by Tom B
"May 17 Curragh I have begun to accept that Gen. Wilson is correct when he says that Gen. Braithwaite and myself have been fixating too much on the Germans and not paying enough attention to the Irish rebellion except for Dublin. We easily destroyed the rebels in Galway, Wexford and Monaghan and felt confident that once the Germans had been eliminated the various outcroppings of rebellion would all be easily rounded up. Yet the rebellion has blossomed so far and wide in Ireland in the last few days that they have begun to hamper both the campaign against the Germans but the also the economics of the entire island. In particular I am becoming deeply concerned about Sligo where it now seems that a half battalion is inadequate."
------Ireland Diary, Sir Ian Hamilton
------Slieve Bernagh Mountains (Clare) 0050 hrs Monday May 17, 1915
Informed by the commander of the 3rd West Riding Brigade that the rebels had been routed and were fleeing into the Slieve Bernagh Mountains with no sign of any supporting German infantry, Gen. Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division had ordered them to pursue the rebels into the mountains and to try to capture the German 10cm guns positioned there. However the 2nd battalion of the German 1st Naval Infantry Regiment had been hurriedly dispatched to these mountains after dark. Their arrival stiffened the weakening resolve of what was left of the battered East Clare Battalion. Many in the East Clare Battalion were very familiar with the rugged terrain and knew exactly where to ambush the men of 3rd West Brigade which were now stumbling around in the dark.
News of this frustrating lack of progress filtered its way up the chain of command. The commander of the 3rd West Riding Brigade requested that the attack be called off and his exhausted men be allowed to get at least a few hours of badly needed sleep. It did not take much effort on his part to persuade Gen. Baldock, who like most British generals instinctively disliked night attacks.
-------near Przemysl 0100 hrs
Two divisions of the Russian Eleventh Army tried to take the AustroGerman Center Army by surprise with a night attack. Gen. von Linsingen had a hunch that the Russians would try this eventually. With Center Army more powerful in heavy artillery than the Russians a night attack had better prospects than a daytime attack. The general made sure that after each day’s advance sufficiently dense wire barriers were in place along with searchlights. He also ordered several trench raids before midnight trying to gain some intelligence about an impending attack. The Russians were therefore unable to achieve any significant surprise and their infantry foundered on the barbed wire. The German artillery began to fire off star shells in quantity illuminating the battlefield sufficiently for their field artillery to use shrapnel shells with adequate effectiveness. The Russian attack failed against both the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian sectors though they suffered less casualties against the latter.
------Ennis (Clare) 0130 hrs
At Ennis though, a night attack had been deemed necessary by Gen. Baldock on account of the menace posed by the guns of the Kaiser Friedrich III. The arrival of the 4th Marine Fusiliers Regiment in phases from Limerick during the night eliminated the British numerical superiority allowing the defenders to hold their positions without too much trouble. Now Gen. Baldock accepted that this night attack was not working and ordered his soldiers to get some brief sleep.
------Dolphin’s Barn Dublin 0205 hrs
The burning G.P.O. had been abandoned around midnight. Many another nearby buildings were burning as well. Much of HQ Battalion had been already used to reinforce the 6th Dublin Battalion which was involved in fierce fighting with the 11th ((northern) Infantry Division to the north. What was left accompanied Rommel and Pearse. A few had pistols but for the most part they were armed only with improvised pole arms. It had taken a great deal of argumentation to persuade Pearse to leave the G.P.O. An annoyed Rommel wondered if it had been worth the breath. Might it not make his life easier if the romantic fool was granted the martyrdom he so fiercely craved?
Rommel’s plan was to try to punch through the enemy lines and escape to the Dublin Mountains to the south. He had in his reconnaissance late yesterday detected what he thought was a weak spot in the enemy perimeter in the Dolphin’s Barn section of Dublin. It was there that he decided to make his breakout. He had conferred with Cathal Brugha, the commandant of 4th Dublin Battalion, whose role in this operation was vital. He also sent word to Tom Ashe and Sean Heuston the respective commanders of the 5th and 1st Dublin Battalions. They would follow behind 4th Dublin Battalion as would most of the 3rd Kerry Battalion.
Meanwhile inside the Magazine Fort, Ziethen carefully supervised the preparation of two bombs that would be secreted within the main magazine, which still held some explosives the Irish rebels had not been able to utilize. The British attacks in Phoenix Park had tapered off around midnight but now Julius popped in to tell Ziethen, "The enemy finally have resumed their attack in strength, Ziethen. I do not think that we can hold them off much longer."
Ziethen sighed deeply. There never was enough time. "One more minute, I promise, Julius, just one more minute." Elsewhere he knew that some of his pioneers were busy setting explosive charges to wreck their infantry guns, the armored cars and the captured British 15 pounders. These could not be taken along during the evacuation. Rommel was going to try to take two machineguns with him though.
Rommel decided it was now time to attack. He had reinforced the 4th Dublin Battalion with one of the companies of the 3rd Kerry Battalion. Rommel still regarded the soldiers he had developed in Kerry to be superior to those of Dublin Brigade. They also had German company commandants. Rommel personally led the attack despite his wound. He concentrated his men against the weak spot in the enemy line in the vicinity of Dolphin’s Barn. Their primary objective was to take the bridge over the Grand Canal. Resistance turned out to be even lighter than Rommel was expecting because the Scottish Rifles Brigade was being entrained during the night according to Gen. Hamilton’s orders. The bridge was therefore being guarded by only 4 constables who were quickly overpowered.
After that the Irish Volunteers streamed across the canal. Rommel assigned the 3rd Kerry Battalion the key task of guarding his left flank during the evacuation. Rommel grudgingly accepted that he could only take the walking wounded with him. The more serious wounded he would have to leave behind even though he felt ashamed to do that. He was also leaving behind most of the prisoners he had captured. He would take only those captured British officers and NCOs that could walk at a brisk pace.
------Limerick 0230 hrs
Mother Superior awoke from a strange dream about ravens and cattle. She had a strange urge to be able to look at her own face.
Under the cover of darkness Foynes Battalion, 5th Kerry Battalion and the 16th Uhlan Regiment approached the western edge of the British perimeter around Limerick to attack the rear of the British besiegers. The Uhlans hoped to be able to take a British battery by surprise again. Instead they encountered a British patrol before they could find any artillery and were unable to prevent the alarm from being sounded. The Uhlans then sent messengers to tell both Foynes Battalion and 5th Kerry Battalion to attack immediately. Foynes Battalion soon attacked by ran into an enemy rifle company which halted its progress in confused night fighting. Likewise the Uhlans were also engaged with at first one then two enemy companies.
Meanwhile the messenger they had sent to 5th Kerry Battalion had become lost in the dark and was unable to find them. It was the sound of gunfire in the distance that had awakened Bridget. Capt. Schultz had permitted most of his battalion to get two hours of sleep. Bridget had wanted to stay awake to assist in the planning of the attack, but Capt. Schultz would hear none of that and insisted that she get some sleep. Mother Superior did not think she could sleep but to her surprise her sleep overwhelmed her almost immediately. And with it came the very strange dreams.
Now she was awake. She found it remarkable that such a short sleep could prove so invigorating. She was downright glowing with zeal. "Captain, there is a battle underway! Shouldn’t our battalion be joining in?" she asked Schultz.
Schultz had not slept at all and he now suppressed a yawn, "Ahhh. We are to wait here until we receive orders from the Uhlans, Sgt."
Bridget started to respond to that but before she did she reconsidered what she was going to say. Finally she said, "In that case I would like to go talk with Lt. McAndrews at 1st company and make sure he does not do anything rash, sir," The two of them was now with the battalion’s 2nd company.
"Hmm. He does not strike me as the type to do anything rash, but you know him better than I do. Go talk with him but do not take too long as I might need you back here shortly."
Bridget Donahue trotted over to the position of 1st company and Lt. McAndrews. She felt strange and guilty but she knew what she needed to do. "The Captain says that you are to attack immediately, Lt," she lied to McAndrews.
"Attack? Attack where? I can barely see 4 feet, Bridget, uh, I mean Sgt."
"Follow me, Lt., I believe I know the way."
Meanwhile not far away inside Limerick, Capt. Harry Calahan readied the men of his company. During the last two nights they had dug a sap that brought them closer to the enemy line and an hour earlier two of his men had gone out on a raid and clipped a section of the single strand of barbed wire before the enemy trenches. He too had been experiencing strange dreams again. They had been moved from where they had made their prior attack to almost the far right of the defensive perimeter. Calahan had been told that Irish and German forces out of Foynes would attack the rear of the British besiegers in his sector before first light. This attack would hopefully divert the attention of the British defenders thereby making his own attack easier. There was a German rifle company standing by ready to reinforce him if the attack succeeded but not to help him if it failed. That annoyed Calahan but only a little because he was certain the attack would succeed.
"I can hear gunfire in the distance," he told his men, "It is time we got this party started lads!" With that he slithered out of the sap into no man’s land. There now the unearthly glare of flares illuminating the battlefield but they were being fired off behind the enemy trench line indicating that the attack upon the enemy rear was underway. Calahan’s men emerged from the sap in pairs crawling on their bellies. It was very tiring to advance this way but Calahan managed to slither through the wet ground of no man’s land at a remarkable speed. Well there was many a copper back in NY who thought I was a snake in the grass Harry remarked to himself, Meanwhile the distant sound of nearby fighting was becoming more pronounced. Some of the British soldiers in the trench in front of him were emerging to make a counterattack to their rear. Harry reached the small gap in the enemy wire; the light from the flare made it easy to find. The flare now died. Likely there would be another soon and there was another more distant flare providing a small amount of light.
Harry took advantage of the relative darkness. Grenades were currently in short supply amongst the German Naval Division. Only Maj. White’s fervent intercession had provided his company with ten of them for this critical mission. Harry carried two of these precious items on his person. His main objective was once again to eliminate the closest machinegun nest. Harry had practiced a great deal with dummy training grenades and had reached the point where he could hurl them accurately further than most Germans but the small gap in the wire was too far from the machinegun for even Calahan to reach with a grenade. Instead he hurled one of his grenades into the nearby trench. Before it exploded Calahan had raised himself up and sprinted towards the machinegun, whose crew was trying to reposition their weapon to face to their rear. While the crew remained unaware of Harry two other British soldiers in their forward trench noticed him and took aim but were momentarily distracted when Calahan’s first grenade detonated. Harry was now close enough to the machinegun and hurled his second grenade into the nest then went into a shoulder roll as bullets whistled by. This caused considerable pain from his earlier wound but Harry gleefully ignored it. When the second grenade exploded in the machinegun nest he slid into the trench and began blasting first to his left and then to his right with his pump action shotgun.
The explosion of the first grenade was the signal for the rest of Calahan’s company to get off their bellies. The problem was that the hole that had been cleared in the barbed wire was only wide enough for two men This was one reason it was important for Harry to neutralize the machinegun but British soldiers with Lee-Enfield rifles could still inflict heavy losses if not distracted.
Mother Superior with Lt. McAndrews alongside her in the shallow trench stared ahead with intense interest. Their company had penetrated into a British camp and taken a stretch of trench from the rear. So far they had taken 41 prisoners and 2 supply wagons. After taking the trench they had come under several spontaneous and apparently uncoordinated counterattacks both from the flanks inside the trench and one over the top from in front. "I am pretty sure that the explosion we heard was a grenade, sir," Bridget told McAndrews, "Capt. Schultz has told me more than once how the Germans were finding them to be very useful in attacking trenches."
McAndrews had never completely recovered from his wound and subsequent infection. He was breathing heavily and sweating from the exertion of the last half hour. "Well I suppose that could be the most likely explanation," he answered, "But it could be something and in any case I fail see what difference if any it would make."
"With all due respect, sir, it makes a huge difference. It means the British soldiers are distracted by an attack coming from their front. If we attack them from the rear as well we can take them easily and link up with the friendly forces inside Limerick which is our ultimate objective."
McAndrews shook his head, "I don’t know, Sgt. I think we have accomplished enough already. We should wait here until we get fresh orders from Capt. Schultz."
Mother Superior rolled her eyes and shook her head, "I spent two days with Capt. Schultz, sir, and during that time one of the things he told me is that the Germans appreciate the prudent use of initiative in subordinates---more so than the other combatants in this war."
"Uh, I still don’t know about this, Bridget."
"Begging your pardon, sir, but it should be painfully obvious. We need to attack the trench ahead of us and we need to do it right now!"
"There is no need to shout at me, Bridget. I am not deaf you know," answered McAndrews testily. For a few tense seconds she glared at him with her hands on her hips then finally he sighed deeply and threw up his hands, "Oh, all right. But you will have to explain to Capt. Schultz if this goes awry."
Meanwhile Calahan was busy fending off British soldiers trying to recapture their machinegun. His own men were working their way into the trench despite some losses and he could hear 2 more grenades explode and the sounds of shotguns other than his own. Harry’s own shotgun now needed reloading. As he was doing so he was shot in the back by a round from the revolver of a subaltern. Harry collapsed. At that moment one of his own men with an autoloading shotgun reached the trench and blasted the subaltern before he could fire another. "The Captain is hurt! The Captain is hurt!" yelled the Irish soldier.
Seconds after this the men and women of the 5th Kerry Battalion came charging towards them with Mother Superior leading the charge. On pure instinct she went straight to the same machinegun where Calahan was. As she approached she was nearly shot by one of Calahan’s men who asked, "And who the hell are you?"
` "I’m Sgt. Donahue from the 5th Kerry Battalion. I take it that you are part of the Limerick City Battalion?"
"That’s correct, sister."
"And where is your company commandant? I need to speak with him as quickly as possible."
The soldier fired his autoloading shotgun at an approaching British soldier who then collapsed. He then turned to Mother Superior and pointed to Harry lying barely conscious in a pool of blood mostly his own. "There is our commandant, the great Harry Calahan."
As they spoke British resistance inside their forward trench was disintegrating in the face of attacks from both their front and rear. Bridget approached Calahan to see if he was still alive. He was but he was bleeding profusely and his breathing was very labored. She had of course heard of the former NY police officer. Everyone in Ireland knew that it was Calahan’s intervention more than any supposed tactical genius on the part of Adm. von Ingenohl that caused the British debacle at Utsire. As Bridget was examining Calahan, Harry was having trouble seeing properly. Instead of one woman he saw three women hovering over him.
"Well Morgan it is good to see you again, me darlin’. Somehow I knew you would show y’er purrty face today."
And who is Morgan? "Uh, I am not…" Bridget started to say then stopped. She was not sure why stopped. Silently she open Calahan’s tunic to see if she could treat the wound but all that did was accelerate the bleeding. The wound looked very serious.
"You are not ‘what’, Morgan my dearest?"
Suddenly McAndrews caught up with her saying, "Oh there you are, Sgt."
"Sergeant? I was a sergeant back when I was on the police force before I got the boot," said Calahan thinking that McAndrews was talking to him, "but I happen to be a Captain now if you don’t mind."
"Lt. McAndrews, this is Capt. Harry Calahan," said Mother Superior as an introduction. Calahan though he ignored McAndrews and only gazed at her.
"Harry Calahan? You don’t by any chance mean the Harry Calahan, do you?"
Harry heard this and answered without taking his eyes off Sgt. Donahue, "Yes, it’s me you fuckin’ moron."
Lt. Robert Monteith now approached. He did not like what he saw. "How bad is he?" he asked Donahue.
She made a grim frown and shook her head but before she could speak, Calahan did, "I am not dead yet, Bob, if that’s what you’re askin’. But I know for a fact that I am hurt bad, real bad and you need to be running my company again while Morgan here tends to me. Now tell me. Did we win?"
"Why yes wedid, Capt. It was touch and go for a while, what with the narrow gap in the wire funneling us but when these newcomers attacked from the rear the enemy gave quickly. We have taken over fifty prisoners."
"Have you notified the Germans yet, Bob?"
"Not yet, Capt. That was one of the reasons I was looking for you. I will do so immediately, even though we don’t seem to need their help."
"Oh, yes you do, Bob, oh yes you do. Don’t you see? This is only the beginning. We are now going to roll up the British line and for this we are going to need some help from the Germans. And whatever Irish units you have now linked up with. Morgan, are you in charge of those?"
