Atlantic. They had also delayed the departure of some but not all of their Entente flagged merchantmen bound for Europe. As far as the Germans could tell the British and to a lesser degree the French were holding back their freighters with the more precious cargoes. As for the ocean liners the continued postponement of departures was beginning to seriously hurt their business as impatient travellers were beginning to make alternate arrangements on neutral liners.
Until now that is. Boy-Ed’s agents on the NY docks had told him that something peculiar was happening at the Lusitania all through the night with Cunard suddenly hiring an impressive number of dock workers at significantly higher than usual wages even though there still some idle labor there due to the war. Boy-Ed met with two of these agents. "They loaded a bunch of stuff on short notice during the night," remarked one of his spies, "but there is one item that I think you will find interesting--extremely interesting."
------HQ British VII Army Corps Ballyvourney (Cork) 1400 hrs
"My division has been frustrated in its attempts to punch through the Germans near Macroom, sir," Gen. Parsons the commander of 16th Division informed Gen. Keir, the corps commander, "In addition to elements of the 6th Bavarian Division there is also some Jaegers opposing us. And moreover the weather is not helping."
"Hmm. What about your rearguard? Are they holding?"
"Yes, they are holding but they are under some pressure. I cannot afford to weaken them further to assist with the attack at Macroom."
"You must break through at Maroom! Have you used your artillery yet?"
"Not yet, sir. The weather presents some problems. I do not have that many shells and can ill afford to waste them with my supply line cut. If the rain diminishes I would be more favorable to using my artillery."
"Hmm. I must reiterate that it is imperative that we breakthrough. If you feel that artillery cannot be used effectively on account of the weather then I must insist on infantry attacks through the night. The Bavarians must be woefully understrength by now and you should be able to wear them down. If you have not broken through during the night you must use your artillery in the morning even if the weather has not improved."
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 1410 hrs
The fighting inside Custume Barracks continued with the remaining Ulstermen now cornered in approx. a quarter of the building. The trapped Ulstermen controlled some of the depot areas with food and ammunition and they could get ample rainwater wherever they had a window. The Fenian attackers had captured some stores as well, including nearly 90,000 rounds of .303. One musty old storeroom held some obsolete weapons, including 150 Martini-Henry rifles with some ammunition for them. Athlone Brigade currently suffered from a shortage of rifles so these rifles were issued as a stopgap until better rifles could arrive from the south. Also captured was nearly a ton of various types of explosives that the handful of German pioneers present were now investigating with a mixture of enthusiasm and caution. The only artillery they found so far was a muzzle loading 10 pounder kept as a ceremonial relic.
One part of the barracks that the Irish attackers of what was now called Athlone Brigade had taken, was the cells were the Irish prisoners were being held. These included those that had been captured with Liam Mellowes in Galway, plus some other Fenians who had been captured, included 4 men caught clipping telegraph wires at night. It did not however include those captured at Enniscorthy—those were being held in Dublin. Altogether they freed 107 Irish prisoners of which 39 were wounded. The Lt. in the IRA who had liberated the prisoners now read from Bonar Law’s speech before the House of Commons, "This government has vowed to execute every single one of the vile traitors and nothing will stop us! Nothing!" then he added, "Well Mr. Prime Minister something has stopped you! The Irish Republican Army has stopped you!" This produced roars of delight from his audience.
The Irishmen had taken some 94 prisoners of their own inside the barracks. Of special interest to them were the elderly British officers who had been serving as judges for the courts martial being held at this location.
------Perim Island 1450 hrs
"Now!" von Mucke ordered the Ottoman artillery officer, "commence firing now!".
The sun was low in the horizon but the gunboat the Ottoman gunners were aiming at was nearly SSW so they were not dazzled. The howitzers were not attempting true indirect fire but instead were partially exposed peeking up from behind the crest of a rock ledge. With each howitzer crew there was a German NCO from the Emden to advise and assist in the tricky business of hitting a ship at sea. The range was just under 4,000 meters. The gunners had both shrapnel and HE shells available. Until they found the range the howitzers fired shrapnel then they switched to the HE shells.
Their target soon tried to return fire with its 6 pounder. The smaller gunboat which was further away soon tried to join in with its 3 pounder. The larger gunboat was hit amidships which started a small fire. Its machinery was not damaged but a hole had been created not far above the waterline allowing water into the hull. Its captain had already ordered the warship to retire when it was hit again killing the 2 sailors manning a machinegun. A third gunboat—this one French-- had been steaming from the south to render assistance but after exchanging signals with her British counterparts she turned around. The 3 gunboats headed south, with the intent of resuming patrols off the coast of French Somaliland at last light.
------Abbeyfeale (Limerick) 1500 hrs
A group of 27 local Redmondites had gotten together in the last 2 days and decided to split with the National Volunteers and join the rebels. They had sent one of their members to Listowel to contact the IRA known to be there. The rest had gathered in a barn one of them owned on the outskirts of town. They were very nervous about their decision and lacking any firearms made them feel particularly vulnerable. They feared that some of the National Volunteers who remained loyal to Britain might attack them with pitchforks, knives, axes and shovels, the same improvised weapons they now carried. They also worried that the local R.I.C contingent which had fled the town a week ago out of fear of the Germans might decide it was time to return.
Liam Doyle, the leader of the group had posted 2 lookouts outside in the rain which had ameliorated from a downpour to a steady rain. One of them poked his head in the door and announced excitedly, "Liam! There is a wagon coming with Tim on it." Tim was the one they had sent to Listowel. The conspirators then buttoned their raincoats and opened their umbrellas. When they stepped outside they saw a small wagon drawn by 2 Connemara ponies. Tim was sitting besides the teamster. There was a stout woman sitting in the back of the wagon who stood up when the wagon stopped. She carried a Lee-Enfield rifle over her shoulder.
"I am Staff Sgt. Bridget Donahue of the Irish Republican Army," she announced in a gruff voice. When she had left Listowel the IRA unit there had grown to 82 men and 39 women including herself. Austin Stack had called McAndrews in the morning and promoted him to subaltern on account of the increased size of his temporary command. McAndrews was still not completely well and continued to rely heavily on Bridget so he persuaded Commandant Stack that she deserved a promotion as well."
The men who had been in the barn had not been expecting a woman sergeant. Many of them scratched their heads and exchanged confused glances. "I need some of you fine Irish gentlemen to lend me a hand," SSgt. Donahue said in a strong voice. She removed a tarp and revealed one box containing rifles, another box containing ammunition and a double barrelled shotgun. The new recruits gathered around and under Donahue’s direction hauled their new arsenal into the barn. When they opened the box with the rifles, one of them complained, "There are only ten rifles in here. That will arm less than half of us."
"Yes, I can count," replied Donahue testily, "We happen to be short on weapons at Listowel right now. For the time being this is all we can spare, but we are expecting more to arrive soon." This was only partially true. Another more important reason she only brought 10 rifles is that she was worried this bunch might turn out to be diehard Redmondites looking to acquire arms so they could cause trouble. She had wanted to meet this bunch in person before she would agree to provide them with additional weapons.
"Then we should be returnin’ with you to Listowel once we get a break in this rain," another of the men said.
Bridget shook her head vigorously, "You’ll do no such thing! Your orders are to remain here and take possession of the train station. The Germans hope to resume using the railroad between Tralee and Foynes again so they want all the stations on the route firmly guarded. You should be receiving more rifles late tomorrow. Oh and here before I forget." She removed a small bag from a pocket in her raincoat and handed it to one of the men. "These are some cartridges for the shotgun. I’ll send another shotgun as well as more cartridges tomorrow. Even when you have a rifle for everyone you should keep one or two men armed with shotguns. Especially at night you should always have someone armed with a shotgun on duty."
Most of the men were stunned and gaped. Earlier in the day they argued about what it would be like to take orders from a German officer. Some of them had been uncomfortable with that. Now they found themselves being bossed around by an uppity woman! The sooner the Germans showed up and put an end to that nonsense the better!
Mother Superior chose to ignore the shock on their faces. She pointed to Tim and said, "Private Murphy here says that one of you named Liam Doyle was a platoon leader in the National Volunteers. Is he here?"
"I am he," answered Doyle raising his right hand.
. "Good. You are now Cpl. Doyle, Irish Republican Army. I am placing you in charge of these men and the town of Abbeyfeale. If you perform well a promotion to sergeant will come quickly but if disobey orders or prove incompetent I won’t hesitate to remove your stripes. Is that clear?"
Doyle ground his teeth and bit his tongue for a few seconds then answered, "Yes, it’s poifectly clear."
"You should address me as sergeant."
"Perfectly clear, sergeant." He bit his lip so hard there was a trickle of blood.
"Well then, Cpl. Doyle, while your primary duty will be to guard the train station, you will have other responsibilities as well. One of them is to try and recruit more men into the Irish Republican Army. Be warned that some eager lads who are too young will try to join sooner or later. If they are younger than 15 send them home. On the other hand you might try to encourage men over 40 to join as well.
Another responsibility you will have is to try to keep some order in this town and the nearby farms. There has been a breakdown of order in much of Kerry. Where the Germans are in strength they do a good job, but up here there is a wee bit of a vacuum and there’s been way too many incidents of looting and other more unspeakable crimes."
"What do you want us to do with looter—uh, sergeant?"
"I had to shoot one fellow yesterday. So don’t you be afraid to set some examples."
------northeast of Patrickswell (Limerick) 1525 hrs
When the scouts sent out by the Southeast Limerick Company returned to Croom they brought the discouraging news that British forces now had Limerick complexly surrounded on the south bank of the Shannon. The initial reaction of the commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment was that he should head for Foynes instead. However one of the Irish recon parties had spotted 2 British artillery batteries pointed at Limerick, which appeared to be vulnerable from the rear. The commander of the 16th Uhlans decided this was too tempting a target to pass. His squadrons were now barely half strength and so he thought it too ambitious to strike both batteries simultaneously. He also did not wish to wait for the squadron he had sent to Foynes to return. He therefore decided to hit the battery on the left, seize their guns and some ammunition and then beat a hasty retreat to the southwest.
The rain was still coming down steady and the wind had picked up during the course of the day. When the Uhlans approached they could hear at least one of the batteries firing. The plan was for 2 squadrons to attack on horseback while the third would follow up dismounted along with the automatic rifle section. The wet boggy soil and the wind helped muffle the sound of their approach. When the guns were sighted the lead squadron sounded the bugle call to charge. The battery they were attacking belonged to the LV Royal Field Artillery Brigade. It was armed with 18 pounders, but when the Germans had landed in Ireland had only been issued 3 of the 4 weapons to which they were entitled. The charging Uhlans produced a mixed result amongst the artillerists. Some fled in panic while others tried to defend their guns and wagons. Of those that tried to fight less than half were armed with a rifle and most of those with rifles were not loaded. Some of the charging horsemen fell to the last minute fire of the defenders but most swept down on the defenders with lance and sabre. Two guns were captured intact very quickly along with some of the ammunition wagons. The British gunners clustered around the third weapon proved more difficult and were able to hold off the Uhlans long enough to wreck its sights.
There some came reports that the battery to the east had bee alerted and was repositioning its guns to point west instead of north. Any residual fantasy of attacking that battery as well evaporated from the obert’s skull. He ordered his men to collect the captured guns, horses and wagons as quickly as possible. He had taken 38 prisoners, most of them wounded. He decided to leave the leave the wounded prisoners behind for the enemy to take care of. This was not n any way intended as a humanitarian gesture. This sortie was intended as hit and run and the sooner he could start the run phase of it the better. He worried that the battery to the east would begin shelling him any minute. He also worried about the British infantry to the north which must certainly would be summoned by the commander of the artillery brigade. One thing that ironically made things easier was that the Uhlans had captured only 76 rounds of 18 pound ammunition –most of the ammunition wagons turning out to be empty. The Uhlans simplified their tasks by abandoning these empty wagons. They managed to leave without being shelled. The oberst guessed afterwards that the enemy guns had probably held back out of fear of shelling their own men. .
------Kanturk (Cork) 1605 hrs
What remained of the 53rd (Welsh) Division had cautiously back pedalled during the day. The 159th (North Wales Brigade) supported by the 3 batteries of North Wales Artillery Brigade were now positioned in an arc around the town of Newmarket. Elements of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment tentatively probed their positions resulting in a brief skirmishes. On the left flank of the North Wales Brigade was the badly bruised 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade whose position curved to the southeast terminating at the market town of Kanturk. It was there that the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment pressed the retreating enemy vigorously. They even briefly used a battery of 7.7cm guns. However the foul weather and cumulative exhaustion made a decisive turning of the Welsh flank too difficult but they did succeed in keeping control of the key road leading to Mallow, letting them send needed arms and munitions to the North Cork Battalion.
Beginning to accept the distinct possibility that Gen. Lindley had been killed or captured, Gen Hamilton had decided to dispatched Gen. Friend to assume temporary command of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. He had arrived at Buttevant to the east with 3 junior officers as a hastily improvised division HQ. With reports of several hundred well armed rebels at Mallow to the south of Buttevant, Gen. Friend had insisted on an entire rifle company from the 159th Brigade moved to guard his HQ. When he learned from the brigadiers what was left of the 53rd Division, Gen Friend was shocked.
------Grand Central Station NYC 1710 hrs (GMT)
A train arriving from Chicago pulled into the station. Among its passengers was the delegation of the Ghadar Party, led by Ram Chandra. News of the German invasion of Ireland had caused them to stay longer than planned in Chicago. Initially there was been a great uncertainty amongst the large Irish Catholic population in Chicago about whether or not the invasion was good for Ireland. For the first two days many viewed it negatively. When Sandeep Singh Puri spoke in favour of the invasion and the similarities between Ireland and India he frequently found himself heckled in those early days. Some members of his entourage suggested returning to California, but Sandeep had persevered with some encouragement from Agnes Smedley.
. In addition to the Irish, Chicago also had a large population of German descent and many of those tried to persuade their Hibernian neighbors that the invasion was for the better. Each day the Irish Catholic population of Chicago had shifted more and more towards support of the rebels. When they learned of the rally in Boston the Chicagoans found themselves echoing the same sort of sentiments. The Chicago Tribune demonstrated increasingly obvious sympathies for the Fenians and gave Puri’s speeches favorable mention more than once. Before he left Chicago he had managed to become a Chicago celebrity despite being an dusky Asian.
Agnes continued to hover around Sandeep like a leopard stalking its prey. So far Sandeep had ignored her coy hints. Sometimes she did behave herself and concentrate on the cause and more than once made some useful suggestions. Still the other Ghaidars were whispering amongst themselves about her and Sandeep felt deeply ashamed. Agnes was sitting next to him when they pulled into the station. He tried not to look at her. She let her leg rub against his, provoking both lust and anger. He tried to concentrate on other things. "I am looking forward to meeting the infamous John Devoy," he told Agnes.
"Yes, you’ve told me that at least a hundred times," replied Smedley with an annoyed sigh.
When the Ghaidars got off the train, Sandeep asked Larry De Lacey to point out John Devoy.
"Strange. I don’t see John anywhere," replied his Fenian comrade with disappointment. Suddenly a tall middle aged black man came running towards them, waving his arms.
"What the hell—" De Lacey said.
"---you must be the Ghaidar group from San Francisco, am I right?" asked the black.
Ram Chandra answered, "Yes, when we were in Chicago Mr. Devoy sent us a telegram saying he would meet us at the train station."
"Oh dear, I guess then that you haven’t heard. Mr. Devoy has been arrested. The US Attorney General claims that he violated US Neutrality Laws. The Clan na Gael asked me to meet you as a last minute replacement. I’m Cornelius St. James. Perhaps you have heard of me."
"Arrested, you say? I guess I should be so surprised with Wilson in the White House," grumbled Chandra, "Yes, we have certainly heard of you, Mr. St. James. You are the former Buffalo Soldier who likes to talk about current developments in Africa. I do find it strange that the Clan na Gael would send you instead one of their own leaders."
"Uh, the others in the Clan na Gael are very busy now on account of Devoy’s arrest. A fund is being set up to cover his legal expenses. Mr. Clarence Darrow has agreed to represent John," answered St. James. All of what he had said was true but what he held back was his suspicion was there were many in the Clan na Gael who were uncomfortable dealing with the Asians even though they publicly acknowledged the many similarities between the cause of Ireland and the cause of India. So they decided to send some one else from what they regarded as another nonwhite inferior race to greet the Ghaidars.
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 1800 hrs
. Despite the foul weather a steady stream of Irish Volunteers made their way to Athlone from Counties Galway, Roscommon, Westmeath, Longford and King’s all through the day. The Germans in charge of Athlone Brigade wanted to send the river boats back to Scariff Bay to fetch more rifles and ammunition as well as inform Gen. von François of their success but the wind had intensified during the day and they were now worried that Lough Derg might be dangerously choppy so they decided to keep them at Athlone for the time being. They also kept the armored train there and it now proved useful once again. The 16th battalion Royal Irish Rifles, which had up until January been the 2nd County Down battalion of the Ulster Volunteer Force, had been brought to Mullingar in the eastern part of Westmeath by train in the early morning. This battalion had been assigned to serve as the pioneer battalion of the 36th (Ulster) Division. As such it lacked a machinegun section and its training had emphasized digging more than marksmanship. The heavy rain and muddy roads slowed their march to Athlone but learning that their division HQ was threatened by Papists they marched hard in spite of the weather. Their line of communication was rather tenuous as they found that nearly all of County Weatmeath telephone and telegraph wires had been cut by the dissident forces.
When they reached the eastern edge of Athlone the armored train pulled up. Infantrymen from inside the armored cars fired on them through slots while the Maxim partially protected behind shields strafed them as well. The armored train had exactly 10 shells left for its cannons but its commander decided to hold off on using them. The train dispersed the Ulstermen who then came under attack from elements of Athlone Brigade and the German Marine Cavalry Squadron. The men from County Downs managed to regroup driving off the counterattack. After this initial shock and looked for ways into the town where they could not be exposed to the depredations of the infernal train.
------Tlatizapán (Mexico) 1855 hrs GMT
This time Emiliano Zapata brought Kurt Jahnke in his headquarters. Zapata first read Obregon’s letter twice while he let Jahnke drink a small cup of water. When he was done he scratched his head and complained, "This letter is extremely vague and Gen. Obregon does not say much. What am to make of this?"
"I told you at our last meeting. Senor Zapata that he could not be too specific in the letter because of the risk that it might fall into the hands of Carranza."
"Yes, yes, I remember that. Still it seems to me what that means is that he distrusts either you or me. Which one do you think it is, German? Is it you or is it me? Or maybe it is both of us, yes?"
Definitely both of us thought Jahnke struggling with a way to de diplomatic, "Put yourself in his shoes, Senor Zapata. Wouldn’t you want to be as careful as possible?"
"If I was in Obregon’s expensive shoes and fancy uniform and I looked at myself in the mirror and remembered how I licked the boots of that stinking cockroach, Carranxa, the shame t would cause me to shoot myself!"
Is this all in vain? Jahnke wondered drearily, These Mexicans have absorbed the Hidalgo penchant for grandiose posturing but with none of their sophistication. He decided to be blunt, "Gen. Obregon is not going to commit suicide either with his revolver or his pen, Senor. He has authorized me to communicate in detail his response to your demands. Do you wish to hear what he has to say or should I leave?"
Zapata cleaned his fingernails with a knife. He took his time, deliberately making Jahnke wait. When he finally finished he pointed the same knife at Jahnke threateningly, "You will leave when I let you leave, German—if I let you leave."
Jahnke just barely repressed the urge to gulp. Instead he met Zapata’s fierce glare with unblinking eyes "Are you done threatening me, Senor Zapata? I would like to begin."
