by Tom B
THE GRAND FLEET DEFEATS GERMAN NAVY!
"The Admiralty issued a statement this morning that the Grand Fleet had engaged and defeated the German battle fleet in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland late yesterday. They did not give out many details but said that the Grand Fleet under the vigorous leadership of Adm. Lewis Bayly had sunk at least one German dreadnought battleship without losing any British battleships. The Admiralty has made it abundantly clear that this victory was limited in scope and that the German Navy remains a serious threat. Nevertheless this victory reassures the deeply worried British populace that the Royal Navy can indeed defeat the Germans. It will also shore up support within Parliament for Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law who has been under increasing criticism for his disappointing handling of the Irish campaign."
----Daily Mail Sunday May 16, 1915
------HQ British VI Army Corps Maryborough (Queen’s) 0010 hrs
Gen. Henry Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps was on the telephone with Gen. Hamilton. "We have just received word from the Admiralty that a naval battle occurred in the Celtic Sea during the late afternoon. The battle was far from decisive but the Royal Navy believes that they won a small victory. Unfortunately the need to refuel his destroyers caused Adm. Bayly to withdraw," said Hamilton.
"Then can I assume that once the destroyers are refueled the Grand Fleet will be returning here to finish off the German fleet, sir?"
"Hmm. The Admiralty has not explicitly told us that but I would like to think that is a fairly safe assumption, though there is a good chance that the German fleet will try to limp their wretched way back to Germany."
"Yes, that is definitely possible, maybe even probable, sir, but in either case this is definitely a turning point in this vexing war. At the very least it means the German expedition here is ultimately doomed."
"In the long run, yes, but in the next few days it will make things worse as the Grand Fleet was unable to prevent the German second wave from landing. One thing that the Admiralty is particularly worried about that I had not previously considered is the troubling possibility that the Germans will try again to seize Berehaven. In order to strengthen our position there I want the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade brought back to the Bere Peninsula immediately, while half of the 1/5th York and Lancaster is to be moved on to Bere Island itself."
"Hmm. I had been thinking of using 1st South Western Mounted Brigade to raid Killarney, sir."
"That idea has some merit as we have some intelligence that the Germans are keeping several thousand prisoners there guarded only by the rebels, but it will have to wait until we are sure that Berehaven is safe. London is also deeply worried about the vulnerability of the cable stations on Valencia Island but I do not see anything we can do about that."
"Neither can I, general. I take it that the remainder of the 11th Infantry Division is still expected to arrive at Belfast at midday?"
"Yes, that is what the War Office is currently saying though the Admiralty is now worried that some German warships could be afoot in the Irish Sea. They are assembling some protected cruisers to reinforce the handful of light warships already covering North Channel and warn us that it might cause a slight delay."
"Let us hope and pray that any delay is indeed small, sir. I would point out that Ulster is not as secure as everyone has been assuming. I have recently received word that the U.V.F. arsenal at Cavan was captured by the rebel forces, in a brazen repetition of what happened in Monaghan."
"That is disturbing news but if you are going to once again recommend arming the U.V.F., you can save your breath, general. At most we will need to send a battalion of the 11th Infantry Division to Cavan after Dublin has been dealt with."
"And might I ask how the Battle of Dublin is progressing, general?"
"Gen. Egerton reports heavy fighting in much of the city. He claims to be taking a significant number of prisoners for a change. He believes the enemy to be low on supplies, esp. ammunition. He is now confident that once the 11th Infantry Division begins it attack from the north enemy resistance will collapse quickly."
"I see no good reason to doubt that, sir. I would strongly suggest that once it becomes clear that the rebel resistance inside Dublin is in fact collapsing the Lowland Division should immediately begin redeploying to Mallow to join in the attack on the Germans at Cork."
"Yes, I certainly concur with that. The German concentration around Cork is the gravest threat facing us even though the spread of the rebellion into much of Connaught is worrisome. Has there been any news out of Sligo?"
"From the city none whatsoever, general. However two R.I.C. stations outside the city report that the rebels are in control in the northern half of the county. Telephone and telegraph wires have been cut in many places."
"Which implies that the rebels---" Suddenly the telephone receiver went dead. "Have our own insufferable telephone lines been cut again?" Gen. Wilson yelled in frustration to his signal officer.
"Yes, general, I am afraid so."
------near Morlay (Picardy) 0015 hrs
The British line of communication to First Army remained tenuous. Compounding this situation the entire BEF was of late experiencing a serious petrol shortage due in large part to the disruption of Channel traffic. So it was decided not to use motor trucks at all to bring supplies this night, but instead to rely completely on draught animals which slowed the process. Up until midnight the bombardment of the key supply road by German artillery was very sporadic. Now suddenly this changed dramatically with a very concerted bombardment by several batteries of the stretch of road near Morlay. One A.S.C. company hauling supplies was very hard hit by this shelling. An eighth of the teamsters were killed and nearly twice as many were wounded. The horses and mules fared still worse with more than a fifth either killed outright or so badly hurt they had to be put down. Some of the supply wagons were damaged in varying degrees. Clearing the mess and getting the procession going again when the German guns finally went silent was far from easy and it delayed both the A.S.C. companies behind them and those trying to make the return trip. Mercifully for the British the German shelling after that went back to being very intermittent for the rest of the night.
------Haulbowline Island (Cork) 0025 hrs
Covered by a sporadic bombardment by the High Seas Fleet, detachments of specially trained German Marines brought in the battleships and armored cruisers landed on Haulbowline Island. There was more resistance than the attackers had been expecting but in less than three hours it was all over. At the naval docks the Germans captured two lightly armed trawlers and the TB73, a 200 ton RN torpedo boat which had been laid up with severe condenser problems. During the attack a few British sailors aboard her performed acts of sabotage disabling her completely and burned her codebooks. The Germans did capture a codebook aboard one of the trawlers but it only contained some low and middle level naval codes, most of which had been previously broken by Sixth Army.
------Athlone (Westmeath) 0200 hrs
The last time the British forces had attacked at Athlone was Monday. Since then they had merely skirmished with rebel patrols and the raiding parties which tried to ambush their supply trains with moderate success, resulting in the British infantry having their food ration reduced since Thursday. With the dreaded armored train in County Mayo and the German Marine Cavalry Squadron at Roscommon Gen. Wilson thought the time was ripe for the 10th and 16th battalions Royal Rifles to make another full scale attempt to retake Athlone. Since the last several days had been quiet it was hoped that a predawn assault stood a good chance to achieve surprise. The defenders had only a very small amount of barbed wire. The combined strength of the Royal Irish rifles battalions was just under 1,500 and they hoped to have a 3 to 1 superiority.
The unit they were attacking, the 1st Athlone Battalion in fact had a current strength of 930 men. Its German commandant had use the relative inactivity of the last week to train the Irish Volunteers as rapidly as possible. There was something of a rifle shortage in Athlone Brigade esp. since some of their rifles had been sent either to the North Ireland Regiment or more recently to Mayo. On account of this a sixth of the defenders were armed with both a shotgun and a pistol instead of a rifle. In the predawn darkness these men proved useful in the close quarters combat. Directed by a handful of German pioneers at Athlone some crude bombs had been fashioned from explosives captured at Custume Barracks. By this time the Germans trusted a fifth of the Irishmen after some intensive training to be able to use these bombs and be more of a menace to the enemy than themselves and their compatriots. The Royal Irish Rifles battalions on the other hand had not been provided either bombs or rifle grenades.
Despite stiff resistance the attackers managed by sheer tenacity to take 3 buildings incl. a rebel strongpoint and there was a furious battle for one of Athlone’s two railroad stations. They had paid a heavy price for this limited success and when half of the 2nd Athlone Battalion arrived to reinforce the 1st Athlone Battalion the Royal Irish Riflemen found themselves without any numerical superiority and their repeated assaults were unable to advance any further. The one Irish attempt at a counterattack was easily repulsed with the help of a pair of Vickers machineguns quickly brought forward.
------Carlow 0240 hrs
When learned that rebel forces had taken Carlow city Gen. Wilson became concerned that they might soon pose a threat to VI Army Corps HQ at Maryborough and he ordered that 1/7th battalion West Yorkshires which was stationed at Kilkenny city performing line of communication duties to immediately send half of the battalion by forced march to "eradicate" the rebel forces at Carlow. These troops marched through the night in the hope of taking the rebels by surprise. However en route they were observed by a band of 13 men and a woman from County Kilkenny on their way to join the rebels at Carlow. This gave the 330 Irish Volunteers at Carlow some brief warning. The initial British attack failed but the West Yorkshires tried again and this time they managed to eject the rebels from Carlow with a fierce bayonet charge. In the pitch dark 210 of the rebels managed to escape fleeing to the southeast and the West Yorkshires were too tired to pursue effectively.
------Arklow (Wicklow) 0320 hrs
In 1895 the Kynoch Works Company had built a large factory at Arklow on the east coast of Ireland in County Wicklow mostly to manufacture explosives incl. cordite. In 1906 and 1907 Kynoch Works went into a deep slump for multiple reasons. One of them was the rejection of a shipment of cordite by the British government which Kynoch had countered with a lawsuit. In retaliation the government soon stopped doing business with the Kynoch Arklow plant even when it was spun off as Irish Manufacturers Ltd. This new company soon failed and the plant was almost completely idle for a while but was quickly resuscitated when the Great War broke out. When Bonar Law replaced Asquith as prime minister he was uneasy with the idea of a major arms plant being in the southern portion of Ireland but Lloyd-George had argued persuasively against closing it again at this critical time in the war when the BEF needed all the munitions it could get. The plant now employed nearly 3,000 workers.
When the Germans landed in Ireland the local R.I.C. contingent was reinforced. Their main concern was an uprising amongst the local Irish Volunteers and possible sabotage by the workers. There had 3 bomb scares since the Dublin Rising Monday. The output of the plant had declined in the last 2 weeks and while part of this was due to an erratic delivery of raw materials since the Germans had invaded Ireland, the management thought subtler forms of sabotage were also a distinct possibility.
A convoy of motor vehicles wound their way up the hilly road that led from Bunclody to Arklow. They carried a weak company of Bavarian infantry, a troop of Hungarian Hussars, a platoon of German pioneers, a Bavarian machinegun section and a 157 man strong company of Irish Volunteers from the Wexford Battalion. They did not have the luxury of an armored car to lead the way and intimidate roadblocks but the only roadblock they did encounter on the way was fairly weak and quickly overpowered. Two cars and a truck broke down on the way and several other vehicles fell behind for various reasons but the rest of the motorized column made it to the town before first light. On the outskirts of town they encountered another roadblock. Hauptmann Schumacher had only Irish Volunteers in the lead vehicles at this time. He let the Irish Volunteers fight the constables while the other units dismounted up the road in the darkness which soon started to show the first rosy hints of twilight.
Guided by a pair of Irish Volunteers familiar with Arklow Schumacher swung his forces around the roadblock unseen. He positioned his machineguns so they had a clear field of fire at the R.I.C. station. Meanwhile his Bavarians along with the Pioneers and Hussars trudged their way as quietly as possible in the twilight to the factory which they attacked immediately. The constables guarding it were momentarily startled. Some of them recovered enough to inflict a few losses on their attackers but were unable to prevent the capture of the factory.
Once the factory was secured the most important remaining objectives in the town were the railroad station and the small harbor area. Schumacher sent half of his Bavarian company to take the former while he told the Hussars to probe the harbor but only try to take it if they saw it to be weakly guarded. Assisted by the pioneers the rest of the Bavarian company prepared to defend the factory from an expected counterattack. The attack on the railroad station failed on its first attempt but once the Bavarians surrounded the constables there soon surrendered. The harbor proved trickier as there were 20 Royal Marines reinforcing the R.I.C. and the lightly armed Coast Guard contingent. The Hussars wisely followed Schumacher’s instructions. When the enemy forces in the harbor found out that the munitions factory was under attack they dispatched a dozen of the Royal Marines to reinforce it. The Hussars intercepted the Royal Marines and quickly turned half of them into casualties.
Meanwhile the Irish Volunteers had forced the constables to retreat from the roadblock and try to reach their station. When they found their station covered by Bavarian machineguns they too surrendered. As this was going on the Irish Volunteers from County Wexford made contact with their local counterparts and began to arm them with the 100 Moisin-Nagant rifles they had brought along.
