by Tom B
BRITISH ARMY CRUSHES DUBLIN REVOLT
"General Sir Ian Hamilton announced yesterday that the British Ireland Command had completely eliminated the rebellion in Dublin. This development will allow most of the British units currently in Dublin to be shifted to fighting the German invaders at either Limerick or Cork or both. This victory at Dublin is extremely welcome news as the defeat of the Irish dissidents at Dublin is likely to prove a decisive blow to their morale. From here on what is left of the rebellion should prove to be only a very minor aspect of the military campaign.
The victory at Dublin in conjunction with naval victory in the Celtic Sea Saturday should prove to be a great political boost to Prime Minister Bonar Law, who just a few days earlier was viewed by many in Parliament as being in grave political danger mostly due a lack of success in the Irish campaign."
---The Times of London Tuesday May 18, 1915
------Terenure (Dublin) 0015 hrs
It was a heavily overcast dank night that promised eventual rain. A pair of constables were out patrolling Rathfarnham Road. They had just passed the Terenure Synagogue, the main synagogue for all of Dublin. Even though the Dublin Rising had been extirpated a few hours earlier they were still anxious in the darkness. There were still a few fires not yet extinguished in the city and they were shedding a weak hellish light. Order had disintegrated in Dublin during the rising with rampant looting, brawling and several rapes. A curfew remained in effect but with many refugees living in tents in the suburbs of the city its enforcement was sometimes a matter of interpretation.
One of the constables nervously smoked cigarettes nonstop. "Things should be getting back to normal soon, Reggie. Probably won’t happen tomorrow but by Saturday Dublin should be back to normal---well not completely normal, that sure and Hell goes without saying but close enough to give some semblance of order," the chain smoker told the other constable.
"I sure hope so, George. It just tears me up to see what those despicable traitors did to this city. The Prime Minister should shoot the lot of them just like he said he would."
"You won’t get any argument out of me about that, mate---except that some of their leaders should be drawn and quartered right and proper, just like in the good old days."
"Shhh. Someone is heading our way!" hissed Reginald pointing to a figure now visible in the dim light while reaching for his sidearm. The figure was approaching at a brisk walk.
"Look he is armed," said George who readied his rifle.
The stranger continued his approach. "You there! Halt! Stand still and raise your hands!" yelled Reginald.
The stranger stopped still. He did not raise his hands but neither did he ready his rifle. "Don’t shoot mates, can’t you see my uniform?" he yelled back to them.
The two constables approached to get a better look. "F’r Chris’ake, Reggie, he is one of us," said George who raised his rifle. Reginald holstered his sidearm and spoke to the stranger who they could see now was another constable, "Sorry about this, mate but you gave us something of a start comin’ at us quick like that."
"And what are you doing going around at night all by yourself, constable?" asked George pointedly. The current policy among the R.I.C. was that it was still too dangerous for constables to patrol alone after dark.
"Believe me it was not my choice, mate. I was assigned to deliver a message to an army unit in Rathfarnham," answered the new constable. In the weak garish light his face had a strange combination of a warm friendly mouth but severity in his eyes.
"Sorry to hear that, mate. I sure wouldn’t want to be out by myself tonight," said Reginald.
"If you are out on a mission we shouldn’t be delaying you," said George, "So why don’t you go on your way now."
The new constable stared at them in a strange way and fidgeted for a few seconds. "Is something wrong, constable?" George asked with some concern.
"Uh, no, I was just thinkin’ about something. You are right. Tempted though I am to stay here and treat with you, it would be best if I continue on my way. You two have a good night now."
"Good night and good luck to you as well, constable," replied Reginald. George remained silent as the constable scampered off. When he was out of earshot he told his partner, "That bloke was a strange ducky. Something’s not right with him."
"Be kind, George. He looked anxious and troubled. Many of us are that way right now. We are in the midst of a war, you know."
Tom Barry continued walking south his heard pounding furiously with his mind a hornet’s nest of mixed emotions. Nearly half of Sealgairs whom he had led to Dublin were dead. This included two men who used their last bullet on themselves rather than surrender. The rest, most of which had been wounded, were now prisoners of the accursed British. When things went to hell yesterday morning Barry had also considered killing himself---not with his own weapon but by making a final defiant but hopeless charge against the British position. However Barry did not feel like dying yesterday---mostly because he felt that he was not done with killing.
Barry had with him a constable’s uniform that fit and was without bullet holes or blood stains . When things were falling apart he found an opportunity to remove himself from the rest of his surviving men and changed into the uniform. He then slipped out of the building and sprinted to the nearby barricade occupied by the Scottish soldiers. On the way a rifle shot ricocheted off the cobblestones near his feet. Barry realized that was probably fired by an Irish Volunteer sniper and appreciated the irony.
He told the Scots that he was the sole survivor of a R.I.C. patrol that had been ambushed the day before and afterwards had holed up in an abandoned building which he was unable to escape on account of rebel snipers. Only with the collapse of rebel resistance during the last few hours was he able to get away. The British sergeant who interrogated him pretty much accepted Barry’s story at face value though he asked some obvious questions incl. the station to which Barry belonged. Tom had anticipated these questions and had plausible answers ready. His father had been a constable and he had learned a few things during the fighting in Dublin how the local constabulary was organized.
After being fed by the enemy, which Tom appreciated because he had not eaten for more than a day, his next objective was to get away from the Scottish unit lest they turned him over to other constables from the station he claimed to come from. He finally convinced the sergeant who interrogated to let him find his way back to his unit on his own. There was a lot of bustle in Dublin yesterday afternoon due in part to Gen. Hamilton’s orders to move the Lowland Division to County Cork as quickly as possible. Barry took advantage of this in working his way to the south. As he did this he realized that there were two different risks. The first is that either the army troops or the real R.I.C. would discover that he was not a real constable. The other was that he would be accepted as a constable but viewed as a deserter. In County Cork the morale of the local constables had disintegrated and so desertion had become a very common occurrence. Here in Dublin things were not quite as bad but there still was a worrisome desertion rate.
Barry had yet another problem. His mind was very hazy about what he wanted to do. In the short term he had the clear goal of moving away from the heart of Dublin where the sheer concentration of both soldiers and constables posed multiple hazards, but had to do so without arousing suspicion that he might be a deserter. Beyond that he was very unsure about what he wanted to do---except that he wanted to kill. Rage burned in his soul and only blood would quench the fire. He had wanted so very much to kill the two constables he had just encountered. Only the fear that gunfire might attract attention had prevented him from trying.
------HMS Iron Duke leaving Devonport 0135 hrs
The Grand Fleet steamed out to sea in accord with orders from the Admiralty late in the day in response to 1st Scouting Group’s presence in the Irish Sea. The 5th Battle Squadron had been temporarily disbanded. The 1st Battle Squadron now consisted of the Emperor of India, St. Vincent, Lord Nelson, Agamemnon, Iron Duke, Prince of Wales, Queen and Vengeance. The 3rd Battle Squadron had Dreadnought, Britannia, Commonwealth, Hindustan, King Edward VII, Zealandia, Formidable and Irresistible. Adm. Bayly had likewise consolidated his remaining battle worthy destroyers into 2 flotillas. The 4 cruiser squadrons were in the van. The local defense flotilla of Devonport with its torpedo boats and obsolete destroyers had been sent out to sea 4 hours early to hunt for U-Boats. They would accompany him past the Lizard.
Adm. Bayly had been gravely upset with his orders and with his temperament he railed about them at every possible opportunity. "I tell you again that we are not ready for another engagement with the High Seas Fleet," he ranted to Adm. Madden, his chief of staff, "In addition to our obvious weakness in dreadnoughts, we only finished the sweeping reorganization of the fleet yesterday afternoon. Zealandia’s fitness for combat is borderline at this time as you well know. If we had a few more days to make the neceesary interim repairs I would feel better about including her in the fleet. So what this all boils down to is that this sortie is extremely dangerous. The Admiralty is grossly overreacting to the incursion of the German battle cruisers into the Irish Sea and North Channel."
"I would with all due respect, sir, care to point out that the Admiralty did not order us to seek an engagement with the High Seas Fleet," replied Madden stoically, "On the contrary they explicitly ordered us to avoid one. They merely want us to counter the activities of the German battle cruiser squadron and keep open Gen. Hamilton’s line of communication with Britain. We are more than powerful enough to outfight their battle cruisers and if we catch them in some of the tight waters there we can easily trap them so they cannot use their speed to escape."
"Aye, and if the High Seas Fleet happens to be in the vicinity as well we can be trapped and destroyed just as easily! I tell you that I smell a German trap in all this. It is the same ruse they used at Dogger Bank."
"Your predecessor did not feel that Dogger Bank was the result of a deliberate German stratagem but rather insufficient intelligence combined with some very poor judgment on the part of the First Lord."
"I am not convinced that was the case, admiral. But even if it was accidental back then who’s to say that it could not be deliberate this time?"
"Yes it could be, sir. We will need to take that contingency into account when we deploy our cruiser squadrons. I strongly suggest we send one of our cruiser squadrons to take up station off Carnsore Pt. as soon as possible."
"Yes, yes, I heartedly concur with that suggestion. Let’s make it the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron as I do not want our armored cruisers to get more than 30 miles ahead of us this time. Last Saturday we confirmed what we already suspected---that armored cruisers are very vulnerable to battle cruisers."
"Do you intend for the battle squadrons to swing wide to the west of the Scilly Islands this time, admiral?"
"I have been thinking that one over ever since we received the orders from the Admiralty. That submarine that damaged Thunderer and sank London is likely long gone. If there is a German trap awaiting us in the Irish Sea I think it was improvised fairly recently so I think that there is not enough time for them to have a submarine on station off Land’s End. I therefore think we would safe going to the immediate east of the Scilly Islands this time but to be safe I want frequent zigzags starting at first light."
"Aye, aye, sir. I will see to it immediately."
------Malazgirt (Caucasia) 0200 hrs
The current Russian offensive in Caucasia was split into two groups. The larger force was trying to advance on the great Ottoman fortress of Erzurum. It had made slow progress at first but recently had been halted completely by the Ottoman Third Army.