------Jonava (Kovno Gubernia) 1910 hrs
Passing through country that was a mix of farmland and forests the vanguard of the Guard Cavalry Division now reach the small town of Jonava on the banks of the Vilia River, a tributary of the Niemen. The town’s populace was about 80% Jewish and once again as the Germans approached as the Russian authorities assisted by some less than gentle Cossacks were trying to herd the Jews away from the front lines. Gen. von Marwitz had instructed the 7 German cavalry divisions under his command to try to cultivate gratitude from the local Jewish population whenever possible in the hopes they would prove helpful in letting the cavalry live off the land, though they should try to avoid infuriating the local Catholic population by obvious favoritism towards the Jews. This was sometimes a tricky set of instructions to follow but not when it was a simple matter of slaying Cossacks. When that delightful chore was finished the Guard Cavalry, now present in greater strength, secured the bridge over the Vilia, which the Russians had neglected to destroy. With that their fulfilled their primary objective and were instructed not to cross the river in strength but only to send out a few patrols. They would camp in and around Jonava and wait for the rest of the corps and 119th Infantry Division, which was stilling bearing the brunt of the fighting, to catch up.
------OKW Berlin 1935 hrs
The rainstorm had worked its way into Germany in the afternoon and delayed Gen. von Falkenhayn’s arrival at OKW by nearly 2 hours. This did not improve his mood. He had hoped to meet with Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke one on one, but Moltke had caved into Admiral Tirpitz’s demand that he should be present as well. Still Falkenhayn had continued to hear rumors of some feuding between the two.
The first thing he noticed on being admitted was that Moltke did not look well. His face had a haggard look and his skin complexion had an unhealthy pallor. Falkenhayn wondered if she should ask. He decided to do it tactfully, "Might I ask how have you been feeling, Generalfeldmarschal? Do you still see a physician at least twice a week?"
Moltke frowned and sighed, "Yes, I still see a physician twice a week. They are not happy with my condition but are unclear even contradictory about the specific ailment. They continue to recommend that I lose weight, exercise more, get plenty of sleep and avoid unnecessary stress."
"You should not take their advice lightly. You should not exert yourself too much in your current condition."
"So good of you to be so concerned about my health," answered Moltke with a hint of sarcasm.
"Yes, it is. Not to worry, General von Falkenhayn. We are taking very good care of him" said Tirpitz, "But you didn’t all the way to Berlin just to inquire as to the Feldmarschal’s health, now did you?"
"You are quite right, Grossadmiral. The main reason I travelled all the way here in this ghastly weather is to inquire about the status of Operation Unicorn."
Tirpitz was going to answer that but Moltke spoke first, "You know very well that there have been some setbacks. The Irish revolt has been a fraction of what Casement, Devoy and Plunkett had predicted. The attempt to take Berehaven by coup de main failed miserably. A British counterattack appeared to be getting the better of the 6th Bavarian Division. I must confess that I thought the whole enterprise was doomed. However there has been some surprising new developments that indicate that we should not rush to pronounce it a total failure. Gen. von François pulled off a brilliant counterattack in Kerry and has regained the initiative. Furthermore there is word of an Irish insurrection in the city of Cork. So if you’ve come here to see if I was ready to release the 111th Infantry Division then I am afraid the answer is no. At least not today."
Falkenhayn was disappointed but tried his best to hide it. "Yes, I had heard that some recent developments in Ireland were encouraging, but we need to ask ourselves if the overall complexion as been radically altered or if this is merely some transitory tactical success." he replied, "Am I correct that there still is no revolt underway in Dublin? Do you know the current size of the rebel forces?"
"We have no word of a rising in Dublin so far. As to the total size of the Irish rebel forces, what we are calling the Irish Republican Army, we received this message from Ireland a few hours ago," answered Moltke handing Falkenhayn a manila folder with the following message inside: Tirpitz made an ambivalent frown, apparently unhappy that Moltke was sharing this information.
IRISH STRENGTH IN CLARE LIMERICK AND KERRY ARE ROUGHLY FOUR THOUSAND STOP THERE IS MUCH UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THEIR STRENGTH IN COUNTY CORK FOR MULTIPLE REASONS BUT IT IS WELL OVER TWO THOUSAND AND COULD BE MORE THAN THREE THOSAND STOP :LIKEWISE IRISH FORCES PARTICPATING IN THE ATTACK UNDERWAY AT ATHLONE ARE EVEN MORE DIFFICULT TO ESTIMATE BUT BEST GUESS IS THAT IT IS CLOSE TO ONE THOUSAND STOP
"Harrumph. So what this is saying is that the Irish rebel forces total around 8,000. I seem to recall that we were counting on something close to 80,000 men."
"Yes that is true but it is more than double what it was a week ago, despite Irish forces being heavily involved in the fighting the last 3 days."
So it looks like the dying embers of Moltke’s enthusiasm for Operation Unicorn have suddenly flared up again I see. Falkenhayn concluded with deep disappointment. "So the most optimistic scenario now has us envisioning a more protracted campaign than originally planned. The conditions for sending the second wave are still not met, all we have is some nebulous hope that they might yet materialize. In the meantime there are several places I could make good use of the 111th Infantry Division right now."
"Like throwing them into Crecy Forest?" snorted Tirpitz derisively, "We gave you 52nd Division because you made it seem that it would tip the scale there. I still have not heard of the destruction of British First Army."
Falkenhayn had anticipated this line of argument from Tirpitz and prepared a counterargument, "It would have succeeded if we had continued to cut the British line of communications with the High Seas Fleet."
"A prolonged presence in the eastern part of the English Channel would result in the steady attrition of the High Seas Fleet by mines, submarines and night torpedo attack."
"Losing one or two battleships would be more than justified in exchange for destroying roughly half of the BEF."
"It is not completely obvious that would happen," bristled Tirpitz, "Sixth Army seems completely incapable of delivering the needed coup de grace. And if the High Seas Fleet became badly weakened the British Grand Fleet would certainly take advantage of the situation with catastrophic consequences.."
Falkenhayn darkened but before he could speak Moltke did, "I am not in a mood to listen to useless speculation about ‘what if’! What is done is done. It is water under the bridge—"
"---not completely! While a portion of British First Army has managed to move to relative safety 4 maybe 5 of its divisions remain vulnerable," Falkenhayn interrupted, "A prolonged sortie into the Channel could still cripple the BEF provided we waste no more time.. But it seems there is a sudden outbreak of defeatism in the Kaiserliche Marine."
"What! How dare you throw Ingenohl’s Reichstag speech at me! I demand an immediate apology, general! It is you who are the defeatist, trying to persuade the Generalfeldmarschal to give up on Operation Unicorn!"
Moltke’s heart was racing and he was becoming dizzy. I am not got to let these squabbling children put me in the grave he resolved. "Have you brought any reports we can examine about Sixth Army’s situation. If so my staff and I will examine them tomorrow. No decision is going to be made in haste."
"We do not have much time before the priceless opportunity we have in Picardy will have been squandered."
"Bah, if you ask me it has been squandered already," snarled Tirpitz.
"Meteorological section believes that heavy rain will continue well into tomorrow in France. This will cause a temporary slowdown if not a complete halt in both Picardy and the fighting near Compiegne. We have no need to reach a decision on this tonight," Moltke declared, "Again I will ask if you brought any relevant reports for the admiral and myself to review."
"Yes, but of course I came prepared. My aide has them in his briefcase. Do you want to see them now?"
"Are they only about Sixth Army?" asked Moltke, "I would also be interested in how Operation Fulcrum is progressing? Hindenburg still bears me some animus and provides this headquarters with only the most minimal of information."
"Hmm. I did not bring anything relating to Fulcrum as I did not deem it to be relevant to our discussion. I will remind you yet again that this headquarters has no operational authority unless it involves allies or joint Army Navy operations such as Unicorn. Fulcrum does not fall into either category. It was a plan that you proposed and studied but its implementation is not your responsibility."
Moltke did not care for Falkenhayn’s tone. It reminded him that Falkenhayn had deviously conceived of OKW as a purely ceremonial HQ to graciously remove him from operational command. "Operational Fulcrum has great importance in the overall strategic picture we are discussing. I know you have some reservations about it and probably only approved it in order to appease Hindenburg for the loss of Ludendorff."
"I will admit that I remain sceptical of this whole notion of bleeding the Russians white---"
"---But I never use those terms! Those were your simplistic and subtly sarcastic words, so don’t you dare put them in my mouth. What I did say is that we have an opportunity to seriously weaken the Russians at a spot they must defend with very acceptable losses on our part. It has the further advantage of making good use in its initial phase of much of our cavalry which have proven ineffective in most other sectors—though Ireland may be another exception."
Falkenhayn reined in his mounting ire. Several signs incl. body language were telling him that there was still considerable tension between Moltke and Tirpitz. One of his purposes in coming to Berlin was exploit that division with the goal of emasculating OKW. For that reason it would be best not to provoke Moltke too much. "Before this discussion becomes rancorous I will point out that I have lent Operation Fulcrum full support. Yes, I admit that it is now roughly 3 days behind schedule. A good portion of that delay is due to the reliance on motor vehicles as tractors for heavy artillery. The poor roads in that area have taken a heavy toll on those machines, which are not the most reliable contraptions under the best of circumstances. Despite those problems, it has achieved all the important objectives of its initial—including the secondary objective of Libau which the Navy has made no effort to use as a base."
The last comment was clearly meant as a jibe towards Tirpitz who did not take it well, "We are seriously short on personnel to man new bases. In the short term what is more important about Libau is that the Russians and the British submarines working the Baltic are denied its use."
"But you do have available base personnel. They are sitting idle at Wilhelmshaven as we speak"
"They are a critical part of Operation Unicorn’s second wave! This is outrageous! You are trying to turn the discussion of Operation Fulcrum into another disingenuous attack on Operation Unicorn."
Again Moltke was annoyed with both of them. "Enough! Libau is tertiary in the short term. What I want to know now is when does Operation Fulcrum move into its decisive phase."
Hmm. An opportunity to score some more points against Hindenburg mused Falkenhayn.who said, "Oh dear, Ober Ost really is keeping you in the dark, haven’t they? Well let me be the one to reassure you. Unless the weather deteriorates there as well the reduction of the outer forts will begin before noon tomorrow."
------Rathkeale (Limerick) 1955 hrs
The commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment was actually glad to see someone in an IRA officer’s uniform. Not long after the Uhlans had left Patrickswell with the captured guns and wagons, his scouts had reported that a sizable body of British infantry, probably an entire battalion, was in hot pursuit. The Uhlans had continued retreating to Adare where the ragtag band of erstwhile Redmondites calling themselves the Southeast Limerick Company had been told to wait for them. The Uhlans had given them their wounded to care for while they were out on their raid. On his return the obest had rewarded them for that with the rifles and pistols he had taken from the British artillerists as well as some ammunition for those weapons from the captured wagons. Taking the Irishmen with them the Uhlans continued retreating southwest. A troop was detached to try to slow their pursuers with brief feint attacks against the enemy flanks and their supply wagons. This forced their pursuers to commit one of his rifle companies to guard his wagons which had lagged behind due to the mod. Meanwhile the Uhlans hauled the wagons and guns through the mud as fast they could. It was too much for a few of the horses which had to be put down.
Meanwhile word had come that the squadron sent to Foynes where it picked up badly needed ammunition, had made it to Rathkeale bringing with them Major Weingarten, IRA the commander of the Central Limerick Battalion which had been helping to guard the important supply dump at Foynes. One of this battalion’s 3 companies had been stationed at Rathekeale to act as a strong outpost in case British cavalry tried to raid Foynes from the southeast. Weingarten listened with some amazement to the adventures of the 16th Uhlan Regiment, of how they had saved the Tipperary Volunteers at Dundrum then fought alongside them at the walled city of Fethard only to be deserted by O"Duibhir at Clogheen. "While I am shocked by O’Duibhir’s behaviour, I can’t really say that I am all that surprised. I have found the Irish to be wilful and downright strange in many ways," Weingarten noted ruefully, "Though I’ve been told some units have fought quite well, esp. in that brigade Oberst Hell commanded. My own battalion has seen very little action to date, only a few brief engagements against tiny bands of the R.I.C. This has allowed me time to train them as hard as I could. They are definitely improving but have a long way to go."
"Did you have a hard time persuading the supply center commander to bring the rest of your battalion here?"
"That is putting it mildly, Oberst. We have been working hard to fortify Foynes as much as possible. The center commander was deeply upset when he lost the 2nd Seebattalion to Brigade Hell. He still has 2 of those Landsturm companies formed from the merchant sailors of the transports, but they are in some ways even rawer than the Irish Volunteers. He also has one of those ancient battleships anchored offshore to provided artillery support.. There is also a small detachment of Navy sailors detached from the warships in the Shannon manning 3 strongpoints armed with 5 cm guns. Still he thinks he needs my battalion as well. Fortunately I persuaded him that his defenses would improve immeasurably if I made sure that your regiment made it to Foynes. I must confess that I was a bit deceptive, Oberst."
"Oh? How so?"
"The East Limerick Battalion was split during a recent British attack at Limerick. One of its 3 companies plus its machinegun and infantry gun sections were cut off from the rest of the battalion inside Limerick along with the Naval Division when the British penetrated to the Shannon isolating Limerick recently. The rest of the battalion after some cautious probing realized that the enemy was too strong to attack and made a prompt withdrawal to the vicinity of Askeaton north of here where they were ordered to guard against an advance along the coast against Foynes. I outrank the commander of East Limerick Battalion. I have already sent him orders to join us here as well. I did not inform the supply center commandant of this leaving him to believe they are still holding the coastal road. I may need you to intercede for me when this is over"
The Oberst grinned, "A good use of initiative if I ever heard of one! If we manage to get the captured guns to Foynes I think you can expect a medal."
"Provided the British do not capture Foynes in the meantime."
------Gaelic Athletic Association London 2010 hrs
Lt. Erskine Childers RN VC had stopped in a bar before coming here. He was not in a good mood and needed something to take the edge off. Room 40 had decoded the latest wireless message from Gen. von François to OKW about the strength of the Irish rebels. The numbers in the message was higher than what the Naval Intelligence Division had been told by the War Office. Once again the hardcore Unionists in the Naval Intelligence Division rubbed it in Childers’ face as proof of Irish Catholic treason and their unsuitability for Home Rule. As usual that bunch ardently expressed their desire to see all the rebels killed. In the pub Childers encountered drunken working class blokes whose only disagreement with Bonar Law’s policy of executing all Irish rebels was that shooting was too mild a punishment for treason—instead they should be hung drawn and quartered, the traditional British penalty for high treason. This reminded Childers of some gruesome Irish history—of Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh, who suffered that barbaric penalty at Tyburn in 1681 for promoting the Catholic faith. Supposedly Thomas Francis O"Meagher was sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered for sedition after the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 failed but mercifully the sentence was transmuted to exile in Tasmania..
Childers had hoped the Athletic Association would be an oasis of sanity. But even there many were more interested in debating the situation in Ireland than they were in athletics. "I tell you the government is lying through its fuckin’ teeth about the size of the rebel forces. Even though Dublin has yet to make its move, I think there must be close to 20,000 Irishmen involved in the revolt so far. It is sheer desperation that causes that bloodthirsty jackal, Bonar Law to be takin’ this hard stance of his," stated one half drunk patron.
Childers was just as inebriated. This man’s obvious Fenian sympathies annoyed him and he was sick of lies. "That is a load of crap," he interrupted angrily, "There is a little less than 8,000 rebels. That is all. Accept the word of one who knows."
"And just what makes you so all God damn sure about that sailor."
Another patron spoke up, "Yes, esp. as the numbers you’re quoting are still considerably higher than the government’s current estimate."
Childers was not completely drunk. Why the hell did I say that! I cannot talk about where I learned this information! He shook his head and said, "Oh, it’s just me wild Irish intuition same as you were doing. It’s just, well uh, it’s just I don’t have the same prejudices you do. Pay me no damn attention." At that he wobbled off on his wooden leg to a different corner of the club. In the background he heard some voices saying that more respect should be showed to a maimed war hero.
He thought the matter taken care of but then a few minutes later that Michael Collins fellow deliberately sat down beside him. He had a flask with him and took a swallow then proffered it towards Childers, "We would you be carin’ for a drink, Lt. Childers?"
"No thanks, Mr. Collins. I have enough—more than enough—already this evening."
Collins smiled at him warmly, "Aye, t’is a wise man who knows when he’s had enough. I sure wish I was that wise." At that he took another dose with his own flask. After he swallowed he continued, "I heard from some of the others that you got involved in a spirited discussion about the strength of the Irish Republican forces. You gave a figure of 9,000 men---"
"No, no, I said 8,000 men. That’s bad enough."
"Hmm, you do sound very sure of that number. Might I ask why?"
Oops I did it again! "It is only my best guess. Treat it as pure Blarney. Forget I ever said it. Can we please talk about something else?"
Collins gave him that look which reminded him of bird of prey. "So I take it that you don’t want to talk about the fighting in Ireland?"
"You’re damn right I don’t! I get enough of that during the day!"
There was a fey hint of a grin on Collins’ face, "Your fellow officers like to blather about Ireland, eh? I imagine there must be a lot of Tories in the navy, esp. amongst the officers."
"You can say that again!"
"And just how does that make you feel, Lt Childers? I can tell you that it would make me blood boil, that it would."
"I feel like that as well sometimes," Childers confessed, "and please call me Erskine."
"As you wish, Erskine. I recall giving you a telephone number where I can be reached. If you have lost the number I’d be happy to give it to you again. If you ever feel like you need to talk with someone who cares for Ireland as much as you do, don’t hesitate to call."
Collins produced an ambivalent response in Childers, at once reassuring yet somehow deeply disturbing as well. "I haven’t lost it. I just might take you up on that. Thanks.".
------Imperial Palace St. Petersburg 2045 hrs
Two men were alone together in a room drinking brandy. One of them was Tsar Nicholas II. The other man was a slightly younger man with a long dark scraggly beard and intense piercing eyes. His name was Grigori Efimovich Rasputin.
"We have just received more news about what is happening in Ireland," said Tsar Nicholas II as he poured them both more brandy, "I am beginning to worry that you might be right after all, my friend."
When the Russians first learned of the German invasion of Ireland, Grand Duke Nikolai had been quick to declare it to be a German blunder, and his opinion was soon echoed by most of the generals who had access to the Tsar. Early in the war Rasputin had wanted to go to the front and bless the troops. The Grand Duke had threatened to hang him if he did. Since that incident Rasputin bore deep hatred for the Tsar’s uncle. When Rasputin heard of the Grand Duke’s opinion he had argued to the contrary that Ireland was the Achilles heel of Britain and would be the blow that would force them out of the war. Rasputin had been opposed to the war from the start and feared it would be the downfall of the Russian Empire. Nothing that happened so far had changed his mind on this account. The Entente expedition to Albania had not produced the great Slav revolt against the Habsburgs that many Slavophile generals and ministers had predicted. Instead Bulgaria had joined their enemies!
Still he was careful to disguise his defeatism as he knew that he had more enemies than he could count at the royal court. In the last week Rasputin’s predictions about Ireland had been held up to scorn. The reports coming from London maintained that there was no Irish rebellion of any significance and that the initial German tactical successes in Ireland had been countered by timely reinforcements and the complete collapse of the invasion was now regarded as imminent. Rasputin had begun to regret his prognostication. Now he regained some of his confidence. "Oh and what has happened, Your Majesty?" he asked.
"The portion of the British offensive that was intended to eliminate the Germans in Kerry—that is in the southwest portion of Ireland—encountered a sharp German counterattack and has been forced to regroup. There is also a guarded admission of some rebellion underway in the city of Cork. The British remain completely confident of their ultimate victory but now admit that it will take longer than had been expected."