------SMY Hohenzollern south of Cork 0355 hrs
Hohenzollern had coaled at Waterford while she was landing the Hussar Regiment there. Her next mission was to function as a lightly armed scout off the southeast coast of Cork. To the west 1st and 4th Scouting Groups patrolled as well. She made frequent zigzags as British submarines were now a serious concern.
------Blarney (Cork) 0400 hrs
The British 10th (Irish) Infantry Division tried to resume its advance on Cork at first light. By this time all of the infantry regiments of the 111th Infantry Division had completely offloaded, though 2 rifle battalions and a machinegun company had yet to receive draught animals for their wagons. Likewise the offloading of the 211th Field Artillery Regiment was still not finished and so only 2 batteries of 7.7cm field guns were in position. The 111th Infantry Division had been granted temporary command of the Foot Guards battalion as well as the West Limerick and 1st Cork City Battalions.
The 6 British battalions attacked without any preliminary artillery preparation in the faintest of twilight. The mostly Hanoverian defenders were content to let the British attack weaken themselves against their breastworks, strongpoints and slit trenches. Once the British attack was in obvious retreat they launched an immediate counterattack. The 10th (Irish) Division had no entrenchments prepared and was forced to fall back once it became painfully obvious that they were seriously outnumbered.
------Navan Road Dublin 0415 hrs
The city of Dublin had slept little during the night. In fierce house to house fighting the Lowland Division had finally hammered out a secure line of communication for its artillery which remained concentrated in and around Trinity College. In the process it eliminated much of the 3rd Dublin Battalion, but suffered nearly 500 casualties. Meanwhile fighting continued in Phoenix Park with the British very slowly advancing during the night. The rebels still managed to keep Navan Road unblocked and Tom Ashe now returned down it with a little more than half of the Irish Volunteers who had departed with him on this bold mission. Some of those who failed to return were dead while a few were those too badly wounded to move but most of those who had been left behind had been assigned to organize the Irish Volunteers in Counties Cavan and Meath. All of the German pioneers who had accompanied Ashe returned to Dublin incl. Ziethen. Ashe brought back with him only 100 of the Austrian Mannlicher rifles captured leaving the remainder to arm the rebel forces in Cavan along with all of the single shot rifles. However he did bring back roughly two thirds of the captured 8mm Mannlicher ammunition along with some meat and produce.
------Herzegovina 0500 hrs GMT
Upon learning of the British 37th (East Lancashire) Infantry Division arriving at Durazzo, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian Sixth Army, Generaloberst Stefan Sarkotic von Lovcen decided it was best to attack before this division could arrive at the front. In the last two weeks Conrad had given priority to his Second Army in Galicia and the Third Army in Serbia when it came to the delivery of ammunition and so the Austrian batteries did not have much for their preliminary bombardment. The Kaiserjaegers had received some replacement troops recently and it was they who were assigned to perform the assault. Gen. Birdwood, the CANZAC commander, had a sneaking suspicion that the blacklegs might try this and so was well prepared. The CANZAC artillery held their own against the Austrians and while the Canadian soldiers in the forward trench took some losses from the Austrian howitzers and minenwerfers more than enough of their strength remained to defeat the Kaiserjaeger assault without much trouble.
------near Przemysl (Galicia) 0530 hrs
The attack of AustroGerman Center Army against the Russian Eleventh Army continued. After a 90 minute bombardment by howitzers and minenwerfers German and Austrian infantry assaulted the forward Russian trench. They sustained more casualties from Russian artillery than they had the previous day as the Russians had shifted their batteries more speedily this time and so were not completely suppressed by the German counterbattery fire when the infantry assault came. This allowed them to inflict substantial casualties on the 8 German and 12 Austrian battalions involved in the assault, but not enough to prevent them from overpowering most of the devastated forward trench which was relatively shallow with only a single barbed wire strand. The Russians this time counterattacked with their reserves almost immediately. Trench fighting continued for several hours. The Central Powers forces eventually consolidated their hold on the center of the trench line but continued to be pressured from the flanks.
Meanwhile to the immediate south the attack by the Austro-Hungarian Second Army continued but failed to gain any ground and suffered serious losses. Its only real success in pinning down a Russian division on the left wing of the Eleventh Army preventing it from helping the rest of that army fight off von Linsingen’s assault.
------Ft. Camden (Cork) 0540 hrs
The remaining Royal Munster Fusiliers at Ft. Camden had held out throughout the night which impeded the redeployment of the Bavarian Jaegers. Finally the last bunch was eliminated with a skillful use of grenades. Meanwhile a small contingent of Kaiserliche Marine shore personnel had arrived to occupy the fort along with some Irish rebels from the 2nd Cork City Battalion.
------HMS Iron Duke NW of Isles of Scilly heading south 0605 hrs
Adm. Lewis Bayly had just emerged from a few hours of sleep. His chief of staff presented him with a wireless message from the Admiralty.
WE HAVE GOOD INTELLIGENCE THAT GERMAN BATTLEFLEET IS NOW IN CORK HARBOR REPEAT WE HAVE GOOD INTELLIGENCE THAT GERMAN BATTLEFLEET IS NOW IN CORK HARBOR STOP
"I am happy to report that our cruiser squadrons have spotted no sign of any enemy pursuit, sir, which confirms this intelligence," Adm. Madden informed Adm. Bayly, "I would strongly suggest that it is now safe for the bulk of the Grand Fleet to increase its speed to at least 14 knots." During the night the Grand Fleet had only steamed at 10 knots. That was the best speed that Thunderer could sustain while towing the crippled London was only around 9 knots and Adm. Bayly did not want to let those two battleships lag too far behind in case the High Seas Fleet was actually pursuing them. Adm. Bayly frowned deeply then sighed audibly, "I have seen other messages about ‘good intelligence’. It was precisely those messages that led this very fleet to ruination at both Dogger Bank and Utsire. What if the German battleships are in fact inside Cork but their battle cruiser squadron together with a flotilla is out looking for some limping vessels to finish off?"
"Ah, then is it your intent to keep the entire fleet at 10 knots all the way to Devonport, sir? There is something to be said for getting to a base as quickly as possible, sir."
Adm. Bayly took his time before answering with a deep frown and a pronounced sigh, "Once we pass the Isles of Scilly and if there is still no sign of a German pursuit then I shall begin to feel comfortable increasing the speed of the Grand Fleet to 14 knots."
------Haulbowline Island (Cork) 0710 hrs
After settling into their new temporary HQ, Grossadmiral von Ingenohl along with chief of staff, Vizadmiral Eckermann called a meeting with Vizadmiral Scheer, the 3rd Battle Squadron Commander and Vizadmiral Lans, the 1st Battle Squadron commander. "First Scouting Group is entering Cork harbor as we speak," said von Ingenohl, "and so I will be meeting with Adm. von Hipper soon. Likewise Gen. von François will be arriving before noon. Therefore it is best that I get straight to the most important points. The High Seas Fleet will perform what repairs it can accomplish at anchor here in Cork for the next 60 hours. We have a captured British naval base and have a major commercial port at our disposal. Let us see what materials they have available which might be suitable for our own repairs. Markgraf is our most severely damaged battleship. Her repairs will be given the highest priority but no repairs will be begun on her or any other warship that will interfere with the 60 hour limit. Is that completely clear?"
In unison the three admirals replied, "Jawohl, admiral."
"In case the British return and ignore our minefields, which are not very thick, and try to attack us inside the harbor one torpedo boat flotilla will be on duty off Kinsale Head at all times. There was a disassembled airplane aboard Vaterland. Once it is reassembled it will patrol to the south as will the Zeppelin L.10 which is now back in Killarney but is expected to be aloft again in about an hour. I want also 4 of our battleships to be ready for immediate action with steam raised to guard the harbor mouth."
"How do you intend to distribute the naval shells carried aboard the troopships, admiral?" asked Scheer, "I know they do not amount to much---only 500 30.5cm shells and 200 28cm shells, which is a small fraction of what we expended during the battle but nevertheless if the British fleet does return after refilling their magazines we could end up needing every single shell."
"Yes, that is an excellent point. I have decided to give all of the 28cm shells along with 60 of the 30.5cm shells to 1st Scouting Group. My flagship and every ship in Second Squadron will receive 40 shells while the Helgoland class battleships will each receive 20 shells. There are also the naval 15cm shells brought aboard the troopships to consider. We need to keep some of these for the coastal battery. I will start by giving 1st Scouting Group and Pillau 800 of these shells. I will decide about the rest later."
------OHLValenciennes (Nord) 0720 hrs
Gen. von Falkenhayn was busy absorbing the early morning telegrams from the various armies. First Army reported that the French Second Army had resumed their attacks early this morning after a quiet day yesterday. Gen. von Kluck’s telegram was optimistic that the French would not gain any ground, but von Falkenhayn knew very well from past experience that what was really happening took time to wend its way up the chain of command into the higher headquarters. These preliminary assessments could not be trusted esp. coming from the likes of von Kluck who was notoriously overly optimistic. In a few more hours OHL would have a more reliable picture of the situation. After taking Compiegne following a lengthy artillery bombardment the French Second Army had made very little progress but was continuing to litter no man’s land with corpses. The recent speech of Premier Clemenceau was a very good indicator that this futile French offensive would not end soon. Gen. von Falkenhayn was confident that his First Army had been sufficiently reinforced to prevent a French breakthrough. The best the French could hope to accomplish was a few small advances paid for with copious losses.
The general was more concerned that the French might try to attack in other sectors. In the last 3 days there had been signs of French preparation for an attack in the Montagne de Rheims. During the Battle of Champagne late last year Gen. Joffre attacked in other places as well and one of them was the Montagne de Rheims, hoping that if they could evict the Germans from that high ground they could then go on to liberate the important city of Rheims to the north. Those attacks had gained only a small amount of ground and since the beginning of the year that sector had become inactive. Maybe Joffre has fixed his sights on Rheims once again von Falkenhayn was speculating or perhaps he thinks it is a good place to feint. There are also signs of a steady protracted enemy build up at Verdun we cannot ignore completely either.
Currently the most powerful numbered army within the Heer was the Sixth Army. After 3 weeks of heavy fighting when it had gained considerable ground, it had destroyed only one British division while von Falkenhayn had thought it should have been able to eliminate at least eight divisions and cross the Somme. The good news was that the BEF had been badly weakened as an offensive instrument but the alluring possibility of rolling up the entire enemy line in France did not seem very likely now even if OHL reinforced von Fabeck with two more divisions and an independent brigade, which was all that von Falkenhan felt he could safely spare at this time. For the time being von Fabeck had shifted his strategy to an attack designed to further weaken the British Second Army. He was starting with an enfilading bombardment of a jagged section of the Second Army’s perimeter which he regarded as particularly vulnerable.
There were also reports coming in from Ober Ost. They spoke of two Russian attacks---one outside of Warsaw and the other in East Prussia. The former had made negligible progress but the latter apparently was causing some consternation. Meanwhile the attack of Eighth Army was continuing to grind down the right wing of the Russian Tenth Army driving them all the way back to Stallupönen. The reduction of Kovno Fortress was progressing despite some problems with the substandard roads there wearing out the motor trucks which were being used extensively by the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade. Gen. von Seeckt continued to believe that the powerful Russian Fortress would probably fall before the end of the coming week. Gen. von Falkenhayn was not sure to make of the mysterious von Seeckt, other than the obvious fact that he was an obvious improvement over the conniving and self promoting Gen. Ludendorff. The information now coming out of Ober Ost are definitely more honest and reliable. The downside to this is the Sphinx unlike his predecessor is probably passing on most if not all of this information to OKW as well thereby encouraging annoying Helmuth to interfere still more in my operations. Hmm. So is Ludendorff really dead or captured? Could I really be so lucky? Kronprinz Rupprecht certainly seems to think so---
Falkenhayn’s thoughts were interrupted. "General, we have Feldmarschal von Moltke on the telephone asking to talk with you. Shall I put him through?"
Speaking of the devil "Yes, put him through, leutnant"
"This is Gen. von Falkenhayn speaking. How are you today, Generalfeldmarshal?"
"I am feeling, uh, reasonably well, general. Thank you for asking. Ah, the reason I am calling is to inform you that there was another fleet action between the High Seas Fleet and the British late yesterday. It occurred in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland."
"Well then did the German Nelson win another big victory?" That probably sounded too sarcastic von Falkenhayn rebuked himself Of course I’d love to hear that such a victory has in fact happened. It would knock Britain out of the war and end the blockade.
