by Tom B
-----near Zeila (British Somaliland) 0050 hrs GMT Tuesday May 11, 1915
In the last three weeks action on the Somaliland front had consisted primarily of the frustrated attempt by the Anglo-Indian expeditionary force to brush aside Sheik Hassan as a prelude to attacking Abyssinia. The mixture of Abyssinian and Ottoman forces near Zeila had remained largely inactive during this period. The tirailleurs senegalais had refrained from another major attack, due in part to word from Paris that Premier Clemenceau did not consider this colonial campaign to be important, even though it had contributed to the collapse of the previous Cabinet. So fighting was confined to a few skirmishes between patrols while British and French warships ranging in size from small gunboats to armored cruisers periodically shelled the enemy.
Col. Rabadi used this interlude to concentrate on training, both for the Abyssinian troops and his Ottoman soldiers, who were overwhelmingly Arab. He viewed the intermittent skirmishes as a form of live ammunition training though he was seldom pleased with the results. Still he privately admitted that his training program was making slow but steady progress. When news came the fall of Perim Island which provided some improvement to his tenuous at best line of communication to Yemen, he decided it was time to become more aggressive esp. as Sheik Hassan had been repeatedly dispatching messages berating him for not taking more decisive action that would remove some of the British pressure in the key mountain passes. The Sheik had provided him use of a half dozen of his Somalis knowledgeable of the local area and these had provided him with much useful information. For one thing he had learned that the King’s African Rifles, the principal British forces in his immediate area, had been drawn away to join in the fighting to the south. This meant that except for a small force of poorly armed Somalis loyal to the British, the only local resistance were the tirailleurs senegalais, who were fierce fighters but unfamiliar with the region. A sizable gap had arisen in the French lines that could be exploited.
A force of roughly 400 Abyssinian soldiers had penetrated into this gap with only a pale moon to guide them. Their destination was a camp that held half a battalion of the tirailleurs senegalais. The Abyssinians reached the outskirts of the camp undetected but then alert sentries quickly raised the alarm. The Abyssinian attack failed against the alerted enemy and they quickly withdrew. The defenders decided to mount a counterattack and pursued what they believed to be a routed enemy in disorder. After a few minutes of chase they discovered that the Abyssinians had regrouped and were now reinforced with two Ottoman rifles companies plus 2 Ottoman machineguns. The tirailleur counterattack came under heavy fire and was forced in turn to retreat back to its camp after suffering serious losses.
Col. Samir Rabadi was present with the Ottoman forces. He had hoped that the initial Abyssinian attack might have been able to take the enemy camp by coup de main under the cover of darkness. What had actually occurred in this battle had been his plan B and that had succeeded in hurting the enemy though not as much as he had wanted. Lighting a cigarette removed from his ornate silver case Rabadi briefly considered making another attack on the enemy camp with his combined forces but rejected that as being too risky. Other enemy encampments were not that far away and he could find himself attacked from multiple directions possibly cutting his line of retreat. So he ordered his combined Abyssinian and Ottoman forces to gather up the Lebel rifles from the slain Senegalese and then return back to their lines. The Ottoman reinforcements and supplies who had landed in Somaliland were still more than two days away. Col. Rabadi would wait until they arrived before making his next move. In the meantime he could see that his forces could still use more training.
------Carnegie Hall NYC 0105 hrs GMT
The Clan na Gael and Bund had rented Carnegie Hall at the last minute even though it was expensive to do. In addition to celebrating Adm. von Spee’s arrival, Mr. Clarence Darrow had been able to persuade a Federal judge to let John Devoy out on bail despite strenuous objections by the federal prosecutor who literally described Devoy as constituting a menace to civilization. Joining Devoy were Tom Clarke and Jim Larkin. At the beginning of the program there was some entertainment. The world famous tenor John McCormack---rumored by some to be considering joining the expedition---sang for the crowd.
O Paddy dear, an' did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground;
St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin the wearin' o' the Green.
I met wid Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's dear ould Ireland, and how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,
For they're hangin' men an' women there for the wearin' o' the Green.
Then since the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have shed,
You may take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod,
It will take root and flourish there though underfoot it's trod.
When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show,
Then will I change the colour, too, I wear in my caubeen
But 'till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the Green.
But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart,
Her sons with shame and sorrow from the dear old isle will part;
I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea
Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day.
O Erin, must we leave you driven by a tyrant's hand?
Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?
Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen,
And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearin' o' the green!
Adm. von Spee was so moved by McCormack’s voice he had to wipe away a tear or two when it was over. After that Jim Larkin delivered a speech and demonstrated that he was almost as gifted with words as McCormack had been with song. He talked at great length about the late James Connolly and what a magnificent martyr he was to the cause of the working men and women of Ireland.
John Devoy was the next to speak, "In the two weeks all the single most important goal of my life, the one reason that I go on living has reached a climax. Ireland’s war of independence is now in full swing. There was some confusion when Admiral von Spee there first landed and the nationwide rising did not immediately materialize. For a while I cursed the Irish people. Yes, I did. I said to myself, ‘What in hell is wrong with you, Ireland? This is your moment. Get off your fuckin’ arse and do something!’ I was worried that it was all going to shit. It has happened before in Irish history. Many times. So I was worried that it might be happening again. But then came word first that Cork had risen and now today that the boys in Dublin finally recovered their wits. The British government led by that Unionist hyena, Andrew Bonar Law, in desperation has resorted to using ridicule. First the son of a bitch denies there is any Irish rebellion whatsoever. Only a few hundred rebels he tells the world. Then he says ‘Oh well, maybe there are a few more but don’t you AngloIrish bastards worry none because we intend to kill them all.’ He then sends hordes of the accursed Ulstermen to massacre our brave young lads in Galway, Wexford and Monaghan and cackles with fiendish glee when they finish and tells everyone that is end of the rebellion but the truth of the matter is it is just beginning. At Cork and Athlone our boys are holding their own and will do the same in Dublin as well. I am no longer worried, not one bloody bit. It is Mr. Bonar Law’s turn to be worried. The day of justice of coming!"
Devoy rambled on with incredible energy for a man of his age.. Many of those in the audience were shocked by the saltiness of his language, esp. in the presence of women, but none who had any familiarity with him were surprised. Devoy finally finished by introducing the next speaker, "I could speak forever on this topic so dear it is to my Hibernian heart, but it is time for me to present the next speaker, the man who made this all possible, the leader of the German leader, Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee."
Cheers and applause erupted from the audience as Adm. von Spee approached the podium. While he was aboard Lothringen, Kapitan Boy-ed had given the admiral a few suggestions about this speech. When von Spee had arrived at Carnegie Hall Tom Clarke had helped him prepare as well.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to be talking to you here tonight," said von Spee, "As you all probably know by now it was my great honor and privilege to lead the expedition which is now assisting the Irish people in attaining their long overdue liberation from British tyranny. Let no one harbor the slightest suspicion that Germany has any intentions to rule Ireland when this war is over. The agents of the Entente have spread many vicious lies sprinkled with a few half truths about German intentions in this great war currently underway in Europe. They want the whole world to think we Germans are the enemies of freedom everywhere; that we are driven by an insatiable need to conquer and rule. Nothing could be further from the truth."
The admiral took a small sip of water while assessing the crowd. He continued, "There is indeed a German Empire. But please take out your maps and compare it to the British and French Empires and then ask yourself what country it is that has an insatiable need to conquer. And if you are afraid to answer that question yourselves then ask those in India or South Africa. And while you are at it ask those living in Ireland. They will tell you something about which country has an insatiable need to conquer. So that is why it is so completely wrong when people like your Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge say that anyone who loves Ireland should come to the aid of the British because we Germans are now attacking Ireland. Listening to them you would be led to believe that Cromwell was the best thing to ever happen to Ireland. Let me make one thing perfectly clear. We Germans did not come to Ireland uninvited. Oh, no, it was Sir Roger Casement who pleaded with us to come to Ireland and we came at great risk to ourselves. And what does Germany want to accomplish out of all of this? It all boils down to one thing."
Adm. von Spee paused dramatically. There was a line that Clarke had suggested that he thought he would try.
"England out of Ireland!"
He waited for the line to sink in. Members of the audience rose to their feet applauding furiously. "England out of Ireland!" some of them shouted back. It soon became an enthusiastic chant that went on for several minutes before the admiral was allowed to speak again.
"How typically American," W.E.B. Dubois snorted in disgust to Lt. St. James as they observed this spectacle from the corner booth they shared. Von Papen had arranged for both of them to be admitted to this event, but he had been dissuaded by St. James from inviting "Field Marshal" Garvey as well. The Germans did invite 4 prominent Ghaidars including Sandeep Singh Puri but not any of the other Buffalo Soldiers who had agreed to go along with St. James to Africa. .This had annoyed Cornelius, who sensed that the Germans were afraid that too many darkies in the crowd would appall the white folk. However von Papen had atoned for that offense by personally introducing St. James to Adm. von Spee beforehand, telling the admiral that St. James had been very helpful to the German cause. The admiral had been polite and told Cornelius about how Haitians had played a key role in the return of the Asiatic Squadron to Germany which resulted in the Battle of Utsire.
"Now, now WEB, you must admit it is a very poignant phrase," answered St. James.
"It is a cute slogan, that’s all it is. And Americans do love slogans. Full sentences are too tiring for their stunted little brains. Quite frankly I’d rather have more of Devoy’s vulgarity. That at least possessed an almost Rabelaisian authenticity. Kindly note that I said ‘almost’."
"Now, now, it could be worse, W.E.B.. That fool Garvey could be here. It is bad enough that he and his hypnotized followers are coming with us to Africa. You should see the ridiculous outfit he is wearing."
"I think I will pass on that, Cornelius, though perhaps I might find it more humorous that nauseating."
"I wish you were coming with us to Africa instead of Garvey and his organization."
"In truth I will confess that the idea did momentarily pop into my head. I would very much like to meet some day with Emperor Iyasu, Governor Schnee and Col. Lettow-Vorbeck. But one of Garvey’s million mistakes is he obsesses too much about Africa. The continent of Africa was the proud past of the Negro race. But it is time to look to the future and in the future the black man will carry Africa with him in his heart wherever he is---and that certainly includes the United States. It is here where I am needed most, not in East Africa."
"If you change your mind, my men---and Garvey’s as well---have been billeted aboard the Barbarossa. I originally wanted the President Lincoln as she is named after one of my heroes but I’ve been told that the steerage quarters are better aboard Barbarossa."
Dubois shook his head vigorously, "Don’t expect to see me there. My decision has been made. However that does not in any way diminish the importance of what you are doing, Cornelius. If you demonstrate on the battlefield the elan I know resides in your heart, the world will cannot help but to take notice. You will become an enduring hero to gentlemen of color everywhere."
"I sure hope so, but quite frankly the way the war is going I am beginning to think it may well be over before I even get to Africa."
"In that case do not make the same mistake as that imbecile Garvey by fixating on Africa. Seize any opportunity you can to demonstrate your martial prowess even before you make it to Africa, say in Serbia through which you will be likely passing."
------Abadan (Persia) 0305 hrs
The British defenses of Abadan itself had consisted of a mix of poorly trained Indian troops, a few royal Marines and most of all some friendly Persians. Unfortunately most of these Persian troops were subjects of Khaz’al Khan who sent word to them that he was changing sides. These now turned on the British as Col. Al-Askari approached with most of the 35th Infantry Division. Confusion ensured inside in the refinery complex with some of the Indians quickly slain or captured by Khaz’al Khan’s Marsh Arabs. The outer perimeter was quickly breached and the remaining Indian troops and the Royal Marines desperately tried to erect a last ditch defense at the edge of the refinery complex.
-----Coachford (Cork) 0430 hrs
The thunder had ended before midnight but a hard rain had continued through most of the night which finally tapered off to drizzle accompanied by patchy fog only in the last hour. The 1/4th Royal Sussex at that time had the greatest effective strength of any battalion in the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade and it was only a little more than half strength. It was felt by Gen. Friend that what nearly all of what was left of the 6th Bavarian Division was split between Rathmore and the mountain valley south of Millstreet and so could be outflanked through Coachford. After a hard march in the rain down the narrow road up and down the undulating countryside the 1/4th Royal Sussex now approached Coachford. Their scouts had warned the battalions that there were German defenders waiting just north of the town. In the darkness the scouts could not make out the enemy strength.
Believing that the enemy presence could not be more than an understrength company and hoping to take them by surprise the commander of the 1/4th Royal Sussex ordered an immediate attack. The defenders were in fact all of the 1st battalion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. On account of its cumulative losses it currently had a somewhat smaller strength than the attackers. Being the 1st battalion of the regiment it contained the regimental Musketen company armed with automatic rifles which was further reinforced by 4 machineguns from the regimental machinegun company so the attacker’s small advantage in manpower was more than compensated by a Bavarian advantage in firepower. The Bavarians had erected two strongpoints each with a pair of the machineguns which dominated either side of the road. These tore into the lead company of the 1/4th Royal Sussex. It soon became obvious to the British colonel that he had been seriously misinformed about the enemy strength and called off his attack, pulling back to the north.
------west of Froise (Picardy) 0500 hrs
The British 29th Infantry Division had arrived and come under the command of the III Army Corps. Gen. Hunter-Weston was eager to attack as soon as possible in order to rescue the trapped 2nd Infantry Division and was not willing to wait for his howitzer brigade to be properly sited, nor was he particularly concerned that his men had gotten little sleep during the night march. Hunter-Weston made only minimal effort at coordinating with the 6th Infantry Division through which he was passing nor did he try to involve the RGA batteries with their heavy artillery nor the light warships of Dover Patrol. Instead his 18 pounders fired shrapnel shells for 20 minutes on the positions of the German 7th Infantry Division followed by the 6 infantry battalions. The Saxons of the 7th Infantry Division had taken every opportunity to improve their entrenchments the day before. Hunter-Weston’s bombardment did minimal damage. The wire barriers were now thicker and had been merely bounced around by the bombardment. The wire held the attackers at bay while shrapnel shells and machine guns tore into them mercilessly. The attack proved to be a costly failure which accomplished nothing.
------Kingstown (Dublin) 0510 hrs
The British forces at Kingstown had made several attempts to clear either the road or the railway between the port and Dublin, but we unable to budge the 2 rebel companies whose combined strength had grown to well over 300 men. Likewise an attempt to storm the warehouse where the Swedes were holed up had failed as well. Meanwhile a freighter loaded supplies on the docks intended for the British divisions in Ireland. For the time being these supplies would have to remain on the docks.
------Bukovina 0600 hrs
The Russian offensive continued to grind away at Gen. Pflanzer-Baltin’s Seventh Army. Yesterday afternoon the XVII Corps on the left wing of Gen. Brusilov’s Eighth Army had joined the attack on the Austro-Hungarian Seventh Army. This further overloaded the already badly outnumbered Hungarian defenders. A series of well placed strong points served to inflict losses on the Russians and slow their advance but could not halt it completely. The Russian in turn encircled a few battered battalions and were beginning to reap a significant haul of prisoners.
------OKW Berlin 0635 hrs
"There are some senior officers in the Heer that hate you Franz," Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke told Admiral Hipper, "that is because they feel that we were on the verge of a great victory at the Battle of the Marne and would have destroyed at least half of the French Army and taken Paris before the end of September. They think it was your baneful influence that caused me to abandon the sound logic of the Schlieffen Plan. Sometimes they blame Dr. Steiner as well claiming that he used occult powers to make me pliant to your suggestions."
Hipper saw von Moltke as being in yet another of his melancholic pensive moods. The two had become friends in late 1914 but not to the degree that many were thinking. Adm. von Tirpitz had on more than one occasion tried to exploit this relationship and use Hipper to manipulate von Moltke, with very mixed results because that tactic was often painfully obvious to von Moltke. This served to make things awkward between them.
"I have been unfortunately heard that as well, Feldmarschal, but is that what you believe?" asked Hipper diplomatically.
"Sometimes I do not know what to believe, admiral," von Moltke confessed with a weary sigh, "Take Operation Unicorn. I had placed such high hopes in it but now I wonder now if it was because Dr. Steiner had introduced me to Casement and I think now that I was hoping his spiritual insight was coming to the aid of the spiritual heart of European civilization. Did you know that Ireland is a piece of Atlantis that did not sink?"
Franz always felt a bit awkward when Helmuth discussed anthroposophy. He had not previously known that Steiner had some remote involvement in the genesis of Operation Unicorn. He didn’t know if it that should make a difference one way or the other. This had been a war that had thoroughly confounded people’s expectations and it had as a consequence rendered him partially numb to new revelations. "Uh, I was not aware of that, Feldmarschal."
"Hmm. Admiral von Tirpitz does not want for me to talk with Admiral von Ingenohl, whom I already know has been deeply opposed to Operation Unicorn from the very beginning. I was able to get a hold of von Ingenohl’s recommendations for use of the fleet," said von Moltke holding along a two page typed document, "The main point in this is von Ingenohl feels that we should make another attempt to lure what is left of the Grand Fleet into a decisive battle off Terschelling, before we try anything else. It is unclear to me why he feels that it would work this time after failing in February."
"Admiral von Ingenohl believes we made some key mistakes back in February, Feldmarschal. First and foremost in his estimation is that the U-Boats fired on the British light cruisers and this gave the Grand Fleet ample warning of our intentions. This time he wants form instructions to the U-Boat commanders to wait for the battleships to appear and then fire all their available tubes try to secure multiple hits.. He also wants the mine traps laid differently this time. Instead of laying fields along the probable lines of approach of the Grand Fleet he wants to send a cruiser to lay a field astride their likely path of withdrawal late in the battle."
"I see. And what is your honest estimation of our chances that this plan will work?"
Hipper shook his head, "Only a very slim chance in my estimation, Feldmarschal. "The British will be even more cautious this time on account of their losses. They will looking out for traps and will likely attempt one of their own. Admiral von Ingenohl believes the Grand Fleet will commit to battle to save Channel Fleet and Dover Patrol from destruction. But this assumes that Channel Fleet will be committed to supporting Dover Patrol again this time around. We are not even sure that there even is a Channel Fleet anymore as their strength may well have been used to reinforce the Grand Fleet after Utsire. So this proposed sortie could well end up only sinking half dozen obsolete British destroyers and disrupting British coastal traffic for roughly a day and a half. "
"Hmm. Adm. von Ingenohl says at the end that of this document that if this operation fails to produce the desired fleet action, then the High Seas Fleet should patrol north of Dogger Bank to challenge the British. Do we have any reason to believe that they will accept this challenge?"
"Some in the fleet feel that prestige and their naval traditions will compel them to do so."
"I take it from the sound of your voice that you are not part of that group, Franz."
"That is correct, Feldmarschal."
"Gen. von Falkenhayn has suggested another sortie into the Channel to disrupt the British line of communications. He accepts that trying to bombard the British First Army again is likely to be too risky but he does want a more prolonged presence in the Channel this time."
"Will that permit the Heer to destroy the British First Army? Last I had heard it was thought the British were no longer in any immediate danger. We in the Kriegsmarine are not provided much in the way of details unless we happen to be part of the OKW staff."
"A single British division has been encircled but the rest of their First Army is not in any immediate threat. Gen von Falkenhayn though thinks that once the encircled division has been destroyed the rest of First Army will be so weakened that he can smash them clear across the Somme provided we can destroy their communication with England. I think he still has fantasies of rolling up the entire enemy line in France."
"You do not think this plan has some possibility of success, Feldmarschal?"
"Oh, I cannot go so far as to dismiss it altogether but I remain sceptical. But then again what do I know? Everyone knows I am a defeatist."
"You are being too hard on yourself, Feldmarschal. You are certainly not a defeatist. I am not qualified to render a verdict on the military situation in France. I am however more qualified to voice an opinion on what Adm. von Ingenohl’s reaction is likely to be. In his plans for operations off Terschelling he wants First Scouting Group to penetrate a little ways into the Channel unlike what we did in February but he is strongly opposed to taking the battle squadrons through the Straits of Dover again."
"Sounds like he expects you to take risks he is not willing to take himself."
Hipper frowned, "Just between you and me, this is not the first time I have gotten that 1 impression, Feldmarschal. Popular accounts of Utsire are not completely accurate."
------Old Admiralty Building 0650 hrs
Once again Sir Edward Carson was meeting with the Adm. Callaghan, Jackson, Wilson and Oliver. "The Germans claim the Irish rebels took Fort Westmoreland?" he thundered in disbelief when Oliver gave him the latest bit of intelligence from Room 40, "That’s the one on Spike Island. There is no way that could be possible. Surely there is some error."
Oliver was surprised by the vehemence of the First Lord’s scepticism, "This is how the intercepted wireless message translated after decoding, First Lord," he answered defensively.
"No, this is utterly beyond the realm of all possibility. It again makes me wonder if the Germans suspect our capability and send messages like this to test us."
"Uh, well I have repeatedly warned in the past---"
"----That you hoard these messages in order to prevent the Germans from catching some hints of our capability. I have criticized that attitude in the past, but perhaps you have a valid point after all. Is there anything other messages that I should now about?"
:"Yes, but they are of medium importance at best, First Lord."
"I would like them nevertheless."
"Uh, well then there were some messages directed at their submarines, First Lord. Two of their submarines have been ordered to return to Germany."
"Do we have any inkling as to why?"
"It is not particularly clear, First Lord. We have a working hypothesis right now that the Germans have called off their attacks on Tenth Cruiser Squadron for unexplained reasons. There was another intercepted message to a third submarine changing here station to the eastern portion of the Channel."
"Where in the Channel, admiral? Off Le Havre where they have taken to torpedoing unarmed merchantmen without warning in clear violation of common decency as well as the Hague?"
"It does not appear to be going that far west. As far as we can tell the third submarine is to be reassigned to a station a little ways west of the Straits themselves."
"Any ideas what that is about?"
Adm. Callaghan answered that question, "The Germans may think that Dover Patrol will be reinforced with heavier unit perhaps even some predreadnoughts to help extricate the trapped 2nd Infantry Division."
"And do we have in fact any plans to do just that, admiral?"
"We have ruled out using any of the 3 old battleships in Reserve Fleet, First Lord. The use of Revenge is still being discussed."
"In theory the bulge we installed on Revenge should offer good protection against torpedoes as well as mines, First Lord," added Adm. Jackson.
"I shall abide with whatever you admirals decide on that matter," said Carson, "Do we have any more intelligence about Adm. von Spee is up to in the United States."
Admiral Oliver answered, "Wireless intercepts are not proving that useful, First Lord, as the Germans are using a different set of codes than those we have broken."
"Is that another reason to suspect that are on to what we have been doing?"
Oliver shrugged slightly, "Perhaps but we’ve always had trouble with the transatlantic traffic so it is far from being a conclusive."
"Is there anything useful coming from Capt. Gaunt, then?"
"Yes, there is, sir. He now has a preliminary estimate that anywhere from three to five thousand German and Irish Americans have volunteered so far to participate in this little expedition Adm. von Spee is organizing. Some of those will likely have last minute second thoughts and back out."
:"Yes, that is human nature but nevertheless these numbers are considerably more than what President Wilson has been telling us to expect."
------HQ British Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 0700 hrs
The telephone and telegraph lines connecting Hamilton’s HQ to VI Army Corps HQ had been cut yet again during the night. Gen. Hamilton and his staff impatiently waited with his staff for them to be reconnected. In the meantime Maj. Price briefed Gen. Hamilton and Gen. Braithwaite. "There have been small incidents throughout Ireland since the Germans landed, sir. The cutting of communication wires at night has been the most common, but there have also been attacks on lone constables while on patrol, attempts to damage the railroads and in Gort there was that awful bomb. Moreover the number of incidents is slowly rising, that is until yesterday evening, general. I cannot as yet provide concrete numbers for all of Ireland, but from those counties I have received reports there has been a sharp increase. In at least two places the rails were rendered unsafe and in two more unsuccessful attempts were made by men with crowbars and sledgehammers."
"Do we think this upsurge is connected in some way to the rising in Dublin?" asked Braithwaite.
"I don’t think it is pure coincidence, general. I am not sure though if it was planned beforehand. If it had the problems would have started simultaneous with the Dublin Rising, but the upsurge did not begin until late yesterday. That would suggest that as the news of what happened in Dublin was disseminated it catalyzed some dissidents into action."
Braithwaite scowled while Hamilton merely sighed and ordered, "Get us some breakdown by category once the communication wires are restored. Do not include incidents in counties Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Waterford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Longford, Leitrim and Dublin as there are large rebel forces conspicuously active in all of those. What I want to know is what is happening in those areas we would like to think are safe. Is that clear?"
"Perfectly clear, general. Am I permitted to share this information with the Viceroy?"
Braithwaite shook his head vigorously, "No, at least not today. Lord Curzon is already causing bedlam on too many other matters."
"Well at least in Dublin I think he was some right to be concerned," added Hamilton.
------Listowel (Kerry) 0725 hrs
"Sergeant, here is a telegram we just received from Commandant Stack," one of women serving in Listowel Company declared as she approached SSgt Bridget Donahue I.R.A. Yesterday McAndrews, her superior had received another promotion—this time to the temporary rank of lieutenant, but she had received no further promotion and remained a mere staff sergeant. Bridget wondered if this telegram might be about her own promotion. "Was it addressed to me or Lt. McAndrews?" Bridget asked with some anxiety.
"It was addressed to Lt. McAndrews, ma’am, but we always let you have a look first on account of the Lt. still recovering from his wound and all, and so you be needin’ to get screen everything before being passed on to him." replied the messenger. Mother Superior had seen to it that the telegraph station was run completely by the women of the company. That had proven rather easy as way too many men were willing to see communication as being less manly than the other military functions. On two occasions Bridget had edited the text of messages before passing them on to McAndrews, and on one occasion she had not permitted the Lt. to see it all but had burned it instead. She now took a look at the latest telegram.
IDENTIFY TODAY THE TENTH OF YOUR MEN WHO ARE LEAST FIT FOR COMBAT AND SEND THEM ALONG WITH MOST OF YOUR WOMEN TO TRALEE TO JOIN A PURELY SUPPORT UNIT STOP BECAUSE SSGT DONAHUE HAS PROVEN TO BE SO USEFUL TO YOU RECOMMEND YOU RETAIN HER WITH YOUR UNIT STOP
Mother Superior bit her lower lip. This was disturbing but not completely unexpected. She had heard that this had been the policy that in the rest of Kerry. Apparently it was something that imaginative German fellow, Major Rommel had implemented when he was at Killarney. This Rommel was rapidly making a name for himself in Ireland first in Kerry then later in Cork but Bridget regarded this particular idea as being deeply flawed. She knew the Germans were uncomfortable with the number of women in the Irish Republican Army and she saw this as a way to keep them away from combat. Mother Superior did not agree with this---not at all.
"You may go now, O’Keefe, I will take care of this" she ordered the woman who had delivered the telegram.
Listowel Company had now grown to a total of 208 men and 59 women organized into 5 platoons, with the 5th platoon composed of women. One of the male platoons was at Abbeyfeale over the border in County Limerick guarding the important train station there. Another male platoon was now stationed at Ballybunion on the coast where it watched for a possible British landing. The rest of the company was at Listowel though there 2 bicycle recon units, one composed of 5 women, the other of 8 men, who pedalled through the countryside.
Each of the platoons was headed by a SSgt with Bridget being the one in charge of the 5th platoon in addition to functioning as Lt. McAndrew’s adjutant. It was being widely rumored that the company would soon receive an Irish Brigade Captain as its new commander. Bridget was ambiguous about that possibility. While she viewed McAndrews as being a weak leader that had the advantage that he let her pretty much run the entire outfit without interference, which she felt would certainly not be the case with some high and mighty German in charge.
She pondered over what to do with this message. That there was a much higher proposition of women in her unit than in other I.RA. units was widely known, but she had made it a point never to tell Commandant Stack exactly how many women were in Listowel Company, but instead always provided him with effective strength numbers that combined male and female.
She considered her options and forced herself to acknowledge that some of the women in Listowel Company would be of little use in actual combat. She then went to see Lt. McAndrews. He was still far from being fully recovered and was still asleep. She decided to wake him.
"Sorry to disturb you, sir, but there is message from Commandant Stack that I believe you need to see, sir," she said handing him the message.
IDENTIFY TODAY THE TENTH OF YOUR MEN WHO ARE LEAST FIT FOR COMBAT AND SEND THEM ALONG WITH A QUARTER OF YOUR WOMEN TO TRALEE TO JOIN A PURELY SUPPORT UNIT STOP BECAUSE SSGT DONAHUE HAS PROVEN TO BE SO USEFUL TO YOU RECOMMEND YOU RETAIN HER WITH YOUR UNIT STOP
When he was done reading it McAndrews yawned. "Quite frankly, Bridget, I don’t see what is so all important about this telegram that you needed to wake me. Take care of this like you take care of everything else I had a difficult night sleeping again last night and feel that I need to get at least another hour of sleep. So unless there is something else----"
"Oh, no, this is it, sir. I will take care of it right away, sir. Get as much sleep as you think you need, sir."
------10 Downing St. 0800 hrs
The War Committee was meeting with Lord Kitchener once again. "I stopped at the Admiralty before coming here," said Carson, "Admiral Oliver produced some more of those decoded wireless intercepts. One of them has Gen. von François claiming that the Irish rebels captured Fort Westmoreland. I am beginning to share your concern about the reliability of these wireless transmissions as a source of intelligence. Fort Westmoreland is on Spike Island in the middle of Cork harbor. It would be the most difficult of the Cork harbor forts for the Germans to capture. There is simply no way the Fenians could pull this off."