"The British are not being completely honest even with themselves and as usual what they tell Mother Russia is a mixture of half truths and lies. The worm is turning, Your Majesty. This is only the beginning. You will see."
"Hmm. You are such a pessimist about the war, Grigori Efimovich. There are those who accuse you and Alexandra of poisoning my mind with defeatism."
"Truth is a poison to the lovers of lies."
"Well said, my friend. So let’s assume for the sake of argument that you’re right. How bad will it get for British in Ireland?"
"Bad enough that they will seek a way to leave the war—but they will do in such a devious way that they will try to make it appear that it was our weakness and duplicity that caused their defeat."
"My uncle thinks we can still prevail in this war even if the British remove themselves."
Rasputin’s eyes darkened further. "You are in grave danger, Your Majesty. Your uncle conspires with the Duma to replace you. He has made it clear that he is willing to diminish the power of the monarchy in order to curry favour with the Duma. When the war ends in failure, you are to be made the scapegoat."
Nicholas arched an eyebrow at this. He was well aware of Raputin’s enmity towards his uncle and he himself had never forgiven the Grand Duke for forcing him to agree to the Duma’s demands in 1905, even if he had later reneged on most of them.. But these new accusations of Rasputin were still most unsettling. "Is this merely your own conjecture? Or it is another revelation from Above?"
Rasputin took his time before answering that. There posed some risk to his credibility if he claimed this knowledge was supernatural in origin and it proved wrong. He decided finally to be bold, "Yes, this knowledge comes from Heaven."
The Tsar frowned deeply. He had some faith in Rasputin’s occult powers but not as unquestioningly as Alexandra did. "We were worried about British intentions even before the Irish invasion," he admitted, "The British tend to see war as more of a naval matter than we do and the twin calamities of Dogger Bank and Utsire has savaged their vaunted naval superiority. I expressly ordered Stavka to mount an offensive to demonstrate Russian resolve to our frightened ally."
"That is most brave and honourable, Your Majesty, but sad to say I doubt if it will do Mother Russia any good."
Tsar Nicholas imbibed more brandy. It made him a little less respectful of the holy man, "Is there any more of your dark prophecies I should know about?"
Rasputin had once been stabbed in the abdomen by an angry woman. He had barely survived that attack and it still sometimes caused him some pain. Before coming to visit the Tsar it had flared up again and Rasputin had used a large amount of opium. He was still glowing from the narcotic and this accentuated his sense of being in touch with the spiritual world. Something popped into his head. Surely it must come from God. "Yes, there is, Your Majesty. A fortress will fall soon. It will cause a great stir."
Tsar Nicholas threw his hands up in exasperation, then asked, "Do you know which fortress? My uncle has seen fit of late to warn me that our fort at Ivanogorod has some serious weaknesses."
Rasputin began to nod and agree with the Tsar’s suggestion, but then he thought better of it. Specificity was something a wise seer would do well to avoid. Rasputin shook his head, "The Holy Spirit reveals to me only what it chooses. A fortress will fall causing the people to tremble. That is what the Spirit has revealed to me."
------Raheita (Eritrea) 2215 hrs (GMT)
The last quarter moon was rising over the horizon as the dhows neared the Eritrean coast. They carried 2 Ottoman rifle companies and a small artillery detachment with a single disassembled mountain howitzer. A week ago a hand picked group of 20 trusted Yemenis had landed near here in small groups armed only with pistols, knives and gold. They quickly made contact with the Sultan of Raheita. They had been told the Italians had received some guidance from Rome that if perchance a modest force of Ottoman soldiers "accidentally" landed on the wrong side of the Eritrean border one night the Italian government would be inclined to be forgiving provided the Ottoman soldiers departed as quickly as possible and did not make a habit of it.. After being shelled from Perim, the British gunboats had withdrawn to the south and patrolled off the coast of French Somaliland. At last light a formation of dhows departed from the vicinity of Fort Seyd but they headed towards Eritrea instead of French Somaliland.
The Yemeni advance party waited on the shore. With the blessing of the Sultan they had purchased some carts and draught animals as well as food and water. The local population in this part of Eritrea was predominantly Afars, some of whom were already aiding their fellow Afars in French Somaliland. However this was a harsh land and there were limits to what could be spared. The two Ottoman companies would have to make do, but that was something they were accustomed to. Signal fires had been set on the shore to help guide the dhows to where it was relatively safe to land. The Ottomans had attempted to have the dhows with one of the rifle companies land first and then the dhows with the other company land an hour later but in the moonless transit from Yemen the two groups had become thoroughly mixed. This caused considerable confusion in the landing and unloading. While their officers tried to sort things out an Italian official arrived from Assab to the north. "These are more men they we agreed on," he wailed to the Yemenis. It was obvious to them that the colonial bureaucrat was looking for more gold. Italians can be very loud when they want to be and to shut him up they gave him a fraction of what he had been looking for. Nevertheless he continued to bluster and rant, "You must all be across the border before dawn! I mean it! And tell the sailors going back that this is the last time we will permit this to happen!"
Once the Ottoman soldiers and their meagre stores had been unloaded the dhows departed the Eritrean coast in smaller groups than they had arrived so if enemy gunboats caught sight of them in the moonlight it would not look suspicious. Some of them did not immediately return to Yemen but fished for a while in the Red Sea.
Meanwhile the Ottoman officers took custody of the animals, wagons and provisions provided by the locals. They organized their soldiers and marched them south towards the border. Their men had been told before leaving Yemen to get what sleep they could on the dhows as that would be the only sleep they would get that night. .
------Curragh (Kildare) 2310 hrs
A report from Gen. Friend spelling out just how seriously weaken the 53rd (Welsh) Division reached the Curragh by dispatch rider a few minutes ago. Gen. Hamilton was discussing this and other recent developments with Gen. Braithwaite, his chief of staff. "Even if the 16th Division breaks through to Macroom in the next few hours, the offensive power of VII Army Corps is not going to be as overwhelming as we expected," Hamilton remarked.
"Yes, but the battalions of the 6th Bavarian Division must be reduced to the strength of companies by now. The current fighting near Macroom is resulting in further attrition they can ill afford. I remain confident Gen Keir will ultimately prevail," replied Braithwaite.
"I am of that opinion as well but there is also the tricky matter of how soon VII Corps can prevail. The Prime Minister has somewhat rashly committed himself to eliminating the German presence in Ireland by Monday. I am now seriously worried about meeting that deadline, esp. with the weather becoming so frightfully uncooperative."
"That is a good point, sir. The complete defeat of the Germans by Monday is now looking far from certain. Our best bet is to concentrate on Limerick. Gen. Stopford should not let the loss of one battery this afternoon distract him from his primary objective. If we can take Limerick tomorrow or Saturday we can release 10th Division to reinforce VII Army Corps. At that point landing a battalion of Royal Marines by sea in Kerry might hasten the collapse of the German forces there. If by Monday Limerick has been taken and the Germans are clearly on their last legs in Kerry, I think Parliament would tend to see the Prime Minister vindicated despite some loose ends."
"That is my assessment as well. I really don’t see the current government collapsing if we take a few more days as long as we are making clear and steady progress. So the only immediate step I am going to undertake is to send the War Office another telegram reiterating how desperately we need more shells and strongly suggesting that additional cavalry units and Royal Marines would prove most helpful in achieving a speedy resolution. At that time I will make it clear that the complete destruction of the German invasion force by Monday is far from certain."
"London –and the Viceroy as well—are going to want to know what progress is being made at Cork."
"The weather slowed the progress of the 108th Brigade. They will arrive at Cork before dawn and that should cause the rebellion there to collapse before the day is done. After that 2 battalions of 108th Brigade can assist VII Corps in its counterattack while the third will deal with the rebel concentration at Mallow. What has me really worried right now is not Cork but Dublin. Coming on the heels of our setback in Kerry a risng there could be very destabilizing. What is the latest word from Dublin?"
"Chamberlain has reinforced Dublin with 600 more constables, sir, and together with the three battalions we have stationed there are on the highest alert. Key building and junctions are carefully guarded and there are vigorous patrols of the city’s streets. Our men in Dublin are not going to be getting much sleep tonight."
"Neither will we it seems. Still I am beginning to think that if we can nip the Dublin rising in the bud it may actually work in our favor. It would be the last gasp of the Fenian menace and serve to dissuade those in remote areas flirting with the romance of rebellion."
"I am not sure I agree with that, sir. And I seriously doubt that Lord Curzon is going to see it that way either."
"You are quite right about the Viceroy. A very strong reason for why we are not going to breathe a word of this to him."
------SMS Bluecher 2350 hrs
The messenger from the wireless section approached Admiral Maas. "Admiral, we have just decoded this message sent from the Sayville station. It took us longer than usual to decode because it was in the diplomatic codes and not the usual naval ciphers."
Maas took the message. He arched and eyebrow and grinned, "Very interesting."
Limerick 0015 hrs Friday May 7, 1915
Major Jack White IRA, commander of the Limerick City Battalion had been summoned to a late night meeting with the adjutant of the 1st Naval Division. "I had a meeting with Gen. Jacobsen an hour ago and one of the things that came up is that the portion of East Limerick Battalion that got separated from the rest of its battalion when the British reached the Shannon is likely to stay that way for some time. The general and I think that those units—a small rifle company, a machinegun section and an infantry gun section should be absorbed into your battalion. This is more administrative than operational as they are part of our line there are subordinate to the local Marine battalion. They have taken some losses. You are currently keeping one company in reserve and sending some of its men piecemeal to reinforce the companies in the line, yes?"
"That is correct, sir. As I get new volunteers, I send women and the least fit men to the support company. The rest I send to the reserve company to receive training. In exchange the reserve company sends some of its trained men to the line companies. For instance, 44 men and 2 women joined yesterday. We determined that 7 of the men should go to the support company along with the women. The rest went to the reserve company. In exchange I ordered the reserve company commandant to send his 6 best men to reinforce Sturmcompanie Callahan and another 10 men to company #2. I can also order him to send some more of the already trained men to this East Limerick company—which going forward we should probably call company #4."
"Harrumph. What you call trained men have had at most a dozen days of real training! But yes by this flimsy standard of training, then you should send oh, 10 ‘trained’ men from the reserve company to company #4."
"I will do that, colonel."
"I understand that you had Capt. Callahan leave the hospital and give a speech in the afternoon. Do you think that was wise for a man in his condition?"
"Yes, I definitely think it was wise, sir. For one thing it was some speech—nine of the men who joined yesterday went out of their way to mention it. Capt. Callahan is recovering much faster than the physicians had thought possible. He thinks he will be ready to resume command of his company in maybe three more days. That of course is absurd but maybe in another week"
------Custume Barracks, Athlone 0215 hrs
"Are you sure this won’t bring down the entire building?" the worried young IRA major in charge of the 1st Athlone Battalion asked the senior Pioneer.
"We are not completely familiar with all of the British explosives, major—some of them are quite old. However we did find enough dynamite to do what we want. I am not worried about structural damage but as I said before we should anticipate that some fires may start that we will need to contain. Are your Irish boys ready?"
"Oh, let’s just say they are as ready as I am. Oh Hell, just go ahead and do it."
KABOOM! The building shook but it was in no danger of collapsing. It created a breach in the wall through which the pioneers entered, followed by a select group of Irish Volunteers from Clare who had had the most German training. They were armed with shotguns---most double barrelled but some were autoloaders or pump action —plus a revolver. The Germans even trusted 10 of the Irishmen with a pair of grenades each. One of the pioneers had a light flamethrower but he had orders to use it very sparingly. In the immediate vicinity of the blast most of the Ulstermen were either dying or already dead and the rest were dazed and easily captured.
The explosion took out the middle of the Ulstermen’s section. The attackers fanned out to attack the remaining sections. Not everyone left was dazed and some of the fighting was intense. The flamethrower ended up being used twice. The first time was to deal with a troublesome barricade. The other time was when a dozen Ulstermen suddenly out of a large room. One of the men hit by the stream of fire turned out to be Gen. Powell, the commander of the 36th Division. It took several bad hours for the general to die from his burns.
Meanwhile fighting continued outside the barracks Assisted by German Marine Cavalry Squadron the newly formed Athlone Brigade fought the newly arrived 16th battalion Royal Irish Rifles in the eastern section of the city as well as the remnants of the 13th Royal Irish Rifles to the southwest of the barracks. Casualties from both engagements were fairly light in the darkness so the brigade actually grew in size in the early morning as new Volunteers arrived faster than casualties. Like the Hydra of legend for each Irish Volunteer killed or wounded two more arrived to take his place. The downside of these was the shortage of weapons in Athlone grew worse despite taking some from the conclusion to the fight inside the barracks.
------Rathkeale (Limerick) 0250 hrs
The 6th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers had been involved in much of the fighting at Limerick since the Germans had landed and had taken over 300 casualties. It had been participating in an attack against the right wing of the German position at Limerick yesterday morning, when it received word of the raid on the supporting artillery brigade by German cavalry. When it arrived at the scene of the attack the German cavalry had already left, having taken the captured artillery. The battalion commander decided that pursuit would not be futile in this instance for transporting the captured guns on the muddy roads would slow down the horsemen providing him with a good chance to overtake them. However in the hard march their own wagons, including the machinegun section had lagged behind. Some of the Uhlans on horseback threatened their wagons and forced the battalion commander to keep his weakest company behind to guard them.
The commander saw that his only chance to overtake the Uhlans before they reached the safety of Foynes was to march his battalion through the wet night. When he approached the town of Rathkeale where he believed the Uhlans had likely camped he ordered his men to attack off the march figuring that this might catch the Uhlans sleeping and even if it did not it reduced the chance that they could saddle up and ride off. The lead company however ran into a strongpoint on the edge of town where there was the machinegun section of the Central Limerick Battalion as well as a pair of the 16th Uhlan’s automatic rifles. Just behind the strongpoint there was a dismounted Uhlan squadron in a shallow trench protected by a single strand of wire. The lead British company came under a storm of fire.
The battalion commander soon decided to pull back. After that he sent his other 2 available companies to try to come around the enemy’s right flank. These encountered the rest of the Central Limerick Battalion plus another Uhlan squadron and 2 more automatic rifles. They were not entrenched but they were positioned behind some measure of cover. In the dark and the rain a confused fire fight ensued. The commander of the 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers eventually realized that most of the enemy in this sector were rebels he ordered a bayonet charge. This rattled the men of the Central Limerick Battalion and more than half of them beat a hasty retreat. However the Ulstermen were exhausted from their march and found it difficult to pursue with any vigor. Their formation became increasingly chaotic in the rain and darkness. The 16th Uhlans managed to rally the Irish Volunteers with the help of another squadron kept as a reserve. In the confusion there were a few instances on both sides of friendly fire casualties.
The commander of the 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers eventually gave up and ordered his men to withdraw and make camp. He would let them get some badly needed sleep and revisit this battle at dawn. By then his wagons and the battalion’s 4th company would have arrived. He thought it likely that the Uhlans would use the respite to vamoose with the captured 18 pounders but the Irish rebels would not be able to keep up with them and so the Ulstermen would be able to butcher them with ease. Or so he thought.
-----north of Kovno 0400 hrs (GMT)
It had started to rain but it only lightly. The 4 Skoda 30.5 cm howitzers of the motorized heavy artillery brigade had been assembled and positioned during the night. Concerned about forecasts from the meteorological section that the rain would intensify in the coming hours Gen. von Marwitz ordered the bombardment of Kovno’s outer forts to begin. One battery of 2 guns opened up on one of the outer forts and the then the second battery opened up on another. For the time being the 21cm Morser batteries of the motorized heavy artillery brigade remained silent. The minenwerfers of the motorized pioneer regiment were silent as well. There was barely enough visibility for the Germans to observe the fall of the 30.5 cm shells and correct their range. The Germans did not want the shells of other weapons complicating that process.
Meanwhile the lead regiment of the 15th Reserve Division had just arrived to join with the 119th Division The rest of the division would arrive in another hour and the 16th Reserve Division would join them in the afternoon. These would join in the assault on the forts while the cavalry divisions cordoned off the perimeter of the fortress.
------Kragujevac (Serbia) 0505 hrs
The city of Kragujevac was now the acting capital of Serbia. Putnik had moved his headquarters here since evacuating Belgrade. He had struggled with ill health of both body and mind in the last few days. It was extremely hard to avoid despair in his current situations. He now met with the nominal head of the Serbian military, Prince Alexander to discuss the current situation, "The bad news continues apace, Your Royal Highness. The Bulgarians have succeeded in breaking into the Timok Valley. To the south the mixed Bulgarian and Turkish forces have been slowed but not stopped in their march into Macedonia. The Germans are temporarily stalled at Pozarevac but I don’t think we can hold for more than a few days. We are able to slow the Austrians greatly but not stop them completely."
"Is there no good news to report, Field Marshal?" asked the prince eager for even a crumb of hope.
Putnik nodded, "Yes, Your Royal Highness. This morning I have received confirmation that the British are going to send us another division through Albania."
"Praise God and all the Saints in Heaven! How soon can it get here? Is it coming here all the way from England?"
"No, it is coming from Egypt, Your Royal Highness. They hope to land it at Durazzo a week from tomorrow."
"Hmm. I gather from your voice that you are sceptical."
"Oh, I have no reason to doubt—except that they were also telling us very optimistic things about their own problem in Ireland and now I have heard that they are having some unanticipated problems there. Since the new division is coming from Egypt and now England I should not let this bother me but it does. I now find it difficult not doubt any glimmer of good news."
"But you do have some hope, yes?"
"Even with an additional British division our situation remains perilous, Your Royal Highness. I have two possible plans. The first is to merely to counterattack the Austrians at Uzhitse with the help of Gen. Godley’s division while merely holding on nearly everywhere else. Once we route the blacklegs there we withdraw our army into Kosovo and make our stand with the help of our allies."
"Withdraw into Kosovo? But that means giving up most of nation!"
"Yes, though I believe we could draw out our retreat for as much as two months."
"Small consolation! You said you have another plan, Field Marshal. Does it hold out more hope?"
"Yes, but it is even more desperate."
"Ah, desperate—strange as it might seem I like the sound of that. We were desperate last December and things turned out well. So you intend to spring another trap on the hapless Austrians?"
"No, Prince Rupprecht will be expecting that. I have something else in mind."
-----Perrim Island 0520 hrs
The HMS Bacchante, an old armored cruiser, had arrived off Perrim Island to express official British displeasure with both its 9.2" and 6" guns. The two small Ottoman mountain howitzers did not try to return fire as the cruiser was beyond their range. The Bacchante avoided the main facilities on the southwest side of the island, but targeted structures it believed might be Ottoman troop concentration. Some of them were and some of them were not. One of them was a crude field hospital that held wounded included prisoners from the Sikh Pioneers. The Ottoman troops scrambled behind whatever cover they could find. Von Mucke had been expecting this and was glad the cruiser had not arrived sooner. For the time being the Ottomans and the handful of German sailors from the Emden would hunker down.
Meanwhile across the Mandab the 2 rifle companies had crossed the Eritrean border well before first light. One company was given most of the carts, mules and horses provided by the Afars in Eritrea. It tried to proceed down the coastal road as rapidly as possible, though the heat would make a prolonged midday rest break necessary. As it was marching down the coastal road it drew the attention of a small British gunboat which began to fire on the Ottoman march column with a 12 pounder but judged the distance to be too great to use its Maxim effectively. The 12 pound shells caused only a dozen casualties but it scattered the Ottoman company, which eventually regrouped behind some hills to the west. After that it made its south more slowly in small groups avoiding the coastal day run while it was still light. Before leaving Yemen their commander had been warned that Col. Rabadi was not a patient man but under these trying circumstances he would just have to wait.