The other smaller force had departed out of Eleskirt and headed south with the city of Malazgirt as its primary objective but with Van, the epicenter of the Armenian rebellion, as a secondary objective. The Russian intelligence believed that the Ottomans were throwing nearly everything they had available in the area into defending Erzurum. Initially this estimate was largely correct with only the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Brigades defending the road to Malazgirt which the Russians were able to drive back without much difficulty. However 2 of 3 divisions of the Ottoman V Corps arrived as reinforcements at Malazgirt in the last 3 days as badly needed reinforcements. These divisions, esp. the 4th Division, were at less than full efficiency on account of soldiers becoming ill in large numbers during their arduous march to Caucasia. .
For this reason these divisions were deployed only a few miles north of the city. The Russian dawn attack therefore again encountered little more than the cavalry brigades. After advancing a few kilometers though the Russians encountered first the 5th and then later the 4th Divisions, and these units were able to reverse the tide of the battle, first stopping the Russians in heavy fighting then later driving them back.
------Sligo 0420 hrs
There was a loud knock on the door.
"Maj. Schirmer, Maj. Schirmer, sir! Are you awake? There are warships offshore!" yelled one of one of the Irishmen attached to the staff of the Northern Ireland Regiment from behind the door of the suite.
Maj. Schirmer, the commander of the North Ireland Regiment, had been up late last night and had awakened only a few minutes earlier. He had not had enough sleep to be properly rested but in war he found that to be closer to the norm than an exception. The Scottish troops penned up in the dockyard district of Sligo after achieving no real success advancing during the day had mounted a determined attack soon after nightfall. This attack had advanced a little capturing two more buildings but after that the Irish Volunteers managed to stop them.
The major had established his HQ in a suite in a hotel on the western edge of the city. The suite had a veranda which overlooked the bay. It was admittedly more comfortable accommodations than the major was accustomed to.
"Thank you, corporal," replied Schirmer as he grabbed his binoculars and trotted out on the veranda ignoring the light rain which had begun after midnight. There were indeed warships in Sligo Bay. To Schirmer’s relief they were German and they were large. Excitedly he ran to summon his staff.
-----Bunclody (Wexford) 0425 hrs
After a day of intermittent exchanges of long range rifle fire the commander of the 8th Battalion Cameronians decided to try to finish the battle by making a simultaneous bayonet charge with one rifle company attacking the rebels from the south and the other from the north. The attacks were not as simultaneous as he had hoped with the northern attack getting underway considerably later. The attack from the south was driven off with serious casualties by rebel rifle fire of inconsistent accuracy. When this assault was defeated the rebels began to celebrate and too late became aware of the second attack. This company of Cameronians broke into the rebel positions causing them to panic. More than 40 were killed and over a hundred taken prisoner. The remainder incl. some lightly wounded fled in disarray to southwest with most of them heading for New Ross.
------Verdun 0500 hrs
Gen. Georges Humbert, who had replaced Sarrail as the commander of the French Third Army, watched from a forward position, as the massed artillery commenced firing. This consisted of all of the heavy artillery and more than half of the field artillery of the Third Army as well as the guns of some of Verdun’s outer forts. Their target area was the sector of German entrenchments to the north of the city laying east of the Meuse. Except for 3 batteries of Schneider 155mm howitzers the heavy artillery consisted of old de Bange guns lacking a long recoil mechanism which had to be repositioned after each round.
This attack was the third prong of the Clemenceau Offensive. Its immediate goal was to capture the towns of Azannes and Moirey which lay just behind the German entrenchment. Once they were secured the French would continue north with Damvillers as their next objective. The ultimate French goal in this offensive was to take the extremely important rail center at Montmedy.
The French bombardment included German artillery positions as well as the forward trench line. The German batteries soon accepted that the French artillery were too strong for them to suppress. Instead they prepared themselves for the infantry assault with some batteries shifting position. In the trenches the German infantry endured the shelling as best they could. Most of the shells came from French 75s which had a very flat trajectory and a small bursting charge. Joffre had steadily increased the fortress’ stockpile of shells in anticipation of this attack even before Clemenceau had become premier but it was still only a fraction of what the Second Army had available at the Battle of Compiegne and so would last only 4 hours.
------Ober Ost 0510 hrs
"I still think we should wake the Generalfeldmarschal," Gen. Hans von Seeckt told Oberst Max Hoffman who was sitting in his office, "this is an extremely important development."
Hoffman yawned briefly, "It is early in the day even for me, general. It is way too early for the Old Man."
"But we may need to make critical decisions in the next hour."
"Quite likely but that is another good reason not to wake the Feldmarschal!"
The chief of staff gave Hoffman another of his enigmatic facial expressions. Hoffman had given up trying to figure out what most of von Seeckt’s expressions meant though this one looked vaguely disapproving. Ober Ost had in the last two hours received a series of intriguing telegrams from Army Detachment Marwitz dealing with what appeared to be a sudden collapse of enemy resistance at Kovno Fortress.
The chief of staff shook his head and decided to shift the conservation, "Gen. von Below reports a stiffening of enemy resistance. He suspects that the Russian Tenth Army has reinforced its right wing with units taken from its left wing. He therefore wishes to switch his own attack to the enemy’s weakened sector."
"I would suggest that we order him to continue his present attack for the next day or two, general. Once the situation around Kovno is resolved and the transfer of Eleventh Army completed we can then consider how best to deal with the Russian Tenth Army."
The telephone receiver on the general desk suddenly rang. "That’s probably von Marwitz now," guessed Hoffman. The general answered the telephone, "This is Gen. von Seeckt speaking."
"General, I have Gen. von Marwitz on---"said the operator.
"---yes, yes, put him through immediately!" said von Seeckt impatiently while looking at Hoffman and nodding.
"This is Gen. von Marwitz speaking. I have some excellent news to report. Kovno has fallen! A large mass of both infantry and cavalry which we believe to be the main body of the Russian garrison evacuated it during the night. They broke through our perimeter and appear to be heading for Vilna. Once I learned that I ordered the fortress to be stormed. Resistance amongst what was left of the garrison soon collapsed and their acting commandant has now surrendered.."
The chief of staff put his hand over the mouthpiece and told Hoffman, "Kovno has fallen." Hoffman responded with a long loud whistle.
Removing his hand von Seeckt replied, "This is wonderful news, general. We had expected Kovno to fall but not so soon. I assume that the Russians destroyed the bridge over the Niemen."
"No, no, that bridge was left intact, general, though I am at a loss to explain why."
"Intact? That would be a grotesque oversight on their part, general," replied von Seeckt. Hoffman overhearing this momentarily gaped then asked, "What? You mean to tell me that the bridge is intact?"
Von Seeckt nodded vigorously while waving with hand to indicate that Hoffman should remain quiet. Meanwhile von Marwitz continued, "We have captured roughly 4,000 prisoners, over 200 intact guns, a large stockpile of ammunition and a huge amount of food, esp. canned meat."
"That is excellent news as well, general. You will provide this headquarters with a more exact estimate of the captured weapons and supplies---and prisoners as well before sunset."
This interested Hoffman as well and he asked, "So they have captured supplies in quantity?"
Again von Seeckt nodded while continuing to converse with von Marwitz who said, "The Feldmarschal will have those numbers, general. My staff is already hard at work compiling them."
Hoffman scratched his head with his left hand while rubbing his chin with his right hand as he walked over to a map of the Eastern Front hanging on the wall. He pointed to Kovno on the map. Humming to himself he moved the finger north and stopped. Then he moved it back to Kovno and slid it up to the northeast and stopped. After that he moved his finger to Kovno and then slid it east. He gently tapped where his finger was pointing. "It would be ambitious but not reckless," he muttered to himself.
Gen. von Seeckt put his hand over the mouthpiece again. "What are you mumbling about?" he asked with some irritation, "I happen to be on the telephone with Gen. von Marwitz."
"Sorry, general. But we---uh, I mean you, should be telling Gen. von Marwitz right now that he should be pursuing the garrison element that is probably heading for Vilna. He has plenty of cavalry at his disposal they can be utilized well in the chase. We should look to see if we can take Vilna quickly before the Russians can reinforce it."
"Gen. von Seeckt, are you still there?" asked von Marwitz.
"Yes, yes I am still on the line, general. What you need to do right now is pursue with maximum resolve the garrison force that escaped. Use your cavalry energetically to prevent them from reaching Vilna if at all possible."
"I will do that, general, but I need to remind you that I must also deal with the Russian counterattack to the north."
"I understand that, general, but in the north you have the option of making a fighting withdrawal to give us time to bring Eleventh Army into line. What are the latest developments about the Russian flank attack?"
"Based on what our dawn air patrols reported, we still expect the Russian infantry out of Riga to attack in the early afternoon, general. There are already reports of a few skirmishes between our cavalry and theirs. I am not worried about today as I believe that I have more than enough forces to defeat that first Russian thrust. It is the arrival of the second Russian force coming out of Dvinsk that worries me."
"Yes, general, that is when it becomes tricky but I will point out that you no longer have to worry about being smashed between the Russian hammer blow and the anvil of Kovno Fortress. Instead you can take cover inside the captured fort if need be as it is sounds like it was only partially destroyed by our siege weapons and should still make a good defensive position against an enemy that lacks siege artillery."
"That is correct. It is would indeed offer part of my army a strong defensive position, but it would not prevent the Russians from concentrating against the rest of my army. We could well end up losing Shavli before the end of the week."
"I will leave the details to you, general. If necessary I am more than willing to temporarily give up Shavli, if it helps us take Vilna. Unless there is something that you feel needs to be discussed right now I think we should terminate this conversation for the time being so you can get on with your work."
"No, general, there is nothing further that needs to be discussed at this time. Give my regards to the Feldmarschal. Auf wiederhören."
With the call over, von Seeckt turned to Hoffman and relayed, "It is done. He is going to pursue the portion of the fortress garrison that escaped and try to take Vilna before the Russians can reinforce it."
"Very good, general. Things go a lot easier when we limit the Old Man’s role, yes?"
"I still think we should have awakened him, Oberst," replied von Seeckt shaking his head "This is a very important juncture in the campaign. The Feldmarschal needs to be informed."
"And he will be---that is when he wakes up, general. Before he does we need to work on our story. For one thing, he will almost certainly be worried about the Russian counterattack."
"So is Gen. von Marwitz."
"Which is something we should definitely not tell the Old Man. I am sure von Marwitz can handle things, general. I heard what you tell him about the relative importance of Shavli and Vilna. That was sage advice."
"You are being much too gleeful, my friend! We could well end up with neither Shavli nor Vilna."