"Well I am glad to see that I am not the only one unwilling to accept the ludicrous stories we are being fed by Adm. Oliver and his pointy headed gnomes," said Bonar Law casting a challenging glance in the direction of Lloyd-George, "Then again maybe this Gen. von François is a descendent of Baron Munchausen, eh?"
This is getting worse thought Lloyd-George with dismay now Sir Edward is closing his mind as well "Can we at least determine if this impregnable bastion has indeed fallen?" he asked.
"The Admiralty has lost contact with it so it is possible that it may have been captured," answered Carson, "But that must mean that the German penetration into Cork city is greater than we had been assuming for it is clearly not within the realm of possibility to think for a second that the Fenians could have pulled this off. One might as well believe in leprechauns or unicorns."
"Very well put, First Lord," remarked Bonar Law, "but I must now ask Lord Kitchener here if the Germans have succeeded in getting that much strength into Cork as it was my understanding that was precisely what the attack by the Welsh Division was suppose to prevent."
Kitchener paused a few seconds then replied, "It is possible, prime minister. It takes time for reports from the battlefield in County Cork---or France for that matter---to make their way back here. My latest information had the 53rd Division advancing towards Macroom in rugged terrain against heavy enemy resistance. An attempt is being made to outflank the enemy this morning. The Germans are rapidly dwindling in strength in Ireland and if they have boldly sent some of their precious troops on to Cork that means they have less to counter the attack of the Welsh Division. That means their collapse will come all the quicker."
"Hmm I wasn’t looking at it in that light, Lord Kitchener," remarked the prime minister, "but now that I think about it what you say does seem to make sense."
Lloyd-George was less convinced and asked pointedly, "This sounds very inferential almost speculative, Lord Kitchener. If the Germans had greatly reinforced their presence in Cork city shouldn’t Gen Hamilton know about it?"
"Yes and no, Chancellor."
"And just what does that mean, Lord Kitchener?" asked an exasperated Lloyd-George.
"There have been some communication problems with our units in Cork."
"Oh? Well that certainly explains a great deal. Does this mean they could be butchered to the last man and we would not know it?"
"I didn’t say that Chancellor."
"Then what exactly are you trying to say?"
Kitchener glanced briefly at Bonar Law hoping for some support but the prime minister was frustrated as well in trying to understand the field marshal. "Gen. Hamilton believes that our forces in Cork have decimated the rebels and can hold their own against the Germans. Furthermore he has reinforcements on the way."
Lloyd-George was not happy with that response, but before he could comment, Bonar Law said, "That response is not quite as specific as we would like, Field Marshal, but for the time being it will suffice. While Cork is very important so is Dublin. Has there been any progress made in extirpating the infestation there?"
"The rebels remained isolated and impotent, prime minister, but they are holding on stubbornly to what they have taken. Gen. Hamilton now believes the use of artillery will be necessary if he is to achieve a rapid resolution."
"Tell him not to have the slightest qualm about using artillery," ordered Bonar Law, "Now that I think about it I’ve come to conclusion we should be sending an entire artillery brigade and not just a single battery. When the Scots finish off the rebels in Dublin we can use this additional firepower against either the Germans or the rebels at Cork and Athlone if they are still causing trouble."
Kitchener took his time replying, "I see no problem in sending the rest of the 3rd Lowland Artillery Brigade, Prime Minister and I am heartened to see that you are not squeamish about doing what is necessary in Dublin."
"I would hasten to point out that Dublin has some important industry, which would suffer greatly from the indiscriminate use of artillery within the city," Lloyd-George commented.
"We are only going to shell the remaining rebel positions, David," replied Bonar Law, "the resulting property damage should not be all that bad."
"If it causes fires that spread to nearby areas it can be," answered Lloyd-George, "I strongly suggest we send additional infantry to Dublin before we begin shelling a city as important as Dublin."
"A firm display of firepower and the will to use is what is needed in Dublin right now," said Carson, "it could in the long run end up saving property there and elsewhere in Ireland."
"Have you decided on who should replace Gen. Stopford as commander of the VI Corps, Lord Kitchener?" asked Bonar Law
"I have given the matter much consideration, prime minister. The more I think about the more I am convinced that there is only man suited for the job—Henry Wilson."
------Bandon (Cork) 0810 hrs
A half dozen British soldiers from one of the artillery batteries of the 16th (Irish) Infantry Division which had escaped the German destruction of their division had also become separated from the other remnants while wandering in the mountainside. They were discovered early this rainy morning by a patrol of the 7th battalion Leinster Regiment and they were soon brought to the battalion intelligence officer who provided them some warm food and tea while asking them questions. The 7th Leinster was itself low on food and would’ve have run out completely by now but for the food donated by local citizens still loyal to the crown, which for the most part was the local Protestant enclave. The battalion commander and his adjutant soon joined the interrogation. One of the artillerists had a sore ankle and all of them had various scrapes and bruises from their hike in the rough terrain. Their senior member was a sergeant and it was to him that most of the questions were directed.
The battalion commander did not like what he was hearing. While his battalion was at Bandon the rest of the division was being destroyed. Oh, he was aware there were 2 other detached battalions---one at Limerick and another performing line of communication duties somewhere in Tipperary, but his battalion was the only one nearby. The colonel was now left to wonder about the possibility that if he had shown more initiative and returned to his division it would’ve made a difference. The Irish campaign had started well for him. He was confident that his men, nearly all of them former members of Redmond’s National Volunteers, would quickly smite the impudent German invader and that Ireland would emerge stronger from this experience. Since then things had taken a much different turn. That the Germans were not as easily defeated as initially hoped was not what weighed most on his soul. What bothered him most was what was happening to Ireland. As far as he could tell there was utter chaos in much of County Cork including Cork city. The Royal Irish Constabulary was badly demoralized. Those R.I.C. stations that were had not been scooped up by the Germans had been for the most part been abandoned by the constables, who had either fled to the east or taken to hiding in the hills. Some had removed their uniforms and taken to wearing civilian clothes to hide amongst the civilian population. Civil order had broken down in most places. In addition to the rebels, there were also bands of brigands running around looting and raping.
To make matters worse the battalion itself was experiencing serious divisiveness. The prime minister’s tough policy towards the rebels was supported by a majority of the soldiers but more than a quarter openly opposed it. Heated arguments between the two factions had resulted in fights and other discipline problems. Most serious of all there been 2 desertions in the last 3 days something a volunteer unit was not supposed to experience. Reports indicated that the two deserters had expressed some measure of sympathy for the revolt.
"I cannot begin to tell you how much it galls me that the only place where there seems to be any order whatsoever in County Cork right now is where the army is in present--either us or the Germans and from what you just told me that is mostly the Germans right now," the colonel told the artillery sergeant shaking his head.
"Uh, I feel compelled to remind you once again, colonel that we do not know what other British formations there are in County Cork at this time." said the intelligence officer, "other than the fact that the army has considerable strength involved in the fighting in Cork city."
"Begging your pardon, colonel," asked the artillery sergeant, "but do you intend to go rescue the others from the division who escaped? There must be several hundred hiding in the hills."
"There also happen to be several thousand German soldiers well equipped with artillery in that area, sergeant," replied the colonel.
"The Germans may be gone from there now, sir," remarked the adjutant, "for all we know they could be coming here next so remaining put carries some risk as well."
"I am not going to risk the entire battalion on a rescue mission. We will send a stronger recon force toward Macroom, say an entire platoon, to see if they can contact more survivors from our division. We will also send another platoon to Cork to see make contact with friendly forces."
-------Cork city 0830 hrs
While the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment was completing the capture of Ft. Templebreedy most of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment supported by a pioneer company with light minenwerfers concentrated on eliminating the pocket of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and a handful of constables south of South Channel. They coordinated with the 2nd Cork City Battalion which had tunnelled close to the one of the building occupied by the Munster Fusiliers. The pioneers placed explosive charges in the tunnel. These were now detonated causing a section of the wall to collapse. Immediately after the explosion the light minenwerfers commenced fire. The morale of inexperienced Munster Fusiliers which had already been shaken by their experience in Cork including a hard time they had with Flynn’s Sealgairs as well as the fact they were nearly out of food and ammunition. Many of the R.I.C that had been with them had already surrendered. Most of the Royal Munster Fusiliers now succumbed to panic and made a sudden desperate attempt to break out. There charge came under intense fire the machine guns of the 11th Bavarian Regiment as well as many Irish and German riflemen and more than half of them were quickly mowed down. Most of those that survived soon began to surrender.
------G.P.O. Dublin 0840 hrs
The rain had ended completely in Dublin but the fighting continued. When dawn broke the utility of shotguns and pistols faded and the rifle again was the dominant weapon, though the British now had a half dozen Vickers machineguns posted in key spots. Despite that advantage the morning had seen British attacks upon the Mendicity Institute, South Dublin Union, Shelbourne Hotel and Trinity College all fail Only in the northern portion of the city did the British managed to make some small progress. This made it even more difficult to communicate with Commandant Mulcahy’s 5th Battalion which was operating in Fingal, the section of County Dublin north of the city. Unlike the battalions inside Dublin Mulcahy had not let himself bepinned down in a set of buildings but was waging a fluid guerrilla campaign of hit and run raids and ambushes. Inside the city proper the combined rebel forces incl. the Irish Citizen Army had continued to grow and despite casualties it now appeared to number to have just topped the 4,000 mark. The discouraging part of this is very few of the new arrivals had a rifle, even a single shot one. In fact less than half had any form of firearm at all.
The lack of weapons was one item weighing heavily on Pearse’s soul but there was another that grieved still more . There was still a great deal of looting going on. A prominent Dublin pacifist, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington had organized a group of unarmed civilians, incl. some priests to try to peacefully dissuade looters but this along with the many posters put up by the Irish Volunteers were only having a small impact.
A freckled youth acting as a messenger now arrived and was allowed to talk with Pearse, "Commandant Pearse, Fergus O’Kelly sends word that he now has the wireless transmitter but still believes the receiver to be beyond repair."
Pearse was quite pleased, "Stick around, lad, this is auspicious news indeed!" he told the messenger, "I will soon give you not one but two messages that you will be delivering to Fergus for transmission."
------Paris 0855 hrs
King Albert had received several reports from the physicians attending Queen Elisabeth that his wife was insisting on being released immediately so she could return to her husband at the front. Albert was unsure if he ever wanted her back at the front and wished to delay her return as long as possible. Well aware how stubborn his wife could be the king decided to pay her an impromptu visit to set things straight. He told his generals in firmest terms to hold off on any offensive action in his absence, no matter what the irascible Sir John French nor the more amiable Gen. Plumer told them. King Albert had only informed the French military attaché, Col. Eugène Génie of his plans at the last moment but realized that the disagreeable Premier Clemenceau would likely want to speak with him in private while he was in Paris. Albert saw this meeting as overdue not unlike a postponed visit to the dentist.
Albert fretted that his wife would protest his presence, guessing what his intentions were. So he was relieved that when he was admitted to her room, she smiled most warmly and earnestly said, "My dearest husband, I am so glad to see you!"
The war had placed some strain on the royal marriage. Albert briefly wondered if this horrible incident might actually serve to heal some of those problems. That notion made him feel very uncomfortable and he quickly dismissed it from his mind. Albert had brought flowers with him though Elisabeth’s room would put many horticulturalists to shame. "I was so worried about you, my dearest Elisabeth, that I felt compelled to come," he said as he leaned forward and gave her a small kiss then presented her with the bouquet.
"Thank you, my dear. These are indeed most lovely," she said to Albert, then she turned to the nurse who was in the room with them and ordered, "Nurse, could you please leave so my royal husband and myself could be alone? And shut the door completely when you leave."
The middle aged nurse in the room made no immediate response, then replied cautiously, "I am most sorry, Your Majesty, but I have been instructed to remain in this room in case either your concussion or the damage to your lungs causes you to suddenly lapse into a coma."
"That is absurd. After more tests than I care to remember it should be perfectly clear by now that there is no risk that I will suddenly lapse into a coma. I have worked many months in an army field hospital and have come to learn much about blast injuries. I insist that you leave and grant us the privacy we require."
The nurse had been told by her superiors not to be intimidated by the headstrong queen and so she said, "Again I must respectfully deny this request, Your Majesty."
Elisabeth turned her eyes on her husband and half whispered, "They do nothing that I tell them to. Are you going to side with me on this, my husband? It is important. I think she’ll obey you."
"They are only looking after your welfare, my dear," he answered weakly. She gave him a very harsh look, "Trust me, my dear. Ask her to leave."
Albert could see that his brief hope of an improvement in their marriage, some tension still remained. He started to deny her request, then stopped himself. They were likely to be arguing much in the next hour. Did he want the nurse witnessing that?. Perhaps it would be best if he started by making some small concession to Elisabeth. He turned to the nurse, "Do as the queen commands! Leave us alone and shut the door. If she has a relapse I will summon you immediately."
The nurse became very agitated, and stammered, "But, but Your Majesty, my orders----"
"---perhaps republican France no longer has any respect for monarchs, but at least it should it have some respect for husband and wife!" roared the king who was becoming annoyed.
"Ah, but yes, I will go now, Your Majesty."
When she closed the door, Elisabeth smiled again, "That you very much, my beloved."
"Anything for you, my sweetest. But what is so important that you needed to make such a scene? Is there something about your health that I need to know?"
"Can you sit down in the chair and lean over the bed as you talk to me, my dearest? I am having some trouble with my hearing this morning."
As the king did this he grew worried again and said in a loud voice, "So the problem with your hearing is worse than you’ve been admitting?"
There was a strange look in Elisabeth’s eyes and she shook her head, "No, my dear. The hearing I am worried about is not my own. Speak less loudly."
Albert was momentarily confused, then he realized that there was something more going on here than his wife’s health. "Can you hear and understand me now?" he asked in a deeply concerned voice little more than a whisper.
"Yes, that is just right."
"What in God’s name is going on, Elisabeth?"
"We need to be careful. Let me ask you this, my dear---are you still deeply pessimistic about how the war is shaping up?"
"Yes, I am even more than before but that has nothing to do why I came here."
"Yes, but it has much to do with why I am so glad to see you here, even though I suspect your main reason in coming here is to delay my release."
Albert blushed slightly and protested, "My main reason in coming here is my love for my ailing wife!"
"That is touching, my dear, but at this auspicious moment I must implore you to concentrate on your love for our country and its suffering people."
"What are you try to say, my beloved?" said Albert in a louder voice as he was starting to worry that his wife’s concussion may have permanently damaged her brain in some way.
"Shhh! Keep your voice down, esp. when you answer my next question. Do you still lack faith in our Allies?"
The king knew well not to address that topic in anything much louder than a whisper, "The Allies have not served us well. In the Central Empires there is discipline and unity, while on the Allied side, everything depends on the politicians, on irresponsible and incapable men. The English are incredibly vain and France allows itself to be abused by England. If only France would understand it is not in her interest to serve the egotistical aims of the British with regards to the Continent. But that will not happen with the fanatical M. Clemenceau at the helm. This is a bad situation, a very bad situation. I now see the Entente as being destined for total defeat, and when the day of reckoning arrives they will not hesitate to sacrifice our nation to the German annexationists in order to make their own terms less severe. With each passing day my remaining ration of hope grows smaller and smaller. Ireland is a good example. Prime Minister Law gave a typically pompous British speech before his Parliament promising that he would destroy the German invasion there in two weeks. That deadline passed yesterday and not only are the Germans still there but the Irish revolt we had been told was too minuscule to worry about is clearly gaining in strength and is now posing a very serious threat with Dublin rising up in rebellion just yesterday."
Elisabeth propped herself up in her bed and leaned even closer to whisper in his ear, "In that case please listen carefully. There may be a way out. Aunt Aldegonde paid me a visit late yesterday. She showed me a note from my brother in law. It is something you need to read. She asked if it was possible for her to visit you at the front but when I learned you were coming I told her to remain in Paris."
REVOLT ERUPTS IN DUBLIN
The Irish rebellion took a very serious turn for the worse early yesterday morning when more than a thousand Irish revolutionaries seized many key buildings in the heart of Dublin. The size of the rebellion makes it obvious that much more than the Irish Citizen Army, the outlawed organization of Socialist agitators headed by the late James Connolly is involved. This development coming on the heels of the continued revolt in Cork finally lays to rest the public position of the British government that the Irish rebellion is insignificant."
-----NY Herald Tuesday May 11, 1915
------OKW Berlin 0935 hrs
Again Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke was meeting with Grossadmiral von Tirpitz, Gen. Kraft von Delmensingen and Sir Roger Casement. They reviewed together the latest reports from Gen. von François. Casement’s German had improved greatly and he had little trouble following the discussion, though he barely said a word because Tirpitz had repeatedly berated him intensely when the Irish rebellion turned out to be a small fraction of what he and Plunkett had predicted. The Feldmarschal had been amazed when he learned that Irish rebels had captured Fort Westmoreland. A few minutes ago they had received a wireless transmission that Fort Templebreedy had been captured by the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment. Another wireless message was now handed to von Moltke, relating that the morning attack by the British against the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division had been repulsed.
"A good night’s sleep does help one think much clearer," said von Moltke as he tapped his fingertips together pensively.
The grossadmiral with the forked beard had also reached a conclusion overnight. He now decided it was counterproductive trying to browbeat von Moltke. He still thought the man was weak both in body and fighting spirit but not so weak in will as to let Tirpitz intimidate him. "And where might I ask are your thoughts leading, Feldmarschal?"
"If I agree to the second wave now will all components of it be ready to leave tomorrow night?"
"Yes, it certainly can be done," replied Tirpitz with renewed hope but as an afterthought he added, "but if a decision is postponed until the afternoon there could well be serious difficulties."
The feldmarschal’s eyes suddenly became withdrawn and remote. The grossadmiral wondered if von Moltke was practicing one of his strange meditation exercises.
"Well then, you should be happy to learn that based of the information I have been provided I have now decided to authorize the second wave of Operation Unicorn. This approval should be considered conditional and is subject to reconsideration and revocation tomorrow morning so I would hold off on notifying Gen. von François until after that."
Tirpitz grinned from ear to ear, "Actually I would strongly recommend that we postpone notifying him until Friday morning. There is too much risk of Irish spies within his organization."
"I suppose that is a wise precaution," said von Moltke who then turned to Casement, "I think you should go as well this time, Sir Roger."
------Genkdo Irland Macroom (Cork) 0950 hrs
"Now that Fort Templebreedy has been taken, should we order the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment north to Cork, general?" Major von Runstedt asked Gen. von François.
"No. At the end of April I grew very worried that the British might land a strong force in our rear area in Kerry. I am still worried about that possibility but now there is now a very real chance that might land on the Cork coast near the city. So I want the Bavarian Jaegers to maintain a strong garrison at Ft. Templebreedy and to guard the coast as far west as Kinsale, which is a port of some utility."
"And so you still want to hold off on assaulting Fort Camden, general?"
"I am having mixed feelings about Fort Camden, but for now I want to wait until after we have eliminated the other pockets of resistance."
Before von Rundstedt could reply, a messenger approached their office whose door was partially open. "Gen. von François, the wireless station has received an unencrypted message addressed to you."
"Is it from Gen Hamilton? Perhaps he wants to accept my offer to exchange Gen. Lindley for Mr. Yeats?" speculated von François.
"No, general. It claims to be from the provisional government of Eire, whatever that means," answered the messenger as he handed the general the slip of paper.
"It is what the Irish call their country in their version of Gaelic. Plunkett told me that. Too bad he isn’t here now," said the general as he read:
WE THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF EIRE WANT TO MAKE THE GERMAN FORCES IN IT AWARE THAT WE ARE NOW THE LEGITIMATE GOVERNING BODY OF THIS LAND STOP WHILE WE APPRECIATE WITH DEEP GRATITUDE YOUR EFFORTS ON OUR BEHALF WE FEEL IT IS OUR SOLEMN DUTY TO OUR PEOPLE TO INSIST THAT YOU ABJURE FROM MAKING ANY CLAIMS TO LASTING JURISDICTION HERE STOP WE FURTHER INSIST ON TAKING CHARGE OF ADMINISTRATION AND CIVIL ORDER IN ALL LIBERATED TERRITORY STOP WE ALSO DEMAND COORDINATION OF STRATEGY HOWEVER BECAUSE WE CANNOT RECEIVE WITH OUR WIRELESS WE RECOGNIZE SOME DIFFICULTY AT THIS TIME STOP
The general shook his head and snorted derisively, "The arrogance of these people surpasses all belief sometimes."
"I have noticed that, general," replied von Runstedt., "what do you wish to do?"
"Since their receiver is not working, there is very little we can do right now, but we should get Plunkett back here soon."
------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 1005 hrs
Lord Curzon and Mary Spring Rice had grown accustomed to the sounds on gunfire. Occasionally they could hear a small explosion. They had been told that the both the rebels and the British army had a few homemade bombs they used. Now there came the sound of a larger explosion and it was not all that far away startling both of them. "That was a very large bomb, George, and it sounds not that far away," spoke Mary apprehensively, "Are you sure we’re safe?"
Curzon was nervous as well, "I don’t think it’s a bomb, my dear."
"Then what is it? Is it artillery?"
There was a whistling sound followed by another explosion. "Yes, my dear, I am now certain that it’s artillery."
"But how? I thought you told me that the rebels had no cannons, even small obsolete ones. Could it possibly be German?"
"The Germans are far away from here. Maybe the rebels managed to capture on of our guns, but I was informed by Gen. Hamilton that our own artillery would not this afternoon."
There was another explosion not too far off. "Well someone must have something!" Mary half shrieked.
In 1908 the Helga II has been completed in the nearby Liffey Dockyard as a fishery protection vessel. Back in March the Admiralty had taken control of it dropping the Roman numeral from its name. She was now anchored in the Liffey River and was trying to shell Liberty Hall. A railway bridge obstructed its line of sight and by trying to fire over the bridge Helga’s green crew was landing shells not even close to the intended target. Some innocent civilians sheltering in nearby buildings were hurt.
------Paris 1020 hrs
Premier Clemenceau was meeting with Gaston Thomson, the Minister of Commerce and Industry. Clemenceau was holding in his hand the French version of the World Herald. He was flustered and waved the paper angrily at Thomson, "I have told everyone when I became premier that my government would tolerate criticism by the press more that the previous government. Contrary to what many of my enemies think I have no desire to become a dictator. I am prepared to suffer slander and calumny in the press as I have nearly all my political life. However it is one thing to attack me and my ministers, incl. yourself, but it is another to attack France! That I will not tolerate. And for as long as this fateful war continues those who show any sympathy for the enemies of the Entente are making an indirect attack on France. It was for
that reason I expelled those hideous Russian Socialists, Trotsky and Martov. Now I think the time has come for this dissolute American, M. Bennett to leave as well. With our great offensive currently underway he has the temerity to make Ireland his lead story, usually with some sympathy towards the Irish traitors—make that Irish Catholic traitors, for we should not lose sight of the role of the Church in that conflict."
"Until the invasion of Ireland, M. Bennett was a strong supporter of the Entente, premier but his newspapers have a history of wallowing in sensationalism. After we liberated Compiegne there has been little to report from Second Army which advances very slowly. In turn the situation in Ireland possesses novelty and drama, which readers find exciting. This does not mean they are cheering the rebels."
"But on the contrary, I think it does! Why else is there so much chatter lamenting the wonderfully firm policy of Prime Minister Bonar Law in dealing with his nation’s traitors? It goes without saying that the British have made many mistakes in this war, but this policy is not one of them. I have nothing but admiration for his firmness. It is my intent to deal just as severely with treason here."
"But no one is rebelling here in France, premier. Are you referring to our colonies, perhaps? I have heard that there is trouble in places like Morocco, though it is felt that situation is better described as banditry than actual rebellion."
"No, no, why does everyone overestimate the importance of the colonies? I was indeed talking about France, monsieur. Treason comes in many varieties, incl. defeatism. I will tolerate criticism and dissent, but not if it is treason. We need to make some examples---"
There was a knock on the door. "Premier, I am sorry to interrupt, but King Albert has just arrived," came the voice of an aide.
Clemenceau stared at his watch then yelled, "Kindly tell King Albert that I shall be with him shortly. In the meantime offer him refreshments."
"As you wish, premier."
"The king is early. I will let him wait a few minutes because I want to hear what you want to hear about our imports from Britain."
Thomson produced a 6 page typed report from his valise and handed it to Clemenceau. "This report should be considered preliminary, premier. A final version will be ready late Thursday. The final version will be expanded in scope and some of the numbers will be revised a little, but the main conclusions will remain unchanged."
"I do not have time to read this in detail before I meet with Albert. What is the most important point?"
"British exports of steel to us in April were 14% percent below what we had been promised."
"Were they short in March as well?"
"Yes, premier, but only by 6% percent."
"Well I wonder if this is because last month there were about 3 days when the combination of the invasion of Ireland and the sortie of the High Seas Fleet well into the Channel disrupted nearly all British shipping to us. I was extremely disappointed that the British did not seize that opportunity to inflict crippling losses on the High Seas Fleet."
Thomson had been Minister of Marine in Clemenceau’s prior administration and so knew something of naval matters. "The Grand Fleet was reluctant to give battle in the notoriously dangerous waters in and round the Straits of Dover, premier. I cannot say that I blame them."
"Bah! The Germans were operating under the same limitations so it becomes a question of seamanship and will. What is this world coming to where both the British Navy and the French Army have lost their vaunted offensive spirit?"
"Uh, that is a difficult question to answer, premier. However I can point out that British shipments of steel were already 11% short before the German battle fleet arrived at the Straits of Dover. Furthermore I would also point out that there was only a very small shortfall---barely 2%--- in the delivery of coal for the month as a whole. The temporary disruption to their colliers on account of the German warships was quickly made up after they departed both the Channel and Ireland."
"And what is the situation so far this month?"
"The figures for this month to date are very preliminary and the most likely to be revised in the final report, premier, but so far the delivery of steel is deficient by around 17% while coal shipments continue to be on target."
"So this asymmetry poses a bit of a mystery, which leads us to reject a naval explanation, but yes?"
"Ah, but I believe the explanation to be naval after all, premier. The real problem though is the British Navy not the German."
"Would you care to clarify that strange statement, monsieur? And quickly. I must meet with King Albert soon."
"It is the massive British naval construction program which I regard as the real culprit, premier. They can only produce so much steel and the naval construction program is eating into the surplus they had hoped to export to us."
Clemenceau sighed deeply and took some time before replying, "I wish I could readily refute that line of reasoning. Let us assume for the sake of argument what you say is true. What
is your prognosis for the months ahead? Can the British increase their production so they meet our needs as well as their own?"
"I think so, but it will some time. I fear this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Compounding matters they are not self sufficient in iron ore and need to import sizable quantities from their colonies. We know there has been some disruption of their Atlantic traffic due to German raiding, though the British are being extremely vague as to its severity. If it is severe and persists much longer it could have some impact on their entire ferrous metals production."
"Hmm. Is there numbers for pig iron imports as well in this report?
"Yes, premier. The shortfall in the British deliveries of pig iron last month was 8% which while not as severe as the problem with steel does indicate an overall problem with British ferrous production."
"So we could be facing several months of declining steel imports from Britain yet we remain desperately short of steel for new artillery and other weapons. You must look into the possibility of increased purchases from neutrals but I realize that will present some serious difficulties. So I see that as another reason not to wait several months to unleash our major offensive as Gen. Joffre prefers. I am firmly convinced the Germans are at their weakest right now because they are badly overstretched. In addition to their attempt to destroy the British First Army they invaded both Ireland and Serbia. And just yesterday the Russians finally get around to telling us that the Boche have begun an attack on the Russian fortress of Kovno."
"Is there any chance the Germans can take Kovno, premier? I have heard that it is a very strong fortress."
"If given enough time it may prove vulnerable. The Russians have told us that they are preparing to launch a sharp attack against the weakly guarded flank of the Germans in Lithuania. This attack which they will begin in less than 2 weeks will not only eliminate the threat to Kovno but should also threaten the entire German position in East Prussia. This will force the Boche to quickly move more divisions east further thereby weakening their army here in France."
"This does indeed sound promising, premier---what does Gen. Joffre think about this?"
Clemenceau scowled waving his hands, "He thinks it is too soon for the decisive offensive. He is content to pursue limited objectives. He claims he is gnawing away at the enemy but I managed to browbeat him into an expanded offensive. I would gladly discuss this further but I must deal with the hapless Belgian monarch, who is patiently waiting. We will resume this conversation later."
"As you wish, premier," said Thomson who left. Soon after that King Albert was admitted. Clemenceau forced himself to stand but bowing was completely out of the question. "I am glad to see you here in Paris, Your Majesty. It is a shame you did this so suddenly. If you had given us more notice I could have scheduled more time."
"If you would permit me to be blunt, premier, while I am glad to have this opportunity to confer with the new leader of my ally France, my primary reason in coming to Paris was to visit my badly wounded consort."
"Understood," replied Clemenceau with only a modicum of sympathy, "We have seen that Queen Elisabeth is receiving the best care possible. I have been informed that she is recovering quickly."
"Been informed? Have you not seen her yourself?"
