by Tom B
ARCHBISHOP CALLS FOR MERCY TOWARDS IRISH REBELS
"In a surprise move the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Thomas Davidson, delivered a speech at Lambeth Palace yesterday criticizing the British government for lacking Christian charity in its announced policy towards the Irish rebels collaborating with the Germans. Specifically the archbishop said that execution should be reserved only for conspicuous rebel leaders. Last Sunday Pope Benedict made a terse comment which criticized the Prime Minister’s firm policy towards Irish acts of treason. The archbishop’s much longer speech essentially put him in agreement with Pope Benedict. This comes at a time when the Prime Minister’s policy as spelled out in the Greenwich Park Speech is coming under mounting criticism despite being immensely popular when it was first enumerated."
----The Times of London Thursday May 13, 1915
------Limerick 0145 hrs Thursday May 13, 1915
The British siege of Limerick had subsided in intensity since Sunday. This was for 2 reasons. One was the need to send reinforcements first to the badly hurt 53rd Infantry Division in County Cork and then latter to reinforce Dublin when the rebellion erupted. The other reason was a severe shortage of artillery shells that the British Army was experiencing in Ireland, which was temporarily exacerbated when the Irish rebels cut the rail and main roads out of Kingstown. The latter problem had been partially solved and Gen. Stopford had ordered another assault this morning.
The defenders at Limerick had adopted a strategy that whenever the British succeeded in taking any territory Gen. von Jacobsen would make an immediate sharp counterattack to regain it. However if that counterattack failed he would make no second attempt but essentially accepted the ground as being lost on account of his shortage of manpower. One consequence of this was that the British 10th Infantry Division saw little need to maximize their own defenses, though both sides did mount occasional trench raids.
Capt. Harry Calahan I.R.A. had received permission to mount a trench raid this night. Maj. White had finally managed to persuade the Germans to provide the Irish with a few dozen grenades. In this sector there was a small no man’s land. The British thought they needed only a single strand of barbed wire. With only Irish rebels in the trenches in front of them, the British decided their machineguns, which the 10th Infantry Division still possessed in insufficient numbers, were better used in other sectors, so there was only 3 Vickers machineguns covering this sector and 2 of those were on the edges where they would be less important, esp. in the predawn hours. The key machinegun was the one square in the middle. Calahan thought if he could take that machinegun his company could hold the entire stretch of enemy trench. In preparation the riflemen in his outfit had shot out the 2 enemy searchlights in the area the previous night.
The Irishmen had gradually dug 2 saps which brought them closer to the enemy trench. From one of these Calahan had slowly slithered forward on his belly with 9 more members of his company close behind him. They were all equipped with 3 grenades and shotguns of either the autoloading or pump action variety. Calahan and one of his men now cut a portion of the British wire. In darkness and drizzle he approached the enemy trench. His men fanned out to the left and right of him. Calahan and another of his men named McMullan were near the machinegun. "Now!" Harry whispered to McMullan and they each hurled a grenade into the trench close to the machinegun nest. Soon after they hurled one grenade both hurled another nearby. The grenades they threw did not have a fragmentation sleeve as Harry did not want to risk perforating the Vickers’ water jacket. About a second before the first grenade exploded someone one the other side yelled, "Bomb!" Then the explosions began.
These explosions were a signal to the rest of Calahan’s men. The other eight men in his forward party each tossed 2 grenades. The first had a fragmentation sleeve. The second did not. To keep from getting mixed up they had the one with sleeve in hand as they slithered forward. The explosions also signaled the men from the rest of Sturmcompanie Calahan to start emerging from the sap in single file. These men trotted forward in a crouch instead on slithering on their belly.
Immediately after the last grenade close to the machinegun had detonated Calahan rose up with a savage war hoop and began blasting the badly stunned machinegun crew with his pump action shotgun then suddenly jumped into the trench even though there were grenades exploding to the left and right of him. "What the fuck are you waiting for, McMullan, get your sorry ass down here and give me hand!" he roared. At that McMullan sheepishly eased himself down. While he was doing so Harry noticed a wounded British soldier trying to raise his Lee-Enfield. "Oh, no you don’t!" snarled Calahan as he let loose another shotgun blast.
The explosions stopped. His men on the edge of the trench now let loose with their own shotguns. A parachute flare was now overhead lathing the scene with its garish radiance. From a nearby section of the trench line a low powered British searchlight panned its way to where they were. Enemy rifle fire could now be heard. When he was recovering from his wounds Calahan was provided some training in how to operate a machinegun. With some help from McMullan he was able to point the Vickers down into the trench to his right and delivered an awkward burst of automatic fire. This hit some of the grenade ravaged bodies as well as wounding two of the 3 soldiers who had scurried around the bend in the trench to assist. The latter promptly retreated. After McMullan shifted to get a better grip on the weapon Harry resumed firing. As he did one of his men on the edge of the trench was hit by enemy rifle fire and fell forward into the trench and Harry’s stream of lead.
"Oh my God!" McMullan wailed.
"Ah, Shit happens---he was probably dead or dying anyway," replied Calahan, "Now let’s turn this baby around to clean up the other side." However when they did they saw two of his men were already in the trench so they couldn’t fire. One of them killed someone coming around the corner with his autoloading shotgun while another captured two wounded British soldiers.
"OK let’s get her set up where we can mow down those bastards who are going to come swarming from ahead of us," ordered Calahan. As the two of them struggled to their weapon into position more of Calahan’s men began to trickle into the trench. The enemy rifle fire was intensifying and was now supplemented by another machinegun. This firepower caused some casualties and caused many of the men in his company to fall to the ground---a few involuntarily---and crawl their way forward.
Lt. Monteith was one of the first to join Capt. Calahan, who told him, "We captured the key machinegun in working condition. We can hold on to this piece but we need to send a messenger to the local German battalion and tell him."
"Enemy fire was intensifying as I arrived, sir. It is going to be very dangerous for our messenger."
"Well then send two messengers. Just make sure they both speak Kraut. Tell the Huns---"
"----Captain, captain, they’re coming now, sir," MacMullan interrupted anxiously. Calahan turned away from Monteith and with another savage war hoop began firing the Vickers machinegun at the British soldiers charging to retake their trench. Meanwhile Monteith turned to two of his men who instead of being provided grenades were given sacks of improvised caltrops. Over the roar of the machinegun he ordered the caltrops spewed in front of the trench they had captured. The caltrops were an inadequate substitute for barbed wire but they were better than nothing. The first wave of British soldiers coming over the top were not that numerous and were not expecting the machinegun fire tearing into them from close range. Many of them halted and some fell to the ground but others continued to press on running. Calahan cut down most of these but eventually when he had the machinegun swung to the right a Tommie suddenly popped up towards his left with his Lee-Enfield poised to fire. Harry started to swing his machinegun but deep in his gut he was sure the soldier would get a round off first. Fortunately one of Harry’s men blasted the poor Tommie with a shotgun before he could fire.
Meanwhile other shotgun blasts could be heard to both the right and left as Harry’s men fought the British inside the trench to the both their left and right. Their shotguns provided them a decided advantage over their opponents. So British counterattacks from three directions were repelled in a few frantic minutes. Meanwhile more members of Sturmcompanie trickled into the captured trench on their hands and knees, incl. some armed with Moisin-Nagant rifles instead of shotguns and hand grenades. Calahan’s men had captured 11 prisoners in the attack of which 8 were wounded. More than 40 British corpses lay at the bottom of the stretch of trench they had taken. More bodies in British uniforms---though they were part of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and therefore Irish as well---lay dead or dying on the ground in front of the trench. Sturmcompanie Calahan had sustained losses as well but they only amounted to 7 men killed and 9 wounded when a German Gefreiter in a Marine uniform arrived just as the battle was ebbing.
"What is going on here, Captain Calahan?" the messenger demanded to know in thickly accented English, "You were only supposed to mount a trench raid."
"Tell your battalion commander that that an opportunity arose—yeah, that’s the ticket—and we here worthless Irish bastards captured a stretch of British trench. We are extending it laterally while some of my lads are digging away to convert one of our saps into a communication trench. Some mortar fire on our flanks would sure be appreciated---just be careful where you are aiming. Oh and go fetch us some more grenades while you’re at it."
------SMS Lothringen heading ENE ½ E 0155 hrs GMT
"Smoking jackets?" asked Adm. Von Spee.
"The prize’s cargo was high quality men’s apparel of all sorts, admiral, but smoking jackets were indeed the most common items," replied Adm. Maas with a trace of a scowl. An hour ago Regensburg had intercepted a 2,300 ton British freighter bound for New York. This and the merchantman with opiates captured by Stralsund were the only prizes taken by the Germans this day which was nearly over.
"You sound disappointed."
"This sea lane should be yielding a better harvest, admiral. The restraints the Americans imposed is as I predicted, reducing our effectiveness. We will be encountering vessels less frequently as we progress east. I propose that 2nd Scouting Group back track to the west where the hunting should be better. I promise that we will not violate the accursed 100 mile limit imposed by the insufferable Americans but hover around its edges."
"---but nothing, Maas! Your pique over President Wilson’s behavior is clouding your judgment. What is important is that we continue east. To do otherwise is to emulate Lot’s wife and you know what happened to her, yes? The British will likely send strong forces that will try to intercept us. I think this is more likely to happen later, but we cannot rule out the possibility that they have already done so. Lingering too close to New York will only increase our danger. Furthermore I need 2nd Scouting Group to my east acting as scouts as well as well as commerce raiders. Your cruisers are not going to circle back. I have spoken."
------outskirts of Mexico City 0325 hrs GMT
Gen. Obregron and Kurt Jahnke were having another clandestine meeting. "I received a telegram today from the Count," the German provocateur informed the general, "The ocean liners and warships have departed from the United States so we can now proceed with our plan as soon as it is convenient. How soon do you think that will be?"
"Not tomorrow, senor," answered Obregon, "but sometime in the next week. Carranza is pressuring me to take to the field and pursue Villa and what is left of his Division of the North, but I am dragging my feet saying that I need time to see to things like supplies and communications. This is in fact partially true but if I drag it out too much, he will suspect that I am stalling."
-----Dublin 0340 hrs
Rommel’s parade of motor vehicles snaked their way north during the night troubled only intermittent light rain. They only encountered a single road block on the way in a hamlet called Hollywood in County Wicklow. His luck held however and the 3rd battalion Kerry Brigade ploughed its way into Dublin just as the first hint of dawn lightened the sky. Suddenly his men were jumping out of their vehicles close to an enemy field artillery battery, which was completely surprised. They quickly captured most of the gunners as well as their 15 pounders Rommel left one company to secure the guns and another to attack another nearby artillery battery. He took the rest of his men in the motor vehicles up the street with the armored car in the lead. They fell upon some infantry at Portobello Barracks where he quickly captured the headquarters of 1/5th battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers. He took well over 400 prisoners from a mixture of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Royal Irish Rifles and a few R.I.C. He also captured another Vickers machinegun intact After that the fighting became more confused as the Scottish infantry rallied to meet the unexpected attack from the rear.
The twilight grew bolder with each minute and so did Rommel. He got his machine gunners quickly positioned and they let loose on the Scots on the other side of the Grand Canal. The machine guns caused some of the Scots to flee their position. Rommel led eight of his men across a bridge over the canal, covered by the fire of his machine guns. He was determined to locate the encircled Dublin Brigade. A large hotel nearby showed clear signs of artillery damage with a fire smoldering on its upper floors. Rommel led his men towards it. Rounding a corner his men were suddenly attacked by a dozen Scottish infantrymen. Shots rang out. One of Rommel’s men quickly hit by a bullet and fell face first to the cobblestone. Rommel reacted quickly and shot one of the attackers with his Mauser. Some of his men were able to fire as well and hit two more of their ambushers. After that the combat became a melee.
Rommel managed to see reinforcements in the form of 4 Sealgairs led by Tom Barry arrive and rapidly close with the attackers. Barry quickly eviscerated one of the Scots with his bayonet. There was a savage look of glee on his face as he did it. Rommel found himself parrying the bayonet of a lunging Scotsman. Suddenly a bullet grazed his side. He spun around losing his grip on his rifle falling to one knee. His side was in agony but he ignored it as best he could. He tried to reach for his Luger as the Scot in front of him prepared to thrust with his bayonet. Rommel grimly realized that he did not have enough time to ready his weapon and expected to die. Suddenly a bullet emerged from his enemy’s right eye leaving a hideous exit wound. He made a grotesque convulsion then collapsed to the ground. Rommel readied his Luger. He noticed a Scot who had just dispatched one of his men with the bayonet and was now working the bolt on his Lee-Enfield. Rommel fired wounding the man in the shoulder. Rommel’s next shot hit him in the stomach. His victim rolled on the ground in agony. Rommel saw a figure with a rifle coming down the street. He realized that the shot had saved his life had come from this—
Shaking his head in bewilderment, Rommel looked to see what was left of the fight. A Scot had wounded one of Rommel’s men with the bayonet and was preparing to finish him off. Rommel tried to aim his Luger but before he could get off a round the woman had fired her rifle again and hit the man in the throat. After that there was only one enemy soldier left standing and he was fighting Barry and another Sealgair. Rommel found it too difficult to get a clear shot. Suddenly Barry got past the man guard wounding him seriously in the thigh. At that the man tried to surrender. Tom Barry simply ignored that and thrust his bayonet sharply up under the man’s jaw. Again there was that grin of satisfaction on Barry’s face.
The Countess Markievicz approached. Close behind her was a tall lanky man. She stared briefly at Rommel’s wounded side. She had seen much worse in the last few days. She reached forward and offered her hand.
"Major Rommel I presume."
------HMS Iron Duke off Flamborough Head 0405 hrs
The 5th Battle Squadron arrived from the Humber at the designated rendezvous spot for it to join the Grand Fleet. It consisted of the Lord Nelson, Agamemnon, Queen, Prince of Wales, Venerable, London, Formidable and Irresistible with the scout cruiser, Topaz as a repeating vessel. Accompanying the 5th Battle Squadron was the 6th Cruiser Squadron with Drake, King Alfred, Leviathan and Cumberland as well as the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron with Chatham, Liverpool and the Yarmouth, which had only returned 3 days ago from repairs to the torpedo damage she suffered at the Battle of North Foreland. The screen consisted of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla with Botha and 11 destroyers.
"Have we received any new intelligence?" Adm. Bayly asked Adm. Madden, his chief of staff as he watched the 5th Battle Squadron join his cruising formation by division.
"No, sir, nothing."
"We cannot be sure the Germans are heading for the Straits of Dover. They could be heading north. That is what they did back in April. Unless we hear something substantive from Tyrwhitt, Bacon or the Admiralty my intent is to assume a heading of 75˚ at 14 knots once this assimilation is complete. For the rest of the day we will be making frequent zigzags."
------Dublin 0415 hrs
Being thoroughly familiar with Dublin, the O’Rahilly had assisted Rommel in planning his attack. While the main body of the 3rd Kerry Battalion motorized was attacking the British near Portobello Barracks, a small force was detached under Capt. O’Rahilly’s command. It consisted of one of Rommel’s most seasoned Irish platoons, one of his machinegun sections with a pair of Russian Maxims, 8 Jaegers led by Gefreiter Gaulart, 10 pioneers led by Unteroffizier Ziethen and one of the precious armored cars. In their motor vehicles they swung around wide to the west and secured a poorly guarded bridge over the Grand Canal and then another over the Liffey River entering the immensely large Phoenix Park.
Their objective was the Magazine Fort, a squat stone building perched on the brow of a hill surrounded by a castellated terrace and a single strand of barbed wire. Too late the sentries tried to close the gate and the Maxims on the armored car cut them down then proceed to barrel its way through the gate. Additional guards emerged from the fort and most of them went down as well in a hail of lead. Other guards fired from the parapet and inflicted some losses on the attackers, but were too few in number and were eventually neutralized. The guard room was taken but the door to the main storeroom was locked and the attackers could not locate the key.
"We will have to done this the hard way," Ziethen decided and he began to set charges.
"Won’t that risk setting off the explosives on the other side?" asked a worried O’Rahilly.
"Only if I use too much."
The O’Rahilly patted the pioneer on the back, "Take your time, sergeant." Ziethen suddenly grinned and almost laughed. It had been so very long since he had heard that coming from a superior. However as he knew that a British counterattack could materialize any minute he knew it was unwise to take too long.
"Fire in the hole!"
Ziethen smiled. The door was blown off its hinges and he was still in one piece. He entered the storeroom and soon smiled a lot more.
------near Banja Serbia 0425 hrs
The new acting commander of the German XIII Corps, Gen. Ludendorff gazed through binoculars, escorted by 3 officers and 2 aides from the Corps staff. The most senior of his escorts, a major said, "You can now see for yourself, general, that we are facing much more than a battalion of British soldiers."
Admitting he was wrong was not something Ludendorff enjoyed. He took his time before he put down the binoculars and said, "Maybe there are two battalions. Then again I am beginning to suspect these may be Serbs in British uniforms."
"Huh? What leads to think that, general?"
"Because the wily Serbs hoped to fool gullible imbeciles such as yourself!"
The major did not know what to say. Gen. Ludendorff had arrived at XIII Army Corps with the attitude that not just Gen. von Watters but the entire Corps staff was seriously deficient in both bravery and competence. Finally he mumbled, "I will respectfully remind the general that we captured 2 Australian prisoners."
Ludendorff’s already angry expression became livid. "That only proves that---" he yelled only to be interrupted by a messenger running towards them.
"General Ludendorff!" yelled the runner, "British cavalry have broken through to the north. The regiment is trying to regroup to the east. You must evacuate this position immediately!"
"More panic!" roared Ludendorff in rage, "I came here to put an end to it not to wallow in it. Go back and inform the regimental HQ that I categorically forbid any further withdrawals. We will fight here. I will personally lead your men showing you bunch of scared little girls how a Prussian officer is supposed to act!"
------Coachford (Cork) 0430 hrs
The brigadier in charge of the 160th (Welsh Border) Brigade was told by Gen. Friend, the acting commander of the 53rd Infantry Division that the Bavarian 6th Infantry Division was trying to move into Cork city. Friend ordered him to attack again at Coachford believing that either it would succeed against the weakened defenders or at least pin the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division so it could not strengthen its presence in Cork city. Gen. Friend was moving the North Wales Brigade to Cork where it would counterattack in the afternoon.
The defenders at Coachford were in fact stronger than before; there now were 2 battalions of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment instead of one. Both the British and Germans had 2 field gun batteries in the area but both sides had a meager supply of shells on hand. The British made only a brief preparatory bombardment; all of it with shrapnel shells as they had no HE shells. The Bavarian 7.7cm gunners decided against dueling with the British artillery, saving themselves for countering a possible infantry assault.
The Welsh Border Brigade was by now very worn down, having lost much of its strength at the Battle of Rathmore. It now attacked with 2 battalions, one making a frontal assault down the main road, the other trying to envelop through the hills the east. The former was quickly repulsed with heavy casualties. The flanking attack took much longer to play out but the Germans had enough strength available, incl. of Maj. von Thoma’s West Limerick Battalion, to counter that as well though they did lose 2 outposts.
------British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 0440 hrs
Gen. Hamilton was on the telephone with Brig. Lowe, who commanded British forces in Dublin. "What we know now, sir, is that just before dawn a rebel force in motor vehicles attacked our cordon around the rebels inside Dublin from the rear in the vicinity of Portobello Barracks. Late yesterday the South Scottish Brigade had established its left flank at Portobello relieving the Royal Irish Rifles. We also positioned an artillery battery nearby to bombard St. Stephen’s Green and the Shelbourne Hotel. I have now received word that the rebels captured both the barracks and the artillery."
"What is it, sir?" asked Gen. Braithwaite concerned about the look on Hamilton’s face.
Hamilton covered the mouthpiece with hand and turned to his chief of staff, "The rebels were somehow reinforced before dawn and managed to overrun an artillery battery and Portobello Barracks."
"Good heavens, Fenians with artillery! Not that they will have the faintest idea how to use it."
"Let us certainly hope so," Hamilton replied to Braithwaite. He then turned back to the telephone, "The barracks are important but your first priority must be to get those guns back!