"Perhaps but it is well worth the risk, yes?"
The Sphinx took time before answering, "Yes, it is, but if we do take Vilna we can go no further even when Eleventh Army is in line. I mention this because I am worried that you are now being tempted to resurrect one of Ludendorff’s wild Super Cannae schemes. In addition to the more fundamental problems inherent in those plans we simply do not have enough divisions to attempt that."
"God in Heaven, no, general! Why I am deeply offended that you would think such a thing of me. No, once we take Vilna we will dig in and wait for the Russians to come to us---and they will come."
------SMS Moltke Sligo Bay 0515 hrs
Landing parties from 1st Scouting Group had succeeded in making contact with the rebels. Weapons incl. 2 machineguns and 500 Moisin-Nagant rifles as well as ammunition, was being landed from the battle cruisers anchored in the bay. While this was going on 3 of 4th Scouting Group’s 4 cruisers were busy scouting off Rosskeeragh Pt. as Adm. von Hipper was very worried that he could be trapped and destroyed within the confines of the bay. Only Kolberg was sent to engage in commerce raiding to the northwest. The torpedo boats meanwhile formed a screen at the outer edge of Sligo Bay.
A pair of Irish Volunteers had been brought aboard Moltke to brief Raeder and his staff on the current tactical situation at Sligo. When 1st Scouting Group had departed Cork communication between Army Detachment François and the Northern Ireland Regiment had been cut for several days. It was known that Maj. Schirmer had orders to attack Sligo but von Hipper had no idea if Schirmer had succeeded. Part of the admiral was relieved to hear that the rebels controlled more half of Sligo city as well as most of the county.
"We have identified the enemy concentrations and are ready to fire, admiral," declared Raeder, "We have even asked for their surrender by searchlight but have received no reply."
"They probably lack a signals detachment," speculated von Hipper.’
"That may well be true but I do not see how that is our fault, admiral," replied Raeder.
The admiral accepted the logic of his chief of staff even though he did not like it. However he did not want to stay anchored for too long in this very vulnerable bay. So after hesitating for a few seconds he told Raeder, "In that case you may fire when ready, Kapitän."
"Jawohl, admiral," replied Raeder who then issued the relevant orders. The main batteries of 1st Scouting Group erupted together with half salvoes targeting the section of the docks where the Irish Volunteers understood the Scottish soldiers to be concentrated. Raeder had issued strict orders that the first half salvo must be short because if it was long there was a very real risk of hitting friendly forces. This caused the first half salvo to very short. The German half salvoes were methodically walked up into their targets. When they finally reached their targets they were very destructive. In one section of the docks the Scots eventually raised a white flag and surrendered. Another group stubbornly held out and paid a stiff price. Neither Raeder nor von Hipper wanted to waste shells so far from resupply and so soon called off the bombardment of those sections that did not surrender.
------near Fermoy (Cork) 0525 hrs
Feldmlt.. Krauss, the commander of the Erzherzog Karl Division, had been preparing a late morning attack against the Welsh Division when the enemy preempted his plans with their own attack. The Austro-Hungarian disposition was at the time in the process of shifting from a defensive to offensive disposition when the British assault began preceded by a brief bombardment. The defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the Welshmen but a bayonet charge panicked one Czech battalion which fell back in disarray. This unhinged Krauss’ defenses and forced him to retreat the entire division 3 kilometers while he rallied his troops and shifted his artillery. The Welsh Division was weak in men, artillery and shells and therefore unable to maintain the momentum of its attack. The terrain was rough near Fermoy being in the foothills of the Nagles Mountains to the west. Krauss was very familiar with mountain warfare and knew how best to set up his defenses to take advantage of such terrain. The enemy thrust was stopped bloodily and he went back to preparing his counterattack.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 0545 hrs
His attacks at Ennis during the night having bogged down Gen. Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, decided to make another push towards Limerick in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge, believing the intelligence of Gen. Hamilton’s staff that the German artillery must be down to their last two or three dozen shells. His own division though had just over 500 shells and had been warned that he would not receive any more before Thursday at the earliest. Gen. Baldock had ordered nearly all his shells to be fired off in his attack on Sixmilebridge. Gen. von Jacobsen actually had roughly 900 shells left for his artillery (plus another 140 for his minenwerfers), which he found distressing. The general had been informed by wireless that a very large stockpile of shells had arrived at Cork, but unfortunately they would not be relevant to the Naval Division if they could not make their way to Limerick which was currently isolated.
Gen. Baldock ordered his artillery to fire three quarter of their shells in the preparatory bombardment. On Gen. von Jacobsen’s orders the German artillery did not reply to the British artillery but waited instead for the British infantry to make their assault. This silence strengthened the hopes of the senior British officers that the German batteries were indeed finally out of ammunition as the intelligence officers had been saying. The Tommies committed to the infantry assault soon found out differently though and their attack was broken up.
------near Gapennes (Picardy) 0600 hrs
The massed German artillery started the preparatory bombardment for the attack outlined by Gen. von Fabeck the day before. The 7.7cm field guns and the minenwerfers were held back initially. The Sixth Army had not enough time to reposition their lone 32cm ‘Big Bertha’ howitzer to but they did have 5 batteries of 21cm Morser set up to complement 8 battalions of 15cm howitzers as well as the 10.5cm howitzers of 5 divisions. The bombardment was most intense against the reinforced Belgian regiment which was to be at the center of the assault. The Belgians in this sector had been left with only 4 field guns and 3 Lewis guns. Awed by the ferocity of the German bombardment, the Belgian regimental commander ordered his field guns to remain silent.
The bombardment also hit a portion of the British 7th Infantry Division on the left flank of the Belgians and a still smaller section of the British 3rd Infantry Division on their right. At this time Gen. Plumer had no heavy artillery deployed in this area. The 7th Infantry Division was part of the IV Army Corps which had suffered heavily in the last two days from a ferocious German bombardment and was in the process of redeploying in stages to a new defensive position. It soon gave up dueling with the much heavier German artillery. The II Army Corps which controlled the 3rd Infantry Division had been assigned by Gen. Plumer to assist the Belgians without impinging on their sovereignty. Their gunners were more resolute in their determination to fight an artillery duel but they too find themselves eventually overpowered.
Meanwhile the Belgian regimental commander feared that his men in the forward trench would be slaughtered needlessly and soon ordered that they withdraw into the second trench line through the communication trenches. He notified Lt. Gen. Lomax, the commander of II Army Corps who in turn sent back orders that the Belgians must cease their withdrawal and try to hold their forward trench line. The Belgian colonel took more than an hour before replying that he was not under the command of the British. During this period the HQ of the 5th Belgian HQ was notified as well and after some discussion with the other Belgian generals they approved the colonel’s course of action.
------Sligo 0610 hrs
"I am glad to see that you finally made it to Ireland, Oberst" Maj. Schirmer told his new superior with an earnest grin.
There had been considerable discussion during the planning of the Irish Brigade for Operation Unicorn about whether or not it was necessary or even desirable to create I.R.A. officers with a temporary rank higher than major. At first Gen. von François was opposed to the idea but eventually he changed his mind and permitted a single I.R.A. Lt. Col. to be created. Maj. Von Rundstedt had recommended an infantry Oberleutnant named Gotthard Heinrici who was his cousin and who already distinguished himself in the war and was in line to be promoted to Hauptmann soon. Because Heinrici had come into the program at the last minute, it was decided not to send him along with the first wave but to wait instead for the second wave to depart so he could receive additional training.
"I am glad I finally made it, major. I was worried for a while as I was hearing rumors that the second wave might not be going at all."
This last revelation was a very disturbing possibility to Maj. Schirmer. After a few seconds he replied, "Well that means that I am even happier to see you, Oberst."
"Yes, I can see that. Well then what I am going to be commanding, major?
"The Northern Ireland Regiment currently has 3 battalions, Oberst plus a small cyclist company and a support company that incl. all our women as well as men we believe to be our least fit soldiers."
"Yes, when I arrived at Cork I was told that this had become averyon pattern. Even this limited use of women is troubling to me but I am not going to insist that they all go home. Hmm are all of your battalions in or near Sligo city?"
Schirmer frowned, "No, Oberst, the 2nd battalion is in the town of Manorhamilton which is in County Leitrim. We received word late yesterday that they are under attack by British forces. I do not know how they are doing and am deeply concerned but as long as we were tied up here in Sligo I could not come to their aid. However my men have just finished mopping up what is left of those poor Scots that foolishly refused to surrender during the shelling. I was planning on leaving Sligo in the hands of the support company and march the rest of the regiment back into Leitrim."
"Hmm. I am reluctant to leave the fate of a city as important as Sligo in the hands of women and men viewed as relatively unfit. At a minimum we should leave one of your rifle companies behind as well. In addition to guarding the city it would form the nucleus of a 4th battalion. What is your situation with weapons and ammunition?"
"Before the battle cruisers arrived we did not have enough rifles for all our men in the combat battalions, Oberst. Now we have a small surplus but if we continue to get new recruits at a rapid pace we could find ourselves short again before too long. I would point out that we have found it desirable to have a few men in each company armed with a shotgun and a pistol. Some people are hopeless with a rifle but can be quite deadly in close quarters fighting with a shotgun. I recommend that policy be continued."
"I have no objections to that. What about ammunition?"
"That was tight as well until this morning, esp. for the Russian rifles. In the case of the Lee Enfields the situation was somewhat better on account of what we had seized from R.I.C. stations we had attacked."
"We still need to be frugal with our ammunition, esp. the men that will be using the machineguns. I am not sure when we will get more supplies. I was allowed to speak briefly with Kapitän Raeder about that but he apparently did not know either."
"Just so you are clear, Oberst, but when I was sent up here it was made abundantly clear to me that Gendko Irland---"
"---it is Army Detachment François now but please go on."
"Whatever. They made it very clear to me that my mission was to cause havoc and disruption in the enemy’s rear areas and as such we were regarded as useful but ultimately expendable."
Heinrici nodded with a hard look in his eyes and a faint trace of a grin, "I was told something similar only a little less blunt. Pardon me for employing a theological metaphor but I am a minister’s son. Like divine grace we should be immensely grateful for whatever assistance we receive but we should not deceive ourselves into thinking we deserve any of it. Oh and while we are speaking of assistance, I hope that your men like sardines. A freighter carrying canned fish that 4th Scouting Group captured yesterday is supposed to be arriving here in a few hours."