Clemenceau frowned slightly, "President Poincare went to see her. It was more fitting as he is our head of state. He also is not anywhere near as busy as I have been since taking office. I am not sure if you are aware of it, Your Majesty, but I took on the demanding position of Minister of War as well as premier."
"Yes, yes, we get the major French newspapers as well as the British at the front," answered King Albert. Clemenceau still had the World Herald on his desk. King Albert twisted his neck so he could read the banner headline. He then pointed to the newspaper headline and shook his head, "Lately we have seeing a lot of this. Ireland, Ireland, Ireland. Not too long ago people talked about Belgium, now it seems that all they talk about is Ireland."
Clemenceau nodded his head, "This newspaper is particularly bad having worked out an arrangement with the Irish rebels at Waterville, but the said truth is nearly all the major papers are putting Ireland on their front page way too much when they should be concentrating on Second Army’s great offensive."
King Albert was not happy with this Clemenceau’s answer, "So Belgium is to be neglected and ignored because it is no longer the scene of fighting?"
Clemenceau briefly rolled his eyes then replied, "That was not what I was trying to say, Your Majesty. The report of Viscount Bryce’s commission will be released very soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow, and if as I strongly suspect its conclusions are very damning towards the Boche I will demand that our newspapers make their readers well aware of German brutality. This will help quiet those despicable traitors in our midst who say we should negotiate with the German monsters."
King Albert did seem completely happy with that response either, fidgeting a bit but making no immediate reply. "What is wrong, Your Majesty? When the Bryce Report comes out everyone will see the Germans for what they are and hate them almost as much as you and do."
Albert fidgeted some more and in a tentative voice answered, "Hate is too strong a word, M. Clemenceau. I do not hate the Germans."
Clemenceau’s jaw dropped, "How can you say that? How can you not hate them after what they have done to your country---and what they have done to your wife!"
"It is not as if the German artillery deliberately targeted Elisabeth. She was somewhere she was not supposed to be."
"Making excuses for the Boche is not the attitude that will liberate your country. There are times when the great leader should not be afraid to embrace hatred to strengthen his will. This is one of those times, Your Majesty."
"So you are telling me to hate the Germans for what they did to my dear wife?"
"But of course! Be a man!"
"But my wife happens to be German---should I hate her as well, M. Clemenceau?"
Clemenceau frowned deeply, "You are twisting things---"
"---No, you, monsieur, are the one who is twisting things!"
The reports of the army staff as well as my own intuitions are unfortunately being proved correct about this anachronism standing before me thought Clemenceau as he sighed deeply he is a naïve pompous sentimental weakling! He has not the slightest idea what is needed for victory. Even though he commands what has become a pitifully weak remnant of an army I still must make an effort to humor him. "We should not be arguing, Your Majesty," Clemenceau replied, "Indeed it is one of my goals to foster greater unity between all members of our noble alliance. You may heard that I am trying to create a single commander with responsibility for the entire Western Front."
"Yes, Field Marshal French has so informed me. The British as you may have guessed are less than enthusiastic about the idea of taking orders from one of your generals. Perhaps if one of their generals was selected, they would see things differently, but yes?"
"It is our nation, our sacred soil, not there’s! And besides the BEF remains tiny compared to our own army."
"A contemptible little army not worthy of much respect, but yes?"
For a second Clemenceau began to nod then he remembered the reference and reddened. He replied angrily, "Your sarcasm is not appreciated, Your Majesty. It is close—extremely close---to being insulting."
"It was not my intent to offend, but am curious about a few things concerning this proposed position of supreme commander. Would he be able to do more to help the British First Army?"
"Gen. Joffre has led me to believe that First Army is out of danger."
"That is not completely accurate. The Germans have pinched off the British 2nd Division. When I departed for Paris that division was still in grave danger."
"I was not informed of this---but surely Field Marshal French will be able to rescue this division. We have already reinforced the BEF with an entire corps. Surely that is enough to do the job."
"But yes but no. If you will allow me to speak frankly, the corps you sent is rather weak. One of its two divisions in a territorial division. The corps is deficient in artillery, which is further compounded by a very serious shortage of shells. It has fought bravely but accomplished virtually nothing."
"Then I would strongly suggest that it is time for the Belgian Army to do more. Three of your infantry divisions were evacuated from Ostend, which was only made possible by leaving some valiant French units trapped in the Belgian Pocket. Yet only one of your divisions has been deployed in France this year."
"When a French division suffers losses, you have replacements readily available, M. Clemenceau. When we suffer losses where do we find replacements? Not in Belgium. It is completely occupied. We do get a few returning émigrés and three fifths of the wounded recover eventually, but mostly we must transfer men from one unit to another. That and the fact that the 3 evacuated divisions were only able to bring a little more than half their artillery along means that our current deployment---one infantry division plus an additional mixed brigade is all we can do."
"Hmm. What about the Congo? Africa is the most irrelevant of fronts. It has no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the war. Some senators and deputies do not understand this and make stupid noises about Djibouti. How ridiculous! Once we have defeated the Boche in Europe, Africa will be resolved quickly. You can reinforce your infantry divisions from your forces in the Congo."
"A few specialists have been brought back but otherwise the Force Publique is not well suited for European warfare. They are better employed in Africa."
"I do not understand that logic, Your Majesty. The entirety of your country has been swallowed whole by the Germans and you are worried about colonial possessions in Africa? We have made good use of our colonial subjects. I do not understand why Belgium cannot do likewise."
"Uh, I will have my staff take another look into this matter and issue a report."
See! Once again the typical response of a weakling! Clemenceau concluded grinding his teeeth. "With all due respect, Your Majesty, this war is at an extremely important juncture where firm resolve for decisive action can result in the rapid termination of the abominable occupation of both our countries."
------Okahandja (Southwest Africa) 1105 hrs
Gen. Louis Botha hung up the telephone and turned to Gen. Jan Smuts saying, "That was the mayor on the line, the German troops have completely evacuated Windhoek and he wants to do surrender the town tomorrow without any bloodshed. I have accepted his offer and promised to treat German civilians with respect."
When Botha launched his offensive against the Germans in Southwest Africa, he had left young Gen. Smuts behind in South Africa to guard against a resumption of last year’s revolt, but had asked Smuts to visit yesterday so they could confer in person about strategy and political issues. The energetic Smuts now smiled, "I guessed that was what was happening from what I could hear, sir. It is fairly obvious by now that the Germans realize they’re beat. Is there any chance their officers will come to their senses and surrender as well?"
"I sure hope so and I intend to send word that we are prepared to treat them with civility and honor if they do. Let’s keep our fingers crossed."
"It is certainly worth trying but I am not prepared to wager any money on it, sir. Even if they do continue to fight the British will want us to send more forces to East Africa once they hear that we’ve taken Windhoek."
"That goes without saying. I know that you are eager to capture Col. Lettow-Vorbeck and that treacherous boy emperor of Abyssinia, but I would prefer that everything get tidied up in our backyard before making a massive commitment to East Africa."
"The Germans are no longer a threat. If they are too proud to surrender then they will mount a few pinprick raids then flee over the border to Angola, where the Portuguese will intern them."
"Yes, but what the British government really want is for us to capture and then execute Maritz. Even the Asquith government was unhappy that we never executed any captured rebel leaders. This new triumvirate they have seems to be suffering with insatiable bloodlust when it comes to rebellion."
"Aye, the more I think about it the more I see a great many similarities between Ireland and our own situation. Bonar Law is making a huge mistake with his hard line towards the Irish rebels. Imagine if you will what would have happened here if we had announced that we planned to execute any and all bitter enders?
Smuts shuddered slightly, "It would still be going on now, sir, probably with Hertzog leading it. He may do so anyway. Maybe we should arrest him---not throw him into jail as London has strongly suggested, but perhaps placing him under house arrest has become a necessary precaution."
"I have thought long and hard about that. Arresting Hertzog right now might cause the renewed rebellion we are trying to avoid. My hope is that getting the German forces here to surrender will remove certain naughty fantasies from his mind so we can avoid going down that dark road. A clear victory in Abyssinia might prove helpful as well."
"Not doing something about Hertzog presents several risks, not the least of which is London is going to start to worry that we are conspiring with him."
"London is probably doing that already. This war is not going well. I would like to think that what they are telling us is sound---that all the Entente needs to do is hold on right now and next year they will seize the initiative with overwhelming force of numbers. However we need to consider other possible outcomes to this conflict and examine our options."
------Coachford (Cork) 1215 hrs
Reinforcing its attack with another battalion the British 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade attempted another assault at Coachford. Since the early morning attack the Bavarians had worked feverishly to strengthen their entrenchment and been reinforced by the West Limerick Battalion and a battery of 7.7 cm field guns. The attackers had no artillery support whatsoever while the shrapnel shells of the unmolested Bavarian battery tore holes into the attacking British formations. When they had been part of Hell’s Brigade, most of von Thoma’s Irishmen had learned how to fight alongside the elite Bavarians. Those lessons were now put to good use and they contributed their rifle fire to repelling those British soldiers who survived the artillery and machineguns. The attack petered out in less than an hour.
------Paris 1210 hrs
After the disagreeable meeting with Clemenceau King Albert proceeded to the hotel where Queen Elisabeth’s maternal aunt Aldegonde, the Countess of Bardi, was residing. After some very abbreviated courtesies, Albert got down to business, "I understand that you have a very important letter for me from my brother-in-law."
"Yes, Hans has allied himself with a group of prominent German political figures, who are deeply interested in pursuing what they regard as a just peace."
"Alas justice like beauty is all too often in the eye of the beholder."
"I suppose that is true, Your Majesty. Still the group to which Hans belongs counts none other than Grossadmiral von Ingenohl as one of their most important members. I take it that you’ve heard of the admiral’s controversial speech before the Reichstag."
"Only in brief summary in the French newspapers. They made it sound confused and incoherent and furthermore went on to describe how even his vague hints at moderation were almost universally rejected throughout Germany."
"I would recommend getting a complete and accurate transcript of that speech, Your Majesty. It is not a perfect speech by any means---the admiral was an awkward orator---but the obvious thrust of his speech is encouraging. And while it is true that several powerful individuals have roundly denounced it, there are those who were heartened by the admiral’s brave words."
"Before I do that I would like to see the letter if you please."
"Oh, yes, Your Majesty, here it is."
The king read the letter and rubbed his chin. He then smiled but not too intensely. "Have you let anyone see read this letter beside the queen and myself? Have you read this yourself?"
"Oh, no, Your Majesty, I did not take a look at it. I swear did not ---only Queen Elisabeth and yourself have seen it."
Albert’s smile broadened, "Have you told anyone else that it exists?’
"No I did not, Your Majesty."
"Excellent! Discretion in this matter is extremely important. Breathe not a word of this to anyone, that includes Belgians, even the government ministers---most esp. the government ministers. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, perfectly clear."
"Good. Now I am going to remain in Paris and return to the front in the early morning.
I am going to write a reply that I will give you tonight that you will bring to Hans as quickly as possible."
------west of Froise (Picardy) 1300 hrs
Still desperate to rescue the 2nd Infantry Division Gen. Pulteney ordered another attack against the German 7th Infantry Division. This time the 30 minute artillery bombardment included some of the heavy weapons of the RGA batteries as well as some haphazardly coordinated support from Dover Patrol. This resulted in heavy German counterbattery fire, which diminished but was insufficient to completely halt the shelling of the trenches holding the Saxons of the 7th Infantry Division. Moreover more than three quarters of the British ammunition used were shrapnel shells. The warships used their common shells but their low trajectory greatly limited their effectiveness against entrenchments which was compounded by the fact that German return fire made it too dangerous to remain anchored. Some small incremental damage was suffered by Dover Patrol, mostly from near misses. The only serious damage was suffered when the obsolete destroyer Bullfinch lost all power when its main steam pipe was hit. The larger Crusader eventually towed the disabled destroyer to safety but in the process the bridge on Bullfinch was devastated by a 15cm HE shell, while Crusader’s aft 4" gun was destroyed.
The infantry assault following the bombardment was made by 3 battalions of the 29th Infantry Division and 4 battalions of the 6th Infantry Division. Even before the whistles blew for the infantry to rise up out of their trench some of these battalions were under fire from German howitzers and once they left 7.7cm field guns firing shrapnel shells joined in as well. Determined to rescue the trapped 2nd Infantry Division, the attackers continued on to face machineguns, massed rifle fire and largely uncut barbed wire. The few that somehow wormed their way into the Saxons’ trenches were insufficient to eject the defenders.
------Dublin 1345 hrs
Inside the courtroom they could hear rifle fire and sometimes the unmistakeable sound of a machine gun firing, but the Helga had stopped its shelling after complaints from Lord Curzon. After a day’s delay F.E. Smith, the British Attorney General was finally permitted to try Eion MacNeill, the leader of the Irish Volunteers, for treason. His star witness was Bulmer Hobson, who had been MacNeill’s chief of staff. Arrested soon after the German invasion, had had decided to cooperate with the authorities making public statements urging the Irish Volunteers to disarm and not aid the Germans in any way. Hobson had reluctantly agreed to testify against MacNeill in exchange for complete immunity.
"So on April 23, one day before the Germans landed, Mr. MacNeill ordered Michael O’Rahilly to drive to Tralee in his fancy automobile in regards to the arrival in Kerry of motor vehicles, horses and food purchased in the United States by Mr. John Devoy, the head of the infamous Clan na Gael? Is that true, Mr. Hobson?" asked the Attorney General.
"That is correct, sir," replied Hobson trying to avoid looking at MacNeill.
"And did Mr. MacNeill provide you with any idea as to when Mr. O’Rahilly was expected to return?"
"The only thing Eion told me was that the O’Rahilly would remain in Tralee as long as necessary."
"By Eion, you mean the accused, Mr. John MacNeill?" Smith clarified.
"Yes, sir, that is whom I was referring to."
"Now is it true that both you and Mr. MacNeill suspected Mr. Stack of being a member of the outlawed Irish Republican Brotherhood, an infamous Fenian organization?’
"Yes, we had some suspicions that Mr. Stack belonged to the I.R.B., that we did, sir.’
Smith then approached the elderly brigadier who was the presiding judge and handed him some documents stamped SECRET. "What I hold in my hands, Your Honor, are classified intelligence reports. This first document I will now hand you shows that within two hours of the German landing near Tralee Mr. Stack was leading a unit of Irish Volunteer in an attack on Tralee train station interfering with the prompt deployment of our army to counterattack the enemy beachhead when they were the most vulnerable. Despite being wounded by the Royal Irish Constabulary in this action, Mr. Stack has continued to lead the Irish Volunteers to serve the Germans, including fighting alongside them on occasion."
The brigadier shared this intelligence report with the other two senior officers serving on the court martial and they began to murmur amongst themselves. "And what is in the other intelligence report, counsellor?" asked brigadier.
"This is a report on the activities of Mr. Michael O’Rahilly, the man the accused here dispatched to Tralee just before the Germans landed there. It shows that Mr. O’Rahilly has seen acting as an adjutant for one of the battalions that the Germans have formed from those members of the Irish Volunteers willing to fight for the Kaiser."
The officers perused the documents in detail with further murmuring. "This unit it says Mr. O’Rahilly is part of, the 3rd Kerry Battalion, isn’t that the unit some are calling the Spook Battalion? It seems to be popping up all over the place," remarked one of the judges.
Eion MacNeill watched this all with incredibly mixed emotion. He realized that it was something of an honor to have the British Attorney General prosecute his case in person. This was because the case against him was far from ironclad, being based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence. He had to acknowledge from an objective perspective that Smith was quite good at his job, and that the evidence presented was actually fairly convincing, though he was sure a competent defense lawyer would be able to poke some good sized holes in it. Unfortunately MacNeill like everyone at these courts martial was denied counsel.
The trial continued. As it did MacNeill with a mixture of indignation and macabre fascination realized that there was an interesting difference between being ‘not guilty’ and being innocent. Regarding the main charges he was on trial for, he was clearly not guilty despite all the circumstantial evidence and well coached witnesses. But hearing the sound of gunfire ringing through Dublin MacNeill was finding it hard to feel completely innocent either. Though he had conspired with Germans it was hard to deny the fact that he had an important connection with what was happening in Dublin right now. Is this what I really wanted? he asked himself or was my Irish Volunteers merely intended as a bargaining chip to get as much as possible from London---sort of an army in being. I was always timid about an actual revolt because I was certain it would end in total defeat. Now that there are Germans here in strength there is actually some hope it might succeed. Never really considered that possibility though I had hints that was what Casement was trying to accomplish. Now that it is happening part of me wants to cheer for my brave men yet another part of me worries about where this will all lead.
Smith finished presenting his evidence. The President then asked, "Prisoner, is there anything you wish to say in your defense?"
MacNeill had pled ‘not guilty’ and part of him now very much wanted to protest his innocence, pointing out what was woefully misleading in Hobson’s testimony and the other numerous defects in the prosecution’s case. Another part of him wanted to embrace martyrdom make another stirring speech from the dock like Emmett had. The two impulses tore him in different directions and unable to reconcile them the end result was a stony silence. This seemed to please Smith.
The officers then whispered some more amongst themselves. This went on for a while---which began to make Smith uneasy---but finally the President announced, "The prisoner is found guilty on all charges. He is sentenced to death by firing squad." The President remembered the attorney general’s intervention in Yeats’ sentencing and so paused but Smith remained silent, nodding slightly as if to say, "Get on with it"
"Said sentence to be carried out tomorrow at dawn."
------Paris 1405 hrs
Premier Clemenceau was giving his address to a combined meeting of both the French Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, "Esteemed senators and deputies of the Third Republic of the great nation of France, it is my both my great honor and urgent duty as both your premier and your minister of war to address you here today. France finds itself in a moment of great crisis but also of great opportunity. When I took office France was beginning to lose hope in complete victory. Our war plans had quite obviously failed and while the enemy’s plans had not achieved their desired objective, the Boche were able to capture obscene amounts of sacred French soil and lay dangerously close to the beating heart of France. Our attempts to eject the Boche have met with only limited success. Nearly every shovelful of sacred French soil we liberate has been thoroughly soaked with heroic French blood. Meanwhile our valiant allies have suffered serious setbacks, the worst being the two British naval disasters. The end result was that French resolve to see this war through to complete victory, was starting to weaken under the previous administration. Certain despicable rogues began to whisper that it would be best if France negotiated with the Huns. Let us be frank, my dear colleagues. Those who advocate such evil are traitors pure and simple. How to properly handle traitors is something where we can learn from our British ally. In this regard I have nothing but admiration for Mr. Bonar Law."
"In its most intense forms defeatism is treason. There are however more subtle and therefore more common forms of defeatism, which I cannot define as a treasonable are nevertheless detrimental to the cause of victory. One of these is the pernicious notion that we are incapable of a successful offensive against the German before next year. This poison of the mind is the very antithesis of the unique French virtue of élan. It quivers in fear and tells our army in France to hide inside their trenches and wait while we pursue pointless peripheral strategies in the Adriatic or still worse Africa. It surrenders all initiative to the enemy. It is painfully obvious that the Germans are badly stretched at this time but they have managed to get away with it because too many in the Entente are too scared to call their bluff. They have a made a grave mistake, because I will not wait until the fall, much less next year. The Germans are very vulnerable now and I will take advantage of it. You all know that under my leadership we have liberated Compiegne thereby pushing the Boche back from Paris, but I am not content with just this one victory I cannot divulge any details at this time but I do promise that our offensive will intensify and before long the German monster will lose his grip on our sacred soil. This war can be won before the year is over---I am certain of it---but it will require determination and unswerving resolve from all members of the Entente."
At this the legislators began to applaud and Clemenceau took this opportunity to take a sip of water. There was something he wanted to say that he realized would generate some controversy in certain circles, yet he felt it was something that needed saying. His visit with the soldiers at the front in defiance of Gen. Joffre had gone over well. He decided that could get it off his chest, "There has been much printed in our newspapers of late about the rebellion in Ireland. Sadly it is now obvious that the British government was too optimistic about the potential for revolt there. In my estimation the biggest British mistake has been their inability to grasp who their real enemy is in Ireland. They think it is the merely the fiendish Germans trying to use a stratagem other enemies have attempted in the past. This perception is not completely false but it is incomplete. There is another player in this game, an old enemy of theirs who prefers to hide in shadows. This enemy is the Vatican, and their minions of intrigue, the Jesuits!"
Clemenceau paused. He had hoped that these remarks would draw some applause as well but when it did not happen he was not terribly surprised. He could see shocked expressions on a few of the legislators, mostly members of Action Francaise, while some anticlerical Radicals nodded their heads. Many including some Socialists looked cautiously curious.
------Lambeth Palace (London) 1430 hrs
"I thank you deeply for taking time to meet with me on such terribly short notice, Your Grace," David Lloyd-George told Randall Thomas Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"Think nothing of it, chancellor. In these most trying of times, certainly your time is more precious than my own. How can I be of assistance? Is this in some way related to the war?" replied the archbishop.
"Yes, it does indeed relate to the war, Your Grace---to the situation in Ireland in fact."
"Oh, it does. I had an intuition that it might be related to Ireland, though I am at loss to see what role might be. I do not think that very many of the rebels there---apparently more numerous than we had hoped originally---would heed words of admonition coming from my lips."
"No, but there are many here in Britain that place great worth on what you have to say, Your Grace."
"I would like to think so, but at this moment of time it happens to be some deranged Irish Catholics not Anglicans who are causing trouble."
"Please bear with me, Your Grace. You must have heard that Pope Benedict made a public remark Sunday criticizing our policy towards the rebels."
"Is this what this is all about? You want me to take on Rome is that it, chancellor? Cardinal Bourne told me just yesterday that cables from the Vatican have reassured him that the pope will make no further public comments on the Irish rebellion."
Lloyd-George made a strange face as he measured his words, "Have you considered the possibility that the pope could have been justified in his criticism, Your Grace? As the leading figure in a major Christian denomination, don’t you have some misgivings about our pledge to execute all captured rebels?"
The archbishop arched an eyebrow and gazed sheepishly at the Nonconformist from Wales. He took his time replying, "My thoughts have been that while the pope does indeed make a valid point he does so only from a certain vantage point and misses the subtlety of our situation. Executing several thousand rebel prisoners would be extremely hard to reconcile with the Holy precepts taught by Our Lord and Saviour. So the Pope is right---we Anglicans are allowed to admit that on occasion. But what he fails to understand is that once the Germans have been eliminated and the Irish rebellion completely defeated, then there will be the occasion for our great nation to show its Christian charity by being merciful. Some rebel leaders will need to be executed to set an example, but the overwhelming will be sentenced to very long periods of hard labor. Once the war is finally over I would expect to see those sentences being reduced still further."
"But until the enemy---both Irish and German---are defeated, you have no qualms with our policy in regard to the rebels, Your Grace?"
"I have refrained from either supporting or condemning that policy. I believed in the prime minister’s promise of a rapid resolution to the military situation after which I was prepared to counsel mercy. While there was still fighting taking place advocating leniency would only serve to call our resolve into question, thereby encouraging the rebels and prolonging the revolt."
"As of today the prime minister has at least technically defaulted on his so called Fortnight Speech promise, Your Grace. For the time being very few people are tasking us to task, not even Lord Northcliffe. There seems to an unspoken consensus that the Germans are on their last legs in Ireland and it is only the unexpected intensification of the Irish revolt which is delaying the inevitable."
"That pretty much sums up my own assessment as well. Are you hinting that things are appreciably worse over there, chancellor?"
"The War Committee is very unsure at this moment, Your Grace. Our information is often hazy and sometimes downright inaccurate. There are several developments---many of which I am not at liberty to discuss---which are starting to worry us. The one I will touch on though I must insist that you will never quote me on it. Can I have your word on that, Your Grace?"
"Why of course, chancellor, that goes without saying."
"It now appears that our strict policy towards the rebels is not working. On the contrary, it seems to be stimulating an increasing amount of sympathy for the rebellion and furthermore it is making us look draconian in the eyes of certain key neutrals, esp. the United States. The elimination of the Germans in Ireland is not going to be finished today or tomorrow. And just between you and me I am not completely sure that we will be done with the Germans a week from now. And once we reach that goal there is the sticky question of what the Irish rebels will do once the Germans are removed. Many think most of them will scatter like scared jackrabbits and try to slink home hoping no one can prove they participated with only a handful of fanatics trying to fight on as guerrillas. I worry that those that run will prove to be the minority and the fanatics will be the majority. The guerrilla war could go on for months."
The archbishop was aghast, "This are woeful prophecies that you are making, chancellor. What I have yet to hear from you is how you think I may be of some assistance."
"We cannot afford to wait for the fighting to stop in Ireland to alter our policy because it is now clear that is likely to prolong the fighting, Your Grace."
"In that case the prime minister should announce a new policy."
"Unfortunately it is not that simple, Your Grace. The War Committee feels that a sudden drastic change of our policy could cause our allies to harbor serious doubts about our resolve and determination. However if Your Grace were to issue a statement calling for a less severe policy it would provide the Prime Minister a badly needed excuse."
The archbishop rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Politics is sometimes straightforward but just as often frightfully convoluted, chancellor. I will need a day to think it over, but my inclination at this time is to consent to your remarkable request."
------Kingstown (Dublin) 1450 hrs
The 155th (South Scottish) Brigade had begun to arrive in Ireland. The 1/4th battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers had already offloaded at the docks. Its commander was astounded to learn that a small band of Swedes had travelled all the way to Ireland to fight with rebels and were still defiantly holding out in two buildings. It was felt that the Swedish interlopers were nearly out of ammunition and would soon surrender. So the 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers went into action against the Irish reels which were blocking the road and rail leading to Dublin. Despite being warned by the combination of Royal Marines, Royal Irish Rifles and constables who had been fighting the rebels for more than a day not to underestimate the enemy the Royal Scots Fusiliers had did just that and the first attack was repelled with considerable losses.
While this was happening two more of the brigade’s battalions along with a battery of 15 pounders were also coming down the ramps and assembling on the docks. One of the battalions was the 1/5th Royal Scots Fusiliers and it was commanded by Lt. Col. Sir Winston Churchill, the former First Lord of the Admiralty. He had taken the blame for the disaster at Dogger Bank and had been sacked in disgrace. He was deeply depressed after that and many of his friends with some justification feared that he might take his own life. Sir Winston’s spirits eventually rebounded and he was allowed to take command of a territorial battalion with the rank of Lt. Col. Churchill had worried that the Germans might indeed dare to invade England and the 52nd (Lowland) Division to which he belonged had been assigned to defend both Scotland and the important dockyards around Newcastle in case the Germans landed there and to act as a distant reserve in the more likely event that they invaded either Kent or East Anglia. Instead the dastardly Huns had chosen Ireland was their objective. Sir Winston was overjoyed when his battalion was ordered to go to Ireland. He now tried to get his men ashore as quickly as possible intent on redeeming himself in combat.
------US State Department Washington D.C. 1510 hrs GMT
Secretary Bryan was meeting with Count von Bernstorff. "President Wilson remains extremely unhappy about the Americans running off to fight for the Central Powers, Your Excellency. He continues to vigorously maintain that it violates American neutrality. However the size of this volunteer force is not that large, somewhere around 3,000 men according to our current estimates. Some of these, most particularly the Fenians, are likely to become a source of serious political dissidence if they are not permitted to go."
"So you are better off without them?" surmised Bernstorff. The ambassador could tell from the look in Bryan’s eye and the tone of his voice, that the conversation was moving in a positive direction so decided not to bring up again the Americans who had volunteered to fight for the Entente, usually by going to Canada. He has saw no reason to mention that the volunteers billeted aboard the 7 liners in New York harbor were already well over 4,000 men and more were arriving every hour, though it was now obvious that they would fall far short of the 10,000 Berlin had been hoping for.
"That is quite true, Your Excellency., though the biggest trouble maker of them all, Mr. John Devoy will remain here to stand trial. You have wisely made no attempts to buy military grade weapons or munitions in any quantity; the few rifles and shotguns your volunteers are bringing us are insignificant as are the steel helmets. The British have made a fuss about some rockets you have purchased, but the quantity is not that large and no one believes they are worth much as weapons and so are intended merely for signalling. The purchase of motor vehicles and mules likewise bothers Sir Cecil greatly but are perfectly legitimate. The president is therefore willing to let the 7 liners with your American volunteer brigade depart without any interference provided certain conditions are met."
"Let me guess. You want the remaining Entente passengers aboard released, yes?"
Bryan smiled, "Yes, and we want no exceptions---all of them must be released. No hostages."
"That is an acceptable condition, Mr. Secretary. Any others?"
"Yes, there are four more, Your Excellency. First, President wants your assurances that your warships have no intentions of attacking Canada or Bermuda or any other Entente possession in this hemisphere. Admiral von Spee will not try to use St. Pierre again."
The Count lit up a cigarette. After taking two puffs he answered, "Berlin is upset that whenever you ask us about our intentions, Mr. Secretary, the answers we give always seem to find their way back to the British. Even if we do not attack Bermuda having the British worry that we might gives us certain important strategic advantages we should not be asked to forego. It is one thing for me to reassure you and President Wilson, but it is not fair for you to ask me to reassure Bonar Law and Clemenceau as well."