Mother Superior was usually regarded as humorless but this question brought a wry smile to her face. "Sort of, me darlin’" she whispered to Calahan so only he could hear.
"I must remind everyone that Capt. Schultz is in command of the 5th Kerry Battalion. We must wait here until he arrives or sends a messenger with his orders," pouted a tired and befuddled Lt. McAndrews.
"Begging you pardon, Lt., but our orders were to link up with the German and Irish forces inside Limerick and then come under the control of their commanding general," chided Bridget, "Capt. Calahan here is under direct orders from that general and he says that we are to follow up our success and roll up the enemy line. That must take precedence over waiting for orders from Capt. Schultz who is not yet fully aware of our current situation."
"I don’t know, Bridget. Everything seems so, so oh I don’t know, so out of control right now---"
Suddenly Calahan’s body began to twitch and shake in Donahue’s arms. He tried to talk but merely coughed up blood and foam. Bridget wiped the man’s mouth clean with a cloth as best she could. "Now, now Capt. Keep still and don’t try to talk," she spoke in an almost maternal voice.
"I will not keep still, you old hag," rasped Harry, "And don’t you try feeding me any damn dog meat this time, Morgan!"
Dog meat? Maybe lack of blood to his brain is making him light headed. Bridget wondered. It’s bad enough that he is mistaking me for someone else. "You are only making your bullet wound worse dear," she replied.
. "I dunna fuckin’ care, you bloody witch! Now will you all listen to me because this bloody well might be the last damn fuckin’ thing I will ever say! At least in this damn life. Get off your lazy fuckin’ cunts and get going! Roll up the damn British line and save Limerick! That’s a fuckin’ order!"
As Harry yelled those final words blood sprayed from his lips. A few drops of it reached Monteith and McAndrews. Bridget’s face was covered with it. Her first impulse was to clean it off but then another impulse arose. She had a small mirror in her bag. He extracted it and looked at herself. Her face was red. Suddenly she felt a presence and understood. Something or someone unseen was with her maybe even in her somehow. Maybe even more than one. Harry had gone completely limp in her arms. She looked up and saw a crow peering down at her from the lip of the trench. Suddenly part of her knew with absolute certainty what had happened.
"Harry Calahan is dead," she announced to the others. She gently kissed the dead man’s forehead then let the lifeless body slip to the floor of the trench.
"Are you sure?" asked Monteith.
"Yes I am damn sure," said Mother Superior to both Monteith and McAndrews, "Now are the two of you going to obey this dying hero’s last wishes and save Limerick?"
------Watergrasshill (Cork) 0300 hrs
The 6th Bavarian Infantry Division attacked in the darkness with 5 battalions. All of them had been provided Irish guides from the local area. Even with the Irish assistance one of the attacking battalions soon got lost and confused. Three more were soon halted by a storm of lead from the Welsh defenders. The fifth battalion though hit a weak spot in the enemy line and took the defenders by surprise taking a few prisoners and forcing the rest to retreat. This breach in the enemy line was quickly reinforced first with an additional Bavarian battalion then with the Kerry Ersatz Company which had been used only for reconnaissance and LoC duties by Gen. von Gyssling before then. These men had been selected from the very best of the Kerry battalions. Many had been under continuous German training since the first few days of the invasion. They acquitted themselves well in this attack. A large portion of the front of the North Wales Brigade was forced to fall back nearly 2 miles.
------SMS Seydlitz NNW of Fraserburgh (Moray Firth) 0310 hrs
There were the first rosy hints of twilight in the mostly cloudy sky. Accompanied by the 6th Torpedoboat Flotilla Seydlitz had worked her way up the North Sea yesterday then turned to a WNW course after dark. Her destination was the Moray Firth where the Germans had some intelligence suggesting that the ports at Inverness and Invergordon were being used more intensely in the last few weeks. The two half flotillas fanned out. The 11th Half Flotilla carried some mines that they would lay in thin minefields inside the major sea lanes. The 12th Half Flotilla was to both screen the battle cruiser and hunt for Entente merchantmen. The U.38 had arrived late yesterday and was waiting for them. With powerful friends now in the neighborhood the U-Boat was more comfortable operating boldly on the surface.
Visibility was still very low. Kapitän zu See Moritz von Egidy had been warned about British coastal batteries incl. 9.2" guns and did not want to be within their range when the visibility improved. The torpedo boats were instructed to complete their minelaying expeditiously.
------Magazine Fort (Dublin) 0315 hrs
One of the bombs Ziethen had secreted in the Magazine Fort now exploded detonating much of the magazine’s stores of explosives. The Royal Irish Rifles had taken the abandoned facility a half hour earlier. Those inside the fort were killed and a few just outside were injured in varying degrees. Those still further away were startled and distracted. Ziethen and his contingent of pioneers were long gone along with Gaulart and the surviving Jägers.
Meanwhile in Jacobs biscuit factory, Sean McAntee, the commandant of the 2nd Dublin Battalion listened to the report of two of his scouts. "The enemy has moved forces in to prevent us from reaching Dolphin’s Barn," one of them reported.
"Aye they already have at least one machinegun in position and it will tear our men to ribbons, if we try to escape as well."
The 2nd Dublin Battalion along with the Citizen Army had been hard pressed by the Lowland Division all through the night. It was their sacrifice along with that of the 6th Dublin Battalion to the north holding off the 11th (Northern) Division that made Rommel’s escape possible.
------Limerick 0405 hrs
When the 5th Kerry Battalion linked up with Calahan’s company, most of the 6th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the far left of the British line at Limerick was quickly overwhelmed. After that the 5th Kerry Battalion together with the Foynes Battalion and the 16th Uhlan Regiment rolled up the British line. The British 31st Brigade which had been preparing to make a dawn pinning attack on Limerick as ordered by Gen. Wilson, was instead forced to pull back from the city. Their infantry just barely managed to prevent the Uhlans who were once again mounted, from overrunning their supporting field guns from the rear though they did lose some of their ammunition wagons.
Capt. Schultz now finally caught up with McAndrews and Donahue. "There you are!" he yelled then trotted towards them. Mother Superior silently prayed as the Bavarian approached. McAndrews was extremely weary and once again feeling not full recovered from his wound. "It is good to see you, Capt.," he said.
Schultz looked annoyed and deeply confused, "Where the hell have you been? Why did you launch an attack contrary to my orders?"
Bridget gulped. McAndrews’ confusion deepened, "I do not mean to be disrespectful sir, but Brid---I mean Sgt. Donahue here informed me that you had ordered an attack."
Schultz arched an eyebrow then turned to Sgt. Donahue and her blood went cold. "Is this true, Sgt. Donahue?" he asked in a tone of voice more curious than angry.
Bridget’s mouth was dry though her palms sweated. She felt as if she were in front of her Savior on Judgment Day. "Uh, well uh, yes, that is true, Capt." She wondered if he would draw his Lüger and shoot her.
Schultz did not reach for holster but rubbed his chin pensively and looked at Mother Superior in a most curious manner. Finally he said, "Hmm. I can see that I will need to keep my eye on you, young lady!"
-----Faux de Verzy (Marne) 0500 hrs
When Gen. von Moltke ordered his right wing to pull back to a defensible position during the Battle of the Marne, the Third Army made sure to secure the Montagne de Rheims high ground which would make it easier for them to hold on to Rheims, a very important transportation center. In September and October the French had made several attacks in that sector with very little success. With a height of 287m the Faux de Verzy was the highest point in the area. It was an odd bordering on eerie stretch of woodlands dominated by gnarled and twisted beech trees. The Germans valued it for observation posts and made sure to hold on to it for that reason.
When War Minister Clemenceau had demanded an attack by Fifth Army against the German position in the Montagne de Rheims. Their immediate course of action was not an all out offensive to liberate Rheims from the Boche but rather to take key objectives that would bring that end closer. So instead of trying once again to advance up the main road from Epernay to Rheims, the commander of the Fifth Army, Gen. Louis Franchet d’Esperey, decided it would better this time to assault the high ground at Faux de Verzy. He has provided some additional heavy artillery but mostly that was only some old deBange pieces without a recoil mechanism. The preliminary bombardment lasted only an hour.
` Two French first line divisions made the assault. They discovered that the German trenches had been hurt only a little by the French shelling and the barbed wire was merely tossed around. Some of the German artillery batteries had been suppressed but not all and shrapnel shells now tore into the masses of French infantrymen. German Maxims opened up as well once the attackers emerged from the cover of the twisted trees and they were soon joined by the German riflemen. Stymied by the German wire barriers many of the French soldiers were mowed down before they could reach the trenches.
------northwest of Ballincurrig (Cork) 0530 hrs
Krauss had selected the 140th Infantry Brigade to make the attack ordered by Gen. von François against the right flank of the Welsh Division. The Erzherzog Karl Division had 2 field artillery regiments. The 70th Field Artillery Regiment consisted of five batteries each armed with 6 of the Italian made 7.5cm Déport field guns. The 171st Field Artillery Regiment had four 6 gun batteries of German 10.5cm howitzers. Two batteries of the 70th Field Artillery Regiment supported this attack while the Welsh Division only had a single battery with 4 of the 15 pounder guns guarding this sector and they were short on ammunition. These weapons were badly outranged by the Déport guns and possessed a higher rate of fire. The defenders in this sector, mostly the 1/4th battalion Royal Sussex were not entrenched and were soon dispersed by the bombardment and unable to stop the subsequent Austro-Hungarian assault though one strong point held out for some time interfering with the pursuit.
When news of this reached Gen. Friend, the acting commander of the Welsh Division, he reluctantly accepted that his current defensive position was crumbling and ordered a withdrawal of 6-7 miles to a new position centered on the army base at Fermoy.
-----north of Mallow (Cork) 0540 hrs
Brigade Hell had continued its dogged pursuit of the 5th battalion Connaught Rangers to the outskirts of Mallow during the night. North of Mallow a Bavarian Jaeger bicycle company had escorted a squad of Pioneers in motor cars and placed an explosive charge on the railroad tracks while cutting nearby telegraph and telephone wires. A train carrying half of the 7th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) to Mallow as the vanguard of the redeployment of the Lowland Division ordered by Gen. Hamilton was now derailed by this mine. Mercifully only 5 soldiers were killed by the derailment but nearly a quarter of the men and more than a third of the draught animals suffered fractured bones, reducing the effectiveness of the companies that had already suffered fairly heavy casualties in Dublin. The half battalion emerged from the wreckage of the train and sent out messengers and patrols. They soon began to skirmish with patrols of the 2nd Kerry Battalion as well as the Bavarian Jaeger cyclists. The Cameronians were unable to contact the Connaught Rangers at Mallow but did reach the army base at Buttevant to the north which became the staging area for the Lowland Division.
While this was going on the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion along with the two Seebattalions and North Cork Battalion were pressing the 5th Connaught Rangers. Gen. de Lisle, the commander of the 10th Infantry Division, was trying to reinforce Mallow but so far only the 10th cyclist company and a few dozen constables had arrived. These forces did not have a prepared defense at Mallow. The commander of the 5th Connaught Rangers erroneously assumed that the main enemy objective would be the train station. The Bavarian Jaegers did make one cautious attempt to take the station but as soon as they realized it was heavily guarded were content to isolate it. Meanwhile Brigade carefully positioned their minenwerfers while fighting with the 110 ASC company thereby disrupting the flow of supplies to the main body of the 10th Infantry Division to the south.
As this was going on Gen. de Lisle had impetuously decided to try to seize the initiative with an early morning counterattack against the German 111th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Grenagh. This attack was a bit unexpected but the seasoned German veterans were not flustered and easily repelled the attack and followed it up with an attack of their own. Not only did they now have their entire field artillery regiment but they also had the foot artillery battalion, which now had ample ammunition, supporting them. The heavier German artillery easily dominated that of the 10th (Irish) Division and devastated the enemy infantry which was not entrenched. The 10th Irish Division was soon retreating north with the 111th Infantry Division nipping at its heels.
------near Przemysl (Galicia) 0600 hrs
The attack of AustroGerman Center Army against the Russian Eleventh Army continued. After a two hour bombardment by howitzers and minenwerfers German and Austrian infantry assaulted the forward Russian trench. As with the day before the attackers were able to capture most of the forward trench but again paid a serious price in casualties and unable to advance any further though they were able to hold what they had taken against two waves of determined Russian counterattacks.
Meanwhile to the south the Austro-Hungarian Second Army of Gen. Böhm-Ermolli made another attack against the left wing of the Eleventh Army and the right wing of the Eighth Army. He used his artillery, esp. the heaviest pieces, more effectively this time and dominated the Russian batteries. He was only partially successful in cutting the Russian wire, esp. the thicker barriers of Brusilov’s Eighth Army. Likewise several Russian machineguns remained operational. Again he only took the forward trench of the small section of the Russian Eleventh Army he was attacking, while failing completely in his assault on the right wing of Eighth Army, which had better trenches and thicker wire.
------HG British Lowland Division Blackrock (Dublin) 0610 hrs
Lt. Col. Sir Winston Churchill had been summoned to see Gen. Egerton, the divisional commander. There was a bandage on his head from the scalp wound he had suffered Friday. He badgered the division’s medical officers late last night into allowing him to return to duty this morning. "How are you feeling, colonel?" asked Egerton, "Are you able to concentrate properly? If you are having any problems I need to know now, man."
"I am having no trouble concentrating, general. None whatsoever, sir," replied Churchill briskly while wondering what this was all about.
"I will take your word for that, colonel. The reason I called you here is that a sizable contingent of the rebels, thought to be a little more than a thousand, broke through our perimeter before dawn and are heading south. Unfortunately Gen. Hamilton wants most of this division moved to Mallow as quickly as possible to counter the German reinforcements that landed at Cork and I started by sending the South Scottish Brigade last night. This made it easier for the rebels to escape and harder for us to pursue. It is highly likely that they are trying to escape into the mountains in County Wicklow. What I want from you is for you to take your battalion as well as the 1/5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers which I am placing under your command as well and pursue this rebel force with the utmost vigor and resolve."
"Yes, sir. I shall do so with the greatest zeal!"
"Jolly good! Our intelligence indicates that this infernal Rommel bloke who has been such a thorn in our side these last few days probably lead this escape. Gen. Hamilton wants to see this weasel smashed once and for all."
"I understand perfectly, sir. Rommel! Rommel! Rommel! What else matters but beating him?"
------HQ West Riding Division Crusheen (Clare) 0615 hrs
News that his dawn attack on Ennis had failed worked its way back to divisional HQ and Gen. Baldock. Likewise 3rd West Riding Brigade was still having difficulty in the mountains. He was also receiving messages from Gen. Wilson critical of his lack of progress since late yesterday. "Reconnaissance continues to show that the enemy is weak in the middle," the general remarked to his staff, "Is the 1/6th Duke of Wellington still at Tulla?"
"Order that battalion to march south and attempt to infiltrate Limerick. Also order 2 batteries of field guns and the rest of 2nd West Riding Brigade outside Ennis to leave that siege and follow the 1/6th Duke of Wellington south into Limerick.
------SMS Seydlitz Moray Firth heading northeast 0655 hrs
With the visibility steadily improving and the minelaying completed von Egidy moved his warships away from the coast into the commercial sea lanes. They began to take prizes. The first was a 2,900 ton freighter out of Tampa with a cargo of cigars. The German boarding party appropriated 2 cases then scuttled the merchantman. Now they discovered two more escorted by the old protected cruiser Crescent which moderately damaged the German torpedoboat which discovered them. When Seydlitz arrived on the scene the old cruiser fought bravely but was hopelessly outmatched and soon disabled having inflicted only light damage to the battlecruiser’s superstructure. Both of the merchantmen Crescent escorted were captured. One of them was a 6,200 ton tanker carrying oil from Abadan before it fell to the Ottomans. The other was a 7,100 ton freighter out of Singapore hauling a cargo of rubber. At Malta their destination was changed to Inverness and Crescent joined them to act as escort. Both could sustain a speed of 8 ½ knots. Kapitän von Egidy had planned to spend most of the day raiding the sea lanes but she had not been able to jam Crescent’s wireless and now she was picking up some clear wireless messages warning all merchant vessels heading towards the Moray Firth to change course immediately and make for Glasgow instead. The two prizes were ordered to make for Hamburg with the U.38 and a torpedo boat acting as a close escort.