"I understand that, general. The South Scottish Brigade has already begun a counterattack. However there is another development. We lost contact a few minutes ago with the Magazine Fort after receiving a telephone call warning us that it was under attack. I am now organizing a column of reinforcements to double march to its assistance."
"I take it that there have been no unusually loud explosions?"
"Yes, general. At least no so far. I know that rest of the 52nd Infantry Division is due to arrive at Kingstown before noon but I was wondering if it is possible to get any reinforcements before then?"
"We will start pulling more R.I.C. out of Belfast once this conversation is over."
"Does he feel that he needs reinforcements before the rest of Lowland Division lands?" asked Braithwaite, "We could send him the portion of 3rd Royal Dublin Fusiliers we left at Naas."
Hamilton thought this over. Half of the 3rd Royal Dublin Fusiliers had been moved to the Curragh to protect Hamilton’s HQ. The rest remained at its camp at Naas. The 3rd Royal Dublin Fusiliers was a regimental reserve battalion intended to supply the other battalions with replacements not to go into combat. They were less than half strength and poorly equipped. Hamilton had wanted to use the reserve battalions as little as possible but had already made some exceptions but that was when he was hard pressed for men. Now that he was getting all of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division he saw no reason to use regimental reserve battalions any more. Again he put his hand over the mouthpiece and turned to Braithwaite shaking his head, "He doesn’t need them. He will have an entire division at his disposal in a few hours. That will be more than enough."
------Dublin 0455 hrs
Assisted by Ezra Pound the Countess Markievicz brought Maj. Rommel to the Royal College of Surgeons where his wounds were tended to by members of the Irish Citizen Army. Tom Barry accompanied them as well. Rommel did not know what to say to this strange woman. Having one of your fellow soldiers save your life was a rather common experience in warfare but having his life saved by a woman was very unsettling to Rommel. When he learned that she commanded the Irish Citizen Army, he grew even more perplexed. As he tried to sort out his feelings and work out his strategy he armed the Citizen Army with captured Lee-Enfield rifles.
Sean MacEntee, the commandant of the 2nd Dublin Battalion arrived at the Royal College of Surgeons to confer. The Countess greeted him in the foyer. Pound was once again close by her side. "The famed Major Rommel arrived here in motor vehicles before dawn with 3rd Kerry Battalion---though he tells me that only half of the soldiers are Kerrymen," the Countess informed MacEntee, "He took the British by surprise at Portobello Barracks, capturing the barracks as well an artillery battery. Before I forget do you know if anyone in your battalion has any experience with artillery? There are none in the Citizen Army."
"Uh, there is one chap that I know of. I will make some inquiries though when I get back. Maybe another will turn up. This Rommel didn’t bring any artillerists with him?"
"Actually he did. He has a small unit armed with a pair of Russian cannons but most of their barrel has been cut off. He calls them infantry guns---"
"---Why in blazes would anyone shorten the barrel of a cannon, Constance?"
"To make it easier to bring them into action or so he claims. He captured four 15 pounders with which none of his men are familiar with. He claims even a half dozen experienced gunners could be useful."
"It sounds like you are willing to let this German run things here in Dublin. I do not think Padraig is going to agree with this."
"Well, it is not easy to communicate with Padraig right now with British snipers overlooking the streets. Furthermore the damn British started shelling the G.P.O. this morning. We could see that from the Shelbourne. We do need to get word to Padraig but it is going to take some time. In the meantime I think there is an opportunity for us to go on the offensive. We let the Brits bottle us up Monday and in hindsight I now think that was a very serious mistake."
"Yes, I think you have a point there. Still I remain surprised that you are so willing to obey this German. More times than I can count you and Padraig have told me that we are not the servants of the Germans. Now you say we should follow this German Major before receiving guidance from Pearse. Just because Maj. Rommel has a few harps sewn on his uniform doesn’t make him Irish."
"He claims that the O’Rahilly is serving under him. If the O’Rahilly trusts him I think we can."
"Oh, so those rumors about the O’Rahilly serving the Germans turned out to be true after all? I am certain that Pearse will like to have a few words with him."
"It will have to wait. For one thing Rommel sent the O’Rahilly off to capture the Magazine Fort."
"The Magazine Fort? It will be wonderful if we could capture that. Pearse had thought about trying to take it briefly and blow it up at the start of the revolt but we couldn’t up with a plan."
"Rommel didn’t share any details but he said he was very confident his plan would work. He is extremely confident bordering on arrogance."
"So are you willing to do what he orders?"
The Countess grinned impishly, "I am more than willing to do what he wants---just as long as he does what we want."
"And what the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?"
Pound who had remained silent in this exchange finally spoke, "I think you know very well what it means."
MacEntee was momentarily nonplussed, then he understood and grinned, "Oh, that. Do you really think this Rommel can pull it off?"
------west of Froise (Picardy) 0530 hrs
The British batteries in conjunction with the warships of Dover Patrol off the coast which included 2 of the monitors opened fire on the German entrenchments. British First Army was short on shells and the bombardment lasted only 20 minutes. Only an eighth of the shells expended by the British batteries were HE, the rest were shrapnel shells.
The infantry assault was made by 4 battalions of the newly arrived 1st Guards Brigade, incl. both the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards, 4 battalions belonging to the 29th Infantry Division and 3 battalions of the 6th Infantry Division. The Guards Brigade had little rest coming off their night march. The German wire barriers were only cut a little by the shelling and few of the machinegun nests of the German 7th Infantry Division had been hurt. The attacking British battalions were thinned by the shrapnel shells of 7.7cm field guns then encountered machineguns which tore into the attacking infantry funneled into killing zones by the wire. The men of the Guard Brigade were tired and the men of the 6th Infantry Division had been sorely underfed for a fortnight. Here and there a few British soldiers penetrated the wire but they only had a few crude improvised bombs and lacked the numbers to make a difference. In less than an hour since the infantry had gone over the top it was painfully evident that the attack was a costly failure.
------near Przemysl (Galicia) 0600 hrs
The heavy artillery of the Austro-German Center Army commenced firing as its commander, Gen. Alexander von Linsingen watched. He still only possessed 2 German infantry divisions plus a Bavarian Landwehr Brigade but he now commanded 4 Austro-Hungarian infantry divisions as Conrad intended Center Army to play a key role in his Galician offensive. His heavy artillery esp. the Austro-Hungarian contingent had been increased enormously and now included 4 Skoda 30.5 cm guns. He had also been provided with an immense stockpile of shells which he intended to put to good use with a full 48 hrs of artillery preparation. His target was the Russian Eleventh Army, which currently had 7 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions. However Center Army would only be attacking approx. 70% of the Eleventh Army’s front. The left wing of Eleventh Army would be the responsibility of the Austro-Hungarian Second Army, commanded by Gen. Böhm-Ermolli. This was currently the strongest of the Austro-Hungarian armies with 11 infantry divisions plus 2 independent brigades and a cavalry division. However the heavy artillery firepower assigned to Böhm-Ermolli was only roughly equal to what von Linsingen had at his disposal and his stockpile of shells was considerably less. Second Army would not begin its bombardment for another 4 hours but it was scheduled to make its assault tomorrow morning. In addition to attacking the left wing of Russian Eleventh Army it would also attack the right wing of Gen. Brusilov’s Eighth Army.
------Phoenix Park Dublin 0605 hrs
After conferring with MacEntee and the Countess Markievicz, Rommel quickly formulated his plan. He loaded about half of 3rd Kerry Battalion incl. his infantry gun section aboard his ragtag collection of buses, trucks and cars. The portion of 3rd Kerry Battalion that remained behind, incl. Barry’s Sealgairs and the remaining machineguns, was assigned the task of providing rifles first to MacEntee’s 2nd Dublin Battalion and then to Brugha’s 4th Dublin Battalion. They were also assigned to guard Portobello Barracks and the captured artillery. Rommel took only one of his two remaining armored cars. The other armored car had begun to burn oil while they had passed through County Wicklow so Rommel left it behind for his mechanics to inspect and hopefully fix.
Rommel swung his motorized column to the west of Dublin following the path the O’Rahilly had taken earlier. His immediate objective was to reinforce the force holding the Magazine Fort. The British had already made one frontal assault from the east to retake the fort that had been repulsed with heavy losses. They were trying to infiltrate the park and attack the fort from the rear when Rommel arrived. Stoically ignoring his painful wound Rommel led his men in a spirited counterattack inside the park which eventually ejected the British. Meanwhile another much smaller British force mostly R.I.C. had poked into the park coming from Richmond Barracks to the south. These momentarily gave Rommel’s men a start but they were hesitant in this meeting engagement permitting Rommel to rally his men after which this British force beat a hasty retreat back across the Liffey.
Rommel chose not to pursue. He had other things he needed to do quickly. He hobbled in agony to the Magazine Fort to talk with the O’Rahilly and Ziethen. The Countess Markievcz had insisted on coming along, leaving MacEntee temporarily in command of the Citizen Army. To Rommel’s disgust but not surprise she had enthusiastically participated in the park fire fight. Where the Countess went so did her unofficial bodyguard, Ezra Pound, who fought alongside her in the park. They both accompanied Rommel to the fort. As the O’Rahilly and Ziethen saluted Rommel she looked at the O’Rahilly, "Top of the morning to ya, Michael me darlin’. T’is so very good to see your sweet face again. And that is one mighty fine uniform ya be wearing."
"I am happy to see you as well, Countess," replied the O’Rahilly more formally, "I’ve been told that you are now in command of the Citizen Army." He sounded as if he didn’t completely believe it.
"Aye, that I am. I hope you don’t mind that we started this party without you---"
Rommel was not in a good mood. In addition to the pain of his wound, he had slept little during the journey from County Wexford. "---That is enough socializing!" he snarled, "we have things that need to get done. The enemy is now off balance. The quicker we move the greater our chances of success. Kingsbridge Station is not far from here but it is likely to be too well guarded. Ziethen---I want you to use some of the explosives we captured here to destroy a portion of the railroad tracks leading into the station. I will detail 20 Irish soldiers to accompany you. Assemble your pioneers and get what you need. Be ready in 5 minutes."
"Don’t just stand there—get going! Schnell, Ziethen!"
------HQ Irland Genkdo Macroom (Cork) 0615 hrs
"The enemy abandoned Rathmore and Millstreet during the night," Gen. von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division reported to Gen. von François and his acting chief of staff, Maj. von Rundstedt.
"So the enemy has pulled back his right flank," replied von François, "It appears that he has given up his intent to attack here and any ideas of trying to take Killarney and liberate the prisoners we are holding there."
"Did our seaplane at Killarney find anything useful this morning?" asked von Gyssling.
"It was able to get aloft but the dense cloud prevented it from observing anything important, general," answered von Rundstedt, "Unfortunately it sustained some damage to its wings landing and won’t be operational again for several hours."
"These airplanes are such fragile machines," remarked von François, "still even without their assistance it is obvious that the British are shifting their concentration so as to secure Cork, and for that reason they pulled in their right flank."
"Yes, their flank is probably back around Kanturk and Banteer, General. I am tempted to hurl all of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Brigade against their flank. If it was supported by one of my artillery regiment, the 2 Seebattalions and a pioneer company I think we have a good chance to overpower their flank guard."
Gen. von François scratched his chin pensively and took his time before replying, "That is very tempting, but in our current situation I’m concerned that course of action would have too many drawbacks. The enemy’s attack currently underway at Coachford has me worried."
"Reports so far indicate that we have that situation under control, general," argued von Gyssling.
"So far, yes but if the enemy reinforces their attack at Coachford while we mass our own forces to strike at the enemy flank we could still be in trouble. I am also concerned that additional units could be heading towards Cork from the north. They could make a most unpleasant surprise for 11th Bavarian Brigade."
"I thought the sortie by the 16th Uhlan Regiment was intended to warn us of just such apossibility, general."
"Yes, but it takes time for intelligence from that unit to work its way back to us. That regiment is also little more than half strength due to the losses it suffered while in Tipperary. So I am reluctant to rely on it and our 4 intermittently operational airplanes. For this reason I want you to move all of 11th Bavarian Brigade as well as your field howitzer battalion to Coachford. We will send 1st Seebattalion and the North Cork Battalion to probe for the enemy’s right flank, but with orders to avoid a major engagement. The 2nd Seebattalion will make a forced march to Cork immediately. For the time being we will keep the Foot Guard battalion here at Macroom as a reserve."
------German Embassy Madrid 0645 hr
After the Spanish police had arrested de Valera, Trotsky had informed two prominent Spanish Socialists as well as Martov. In the morning he decided to notify in person the German military attaché Major Kalle. Trotsky did this with some reluctance but he accepted the obvious fact that the Germans were backing both de Valera and himself. Leon had already lost most of his innocence and was more than willing to make use of those who the right thing for the wrong reason. The two of them conversed in German. "No, this is the first I have heard of de Valera’s arrest," Kalle readily admitted, "and it was wise of you to inform me so quickly, Herr Trotsky. If we act promptly we can perhaps dissuade King Alphonso from doing something rash."
"So you have reason to believe that the king is behind this?"
"Well, right now you know more about this than I do, Herr Trotsky, but I consider the king’s involvement to be very likely."
"Why? The king is not the only powerful reactionary in Spain."
The major sighed. He did not like Trotsky but the Russian was something of a useful idiot. He strongly suspected that Trotsky reciprocated the sentiment. "You might be surprised to learn that many of those you categorize as ‘reactionary’ have warmed considerably to our Irish friend."
"You mean the clerics? Yes I know de Valera tried to appeal to them going so far as to make the proverbial mountain out of a molehill over something Clemenceau recently said. Please don’t tell me that desperate ploy is actually working?"
"Yes it is at least to some degree but you should be happy to know that the local clergy was beginning to sympathize with their fellow Catholics in Ireland even before Clemenceau’s speech."
Trotsky scowled some more, then finally responded, "Even if what you say is true it is of limited relevance. The less developed folk of Europe such as the Irish, the Spanish and the Russians for that matter still desperately cling to a mawkish religious sentimentality, unlike the more rational peoples such as the British, French and Germans. Still in the long run what matters most is class struggle and the inevitable historical dialectic driven by economic forces."
"Military force counts for more than you think," replied Maj. Kalle who wondered if he should tell Trotsky about certain Spanish colonels and generals who had communicated with him in the last few days. Trusting Trotsky only a little and liking him still less the major decided not to---at least for the time being.
"Oh it might surprise you to know I have studied a thing or two about warfare. When the revolution comes the proletarian army will require leaders. Many of my fellow Marxists do not understand this but I do. One day I will lead just such an army."
The major shook his head and chuckled. It was all he could do to keep from belly laughing. "And what is so funny, Major?" asked an irritated Trotsky.
"Oh, that image struck me as a bit odd, that’s all. Look here, I do want to start making inquiries about what happened to our Irish friend. Clearly he is in some sort of trouble, but we do not know any details. In the meantime I strongly suggest that you continue making your speeches, but do try to make some mention of de Valera as well as Connolly."
"Oh, I intend to do just that, Major. I certainly do."
------between Nolette and Nouvion (Picardy) 0700 hrs
Nearly all of the British Second Army’s RGA batteries as well as more than half its field artillery commenced firing. After 10 minutes they were joined by the guns of the Belgian 5th Infantry Division and the French XXXVI Corps. Batteries of the German Sixth Army soon returned a fierce counter battery fire. Gen. Plumer only had enough shells for a 30 minute bombardment and some of these batteries were soon suppressed by the German counter battery fire. As with the attack of First Army very few of their shells were HE.
Contrary to what both Sir John French and Gen. von Fabeck expected, Gen. Plumer’s attack was not directed at the Prussian Guards near Nolette but rather at the sector of the XIV Reserve Corps to the right of the Guard Corps, where the German wire barriers were not as thick as they were near Nolette. Plumer had learned that the Guard Corps had also been provided additional machineguns to compensate for its very serious cumulative losses but not the XIV Reserve Corps. Plumer hoped to increase the pressure on the Guard Corps’s supply line rather than try to eject them outright.
When the guns stopped firing the infantry that emerged from their trenches consisted of 11 British battalions from 3 different divisions, 6 French battalions and 2 Belgian battalions. They all suffered considerable losses to the shrapnel shells of German 7.7 cm guns as well as the machineguns. They found narrow paths through the German wire but as they flowed through these gaps suffered horrible losses to the German machineguns. Gen. Plumer had in the last week provided his men intensive training on how to manufacture and employ crude bombs. This training now paid dividends and some of the British battalions were able to capture pieces of the German front trench line, though at a heavy cost. This generated a series of fierce German counterattacks. A severe shortage of shells made it difficult for the British to hold on to their small gains much less consider any additional advance.
------Old Admiralty Building 0710 hrs
"Anything new to report, Admiral Oliver?" asked Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Adm. Callaghan, Jackson and Wilson were also present.
"Ah, nothing so far, First Lord," replied Adm. Oliver.
"Has the Grand Fleet finished assembling?"
"Yes, it has, First Lord. It is positioned in the western portion of the Dogger Bank," Admiral Callaghan answered.
"And what of Harwich Force, admiral?"
"Harwich Force thoroughly scouted the Suffolk coast at dawn. Finding no sign of an invasion force it is now probing the east. If the Germans are indeed heading for the Channel there is a good chance that Commodore Tyrwhitt will find them soon."
"The Germans have inflicted grave harm on Harwich Force on more than one occasion in the past. They may intend to finish the job this time," speculated Carson.
"That is indeed a possibility, as Tyrwhitt is indubitably well aware, First Lord," replied the First Sea Lord, "He will only try to engage if he sees an attempt to land an invasion force. Otherwise his mission is scout cautiously."
"In the meantime the Grand Fleet is merely waiting?" asked Carson.
"That is correct, First Lord," replied Jackson, "Furthermore at midnight we ordered all our merchant vessels in east coast ports incl. those on the Channel east of Portsmouth to remain in harbor."
"I see. I do hope you coordinated that with the War Office."
"Lord Kitchener has been informed and has already expressed his displeasure, First Lord. It seems that First Army remains in a state of crisis, despite what has been reported to the newspapers in the last week."
"Yes, what has changed is that they are now worried about losing one division and not the entire Fire Army. Are we sending Revenge to greatly magnify Dover Patrol’s bombardment capability, as we had discussed yesterday?"
"Sadly we came to the conclusion that it is too hazardous with the High Seas Fleet on the loose and quite possibly headed their way, First Lord."
"That is a dreadful shame as I’ve been told that both French and Haig were counting on her firepower to punch a hole through the German ring which has trapped 2nd Infantry Division. I will return to this topic later but before I forgot I wish to know about the status of the convoy escorting the 37th Infantry Division to Durazzo."
"Everything is right on schedule, First Lord. Adm. Limpus believes that the Austrians may not be aware of our presence as yet on account of the weather."
"Well that will certainly make things easier. There has been some very promising news out of Serbia. It looks like the wily Serbs with some assistance from the Australia and New Zealand Division have once again managed to turn the tables on the Central Powers. It is a turning point for the Balkan Campaign---quite possibly the whole war. I was beginning to lose heart over my plan but now my faith in its strategic soundness has been thoroughly reinvigorated. Mark my words, admirals---Britain’s low point in this war is now behind us!"
The admirals were pleased to see the First Lord being so optimistic. "There might be some other news that will lighten your day, sir," Adm. Wilson who then turned to Adm. Oliver as if he were one actor cueing another.
"Ah, the N.I.D. has learned that the Germans, contrary to what they assured Secretary Bryan intend to steam out of Boston with more men and material aboard their liner, Amerika."
Carson arched an eyebrow, "Is this information based on intercepted wireless messages, Adm. Oliver? Have you finally broken the codes used by German transatlantic wireless stations?"
"Uh, no, First Lord. One of our best spies in New York was able to eavesdrop on a conversation between Devoy and Capt. von Papen."
"Ah, so it is the fruit good old fashioned skullduggery and not the vaunted room 40?"
"Ah, the old and the new are not always incompatible, First Lord. Spies still possess considerable utility."
"Agreed. But just what makes this particular piece of intelligence so valuable?"