That remark stung Secretary Bryan, because he was well aware that there was some truth to it. He fidgeted somewhat and took his time replying, "Let me start by saying that it is most unfair to accuse this government of passing everything we learn on to the British, Your Excellency. That is certainly not the case. Having said that I said that I will now confess that there have been some instances where we have shared too much with the British. Quite frankly it shames me to admit this. There have been times that I have though of tendering my resignation. This is an extremely sensitive period of time for my nation as well as yours. I am not sure you are fully aware how deeply recent events in Ireland have opened fissures here. President Wilson wants an end to that and so do I. We have let your warships coal and are now willing to let your volunteer brigade depart. We would very much like to see the awful war in Europe terminate with a just and equitable peace but until it does our greatest concern is that it does not spread to this hemisphere. Consider it if you will an extension of the Monroe Doctrine."
Bernstorff inhaled from his cigarette holder then blew some more smoke, "I understand those concerns very well, but you have yet Germany’s justified concerns are not being addressed fully."
The two diplomats stared intensely at each other. "I do deeply want us to resolve this matter, Your Excellency. I must insist on your assurance about not attacking Entente possessions but I do recognize your point. If you grant me the assurance I require I will give you my word as a God fearing Christian that this will not be passed on to neither the British nor the French. Furthermore if this information is passed on you have my solemn word that I shall immediately resign as Secretary of State in protest."
This took Bernstorff by surprise and he choked on the smoke of his cigarette. This is not where I want this negotiation to go! he groaned inwardly, Bryan is often a bit naïve but he tries to be fair. I dread what would happen if Lansing were to replace him. "Are you all right, Your Excellency?" asked Bryan.
"Cough, cough. Yes, I was merely startled by your bold promise," replied the ambassador as he tapped his ash into a tray, "I must say that I have the deepest respect for your high moral character, Mr. Bryan and do not wish to put you in an awkward position. Give me four hours to liaison with Adm. von Spee and I believe there is a good chance we can provide you with a satisfactory answer. Shall we move on to your other conditions?"
"Very well, Your Excellency, my next condition is that your navy must immediately refrain from any further commerce raiding within 100 nautical miles of the American coast."
"I see and would this restriction apply to British warships as well?"
Bryan frowned slightly, "Well at time British warships are not engaged in commerce raiding, Your Excellency."
"Oh but that is because they know they are too weak. Once our warships leave I expect their AMC’s to resume their patrols off your coast. There are German freighters sheltered in your Atlantic ports. If there to leave are you promising that they have nothing to fear until they are more than 100 miles from your coast."
"Uh I am not promising that, Your Excellency."
"I diligently read your newspapers, Mr. Secretary. Yesterday Senator Gore delivered a speech proposing that the United States adopt a policy of forbidding all foreign warships from coming within 100 miles of the American coast. Senator Lodge as expected attacked the proposal most intensely."
"Well it does happen to violate the Hague Treaty, as you well know, Your Excellency."
"Yes, it does violate the letter of the Hague but as he is sightless Mr. Gore does have an excuse for not reading the treaty, does he not? But the uneven policy you now try to foist on us violates---perhaps rape is a better word---the spirit of the Hague Treaty."
Bryan bit his lip as the Count once again had a valid point. Eventually he said, "The policy is the president’s. Personally I would like to see something more balanced."
"I commend you for your honesty but frankly this is outrageous."
"The president is adamant on this point, Your Excellency. He is being pressured by certain powerful business interests. Originally he wanted to demand 200 miles but I was able to persuade him to reduce it to 100 miles."
"And for that reason, I am supposed to feel grateful? You chop off one of my fingers and tell me it could have been two."
"More than the departure of the volunteer brigade is at stake on this point, Your Excellency. If the commerce raiding continues unacceptably close to our shore our navy has plans in place to institute what will be called neutrality patrols. This could lead to a confrontation with potentially grave consequences."
"Is the combination of American commercial interests and President Wilson’s Anglophile bias so desperate that you are now threatening us with war?"
"I sincerely pray that it will come to that but the president is insistent."
Bernstorff could see distress in Bryan’s eyes. In truth this Wilsonian demand was not totally unexpected. He was tempted to drag out the expression of outrage some more but decided instead to play his previously planned strategy. "Once again I must reiterate how completely outrageous this is. However given the seriousness of your implied threats, this is another topic I must bring up with Adm. von Spee before I can provide an answer. And if we do capitulation to this unreasonable demand it will take at least another hour for the orders to reach the warships at sea."
Bryan’s expression brightened visibly. Clearly he had been worried that the Count would simply reject the demand outright. "An instantaneous implementation of that demand is clearly impossible, Your Excellency. In the interest of peace I am willing to grant the time you have requested. I would warn you though against asking for additional time later in order to stall."
"What are your remaining demands, Mr. Secretary"
"One of them is that when the 7 liners depart, no further efforts are to be made to recruit additional volunteers to fight for the Central Powers."
"But this is absurd, Mr. Bryan. You are demanding that we desist from continuing an activity we are not doing. It is completely American organizations such as the Bund and the Clan na Gael which are behind this purely spontaneous manifestation."
"That is not even a half truth, Your Excellency. Let me diplomatic---that is after all what I am being paid to do---and call it a quartertruth. We know for a fact that Dr. Dumba and yourself have been secretly catalyzing those organizations. We insist that such stimulation stop immediately as it is creating sharp divisions within America."
Once this batch goes this mission is completed thought Bernstorff. "The small degree of contact which we do have with these organizations---the magnitude of which you are grotesquely exaggerating---shall be severed today. As with your other demands it will be take a few hours to contact the relevant persons. I hope this is sufficient? "
"Yes, I am well satisfied, Your Excellency."
"Good. And what is your remaining condition?"
"President Wilson is worried that Germany will interfere in Mexico again by trying to return Huerta to power, Your Excellency. I must insist on your assurance that Germany was no intentions to interfere in Mexico."
The Count took his time. He smiled slightly then replied, "You have my full and complete assurance that the Reich has no intention of trying to restore Huerta to power. Are you satisfied now?" We have other plans for Mexico my foolish American friend though I’ve insist that Jahnke wait until von Spee and the liners are well away.
"On this point I am indeed fully satisfied, Your Excellency. There are those two other points which you say that you need to liaison with Adm. von Spee, but I am hopeful that we can work things out on both of them. Let me say that I understand the tension in this situation and deeply appreciate the flexibility you have exhibited so far."
------Cork city 1630 hrs
In the afternoon the Germans had moved a battery of 15cm howitzers to the portion of Cork north of North Channel. These had been moved into position overlooking the buildings where the Ulstermen of the British 108th Brigade were defiantly holding out. Most of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had been moved into positions surrounding the Ulstermen, supplanting the IRA units and releasing the Chevaulegers to resume reconnaissance duties to the north. With no enemy artillery to worry about the howitzers only needed to set up outside of rifle range. The battery was instructed not to waste shells and so the gun crews fired at considerably less than their maximum rate. They concentrated on two buildings that looked most vulnerable to artillery fire. It did not take long for the roof of one of the buildings to start burning.
The intensity of the explosions of the 15cm shells shocked the Ulstermen whose only exposure to enemy artillery had been the 2 infantry guns of West Limerick Battalion. As the Bavarians had hoped the shelling provoked the Ulstermen into an impromptu counterattack which the Bavarian machineguns and rifles butchered easily. The Bavarians had hoped the rest of 108th Brigade would surrender after that but having much experience fighting the stubborn British in France, were not surprised when they continued fighting. The howitzers ceased firing until they ran out of HE shells.
------Kragujevac Arsenal (Serbia) 1640 hrs
Field Marshal Radomir Putnik was meeting with Gen. Zivojin Misic. "The latest reports indicate that our plan appears to be working, Field Marshal. A gap has arisen between the Germans and the Austrians," said Misic with optimistic enthusiasm.
"Yes, I was informed an hour ago," replied Putnik who had been deeply depressed since the Bulgarians had attacked, "The gap is not that big and we should not be surprised if Prince Rupprecht discovers it and finds a way to close it."
"Perhaps Field Marshal but I think the bait of this arsenal will not let him solve his dilemma the easiest way by slowing the German advance. I believe our brief morning counterattack against the Austrians tomorrow will serve to widen the gap, giving us the opportunity we require."
"It better. We are running out of options. The combined Ottoman and Bulgarian advance into Macedonia has been slowed but not stopped. The Ottoman corps in the vanguard will be in position to make an assault on Kumanovo in two or three more days. What bitter irony it would be if an Ottoman victory there of all places seals our doom. Unless we administer a sharp blow the Germans here we will be in no position to reinforce Macedonian Army."
"Have faith, Field Marshal. The Ottoman corps is only a little stronger than a Bulgarian division and our experience in the First Balkan War strengthens my belief that the Turks will blunder sooner or later. If our counterattack tomorrow goes well tomorrow it will allow us to reinforce Macedonian Army. In the meantime another British division will be arriving in Albania soon. Things could then turn around dramatically. We had some tense moments last year as well and we ended up victorious."
"I genuinely wish I could share your optimism. We must succeed tomorrow if there is to be any hope. Go fetch Gen Godley and an interpreter. There is much we must go over with him."
------Kingstown (Dublin) 1710 hrs
The rebels blocking the way to Dublin had proven unexpectedly stubborn and so the British decided to use the newly arrived field artillery battery against them. Even though the battery was armed with only obsolescent 15 pounders the shelling startled the rebels who then withdrew back towards Dublin. At the time of the shelling Col. Churchill was leading his battalion in an attempt to envelop the rebels, hoping to eliminate most of them quickly. However the rebel position turned to be curved seriously complicating the flanking maneuver. Churchill had asked that he be given more time but under pressure to clear the railway and main road as quickly as possible the brigadier denied the request.
Brandishing his sword with histrionic gestures Col. Churchill addressed the men of his lead company, "Do not let the traitorous vermin escape! After them men! After them!"
------Ft. Carlisle (Cork) 1715 hrs
A pair of British armed trawlers were bringing some Royal Marines and supplies to reinforce Queenstown. As the approached the narrowest portion of the harbour entrance the pair of 6" guns in Rupert’s Battery, now manned by German seamen opened fire on the lead trawler, and at short range scored a hit on the second salvo starting a fire its superstructure which subsequent hits quickly aggravated. The 9.2" guns inside South Battery were held back. Both trawlers soon returned fire with their weak armament then tried to turn about but this was a very tricky maneuver inside the safe channel through the harbor’s minefield. As they turned the fires burning on the lead trawler grew steadily worse. The second trawler managed to escape unscratched but the fires on the lead trawler soon raged out of control and the ship was abandoned.
------Waterford city 1725 hrs
More than half of the 3rd Tipperary Battalion had finally arrived at Waterford in the last half hour. Commandant McElroy now met with Rommel, whose first question was, "What took you so long, McElroy? Even with muddy roads---and they are now partially dry---I was expecting most of your battalion to arrive three hours ago. I know some of your men are not in the best physical condition, but that is why I told you let them lag behind as stragglers."
"We were delayed by a couple of things, Major. For one, there was several skirmishes with some of the British soldiers we scattered yesterday."
"Were the British soldiers organized in large formations or merely small bands?"
"Uh, small bands, never more than 30 at one time."
"How well did your men do?"
"Uh well the first time we were attacked they took us by surprise a wee bit and things did not go well at first with more than a dozen of my lads quickly becoming casualties---but we recovered before long and drove the enemy off. After that we were more cautious and better prepared. The other action we saw was taking very two small R.I.C. stations on the way."
"Did you take any prisoners, either constables or British soldiers?"
"Uh, no prisoners were taken, major."
Rommel could readily accept that no prisoners were taken in the skirmishes with the Royal Irish Rifleman. The assault on the R.I.C. stations was the sort of operation he thought would yield at one or two prisoners. Rommel also realized it was useless to try and pry the truth out of McElroy. There were more important things on Rommel’s mind at this time. "We have formed a new IRA battalion here, with the obvious name of the Waterford battalion. It already has over 300 men and is growing steadily each hour."
"Uh, I see, Major. Uh, wouldn’t it be best if it was incorporated into my battalion? I have heard that you Germans don’t care much for small Irish battalions."
"As I said the Waterford Battalion is still growing. I would not be surprised if reaches 500 men before the end of tomorrow," Rommel answered disingenuously, "I think you have more than enough to handle at this time Commandant."
McElroy now had a good hunch that Rommel did not trust him too far, but he decided arguing the point would only exacerbate the problem. "What are your plans, Major? What do you want my men to do?"
"The roads have dried enough I can use my motor vehicles once again. I will be leaving with half of my battalion in about an hour to make what I hope will be a decisive attack on the remaining British forces in Waterford. I will leave one of my captains in charge here of not only the rest of 3rd Kerry Battalion but also your Battalion and Waterford Battalion. Most of your duties will be to take over a section of the southern perimeter. You are not to make any attacks unless ordered to do so. Is that clear?"
------near Gumbinnen (East Prussia) 1730 hrs
Gen. Otto von Below, the commander of Eighth Army, watched as the preliminary bombardment for the next phase of Operation Fulcrum started. This was to be the third and heaviest attack Eighth Army would make during this operation. In the last 3 days German warplanes had performed a thorough reconnaissance of the area and were now supplemented by balloons. Their efforts plus some unencrypted wireless intercepts tended to confirm that as had been expected much of Russian Tenth Army’s reserves had been drawn back to assist the fortress at Kovno.
All of Eighth Army’s 206 heavy guns had been committed to supporting tomorrow’s attack on two Russian infantry divisions. Some of these batteries now opened fire inviting the Russians to an artillery duel, which they accepted. When the Russian batteries returned fire additional German batteries joined in. The Russian artillery was soon silenced. After that the German artillery registered on the Russian first and second trench lines occupied by the 2 Russian infantry divisions on the right wing of the Russian Tenth Army. The bombardment would continue through the night but with some lengthy pauses during which advance teams of pioneers would try to clear paths through the single strand of Russian wire.
-------SMS Lothringen off New York 1830 hrs GMT
Having coaled for the permitted 24 hours in Manhattan, Adm. von Spee’s flagship had rejoined Schlesien which was guarding the captured Lusitania. Following close behind Lothringen was the President Grant, carrying just over 700 men of the volunteer brigade. The Wyoming was still nearby along with 3 American destroyers, one of which was now taking aboard some of the male Entente passengers from Lusitania. There was also a pair of American yachts transferring some of the American volunteer brigade to Lusitania. The freighter that von Spee intended to keep as a prize was also present. The two German light cruisers though were not in sight.
Adm. Maas had transferred aboard Lothringen to confer with Adm. von Spee. "Just as I was preparing to leave Schlesien," a livid Maas told von Spee, "we received a wireless message from Stralsund which had spotted a large British inbound freighter but on account of the Count von Bernstorff’s cowardly acquiescence to the American’s intolerable demands we were unable to capture because it was still inside the 100 mile limit."
"I am as unhappy as you are about this," replied von Spee more stoically, "but I do know from my face to face negotiations with Adm. Fletcher that President Wilson is extremely upset with our presence here. Do you wish for us to take on the entire American Navy?"
"It is a painfully obvious bluff I tell you. If the Count is too much of a coward to call their bluff then we should!"
"That is enough! You will abide by the Count’s decision, which was based on instructions from Berlin. It is not for you and me to second guess them. Once our small cruisers are outside the 100 mile limit commerce raiding will resume with a vengeance. That is still close enough to New York that they should find ample prey in the main sea lane. Contrary to what President Wilson feared we were planning to move east anyway so all he has done is to deprive our cruisers of a few hours."
"A few hours when they would be at their maximum usefulness! Again I feel compelled to rail at the injustice of this, admiral! The Americans have no right to do this."
"Like the British he so admires President Wilson apparently feels that might makes right. And the British have the gall to tell the world about the evils inherent in the philosophy of Nietzsche! But again I must reiterate that we are going to abide by the Count’s instructions."
Maas’ eyes were hot coals and he bit his lower lip hard in angry frustration. "What is the schedule for our departure, admiral?"
"About 3 hours from now Hessen, Victoria Louise and President Lincoln will be rendezvousing with us here. The transfer of the Entente passengers from the Lusitania should be done by then. We will then proceed ENE ½ E at 10 knots. When Blücher has completed her permitted coaling she will escort the remaining liners out of New York, though one of the liners, Grosser Kurfurst, will wait 2 hours before departing allowing us to bring along as many American late arrivals as possible. Blücher and her liners will steam at 12 knots allowing them to overtake us. Grosser Kurfurst will try to sustain 15 knots until she catches up. When Blücher arrives you will transfer your flag back to her. Until then you are to remain here with me." Where I can make sure you do not do anything rash. You are a good officer Leberecht but sometimes you think with your balls
"Blücher should be allowed to make 20 knots after leaving New York, Admiral. In order to maximize our commerce raiding capability she needs to take her place in the van as quickly as possible."
Adm. von Spee shook his head, "She is needed to shepherd the liners. There is also the need to conserve coal on our return voyage. Eventually when she gets close to us I would signal a small increase in speed."
Maas opened his mouth to protest but clamped it shut when he realized what he was about to say bordering on insubordination. Finally he decided it was best to change topics, "Has Berlin informed you of our strategy for the return, Admiral? Do they still want us to continue with the basic plan or should we switch to one of the alternate plans? From what little information I have been able to get it appears that things did not go according to plan in Ireland. The Irish revolt was much weaker than expected and it appears that the second wave has not been sent. Is that true? Has Gen. von François succeeded in taking Berehaven?"
"Yes things have not been going well with Operation Unicorn. The Irish Revolt so far has been much less than Plunkett and Devoy had been predicting, though it is now starting to gain momentum with Dublin finally rising up in revolt yesterday. The second wave has not been sent---huh, let me modify that, the second wave has not arrived in Ireland though Berlin has not mentioned sending it. The Americans think that Berehaven has not been captured so far but they are not completely certain about that. Adm. Fletcher found it very interesting that I kept asking about Berehaven."
"The capture of Berehaven is essential to the entire operation."
"Not completely true. There were alternative options in the plan in case we failed to take Berehaven by coup de main."
"With all of these setbacks Berlin still wants us to hold to the basic plan?"
"I finally received a message from the wireless station at Sayville only an hour before this ship left New York. It acknowledged there had been some setbacks but nevertheless said we should stick with the basic plan for the time being."
"Which variant of the basic plan?"
"It is very confusing," replied von Spee with a marked frown, "but they still did not specify a variant. Instead it said we should expect further wireless instructions before we reach the primary rendezvous point."
Maas took his time before finally saying, "It sounds like the entire operation is in serious trouble and OKW is trying to improvise a solution."
"Yes, that is how I see it as well. We will need to be ready to improvise ourselves when the time comes."
-------Istanbul 1810 hrs
Enver Pasha was having an evening meeting with Gen. Otto Liman von Sanders with baklava and Turkish coffee as refreshments. "I have learned that there was revolt of some size started in Dublin yesterday," said Enver.
"Yes I heard that as well, Pasha. It is a very favorable development."
"Yes, it is. The British government keeps insisting that the Irish revolt is insignificant but their prime minister belies that impression by acting as if he is terrified of it."
"That is very well put, Pasha."
"You do know that you what your fellow Germans are doing in Ireland has been tried before, first by the Spanish and then later the French."
He is obviously in one of his pedantic moods today thought von Sanders, who answered, "You have a good grasp of history, Pasha, though I am surprised you have such an interest in Ireland."
"Well it is now a theatre of this war and more interesting in its battles than the campaign in France which moves slower than a glacier. However is the general principle which intrigues me most---and invasion timed to coincide with an insurrection by a dissident population.
Oh now I see where this is leading thought von Sanders, "You see parallels between Ireland and Armenia, Pasha?"
"Yes, I do. It has become incredibly obvious now. Van erupts in revolt a few days ago and this morning the Russians launch a full scale attack in the Tortum Valley."
"I would caution against reaching hasty conclusions, Pasha. Perhaps the Russian attack is intended merely as a feint."
"A feint? I do not think so my general. This is the real thing and the Russians mean to use the Armenians in the same way you Germans now use the Irish."
"In that case your decision to reinforce Third Army was most wise, Pasha."
"Wise but far from perfect. In fact I think I made the same mistake the British made when you Germans first landed in Ireland and underestimated the internal threat. This deficiency needs to be addressed and soon."
------near Perim Island 1900 hrs
Nine dhows emerged from behind the northern tip of Perim Island, carrying another Ottoman rifle company and some supplies. Their crews had been ordered to land just south of the Eritrean border. On their way a searchlight could be seen to the southwest. This prompted three of the dhows to return to Yemen immediately. The other six dhows pressed on but changed their course more the north resulting in all but one coming ashore on the Eritrean border. There was a small patrol of local Eritrean militia guarding the beaches. They were persuaded with some gold not to report the landing to their Italian superiors as long as the Ottomans marched over the border in the next two hours.
The lone dhow which had landed south of the border meanwhile linked up some Yemeni irregulars who had purchased a half dozen wagons and provisions intended for the entire company. While this was going on a searchlight suddenly erupted from the sea. It belonged to a French gunboat. Some of the Ottoman soldiers and Yemenis dropped to the sandy ground or tried to hide themselves behind the dhow but a few were mysteriously transfixed by the searchlight. There was nearly half minute during which the Frenchmen just watched then a machinegun started firing and seconds later a small forward cannon joined in as well soon followed by the aft gun. Confusion rained on the beach with some of the Ottoman soldiers scurrying away. Likewise 4 of the wagons scattered when their draught horses bolted in panic. The dhow was eventually set on fire. Fortunately all of the ammunition aboard her had been unloaded. A few of the Ottoman soldiers tried to return fire with their rifles but the ranking NCO present soon ordered the men to stop wasting their bullets. After an initial frenzy where the gunboat fired as rapidly as possible its shelling became more sporadic once it could see that the dhow was burning. The searchlight then lathed the beach looking for new targets with machinegun and cannon firing in short bursts. The fire on the dhow caused both sailors and soldiers to try to escape and many of these were cut down. It was more than a half hour before the gunboat’s captain decided to leave.
-------HQ Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 1935 hrs
Gen. Hamilton was the only telephone with Gen. Stopford, the commander of VI Army Corps again. "Has any progress been made at Athlone?" he asked.
"There were two combined attacks by our two battalions in the eastern portion of the city, sir. Neither accomplished much except to wear down the rebels there who must be on their last legs by now."
"Perhaps that is what is going on there but we’ve been saying the same thing about Cork which leads into my next topic. How is the attack of the 53rd Division progressing?"
"Gen. Friend’s main effort today was at Coachford, but the Germans were able to repel two attacks there. They should be able to do better once we get them artillery some more shells. These young fellows seem unable to do anything without artillery support these days."
Hamilton put his hand over the telephone mouthpiece and turned to Gen. Braithwaite saying, "The 53rd Division’s attack remains stalled."
Braithwaite rolled his eyes in disgust, "Damn! Well in that case, Gen. Friend needs to reinforce our forces inside Cork. Quickly!"
Hamilton nodded and took his hand off the telephone, "Gen. Stopford, Gen. Braithwaite and myself are becoming deeply worried about the situation in Cork city. Not only have the rebels proven more difficult than anticipated but there are signs of a growing German presence there including the attacks on Queenstown and the harbor forts. You need to instruct Gen. Friend to begin shifting some of his strength into Cork, while continuing his attacks on the Bavarians. As for artillery shells, we have just received word a few minutes ago that the South Scottish Brigade have routed the rebels outside Kingstown and so we can now make use of the railway to ship the supplies that are lying around the docks."
"That is very good news indeed, sir. Now only does it mean my supply lines have been cleared but it sounds like the rebellion in Dublin will soon be crushed. Then some of the battalions there can be used elsewhere."
"Brig. Lowe is hopeful that he will be able to break the back of the rebellion in Dublin tomorrow morning, Gen. Stopford. If it does not Gen. Braithwaite and I agree wholeheartedly that we must inform Lord Kitchener that we will require additional reinforcements. Ireland is spiralling out of control."
"You can say that again," commented Gen. Braithwaite in the background.
------New York harbor 1955 hrs
"Joe, please don’t go. Please, Joe, don’t go. Stay here with me. Please, Joe, I’m begging you," wailed Rose Kennedy.
Joe Kennedy had in fact been having some second thoughts himself about his decision to go join the volunteer brigade and fight in Ireland. Rose and his father had come with him to New York to see him off. In the last half hour first Jim Larkin and then Mayor Mitchel had addressed the crowd of volunteers and had delivered a stirring speech lauding the heroism of the volunteers---mostly the Irish though he did throw in a few kind words for the Germans towards the end. There were after all some German American voters as well in New York City. Mitchel’s speech brought tears to young Kennedy’s eyes. Then he noticed his pregnant wife was crying as well. At first he thought she too had been stirred by Mitchel’s words but soon learned that his wife’s tears came from a very different source.
"Now, now Rose, you know I have to go. Don’t you want to see the Irish people finally give it to the limey bastards and correct the centuries of injustice we’ve endured?"
"I don’t give a fig about history even Irish history. It’s you I care about, Joe---you and the baby and the baby will need his father."
"Now, now, Rose, if anything should happen to me, your father and mine will see that you and the baby are well taken care of. Just don’t forget to name him Joe if it’s a boy."
At that Rose bawled even louder, "You see, you see, something bad is going to happen. I just know it. A woman knows certain things."
"C’mon Rose, you’re talkin’ just plain silly. You make it sound like there is some sort of curse hanging over us. Tell her that silly, da," replied Joe gazing over to his father for support.
Patrick Kennedy merely shrugged as he didn’t know to respond to that as he was worried that something might happen to his son. As he struggled to find words he noticed John Purroy Mitchel heading their way.
"Why Patrick Kennedy how good to see you again," said the mayor who then turned to Joe, "and let me guess you must be young Joe Kennedy, the youngest bank president in America."
"Good to see you as well, John, that was some fine speech you gave us then. Better than overrated Jim Larkin who always finds a way to work his radical Socialist notions into his speeches. And yes this here is my son, Joseph the bank president, who is making me proud by joining this volunteer brigade going off to fight for fight for Ireland."
"Oh, you are, young Kennedy---" the mayor started to say.
"---No, no, he’s not," interrupted Rose frantically, "he’s staying here with his pregnant wife, that’s what he’s doing. Aren’t you, Joe? It was all a big mistake you telling people you were going. Say it’s so, Joe. Please."
Mitchel frowned somewhat as it was now obvious that he had stumbled into an awkward situation. He knew very well that some people who had said they were going were backing out at the last minute. After telling everyone he was firmly committed to going Robert Moses had changed his mind at the last minute. He wondered if young Kennedy was going to do the same or if this was just another instance of a pregnant wife succumbing to hysteria.
Rose’s lamentation was produced an opposite impact on her husband. Part of his reason in going is he felt participating in this Fenian crusade would go a long way in ingratiating himself with Irish and even German American voters after the war. If he was to back down now right in front of Mayor Mitchel his credibility amongst Irish voters could be irreparably harmed.
Even a behind the scenes political presence would be difficult.
"Rose, my darling Irish wife, could you please get control of yourself. You are embarrassing us all right now. Wipe your wife and stop snivelling! I love you deeply but there are things that a man has to do. I am getting on one of these fine German ocean liners which God willing will make it to Ireland where I will----"
"----no, no, no, please no, Joe, I tell you something terrible ---"
"ENOUGH WOMAN!" thundered Joe Kennedy with a ferocity
that surprised his father and himself, "I am going to war and that’s all there
is to it."
Meanwhile aboard the Barbarossa Lt. St. James welcomed 21 men who had just arrived from Worcester that the Germans decided would be best billeted next to the former Buffalo Soldiers, Garvey’s UNIA contingent and the Ghaidars. Cornelius already knew some of them as he recruited them while visiting Dr. Godard in Worcester. He decided to introduce to the former Buffalo soldiers. "These men are Turks some of the fiercest---"
"----no, no, we are not Turks, we are Ottomans!" an eager young lad interrupted.
"Hadi! Show some respect for your elders," one of the older Turkish immigrants sharply rebuked the young lad.
"I am not offended," replied St. James, "I reckon he has a point so I stand corrected. Gentlemen, these men are Ottoman Americans."
"Shit, Cornelius, I always thought an Ottoman was some silly piece of furniture rich white folk waste their money on," commented one of the former Buffalo Soldiers half seriously. That generated howls of laughter.
"What is so funny? How dare you make fun of the Ottoman Empire, the bestest empire ever!" protested a shocked Hadi.
"You tell the infidel dogs, Little Pasha!" said another of his Ottoman comrades with mock seriousness and there elicited some more chuckling. Hadi reddened and clenched his fists.
"Now, now, son. Please don’t sulk," said St. James putting his hand reassuringly on Hadi’s, "We mean no offense. We was just joshin’, that’s all. In fact what little I do know about the fascinating Ottoman Empire only makes me wish I knew more. Perhaps you can teach me more on our long voyage."
At that Hadi brightened visibly that is until one of countrymen said, "Be warned, St. James, once the Little Pasha starts talking about the Ottoman Empire, it is difficult to get him to stop. You may not get enough sleep in the days ahead."
There was more chuckling.
------Victoria Barracks (Cork) 2015
"What should we do with these so called Sealgairs now that Mr. Flynn is dead?" Oberst Hell asked Commandant Tomas MacCurtain, "Will they accept an Irish Brigade commandant or should we try to disband them altogether?"
"They are dead set against an Irish Brigade commandant, colonel and will refuse any order to disband. For the time being Flynn’s second in command, Liam Kerns has assumed command of that outfit and most of the men are accepting his authority---though there are a few who defy him. From what I’ve been told Kerns felt that Flynn went too far in fact they had exchanged harsh words with Flynn they arrived here. Kerns sent me a written note that he intends to restore some measure of morality to the Sealgairs but warns that he cannot completely be expected to reform them completely overnight."