------Arklow (Wicklow) 0625 hrs
The last pocket of British resistance in Arklow had just surrendered after running out of ammunition. A large number of additional Irish Volunteers had arrived from the local companies. The company of Irish Volunteers detached from Wexford Battalion was now merged with the locals to form what was called Wicklow Battalion with a strength of 314 men and 13 women. Between the extra Moisin Nagant rifles that had been brought along and some Lee Enfields captured from the British since they arrived at Sligo, there had been just barely enough rifles available to arm the new recruits so far. If and when still more showed up there was going to be a problem. Likewise their ammunition would not last long if they became involved in a prolonged struggle.
By the end of yesterday they had scrounged up for the Hussar troop enough horses suitable for riding. This permitted the Hussars to ride out at dawn to scout to the north which was the direction from which Hauptmann Schumacher thought a British counterattack was most likely to come though he was also worried about a possible attack from the sea.
------near Przemysl (Galicia) 0600 hrs
The AustroGerman Galician offensive continued. By this time both the Russian Eleventh and Eighth Armies were running very low on shells. Southwestern Front continued to insist that the right wing of Brusilov’s Eighth Army continue to assist Lechitski’s Ninth Army in their ongoing attack upon Pflanzer-Baltin’s Seventh Army in the Bukovina which was still making steady progress. This had resulted in Eighth Army’s front line getting progressively stretched. Moreover Brusilov has received inadequate replacements to compensate for his cumulative losses and those replacement troops he does receive are usually very inadequately trained. This situation is even worse for replacement officers and NCOs.
The increased predominance in artillery this morning allowed Böhm-Ermolli’s Second Army to advance about 2 kilometers against both the right wing of Eighth Army as well as the left wing of Eleventh Army. This was the best performance to date by Second Army in the Galician offensive, which was not progressing even half as fast as Conrad had expected. Gen. von Linsingen’s Centre Army meanwhile advanced nearly 4 km against the rest of the Eleventh Army taking 3,000 prisoners and capturing an entire 8 gun Russian battery. The biggest problem for Center Army was enfilading fire from the Russian Third Army on its left flank which forced von Linsingen to concentrate on his left flank in the afternoon.
------Presidential Palace Mexico City 0635 hrs GMT
General Obregon waited for General Gonzalez to leave with his expedition against Zapata before launching his coup against President Carranza. Obregon had assembled a hand detachment to seize the presidential palace. The fighting there was brief with two of Obregon’s soldiers wounded and one of the presidential guards killed before the guards surrendered. Only when the fighting was over did Gen. Obregon showed up accompanied by Kurt Jahnke.
President Carranza was defiant. "The other generals will turn on you, Alvaro, when they hear of this. You have made a huge mistake!"
Obregon did not know how to respond to this. Part of him felt ashamed of what he had done. And another part of felt afraid as he realized his coup could ultimately prove fatal. He remained silent and avoided making eye contact with the deposed president.
Carranza then turned to Jahnke, "You, German! Are you the one behind all this? I had thought that Huerta was the Kaiser’s favorite pig! I see that he was found another!"
Jahnke did not know how to respond. Carranza turned back to Obregon, "Release me now and kill this German intriguer and I will forgive you, Alvaro! It will be only an unfortunate incident soon forgotten. I know it is the enticements of this German rattlesnake that have clouded your mind."
Janke turned to Obregon and did not like what he saw. It was clear that the general was having misgivings about the coup. He even wondered if Obregon was considering taking Carranza’s desperate offer. Jahnke gulped nervously. He turned towards Carranza with his soft looking eyes behind spectacles and the large grey beard and extended moustache. There was something very fatherly about the president that charmed people. Was Obregon falling under his sway once again?
Finally Obregon spoke while shaking his head, "I have crossed the Rubicon, senor Carranza." He turned to his soldiers, "Take the President to the room in the basement I told you about. You will keep him under guard as I instructed you."
"You will regret this, Alvaro!" Carranza yelled as he was led away, "Gonzalez will return with the other generals beside him and end this farce. If they are merciful they will kill you quickly."
When the president was gone Obregon turned to Jahnke, "I am not sure how Gen. Gonzalez will react. He may negotiate with me for a place in the new government or he may feel that he was a duty to Carranza."
"Your army is larger than his and besides if he moves against us the Zapatistas can fall upon his rear."
"Assuming that Zapata can be relied on, senor Jahnke."
"I think he can. Are you still planning to issue a statement that the president is taken ill?"
"Yes, but that ploy will only buy us a few days at most."
"It might buy us more than that---a lot more---if the president’s illness should prove to be fatal, yes?."
------Mallow (Cork) 0705 hrs
During the night Gen. von Gyssling had deployed the 11th Bavarian Infantry Brigade to attack the 10th (Irish) Infantry Division from the rear and flank. This let Oberst Hell assign all of Brigade Hell to defending against the Lowland Division. Gen. von Gyssling guarded the rear of his division with the 6th Bavarian Infantry Regiment and a single battery of 7.7cm guns. The 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment took over the right wing of Brigade Hell supported by the rest of the divisional artillery. The 2nd Chevauleger Regiment was placed under the temporary command of Hell who used it to guard his left flank.
Pressured by Gen. Wilson to save 10th Infantry Division and still believing the enemy forces defending Mallow lacked artillery Gen. Hammersley, the commander of the Lowland Division decided to make a dawn attack supported by a maximum use of his artillery. However he had only 7 batteries manned by gunners whose only combat experience to date was shelling the rebels in Dublin, confronting 11 batteries manned by crews who had been sharply honed since the beginning of the war into an elite force. The Germans won the artillery duel but nevertheless the assault by 4 Scottish battalions went ahead anyway. This attack suffered badly from shrapnel shells and machinegun fire and was called off after suffering nearly 1,100 casualties.
While was underway the 11th Bavarian Infantry Brigade and the 111th Infantry Division methodically reduced the isolated pockets of the 10th (Irish) Division to the south of Mallow with some assistance from the foot artillery battalion. Since first light they had captured 800 more prisoners, 46 draught horses, 2 Vickers machineguns and 3 howitzers but only a modicum of food and very little ammunition.
------Killarney (Kerry) 0715 hrs
As the Zeppelin L.10 arose from the crude shed constructed at Killarney, she struggled with some gusts of wind coming from SSW. There was light rain but as predicted by the meteorological section there was no lightning to the great relief of the airship’s captain. The weather forecast also predicted at least partial clearing of the sky in a few hours. The airship did not head south this time but instead assumed a northwesterly heading.
------SMS Blücher mid Atlantic 0735 hrs
Admiral Maas’ flagship took 2nd Scouting Group’s first prize of the day. Two days ago hey had encountered their first east bound merchantmen since leaving New York. That had been a small schooner with mixed propulsion. Now they had captured a 5,200 ton freighter out of Jacksonville bound for Liverpool with a cargo of beef. Maas communicated with Adm. von Spee. While she lacked a wireless the freighter was in good condition and could sustain a speed of 9 knots. The decision was made to keep her.
Adm. Maas saw this as a sign that Adm. Graf von Spee still wanted to return to Ireland. That had been the original plan but the news they were hearing while in New York indicated that things were not going well in Ireland and there was a very real risk that the British would have won and be in complete control when they returned. They had enough coal to return to Germany via the northern but not enough to swing north of the Faeroes into the Norwegian Sea as von Spee had done back in February. Instead they would have to pass not too far north of the Orkney’s and this was practically begging to be intercepted by the Grand Fleet. So it seemed that the Channel remained their best option even if the British prevailed in Ireland.
------Teschen 0745 hrs
It is not easy being the world’s greatest living strategist. Generalfeldmarschal Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, was not happy with recent developments. With the help of some recent reinforcements Gen. Pflanzer-Baltin had slowed but not stopped the Russian advance in the Bukovina. Kronprinz Rupprecht was assigning much of the blame for the recent setbacks in the Serbian campaign on the Austro-Hungarian Third Army and its commander, Gen. Tersztyánsky. Adm. Haus had done nothing, absolutely nothing, to prevent the latest Entente convoy to Albania and there were indications that the enemy would resume their offensive in Herzegovina the next day or two. Lastly there was the great Galician offensive which has making less progress than Conrad had expected and most of the progress that had been made was by the mixed Center Army commanded by von Linsingen, a German. News of the more successful results of this morning’s attack was not yet reached Conrad’s headquarters.
These frustrations motivated Conrad to do something he was reluctant to do---make a telephone call to Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke at OKW. "It is good to hear from you, Feldmarschal," said von Moltke in a stiff weary tone of voice that contradicted what he had just said, "How can I be of assistance to our valiant ally?"
"I am temporarily short of seasoned infantry divisions. I was wondering if there are one possibly two that the German Army can spare for say three weeks."
"Hmm. You must know already that we are badly stretched at this time. Where would you want to deploy them?"
"In the Bukovina. I want to counterattack at the boundary between the Russian Eighth and Ninth Armies which I believe has become a weak point. The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division was deployed there at one time. Perhaps that division could e returned soon now that the crisis in the Serbia seems to have passed. However that division was shall we say, badly tattered and by itself would be insufficient to carry out the counterattack I have in mind so I would need at least one stronger division and by that I do not mean Landwehr or temporary divisions."
The deep sigh of von Moltke was clearly audible over the telephone line, "I will see what I can do but I cannot make any promises."
"Come now. The Serbs will collapse any day now---"
"---I have heard that before!"
Conrad ground his teeth. Helmuth is never going to let me forget our failures in Serbia last year! Perhaps I should have contacted Falkenhayn first, even though all my sources tell me he is again obsessed with the Western Front. Still I must be diplomatic and forbearing as I always am. "It is remotely possible that I might be wrong, but if I am proven correct, then some of the forces currently deployed in Serbia will soon become available for operations elsewhere. All I ask is that sending some of them to the Bukovina should be given due consideration? Is that too much to ask?"
"Hmm. It is a reasonable request but in that case you should be able to pare your Third Army as well. Isn’t that the more logical solution?"
I will not have Rupprecht blaming Third Army again if there is another setback in Serbia! Besides the prestige of the final days of the Serbian campaign should rightfully go to us. After all Archduke Ferdinand was not a German! "It should be obvious that the schwerpunkt of the Serbian campaign now lies firmly in the western portion of Serbia not the east. It therefore makes more sense to siphon off strength from the German Tenth Army first."