The other Ottoman rifle company remained in the north only a few miles from the Eritrean border. The artillery detachment was with them. They selected a good position overlooking the Mandab and began assembling the mountain howitzer on the reverse slope of a hill. The Yemenis in Eritrea with the support of the Sultan of Arheita arranged for the Afars to supply them with adequate food and water.
------Rathkeale (Limerick) 0545 hrs
With patrols reporting that the enemy had not abandoned Rathkeale the 6th battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers renewed their attack now that the sun was up, even though their men was received at most 2 hours sleep and the ran was still coming down hard. Their commander this time decided to turn the enemy’s left flank this time with 3 of his 4 companies. This time he ran into the East Limerick Battalion and another dismounted Uhlan squadron with 2 automatic rifles. The attackers slowly advanced against the defenders who bought up reinforcements which eventually included their 2 infantry guns and 2 Maxims. When the infantry guns first opened fire the Royal Irish Fusiliers were shocked and briefly fell back. Their commander soon erroneously concluded that they must be the captured 18 pounders. He ordered his men to take back the weapons with a bayonet charge. His half awake men did the best they could but took awful losses. On the second attempt they did manage to take the 2 infantry guns and one of the Maxims. However the battalion had suffered more than 300 casualties since last evening and it were now fighting an enemy with twice their number of effectives.
The commander of 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers learned to his disappointment that the weapons captured were not the 18 pounders, but some truncated version of Russian artillery. Still underestimating the ability of the Irish Volunteers he rashly decided that their morale must be cracking one more bayonet charge would route them completely. It did not and his men suffered more losses they could ill afford and with great reluctance decided to withdraw again. In the meantime the commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment received erroneous information that additional British forces were approaching from the east. This wiped out the temptation to make a counterattack. He decided his only hope was to make a hurried retreat to Foynes.
------near Macroom (Cork) 0600 hrs
The attacks by the 16th (Irish) Division during the night had broken down into confusion in the defiles of the mountainous terrain on the flanks of the road The exhausted soldiers fought the elements as well as the enemy as tired troops waded through with the rivulets resulting from the rainfall. They had hoped to have a decisive numerical superiority over the Germans but instead found their enemy outnumbered them by a third and had plentiful machineguns which they put to good use.. The front of 16th Division was now spread out in disarray in rough terrain. In accord with General Keir’s orders Gen. Parsons now ordered his artillery to support a another assault against the enemy’s position of the main road, which he felt must now be weakly held as the night fighting had spread out both sides. The sun had risen but the heavy rain still hampered effective observation.
Under these conditions Gen. Parsons were reluctant to fire off all his shells. He conducted a 10 minute bombardment with all 4 batteries of 5" howitzers belonging to the LXXVII Artillery Brigade as well as 5 RFA batteries of 15 pounder guns. The Germans had been holding back on their own artillery and without air patrols the 16th Division had only a guess where they were currently sited. The infantry assault was made by the 11th battalion Hampshire and the 8th battalion Royal Inisskilling Fusiliers. The 11th Hampshire had been intended to serve as the division’s pioneer battalion and it was now the strongest battalion in the division. These two battalions attacked as best they could in the mud. The enemy had two strands of wire in place untouched by the shrapnel shells. The Germans still held back on their own artillery but had 4 light mortars in place which tore into the attackers along with the machineguns and rifle fire, including some automatic rifles. The attack was repelled with heavy losses.
------HQ British Second Army (Picardie) 0610 hrs
Sir John French was on the telephone with Gen. Plumer again. "I have received no reports of a resumed attack," French asked, "So I must ask just when are you planning to attack?"
"Uh, yes, uh, well sir, the rain right now remains quite awful but those weather chappies tell me they believe it will either taper off or stop altogether by dawn tomorrow."
"No, no, no! First Army remains in grave peril and you’re worried that some of your men might get wet?"
"The weather makes an already difficult attack next to impossible, sir."
"You are exaggerating the problems! I insist on a full scale assault before noon."
Plumer thought about making further protests but realized that Sir John French was not subject to rational persuasion at this moment. Plumer had drawn up preliminary plans for a late morning attack before the call and now grimly put them into motion.
------Cork city 0610 hrs
The 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers was the first battalion of the 108th Brigade to reach the northern outskirts of Cork. The Ulstermen were fatigued after 3 days of hard marching with the last one in soaking rain. Their wagons including the machinegun section had lagged several miles behind. In their zeal to annihilate the Papist traitors the Ulstermen launched an immediate assault after minimal coordination with the British soldiers and R.I.C already present. They had not been trained in urban fighting and after overrunning a weak outpost they came under murderous fire from von Thoma’s West Limerick battalion. In and around the city the major roads were paved and von Thoma skilfully moved his armored cars to dominate the key streets, but held back on using his infantry guns even though he received some more ammo overnight.
The 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers pulled back to lick their wounds joining with the 11th Royal Irish Rifles who had arrived while their own attack was underway. Together they made another attack down a street that was not guarded by an armored car. They came under heavy fore from Irish marksmen in the upper story windows and were forced to withdraw before any of them could reach the barricade. After that failure the 108th Brigade conferred with the local R.I.C. which helped their third attack fare better initially. It hit a company of the 1st Cork City Battalion mulling about in a side street as it was seeking guidance from the West Limerick Battalion. The Ulstermen tore into this concentration, killing more than two dozen and reluctantly capturing a rough equal number. The rest of the Irish rebels fled and reached a city block where their fellow rebels were better prepared and manager to driving off the pursuers.
------Curragh (Kildare) 0635 hrs
The day started with one bit of very good news for Sir Ian Hamilton. The uprising in Dublin which was supposed to occur before dawn according to a few informants had not materialized. Around midnight one of their informants had told the R.I.C. that the rising had been called off at the last minute. Gen Hamilton decided to call Gen. Stopford to check on the current situation at Athlone. Once again he was unhappy to learn that Stopford was not feeling well and had wanted to sleep late. Gen. Hamilton insisted that if Stopford was too ill to participate in the telephone conversation he should be relieved immediately. This prompted Stopford to force himself out of bed.
"How is the attack on Limerick progressing?" Hamilton asked.
"Uh, well sir, the 10th Division is trying to recover the 3 field guns it lost yesterday. Other than that we’re waiting for the weather to let up."
"The weather may not let up soon—this is Ireland after all. We cannot afford to wait too long. If it has not cleared by noon you need to go ahead with the attacks regardless."
"We will do what we can, sir," Stopford grumbled.
For not the first time Hamilton was less than satisfied with Stopford’s attitude. "What is happening at Athlone. Have the rebels been defeated there?"
"I have received no communication whatsoever from any of our forces at Athlone this morning, sir. We both agreed that the German attack there was a desperate attempt at a diversion. Except for a weak force of cavalry it is only the hapless Irish rebels that are involved."
"Yes, I do recall saying to that effect that they do have that crude armored train up there as well so while I still feel that we should not overreact neither do I feel completely complacent at this moment. The dreaded Dublin Rising did not occur last night contrary to our intelligence.. As soon as this conversation is over I am going to order Chamberlain to release half of the constables he assembled in Dublin can now be sent to assist in stamping out the rebels in and around Athlone—and Monaghan as well.. We still have 3 battalions from the 36th Division inside Dublin in case of trouble."
------Tallow (Waterford) 0705 hrs
The Tipperary Volunteers had arrived at Tallow late yesterday and absorbed the local company of Irish Volunteers. Early this morning O’Duibhir asked the local commandant to meet with him. There was a third man in the room and O"Duibhir soon made the introduction,. "Late last night I learned that a rising has already started in Cork city Now I know there are a great many silly rumors floating about—my personal favorite being the pope committing suicide. But I am inclined to accept this latest bit of news as accurate and have decided to change me plan a wee bit.. This here is Andrew McElroy, one of my best company commandants. I have decided to split 1st Battalion in half. Andrew here is going to take one half including your company and march as quickly as possible to Youghal, where you told me there is a large company of Irish Volunteers belonging to Cork Brigade."
"Yes, they supposedly have more than 160 men on their rolls. However as we are short on weapons as is I must ask if it makes sense to gather more men?"
"That’s a fair question. From what I be hearin’ t’was the arrival of an IRA battalion bringing arms that sparked the rebellion in Cork. I now hope to find additional rifles will be waiting for us when we reach Cork so it now makes sense to bring as many men as possible. I am going to keep our wounded and the prisoners which will continue to slow our rate of march, esp. if there is no let up in the weather. The 2nd battalion is at Lissmore and they should catch up with us before we reach Midleton." One thing that O’Duibhir didn’t want to bring up was that McElroy had been one of the most vocal advocates for killing the British prisoners Temporarily removing him from where the prisoners were kept was one reason O’Duibhir picked him for this assignment.
McElroy had an inkling of what O’Duigbir was doing but he also appreciated an opportunity to lead. "One reason we are going to Youghal is to scrounge up some more food and if possible medicine as well. We have no medicine left due in part to a foolish decision to waste it on wounded prisoners when there was barely enough for our own boys," he now said.
"Now is not the time to be bringin’ that up again," O’Duibhir bristled.
The Lissmore company commandant could see there was some tension between the two and tried to sidestep it, "Youghal is a town of some substance. With the help of the local company of Volunteers we should be able to find both food and medicine to tide us over until we reach Cork."
"While you are doing that the rest of 1st battalion will be acquire what provisions which we can at Midleton and the nearby areas. I know they is at least one wonderful medicine that cures all ails I will find in copious quantity."
The others chuckled. "Try not to drink all of it before we catch up with you."
------Schavli (Lithuania) 0715 hrs
The German armored train pulled into the station. The city which was now the anchor point for the left wing of Army Detachment Marwitz was defended by a Landwehr Division which had fought a series of skirmishes with two Russian cavalry divisions, one of them Cossack, since Wednesday afternoon. The city boasted a vibrant leather goods industry which the Germans were trying to exploit. Before the war Jews constituted a little more than half of the population. During Operation Fulcrum the Russians had ordered the evacuation of most of the Jewish population which they regarded as disloyal. However due to the rapidity of the German advance only a fraction of the Jews had been ejected before the city fell.
To the west the German 2nd Cavalry Division and a half dozen independent Landsturm battalion were spread out in a thin screen extending to the coast at Libau. These occasionally skirmished with Russian territorial units and independent Cossack regiments. The Germans had used ample aircraft in Operation Fulcrum from the beginning and in recent days Russian warplanes were seen more frequently but today the weather was ill suited for flying.
Like the armored train at Athlone this one was armed with naval 8.8cm which had once been tertiary guns on German capital ships. However it had four of them and they were better protected within specially designed armored turrets. The train’s mission would be to protect the flank and supply lines of the main portion of Army Detachment Marwitz as it carried out the primary objective of Operation Fulcrum—the capture of the powerful Russian fortress at Kovno.
------old Admiralty Building 0740 hrs
Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty was meeting with the Sea Lords. "Admiral Oliver, I thank you for providing the very germane piece of intelligence about the rebel strength in Ireland, though it is a bit disturbing as it is considerably higher than what the War Office is getting from Gen. Hamilton," said Carson, "so it is more than a little disturbing that we must rely on the Germans to get an accurate figure."
"Hmm. Perhaps but consider this, First Lord--most of the rebels are now under German command," answered Admiral Wilson, "then it stands to reason they would have more reliable estimates."
"At one level your response makes the utmost sense, Admiral Wilson, but I still find our continued undercount a cause for concern. Is there anything I should be worried about this morning?"
Admiral Callaghan and Admiral Oliver exchanged glances. The First Sea Lord answered, "I’m afraid there is, First Lord. The Turks apparently succeeded in capturing Perrim Island last night."
"Perrim, uh, don’t tell me. Isn’t that the island that controls the Mandab?"
"Yes, that is the one, First Lord."
"Well then this is serious indeed. We always talk about how Suez is the jugular vein of the Empire, but if the Turks can close the southern chokepoint the effect is all the same."
"That is quite true, First Lord. For the near term we believe freighters can still pass by Perrim safely at night though this may become risky when we get close to the next full moon."
"We must retake Perrim before then. Am I correct that this falls within the sphere of New Delhi? Please tell me that I’m mistaken."
"You are not mistaken, First Lord.’ answered Callaghan with some regret.
"Blast! We have not been able to get a decent picture out of New Delhi about what is going on in Mesopotamia except that we have clearly lost the initiative there and our precious oil pipeline has been badly damaged. The same goes for Somaliland. Now we must trust Hardinge to retake Perrim without delay. There is yet another meeting of the War Committee later this morning and I am going to strongly suggest that the PM take this up with Chamberlain and insist on immediate action."
"In addition to the threat to shipping, the Ottoman capture of Perrim could make it easier for the Ottomans to send more men and material to Somaliland," Admiral Oliver commented.
"Hmm. That is a good point, admiral. Yet another reason for India Office to take prompt action," replied Carson, "Since I will need to be leaving soon, let’s move on to the next topic. Did we get all the shells in New York loaded aboard Lusitania before she left New York?"
"Not all of them First Lord. When day broke roughly a fifth of the shells had yet to loaded into her cargo hold. We did not attempt to load more during the day as we felt it too likely to be noticed once the sun was up."
"Yes, I thought the Chancellor might have been a tad optimistic about the efficacy of his last minute arrangements. Still the shortfall is only a small disappointment. I take it that the liner departed on schedule? And what about Inflexible? My mind has been so focused on the crisis in Serbia that I failed to follow up on that deployment properly."
"Lusitania departed on schedule, First Lord. Inflexible departed Cromarty Firth accompanied by Birmingham at 0230 hrs yesterday. They are proceeding towards the rendezvous point at 20 knots."
"Hmm. Only one cruiser? I thought we were going to send two on this mission?"
Admiral Callaghan frowned deeply then said, "As we all expected Admiral Bailey was positively livid about losing Inflexible. He eventually wore us down and we decided to show some sympathy for his concerns and revised our orders sending only a single light cruiser to accompany Inflexible."
"While I commiserate with the enormous responsibility that has been thrust on Admiral Bailey’s shoulders in the this the dark hour of our nation, I am starting to find his pouting—yes I said pouting for that is most certainly what it is---to be more than a tad tiresome. We have made it abundantly clear to him that if Admiral Oliver here has the slightest inkling of an imminent sort by the High Seas Fleet we shall order Inflexible’s immediate return. So his belabored concerns about the weakness of his scouting forces are wildly overstated."
"That is our opinion as well, First Lord."
Carson cast a worried look at the wall clock then said, "Since I need to leave for 10 Downing soon let us spend the time remaining on figuring out ways to expedite the transport of 42nd Division from Egypt to Albania, shall we?"
------Palace de Oriente Madrid 0750 hrs
King Alfonso XIII of Spain was having breakfast with Queen Victoria Eugenie, who asked, "What’s wrong my dear? You have that look on your face that there is something you would rather not tell me."
King Alfonso made a deep sigh and gritted his teeth. He then took a deep breath and answered, "Both the Cortes and my Cabinet are pressuring me to issue another official statement about Ireland."
"This is ludicrous! How much of your valuable time is going to be taken with all this pointless arguing about that justly executed Socialist agitator?"
"Hmm. It is no longer merely about Connolly, though our Socialists still chafe about his execution. Now what has become a public issue is the execution of the other Irish rebels who have been captured. It is no longer Socialists who are upset. Some prominent clergymen have jumped on the bandwagon, because the rebels are Catholics. This strange coalition of Socialists and Catholic Right want me to criticize these executions as a violation of the rules of warfare."
"Those rebels are traitors of the worst sort! The Prime Minister is quite right to insist that each and every one of those despicable scoundrels deserves to die."
"You know very well that I cannot take that position. I have tried to become the advocate for the cause of prisoners of war—and now the British government denies the captured Irish rebels the most fundamental right of all. I know you are going to get angry but in addition to being a matter of international law and ethics their position is poor strategy.. It gives the rebels a strong incentive to fight to the last man. Even if the Germans are defeated the rebels will flee to the mountains and carry on a guerrilla war. My generals tell me western Ireland is near ideal terrain for such a guerrilla campaign. It appears that the British have forgotten the lessons of the Peninsular War."
"I think you are overestimating the size of the revolt, my dear. I have heard that they number less than a thousand. A few fanatics will make trouble for the rest of the year, but it will be of little consequence."
"You must be reading old newspapers, my dear wife. The numbers of Irish rebels that the British will admit has been revised sharply upwards several times. My generals think they are deliberating undercounting and that the real number is likely somewhere around 10,000."
"This is absurd! How could your generals possibly have a better understanding of the situation in Ireland than the British government? I tell you what’s behind this. Some of them want Spain to join the Central Powers and are sneaking off to listen to that diabolical Irish provocateur, De Valera. He’s the one filling their heads with clever distortions they hope to use to manufacture a causus belli! I told you that De Valera was nothing but trouble. But did you do anything about it? No, of course, not. When do you listen to what I have to say anymore? I mean nothing to you."
The king suspected there more than Spain’s relations with Britain eating away at his wife. He had a good idea what the unspoken issues might be. "But I do listen, my dear, and I agree with some of what of you are saying. Senor De Valera is indeed turning out to be more than a gadfly. While I find it necessary to criticize certain British policies, I have no intention of violating by pledge to President Poincare, despite finding Premier Clemenceau so distasteful."
------Mohammerah (Persia) 0815 hrs
After two unsuccessful attacks by Kemal on the AngloIndian forces at Basra, Freiherr von der Goltz had decided on a change in strategy. He firmly ordered Kemal to hold off on further assaults and to temporarily release 2 battalions and a field artillery battery to reinforce Suleyman Al-Askeri’s forces near Ahwaz which then advanced south along the Karun River to press the forces of Britain’s staunch ally, Khaz’al Khan, the Sheik of Mohammerah. Accompanying him were nearly 500 Persians more than half on horseback. Some of the Persians were deeply opposed to the British influence in Persia including a group of Bhaktiari all the way from Derful and Shushtar who had been stirred up by Wilhelm Wassmuss back in February. Another group of Persians were those unhappy with the brutal despotism of Khaz’al Khan. Fighting between Al-Askeri’s force and the Sheik’s began about 12 miles north of Mohammerah Wednesday afternoon. It intensified yesterday often becoming confused but the Khaz’al Khan’s men lacked artillery except for a single armed British river boat with which they had trouble coordinating effectively. As the day wore on the lack of artillery plus the 2 battalions detached from the 19th Division proved decisive. Before sunset more than a quarter of Khaz’al’s men ran off. and a sixth had died.. The rest, many of whom were wounded, fell back in disarray Mohammerah, where they began to dig in.
In the meantime Col. Mustafa Kemal, who has received supplies and replacement drafts in the last 2 days conducted a prolonged shelling of the AngloIndian forces at Basra to discourage them from coming to the Sheik’s assistance. During the night Al-Askeri moved his artillery within range of the city but from the river behind hills in case more British gunboats arrived. Hearing that Khaz’al had been defeated 300 more local inhabitants volunteered to fight against him. At dawn the Sheik sent messengers to him suggesting a day long truce and face to face negotiations. Al-Askeri was feeling ill from an old wound which had never properly healed. He also did not trust Khaz’al, a man who murdered and blinded his own relatives to hold onto power. He asked der Goltz to conduct the negotiations, expecting the old Field Marshal who was not feeling all that well wither to demur as well. To his surprise der Goltz accepted.