------SMS Moltke Irish Sea heading NNE 0700 hrs
First Scouting Group along with 4th Scouting Group had entered the Irish Sea through St. George’s Channel. The light cruisers of 4th Scouting Group had encountered and sunk a British armed trawler an hour ago, jamming the very weak wireless of the trawler. They also captured 2 small unarmed British trawlers both of which were judged to be not worth taking as a prize and scuttled. Likewise a 650 ton schooner out of Charleston with a cargo of cotton fabric was deemed not worth taking esp. as its auxiliary engine was not very reliable and none of the German prize crew knew much about using her sails.
------UB.17 entrance to Cork harbor 0710 hrs
When OKW had approved the second wave of Operation Unicorn they instructed the Admiralstab to send 3 large and 4 small coastal U-Boats to Cork. The U.27 was to have been the first of the larger U-Boats but her arrival at Cork was delayed by the action off Lizard Point yesterday. Currently she was patrolling the area to see to the Grand Fleet was trying to return to Ireland for a second engagement.
Meanwhile the UB.17 had been selected as the first of the small UB boats to go and departed Calais Thursday afternoon. The painfully slow transit though the Channel had not been without considerable peril with the tiny craft forced to crash on two occasions. Off Kinsale Head her kapitän was momentarily worried when he saw a lightly armed vessel with strange flag approach her out of a patch of fog. To his relief he soon learned it belonged to I.R.N. and escorted her to her new home.
Meanwhile more U-Boats were on the way.
------near Bunclody (Wexford) 0755 hrs
While part of the Lowland Division, the 8th battalion Cameronians had been dispatched to Rosslare in County Wexford instead of Dublin. Initially its mission had been to rescue the Royal Irish Riflemen inside Waterford city but before they reached Waterford county Gen. Hamilton received disturbing intelligence that the rebel force in Waterford had eliminated the Royal Irish Riflemen. With news that the German battle fleet was on the way to Ireland escorting reinforcements to their invasion force, Gen. Hamilton decided that it was more important that the Cameronians defend the important port of Rosslare and Wexford city.
Then yesterday the commander of the 8th Cameronians received orders to leave one company at Rosslare and another at Wexford then reinforce the Royal Irish Riflemen at Enniscorthy. Having done the commander of the 8th Cameronians upon learning of the rebel presence at Buncloy decided to leave Enniscorthy in the hands of the R.I.C. and attack the rebels with his half battalion plus what was left of the half company of Royal Irish Rifles. As their forces approached Bunclody they encountered Hussar patrols resulting in brief long range skirmishing. The Hussars provided a last minute warning to the Wexford Battalion which had already formed up and was marching out to attack Enniscorthy. The German commandant wrongly thought he had a significant numerical advantage and tried to fight but his inadequately trained men were unable to deploy quickly out of column and when they did their marksmanship was inferior to their attackers. The commandant soon realized his error and ordered a withdrawal back to Bunclody where the battalion had some crude defenses. The British pursued eagerly hindered only a little by the valiant efforts of the Hussars to distract them.
The rebels rallied once they reached Bunclody where they now enjoyed superior cover. A British assault captured one of their strong points but with some help from dismounted Hussars they were not ejected completely from the village. The fighting continued but gradually tapered off.
-------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 0820 hrs
The Kronprinz Wilhelm took her first prize since coming to Ireland, a 4,100 ton freighter out of Buenos Aires hauling grain. She had been well equipped with prize crews for her mission. As the German expedition to Ireland could always use some more food it was decided to send the prize back to Cork. After that she continued her hunting.
-----Paris 0830 hrs
The Council of Ministers was in session. It was immediately obvious that Premier Clemenceau was in a bad mood as he addressed the topic that weighed most on his mind, "Late Wednesday the British government informed us that they were postponing the departure from their ports or ours of any of their merchantman whose intended route would pass through the eastern half of the English Channel. They also began recalling any of their merchantmen equipped with wireless that were heading towards that danger zone. They strongly suggested to us that we do likewise with our merchantmen which we did. This ban was in accord with a contingency plan they developed since the Battle of Utsire and crudely implemented when the High Seas Fleet entered the English Channel back in April. So while we were not initially told why they were doing this we strongly suspected that it was because the German battle fleet was again heading towards the Straits of Dover and this in fact proved to be the case. Then on Friday they suddenly told us that they were expanding the scope of their policy and not letting any merchant traffic whatsoever depart their ports. This new policy is something completely novel and is esp. worrisome as our war industries as is much of economy is heavily dependent on British imports, esp. coal as the Boche occupy all of our bituminous minefields leaving us only the marginally useful lignite deposits in the south."
"So we found ourselves mystified and deeply worried for most of Friday. Then late in the evening we finally receive word from the British that the German battle fleet has traversed the entire English Channel and was escorting reinforcements to Ireland. This was at least an explanation. In light of that they felt it was necessary to curtail all traffic from their ports to ours with the sole exception of a single convoy carrying supplies to the BEF. Then very early yesterday we received word that the British fleet had engaged the German fleet south of Cork Saturday afternoon. The British claim to have won a small victory I will confess that I remain very unclear about the details so I will let M. Augagneur explain it." At that Clemenceau gestured to his Minister of Marine Jean Augagneur. There was a particularly hard glint in Clemenceau’s eyes as he stared at Augagneur. It was well known that the premier was not satisfied with Augagneur whom he regarded as unqualified for this key position and was already considering possible replacements.
This development was not unexpected but Augagneur who was well aware of the precariousness of his position gulped nevertheless, "Uh, as you wish, premier. The British have not given us much in the way of details so far. Adm. Bayly, the new commander of the British battle fleet engaged the German battle fleet roughly 90 kilometers south of Cork in the late afternoon Saturday. The British Admiralty repeatedly note that at this time the TBDs that screen the battleships from torpedo attack were running low on fuel make it impossible for Adm. Bayly to fight an extended engagement. We do know that the battle started with the German battle cruisers engaging a squadron of British armored cruisers eventually sinking the Duke of Edinburgh. This action was the overture to a clash of the two battle lines. The British describe this phase as relatively brief but nevertheless very complicated. When it was over the Royal Navy had sunk the German dreadnought Nassau, while losing none of their battleships not even a predreadnought. It is for this reason that they consider the battle to be a victory though admittedly a small one. The previously noted lack of fuel forced Adm. Bayly to break off the engagement. At least that is what the British give as the primary reason. It was late in the day and we know for a fact that the British are extremely reluctant to risk their battleships in a night battle, esp. one without significant moonlight."
"Do we know whether the Germans succeeded in landing their reinforcements in Ireland?" asked Clemenceau.
"The British have avoided talking about that topic, premier. We are coming to the unpleasant conclusion that the German reinforcements did indeed make it to Ireland."
Clemenceau shook his head and snorted with disgust, "Now everyone here is well aware that when the Germans first invaded Ireland I expressed a sort of perverse satisfaction that our British ally finally knows what it feels like to have the Huns desecrate their national soil. However I now firmly wish that this Irish distraction end as soon as possible so they can finally provide the BEF with the reinforcements it so obviously needs. Yet now that does not look to be happening soon. Last I heard the British have not yet eliminated the poorly armed rebels in Dublin much less the well armed Germans in Limerick. However there is a ray of light in this British naval victory. Perhaps their fleet is now returning to Ireland to finish off the German fleet. What have you have heard?"
The question was obviously directed back at Augagneur who answered nervously, "Uh, that was what we were thinking as well but the British are extremely reluctant to share their plans with us at this time making vague statements such as that they will finish off the German fleet when the time is right. We have been told that the German fleet was still at Cork as of last evening but when we inquire as to whether the Germans can remain there we receive no answer."
"Our communication with our allies has never been what it should be but this matter is particularly worrisome. Have the British given us any indication as to when they plan to resume their commerce with us?"
"No they have not premier even though we have asked repeatedly."
"Then we must demand an answer! I wonder if they fully realize the impact this will have on us if it continues. We have put in place strategic reserves for a two day interruption of traffic to the eastern Channel as the British had strongly suggested since Utsire. M. Thomson is it true that that these have now been exhausted?" Clemenceau asked the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs.
"Because it is now May so the need to heat buildings is much less and yesterday was Sunday the reserve is not yet exhausted but it will be sometime this afternoon, premier. Every day it continues will have a significant impact on our economy, esp. the war related industries. This cumulative impact will increase every day we are deprived of key British imports," answered Thomson.
"This situation is unacceptable and must be corrected!" roared Clemenceau, "In the short term we must direct what coal and steel we have available to the war industries from merely civilian enterprises."
"That will be difficult to do premier, we have neither the necessary laws nor the bureaucracy to implement that policy," replied Thomson glumly as he was already anticipating Clemenceau’s response.
"We are war, Monsieur! We cannot allow ourselves to be handcuffed by legalistic nonsense when the fate of our nation is at stake. We will do what we must. As for the lack of a suitable staff I put the blame for that on your shoulders, M. Thomson. This is a contingency you should have anticipated. This time tomorrow such a staff will be in place and at work. Am I clear?"
The ministers were aghast. Thomson opened his mouth then shut it. He gave Clemenceau a hard stare then answered, "If you want my resignation you can have it, premier. Whoever you pick to replace me will tell what I am going to tell you know. With the greatest possible effort the earliest we could hope to have such an apparatus in place with competent officials is Friday. After that it will take two weeks minimum to reach anything close to full efficiency. Now having counseled you as required by my position do you still wish my resignation?"
The already red faced Clemenceau glared daggers at Gaston Thomson. He momentarily considered sacking the minister but part of him reluctantly realized that the usually competent Thomson was probably correct in his assessment. He raised his arms in frustration, "I do not ask resignation today, but have a draft written by Friday in case I am not satisfied with your progress. This matter is important but it merely serves to highlight how essential the resumption of sea traffic from Britain is. So I must ask what is wrong with the British Admiralty? Are they terrified of the possibility that the Germans may take a few prizes? Surely now that they have weakened the German battle fleet they can now release their freighters."
"The German naval presence in Ireland has made them extremely cautious, premier," remarked Augagneur.
"Surely the German battle fleet now that it has been defeated must soon depart Ireland and try to return to Germany to recover," surmised Clemenceau, "if they have not done so already."
"Yes, premier, that is the opinion of our own admirals. Some go so far as to speculate that the British plan at this point is to ambush and destroy the German fleet on their trip home."
"That sounds very sensible and hopefully will come to fruition. Yet the most important question remains as to why they persist in keeping the vital colliers and freighters in port."
"Perhaps while there is this troubling uncertainty about our important imports from Britain our army should go on the defensive for a while, premier," suggested Steeg, the Interior Minister.
"No, no, no! That is precisely what the Boche want right now. They are counting on us being paralyzed while they pursue bold offensives against our allies. They will crumble for lack of reserves if we hit them as hard as we can. In addition to the main attack by Second Army to push the Germans back from Paris, Fifth Army attacked in the Montagne de Rheims this morning. Later this week Third Army will attack as well out of Verdun. The German reserves in the west are totally committed to either supporting their moderately successful attack on the BEF or defending against the ferocious offensive of Gen. de Castelnau. They have nothing left to counter our new attacks. Nothing, I tell you! The attack of Fifth Army will liberate Rheims but more importantly the attack out of Verdun stands a good chance of cutting a key railroad line used by the Germans. Victory is within our grasp. I will not permit the faint heartedness of our British ally to ruin it!"
------Kilkishen (Clare) 0840 hrs
The 1/6th battalion Duke of Wellington moving south towards Limerick as ordered by Gen. Baldock encountered their first enemy resistance at the hamlet of Kilkishen in the form of one of those companies of Landsturm that the Germans had fashioned out of the crews of the transport vessels that brought the initial wave of Operation Unicorn. Even though they had some crude defenses erected this hastily trained company of Landsturm was merely able to delay rather than halt the progress of the Wellingtons. The British broke through the defenses in less than half an hour taking two dozen prisoners. The remnants of the Landsturm company fled in panic back to Kilmurry in the south.
------Ober Ost 0855 hrs
Oberst Max Hoffman reported to Gen. Has von Seeckt, the chief of staff of Ober Ost. "We received this telegram from Army Detachment Marwitz a few minutes ago," remarked von Seeckt handing Hoffman a slip of paper.
OUR AIR PATROLS SPOT ONE LARGE ENEMY FORCE HEADING SOUTH FROM RIGA AND ANOTHER HEADING SOUTH FROM DVINSK REPEAT OUR AIR PATROLS SPOT ONE LARGE ENEMY FORCE HEADING SOUTH FROM RIGA AND ANOTHER HEADING SOUTH FROM DVINSK STOP
Hoffman sighed slightly then nonchalantly returned the slip to von Seeckt, "Well the inevitable Russian counterattack against the left flank of Army Detachment Marwitz is finally underway, general. Fortunately we have considerable space between our forces and the enemy up there. It will be midday tomorrow before the infantry coming out of Riga hit XXV Reserve Corps though cavalry action will probably start soon after dawn. The attack of Dvinsk won’t reach VIII Army Corps before Wednesday."
"We could be in serious trouble if VIII Army Corps is defeated. For one thing we could lose half maybe all of the siege train bombarding Kovno. For that reason it is fortuitous that we proceeded with the speedy redeployment of Eleventh Army when we did. The 3rd Bavarian Infantry Division is detraining as we speak at Insterburg and will be joined by the 4th Bavarian Division in the afternoon. XXIV Reserve Corps will arrive there tomorrow along with Gen. von Mackensen and his staff."
Hoffman rubbed his chin then nodded, "They may be needed soon, general. How is Gen. von Below doing today? Maybe we can pull an infantry division from Eighth Army."
"Gen. von Below reports that the right wing of the Russian Tenth Army is now in headlong retreat."
"Well that at least is reassuring. Is it a planned withdrawal or a full scale route driven by panic?"
"I put that exact question to him earlier. He is not yet sure but thinks it might be a mixture of both. We should know better this evening."
------10 Downing St. 0910 hrs
The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Carson, was the last member of the War Committee to arrive at their meeting. "I am sorry that I’m late, gentlemen, but there has been a very serious development at the Admiralty this morning," Carson offered as way of apology, "The German battle cruiser, Seydlitz along with some of their small destroyers has been operating in the Moray Firth since dawn. They have sunk the cruiser Crescent and captured at least 2 merchantmen, both of which carried valuable cargoes. As we were trying to redirect ships carrying cargoes of exceptional importance into Inverness and Invergordon, this poses a serious threat."
"I see. And what are we doing to counter this move by the Germans, First Lord?" asked a deeply worried Prime Minister Bonar Law.
Carson’s frown deepened, "We had been using the Tribal class destroyers of the 9th Destroyer Flotilla which constitute nearly all of Forth Patrol to reinforce Dover Patrol bit by bit, prime minister. The 9th Destroyer Flotilla had raised steam and put out to sea but with only 11 of these notoriously cantankerous old destroyers. We know that Seydlitz is screened by at least a single flotilla. The Sea Lords therefore feel that it would be very difficult to make a successful torpedo attack on Seydlitz in open seas during the day. The 9th Destroyer Flotilla will be deployed inside the Moray Firth where they would stand a good chance of pinning Seydlitz against the coast if she should recklessly decide to return there."
"What about sending Inflexible against her?" asked Bonar Law.
"Unfortunately Inflexible will not arrive at Scapa Flow until late tomorrow, prime minister, and when she does she will need to coal. She would also require a screen of some sort."
"Is Warspite still on shakedown off the Faeroes, First Lord?" asked Lloyd-George.
"Warspite has been recalled to Scapa Flow and should arrive there in about six hours. The Sea Lords are reluctant to commit her to a battle before she is fully worked up but when I left their tentative decision was have her rendezvous with the 9th Destroyer Flotilla tomorrow at dawn tomorrow in the Moray Firth and then search for Seydlitz in the sea lanes leading to the firth. Even not completely worked up Warspite should easily sink Seydlitz in a fight, however the Sea Lords have expressed some concern about the very real possibility of damaging her delicate machinery in an extended chase."