"Uh, I am afraid the battle was shall we say, indecisive."
"How so, Feldmarschal? What exactly happened?"
"We do not have too many details at this time, general and even if I did I do not feel it wise to discuss this matter in depth over the telephone. I am leaving for Wilhelmshaven with Grossadmiral Tirpitz in a little more than an hour. I think it would be very productive if you could meet us there in the late afternoon to discuss strategy. I now you are very busy and this is short notice, but Wilhelmshaven is a shorter trip than Berlin, yes? "
Why do I instinctively cringe at this suggestion as if Wilhelmshaven were enemy territory? I need to know what happened in the Celtic Sea and more importantly what new schemes OKW are hatching in its aftermath. "Uh, why yes, I do believe that I can make it, Feldmarschal. I look forward to seeing you and the grossadmiral."
------Old Admiralty Building 0725 hrs
Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty, entered the conference room where Admirals Callaghan, Wilson, Jackson and Oliver were awaiting him. "What is the latest news from Adm. Bayly" asked Carson anxiously, "When I left last night we were still worried about Dominion possibly foundering."
"Dominion no longer appears to be in any danger of capsizing, First Lord," answered Adm. Callaghan, the First Sea Lord. We have intercepted and deciphered two more wireless transmissions between Adm. von Ingenohl and Berlin. The High Seas Fleet returned to Cork. Only the Markgraf is described as being heavily damaged while a main turret was destroyed on Oldenburg."
"Is that all, admiral? If that is indeed the case then it would seem that our battleships came out of this battle much more damaged than the Germans did."
"Yes, unfortunately that is our impression as well, First Lord."
"And does this mean that Adm. Bayly’s reluctance to return to Ireland after replenishing his ammunition and fuel is justified in your esteemed opinion, Adm. Callaghan?"
"Most unfortunately yes, First Lord."
"We cannot let the High Seas Fleet stay in Cork! From there they would completely dominate the Western Approaches."
Adm. Callaghan grinned slightly, "Fortunately for us I do not believe the Germans can operate out of there for too long, First Lord. Apparently neither does Admiral von Ingenohl."
"Yes, he went out of his way to repeat that in his latest wireless message to Tirpitz," added Adm. Oliver.
"So what you are telling me, admiral, is that the British Empire can afford to wait for them to leave?"
The First Sea Lord exchanged glances with the other admirals before answering, "It would be extremely ill advised for the Grand Fleet to rush pell-mell into another fleet engagement, First Lord. Inflexible is on her way home. Warspite is currently on shakedown off the Faeroes and should be fully worked up in a fortnight. Repairs on Temeraire are due to be completed 10 days from today. Once these ships have joined the Grand Fleet then we can seriously consider having another go at the Huns."
"Right now our entire trade with France is halted along with nearly all our coastal sea traffic. We are still receiving some incoming merchantmen but most of those are now seriously endangered by both the German naval presence in Ireland and von Spee’s forces in the mid Atlantic. Can we really afford to wait a fortnight for Warspite?"
"If the High Seas Fleet soon returns to Germany, which is what Adm. von Ingenohl says he intends to do, we can then resume most of our commercial trade, even though von Spee would still remain a threat," said Adm. Jackson.
"There is also the matter of Seydlitz, First Lord," added Adm. Oliver, "we have intercepted and deciphered German wireless transmissions this morning indicating she is now loose in the North Sea."
"Seydlitz! I thought we were counting on her being in the docks until the end of the month!" replied Carson, "Do we have any inkling as to her objective?"
"Not yet, First Lord," said Oliver.
"If and when you do please do not sit on the information as usual, Adm. Oliver. Is that clear?"
"Uh, why of course, First Lord."
"Well then, would anyone here care to at least speculate on what Seydlitz might be doing?"
"Uh, unfortunately there are many possibilities, First Lord," answered Adm. Wilson, "She could be heading for the eastern half of Channel to make sure that all of our traffic is disrupted there. Or she could be on her way to attack the 10th Cruiser Squadron. Or possibly to shell one or more of our coastal cities while preying on any merchantmen they can find in the North Sea. Or maybe even to breakout into the Atlantic as yet another German raider. The others here may wish to add to my list, First Lord."
"Hmm. One possibility that we cannot afford to ignore is that she may be fresh out of the yards and trying to rejoin the rest of their battle cruiser squadron either from the north or through the Channel," added Adm. Wilson.
"Blimey! So many possibilities for mischief stemming from just one warship," groused Carson shaking his head.
"Indeed," replied Adm. Callaghan laconically.
------Mt. Maghera (Clare) 0745 hrs
The Naval Division with the help of the East Clare Battalion had set up an observation post on Mt. Maghera, the tallest peak in the Slieve Aughty Mountains in County Clare very near the border with County Galway. The early morning patchy fog had now burned off and from their elevation of 400 meters the German observers could now make out a large mass of soldiers heading south in the vicinity of Gorteeny. And not far behind the soldiers artillery could be seen. The observation post’s telegraph was soon clicking furiously.
------Haulbowline Island (Cork) 0820 hrs
Adm. von Hipper had arrived as ordered to talk with Adm. von Ingenohl. He did not like what he saw in the grossadmiral’s eyes and the fact that the chief of staff was absent did not bode well either. "There is much we need to talk about, admiral," said von Ingenohl icily, "We shall start with the negligent behavior of 1st Scouting Group yesterday."
"You have me at a loss, admiral. Are you referring to letting the armored cruisers escape or not finishing off the British predreadnought?"
"No, I am referring mostly to you failing in your primary mission which is scouting! Why was I not told that the British had formed their line on a reciprocal course to my fleet?"
"We were fighting off a determined enemy torpedo attack!"
"Which was clearly intended to force you so far away from the main action as to render your unit inconsequential. You let the enemy do exactly what they wanted with you, neglecting your mission. There are in fact some disturbing similarities between your negligent behavior and that of Adm. Sturdee at the Battle of Utsire."
Adm. von Hipper ground his teeth. "I would respectfully point out, admiral, that I badly hurt a squadron of British armored cruisers---I am nearly certain that at least one of them sank afterwards---skillfully engaged a division of predreadnoughts inflicting much more damage than we received. We later reengaged the most seriously damaged predreadnought and inflicted additional damage ---enough that I believe that she will sink before reaching port. Lastly my forces neutralized an entire British flotilla, sinking a small cruiser and at least 4 large torpedo boats and severely damaging nearly all of the rest."
"The only fault I find with your engagement with the armored cruisers is that you apparently failed to sink any of them. Likewise I will concede that your engagement with the right flank of the enemy’s formation was both brave and well thought out. But your subsequent obsession with this British flotilla was where you went very wrong, admiral. You permitted it to divert you from your primary mission."
In the German newspapers a popular recurring story had been how the smooth working relationship between Adm. von Ingenohl and Adm. von Hipper had contributed to the German victories at Dogger Bank and Utsire. These stories were in fact far from the truth. There had been serious animosity between the two admirals going back to the Battle of the Broad Fourteens and it had seriously worsened since Utsire. Von Hipper realized that any further protestation on his part would give von Ingenohl cause to accuse him of being insubordinate as well as negligent. In the long run it would be the judgment of Tirpitz and the Admiralstab that would matter most. "I will welcome an official inquiry into all aspects of this battle including that of my command as soon as we return to Germany, admiral. In the mean time I will perform my duty to the fatherland to the utmost," he answered stiffly. He had heard bits and pieces of what had happened during the main engagement and suspected that the Admiralstab would not be entirely pleased with some of von Ingenohl’s decisions esp. breaking off the engagement when he did.
The grossadmiral’s frown deepened but he took his time replying which von Hipper decided to interpret that as a positive sign. Yes, I think I’ve struck a nerve. He is deeply worried about debriefing Tirpitz when we return. I fear that he intends to make me the scapegoat for his own errors. Finally von Ingenohl said, "We shall discuss this matter in more depth later. There are other things we need to set in motion. Go fetch Kapitän Raeder and then we shall discuss your next mission in depth."
------G.P.O. Dublin 0840 hrs
British artillery had resumed shelling the G.P.O. Most of this bombardment was shrapnel shells but some of the enemy howitzers were firing HE shells as well which posed a serious threat to the building but so far there were no fires. The Countess Markievicz with Pound in tow had left to return to the Citizen Army, but she had said that she intended to return in the afternoon.
Rommel was briefing Pearse on the latest developments. "The expedition to Cavan was a success, commandant, tarnished only by the fact that we found fewer first rate weapons than we expected. The Magazine Fort, Kilmainham and Portobello are holding firm---at least according to our latest reports. That is the full extent of the good news. Everything else is bad. The enemy has captured South Dublin Union. Several of our key outposts have fallen. I have lost all communication with our 3rd battalion and fear it may be lost. The enemy has reestablished its line of communication with the artillery at Trinity College which is why the shelling has resumed. The success of the mission to Cavan only reduces the scope of our supply problems which are going to get worse before the day is over."
Pearse smiled like cherub which infuriated Rommel, "Oh, but there is good news, my dear German friend. Our rebellion has lasted six whole days. Surely we, the free Irish people, have given a resplendent account of ourselves. Six days we have defied the English tyrants. Six holy days that the people of Ireland will never forget!"
"Yes, but it all could end in the next 24 hours!"
"True. But even if it does it will not diminish our great accomplishment in any way."
"How can you possibly say that, commandant? All of Dublin Brigade could be eliminated which would free up most of the British forces here to attack both the Germans and the I.R.A. elsewhere."
Pearse shook his head, "No I am afraid that is you who happens to be the one who fails to understand. Our surrender will not diminish our accomplishment but instead our martyrdom will serve to consummate the holy sacrament."
"Surrender? Please tell me you are not thinking of surrendering? Have you not heard that the British Prime Minister has promised to execute all of you?"
"Aye, that he has but it shall be our Irish blood that will water the young sapling of Irish liberty."
Rommel felt like strangling Pearse. "We are not going to surrender! As God is my witness, as God is my witness they are not going to lick me. I was captured once already due to negligence. As God is my witness I will never be captured again."
------between Nolette and Nouvion (Picardy) 0900 hrs
The ammunition shipment from England did not reach Gen. Plumer’s Second Army in time for a dawn attack. There had been some light rain in the early morning but the skies had cleared an hour ago. The meteorological section was predicting that a thunderstorm with heavy rains and possibly hail would arrive in the afternoon. This caused Gen. Plumer to decide that he could not afford to wait much longer and ordered his attack to begin. The preliminary bombardment was 30 minutes long. Plumer had added a few additional batteries of 4.5" and 6" howitzers hoping they would make a difference but only a third of the shells he had been provided for them were HE. The German artillery did not try to suppress the British guns. Plumer glumly realized that one big reason they were not was that much of the heavy artillery of the German Sixth Army was involved in the near continuous shell of IV Army Corps. He suspected with some dread that the German artillery were saving themselves for the infantry assault.
The French XXXVI Corps participated in the bombardment as well. They had in the last few days steadily built up a decent stockpile of shells. However the ability of the 75s and the old deBange guns to hurt the Germans in their trenches remained quite low. King Albert had refused to participate at all in this attack telling Plumer that his once large hoard of shells had been whittled down to a dangerously low level.
The bombardment ended and whistles blew in the forward trenches of the British 1st, 41st and 43rd Infantry Divisions as well as the French 28th Infantry Division. Eleven British and 3 French battalions went over the top. The German batteries now came into furious action. Together with the machinegun posts and the dense barbed wire barriers which had been insufficiently cut by the British bombardment the attackers who were not killed outright found themselves pinned down in no man’s land. Gen. Plumer had made it abundantly clear to the generals and colonels involved that the attack was not to be pressed if it appeared suicidal and so it was soon called off. The French battalions persisted a little longer and one of them did manage to infiltrate a portion of the German trench for a while only to be rudely ejected by a prompt counterattack.
------Kilburn (London) 0925 hrs
Lt. Erskine Childers V.C. hobbled wearily about the streets of Kilburn on his wooden leg with the help of a cane. He felt deeply sad as he saw the shattered shop windows. Many of the local residents he encountered were deeply upset and some of them had begun to call it "The Night of Broken Glass." There was much bitterness amongst the Irishmen in Kilburn even those that were Protestant. There was also considerable fear that this could happen again.