"Perhaps but I will need to think things over some more. I do see some merit in your ideas about how to counterattack in the Bukovina. We have some intelligence suggesting that Bucharest is paying close attention to that campaign and is drawing some erroneous conclusions about how the war is going. If we can manage a sudden reversal there then maybe we can bring them into the war on our side."
Ugh. I hear this nonsense all too often. The Romanian Army is an effete band of brigands pretending to be an army but I guess it is a little bit better if they were fighting on our side. "Why of course, Feldmarschal. Your keen mind has hit the nail on the head."
"Hmm. As I said before I will need to think some more on this matter and discuss it at length with my staff. Even if I remain favorable I can see both Gen. von Falkenhayn and Feldmarschal von Hindenburg being obstacles. I must therefore warn you about being too finicky. You may have to settle for some Landwehr after all."
A hint of compromise is in order thought Conrad biting his inner cheek. "As long as the forces involved are sufficient to accomplish the mission I will accept what I can get." See! Who says I cannot be reasonable?
"The battle with the British 10th Division now reached a feverish crescendo. The enemy had the misfortune to be caught in an attack coming from multiple directions incl. their rear. The British soldiers fought with a defiant heroism that filled us with admiration but they were in an impossible situation. We killed many but eventually captured still more. The bitter irony that struck me deeply in all this was that these brave men wearing British uniforms were just as much Irishmen as were the troops wearing steel helmets fighting alongside us."
------Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger
-----Paris 0830 hrs
The Council of Ministers was again in session. "What is the latest word from the British Admiralty?" Premier Clemenceau asked his Minister of Marine Jean Augagneur.
"We just received word from them in the last hour, premier, informing us that the Grand Fleet left Devonport before dawn. They declined to share its destination with us," Augagneur replied.
"So, this could be good news or it could mean next to nothing, n’est-ce pas?"
"That is true, premier but the British clearly want us to view them as taking an active role again."
"But they will not tell us what this active role is, n’est-ce pas?"
"That is true, premier, but they promise to tell us more eventually."
"Eventually? And just when will that happen? Tomorrow, next week, July perhaps?"
"They did not say, premier."
"No, of course not. By any chance did they mention when they expect to resume their vital commercial intercourse with us?"
"Not exactly premier. They say that it will be soon and that we must be patient. Other than that they tell us little other than they still believe that the German battle fleet will leave Ireland and return to Germany soon. When that happens they promise to resume their traffic to us starting with our Atlantic ports."
"Why are the British so certain that the Germans will return home soon? Have they explained their logic to us? Is it based on concrete intelligence or is it nothing more than an educated guess?"
"We have asked that question as well, premier but have yet to receive an answer."
"So we are to accept what they say simply on faith, M. Augagneur?"
"It would seem so, premier."
"Yes it certainly does, n’est-ce pas? And what might I ask is the 2eme escadre légére doing to help France now? Is Adm. Rouyer still cowering in port like a coward?"
Augagneur gulped and could not answer for a few seconds, "The old armored cruisers of 2eme escadre légére would be helpless prey for the German battle cruisers, premier. It is best that they not be wasted to serve no useful purpose. Once the main German fleet returns home we can make good use of Adm. Rouyer’s ships to counter the light raiders both the British and our own admirals believe that the Germans will very likely leave behind in the Western Approaches."
"Elan is apparently a national trait not shared by our navy," Clemenceau snorted in derision, "What about moving warships from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic?"
"Jean Bart is our only operational dreadnought, premier. The other 3 dreadnoughts as well as Voltaire were heavily damaged during the Battle of Cattaro Gulf and repairs on all of them will take at least four more weeks. We could send one maybe two Danton class semidreadnoughts to Brest but what their role would be remains unclear."
"Have plans made to withdraw two of the semidreadnoughts to Brest and send it to me before nightfall. I will sleep on it and inform you of my decision in the morning. Hopefully by then the British admirals will have some news for us."
------SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II Shannon 0855 hrs
The Kaiser Wilhelm II had raised steam and shifted her position less a mile during the night changing her orientation so she faced more westerly than north. She had done this extremely slowly to prevent her communication cables that connected her with the shore from snapping. She now commenced shelling the British positions with her main 24 cm battery. She slowly fired half salvoes and until she found the range she fired AP shells and after that did she fire 32 HE shells, which was all that she had left of those shells in her magazine.
The British forces were only partially entrenched near Sixmilebridge. Those soldiers who were not entrenched suffered heavy casualties. Those that were entrenched suffered a handful of casualties from the low trajectory gunfire but even those who were unhurt were discouraged from resuming their attacks.
------Verdun 0900 hrs
The French 75s which had been firing well below their maximum rate at the beginning of the bombardment picked up their pace towards the end of it. Then abruptly the guns all went silent. It was now time for the infantry assault which was made by 5 divisions of the French Third Army against a front held by a pair of German divisions belonging to Fifth Army. The German artillery which had declined to duel with the French guns now poured out their wrath in the form of shrapnel shells upon the French infantry. These tore holes into the advancing French formation.
The German soldiers in the trenches had taken some losses during the bombardment but a majority of them remain unscathed. First the machineguns opened fire and then as the French infantry drew closer so did the riflemen. The Frenchmen struggled with the wire barriers which were largely uncut. By the sheer force of numbers combined with heroic resolve some of the attackers made their way to the German forward trench. There they made fairly good use of their offensive grenades which generated insignificant fragmentation but rather disabled by blast. The fighting persisted for over an hour with the French taking 2 small sections of the forward trench but at a heavy cost in casualties. Germans counterattacks were soon initiated to eject the French before they could bring forward their reserves and consolidate their small gains into a single continuous stretch. These counterattacks resulted in bloody trench fighting involving not only grenades but gruesome hand to hand combat.
------10 Downing St. 0910 hrs
The War Committee was meeting again. "Fortunately we are not as dependent on the plants in Cumbria for toluene as we were at the beginning of the war," remarked Bonar Law shaking his head sadly.
"Still at a minimum it is going to decrease domestic munitions production by nearly 30% in June and July according some estimates the Munitions Board has worked up," said Lloyd-George, "with some smaller residual impact extending into August and September."
"How much of an impact will that have on the army, Lord Kitchener?" asked the prime minister.
"It will mean that the B.E.F. will be incapable of large scale offensive for at least the next six months, prime minister."
"But it will be able to hold on to its current position?"
"Yes, prime minister once the Germans have been defeated in Ireland we can then afford to reinforce the B.E.F. and that should be more than enough to counter any concentration of force that the Germans can throw at us."
"And just how long do you expect it will take for us to defeat the German invaders in Ireland, Field Marshal?" asked Grey.
"Limerick will fall today, Sir Edward. After that it should take us two days to concentrate five divisions against three. The Germans will fight hard but the Bavarian division does not have the strength of one of our brigades while this 111th Infantry Division that came over is one of those weak triangular divisions that the Germans have been forming in the last few months which my staff and I regard as yet another blatantly obvious sign of their overall weakness. Their third division is an Austrian division, a newly formed division of poorly trained innocents, not at all like the elite Kaiserjaeger that confront Gen. Birdwood in Herzegovina. The Austrian divisiom is completely outmatched plain and simple."
"It does seem that way, Lord Kitchener, but I seem to recall that we are thinking along very similar lines at the beginning of the month and things did not work out according to plan, now did they?" remarked Lloyd-George, "In particular I must point out that I have lost count of the number of time I have heard that the fall of Limerick was imminent."
"That was different, chancellor," replied Kitchener icily, "Gen. Wilson is now utilizing the correct tactics. He has succeeded into penetrating deep into Clare. I am certain that we shall prevail inside Limerick before midnight. Come dawn tomorrow the Union Jack shall fly once more over King John’s Castle!"
Lloyd George opened his mouth but before he spoke he hesitated and changed what he was going to say, "I am delighted to hear that, Field Marshal. I am most reassured." He hoped he did not sound too obviously sarcastic.
"Quite frankly I am much more interested about when the Union Jack will again fly over Haulbowline, Field Marshal," said Carson, "and so are the Sea Lords for that matter."
Kitchener hesitated before replying, "That will likely take a week, maybe a little bit longer, First Lord."
"As long as it is not a great deal longer we should be in decent enough shape, Field Marshal," said Bonar Law, "That is as long as the German fleet slinks home well before then as we have been led to believe. Until they do we dare not permit any merchantmen to leave port."
"A situation that is already deeply worrying Clemenceau, prime minister," remarked Grey.
"He should be worried and so should we," said Lloyd-George, "For one thing our coastal traffic is completely shut down. This is starting to show signs of interfering with our economy. Furthermore there is an impact on our imports and that is only going to get worse. I am particularly worried about food. I should remind everyone here that an important share of Britain’s food comes from Ireland. When the Germans first landed back in April they only disrupted the Irish economy in 3 counties. Now most of the island is suffering from the rebellion and the result is a sharp drop off in agricultural exports."
"Ironically it is Belfast where that is being felt the most, chancellor," stated Carson, "The food situation there is very worrisome. As for Britain though I think you are overstating the impact of a short lived disruption. The same could be said for M. Clemenceau. We should not let this goad us into doing something rash."
"I feel for the loyal citizens of Belfast whose are being punished yet their only crime is to be steadfastly loyal to the Crown and all that it stands for," spoke Kitchener, "but I also feel deeply for our soldiers in France who are being rewarded for their valor and courage with an inadequate flow of supplies. When can I tell Sir John French to expect the next shipment of supplies, First Lord?"
Carson grimaced then sighed deeply and waved his arms with irritation, "It could be three or even four days, Field Marshal. Surely the B.E.F. can hold out that long."
Kitchener returned an icy stare, "The apropos question, First Lord, is not whether or not the B.E.F. can ‘hold out’ but whether we will lose more of our dear precious lads than needs be because of a severe shortage of supplies, esp. ordnance. The Royal Navy trumpets a great victory and then tells the B.E.F. that it cannot guarantee the vital line of communications to France."
"Now, now Lord Kitchener, the Admiralty readily admits that our margin of victory in the Battle of Celtic Sea was very modest. We turned a corner but the German fleet remains a grave threat. Caution is needed. There are two lines of communications that we need to protect---the one to France and the one to Ireland. We have taken steps to guard the former which we believe to be the more important one at this time."