The residence of Khaz’al Khan was a lavish town house built of yellow brick in an eclectic style that tried to incorporate some European features. He also had another residence, even more opulent, in Kuwait where he was a frequent guest of its ruler, Mubarak Al-Sabah. Der Goltz noticed a second more powerfully armed river boat was now anchored offshore. This would make an assault more costly. It was a reason to settle this matter diplomatically. Another was that Al-Askeri’s artillery had fired off most of their shells in yesterday’s victory. Der Goltz brought 3 men with him. One was a German interpreter but in preparation for this assignment the Baron had brushed up on his Arabic, practising whenever he could. He decided to try to avoid using an interpreter. After some brief amenities were exchanged, der Goltz got down to business.
"Your army is defeated, Sheik. Your ally, the British are unable to help you. We defeated them at Shaiba and will soon finish with them at Basra. You seem to me to be a very knowledgeable man. Perhaps you have heard of Dogger Bank and Utsire? You may even have heard that the Germans have landed in Ireland. With all their problems in this war do you think the British Empire will drop everything to come save you?"
Khaz’al scowled, "What do you want, German? And what do your Ottoman lapdogs want?"
"Germany and the Ottoman Empire both want to see a Persia free from the shackles of Russia and Britain. .There could be a very important place for you in Persia after the war—or no place at all. That is what we need to talk about today."
"I never considered my sheikdom to be completely independent," Khaz’al answered disingenuously, "I have in fact a very special relationship with the Qajar court. I do not wish to see outside powers interfering with that."
Der Goltz wanted to be sure he understood that correctly and consulted with the interpreter then replied cautiously, "If you would consent to become our ally we would not wish to interfere with your special relationship—except in one regard. We would like to make you far wealthier."
Khaz’al arched an eyebrow, "You must clarify that last point, German. Are you offering only to bribe me with a little gold now?"
"Did you know that what you get from the AngloPersian Oil Company is only a small fraction of what they gain from it? When the war is over there will be a new arrangement. Germany will provide expertise to replace the British. We will be compensated for that but not as outrageously as the British currently are. It is only fair that Persian government receive some of the money but we can make sure your payment is trebled," said der Goltz aloud while thinking to himself. Of course I have no authority to promise this but if he really does help us in the days ahead I think what I just promised has some likelihood. Khaz’al is no fool. He realizes that he is going to lose some of his power if and when a stronger Persian central government emerges. I am offering him still greater wealth as compensation. If he doesn’t like it we will just have to crush this pathetic little worm and find ourselves a decent puppet.
The sheik took his time but finally he said, "Trebled? I must admit that this is tempting. I need some of this in writing."
Der Goltz cringed but he answered, "I cannot be too specific on some items, but I am willing to sign what I said about trebling what you receive from the AngloPersian Oil Company."
"I will need time to think about this. I will likely have other issues and questions to discuss with you later."
"You have until midnight to accept our generous offer. If there is anything else we need to discuss I strongly suggest we talk about them now."
------Bandon (Cork) 0840
The 7th battalion remained at Bandon. All attempts to make contact with a higher headquarters had been unsuccessful Its last orders had been to take control of Bandon and its immediate vicinity and that was precisely what it was doing. There were reports of rebellion in Cork city—at first the battalion commander hoped it was only more of the wild rumors that he had been hearing since the day the accursed Germans first landed in Ireland—but now he was inclined to believe them did tempt him to move closer to Cork. There were also reports that the Germans had captured Macroon and he wondered in he should head north to investigate that situation which might posse some threat to his division. However this morning his battalion came under attack from what he guessed was an entire German cavalry regiment. The attacks forced him to arrange the battalion in a hedgehog position, the modern equivalent of forming a square. The German cavalry did not attempt a full scale attack so far but merely probed the defenses.
The leader of the Protestant Local Defense Organization had insisted on meeting with the battalion commander. "You must return to us the weapons you confiscated earlier. Our homes and families are in great danger from the Catholics"
"I am going to do no such thing. As long as we are here you are safe," replied the colonel.
"But you could receive orders to leave at the drop of the hat. County Cork is descending into utter chaos! We have word that there is a rising in Cork city and everywhere to the west and north of it, the Catholic traitors are running wild attacking the loyal Protestant communities. He must have the means to defend ourselves."
The battalion commander was annoyed by this for multiple reasons. One was that the civilian had better access to information than he did. But was further irritated by the man’s obvious inability to distinguish rumor from fact. However the colonel dismally concluded that there was probably some truth to what the man was saying underneath the exaggeration. "I will see to it that you are warned if I receive orders to leave," he answered, "but I repeat for what I hope is the final time I am not giving you arms."
"But, but—this is unconscionable! If you leave our only hope is that the Germans show up before the Papist jackals and will throw ourselves on their mercy. They may be far from perfect by some standards but at least they come from a decently Protestant nation. Heard they shot priests and nuns in Belgium. Now wouldn’t it be grand if they would start doing some of that here?"
The colonel was enraged. He drew his revolver and pointed it at the LDO leader, "And wouldn’t it be grand if I blew y’er damn head off!"
The LDO leader was shocked and blanched. Finally he said, "This is no way to be treating a patriot, colonel. I was only jesting about the priests and nuns."
"Well you have one sick sense of humor. Get out of here—now!"
------Killarney (Kerry) 0845 hrs
Austin Stack the commandant of the Kerry Brigade had slowly recovered from his bullet wound though he still required a crutch to help him walk. He had requested to speak with Gen. von François and Major von Runstedt. This was granted but he was told by von Runstedt to be brief as the general’s time was already overburdened. "I thank you for finding tome to meet with, Gen. von François. Yesterday I came up with an idea. I know it is going to sound strange, but I think it could be a major propaganda coup for us."
HQ British First Army Rue (Picardie) 0910 hrs
Gen. Haig was on the telephone again with Gen. Pulteney, the commander of the British III Army Corps. "Has there been any further progress in your counterattack?" Haig demanded to know.
"Nothing concrete to report since we last talked, sir. The 6th Division gained maybe 300 yards in heavy fighting but the latest word is that they have lost some of that to a German counterattack. The men have been fighting fiercely in this awful muck for more than a day, sir. While I know that Second Army has made some small improvement in our line of communications, it has yet to make a noticeable impact on our food situation. If anything it has become worse."
"That is on account of the weather. Once the rain tapers off we should see a marked improvement."
"In that case shouldn’t we wait until then before making further assaults, sir?"
"I don’t like the idea of letting the Germans getting settled down in their new positions. Scale down the attacks for the time being but continue to apply some pressure. The rain may not lift before sunset and I do not want to rely on a night attack as they always turn into a Chinese fire drill."
Pulteney had encountered General Haig’s dislike of night attacks—other than trench raids
before. He knew that night attacks experienced many problems but when the objective was modest they sometimes succeeded at a relatively light cost which never happened during the day when the enemy was entrenched. "As you wish, sir."
------10 Downing St. (London) 0935 hrs
The War Committee was having another meeting. "The latest news coming out of Ireland is that the German counterattack in Kerry hurt the 53rd Division worse than we first thought," announced Prime Minister Law, "Gen. Hamilton is now warning us that there is good chance that there will still be a significant German presence there come Tuesday morning."
"But Gen. Hamilton still remains confident of ultimate victory, does he not?" asked Lloyd-George, "This is merely a matter of it taking a few more days than we had anticipated."
"That is correct, David. He indicates that the current weather is also slowing operations somewhat similar to what is happening in France."
"And what about the rebellion in Cork? Is that contributing as well to his reassessment?"
"Not at all—at least that’s what he is saying now. He predicts that the revolt in Cork will be subdued before today is over. On this point Lord Kitchener seems to share his optimism."
"On the question of the rebel strength, Room 40 decoded another intercepted message from von François to Berlin. Here is a copy of the translated message. Admiral Oliver only let me take it on the Admiralty Building after I promised that we would burn it as soon as you and the chancellor had a chance to read it," said Carson producing a Manila folder from his briefcase which he handed to the Prime Minister.
Bonar Law scowled as he read the message, then handed it to Lloyd-George, "This is more than a little bit vague, isn’t it? Is it possible that Gen. von François could be fantasizing?"
Lloyd-George was reading the message and shook his head, "Maybe a little, Prime Minister, but by and large I think we will have to assume his numbers are closer to the truth than our own estimates. I am finding myself even more alarmed about the situation at Athlone that I am about Cork. I have brushed up on my Irish history in the last week and it seems that there are two linchpins that dominate central Ireland—Limerick and Athlone. The Germans already control Limerick. If the rebels can secure even partial control of Athlone--perhaps the portion on the east bank---it could mean trouble."
Carson now shook his head as well, "I concur with your understanding of Irish history, but I so not think the rebels pose a serious menace, Chancellor. Gen. von François apparently has learned some Irish history as well and concluded that Athlone is the perfect place to make a diversionary attack. He expects us to overreact siphoning off forces from our counterattack at Limerick. I see this as another act of desperation of his part on a par with the gas attack at O’Briensbridge."
"Hmm. I tend to agree to what that," remarked the Prime Minister, "Though there is more than a gaggle of drunken Fenians clucking around at Athlone-- for one there is that armored train the Germans fabricated."
"Which is the only reason the enemy has had any success at all up there," replied Carson, "but as we know from our own use of armored trains they have their own serious limitations, and this hastily improvised one in at Athlone must assuredly be a ramshackle affair. Our men will get the hang of working around it."
"So you feel that this recent shift in initiative in Ireland is only transient?" asked Lloyd-George.
"Yes, the rebellion in Cork, Athlone and Monaghan will be put down quickly. Then we are back to dealing with the Germans which now appears will take longer than we had expected but I am still confident of the ultimate outcome."
"Do you see any difficulties in Commons, Chancellor, if we are a few days late on delivering on our promises?" asked Bonar Law.
"Not immediately, Prime Minister. Even pestiferous Lord Northcliffe will give us at least one day’s grace. As long as we can demonstrate that we have the upper hand we can afford to take a few more days to wrap things up. We are for the time bring ride a wave of support based on the enthusiastic support of the lower classes for our very strict policy towards the Irish rebels. However this same policy causes me some worry a little further down the pike. There are those in my own party who in private tell me that executing all captured rebels is way excessive—some even go so far as to say it violates international law---"
"---It does not! And even if it did, I don’t give a flying fandango. Treason is treason."
"Please don’t kill the messenger, Prime Minister. I am only reporting what some in my party---and Labour as well—are saying in private. What has me worried is if this bit of intelligence the First Lord has just provided us turns out to be accurate, and we end up with several thousand Irish prisoners once the Germans have been dealt with then I think we can expect to hear a growing chorus saying, ‘Surely you do not mean to execute all of them!’. I foresee us getting into something of a bind before the month is over."
Bonar Law was about to make a sharp retort to that when Carson said, "We already hearing something similar from the Foreign Office. Grey warns us that it will sour neutral opinion. He is particularly worried about the Yanks."
"The besotted Yanks can be one royal pain in the arse sometimes! I should know I grew up in Canada!"
"I do not mean to dispute that evaluation, Prime Minister, but the fact remains it behoves us to keep on their good side. We need them if we are to prevail," said Lloyd-George.
------OKW Berlin 1010 hrs
Falkenhayn had remained at OKW during the night. He had talked again with Moltke and Tirpitz, making another attempt to get the Feldmarschal to release the 111th Infantry Division. Moltke was still not ready to do this but to Tirpitz’s disgust released some other elements of the second wave—the 10th Jaeger Battalion, the battery of 21cm Morsers, 3 of the 5 Bavarian Feldersatz companies and a third of its ammunition. Moltke’s justification for this decision was that because Division Prague was larger than the 52nd Infantry Division there was not enough space on the transports. Tirpitz disagreed with this but his objections were ignored.
After Falkenhayn departed Tirpitz again berated Moltke for his lack of willpower. He thought for a minute he night get Moltke to have a heart attack or at least cry, but he was disappointed. After that confrontation Max Bauer, the artillery expert showed up. "What have the industrialists been telling you of late?" Tirpitz asked Bauer.
"For one thing they were appalled—simply aghast---at Admiral von Ingenohl’s speech before the Reichstag, Admiral."
"Tell me something I do not already know, Major"
"Well the, the shipyard owners and the foundries are eagerly anticipating new warship construction now that the repair crunch is over. They made it clear to me that while they are excited about new German capital ship construction they also feel that the Navy needs cruisers and torpedo boats at this critical time. They point out that these ships, esp. the torpedo boats could be completed in considerably less time than battleships."
Tirpitz gave Bauer a very dark look. He did not appreciate it when this Army officer with an elevated opinion of himself intruded into naval matters. Not at all. "Yes I have some idea of how long it takes to build ships, Major Bauer!" he groused.
Bauer was not as afraid of Tirpitz as when he started working for him. "I am merely reporting what I heard, Admiral. Their concern has multiple reasons and some of those you understand much better than I do. However I was struck by the fact that they regarded their profit as being more secure with the contracts for the light forces."
Tirpitz snorted his head in disgust and Bauer could see that forkbeard’s anger was no longer focused on him. "The German folk are in a struggle for survival and all these pampered captains of industry can think about is their profit margin? What ever happened to the patriotic fervor of the Junkers, eh? Is Alfred Krupp one of those whining about profits?"
"Oh no, grossadmiral. He pledges to do whatever is required of him."
"Ah! As I thought it is the others! Krupp is the only real patriot amongst them."
Bauer had not lost all his fear of Tirpitz so he chose his next words carefully, "It would indeed be wonderful if every German factory and steelyard was owned by an Alfred Krupp—but you already know that is not the case, admiral. I am only telling you what they tell me."
Tirpitz stared hard at Bauer but then suddenly he grinned, "Don’t kill the messenger, yes? Well I will try. But old habits die hard, major. It does ease the pain, don’t you think?"
Bauer squirmed which he realized was what Tirpitz wanted. So he decided to change the subject, "Is General von Delmensingen around, admiral? I haven’t seen him. You would think Moltke would have him around to lend support when Falkenhayn visited."
Tirpitz shrugged, "I am a bit surprised as well but the Feldmarschal sent his deputy to Prague. Apparently there are some boots that need licking."
------Prague 1020 hrs
Erzherzog Karl had arrived at Prague this morning to oversee the formation of the new Division Prague to which he was assigned command. He was surprised to find General Krafft von Delmensingen there. "Proud as I am to be given command of this new division, General, I must confess that I still wish I could have gone with the first Division Prague," said Karl, "Do you have any idea when it will sail? I had heard that there have been some problems with the invasion of Ireland, but I am confident my loyal subjects will set things right when they get there!"
"I concur with your enthusiasm, Your Royal Highness, but unfortunately I am not at liberty to give out the date of departure for security reasons," answered von Delmensingen disingenuously. In truth he knew it was still an open question whether the second wave would go at all.
"Oh, yes, I understand full well. This is information that can only be shared with the smallest number of people. Of course if you were to tell I would swear a solemn oath not to breathe a wordl anyone else."
Delmensingen was beginning to wonder if this visit was a mistake, "Uh, with all due respect, Your Royal Highness, you are putting me in a most awkward position. I can assure you that no one is more eager than myself to see Division Erzherzog Karl, formerly known as Division Prague, on its speedy way to Ireland. However I am prohibited from discussing details at this time."
Karl sighed deeply and frowned then said, "I am not offended in the slightest, my dear General. It is I who should apologize for ignoring proper military discipline by trying to use my royal status to secure a. favor. I will respect your decision and press you no further."
"There is no need to offer an apology, Your Royal Highness. I do find your zeal most commendable. However I have come here to day to discuss the current Division Prague and not its predecessor. I want to make sure that OKW is honoring its commitments to this unit. Have you had a chance to talk with Hauptmann Rohr yet?"
"Oh, yes I did late yesterday. He is an officer with strong opinions. In my country a junior officer would never dare to be so blunt—not that he’s being disrespectful in any way mind you---but you Germans do seem to be more tolerant of brash candor at such a low level."
Delmensingen did not want to seem too critical of his ally so he chose his words carefully, "A good German general appreciates sound ideas from his subordinates, Your Royal Highness and does not feel threatened by them. Of course some of the ideas he hears will be silly but better that than a paralyzed silence."
"Hmm. Some Austrian and Magyar senior officers prefer just that strain of intimidated silence, esp. when their subordinates are Slavic. That is something I wish very much to change—starting here in Prague with my new command."
"You are very wise for one so young, Your Royal Highness."
"Tsk, tsk. I see German generals can flatter royalty as much as Austro-Hungarian one," Karl criticized good naturedly, "However before you arrived some members of your staff mentioned that OKW has experimented with using motor transport for combat units."
"Hmm. Yes that is true. Back in March we motorized some batteries of heavy artillery with good results during what we called Operation Whisper---better known as the Battle of Radom. Encouraged by that we committed an entire motorized Jaeger regiment to Operation Unicorn---the invasion of Ireland---and an entire brigade of heavy artillery for Operation Fulcrum, which is currently underway in Lithuania."
"And have these motorized units lived up to expectation, general?"
Delmensingen frowned a little. He knew that the Jaeger attempt to take Berehaven by coup de main had been a dismal failure. That was something else that he definitely did not want to discuss with the Erzherzog. "Oh, the concept still shows some promise but like all innovations problems invariably arise. I have even heard that Gen. von François motorized one battalion of the Irish rebels and that unit is what catalyzed the revolt in Cork."
Karl’s eyes widened, "Oh how thrilling. I am finding this to be fascinating. I wonder perhaps if it might be possible to motorize an entire division?"
An entire division? "Ah, it might but I must hasten to point out, Your Royal Highness, that in trench warfare where the utmost effort often results in men crawling on their bellies advancing one or two kilometres, the rapidity of motor vehicles is completely wasted. It has all the problems of cavalry plus a few more and this has certainly been a disappointing war for cavalrymen to date, yes? In Ireland and Lithuania we found very unique opportunities for a rapid movement."
"Yes, yes, these are good points, general. So if we were to motorize an entire division it would only prove useful if we expected a resumption of completely open warfare. Even here in the East that it is usually not the case. So maybe this is just another flight of fanciful imagination on my part. Forget that I even mentioned it."
"You are much too hard on yourself, Your Royal Highness. I am always willing to hear the ideas of our Austro-Hungarian allies. There is much we can learn from you."
"Thank you, general, you are most gracious," replied Karl in a tone that made it sound that he thought Delmensingen was being obsequious.
"I am most serious, Your Royal Highness. Indeed it is one of the reasons I came here. As a very good example---but not the only one---I most impressed by the accomplishments of your army in mountain warfare, something my own army has sadly neglected."
------between Nolette and Nouvion (Picardie) 1100 hrs
The rain had not let up and the trenches were experiencing serious problems with flooding. Gen. D’Oissel had made it abundantly clear to Gen. Plumer that he considered it extremely unwise to mount an attack in this weather and Plumer found it hard to disagree with that.. Likewise King Albert’s staff had indicated an extreme reluctance to participate either. So Plumer decided to attack with only 5 battalions of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division despite the very serious risk of drawing Sir John French’s ire. The bombardment now began and lasted for only 25 minutes because Second Army’s stockpile of shells remained tight and Plumer wanted to save some for when the weather improved. The Germans artillery did not try to duel with their British counterparts under these conditions. Less than a quarter of the British shells were high explosive. Plumer would have liked to fire more HE but he was still receiving predominantly shrapnel shells and he wanted save some of the HE for when the rain listed.
When the shelling stopped men emerged from water filled trenches to slog through mud and puddles of no man’s land. The German artillery continued to hold back though some of the minenwerfers opened fire on the British infantry. Machineguns once again tore into the British battalions, soon joined by massed rifle fire. There were more then a few instances of wounded British soldiers drowning to death in flooded shell holes. The attackers struggled, squirmed, slipped, slid and crawled their wretched way through no mans land to encounter thick wire barriers barely ruffled by their artillery. A few managed to find a way into the enemy trenches with the usual savage close combat ensuing but not enough to overpower the enemy esp. as they had only some improvised jam tin bombs for grenades, some of which failed to detonate due to the wetness. .The melee in the trenches lasted less than an hour and the British had nothing to show for their efforts.