Childers had been inside the offices of the Naval Intelligence Division when the Battle of Celtic Sea began. While Capt. Hall usually strongly discouraged Childers from working beyond the end of his shift, he made an exception on this occasion. When he finally left the Admiralty Building it still wasn’t clear if the battle had been a narrow victory, a draw or even a small defeat. That was strange but was even stranger and downright disturbing Erskine found himself more than a little bit confused about what he wanted the outcome to be.
Childers could not get to sleep last night. He got up early and soon learned about what had happened in Kilburn and so he took a tram there to see for himself. What he saw saddened him deeply but he realized that it did not completely surprise him. Childers had observed a steadily increasing hostility in the English towards the Irish esp. since Dublin erupted. Many Englishmen were acting as if all Irish Catholics supported the rebellion. N.I.D. now estimated the size of the rebel forces at 12,000 men of which a third were in Dublin. Part of Childers thought that it was terribly unfair to label all Irishmen as traitors on account of 12,000. There were more Irish Catholics than that serving in the British armed forces. Yet another part of Childers was actually disappointed that the rebel strength was not much more. He found himself concluding that the Irish had for better or worse crossed the Rubicon.
He spent most of the day in very deep thought sometimes weeping. And when the crying ended he found himself thinking the unthinkable.
------Moulhole (Somaliland) 0930 hrs
The British and French had in the last few days developed a suspicion that the Ottomans were steadily landing reinforcements for their expedition to Somaliland in Eritrea just over the border. The Foreign Office was instructed to file official complaints with the Italian government. While that was going on the old armored cruiser, HMS Bacchante anchored off the border of French Somaliland and Eritrea and shelled what it thought was the position of the Ottoman mountain gun. The gun had in fact moved to a different location and its crew wisely decided against trying to return fire though the two Ottoman artillery pieces on Perim Island did eventually commence firing on the cruiser without much effect. There was an Ottoman company spread out along the coast as well as some armed Afars and a few Yemeni volunteers and these did take a few casualties. The Afars and the Yemenis panicked and fled but the Ottoman soldiers most of whom were in slit trenches held steady. While the shelling continued the British landed a company of Royal Marines at Moulhole. The crew of the mountain gun finally opened fire as the first boat of the Royal Marines reached the edge of the shore. At the same time some nearby Ottoman riflemen in foxholes opened fire as well but fortunately for the Royal Marines there were no enemy machine guns.
The firing of the Ottoman mountain gun revealed its new position to the Bacchante which quickly retargeted its guns and soon silenced the enemy mountain howitzer. The Royal Marines established a fragile beachhead on the lip of the sea while tending to their casualties. Their commander briefly contemplated a withdrawal but decided to hold on and instead signalled the cruiser by semaphore to send in the second wave---a half battalion of Sikh Pioneers, as quickly as possible. The Bacchante switched her 9.2" guns to shelling Perim Island, which trying to support the beleaguered Royal Marines with its 6" guns as best it could. Half of the Afars and Yeminis who had run off soon regained their courage and rejoined the battle. The Royal Marines remained pinned down until arrival of the Sikh Pioneers. Then with the continued assistance of the cruiser’s firepower they were able to defeat the Ottoman infantry and captured the pesky mountain howitzer. Once that was done they thoroughly patrolled the border with Eritrea. It was frightfully hot and within a few hours many of the men had emptied their canteens despite being warned by their officers to conserve water. Sniping by the Afars remained a constant threat.
The British units involved in this operation had originally been earmarked for the assault to retake Perim Island. There was a lively debate going on amongst the local brass as to how long they would be required to remain in northern Somaliland.
------New Ross (Wexford) 1040 hrs
Sufficient riding horses had been found to equip one squadron of Count Tisza’s Hussars. These were assigned to perform a reconnaissance of County Wexford and assist the I.R.A. forces there. They now reached the town of the New Ross where they stopped for a while to care for their mounts with the assistance of a platoon from the Wexford Battalion.
------U.27 off Lizard Point 1055 hrs
After the disappointing patrol off Dungeness the U.27 had been ordered via wireless to proceed to Cork. Then late yesterday she had picked up a transmission from the Zeppelin L.10 that the Grand Fleet was heading back towards the English Channel. Lt. Wegener, the U-Boat commander, realized he might have a good opportunity to attack the Grand Fleet if he positioned his vessel off Lizard Point. Taking up this position was hindered by the British destroyers and torpedo boats belonging to the local defense flotilla at Devonport out on patrol sweeping the area as well as the screen of the Grand Fleet, but with some skill Wegener was able to reach what he thought was a good position. However as he now observed enemy battleships through his periscope he was frustrated to realize that they were too far off to the east for his vessel to get into a satisfactory firing position.
------Mountshannon (Clare) 1130 hrs
Gen. Wilson’s grand offensive into County Clare was now ready to start. Supported by a brief bombardment by a single battery of 18 pounders, the 3rd West Riding Brigade attacked the town of Mountshannon in County Clare not far from Lough Derg. The defenders were only a single company of the East Clare Battalion who initially picked off a score of British soldiers but then began to panic and flee. The men of the 1/5th battalion York and Lancaster gave furious pursuit but because they were winded from their hard marching since yesterday nearly half of the rebels (incl. some lightly wounded) managed to escape to the southwest towards Scariff where most of the remainder of their battalion was located.
------U.27 off Lizard Point 1141 hrs
Lt. Wegener’s patience and skill had been rewarded. He now saw a British superdreadnought towing a predreadnought through his periscope. The U-Boat was now in a reasonably good firing position. He pondered whether it would be best to fire both his bow tubes at the superdreadnought or to split the tubes between the superdreadnought and the towed predreadnought. British torpedo boats could be seen roaming around the area in twos and threes making his escape something to worry about esp. since he had used up more than half of the battery charge getting into firing position. He decided to fire his bow tubes at the towing superdreadnought, then lower his periscope as he turned to bring his stern tubes to bear.
"Fire torpedoes!" he ordered.
------HMS Thunderer 1145 hrs
The captain of Thunderer had been ordered by Adm. Bayly to tow the disabled London and try his best to make a sustained speed of 10 knots doing so. This undertaking had horrified the Chief Boatswain but the valiant crew did their very best for King and Country and with the aid of some mild winds and a calm sea state managed to tow London at roughly 9 knots. This caused her to very gradually lag further and further behind the British battle squadrons during the night. This lag had increased much more rapidly when the Grand Fleet went to 14 knots. Notified that 2 deep sea tugs had been dispatched from Devonport and would arrive within the hour he had permitted the towing speed to drop a half knot which made the Chief Boatswain’s horrified grimace less severe.
Lookouts aboard the Thunderer first spotted a periscope then a pair of torpedoes approaching rapidly from the port side. The ship’s helm in desperation tried to turn to starboard to evade the torpedoes but the towing cable hampered the maneuver. When the tow had been established Thunderer’s captain had ordered a hemp hawser be used instead of a wire rope so it could be cut quickly in an emergency. He now ordered the cable to be cut as soon as he was sure of the torpedoes but the orders only reached the party of sailors supervising the towline seconds before the torpedoes arrived. One torpedo was running too deep but the second torpedo exploded on the port side just forward of the ‘X’ turret. The torpedo bulkhead which protected that section of the ship was holed and cracked by the blast in a few places allowing seawater to leak into both the port engine room and the aft magazine, while 3 wing compartments rapidly flooded.
The most serious damage suffered by Thunderer at Celtic Sea had been the total destruction of her ‘B’ turret. Besides the deliberate flooding of that magazine the only flooding she suffered had been from some deformation to her starboard belt caused by a German 12" shell that failed to penetrate and this had been well contained by the damage control parties during the night. The battleship now took on a list to port which was soon partially compensated by counter flooding on the starboard side. Meanwhile on her stern the 5 of the 6 sailors tending the towline cautiously backed away while the sixth chopped away with an axe. The hawser was already under great strain from the turn and snapped on the second chop. The severed cable flailed about wildly nearly striking the axe man. Freed from the towline Thunderer accelerated steadily despite her torpedo damage.
------U.27 1146 hrs
The U-Boat had lowered her periscope while turning about during which they heard one explosion. Kapitän Wegener now ordered it raised. He saw signs that the British superdreadnought had been damaged. Whether this damage would prove fatal he could not tell, but the superdreadnought was now turned away and picking up speed, having voluntarily or involuntarily severed the connection to the predreadnought, which had turned only 2 or 3 points and now looked to be dead in the water. Wegener did not want to keep his periscope up for long. He very quickly decided to use both of his stern tubes to finish off the predreadnought then make his escape.
------HMS London 1150 hrs
With a heroic effort the diligent damage control parties aboard the battleship London had contained the flooding in her starboard engines yesterday evening. Her worrisome list to starboard had been reduced but not completely eliminated. When Thunderer tried to turn rapidly to starboard, her own stability was seriously threatened while the towing hawser was intact. London’s crew felt some momentary relief when the hawser was cut---until they realized why Thunderer had tried to turn so suddenly. They now watched in helpless horror as two more torpedoes sped straight towards them. The first struck London’s bow but failed to explode. Seconds later the second detonated abreast the forward portside fire room, which quickly flooded. It also caused a less rapid flooding of the forward magazine.
London’s starboard damage sustained at Celtic Sea ironically provided some measure of unintentional proactive counterflooding. This delayed but did not prevent her capsizing, mercifully allowing all of her surviving crew to make it off.
------Holy Cross College (Dublin) 1155 hrs
The vanguard of the 11th Infantry Division was 7th Battalion South Staffordshire which advanced at a forced march it had started since it had detrained at Drogheda. When it passed through the town of Swords north of Dublin it encountered its first sign of resistance when a sniper wounded one of its men. After a brief delay the battalion commander detached a half company to hunt the sniper then continued south towards Dublin. The battalion’s lead company now approached Holy Cross College in the Clonliffe section of the Dublin Northside, where Rommel had insisted on setting up an outpost despite the protests of Pearse who was extremely uncomfortable with the notion of militarizing the diocesan seminary. Pearse became even more unhappy when he learned that one of the seminarians had joined the Irish Volunteers.
Two snipers opened fire on the advancing British column while word was sent to the G.P.O. of this latest threat. A fire fight erupted along the outer perimeter of the college a nearby company of the 6th Dublin Battalion quickly reinforced the outpost.
"My battalion finally came ashore at Queenstown. The sea voyage had not been unpleasant but it was good to feel solid ground beneath one’s feet. We were all aware of how vulnerable we were at sea in the lightly armed troopship. Now that we were ashore we felt less vulnerable even though we fully expected to be hurled into intense combat against the British Army. At least fighting on the ground we would be in charge of our own fate which would not be the case while we were at sea.
There was some delay waiting for draught animals for our wagons. While we waiting our officers briefed us on the tactical situation as it had been explained to them. There was a great battle to the north of Cork city into which we would be inserted as quickly as possible. We were also provided with our first experience with Irish beer, a topic which had been discussed at great length during our voyage. It was different from most German or Belgian beers with which we were familiar but most of us felt that over time we could grow accustomed to it.
There was still more delay as we crossed over a sturdy stone bridge connecting Great Island with the mainland east of the city of Cork. This was because there was not only a great deal of traffic moving over it to the north but the bridge was also being used to bring horses, ponies and mules to haul our artillery and supply wagons. It was something of a mystery to us why these essential animals were not waiting at the docks for us when we arrived. When we finally made it over the bridge we marched rapidly to Cork city. On the way we saw clumps of refugees. We had been expecting most of the Irish people to welcome us with great enthusiasm and there were some who did including pretty young maidens who gave us flowers and pastries. One of them even kissed the Steinforth brothers. Yet we began to notice there were others we passed on our way to the front who were not glad to see us. Some looked like they were in shock an others looked angry."
----Ernst Junger, Shamrocks of Steel
------Waterford city 1215 hrs
Count István Tisza surprised Sir Roger Casement with an invitation to have lunch with him. Sir Roger was well aware of the Hungarian’s fierce reputation and part of him wanted very much to decline the invitation. Adm. von Ingenohl had been horrid to him on the voyage to Ireland and Sir Roger would like not to suffer more any hostile potentates, esp. since he had learned that the Count was extremely upset over horses not being readily available for his Hussars. However Sir Roger then worried that the Count just might regard that action as an insult and perhaps even challenge him to a duel. So telling himself that he would in fact be establishing the first diplomatic links between the Irish Republic and the Kingdom of Hungary, Sir Roger consented. He had expected that they would converse in German, but to his further surprise the count spoke excellent English.