The First Sea Lord answered that question, "We believe that Inflexible has a good chance of intercepting Amerika before she can join the convoy and the protection of the German predreadnoughts, First Lord. She may even succeed in luring Blücher into attempting a rescue."
"Hmm Something in the tone of your voice, admiral, leads me to guess that Inflexible is already on the way. Am I correct?"
"Orders were sent by wireless before you arrived, First Lord. We also took the liberty of informing the Foreign Office in the hopes they can get President Wilson to delay the ship’s departure. If you strongly disagree with this decision we can recall Inflexible via the Halifax wireless station."
"Oh, no, I am not going to second guess you on this, admiral. In fact the more I think about it the more I like it. There has been considerable criticism of us in the press over the loss of Lusitania. The reciprocal capture of a large German liner will tend to ameliorate some of that dissatisfaction. Of course we expect to eventually capture all of the German liners that left New York yesterday, but that is more than a week away. Right now the PM could sure use a flashy success as the struggle for Ireland is taking longer than expected. Adm. Bayly will indubitably amplify his already insufferable whining when he learns of this but making this small detour will not delay Inflexible’s return to the Grand Fleet by much."
------Prague 0715 hrs
"There is something I want to show you," Erzherzog Karl said to his lovely wife Zita, while they were having breakfast before he would leave to inspect the troops of his division. He produced a local German language newspaper and shoved it towards her. Karl’s tone of voice made wife wince. While they loved each other intensely they did argue a fair bit as Zita held some strong opinions. She sensed that her spouse was gearing up for another argument. She took the newspaper.
"Read the story on the far right on the front page," Karl instructed, "It is the one about Premier Clemenceau’s speech to the French legislature."
"What has the Tiger done now?" she asked with a deep sigh. In the past Zita had expressed in private some measure of admiration for France. Karl attributed this in part to sort of identification with her Bourbon heritage. She had one time suggested that Germany could make peace with France by offering to sell their portion of Alsace-Lorraine. Since Clemenceau, a vociferous enemy of both monarchy and the Church, had become premier she found it harder to say nice things about France.
"He accused the Vatican of being behind the revolt underway in Ireland."
Zita’s jaw dropped. "No!" she hissed furiously.
"Read it for yourself, my love. I am bit surprised that it only receives two paragraphs in this newspaper. Perhaps we have grown accustomed to abomination from the Tiger, that this action is regarded as almost predictable and therefore not very newsworthy."
Zita hurriedly read the story then shook her head, "This is too much! I can scarcely believe it. Clemenceau shames himself badly and he shames France as well."
"Yes he certainly does. I am going to suggest that this story receive wider coverage as it makes for excellent propaganda. I once felt that our enemies were Russia and Serbia but not France---or perhaps I should more accurately say not as much France. That was before they joined the British Albanian expedition. And now with this calumny against the Holy Father I must confess that nothing would give me greater than if it is my division that finally crushes the Frenchmen in Montenegro."
Zita bit her lower lip hard and frowned. She opened her mouth but before she uttered a word closed it again. Finally she shook her head then shrugged, "I think there are better things you could do with that division, but I have faith you will do what is best for our dear empire."
------Kilmainham Gaol Dublin 0725 hrs
William Butler Yeats had awakened this morning in his cell expecting that this would be the day he was executed by a firing squad. He had not been told this; in fact he was told that he would be not be executed without being informed the prior evening so he would have an opportunity to prepare himself to meet his maker. Priests were made available to the condemned prisoners, despite many of the jailers suspecting Catholic clergy as being rebel spies. Yeats had gotten into a heated argument with one of the priests who detested all forms of occultism and demanded that Yeats renounce Golden Dawn.
Yeats had wondered why it was taking so long for the British to shoot him. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that he learned from another prisoner that Gen. von François had offered to exchange a captured British general for him. This in turn made him wonder why the exchange had not been accepted. He was constantly being told by the guards that the British were on the verge of obliterating both the rebels and the German invasion force. Yeats strongly suspected that his execution was delayed because Gen. Hamilton gave the offer consideration but obviously rejected it and would likely carry out the sentence sometime soon.
When the revolt broke out in Dublin Monday Yeats briefly harbored some hope that the rebels might seize the gaol and free him. Before the day was over, the guards told the prisoners that the rebellion was thoroughly contained and the only rebels that they would be seeing would be in chains. When he learned of MacNeill’s execution yesterday he regarded that as an ominous sign. If the British dared to execute MacNeill then surely they would not flinch about killing a mere poet. Meanwhile the jailers kept telling the prisoners that the rebellion in Dublin was on its last legs.
As he tried without much success this morning to avoid morbidity this morning he Yeats heard what he guessed was the sound of a machinegun firing. It sounded very nearby. The rebels did not have machineguns so he did not regard this as a favorable omen, but merely a curiosity. Then he heard what he was sure was artillery which also sounded as if it were also nearby. He was sure that the rebels did not have artillery either.
Trying to dispel the torment from his wound from his mind, Rommel watched as the infantry gun fired at the main door the gaol. It had not taken much persuasion by MacEntee and Markievicz to convince Rommel to attack here as at both Cork and Waterford he had found it advantageous to take the local prison. With his armored car in the van Rommel’s column of motor vehicles drove south from Phoenix Park to attack Kilmainham from the north. The armored car burst into the courtyard and its machineguns fired a few bursts at the entrance and the windows. The gaol was manned by a mixture of R.I.C., the poorly armed D.M.P and only a handful of real soldiers. The defenders nevertheless did manage to bar the main door.
One of Rommel’s infantry guns was quickly set up a short distance from the door and an HE round was fired. To Rommel’s immense disgust the Irish gunners managed to miss the door. This made his already foul mood worse. "Hurry up, hurry up," he yelled in rage, "get another round off. Mein Gott you’re slower than Ziethen!" While this was going on a few hurried rifle shots were coming from the windows of the gaol. One of them grazed a member of the gun crew in the calf. After a few seconds he recovered from the shock and helped his crew fire a round that blew the door open. With the armored car laying down covering fire, Rommel ordered his men to charge. He tried to lead them in person but the wound in his side slowed him down and his men out ran. A woman also outran him. As she had been recently incarcerated in Kilmainham, Rommel was forced to admit she possessed very useful information, and this was what persuaded him to let her come along.
Some of the attackers were hit by constables firing from the windows but many flooded into the entranceway. Rommel had 18 men armed with pump action and autoloading shotguns in his battalion. He had given half of them to the O’Rahilly for the attack on the Magazine Fort. The other nine were in the vanguard of the assault on gaol. Once inside their weapons proved useful in clearing resistance in the entranceway. There were several minutes of fierce combat then the morale of the defenders cracked. While the assault was underway Rommel’s other infantry gun shelled Richmond Barracks to discourage any British soldiers issuing forth to help Kilmainham. Once the attackers reached the cell blocks they started freeing the prisoners. Some of these were common criminals incl. looters but the majority at this time were captured rebels.
And one of them happened to a famous poet.
------Stavka Mohilev 0800 hrs
Grand Duke Nikolai met with Gen. Nikolai Yanushkevich, the chief of staff and Gen. Yuri Danilov, the Quartermaster General and asst. chief of staff, to discuss recent developments. "Your Highness, Gen. Alexeev reports that the Germans made another attack on Tenth Army yesterday and well as continuing to bombard the outer forts of Kovno," said Danilov.
"Did Northwestern Front provide us with any details about this attack on Tenth Army?" asked the Tsar’s uncle.
"As usual, Your Highness, the telegrams were very terse. They did admit that the Germans made a small advance in the vicinity of Gumbinnen."
"This could merely be a minor setback or it could be a serious cause for concern. Instruct Gen. Alexeev to be more specific."
"I will do so after this meeting, Your Highness."
"The Germans clearly lack the strength to do us much harm at this time, Your Highness, with the Western Front becoming so active," remarked Yanushkevich, "They achieved some small success in Lithuania only because they were helped by the treacherous Jews. If my recommendations for removing those vermin had been carried out in a timely fashion this could have been avoided."
"In fact many Jews were relocated, general. In many places they have clogged the roads which needs to be remedied lest it interfere with our planned counterattack by Fifth Army," said Danilov.
"The Cossacks should be told to make the Jews move faster. That is all that is needed," replied the chief of staff, "In that case Fifth Army will have no problem Monday morning."
"So Alexeev still wants this attack to begin Monday?" asked the Grand Duke, "What forces will he have available then?"
The question was directed at Yanushkevich, who threw up his hands and shrugged, "I have not busied myself the details, Your Highness."
The Grand Duke sighed while rolling his eyes then turned to Danilov who answered without being asked, "The XIX Corps will attack south out of Dvinsk with 2 infantry divisions and a cavalry division, Your Highness. The XXXVII Corps will attack out of Riga with 2 infantry divisions. These units will be assisted by the forces which already have active in Courland, which is an independent infantry brigade, a Cossack cavalry division and some Territorial battalions.
"Hmm. Will this be enough?" asked the Grand Duke, "might it not be better to postpone this attack until more of Fifth Army has assembled?"
"Alexeev believes the current German flank guard to be a single German Landwehr Division and 2 or 3 cavalry divisions," answered Danilov, "If he were to wait for III Corps to arrive it could delay Fifth Army’s attack by an entire week due to delays on our overburdened railroads. By that time the Germans may have found a way to reinforce their own forces. Alexeev wants to remove the threat to Kovno as soon as possible. I concur with Northwestern Front."
"Harrumph! What threat to Kovno? That fortress is impregnable!" groused Yanushkevich.
"Apparently Gen. Grigoriev does not share those sentiments," countered Danilov.
"There is another reason not to postpone the attack of Fifth Army," said the Grand Duke, "Since Clemenceau became premier the French ambassador, Paléologue, has pressured the Tsar to attack the Germans. M. Clemenceau is not satisfied that we are attacking both the Austrians and the Turks now. He insists that we attack the Germans as well."
"Previously M. Paléologue had been expressing doubts about our ability to defeat the Austrians much less the Germans on account of our current material deficiencies," noted Danilov, "Clearly the opinions he is now expressing are more Clemenceau’s than his own."
"As both of you are already well aware, I am a great admirer of the French," the Grand Duke confessed, "For all his faults, the Napoleonic spirit manifests itself in Clemenceau. I am impressed that ambassador Paléologue is now speaking much more directly about the danger posed by that despicable German agent, Rasputin. Moreover Clemenceau may have a valid point about the current strategic situation. It is painfully obvious that the Germans are badly overstretched at this moment. If we are going to attack them again this year this is probably the best time to do it. Our finest prospect is the attack of Fifth Army against their weak left flank while they are wearing themselves out at Kovno. I see no reason to delay."
"Hmmm. Gen. Alexeev believes Hindenburg is only capable of mounting the current attack against Tenth Army by stripping the rest of his extending front dangerously weak, Your Highness," remarked Danilov, "Alexeevv has now decided to launch not one but two additional attacks. The first will be made by the Twelfth Army on Saturday with the goal of capturing Allenstein. The other attack will be by Second Army on either Sunday or Monday with the even more limited objective of pushing the Germans back from Warsaw. When Gen. Ruszki panicked during the Battle of Radom he let the Germans advance all the way to the very outskirts of Warsaw. Sooner or later the enemy will lunge for that prize. Our chances of holding on to Warsaw when that happens will be much enhanced if Second Army can advance a few versts now. Even if both of these attacks fail they will siphon off the enemy’s reserves which should help both Tenth Army and Fifth Army."
"I have no objections to either of these plans," said the Grand Duke, "provided they remain limited in their objectives. We should not forget how efficient the German rail system can be. Alexeev should be told that a week from now we might consider distributing more shells to Northwestern Front but until then the offensive in the Bukovina remains our most important operation and I am gratified that so far it appears to be exceeding my expectations."
------Viceregal Lodge Dublin 0805 hrs
Lord Curzon had been awake for nearly two hours. The Viceroy had as usual insisted that Gen. Hamilton bring him up to speed about what was happening in Ireland. As usual Gen. Hamilton ignored him. As usual Lord Curzon then cabled London expressing his displeasure. As usual he had breakfast with Mary where as usual he bitterly complained about his ill treatment. As usual he talked with Birrell on the telephone and as usual Birrell claimed that he too was being told very little. However Birrell did mention that there had been some mysterious predawn activity near Portobello Barracks that had the military deeply worried. As usual BGen. Lowe provided a very brief summary of what was happening in Dublin itself. Though Lowe’s summary was as usual woefully short on details, this morning’s report still confirmed what Birrell had related. A new rebel force, small but well armed, had arrived at Dublin in the early hours and succeeded in penetrating the cordon near Portobello Barracks. As usual Curzon demanded more details. As usual he did not get them. However in the last half hour the forces defending the lodge were doubled, which caused both Curzon and his fiancé to worry.
Now a captain arrived in a motor car. He brought with him a Zeglen bulletproof vest. "Your Excellency, Brigadier Lowe has decided that it would be best if we were to move you to another location," the captain, "Kindly instruct your manservant to fetch your belongings. Because of the threat from rebel snipers I must ask that you put this garment on before we leave the building. It will protect you from bullets."
Curzon was nonplussed, "What is going here, captain? For three days now I’ve been told that the rebels were completely contained. Now it appears they pose some threat to my official residence. I demand to know what is happening!"
"There has been some fighting in nearby Phoenix Park, Your Excellency. While Gen. Lowe does not think the rebels can successfully attack here, he values your safety and feels this precaution is necessary---at least for the time being."
Lord Curzon looked at the bulky protective vest. "Mary must accompany me. Would you happen to have another one of these for her---preferably more suited to her frame?"
"Unfortunately we have only this one available, Your Excellency. They are frightfully expensive being made mostly from layers of silk."
"Don’t worry about me, my love," said Mary, "I am sure that I will not need such protection. The rebel snipers surely would never take aim at a woman."
"Well then we shall leave as you have requested, captain" ordered Curzon, "But we must insist that you take us straight away to the Curragh! Gen. Hamilton has ignored our demands for far too long!"
"As you wish, Your Excellency."
------10 Downing St. 0830 hrs
"I cannot believe the archbishop of all people would criticize our policy towards the Papist traitors," roared Andrew Bonar Law at the meeting of the War Committee as he slammed a copy of the newspaper, "What has the Church of England come to if the Archbishop of Canterbury of all people sides with the Pope. This is simply outrageous."
Carson and Lloyd-George exchanged glances. It was the chancellor that spoke first, "Ahem, while it does seem outrageous from one perspective, I might ask you to consider that from another perspective, this development might be fortuitous."
Bonar Law’s scowl darkened further and focused a withering look at Lloyd-George. "What in blazes are you talking about chancellor?"
"What I saying is that we found ourselves wedded to a policy that clearly is not working, prime minister and the archbishop has graciously provided us a way to rectify this awkward situation without casting doubt on our sincerity and resolve."
"There is nothing about our policy that requires rectification!"
"Every day this week at least two Liberal MP’s have taken me aside to express their serious reservation about our policy, prime minister. The coalition which is supporting our government is coming unglued. No matter what drunkards are saying in the pub, wiser heads are starting to see some very serious problems with our policy, not the least of which is that it is failing quite miserably."
"It is definitely not failing!"
"Please open your eyes, Andrew. Since the Greenwich Park Speech, first Cork and now Dublin has erupted. What further proof do you require?"
Nostrils flaring Andrew Bonar Law glared darkly at David Lloyd-George. He was too angry to speak. "Uh, I’m afraid to admit it, Andrew, but the chancellor does make a valid point," said Sir Edward Carson with an awkward expression on his face, "I think we may have underestimated the perverse Irish fascination with martyrdom."
Bonar Law’s jaw dropped and he turned towards Carson, "I do not believe what I am hearing! The chancellor here is reverting to his weak willed Liberal past, but I am completely flabbergasted to hear such balderdash coming from your lips."
Oh dear. Unless the Royal Navy can somehow inflict a decisive defeat on the German battle fleet Andrew will be vacating this office before the end of the month Lloyd-George suddenly concluded. The handwriting has been on the wall for some time but I have been deluding myself---until now. The end could come very quickly if the full truth about what has recently happened in Ireland is revealed. "A week ago we could still maintain with some credibility that the situation in Ireland was primarily a matter of Britain defending herself against the German invaders," he said, "That is no longer the case. Even if we crush the Dublin rebellion and then the German invasion force in the next three or four days, this government is still in serious trouble. The motion to add Grey and Kitchener to this War Committee is likely to be put to a vote in Commons tomorrow despite all our attempts to stall. I now think it has enough votes behind it to pass."
"Even if that comes to pass it will be little more than a nuisance. In fact I am beginning to think that having Lord Kitchener here at this critical junction might prove beneficial. Despite his numerous faults he at least is capable of recognizing obvious treason," replied Bonar Law.
"The expansion of the War Committee is a sign that Parliament is losing faith in this government," said Lloyd-George, "If we do not soon prevail in Ireland---not only against the Germans but the rebels as well this government will fall."
"The Lowlands Division will put a quick end to the rebellion in Dublin and after that they will reinforce the attack on Cork. The Irish campaign is in the end game," declared Bonar Law, "When it is over the public will laud us as heroes even though it took longer than we first thought. Meanwhile we rescued First Army and there is some promising news coming out of Serbia that should serve to counterbalance the setback in Mesopotamia."
"A setback? Disaster is the more appropriate word if you ask me," replied Lloyd-George, "As for First Army the Germans have managed to encircle one of its divisions---something we have yet to report to the press."
"Lord Kitchener believes that division can and will be saved," interjected Carson.
"That does not completely reassure me," replied Lloyd-George drolly. Heated arguments continued for several minutes, but the prime minister refused to budge.
------ HMS Phaeton Broad Fourteens 0845 hrs
Harwich Force had suffered severe cumulative losses in the war starting with the Battle of Heligoland Bight. During the Battle of the Broad Fourteens back in October Commodore Tyrwhitt had been wounded. Though his injuries were not life threatening the commodore at that time thought he would either be killed or captured as he was in a bad tactical position against a superior foe. Mysteriously the Germans had turned away then allowing half of Harwich Force to escape though its flagship Aurora had slowly sunk returning home. When the High Seas Fleet had ventured into the Straits of Dover Harwich Force had bravely but futilely attacked the strong enemy. Moltke had badly damaged his flagship at the time, Arethusa. Afterwards the Admiralty had provided Tyrwhitt with Phaeton as his new flagship. He only had 3 ‘M’ class and 3 ‘L’ class destroyers with him organized into 2 divisions. The Admiralty had concluded that the Grand Fleet’s screen had been too weak at Utsire. To reinforce the Grand Fleet’s screen they had robbed Tyrwhitt of more than half of his destroyers.
The commodore realized Harwich Force was now too weak to mount a serious attack on the High Seas Fleet without assistance even at night. His mission this morning was simply to locate the vanguard of the German fleet. Harwich Force was now back in the Broad Fourteens off the Dutch coast, the site of the battle where it was nearly destroyed. Visibility had not been good after dawn with mist and patchy fog but it had slowly improved as the day wore on though the sky remained overcast. A few minutes ago a large patch of smoke to the ESE was seen by lookouts. Now the lookouts could make out vessels. At first they were only indistinct shapes but things soon became clearer esp. when they turned towards Phaeton.
"Commodore, the lookouts report 2 German light cruisers approaching rapidly on an intercept course. There are also one maybe two unidentified vessels further off that are likewise approaching at high speed."
"Send an encrypted wireless message to the Admiralty informing them of our discovery," Tyrwhitt ordered, "It is high time for us to withdraw. If the enemy pursues do not let them overtake us."
------HQ Australian Light Horse Brigade Ass End of Serbia 0855 hrs
Many senior officers in the British Army thought the Australians lacked discipline. A standing joke amongst them was that an Australian soldier could be insubordinate while standing at attention. "So your men actually captured a German general this morning," the regimental adjutant asked a cavalry sergeant, "Have you identified him?"
"Our prisoner proudly tells us that he is a lewd dwarf, sir."
------SMS Moltke Broad Fourteens 0905 hrs
"No, no, no! Fourth Scouting Group should not be chasing after that very fast British cruiser," cried Adm. Von Hipper, "Time is precious. Coal is precious. We cannot afford the luxury of this pursuit. Send a wireless message in the clear for Fourth Scouting Group to return to its scouting position."