"Hmm. Is there nothing we can do today, First Lord, while the Germans ravage vessels carrying our most precious of imports?" asked Grey.
"We have notified by wireless those merchant vessels heading for either Inverness or Invergordon to proceed to Glasgow instead. It is not an optimal solution because it will bring these vessels with precious cargoes closer to Ireland than we would like."
"To the north of Ireland, First Lord, while the German fleet is at Cork at the southern end," remarked Kitchener.
"Cruisers detached from the High Seas Fleet can present a threat to sea traffic north of Ireland as well as south, Lord Kitchener," said Carson.
"Yes, they can," commented the prime minister, "But isn’t this all bloody ephemeral? Admiral Bayly will soon return to Ireland to complete the destruction of the German fleet he began Saturday. That should be the end of this problem and the decisive turning point of the war."
Carson’s face took on a strange demeanor. He opened his mouth but hesitated to speak and he wanted to choose his words carefully.
"What is it? Spit it out, man," asked Bonar Law impatiently.
"Adm. Bayly and the Sea Lords agree that while what they calling the Battle of the Celtic Sea was a decent first step we still have along way to go. They also are in agreement that the next engagement with the German battle fleet must be postponed for a while on account of several of our most powerful warships incl. the Queen Elizabeth being severely damaged in the battle. Also a German submarine torpedoed Thunderer yesterday morning while she was towing the disabled London then went on to finish off London. Fortunately Thunderer survived her torpedo hit but it means she is too badly damaged to commit to battle without what is currently estimated to be at least 8 weeks in the docks."
"And just how long is ‘a while’, First Lord?"
Carson squirmed slightly, "Ah, more than one week but less than two, prime minister. For one thing Adm. Bayly and the Sea Lords agree that with Queen Elizabeth and 2 other superdreadnoughts out of action it is imperative that Warspite join the Grand Fleet but not before the completion of a satisfactory shakedown."
The other 4 members of the War Committee exchanged uneasy glances. "So what does the Admiralty intend to do in the meantime?" asked Lloyd-George.
"They are starting to move light forces incl. submarines to western bases, but the Sea Lords worry about overreacting as there is some trustworthy intelligence indicating that the High Seas Fleet will be leaving Ireland soon."
"By trustworthy intelligence you mean more intercepted wireless messages decoded by Admiral Oliver’s gaggle of stupefied sibyls? We have had our share of reasons for not trusting those completely, First Lord," said Bonar Law.
"Uh, our greatest dissatisfaction has been with the head count of rebel strength in some transmissions, prime minister. While I still believe the German figures to be too high, they do not appear to be as wildly implausible as we first thought."
Bonar Law was dumbfounded, "The Hell you say!"
Lord Kitchener responded, "I am afraid that what the First Lord is saying is indeed true, prime minister. The Papists are now revealing their true colors according to the information I am receiving from Gen. Hamilton, which suggest that Gen. von François’ figures were only mildly overstated and not any sort of deliberate misinformation."
"And I still do not, I repeat most emphatically, do not believe it!" Bonar Law retorted.
Here we go again thought Lloyd-George briefly rolling his eyes when it comes to Ireland Andrew will only see what he wants to see. "Exactly what is the size of the rebel force is a tricky question, prime minister and one that tends to generate unproductive arguments that go on for all too long without resolution. I would much rather hear from Lord Kitchener about what is the current state of the fighting there. If Gen. Hamilton can retake Cork soon then many of our greatest worries would be over even if the rebellion widens."
Bonar Law frowned unhappy with Lloyd-George changing the subject but as he too was interested in what Kitchener had to say.
"There is determined offensive presently underway against the Germans in both County Clare and County Cork, chancellor," answered Kitchener, "The rebel resistance in Dublin is collapsing. I expect to hear word from Gen. Hamilton within the hour that the last pocket of rebels there has been eliminated. Already the Lowland Division is being moved by train in pieces from Dublin to Cork to reinforce our counterattack against the Germans. Once Dublin is completely pacified most of the 11th Infantry Division will be moved to Cork though one of its brigades will need to remain behind in Dublin to maintain order.
There finally is some dramatic progress being made at Limerick. When it falls which Gen. Hamilton now believes will likely come tonight, he will have a force of 5 divisions with which to concentrate against the 3 enemy divisions in Cork---one of which we now believe to be Austrian, a clear confirmation of our suspicion that the German Army is badly overstretched at this time."
"Austrian! Are you sure about that, Field Marshal?" asked Bonar Law.
"Uh, the Admiralty has some intelligence confirming that as well, prime minister," Carson quickly interjected.
"An interesting fact but I counsel against deriving any exaggerated solace from it," said Lloyd-George, "The frustrating experiences of the CANZAC should serve to demonstrate that while the Austrians may not be as quite as good as the Germans it is foolish to regard them as completely incompetent in the art of war."
"The pacification of Dublin along with the naval victory in the Celtic Sea will buy us some time with Parliament but we must promptly follow up with a quick success in Limerick or Cork or we will be in serious peril," said Bonar Law.
Speak for yourself, Andrew as you most definitely are in grave peril thought Lloyd-George the rest of us however are another story!
------Mt. Kippure (Dublin/Wicklow) 0940 hrs
Still feeling the effects of his wound Rommel was huffing and puffing as he ascended the 757m tall granite mountain on the border between County Dublin and County Wicklow. Pearse had now caught up with Rommel and was walking and climbing alongside him. "We can stop here, Commandant. There is no need for us to go all the way to the top ourselves," said Rommel who stopped barely able to take another step, "others can and will be sent to establish an observation post up there. I can see what I want to see from here."
The day was generally overcast but with some occasional gaps in the clouds. One such gap had just opened up and golden rays poured down upon the mountain. "Isn’t this simply breathtaking, Major?" asked Pearse with sublime exhilaration.
"It is pretty," Rommel conceded but with scant enthusiasm. There were other things pressing on his mind right now.
Pearse realized that, "We still have not heard any thing from 2nd Dublin Battalion, I take it."
Rommel scowled, "It is painfully obvious by now that they did not make it out. Neither did the Citizen Army. The Countess saved my life and this is how I repay her. She is either dead or captured by now."
"We don’t know that for a fact, Major, though I will concede that it is highly probable. Her loss is yet another heroic sacrifice that the Irish folk must be prepared to make if they are ever to enjoy true sovereignty. She was well aware of that. It saddens me but what saddens me still more that I am not there to share in her magnificent sacrifice."
Rommel stared at Pearse then shook his head dismissively, "You really are a piece of work, Padraig. You really are."
Pearse sighed, "Yes, I know that you find me too philosophical and too romantic."
"You can say that again, but there is more to it than that. For one thing there is this bizarre death wish you have, Mr. Pearse, both for yourself and those around you."
Pearse thought that over then shook his head gently, "I am fully prepared to give my life for the holy and righteous cause of the Irish people. I know you find that hard to comprehend, my German friend."
"There is a big difference between being prepared to sacrifice one’s life for one’s homeland and wanting to make the sacrifice. I hope to live through this fiendish war and return to my beloved Lucie."
"Love is a wondrous thing, Major but my heart belongs to Ireland. We can spend the next hour arguing over this. How many of the Irish Volunteers did we manage to extract from Dublin?"
"I do not have an exact figure as yet, commandant, but it is slightly more than 2,000 men incl. the walking wounded. We were able to get nearly all of the 1st and 4th Dublin Battalions out as well as most of the 3rd Kerry Battalion but only 2 companies of the 5th Dublin Battalion. Oh and we got the HQ Battalion out as well---what was left of it after using most of it to reinforce the 6th Battalion. I am going to rename it the HQ company."
Pearse momentarily looked like he was going to protest the last item but then he merely shrugged diffidently, "As you wish, major. I understand that there are already signs of an enemy pursuit force."
"Yes, there are reports coming from the civilian refugee camps that we passed through of substantial British forces heading towards us. I know we have been plagued by false rumors but I am inclined to believe this one. However the estimates as its size vary widely and I have no idea which one to believe. One important reason we need to establish an observation point on this mountain is that it should help us get a better estimate as to their size and whether or not they have any artillery at their disposal."
"These mountains can offer us several key advantages, major even if the pursuing British forces have artillery supporting them."
"I know that at least in abstract. I do wish I knew more about mountain warfare; it seems to open all manner of fascinating tactical possibilities. However I must point out yet again that we have some very serious problems, incl. lack of supplies. Even with the ammunition Commandant Ashe brought back from Cavan we are still very short. The food situation is almost as bad. Medical supplies are nonexistent."
Pearse’s expression saddened. "Yes, I am well aware of that. Many of our wounded are suffering terribly. I hope and pray that you are not one of them."
Rommel attempted a stoic grin, "I will not pretend that I do not hurt, but there are many who are suffering far worse than I am. We need to find medicine. What is the state of the Irish Volunteers in County Wicklow?"
"Not as strong as I had hoped. Dublin Brigade received only a handful of reinforcements from Wicklow. I do believe that we are somewhat stronger in the southern portion of the county, esp. around Arklow."
"We need to contact the closest companies, Mr. Pearse. We should expect the usual pattern where the R.I.C. arrested anyone who is perceived as a leader and those that remain free cannot decide what to do. However that is only the first step. We need to contact the I.R.A. battalion at Waterford---assuming that the British have not eliminated it---and through them see if we can get some support from the Germans in County Cork."
------Admiralstab 1010 hrs
Adm. Gustav Bachmann, the current head of the Admiralstab was on the telephone with Adm. Alfred von Tirpitz. "We were right about the British increasing their use of the Moray Firth, esp. for ships carrying valuable cargoes, admiral. Seydlitz took as prizes a petrol tanker and a freighter carrying rubber after sinking an old protected cruiser that was escorting them. We are hoping to bring back both of those prizes to Hamburg. I think that is worth cutting short Seydlitz’s mission esp. since we have intercepted unencrypted British wireless signals redirecting merchantmen heading for Inverness and Invergordon to make for Glasgow instead."
"Hmm. I have no firm objection to this change of plans, but I do have one suggestion" replied von Tirpitz, "Is Hessen escorted by Danzig and a torpedoboat flotilla still scheduled to leave the Jade Bay tonight to make a brief demonstration off the mouth of the Thames tomorrow?"
"Yes, that is correct, admiral. It is of course subject to change if we learn that the Grand Fleet has left Devonport and is heading east."
"I am now going to strongly suggest that a change be made to Hessen’s mission."
------Mallow (Cork) 1055 hrs
Soon after Oberst Hell had arrived a half hour earlier he began to receive disturbing reports that British infantry with at least some artillery support were trying to advance south from Buttevant. The 2nd Kerry Battalion and 2nd Bavarian Jaeger Battalion plus the bicycle company of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion were currently covering that area. The 2nd Jaeger Battalion had been decimated in the failed assault on Bere Island. It still had most of its bicycle and machinegun companies but the rest of the battalion had an effective strength of less than 300 men even though it had been assigned half of the Bavarian Jaeger replacements brought with the second wave.
"We find ourselves in a bit of dilemma, my Irish friend," Hell confided to Plunkett, "You see Gen. von François is trying to repeat the hammer and anvil tactic we used effectively at the Battle of Rathmore. We were intended to be the anvil and the 111th Infantry Division will strike as the hammer. However we now find that a new British force has formed in and around Buttevant and is heading towards us. If the British 10th Division turns around and tries to escape to its north, it could be my brigade that ends up being caught between the hammer and the anvil."
"Then we must order 2nd Kerry and the 2nd Bavarian Jaeger to halt the British advance at all cost, Oberst."
Hell shook his head, "No, no. For someone who likes to consider himself a master strategist you still have a great deal to learn about the art of war, Capt. Plunkett. Have you forgotten what we did at Rathmore? We shall order our units to slow the British advance as much as possible but not to suffer heavy losses trying to stop it completely. This makes particularly good sense when the enemy is supported by artillery and you are not. Speaking of which, when is the platoon of 15cm howitzers scheduled to arrive here?"
"In a little more than an hour, Oberst. The company detached from the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion which is acting as there escorts should make it hear a few minutes earlier."
"Good we will send both the howitzers and their escort to reinforce our northern sector as soon as they make it here."
"I would remind you that the howitzers will only have 23 shells, Oberst."
"Yes, yes, I have not forgotten. However even a brief bombardment with those large shells can disrupt an enemy attack, esp. an enemy that has never experienced those ferocious weapons before. We are playing for time right now. In a similar vein we shall order the minenwerfers which have been chipping away at the trapped Connaught Rangers to cease fire immediately and redeploy on the northern perimeter of this town where they can administer a sharp shock to the British vanguard if need be, even though they are now low on ammunition as well."
------HQ British Second Army Abbeville 1105 hrs
Gen. Plumer winced when notified by his staff that Sir John French had called for him. This had become something of a conditioned reflex as nearly all of his telephone conversations since replacing Gen. Smith-Dorrien as the commander of Second Army had been unpleasant one way or another. I wonder what it will be this time he speculated to himself probably he is going to demand yet another suicidal attack trying to ease the German pressure on First Army’s supply artery.
"Hello. This is Gen. Plumer speaking."
"This is Field Marshal French," came the voice over the telephone, "I received a telegram from you earlier this morning that the heavy German shelling of IV Army Corps from multiple directions had resumed at dawn. Has there been any change in that situation since then, general?"
"No change, sir. It is continuing without any significant respite. The enemy guns continue to overpower our own artillery which is further handicapped by a shortage of ammunition."
French took his time before replying, "Yes, I can imagine so and it now looks like that shortage is going to get worse before it gets any better. An hour ago I had a long conversation with some Navy blokes. On the one hand they claim that they had finally managed to defeat the Germans in a major battle south of Ireland Saturday. Needless to say they were very happy about that. I was happy as well of course but in large part because it should mean that the German navy no longer posed a threat to our line of communication. Unfortunately I soon learned that was not case---at least not this week. The Royal Navy is warning us in no uncertain terms that there may not be any sea traffic between us and England over the next three days. They counsel us to husband our supplies and hold off on any offensive action and decline to participate in artillery duels whenever possible."
"This is very disturbing news, sir. Did they proffer anything in the way of explanation?"
"No. Well, maybe a little but it was all frightfully convoluted and I am sure they were holding back on several key details. One horrible cliché was the repeated references to the German navy now being a wounded animal and how dangerous a wounded animal can be. The only thing even remotely clear was that our admirals feel it will take some time for them to finish off the Germans and in the meantime they will be too busy to do things like guard our line of communications."
"T’is very strange indeed, sir. An odd set of priorities if you ask me. Well then, in light of this development are you now willing to reconsider withdrawing IV Army Corps from its exposed position?"
Sir John French did not immediately answer. Plumer detected a faint sound on the telephone line and wondered if it was French grinding his teeth. "Yes, general. This is a decision I make with grave reluctance and considerable misgiving but you can proceed with the withdrawal. I will need to explain this to Gen. Foch and I am sure both he and Clemenceau are going to be upset."
"We can pass at least a portion of the blame on to our navy, sir." Though this withdrawal would still be completely justified even if there was no problem with the sea lanes.
"Yes, I intend to do just that. Limit your withdrawal to the minimum you feel is required over the next two nights. In order to hide it from the Germans make no moves that can be observed from airplanes during the day that would tip them off as to our intentions."
"Uh, I will respectfully point out that digging the trenches for the new defensive position will be observable from the air, sir."
"Then do not begin that task before dusk today. Try to make any daytime troop movements look like a normal unit rotation and not an obvious withdrawal."
------north of Sixmilebridge (Clare) 1125 hrs
The 1/6th battalion Duke of Wellington pursued the routed Landsturm through Kilmurry and then south towards Sixmilebridge where there were two batteries of 7.7cm field guns. One of the batteries inflicted some losses on the charging Wellingtons at the last minute, but soon the attackers were in their midst. Two of the guns were quickly captured but the capture of the rest was prevented only by the arrival of the 1st battalion of the 2nd Naval Infantry Regiment which rallied both the artillerists and the Landsturm company. This resulted in a fierce firefight. This Marine battalion which had an automatic rifle section and these weapons again proved useful in helping the defenders hold their ground.