"I became fluent in English when I did some postgraduate studies at Oxford," the count explained, "When I was told about this mission I brushed up as best as I could. Those that selected my Hussar regiment for this expedition will surely claim that my knowledge of English was one of the important reasons for their decision. That is nonsense of course, mere coincidence. The real reason I was selected was purely political---my enemies want me as far away from Budapest as possible. I am surprised they did not find an excuse to send me to help the Germans in East Africa."
The count’s stare, while not completely unfriendly, uncomfortably reminded Sir Roger of a hawk peering down on a rabbit. From Casement knew of the convoluted workings of the Habsburg Empire what the count was telling him did not strike Sir Roger as completely implausible. He forced himself to chuckle slightly at Tisza’s attempt at humor. "Ha! Might I ask whom you think are plotting against you, Your Excellency?"
"Why Conrad of course! That scoundrel does not appreciate the greatness of Hungary. It is well that he looks for an excuse to wage war on us. But there are others including I am very sad to admit a few Hungarians. Anyone supporting this dangerous Constitutional Commission that Kaiser Franz Yosef was hoodwinked into convening would like to see me completely out of contact with my supporters. That is why I now find myself in your quaint little country."
"I had heard something about this Constitutional Commission. I can understand a need for some prudent caution but surely there are some reforms that would be good for your empire."
Tisza’s expression which had begun to soften suddenly hardened again, "In theory, yes, but I have yet to hear of a proposed ‘reform’ that I like. I am not a hopeless reactionary intoxicated by a romantic national past as some would make me out to be. I am in general in favor of modernization but that can best be accomplished without tampering with the structure of government. Extending the vote who least deserve it is often counterproductive as the great Bismarck unfortunately found out to his misfortune. "
Casement did not agree with that sentiment but he remained fearful of Tisza’s wrath so he weighed his words carefully, "Uh, when it comes time to draft a constitution for the new Irish republic I will see that we keep that in mind, Your Excellency."
"You keep saying an Irish republic, Sir Roger. Have none of you considered the benefits of a monarchy? Has you ill experience at the hands of the English colored your judgment about monarchies?"
Casement grinned a little at that, "Oh, there are a few that do advocate monarchy, Your Excellency. One fellow in particular might interest you. His name is Arthur Griffith. He at one time wrote a book entitled The Resurrection of Hungary wherein he said the goal of the Irish people should be to form a Anglo-Irish dual monarchy based on the splendid example of you Hungarians in your complicated relationship with the Austrians."
Count Tisza was startled, "Is this true?"
"Oh, most certainly so, Your Excellency. Griffith and most of the members of his Sinn Fein Party which he formed essentially wanted a return to the Constitution of 1782 under which the Irish Parliament was independent of the British Parliament. Unfortunately this was all swept away in 1800 by the Act of Union which was in large part a response to the ill timed and equally ill fated Rebellion of 1798."
"Hmm, this is all very complicated but then so is the Hungarian situation and I do see some similarities now that I think about it and would like very much to read this book. But this obviously not your position nor that of those men---and more than a few women I see---in this so called Irish Republican Army of yours."
Casement made an ambivalent expression, "No, the Irish Republican Army is not Sinn Fein, Your Excellency. I do not see how anyone could confuse the two. Griffith is something of a pacifist advocating only passive forms of resistance to British authority---"
"---one of those," said the Count with a disapproving shake of his head.
Casement chuckled slightly, "Yes, Your Excellency, ‘one of those’. Though I must say in his defense that he can be a very interesting chap at times. As for the Irish Republican Brotherhood being irrevocably opposed to monarchy, I do know for a fact that Padraig Pearse---if the poor fellow is still alive---thought there was to some merit to the idea of having a King of Ireland. Unlike Griffith though he definitely wanted neither King George nor any other member of the British royal family sitting on the Irish throne. Even before the war he told me that a Hohenzollern princeling, preferably a Catholic one, would be the best candidate."
Tisza grinned, "I am sure Kaiser Wilhelm will be happy to hear that. Though maybe not the Catholic part. I must confess that I find it strange that a devout Calvinist such as myself is here in Ireland defending what seems to be a purely Catholic movement."
Casement rolled his eyes, "Contrary to popular perception there are some Protestants in the movement, Your Excellency. I for one. Though I must confess that I do not perceive myself as being very religious."
Count Tisza shook his head and chuckled, "You, Sir Roger, the father of this invasion are a Protestant! This is a story full of irony is it not?"
------Manorhamilton (Leitrim) 1240 hrs
Upon arriving in Belfast the 6th Battalion York and Lancaster was temporarily removed from the 32nd Brigade and eventually brought by rail to the train station at Belco on the border between Counties Fermanagh and Leitrim, where they were allowed to get a few hours sleep before being marched out at dawn. On the way 60 constables joined them who gave very inconsistent intelligence about the size of the rebel force at Manorhamilton. The commander of 6th York and Lancaster decided that the rebels numbered around 500 and were only moderately well armed and very poorly trained.
On the outskirts of town the York and Lancaster soldiers dealt harshly with a rebel patrol then overwhelmed one of the rebel outposts. Overconfident from these small successes which he viewed as confirming his low opinion of the rebels, the battalion commander tried to storm the town. This assault failed against the town’s fairly prepared defenses. The Irish marksmanship varied widely in quality. Some were awful but too many proved deadly.
The battalion commander decided to make a demonstration again the east side of the town while sending one company around to attack from the rear. The German commander of the 2nd North Ireland Battalion had anticipated the possibility of being encircled at some point and so set up a hedgehog defense for the town and this served to foil the British attempt at envelopment. After that the British Lt. Col. set up a cordon around the town and sent a messenger to inform his division HQ.
------HQ Brigade Hell Macroom (Cork) 1255 hrs
The redeployment resurrecting Brigade Hell that Gen. von François ordered yesterday morning had run into a few problems. The British cavalry in the vicinity of Macroom had turned out to be stronger than expected and even had a battery of horse artillery at their disposal though apparently with only a very limited stockpile of shells. The 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion had its hands full dealing with them. This complicated the deployment of the rest of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment as well as the 2nd Seebattalion. Hell decided to make some changes to the plan. He concluded that it was too risky to bring the 2nd Seebattalion to Macroom by rail and instead brought it to Coachford with orders to attack Banteer from the south. Hell also decided against bringing along the howitzer platoon, which had been assigned to the Jaeger Regiment, as it had very little ammunition left and would slow down the pace of his attack. He did retain the pioneer company equipped with minenwerfers that had also been assigned to the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment though even that unit posed problems.
Another problem was that the enemy resistance at Ft. Camden held out longer than expected tying down half of the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion. It had just finished arriving at Macroom in the motor column. The British cavalry had not between seen for a few hours but Oberst Hell could not be certain that they would not soon return. He decided for the time being to leave the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion along with the remnants of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion to guard his line of communication in an around Macroom.
The 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion had just arrived at Millstreet with 3 of its rifle companies. Its 4th rifle company was escorting the battalion machinegun company plus the pioneers and would arrive in roughly an hour. The battalion bicycle company had been waiting at Millstreet along with the 1st Seebattalion and the North Cork Battalion. On Hell’s strict order only the Irish unit was to perform reconnaissance as he wanted the British to think the only enemy they had to deal with in this sector was the rebels.
Another small problem was the other 1st Kerry Battalion was more than an hour late. It had been decided to keep one of that battalion’s companies behind at Killarney to make sure it was secure until the 4th Kerry Battalion arrived from Waterville. Not only was Killarney and important communication center but it had the Zeppelin base and a large P.O.W. camp. With British cavalry roaming around western Cork in some strength it was essential that Killarney be well guarded.
------Limerick 1310 hrs
Late yesterday Gen. von Jacobsen, the commander of the Naval Division had begun receiving intelligence indicating the enemy besieging him at Limerick had begun yet another redeployment, apparently to the north this time which hinted at the possibility that the British might try to come at him again through County Clare something he had long dreaded. He had in the morning returned to the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment in Clare the battalion that he had previously removed to reinforce Limerick city along with a battery of 7.7cm field guns and one of the Landsturm companies created from the sailors on the transport ships. He also ordered one of the 10cm gun batteries in the Slieve Bernagh Mountain to be reoriented facing northwest.
Now he was receiving reports that the enemy offensive was even worse than first thought. He also ordered the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment to withdraw in phases from Limerick and to force march towards Ennis. However most of this regiment was in the front line around Limerick so this could not be done precipitously. The general now had Gen. Jack White I.R.A., the commander of the Limerick City Battalion in his office. "As soon as possible I need all of your battalion in the line relieving the 4th Marine Fusiliers wherever possible, Major. One of the Landsturm companies I’ve held in reserve will do likewise."
"I will do so immediately, general. Do you still want to Sturm Company Calahan to make its planned attack tonight or should it be used defensively?"
"No, major, they are to go ahead with their attack as previously planned."
------Fairview (Dublin) 1325 hrs
Rommel had long worried that the British would reinforce their forces in the northern portion of Dublin. When he received word of heavy fighting in the vicinity of Holy Cross College, he slipped out of the G.P.O. during a lull in the shelling. The British howitzers had set the upper portion of the G.P.O. on fire again. The dense smoke from the fires helped hide him from British snipers. He brought with him 40 men of the HQ Battalion. One of those was soon killed by sniper fire despite the smoke. When Rommel arrived at Fairview to the east of Holly Cross he found that a large number of British soldiers were attacking at both Holly Cross College and Fairview. He had expected the enemy to attack the Northside of Dublin with fresh forces but had hoped that it would only be a single battalion. It was becoming clear to him now that it was at least 2 battalions and maybe more. Before he had arrived the Irish Volunteers had defeated the first enemy assault which was too bold. The British attackers had learned their lesson and were trying to advance more methodically. They did not seem to have any prior experience with house to house fighting.
Like most of the men of the HQ Battalion those Rommel had brought with him were poorly armed, only 5 carried a rifle and 11 had no firearm whatsoever only improvised pikes. These men were directed by Rommel to reinforce the rebel company defending Fairview. Those who lacked weapons would wait until someone with one was incapacitated. Rommel did what he could to bolster thrm even personally leading a small counterattack, but the strength of the enemy increasingly worried him.
------Scariff (Clare) 1330 hrs
Most of the East Clare Battalion was currently deployed in the vicinity of Scariff on the shore of Lough Derg. They had received word that a strong enemy force was heading their way which was confirmed when survivors arrived from the fighting at Mountshannon. The 3rd West Riding Brigade now attacked the East Clare Battalion without waiting for artillery support. The initial attack by 3rd West Riding Brigade was driven off by the Irish riflemen, most protected by either breastworks or slit trenches. The British tried again this time with a brief preparatory bombardment by 18 pounder guns firing shrapnel shells.
When the British guns stopped firing two battalions of their infantry attacked. The lead battalion almost immediately came under fire from the battery of 10cm guns at Slieve Bernagh. The shrapnel shells tore into the battalion and thoroughly disrupted the attack. As this was going on two lightly armed Irish boats in Scariff Bay approached the shore and strafed the second battalion with a 5cm cannon and 2 Maxims. The English riflemen returned fire against the essentially unarmored boats. One of their Vickers machineguns was hurried emplaced and returned fire as well driving off the boats .
After the failure of the initial attack the commander of the 3rd West Riding Brigade tried to infiltrate to the north of Scariff through the hamlets of Carrowmore and Fossa Beg. This took time and resulted in a series of nasty firefights.
------Old Admiralty Building 1410 hrs
"There is still the matter of where the repairs are to be made, First Lord," Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, told Sir Edward Carson, "Fortuitously we have 3 available dry docks suitable for dreadnought battleships at Devonport, #10 being currently occupied by Colossus. It is our consensus that it is best to use those facilities for repairing Queen Elizabeth, Marlborough and Thunderer. These repairs can begin in a few hours. Likewise we want to use #2 dry dock at Devonport for Black Prince. Where to repair Vanguard and Neptune presents us with more of a problem. There is one available dry dock that either of them can use at Portsmouth. The other will have to make use of a floating dock---unless we want to use one of the Gibraltar dry docks."
"I am exceedingly disinclined to sending a badly damaged dreadnought all the way to Gibraltar, admiral," replied Carson, trying not to mention that the large dry dock at Haulbowline was now in enemy hands, "Which of our floating docks would you be using, admiral?"
"Probably the one at Invergordon, First Lord."