"The German situation in Ireland is hopeless, First Lord. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about France. Far from it. First Army has survived but it hangs by a thin thread. If that thread is cut not only do we lose what is left of First Army but beyond that there is a grave danger that the Germans will be able to roll up the entire Western Front!"
-----HMS Kolberg 0925 hrs
Once 1st Scouting Group left Sligo Bay the mission of all of the cruisers of 4th Scouting Group became commerce raiding. Kolberg which had been doing this since dawn scored the first success capturing a 2,800 ton freighter out of Kingston with a cargo of sugar and molasses. The prize crew was told to make for Sligo.
------Madrid 1045 hrs
The demonstrations about Ireland in general and senor de Valera in particular continued. As usual they came in two different flavors, one from the right that incl. businessmen, the clergy and the military. Gen. de Rivera had emerged as the most popular speaker of this faction. The other demonstrations were dominated by socialists and syndicalists with Trotsky being their most popular speaker.
------L.10 west of County Mayo 1055 hrs
The airship changed her heading to WNW and reduced her speed. The cloud cover had indeed thinned as the meteorological section had predicted. Her mission for the rest of the day was to assist 4th Scouting Group in their commerce raiding by reporting on the position and course of ships by wireless.
-------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 1105 hrs
The AMC Kronprinz Wilhelm captured another significant prize, a 3,400 ton freighter out of Norfolk with a cargo of mules intended to be used as draught animals by the British Army. Army Detachment François could make good use of mules as well so the prize crew was ordered to try to reach Cork.
------south of Fermoy 1130 hrs
The counterattack of the Erzherzog Karl Division was delayed by more than an hour for multiple reasons. One of which was that the division was still struggling to make due with an inadequate allocation of draught animals. Gen. von François was still keeping one of the division’s battalions at Kinsale for defensive reasons but in compensation he had sent Feldmlt. Krauss a battery of 15 cm howitzers plus the Cork Ersatz Company, which was composed of some of the best soldiers from the Cork City battalions. Since some of these men were quite familiar with the local terrain, Krauss decided to use them in his attack.
The Welsh Division was still trying to resume their early morning attack and had not dug in. They were now hit by the Austro-Hungarian artillery brigade incl. its howitzer batteries. The Welshmen were also hit by minenwerfers incl. the small Austro-Hungarian version called presterwerfers because it was invented by a Hungarian priest though the Germans liked to make fun of the name. The Welshmen fought as best they could but their enemy had too much superiority in both firepower and manpower and so they were soon forced to fall back on the army camp at Fermoy.
------near Gapennes (Picardy) 1200 hrs
The German artillery intensified their bombardment in the last half hour with the 7.7cm field guns and the minenwerfers finally joining in. By this time all of the enemy artillery had been silenced even those of II Army Corps. The shelling stopped and the German infantry emerged from their trenches. The strongest contingent was 4 battalions of the 5th Bavarian Infantry Division which attacked in the middle against the Belgian positions. These were able to cross no man’s land unopposed. The Belgian wire obstacles here were not quite as thick as the British --this was yet another reason why von Fabeck wanted to attack in this sector. A few gaps had been cut in the wire by the shelling. The bunching of men going through these gaps often produced death traps but this time there was no scything fire from machineguns. Fire could be heard coming from both their left and right but in the center there was only an eerie silence.
The Bavarians had hoped this silence meant that the forward Belgian trench had been completely destroyed by the artillery with only a few survivors too dazed to offer resistance. When they first Bavarian soldiers reached the trench they did not find it full of corpses and detached body parts. Instead it was completely empty. It soon became evident that the trench had been abandoned and abandoned early. Eventually the Bavarians tried to infiltrate their way forward through the communication trenches but these had been booby trapped the Belgians and beyond the traps had been filled in.
While this was going on things were far less tranquil on the flanks. Two battalions of the 31st Infantry Battalion attacked on the left flank. A portion of the sector they were assigned had been held by the Belgians and was now empty but the rest was occupied by the British 3rd Infantry Division which had been badly hurt by the bombardment but still had some fight in it. Vickers machineguns spewed streams of hot lead into its ranks. The German infantry were unable get through the small gaps cut in the British wire. Instead they worked their way into the stretch of trench abandoned by the Belgians and from there to attack the British left flank. However the British soon became aware of this limited weakness to their position and rushed reinforcements there resulting in ferocious trench fighting where the superior German grenade gave them an advantage. Nevertheless the willpower of the British regular infantrymen made them very difficult to dislodge. The irony that emerged here is that while the 31st Infantry Division had the smallest objectives in this attack it incurred the heaviest casualties.
A somewhat similar situation occurred on the right wing of the German assault which was made by 3 battalions of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division. They advanced against the Belgian left wing and the right wing of the adjacent British 7th Infantry Division, which while weakened by the bombardment and the evacuation still had enough strength left to put up a stiff resistance. The Bavarians ended up doing what the 31st Infantry Division had done on the left wing---seize the section of trench abandoned by the Belgians and attack the forward trench British 7th Division from the flank. The difference here was the relative weakness of the British 7th Infantry Division compared to the 3rd Division, which in turn permitted greater German success. The British trench was slowly rolled up for a while in heavy fighting.
------Mallow (Cork) 1320 hrs
The experimental Musketen battalion had been formed with 3 automatic rifle companies each of which had 30 of the Danish Madsen manufactured automatic rifles plus a machinegun company with 12 of the experimental lighter 08/15 model machine guns. This battalion had been included in the second wave of Operation Unicorn. It needed more draught animals than a normal rifle battalion and so it was one of the last battalions to be deployed in action. Moving around the pockets of 10th Infantry Division still holding out it was temporarily assigned to Brigade Hell which was still fighting off the increasingly desperate attempts by the Lowland Division to take Mallow and rescue the 10th Infantry Division. There it proved most useful in bringing inordinate firepower into play quickly. The casualties of the Lowland Division mounted but to no avail as Mallow remained firmly in the grasp of Brigade Hell.
While this was going on Oberst Hell met with Maj. Eduard von Frauenau, the commander of the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment. "Your regiment was very helpful in preventing the enemy from trying to outflank us this morning, major," said Hell, "but I believe we can do without you from now on as the West Limerick Battalion has arrived and more importantly the 111th Division will soon begin taking up position on my flank. Therefore I am assigning you the urgent task of escorting a shipment of artillery shells loaded on motor trucks to Limerick which needs them badly."
"Begging your pardon, Oberst, but I thought Limerick was completely encircled by a British siege. How can I get through?"
"That was correct not too long ago but the British have changed their tactics and concentrated their forces into an offensive going through Clare. The 16th Uhlan Regiment and some rebel units made a daring counterattack on the besieging forces to the south of the city and broke open the siege lines. If you swing to the west you should be able to reach Rathkeale without encountering anything stronger than a small R.I.C. patrol. Once you arrive at Rathkeale the I.R.A. outpost there will tell you if the way to Limerick is still clear or not. If they tell you that it is safe then proceed all the way to Limerick unless you happen to be meet the Uhlans on the way in which case you will turn over the supplies to them."
"And what if the way is not clear to Limerick, oberst?"
"In that case, major, you will proceed to Foynes. From there the ammunition can be moved to Limerick by ship though that will take somewhat longer. Is there anything about this that is not clear?"
"No, oberst, I understand all this but what should I do after I deliver the munitions? Return to my division as quickly as possible?"
"No, you will temporarily come under the command of the Naval Division. Its commanding officer, Gen. von Jacobsen, will decide how best to use you."
------SMS Dresden 1355 hrs
The 4th Scouting Group captured another prize worth keeping. This was 7,100 ton grain carrier come all the way from Australia with a cargo of wheat apprehended by Dresden with the help of the L.10. This prize was ordered to make for Cork.
------OKW Berlin 1405 hrs
Generalfeldmarschal Helmuth von Moltke, the head of OKW, and Gen. Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen were meeting to discuss the telegrams from Ober Ost that had arrived an hour earlier. "I am glad to see that the Sphinx is still keeping us in the loop," said von Moltke who had not invited Adm. Tirpitz to this meeting.
"Yes, that is most commendable, Feldmarschal, but I wish that he had notified us as soon as he learned that Kovno had fallen," replied von Dellmensingen.
"A few hours delay is understandable, general. We are after all a mostly ceremonial HQ, yes?" countered von Moltke with a chuckle.
"He probably had a very busy morning, Feldmarschal," replied the Bavarian who did not appreciate this attempt at levity.
"I can imagine so. One reason he decided to telegraph us is that he wants more reinforcements for Ober Ost. He did not come out and say so but Hans can be very indirect and circumspect at times, unlike poor Gen. Ludendorff."
"Well when Operation Fulcrum was originally conceived, Feldmarschall, there was an assumption that Ober Ost would be reinforced further once Kovno fell."
"Yes, precisely but that raises the thorny question of what comes after the reinforcement. That was never made very clear in the plans for Operation Fulcrum."
"Yes, Feldmarshal. It was felt that the fall of Kovno would open up multiple possibilities and that Ober Ost would hopefully select the best strategic opportunity when the time came."
"And now that time has come earlier than expected. The obvious strategy is still not even remotely clear to me."
"As this involves neither our allies nor the Kaiserliche Marine I must point out that our role will be strictly advisory, feldmarschal."
"Yes, you are quite right to remind me of the charter, general. I must confess that I sometimes delude myself into thinking that I still possess the same authority I had at the beginning of the war. Now my sole input into grand strategy is accomplished through political manipulation and deceit."
"You are being too hard on yourself, Feldmarschal."
"Am I? Operation Fulcrum happens to be a fine example of what I am talking about. To the grossadmiral’s way of thinking what happens after the fall of Kovno was largely irrelevant. He thought of Fulcrum in purely political terms as a way to mollify Hindenburg so he would not oppose Falkenhayn too strenuously about Operation Unicorn. Tirpitz believed that once he had a base in Ireland and destroyed the Grand Fleet the war would be over. Kovno would be merely a bargaining chip we would hold against Russia at the peace conference. However things did not unfold as smoothly as we had planned in Ireland and Saturday’s fleet action was either a draw or a small defeat depending on your perspective. Now the grossadmiral feels that we must reinforce von François still more while looking cautiously for another opportunity to destroy the Grand Fleet. The problem is that there are other strategic situations that call out for reinforcement.