------G.P.O. Dublin 0910 hrs
A battery of British 15 pounder field guns had been firing intermittently at the G.P.O. for more than 4 hours. It had not scored too many hits and as it was firing only shrapnel charges it had done little damage to the building. There was a nearby wooden shop that did manage to catch fire from the small bursting charge of the shrapnel shells. The shelling had stopped a few minutes ago. Two Irish Volunteers braved British snipers to carry a large wooden box to the G.P.O. "Open up, fer Chris’ake," one of them yelled as bullets ricocheted off the cobblestones of O’Connell St. The door was opened and but as they entered one of them was hit in the calf by a ricochet. The men inside grabbed the wooden box and assisted the wounded comrade. As a woman who was performing nursing duties tended the wounded man, Pearse watched with eager anticipation as the box was opened. Inside were 10 rifles which his men held aloft reverentially as if they were priceless treasure. The HQ battalion had grown to 562 men and 17 women but up until now only had 41 rifles.
"Did they tell you what type of rifles these are?" Pearse asked the two men who brought the box.
"Yes, they did. Mossy something that’s what they called them," replied the wounded man between agonized groans.
"I think he means Moisin-Nagant---that’s a Russian military rifle, commandant," remarked a member of HQ Battalion.
"Russian, you say. Well then, it seems that until we get some of the compatible ammunition these rifles are essentially useless," sighed Pearse, "Before we send some others out to try and fetch both suitable ammunition and more rifles, does either of you having any more news to report. In particular I would like to know if we have managed to hold onto the captured artillery."
The wounded man spoke, "The British have launched very determined attacks in the vicinity of St. Stephen’s Green, the Royal College of Surgeons and Portobello Barracks. Most men in 2nd Dublin Battalion and the Citizen Army now have a good rifle and together with the newcomers, who have a few machineguns, are holding firm against the British attacks. As far as I know we still hold the captured cannon, sir."
"And we still think the newcomers are a Kerry battalion led by that German named Rommel who made a name for himself in Cork?"
"Yes, commandant. There are unfortunately rumors that he was wounded in the fighting. Some even claim that he died of his wounds."
"I have mixed feelings about having a German officer here. On the one hand we sure could use some assistance, but on the other this is our rebellion and we must not surrender our independence to anyone," said Pearse who after a few seconds added, "I know of three men here in the HQ battalion, who have some experience with artillery. We will send them down to the Royal College of Surgeons. I will make inquiries of 1st and 6th Battalions and see if they have some men familiar with artillery. Even if we can only get two of the captured guns operational, it could make an important difference."
------HMS Iron Duke Dogger Bank 0920 hrs
"So Harwich Force has spotted 3 German light cruisers in the Broad Fourteens heading for either the Straits of Dover or the Nore," Adm. Bayly remarked to Adm. Madden, his chief of staff.
"Should we proceed towards Dover, sir?"
"Ingenohl can reach either the Straits or the Thames Estuary before we do. By the time we arrive there will be at most an hour of remaining. One of the few topics where I find myself in complete agreement with the Sea Lords is the undesirability of a night battle, esp. a night battle with no moonlight in very narrow waters ripe with sandbars. Furthermore these light cruisers could be intended as nothing more than a diversion, or even an attempt to lure us into mines and/or submarines. The High Seas Fleet could well be heading north for all we know. We shall hold to our present course until we know more."
------Skopje (Serbian Macedonia) 0930 hrs
In the last week the outnumbered Serbian Macedonian Army had retreated from the combined strength of the Bulgarian Second Army and the Ottoman III Corps. Yesterday the Bulgarian Cavalry Division had taken the important communication center at Veles. Most of what remained of the Serbian Macedonian Army was making its stand at another key communication center, the small city of Skopje on the banks of the Vardar. Esat Pasha had wanted to attack at dawn, but Gen. Todorov, the commander of the Bulgarian Second Army insisted that the attack be postponed until the Bulgarian heavy howitzers were in place with sufficient ammunition. The Ottoman and Bulgarian artillery commenced firing. The Serbs had artillery emplaced but were very low on ammunition and tried to conserve what little they had for the infantry assault.
------HQ Army Group Kronprinz Rupprecht Belgrade 0935 hrs
"Is there any word from XIII Army Corps?" asked a very worried Rupprecht.
"No, Your Royal Highness, the communication wires appear to be severed."
"Go find whichever of our available aircraft is in best condition for an immediate takeoff. I am going to compose a brief set of orders for Gen. Ludendorff for the aviators to deliver," Rupprecht ordered one member of his staff, then he turned to another, "Send a telegram to Austrian Third Army HQ and tell Gen. Tersztyánsky to do whatever it takes for him to close the gap."
"Jawohl, Your Royal Highness."
"Next send a telegram to Gen. Zhekov and ask him to explain why his First Army has not made any further progress towards Nish. Lastly, I have wireless message for you to send to Gen. von Hellingrath immediately. Do not bother to encrypt it. Simply say RIDE HARDER."
------Madrid 1005 hrs
Leon Trotsky addressed the crowds. They were noticeably larger than those he had addressed before. He had a very good idea why. "Brave workers of Spain, I have told you in the days past of how the ruling capitalist class put James Connolly to death because he dared to tell the truth. They still plot to silence those who speak the truth and now have struck again. Late last night the police suddenly arrested senor Eamon de Valera."
Trotsky paused for effect after that revelation. As he suspected a good portion of his audience right now---perhaps even a majority-- were not his usual Socialist congregation. For one thing Trotsky could see some cassocks and military uniforms in the crowd. Trotsky could hear excited murmuring within his audience. "I was there with my dear comrade, de Valera when the police arrived," continued Trotsky passionately, "I did everything in my power to prevent his arrest, but it was futile. I demanded to know who had ordered the arrest and what the charges were but only received insolent silence!"
The crowd murmured more intensely. Soon a chant developed, "Free de Valera! Free de Valera!"
------HQ British Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 1030 hrs
After arriving at the Curragh Lord Curzon was finally allowed to meet with Gen. Hamilton, Gen. Braithwaite and Maj. Price. "Gen. Hamilton, while I thank you for meeting with me at this time, I must start by protesting in the strongest possible terms the total lack of respect you have shown us in the last week. You could be cashiered for your disgraceful behavior toward the representative of the Crown."
Braithwaite darkened but it was Hamilton who responded with a forced smile and an even tone, "I am saddened that you feel that way, Your Excellency. What is it that you wish to know?" Hamilton once again found himself remembering Lord Kitchener on several occasions relating how incredibly hard it was to deal with Curzon.
"I want to know everything you’ve been hiding from me!"
"We may not have provided you as much detail as we should have, Your Excellency, and for that we apologize---but we were not in any way ‘hiding’ anything from you," replied Hamilton, "Moreover I must remind you once again that Ireland has become a war zone operating under military jurisdiction."
"Which you apparently feel exempts you from any and all accountability to civilian authority."
"Your misgivings are duly noted, Your Excellency," replied Hamilton, "might I suggest that it might be more a fruitful of our time if we go ahead and brief you on the current military situation and answer your questions."
"You are not going to shrug off my protestations, general!" snarled Curzon who after a few seconds added in a calmer voice, "But since you are finally in a mood to answer some questions, you can kindly start by telling me what is going on in Dublin. Why was it necessary to evacuate me on such short notice? Does this mean that the rebels have the upper hand?"
"This morning a new rebel force attacked the southern and western portions of our cordon around Dublin. Our preliminary estimate of the size of this new unit is about 1,000 men. It appears to be fairly well armed unlike the 3,000 rebels we had trapped inside the cordon. This unit took us by surprise at first and captured Portobello Barracks, the Magazine Fort and Kilmainham. They also captured one of the artillery batteries---"
"What---you mean to tell me that the rebels now have their filthy hands on some of artillery?"
"Yes unfortunately that is true, You Excellency, and it was the most important consideration in our decision to evacuate you."
"But surely you don’t think the rebels are capable of using artillery effectively."
"A very small percentage of them do have some military experience, Your Excellency. Most of those will be infantry but a handful will have served with the artillery. The rebels may have enough of those to use one or two of the captured guns with very limited effectiveness."
"This is a horrible thought but even if it is true shouldn’t that take some time?"
"Yes, and time happens to something the rebels do not have, Your Excellency," Braithwaite replied, "As you already well aware a brigade of infantry and a brigade of artillery belonging to the Lowland Division were sent to reinforce us here on Tuesday. What you are probably not cognizant of is that the War Committee decided yesterday to commit the rest of the division as well. The transports will begin offloading at Kingstown less than a half hour from now. This afternoon the full power of the entire division will be unleashed against the rebels. We expect the end to come quickly."
"That sounds all very reasonable and I would like so very much to believe it, but I seem to recall some other promises. Limerick was supposed to fall in 3 or 4 days. The 6th Bavarian Division was going to be destroyed with Tralee and Killarney liberated in the process. The rebellion in Cork was going to be crushed quickly. None of those promises came to pass---so pray tell me why should I share your optimism about Dublin?"
Hamilton and Braithwaite exchanged glances. The next hour was going to be very unpleasant.
------Kilmainham Gaol Dublin 1055 hrs
Despite his wound Rommel had managed to personally lead his men first in Phoenix Park and then in the assault on the gaol by sheer force of will. But once he had captured the gaol his body could be ignored no longer and he nearly fainted. It was only then that he allowed morphine to be administered. After that he slept for more than two hours.
Rommel was now awake in the warden’s office which he was using as a HQ. He summoned one of his German company commanders who briefed him what happened while he was sleeping. There had been 2 British attacks in Phoenix Park and another trying to retake Kilmainham from the east. All three had been repulsed but the casualties suffered by the 3rd Kerry Battalion in Phoenix Park were worrisome. There were also signs that the enemy was assembling strength in Richmond Barracks to try to outflank Rommel from the southwest. The portion of his battalion at the Magazine Fort and Kilmainham were cut off from the rest of 3rd Kerry Battalion and being methodically hemmed in.
Ziethen then briefed the major on his success wrecking railroad tracks. After that Rommel talked with the O’Rahilly, who was in charge of the released prisoners. Rommel lay propped up on a sofa. He looked pale.
"How are you feeling, major?" asked the O’Rahilly, who was deeply concerned.
"I will not pretend that it does not hurt," Rommel answered with a wince, "But contrary to what some people think I can still function. I cannot afford to linger in bed any longer. The fate of Dublin rests in my hands."
The O’Rahilly had for some time noticed that for someone who been a mere Lt. in the German Army two months ago, Rommel had a very high opinion of his own importance. The O’Rahilly planned to admonish the major about the sin of pride once there was a lull in the fighting. It didn’t look like that would be happening any time soon though. "I have organizing and interviewing the prisoners we released. There are a little more than 200 Irish men that are willing and fit to be used as soldiers, though many are a bit undernourished which we are remedying right now."
"That is good but make sure that they do not gorge themselves. We need to conserve food. But I am curious why you said Irish men. By any chance were they keeping some German prisoners here?" Rommel asked with some eagerness.
"No, German prisoners, but there were 21 Swedish prisoners."
"Swedish? Has Sweden by any chance decided to join the Central Powers---no wait, the Countess mentioned how a handful of Swedish volunteers aided in the capture of the Shelbourne Hotel. Is this somehow connected?"
"Yes, it is, sir. Sweden has not yet entered the war, but there apparently is growing public sympathy there for the Central Powers. A secret paramilitary organization was formed to foment revolt in Finland. The ruling Socialist government has recently clamped down on those activities. A faction of that organization then decided to send a tiny band of volunteers here to Ireland instead," said the O’Rahilly with a bemused look on his face. When they headed for Dublin last night he had never expected that he would soon be briefing the major on Swedish politics and Finland!
"A small volunteer group, eh? How were they captured?"
"They came to Kingstown in a single merchantman. They sent an advance party into town trying to make contact with the Irish Volunteers, while the rest remained on the ship in Kingstown. When the Dublin revolt broke out the advance party was staying at the Shelbourne while the rest seized a warehouse, where they holed up. They ran out of water yesterday and tried unsuccessfully to break out after dark."
"Is the leader of this Swedish expedition still alive? I would like to talk with him."
"Dr. Norling was captured unharmed, major. When the British discovered he was the expedition leader they separated him from the rest of the Swedish prisoners."
"Most likely they hauled him off for detailed interrogation somewhere—probably in England. I take it that those that remain are still willing to fight for Ireland?"
"Yes, major. For obvious reasons I think we should keep them together. There are 4 of them who speak English fairly well. We should put one of them in charge."
"Hmm. I would hazard a guess that at least one of those four also speaks German. For the time being I think I want them as a special unit. Enough about the Swedes though what about the Irishmen?"
"Remember about the failed rising in Enniscorthy we learned about when we were in New Ross? It now looks like what few prisoners survived---many apparently were killed on the spot---were brought here. Many have been executed here for treason but there are still about 50 that are left who are in good enough condition to fight. They are very eager to fight again. Maybe a little too eager as there is a lot of bitterness in most of them over what happened at Vinegar Hill."
"In that case we should try to keep them away from Herr Barry, yes?"
"My sentiments exactly, sir. What I recommend is that we keep them together as a single platoon, and promote some of our seasoned Kerrymen to be their platoon leader and at least 2 of their squad leaders."
"Now, now, not all my best soldiers come from Kerry, Capt. O’Rahilly. Take Lt. Cummins for instance. He was turning into a very effective leader and he came from Cork. It was such a shame he was wounded at Waterford."
"Yes, Cummins was turning into a very fine officer, major. I have high hopes that he will recover from his wound and return to duty before too long."
"Wounds are a funny thing," Rommel said with a pronounced wince, "Sometimes it hard to estimate how long it will take a man to recover."
The O’Rahilly nodded. He realized that the major was referring to his own situation as much as Cummins. "Uh, getting back to my recommendation---"
"----yes, yes, by all means go ahead and form this platoon with the men from Enniscorthy. What is next?"
"Uh, we strangely find ourselves with another group of men of roughly the same size with a situation that strikes me as being very similar, major. There was another spontaneous rebellion that erupted in Monaghan. A man named O’Duffy hit upon the bright idea of seizing one of arsenals of the Ulster Volunteer Force---"
"---yes that certainly is a clever idea. Of course if we were in Ulster it would’ve occurred to me sooner or later. Now that I think about someone mentioned this Monaghan rebellion when we were in Waterford. The British crushed that one as well didn’t they?"
"Yes, that they did, sir. If anything even more brutally than what happened in County Wexford. Nearly all the prisoners from Monaghan claim that they were severely beaten after they surrendered. Some have still not recovered from their beatings."
Rommel suddenly recalled with another wince how he had been badly beaten after he had been captured. "Have the British completely lost their conscience?" he asked.
"Perhaps they have, but in this case they are not only ones, sir. A few of the men tell me that our boys did some pretty heinous things up there."
"The quality of weapons O’Duffy found in the arsenal was less than he was expecting. He was convinced that there must be another cache with better weapons nearby and tortured the Ulster Volunteers they had captured to try to get them to reveal the location."
"That’s terrible! Uh, did they manage to get the location---"
"No, sir. My best guess is that there wasn’t any other cache. The infernal Orangemen are likely to be keeping their best toys closest to Belfast, their favorite playground."
"I am seeing more than a little bit of the late Herr Flynn in this O’Duffy, yes? Good heavens, what is this world coming to?"
"I sure wish I could answer that one, sir. What I can recommend is that we do the exact same thing as with the Enniscorthy survivors. Put them in their own platoon but assign them 3 of our finest leaders and do our very best to keep them away from Barry."
"I concur. I want you to do this is as quickly as possible because we desperately need more riflemen here. So now these two groups account for roughly half of our new recruits. Who’s in the other half? Jack the Ripper?"
"There is a mix, sir. There are some men who have been taken prisoner all over Ireland. At one time some of the prisoners went to Athlone but the I.R.A. with a little German help took Athlone and is holding on to it. Since then the British have been bringing nearly all new Irish prisoner here. In fact 3 of our new recruits were caught on the outskirts of Athlone. In addition to the risings there have been small incidents occurring nearly everywhere. Sniping and stabbings by day, while at night our boys come out to cut wires and damage the railroad tracks. Sometimes they get caught and sent here."
"Hmm. At Cork they held many of the local Irish Volunteer commandants in the jail. Quite a few of those proved useful to us. I was expecting we would find the same situation here."
"I was getting to that, sir. They did indeed arrest a great many of the Dublin Brigade commandants as soon as you Germans landed. However there is a difference with what they did at Cork. Here they executed some of the commandants on charges that they were plotting a rebellion. Ned Daly, Eamon Kent and Tom MacDonagh, the commandants of 1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions respectively are all dead, sir. I knew every one of them. They were all very fine men and I will miss them deeply. However I suspected that all three of them were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and so it is quite likely they were plotting a rebellion at the time they were captured."
"Those names sound vaguely familiar. I believe Capt. Plunkett mentioned that they were fellow leaders in the I.R.B. I know Plunkett expected Dublin to rise up within 48 hours of our landing. Probably that was what Gen. von François was expecting as well."
"But I know it for a fact, major, that Eion MacNeill was not a member of the I.R.B. and I do not think he was plotting a rebellion when they arrested him. Yet the damn Brits went ahead and executed him anyway just yesterday. And what bothers me most of all is I think that I am the reason why they killed him."
"Huh? Why on earth do you think that?"
"Because they learned that he sent me to Tralee just before the invasion. Then they probably learned that I had joined your outfit. Don’t you see that in their eyes that this meant that MacNeill knew in advance of the invasion and sent me ahead to coordinate with Stack? But this is all wrong. When MacNeill learned of the horses and other supplies that arrived in Munster he became deeply worried that Stack was part of an I.R.B. conspiracy to start an unauthorized rising. He sent me to Tralee to try to prevent a rising not start one."
A tear rolled down the O’Rahilly’s cheek. For more than a minute Rommel forgot his own pain. "It is not your fault, Captain O’Rahilly. Many strange things happen in this world. That is one of the first lessons you learn in combat if you haven’t learned it already."
"Thank you for saying that, major. Sorry for getting so sentimental," spoke the O’Rahilly as he wiped the tears from his eyes, "Besides Mr. Yeats there is one prisoner that I regard as being particularly important. Unlike the 3 battalion commandants I previously mentioned the British captured but did not execute Thomas Ashe, who commanded the 5th Dublin Battalion. That was the smallest battalion in the brigade consisting of companies from the Fingal area north of Dublin city but still in the county of Dublin."
Rommel arched an eyebrow, "What is this battalion doing now? MacEntee forgot to mention it when he briefed me."
"I spoke with the Countess and all she knew is that Pearse was having trouble communicating with them. However Ashe says his plan was not to get pinned down in one place but to keep it mobile making hit and run raids. He hopes whoever took over in his absence stuck to his instructions."
"Interesting. Sounds like sounder tactical judgment than what happened in heart of Dublin. Go fetch this interesting Mr. Ashe and let me have a few words with him."
------Les Eparges (Woevre) 1100 hrs
The German V Army Corps had been slowly and methodically working their way towards the important peak of Les Eparges in a campaign best described as "two steps forward, one step backwards." After 2 weeks of frantic digging the German miners had now finished planting their charges underneath the forward French trench line. An artillery bombardment by V Army Corps had commenced an hour earlier, barely touching the trench line concentrating more on suppressing French artillery Now there was a much louder explosion.
When the dust cleared there was now a large crater in the middle of the French trench line. Two battalions of the 7th Grenadier Regiment scampered out of their trench to capture the crater. The German minenwerfers which previously had been silent now opened up on French positions on the flanks of the crater. The grenadiers reached the crater with fairly light losses. There was the horrific sight of human bodies blown into parts. It was not the first time the grenadiers had seen this. It still bothered most of them in varying degrees but they had other things on their mind. The craters resulting from mines were often a two edged sword and could turn into a death trap for the attackers. Making things somewhat easier were their orders which stated that they were merely to hold the crater and a portion of the trench line on the flanks, but to refrain from advancing on the second French trench line. Gen. von Falkenhayn had given his approval to this limited offensive by Gen. von Strantz, but had made it clear he would call it off if casualties proved excessive.