"Will getting that vessel to the Tyne present a problem if she is not escorted by the rest of the Grand Fleet plus several TBDs?"
"That is an excellent question, First Lord. We are studying that issue in detail. The U-Boat off Devonport may not have expended all her torpedoes. The sortie by Seydlitz could also present a possible problem."
"And I take it that we still have no clue was to what her mysterious mission might be?"
"Sadly yes, First Lord."
"Where do you plan to repair Dominion and Africa, admiral?"
"The #13 and #14 dry docks at Portsmouth are available and can accommodate their class, First Lord. Donegal and Devonshire will be repaired at Portsmouth as well."
------Devonport 1455 hrs
Soon after he awoke King George V had received word that the Grand Fleet had won a small victory in the Celtic Sea the day before and was now retiring to Devonport to refuel. The delighted king then ordered that a motor car take him to Devonport naval base to express his royal satisfaction to Adm. Bayly in person. Before he was able to see the admiral he was able to view many of the warships in the harbor using an old fashioned spyglass he had brought with him. He tried to see just how damaged the battleships were. From what he could see from his vantage point which afforded mostly views of the warships from the port side the damage looked very uneven. Most of the battleships looked barely touched which he regarded as encouraging. He did notice that Marlborough had a dangerously low freeboard and that Dominion was listing badly. Several battleships including Queen Elizabeth showed signs of severe fire damage.
Before long he was interrupted by a Lt. Commander, "Your Majesty, Adm. Bayly is now able to see you. If you would care to follow me, Your Majesty."
King George folded up is telescope and accompanied the officer not to the pier where the Iron Duke was anchored but to the base HQ where Adm. Bayly had been provided a temporary office. When the monarch was admitted to the office he exuberantly strode forward and shook the admiral’s hand furiously. "Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, the British Empire owes you a debt of gratitude for delivering us all from the German menace."
The admiral was momentarily speechless. Finally he responded, "Uh, I see that the Admiralty has informed you of the battle which occurred in the Celtic Sea yesterday afternoon, Your Majesty. I do not know how much in the way of details you were provided. The results of the battle were not an overwhelming victory. Indeed, it is far from clear to me whether the battle yesterday was a victory at all, Your Majesty."
"Now, now you are being too modest, admiral. I already know it was a small victory but a victory nonetheless. It is a very simple matter. The enemy lost one of their battleships while we lost none. Admittedly a small victory but a victory nonetheless."
Bayly shook his head and sighed audibly, "I am sorry to report, Your Majesty, that a few hours ago a German submarine sank London as she was being towed here. Fortunately London did not sink quickly giving us time to rescue all of her crew, thank God. The submarine also badly damaged Thunderer, the dreadnought which was towing London."
The sovereign frowned for a few seconds before replying, "Still it means we traded a dreadnought for a predreadnought. That still constitutes a victory in my estimation. Yes, I am well aware that this is not a decisive victory and the German navy is still dangerous but as they are far from Germany and ammunition it means the next meeting we can hurt them more seriously---perhaps even destroy them utterly."
If the king invokes Nelson I may vomit thought Bayly dryly, who replied, "I must respectfully beg to differ, Your Majesty. The Grand Fleet suffered very heavy damage in yesterday’s battle, esp. to its most powerful units. In my estimation Queen Elizabeth, Marlborough, Thunderer, Vanguard, Neptune, Dominion and Africa are all too badly damaged to take into a renewed battle. That is merely the battleships. Turning to the other units of the Grand Fleet we lost the Duke of Edinburgh, Caroline, a flotilla leader and 7 destroyers. In these categories the Germans definitely lost less. One deeply troubling result of the battle is that the Grand Fleet now has at most 22 battleworthy destroyers, Your Majesty. That is woefully inadequate esp. since I firmly believe that the High Seas Fleet did not have all their flotillas with them in the Celtic Sea yesterday. The next time I would expect to face a considerably stronger torpedo force---one sure to be used more aggressively."
King George was dumfounded. Finally he asked in a somber voice, "Is there nothing we can do?"
"The Admiralty is moving some submarines off Ireland and is considering shifting some of the light torpedo craft in the east coast patrol flotillas to west coast bases, Your Majesty. One thing that is frightfully unclear to me, Your Majesty is whether the High Seas Fleet intends to remain in Ireland for a long time or instead plans to return to Germany as soon as the transports are unloaded, which could be finished in a few more hours."
"Is that it, admiral? Simply hope and pray that the enemy will shuffle off by themselves on account of some logistical problems? Has the Royal Navy really degenerated into such an inglorious creature, more hyena than lion?"
Adm. Bayly gulped and took his time answering, "We find ourselves in a difficult war, Your Majesty, a war where the stout heart has shown itself to be feeble in the face of cold material facts. This harsh reality has been repeatedly demonstrated by the various armies but it applies just as much to the navies."
The monarch grew deeply serious with hints of sorrow etched in his face. He now spoke in a hushed voice, "What I am about to tell you now, Sir Lewis, I have told no one else---not even the queen. In the last three days I have begun to think that this entire war has been a terrible mistake."
Adm. Bayly was deeply shocked and did not know how to respond. He opened his mouth then thought better of what he was going to say and closed it. King George continued his monologue, "The loss of our great battleships is bad enough, but ships can be replaced. Likewise the more than 100,000 casualties that we have suffered in France as a result of the new German offensive is heartrending but we can and will replace those losses with brave new recruits. However what we are losing in Ireland I am afraid to admit is irreplaceable. I now doubt that Ireland will be governable when this filthy war is over. When the Prime Minister first announced his harsh policy towards the rebels I was supportive. Back then we thought he was correct in predicting that only a few hundred of the worst traitors would rise up against us. Now the War Office tells me that they estimates that as many as 12,000 of our subjects have taken the field against us. Do we really mean to kill them all? What would be lasting the political consequences of indulging in such a horrific bloodbath?"
Bayly did not know how to respond to this. This was the first time he had heard of 100,000 BEF casualties from the Second Battle of Crecy Forest as it was commonly called and regarded that as being a thoroughly shocking figure, though if the Germans had suffered worse it was probably justified as it was well known that the Germans were rapidly running out of manpower. The War Office had admitted that British First Army had been forced to make a withdrawal in late April after the Germans used poison gas to create a rupture at the junction between First Army. He also knew all too well that the High Seas Fleet had shelled the First Army while much of it was on the road retreating. There was some speculation in the press at the end of April that the Germans were actually trying to destroy First Army. The impression that Bayly had garnered was that if First Army had been in danger at one time then that danger had passed and it was now secure in a stable defensive position. The admiral was equally hazy about what was happening in Ireland. Clearly the Germans had managed to secure Cork which was not good. The liberation of Limerick was taking much longer than had been predicted and the same held for the elimination of the rebellion inside Dublin. One theatre where he did have a considerably clearer picture than the general public was Mesopotamia where the loss of Abadan was already causing concern about the Royal Navy’s oil stockpiles.
"I must admit that I do not have a very good answer to that question, Your Majesty," he finally answered in a meek voice, "Ireland has always been troublesome and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future."
------Rathkeale (Limerick) 1520 hrs
Capt. Schultz and Mother Superior after a brisk hike finally caught up with the rest of the 5th Kerry Battalion at the town of Rathkeale. The 16th Uhlan Regiment was there as well. So was the Foynes Battalion with 3 of its 4 rifle companies. The temporary camp 5th Kerry Battalion was intermixed with that of the Foynes Battalion and even a little bit with the German cavalry. As Bridget took Capt. Schultz to see Lt. McAndrews, she hoped that if he noticed some armed women he might think they belonged to Foynes Battalion.
McAndrews was exhausted from the march and was sitting on the ground half asleep when Bridget and Capt. Schultz approached. They were nearly standing on him when he finally became alert and realized who they were. McAndrews then bolted to his feet and saluted. Schultz returned the salute, "At ease, Lt. I must honestly say that I’ve looked forward to meeting you. I do not know if you realize it but your accomplishments in forming an entirely new battalion while recovering from a life threatening wound have made you famous throughout Kerry."
"Ah, it was nothing, sir."
"Now, now, you are being too modest, Lt."
"Not really, sir. You see Bridg---I mean Sgt. Donahue here, she did most of the important work, esp. when I was sick. It is she that you should be thanking."
"We were well aware she did provide some assistance, and have already thanked her for it, but surely it was you who was making all the important decisions."
"Some of them, yes, major. Most of them, no."
Schultz did not know what to make of this. He shrugged saying, "Well however it came about Lt, it worked well, yes? You and I now need to work out the details of this bold attack our battalion will be participating in."
"Yes, Captain but Sgt. Donahue should be included in the discussion as well."
"Uh, I would point out that we will be discussing an actual battle and not some administrative details."
"All the more reason she should be included, sir."
------G.P.O. (Dublin) 1550 hrs
A very worried Erwin Rommel had managed to return to G.P.O. helped by the fact that the British artillery at Trinity College had run very low on shells putting a temporary halt to their bombardment of the G.P.O., which was still burning despite the best efforts of the Irish Volunteers to extinguish the blaze. After nearly being hit by a British sniper Rommel was greeted with still more items of bad news upon entering the G.P.O.
Pearse had been discussing the situation at the Shelbourne Hotel and St. Stephens Green with the Countess Markievicz who had returned to the G.P.O. a half hour earlier. The two of them approached Rommel. "I am glad that you are back, me darlin’ Major. How serious is the situation to the north?" asked the Countess.
Rommel shook his head, "Very serious, Your Excellency. I now think that they have thrown an entire brigade at us up there. Just before I left some British artillery opened fire. For the time being we are holding them off but even if we reinforce that sector with all available reserves I fear that it is only a matter of time before the enemy wears us down. The ammunition situation is becoming critical. What Commandant Ashe grabbed in Cavan has proven helpful but not even enough to see us through one more day of heavy fighting."
"Sadly that is all too true. Our brave revolutionaries are steadfast in heart but without weapons and ammunition there is little they can do---other than die a heroic martyr’s death."
"Enough with all this Romantic talk of martyrdom!" Rommel yelled at Pearse frantically, "I am struggling to find a solution to our problems and this silly nonsense you spout is ruining my concentration!"
Pearse looked at Rommel with a gentle sadness, "Now, now my German friend. You may know a thing or two about war but you fail to understand---"
"---Shut up! SHUT UP! For all your fancy words and Romantic ideas the truth is I’ve failed! I’ve failed miserably!" yelled Rommel who then began to sob and shake.
"Now, now I know you’ve been under…" replied Pearse who then paused becoming concerned about Rommel, "Are you in pain, Major? I do sometimes fail to consider? You have been seriously wounded---"
"---No, no, no you stupid fool. It’s not the wound! It’s my failure! I have failed the German Empire and the Irish Republic!" sobbed Rommel.
As Pearse wondered if Rommel falling apart the Countess stepped forward and looked at Rommel. She suddenly slapped him. He looked at her in astonishment. She slapped him again. "Snap out of it!" she yelled at him.
Pearse was worried she would slap Rommel again and put his hand on her shoulder, "Now, now Constance isn’t that a bit excessive? Perhaps you should apologize to the Major here, eh?"
Rommel rubbed his stinging cheek. He had stopped sobbing and shaking. "No, Your Excellency. No apology is required. It is I who should apologize as I had begun to behave unworthily and probably needed that. If we are in fact doomed then I shall meet my death with honor and dignity. Yet there remains part of me that refuses to accept defeat."
Pearse smiled cherubically, "Well spoken, Major! You have been an inspiration to us all these last few days. No matter what happens in the hours ahead your valiant name will be remembered by the Irish people for centuries."
Rommel attempted a grin with minimal success, "Those are kind words, Commandant Pearse, but I feel that I must put further discussion about putting my posthumous name on street signs on hold. I am going to leave in a few minutes to perform additional reconnaissance. If all goes well I shall return after dark."
------Crusheen (Clare) 1600 hrs
Just before noon the Clare Cyclist Company began to skirmish with the yeomanry of the ‘C’ squadron of the Yorkshire Hussars in the area around Crusheen. The 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment deployed all 2 battalions and its machinegun company in this area, supported by 2 batteries of 7.7 cm guns. They were reinforced with 2 of Central Clare Battalion’s 3 companies and 3 of West Clare Battalion’s 4 companies.