"I’ve been told that despite their lack of discipline they are clever and resourceful soldiers. The battle for Cork in not over in my estimation and we should anticipate that the British will very soon commit additional strength here very soon. Under these circumstances I am willing to let Herr Kerns take command for at least the next few days as he seems to be an improvement over Flynn. However what about those who are insubordinate? Should we arrest the worst of that bunch to set an example?"
"No, sir. Doing that will only make things worse. Those that we arrest will quickly become heroes. In my Cork city battalions there are some who look upon Flynn as a hero as much if not more on account of his bloodthirsty flaws as his military prowess."
"Then what are suggesting? Should we hope and pray that Mr. Kerns can turn the hot heads around?"
"Uh, well there is something we should do. Kerns feels that the worst bunch is about two dozen who feel that Tom Barry should take over the Sealgairs. Kerns’ opinion is that group will never come around to accepting his authority and may even try to kill him. Even if they don’t kill Kerns their presence in Cork will have a corrupting influence on not only on the rest of the Sealgairs but the city battalions as well."
Hell frowned then threw up his hands in frustration, "You already told me that arresting these war criminals would make things worse."
"That I did, colonel. What I am suggesting is we get Barry and his cadre far away from Cork."
"I am open to suggestions."
"One difference between Barry and the late Joe Flynn is Tom admires Major Rommel, apparently because he played a key role in rescuing Major Rommel back in Bandon and sees himself as indirectly responsible for Rommel’s successes. This evening I understand that you plan to send some trucks with rifles and ammunition to Rommel at Waterford. That convoy will require some men to go along as escorts. I think we might be able to persuade Barry to take on this mission and once he’s there I think Rommel can persuade him to stay."
"Would Major Rommel do that?"
"He might, but if he doesn’t could you send him orders telling him to."
Hell snorted, "Rommel’s vanity irks me sometimes but he doesn’t deserve this."
"Oh, well this was only a suggestion, colonel and probably a bad one."
"Do not apologize. It would not be the cruellest thing I have done in this war---not even close. See if Mr. Barry would be willing to go, while I think it over."
------Limerick 2050 hrs
"Your recovery is quite remarkable, Harry. You are way ahead of what any of your physicians predicted," Maj. Jack White I.R.A. told Capt. Harry Calahan I.R.A. in the major’s small office. The son of a British field marshal had despised the rigid formality of the British Army when he had served in it and to the dismay of the Germans in the Irish Brigade saw no reason to introduce into the I.R.A.
"Well thank you very much, sir," replied Calahan with an eager sense of anticipation.
"I have decided that contrary to the opinion of your physicians that you are now fit to resume command of Sturm Company Calahan, effective first light tomorrow morning."
"I could kiss you right now Major but people might get the wrong idea if you know what I mean."
"Action here at Limerick has been rather light the last two days. The German Marines believe that the British defeats in Kerry and the revolt in first Cork and now Dublin has siphoned away so the British forces besieging us."
"In that case it sounds like a good time for a sally."
------Old Admiralty Building 2105 hrs
Adm. Oliver joined the meeting of the First Lord, Sir Edward Carson, with Adm. Callaghan and Adm. Wilson. "From the look on your face I would hazard to guess that you have some exciting new intelligence for us to digest, Adm. Oliver."
"There certainly is, First Lord. The High Seas Fleet is going to sortie again tomorrow night."
"Hmm. Is there any indication about where they will be heading this time, admiral?"
"Not so far, First Lord."
Carson turned to Adm. Callaghan, "The Grand Fleet should be assembled before dark tomorrow. Do you concur, Admiral?"
"Yes, I do, First Lord. However unless we have some idea as to German intentions we should hold the assembled Grand Fleet off the Humber. We must not be goaded into an unnecessary fleet action at this time. Warspite is still on shakedown, while Colossus, Temeraire, Bellerophon and Australia are in the yards."
"Not to mention Inflexible coaling in Halifax, much to the chagrin of Admiral Bayly."
"Said chagrin will certainly become an order of louder once we inform him of the German sortie, First Lord," replied the First Sea Lord wincing, "However if we still had Inflexible in home waters I would still be reluctant to seek a fleet action now unless there is a very strong reason compelling us to engage."
"Such as a German beachhead in either Kent or Suffolk?"
"Well of course it goes without saying that a successful landing in England would force our hand. Let us pray that is not what the Germans have in mind."
"But what about another German sortie into the Channel?"
"That is more tricky, First Lord. On the prior sortie of the High Seas Fleet Adm. Bayly declined an opportunity to engage them within the Straits of Dover feeling that those tight waters were way too hazardous to maneuver a battle fleet properly. As you may recall, sir, there was a broad consensus here in the Admiralty that Adm. Bayly was correct in his decision."
"Yes I recall that very well and at the time completely concurred with the assessment. I am now starting to worry about its long term implications though. Are we are planning to sit on our hands while the Germans run amok in the Channel? The situation of our First Army remains in France remains a grave concern with the 2nd Infantry Division encircled by the Germans and the rest of the BEF trying desperately to rescue it."
"A prolonged stay by the Germans in the Channel will expose them to submarines and night torpedo attacks, First Lord. Furthermore minefields would make any attempt to attack either the BEF or the major English and French ports very costly."
"I understand that, admiral, but unless the Germans hurriedly blunder into a minefield this process of attrition will take some time. For one thing Harwich Force remains weak and even on dark nights Dover Patrol is limited in what it can do. And for another some of the submarines we have stationed in the Channel after the last raid have returned to port to refuel."
"I have mentioned on at least two occasions that a maximum deployment of submarines could not be sustained indefinitely, First Lord."
"Yes, I remember that as well but it merely goes to my point that wearing down the High Sea Fleet will take time and the 2nd Infantry Division does not have much time."
"If you would permit me to be blunt, First Lord, the loss of one division will not knock Britain out of the war but another catastrophic fleet action will."
"I understand very well the potentially unthinkable consequences of recklessness, admiral. Yet I must I am unhappy with the notion that we must limit ourselves to the naval equivalent of Fabian warfare. It strikes me as being the very antithesis of Lord Nelson."
------Ferrybank (Kilkenny) 2125 hrs
Rommel had departed Waterford with half of the 3rd Kerry Battalion riding in motor vehicles as well as all of his armored cars. He swung around to the west and then northwest to capture the bridge over the Suir River at Fiddown which only had 4 constables guarding it. Crossing the Suir into the southern portion of County Kilkenny the battalion briefly rested while dispatching a few small groups to try to make contact with 2 companies of Irish Volunteers to the north. At last light the 3rd Kerry Battalion proceeded to the southeast to the small village of Ferrybank, which was on the northern shore of the Suir opposite the western portion of Waterford city.
Rommel ordered his motor vehicles to approach the bridge with headlights off and the armored cars in the van. At the last minute the motor vehicles turned on their headlights in unison and then the armored cars opened fire with their machineguns. The headlights momentarily dazzled the guards on the bridge which were only 2 Royal Irish Riflemen and 4 constables, while the lead vehicles in the assault dismounted Jaegers and Pioneers. One of the Royal Irish Riflemen was quickly killed and a constable badly wounded after which the others surrendered. Unteroffizier Ziethen then set most of pioneers to removing the roadblock. While accompanied by another pioneer he quickly inspected the wooden bridge looking for demolition charges.
"Well is it safe, Ziethen?" yelled an impatient Rommel once the roadblock was cleared.
"I just need one more minute, Major, please," Ziethen yelled back.
"Time is precious, Ziethen!"
Two and a half minutes later Rommel yelled again, "Well??? It has been more than one minute."
Ziethen looked at the other pioneer who merely nodded. "It is safe, Major," replied Ziethen.
Ten Jaegers were left behind the guard the bridge. With the armored cars leading the way Rommel drove his vehicles into the northwest portion of Waterford, thereby attacking the Royal Irish Riflemen from the direction they least suspected. The forces Rommel had left behind in eastern Waterford was been instructed to maintain a steady pressure starting at sunset and to intensify it if the enemy was observed to be falling back. The result was Rommel was able to achieve a hammer and anvil attack with the hammer crashing upon the enemy’s unguarded rear quickly causing panic. Soon he was harvesting prisoners and taking key buildings, though he failed in an assault on the Waterford post office during which Lt. Cummins was wounded. He did succeed in taking the city jail where many Irish Volunteer leaders from most of County Waterford and the southern parts of County Kilkenny were incarcerated.
------northeast of Nolette (Picardy) 2200 hrs
Because the British Second Army was desperately short on artillery shells and what little it had remaining was almost entirely shrapnel shells, Gen. Plumer, its commanding officer adamantly refused to launch any daytime assault and suffered the wrath of Sir John French. Instead he committed 2 battalions each from the 1st, 7th, 8th and 50th Infantry Divisions to a broad night assault without any artillery preparation in the hope of attaining some surprise. The attack by 7th and 8th Divisions did take the Germans by surprise but the thick uncut wire remained a serious problem While the Royal Engineer companies assigned to support the infantry cleared paths through the wire, the Germans were given time to react and illuminated their British attackers by a combination of searchlights and star shells. Artillery, minenwerfers and machineguns tore mercilessly into the British battalions, none of which was more than half strength when the assault began. This was soon augmented by the rifle fire of the German infantry. Some of the attackers here nevertheless managed to find their way into the German trenches to attack with bayonet and jam tin bombs and all too often elbows and teeth. The defenders suffered serious losses in some places, but the isolated pockets of British soldiers that had grabbed a spot here and spot there of the German forward trench were too weak in numbers and too isolated from each other to hold on to their gains for long and shortly after midnight German counterattacks evicted them completely with a lavish use of grenades.
The attacks by the battalions of 1st and 50th Infantry Divisions fared somewhat differently. Here the no man’s land was shorter and the German wire barriers were thinner. Unfortunately there was no real surprise in this sector where the Germans felt a resumption of the British attacks was close to a certainty. So the machinegun nests were well prepared and alert and they tore into the attackers almost immediately causing some of the attackers to fall back into the trench from which they emerged. A few light minenwerfers erupted as well but the machineguns here performed the lion’s share of the butchery. While the wire was thinner here it was still a serious problem with much less time to solve it. The few British soldiers who sometimes made into the German trenches, often bleeding in several lacerations caused by the wire were inadequate to do more than to invite some guests to join them in the hereafter. When it was all over the British had gained nothing.
------Recess (Galway) 2215 hrs
Due in part to the guidance of Padraig Pearse while he was hiding in the Connemara, the Irish Volunteers there had taken precautions to keep their meagre cache of weapons from being confiscated. Pearse had also instructed them to wait until after Dublin had erupted before launching their own rising. Now that Dublin had risen up they decided to strike. Because there had more twice as many shotguns as rifles they decided it was best to strike under the cover of darkness. The seaport town of Clifden had some inviting targets, the most important of which was the transatlantic wireless station Marconi had constructed in 1907 which communicated with Newfoundland. Unfortunately the British had realized this had well and had stationed over 200 heavily armed men a mixture of R.I.C. and Connaught Rangers from one of that regiment’s reserve battalions, in Clifden.
The rebels therefore decided to strike the town of Recess which lay on the track of the Midland Great Western Railway which ran through the Connemara connecting Galway city with a terminus at Clifden. Over 300 Irish Volunteers from 4 Connemara companies assembled and attacked the Recess railway station, which was only guarded by a few constables. The rebels were able to approach within close range and after killing one constable they captured the rest then secured the station. Additional constables arrived from their local station and attempted an hasty counterattack which failed. While this was going on additional rebels attacked and captured the now nearly empty R.I.C. station., which was one of those where weapons seized from the local Irish Volunteers and National Volunteers companies were stored. Neither the quantity nor the quality of this cache were impressive but every little bit helped the poorly armed rebels.
------Waterford city 2350 hrs
Rommel had returned to the portion of 3rd Kerry Battalion he had left behind in the eastern portion of Waterford. He brought with him Pax Whelan, one of the Irish Volunteers he liberated from the city jail. Whelan had been the commandant in charge of all Irish Volunteers in the county before being arrested. Rommel introduced Whelan to his officers and told them Whelan would be assuming command of Waterford Battalion until an Irish Brigade officer was assigned. Whelan had reassured Rommel that he would not kill prisoners like Flynn and McElroy were doing.
"I had hoped we would be able to completely eliminate enemy resistance in Waterford city before dawn but now that appears unlikely to happen," Rommel informed his staff, "However the enemy has been seriously weakened. We have already captured 71 soldiers and 43 constables tonight. We have taken the bridge and several key buildings splitting the enemy force into two isolated pockets. The enemy will likely launch a major counterattack attempting to reconnect his forces during the night so we must be vigilant. However I do not want our battalion becoming exhausted. Our men will have a busy day tomorrow so they need to get some rest. Waterford and 3rd Tipperary Battalions should do most of the fighting tonight. Did we get any more arms and supplies from Cork?"
"Yes , major, a convoy of 9 motor trucks arrived from Cork nearly two hours ago," replied the O’Rahilly with a deeply ambivalent expression, "They brought 1,000 more of the Russian rifles in boxes as well as 90,000 rounds of ammunition, 40 shells for our infantry guns and some petrol. However I’m afraid they also brought us some potential trouble."
"Why do you say that?"
"Apparently Joe Flynn is dead. It is claimed that happened during when the Sealgairs took Fort Westmoreland."
Rommel looked incredulous, "Fort Westmoreland! Even I was stumped about that one. Surely this is another of those wild rumors we keep hearing. Has everyone in Ireland kissed that damn Blarney stone? It sure and hell seems like it sometimes, yes?"
The O’Rahilly grinned but only a little, "Yes, I could see where it would look that way but the message came from Col. Hell himself."
Rommel continued to look stunned shaking his head but finally he asked, "For the sake of argument let us accept this news as true---at least that the diabolic Herr Flynn has died. How is that anything but very good news?"
"After Flynn’s death Liam Kerns tried to assume command of what was left of the Sealgairs. I have heard that Kerns is more civilized than Flynn."
"Yes, Cpl. Gaulart has mentioned Herr Kerns whom he has some respect except for the fact Kerns lets his own wife fight beside him. So what is the problem?"
"There are some Sealgairs who are challenging Kerns’ authority, mostly because they admire Flynn’s savagery. One faction wants Barry to be the new battalion commandant. Col. Hell decided it was best to get rid of Barry and his followers so as to not to contaminate the other Sealgairs and the Cork city battalions."
Rommel nodded his head and followed Hell’s logic when suddenly a chill ran down his spine and he gasped, "Don’t tell me he sent them here with the convoy?"
"I am afraid so, major."
"There are 25 including Barry but one of the Sealgairs was badly wounded in a skirmish with a few constables on the way here."
"After all I’ve done for him, why is Hell torturing me? The last thing we need is for Barry to start talking with McElroy once we’ve gone."
The O’Rahilly pursed his lips, "I am wondering if Col. Hell wants us to get Barry even further away from Cork than Waterford."
It took Rommel a few seconds to comprehend what the O’Rahilly was implying. "You mean take him with us?" he gulped.
"If you don’t me asking, Major? " inquired one of the rifle company commanders, "Just when and where are we going?"
"We are going to weaken the British here some more in the morning. Waterford Battalion an 3rd Tipperary Battalion should then be more than enough to handle and eventually eliminate what resistance remains here in Waterford. In the early afternoon if the weather permits we will then leave in our motor vehicles for New Ross in County Wexford. If we do not encounter serious resistance at New Ross then tomorrow night we will make a dash for Dublin."
"For more than two weeks we sat idly in our camp outside Wilhelmshaven. Our officers would tell us very little and did their best to keep us occupied with training exercises. Most of us believed that except for the generals and maybe the obersts, the officers probably did not know what was going on either. Further adding to the confusion a strange Austrian division was brought to a camp near us. We were allowed some small degree of interaction with the men of this unit, more than half of whom were Czechs. There were many things strange about this unit. There was even confusion about its name as some of the men called it the Erzherzog Karl Division while others referred to it as Division Prague.
Then suddenly we were marched to the docks. We were still not told where we were going but with great excitement my regiment boarded the awe inspiring Vaterland which had been converted to a huge troopship. We all knew that were participating in a great adventure and our hearts were overflowing with excitement." ---Ernst Junger
------off New York 0105 hrs GMT Wednesday 12 May, 1915
Stralsund was more than 100 nm from NYC less than 100 nm from the portions of Long Island. Her captain decided it was it was far enough when he intercepted the inbound British freighter of 1,700 tons displacement which was carrying a cargo of drugs, most of which were opium based including laudanum, codeine and morphine. The ship’s crew had admitted to the German boarders that they were uncertain about what would happen when they reached New York on account of some American legislation called the Harrison Act which had become effective at the beginning of April to regulate and tax opiates and coca derivatives.
There was unfortunately ample need for morphine during wartime. The Germans decided to keep their prize afloat until as much as possible of her morphine could be transferred even though this tied down Stralsund for a few hours, but since night was falling this was regarded as an acceptable tradeoff.
------Fortress Kovno 0400 hrs GMT
The attacks of Army Detachment Marwitz on the outer forts of Kovno were continuing. General Grigoriev the fearful fortress commandant had been reinforced by Tenth Army so he had two divisions within the fort but he used them very conservatively making only very hesitant counterattacks. Meanwhile Russian cavalry had tried to attack the German flanks and harass Army Detachment Marwitz’s line of communication but the German cavalry supported by some of the heavy artillery had largely stymied those efforts so far.
During the night the Pioneer Regiment managed to infiltrate the Russian perimeter and bring 2 medium and 2 heavy minenwerfers within range of one of the larger forts. These now began to bombard the fort and soon cracked it open while another artillery duel commenced between the fortress and the German siege artillery. Eventually 2 Russian infantry battalions tried to counterattack the pioneers but they were driven off by well positioned machinegun nests that had been set up during night.
------Abadan Island 0435 hrs
The senior British officers in charge of the mixed detachment holding out at the Abadan refinery trusted the Ottomans little and the Marsh Arabs even less so they decided that they preferred to discuss surrender terms with Generalfeldmarschal Freiherr von der Goltz instead. After an hour of talk terms were ironed out. Soon afterwards von der Goltz met with Col. Al-Askari and remarked, "Remember the pipeline we disrupted with explosive charges? Let us see how quickly we can repair the damage and get the pipeline back in operation."
-------near Gumbinnen (East Prussia} 0500 hrs
The German artillery bombardment for the next phase of Operation Fulcrum now intensified greatly including minenwerfers for the first time. They continued to dominate the Russian batteries as well as obliterating the shallow Russian trenches and knocking out observation posts. The limited number of Russian telephones and telegraphs still working soon had their wires cut.
-------Dublin 0530 hrs
Pursued by the South Scottish Brigade but much more familiar with the local terrain, the Blackrock and Kingsport companies made a fighting withdrawal as best they could back towards Dublin, losing over 70 men in the process. Meanwhile the Lowlands battalions suffered the loss of cohesion in the dark which is the bane of night attacks. Soon after midnight the 3rd Dublin Battalion sent reinforcements more than a quarter of which were armed with shotguns. They administered a sharp shock to the lead elements of the South Scottish Brigade just outside Dublin. Despite the protests of Churchill the commander of the South Scottish Brigade then decided to halt his pursuit and let his men get a little bit of sleep while the field artillery battery was carefully sited.
The 15 pounders now commenced a leisurely 10 minute bombardment of the hastily improvised defenses of the Irish Volunteers. The defenders were already falling back into Dublin before the bombardment lifted. Churchill was determined that the traitors not escape his wrath and he personally led his men charging from their positions before the shelling stopped much to the brigadier’s dismay. Most of the Irish Volunteers had retreated down Northumberland Road across the Grand Canal over the Mount Street Bridge. With Sir Winston Churchill in the lead the South Scottish Brigade tried to follow them over the bridge. They overran some of the wounded Irish Volunteers but when they got within 300 yards of the bridge f they came under a murderous crossfire from rebel marksmen posted in Clanwilliam House, No. 25 Northumberland and Parochial Hall. Man after man fell to sustained volleys. Many of the casualties were officers which the rebel marksmen could readily identify by their Sam Browne belts. Almost miraculously Col. Churchill who had advanced within spitting distance of the bridge was not hit though bullets whizzed all around him as he defiantly brandished his gleaming sword. However even Churchill was soon forced to accept that he needed to retreat quickly from the bridge.
After retreating Churchill sent some of his men to try to storm one of the rebel held buildings that had enfiladed them but this attack was driven off by rebels on the ground floor armed with revolvers and sawed off shotguns. Next Churchill dispatched one of his rifle companies up Haddington Road to the Baggot Street Bridge in an attempt to outflank the rebels. These came under fire from rebel snipers posted in the upper floors of nearby buildings and from a rebel defensive position along the portion of the railway spanning the canal. When the company commander was killed the attack became much more hesitant. Those few Scots who reached the Baggot Street Bridge quickly became casualties.
While this was going on, there were 5 more executions being conducted within the courtyards of Kilmainham Gaol inside Dublin. Three of the men had participated in the failed rising at Enniscorthy in County Wexford. Another had been the leader of a small party caught trying to sabotage the railways at night. The last prisoner executed was Eion MacNeill.
------north of Compiegne 0600 hrs
The French Second Army continued its attack on the German First Army. General de Castelnau had the day before been reinforced with a fresh infantry division and an independent infantry brigade. Both of these were committed to today’s attack. The artillery shells which had been plentiful at the start of this offensive were now in short supply. The bombardment lasted only an hour. It proved woefully inadequate, and de Castelnau’s belief that the German defenders were weak and demoralized as a result of his persistent attacks was also far from the truth. The attacking battalions suffered heavy losses and what small bits of the German trenches they managed to take were lost before noon to determined German counterattacks.
------Terryglass (Tipperary) 0610 hrs
With persistent reports that the rebels were using river boats to run arms up the Shannon, Gen. Stopford had yesterday afternoon ordered the 49th (West Riding) Division to send a battalion and a field artillery battery to the village of Terryglass which was positioned a mile from where the Shannon emptied into Lough Derg. The 1/7th West Yorkshire was dispatched in the evening. This battalion was been reduced to less than half strength during the futile attempts to turn the right flank of the German Marines by crossing the Shannon at Ballina. An observation post was set up in Castle Biggs which had a clear view of the Shannon.
Except for a few small fishing vessels the British now regarded all boats on Lough Derg as enemy vessels. The British lookouts could now see 2 river boats entering the lake from the north. As if to erase any doubt one of them had a 5 cm cannon mounted forward. The British 18 pounders commenced firing. They had been provided only shrapnel shells as the British batteries in Ireland had very few HE shells, which was contributing to their lack of success in recovering Limerick. The gunners were not trained to hit a moving target but the range was short and boats though small were not moving very fast. Hits were eventually scored on both craft but before they did shrapnel riddled the superstructure of both ships turning crew into casualties. The boat with the 5 cm gun tried to return fire but it proved to be vain gesture. That boat took the worst of the British shelling and caught fire. This eventually caused a small explosion and it sank by the bow. The other boat was soon abandoned by those of its crew who could still swim to shore. The boat then wandered adrift in Lough Derg. Later in the day at the instigation of the battalion intelligence officer it was recovered with the help of a small trawler and examined thoroughly.
The British battery had expended nearly three quarter of its ammunition in this incident and it was unsure about when it would get more.
------Cork city 0615 hrs
German pioneers brought in a pair of 17 cm minenwerfers to deal with the British pocket in the heart of the city which consisted of what had once been a half battalion of Cheshires and some demoralized R.I.C. These weapons now started to pummel one of the buildings were the enemy were holed up. It was soon set on fire and the defenders inside were unable to extinguish the blaze. A few constables emerged to surrender while most of the Cheshire infantrymen tried to fight their way to a nearby building. More than half became casualties.
The pioneers debated amongst themselves whether they should target another of the buildings occupied by the Welshmen. The major restraint was that they were short of shells and so the company commander decided to hold off on further bombardment for the time being, while requesting further guidance from HQ.
------west of Froise (Picardy) 0630 hrs
Gen. Haig insisted that Gen. Pulteney, the commander of III Army Corps make another early morning attack on the German 7th Infantry Division in order to rescue the trapped 2nd Infantry Division. The seas had been deemed too rough the previous night to try to use barges again to bring supplies to the 2nd Infantry Division. Some supplies were being landed by small boats but they were less than half of what the 2nd Infantry Division required. More underfed horses had to be killed to augment the inadequate food rations of the division. The 2nd Infantry Division continued to be enfiladed mercilessly by the artillery of the German IV Army Corps and XXVII Reserve Corps, yet with great valor they were continuing to hold on to their hedgehog position, including the key village of Quend.
The British III Army Corps only had enough shells to make a 30 minute bombardment with many of the heavy weapons in the RGA batteries only able to participate in the last half of that. Pulteney decided against asking Dover Patrol to assist again in the bombardment as he had recently concluded that their small low trajectory guns were ineffective against German trench works. The German artillery opposed them in a fierce artillery duel. The cumulative casualties suffered by the British gun crews of First Army were now degrading their effectiveness. The end result was that insufficient damage had been inflected on the trenches of the German 7th Infantry Division. The assault was made by 5 battalions of the 6th Infantry Division and 4 battalions of the 29th Infantry Division, plus 3 battalions of the 2nd Infantry Division attacking from the north. Communication with the 2nd Infantry Division to coordinate this attack had been accomplished by an airplane landing on a field under sporadic bombardment. The messenger was badly wounded by shrapnel but still managed to deliver his message.
None of the attacking battalions was much more than half strength when they emerged from their trenches. The cumulative losses of the Saxons of the 7th Infantry Division over the last 3 days had been heavy as well but enough of their firepower remained to deal harshly with the British infantry. The German wire remained largely intact. The attackers who made it into the German trenches were simply too few in number to prevail.
------Dunkirk 0640 hrs
Soon dawn the coastal minelaying U-Boat, UC.1 had arrived at the German naval base at Dunkirk. The vessel’s captain, Lt. Egon von Werner was summoned to meet with Fregattenkapitän Karl Bratenbach, the commander of U-Boats for the Flanderen Flotilla. "Did you have much difficulty getting here?"
"Nothing serious but she is very small and is very slow, kapitan. Fortunately the seas were not at all rough. On one occasion we sighted a warship once and executed an emergency dive. It turned out to be a Dutch patrol boat."
"How well is your ship handling? She has only been in commission for 12 days now."
"I believe the substantive problems relating to her performance on the surface have been resolved to my satisfaction---except for certain defects inherent in the design, such as the deeply frustrating lack of speed even on the surface I have already mentioned."
"A somewhat larger U-Boat with greater speed and endurance is clearly called for but in their defense the Admiralty wanted something with which to exploit the capture of the Channel ports as quickly as possible so they went with your class and the still smaller UB class as well. We have found the UB class surprising effective despite limitations similar to yours. In the hands of a capable crew, I have confidence that your class will soon prove useful once it has time to get past the inevitable teething problems. How well does your warship handle underwater?"
"That still needs some work, kapitan. The diving planes have a mind of their own sometimes and the periscope jams all too often. I have a rough draft scribbled in pencil of all the faults I have uncovered so far. I can finish it this evening and show it to you if you are interested."
"I am interested but leave the draft with me in its current state. You will be leaving on an important mission in less than four hours."
Von Werner was astonished, "What? Today? I was under the impression I would have at least another week to work up, kapitan. My vessel could easily use two."
"Normally it is the firm and most wise policy of our navy to insist on a thorough shakedown, esp. when the warship is first in its class. However the smaller the warship the more likely our superiors are to make exceptions. And your vessel happens to be very small, yes? I will be blunt. Your ship and your men, incl. yourself, are considered expendable. I do not mean to imply that this is a suicide mission--- I can assure you with a straight face that it is not, but I cannot deny that the risks are greater than normal and not just because your vessel is inadequately worked up."
-----Teschen 0720 hrs
Conrad received a telephone call from Archduke Friedrich, "I am meeting with the Kaiser in two hours and want to know what I should tell him about the Bukovina."
"The Russians continued their advance against Seventh Army up until last light yesterday, Your Royal Highness. Gen. Pflanzer-Baltin spent the night trying to erect new defenses. He has reported that the Russians resumed their offensive at dawn. It is too early to get an accurate picture of what is happening there today," answered Conrad who decided to omit that he had received just a few minutes earlier a report from Seventh Army that the Russian onslaught had already broken through in several places.
"I see. Information from the battle takes considerable to work its way up the chain of command. If you learn anything definitive in the next hour you will call me immediately."
"But of course, Your Royal Highness. That goes without saying. I shall do so immediately," replied Conrad who had already made up his mind that there would be no follow up telephone call.
"The situation in the Bukovina sounds very serious. His Majesty will want to know if we still intend to launch our Galician offensive tomorrow morning."
Conrad ground his teeth before replying, "A very large amount of planning and preparation has gone into our Galician offensive, Your Royal Highness. It would be a terrible waste to call it off now."
"You misunderstand, Feldmarschal. I am not suggesting that we cancel the operation, but merely wonder if we should postpone it until we have dealt with the situation in the Bukovina. It is highly likely that His Majesty will ask the very same thing."
"In that case, Your Royal Highness, that we are already dealing with the Bukovina. Massive reinforcements are on their way to Seventh Army as we speak. There is no reason whatsoever to postpone our offensive in Galicia by a minute."