The grenadiers consolidated their gains and waited for the inevitable French counterattack.
------Skopje (Serbian Macedonia) 1130 hrs
The Bulgarian and Ottoman guns ceased firing. Infantry from the 7th Bulgarian Infantry Division and the Ottoman 2nd and 9th Divisions made the assault. The Serbian artillery inflicted some casualties along with the few Serb machineguns that remained operational. The defenders included some Macedonians who had been forced into the Serbian army. Many of these quickly surrendered, esp. to the Bulgarians. Some of these would soon be incorporated into the 11th (Macedonian) Bulgarian Division.
The rest of the Serbs resisted furiously for more than an hour but the plain fact of the situation was they were too few in numbers, too weak in firepower. Before long the tattered remnants of the Serbian Macedonian Army were again in retreat to the west.
------SMS Moltke off Dunkirk 1145 hrs
Through his binoculars Adm. Franz von Hipper and Kapitan Raeder eagerly watched the approach of the 4th Torpedoboat Flotilla, which had been stationed in the Channel Ports and had only put out to sea in the last hour. The torpedo boats looked very dirty with the coal piled on their decks. So did those in the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla except for the B.97 and V.99.
"Is it time for the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla to begin their partial coaling in Calais, admiral?" asked Raeder.
"Yes proceed with that immediately. Also make sure that the minesweepers are now fully deployed."
Suddenly they could hear guns being fired. They were clearly not the main battery weapons. "What is that? What is going on?" asked a worried Adm. Hipper.
"Derfflinger is firing her antiaircraft guns, admiral," replied Moltke’s executive officer.
"I see a seaplane, admiral. It is at 2 o’clock," said Raeder, "I do not think it is one of ours."
Hipper swung his binoculars and could make out a seaplane. He did not get a particularly good look at it banked into a cumulus cloud to escape Derfflinger’s guns. "Derfflinger agrees with you. I hope they are right. I would feel bad if they shoot down one of our own airplanes, yes?"
"I am nearly certain that it is British, admiral. Given the weather it was almost inevitable we would encounter an enemy scout plane in this area."
"Yes. We factored that into our plans. Our discovery is both a plus and a minus. Is there any indication of the Royal Navy trying to attack our minesweepers?"
"No, admiral, Dover Patrol is reported as withdrawing."
"Good. We will proceed according to plan. We will turn to a NNE heading and make 16 knots."
-------Sligo city 1150 hrs
The 1st Battalion of the I.R.A. North Ireland Regiment was starting to enter the city. An hour earlier its bicycle platoon had been rebuffed by a force of 25 constables but the entire battalion proved too strong for the R.I.C. who hurriedly evacuated their position in motor vehicles. Already more than 20 members of the local company of Irish Volunteers had assembled to join them. The R.I.C. decided to concentrate on defending the docks where they were told that en entire battalion of British soldiers would fortuitously be arriving very soon.
------HQ British III Army Corps Rue (Picardy) 1155 hrs
The telephone lines between III Army Corps HQ and First Army HQ were up for the time being. When the call from Gen. Haig came in, Gen. Pulteney, the Corps commander, was not sure if that was a good thing. "How are the attacks coming along, general?" asked Haig.
"I was forced to call off the attacks, sir," replied Pulteney, "Our men are being massacred without accomplishing anything."
"You obviously need more men then. Well then I have excellent news for you. I just got off the tele with Gen. Willcocks. He is sending you the 1st Manchester and the 2nd Leicestershire as we speak That should be enough to tip the balance and allow us to save the 2nd Infantry Division."
Pulteney shook his head and chose his words carefully, "I must respectfully disagree with that evaluation, sir. We are at the point where merely throwing more men at the German defenses is not going to carry the day. If we had more artillery or even just more shells then I would feel differently. But right now I have inadequate shells for our own defense must less a resumption of the attack."
"I am perfectly aware that artillery is very important, Gen. Pulteney---but so is cold hard steel in the belly. I am not giving up on rescuing the 2nd Infantry Division, esp. as I am certain that the German 7th Infantry Division is on its last legs by now."
"I am not so sure, sir. Oh, they have certainly paid a stiff price and are incapable of any further offensive action---but they have amply demonstrated just a few hours ago that they are still capable of mounting a ferocious defense."
"You are once again being overly pessimistic, Gen. Pulteney."
"Am I, general? I have been informed that the British warships off the coast are now leaving. Isn’t that a cause for concern, sir? It could mean Germans are sending warships our way again."
Haig took his time responding, "Field Marshal French has informed me that the German battle fleet is believed to be at sea now."
"WHAT!? Sir, this is an additional reason to call off any further attacks. I remember all too well what happened the last time the German battleships entered the Channel."
"I have not forgotten that either, general but the Huns caught your corps marching on the road. Right now they are well entrenched and therefore much less vulnerable. The Admiralty has promised to provide Field Marshal French a two hour warning if and when the enemy battlefleet enters the Straits of Dover."
"By the time that filters its way down to my divisional HQ it could be less than an hours warning, sir."
"Understood, but I find it highly unlikely that the German warships would shell the front line where there is too much risk of hitting their own men. No, if there is to be a shelling it will fall on your rear areas which are properly dug in. Though their shells are large, they are low trajectory which greatly limits their effectiveness against an entrenched opponent as we learned during the Battle of the Somme. So while I am glad that we had this little airing out, I find your objections insufficient. The time for discussion is over. Carry out my orders and rescue the 2nd Infantry Division! Is this clear?"
------Swords (Dublin) 1210 hrs
Rommel took Tom Ashe and the O’Rahilly along with 30 of his best Irish soldiers and put them aboard 6 of his Tatra trucks along with 600 Moisin-Nagant rifles and 30,000 rounds of ammunition. With one of his armored cars in the vanguard his convoy emerged from the northwest corner of Phoenix Park. They swung around the north of Dublin. Ashe was able to make contact with elements of the 5th Dublin Battalion in the town of Swords.
"Is that really you, Tom?" asked Richard Mulcahy, the battalion’s acting commandant, "Saints in Heaven, this borders on a miracle."
"You have this darlin’ man here to be thankin’ for my release," replied Ashe pointing towards Rommel who was slowly approaching, "He is somethin’ of a miracle worker, that he is. His name is Major Erwin Rommel and he commands the 3rd Battalion Kerry Brigade, which arrived in Dublin early this morning to lend us a hand."
Turning to Rommel Mulcahy said, "All the way from Kerry, major! Does your presence here by any chance mean that the Germans are a lot closer to Dublin that the godforsaken Brits have been admitting?"
Rommel shook his head, "As far as I know they are still in Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Clare, and unfortunately for us are mostly on the defensive now. However I understand that your men are seriously lacking in weapons and I have brought many military rifles with me."
"How many men do we have right now, Richard?" asked Ashe.
"I have them split up and moving as you suggested, Tom, so it is hard to be sayin’. Since news began to circulate of MacNeill’s execution some Redmondites have been changing their mind and almost every hour we get a few more. We have taken some casualties but since we are engaging only in hit and run raids they have not been too bad. My best guess is that we now have a little more than 500 able bodied men plus at least a dozen women. This counts some Volunteers from County Meath, but not the more than 400 coming this way from County Louth which I only learned about in the last hour."
"That is very impressive, Richard, esp. as we had less than 400 men when I was arrested. Still have only have only 4 companies?"
"No, we decided to form a fifth."
"You say that your battalion is dispersed. How many can companies you assemble quickly?" asked Rommel.
"Hmm. Three including this one, major."
"Three will have to do as time is essential. It almost always is in war though many fail to understand that. Including some Germans I can think of."
------HMS Iron Duke Dogger Bank 1225 hrs
After receiving the wireless transmission about German battle cruisers off Flanders, Adm. Lewis Bayly convened his staff and announced his decision. "I believe we now have sufficient information to dismiss the possibility that the German battle fleet is heading north. Still there remain many alarming possibilities including the most dire of all—that the Huns intend to invade England. Whatever the Germans are up to it is virtually certain that they will have some form of trap laid for us. For all we know the main objective of this German sortie is the destruction of this fleet. Back in April we made our approach by the most direct route and ended up losing Shannon. I do not intend to repeat that mistake. Instead what I intend to do is head for the Frisian Islands on a dogleg course, arriving after dark we will approach the Straits of Dover by roughly the same path that Ingenohl is very probably using and therefore should be free from mines and submarines. If it turns out that he is supporting an invasion we will smite the scoundrel from the direction he least expects."
"This could be merely a hit and run raid into the Channel by their battle cruisers, sir," Adm. Madden speculated, "If that is the case we could find ourselves bumping into the High Seas Fleet in the dark on their way home."
"That is an excellent point. As you all know very well by now I remain adamantly opposed to our battleships fighting at night unless there is very bright moonlight---and we happen to be a day away from a new moon. So what will be imperative tonight is that we have our cruiser squadrons optimally deployed to provide ample warning to the battle squadrons. In close support to the cruisers will be one of our destroyer flotillas. If any of our cruisers detect the German fleet, that flotilla will make an immediate torpedo attack while the battle squadrons will reverse course with the other two flotillas acting as their screen. The battle squadrons will hold back until dawn at which time we shall seek to gain favorable visibility."
"And if we cannot attain that do you plan to avoid a fleet action, sir?" asked Madden.
"Unless an invasion of England is underway too much is at stake to risk a fleet action with our current strength under those conditions."
------HQ British 52nd (Lowland) Division Blackrock (Dublin) 1240 hrs
BGen. Lowe had just arrived by motorcar at the temporary HQ of Maj. Gen. Granville Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division. "A few minutes ago I spoke with Gen. Hamilton on the telephone," Gen. Egerton related, "The bottom line is that I am hereby assigned overall responsibility for Dublin and will report directly to Gen. Hamilton. We also discussed your role. For the next hour you will inform me as best you can about the details of what has happened here. After that I am putting you in charge of a temporary formation with operational command over the Yorkshire and 2 Royal Irish Rifles battalions currently in Dublin as well as the R.I.C."
Egerton had a dark anger radiating from his face. Lowe surmised that he was at least one of the things Egerton was angry about. "As you wish, general," he replied guardedly.
"In case you were not informed, Gen. Hamilton decided to detach two of my battalions before I left Liverpool, sending one to Donegal and the other to Sligo. So I only brought 6 additional battalions with me today. As far as artillery goes things are still worse. The War Office did not let me take my 60 pounder battery as they fell it is better used in France. III Lowland Artillery Brigade has only batteries of 15 pounders as Lord Kitchener felt it was felt necessary to leave one of the Glasgow batteries behind for coastal defense. Likewise IV Lowland Artillery Brigade has only 2 batteries of old 5" howitzers. When I arrived here I was informed that II Lowland Artillery Brigade had one of its 3 batteries captured by the rebels early this morning. Would you care to explain how this happened, Gen. Lowe?"
Lowe squirmed even though he half expected this difficult question. "A force of German led Irish rebels traveled in motor vehicles all the way to Dublin from somewhere in Munster during the night and struck the rear of the southern portion of our cordon around the rebels inside Dublin. They captured ‘C’ battery as well as Portobello Barracks and the HQ of 1/5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers, then a little bit later---"
"---they captured the Magazine Fort and Kilmainham Gaol. Yes, I am already well aware of that."
Sensing that Gen. Egerton had serious doubts about his competence, Lowe said, "The attack on Kilmainham was a serious mistake by the enemy, sir. The forces there and in Phoenix Park are now hemmed in and cut off from the main rebel force. In a sense those bottled up in Kilmainham are going to end up there for a long time if you know what I mean, sir."
The small attempt at levity only served to increase the contempt in Gen. Egerton’s eyes. "In the brief time you have command of my men, Gen. Lowe, the 155th Brigade has suffered over 1,000 casualties and the II Lowland Artillery Brigade has lost an entire battery. This from fighting an enemy I have been repeatedly told is poorly trained, weakly armed and badly outnumbered."
"Uh, the rebels were on their last legs until these newcomers arrived, sir. Gen. Hamilton has made it abundantly clear that London wanted the rising crushed as quickly as possible."
"Yes, and they still do. Before you arrived I was on the telephone with Gen. Hamilton who ordered me to eliminate the rising before noon tomorrow. He refused my request to postpone the attack until dawn tomorrow so as to give my division proper time to prepare. Gen. Hamilton believes that if I fire off all my shells in a rapid fire bombardment this afternoon, Irish morale will be shattered. Something about ‘shock and awe’. Nice sounding words."
"Gen. Hamilton does have a way with words, sir."
"Yes he does, but despite his eloquence I remain dubious. He is my superior so I will follow his orders as best I can despite my reservations. Now as a prelude to my attack, here are your orders. First, I want you to pin down the rebels at Kilmainham while continuing your envelopment in Phoenix Park. Next, I want your forces in North Dublin to make a diversionary attack towards the G.P.O. roughly two hours from now. Is this understood?"
------Old Admiralty Building 1335 hrs
Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, hung up the telephone. He turned to Sir Edward Carson who was with him along with Adm. Wilson and Adm. Oliver. "Another of our seaplanes has spotted the 3 German battle cruisers again, First Lord. The enemy is steaming away from the Straits of Dover on a northeasterly heading."
Carson scratched his head and sighed, "I must confess that I am having trouble making heads or tails of this, admiral. An hour ago I felt certain that the Germans intended one of three things---a landing in Kent, a sortie into the Channel or a raid on the Thames Estuary. Now I am not so sure."
"Adm. Bayly believes the current German sortie is intended to lure the Grand Fleet into a decisive fleet action under conditions they regard as highly favorable, First Lord," replied Adm. Callaghan.
"Or it could be that they intend to invade Suffolk and want us to think they are going to land in Kent instead," added Adm. Wilson, "a diversion intended for the War Office as much as ourselves."
"Gadzooks! Those are both very disturbing possibilities," exclaimed Carson, "They raise the question of whether or not this is the best for the Grand Fleet to fight another fleet action at this time?"
"In less than a fortnight, First Lord, Warspite will have worked up to acceptable effectiveness. Temeraire will have returned from the yards and Inflexible from America," remarked Wilson.
"True but we should also bear in mind that additional German warships could be repaired by then as well," noted Carson who then cast an inquisitive glance towards Adm. Oliver, who responded, "Our spies in the German yards indicate that most of the German dreadnoughts and two of their battlecruisers are ready for action."
"Ah, our seaplanes reported seeing three German battle cruisers, Oliver," said the First Sea Lord.
"Could one of them be Lutzow?" asked Wilson.
Oliver shook his head, "Highly unlikely. There is some intelligence suggesting that Lutzow is at least a month away from completion."
"At the risk of not sounding properly Nelsonian, today is not the day for the decisive battle," said Callaghan, "maybe tomorrow if Adm. Bayly can find a way to gain a tactical advantage but otherwise I say we should sit back and ride things out. Our day is coming but right now we require patience and prudence."
"Even if the Germans invade England?" asked Carson.
"That would indeed present us with a conundrum, First Lord. If the Germans establish a beachhead in England, we are not yet defeated but if the Grand Fleet were to suffer a defeat even half as bad as Utsire then we would be at the mercy of the Huns."
Carson pounded the desk in frustration then turned to Oliver, "Does N.I.D. have any new intelligence, Adm. Oliver?"
"Uh, we know for sure that the High Seas Fleet is at sea as well as the battlecruisers. One message we deciphered in the last half hour is from Adm. Hipper announcing that he is closing the gap with battle fleet."
"Well that certainly does count as useful information but still does not allow us to reach any conclusions about the ultimate German intentions," declared Wilson.
"And what is our current submarine deployment, Adm. Callaghan?" asked Carson.
"We now have one submarine each on station off Lowestoft, Margate, Dungeness, Etaples and Abbeville, First Lord. The French have 2 submarines stationed off Le Havre and one off Cherbourg."
"I am disappointed that we do not have more on station."
"As we discussed before, First Lord, it is impossible to keep all or even half of our submarines on station continuously," replied Callaghan, "Commodore Keyes is currently assembling more based on current intelligence, yet we need to be careful there as well. If the Germans really want to fight off the Frisians then massing submarines away from that action in the very shallow waters in and around the Straits, where they will have trouble operating submerged, will be counterproductive."
"Yes, if the sprint by their battle cruisers towards the Straits was indeed meant as a feint that could well be one of its goals," added Wilson.
"The German true intentions will become clear very soon, First Lord," Adm. Oliver predicted, "I am certain of it."
------HQ German Eighth Army East Prussia 1355 hrs
Gen. Hans von Seeckt, the chief of staff of Ober Ost, paid a visit to Eighth Army HQ to meet with Gen. Otto von Below and his chief of staff, Gen. Alfred von Böckmann. "The Russian Tenth Army has halted its retreat and is now putting up a stiff fight, general," reported von Böckmann, "Furthermore our aviators this morning have observed a large formation heading our way out of Kovno, possibly an entire division."
"The more the merrier. We will grind them all into sausage with our artillery over the next two days," boasted von Below.
A slight trace of a grin emerged on the inscrutable face of von Seeckt, "It might not be wise to grind too fast, general. It would be counterproductive if they pull their right wing back to Kovno before it falls."
"Has Gen. von Marwitz provided an estimate of when he expects to capture Kovno?" asked von Böckmann.
"I received a telegram from him just before I departed. He obviously cannot be completely sure but his best estimate at this time is a week to 10 days," answered von Seeckt.
"That soon? My understanding is that Kovno is a very formidable fortress."
"Yes, it is but I tend to share his optimism. Gen. von Marwitz very graciously gives credit to Gen. von Beseler’s expertise. If the two of them can pull it off it would put Operation Fulcrum back on schedule."
"Yes, that would be wonderful," von Below remarked, "If the fall of Kovno is indeed so close, then perhaps it is time that we discuss what our objectives will be after that."
Gen. von Seeckt made another expression, "Oh, I must confess, general, that while Oberst Hoffman and myself have discussed several very interesting options a decision has yet to be reached."
"Hmm. Well then, in that case I will strongly recommend that you decide upon at least a preliminary plan in the next day or two so we will be properly prepared when the time comes. I can offer some suggestions."
"I am sure you can and will, general, but I must respectfully remind you that the final decision is not mine to make."
"Oh," replied von Below who exchanged puzzled glances with his own chief of staff, "Uh, and just how long have you been at Ober Ost, Gen. von Seeckt?"
------Westgate airfield (Isle of Thanet) 1405 hrs
A formation of 12 German Albatross aircraft had taken off from an airfield near Guines in the Pas de Calais. One of them had developed engine trouble soon after takeoff and been forced to make an emergency landing. The warplanes proceeded rapidly over the Straits passing just east of Deal on the British coast as they headed for the Isle of Thanet. Their main target was the Royal Naval Aviation Service seaplane base at Westgate. In the last two months the British had begun to use a farm field at nearby Manston for land airplanes, including some intended to engage German airplanes even though air to air combat remained a frustrating endeavor. Three of the Albatrosses detached from the formation to raid Manston destroying one plane of the ground with their hand dropped bombs and delaying any other airplanes from taking off. The rest of the German formation swung to the west of Westgate, with 3 Albatrosses attacking the antiaircraft battery guarding the base while the remainder curved still further north to attack the base itself. The antiaircraft guns quickly shot down one of the Albatrosses attacking them but 3 of the gunners were soon wounded and the guns distracted. The result was the 5 German warplanes attacking Westgate were able to make 2 passes without much interference and they were able to destroy one British seaplane on the water and damage 2 more.
------SMS Moltke heading NE 1410 hrs
Through their binoculars Hipper and Raeder stared at the 4 small light cruisers of the 5th Scouting Group, which were 20,000 yards distant and closing at roughly 30 knots. The High Seas Fleet could not be seen directly but there was a large mass of smoke visible on the horizon indicating their presence. Hipper removed the cigar from his mouth and looked at his flag officer, "Flags, signal a 16 point turn to starboard in succession."