------east of Burnfort (Cork) 1150 hrs
As soon as he learned that the Welsh Division was in retreat towards Fermoy, Gen. von Gyssling had decided that instead of pursuing them he would swing his division to the west and then try to take the 10th (Irish) Division in the flank. This possibility had already been discussed with Gen. von François so he did not request permission but merely informed him of the decision saving some time. He instructed the Austro-Hungarian brigade under his temporary command to hold the attention of the Welsh Division but not make a major attack for the time being. He then methodically echeloned his own units off to the west with the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment in the lead. The roads were adequate for infantry and cavalry but slowed the redeployment of the Bavarian artillery though the 7.7cm field once again demonstrated its one significant advantage, its mobility.
Not all of the 10th (Irish) Division had been removed from the siege of Limerick to participate in the Battle of Cork, only 8 battalions and 10 batteries. The division’s training had not been completed when the Germans had invaded Ireland. In particular they had never received the month of intensive training for fighting together as a complete division they had been scheduled to receive starting in early May after moving to England. Their infantry had suffered heavy cumulative losses from trying to force their way into Limerick and more recently Cork and were now exhausted from near continuous fighting. Their artillery had never received adequate ammunition and with Brigade Hell occupying Mallow it was not receiving any more.
Attacked from the south, north and now the east the 10th (Irish) Division unraveled. Panic started to set in. The Germans quickly captured 7 of the 18 pounder field guns, 4 machineguns and over 600 prisoners. Portions of the 10th Division incl. Gen. de Lisle’s HQ became trapped inside pockets while other units fought desperately to escape to the north only to be mowed down by elements of Brigade Hell, esp. the machine gun company of the 1st Bavarian Jaeger Battalion.
------Madrid 1210 hrs
"The British claim to have won a naval battle off the coast of Ireland Saturday afternoon," King Alfonso XIII informed Queen Ena as they shared a small lunch, "It should be on the front page of the late edition of our major newspapers."
"This is wonderful news, my darling! At last the pendulum has turned and is returning control of the seas to its rightful owners," replied the queen, "You were right to listen to me and not Dato---well at least not on this issue. On many domestic matters Dato is fairly sensible but he is totally mistaken about the war. Our interest clearly lies with supporting the Entente whose inevitable victory is merely a matter of time. Though you deny it to my face---as you have denied certain other matters---I know you are secretly considering some of those plans for an alliance that the German agents have wafted your way since Utsire."
The king ground his teeth as he knew that Ena had again made oblique reference to his dalliances. "I fully intend to honor my word to President Poincaré that our nation would not attack France."
"But you never gave a similar assurance to King George, now did you?"
"I did not think that was necessary. The Armada was a long time ago. Reassuring King George that we did not intend to invade England would’ve sounded fatuous."
"Ah, but there is always Gibraltar, my dear. Reassuring the British that we had no designs to take this occasion to dispute their rightful possession---"
"---why are you trying to provoke me, my dear?" snarled the king pointing a finger at his consort, "You know very well all of Spain looks forwards to the day when we can reclaim Gibraltar as our own. It is just that this war is uh, not the proper occasion for us to press our case."
"I do hope that you really mean that, Your Majesty."
"What can I do to prove it to you, my dear?"
"Well for one thing you can turn that despicable Irish traitor, de Valera over to the British for what I am sure will be an amply justified execution."
"Which would turn him into even more of a martyr than Connolly. That is one very good reason why I have not done so already."
"And what might I ask are the others?"
"For one thing despite this recent victory of theirs the British are very apprehensive about their sea lanes to us. Mostly their concern is about the huge amount of iron ore we export to them but their naval attaché has mentioned that sending a ship even a warship to pick up de Valera would be somewhat risky for the next few days on account of the German fleet being at Cork."
Ena sighed slightly, "Yet another reason for them to finish off the German fleet as quickly as possible. I can hardly wait."
"Apparently the British can wait---they have just about admitted as much to us. Their ambassador has gone so as to suggest that as an interim solution we should turn senor de Valera over to the French government. I am leaning towards doing just that."
------Kovno Fortress 1300 hrs
Gen. Grigoriev, the commander of Kovno Fortress, summoned his staff and the senior officers of the garrison to a meeting. "As most of you already know, Gen. Sievers has decided that he must pivot back the right wing of Tenth Army. This means that we are even more isolated. Our outer forts are being pounded to dust by the relentless bombardment of the German siege train. Northwestern Front keeps telling me that I must hold on until they crush the German from the flank but that is not possible. The simple fact is that that neither Northwestern Front nor Stavka realizes is that this fortress is doomed. It is for this reason I have decided to abandon this fortress tonight. The more mobile elements will make for Vilnius but a small force will remain that will surrender the fortress tomorrow morning."
"Has Northwestern Front been notified of our planned withdrawal, general?" asked a member of Grigoriev’s staff.
"NO, NO! I plan to inform them only after the evacuation is well underway and impossible to cancel."
------St. Stephen’s Green Dublin 1310 hrs
British artillery continued to mercilessly pummel the center of Dublin which was burning in many places. An hour ago Commandant Hogan had surrendered little what was left of the 6th Dublin Battalion and the Louth Volunteers to the men of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division. The fire in the Shelbourne Hotel was out of control and Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army members inside were forced to evacuate it, most retreating into St. Stephen’s Green. As they did several were picked off by Scottish snipers posted in other buildings.
A panting messenger now reached the Countess Markiezicz in the green. He had been grazed in the buttocks by a sniper on the way from Jacob’s Biscuit Factory which was still the HQ for the 2nd Dublin Battalion. He was one of two messengers that had been sent by Commandant McAntee. The other had been killed. "Your Excellency, Commandant McAntee feels that he has no alternative and must surrender the 2nd Battalion now. He strongly suggests that the Citizen Army do likewise."
The Countess turned to Pound. "We have no choice. We are down to our last few rounds of food and out of ammunition. Even water is low as we have had no rain today. The British artillery wears us down and there is no way for us to strike back. We must surrender."
"Surely there must be some alternative!" Pound protested but the Countess could see in his eyes he too had lost hope.
The Countess had already fashioned a white flag for this contingency. "Brave men and women of the Citizen Army it is necessary for us to surrender. Cease fire! Cease fire." The Countess then began waving her flag and yelled towards the Scottish soldiers. "Don’t shoot I am coming to surrender!" She laid down her rifle and arose out of her trench.
"Constance! I am going with you!" pleaded the American poet who arose.
"No, me darlin’ This is for me to do alone."
"But nothing, Ezra, stay here."
Pound was wretched but obeyed her command. The British soldiers had ceased firing as well. As she walked to the British lines a captain met her. "Who are you?" he asked, "Are you a messenger? Where is the commandant in charge of your unit?"
"I am Countess Constance Markievicz and I happen to be the commandant of the Irish Citizen Army!"
"But you are a woman!"
"I am well aware of that. But I also happen to be the commandant of the Citizen Army whether you like it or not. I am here to negotiate the terms of surrender."
"I can offer no terms. Surrender must be unconditional."
The Countess shrugged her weary shoulders.
"So be it."
-----SMS Moltke heading NNE off Cumberland 1405 hrs
"I believe that we have now firmly identified the appropriate target area, the town of Lowca," Raeder, the chief of staff, informed Adm. von Hipper the commander of First Scouting Group.
"Signal all ships to commence firing," ordered Adm. von Hipper. The main battery of Moltke soon followed by Derfflinger and Von der Tann erupted. The pace of the shelling was relatively slow but methodical. The British had with the assistance of the German firm of Siemens constructed a plant for the extraction of toluene from coal tar at Lowca. Toluene was a key ingredient in the manufacture of TNT. By shelling this plant the KM hoped to cripple the British arms industry. What they did not know was that the British now had a still larger plant which they had shipped in toto from Royal Dutch Petroleum in Holland that extracted toluene from a special grade of petroleum imported from Borneo. The shelling lasted 10 minutes and demolished the factory as well as damaging the town and railroad track that ran through it. After that they proceeded to town of Flimby further to the north where the coke ovens were located and shelled that as well causing extensive damage.
While this was underway the cruisers of 4th Scouting Group were hunting for British merchantmen in the approaches to Belfast. There were in fact two freighters escorted by 3 torpedo boats in the sea lane at this time but they both managed to reach the protection of Belfast’s coastal artillery which drove off the German cruisers. After that Kolberg began laying a diffuse minefield in the approaches to Belfast.
------HQ Brigade Hell Mallow (Cork) 1500 hrs
The news that at least a portion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division was now attacking the flank of the 10th (Irish) Division reached Oberst Hell who decided that he could finally afford to devote more of his strength to countering the enemy force to the north which had now been identified as elements of the Lowland Division which had been making slow progress towards Mallow. The 15 cm howitzers did indeed stop the advance of the determined Scots but only for a little more than an hour. Hell now ordered the North Cork Battalion and the 1st Seebattalion to shift by forced march from the south of Mallow to the north.
------Old Admiralty Building 1510 hrs
All day long Lt. Erskine Childers RN VC had been a nervous wreck while working in the Naval Intelligence Division. He kept recalling his telephone conversation with Michael Collins which produced a wellspring of mixed emotions. Finally he heard Capt. Hall’s high pitched voice bark out, "Childers! What in blazes are you up to, man!"
Childers had been sitting at desk typing. He gulped nervously his heart beating furiously. Does the Capt. know? he wondered nervously and leaned heavily on his cane for support.
"Where is the intelligence brief on possible German infantry raids on the Midlands, Lt.! You were to have it on my desk on the hour!" yelled Capt. Hall angrily as he trotted towards Childers, his eyes blinking even frantically than usual.
"Uh, I am very sorry, sir. I lost track of the time, sir. It is nearly done---"
"You know very well that Adm. Oliver wants very much to read that document before he meets again with the Sea Lords. With a German battle cruiser off Scotland there is some renewed concern about a German infantry raid. So get your head together, Lt! Your mind has not been on your work all day! Finish the brief as best you can in the next two minutes and I will show it to the admiral."
"Yes, yes, I will do so immediately, Capt," replied Childers nervously. As he typed feverishly he could not escape the sensation that there was a large sign on his back proclaiming TRAITOR! He had trouble concentrating which was why he had not finished the document on time in the first place. Still with Capt. Hall waiting impatiently he forced himself to compose a very brief coherent albeit unoriginal concluding paragraph to the paper. Childers removed the completed paper and handed it to Capt. Hall who scurried off to meet with Adm. Oliver, his superior.
Soon afterwards Adm. Oliver joined Carson, Callaghan, Wilson and Jackson. "We were discussing the implications of the German battle cruiser squadron currently present in North Channel while we were waiting for you, admiral," remarked Adm. Callaghan, the First Sea Lord.
"We were lucky that the freighters we sent with supplies, mostly munitions, just barely made it to the safety of Belfast harbor," added Carson, "The question remains how long do the Huns plan to remain there. As long as they do we dare not send any more supplies to Ireland."
"The German battle cruisers could also continue north to attack the sea lane into Glasgow," said Adm. Oliver, "which unfortunately is where we instructed the merchantmen equipped with wireless to head when Seydlitz showed up off the Moray Firth."
"Perhaps the two missions are linked," speculated Adm. Wilson.
"And then there is the matter of the shelling of the toluene production facilities in Cumbria," remarked Jackson, "My understanding is that they while they are not as crucial as they were are they beginning of the war, they still account for nearly a third of our total toluene production. We will not have a complete report on the full extent of the damage until late tomorrow, but from what we are hearing so far it will weeks before even a fraction of the previous production level is restored."
"Which translates into reduced production of TNT based munitions the next two months unless we can promptly import more toluene from the United States," commented Adm. Wilson.
"Indeed," replied Jackson, "but there is still another complication. The plants shelled by the Germans used domestically produced coal as its input. The Royal Dutch plant we moved from the Netherlands which is our most important source requires a very special grade of petroleum found only in Borneo. If the Germans continue to plague our sea lanes then that source of toluene could be in jeopardy as well."
"And the same can be said for the option of trying to import toluene from the Yanks," Adm. Callaghan added.
"So the question becomes is whether there is going to be a modest temporary reduction in the production of munitions that we can likely muddle through," said Carson, "or a more serious blow that could completely cripple our ability to fight. Yet another reason we cannot afford to wait too long before challenging the High Seas Fleet anew."
"Hear, hear," said Adm. Wilson.
"Ah, but it is also another reason why fighting another battle too soon and losing would be utterly catastrophic," commented the First Sea Lord displaying a taciturn visage.
Carson sighed with annoyance at Callaghan’s comment but before he could say anything, Adm. Jackson spoke, "We at least should be glad that the Germans are not aware of the Royal Dutch plant. While the Bristol Channel has better defenses than Cumbria they are still not enough to stop a determined attack by the German battle cruisers. Are there any possible sources of intelligence by which the Germans might learn of the Royal Dutch plant, its current location and vital importance?"
Oliver had suspected that topic might come up eventually but still took his time before answering, "That is a difficult question, First Lord. There are too many in the Netherlands that know of the plant’s importance and that it was moved but fortuitously very few know exactly where it went. The German espionage apparatus in that country is very modest."
"Are the Dutch the only security hazard?"
"The number of our countrymen who know the full story is not that large, First Lord. Oh, there are the factory workers of course but they have been firmly ordered not to discuss the details of their job outside the plant. If the Germans had an agent in the vicinity for another reason he would have a small chance of stumbling on to the truth but this strikes me as highly unlikely."
"But not completely impossible? Is there anyone else we need to worry about---say right here in London?"
"There are a few who know but most of them work either here or in the War Office."
"Hmm well that at least is reassuring. I have been thinking and it seems to me that the real mission of Seydlitz could be to rendezvous with the other battle cruisers off the Hebrides," said Carson.
"Another possibility and a disturbing one at that," said Callaghan, "Adm. Oliver do you have any inkling of whether they might try this?"
"None, First Lord. In fact the wireless transmission we intercepted about sending 2 prizes back to Germany strongly suggests otherwise to me. I would expect Seydlitz not to stray too far away from her prizes lest we recapture them."
"That is a good argument but not completely conclusive in my estimation," remarked Adm. Wilson, "For one thing the Germans may send the prizes home escorted by their flotilla but let Seydlitz make a bold dash around Scapa without a screen to join her friends off the Hebrides."
"Not a completely insane idea, I will admit," said the First Sea Lord, "but I simply do not see it as probable."
"Perhaps the N.I.D. can shed some light on this matter ere too long, Adm. Oliver," said Carson, "Hopefully something reliable this time."
------HQ British Irish Command the Curragh (Kildare) 1525 hrs
Gen. Hamilton was on the telephone again with Gen. Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps. "We have eliminated the last rebel pockets of resistance in Dublin, general," said Hamilton, "I feel that it is necessary to keep the 34th Brigade and a battery of 18 pounders in Dublin for the time being to guard against any attempt to conduct guerilla operations and restore civil order but the rest of the 11th Infantry Division will be sent to you when the Lowland Division finishes its redeployment."
"That is good news at long last, sir. Are two battalions of the Lowland Division still committed to the pursuit of the rebels who managed to escape into the mountains, something I still find incomprehensible?"
Hamilton disliked Wilson’s implied criticism which bordered on being unprofessional if not insubordinate as Hamilton was his superior officer. "That is correct, general. I have heard in the last few minutes that there is some problems with the main rail line in Queen’s County. Just what is that about?"
A deep sigh could be heard over the telephone line, "A small rebel bomb destroyed a section of rail, general. No train was derailed by it and the track is being worked on by repair crews as we speak."
"But it is still imposes another delay on our troop movements."
"The rebel element in Queen’s County is downright cowardly, general. They do not come out and fight fair but practice hit and run sniping and engage in despicable acts of sabotage such as this. We need to take firmer measures."
"We have instituted curfews and arrested Irish Volunteer leaders. Furthermore we have executed some of those we have captured engaged in acts of sabotage. I do not see what we can do."
"You should be arresting anyone connected in any way with the Irish Volunteers, incl. women, general. Moreover we should retaliate against entire communities if they appear to be supporting any form of guerilla activity incl. sabotage. Lastly we should activate a portion of the Ulster Volunteer Force to assist us."
"How many times have I told you not to continually press for the activation of the U.V.F.? As for the other suggestions they are too draconian and should prove unnecessary once the Germans and their Austrian cohorts are defeated."