------Curragh (Kildare) 1125 hrs
A warrant officer from the wireless section at the Curragh approached Sir Ian Hamilton who was conferring with Gen. Braithwaite, his chief of staff. The warrant officer had a very strange look on his face. "Gen. Hamilton, we have just received the following wireless message. It claims to be from the German General,. von François and is addressed to you and the Viceroy as well. We are not going to send it to Lord Curzon until you authorize it.."
Hamilton and Braithwaite exchanged bewildered glances. "Does he want to discuss surrender terms?" quipped Braithwaite, "If he does I suggest we might see fit to allow him to keep his sword." He then noticed that Hamilton was gaping after reading the message. "Uh, what is it, sir?" he asked with curious concern.
"Well it is an offer. Here read it yourself," said Hamilton shaking his head as he handed his chief of staff the skip of paper.
TO COMMANDER BRITISH FORCES IN IRELAND AND THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND STOP WE HAVE CAPTURED GENERAL LINDLEY COMMANDER OF WELSH DIVISION WHO IS IN GOOD HEALTH STOP WE BELIEVE YOU HAVE CUSTODY OF THE POET WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS HOPEFULLY IN GOOD HEALTH AS WELL STOP I AM WILLING TO EXCHANGE GENERAL LINDLEY FOR MR YEATS STOP GENERAL HERMANN VON FRANCOIS
-----Fayal (Azores) 1240 hrs
"We just got received another telegram from Waterville, Mr. Gray," the shift supervisor told the general manager George Ward Gray, "I think you will get a kick out of this one."
Gray read the telegram and nearly fell out of his chair, "Holy shit! Mr. Bennett will have a field day with this. Get this over to our friends at German Atlantic immediately!"
------SMS Regensburg 1255 hrs GMT
Since first light the cruiser had increased its speed to 20 knots. The lookouts were now spotting a large amount of smoke to the WNW. "Signal the engine room to make steam for flank speed," ordered her captain, "Turn 3 points to starboard. Wireless section---send a coded message to Admiral Maas that we have sighted a large smoke mass, believed to be from either a large fast vessel or several ships together."
------RMS Lusitania 1304 hrs
The lookouts had first seen smoke of the eastern horizon. On the sea lane from New York to Liverpool this was hardily a cause for concern. Eventually they could see a modest sized ship approaching rapidly. The sun was still low in the sky and together with some mist initially made it hard to identify the vessel. Eventually it was clear that it was a warship—but was it British, German or American was not immediately apparent. The Cunard crew tried to signal with searchlight and wireless.
"Damn it! She must be German," Captain William "Bowler Bill" Turner concluded while peering through his binoculars, "Captain Gaunt told us the Germans were in the central Atlantic—not less than 400 miles from the American coast."
"We are flying an American flag, sir. Is there any chance it will fool them?"
Capt. Turner considered that possibility for all of 9 seconds, "Not enough to risk it. Helm, bring this ship around 16 points to port. Wireless section will send out an immediate distress call. Locate the Chief Purser and have all passengers instructed to go to their cabins and stay there until further notice. Boilers are to raise steam as quickly as possible."
------SMS Regensburg 1307 hrs
"Kapitan, the wireless aboard the liner is now transmitting. It is too powerful for us to try to jam."
The cruiser’s skipper put down his binoculars and ordered, "Let me know as soon as possible just what she is transmitting."
"Look Kapitan, the ocean liner is turning."
The captain turned around and brought his binoculars up to his eyes, "Ah, yes, I can see that. Number one, what is our current range estimate?"
"The range finders give 20,700 yards, kapitan"
"Helm, turn 2 points to port. Tell the engineroom to make turns for 25 knots."
"Jawohl, Herr Kapitan."
------RMS Lusitania 1326 hrs
The German cruiser had signalled by both searchlight and wireless for the liner to stop and be boarded. Now there was a load splash off its starboard stern. The passengers who had been worried were now panic stricken. The pursers asked them all to remain calm and stay in their cabins but many of the crew were anxious as well. "Sounds like we are being fired on," Alfred G. Vanderbilt remarked in his stateroom to his valet, Ronald Denyer, "It seems that it you were right it was a German warship after all. I do hope Capt. Turner is going to behave sensibly."
"Do you want me to go outside and take a look, Mr. Vanderbilt?"
"Good Heavens, no Ronald. I don’t want you to do anything that might get yourself killed. Besides the pursers will get mighty upset at both of us if they catch you wandering around."
"As you wish, Mr. Vanderbilt."
"Drats! The only reason I sailed on this cruise was to get back to my dear wife in London as soon as possible. Now it looks like this is going to be some serious delay. I should have cancelled like I did with the ill fated Titanic and sailed on a Dutch liner instead."
Meanwhile back up on the bridge a member of Capt. Turner’s crew with some military experience reported. "That shell was less than 1,500 yards short, sir. It also looked to be larger than the 4" guns which usually arm German cruisers. It could well be a 6" shell. It can hurt us a lot more than."
"The superstructure of this ship is too susceptible to fire making it dangerous to try to shrug off their shells and steam on. Under normal circumstances fire is a serious menace but the special cargo we are carrying it could quickly prove catastrophic. The German cruiser is steadily overtaking us and will soon be in range. I detest what I am now going to say but I see no responsible alternative to surrendering."
------Kanturk (Cork) 1230 hrs
The rain had tapered off to a mist driven by a stiff wind. Receiving word that 16th (Irish) Division now appeared to be in serious trouble, Gen Friend, the new commander of what was left of the 53rd (welsh) Division, ordered the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade to counterattack the Bavarians at Kanturk hoping that it would siphon off some of their strength near Macroom. They now had artillery support from 2 batteries of the North Wales Artillery Brigade armed with 15 pounders. The Bavarians were themselves in the process of trying to turn the left flank of the Welshmen with the support of their own artillery. In the rain and the mud a sloppy open field engagement ensued. The British attack initially drove the Bavarians back to the southwest. After some regrouping the Bavarians decided to hold off on resuming their envelopment and let the British expend themselves. The 160th Brigade was too weakened by its previous losses to achieve a decisive result esp. with its supporting artillery handicapped by a shortage of shells.
------Shumen (Bulgaria) 1405 hrs
A trolley car brought a new contingent of 14 German trainers to the fortress on the outskirts of the small city. When Bulgaria signed the treaty with Germany that brought it into the war, General von François argued that the experiment he had started at Przemysl to provide Hungarian soldiers additional training could be extended to Bulgaria as well. He was able to persuade von Moltke and in turn they were able to persuade the Bulgarians. Initially he had hoped to include some Hungarian instructors from Przemysl as well but Moltke had informed him that Conrad had made things very difficult with several public statements disparaging Bulgarian military prowess. So it was felt that the initial training detachment would have to be completely German.
A smaller advance detachment had arrived here late Saturday. Romania still prohibited weapons and munitions from being transported through it but permitted tiny groups of soldiers to transit. The advance detachment had already hammered out some details with the Bulgarians assigned to assist them.. Four of the 10 supersized Bulgarian infantry divisions had not been assigned to the invasion of Serbia but were kept in reserve guarding the Black Sea coast in case the Russians invaded and keeping a cautious eye on the Romanian border as well. These 4 divisions would each send one battalion to the training camp at Shumen. One battalion had arrived yesterday and training was already in progress. The other 3 battalions would arrive Monday along with a cavalry squadron and a field artillery battery.
------Cork city jail 1415 hrs
The rain had finally stopped a half hour ago and the clouds seemed not as dense. Rommel was meeting with Major von Thoma, the O’Rahilly and Commandant MacCurtain. "I received a message from Joe Flynn a few minutes ago," said MacCurtain, "he claims that he broke the back of the enemy resistance in the southern part of the city around noon and that 2nd Cork City Battalion should be able to finish them off."
"Do we only have his word for that?" asked a deeply sceptical Rommel, "If Flynn has indeed won a big victory there should be a fair number of prisoners, yes?"
"Uh, he did send 2 British soldiers and constable here an hour ago. All three had been beaten severely, including ruptured testicles. They claim that some other prisoners have been killed."
Rommel darkened and drew his Lugar which he brandished high, "That is it! I am going to kill Flynn today."
MacCurtain licked his lips and sighed, "Listen Major, I do not in anyway approve of what Joe is doing. But he has become quite popular for all his exploits and there are a lot of my men who think we should answer the Prime Minister’s threats to kill us by killing at least some of the British prisoners. If you suddenly walk up and kill Flynn—and his men may stop you if you try or shoot you dead afterwards—we could face a major mutiny here in Cork at time we need every man who can shoot straight."
"We all agree that we need to do something about Flynn but this is not the right time to do it," added the O’Rahilly, "In the meantime his men could be of some use in the heart of the city where our progress has been slow."
"What is our latest report from Commandant O"Sullivan? Is he anywhere as confident as Flynn about the situation in the south?" Rommel demanded to know, "Last I heard we were only holding our own down there."
"I did receive some brief scribbled note from him to the effect that his situation had improved but he wasn’t too specific."
"Your commandants need to write more precise reports!" Rommel reprimanded MacCurtain, "This is not the first time I have said this."
"Sorry, major.. I will dispatch a messenger with a note to O’Sullivan demanding that he be much more specific about what is going on. I would hazard a guess that Flynn did have some success but is overstating it."
"Yes, that would be my guess as well, but in war guesses should be kept to a minimum. Get a more detailed report from Commandant O’Sullivan as quickly as possible."
"Yes, major. Will see to it right away. How soon do we expect the Cheva, Chev---uh, the Bavarian cavalry to get here?"
:"Not sure. I received word from their commander that they are tied down fighting some British infantry at Bandon."
"I thought the British had departed Bandon."
"Evidently they have returned. I am not sure why."
"Can any other German units come help us here? Surely Colonel Hell can spare a battalion?"
"Not in the next 24 hours. His brigade is fully committed to the destruction of what is left of the British 16th Division near Macroom. He did manage to send us 400 more rifles and some ammunition this morning easing our shortage of weapons. In the near term I am thinking of Irish rather than German reinforcements. What companies do you have to the east of the city?"
"There are medium sized companies here at Midleton and Cloynes," said MacCurtain pointing at a map. "Further east near the border with County Waterford there is a larger company at Youghal. Oh and of course there is a large company at the Cobh. Further to the north---"
"---I am particularly interested in the company at the Cobh. How big is it?"
"Just under 200 men—at least that was it’s size before I was arrested.. It is really for all of Great Island. Of course there is a problem in that there is only one bridge connecting Great Island to the mainland."
"Which I mean to capture tonight."
Ritter von Thoma had listened silently but now he was disturbed, "Your orders from Colonel Hell are to remain here in Cork until the Chevaulegers arrive."
"The Chevaulegers seem stuck at Bandon. In any case my instructions from General von François take precedence over Colonel Hell’s orders. I am going to be taking all of the armored cars in running condition along with the Tatra trucks tonight. I am taking most of my battalion and will swing around to the north of the British forces."
"I disagree completely about the precedence of orders!" von Thoma protested loudly, "And without the armored cars and your battalion I may not be able to keep the northern British force from taking Patrick’s Bridge and crossing North Channel."
"I am willing to take that risk. It may be time then to start using those infantry guns of yours, now that visibility has improved. However I am taking the handful of German pioneers assigned to your battalion, except the wounded ones. Oh and Commandant MacCurtain, before I forget, when you contact O’Sullivan, tell him to return Lt. Cummins to me immediately. I have been most impressed with Cummins performance and want him with me on the next phase of this operation."
------Tullamore (King’s County) 1430 hrs
With the capture of Custume Barracks the Germans at Athlone felt more comfortable with the situation there. Their armored train had been provisioned with coal captured at the two train stations in Athlone and they sent it southeast into King’s County. Even though they were already short on rifles at Athlone the train brought 100 Moisin-Nagant rifles with 30,000 rounds of ammunition. Their destination was the town of Tullamore in the eastern part of King’s County, where there was a large company of Irish Volunteers. The 8 constables guarding the station quickly fled in panic.
Men familiar with Tullamore had been brought along. They quickly made contact with Irish Volunteers Company and armed them. Other men were sent out to contact other nearby Irish Volunteers companies. The R.I.C. station was soon taken. The weapons confiscated by the constables from both the local Irish Volunteers and National Volunteers were found inside the station.
------Marsabit (British East Africa) 1505 hrs
BGen. Tighe, the acting commander of British forces in British East Africa had arrived a few minutes ago at this lush oasis town in the midst of the Chalbi Desert. A captain and 2 sergeants were waiting for him. The captain had been detached from the British forces around Mombasa and would now serve multiple functions on Tighe’s staff, the most important of which replacing the captured Capt. Meinertzhagen as intelligence officer. When Tighe was ready he began filling the brigadier in on some recent developments.
"The 25th Royal Fusiliers arrived at Mombasa Wednesday, sir."
"These are those so called Frontiersmen the War Office has been telling us is a perfect match for Africa?"
"That is correct, sir. They do seem awfully eager."
"Well that at least is some bit of good news. What of the Belgians? Can they render us any assistance?"
"Force Publique did commit a medium sized force to guard Uganda. The Colonial Office is uneasy about assigning them a larger mission, esp. one so far east, at this time."
"The Colonial Office, eh? Good Heavens, why is it that in Africa even when there is a war on the Colonial Office thinks it is more important than the War Office? Can you please tell me why?"
"Uh I am afraid that is one question I cannot answer, sir. They do sometimes act as if the Belgians are more of a threat than the Germans."
"Speaking of the which what is the latest news about the Germans?"
"You mean here in East Africa, sir? We have lost communication with Thika and fear that the German and their askaris have taken it as well. There are also unconfirmed reports that Lettow-Vorbeck is trying to stir up the Nandi with some success. One of the KAR companies briefly skirmished with the enemy east of Nairobi."
"Hmm. Actually I am interested in more than Africa. My men are finding the German invasion of Ireland to be very disturbing."
"Uh, so is just about everyone, sir. You will be happy to learn that the latest word we’ve received is that the British Army has seized the initiative there and the Germans are on the ropes. Meanwhile there has only been a small number of Irish Catholics rebelling."
"Well that at least is good news. Anything of interest about the blokes in France? I heard that the Germans being bereft of a shred of conscience derived some advantage from using poison gas a weapon. Is that battle still going on?"
"Yes it is, sir. Second Battle of Crecy Forest is what they’ve taken to calling it in the newspapers. The German perfidy let them achieve some temporary advantage but it appears to have become the usual trench warfare, which from what I read is a most depressing experience."
"Hmm. Well things are from perfect here in Africa as well. In order to get as far north before the worst of the rainy season arrived, my expedition into Abyssinia marched very hard. By the time we reached the northern deserts maybe a fifth of the men and a third of our horses were sick. We pressed on nevertheless resting only when we had reached the border with Abyssinia and then only briefly. We crossed the border and there were a few incidents with the enemy but I can count those casualties on one hand. Then word came of the fall of Nairobi and we hurried south as quickly as possible, leaving one of the Indian companies behind at Moyale to guard the border in case the Abyssinians try to raid. The main body of my expeditionary force is now camped to the north and won’t make it here until late tomorrow. We are now in the midst of the rainy season at its wettest. If I push my men south as fast as I can it will still take a good 3 weeks and less than half of them will be fit for battle when I reach Nairobi where I will be forced to attack uphill. The situation with the horses would be even worse."
"Perhaps we could begin the attack with the forces in the south, sir? Now that we have the Frontiersmen and 2nd Rhodesians we should have enough force."
"Only if we through everything at the Germans. I am still worried that Nairobi could be a fiendishly clever diversion. Once we move against Nairobi, Lettow-Vorbeck will use his railroad again and attack Mombasa."
"That would be might risky on his part, general, as Goliath is still anchored off Mombasa."
"Lettow-Vorbeck doesn’t know that and if the rain may so impair visibility to make the battleship’s firepower irrelevant. That is a gamble I am not willing to take. No, when my men arrive here tomorrow I am going to give them a full day’s worth of rest. We will proceed south but a pace that will not rob us of the strength to do battle."
------Grand Central Station 1525 hrs (GMT)
Friedrich E. Austerlitz, who preferred to be called Fritz, stepped off the train having come all the way from Omaha, where he was a salesman for the Storz Brewery. He looked around and saw 3 people he recognized. "Joanna! Frederick! Adele! I’m over here," he shouted waving enthusiastically. His voice still had an Austrian accent despite living in America for over 2 decades. His wife turned to him and waved back but with less enthusiasm. She then walked slowly towards her estranged husband. The two adolescent children trotted towards their father and reached him ahead of her.
Fritz cast a warm glance at Adele then turned to his son, "Well look at you, Frederick. You are going to be sixteen tomorrow—practically a grown man! How tall you have become!"
Joanna, who preferred to be called Anna now, had not seen much of Fritz in the last decade, though he did show up on occasion to help with the children’s careers. "Ah my dear Joanna," Fritz said warmly, "You’re as lovely as ever. Come give your husband a hug." With a sign of resignation she gave him a weak hug and a still weaker kiss. As she did she was sure she could smell beer. There had been several things she did not like about Fritz and his excessive drinking was one of them. He did not seem too drunk now—at least not enough to embarrass himself in front of the children. She asked her husband pointedly, "Did you come all the way to New York just to celebrate Fred’s birthday? If so you should have noticed us way in advance. We were booked for a performance in London Ontario when we received your telegram out of the blue and we had to cancel it. Our agent is most upset with us."
"Oh mother," Adele protested, "I am not sure it was wise to go to Canada right now. I hear they are becoming more than a little bit perturbed with the way some Americans are reacting to the situation in Ireland. I am so glad father is here. We do not get to see father often enough."
Fritz took his time answering his wife and looked confused. She began to wonder if he was drunker than he looked. Finally he muttered sheepishly, "In part I came for my dear son’s birthday. But there is another reason. In the last week the Austro-Hungarian embassy has contacting men who had been officers back in the home country. They said there is now an opportunity to do something very important for Kaiser Franz Yosef."
Joanna was startled by this response. Fritz had told her many times that he had come to America because he had been an officer back in Austria and been tossed in the brig because he failed to salute his brother who was a higher ranking officer. She had developed some doubts about this story but it now seemed that maybe there was some truth to it. "Oh really? And just what can a man out of uniform as long as you have hope to accomplish?" she asked derisively.
Fritz shrugged sheepishly, "I was told that some men are being assembled most of whom have never seen combat and that former officers are desperately need to lead and train them."
"This is such nonsense and if you were sober, you would know it. We are these men you are going to train and lead? And more to the point where are they going? The British have shut down all Atlantic sea travel by the Central Powers."
Fritz nodded, "Yes I asked questions of a similar nature. All that I was told was a way had been found and given no details. I think the people I was talking with did not know either."
"And so someone comes to you with a plan that sounds utterly absurd and gives you not the slightest details and you pack your bags and come running to New York? Just how big a fool are you?"
Fritz made no reply because what his wife was saying echoed many of his own misgivings. He had almost decided against going. Instead it was his son who spoke, "Mama, please. This is no way to treat Papa. He loves his home country. Is that not reason enough?"
------SMS Lothringen 1540 hrs
"We have with one fell swoop made up for the disappointing haul we experienced since leaving Ireland," Admiral von Spee told his staff with relish, "however it is likely the powerful wireless distress messages from the Lusitania had been picked up by the enemy and the Americans as well.. I think it is time we try to raise Sayville."
"Should we tell them about the capture of the Lusitania, admiral?" asked his chief of staff.