"Uh, I see and uh, just how strong are the reinforcements being sent to Seventh Army?"
"I do not have the details in front of me, Your Royal Highness, but take my word that they are quite substantial and should prove more than enough to halt the Russians for the next few days. Once our offensive starts it will siphon off what little reserves the Russians have left preventing the Russians from sending reinforcements to the Bukovina." Let’s see a Hungarian Landsturm regiment, a cavalry brigade, 2 batteries of 8 cm field guns and a light minenwerfer company plus some replacement levies and ammunition. Maybe I should look into increasing that somewhat on the off chance that the Archduke atypically insists on details today.
"Well I see that you have the situation well in hand and so I will be able to reassure His Majesty. I will let you return to your massive workload."
------Drumkeeran (Leitrim) 0735 hrs
Maj. Schirmer, the commander of Leitrim Battalion, was meeting with his officers. "With the arrival of another small Irish Volunteers company from County Cavan a few minutes ago," he announced, "I now have more than 1,200 Irishmen under my command and more are arriving every hour. It seems a bit big for a single battalion, esp. by Irish standards, yes? So I have decided to reorganize the battalion into a regiment of 2 battalions each with 3 rifle companies. I shall name it the North Ireland Regiment because as it has been repeatedly pointed out to me we have men from counties Roscommon, Sligo, Cavan and Fermanagh as well as Leitrim. In next hour we will send 30 more of our least fit men plus the 9 women who joined us yesterday and the 3 men who were wounded yesterday back to Carrick-on-Shannon to join the support company. I will then take one of the battalions along with our bicycle platoon and march on to Manorhamilton. Capt. Karlow, you will be in command of the second battalion. River boats are scheduled to arrive at Lough Allen around noon with additional rifles and ammunition. We barely have enough rifles for the men we have now, and have little leftover with which to arm the volunteers at Sligo city so we need those arms. Once you have received these arms you will then proceed to Manorhamilton as well Is that clear?"
"Jawohl, Major. Might I make a suggestion?"
"As you are well aware, Major, are growing more rapidly than anticipated and may find ourselves without enough rifles once we reach Sligo and contact still more Irish Volunteers, even with the cache the boats are bringing today. Now we have all observed how a few of the Irishmen are already exceptional marksmen, while some others are improving very quickly. However we also know that there are others whose marksmanship is progressing very slowly. Many of these have been sloughed off to the support company but others remain. I would suggest that the worst marksmen remaining in each squad be armed with a shotgun and a revolver instead of a rifle. Once we reach Sligo, some urban fighting is highly likely and in that environment these otherwise useless soldiers might prove useful."
"Hmm I like that idea. Lets go ahead and implement it."
"When do you plan to attack Sligo, Major?"
"If all goes well, tomorrow around noon."
Having finally received additional artillery shells along with some intelligence from Gen. Stoford that the Germans were rapidly running out of shells, Gen. Mahon decided it was time to duel with the German batteries once again even though he had lost an entire artillery brigade to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The German batteries did not respond like they were down to their last shells. With some help from the anchored Kaiser Wilhelm II they dominated the British batteries. The assault by 3 battalions of the 10th (Irish) Division ran into entrenchments and fortifications that were barely scratched. The commanders of these battalions had in the course of the Battle of Limerick learned the hard way how to tell when an attack was completely hopeless and it was this reaction that mercifully limited their casualties this morning.
The sector manned by Sturm Company Calahan was near the scene of one of the failed assaults. In the middle of the assault Harry arose out of the trench brandishing his pump action shotgun and emitting a bloodcurdling roar that did not sound fully human. Seconds later the enemy battalion commander blew his whistle and ordered his men to fall back. The men in Sturm Company Calahan became convinced that it was the roar of Calahan had scared the enemy off. This became a further addition to the man’s mythology. Harry himself was sorely disappointed that the limey bastards had run away before he could use his shotgun.
-----Waterford city 0805 hrs
The clouds had returned during the morning bringing drizzle with them. There had been an unsuccessful attack at first light by the larger pocket of British resistance trying to link up with the smaller pocket. After that the 3 I.R.A. battalions in Waterford had applied pressure with the assistance of their armored cars and infantry guns while avoiding a full scale assault. The Irish rebels succeeded in taking 2 buildings, including one where they tunneled through an adjacent building. The fighting had tapered off in the last hour.
Rommel summoned McElroy, Whelan, the O’Rahilly and the company commandants of 3rd Kerry Battalion. "The enemy is being stubborn, and is refusing to surrender. This is probably due to false rumors they have heard about us murdering prisoners," Rommel said casting a withering glance at McElroy. Under similar circumstances Flynn would’ve chortled, perhaps even winked, but McElroy turned away sheepishly. At least he feels some guilt about what he is doing Rommel concluded there is perhaps some hope for McElroy..
"Could they be hoping for a British relief column to rescue them, sir?" asked Pax Whelan, the new commandant of Waterford Battalion.
Rommel shrugged, "Perhaps but we have received no indication so far that such a force is approaching. And where would it come from? Not the west, we have effective control of Cork. That leaves the north and northeast. To cover the north, Commandant McElroy will take 3rd Tipperary Battalion and at noon march to Carrick-on-Suir about which we have some intelligence indicating that it is very weakly guarded. If it can take Carrick-on-Suir the 3rd Tipperary Battalion is hereby ordered to reenter County Tipperary, where most of it will split up into platoon sized raiding parties which will attack the British lines of communication. If the enemy has left the walled town of Fethard weakly guarded 3rd Tipperary should try to recapture it and station one rifle company there as it will make an excellent hub for our operations. Is this clear Commandant McElroy?"
"Uh, yes---uh, well not completely, sir. Wouldn’t it be better if my battalion remained here in Waterford until all enemy resistance here is eliminated?"
"I think not," Rommel answered tersely not wishing to spell out that he wanted to avoid a massacre in Waterford when the rest of the British forces surrendered.
"What about the possible threat from the northwest?" asked Whelan.
"In the next hour I am taking all of 3rd Kerry Battalion with every running motor vehicle to capture New Ross in County Wexford. We have already made contact with the Irish Volunteers there and they are awaiting our arrival. Enemy resistance is only a weak detachment of constables."
"And what are your plans after reaching New Ross, sir?" asked McElroy.
"My immediate objective will be to probe County Wexford. What we find in Wexford will have a bearing on what I do next," replied Rommel disingenuously. Except for the O’Rahilly he did not want any of the Irish learning of his plan to lunge for Dublin tonight. It was not that he suspected either McElroy or Whelan of being spies, but he did worry that they might unsuspectingly share the information with someone who was.
Rommel stared in McElroy’s eyes and could see he was suspicious. However it was Whelan who spoke next, "Well that leaves one possibility that has not been considered fully, major? What if the damn British land at the coast and then attack us from the south?"
That is a good question I wish I had a better answer thought Rommel, who replied, "That is possible but not likely. However it is the reason I kept an Irish Volunteers company there to watch the coast." What a compost of halftruths!
"Oh, I reckon that makes some military sense, after you Germans are experts in these military things. Though it is a rather weak company we have down there. Why they still haven’t managed to capture the coast guard station yet. Are you sure they will be enough to guard the whole coast, major?"
Not really. "Huh, they should be enough. On short notice any British landing force is almost certain to be small. Just to be safe you organize a bicycle unit according to my guidelines today and have it concentrate its patrols to the south."
"In that case perhaps it would be best if I remained here another day---just in case," offered McElroy.
"No, no, no. My orders stand. You will leave at noon for Carrick-on-Suir. If there is a British rescue force headed here, that is most likely where it will come from."
------10 Downing St. 0835 hrs
The War Committee was back in session. "Before we talking ourselves silly about the latest developments in Ireland, there is something important that I need to bring up," commented Sir Edward Carson, "Wireless intercepts lead the Admiralty to believe that the German battle fleet will sortie again tonight."
"This is the same source of intelligence that has been feeding us nonsensical estimates of the size of the Irish rebellion. Not to mention telling Admiral Jellicoe back in February that only the German battle cruisers were at sea to rendezvous with von Spee."
Carson frowned deeply sighed audibly, "The information is not always as reliable as we would wish, prime minister, but we dare not take this latest intelligence lightly."
"Do we know where the Germans plan to go, Sir Edward? Do we have even the slightest hint as to their intentions?" asked Lloyd-George.
Another sigh emanated from Carson, "Alas, none so far, chancellor."
"So then it could be anything, First Lord? It could be the long feared invasion of England or is merely meant to entice what remains of the Grand Fleet to annihilation," remarked Lloyd-George.
"How about showing some optimism for a change, chancellor," growled the prime minister.
Carson came to Lloyd-George’s defense, "Many in the Admiralty share David’s concerns, Andrew. There are other possibilities to consider—another battle cruiser raid on the blockade line, a sortie into the Channel to disrupt our communication with France maybe even an attempt to reinforce their forces in Ireland. And there are many other possibilities as well."
"This is all based on the assumption that Admiral Oliver, Captain Hall and their coterie of pointed headed gnomes have gotten it right for a bloody change," countered Bonar Law bitterly.
"It is one thing to have some doubts about some of the details Room 40 have provided us," answered Carson, "but it would be foolhardy to ignore this source of intelligence altogether."
Bonar Law glared furiously but held his tongue. "So I take it that the Admiralty intends to sortie the Grand Fleet, First Lord?" asked Lloyd-George, "Is it ready to take on the High Seas Fleet? Do you intend to cut short Warspite’s shakedown cruise."
"Admiral Bayly and the Sea Lords are in agreement that Warspite is not adequately worked up at this time and so to precipitously add her to the Grand Fleet would be ill advised."
"I guess that makes sense. Meanwhile Inflexible just happens to be in the wrong hemisphere," grumbled Bonar Law, "You two will be happy to know that Prime Minister Borden is positively glowing with gratitude that the Admiralty reacted so quickly and decisively to protect my childhood home from the Huns."
"Uh, when are we planning to tell him that Inflexible will leave as soon as she finishes her coaling?" asked Lloyd-George.
"I don’t know, maybe a few minutes before she raises anchor."
"Surely you are jesting, prime minister," asked a worried Carson two seconds before Lloyd-George could ask the same thing.
"Not really. Oh, on further thought I could see that maybe a whole half hour will be necessary to coordinate properly with the harbor authorities."
"Surely you of all people would not deign to treat the Canadian government so shabbily, Andrew," remarked Lloyd-George cautiously.
"I know Borden. If we tell him too far in advance he is almost certain to make some sort of desperate plea that the battle cruiser remain in Canadian waters for at least a few days."
Carson rubbed his chin briefly before answering, "The Sea Lords think that might not be such a bad idea, prime minister."
"What? Doesn’t Admiral Bayly need Inflexible as soon as possible, Sir Edward?"
"Yes, and no, prime minister. I know that is an ambiguous response, so bear with me for a minute. Whatever the High Seas Fleet is up now to it is bloody unlikely Inflexible can make it home in time to participate. Now it is quite possible that Adm. von Spee is going to take his time returning to Europe. He may remain for 2 or 3 days off the North American coast preying on our traffic perhaps sending some or all of his cruisers north to attack the sea lane off Halifax. President Wilson has strongly warned the Germans against attacking a Canadian port but the sea lane would remain fair game."
"So what you are suggesting is that Inflexible could single handedly frustrate the German commerce raiding?" asked Lloyd-George.
"Yes, with some of hope destroying one or more of the cruisers if she can cut off their line of retreat back to the battleships."
"How does Admiral Bayly feel about this idea?" asked Lloyd-George.
Carson’s face took on a grim countenance, "We do not intend to discuss this with him in advance, chancellor. We know all too well that he will be strongly opposed and can thoroughly anticipate his arguments, both those that have merit and those that are mere petulance."
"Well I am well aware of how difficult Admiral Bayly can be sometimes shouldn’t you and the Sea Lords hear the man out," complained Bonar Law, "you know he may just have a valid point this time."
"I thought so as well at first, but our latest intelligence is that the Germans will have both Derfflinger and Moltke with their fleet and so Adm. Bayly’s plan to use Inflexible to support the cruiser squadrons in the scouting force entails serious risk that Inflexible, which we now feel has inadequate armor, could find herself outnumbered two to one."
Bonar Law scratched his face as he thought this over, hemming and hawing. Finally he threw up his hands and shrugged, "If you and the Sea Lords decide that keeping Inflexible off the Canadian coast for a day or two is warranted I will trust your judgment, First Lord. But no more than two days, no matter how much Borden begs and pleads. Is that clear?"
Carson nodded, "I should think two days should suffice, prime minister. While I do not think Inflexible is as essential to the Grand Fleet as Adm. Bayly does, still it is best if she returned to home waters before too long."
"Good. Lets move on to what is going on in Ireland," said Bonar Law, "Since yesterday the situation seems virtually unchanged. While we continue to hold the initiative there has been no significant progress at any of the major battles—Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Athlone."
"Now that our reinforcements have arrived, things should be resolving quickly in Dublin. The situation at Cork is still what has me worried most," remarked Carson, "The Germans have made at least some of Fort Carlisle’s guns operational and used them to sink a lightly armed trawler trying to ferry reinforcements and munitions to Queenstown yesterday. There is also some indication that the rebel presence at Waterford is stronger than we first thought so that is one place the enemy does seem to have the initiative. This may be another manifestation of Gen. Stopford’s blithering incompetence. Unfortunately Henry won’t be arriving in Ireland until the late afternoon tomorrow. I wish Gen. Hamilton would simply assume direct command of the corps in the interim, but that is not his way I’m afraid."
Turning to Lloyd-George Bonar Law asked, "How much time do you think we have left before Parliament takes us to task for not delivering on my promise to quickly destroy the German invasion, chancellor."
"I have given that matter considerable thought. If the true nature of our defeat at Rathmore and the subsequent near complete destruction of the 16th Infantry Division becomes public knowledge there could be a no confidence vote within a few hours. Otherwise I think the opposition will become more vocal next Monday if we do not have incontrovertible proof that the Germans are on their last legs in Ireland. For the time being many are saying that the Irish Catholic rebels stabbing us in the back is the only thing delaying the inevitable collapse of the German expedition to Ireland. Unfortunately this will only give us a few days grace. We do not need to have every last German soldier in Ireland killed or captured by next Monday but if the Germans are still holding on to either Limerick or Cork by then, our support in Parliament will unravel."
"Then we must take definitive action to make sure that does not happen," declared the prime minister, "There has been no clear progress being made at any of the major battles now underway in Ireland, though we have been repeatedly assured by Lord Kitchener and Gen. Hamilton that victory was imminent. I have now concluded that we will need to send the rest of the Lowland Division to Ireland as well and as quickly as possible."
"His Majesty will be most unhappy once he learns that we have further weakened our home defenses, esp. at just the moment we learn of another sortie by the High Seas Fleet," remarked Carson.
"And unfortunately His Majesty is already suggesting another meeting. I have informed him in respectful but unambiguous terms that today is completely and utterly out of the question," replied Bonar Law, "but I cannot stall the Crown indefinitely."
"In addition to being upset at the deployment of yet another division to Ireland, the king is going to want to know in some detail just why we feel it is so urgent. We have not been completely candid with him about what happened at Rathmore last week nor have we have we seen fit to inform His Majesty of the near total destruction of 16th Infantry Division recently nor that the Germans are now inside Cork city," Lloyd-George surmised.
"Yes, yes, I am well aware of all that, chancellor. I am going to give the king more information than we have provided him so far yet I still do not intend to tell him everything. It will be a delicate balancing act. There is no doubt in my mind he is going to be upset. The only question is how much."
"While the possibility of an English invasion and the reality of the Irish invasion are certainly going to be foremost in the king’s mind, His Majesty will certainly be interested in other aspects of the war. It is safe to say that the collapse of our Mesopotamian expedition will not sit well with him, esp. as we won’t be able to obfuscate the completeness of our defeat there with him to the same degree as we plan to do with the newspapers," added Carson.
"In the short term all eyes fixed on Ireland right now," added Lloyd-George, "But when the debacle in Mesopotamia sinks in, it certainly will mean more trouble for us in Parliament. The next two or three weeks are going to be stormy."
-------near Gumbinnen (East Prussia} 0900 hrs
Most of the German guns went silent though some continued to suppress the Russian artillery positions. It was time for the German infantry to emerge from their trenches. In the northern portion of the attack battalions of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions encountered very weak resistance. Those defenders still alive in the forward trench of the Russian 47th Infantry Division were dazed and quickly captured. The attackers moved on to the second trench where there was a little more resistance but most of the surviving Russian infantrymen either surrendered or fled in panic. Seeing a very real possibility that their own positions would be overrun and their precious guns captured, the Russian artillerists were already speedily withdrawing as well.
Further south the battalions of the 4th Guard and Guard Reserve Division also found the forward trench of the Russian 48th Infantry Division devastated and it was quickly taken along with an impressive haul of prisoners. When the Prussian Guards tried to continue on to the second trench line though they encountered stiffer resistance than the men of 1st Army Corps had to the north. Two of the local Russian senior officers had rallied their men. One of these was a major whose left hand had been turned into hamburger during the bombardment but refused to let the medics evacuate him that is until he finally collapsed in shock a few hours later. Likewise a single well sited strongpoint with only a single machinegun caused the Guard Reserve Division considerable grief. In the meantime most of the artillery of the 48th Infantry Division had been shifted to new firing positions further to the rear and now roared into action against the Prussian Guards. The struggle for the second trench line proved costly for the Germans in both time and blood.
Unlike the usual pattern of the Western Front the commander of the Russian 48th Infantry Division soon stoically accepted that the second trench line was lost without throwing away most of his reserves in costly counterattacks. Instead he concentrated on trying to hold the third and final trench line which was backed up with a series of strong points. The Prussian Guard regimental commanders held off on an immediate resumption of their advance waiting instead for their artillery and minenwerfers to move forward.
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 0920 hrs
Ras Mikael was meeting with his son, Iyasu. "How much longer are going to wait here for the enemy to attack us, father," whined Iyasu, "I will repeat what I said yesterday. We should march to Gondar as quickly and eliminate the threat posed by Zauditu and her fellow traitors as well as the pitifully weak British expedition."
"That will not be necessary my son. We have received reports in the last hour from the Jews that an enemy force of some size---both the traitors and the British, are heading towards us."
"Interesting, father, but I do know a thing or two about military matters. It might be nothing more than a reconnaissance in force, yes?"
"That is indeed possible, Your Majesty, but even if it is so I think the reconnaissance would be soon followed by an attack by their combined army with only a weak garrison left behind at Gondar."
"I would prefer to take the battle to the enemy rather than wait for them."
"Your grandfather was cautious in dealing with the Italians, Your Majesty. I strongly suggest we should follow his wise example and see if our combined enemy will dare to attack us here. The same hills that hinder the growth of this city will break up the enemy’s attack and make it easier for us to defeat them."
"If so then same hills make it more difficult for us to counterattack, father."
"There is some truth in that, Your Majesty. However it is my hope that once their attack fails our countrymen will realize that the British cannot deliver on their promises and will switch to our side. Wars are not always won by maximizing bloodshed."
Iyasu made a series of unpleasant faces, then finally he said, "I will not pretend that I am happy with this recommendation, father, but out of respect for you I am willing to wait a few days---but only a few days."
------Blarney (Cork) 1005 hrs
The 2nd battalion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment had been arrived at Blarney the day before to guard the approach to Cork from NNW. At nightfall they were reinforced with a battery of 7.7 cm field guns. The 2nd Chevauleger Regiment had assigned to conduct reconnaissance in a broad arc north of the city. Messengers from one of their squadrons sent word in the last hour sent word to Blarney Castle that enemy in infantry were approaching from the northwest. Lookouts in the castle now saw a column of British soldiers in the vicinity of a hamlet ironically named Waterloo. The field guns commenced firing shrapnel shells which inflicted some casualties and scattered the attackers. After that the British forces cautiously probed to find a safe way into Cork. The Bavarian defenders were spread too thin for a continuous trench line. Instead they had established strongpoints augmented with minimal wire obstacles and some slit trenches at key locations to guard the roads. The already had one rifle company of 1st Cork City battalion in reserve. They now sent word to Oberst Hell requesting whatever reinforcements were available, both German and I.R.A.
------HQ Belgian 5th Division (Picardy) 1035 hrs
The generals at the Palace of Brass were all gathered together to welcome King Albert back from Paris. Only half of them had been informed when he had abruptly departed to visit wounded Queen Elisabeth. This had ruffled some feathers so news of his return was shared by all. "Along with all my fellow officers, I welcome you back, Your Majesty. We here are all eager to hear the important news," proclaimed Gen. Galet.
King Albert had looked very much distracted when he arrived and Gen. Galet’s question startled him, "Uh just what important news are you---oh, I’m sorry the long motorcar ride has made me a little bit nauseous and confused. You were referring of course to the queen. What else could you be referring to, but yes? Well I am happy to report that the news is very good. She is recovering well enough and there is no longer any doubt about her survival but nevertheless I think it best that she remain in Paris."
"That of course is for you to decide, Your Majesty," replied Galet, "but on behalf of us here I can say that we are all deeply gladdened to hear that our brave queen is doing so well. Did you momentarily think that my inquiry instead referred to your meeting with Premier Clemenceau? He is a very important man without a doubt, Your Majesty but he is not dear to our hearts the way the queen is."
Once more Albert looked flustered and hesitated before answering, "Uh, why yes, I uh, did indeed wonder if that was your intent. How silly of me to forget how much all of you love the queen and care for her well being."
"Not silly at all, Your Majesty. As you have now graciously put our minds at ease about Queen Elisabeth, I admit that to some curiosity about what came out of your meeting with the French premier."
Albert carefully looked at the faces before him. He did not see that of Col. Genié, the French liaison, so he could speak candidly. "M. Clemenceau is a difficult man. He has been a difficult man all his life. Well at least his whole political life. I do sometimes wonder what it was like to be one of his pupils when he was teaching in America. I do not think it was a pleasant experience, but yes?
The Tiger does not like monarchs. He never did. He only treats with us because it serves France’s needs, or least what he perceives as France’s needs. He dares to accuse Belgium of not doing enough in this war."
The last remark produced outraged gasps and hisses from the Belgian generals. "How did you respond to this insult, Your Majesty?" asked Gen. Galet.
King Albert shrugged. "I protested but in truth not as vigorously as I should have. We are in a delicate situation right now. We rely heavily on the French as well as the British. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so," he said then paused. Worried that the last sentence implied too much he added, "But of course that is the way it is."
"Unfortunately Field Marshal French’s opinion is not that different from Clemenceau’s, Your Majesty. While you were gone he demanded in the strongest terms that we participate in Second Army’s attacks. We of course refused to submit to his insufferable demands in accord with your instructions."
The king sighed deeply though not because he was in any way surprised. He had thought long and hard about this while riding in the motorcar on his return from Paris. He did not like his decision. "We have reluctantly concluded that we need to make one more demonstration of our resolve, so that these calumnies against our national honor can be disproved once and for all. However this attack cannot bleed us dry. Only two battalions can participate in the assault and they are to be used cautiously. Furthermore I feel that we cannot afford to be too lavish in our bombardment. In the middle of April I thought we had amassed a large enough stockpile of shells to see us through any possible contingency. Alas this is one contingency I had not foreseen. Now it is getting dangerously low esp. if the Germans turn their wrath on us again."
"Your concerns and restrictions are completely justified, Your Majesty. Should we inform Gen. Plumer that we would be willing to make an attack this afternoon?"
"No that is too soon for it to be planned properly. Tell him that early tomorrow morning is acceptable, though I would prefer the late morning. Make it clear that we can carry out only a very limited attack and must insist that Sir John French begin treating us with proper respect."
------HQ German Sixth Army Hesdin 1040 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, was on the telephone with Gen. von Falkenhayn. "We have spent most of the morning fighting off attempts by the British First Army to rescue their trapped division. The enemy is weakening himself badly in these failed attacks," announced von Fabeck, trying to emphasize the positive as he waited in dread for the inevitable question.
"So I take it that you have not yet eliminated the surrounded British 2nd Division?" asked an obviously unimpressed von Falkenhayn.
"That is correct. I would point out that while technically surrounded the sea protects them on two sides and allows them to receive supplies. Furthermore British warships are lending their firepower to the attacks."
"Without possession of a genuine port that should mean an inadequate amount of supplies getting through. As for the naval firepower, we are talking about a few weakly armed vessels. You forget to resurrect the cliché about how tenacious the British infantry can be. When are you going to be able to inform me of success rather than offering up partially valid excuses?"
"Uh, soon, general, very soon."
"Are you capable of being more precise?"
Fabeck squirmed and perspired, "The XXVII Reserve Corps will make another assault on the key village of Quend this afternoon after an intense artillery bombardment. That should break the back of the 2nd Infantry Division, but if it does not it will be followed by night attacks. The longest I could see the British holding out is until tomorrow morning. One way or another we will finish them in the next 24 hours, probably much less."
Fabeck could hear a long sigh over the telephone and then, "I would like very much to hear early tomorrow morning, that the British 2nd Division has been overrun and eliminated. However I do not want to hear that we have suffered such horrific losses in the process that the right wing of your army has lost its offensive potency, as the Guard Corps in the center already has. Once the trapped division is eliminated I intend for you to follow up by smashing what remains of the British First Army across the Somme. I am worried that you will not be able to accomplish this if you waste lives forcing a resolution this evening. There is something to be said for taking our time while the desperate BEF bleeds itself badly in frantic ineffective assaults against our defences. As always I expect all my commanders to temper aggressive zeal with prudence. I am willing to wait 48 hours if that is what it takes to do this properly. I believe I am being most reasonable when I insist that you finish off the trapped division before noon on Friday with suffering excessive losses. I hope I am making myself extremely clear."
It was now Gen. von Fabeck who sighed deeply---but to express relief not annoyance. "Yes, Gen. von Falkenhayn. Perfectly clear. Let me assure you in the strongest possible terms that I shall meet your expectations."
"I greatly prefer to be assured with actions not words. I can not go into details at this time but our navy is going to finally reappear in this tactical situation shortly, so that will be one less excuse you will have to throw at me."
------Madrid 1050 hrs
Clemenceau’s speech before the French legislators the day had been received very well in France. Coverage by the mainstream press had concentrated favorably on the premier’s optimistic belief that France did not have to wait until 1916 to expel the Boche from their sacred soil. On the fringe some Socialist papers expressed some concern that Clemenceau’s strong words against treason might be intended a pretense to act against them. A few deeply Catholic newspapers mentioned the premier’s allegation that the Church was behind the unrest in Ireland. These papers vigorously defended Holy Mother Church against Clemenceau’s charges. They were upset that Clemenceau had added that particular fatuity into his speech but for the most part they were careful not to become too upset with the Tiger as there was much in his speech that they liked. Many in Action Francaise were already salivating over the prospect that some prominent Socialist traitors would soon be executed and many more given lengthy prison sentences. They had for several months been worried about a rising tide of defeatism in France. It was for this reason that most of them had supported Clemenceau’s ascendancy despite the man’s history of fierce anticlericalism. They knew the Tiger well and so his absurd theory about Ireland did not surprise them all that much. The Irish were after all a difficult people to understand so Clemenceau’s error was in some part excusable.
Telegraph dispatches of Clemenceau’s speech did not reach Madrid until after midnight. In the early morning de Valera had learned of it when visiting the German attaché to insist once again that the Germans find a way to return him to Ireland. Once again he was given a politely negative answer. This frustrated and enraged de Valera but when he learned the details of Clemenceau’s speech he eventually cheered up a little.
De Valera was now addressing what he knew to be a Center/Right crowd. In another part of town Trotsky was addressing the Socialists and Syndicalists. Martov, the other Russian Marxist exiled from France, would likely be on the podium beside him but as he did not know more than few words of Spanish would not address the crowd. Trotsky’s Spanish was getting steadily better. De Valera thought there were many things seriously wrong with Trotsky but he was forced to concede that the man had a knack for languages and a flair for speechmaking.
"God fearing Catholics of Spain, have you heard the news?" de Valera spoke to the crowd, "Yesterday Premier Clemenceau of France in front of his nation’s legislature accused the Vatican of being behind the Irish revolution."
There was a shocked look from his audience as de Valera made a dramatic pause before continuing. "Yes, yes, my dear Spanish friends it is too shocking to believe. So go read it for yourselves in your newspapers. And if you cannot read have a friend read it to you. You will see that what this Irishmen is telling you is completely true. The notorious atheist that the French have chosen to be their leader has dared to slander the Holy Father."
This provoked a wave of murmuring from the crowd. De Valera could make out some of the voices saying things like, "What he says is true! I have read it myself."
"My fellow Catholics if you feel as outraged by this as I am then you must make your voice heard!"
------Dublin 1100 hrs
News of MacNeill’s execution had begun to circulate during the morning. The small trickle of Redmondites, who had been coming forward to join the rebels since the rising now rose to nearly a flood in the last two hours. Those coming from the southeastern suburbs were quickly added to the 3rd Dublin Battalion that was still hotly engaged by the South Scottish Brigade which was trying to smash its way to Trinity College. Most of the rest were guided towards the GPO where they were absorbed into the rapidly growing HQ battalion. Unfortunately nearly all of these new arrivals lacked a firearm and the Irish Volunteers were already seriously lacking in weapons.