"That is only partially true at best, sir and you know it!"
"What I do know all too well right now is that I am sick of you questioning my judgment! :Let us move on to subjects I happen to be interested in. What exactly is going on at Limerick? You were unclear about the details of this early morning enemy as well as taking to long to inform my HQ."
"I apologize for the delay, sir. Part of the problem was 31st Brigade was moved under the temporary command of the West Riding Division when the rest of 10th Infantry Division was sent to attack Cork. The lengthy line of communication to the HQ of the West Riding Division now in County Clare made for some unfortunate delays in relaying the information on to my own HQ."
"I will accept those excuses for the time being, general provided you are taking steps to correct those deficiencies. I am more interested in what exactly happened and how it impacts our attack on Limerick."
"Uh, apparently a combined force of German cavalry and Irish rebels attacked the rear of the 31st Brigade simultaneous with a frontal attack from forces inside Limerick. The left wing of the 31st Brigade collapsed and the enemy then rolled up the line and tried to attack the supporting artillery."
"Did they have any success in the attacks on the artillery batteries?"
"The men of the 31st Brigade are excellent soldiers, far superior to the rest of the 10th Infantry Division. Despite the enemy having the advantage of surprise they prevented them capturing any guns. The artillerists did suffer a few casualties during the fighting though."
Hamilton rolled his eyes. The men of the 31st Brigade were former U.V.F. unlike the rest of the 10th (Irish) Division which was made up of predominantly Catholic battalions from Munster, Leinster and Connaught. This was the real reason behind Gen. Wilson’s praise. "That is comforting news, general, but what is the current situation? Does the enemy still possess the initiative?"
"Uh, both sides are presently on the defensive in that sector of Limerick. The 31st Brigade has folded back its left and is able to fend off the latest enemy attacks."
"That is reassuring except that it implies that we no longer have Limerick encircled with its land communication to the west cut off. Or am I misinterpreting?"
"Uh, well, uh, yes that is basically correct, sir. However the fact that the enemy inside Limerick is now focused to the east will make it easier for our attack from the southwest to succeed."
"I sure hope so, Gen Wilson. And just what is the situation in County Cork? Does the enemy still have the initiative?"
"Yes, general, but that will soon change once most of the Lowland Division arrives at Buttevant. The Welsh Division is holding their position with ease near Fermoy. The 10th Infantry Division without their best brigade continue to perform ineptly and allowed a weak enemy force of ragtag rebel companies and some Jaeger cyclists to temporarily cut their line of communications. The Lowland Division will soon rectify that situation. With the Scots stiffening their corsets we should get a better performance from 10th Division allowing us to seize the initiative and force the German 111th Infantry Division---which as you already know only has 3 regiments---back towards Cork. My only real concern is the supply of artillery shells. Gen. Egerton says he fired off nearly all of his shells in Dublin and there has not been any more landed at Kingston since Thursday. I know we received a modest quantity at Belfast this morning but that needs to be divided between 5 divisions and will take a while to distribute."
"And the Admiralty warns us that there is not going to be any traffic between us and Britain tomorrow. You must use your artillery sparingly and rely upon the numerical superiority of your infantry."
"That can be costly, general."
"Yes in the very term but it is necessary and will soon yield us an overwhelming victory."
------Kragujevac Arsenal (Serbia) 1600 hrs
Field Marshal Radomir Putnik had reluctantly agreed to brief King Peter on recent developments. "I will be blunt, Your Majesty. The latest news is not good. The Austrian Third Army advanced further this morning. We can slow this advance but not stop it. The small gap that still exists between them and the Germans, is dominated by an artillery crossfire. Gen. Godley, the commander of the British colonial division that is the main element holding the gap open has a few hours ago admitted to us that he must withdraw soon."
"If that is indeed so, field marshal, does it means that your bold gambit has failed?"
Putnik shook his head slightly, "It definitely was a tactical success, Your Majesty. We hurt the Germans and pushed them back, buying ourselves some time. We even captured the German chief of staff, Gen. Ludendorff----"
"---but you are about to say but"
"Yes I was, Your Majesty. The enemy will soon regain the initiative to the north, Your Majesty, and they never lost it in the northeast and southeast. The strategic situation remains much as it was since the Bulgarians entered the war. We are badly outnumbered in terms of men and the situation is still worse when it comes to artillery, esp. heavy artillery even though we captured a few German pieces in our recent counterattack. Furthermore what inadequate artillery we do have is quickly running out of ammunition. The British colonial division reports that it is down to its last 20 shells which it is husbanding desperately. It is one reason that Gen. Godley feels that he cannot prevent the closing of the gap."
"Yes, but hasn’t there been another arms shipment from our allies recently?"
"Yes, that is true, Your Majesty but I must respectfully remind you that it takes nearly 2 weeks for supplies to reach us here from Durazzo."
"Still so long? I thought you told me once that their engineers were busy building a narrow gauge railroad."
"It extends only as far as Scutari, Your Majesty. Along with ammunition Gen. Birdwood received an entire new British division as reinforcements. Transporting elements of that division to Scutari was given priority by Gen. Birdwood, so we will not receive even limited help from the railroad."
"Still they are on their way. We must hold on until then."
"By the time they arrive they may not be of much help, Your Majesty. Then again I worry that they may not arrive at all?"
"Why is that? I thought the Montenegrins were providing the supply wagon caravans sufficient escort to handle the Albanian brigands."
"That is one problem, Your Majesty, but I was worrying about another more serious one. After they captured Skopje the Bulgarian Second Army and the Ottomans have diverged. The former is now following the Vardar south towards the Greek border. The Ottomans though headed north and captured the Kachanik Pass yesterday. At first I thought this might be a defensive move. With the enemy controlling that important pass it will be very difficult for us to reinforce our shattered Macedonian Army from the north. However reports that have filtered their way back to me in the last two hours indicate that the Turks are continuing to advance still further north. I now believe that they intend to take Pritchina which will very badly disrupt our line of communications to Albania."
"This is disturbing, field marshal. Do you think that the Turks are strong enough to pull this off by themselves?
Putnik’s somber grimace softened but not enough to be called a grin, "That is an excellent question, Your Majesty. We now believe the Ottoman expedition to be a corps of 3 divisions. The problem is that Macedonian Army was weak to start with and we could never afford to send it anything more than token reinforcements. It has been badly hurt in the last week and must guard against a Bulgarian move west towards Albania or south to the Greek border."
"Might not the Turks’ now overextended supply line greatly slow them maybe even halt them completely?"
"Another very good question, Your Majesty. It is true that along with the Bulgarian Second Army the Turks have moved a considerable distance in a short period of time. However we know from our past experience that the Ottoman Army can function with some modest effectiveness even when provided with only a relatively thin flow of supplies, unlike the Germans and the blacklegs. So I am forced to admit there is a very real threat, Your Majesty."
The monarch shook his weary old head and sighed deeply, "It seems painfully obvious that we are beset by too many enemies from too many directions right now. Still no matter how bad our situation looks I am not prepared to consider surrender as an option at this time."
"I understand, Your Majesty, and will strive to do what I can."
------HQ Army Detachment François Cork 1625 hrs
A motorcar from Cork had finally fetched Sir Roger Casement from Waterford. When he arrived at Cork Sir Roger was buffeted by strongly mixed emotions. On the one hand he was happy that his plan had reached fruition. Yet the sight of German soldiers and sailors in substantial numbers in Cork made him uneasy. What have I done? he chided himself but then another thought arose Now, now Roger you rightly realized from the very beginning that the pipe dream of Pearse and his ilk that the Irish Volunteers could pull this off by themselves with nothing more than arms and a few senior officers coming from the Germans was a recipe for disaster. From the beginning you insisted on a large scale invasion and a large scale invasion is what you got. Pat yourself on the back. Still part of him felt more guilty than triumphant. Be careful what you wish for you just might get it.
He was now sitting in the waiting room of what was Gen. von François’ current HQ. Apparently Berlin had informed the general by wireless this morning that it was renaming his command to Army Detachment François. Casement was baffled by this development regarding it as a quintessential distinction without a difference. An aide approached, "Sir Roger, the general will see you now. Follow me, please."
The aide brought Casement into the general’s office then quickly departed closing the door as he left. Casement had hoped that Joe Plunkett would be present for this meeting but he was not there. Given Plunkett’s sickly nature Casement worried about the possible implications of his absence. Gen. Hermann von François stepped forward and extended his hand. He spoke in German, "Sir Roger Casement I am glad to see you. I am even happier, of course, that you finally brought the second wave with you."
Casement grinned slightly. The general was probably deeply worried that the second wave had been cancelled. He was right to be worried as Casement knew all too well how close OKW had come to giving up on Operation Unicorn. "Yes, I am very glad to be here as well, general. And grateful that you can find time under these trying circumstances to meet with me. Might I inquire though about the whereabouts of Capt. Plunkett? I would like to talk with him as well today if at all possible."
"Unfortunately that is not going to be possible. I sent Plunkett off to assist Oberst Hell in commanding an improvised unit that combines German and Irish battalions and which is performing a very vital task right now. They are attacking the rear of the 10th Infantry Division which is also being attacked from front and flank. If we can quickly destroy most or all of that division I should be able to lift the siege of Limerick and unite my forces."
"Uh, yes that would be, uh, advantageous, general. I am glad that Irish, uh, I mean I.R.A. forces are proving useful," answered Casement with an obvious lack of enthusiasm and an ambivalent facial expression.
"Is something amiss, Herr Casement?"
"Uh, not so much amiss as ironic, general. As you are well aware the 10th Infantry Division is composed of Irishmen. I had hoped that division had been moved from Ireland to England when the first wave landed so you would not have to fight it. That was one of our hopes than did not materialize and now we find ourselves in the awkward position of trying to destroy it."
The general nodded, "That is true but I will remind you that in planning Operation Unicorn we all agreed that Irish fighting Irish in large numbers was inevitable."
Casement nodded as well, "I remember that, general. Even though it is inevitable it can still make sad, that is all. So your immediate objective. What is your plan to rescue the Dublin Rising?"
Von François frowned, "There is nothing we can do. We now have some intelligence that suggests that the Dublin Rising was completely eliminated today."
Casement gasped audibly, "If true that is terrible news, general! Dublin is the heart of Ireland and Dublin Brigade was the heart and head of the Irish Volunteers. The republic was proclaimed in Dublin."
"Political issues have a very limited importance right now, Sir Roger."
"With all due respect, general, it would be a mistake to underestimate them. Do we know what has happened to Pearse?"
"No. Our intelligence about a British victory in Dublin is vague and admittedly not even close to being absolutely certain."
"Shouldn’t we be doing something in case this intelligence turns out to be false?"
"There is not much I can do---at least quickly. My principal forces are concentrated here and around Limerick. In both places we are confronted by strong enemy forces. The situation at Limerick is particularly worrisome but it is something I think I can rectify soon. Before you arrived the 3rd Kerry Battalion mounted in a motley collection of motor vehicles managed to break through and reach Dublin. We have only recently penetrated into County Wicklow with a relatively small force that cannot make a difference even if it should press on north to Dublin."
------Waterford city 1650 hrs
Count Tisza summoned the officers and senior NCO’s of his regiment to a meeting. "Despite the initial incompetence we are now steadily receiving more horses," he informed them, "It is necessary to inspect them thoroughly as too many are proving to be not suitable as cavalry mounts and should only be used as draught animals for our wagons. However I am now optimistic that we will have on hand before midnight enough horses for nearly all of the regiment. I am planning to leave a single squadron behind here in Waterford. The rest of the regiment will form up before dawn. We shall proceed deep into County Wexford where there are already some advance elements. During the night there are many important tasks for us to perform. I have detailed orders that I am going to go over with you."
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 1720 hrs
The firefight continued in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge with the men of the West Riding Division able to make a very slow advance hindered by some German 7.7cm field guns firing shrapnel shells at short range. In turn they were able to inflict some casualties on the German gunners with long range rifle fire. Reassured that the British 31st Brigade southeast of the city had for the time being been rendered harmless, Gen. von Jacobsen, the commander of the Naval Division had decided he could now afford to throw more Matrosen into the critical fight to the north. The arrival of another half battalion plus 3 more machineguns proved sufficient to halt the enemy’s progress but fighting continued to dusk.
------HQ German Sixth Army 1730 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army was meeting with Oberst Freiherr von Wenge, his chief of staff, Gen. Oskar Ritter von Xylander, the commander of I Bavarian Corps, Gen. Ludwig Freiherr von Gebstattel, the commander of the III Bavarian Corps and Gen. Oskar von Hutier the commander of the XXI Army Corps. "As you are all well aware," von Fabeck told the corps commanders, "We have been trying to destroy the British First Army for more than 3 weeks now. We did cut off and destroy but the rest of the First Army survives albeit in a greatly weakened form despite our best efforts. I have decided therefore to turn my attention on their Second Army. I started with an intense prolonged bombardment from different directions of a badly exposed sector of the front. Tomorrow we shall proceed to the next phase. Gen. von Gebstattel, what is the current status of the 5th Bavarian Division’s deployment at the boundary between I Bavarian Corps and XXI Army Corps?"
"Last night we moved 2 regiments of the 5th Bavarian Division into the rear trenches of 21st Infantry and 1st Bavarian Divisions, general. Once it is dark this evening they will rotate into the forward trench while the rest of the division incl. the artillery, which is currently hiding from British air patrols in wooded areas, will position itself to support tomorrow’s attack."
"That is good. We will also be repositioning the heavy artillery of Sixth Army to support the attack which will be made by the 2nd Bavarian Division on the right, the 5th Bavarian Division in the center and the 31st Infantry Division on the left," said von Fabeck, "The main target of the attack will be the Belgian force which holds a portion of the enemy line between the British II and IV Corps in the vicinity of Gapennes. We now know that much of the Belgian division was shifted to the west causing us considerable trouble in the area of Nouvioun. This raised the very interesting question of how much strength was left in the previous sector. We cannot be completely sure but it must be considerably weaker perhaps only a single reinforced regiment. Our airplanes have detected no enemy heavy artillery whatsoever remaining in and around this sector. Apparently the British Second Army redeployed all of theirs to support their repeated attempts to rescue the trapped First Army."
Gen. von Fabeck paused and his chief of staff continued the briefing, "We have heavily bombarded an awkwardly shaped corner of the British line that allows us to enfilade their positions from more than one direction. We had expected that the British would have abandoned the most vulnerable area by now but as we have found in prior battles the British can be very stubborn about holding on to territory even where the terrain is difficult to defend and serves no special importance. We believe that the units occupying that sector belong to their 7th and 8th Infantry Divisions."
Gen. von Fabeck pointed at Gen. von Xylander and took over, "If our intelligence is accurate it will be the right wing of their 7th Infantry Division that 2nd Bavarian Division will be assaulting tomorrow morning. If the Belgians are routed it should be comparatively easy for you to outflank and then roll up the trench lines of the badly weakened 7th Infantry Division with the help of the 5th Bavarian Division. The primary objective of tomorrow’s attack is not geographic---I do not see any chance that we will be able to make a quick lunge for Abbeville. No, our most important objective tomorrow will be to further weaken the British Second Army. This may allow us to press on to Abbeville at a later date or perhaps it will cause the enemy to overreact and remove strength from the area of the bottleneck connecting them to First Army improving our chances to finally crush their windpipe if we mount a renewed effort."
The chief of staff, von Wenge then turned to Gen. von Hutier, "As for you von Hutier, you are well aware already that you will be attacking a small stretch of the II Army Corps tomorrow and they are the only elements of the entire B.E.F. that have not been touched at all in the last month. We do know from some prisoners we have captured that some of their battalions have been removed and used to reinforce other divisions involved in heavy fighting so their available reserves tomorrow should be rather thin. You too will try to roll up their trenches if at all possible tomorrow but your primary function is to pin them so they cannot lend assistance to either the Belgians or IV Army Corps. However we must counsel caution as we know all too well that these hardened British regulars usually put up a stiff resistance. In all our operations tomorrow it is imperative that we achieve a favorable casualty ratio. Our immediate goal is extremely simple. We want to further weaken the British Second Army without weakening ourselves more than necessary. After we accomplish this objective then we can then build on our success and set out to accomplish bolder objectives."