The main thrust of the enemy’s offensive in Clare was emanating out of Gort heading southwest towards Ennis. This consisted of the 109th Infantry Brigade and 2 battalions of the 2nd West Riding Brigade supported by the II West Riding Artillery Brigade RFA. The defenders had prepared some rudimentary defenses and held off the attackers for nearly an hour of energetic fighting but the superior numbers of the attackers ultimately proved decisive. The German Marines withdrew to Ennis while the two I.R.A. battalions were ordered to delay the British pursuit as best they could which caused them to suffer fairly heavy losses.
------Wilhelmshaven 1640 hrs
Gen. von Falkenhayn had arrived at Wilhelmshaven by motor car. Grossadmiral Tirpitz and Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke were waiting for him. The latter looked even sicklier than the last time von Falkenhayn had seen him. "I am very eager to hear about this naval battle that occurred south of Ireland yesterday," he told Tirpitz after minimal formalities, "Was it the final decisive win that will knock the British out of the war that we were hoping for?"
Tirpitz and von Moltke exchanged glances which heightened von Falkenhayn’s suspicions. Finally the admiral spoke, "We only have very sketchy details so far but it was apparently a relatively brief engagement. The battleship Nassau was lost. No enemy battleships were observed sinking, but the British admiral did disengage fleeing all the way back to Devonport, which leads us to believe that several enemy battleships were very severely damaged and one or more of those probably did not make it back to port."
"Furthermore we have received a few hours ago a wireless report from a U-Boat not far from Devonport. Her kapitän attacked a dreadnought and the predreadnought she was towing. He believes that he hit each of them, possibly sinking both of them," added von Moltke.
Gen. von Falkenhayn noticed a strange expression on Tirpitz’s face. Very strange he thought to himself The admiral looks deeply ambivalent about Helmuth mentioning the U-Boat. I wonder why? "The U-Boat kapitän believes he hit them? Possibly sinking both of them? Sounds like still more supposition, feldmarschal, yes? What exactly do we know for a fact besides the loss of Nassau?"
Tirpitz and von Moltke again exchanged glances. "As I said before, general we have insufficient information," said Tirpitz, "Though we lost Nassau damage to out battle squadrons was fairly light. With the possible exception of Markgraf they are all fit for action. We lost 4 large torpedo boats and no cruisers. Our fleet observed a small enemy cruiser and 5 of their large torpedo boats sinking. The enemy’s most powerful dreadnought, the Queen Elizabeth, was seen with a very dangerous fire, but the U.27 reports she that apparently survived."
Gen. von Falkenhayn noticed Tirpitz’s ambivalent expression change momentarily into a scowl. Something occurred to him Aha! maybe the reason he does not like Helmuth mentioning the U-Boat is because its report throws cold water on his gratuitous speculation about British warships sinking after the battle. "We need additional information, feldmarschal, but from what we do know it is abundantly clear that Adm. von Ingenohl failed to inflict the crushing defeat on the British fleet that would bring their government to their knees. The next logical question is whether the British fleet will return for a second engagement and if so how soon?"
Tirpitz answered this time, "Well I would point out that the British admiral felt compelled to flee the field of battle."
"Yes, that is true, but in that case why did not Adm. von Ingenohl pursue and finish them off?" countered von Falkenhayn.
Tirpitz scowled some more and took a few seconds before answering, "That is a good question, general. I wish I knew the answer. Uh, let me rephrase that. I will one way or the other learn the answer to that question eventually."
Tirpitz is obviously upset with the ‘German Nelson’ again. This time it is not about politics. "Assuming that you are correct in your educated guesses, admiral and the British will bide their time before risking another fleet action how does this effect our grand strategy? If I might be blunt why are you two so eager to see me in person so soon?" I have a hunch where this meeting is going.
"The ground campaign in Ireland is likely to go on longer than we first thought. In light of that the second wave may not be enough," replied von Moltke, "The so called third wave---the mix of Fenians and German reservists that von Spee is bringing with him from the United States---are now believed to number only a little than 5,000 men contrary to our rosy expectations of 10,000 or more, and at most half of those have any military training."
I guessed right. "So you want more German troops, yes? If you are looking for entire infantry division, the answer is no---not even a Landwehr division can be spared at this time. If on the other hand you are merely talking about additional Bavarian Ersatz troops for the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, I may be able to scrap up oh, another 500 or so men. Would a pioneer company, a cavalry squadron and 2 maybe 3 battalions of Landsturm be helpful?"
"This is outrageous!" yelled an irate Tirpitz, "We need at least one more infantry division and we know that----"
The generalfeldmarschal turned to the grossadmiral and raised his left hand as he interrupted, "---Admiral, please, let me handle this!" Tirpitz folded his arms and sulked while von Moltke turned to von Falkenhayn saying, "I realize full well that the Heer is very stretched at this time---"
"---that is putting it mildly, feldmarschal!"
"Yet I do believe there are two units that you can spare. First is the 7th Cavalry Division. I know you tried to use it against the British during the recent offensive but soon withdrew it once you realized that the breakthrough caused by the poison gas was not so complete as to make cavalry fully useful. You now have it guarding the coast and keeping an eye on the occupied territory---functions that could be performed just as well by a combination of Landwehr and Landsturm, esp. since the current naval situation makes it extremely unlikely that the British will dare land anything more serious than a pinprick raid. On the other hand warfare in Ireland remains a war on maneuver where cavalry can be used as they should be."
Hmm admittedly Helmuth makes a good point this time. "Will you be transporting the division to Ireland without its horses?"
"We will be able to take maybe a thousand horses. The rest of their horses will be provided by Ireland."
"And what is the other unit, feldmarschal?"
"That 183rd Infantry Brigade which you constructed last week at Cambrai from two new regiments with a field artillery battalion and a pioneer company attached. Before you respond I will point out that we had some intelligence that the British have halted most if not all of their sea traffic to France. There is admittedly one known exception, a single convoy to Le Havre that we think was intended to resupply the B.E.F. The upshot of this is that the Kaiserliche Marine will soon start to seriously weaken the French economy and the British economy as well. Surely you can see that Western Front where the enemy is short of supplies should be worth at least a cavalry division and an independent brigade?."
Gen. von Falkenhayn scratched his cheek pensively for nearly a minute and thought Yes this is a good point; so I must start devising operations to probe for possible French weakness before the end of the month Finally he replied, "I was planning to use that brigade to reinforce First Army at the end of the month, feldmarschal. However if French production of shells is cut in half the next few weeks, then the infamous Clemenceau Offensive will no longer be a cause for concern. I am willing to go this far with your request. I take it that you also want additional Ersatz troops for the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division."
"Yes, preferably more than the 500 figure you mentioned previously."
"I will see what is available but make no promises. How soon do you need them, feldmarschal?"
"How soon can we get them?"
------HQ Erzherzog Karl Division Midleton (Cork) 1700 hrs
Gen. Hermann von François stopped by to visit the commander of a unit with three names. One name was Division Prague. Another name was the Erzherzog Karl Division. It was also more prosaically known as the KuK 70th Infantry Division. "Once again I must apologize for the lack of horses, Feldmarschalleutnant," Gen. von François told Feldmlt. Alfred Krauss, "I was only told that you were coming at the last minute."
Krauss had in fact been very annoyed when he arrived, esp. when he learned that the German 111th Infantry Division was getting priority for horses and other draught animals. Despite their reputation for precision, the vaunted German Army had struck him as rather chaotic in this operation. His division had been hastily moved from Prague only to spend more than a week waiting idle at Wilhelmshaven. When he finally arrived at Ireland it was clear to him that the Gen. von François had been shocked---perhaps dismayed is the more accurate description---that an Austro-Hungarian unit had been substituted for the 52nd Infantry Division in the second wave.
"I accept your apology, general, but must point out that I still do not have anywhere enough draught animals to operate my division effectively in the field."
"Yes, most unfortunately that is all too true, but you now have enough to move one of your brigades and a battalion of those interesting Italian field guns you have."
Krauss frowned for a few seconds then answered, "Just barely, general. What do you have in mind?"
"The 6th Bavarian Division is going to resume its attack on the Welsh Division tomorrow morning before dawn. I want you march the brigade you select to Ballincurrig this evening. It is to avoid a meeting engagement and try to keep the enemy ignorant of its true strength. When it arrives there it is to temporarily come under the command of Gen. von Gyssling, is that clear?"
"Very clear, general."
------Kachanik Pass (Serbia) 1735 hrs
Very early yesterday morning the Ottoman III Corps had parted company with their Bulgarian allies and departed Skopje heading NNW along the rail line. The shattered Serbian Macedonian Army offered no significant resistance until the Ottomans reached the Kachanik Pass, through which the railroad and the only thing even vaguely resembling a main road in the area passed. Esat Pasha warned his divisional commanders to expect a Serbian ambush there and that warning proved prophetic. However it became clear to that the enemy presence inside the gorge was weak and Esat firmly ordered the attack continued before Serb reinforcements could arrive. Several hours of nasty fighting ensued and cumulative Ottoman losses were serious but in the end more than half of the defenders were either captured or dead with the rest incl. many lightly wounded were retreating to the north with the Ottoman soldiers in pursuit as long as there was light. After that the III Corps formed its camp just north of the gorge and waited for its supply train to catch up.
------Cowsgrove (Carlow) 1805 hrs
When the Hussar squadron arrived at Bunclody the first impulse of the commandant of the Wexford Battalion was to launch an assault on Enniscorthy with their assistance. Then he received word that the remnants of the newly formed Carlow Battalion where fleeing in their direction pursued by British soldiers and R.I.C. The commandant moved his battalion to the hamlet of Cowsgrove just over the border in County Carlow to meet and protect what was left of Carlow Battalion. Meanwhile the Hussars scouted out the British pursuit force. This turned out to one company of the 1/7th battalion West Yorkshires plus 90 constables. Some of the constables were out in front in some motor cars acting as scouts. These were ambushed by the Hussars.
The British company commander had reports of enemy cavalry but wrongly estimated their size as a single troop as that was all that had been seen so far. He also misidentified them as being some exotic flavor of German cavalry. Their presence made the British cautious but he decided nonetheless to press on after sending a messenger back to the company which had remained behind at the town of Carlow. He pushed on forward though his patrols were frequently skirmishing with the Hussars. Finally he approached Cowsgrove where he found the remnants of Carlow Battalion along with 2 of Wexford Battalion’s 3 companies. Having defeated the rebels with relative ease in the morning he decided to attack the rebels even though they had double his number. The marksmanship of the British soldiers were superior but they found that the enemy fire was not completely ineffective and that they had secured better cover. The company commander eventually attempted a bayonet charge but the rebels held their ground. The third rifle company of the Wexford soon joined in the firefight and the West Yorkshires company commander decided to withdraw. As the company began to retire the entire Hussar squadron came into action and mounted a charge. The constables panicked en masse as did some of the West Yorkshires but the rest fought back gamely. Meanwhile the men of Wexford Battalion went over to the attack. This resulted in several minutes of furious fighting at close quarters where the shotguns carried by some of the Irish rebels.
Some of the West Yorkshires tried to escape but only 9 succeeded, the rest being ridden down by the Hussars. Soon the rest of their company was either dead or captured. The company’s wagons were captured with nearly 30,000 rounds of .303 ammunition as well as bully beef and biscuits. The survivors of the Carlow Battalion were thrilled by the victory and urged the commander of Wexford Battalion to march on Carlow but he instead retired back to Bunclody absorbing the remnants of Carlow Battalion into his own.
------Kovno Fortress (Lithuania) 1840 hrs
The commander of the Russian Tenth Army, Gen. Baron F.V. Sievers had called Gen. Grigoriev the fortress commander at Kovno on the telephone to relate some bad news, "The German artillery is too strong! My right wing is disintegrating under its continued bombardment. I tried reinforcing it yesterday with a division from the left wing but it was not enough. I have lost over 60,000 men in the last week and my right wing has been driven back across the border in disarray."
"What are you planning on doing, general?" asked a deeply worried Grigoriev.
"I am forced to pivot my right flank all the way back to Olita and wait for reinforcements."
Grigoriev paled and trembled, "No, general. You cannot do that! You should withdraw your entire army here. You can defeat the army besieging my fortress then regroup."
"That would leave Twelfth Army’s right flank dangerously exposed. Gen. Alexeev would never approve it for that reason alone."
"He must approve it! He must! If it does expose the right flank of Twelfth Army then Gen. Alexeev must order Gen. von Plehve to withdraw back to the Narew."