------Sligo city 1420 hrs
The liner carrying half of the 1/7th battalion Highland Light Infantry arrived at Sligo. The R.I.C. detachment in the city were just barely holding on to docks with some help from some poorly armed members of the Coast Guard, having lost control of the rest of the seaport, though the local gaol was holding out. The 1st Battalion Northern Ireland Regiment had managed to get 4 of its best snipers posted where they could fire on the Scots as they marched off the boat. This soon drew return fire from the soldiers on the deck of the liner, while other soldiers tried to sprint to shore. An armed trawler had escorted the troopship to Sligo. When the trawler learned of what was happening it began firing its main gun at the city but its gun crew was uncertain as to what their target should be. Eventually it ceased fire for fear of hitting friendly forces. Meanwhile the 1st Northern Ireland had absorbed 140 men and 4 women from the local company of Irish volunteers and they helped build barricades to cordon off the British. Messengers summoned two smaller companies of Irish Volunteers in the northern part of the county.
------Cork city 1430 hrs
There had been sparring and probing between elements of the 53rd (Welsh) Division and the German and Irish rebel forces in Cork during the morning but no major attacks. The pocket of Royal Munster Fusiliers in the southern part of the city had finally surrendered at noon freeing up the troops surrounding them. The other two trapped enemy pockets though continued to hold out stubbornly.
Four British field batteries now commenced firing shrapnel shells as they not a single HE shell. The Germans had 3 batteries of 7.7 cm field guns and 2 more armed with 15 cm howitzers. These also did not have shells to waste and their commander decided to avoid an artillery duel. The British bombardment lasted only 15 minutes and then the North Wales Brigade attacked the city with 3 battalions. The German artillery opened on 2 of the battalions. One was hit hard by 15 cm shrapnel shells and its battalion commander, shocked by the ferocity of the German artillery, soon retreated. The other battalion was subjected to only 7.7 cm shells and thought it could press on but when it came under fire from Bavarian machineguns as well also retreated.
Meanwhile the 1/6th battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, had not been targeted originally. This unit had learned a hard lesson about the power of 15cm howitzers at the Battle of Rathmore. Its commander found infiltrated the city company by company through some hills to the north. The terrain was too rough for the wagons so he left them as well as the machine section behind guarded by a half company. The lead company reached a developed section of Cork without being shelled but then came under fire from a company of the 1st Cork City Battalion who had excellent cover. The Irish defenders held their position while reinforcements arrived---first one another company from 1st Cork City Battalion then a Bavarian company. The colonel in command of the 1/6th battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers eventually grudgingly the futility of the attack and withdrew.
------Kuwait 1455 hrs
Sheik Mubarak Al-Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait, welcomed his honored guest, Col. Mustafa Kemal, a few miles from Kuwait city. The rest of the Ottoman 19th Division was about 2 hours behind. Some of Kemal’s staff worried that Mubarak’s local militia would offer some resistance, but Kemal had laughed at that. There was no resistance though Mubarak was accompanied by a party of well armed bodyguards who watched the Ottoman officers with visible unease.
"In celebration of your great victory over the British there will be a lavish feast in your honor," said Mubarak obsequiously.
"I would prefer that you hold it honor of the Sultan," replied Kemal.
Mubarak took his time before answering, "Yes that is a most splendid suggestion. I will hold a great feast this evening to honor the Sultan and his inspiring victory over the British in Mesopotamia. Anything to show my great love for the Sultan."
"In that case there are a few things you can do."
"Oh? Such as?"
"My superiors believe that that it is time that Kuwait demonstrate some greater commitment to the war effort, Sheik."
"Uh, what exactly do you have in mind, Kemal?"
‘Oh, I was thinking 1,000 of your best soldiers with rifles, 400 healthy horses, 100 healthy camels, and 100 sturdy wagons, as well as provisions for my men and their draught animals. Surely these are not unreasonable requests."
Mubarak frowned slightly and took his time answering, "Well, of course, providing for your heroic men is a very reasonable request, but as for the rest you must understand that I am hesitant to weaken my meager garrison. I have great responsibilities here that cannot be taken lightly."
"My superiors are well aware of that, Sheik. We know all too well that you are in a difficult situation. One reason I am here is to assist you in meeting your obligations to the Empire and ensure that Kuwait is well protected. If you need time to assemble the contribution I suggested that is understandable and should not be a problem. I am not going to be in a hurry to leave."
------north of Topola Serbia 1500 hrs
A squadron of the 1st Bavarian Heavy Reiter Regiment lay hidden behind a ridge. One of the unteroffiziers was on foot near the crest hidden in some shrubs from which he could observe what was happening down below. He now sprinted to the squadron commander and reported what he saw in a soft voice, "Oberleutnant, there is a force of mounted Britishers sauntering into the vale below from the west."
"How many are there?"
"About a hundred that I could see, Oberleutnant."
The squadron commander communicated to the seasoned troop leaders with hand signals. It wasn’t very complicated. The squadron soon flowed over the ridge and charged down the slope below towards the Australian horsemen, who were uncertain whether to dismount or fight from their horses. Some dismounted and some started to dismount then changed their minds. The Bavarian Reiters fell upon them with lance and saber. The initial shock gave them an advantage but the Australians did not panic and fought them gamely from horseback.
Elsewhere the Australian and Bavarian cavalry fought each other dismounted. The Bavarian horse artillery soon came into action while the Australian cavalrymen had moved beyond the support of their own divisional artillery. While Australian Light Horse fought with great skill and valor it soon became obvious to the commanding officer that their position was untenable and they executed in an orderly fashion a modest withdrawal to a position where they would have the support of the New Zealand Brigade and the divisional artillery.
------Fairview Strand (Dublin) 1525 hrs
When Dublin erupted on Monday the 1/7th battalion West Yorkshire Regiment had been detached from the 49th (West Riding) Division and moved by rail to Dublin, where it took over primary responsibility for the northern part of the city, where it mostly fought the 6th Dublin Battalion. It had taken several key rebel outposts, incl. Fairview Strand. They had been aware that there were enemy forces to their north in Fingal but these forces where regarded as very weak and little more than a nuisance. With news of a new rebel force inside Phoenix Park it had shifted most of its strength to the west. There was some R.I.C. reinforcing the soldiers including an additional contingent which arrived from Belfast just before noon. This afternoon they received orders from Gen. Lowe to mount a diversionary attack on the rebels to the south.
Rommel, Ashe and Mulcahy had quickly worked out a plan of attack. They sent one of the battalion’s companies due south to carry out a diversionary attack. Ashe then took the other 2 companies plus Rommel’s men and swung around to the east where there was a half company of the 1/7th battalion West Yorkshire situated at Fairview. Hindered by his wound Rommel was unable to keep up to direct the attack in person. Moreover the armored car which was supposed to assist the attack had managed to get lost in some side streets. Ashe decided not to wait and led his now well armed men with elan and soon flanked the British soldiers who had been focused on the south. This forced the Yorkshires to make a hasty retreat to the west. Soon after the 5th Dublin Battalion moved into the vacated position, a band of 54 constables arrived in motor vehicles having been summoned to assist the Yorkshires. These were very rudely handled by the Irish Volunteers. Seven constables were quickly killed and the rest hurriedly fled south in their vehicles except for six who were captured along with 2 motor cars.
Rommel arrived just as this engagement finished. He was still in a great deal of pain from his wound but when he saw what had happened he managed a slight grin and nodded in approval, "I am impressed, Commandant Ashe. Are both of the captured motor cars in working condition? I can always use more motor vehicles as long as they are in running condition."
"One car took at least one round to its engine and is definitely not running. You can see the oil leaking out of it. The other one though looks to be in good condition, major."
Rommel gazed towards the Royal Canal to the south then turned towards Mulcahy and asked, "There are elements of the 6th Dublin Battalion just over the canal, yes?"
"There were early yesterday, major. I cannot say for sure if that is still true, major."
Rommel sighed, "Understood. Let us hope that is still the case. We need to link up with the 6th Dublin Battalion as soon as possible."
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse heading SW 1530 hrs
The High Seas Fleet steamed southwest in a line at 15 knots with Third Squadron leading First Squadron. Since first light Adm. von Ingenohl had ordered frequent zigzags to reduce the threat of enemy submarines. The troopships also steamed in a line to the port of the dreadnoughts, where it was hoped that the battle fleet would obscure even the largest liners from the eyes of British scouts. However 5 of the troopships---Imperator, Vaterland, Kronprinzessin Cecile, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kronprinz Wilhelm had were now starting to accelerate leaving Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, George Washington and Hohenzollern lagging behind.
Grossadmiral von Ingenohl finally allowed Sir Roger Casement to speak with him on the condition that the Irishmen speak in German and not waste his time. "Has Gen. von François been notified that we are on the way with the second wave?" asked Casement nervously as he was all too aware that the admiral did not like him.
"No. He has not."
"Uh, well in that case, shouldn’t we be notifying him now?"
"No! It is still too soon."
"I don’t mean to sound critical, grossadmiral, but won’t things go smoother if Gen. von François knows we are coming as soon as possible?"
"This is way beyond your area of expertise, Sir Roger. There are very grave security risks if we notify Gen. von François too soon. His HQ is surely infested with Irishmen who secretly serve the British. However there is another reason, which you might find interesting. It is still far from certain that we are going."
Casement did not feel like addressing the security problem. It did not surprise him as he had heard variations of it before, incl. the decision not to notify the I.R.B. before the first wave landed. The admiral’s second point on the other hand was something of a shock, "What do you mean by that? The troopships are loaded----"
"If there is opportunity to bring the Grand Fleet to battle under favorable conditions, I have the discretion to do so, in which case I will send the troopships to shelter in Ostend and Zeebrugge."
"Ah, Admiral von Tirpitz did not inform me of this. In that case the second wave would resume its transit soon after the battle is over."
"If we lose the battle it would not be possible. And if we win I do not think it would be necessary."
Casement pondered that for nearly a minute, "Hmm, and is the Grand Fleet in fact racing here to do battle? Are they really ready to do battle at this point? Tirpitz did not think so."
"We don’t know, Sir Roger. The 3 Zeppelins searching for it this morning have found nothing. Neither have our own airplanes nor 1st Scouting Group nor our vaunted U-Boats. Nothing! What makes this particularly disturbing is that the British fleet has a habit of responding much faster than they should be able to. It is a mystery that has not yet been satisfactorily explained to me."
"Oh, I did not know this. Well then, what do your fellow naval officers think about all this?"
"Unfortunately too few of them think of it at all. Those that do come up with theories that I find less than compelling. The Admiralstab says I worry too much. They have become complacent because Dogger Bank and Utsire were great victories," said von Ingenohl. After a few seconds his scowl which had briefly softened returned with a vengeance, "But why am I wasting my precious time discussing this with you of all people? Certainly the solution to this enigma is not going to come from an Irishman."
------Dublin 1630 hrs
The British artillery bombardment commenced with the entire artillery establishment of the Lowland Infantry Division---4 batteries of 15 pounders and 2 batteries of BL 5" howitzers. All of it was concentrated in the vicinity of Trinity College. The field guns fired only shrapnel shells. The howitzers began by firing HE shells of the old Lyddite type dating back to the Second Boer War. Just as in the Boer Wars a large percentage failed to explode. In less than 10 minutes they used up their HE shells and switched to shrapnel shells. The gunboat Helga also participated. The entire bombardment lasted only 20 minutes.
The 1/7th Battalion Cameronians did not wait for the artillery to cease firing, but started its attack on South Dublin Union 5 minutes into the shelling. This was regarded as safe albeit unorthodox because the bombardment was targeting a different sector of Dublin. It was hoped that the noise alone from the shells would distract and unnerve the inexperienced marginally trained men of the 4th Dublin Battalion which was defending the South Dublin Union. This proved only partially true. Most of the members of the 4th Dublin Battalion had grown used to the sound of artillery and the new intensity of it terrified relatively few. The 4th Dublin Battalion had received 340 of the Russian rifles from the 3rd Kerry Battalion Motorized during the day. This helped considerably in the hard struggle that ensued.
When it was done the infantry assault began with the1/6th battalion Highland Light Infantry attacking from the vicinity of the Custom House and the 1/5th battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders attacking from Trinity College. Their goal was to capture the main rebel HQ at the G.P.O. Each was opposed by a company of the 6th Dublin Battalion. The combined effective strength of these two companies was only a little more than 300 men, as they had taken serious losses in the fighting at Liberty Hall and Trinity College plus some casualties from the shelling. Less than a third of them were armed with rifles of any sort. Some of them were intimidated by the British shelling. The G.P.O. was burning along with several other nearby buildings. The Scots were able to make progress but it was very slow house to house combat where Irish Volunteers armed with shotguns or even mere pistols could prove deadly.
Just before the British bombardment was starting the two companies of 5th Dublin Battalion led by Ashe linked with another company of 6th Dublin Battalion further north. Rommel arrived soon after the artillery bombardment ended. "That was some mighty powerful shelling the British just unleashed, major. The O’Rahilly here was tellin’ me he witnessed one even more powerful bombardment back in Kerry," Ashe remarked with awe.
Rommel nodded his head, "What he says is true, but even that barely holds a candle to some that I witnessed in France."
"Good Lord! That surely must have been Hell on earth!"
Rommel paused before replying, "It can certainly seem like that esp. when you are on the receiving end. It is why I always say it is better to shed sweat than blood."
"From where the shells were landing I’d say the Brits were trying to knock out Pearse’s headquarters at the G.P.O., major," the O’Rahilly noted with concern.
"Omigod! You don’t think they managed to kill Pearse, now do y’a?" asked Ashe.
"Unlikely but possible," Rommel answered, "I certainly hope not as I really need to talk with Commandant Pearse as soon as possible. We need to move closer and get a better view of just what is happening."
------Clonakilty (Cork) 1710 hrs
The 7th battalion Leinster Regiment had managed to round up nearly 400 of the scattered survivors of the 16th (Irish) Division. They had skirmished with a rebel patrol mounted on bicycles just before noon. At Clonakilty one of the battalions companies was able to signal one of the armed trawlers that patrolled around the coast of Munster. A small landing party now met with the company commander. "We will notify our superiors immediately, captain," said the petty officer, "They may decide to evacuate all of you by sea, or they may want to reinforce you."
"I understand that but some of our men are very badly wounded and we are unable to provide them the care they richly deserve. We need to get those men evacuated to a hospital as soon as possible."
"Understood. You in turn must understand that my vessel is limited in the number it can carry safely."
"I do understand. We will start with the most severely wounded. When you contact your superiors ask them to send more ships. We also need supplies badly. We were careful to conserve our ammunition but we are running out of food and our horses are still worse off. If the higher ups decide that they want us to stay they are going to have make arrangements to keep us supplied."
------Quend (Picardy) 1800 hrs
The artillery under the command of the XXVII Reserve Corps had been intermittently enfilading the trapped 2nd Infantry Division all day but now it intensified its ferocity and concentrated on the key village of Quend, where the British had repeatedly driven off attacks by the German 53rd Reserve Division. The bombardment now included 17 cm minenwerfers. The artillery of the 2nd Infantry Division did not answer because they had run out of shells in the morning. The division was starting to get dangerously low on bullets esp. those on belts used by the machineguns.
------Dublin 1805 hrs
During the day only 40 Moisin-Nagant rifles made it to the G.P.O. along with 900 rounds of compatible ammunition. Pearse could only afford to reinforce the 2 companies of 6th Dublin Battalion bearing the brunt of the British attack with 30 rifle armed men of the HQ Battalion. Once the sun set it would be easier to move up additional rifles from St. Stephen’s Green.
A young messenger evaded the British snipers sprinting to the G.P.O. with a Lee-Enfield on his shoulder as well as a sidearm. This was contrary to Irish Volunteers policy as they were so short on firearms it was a waste for one man to have both. "Commandant Pearse! I need to speak with Commandant Pearse and Commandant Hogan as well," panted the out of breath messenger. Hogan was the commandant of the 6th Dublin Battalion.
Pearse came forward, "I am Padraig Pearse,. Commandant Hogan is not here. What is this all about soldier?"
The messenger smiled and saluted, "I am from ‘B’ company 6th Dublin Battalion. The company commandant sent me here. We have made contact with the ‘A’ company of the 5th Dublin Battalion which has retaken Fairview."
"Holy Mother, this is wonderful news! We have had no contact with the 5th Battalion for more than a day and I was beginnin’ to fear that the British had destroyed them. Now I learn that they have actually gone on the offensive and won an important victory. Was Commandant Mulcahy with ‘A’ company?"
"Yes, he was but so was Tom Ashe who has returned to resume command of the 5th battalion."
Previously Pearse was pleasantly surprised but now his jaw dropped, "What? Are you sure about this, lad? Poor Tom Ashe was arrested soon after the Germans landed."
"Yes, I know that commandant. But you see a battalion all the way from Kerry arrived here in the morning and they captured Kilmainham Gaol, releasing Commandant Ashe along with the other prisoners. These Kerrymen are led by this here German officer called Rommel, whom I briefly met as well. He was wounded in the morning fighting but is still trying to lead as best he can. Oh, and you just might be interested to know that the O’Rahilly is with him."
Pearse’s jaw dropped still further. For nearly a minute he was speechless, then finally he said, "I had received reports that this Rommel had captured Portobello Barracks along with some British artillery. I had also heard some reports that he had been badly wounded, and in one version had perished. You tell me that he captured Kilmainham and now he pops up near Fairview. What is this man---some sort of German leprechaun who can pop up wherever he wants as if by magic?"
"Well now that you mention it, sir, this Rommel does look to be a small fellow," the messenger answered with a chuckle.
Pearse briefly chuckled as well, then a thought occurred to him, "By any chance do you know if Mr. Yeats was one of the prisoners freed at Kilmainham?"
The messenger shook his head vigorously, "Yes, commandant, I overheard them talking about that. Yeats is now free." He then began to remove the rifle from his shoulder and handed it to Pearse, saying, "They captured seven more of these rifles at Fairview. I am not a good shot with a rifle. I know you have men that are but do not have a rifle so give this to one of them; just let me keep the pistol."
"But, of course. And we can use every rifle we can get our hands on."
The messenger reached into his pants and produced two clips, "Here I also brought some additional ammunition, sir."
"So is Tom Ashe following the orders of this Major Rommel?"
"That was sort of the impression I got, commandant."
"Did they tell what this Rommel intends to do? Is he planning to come here? As you are already well aware it is not all that easy to get here right now. Once the sun sets hopefully the British snipers will be less than a problem."
"Oh, that’s the most important part of the message, commandant. Major Rommel and the O’Rahilly want very much to talk with you. It’s just that there’s some business that they want to take care of before they get here."
Rommel’s attack with the 5th Dublin Battalion started with only 3 of its 5 companies. Of the remaining two companies he sent Mulcahy along with 60 Russian rifles to ‘E’ company that lay to their west with orders to move rapidly south to Phoenix Park. They crossed the Royal Canal at Blanchardstown then attacked the right flank of the Royal Irish Riflemen and R.I.C. who trying to envelop Rommel’s forces at the Magazine Fort. Rommel had warned Mulcahy that he should expect his tactical advantage to be fleeting and at the first sign that British soldiers were rallying he should fall back across the Royal Canal.
Rommel’s prediction turned out to be accurate. The 5th Dublin Battalion had become familiar with hit and run raids since Dublin erupted Monday and after administering their swift kick to the enemy flank fell back without too much confusion across the Royal Canal. It was there that they stopped running to pick off the Ulstermen as they tried to cross the bridge. After two unsuccessful attempts the Royal Irish Riflemen engaged in a long range exchange of rifle fire while sending some off their men off to outflank the rebels by crossing the canal elsewhere. When they learned they were being outflanked ‘E’ company fell back towards Swords.
After seeing that the British were making an all out effort to capture the G.P.O., Rommel ordered Ashe to take one of his companies and counterattack the British right flank down Marlborough Street. Ten of his men now lay in the street. Six were already dead and the rest were dying. One of them with a nasty stomach wound was making heartrending cries. There were other Irish casualties inside some of the captured buildings.
"As you can plainly see it didn’t go all that well, sir," Ashe informed Rommel when he arrived.
Rommel did not like he was seeing either, but he was in no mood to admit it was a mistake, "We are taking some of the pressure off Pearse, for that reason it was worth it."
"I can see that, major. Well in that case should we commit another company?"