The British had hoped to position their artillery in the vicinity of Trinity College in order to shell the G.P.O, which they hoped would break the morale of the rebels. However that was not yet possible due to the stronger than expected rebel resistance at Trinity College and the bridges. As an interim measure one battery of 15 pounders was ordered to bombard the Shelbourne Hotel which it had now started. They fired shrapnel shells having left Britain without a single HE shell. The first few salvoes missed the target but then they began to hit the hotel. Some of I.R.A. did panic and bolted from the building. This led to the British to believe that the hotel had been abandoned and a company of Royal Irish Riflemen tried to storm the building after the artillery had been ordered to cease fire. Enough rebels, plus the 5 Swedes, still remained to drive off the attackers. Meanwhile a simultaneous attack on the Royal College of Surgeons was repelled by the Citizen Army under the direct leadership of the Countess Markievicz.
Further north the Helga had resumed her shelling of Liberty Hall, not realizing that the rebels had abandoned it before dawn. To the west the rebels were under stiff pressure at both the Mendicity Institute and the South Dublin Union but were holding on.
------Wilhelmshaven 1105 hrs
Despite being extremely busy with all the details of moving his division aboard their assigned troopships the adjutant for Division Erzherzog Karl, formerly known as Division Prague, somehow managed to make some time to speak with a last minute addition to his force, a dilapidated middle aged man somewhat shabbily dressed in civilian clothes instead of an Austro-Hungarian uniform. The adjutant looked at the man’s dossier as he spoke in German, "I see here, Herr James, that you teach English for the Berlitz School in Trieste. A few days ago you volunteered to go along on this expedition telling the authorities in Trieste that in addition to being useful both as an interpreter and teacher of English you had intimate knowledge of parts of Ireland, esp. Dublin. Might I ask why you thought the Dual Monarchy would find those attributes particularly useful?"
The question was not unexpected as others had asked variations of it before. "I learned of what was happening in Ireland, oberst. I thought there was a good chance that there might be some Austro-Hungarian participation eventually. It now looks like I guessed right, though an entire division is more than I had imagined."
The adjutant frowned slightly and tapped his lips, "Even though our men are now boarding troopships, we have only told the senior officers that we are going to Ireland, and have firmly ordered them not to pass on that information until we are out to sea. Perhaps we are trying to hide an elephant, but the less the enemy knows for certain, the greater are our chances for success, yes? So in that light there are those who worried that you might be a spy."
"Yes, I imagine there are, but surely such suspicion is preposterous. I have lived for sometime in your enchanting little empire and have great respect for it."
"But you have no history of support for Irish independence, Herr James. Furthermore your brother Stanislaus was been interned for espousing dangerous irredentist opinions."
"I confess that I have spent most of my life asleep when it comes to the political plight of my people. I was always well aware of their suffering, but until now I never thought until now that it might have a political solution. What is happening now in Ireland has been a wake up call for me. As for my brother I’ve been told that if I render good service his situation would be reviewed and his release given strong consideration."
"Yes, that is the dossier as well. I wonder if perhaps that is your main reason for volunteering. No matter. You are to be part of my staff. My own command of English is spotty at best. You will instruct me and some other officers. We will also pick your brain for some useful details about Dublin which we view as our ultimate destination. On the off chance that you are really a spy, you will not be allowed to leave this office until we are ready to board Imperator in a few hours. For the sake of your brother and your wife I hopethat you are not, yes?"
"I am not a spy, oberst, though I wish you would refrain from threatening my family. Put me out of my Celtic misery if you think you must---I sorely doubt that the world would miss me---but you have no right to threaten Nora." Overall there is much to be said for the ramshackle empire thought Joyce wearily but it does have some faults as my brother and I am finding out right now. However my friend Pound and Yeats have both fallen into a heap of trouble and this is the only way I can think of to assist them. I sure could use a drink right now. I wonder if they will offer me some beer. I have my flask, of course, but it may have to get me through several days. Jesus! What have I gotten my pathetic little self into?
The adjutant rolled his eyes then fixed them on your watch. "You have taken too much of my precious time, Irishman. Wait outside and the receptionist will provide some sausage, bread, sauerkraut and beer. Do not consume too much as even on large vessel some people will manage to get seasick."
Ah, beer! This pompous twit has some redeeming features after all!
------HQ German XIII Army Corps Velika Plana (Serbia) 1120 hrs
Gen. Theodor Freiherr von Watter, the commander of XIII Army Corps was on the telephone with Gen. Erich Ludendorff, who was extremely upset. "I was well aware that there was a gap opening up between you and the hapless Austrians on your right. I explicitly reminded you that a flank guard was necessary in this situation."
"I did indeed establish a flank guard, but the size of the gap increased this morning."
"The Serbians launched a predawn counterattack which pushed the Austrian cowards back a few kilometers. I only learned the full extent of this reverse in the last hour. The good news in all this is the forces they sent against your flank must have been very small. I suspect that you are being thrown into a panic by a feint."
"It was definitely not a feint, Gen. Ludendorff. We now believe it was entire division and it completely overpowered my flank guard."
"An entire division? Rubbish! The Serbs simply do not---"
"It wasn’t Serbs that attacked us. The attackers wore British uniforms. It was a British Division, I tell you. We have yet to identify the specific unit but my intelligence sections suspects it is one of their colonial divisions that landed in Albania."
"Impossible! Early in this campaign following one of Gen. Conrad’s better suggestions, the kronprinz ordered an Austrian division to take Uzhitse to disrupt the main line of communication between Serbia and northern Montenegro. This was to both cut off the main Serbian force if they fled south and to interdict the AngloFrench expedition if they tried to come north and assist the Serbs. So there is no way this is possible."
"I do not know how they got here, but my senior officers on the scene all report that the attackers were wearing British uniforms."
"Hmm maybe the British legation had company of guards in Belgrade. Perhaps this unit is in the vanguard of the assault with some Serbian units following. But this would only serve to support my original hypothesis that the enemy attack is merely a weak feint and your so called flank guard was out of position. Your officers and now you are panicking. This is disgraceful."
"This is not the facts of the situation, general. My flank is being rolled up by a completely British force that is either most or all of a complete division. We will try to recover some of the enemy dead and maybe some prisoners as well, though neither is easy to do at this moment as the enemy has the initiative and controls the battlefield."
"Well then, general, that means you now have a reason to end the panic and hold your ground. You have retreated too much already."
"To try to hold our ground at this time would be disastrous. In addition to infantry the British have a sizable mass of cavalry and they have already overrun two batteries."
"Bah, this is making less and less sense. British infantry divisions have only single squadron of cavalry. This is further proof that your most of your attackers are not British. Or is a single squadron sufficient to defeat your corps? None of this stinking pile of cow shit you’re shoveling my way makes any sense at all."
Gen. von Watter bit his lower lip to prevent this conversation from degenerating. While it was common knowledge in the Tenth Army that Prince Rupprecht frequently fought with his chief of staff, but nevertheless antagonizing Ludendorff was dangerous. "If you don’t believe me I will summon one of my senior officers and you can talk with him. Or maybe one of the observers from my aviation section."
"Airplanes have proven useful but I have learned to take the reports of airmen with the proverbial grain of salt. Their estimates of enemy size are often ludicrous."
Von Watter was growing exasperated, "If you do not trust my airmen then send one of your aides to come take a look. Or better yet come yourself."
Ludendorff did not immediately respond. Then his voice rasped from the telephone, "I need to talk with the Prince shortly but when I am done I just might do that."
-------New Ross (Wexford) 1140 hrs
For most of the 13th century the port of New Ross situated on a steep hill on the left bank of the Barrow River had the distinction of being the busiest port in Ireland. The bridge that now spanned the river was the sixth it had in its history and was constructed mostly of cast iron. The bridge could open in the middle to permit boats to pass through. Rommel had worried that the bridge might be opened up when he arrived but it was not and with the help of the armored cars seizing had not proven difficult. However the local constables did not surrender quickly as Rommel had hoped. Instead they barricaded themselves a building called the Tholsel, which functioned as the town hall. The sniping of two constables posted in that building’s cupola were making things unpleasant. Rommel has wanted to storm the Tholsel but Ziethen had dissuaded him. With considerable misgiving Rommel had decided to bring Barry and his little band of Sealgair fanatics along with him, mostly because he didn’t want Barry exchanging bloodthirsty ideas with McElroy in Waterford. Rommel now assigned Barry the task of playing sniper games with the R.I.C. It was something the Sealgairs had demonstrated a knack for and if a few of them got hurt in the process that meant fewer troublemakers for Rommel to worry about.
The local company of Irish Volunteers was now assembling, and already numbered 79 men and two women. The company commandant, named Henry Hanrahan was introduced to Rommel and the O’Rahilly. "My brother, Michael, is part of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin," he told them, "I’m sure he’s in involved in the fighting there. Are either you or the Germans going to do anything to help them?"
"I know quite a few people in Dublin that are likely to be involved in the rising but it’s still a long way from here," replied the O’Rahilly disingenuously casting a glance in the direction of Rommel because the major had been very insistent that his plans not become common knowledge in the unit. In fact they had been giving out misleading hints to the men that the city of Wexford was their next objective.
Rommel surprised the O’Rahilly by saying, "Help is coming for your brother and the others."
"That’s great! How soon will this happen?"
"Sooner than you think."
12 May, 1915 New Ross, Ireland
My dearest Lucie,
Once again I find myself worrying about how long it will take this letter to reach you on account of our particularly unique situation here in Ireland. As I stand poised to undertake what I believe to be most important mission to date I fell compelled to write to you and share what is going on in my heart. For one thing I look forward with wondrous anticipation to the gloriously happy day when we can at long last wed. Every hour I am awake I find myself thinking of you and every hour I sleep I dream of you.
Ireland is a very strange country. It is very beautiful in many places though in its urban areas there is usually much depressing squalor and filth. Its weather is very wet---so much so that some days I find myself wishing I had been assigned to some place drier. The inhabitants are very strange as well and in some ways are barely civilized. The more I get to know the more I find that many of them do possess a certain charm that I find very difficult to describe accurately. There are some conspicuous exceptions to this including a certain monster now slain whose name I will not sully this letter with. Nevertheless I now find my heart attached to these odd creatures and once Germany has attained its rightful victory in this dreadful conflict, we shall pay a lengthy visit to what I am sure will be a most grateful ally of the German Reich. I have already made great contributions to this goal including the capture of a very important fort, for which I believe that I am entitled to receive no less than the Blue Max. Yet great as that accomplishment was I am on the verge of undertaking a still greater mission, one that may well prove decisive to this entire campaign.
----letter of Maj. Erwin Rommel I.R.A. to Lucia Maria Mollin
------HQ German I Army Corps near Gumbinnen (East Prussia) 1215 hrs
The commander of the German Eighth Army, Gen. Otto von Below had traveled by motor car to confer with Gen. Robert Kosch, the commander of I Army Corps. "The situation has now become quite clear, general. The Russian 47th Infantry Division is in flight heading for Kovno, while their 48th Division is making a stand," reported Kosch, expecting his superior to be pleased.
Von Below was not completely happy though, "In case you have forgotten, general, our primary goal at this time is to assist Army Detachment Marwitz in the siege of Kovno by siphoning off the reserves of the Russian Tenth Army. If the 47th Division ends up in Kovno this could end up making things worse for Gen. von Marwitz."
"With all due respect, general, I can hardily be blamed for a lack of Russian courage."
With a barely audible sigh von Below answered, "Understood. However I must insist in turn that you understand my dilemma. Driving a substantial portion of the Tenth Army all the way back to Kovno is very counterproductive to our mission."
:"Perhaps either their corps commander or army commander will order the commander of 47th Infantry Division to stand and fight, general."
"Yes, that is quite possible maybe even probable but this is the sort of situation where the Russians make a habit of being unpredictable. More units might be ordered to retreat back to Kovno as well which will make matters still worse for Gen. von Marwitz. This could happen quickly so we need to take decisive action soon. I want you to order 1st Infantry Division to halt its pursuit of the 47th Infantry Division and instead pivot rapidly to the south to cut 48th Division’s line of retreat. The 2nd Infantry Division will continue to pursue the fleeing Russians but will do so cautiously broadening its front and guarding its own right flank which will become exposed when the 1st Infantry Division pivots. While our air patrols have not reported seeing it so far we must be ready in the eventuality that the Russians commit a large amount of cavalry once the tactical situation becomes more fluid. For that reason once the 1st Infantry Division turns it must take care to protect its vulnerable left flank. Is this clear?"
"Completely clear, general."
"Good. Now while this is unfolding I will instruct the Guard Reserve Corps to commit the 3rd Guard Division which it now has in reserve, into the gap that will open up when the 1st Infantry Division pivots, thereby allowing the Prussian Guards to envelop the stubborn 48th Infantry Division. We will spend today’s remaining daylight hours doing serious harm to the Russian 48th Division which should allow us to begin rolling up the enemy line tomorrow morning. This should be more than enough to provoke the commander of Tenth Army to rally the 47th Infantry Division and commit most of his reserves to rescue the 48th Infantry Division."
------Sallybrook (Cork) 1255 hrs
The 1/4th battalion Duke of Wellington had been detached from the rest of the 49th (West Riding) Division and sent to attack the Tipperary Volunteers and 16th Uhlan Regiment at the walled city of Fethard. That attack had proven to be a very unpleasant experience. The enemy did eventually flee from Tipperary vigorously pursued by the Ulstermen of the 108th Brigade but VI Army Corps had initially ordered them to remain behind at Cashel and Fethard to guard the lines of communication. However when the revolt at Cork persisted longer than expected Gen. Stopford changed his mind and ordered most of the regiment to Cork by forced march only leaving behind a half company at Clonmel. Yesterday evening the battalion had camped at the army base at Fermoy where it received provisions and established communication with the 53rd (Welsh) Division coming under the direct command of Gen. Friend, who ordered it to attack Cork through Sallybrook.
As it was passing through Sallybrook they encountered a troop of German cavalry, which they initially thought were the same cavalry they had fought at Fethard. This troop however belonged to the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment not the 16th Uhlans. The Chevaulegers warned the 2nd Tipperary Battalion which was guarding this section of the perimeter as well as informing the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment further south. The 1/4th Duke of Wellington reacquainted itself with the Tipperary Volunteers which were fighting from much better cover and had by this time acquired a decent ration of combat experience. They also had a company of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment with them, though this unit like nearly all rifles companies of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division was below half strength. These were further reinforced by a dismounted troop of Chevaulegers as the 1/4th Duke of Wellington began its assault. The combined rifle fire of the defenders drove off the British without much trouble; there battalion commander having learned some lessons in the caution at Fethard.
Having failed to breach the enemy defenses by a direct approach the 1/4th Duke of Wellington pulled back and tried to outflank their opponents to the east. As they were doing this the Germans were reinforcing their perimeter while the Chevaulegers harassed the British on horseback making it seem that they might attempt a mounted charge. In the meantime the Germans had repositioned a pair of 15 cm howitzers which had been involved in the morning attack on 108th Brigade. The howitzers had used up all of their HE shells in the morning but they still had ample shrapnel shells. When the men of the Duke of Wellington these two 5.9’s as the British liked to call them sowed death amongst the attackers and thoroughly disrupted the attack.
------Charleville (Cork) 1310 hrs
The 16th Uhlan Regiment had been conducting extensive reconnaissance of County Limerick the last 3 days its commander being worried that the recent enemy offensive might include an attempt to capture the important German supply center at Foynes. When it failed to find any such threat it was ordered by Gen. von François to probe over the county line to try to disrupt the 53rd Division’s line of communication and threaten its rear. They now raided in the vicinity of Charleville on the major road leading to Cork. The platoon of Connaught Rangers which had fought von Thoma back on May 3 were still there having been recently reinforced with 3 dozen constables. These were too outnumbered by the cavalrymen to do anything more than hunker down inside their breastworks. The Uhlan commander decided against what would’ve been a costly assault and instead raided the road throughout the afternoon and succeeded in capturing 3 supply wagons headed for the 53rd Division without much trouble. He remained cautious though and decided against lunging against the rear of the 53rd Infantry Division.
------HQ Army Group Kronprinz Rupprecht Belgrade 1350 hrs
"I informed Gen. von Falkenhayn just yesterday that once we took the main Serbian Arsenal we would be at the point where I would feel comfortable about releasing one of my German corps for use elsewhere," Kronprinz Rupprecht informed Gen. Ludendorff, his chief of staff, who had just returned to Belgrade, "He told me that he could put another corps to extremely good use in France right now."
"What? I thought it was agreed that most—preferably all—of Tenth Army would go Feldmarschal von Hindenburg once we reach the point that we can trust our pathetic allies to sweep up the pieces of the smashed Serbian Army."
"Sixth Army is on the verge of great victory over the British! That must take priority. Hindenburg can afford wait a little longer."
"I disagree completely, Your Royal Highness. Ober Ost has waited far too long---"
"---Enough!" commanded Rupprecht, "before you start another of your rambling tirades, I must point out that today’s developments have made this discussion completely irrelevant."
"The discussion in not irrelevant as today’s setback is merely an incredible overreaction to a weak feint, Your Royal Highness. Once we put an end to the panic we can recover the initiative. The Serbs have merely postponed the inevitable by at most two days."
Rupprecht’s harsh expression softened slightly, "I too think we have a chance to recover. I also agree that the enemy’s strength is being overestimated. I cannot believe that the British managed to get an entire division this far north. At most it is a brigade reinforced with one or two batteries."
Ludendorff shook his head vigorously, "Bah, I cannot see how it could be more than a British battalion, Your Royal Highness. What little strength there is in this counterattack is mostly Serbs but they shrewdly placed their small British contingent in the vanguard. Our commanders have let themselves be deceived by an illusion. It is shameful."
Rupprecht made an ambivalent expression, "I wish you are right about it only being a single battalion, though I find it hard to believe our seasoned officers could be led astray so badly. The only thing I am certain about at this time is that this whole situation is extremely confusing. The low cloud cover is thickening still more so our air patrols are not likely to shed much light on things."
"Aviators are frequently badly mistaken about the size of enemy forces even in the best of weather, Your Royal Highness."
"That is often true and I would like very much to share your interpretation of this phenomenon, Gen. Ludendorff, I really do, but if you are wrong the consequences could be severe."
"Let me assume temporary command of XIII Army Corps for just 24 hours and I will set things aright, Your Royal Highness."
Rupprecht arched an eyebrow and tapped his lips pensively. Finally he decided, "It is a bit drastic but I think such action is warranted in this situation. There are some matters I will need for you to attend to before you leave. They should take only a little more than an hour. While you are attending to them that I will notify Gen. von Watter and make it clear that this measure is only temporary."
"Why are you so sensitive about his feelings, Your Royal Highness? Clearly the man does not have the fortitude his position requires. While I am there I will determine if one of his divisional commanders is suitable as a replacement. We should strongly consider sending Gen. von Watter to a court martial to face charges of cowardice and gross negligence."
"Perhaps, but unlike you I do not rush to render judgment on a senior officer until I have all the facts and right now I don’t think I have half the facts. Until then I shall keep an open mind and must insist you do likewise."
Ludendorff bit his lower lip to keep himself from saying what he wanted to say. This was an expression the Crown Prince knew all too well. "Is there something you’d like to say, general?" taunted Rupprecht.
Hatred glared from Ludendorff’s eyes and the muscles on his thick neck bulged but he managed to control himself. Despite their frequent disagreements the Kronprinz was giving him an opportunity to shine. "I only wish to clarify what tasks you wish me to accomplish before I depart, Your Royal Highness."
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 1355 hrs
"Now that the prime minister has decided to give us all of the Lowland Division tomorrow morning there is no doubt in my mind that we will crush the Dublin rebellion quickly and then go on to decisively smash the Germans before Monday," Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton related to his chief of staff, Gen. Braithwaite.
"I wholeheartedly concur with your optimism, sir. The end should come quickly in Dublin now that we have some artillery in action," replied Braithwaite, "and as for the Germans their artillery should be running out of shells any day now. Once that happens they will soon realize the hopelessness of their situation. I would not be surprised if Gen. von François offers to discuss surrender terms with us over the weekend."
"That is a distinct possibility but I am becoming increasingly worried that the Irish rebellion will linger on as a guerilla war after the German surrender. Their rebellion has diffused into Counties Waterford and Leitrim. The prolonged enemy resistance at Athlone, nearly all rebels, is also becoming very disturbing."
"Perhaps we should recommend to the War Office that one battalion from the remainder of the 52nd (Lowland) Division that we are getting tomorrow, should be sent to Sligo city instead of Dublin, sir."
Hamilton gave that some thought before answering, "Yes, that is a very good idea except I want to split the battalion sending one half to Sligo and the other half to Donegal city. I am also thinking about recommending another battalion of the Lowland Division be sent to Rosslare as the situation in Waterford is beginning to worry me."
"Yes that would be a very wise precaution as I am beginning to worry about it as well, sir."
"Good now what other problem might we be overlooking?"
Braithwaite did not immediately answer. As he thought it over, a member of the staff interrupted, "Gen. Hamilton, I am sorry to interrupt but Lord Curzon is on the telephone and he insists that you talk with him immediately."
Braithwaite shook his head and made an ironic chuckle, "Well, sir, there is one problem---"
------Gort (Galway) 1420 hrs
The British 109th Brigade had only fought a series of skirmishes against combined forces of German Marines and the Irish rebels out on patrol since they had pulled back to Gort, despite the desire of its brigadier to take more vigorous action. Except for one painful occasion where a ragged force of Irish rebels belonging to the West Clare Battalion had lured the Ulstermen into a German trap with a feigned retreat the 109th Brigade was more than holding its own in these skirmishes. The losses of many NCO’s in the bombing had hurt dearly but in the meantime the brigade was returning men who had been lightly wounded in earlier actions to its ranks.
In addition to the known enemy forces to the south in County Clare the 109th Brigade also had growing problems in its rear to worry. The 3rd battalion Connaught Rangers had been moved to Galway city where it was reported the local contingent of Irish Volunteers was growing. This reserve battalion was now trying to deal with the rebellion in the Connemara. Together with the 36th cyclist company the 109th Brigade was forced to patrol much of the southern portion County Galway. The area around Athenry was considered esp. worrisome and so half a company had been moved there to assist the R.I.C. A portion of the railway track east of Athenry had been torn up to prevent the German armored train at Athlone returning there. The Ulstermen no longer thought of the enemy as being in front of them. They thought of the enemy as being all around them.
------HMS Iron Duke NE of Peterhead 1505 hrs
The Grand Fleet was in the process of assembling. Adm. Bayly had steamed from Scapa Flow with the 1st Battle Squadron which now consisted of Queen Elizabeth, Iron Duke, Marlborough, Emperor of India, Thunderer, Neptune, St. Vincent and Vanguard plus Boadicea, Sappho and Royal Oak assigned as repeaters. Admiral Bayly continued to hoist his flag in Iron Duke. He had had also brought the 2nd Cruiser Squadron consisting of Minotaur, Cochrane, Achilles and Natal, the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron with Galatea, Inconstant, Royalist and Cordelia and the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla with Active and 16 destroyers. Here in the Cromarty Firth he rendezvoused with the 3rd Battle Squadron which consisted of Dreadnought, King Edward VII, Dominion, Commonwealth, Britannia, Hindustan, Africa and Zealandia with Blanche assigning a repeating vessel. They were accompanied by the 1st Cruiser Squadron with Black Prince, Duke of Edinburgh, Devonshire and Donegal and the 4th Destroyer Flotilla with Caroline, Faulknor and 12 destroyers.
"I was never very fond of this 2 stage assembly process," Adm. Bayly told Rear Adm. Madden, his chief of staff, "It was bad enough when the 1st Battle Squadron was stationed at Rosyth, but since they moved us back to Scapa after the Germans invaded Ireland, it has become even more cumbersome and takes still longer for the entire fleet to assemble."
"We’ve been over this more than once before, sir. The Admiralty views it as essential to keep the 5th Battle Squadron at Hull in case the Germans decide to invade England."
"Yes, we have been over this before. How many memos do I have to send those fools before they finally realize that this befuddled strategy of theirs is merely an engraved invitation for the Germans to destroy the 5th Battle Squadron before we can arrive with the rest of the fleet?"
Madden flinched at this strong criticism of higher ups---something strongly frowned on in the British armed forces, but he did not flinch too much. Jellicoe had not hesitated to criticize Admiralty decisions, though he had less abrasive in the tone of his criticism than Bayly. "The Admiralty trusts that their intelligence section will serve to make that eventuality extremely unlikely, sir."
"That is the same intelligence section that contributed to the debacles of Dogger Bank and Utsire? Kindly pardon me if I am not reassured. Not in the slightest."
"Are you worried that the Germans might try to pounce on us before we are fully assembled, sir? I fail to see how they could hope to accomplish that with any great chance of success. We will have finished our rendezvous with 5th Battle Squadron hours before the High Seas Fleet could be on the scene."
"Ah but that is assuming that they do not leave until tonight. What if this vaunted intelligence is completely askew and Admiral von Ingenohl is already out to sea and means to intercept us before we get as far as Flamborough Head?"
Madden paused before answering, "That scenario would be very troubling, sir, but I must point out that it requires several assumptions to be true simultaneously, none of which can rightfully be considered probable."
"Which is exactly what Beatty and Warrender thought at Dogger Bank. It is just what Jellicoe and Sturdee both believed at Utsire. You should know that better than I."
Madden blushed slightly. He had been Jellicoe’s chief of staff at Utsire. For that reason many in the Admiralty felt that he should have been sacked as well. He had been retained instead because both Bayly and the Sea Lords felt some continuity in leadership was wise due to the intricate matrix of written procedures to which the Grand Fleet had become accustomed under Jellicoe which could not be swept away precipitously. Madden was sure he was merely a transitional figure. Once Adm. Bayly became fully comfortable with the details and replaced Jellicoe’s plans and procedures with his own, he thought it extremely likely he would be replaced. In order to postpone that eventuality he tried to stay on Adm. Bayly’s good side and that included avoiding sharp disagreements with his superior. "Yes I do know all too well, sir."
"Good, then you will also know all too well that inadequate scouting forces contributed immensely to the outcome at Utsire. Unfortunately the Admiralty has not learned this lesson for they saw fit to send Inflexible off on a mission of highly dubious importance and she is now unavailable to us. We just barely got Birmingham back in time. She is not yet finished coaling at Scapa and must catch up with us when she is done then rejoin 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron off the Humber tomorrow. It is all dreadfully awkward."
"Well better late than never, sir."
"Spare me the clichés, Charles. I am not in the mood. Once we are finished forming up we shall proceed to the rendezvous point at 16 knots. Tomorrow morning we should have a better idea what the Huns are up to this time."
------Lambeth Palace London 1600 hrs
In the morning the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Thomas Davidson, had notified the press that he intended to issue a public statement in the afternoon. Most of the prominent Anglican bishops in southeast England were there plus distinguished observers from other major denominations including the Roman Catholics. There were also reporters from nearly all of the major newspapers as well as some prominent political figures who had been informed that the archbishop was planning to give an address on a controversial topic---however the archbishop declined to give any of his guests any hint about what that topic would be. Many of the politicians who had been invited on short notice were unable to attend. This in general neither surprised nor upset the archbishop except he did find it very disappointing that David Lloyd-George, who was the very one who had persuaded the archbishop to take this bold step, was unable to attend.
"My fellow clergymen, nobles and distinguished government officials, I thank you deeply for your august presence. I know very well that in this prolonged crisis with which we find ourselves, your time is precious and so I will not foolishly waste it with one of those long winded sermon that merely informs the unfortunate listener of the painful fact that the vicar mightily enjoys the sound of his own voice."
This elicited a few chuckles from the audience. Davidson continued, "And so I will force myself to come straight away to the issue I feel must be addressed at this time. As you are all well aware the Prime Minister has announced a very stern policy towards those Irishmen who are now in open rebellion against the Crown. In essence he has declared all of the rebels to be traitors and as such intends to seek the penalty of death against all he captures. Now so as to avoid any possible confusion I want to make it abundantly clear at this time that I am in no way sympathetic to the Irish rebels. What they are doing is thoroughly despicable and deserves to be roundly condemned in the strongest possible terms. What they are doing certainly does emanate the most foul odor of treason but I am not by training a barrister and therefore not well qualified to render a legal opinion."
The archbishop paused again. Some in the audience now had an intuition about where he was going and looked astonished and uneasy.
"Having made that point clear, I must now say that I am also disturbed by a certain crude bloodlust that has swept over our great nation. There are those beside themselves with unholy glee at the prospect of thousands of Irish Catholics being executed. Yes, I said, ‘thousands’ for despite our initial hope that the rebellion would be tiny it has quite obviously grown markedly in the last week, which cast serious doubt on the alleged deterrent effect of our policy."
"Now war has always been a serious problem for the Christian church, with some learned scholars going so far as to embracing outright pacifism. This however is the position of a minority---a quite small minority. The great majority of Christian thinkers have in good conscience rejected the option of pacifism. However in their rejection of strict pacifism none of them goes so far as to conclude that Christianity simply becomes irrelevant for the duration of a war. On the contrary it is the firm duty of all Christians to mitigate as much as possible the horrors of warfare. Having said that, I have come with great heaviness of heart to conclude that the very fundaments of our Christian Faith compel me to admonish our nation’s leaders to adopt a less severe policy towards the current rebellion in Ireland. I call on the Prime Minister to retract his pledge to execute all who participate in the rebellion. The highest penalty should be reserved for only the most conspicuous leaders of the insurrection."