"I do not see why you are so worried, general? Fifth Army begins its attack against the left flank of the Germans tomorrow morning. That should serve to lift your siege rather quickly. If the German Eighth Army pursues my pivoting right wing it will make it virtually impossible for Eighth Army to come to the aid of German forces besieging you. So my maneuver will actually improve your situation."
"No, no, no! It will take at least 3 days probably more for this flank attack by Fifth Army to reach fruition. In the meantime my forts are crumbling under the relentless German heavy bombardment. As we speak the Germans are assembling a second of their monster 42cm howitzers. It will become operational sometime tomorrow morning."
"If necessary your men can fight in the rubble of your forts, general. Yes your fort will be hurt by the fiendish German artillery but you can certainly hold on for a few more days. With even a little luck Fifth Army shall end up capturing the powerful siege artillery which the Germans have recklessly hazarded in this operation."
"And I tell you that we do not have that time here, general."
------Banteer (Cork) 1920 hrs
Half of the 5th battalion Connaught Rangers was now stationed at Banteer with the other half deployed at Kanturk. This battalion had lost more than a third of its strength in the fighting at Limerick. The North Cork Battalion began to engage their patrols to the west of Banteer. This drew most of the Connaught Rangers out of their prepared defenses at Banteer. The Irish Volunteers soon broke and ran and their fellow Irishmen pursued. It was then that the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion and 1st Seebattalion entered the fray and most of the Irish Volunteers stopped running. Caught in a hail of fire the Connaught Rangers soon decided to make a fighting withdrawal back to Banteer. Once they got to Banteer their commander tried to make a stand there with some assistance from 110 constables while ordering one of his 2 companies at Kanturk to reinforce him immediately. There was a working telegraph line to Mallow and the battalion commander notified both their brigade and division HQ.
The 5th Connaught Rangers held on for a while at Banteer but when their commander received word that another German battalion was approaching him from the south he reluctantly accepted that his position was untenable and ordered a withdrawal of the entire battalion to Mallow. Meanwhile his remaining company at Kanturk had become embroiled with the 2nd Kerry Battalion which outnumbered it by a margin of three to one and was badly harried as it retreated towards Mallow.
------Ennis (Clare) 2015 hrs
The attack of the West Riding Division had progressed to the outskirts of Ennis. By this time the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment had been reinforced with its 3rd battalion plus a Landsturm company and another battery of 7.7cm field guns. The Central Clare Battalion was reinforced with its 3rd rifle company. The defenses at Ennis were more extensive than those at Crusheen and encompassed the entire perimeter. The British began their attack with a brief bombardment by 3 batteries of 18 pounder guns firing shrapnel shells. This was followed by an assault by 3 battalions of the 109th Brigade coming from the northwest and 2 battalions of the 2nd West Riding Brigade on from the northeast.
------SMS Kaiser Friedrich III 2025 hrs
The old predreadnought, Kaiser Friedrich III was anchored in the Shannon just south of Ennis. A telegraph cable connected her with the shore. Her 24cm guns now commenced firing half salvoes, targeting the sector where the 2nd West Riding Brigade was advancing towards Ennis. A German observation post relayed spotting information back to the warship’s gun crews. The rate of fire was slowed by this tedious process with the first three half salvoes being fairly inaccurate. Yet even before the 24cm shells became physically destructive they were psychologically intimidating to the 2nd West Riding Brigade whose attack faltered.
The Ulstermen of the 109th Brigade escaped the wrath of the battleship but 2 German batteries of 7.7 cm field guns soon opened up on them. One of the attacking battalions was hard hit by the shrapnel shells but the other two were able to assault the defenses of Ennis and in ferocious close quarters fighting against both German Marines and the Irish Volunteers they eventually seized a sizable section of the outer perimeter. The fighting at Ennis continued well into the night.
-------HQ British First Army Le Crotoy (Picardy) 2055 hrs
After the destruction of the 2nd Infantry Division Gen. Haig had moved First Army HQ to the outskirts of the fishing and resort town of Le Crotoy, which was being used to deliver a limited stream of supplies to First Army in trawlers by night. Despite some problems with the sharp tides of the bay the British had laid a cable across its bottom to Le Crotoy to give First Army telephone and telegraph communications less vulnerable to being disrupted by German artillery. Gen. Haig was now using the telephone to converse with Field Marshal French
"This has been a remarkably quiet day here, Field Marshal," announced Haig, "The quietest day in a long while. I see it as confirming my hypothesis that the Germans paid a very heavy price to extinguish 2nd Division. It is making them think twice about dealing with the rest of us."
"Hmm. Quiet you say, general? Quite frankly it does not sound all that quiet to me over this telephone line."
"Oh we’re just getting the usual nightly sporadic shellfire from the Germans intended to disrupt the unloading of supplies. It is not that intense but it is heavier than what we experience during the day."
"I shall have to take your word for it, general. The reason I am calling you is there have been several developments today that will have an impact on your situation and whether or not it is prudent for you to withdraw south of the Somme. The first item is that Second Army made another unsuccessful attack this morning trying to release the German pressure on your line of communications. I have talked with Gen. Plumer and he is very pessimistic about the prospects of another assault tomorrow. He is also deeply concerned about IV Army Corps which has been subjected to heavy enfilading fire since yesterday. This may be the main reason why your sector has been relatively quiet today."
"Does Gen. Plumer feel that the Germans have given up on First Army and are now testing the strength of Second Army’s right wing?"
"Uh, something like that. Just like that insolent knave Horace, he’s now pestering me to permit IV Army Corps to withdraw to what he regards as a more defensible position, though admittedly not as far as Smith-Dorrien had been suggesting."
"Perhaps the smaller withdrawal is justified, sir, though such a decision should only be made after the most careful deliberation."
"Yes, esp. since Clemenceau gets upset at the even slightest loss of French ground. Foch can be almost as bad. There is however some other promising news for us to consider. The Grand Fleet engaged the German fleet in the Celtic Sea yesterday. They claim they won a small victory."
"That is wonderful news, sir! I knew the Royal Navy would recover their heroic spirit and turn things around. This could well be the key turning point in the entire war."
"I wish that were true, but the Admiralty is warning me that the German navy remains a serious threat and that sea traffic across the Channel could be very ‘irregular’ over the next week. They strongly suggest that it might be wise for us to conserve ammunition and make arrangements to secure food from the French during the period."
"That does not sound very encouraging, sir, though in all likelihood they are just be cautious. If the battle took place in the Celtic Sea does it mean that the Germans were trying to reinforce their Irish expedition and were intercepted and turned by the Grand Fleet and turned back."
"No, it does not. I was not given much in the way of details but apparently the German reinforcements did make it to Ireland, which means the campaign there will go on for longer than we had hoped, and therefore the time when London will be able to adequately reinforce us has been pushed back again."
"Yes, but now that the Royal Navy is regaining control of the seas our ultimate victory in Ireland is assured, field marshal. That alone is cause for celebration."
"I sure hope so. The Irish campaign has already lasted a week longer than the War Office told me it would. But if we might hew back to what falls under own jurisdiction has what I have passed on to you just now convinced you that a withdrawal behind the Somme is necessary, general?"
"I would still like more time to study the issue, field marshal, before I give you an answer to that question."
"Hmm. Always one to keep your staff busy, eh? I do not need an answer right this minute, but if you do feel a withdrawal is necessary, let me know in the next day or two."
"That decision is not an easy one to make, field marshal. Our supply situation would obviously improve if we withdraw behind the Somme but that withdrawal would be difficult to accomplish through the narrow corridor we have available to us. There is a real risk that the Germans will try to pounce on the last division to leave here. Nevertheless you shall have my decision before noon on Tuesday. "
------Scariff (Clare) 2125 hrs
The East Clare battalion had held out heroically against the 3rd West Riding Brigade but it was now too dark for the German 10cm field guns to render effective support even with the use of star shells. Some of the Irish Volunteers were beginning to desert or surrender. It was only the promise of Bonar Law to execute them all that prevented more from surrendering. The German battalion commander had been wounded in the fighting ordered what was left of his unit to try to break through the British ring and make for the Slieve Brenagh Mountains.
-------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm leaving Cork harbor 2135 hrs
Early in the war the former liner, Kronprinz Wilhelm had been employed as a raider in the Atlantic. She had returned with Adm. von Spee’s Asiatic Squadron and was used as a troopship for the second wave of Operation Unicorn. Having unloaded her troops and cargo she now reverted to her former role. She headed west first to conduct reconnaissance off Bantry Bay. After that her mission was to raid British commerce in the Western Approaches.
------G.P.O. Dublin 2140 hrs
After sundown the British snipers were much less of a threat allowing Rommel to safely return to the G.P.O. and immediately asked to speak with Pearse, "I have just returned from a personal reconnaissance of our tactical situation and I now have a plan."
------SMS Moltke leaving Cork 2235 hrs
Accompanied by 4th Scouting Group and the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla the 1st Scouting Group departed Cork. Kolberg had taken the most damage of the cruisers in 4th Scouting Group but after a half day of repairs she could make 22 knots and so was taken along. Once they were safely clear of the harbor mouth, Adm. von Hipper ordered their course changed to ENE.
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2245 hrs
Just a few minutes earlier Gen. Hamilton had been on the telephone with Gen. Wilson, the commander of the VI Army Corps. Wilson had passed on what he had just learned from Gen. de Lisle, the commander of the 10th (Irish) Infantry Division, that a strong German force had overpowered his flank guard at Banteer putting the entire division in grave danger. After spending a few minutes talking with his staff, he placed a call to Gen. Egerton, the commander of the forces in Dublin. "Do you still believe that the rebels are on their last legs?" Hamilton asked.
"That is correct, general, though I am anticipating that there will still be some pockets of resistance for us to mop up early tomorrow morning but that shouldn’t take too long. I sincerely believe Dublin will be completely pacified before noon."
"That is precisely what I wanted to hear, general. You see I have just received word from Gen. Wilson that the 10th Infantry Division is in very serious trouble right now and so we need to begin reinforcing VI Army Corps immediately. You have a large train standing by at Kingsbridge Station. I want one battalion of the Lowland Division loaded on it as soon as possible with 2 more battalions and a battery entrained before dawn."
------London 2305 hrs
Michael Collins had met with Clara Benedix in the afternoon and briefed her on what tidbits of military intelligence he and Sam Malone had uncovered reading the mail in the last week. This had included the commitment of the 11th Infantry Division to Ireland and the fact that the Germans had eliminated the 2nd Infantry Division in France, which was not yet being reported in British newspapers. There was also the fact that an American Fenian had been killed aboard the captured German liner, Amerika. As usual she had thanked him with a hint of flirtatiousness that Collins realized was only meant to motivate him to greater efforts. Though Clara was an attractive woman Collins was much more motivated now on account of the Night of Broken Glass than any romantic chemistry.
Collins had gone to bed a few minutes ago. Suddenly there was a knock on the door of his flat. "Mr. Collins! Mr. Collins! There is a telephone call for you!"
The apartment house where Collins was residing had a single telephone in a common area. Someone in an apartment nearby must have heard it ringing. Who the hell could it be at this hour? he wondered. "Did the caller say who he was?" he yelled.
"No, he didn’t give his name but said it was important."
Hmm. He not she. Maybe it’s Sam. Collins hurriedly put on his pants, opened the door and sprinted to where the telephone receiver. "Hello, this is Michael Collins. Are you still there? Hello."
For a few seconds there was no response but Michael thought he could hear some breathing and so did not hang up the receiver. "Hello, who is this?" Michael said with some annoyance. Some very weird people were known to use the telephone to play pranks.
Collins then heard the sound of a deep sad sigh could be heard over the telephone line and finally he got a response, "Uh, Mr. Michael Collins. This is Lt. Erskine Childers. We met and talked few times over at the Gaelic Athletic Association. You gave me this telephone number and said I could call if I wanted to talk. I hope I didn’t wake you."
Collins now remembered the anonymous voice he heard over the telephone warning him that the Gaelic Athletic Association would soon be raided and closed. He had thought at the time it was probably Childers though voices often sounded different over the telephone. Be careful Mick me boy you have a very big fish is on the line. Reel him in easy now. Don’t loose him. "No, I was still up. What is on your mind, Lt. Childers?"
"I am upset about several things, Mr. Collins. The closing of the Gaelic Athletic Association and now these riots in Kilburn. I feel that I need to talk with you. In person if that is possible. Is there some way that we can get together tomorrow night?"
"By all means, Lt. What time would be best for you?"