------Royal Palace Bucharest (Romania) 1810 hrs
King Ferdinand was dining with Prime Minister, Ion Bratianu. The conversation invariably turned to the war. "Your Majesty, it should be painfully obvious by now that the Entente are winning the war. I strongly suggest that we now cut back on our trade with the Central Powers, negotiate a secret treaty of alliance with the Entente and make preparations to seize Transylvania."
Ferdinand put down his fork and shook his head, "Before I agree to taking those momentous steps would you kindly do me the favor of explaining why it is so clear to you that the Entente is winning? Is it on account of the success of the current Russian offensive in the Bukovina?"
"Well obviously that is the most important element, Your Majesty, but there are others."
"Well something that has given us some pause in the past was the German naval victories---"
"It gave me pause and continues to give me pause. You kept alternating between telling me that naval power mattered for little and that the British would soon reclaim their dominance of the seas."
"And they have, Your Majesty! There was a battle in the Celtic Sea Saturday between the German and British battle fleets and the British emerged victorious! Isn’t that wonderful news!"
"Until we actually join the Entente I can think of better. Besides what I have read of this Battle of Celtic Sea makes the British victory sound rather modest. The German fleet has been hurt but it remains very much a threat, esp. since they are now operating out of Ireland."
"They cannot remain long in Ireland, Your Majesty. Soon their battered remnants must try to slink their way home and when they do the Royal Navy will descend on them like the Sword of Damocles and sink the lot of them!"
"There is one modest fact and a great deal of conjecture in all of that, Ion."
The prime minister shrugged, "Perhaps but I see my logic as being rock solid, Your Majesty. And there are other signs that the Central Powers are collapsing nearly everywhere. The Austrian counteroffensive in Galicia has been a failure. I have learned this afternoon from the Russian military attaché that they have just launched a counterattack against the weak left flank of the German forces that have been banging their heads in frustration against the impregnable Russian fortress at Kovno. This counterattack will overpower the Germans and stands a good chance to capture of the vaunted German siege artillery."
"I had not heard about this Russian counterattack. They apparently share things with you that they do not share with me. I am optimistic but not as certain as you are. I suppose you are next going to tell me that Clemenceau’s grand offensive will wear down the German entrenchments and lead to a resumption of open warfare in the West?"
Bratianu attempted a disarming smile, "You read my mind, Your Majesty, but perhaps it is because the correct conclusion is so painfully obvious. The Germans strategy on the Western Front hinged on their attempt to destroy the British First Army which relied heavily on the use of an illegal weapon, poison gas. Despite this perfidy they failed in their objective and have badly weakened themselves in the process. Clemenceau, the shrewd fox that he is, sensed this fundamental weakness and launched his offensive to take advantage of it."
"As I recall the French took Compiegné rather quickly but there has been little in the way of success since then."
"The Germans are stretched dangerously thin, Your Majesty. Those in France are being methodically ground into dust. Soon they we will become too weak to stop the French. Yet another blazing example of Entente superiority is much closer to us in Serbia, where a daring counterattack by the Serbs seized the initiative from their numerically superior but poorly coordinated opponents. They hurt the Germans badly and even managed to capture Prince Rupprecht’s chief of staff, the notorious Gen. Ludendorff!"
"That was very gratifying but isn’t it a fact that the some of the Bulgarians and an Ottoman contingent have advanced all the way to the Vardar?"
"Oh that is quite true, Your Majesty, but don’t you see that Gen. Putnik is luring them into a trap just as he lured the Germans? The Bulgarians are overrated and the Turks are marginally competent on a good day. Their comeuppance is assured and will be even more devastating than what the Germans have suffered."
"Hmm. Well we shall see won’t we? I take it that you believe that the German invasion of Ireland is doomed as a result of their naval defeat?"
"Yes and no, Your Majesty. The invasion was doomed before the naval battle but now the process is quickened. Just today there is word from the British that they have taken Dublin from the rebels."
"Yes that news reached me as well a little over an hour ago."
"The revolt in Dublin was the spiritual heart of the Irish Catholic rebellion, Your Majesty. Now that Dublin has been retaken that rebellion will lose heart and ebb away."
"Sort of like that sputtering rebellion by our brethren in Transylvania that never ceases to disappoint us."
"I beg to differ, Your Majesty. The Irish Catholic rebellion is rapidly waning while the Transylvania needs only a little more Russian progress in the Bukovina to finally blossom into something unstoppable."
"We shall see my enthusiastic friend, we shall see."
------HQ Lowland Division Buttevant army base (Cork) 1820 hrs
Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division, had been preparing to move his HQ closer to the fighting when he received a telephone call from his superior, Gen. Henry Wilson the commander of VI Amy Corps. Once he left Buttevant Egerton would be out of telephone communication for at least several hours. Knowing how testy Gen Wilson could be, Egerton now wondered if he should have left sooner.
"Good, I got you before you departed," came Gen. Wilson’s voice over the telephone, "I want to know if you have had any success at all contacting Gen. de Lisle and 10th Infantry Division HQ?"
"Negative, general. I have received not a single word from 10th Infantry Division. I am beginning to get worried."
"I too am worried. How is the attack on Mallow progressing? Once you have retaken Mallow you should be able to make contact with Gen. de Lisle without much trouble."
"We got within a mile of Mallow, sir, but then we were repulsed by a combination of well entrenched machineguns and light mortars."
"It is absolutely imperative that you take Mallow as quickly as possible. Use your artillery to neutralize the German weapons."
"As you are well aware, general, the redeployment of my division from Dublin is not expected to be completed before dawn tomorrow. At this time I only have 3 batteries none of them howitzers but all of them seriously short on ammunition. The enemy weapons are well dug in and will be difficult to take out."
"I am not interested in defeatist excuses, Gen. Egerton! Do whatever is necessary to take Mallow including flanking maneuvers and night attacks if need be though I would advise that you start by using your artillery with vigor."
Egerton sighed deeply and hoped that it would not carry across the telephone line, "General, I will obey your orders but must inform you that I am deeply worried about my supply of artillery shells as we used up much of our limited stockpile in the Battle of Dublin. Can you reassure me that additional shells are on their way?"
"Hmm. I wish I could do just that, general, but unfortunately I have been warned by Gen. Hamilton a few hours earlier that we are not to expect any supply ships arriving from England before Wednesday at the earliest."
"That is very disturbing news, sir, as I am sure that the German batteries are now well supplied with ammunition."
"The obvious conclusion is that we cannot afford the luxury of extended artillery duels with the Germans. You must rely instead on you superiority in manpower."
"I will respectfully remind the general that most of my battalions suffered heavy losses in Dublin. The advantage in manpower may not be enough to prove decisive."
"And I will reiterate one last time that you must do whatever is necessary to take Mallow and re-establish communications with Gen. De Lisle’s HQ"
------Philadelphia harbor 1830 hrs GMT
The Sweet Smell of Success was a US merchantman of 6,800 tons. She was a relatively new boat capable of sustaining 9 knots and possessed a wireless, albeit a fairly weak one. Her captain and first mate now watched together as ingots of copper and molybdenum were loaded aboard their vessel along with a small quantity of rubber.
"You know that the odds are better than even that the limeys will grab up before we can make it to Germany," the first mate told the skipper, "This cargo we’re carrying is pure contraband as far as they’re concerned. They are sure to seize our boat. Yeah I know the Germans somehow managed to get us insured but I still don’t want to see us getting nabbed."
"I don’t know about that the German navy have given the Royal Navy a sound thrashing that should make it easier for us to avoid their blockade."
"Oh then you mustn’t be reading the newspapers, skipper. The Brits claim that they finally beat the German fleet Saturday in the Celtic Sea and have now firmly regained control of the seas."
"Yeah I read that article too. Big deal. The limeys sank one German dreadnought while not losing a single battleship. OK let’s say this story is on the up and up. The fact remains that Royal Navy still lost a shitload of battleships and battle cruisers at Dogger Bank and Utsire. If you ask me the limeys are still in deep shit."
"But if they making this Battle of Celtic Sea out to be more than it really is, there still remains this here geography problem. You know the one about having to go around Britain to get to Germany."
"Hey look who’s coming our way. It’s that German purchasing agent who is paying for all this."
The purchasing agent approached the ship. "Good day, Capt. Whitfield. I see that the last of the cargo has been loaded. Sehr gut. Why don’t you and your first mate accompany me to your cabin, ja? There is something we need to discuss."
Once the three of them were in the Captain’s cabin, Whitfield offered the German some whisky but he politely declined. "What I have come here to discuss is your route and destination."
"The two of us were just discussing that when you showed up," replied Whitsfield, "Do you have some sort of secret route that will help us elude the British patrols."
"I sure hope it isn’t the fuckin’ Denmark Straits," interjected the first mate, "We have heard from some other captains that have considered blockade running that the limeys keep an eye on that iceberg infested route as soon as there in any gap in the ice. And even if we did make it through the Straits there are additional patrols between Scotland and Norway."
The agent smiled, "You will then be delighted to know that I am not going to suggest using the Denmark Straits to you. If fact you are not going to Germany at all. You are going to Ireland."
-----SMS Moltke south of the Isle of Islay heading WNW 1855 hrs
Adm. von Hipper stared through binoculars at the Isle of Islay. "Do you see those odd looking buildings with the strange almost Chinese looking roofs near that small port?" he asked his chief of staff.
"Yes, I see them, admiral," replied Raeder, "I believe that what we are looking at are whisky distilleries. I can discern at least 2 distinct groups of them. I wonder if they have some military value that would make it worthwhile to shell them for a few minutes."
The admiral put down his binoculars, "Distilleries, you say? I am reluctant to bombard civilian targets unless their military value is obvious and I will also remind you that we are already short on HE shells and there is a very good chance we will need some of them tomorrow. It would also require us to alter course to the northeast and very tight waters which could prove to be a cul-de-sac if enemy dreadnoughts should suddenly materialize behind us. We will hold our fire and continue on past the Mull of Oa into the open ocean where 4th Scouting Group is already operating."
------State Department Washington D.C. 1925 hrs GMT
"Ambassador Spring-Rice is here to see you, Mr. Secretary," came the voice over the Dictograph intercom.
"He is a few minutes early but send him in anyway," replied William Jennings Bryan, the US Secretary of State. In the morning the British ambassador had politely requested an afternoon appointment with him but gave no hint as to what topics would be discussed other than promising that the meeting would be fairly brief. The demands of the war had made the energetic Sir Cecil irritable and petulant so Bryan was not looking forward to this meeting. Nevertheless he greeted the ambassador warmly when he was admitted to Bryan’s office.
"It is a pleasure as always to talk to Sir Cecil. What exactly is the reason for this sudden visit?" asked Bryan, "If I were to hazard a guess the main purpose of this visit is not social but rather has some connection to the war. And before I forget let me congratulate your great nation on the impressive victory won by the Royal Navy in the Celtic Sea Saturday."
Sir Cecil nodded slightly and grinned slightly. He had long ago concluded that Bryan was pro German and wondered if the secretary was now being disingenuous maybe even sarcastic. "Yes, it was gratifying though I am mystified why Adm. Bayly after his initial success failed to rid the world from the scourge of the Hun pirate fleet."
"Hmm. Our own admirals have been asking similar questions. They have reached the tentative conclusion that it was a complicated though relatively brief engagement, and there could be any of several valid reasons which would have made Adm. Bayly correctly conclude that it was necessary to withdraw."
Sir Cecil sighed deeply, "Whatever happened to the glorious Nelsonic fighting spirit?"
"We live in a different century than Lord Nelson, Sir Cecil."
"Aye, but certain traditions are eternal, Mr. Bryan."
"I heartily agree with that, but in regards to those values that proceed from the Lord and the precepts of Holy Scripture. Whether it applies to things like naval tactics is subject to serious doubt though. I am curious as to how the victory of the Grand Fleet in the Celtic Sea has impacted the ground fighting within Ireland."
"Unfortunately the sea battle took place after the Germans landed reinforcements in Ireland. However these reinforcements may end up proving to be waste of assets better used elsewhere. My latest information is that the rebellion in Dublin is being crushed as we speak. It may well be all over there right now. Likewise the latest offensive against Limerick is making dramatic progress and come tomorrow the Union Jack will again be flying proudly over King John’s Castle. After that the remaining German forces around Cork will be quickly crushed."
"Ah, but what about the Irish rebellion?"
"I have already mentioned that the rebellion in Dublin is collapsing right now. Dublin is the heart of the rebellion. Most of the rest of the traitors are fighting alongside the Germans near Limerick and Cork. Once their German allies are defeated their morale will disintegrate and things will end quickly."
"This is some very interesting news, Sir Cecil but it is the main reason you came here to converse?"
"No---well it is connected, Mr. Bryan. As you will recall your government illegally permitted several thousand Americans of German and Irish ancestry to travel aboard the German ocean liners to fight on the side of the barbarian hordes in Europe, probably in Ireland."
"I must correct you, ambassador. The action was perfectly legal."
"It was a blatant violation of your neutrality laws!"
"It is no more a violation than those American men who migrated to Canada to volunteer to serve in the British military."
"That is different and you know it. We have debated this matter before. I see no point in endlessly repeating the same arguments over and over. However I shall briefly note that the trial of Mr. Devoy for violating the neutrality laws opened this morning."
"Yes, and Mr. Darrow filed a motion to dismiss the charges!"
"He is well within his rights to do so, Sir Cecil. The attorney general is confident that the judge will deny the motion."
"He did not do so immediately as he should have!"
"The judge wants a little bit of time to give it proper consideration as he should."
"The motion is ridiculous! Mr. Darrow should have been found in contempt of court for daring to make it!"
"Our courts do not work that way, Sir Cecil. I am confident that our legal system will deliver a fair and just verdict in this case."
"Anything short of an execution would be a miscarriage of justice!"
"Now, now Sir Cecil. You know very well that this is not a capital case."
"It should be!"
"I do hope this is not going to be the main topic of conversation today, ambassador."
Spring-Rice’s face had become flustered and he fought to regain his composure, "No. The main reason for my visit concerns the German ocean liner Amerika which was captured quite rightly in international waters by one of our warships despite some of the nonsense written in many of your newspapers about a 100 mile zone. There was an incident aboard the Amerika Friday where the Fenians on the vessel became very unruly and the sailors guarding them felt with considerable justification that their lives were in danger. A shot was fired and one of rioting Fenians was killed."
The usual broad smile on Bryan’s face disappeared, "This is very sad, ambassador. I take it that this unfortunate individual---you did not mention his name---was an American citizen?"
"His name was James Hickey. We are not sure as yet that he was an American citizen. Contrary to the proclamation you issued last August he was not carrying a passport though two of his fellow knaves claims that he was indeed an American citizen. Needless to say it would make things easier for both of us if he turns out not to be a citizen. So my first request is that you check for us as best you can?"
"I will most certainly do that but I will need more than his name."
"Of coure. Here is what information our investigators have unearthed so far on the late Mr. Hickey," replied Spring-Rice as he handed Bryan a small envelope.
"When are you planning on releasing this information to the newspapers?" asked the Secretary of State as perused the contents of the envelope, "It is already three days old."
"Certain British and Canadian newspapers will carry it in their morning editions tomorrow. All of their publishers have agreed in advance that this story does not warrant appearing on the front page of their papers."
"In Britain it might not be a front page story, Sir Cecil. Here in the United States things may well be different though."
"You cannot let Hearst, McCormick and the Kaiser loving Jewish journalists make a mountain out of this tiny molehill!"
"Once you are acting as if the President has a power over the American press he does not have. I am going to warn you that there are many Americans who are deeply concerned about His Majesty’s Government intends to treat the passengers aboard the Amerika. The fact that one of them has been killed is going to cause some alarm in that camp. I would strongly counsel you to consider possible ways to allay unfounded suspicions. Perhaps letting a small group of impartial observers visit the prisoners would be a good idea. For one thing they could investigate the facts---"
"---there is no need for an impartial investigation of any sort! The pertinent facts in this situation are exactly what His Majesty’s Government said they are!"
"That may well be the case, ambassador, but there are people here that you need to persuade that are not at all likely to see it that way."