"No, let us keep the first message simple. Tell them in cipher that Second Scouting Group will arrive off New York tomorrow morning to begin collecting the third wave of Operation Unicorn."
------Paris 1605 hrs
Prime Minister Clemenceau had returned to Paris and promptly called a meeting of the Cabinet to report on his victory over the enemy, "I have returned from a visit to our Second Army. I conferred in private with General de Castelnau and then he took me to see the front line."
The enemy in this case was General Jofrre. There were gasps of awe from some of the ministers. "Unfortunately it was pouring rain and that was causing a break in the fighting—in addition making it next to impossible to see what little combat there was. Only the English would be stupid enough to attack in such awful weather. It is bad enough just to be in a trench in such rain as I could plainly see. I did manage to talk with many of the soldiers and despite the wretched conditions their love for their country remains strong. The rain is tapering off now and tomorrow our great offensive will resume with two more infantry divisions arriving as reinforcements in the afternoon. There are signs that the Germans are badly overstretched at this time. If we push them as hard as possible now we can win a great victory and chase them out of France completely. I can feel it in my bones. It will help though if we also hit the Germans hard in another sector. I have given matter this much thought and conlcuded that we need to launch an offensive out of Verdun before the end of the month. It will involve 8 infantry divisions."
"And what does Gen. Joffre think of this new offensive?" asked President Poincaré pointedly.
"He says we do not have enough artillery shells to conduct more than one major offensive at a time. I think he is seriously wrong and so I overruled him. I am the War Minister. Gen. Joffre reports to me."
This elicited shocked murmuring from the ministers. Poincaré rolled his eyes and shook his head. "You do know very well that if Joffre should resign your government will fall. The liberation of Compiegne won you some political capital but not as much as you think. And merely temporary capital at that. Right now more Parisians are talking about Ireland than Compiegne. You would know that if you were not so busy posturing."
Clemenceau glared daggers at Poincaré. He knew that the president was still greatly upset at him for refusing to visit the wounded Belgian queen. "I am not posturing, M. President. And what is this news about Ireland that has everyone so excited? Have the British finally retaken Limerick?"
"No they have not. They are now reluctantly acknowledging some setbacks there. For one thing there is now a rebellion underway in the city of Cork. More importantly many here are now saying that Bonar Law’s policy of seeking to execute all Irish rebels he captures is excessive —he should only execute a few leaders. They cite the revolt in Cork as proof that his policy is not working."
"Who precisely is saying this? It is the Socialists? This sounds like an extension of the disgusting uproar they made over Connolly’s execution. I have some complaints of my own against the current British government but this certainly is not one of them. In fact I applaud M. Law. It is magnificent that he is taking a tough line with traitors. I fully intend to do the same here as well."
------Villers-sur-Authie (Picardy) 1630 hrs
The rain had tapered off to drizzle in France. Visibility had improved but the battlefield was still very wet. The attacking battalions of the British 4th and 6th Divisions struggled mightily all day trying to advance further in the mud and muck. The enemy had been frugal in the use of artillery earlier in the day—using mostly the 7.7 cm field guns firing shrapnel shells. This now changed dramatically as over 200 heavy artillery pieces—most of them howitzers-- opened fire with a mix of HE and shrapnel shells. The vanguard of the British attack was in several places spared this bombardment but it devastated the units following behind them—including their machinegun sections and quickly silenced the supporting British artillery. The few remaining operational communication wires were now cut.
Some of the battalions tried to press on. They encountered machinegun fire and thick wire barriers. The defenders were now revealed to be more numerous than expected. The attacking battalions realized they were assaulting an entrenched enemy that outnumbered them by a considerable margin. The attackers had been on half rations for a fortnight and it had taken a cumulative toil not only on their stamina but their morale as well. Some of the Tommies began to question of the wisdom of attacking under such abysmal conditions. The half with the best morale tried their weary best to push on bravely and were almost completely wiped out. The other half soon found themselves an excuse to slink back to their own lines.
------Dublin 1705 hrs
The Countess Markieviscz and Padraig Pearse were finally meeting. The Countess was still well disguised as a working man. She introduced her companion, "Padraig, this is the American poet, Ezra Pound, who is an assistant to poor Mr. Yeats. Both of these brave men helped me avoid arrest in County Sligo. Ezra, this is Mr. Padraig Pearse, who is now the ranking member of the Irish Volunteers—at least the ranking man here in Dublin--there have been some rumors that the O’Rahilly is with the Germans."
Pearse and Pound shook hands. Both immediately sensed an intense zeal in the other. "I am so glad you have kept the Countess safe, Mr. Pound. All of Ireland will be forever in your debt."
"She is indeed the pearl of great price, Mr. Pearse. Yet it saddens me greatly that my mentor, the inestimable Mr. Yeats has been captured. Has there been any further word? Are the dastardly British still keen on killing such a great man?"
Pearse made a grim frown and nodded, "Yes by all the accounts in the newspapers they mean to make an example of him. I know very well that the tree of Irish sovereignty will not blossom until it is watered with Irish blood, but that it should come from a soul as magnificent as Mr. Yeats brings tears to my eyes."
"We need to rescue William! You have a small army here in Dublin and from what I have heard you managed to keep most of your weapons," interjected Pound.
The Countess turned to Pound, "My dear Mr. Pound, I need to be alone with Padraig here for a while to discuss a few things in private. Could you please leave this room and close the door."
Pound’s nostrils flared and the fire which burned in his eyes now burned brighter, "But Countess surely---"
"Please go. I assure that I will be completely safe here with Padraig."
Pound glared hard at both the Countess and Pearse then through clenched teeth he answered stiffly, "Of course, Your Excellency, as always I strive to serve you." At that his lanky frame noisily stomped out of the room.
When he was gone the Markeivicz sighed deeply and confessed to Pearse, "I owe Mr. Pound a debt I can never repay. Yet for all of that I do find him to be most strange, even for a Yank. I am sorry to say that I sometimes find myself uncomfortable to be alone with him."
"I have just met the fellow and already I can sense a fierceness that is somehow both enchanting and disturbing. But I do not think you came here to discuss Mr. Pound, Constance."
"You are quite right, Padraig. Since returning to Dublin I have made contact with the Citizen’s Army—oh they are prohibited from using that name and must call themselves the Transport Union—and delighted to learn both that they have grown to well over 300 members and that they are still willing to abide by my decisions. That have also managed o hold onto about half of their weapons"
.Pearse’s smile dimmed slightly, "Uh why that is good news indeed, Constance."
"Some of them had heard that Dublin Brigade was finally going to rise up either last night or this morning. I know there have a great many wild rumors flying all about ever since the Germans landed, but they thought this was for real. On my orders the men and women were ready and waiting to join the rising at dawn today. But nothing happened? Was it really another wild rumor or did something go amiss, Padraig?"
Pearse’s angelic smile not vanished completely. He took his time replying and very seriously considered denying that a rising had been planned. He eventually sighed deeply and told the truth, "A rising had been planned but I called it off."
"And why exactly did you decide to call it off, Padraig? Was it on account of informants?"
"No—though I am worried about those. No it was on account of the Germans using poison gas at O’Briensbridge."
The Countess arched an eyebrow, "What? I am afraid I’m not following you very well, Padraig."
"If we rise up in Dublin now we are implicitly giving our consent to the German immorality."
"Huh? I do not follow that logic at all, Padraig. What we would be giving our consent to is what you and I both believe in with all our hearts---the liberty of the Irish people. If the Germans have gone and done something terribly shameful it is they not us who are shamed."
Pearse grew flustered, "That is not how it will be perceived!"
"Well then does what this come to is that you are more concerned with doing what appears to be virtuous as opposed to what is virtuous and just?"
"You are being most unfair, Countess"
"Fair or not, it’s the bloody truth. Wake up, Padraig. Stop living in that dreamland of yours. The last thing Ireland needs right now is a Celtic Don Quixote. What it needs is someone who realizes the time has arrived for Dublin Brigade to rise up!"
"No we must demonstrate our moral superiority to the Germans."
"How? By acting like a bunch of cowards?"
"I am not a coward!" yelled Pearse.
"That is all so easy to say, Padraig, but actions speak louder than words. If you don’t lead the Irish Volunteers into battle I will lead the men and women of Citizen’s Army in a rising."
"What? You cannot be serious. The Citizen’s Army would not stand a chance. It would be a massacre."
"I am not going to try to deny that. But aren’t you the one that always talks about the tree of Irish liberty requiring some blood. James Connolly was not afraid. And neither am I."
Pearse sighed deeply and then he said, "Yes. There will be a rising—but not now. In a week or so we have time to prepare a proper declaration."
"What rubbish. A statement---some sort of proclamation would indeed be a mighty fine idea. Give me. oh, two hours and I can easily compose a really good one. You don’t need no friggin’ week. This is just more stalling on your part. I ain’t givin’ you a week. You have until Monday. If the Irish Volunteers have not launched their rising by noon on Monday then my Citizen’s Army will rise up without you while you go on pouting in your tent like Achilles.. I am not bluffing, me darlin’ Padraig. I am deadly serious about this."
Meanwhile in another section of Dublin Lord Curzon was meeting again with Birrell and Nathan, having finally been informed by Gen. Hamilton of Gen. von François’ offer to exchange Gen. Lindley for Yeats. "We were planning to try Yeats by court martial tomorrow afternoon," Curzon told the Secretary and Under Secretary, "The attorney general is arriving tomorrow to prosecute it himself. There is little doubt what the verdict would be. Smith is planning to remain here and conduct what is expected to be the more difficult court martial of MacNeil Monday. Even with a court martial he is not sure he can get a death sentence against MacNeil. But hewing back to Yeats, Gen Hamilton believes we should proceed with the court martial tomorrow but hold off on the execution leaving London to decide if they want to take the Germans up on their offer. They are not even asking for our counsel on the matter. Every day that goes by I feel that what little authority I have left is eroded still further."
Birrell had in the last few days tried to remind the current viceroy that he had been permitted much more power than the Lord-Lieutenant had in several decades. He now considered reminding him of this one more time and realized it would be pointless. "That situation is fraught with consequences, Your Excellency. I do not think London fully appreciates the degree to which the Irish people love Mr. Yeats. Even before the German offer I considered executing him to be extremely ill advised. Now the Germans have so generously provided us with a convenient way out! I have taken the liberty of cabling the Foreign Office with my evaluation. I would be happy to send a second cable saying that you concur."
"I am not sure that I do, Mr. Birrell. Let me think it over. I take it that you still oppose trying to exercise MacNeil as well."
"Yes, it would be an even bigger mistake, Your Excellency. Of course I think the whole policy of claiming that we will execute anyone who rebels as traitors is a huge mistake. It was stupid and immoral from the very start but with what he now know about the size of the rebellion it makes the British Empire look like Aztecs."
"We are stuck with that policy until the Germans are eliminated. After that those rebels who run off and return home may escape any punishment. As for the rest I could see the pace of executions slowing with the leaders receiving priority. If by some miracle we attain victory in the war soon then I could sentences being commuted."
"By which time the damage done to Ireland’s future would be immeasurable and irreversible, Your Excellency."
"As usual you overstate, but I am forced to concede that you are at least partially correct in that assessment. It is just that I see no practical alternative. Do you know if the enemy still controls the Waterville cable station? If they do they then I can see them using von François’ offer for very effective propaganda."
"I have not heard anything about the Waterville station either being recaptured or destroyed, Your Excellency."
"I do wonder why the navy doesn’t just turn the station into rubble or cut the cable as we did with the German cable."
"Because we thought we were few days away from total victory in Ireland after which the station would be recaptured easily. Transatlantic cables are a precious commodity right now and I can imagine London wants that one back."
------old Admiralty Building 1740 hrs
First Sea Lord, Admiral Callaghan, hung up the telephone receiver. "That was the First Lord," he informed Admirals Jackson, Wilson and Oliver, even though they had probably guessed that already, "He will be returning here in a little more than an hour. He made it clear that we should feel free to reach a decision and issue any orders we feel is necessary in the meantime. Admiral Oliver just what do we know at this time?"
"As you know already, sir, a wireless distress call from Lusitania was received at Halifax around 1315 hrs GMT. It stated that the liner was being pursued by a German light cruiser to its east. A later message indicated that it was under fire from the cruiser and intended to surrender. There is at this time no reports of the other cruisers. However at approx 1600 hrs Halifax reported that is was now receiving encoded wireless transmissions believed to be German. Of course the United States also has ciphers so it could be from one of theirs but I do not think that is too likely. Room 40 just received the text a few minutes ago and is working on it."
"Let me know immediately when it has been deciphered. Is there any other source of information at this time?"
"North America Station has ordered its AMC’s away from that immediate area and the line extending to New York. It is highly probable that the Germans intend to coal at New York. However there may be something else at work here. I have received a cable from Capt. Gaunt that both the German and Austrian legations have asked men who had been officers in their armies to come to the New York City. Perhaps the Germans mean to load them aboard their cruisers and bring them back to Germany."
"Damn it, Oliver! Why wasn’t I told this earlier? I keep telling you not to hoard valuable intelligence yet you persist in doing so."
"I only learned it this morning, sir. Capt. Gaunt sent it with only a moderately high priority. This is definitely not something novel. The Germans and Austrians have made repeated attempts to send their reservists living in America back home to fight. Dr. Dumba was rather open about this last year and was harshly reprimanded by President Wilson. Count von Bernstorff has been much more subtle and indirect, but we know he is up to the same mischief."
"Is it only New York?" asked Admiral Wilson, "and do we have any idea how many they have collected?"
"It is only New York but I received no count of how many."
"If it is a small number they could easily fit on one cruiser,"
speculated Admiral Jackson,
"My gut tells me that all three of them are off the American coast. Apparently not too close together, though. Maybe the other cruisers plan to use different American ports—Boston or Philadelphia," speculated Admiral Callaghan.
"But am I correct that Inflexible and Birmingham are now less than 2,000 miles away—and have not yet been recalled?" asked Admiral Wilson.
Callaghan gave Wilson a quizzical look, "You are correct on both counts—but you make it sound like a small distance."
"Well consider this possibility—if Inflexible increases its speed to 24 knots and does not encounter very rough seas she can reach New York in about 4 more days. It could well take the Germans 3 days to finish their business in New York and leave, esp. if all 3 cruisers are involved and we can get President Wilson to stall a little.". .
"Hmm. If Birmingham tries to sustain that speed she will run out of coal before she gets to New York," Jackson remarked.
"Yes Birmingham will have to turn back but Inflexible by herself should be sufficient to rescue Lusitania," said Wilson.
"That is assuming that the Germans intend to take Lusitania with them instead of scuttling her," said Oliver.
"If they do sink Lusitania then Inflexible can still eliminate one of the cruisers, which I would hope will be Blucher," said Jackson.
"That is assuming Inflexible can intercept them. Lusitania was on the most direct route when the Germans caught he.. The German cruisers could be heading in many different directions once they leave New York," said Wilson.
"Yes, and for this reason I am not ecstatic about this plan," Callaghan noted, "but for the time being I say let us go ahead with it. If the First Lord disagrees and wants Inflexible recalled I will not protest."
"And if the First Lord does not object?" asked Oliver.
"Then I would want to review the situation again first thing tomorrow morning. Please try to have some useful intelligence available for us by then. In the meantime we should brace ourselves for another barrage of irate telegrams from Admiral Bayly."
------near Macroom (Cork) 1800 hrs
The rain had ended and the sun even starting to peek through the thinning clouds. The 15 pounder guns and 5" howitzers commenced firing on the German positions. They only had shrapnel shells and not many of those were left. To their relief of their gunners the German artillery did not try to duel with them but their barrage accomplished little. Of the 4 rifle battalions that attacked when the shelling stopped 2 were now barely company strength. They assaulted a well prepared and partially entrenched enemy that outnumbered them and possessed ample machineguns. A single strand of wire was laid down wherever the ground itself did not serve as an even better barrier. The attackers pressed on bravely and were cut down like wheat at harvest time.
------Roscommon city 1850 hrs
The Marine Cavalry Squadron had departed Athlone when the rain tapered off. It brought along wagons with extra horses carrying 200 rifles and 60,000 rounds of ammo. Along with the German riders there were a dozen mounted Irish auxiliaries chosen for their equestrian ability and marksmanship. The man appointed IRA sergeant in charge of this group was selected because he spoke passable albeit thickly accented German. One of his men was very familiar with the Irish Volunteer companies in County Roscommon.
Approaching the city the cavalry sent one troop to cut communication wires. The rest of the squadron found only a small R.I.C. contingent defending the city of Roscommon. A pair of constables out on patrol quickly surrendered but the rest fought from behind prepared barricades. The German cavalry were for the moment mere content to pen them up. While this was going on the Irish auxiliaries sought out and soon contacted the local Irish Volunteers, whom they assembled and quickly armed.
------STAVKA 1905 hrs
Grand Duke Nikolai was meeting with General Danilov to discuss some telegrams that had arrived from Northwestern Front in the last half hour. "General Alexeev has been telling us for over a week not to overreact to the German thrust into Lithuania," said the Grand Duke, "which he feels was either an obvious diversion on the part of the Germans or a stupid waste of their resources."
"Yes he even felt that we overreacted when we sent an entire corps to defend Riga, Your Grace. Now he feels there is a serious risk to Kovno and not merely an extravagant cavalry raid. He claims that the Germans have managed to position heavy artillery within range of the outer forts."
"Hmm. So what exactly is Alexeev proposing to counter this?"
"He wants to move Fifth Army HQ and the XIX Corps to Kovno by rail as quickly as possible. He asks that we order the railroads to assign this transfer the highest priority. In the meantime he will try to reinforce the fortress from units of the Tenth Army, however that army has itself been attacked by the Germans in the last few days."
"Hmm. As I recall Alexeev at first thought the German cavalry thrust into Lithuania was intended as a diversion intended to weaken Tenth Army in preparation for these attacks. I take it he has now discarded that hypothesis?"
"He has not admitted as much, Your Grace, but it is strongly implied in today’s telegrams."
"Just how serious is the threat to Kovno?"
"Alexeev is unsure. As a worst case scenario he believes that the Germansmight be able to take it but it require more than a month for them to do so. It is a very powerful fortress so he thinks that the prompt transfer of XIX Corps will be sufficient to save it."
"Yet, he did inquire if we had another infantry division readily available."
"A general always like to have one more division, Your Grace."
"Hmm, yes I should have learned that by now. Let us see if we can expedite the transfer of XIX Corps without interfering with our planned offensives in the Bukovina and Caucasia. Speaking of which does Southwestern Front still plan to have Eighth and Ninth Armies both initiate their attacks Monday?"
"That is correct, Your Grace."
"That is good. I received a telegram from the Tsar as well today. He says he feels for the plight of the Serbs. In particular he suggests we do something strong to punish Bulgaria for their treachery to the cause of Panslavism."
"I had no seen the telegram, Your Grace. Why did he send it here? It would seem to be more properly a matter for Admiral Ebergard and the Black Sea Fleet."
"He wanted to know if a landing near Varna was feasible."
"Oh I see. Well we both know that a full scale invasion of Bulgaria by sea is too dangerous."
"Yes, put what about a hit and run infantry raid? A plastun regiment or maybe even an entire brigade of them with some artillery. It might impress Romania esp. if our Bukovina offensive is successful."
------Spike Island (Cork) 1920 hrs
Ft. Westmoreland was located on Spike Island in the middle of Cork Harbor. A medium sized harbor boat now arrived there. It ferried 42 rebel prisoners captured in the fighting inside the city. In the late 1800’s Spike Island had been used as a prison esp. in times of unrest. Eventually that practice had been discontinued. However with the Cork city jail in the hands of the rebels it was decided that it was a good time to revive the practice. A staff sergeant of the !/4th battalion Cheshire Regiment was aboard the boat along with 3 constables acting as guard. The staff sergeant’s head was bandaged.