Archbishop Davidson paused again. He could see shock registering on the faces in his audience.
------CANZAC HQ Herzegovina 1635 hrs
It had been overcast all day here and it had begun to rain heavily in the last hour. Gen. Birdwood, the CANZAC commander had summoned Gen. Bridges, commander of the Australian Division and Gen. Alderson to discuss recent developments. "I must confess that I was beginning to have serious doubts about the wisdom of sending the New Zealand and Australian Division north and putting poor old Godley under the command of the Serbs. Now word has come that they are finally being brought into action. The Germans rashly permitted a gap to develop between themselves and the Austrians, apparently feeling that the Serbs were too weak to exploit the situation. It was then that crafty Putnik unleashed Gen. Godley and preliminary reports indicate that he is inflicting a mountain of hurt on the Germans. The great pessimism we had been experiencing about the Serbian campaign has been lifted with one bold stroke. I find myself overwhelmed with admiration."
In the last week the fighting between CANZAC incl. the French division, and the Austro-Hungarian Sixth Army had been relatively light with neither side mounting a major attack. There had been a few brief cautious artillery duels---both sides were constrained by a limited stockpile of shells. The British along with the Montenegrins conducted frequent trench raids, a practice which both the Austro-Hungarians and the French were reluctant to emulate. Snipers on both sides continued to practice their deadly trade. There continued to be some annoying guerilla activity in northern Albania and so Gen. Birdwood detached a battalion to patrol there.
"This is glad tidings indeed, sir. Maybe up north there will be a golden opportunity for the Australian Light Horse Brigade to demonstrate what they can do."
Birdwood grinned, "Yes with an exposed enemy flank it should be a cavalryman’s dream."
"Is there any news about the convoy with the 42nd Infantry Division, sir?" asked Gen. Alderson, "Are they still due to arrive tomorrow?"
"Yes, I received a series of encrypted wireless messages from Adm. Limpus in the last few hours. Both his fleet and the French 1st Naval Army have now crossed the Strait of Otranto. The gloomy weather we have had today may turn out to be blessing in disguise as it will prevent Austrian air patrols from learning of their presence. So far there have been no sighting of Italian warships which might pass on information to the Austrians."
"But does that really matter, sir?" asked Gen. Bridges, "I thought the Austrian Navy was considered to have spent itself after the last engagement."
Birdwood’s grin gave way to a slight frown, "That is the assessment of the French admirals but let us note that they have underestimated the Austrians in the past. And even if the Austrian surface fleet no longer poses a threat they still have their submarines. So the element of surprise certainly does give us a significant advantage this time around."
"But Austrian minefields off Albania will still be a problem, won’t they, sir?" asked Gen. Alderson.
"Yes, but the minesweeping flotilla accompanying the fleet will be in place off Durazzo to begin sweeping soon after midnight. By midafternoon it should be safe for the transports to begin offloading at Durazzo. The 42nd Division should ready for action before noon on Saturday. We will then go back on the offensive. Combined with today’s developments in Serbia I firmly believe that the momentum has shifted completely in this campaign!"
------HQ British III Army Corps Rue (Picardy) 1715 hrs
The nearly continuous German shelling had knocked out the telephone lines between HQ III Army Corps and First Army again so Gen. Haig came in person to confer with Gen. Pulteney, the commander of III Army Corps. "I was forced to order a halt to our attacks, sir," Pulteney informed Haig, "they were accomplishing nothing."
As usual Haig’s face emanated little in the way of emotion but Pulteney was familiar enough by now with his superior to see that he was deeply disappointed. "Then we must prepare for a maximum effort early tomorrow morning. The 2nd Infantry Division must be rescued."
Pulteney licked his lips nervously, "I am not sure that I have sufficient strength to accomplish that, sir."
Haig smiled ever so slightly, "Before I came here I was able to persuade Field Marshal French to detach the Guard Brigade from the 1st Infantry Division and send it back to us. Furthermore the Royal Navy has promised to increase their strength offshore tomorrow. Lastly we are to receive as many artillery shells as he can spare at the expense of Second Army. I am confident that this will allow us to rescue the 2nd Infantry Division tomorrow."
"I wish I could share your optimism, sir. I really do. However I feel that it is my duty to point out that my corps is badly depleted and is still receiving inadequate supplies. Having yet another unit come back through the bottleneck is going to further reduce the nightly flow of supplies and while that brigade is an elite unit it may not prove to be enough."
"The 2nd Infantry Division must be saved and will be saved! We will do whatever it takes. Tomorrow morning all of our howitzers and heavy artillery are to fire off every last shell they have. Only the 18 pounders and 15 pounders are to keep a reserve of shells and only a small one at that."
Pulteney blanched, "I will respectfully ask you to reconsider those orders, sir. Our problems are not limited to the plight of 2nd Infantry Division. A successful German advance of 2 miles at Morlay could still trap our entire army."
"Second Army will make sure that does not happen. Furthermore the German Guard Corps has suffered such crippling losses it is now incapable of offensive action."
"The Germans may reinforce the Guard Corps with another division."
"Highly unlikely. The German Army is badly overstretched at this time. At most they might throw a weak Landwehr or Ersatz Division into the fray. Second Army would have little trouble stopping such poor soldiers dead in their tracks."
"I threw out Morlay as an example, sir, but it is not the only problem. If the Germans take Rue, our position north of the Somme will become untenable. The Second Army cannot help us at Rue."
"Not directly but by continuing to apply pressure they can pin down most of the Sixth Army so von Fabeck will be unable to free up sufficient forces for an attack on Rue until after he has eliminated 2nd Infantry Division. So this really becomes another argument about why it is absolutely imperative that we save 2nd Infantry Division."
Pulteney did not concur with this. He thought to the contrary that it was an argument why the loss of the trapped division might have to be accepted. He briefly considered mentioning the example of the late Adm. Beatty abandoning Princess Royal at Heligoland Bight but he didn’t think Gen. Haig would accept that analogy.
------Russian Tenth Army HQ 1855 hrs
The Russian Tenth Army like the rest of the Russian army suffered from a very inadequate number of telephones, but its HQ did have a working line connecting it with the fortress at Kovno. The commander of Tenth Army, Gen. Baron F.V. Sievers was now using it to berate Gen. Grigoriev, the commander of the fortress. "It is clear now that this latest German attack is more serious than the previous ones," said Sievers, "One of my divisions is in very serious danger."
"Then you should allow it to retreat," replied Grigoriev.
"You don’t understand. The Germans have cut off its line of retreat. They have already overrun one of its batteries. I must quickly mount a counterattack to save it. I need one of your two infantry divisions immediately."
"But, but general, my fortress is in grave peril and needs both of those divisions. If anything I am the one in need of reinforcement."
"You are panicking! You have the second most powerful fortress in all of the Russian Empire. Come Monday the Fifth Army will launch its attack against the weakly guarded flank of the enemy forces attacking you and that will be the end of your trouble. Clearly you can hold out until then. In the mean time my army is in serious trouble and requires all available reserves."
"You should request that Twelfth Army go on the offensive. That will force the Germans to reinforce that sector and hopefully take some pressure off of your army."
"I have already recommended that to Northwestern Front and Gen. Alexeev has replied that he is strongly considering it. However this will take time to unfold and the 48th Infantry Division does not have time!"
"But it is only one division, general. It pales into insignificance compared to this great fortress."
"Your fortress is not in any immediate danger but my army is. It is more than one division. The Germans threaten to roll up my line."
"Then abandon the 48th Infantry Division and pull back you entire front."
"Doing that would send my entire army into a full blown retreat. I am not willing to countenance that while I have other perfectly good options. I can rescue the 48th Division and stabilize my front with only a small loss of territory but I require one of your infantry divisions immediately. I have already taken this up with Northwestern Front and Gen. Alexeev is backing me on this. We may also require your cavalry division as well tomorrow."
------Madrid 1910 hrs
King Alphonso and Queen Ena were dining together. The queen was not in a good mood. "You have completely ignored my repeated warnings about that dangerous Irishman, de Valera," Ena complained bitterly, "but every day these public demonstrations grow. No longer is his audience limited to Socialists bemoaning the well deserved execution of that foul beast, Connolly. He now appeals to a broader element. Even Catholic clerics are lauding him. In the latest bizarre twist to de Valera has taken out of context a small piece Premier Clemenceau’s speech yesterday to make it sound like Clemenceau is an enemy of the Vatican."
"But Clemenceau has indeed been an enemy of the Vatican for a very long time, my dear," replied Alphonso, "However the list of Clemenceau’s enemies is extremely long and it had been thought that with Germans occupying a broad swathe of his country, the Vatican would have moved way down on that list in terms of priority. Old habits die hard it appears."
"I do not doubt that senor Clemenceau may have vented his old prejudice against the Church. Neither of us particularly likes Clemenceau but he is not the real issue, which is the threat to our political stability posed by de Valera and to a lesser degree, this Russian Socialist dog Trotsky who appears to be acting in some loose alliance with de Valera. While de Valera concentrates more and more on the sentimental Catholics, he lets Trotsky stoke the Socialists. I completely fail to understand why you consented to take Trotsky. Wasn’t it all too obvious that the man would be trouble?"
"As one who is always berating me for not doing enough to help the Entente you should be happy to learn that I accepted Trotsky and Martov as a favor to President Poincaré. I would also point out that this is only temporary. Trotsky and Martov have been informed that they will be leaving our country before the end of the month."
"Oh. Too bad it isn’t sooner. What unfortunate country have you beguiled into accepting that pair of vermin?"
"The Americans have expressed some unenthusiastic willingness to accept them both."
"Ah, some measure of poetic revenge, then. I wonder if President Wilson knows what he is in for. I have read that the German invasion of Ireland has badly polarized the American people and we know all too well that Trotsky has latched onto that issue."
"The vaunted American system of republican government is once again demonstrating how fundamentally flawed it is. However I must admit that I am trying to hide from the Americans the full extent of Trotsky’s recent rhetoric about Ireland, lest they try to back out of the arrangement."
"Well this at least shows some hope even though it means we have more than two weeks of his agitation to endure," conceded the queen, "There remains the even greater problem of senor de Valera to deal with."
The king nodded with a trace of a smile. "In his case the resolution will come a great deal sooner, my dear.
------Carrick-on-Suir (Tipperary) 1940 hrs
After leaving Waterford city the 3rd Tipperary Battalion crossed the Suir River in County Kilkenny at Fiddown and then proceeded towards Carrick-on-Suir to the WWN by way of the High Road. A detachment of 37 R.I.C. had been assigned to guard Carrick-on-Suir, esp. its bridges. After a brief skirmish with the vanguard of the rebel battalion the constables who had hoped to make a stand at the bridges if attacked from the Waterford side decided to make a hasty withdrawal to Clonmel further west in a collection of motor vehicles they had available. They left behind some supplies incl. 3,000 rounds of .303 bullets.
After the constables had fled more than a dozen men quickly came forward to join the rebels. Most of these were disenchanted Redmondites. Some of them mentioned the news of MacNeill’s execution, which had had just made its way here, being an important reason why they joined. This was how the 3rd Tipperary Battalion learned of the execution of the leader of the Irish Volunteers. It made some of the rebels weep while others wasted ammunition firing in rage. It was good that they had no prisoners with them. McElroy gave a speech to his men. Many wanted the battalion to rush into battle to avenge the slaying of MacNeill. McElroy was more cautious and did not deviate from what Rommel had ordered. He had created 3 raiding each consisting of 20 hand picked men. Unlike the rest of the battalion they were armed with Lee-Enfield rifles instead of the Moisin-Nagants, mostly so they could use captured ammunition. They had been provided with some dynamite. One man in each group had some experience with using dynamite which was augmented by some very abbreviated training Ziethen gave them yesterday.
McElroy took the leaders of each party aside and gave them their orders, "Have your men go to bed early because I want all of your groups to be out on the road at least an hour before first light. Each group will be heading in a different direction. Reiterating what you have been told several times already, your primary mission is to raid the enemy’s supply lines. Ambush supply wagons and cut rail lines and telegraph wires. Avoid large battles at all costs. Attack very small R.I.C. stations if you have the element of surprise but otherwise avoid them. Keep moving. Do not stay in any one spot for too long. Seek out friendly villages but remember that even among the Catholics there are many who feel some waning loyalty to the crown and some of those will try to betray you."
"Sooner or later we are going to have wounded to take care of, sir," asked one of the team leaders, "That will slow us down."
"Yes, that will be a problem. A lot will depend on how serious their wounds are. Walking wounded should accompany you. For the most serious wounded your best option will be to leave them with a sympathetic village, preferably one with access to a physician. Bear in mind if the British catch them they will likely execute them. You are likely to have some tough decisions to make in the days ahead."
"If we take prisoners won’t that hobble as well?" asked another team leader.
"Most certainly. It is a good reason not to take prisoners."
"Are you recommending that we kill British soldiers, commandant?"
McElroy started to say one thing then closed his mouth. When he opened it again there was an impish grin on his face, "Let’s just say that I will leave it to your discretion."
------Gaelic Athletic Association London 2005 hrs
"Mick, there is a telephone call you for you."
"Who is the caller?" asked Michael Collins.
"He wouldn’t give his name but he says it is very important."
With a puzzled expression on his face, Collins took the call, "This is Michael Collins. Who do I have the honor of speaking with?"
"I do not have much time," said the voice on the telephone, "The Gaelic Athletic Association has been under steadily increasing surveillance for at least a week. It is going to be raided and closed in the next day or two, maybe even tonight."
The voice on the telephone sounded vaguely familiar to Collins but he could not place. "Who are you?" he asked, "And more importantly how do you know this?"
The caller hung up.
------Custume Barracks Athlone (Roscommon) 2015 hrs
"Can I speak with you, Major?" Capt. Andrew O’Connor I.R.A. asked his superior, Maj. Otto Seibold, the Irish Brigade commander of the 2nd Athlone Battalion. O’Connor had emigrated with his parents from Ireland to United States when he was eleven. When the Spanish American War broke out he volunteered for the U.S. Army and saw some action in Cuba. He remained in the army afterwards and eventually became a sergeant major. Soon after that he left the army for multiple reasons. One was the poor pay. In 1908 Congress had approved a military pay bill which awarded rather generous pay increases to NCO’s in certain highly prized technical positions but neglected those serving in mundane combat roles, which caused some resentment. Another irritant was a new battalion commander who was an Irish Orangeman Protestant with a strong prejudice against Irish Catholics. The animosity between the two of them served to intensify O’Connor’s commitment to Fenianism.
So O’Connor left the army to seek his fortune in other pursuits none of which were particularly successful. He was engaged once only to have the engagement broken off when he was fired after an argument with his supervisor. When Adm. Von Spee had arrived with the Asiatic Squadron in New York back in January and Devoy had called for Fenians to go with, O’Connor was one of those who answered the call. He had been one of those who had helped Harry Calahan seize the Vaterland during the Battle of Utsire. When the Irish Brigade was formed for Operation Unicorn the Germans decided to make O’Connor a Captain.
"Yes, by all means," replied Seibold, "Is there something specific you would care to discuss." They were speaking in English as O’Connor’s German was extremely limited.
"The news of MacNeill’s execution have the men greatly riled up, Major. Some of them are talking about shooting our prisoners."
Seibold nodded, "I have been worried for some time that this would happen, esp. if the British executed either Yeats or MacNeill. We must insist on proper discipline."
O’Connor took his time replying. Finally he sighed deeply then spoke slowly, "The British policy of executing all captured rebels is just plain wrong, sir. More than wrong. It is a complete and utter abomination. Are we just going to sit back and do nothing?"
Seibold arched an eyebrow and answered slowly, "I do not like the sound of this, Captain."
"Hear me out, please, Major. I am not saying that we should stoop to the level of the British and execute the innocent."
Seibold was only partially relieved, "That is good to hear, but I am very confused about what you are recommending."
O’Connor again took his time replying, "Not all of our prisoners are innocent, Major. Some of the British executions were carried out here in Athlone. We captured the British officers who conducted the travesty of justice they called a court martial. I say it is time for the judges to be judged."
------Dublin 2055 hrs
After suffering cruel losses at the hand of the 3rd Dublin Battalion for several hours the South Scottish Brigade was finally able to bludgeon its way across the Liffey. After intermittent shelling throughout the afternoon, the upper stories of the Shelbourne Hotel were burning though not too badly so the Countess Makievicz still hoped they could extinguish it during the night. Another battery of 15 pounders had assisted in finally forcing the rebels out of Trinity College but it had expended nearly all its ammunition in the process. The 15 pounders were now being moved forward so they could bombard the G.P.O. in the morning. To the west the British continued to be repulsed in their attacks on the South Dublin Union and the Mendicity Institute.
Meanwhile there continued to be a steady stream of erstwhile Redmondites stepping forward to join the Irish Volunteers. Many of these were giving MacNeill’s execution as playing a key role in their decision. The problem with this is only about 2% of these men were bringing a firearm with them. While the romantic in Pearse continued to believe that spirit and heart were more important than weapons in the struggle of the Irish people, in the back of his mind he began to worry that all these new recruits would accomplish is to enlarge the pile of Irish corpses if they did not get additional weapons soon. He was also concerned that they had lost all communication with the 5th Dublin Battalion in the Fingal region north of the city, where Commandant Mulcahy was not staying in one area but waging a mobile hit and run guerilla campaign.
------midtown Manhattan 2155 hrs GMT
Hauptmann von Papen reluctantly allowed John Devoy to meet with him. As he wearily expected the gruff old Fenian used this as another opportunity to vent his spleen. "You stupid Krauts should have found a way for me to go along with rest of the American Brigade. My whole life has been committed to this end and you Germans couldn’t find a way for me to go along. Where is your vaunted ingenuity? Your boys could’ve provided me with a clever disguise to get me past the government agents. Or they could’ve sealed me in a large steamer trunk with air holes."
"No, no, no," said von Papen, "the Count promised Secretary Bryan that we would see to it that you stay behind to stand trial."
"Bah, that fuckin’ trial is nothing but a crock of shit. President Wilson don’t have the fuckin’ balls to go to trial, esp. now that I got with the great Clarence Darrow handling my case."
"If your trial is dismissed quickly we may be able to find a way to send you over as well," von Papen speculated idly without much basis as no one had told him that additional waves of American volunteers would be going. On the contrary the ambassador had hinted that what had been sent this morning was all that was going.
"Oh, so you pig headed Germans are planning on sending more eventually? I was starting to wonder. You’ve been on my case about the number of Irishmen going turned out to be much less than I had promised. Well it is obvious to me as the nose on me Irish face that was because you didn’t give us sufficient advance notice. You’re pretty damn stupid, the whole fuckin’ lot of ya. I have several hundred each eager young lads in Boston alone just raring to go. Send most of the stragglers we have here up to Boston by train by midmorning tomorrow it should be close to a thousand. Why in blazes don’t you put them on the Amerika tomorrow morning? I’ve been told she can make 18 knots so it wouldn’t take her too long to catch up with rest of von Spee’s convoy."
Von Papen raised an eyebrow and scratched his chin. Devoy was an uncouth and cranky fanatic but sometimes the man made some sense, though probably he was once again inflating the number of Irish stragglers in the vicinity of Boston. There had been some spirited discussion of using Amerika but von Spee had been strongly opposed to sending his squadron all the way up to Boston to fetch her. Even if Devoy was exaggerating the number of Irishmen von Papen knew there was also several hundred German Americans who had arrived too late in New York. And then there was another sizable cargo hold aboard Amerika for carrying still more copper.
"I think you may have a point my Irish friend. I will take up this idea with both the ambassador and Kapitan Boy-ed."
------Jade Bay 2200 hrs
First Scouting Group with Derfflinger, Moltke and Von der Tann was departing Jade Bay. With repairs still incomplete on Seydlitz, Adm. von Hipper flew his flag in Derfflinger. Accompanying them was the 4th Scouting Group with Pillau, Graudenz, Cöln and Dresden. He also had the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla with 10 GTB and the Strassburg as flagship. After making it through the swept channel they proceeded due west at 22 knots.
------near Perim Island 2210 hrs
A French armored cruiser had shelled Perim Island during the afternoon. This combined with the prior’s night’s difficulties had dissuaded both von Mucke and his Ottoman counterparts from sending additional Ottoman troops across the Mandab that night. Instead they sent 5 dhows out one by one by different routes with a crew that included 3 trusted Yemeni irregulars armed only with pistols and knives plus a small well hidden quantity of artillery shells and some gold. These dhows were instructed to make for Arheita where they would assemble and purchase wagons and mules. Previous crossings had departed soon after last light. This time they left considerably later to further confuse any enemy gunboats inspecting dhows that night.
------Manhattan 2235 hrs
"Capt. Gaunt, Sidney Reilly is on the tele---he says it is urgent that he talks to you immediately."
"By all means put him through," answered the British naval attaché, who then picked up the receiver, "Sidney this is Capt. Gaunt. What is this all about?"
"I managed to eavesdrop on a meeting between Capt. von Papen and John Devoy. They discussed several things but what I think what will interest you the most concerns their plans for the ocean liner Amerika in Boston."
------Castlebellingham (Louth) 2150 hrs
Some of the Louth Volunteers had wanted to march on Dublin once they learned of the Dublin Rising, but most were reluctant to do so without more firearms. Eventually they hatched a plan. Learning that the fairly small R.I.C. station at Castlebellingham was one of those where confiscated weapons were kept and not all that well guarded as the head constable there was often drunk at night, more than 200 of the Louth Volunteers assembled this night after dark. They overpowered a pair of constables on the way and 4 more at the station, where the assault turned out to be not as easy as they had anticipated with 2 of the Louth Volunteers killed and 3 more wounded in the attack. However these losses were acceptable as they managed to capture the confiscated weapons cache which consisted of 17 rifles of varying types, 22 shotguns and 31 pistols in addition to the 5 Lee-Enfield rifles and 6 revolvers taken from the constables. The rebels sent messengers to try to contact other companies in the county then headed south towards Dublin.
------Jade Bay 2300 hrs
The High Seas Fleet now put out to sea. In their vanguard was the 3rd Scouting Group with Yorck and Prinz Heinrich, as well as 5th Scouting Group with Stuttgart, Stettin, München, and Hamburg. Also accompanying them were the troopships: Vaterland, Imperator, Kronprinz Wilhelm, Kronprinzessin Cecile, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, George Washington and the Hohenzollern. Aboard the troopships were the German 111th Infantry Division and the Austro-Hungarian Erzherzog Karl Division as well as a coastal artillery battery and 7 feldersatz companies (4 Matrosen, 2 Bavarian and 1 Bavarian Jaeger) to partially offset losses of the first wave.
Casement had been lodged aboard von Ingenohl’s flagship, the Friedrich der Grosse. The grossadmiral did not feel like talking with Casement who he blamed for what he regarded as the insanity of Operation Unicorn. He wished he could find an excuse to throw Casement overboard.
------Morlay (Picardy) 2325 hrs
The 1st Guard Brigade wended its way towards First Army passing through the notorious gauntlet that was their line of communication to the rest of France. In the past the artillery Second Army had made a sharp burst at dusk hoping to disrupt the German batteries that posed a threat to the bottleneck. This evening Gen. Plumer was so deeply worried about his own shortage of shells, esp. as Sir John French had insisted in the strongest possible terms that Second Army make another major attack tomorrow morning, he reluctantly decided to forego this preemptive counter battery work.
Before the Guard Brigade set out on foot to make the perilous transit some motor trucks of the A.S.C. laden with supplies had gone on ahead. Additional supply wagons drawn by horses and mules followed behind the infantry. When the vanguard of the 1st Guard Brigade reached the danger spot of Nolette it encountered a motor truck laden with .303 rounds which had been set on fire by German artillery. Some of the rounds were being cooked off by the flames and made it hazardous to pass. This slowed the progress of the Guard Brigade which took a few casualties from German 7.7 cm guns firing shrapnel shells.
The brigade came under a much more serious shelling when it reached the second chokepoint, the small town of Morlay. So heavy was the German fire there that 5 RGA batteries assigned to Second Army returned fire trying desperately to silence the 7.7 cm field guns guided only by flashes. This provoked some of the heavier German guns into a duel. In the dark neither side was very accurate though with the copious use of star shells the Germans did somewhat better. The display was dazzling to men of the 1st Guard Brigade but to some the beauty proved fatal as they suffered nearly 400 casualties. As usual the draught animals pulling their wagons suffered horribly as well.
------Madrid 2335 hrs
Trotsky, Martov and two prominent Spanish Socialists had visited de Valera in his hotel suite this evening. They spent several hours criticizing de Valera for appealing more and more to what they regarded as reactionary elements of Spanish society thereby forgetting the heroism of Connolly. They were esp. upset with de Valera’s latest tactic of making a big fuss over Clemenceau’s passing remark about the Vatican having a hand in the Irish revolt. "Even the Italian newspapers are less concerned than you about this trifling matter," they told him. De Valera was stubborn and refused to be browbeaten. The arguments became more and more heated. About an hour ago Martov and the Spaniards gave up and went home. Trotsky however remained to argue further. He produced a silver flask filled with brandy which he persuaded de Valera to share with him hoping it might make him more amenable to persuasion.
"I know very that you are more of a Nationalist than a Socialist, Mr. de Valera, and that you think my friends and I are weeping too much over Connolly’s execution and too little over the other victims of British capitalist oppression," remarked Trotsky after de Valera had finished an ounce of brandy.
De Valera attempted a smile, then shrugged, "That is the first thing of any substance we have agreed on all evening, Mr. Trotsky. By the way this is most excellent brandy."
"Well then it appears we agree on at least two things, yes? Connolly in fact did mix some elements of Nationalism with Socialist. He’s not completely unique in doing that. I tend to think that Pilsudski is likely a variation on the same theme."
"It is getting late, Mr. Trotsky. I would like to go to bed soon. I know how much you love to hear yourself talk, Mr. Trotsky, but one brandy is enough for me and I am not interested in spending hours comparing different Socialists I have barely heard of and quite frankly am not interested in. Is there something else you’d like to get off your chest?"
Trotsky drank some more brandy before replying, "Do you really think replacing a British Protestant ruling class with an Irish Catholic one will do much good for the long suffering working class families of Ireland?"
"It would at least be a step in the right direction!" bellowed de Valera defiantly.
Trotsky merely shook his head patronizingly and smirked. "Don’t give me that look as if I was some naïve twit!" roared de Valera, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your dialectical philosophy, Mr. Trotsky."
"Tsk, tsk.. How trite Eamon. Can’t you do any better?"
"It is late Mr. Trotsky. I think it best if you leave now," answered de Valera stiffly trying to the still the urge to throttle Trotsky severely.
Trotsky attempted a disarming smile and proffered his flask, "Wouldn’t you like a little more brandy, my Irish friend."
"Thanks for the offer, Mr. Trotsky but I have had enough," replied de Valera stiffly, "Now I must insist that you leave so I can get a good night’s rest. I will see you tomorrow."
"Oh, well, if you insist," replied a disappointed Trotsky who took a large sip from his flask before capping it.
Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door. "Open up! This is the police!" came a loud voice, "Open this door immediately!"
Trotsky and de Valera momentarily forgot their rancor, exchanging worried glances. "I am coming! One second please," yelled de Valera who trotted to the door. Opening it he poked his head out and saw three Spanish policemen in the hallway. "What is this all about, officer" he asked with a mixture of anxiety and ire.
"Are you senor Eamon de Valera from Ireland?" asked the policeman closest to the door, who looked older to the other two.
"I am he. What is this all about, constable?"
"You are under arrest, senor de Valera. Get your coat and come with us."
"Under arrest? And what may I ask are the charges?"
"Uh, that will explained to you later, senor."
"No, I want to know to know, constable." As he said this Trotsky approached from behind and observed in English, "Oh it is some policemen. This means trouble. There are two questions. The first is whether it big trouble or only little trouble. The second is whether it is directed at you, me or both of us."
------Bunclody (Wexford) 2345 hrs
The 3 armored cars, which was the vanguard of the3rd battalion Kerry Brigade had just ploughed through another RIC roadblock. The cars and trucks had labored their tottering way through the Blackstairs Mountains on the narrow dirt road that led from New Ross to Bunclody. They had lost two cars and a truck to breakdowns along the way. There had been one delay due a herd of sheep crossing the road. There had been a passing shower tapering off to drizzle. If there had been a heavy downpour they would’ve bogged down in the mud. At Bunclody they would be able to turn on to a better road that led all the way to Dublin. The most important British supply route to the front ran from Naas to Carlow to Kilkenny. Rommel knew there would be relatively strong forces defending that route. Another important line of communication for the British ran along the coast from Dublin down to Enniscorthy. It was reasonable to expect that route to be well guarded as well—indeed he had reports from some local Irish Volunteers at New Ross of a British battalion being stationed at Enniscorthy. Rommel hoped that the one good northerly road than ran between them would be guarded only by an occasional weakly manned roadblock. The roadblock at Bunclody was not very strong but this was one of those occasions where the constables proved stubborn. Two of Rommel’s men were killed and three more wounded.
It had begun to rain in the last half hour. So far it was little more than drizzle but Rommel worried that it might get worse. "Ziethen! Stop dawdling and get the roadblock out of the way!" yelled Rommel with a mixture of anxiety and frustration, "We need to reach Dublin as soon as possible."