As an example, I had an interesting telephone conversation with Conrad this morning. As you are well aware I am unimpressed with our ally and have had an unpleasant relationship with Conrad since the beginning of the war but I must confess that he made a persuasive case for a counterthrust against the Russian offensive in the Bukovina."
"Ah, but if he is talking to you that means he believes that he needs German troops to accomplish his plan, feldmarschal."
"Yes, that is it exactly. He believes that the recent crisis in Operation Tourniquet is almost over and that will allow for at least 2 German infantry divisions to be withdrawn in the coming week. It does seem that way right now but I am not as sanguine about this as Conrad and do not want to be hasty. If Conrad is correct he will want those released divisions for his counterattack."
"Those divisions are likely to be badly worn units, feldmarschal. Things turned ugly during the Serbian counterattack."
"That is a good point. I do not believe that Gen. Falkenhayn will let either Conrad or Hindenburg get these divisions. No he will want to bring them up to something close to full strength and then use them somewhere on the Western Front. He remains convinced that he can score a decisive success in France. The most recent intelligence we have indicates that British trade with France has been greatly reduced possibly curtailed altogether. This may cause widespread ammunition shortages we can exploit."
"Yes. How many shells can the French possibly have, feldmarschal? They fired off a great amount of shells at Compiegne."
"Good question. If the British trade really is curtailed and continues to be so for an extended period of time then I would definitely favor giving priority to the Western Front---but that my friend is a mighty big if."
------Fermoy army camp (Cork) 1420 hrs
The Welsh Division made a last ditch attempt to turn the army camp at Fermoy into a hastily improvised fortress. However by this time the advance of the Erzherzog Karl Division had picked up momentum and after an hour of determined fighting at Fermoy, Gen. Friend the acting commander of the Welsh Division began to worry that more than half of what remained of his division could be encircled at Fermoy and so ordered it to be abandoned immediately. There was some confusion during the evacuation and a British field hospital was overrun and captured along with a third of the camp’s training detachment.
The camp yielded Feldmlt. Krauss a large amount of food and fodder, 31 horses, 2 motor cars and some medical supplies and communication equipment but very little .303 ammunition and not a single artillery shell. There was a large supply of .577 ammunition for Martini-Henry rifles as well as nearly 500 of those old rifles on the base but Krauss could see no use for neither the rifles nor their rounds. Nonetheless the captured army camp improved his division’s logistics and Krauss saw that as yet another reason to continue pressing the Welsh Division.
------30 km NNE of Shavli (Lithuania) 1435 hrs
The Russian XXXVII Corps with two infantry divisions had advanced at a forced march since it had formed up on the outskirts of Riga. A Cossack cavalry division and an independent brigade which already been fighting Army Detachment Marwitz in Courland were placed under its command. The Cossack cavalry division was assigned the role of reconnaissance but it ran into a pair of German cavalry divisions this morning. The Cossacks as usual were not at their best when challenged head on esp. by superior numbers and fell back. The German cavalry in turn were not foolish enough to challenge the two Russian infantry divisions following the Cossacks and gave way before them.
Ober Ost had only recently been able to provide Gen. von Marwitz with the XXV Reserve Corps to protect his left flank which previously only had the 11th Landwehr Division at Shavli. When the inevitable Russian attack on his left flank was detected by German air patrols, Gen. von Marwitz firmly instructed the aggressive commander of the XXV Reserve Corps, Gen. Reinhard von Scheffer-Boyadel, to grant the initiative to Russians in at least the initial phase of the battle. While less than pleased with these orders, von Scheffer-Boyadel had no foot artillery at his disposal and his air patrols had overestimated the size of the Russian force as being 2 cavalry and 4 infantry divisions so he reluctantly admitted the wisdom of prudence. He moved the 11th Landwehr Division inside Shavli as a reserve and entrenched the 49th and 50th Reserve Divisions in an arc 30 km north of the city.
The only heavy artillery assigned to the Russian XXXVII Corps was two batteries of 122mm howitzers which had only a meager stockpile of ammunition. The Russian 76.2mm Putilov cannons were somewhat better supplied and so the Russian attack began with an artillery duel against the 50th Reserve Division. The Russian artillerists did little harm to the German trenches and still less to the wire barriers as they concentrated on counterbattery fire.
The ensuing Russian assault by battalions in which a third of the men lacked a rifle ran into an entrenched enemy who was stronger than expected behind a fairly thick wire barrier almost untouched by the Russian artillery. The first wave of assaulting infantry fell in vast numbers. The fact that they were tired coming off a grueling march did not help. A few of the attackers got close enough to the German trench line to hurl hand grenades as best they could---most of the infantry having had minimal training with grenades. The slaughter of the attackers continued with only light losses suffered by the defenders.
------George Washington docked at Queenstown (Cork) 1455 hrs
Lt. Daniel Cummins I.R.A. managed to hobble his way up the gangplank of the ocean liner without any assistance except his crutches. Cummins had served as part of the 3rd Kerry Battalion (motorized) under Maj. Rommel but had been seriously wounded in his left thigh at Waterford. This prevented him from accompanying Rommel on his daring dash to rescue Dublin Brigade. He received some crude first aid in Waterford then was moved to Cork. Until the arrival of the second wave the German field hospitals were hard pressed bordering on completely overwhelmed despite the help of a few Irish physicians. Additional hospitals came with the second wave and this brought some measure of improvement. The Irish wounded began to receive treatment almost as good as the Germans.
A German physician told Cummins his wound would eventually heal but it would take at least one month maybe. The doctor therefore placed Cummins on a list of wounded to be evacuated back to Germany as the current policy was that those wounded---both German and Irish--- that were not likely to recover enough to return to full duty in less than a month were to be transferred back to Germany as quickly as possible so as to reduce the strain on Army Detachment François.
There were others who were also scheduled to be shipped to the Continent---British prisoners incl. the R.I.C., whether or not they had been wounded. The largest collection of prisoners were being held at Killarney but there were insufficient forces to guard the movement of those as there was still a moderately potent force of British yeomanry raiding western Cork so they were not being moved at this time. However there was still a substantial haul of prisoners captured in Cork itself as well as some of those members of the 10th Infantry Division captured recently south of Mallow who were arriving in buses.
-------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 1510 hrs
The Kronprinz Wilhelm encountered an inbound passenger ocean liner flying an American flag. This turned out to be the St. Paul part of the American Line on her way to Liverpool from NYC. The identity of this ship was determined without boarding. Even though she was almost certainly packed to capacity with enemy nationals, she was a genuine neutral vessel and was allowed to proceed on her way.
------SMS Worth Shannon 1530 hrs
The battleship Wörth had been anchored off Foynes since the initial landings back in April. Her mission was to defend the important supply dump at Foynes with her guns. However since Foynes had exhausted her supply of artillery shells (though not small arms ammunition) her importance had been reduced and with the arrival of the second wave it was reduced still more. At the prompting of Gen. von Jacobsen, the commander of the Naval Division, Wörth was ordered to raise steam and move up the Shannon to anchor alongside Kaiser Wilhelm II. Within a few minutes Wörth commenced firing half salvoes with her 28cm 40 cal turrets targeted at the British positions around Sixmilebridge. The rate of fire was painstakingly slow initially. After each half salvo the observers communicated their spotting to Kaiser Wilhelm II via the cable which was then relayed to Wörth by searchlight. Only when the Wörth finally found the range did her rate of fire increase and switched from firing SAP to HE shells. Her kapitän decided not to employ the amidships turret with its shorter 35 cal. guns as that might confuse the spotters---a well known deficiency of her class.
The West Riding Division at this time had committed an additional battalion to its forces in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge and was preparing to renew its attack. Those soldiers that were entrenched when the shelling began suffered few casualties though their morale was shaken. Those who were not entrenched suffered more serious losses and were quickly dispersed. The planned British assault was cancelled.
------Mallow (Cork) 1545 hrs
The first battalion of the 11th (Northern) Division to arrive at Buttevant was the 6th Lincolnshire. On the orders of Gen. Wilson it was temporarily placed under the command of Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division. Two British warplanes had observed what was happening to the 10th (Irish) Division and this disturbing news spurred Egerton to make the strongest possible effort to smash through Brigade Hell and rescue what was left of the 10th Division. Brigade Hell was now well covered by the artillery brigade of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division plus 2 foot artillery batteries of 15cm howitzers. The artillery of the Lowland Division was now very low on shells and made an almost perfunctory bombardment that served merely to alert the defenders to the impending attack. Hell had labored all day to improve his defenses and had received some additional barbed wire from Cork. He made sure that his Irish battalions---he now had four---were not bunched together but intermixed with the German battalions which would act as corset stiffeners.
The British did indeed try to attack where they believed the defenders to be mostly Irish rebels, continuing to believe these were worthless soldiers. Fighting from prepared defenses with German infantry alongside them and German infantry behind them the rebels, most of whom were battle hardened, once again proved the British officers wrong. The attackers were mowed down mercilessly.
To the south the 111th Infantry Division and the 6th Bavarian Division continued to squeeze the British 10th (Irish) Division. Additional prisoners and 4 more guns were guns were captured. Gen. Guido Sontag, the commander of the 111th Infantry Division, decided that he could afford to start sending two of his regiments plus all of his artillery except for a single battery of 7.7cm field guns, to take up new positions on the left flank of Brigade Hell. Likewise Gen. von Gyssling decided to reduce the presence of the 6th Bavarian Division to a single regiment as well.
------1st Scouting Group Atlantic off Mayo 1620 hrs
While the main commerce raiding was allocated to the dispersed small cruisers of the 4th Scouting Group von Moltke’s battle cruisers along with their screening torpedo boats were not averse to taking some prizes. They had captured a 1,400 ton freighter out of Hong Kong with a cargo of ginger but that one was considered not worth keeping. Now they took a 5,100 ton freighter named Callisto hauling lumber from Savannah. Her original destination was to have been Portsmouth but before she left port that had been changed to Glasgow which was felt to be a relatively safer route. Callisto was only 3 years old and had a maximum speed of 12 knots. This was precisely the type of vessel that the Germans wanted to turn into lightly armed commerce raiders with predominantly I.R.N. crews commanded by KM officers. The prize crew was therefore ordered to make for Cork.
Aboard the Moltke, Adm. von Hipper was discussing the success of their commerce raiding with his chief of staff, Capt. Raeder, "We are not taking as many prizes as we had hoped. The visibility has been acceptable and we have had some helpful spotting from the L.10 so I am mystified about why we are not doing better."