Rommel shook his head, "No. Only so many men can fight effectively in a street. Anything more and they tend to step on each other toes and give the enemy riflemen more targets."
"So what do we do next, sir?"
"We have to wait until dark."
------Boston harbor 1830 hrs GMT
The departure of the liner Amerika had been delayed for nearly 2 hours due largely to complaints from the US State Dept. The liner’s cargo hold was filled with mostly copper ingots though there was also some molybdenum. The delay did increase the number of Volunteer Brigade passengers to 730 of which more than 400 were of Irish ancestry. German Americans accounted for most of the rest though there were some weird odds and ends including 13 Turkish immigrants who worked at a factory in nearby Salem. John Devoy was there and he gave a speech, trying hard not to use too many foul words. There were the usual pro Entente protestors as well and they eventually became embroiled in fisticuffs with the Fenians.
------Madrid 1850 hrs
"I am glad that you finally arrested that detestable Irish worm, de Valera," Queen Ena told King Alphonso as they dined, "what do you intend to do with him?"
"The British government is beseeching me to turn him over to them."
"They are perfectly justified in their request---you should comply with it first thing tomorrow morning."
"I would very much like to do precisely that, my dear. However there are some things I need to consider. You know, little things like whether it is legal or not."
"Pfff, must I remind you once again, my dear that you happen to be a monarch and are therefore above the law?"
The king scowled, "That is at best a half truth, my dear, as I have repeatedly told you. I am not in mood for a lengthy recapitulation of past arguments this evening. I would however point out that the Russian firebrand, Trotsky, is already exploiting de Valera’s arrest for his own purposes."
"Then I would think it is fairly obvious that you should arrest Trotsky as well, my love."
"Abruptly arresting Trotsky will only make things worse, my dear. And they are already bad enough as it is. Have you forgotten the strike already?"
In another section of the city Leon Trotsky was having dinner with senor Mariano García Cortés, a prominent Spanish Socialist. García Cortés had been the editor of El Socialista the official newspaper of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE). In November Pablo Iglesias, the founding father of the PSOE delivered a speech before the Cortes which supported France and Britain in the war. This shift away from the strict neutralist stance that the PSOE had advocated at the beginning of the war to an aliadófilo position so upset García Cortés that he resigned. García Cortés was a portly Andalusian who appreciated good food. He introduced Trotsky to a few new Spanish dishes. His app etite for conversation was almost as great as his appetite for food. The two of them spoke mostly in Spanish, but with frequent lapses into German.
"Socialism is badly fragmented here in Spain, senor Trotsky, " García Cortés confessed, "Here in Madrid, the PSOE is rather strong but Barcelona on the other hand is dominated by the anarcho-syndicalists, which many of my friends do not consider to be real Socialists at all."
"We have sharp divisions in Russia as well, senor García Cortés. If Martov were here eating with us you very likely would be able to witness some evidence of that first hand."
"Ah, yes, but as he still speaks very little Spanish and I am nowhere as fluent in German as I would like to be and my knowledge of Russian is virtually nonexistent, so I might have some trouble following that conversation, ja?"
"That is a good point. Is it true that up until the arrest of Connolly the PSOE was drifting more and more towards the aliadófilos?"
García Cortés put down his fork and sighed deeply, "Unfortunately that is true, senor, despite my best efforts."
"And that some of these aliadófilos went so far as to advocate Spain entering the war on the side of the Entente?"
"A few did indeed go that far but those were Socialists who really were more liberal Republican than Socialist, an all too common phenomenon here in Spain I’m afraid. I don’t know how it is in Russia."
"We have some Mensheviks that would fit that description, but it does seem more common here. I must admit that I am shocked how many so called Socialists here have read very little if anything of the works of Marx."
"Ah, you see, senor Trotsky, much of Spanish Socialism is more sentimental than intellectual. Where debates between Socialists in Germany are waged mostly on an intellectual level, here is Spain the usual procedure is to exchange insults, even by those who like to think of themselves as intellectuals. Quite frankly I am embarrassed all too often. The aliadófilos are a good example. Many of them are favorable to the Entente simply because most of the ruling oligarchy are sympathetic to Germany. This is not sound dialectics! They are just like the liberal Republicans to whom they listen too much. As I said before only a few are in favor of actually entering the war. Most of the rest want little more than to cheer the Entente, as if the war was a bullfight and the Entente was the matador."
"Ah, while I think that is an apropos analogy, I have personally encountered one aspect of the aliadófilos which is more than simply cheering Britain and France. Some of them believe Spanish Socialists must do everything they can to dissuade Socialists inside the Entente from attempting revolution while the war is still on. They fail to understand that this war may be providing us with a priceless opportunity."
"Yes, in Russia but elsewhere as well. Maybe even in Ireland. Something is happening there. It is why Dublin finally erupted. The Germans of course think they can channel it towards their ends but what if they are wrong?"
"Do you really believe a Socialist revolution is possible in Ireland, senor Trotsky? I do not think that is what is going on there right now. Take senor de Valera as an example. I have listened to him on two occasions. It is true that he frequently mentions Connolly but I think de Valera is a merely a nationalist more akin to our own liberal Republicans. Which is why I was somewhat surprised at your speech today."
"De Valera’s situation can be used to our advantage. If he sounds too much like a Spanish liberal Republican then he can appeal to them as well as those Socialist aliadófilos who listen too much to liberal Republicans."
"Yes he appeals to a remarkably broad range of people. I think the Irishman may have a future in politics."
"Yes, yes. I have told him as much but he protests that he is uncomfortable giving speeches and would much rather be in Dublin leading his battalion. He was repeatedly asking the Germans to find a way to get him into Ireland. Just between you and me, amigo, if they found a way I was tempted to go with him."
"To Ireland? Surely you jest, senor Trotsky."
"No. I am most serious. The Germans have made arrangements to send some Americans to fight in Ireland. Surely one of them is Connolly’s distinguished mentor, Jim Larkin. Between the two of us I am certain we can transform this nationalist Republican upheaval into a true Socialist revolution. It will be a glorious example for other nations such as yours and mine."
"Hmm. I must point out that there are Socialists here remarkably disinterested in revolution. Iglesias is a very good example. Despite his fiery words he is a reformer not a revolutionary. He was a very reluctant supporter of the strike. In private he tells anyone who will listen that Connolly is a very bad example for Spanish Socialists, being the type of romantic revolutionary who will only end up making things worse."
------SMS Yorck north of North Foreland 1855 hrs
Kontreadmiral Rebeur-Paschwitz, the commander of 3rd Scouting Group watched the Kentish Knock Light Vessel sink through his binoculars. The light vessel had been boarded after surrendering. Explosive charges had been put in key locations while the British crews made for the lifeboats. In addition to the 2 armored cruisers there were the 4 small light cruisers of 5th Scouting Group and the 9 GTB’s of 2nd Torpedoboat Flotilla. The Germans had taken 4 prizes besides the light vessel. Two were small trawlers bringing their haul of fish to the Port of London. Rebeur-Paschwitz ordered both of them scuttled. The other two were a different matter. One was a 940 ton collier out of Bristol full with high quality Welsh coal. The other was a 1,300 ton British flagged freighter out of Rotterdam with a cargo of dairy products. Both of these prizes could make at least 8 ½ knots and were promptly dispatched to Calais.
Rebeur-Paschwitz swung his binoculars to watch a British light cruiser accompanied by a half dozen destroyers---Harwich Force. He was so tempted to try to trap them against the coast. Of course the coast included Harwich, their home base, which was well protected by 9.2" coastal batteries and minefields. Likewise there were British coastal batteries on the Isle of Thanet which made penetrating further into the Thames Estuary risky. The admiral ground his teeth in frustration.
------HQ Kronprinz Rupprecht Belgrade 1905 hrs
"Your Royal Highness, we just finished decrypting this wireless message from the Bavarian Cavalry Division."
Rupprecht anxiously took the slip of paper and read the message.
HAVE ENGAGED A SIZABLE BRITISH FORCE OF CAVALRY AND INFANTRY STOP ENEMY WAS FORCED TO WITHDRAW HELPING THIRTEEN CORPS TO REGROUP STOP HAVE CONTACTED CORPS HQ AND LEARNED THAT GEN LUDENDORFF PLACED VON WATTERS UNDER ARREST THEN LEFT FOR THE FRONT LINE STOP CORPS HQ HAVE LOST CONTACT WITH LUDENDORFF AND FEAR HE MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED OR CAPTURED STOP THIS SITUATION IS CREATING DANGEROUS COMMAND CONFUSION STOP PLEASE ADVISE QUICKLY STOP
Rupprecht smoldered for a minute, then ordered, "Send the following to von Hellingrath immediately. Do not bother to encrypt. GEN VON WATTERS WILL RESUME COMMAND OF THIRTEEN CORPS EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY STOP. Then repeat the message."
"Jawohl, Your Royal Highness."
"I will be sending additional communiqués to XIII Army Corps through the wireless station of the Bavarian Cavalry Division until telegraph wires are reestablished. These subsequent messages will be encrypted. It looks like we have another long night ahead of us, gentlemen."
------off Durazzo 1910 hrs
The morning’s thick cloud cover had slowly cleared in the afternoon. An hour earlier an Austrian airplane had finally spotted the convoy. The minesweepers were nearly done clearing a safe channel which they had marked with buoys. There had been several periscope sightings and one French armored cruiser reported sighting a torpedo wake. There were no signs of any Austrian surface warships or the pesky Zeppelin. The transports began making their way to the port in the safe channel.
------OKW Berlin 1950 hrs
"We have talked a great deal about Operation Unicorn," Generalfeldmarschal Helmuth von Moltke said to his chief of staff, Generalmajor Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen, "We should now spend some time discussing Operation Tourniquet and Operation Fulcrum. As I understand it there has been a serious setback in Serbia recently."
"That is correct, feldmarschal. In pursuing the Serbs a gap developed between our Tenth Army and the Austrian Third Army. The Serbs along with a significant British force---perhaps as large as an entire division---exploited this gap."
"Kronprinz Rupprecht’s intelligence section did not have any prior knowledge that such a large British force was that deep into Serbia?"
"Apparently not, Feldmarschal. Even more disturbing the Austrian capture of Uzhitse was intended to sever the main line of communication between the British in Montenegro and the Serbs. I should also point out that some including Gen. Ludendorff are of the opinion that the size of the British forces in Serbia is being greatly exaggerated."
Von Moltke scratched his head, "This is more than a little confusing, yes? To be frank I have a mixed opinion of Rupprecht. I know all too well from experience that he can become intoxicated with success sometimes so it does not surprise me that he has gotten in trouble again. But the key question becomes "How much trouble?’ Have the wily Serbs with some British assistance managed to pull off another miracle? Or is this merely some temporary setback?"
"Those are excellent questions, feldmarschal. Unfortunately I doubt that I will have good answers to them before tomorrow."
"Let me know as soon as you do. The grossadmiral is back to thinking that Operation Unicorn will win the war all by itself. I think that is overly optimistic and we would be unwise to neglect either Operation Tourniquet or Operation Fulcrum. Since the former involves coordination with allies we can take more direct action than we can with Operation Fulcrum where all we can do is to make suggestions for Ober Ost to consider."
"That is quite true, feldmarschal. However when we initially conceived those two operations they were in some ways linked. When Belgrade fell Tenth Army quickly removed all of its artillery larger than 15 cm and sent them by rail to be used in Operation Fulcrum."
"Yes, indeed. We also hoped at some point to also withdraw a corps, presumably to be used in Operation Fulcrum as well. Rupprecht and Ludendorff were trying to hasten that day but now it looks like they have inadvertently delayed it. I have an idea how we might be able to help. The III Ottoman Corps appears to be performing very well. I have noted that the Second Bulgarian Army which is being assisted by the Ottomans is advancing much more rapidly than the First Bulgarian Army which has no Ottomans. I think we should pressure Enver Pasha to commit another division to the Serbian campaign as soon as possible. Now that the Bulgarians are their allies and not potential enemies it makes no sense for them to keep so many divisions in Thrace."
"I think Enver already knows that, feldmarschal. Sunday he decided to send V Corps along with Second Army HQ under the command of Vehip Pasha to Kotur and Diliman just over the border in Persia where the Ottomans already have 2 divisions. In late June the Second Army will go on the offensive with the goal of taking Tabriz, and encouraging a Persian revolt. Perhaps I should say the immediate goal of taking Tabriz as Enver’s ultimate objective is Baku."
"And what do Bronsart von Schellendorf and Liman von Sanders think of this ambitious plan?"
"Gen. Bronsart von Schellendorf concurs with Enver while Gen. Liman von Sanders is bluntly pessimistic."
Moltke sighed, "Why am I not surprised by that? I would really like to hear Freiherr Der Gotz’s opinion on this matter. I know he also believed that we could entice the Persians to rise up against the Russians and the British. Unfortunately it is difficult for us to communicate with the Freiherr in his current assignment. There is also the mission of that mysterious adventurer Wassmuss to consider. However I am wandering. Even with this Persian adventure it still seems to me that the Ottomans have too many divisions in Thrace. Let us compose a telegram to Enver Pasha requesting with polite urgency that one more Ottoman division be sent to Sofia as quickly as possible."
------SMS Moltke off Calais 2015 hrs
First Scouting Group was beginning to enter the Straits of Dover. In the van was the 4th Torpedoboat Flotilla with the half flotillas abreast in the carefully swept lane. It was followed by 4th Scouting Group with 2 cruisers abreast. Behind them came the battle cruisers in single file followed by Imperator, Vaterland, Kronprinzessin Cecile, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kronrprinz Wilhelm in single file. These in turn were followed by the 5th Torpedoboat Flotilla with its half flotillas abreast. All of these vessels steamed ahead at 20 knots.
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2020 hrs
The departure from Milford Haven of Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Wilson, had been delayed more than two hours so that the new commander of the 10th (Irish) Division, Maj. Gen. Sir Henry de Beauvoir de Lisle, could go with him. On the voyage across the Irish Sea in a torpedo boat, the two men had their first opportunity to talk. Wilson struck de Lisle as being very determined but intellectually arrogant with his fancy French quotes and downright obsessed with the political ramifications of the Irish campaign. Wilson’s initial opinion of de Lisle was that he was the quintessential cocky sportsman all too often dragging his polo exploits into the conversation. Nevertheless Wilson was sure that de Lisle despite his obvious shortcomings would be a marked improvement over Gen. Mahon. They were in complete agreement on a few topics incl. the need for more cavalry in Ireland.
When they arrived at Kingstown they found a motor car waiting to take them to the Curragh and Gen. Hamilton. "Welcome to Ireland Gen. Wilson and Gen. de Lisle. I do hope the sea voyage wasn’t too uncomfortable," asked Hamilton.
"The accommodations were cramped, sir, but the sea was only a tad choppy and our transit was mercifully brief. I can’t really complain," replied Wilson. De Lisle opened his mouth to add his observation, but before he could speak Wilson added brusquely, "Might I be so bold to suggest that that we dispense with small talk. I was summoned here to Ireland, general, because things here have gone horribly awry. I intend to set things right and the sooner we begin the sooner that will happen."
Hamilton and Braithwaite briefly exchanged glances. Wilson had been Kitchener’s choice to replace Stopford not theirs and they were worried that they were exchanging one set of problems for another. "Your zeal is most commendable, Gen. Wilson. We too want to wrap things up here as soon as possible. I think it is best if we start by discussing the Battle of Cork which we regard as our very highest priority right now---even higher than Dublin."
"I can certainly appreciate the importance of Cork, general, but before we get too far into that topic there is something that has been troubling me that I would like to bring up first if you don’t mind."
"Not at all, Gen. Wilson. Please air your concerns."
"Correct me if I am wrong, sir, but the impression that I am getting from the summaries I was provided by the War Office is that in the last few days the increased emphasis on Cork has effectively resulted in a hiatus at Limerick. I firmly believe that victory at Limerick need not wait until the Battle of Cork is over. What is required is a change in strategy. The West Riding Division should stop trying to hammer its way across the Shannon. Instead it should leave two battalions and a single battery behind to hold those positions and swing the rest of the division around Lough Derg and take 109th Brigade under its wings. Together they will crush both the Germans and rebels in County Clare, while the 10th Infantry Division under Gen. de Lisle here will make a pinning attack on Limerick. The West Riding Division will then take Limerick with ease from the northwest."
Hamilton and Braithwaite again exchanged glances and then the latter spoke, "We been considering that course of action for the last 3 days. There is much to recommend it but there are several factors which tempered our enthusiasm. First is that it would take considerable time to execute as opposed to the alternative of renewed frontal assaults. We have been hoping for some time that the Germans in Limerick were steadily weakening and one more push was all that was needed. Furthermore we have some very good intelligence that the Germans are on the verge of running out of ammunition for their artillery."
Hamilton now interrupted, and stared sternly at Wilson and de Lisle, "That bit of intelligence comes straight from the War Office which insists that its dissemination be severely restricted---so I want neither one of you sharing this with your staff, with the exception of Gen. Friend and Gen. Baldock. Is this clear?"
"Yes, general," replied both de Lisle and Wilson, but the latter added, "Might I ask, sir, if either Gen. Stopford or Gen. Mahon know of this?"
"Er, we debated telling Stopford but decided against it, general, as we had already decided to sack him," Braithwaite responded, "So none of his divisional commanders have been told either. As we said you can tell Friend and Baldock if you see fit---but no one else."
"But what about Gen. Powell?"
Braithwaite and Hamilton exchanged meaningful looks once again. "The rebels with some German assistance were able to capture his headquarters at Custume Barracks in Athlone. We believe Gen. Powell is either dead or captured," replied Braithwaite who now avoided making eye contact with Wilson.
"What?! I cannot believe what I am hearing. The commanding officer of my finest division has fallen into enemy hands either dead or alive? Kindly tell me that this is a joke for if you are serious this would be a far greater catastrophe than the destruction of the woefully pathetic 16th Division."
Braithwaite started to say something but before he did, Hamilton said, "Unfortunately we are most serious about Gen Powell. Since we never intended to use the 36th Division in the field as a unified division I find your evaluation to be nothing more than a grotesque slandering of the poor 16th Infantry Division, which we were reluctantly forced to throw into battle before it was ready."
Wilson’s nostrils flared. He briefly glanced at Gen. Hamilton, who looked uneasy. After a few seconds he replied, "When the history of this campaign is written, my statement will be vindicated. Likewise the historians will understand what really went wrong at Limerick."
"Oh, and just what did go wrong, Gen. Wilson? Kindly tell us as you apparently know what is going on here better than we," asked a very annoyed Braithwaite.
Wilson paused to lick his lips and measure his words, "Many things went wrong at Limerick, but it should be obvious by now that certain senior officers in the 10th Infantry Division had sympathies for the enemy."
Hamilton and Braithwaite once again exchanged glances. This time it was Hamilton who spoke, "Those are very serious charges, you are making, Sir Henry. By any chance does Gen. Mahon happen to be one of those senior officers?"
"The performance of the 10th Infantry Division strongly suggests that, general. For that reason I recommend that Gen. Mahon be arrested today and that a thorough investigation of his conduct and those of his staff be initiated immediately."
"Is this only a hunch on your part or do have some evidence?" asked Hamilton.
Wilson hesitated slightly, "The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming in my estimation, general."
Hamilton gave that some thought before replying, "I would hardly categorize it so strongly but there is just enough that I am willing to countenance an impartial investigation but it does not warrant ordering his arrest."
Wilson scowled, "Chief Secretary Birrell should be investigated as well, sir. For the life of me I cannot fathom that scoundrel still holds his position. He roundly deserves to be hung for his disgraceful negligence."
Yet another exchange of glances ensued between Hamilton and his chief of staff. "An investigation of Birrell can and will wait until after the Germans have been eliminated, Gen. Wilson," Hamilton replied.
"These investigations are not pressing, Gen. Wilson," said Braithwaite, "I suggest we make the best us of our time and concentrate on military operations. We were discussing your plan for dealing with Limerick, which is very similar to a plan Gen. Hamilton and myself have been contemplating. One drawback to that plan is the line of communication for West Riding Division. The rebel hold on Athlone blocks the most direct route. We were using Sligo but now there is a rebel force there as well."