------HQ Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2005 hrs
Lord Curzon, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland had been demanding all day that Gen. Hamilton brief him in person on current developments. Instead he had received a few typed briefs which he correctly suspected were heavily redacted and incomplete. Finally Gen. Hamilton arrived in person. "I have wonderful news, Your Excellency! The enemy resistance in Dublin has been completely eliminated. Only very minor damage was done to the Viceregal Lodge, a few windows shot out that sort of thing. Repair crews are working around the clock to fix them. Everything should be in order for your return early tomorrow. Miss Spring-Rice can accompany if that is amenable to both of you."
"Gen. Hamilton, your behavior to us and our august station has been utterly intolerable! I have already expressed my dissatisfaction to London."
Hamilton continued to keep a tight rein on his emotions and had prepared his reply well in advance, "I deeply regret that the circumstances do not permit me to satisfy the requests of public officials to the extent that is possible in times of peace, Your Excellency. However we find ourselves not in peace but in war and it is precisely this war with all its veritable legion of vexations that precludes my having the available time to render such satisfaction. You are of course entitled to express your grievances to His Majesty’s Government, even to Lord Kitchener if you should so choose."
Curzon ground his teeth in frustration all too aware that his old foe, Lord Kitchener would only derive malicious amusement from hearing his complaints. He was also all too aware that many in Parliament regarded his position as being little more than ceremonial. "I am not pleased with your answer, general! Furthermore I am disinclined to return to Dublin at this time for I realize that your real intention is to render mea virtual prisoner within the Viceregal Lodge, where you can ignore me even more than you do now. And don’t you dare deny it!"
The general forced a polite grin, "I am deeply sorry that you feel that way, Your Excellency but clearly your proper role requires your presence in Dublin alongside the civilian bureaucracy not here which is a military headquarters."
"See! Underneath your smooth words, general, there lies a tacit admission that you are intent on getting rid of me!"
But of course I am, you sanctimonious twit! "You are, uh, misinterpreting what I saying, Your Excellency."
"Oh am I? And what if I refuse to leave here, eh? Are you going to have your soldiers force me to leave here at gunpoint?"
"Now, now Your Excellency I sincerely hope it does not come to that." Oops that did not come out right.
"Ah, so it seems that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to get me to go!"
"Uh, you are not the only one in communication with London, Your Excellency. If I tell them you are neglecting your proper duties by refusing to return to Dublin, how do you think they will respond?" Much better though in fact I have not ruled out the use of firearms or shackles for that matter. He is simply not going to stay here!
"Performing my ‘proper duties’ as you put it, is precisely why I must insist on remaining here, Sir Ian! Surely there are those in London that will agree with me. If not at the War Office then perhaps at 10 Downing."
"You will find that you are not doing either yourself or the Empire any good if you go that route, Your Excellency."
Curzon glared daggers at Hamilton, "We shall see, general. You are badly mistaken if you think I am bluffing. However as I finally have you here I am not going to let you slip away again without bringing me up to date on the latest developments in your campaign."
"But of course, Your Excellency. What exactly would you like to know?"
"Why everything of course! Not the mere fragments you try to pass off on me like this one about the new strategy at Limerick," replied Curzon angrily waving one of the summary papers in his right hand.
Hamilton took a deep breath before answering, "As you already know we were completely victorious at Dublin today---"
"---a victory against a weak foe that took much longer than it should have!"
"As we have discussed previously, Your Excellency, fighting in urban areas presents special problems, and Dublin happens to be the largest urban area in Ireland. I must make it clear that I now have some very limited time to discuss the current situation with you but not to rehash the past with you. While admittedly the summary briefs Gen Braithwaite and myself have diligently provided you are less than perfect, they are not as incomplete as you are complaining."
"In that case why can I not fathom what is happening in Cork, general?"
"Perhaps because that battle is an extremely volatile situation which changes hour from hour., Your Excellency."
"And what is the latest news? Are the 10th and Welsh Divisions still penning the Germans inside a tight perimeter around Cork?"
"Uh, well not exactly, Your Excellency. With the aid of their reinforcements the Germans temporarily seized the initiative and it was necessary to make a modest tactical withdrawal to more defensible positions."
"Hmm I do not like the sound of that."
"As I said the loss of initiative is very temporary, Your Excellency. We are now holding the line. Once the transfer of the Lowland Division by rail from Dublin is completed we shall be able to seize the initiative. With the addition of most of the 11th Infantry Division as well tomorrow the Germans and their Austrian allies will be overwhelmed."
"So it is true? The Germans actually did bring an Austrian unit with them this time? When I first read that I thought it was yet another glaring example of how incompetent your intelligence apparatus truly is."
Not for the first time in this conversation, Gen. Hamilton was glad he had not brought along his chief of staff, whose temper was not as well controlled as his own. "The other major operation underway is the attack on Limerick through County Clare. This is going well so far and we expect to capture some of the enemy’s artillery and enter the city itself during the night." I have made sure not the slightest mention of the predawn attack by German cavalry and rebel infantry reached the Viceroy. It is an oddity and only a minor setback delaying our inevitable victory by a few hours at most.
"I do admit that operation does indeed sound promising," Curzon conceded, "but I have been hearing that the fall of Limerick was imminent for more than a fortnight and so have become skeptical bordering on cynical. What bothers me most is the pockets of rebellion that appear to be ignored in our zeal to smite the German invaders. We have yet to retake the important communication center at Athlone. Or the port of Waterford which has some naval value. Most disturbing of all there is a rebel force trying to take Sligo. Combined with the rebel pocket at Athlone it means that Ireland has effectively been cut in half! "
"I believe the summary you were provided, Your Excellency, makes it clear that a half battalion of Scottish soldiers is not only holding on to the docks at Sligo but methodically removing the rebels from the city." Let us not mention the casualties they have suffered doing the latter. I will also skip over a few other places like Claremorris and esp. the munitions factory at Arklow.
"I know very well that the Germans pose the greatest threat, but I do worry, Gen. Hamilton, that except for Dublin you are not taking the Irish revolt seriously with the potentially disastrous consequence that when you finally do it will be out of control."
"The rebels have very little if any training, Your Excellency and with the partial exception of those under direct German supervision in Munster are poorly armed. They are dispersed in small pockets across much of Ireland which in the near term magnifies their ability to cause mischief but in the long haul means they will be easily swept up once we have eliminated the Germans and Austrians. Furthermore the destruction of their central authority in Dublin should serve to demoralize them."
"Yes, that has some validity. What has happened to their leader, Patrick Pearse? Is he dead or do we have him in custody?"
"He is not one of the prisoners, Your Excellency. He might be dead but another possibility is that he is part of a small group then was able to escape from Dublin into the mountains to the south early this morning."
"What? Why wasn’t I told about this?"
"Because as I just said it was only a small group, Your Excellency. A force of two battalions plus several hundred constables is in dogged pursuit. It is only a matter of time before the rebels hiding in the mountains are run down and eliminated as well."
"I certainly hope so, general because Pearse must not be allowed to escape! He is the linchpin of the Irish revolt."
"He is important, Your Excellency, and we are making every effort to capture him but I think you are exaggerating somewhat."
------4th Scouting Group NNW of Islay 2040 hrs
The 4 small cruisers of 4th Scouting Group along with a half flotilla of large torpedo boats spent the last two hours of sunlight preying on the rich sea lanes leading into Glasgow. After having little luck hunting in the Irish Sea they now took 3 prizes. The first was a 760 ton schooner with mixed propulsion out of Rio de Janeiro carrying sugar. The German boarding party decided that trying get this prize to a friendly port was not worth the risk of recapture and sank her with explosive charges.
The second prize was a 5,600 ton cargo ship out of La Coruna carrying iron ore. It was escorted by an old sloop that put up a scrappy fight but was ultimately set ablaze by the cruisers delaying but not preventing the capture of the ore hauler. The sloop did sink but eventually turned into a burned out hulk. This prize was valuable but getting her back to Germany where her cargo be utilized was deemed too problematic esp. since she could barely sustain 7 knots and so she was sunk as well.
The last prize taken was a 4,400 ton freighter out of Trondheim carrying a cargo of canned fish, mostly sardines. It was flying a Norwegian flag but upon inspection the boarding party learned this was really a British vessel which in desperation flew a false flag. This ship could sustain nearly 8 knots in all but the heaviest seas. The boarding party had an idea and decided to keep her.
------Fermoy (Cork) 2105 hrs
Feldmlt. Krauss, the commander of the Erzherzog Karl Division decided that his partially deployed division was too weak to mount an effective attack against the Welsh Division even though he had been informed by Gen. von François that the Welsh Division was itself seriously weakened. Krauss though was not intent merely to assume a static defense. Instead he mounted a series of demonstrations against the Welsh Division. His first were merely a series of strong patrols which resulted in a series of skirmishes with the British. In the late afternoon he harassed the British with the intermittent shelling by the 75mm Déport guns, frequently shifting their location and whenever possible exploiting their considerable range advantage over the British artillery.
Krauss’ last demonstration was to feint an envelopment of the British left flank. He made this fairly obvious while it was light so that Gen. Friend, the current commander of the Welsh Division, would feel compelled to counter the threat but now that it was last light Krauss recalled the 2 flanking battalions. Even if Gen. Friend realized that the envelopment was merely a feint he would still worry that the feint was intended to assist the real Austrian attack elsewhere.
------London 2120 hrs
Lt. Erskine Childers R.N. V.C. was shaking like a leaf and perspiring heavily as he hobbled his way into the apartment house where Michael Collins lived. He was dressed in civilian clothes. The building he entered was one modest step above a flophouse. As he laboriously climbed the stairs part of him wanted to turn around and leave as quickly as a man with a wooden leg could move. Finally he made it to the right floor and soon found himself standing before the door of Collins’ flat. When he raised his right hand to knock on the door his entire right arm began to tremble uncontrollably. He breathed deeply for two minutes and the spasm ameliorated to a mere tremor. He raised his hand again he managed to knock. He felt as if he were banging on the gates of Hell to ask to be admitted.
The door opened and Michael Collins peered out. "Lt. Childers please come in. I have both beer and whisky if you would care for some refreshment."
"Uh, no thank you, Mr. Collins. Uh, on second thought I would appreciate some ice water if that’s not too much trouble. My mouth is a bit dry for some reason."
Collins had a small icebox in his room and with a pick gouged out some ice to put in the tap water. He handed it to Childers who responded, "Thank you very much." then gulped most of it down rapidly.
"Have a seat, Lt. Childers."
Leaning on his cane Childers sat down in a chair. Collins sat down as well in a nearby chair. For more than two minutes there was an awkward silence as the two men sat staring at each other trying to figure the other man out. Childers found it difficult to maintain eye contact with Collins who reminded him of a hungry lion. He finished nearly all of the ice water. He realized that his hands were still trembling to such a degree that Collins would surely have noticed. Finally it was Collins who broke the deafening silence, "You said over the telephone there was something you wanted to talk to me about, Lt. Childers."
Erskine Childers’ blood suddenly felt as cold as the clump of ice remaining in his glass. He opened his mouth to speak but could say nothing.
"Does it have to do with what is currently going on in Ireland?" asked Collins.
Childers still found it difficult to speak but nodded.
"Do you feel as I do that whatever options the Irish people may have had at the outset of the war, the current Unionist government has reduced them to them to two," continued Collins, "Either accept the continued domination of Ireland that the Unionists want to preserve and along with a massive slaughter of the rebels or else aid the rebels one way or another."
Childers finally recovered his voice, "I once believed there were other possibilities, Mr. Collins. Though even back in July I realized in my own way that they might not be peaceful. It was I who was in charge of receiving from the Germans the arms shipment that landed at Howth. Put simply it was I who made the Dublin Rising possible by arming Padraig Pearse. For a while I somehow cherished the illusion that those rifles would only be used against the U.V.F. I see now that I was very naive. When the Germans landed back in April I was extremely angry at them for ruining things. Now I think they merely hastened what was an inevitable decomposition of Irish politics."
"I see, Lt.Childers. You appear to have led an adventure ripped from the pages of one of your stories. So what do intend to do next?"
"I know things."
The tension in the room rose to a new level. Childers could see that Michael Collins was nervous as well but only hid it better. For a minute it was Collins who had trouble speaking. When he did all he could say was, "What sort of things?"
"Very important things."
"Interesting---but might you be a wee bit more specific."
Again there was an awkward silence during which Childers fidgeted a great deal. "You know that I lost my leg in an air raid on a major German Zeppelin shed New Years Day?"
"Yes I know that."
"Well after that the Admiralty offered to release me but I pleaded to be allowed to continue in the navy. After the calamity at Dogger Bank there was a great fear that the Germans intended to invade England."
"A fear that only grew worse after Utsire."
"On account of The Riddle of the Sands, the Admiralty assigned me to work with what they call the Naval Intelligence Division as an expert on possible invasion scenarios."
"Did that include invasion of Ireland?"
That elicited a fleeting grin from Childers, "No, that was too oblique for the Admiralty’s thinking back then."
"So what you know is information about England’s defences against an invasion."
"No---well yes but there is more to it than that. Much more."
Suddenly to Childers’ surprise Michael Collins got up out of his chair and quickly went over to a phonograph in a corner of the room. He perused a small collection of cylinders and selected a recording of Irish ballads. He began to play it as loudly as possible.
"That is a bit too loud for me, Mr. Collins, if you don’t mind," complained Childers.
"It is supposed to be loud," answered Collins who then moved his chair so it was very close to where Childers was sitting. Collins sat down and leaned forward so his face was inches from Erskine’s.
"Just what do you mean by ‘more’, Lt?" Collins asked in a hushed voice that was little more than a whisper.
It suddenly occurred to Childers why Collins had decided to play his phonograph. He pursed his lips with renewed anxiety. Finally he answered Collins in an equally hushed voice.
"There is a special room in the old Admiralty Building that is used extensively by the Naval Intelligence Division. It is called Room 40."
------Ennis (Clare) 2200 hrs
Gen. Henry Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps, had ordered that another attempt be made to capture the city of Ennis. Gen. Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, again waited until nightfall to make his attack because of the threat posed by the German predreadnought anchored in the Shannon. The German Marines had spent the day improving their defenses with the help of a company of Pioneers and showed the two I.R.A. battalions at Ennis how to improve theirs as well incl. turning additional buildings into strongpoints.
The artillery of the West Riding Division had intermittently shelled Ennis is the late afternoon. Gen. Baldock had only a limited stockpile of shells and had been warned by Gen. Wilson that it would be a while before he received more so the weight of shells fired was rather meager. Only a quarter of the howitzer shells expended were HE while the 18 pounders fired only shrapnel shells.
The British made two assaults before midnight. The German artillery fired star shells to illuminate the battlefield and the first attack was broken up by artillery and machineguns. The second attack fared better initially but had trouble with the largely uncut barbed wire. This attack fell heaviest on a sector of the perimeter manned by the West Clare Battalion which had both a machinegun section and an infantry gun section. Furthermore a tenth of the rebels were armed with shotguns incl. some with the autoloading and pump action versions. The fighting there was fierce for a few tense minutes but in the end the defenses held.
------southeast of Navan (Meath) 2310 hrs
Navan Company had grown to 611 men and 26 women and now called itself Meath Battalion. Despite what had been taken from the U.V.F. arsenal at Cavan barely half the men had a rifle of any sort. Despite this weakness the acting commandant who did not now that Dublin Brigade had been defeated, planned to march his battalion to the aid of Dublin Brigade at first light.
Unfortunately Gen. Frederick Hammersley, the commander of the 11th (Northern) Division had decided to detach the 9th battalion Lancashire Fusiliers from the 34th Brigade with the mission of attacking Meath Battalion which was camped to the southeast of Navan. This attack achieved only partial surprise when an Irish sentry managed to give a last minute warning. The Irish Volunteers were unable to make a coherent defense and panic soon ensued. The Lancashire Fusiliers took only 13 casualties mostly due to rebels armed with shotguns. They killed 85 rebels and took nearly 200 prisoners. The problem with their attack was they believed that the rebels numbered at most 300 and in the nearly inevitable confusion of any night attack half of the Irish Volunteers were able to escape to the northwest. The Lancashire Fusiliers were exhausted from two days of hard marches and made only a feeble pursuit which lost what little cohesion it had left in the darkness.