Three Royal Marines approached the harbor boat. One of them was a corporal and he ordered the other two to assist the constables in escorting the shackled prisoners to their cells. A few of the prisoners wore IRA tunics but most merely had crude improvised arm bands. Some of the prisoners were clearly wounded though none too badly. "You wouldn’t happen to have a cigarette, corporal?" asked the staff sergeant, "I could sure use one right now."
"Yes, I do sergeant," the Marine answered then gave the Welshman one and lit it for him. He then lit up one himself and remarked, "You have a nice haul there, sergeant. Of course I expect we will be seeing a lot more before too long."
The sergeant scowled. "It may take longer than you think, corporal."
"And what makes you say that? They are only a bunch of stinkin’ partisans. It must be like shootin’ fish in a barrel, eh?"
"The sergeant pointed to his bandage, "Well if that’s true then I must be one of the fish."
"Ah so one of them got lucky and touched you up a little. He must be the exception that proves the rule."
"No I am one of the lucky ones. Two dozen men in my company have been killed. Many others are wounded a lot worse than I am. Fighting in a major city is completely different from anything I was ever taught."
The Marine grimaced then nodded, "But surely you have broken their strength by now? The rebels must be on their last legs corralled into isolated corners."
"On the contrary they were able to press us back some by tunnelling through adjacent buildings. We caught most of this bunch in a counterattack that succeeded merely in taking a few building we had lost. Reinforcements arrived at the north end of the city but have been unable to retake Patrick’s Bridge and link up with us."
------HQ German Sixth Army Machiel (Picardy) 1930 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck had summoned General von Schubert, von Armin and von Gebsattel—the commanders of XXVII Reserve, IV Army and III Bavarian Corps respectively to meet with him and Oberst Freiherr von Wenge, his chief of staff. "Initially we pursued a strategy of trying to sever completely the line of communication of British First Army. I am now willing to concede that this strategy has failed. I knew from the beginning it would be a difficult task against a foe as intractable as the British but I had hoped the Prussian Guards would be capable of that extra something which would make it work. I was wrong," von Fabeck declared to his guests, "A major portion of the British First Army was able to move out of danger and now the British Second Army which has received reinforcements including 2 French divisions is slowly easing the pressure on the key road."
"Easing the pressure at Nolette, general," the chief of staff corrected, "we still have another choke point at Morlay that we easily dominate with artillery fire.. They only dare use the supply road at night and even then they take losses. For tonight we have plans to maximize the disruption which---"
Fabeck arched an eyebrow and glared at the oberst but then sighed and interrupted, "Yes, I am well aware of those plans as I approved them but there is a very real possibility they will soon drive us away from Morlay as well. OHL has made it abundantly clear that we can expect no more reinforcements and that our shipments of shells will be reduced starting Sunday due the French attack on First Army. The Guard Corps had been greatly weakened by its cumulative losses and there is a good chance that still more British and French divisions are on their way. We know from prisoners we had captured that the First Army has become seriously impaired by inadequate supplies. Its men have been on short rations for a long time and they may be short on ammunition as well. We have weakened the British 4th and 6th Divisions with chlorine gas clouds and driven a salient into their line. These divisions have been making reckless counterattacks in the last 2 days. By midnight all of the heavy artillery of Sixth Army—which is about of half of the heavy artillery on the Western Front will be concentrated in your sectors. Meteorological section believes that the rain has ended for the time being. In the early morning we are going to unleash our full firepower for several hours against the British 4th and 6th Divisions. When it lifts we will assault them with 5 divisions. General von Schubert you will send the 53rd Reserve Division against the left wing of the British 4th Division to the immediate south of the Authie River. Unlike the other divisions involved in this attack the 53rd Reserve Division still has 4 regiments. It will use one brigade in its assault and advance to southwest following the river. When it reaches the bend in the river, which I understand is only about a kilometer—is that correct?"
"Yes General, well actually slightly less. About 900 meters," answered Gen. von Schubert.
"Even better. Well as I was saying, when it reaches the bend its lead brigade should continue southwest with the large town of Quend as its goal but the its other brigade will veer off to right and head northwest to attack the flank of rear of the British 2nd Division Meanwhile the 54th Reserve Division should harass the British 2nd Division with its field artillery and prepare to establish a bridgehead over the Authie after dark. Is this clear?"
"Hmm. The 53rd Reserve Division should attempt to form a bridgehead only of the 53rd Reserve Division has advanced sufficiently far beyond the bend for its to be able to attack 2nd Division as well?"
Fabeck sighed audibly and gave Schubert a s withering look. "You just informed that the bend is only 900 meters away! Are you doubting that your men can reach even that modest objective with the support of all the heavy artillery being used tomorrow?"
"Sometimes in trench warfare it is difficult to advance at all, general. And we would need to go at least 500 meters beyond the bend to have space to unleash the trailing brigade."
Fabeck continued to glare but finally relented a bit, "If the 53rd Reserve Division has not made it that far by sunset I personally will decide whether or not 54th Reserve should attempt to cross the Authie. I hope for both our sakes not to have to make that decision, is that understood?"
"Very well, general."
Fabeck turned then to the other generals, "General von Gebsattel, I recently reinforced you with the 11th Bavarian Division which I removed from I Bavarian Corps. You will send that division against the right wing of the British 6th Division. In the middle General von Arnim will attack out of the salient around Villers-sur-Authie with all 3 of his divisions. All five divisions involved in tomorrow’s attack will advance in a southwesterly direction so that they do not become intertwined. If at all possible try to reach and cross the canal which means an advance of roughly 4 kilometers. It is the only strong defensive position they have between the coast and if we can breach it quickly we will have them in a hopeless position."
"I agree with that assessment, general, but I must point out that an advance of 4 kilometers in one day against an entrenched enemy is most difficult esp. against an enemy as tenacious as the British," replied von Arnim.
------Curragh (Kildare) 1955 hrs
News of the situation at Tullamore had reached Hamilton’s HQ in the last hour. He was on the telephone with General Stopford, commander of VI Army Corps, again. "I am worried about the situation at Tullamore," announced Hamilton, "I had hoped that the revolt at Athlone would be eliminated today but apparently it has worked its way east. Have you been able to establish contact with Gen. Powell at Custume Barracks?"
"Not so far, general."
"Just what do we know about the situation at Athlone?"
"There is continued heavy fighting in the eastern portion of the city. The rebels still control both of the train stations."
"And they are doing this without German help?"
"Well there is the armored train, sir. There are also inconsistent reports of some German cavalry at Athlone. Still most reports claim the enemy there are predominantly the Irish rebels. For that reason I expect that we will prevail shortly."
"Probably true but nevertheless I am starting to get worried. The rebels in Tullamore could spark the rising in Dublin we’ve dreaded ever since the Germans landed. I want you to send on of the battalions we have inside Dublin and force march them to Tullamore immediately. The rebels even pose some threat to this headquarters as well. So send another company from Dublin here as well."
------Midleton (Cork) 2015 hrs
The 1st Tipperary Battalion had reached the town of Midleton after a gruelling march on muddy roads. Its vanguard had arrived a hour before and contacted the local company of Irish Volunteers. Nearly 100 turned out almost immediately with more arriving before midnight. There were 8 constables in the town itself. They were not expecting an attack from the northeast but nevertheless managed to fend off the attack of the Tipperary Volunteers, which fell back on their usual alternative of keeping the R.I.C. pinned down inside their station. Again as was their standard procedure which they were getting very proficient they cut all telegraph and telephone wires in the area.
Midleton was one of the two largest distillery areas in Ireland and was still in production though the government had reduced its access to barley back in March. The Tipperary Volunteers—which now included men from Counties Kilkenny, Waterford and Cork as well—settled down to spend the night in Midleton before heading out for Cork at first light.. O’Duibhir made repeated pleas to his men not to drink themselves into a stupor. A majority heeded the commandant’s plea but a sizable minority did not and there were some instances of rowdiness. As a result of this a few of the prisoners were able to escape.
------German embassy Washington 2040 hrs GMT
The German ambassador, Count von Bernstorff was on the telephone with Hauptman von Papen. "The wireless station at Sayville has received a coded message from the cruisers, Your Excellency. We have decoded it. It says that they will arrive at New York tomorrow morning. It gave no specific time. Should we go ahead and notify both Hamburg-Amerika and Nord Deustche Lloyd of our plans so they can begin preparing the liners?"
"Yes go ahead and do that as soon as this call is over but do not tell them all the details at this time—just enough to get started. Hmm. How many former officers and senior unteroffizieren have we collected so far?"
"At our last count we have 73 former officers and 95 former senior unteroffizieren who have volunteered and are now in New York. We expect more to arrive here tomorrow."
"That is good. I will have to check with Dr. Dumba and see how many he has found. So far we have gathered the cream. It is time to get the milk as well. Notify the Bund in the next hour and tell them to spread the word that we have arranged transportation for those of our reservists willing to fight for the Fatherland. Tom Clarke has taken over the Clan na Gael since Devoy’s arrest. Contact him and the Fenian Brotherhood as well and see how many of their men are willing to leave on very short notice to fight for Ireland. Devoy had always told me at least 10,000 would go but we both know that he was prone to wild exaggeration. How many of those efficient American shotguns were you able to purchase retail?"
"About 140, Your Excellency. We were only able to get 52 Springfield rifles. We could have acquired some of their obsolete military rifles in the hundreds but I did not see that as worthwhile."
"You are probably right. While we are the topic of weapons check with Sgt. St. James in the morning and see if Dr. Godard has our rockets ready."
------Morlay (Picardy) 2100 hrs
General von Fabeck and Freiheer von Wenge had both surmised that the BEF would make a maximum effort to get supplies to First Army during the night, esp. before moonrise. They decided to interfere with this as much as possible. At dusk a total of 6 batteries of 7.7 cm and another armed with 10.5 cm howitzers registered on the key road in the vicinity of Morlay. These had provided with a large stockpile of shells and now came into action showering the road, which as they guessed was fairly congested with supply wagons. This bombardment soon provoked desperate counter-battery fire by Second Army which had only a limited effectiveness, esp. as the German batteries alternated in their shelling. The supply convoys were not destroyed but 20% of their men and 30% of their horses and mules became casualties. More importantly pandemonium was caused along the road and traffic was brought to standstill for more than an hour and when it resumed it was for a while a mere trickle.
To the west the boats bringing supplies to La Crotoy came under a steady shelling from two batteries of 13 cm guns which alternated. The boats bringing supplies to this fishing village were still manned mostly by civilians. The German shelling caused only limited destruction by itself but it served to intimidate the crews of the trawlers. A British monitor offshore returned fire but unobserved this too was mostly meant to intimidate. Some boats turned around on account of the German shelling. Others continued on but approached the shore with great trepidation. When they did arrive they unloaded hurriedly and in more than a few instances left with some cargo still unloaded.
------near Macroom (Cork) 2110 hrs
Unsuccessful by day a desperate General Parsons felt he compelled to try another night attack, even though his men were thoroughly exhausted. The rain had stopped but the ground had only partially dried. The men floundered about in the moonless dark. It was now painfully clear to the men of 16th Division that they were attacking an enemy which outnumbered them. The infantry intuited a note of desperation in the orders of their officers. It was clear that their division was in serious danger. In the dark the sense of dread was heightened while the authority of commanding officers was weakened. Their attacks faltered. This time the enemy was not content to merely hold their position but launched a series of small counterattacks. The frayed British morale could stand it no longer. Some men began to run off in panic while others quickly surrendered. The only thing that prevented a complete collapse was the darkness prevented the Bavarians from getting an accurate sense of what was happening. The seasoned Bavarian commanders were well acquainted with the problems of night attacks. The counterattacks remained limited with some of the units letting their men sleep.
------British First Army HQ just SW of Rue (Picardy) 2140 hrs
Gen. William Pulteney, commander of III Army Corps, was meeting with Gen Haig. "We cannot afford to proceed with tomorrow’s planned dawn attack, sir," Pulteney pleaded, "The Germans have assembled too much artillery in this sector. And they have another division here as well. We took 2 prisoners this afternoon we learned were from the 52nd Infantry Division. At first I thought it was faulty intelligence as I had never heard of that division but it turns out that it is one of those new German divisions with only 3 regiments."
"Which only shows how desperate the German manpower situation must be for them to resort to creating these flimsy under strength divisions. Slicing a pie thinner does not create more pie. This is one of the things that reinforces my confidence that we will ultimately prevail in this war and way sooner than many people currently think."
Pulteney licked his lips nervously, "That is most likely true, sir. Still the sheer intensity of their artillery this afternoon is reason enough to call off tomorrow’s attack."
"I heard some of that shelling here. It was indeed quite loud but not anywhere as loud as some people are claiming."
Pulteney got very nervous at that. "Perhaps a little, sir. Still it is too much for us to---"
"Oh I am not about to insist on going forward with the attack if that’s what you are worried about. We were able to get 5 warplanes aloft this afternoon. They had to fly low due to the thick cloud cover and we ended up losing one to ground fire. The observers aboard the others reported clear signs of increased German strength. We must be prepared for another attack tomorrow. Likely it will erupt out of their salient around Villers, but we cannot be certain of that. They may even shift most of their artillery during the night and attack Indian Corps instead. At this time I feel that the Indians are our weakest link."
"That is indeed a possibility, sir, but I really so think that my own corps is destined to feel the full force of the German onslaught. I am very worried that we may not be able to hold them. I believe that we need to be ready to move behind the canal."
"No, we must not allow ourselves to think along those lines. If we fall back to the canal we would only by two and half miles from the Channel. No, we must hold the forward trench tomorrow."
"Yes, I am well aware of that fact, sir, but couldn’t them get some support from our Navy? Is that too much to hope for?"
"If are you asking whether the Admiralty is willing to commit battleships—even their old ones—off the Picardy coast I can answer that question. Yes, it is too much to hope for. They may be able to send more of the obsolete light vessels of Dover Patrol but we already know what limited power they have."
We must hold the Germans at the front trench tomorrow. Reinforce the forward trench as much as possible tonight and place the rest of your able bodied infantry in the second trench ready to counterattack. You should know by now how to putty up. Move one or two battalions out of 2nd Division—perhaps some of their artillery as well--to bolster your reserves. Though we still have to be cautious with our use of artillery. Even though we should be able to get considerably more supplies tonight now that the heavy rains have stopped Field Marshal French has made it clear that most of the artillery shells arriving from England are going to Second Army, which is to make a maximum effort tomorrow morning. Now that the rain has stopped he believes that now advance more quickly."
Pulteney made a long face and sighed deeply, "Well then we should be getting a good amount of food tonight at least."
"Food and fodder for the horses, yes."
"I was hoping for much more food than fodder, sir. The men have been on half rations for a very long time."
"I requested an equal mix. I have seen the pitiful state of our horses. More than a hundred died yesterday. It is an extremely dangerous situation and needs to be rectified immediately."
"With all due respect sir, we are not particularly mobile right now. We can afford to do without our horses. When Second Army relieves the pressure on our line of communication we can replace the horses. It is not so easy to replace trained men."
------Carrigtwohill (Cork) 2155 hrs
Rommel had could only fit 2 of his companies in the Tatra trucks with 4 wheel drive and after his bad experience getting to Cork he did not want to take his motor vehicles with 2 wheel drive until the roads had more time to dry. He had captured some more gasoline inside Cork city and for the time being that was not going to be a problem. He temporarily left his machinegun section and the other 2 companies of the 3rd Kerry Battalion in Cork with von Thoma. He did bring 200 Moisin-Nagant rifles with 6,000 rounds of ammunition as well as all the healthy German Pioneers. With 4 armored cars in the van to make dealing with roadblocks much easier he swung around to the north of Cork soon after dark and then came turned south again passing through Sallybrook and Riverstown.
His first destination was the town of Carrigtwohill which lay on the main road between Cork and Midleton. MacCurtain had told him there was a fairly large company of Irish Volunteers there and sent one of his men very familiar with that company to accompany Rommel. With the help of the armored cars the small R.I.C station was quickly taken. While they did capture 4 Lee-Enfields and nearly 900 rounds of .303 they did not find the weapons confiscated from the local Irish Volunteers and Redmond’s National Volunteers. Those apparently had been moved to a larger barracks a few miles east at Glounthaune.
------RMS Lusitania 2245 hrs GMT
The Germans of 2nd Scouting Group recalled what had occurred about the Vaterland during the Battle of Utsire. Not wishing a similar disturbance to occur aboard Lusitania Admiral Maas decided to put aboard her a larger than normal prize crew. He gave them strict orders not to plunder the alcoholic spirits, esp. the champagne. One of their instructions was to identify which of the passengers were citizens of neutral nations. Nearly all of these turned out to be Americans as the citizens of other neutral countries had availed themselves of genuine neutral liners while the British and French ones cowered in port. The German sailors were strictly ordered to avoid unnecessary contact with passengers—most particularly women. However there were a few passengers they were interested in contacting.
On of them was Mr. Alfred G. Vanderbilt. There was something in the cargo hold they wanted to show. They even let him bring his valet along.
------Monaghan city 2305 hrs
O’Duffy had hoped that at least a thousand Irish Volunteers from the southern portions Ulster would join him at Monaghan. Less than 500 had showed up so far and meanwhile his men had taken more than 100 casualties. The Ulstermen had tried twice to overpower him with full scale assaults. Both times his men had driven them off with substantial losses. Now the enemy was content to cordon him and steadily whittle him down. O’Duffy had speculated that the heavy rain was discouraging and delaying new arrivals but now that it was over he was receiving only small dribs and drabs. Once the moon was up it would be harder for reinforcements to slither through the cordon and once the sun rose it was flat out impossible.
But that was not the worst of it. In the last half hour he began to hear that some of the men had already become disheartened and were using the dark period of the night to run away while they still had a chance to escape. O’Duffy was starting to seriously worry about what tomorrow might bring.
------Ballyvodock (Cork) 2325 hrs
Maj. Rommel left one of his companies and an armored car at Carrigtwohill to finish assembling the local company of Irish Volunteers. On their tasks would be to stir up enough trouble that it would hopefully draw some of the enemy forces on Great Island north of the Belvelly Channel. Rommel had considered trying to take the Belvelly Bridge—the only bridge connecting Great Island to the mainland. There was however a Martello Tower guarding the bridge. The Irish Martello Towers constructed during the invasion scare of the Napoleonic Wars had all been neglected for decades but the one guarding the bridge according to Lt. Cummins was still habitable and while it did not have a garrison before the Germans landed it would likely have one now.
As an alternative Cummins had recommend a farming hamlet called Ballvodock across from the northeastern corner of Great Island, where had worked 2 years as a farmhand on an AngloIrish estate. The beach to the south was wooded as was the section of Great Island across from it. As a further advantage it was not obstructed by the sea wall which existed on Great Island’s north shore to the west. It was Rommel’s best prospect for an easy unobserved landing on Great Island. He took his remaining company and 2 armored cars east. Small boats used to catch shellfish in the channel were tied to piers on both sides. Upon reaching Ballyvodock Rommel immediately proceeded to capture those on the north side and personally led some of men across Belvelly Channel which took only 3 minutes. They quickly captured those boats on the south shore. When Rommel returned to the north shore he began directing the transfer of the entire company across the channel. As he was doing this he was approached by Lt. Cummins who was accompanied by a young lad Rommel did not recognize.
"This is James Sheehan, Major. He lives in the hamlet and wants very much to join our battalion." said Cummins, "he also provided us with some very interesting news about Midleton. It appears that another IRA unit has beat us to it."