Wilson’s jaw dropped. "Sligo? There is a rebel force at Sligo? How strong?"
"Our current estimate is about 500 men, general," Braithwaite answered.
"How well armed could they possibly be?"
"Our preliminary reports suggest a majority of the rebels are armed with a rifle, general," answered Braithwaite, "The rebels moved some rifles up the Shannon in boats. We have put and end to that by posting a battery near Portumna."
"We anticipated a possible threat to Sligo and sent a battalion of Highland Light Infantry detached from the Lowland Division to Sligo. It will reclaim the city soon," added Hamilton.
"Despite all the talk in the newspapers about over great superiority in numbers in Ireland when I was finally provided the details before coming here it struck me that even with 5 divisions in Ireland we are finding ourselves badly stretched. When then do you shrink from the obvious expedient of using the Ulster Volunteer Force? I will grant that throwing them at the Germans without artillery is likely to result in heavy casualties but they would be extremely helpful in crushing the rebels at Sligo, Athlone, Dublin and Waterford."
Yet again Hamilton and Braithwaite exchanged looks. It was Hamilton who responded, "Gen. Wilson, as you should already be cognizant the policy was to prohibit any of the paramilitary organizations in Ireland from mobilizing. The Ulster Volunteers were not an exception though we eventually decided to permit them to keep their arms while we seized the weapons of the other two groups."
"Yes, general, I am well aware of the twisted logic behind this policy. This was back when our leaders were telling everyone that there were less than a thousand Papists who would rebel. Since then the people of Ireland have taken sides. The Papists have thrown their lot in with the Huns while the misunderstood Ulster Volunteer Force remains steadfast in their loyalty to the Crown---"
"---we are not going to use the Ulster Volunteers, Gen. Wilson. This is one issue where I find myself in complete agreement with the Viceroy."
------HMS Inflexible off Cape Cod 2105 hrs
A sudden thunderstorm had for a while restricted visibility. The captain of the Inflexible was beginning to worry that this might let his prey get away. The storm however ended as abruptly as it started, giving way to rapidly clearing skies. A large smoke plume was now visible to the southeast. The battle cruiser turned in that direction. Soon a combination of decreasing distance and increasing visibility allowed the lookouts to spot a large ocean liner heading east. A few minutes later it was identified as being the German liner Amerika, which it soon captured without firing a shot.
------Custom House Dublin 2150 hrs
One of Rommel’s armored cars wheeled into action bursting through a British position on Amiens Street to seize the attention of the R.I.C. who controlled the Custom House. While it did a group of 11 rebels were able to approach the building unobserved from another direction. One of them was Brian Doyle. When Rommel was at Cork he had identified 4 Irish Volunteers who had experience working with explosives. Rommel ordered Unteroffizier Ziethen to train them as quickly as possible in how to function as a combat engineer. Of the four Doyle impressed Ziethen most and so Rommel had chosen him to come along with him to Swords, leaving Ziethen behind at the Magazine Fort to inventory the captured explosives as Rommel did not see a very important role for a pioneer when he set out for Swords.
Doyle’s role was simply to blow open the rear door. "Can you please hurry up, Brian," hissed one of his fellow I.R.A soldiers and Doyle sighed deeply as he recalled Ziethen warning him that he would inevitably hear that complaint. "Quiet!" he replied in a whispered snarl. When he was finished he trotted back to the others.
The charge went off sooner than Doyle expected and the blast knocked him to the ground. He fell face first on the cobblestones breaking his nose and losing 2 teeth. The other 10 men stormed into the building. These were Kerrymen who had served under Rommel in the 3rd Kerry Battalion since the Battle of Killarney. Three of them were armed with autoloading shotguns as well as a grenade and they went in first. The constables inside were taken by surprise and rounded up without much trouble. There was a first aid treatment center set up inside the Custom House. Some wounded Scottish soldiers were captured along with a few medics as well as a stockpile of food, ammunition and medical supplies. Meanwhile a company of the 5th Dublin Battalion arrived under the command of Tom Ashe. Two dozen constables who had been inside Liberty Hall tried to reach the Custom House but more than half became casualties and tried to fall back to Liberty Hall. Believing that very few remained inside Liberty Hall Ashe then brought the armored car around and with its aid counterattacked. He was able to take Liberty Hall after a few minutes of furious fighting that was decided when then rebels managed to lob 2 grenades inside.
Just as this was concluding Rommel arrived along with another rifle company of the 5th Dublin Battalion. He was still weak and in pain from his wound but he liked what he saw. "You have done well," he told Ashe, "Now that we have secured these two key buildings we can attack the rear of those British forces north of the river which are trying to take the G.P.O."
------Sligo 2205 hrs
Due to the Irish snipers the liner at the dock was only able to finish offloading the 1/7th Highland Light Infantry after dark. The Scots had in the meantime had already begun a series of attacks. They had very little training in urban warfare. Some of their attacks, esp. if they were very ambitious, failed quickly in a hail of rifle fire. Some succeeded in pushing the rebels back building by building but there was always a price to be paid in blood. The fighting went on all night. In the meantime additional Irish Volunteers arrived from the central portion of the county. Despite its casualties the battalion’s effective strength had now risen to just over 1,000 men. Reports came back that 4 more companies, incl. 2 from County Mayo, were on their way.
-----near Zeila (British Somaliland) 2230 hrs
With his some of his reinforcements finally starting to reach Djibouti Col. Rabadi decided it time to intensify the fighting in Somaliland. Sheik Hassan’s men had provided him with very useful intelligence. The Senegalese forces continued to be arranged offensively and there were signs that their coordination with the weaker British contingent remained marginal. Since the Abyssinian attack 3 nights ago the tirailleurs senegalais had extended their perimeter to seal the gap Rabadi had previously exploited. In doing this they created a weak spot in their line that Hassan’s men believed could be overwhelmed at night.
Since the capture of Djibouti Rabadi had emphasized training. The Abyssinian troops under his command needed a great deal and his Ottoman Arab troops could use some more as well. He had in the last 2 weeks created a battalion that consisted one Ottoman company and 3 companies of his best Abyssinian infantry lead by an Ottoman senior NCO. Rabadi had named this the Friendship Battalion, because it was supposed to epitomize the friendship of the Ottoman Empire and their new ally. Attached to the battalion HQ were 2 of Sheik Hassan’s men who knew where this weak point was.
The end result was a mismatch with the defenders outnumbered 8 to 1, lacking any nearby machineguns and unable to call on supporting artillery at night. The tirailleurs fought gamely nevertheless and imposed a price on the Friendship Battalion, but they were eventually overwhelmed. At that point a squadron of Oromo cavalry was released to raid deep into British Somaliland. Rabadi refused to let them infantry follow them but instead sent them to try to roll up the enemy line both to the left and right. This was not easy to do on a moonless night. On the right flank some of the Abyssinians had an unpleasant experience with a Hotchkiss machinegun. Following behind the Friendship Battalion as a close reserve there were 2 more Ottoman companies and an Abyssinian battalion with more than 900 soldiers. Rabadi was sorely tempted to try to hold the breach in the enemy line but there was too much uncertainty about the current strength and disposition of the British and French forces, despite the useful intelligence provided by Sheik Hassan. He could well find his forces becoming badly dispersed if he continued the night attack leaving them vulnerable to a riposte at dawn. If the Oromo cavalry had located a French battery, that might have swayed but he had heard nothing so far.
Rabadi removed and lit another cigarette from the silver case. He smoked hurriedly which was what he did when either frustrated or anxious and right now he was both. He had kicked his enemies again, while suffering fairly light casualties. This should force the British to become more concerned hopefully reducing the amount of force they could hurl at Sheik Hassan. He issued orders for the Oromo cavalry to be recalled and the Friendship Battalion to cautiously retire.
-------Dublin 2240 hrs
Ashe now led 2 small companies with just over 200 men total in an attack on the rear of the 1/6th battalion Highland Light Infantry which was trying to sweep away the rebel barricades and assault the G.P.O. He was supported by the armored car. This unexpected attack on their rear broke the morale of the 1/6th battalion Highland Light Infantry which soon withdrew in disarray to the south. The 5th Dublin Battalion took more than 60 prisoners, of which roughly half were wounded. They also captured a supply wagon which had both 15,000 rounds of .303 as well as bully beef, biscuits and some pudding.
With the 1/6th battalion Highland Light Infantry no longer attacking the defenders of the G.P.O. could concentrate on stopping the remaining threat from the 1/5th battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders trying to work their way up from the southeast.. The G.P.O. had received an additional 50 rifles since sundown. Pearse gave them all to one company of the HQ battalion and threw them into the battle with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.
While this battle was waging Rommel, Ashe and the O’Rahilly finally made it to the G.P.O. "Well as I live and breathe, it is such a joy to see you again, Tom," Pearse said, "and you, Michael, me boy, I am so glad you’ve finally found your sainted way back to us. It looks like you’ve brought along a distinguished guest."
"It is good to see you as well, Padraig," the O’Rahilly answered speaking in Irish, "and yes I brought someone very important. I will let him speak for himself."
Rommel stepped forward. He extended his hand and also spoke in Irish, "I am Major Erwin Rommel, commandant of the 3rd battalion motorized Kerry Brigade, Irish Republican Army. It is good to finally meet you, Commandant Pearse. The O’Rahilly has told me many interesting things about you."
Pearse’s jaw plummeted once again. "It is always a pleasure to hear the beautiful Irish language being spoken, but I never dreamt I would be speaking it to a German officer. Did Michael here teach you? If so you are a fast learner."
"Not exactly. He carried on the lessons I had begun with Capt. Plunkett."
"Plunkett? You must mean Joe Plunkett. Is he here now in Ireland? We sent him to work with Casement. Was he helpful?"
"Yes, I have been told that he helped greatly in the planning of this mission. He is not with us. He is serving now on the staff of Gen. von François."
"And what of Casement? Is Sir Roger here in Ireland as well?"
"I am not sure. I do not think so. I have not seen him, though perhaps he went to Limerick along with Maj. White."
"Maj. White? You do not by any chance mean Jack White. I thought he was only a captain."
"Yes, it is Jack White. We promoted him to major. I have been told that he is now in charge of the Limerick city battalion."
"This is too much," said Pearse with a bemused look but then he became more somber, "I can see that you were wounded, major. Is it wise for you to be moving around so much right now?"
Rommel nodded and winced, "I was lightly wounded soon after I reached Dublin. I will not pretend that it does not hurt nor deny that I cannot move as fast as I normally do. I will probably need to sleep some more soon, but other than that I can function."
"You are a brave and heroic man, major. Even here in Dublin we have heard of your incredible exploits. The world needs heroes more than ever right now. So please take good care of yourself, you hear."
Rommel forced a smile, "I will try, Commandant Pearse. Perhaps you can say a prayer for me, yes?"
"Why certainly, Major. At least one complete rosary before I go to sleep," replied Pearse whose expression changed again, "Uh, there are things we need to discuss, major. I want as little misunderstanding as possible. Are you more comfortable with Irish or English? I am afraid I do not speak much German."
"Uh, I am more comfortable in English," answered Rommel in English which he spoke less haltingly than he had in Irish.
"Then English it shall be," said Pearse in English, "As you probably know by now, major the British had managed to hem us in before you arrived."
"Yes, but the notable exception of the 5th Dublin Battalion which wisely kept it self moving about in separate companies," answered Rommel gesturing towards Tom Ashe.
"For political reasons it was necessary to seize some key buildings with symbolic value, Maj. Rommel. I am not sure if you have been told but we proclaimed a free and independent Irish Republic here. We are in effect defending our capital here."
"Ah, well if that’s the case you do not seem to be doing a very good job."
The O’Rahilly became concerned and now interjected, "Uh, what the major means to say---"
"---oh, I know what he means to say," Pearse interrupted then sighed, "Good Lord, and I’m afraid that I must concede that he probably has a good point."
"Ah, not to worry, Commandant Pearse. Now that I am here I will set things aright. All I need is for you to give me complete command of Dublin Brigade."
Pearse hesitated before responding, "I can certainly use your famed tactical here in Dublin, yet I must insist on some conditions."
Now it was Rommel who was startled, "Conditions? Just what sort of conditions?"
"There can be nothing immoral."
"What? Like torturing and shooting prisoners? I don’t know what they’ve been telling you but that was the late Mr. Flynn’s doing not mine."
"Well I am glad to hear that, but I was thinking of things like poison gas. The German use of poison gas as a weapon is totally reprehensible. I heard that some chlorine was used near Limerick."
Rommel’s first impulse was to defend his fellow Germans but he then decided that he did not want a lengthy argument with Pearse right now and so he said, "I don’t know what happened at Limerick. My battalion and I were nowhere near Limerick as Lt. O’Rahilly here can attest. I do not have any poison gas with me so I believe this is irrelevant." Rommel omitted the fact that he had heard that the Naval Division had some tear gas grenades and had tried unsuccessfully to get some for the 3rd Kerry Battalion.
Pearse was partially relieved but he did not appreciate Rommel’s petulance. He glanced at the O’Rahilly who replied, "It is just as the major he says it is, Padraig. I haven’t seen any use of poison gas anywhere we’ve been and we certainly do not have any with us and do not expect any to be comin’ our way. We certainly didn’t murder any priests or nuns or bayonet any babies, either, if that’s going through your mind as well."
"Don’t you two look at me like that!" Pearse whined, "For the Irish Revolution to succeed it must remain pure and holy."
"Principles are a fine thing, Padraig," countered the O’Rahilly, "but don’t you go get all bloody sanctimonious on us right now. The I.R.B. was not as pure as Caesar’s wife before the Germans landed and you damn well know it. I know you are fascinated with mystical notions of Ireland winning her freedom with a blood sacrifice. It may well come to that for all I know, but I say that before we come to that we should start by sacrificing some British blood first. We should be thinking about the very possibility of victory and not worrying about the epitaphs on our gravestones."
"If all you want to do is die a holy death, Herr Pearse, then go on doing what you’ve been doing" Rommel said in loud voice so others in the G.P.O., "Follow me if you want to win."
------Fethard (Tipperary) 2245 hrs
Commandant McElroy was ecstatic when he learned that the British Army had decided not to occupy their old base in the walled city of Fethard but only stationed 38 R.I.C. there to guard it. He decided to march most of the 3rd Tipperary Battalion there leaving only 1 company behind to hold Carrick-on-Suir. The guards posted on the entrances through the walls were light esp. on the north side of the town. It only cost his battalion two men killed and two more lightly wounded to overwhelm the sentries there and force its way inside the walls. After that there were some minutes of total confusion. Another Irish Volunteer was fatally wounded but the R.I.C. grew panicky when they realized the enemy’s numbers and half of them effected a quick escape in motor vehicles. The rest were trapped and fought desperately for three hours then finally surrendered.
------Cork 2255 hrs
The Welsh Division renewed its assault on Cork, when the German superiority in artillery would be less of a factor. It did succeed in infiltrating the defenses in a few places but its attack soon lost cohesion. The North Wales Brigade fought Bavarians in one spot and Irish rebels in another. The Bavarians had become very adept at night fighting while they had been part of the Sixth Army. The Irish rebels were earnest but still amateurs. They shifted too much during the battle. This caused a gap in the defenses which allowed a Welsh patrol to slip in and make contact with the trapped 108th Brigade, which then used this opportunity to make its escape through the same hole in the enemy cordon. The brigade’s 3 battalions now numbered less than 1,300 men of which a third were wounded The rescue of the 108th Brigade was the Welsh Division’s great success of the night, otherwise its attack was not making much progress. Gen. Friend was shocked to learn of how little effective strength the 108th Brigade had left. He had counted on them on playing a key role in securing a speedy victory at Cork.
The men of North Wales Brigade were tired from a hard march and the need for some rest ended their assault. Gen. Friend ordered the Welsh Border Brigade to leave only a single battalion behind at Coachford and move to Cork for a resumption of the assault at dawn.
Meanwhile on Great Island a Bavarian rifle company and 2 light minenwerfers had arrived and together with the Great Island Company eliminated the remaining pocket of resistance at the Queenstown docks consisting of 31 Royal Marines and 50 constables.
------St. Omer (Pas de Calais) 2300 hrs
The Zeppelin L.10 had been in commission only 10 days but was already assigned a very unusual mission. It was warm weather which reduced its payload and ceiling. It rose up into the air from the Zeppelin base at St. Omer. When it reached the desired altitude it turned to WSW and slowly accelerated to 30 knots.
------Gondoria (French Somaliland) 2330 hrs
The Ottomans in consultation with von Mucke decided it was still too risky to send a large convoy across the Mandab. This night they dispatched 8 dhows each ferrying only 10 replacement soldiers but 3,000 pounds of munitions. Instead of heading for the region near the Eritrean border as they had previously they boldly headed to the area between Khor Angar and Gondoria which was a day’s march north of Obock. They did not travel in formation. Two dhows were intercepted, searched and seized by a British gunboat and a third aborted the mission and turned back when it saw searchlight. The other five landed safely and with the help of the sailors quickly unloaded the supplies while sending a messenger running off to Obock to request assistance.
------Baie de L’Authie 2335 hrs
Without specifying the reason, Gen. von Falkenhayn had tersely informed Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, in the late morning that there was a good chance that Dover Patrol would depart from the Baie de L’Authie during the day not and not expected to return until Friday morning. This prediction was later verified as observed both from the shore and by airplane. Gen. von Fabeck contacted Gen. von Schubert the commander of the XXVII Reserve Corps and together they worked out a plan to finally finish off the very stubborn 2nd Infantry Division. Two battalions of the 54th Reserve Division now made their way across the bay. Arriving from Boulogne to act as scouts were the very light torpedoboats, A.2, A.3 and A.4. While this was going on the 53rd Reserve Division made another assault on Quend. This was more than a diversion or even a pinning attack---the Germans wanted to take that key spot---but the British defenders who survived the heavy bombardment remained very stubborn despite being on half rations for 18 days. The German 7th Infantry Division while suffering sustained losses from the nearly incessant attempts of the British First Army to break the encirclement, was not was weak as the British thought and it managed to send 2 of its stronger battalions to attack north after dark
The first battalion that made it across the bay landed on the eastern portion. The senior officers of the 2nd Infantry Division had thought this was where the Germans were most likely to land if they crossed the bay, esp. as they expected Dover Patrol to handle any attempt further out in the bay. This German battalion suffered very heavy casualties and only managed to ashore at all when a key British machinegun ran out of ammo. The other German battalion landed later further west and encountered only a few defenders and were able to get ashore with acceptable losses. When the battalion commander decided his perimeter was secure he fired an unusually colored flare twice. This was a prearranged signal for German artillery north of the bay to resume their bombardment of an RGA battery that lay to the south. It was also an indication that the regiment’s 3rd battalion and machinegun company should cross as well. The battalion commander moved his battalion into position and then fired the odd flare again. The shelling stopped and the German infantry swooped down and a brief but fierce fight captured the guns, which turned out to be obsolescent ex-naval 4.7" guns. What was somewhat surprising was that it did not possess even a single shell. The battalion probed further to the south where there was another British battery but as they did additional British infantry arrived and launched an immediate counterattack.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse English Channel heading west 2345 hrs
The High Seas Fleet along with 3 flotillas, the 3 remaining troopships and the minelayer Nautilus had followed 2nd Scouting Group through the swept channel. It was joined by the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla which had refueled in Dunkirk and then in the last few minutes by the 7th Torpedoboat Flotilla which had been stationed in Boulogne before the sortie. Third and fifth Scouting Groups which had been in the rear of the battle squadrons during transit of the Channel had now increased their speed to 20 knots to take up station in the van.
"Should we now send the 2nd Torpedoboat Flotilla into Boulogne according to our plan," asked von Ingenohl’s chief of staff.
"No, I want them to guard the Straits for another hour to make sure no threat comes from that direction. If they encounter no enemy warships then they can head into Boulogne."
"Jawohl, admiral. Should we send the wireless message to Gen. von François now, admiral?"
Adm. von Ingenohl glared ominously at his staff. He had been in foul mood since the moment they had left Jade Bay. "Oh, go ahead and send the damn wireless message!"