"I too am disappointed but not completely mystified, admiral. I have noticed two things about the merchantmen we have encountered. The first is that none of them were equipped with wireless. The second and more telling is that none of them were outbound. It seems obvious that the British are holding most if not all of their outbound merchantmen in port and are trying to redirect the inbound ships whenever possible. For instance, before we left Germany there was some intelligence indicating an increased use of Invergordon and Inverness by the British."
"That is an excellent observation. Obviously the interception of inbound merchantmen makes more of an immediate impact on the British war economy but outbound ships should not be regarded as trivial. For one thing their bunkers have much more coal than inbound ships."
"Coal is not yet in short supply, admiral."
"No but it will be before too long."
------HQ British Second Army (Picardy) 1625 hrs
Gen. Plumer, the commander of the Second Army was on the telephone with Field Marshal French again. "The behavior of the Belgians this morning was utterly outrageous and completely unacceptable!" bellowed Sir John French.
Plumer had been almost as angry when he had found up what happened, but the more he thought about it the more he wondered if he would’ve done the same thing in their place. He knew that he needed to be careful about expressing his ambiguity to his rancorous superior. "I am distressed by their behavior as well, Field Marshal, but I would point out that they are holding their second trench line with considerable bravery."
"But by relinquishing their forward trench line soon after the first German shell landed, they let the Germans attack the flanks of both II and IV Army Corps!"
"That is of course correct, field marshal, but I would hasten to point out that the tactical situation is not all that bad. Yes the Belgian withdrawal allowed the Germans to attack both our 3rd and 7th Divisions from the flank but it was only one trench line---"
"---stop making excuses for them! We lost nearly two square miles today and it is all their fault!"
"Yes, but it is territory we can afford to relinquish, Field Marshal."
"Tell that to Foch. Tell that to Joffre. Tell that to Clemenceau!"
Plumer sighed as he struggled to find the right way to respond to that. He knew full well that the French were always unhappy with any surrender of what they regarded as their sacred soil and this grew worse when Clemenceau assumed power. "I know all too well that the French are displeased when the Huns make any sort of progress, but the fact remains that my army is badly worn right now and First Army is in still worse condition. Compounding our problem our line of communications with England has been severed. As for the Belgians they have been very helpful in this current crisis. I dare say that it was their valiant attack that prevented the Germans from shutting off our line of communications which would have had dire consequences."
"That is one interpretation of events, general. It is not my own. I intend to voice my displeasure about what happened today in no uncertain terms to the City of Brass maybe even to King Albert."
Plumer was now worried that Sir John French’s actions might backfire and make the Belgians less cooperative not more. Again he struggled to find the right words and after a few anxious seconds replied, "I would point out, sir that according to my latest reports the Belgians are still holding their second trench line and receiving reinforcements include additional artillery from the rest of their division."
Now it was French who took his time before he finally spoke, "I will take that into consideration, general, but the fact remains that their willful unilateral action put us at risk this morning. However let’s not debate this all afternoon and move on to other topics. How much has the German attack impacted your plans to complete the planned withdrawal of IV Army Corps tonight?"
"It does complicate matters for the 7th Infantry Division, sir because I expect the Germans will continue to pressure its right wing. Fortunately so far the enemy is not pressing the sector from which we are withdrawing. That is actually a strong reason not to postpone the withdrawal lest they decide to shift or expand their point of attack tomorrow."
"I had considered a postponement while we deal with this latest offensive of theirs, but your argument does possess some merit, general. I will therefore leave this matter up to you but—and I want you to pay close attention to what I am about to say---you are not to surrender any additional territory to the enemy other than the zone we had agreed upon. Not a single yard! Is that clear?"
"Perfectly clear, sir. Uh, while I have you on the telephone might I ask you when I might expect the next shipment of supplies? I am particularly worried about my stockpile of artillery shells."
"That is a good question, general. I sure wish I had an equally good answer."
------Stavka 1640 hrs
News of the fall of Kovno had only reached Stavka from Northwestern Front a few minutes ago. The Grand Duke was now meeting with Gen. Yanushkevish, his chief of staff and Gen. Danilov, the deputy chief of staff. "I cannot believe that Kovno has fallen, Your Royal Highness," said Yanushkevish, "It is impregnable! Gen. Alexeev must be mistaken."
"Gen. Alexeev is very professional. I do not think that he would make this up," replied Nikolai curtly, "It is best that we proceed on the basis that the report is accurate."
"But, but, it cannot be!" protested Yanushkevish.
Gen. Danilov spoke, "The loss of Kovno seriously undermines our defensive position on the Niemen, Your Royal Highness. The attack of Fifth Army is made more complicated. Gen. Alexeev now feels that smashing the Germans against Kovno and capturing their heavy artillery is not going to work as they can now move their artillery inside the fortress. Instead he now wants to concentrate Fifth Army against the enemy near Shavli and has issued orders to that effect."
"I have no objection to that but I do worry that the German cavalry will now try to cut our main railway to Warsaw," replied the Grand Duke.
"As do I, Your Royal Highness, so it is obvious that we need to reinforce Vilna as quickly as possible even though I have high hopes that the flank attack of Fifth Army will soon succeed."
"I tell you the fortress has not fallen!" pleated Yanushkevish, "this nonsense is the unfortunate result of some communications problem compounded by rumor mongering of the worst type. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. The government needs to take a firm hand against rumor mongering!"
"Perhaps, perhaps but I still believe that we need to assume the worst right now, general," replied Danilov, "which is that Kovno has fallen which is not at all inconceivable given the power of the German siege train. I just did not think it could happen so soon. I strongly suspect that Gen. Grigoriev may have panicked."
"Yes, we will need to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter," said the Grand Duke, "but more importantly we need to start redeploying divisions quickly and not just by rail. We should unequivocally order Alexeev to terminate all further offensive action by the Twelfth and Second Armies."
"Yes, we should also consider pulling at least one infantry division from Southwestern Front and stop giving them priority for ammunition," said Danilov.
"But Southwestern Front is heavily engaged at this time!" Yanushkevish protested.
"We are well aware of that, general, but this new situation with Northwestern Front poses a grave strategic risk we cannot ignore," answered the Grand Duke.
Yanushkevish again opened his mouth to protest again that Kovno could not possibly have fallen but a diamond hard stare from the Grand Duke dissuaded him. Danilov spoke instead, "When do you plan to inform the Tsar, Your Royal Highness?"
As Nikolai turned his gaze from Yanushkevish to Danilov his hard expression softened into sadness. He waited a few seconds then said, "Postponing things will not made them any easier, general."
-------Old Admiralty Building 1655 hrs
"You look agitated, Lt," Capt. Hall said as he read the message decoded by Room 40 that Erskine Childers had just delivered to him, "or perhaps I should say more agitated than usual. Is something amiss?"
Childers gulped and fidgeted, "Uh, ah, no, sir. Nothing is wrong, nothing at all, sir. Ah, er, well, uh, it is just I am very excited about this message, that’s all that it is, sir. "
Capt. Hall briefly looked at Childers blinking rapidly. He then turned his attention to the message and blinked some more while drumming his fingers on the desk. He sighed deeply and bit his lip. "The admiral is meeting with the First Lord and Adm. Callaghan right now. Normally I would wait for him to leave the meeting because if you deliver the message during the meeting it is very difficult for him not to share it with the others and as we all know the admiral feels that certain things should go no further than this office. However in this case I feel it is necessary to bring this to the admiral’s attention as soon as possible."
"Should I deliver it to the admiral now, sir?"
Hall blinked some more then answered, "No. I do not mean to make light of your disability, Lt. but the plain fact is that I can move much faster than you. I shall deliver it myself. Dismissed."
"Have you reached a decision, Adm. Callaghan, about the idea we discussed previously detaching the 4 surviving Duncan class battleships from the Mediterranean Fleet and bringing them home to reinforce the Grand Fleet?" asked Sir Edward Carson.
"We are concerned that they might be too vulnerable in a fleet action, First Lord. We have received this afternoon a preliminary analysis from Adm. Bayly of the major caliber shell hits on our warships during last Saturday’s battle. There were at least 2 hits defeated by the 9" belt armor on our predreadnoughts. Now we know that Dominion was nearly sunk by the flooding that resulted from a single shell that penetrated into her machinery spaces. We have been wondering what would have happened if the ships with a 9" belt had only 7" of protection instead. For this reason both Adm. Bayly and ourselves are reluctant to include them in our line of battle."
"We did consider the option of using them as a separate division and not as part of the battle squadrons, First Lord. Adm. Bayly could make use them as a reserve."
"That does seem to have some merit, admiral," said Carson.
"Yes but there is some concern that this squadron might be intercepted by the German battle fleet on its way to joining the Grand Fleet, First Lord. The recent reassignment of the Grand Fleet from Devonport to the Isle of Mull makes this somewhat easier but it would still require the Duncan battleships to make a wide detour of Ireland. There is also the question of whether they should have a screen and if so how strong should it be."
"These issues will become easier to deal with once the German fleet leaves Ireland and returns to Germany, First Lord"
"Hmm. And by any chance does the N.I.D have a better idea when exactly that blessed event is likely to happen, Adm. Oliver?"
Oliver squirmed. "Uh, not yet First Lord but I am sure that we will be able to answer that question shortly."
Carson rolled his eyes, "I have heard that before, Adm. Oliver."
There was an uneasy silence for a few seconds. The First Sea Lord finally broke it, "Adm. Limpus is frankly unhappy at the prospect of losing such ships. If the French fleet is able to bring the Austrians to battle again he feels that he is honor bound to come to the assistance of our ally and his remaining battleships would prove hopelessly impotent---"
Adm. Callaghan was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Adm. Callaghan, First Lord, this is Capt. Hall. I am very sorry to disturb you but I have a message that I feel you should view as soon as possible."
"You may enter now, Capt. Hall," ordered the curious First Sea Lord.
When Blinker Hall entered the conference room, Adm. Oliver gave him a hard stare. Hall handed him a manila folder with the message paper clipped to its cover inside. Adm. Hall frowned and glanced out the corners of his eyes at Callaghan and Carson. He then turned to the message and seconds later grinned.
"I think you will be very happy to see this message, First Lord," said Oliver as he handed the manila folder to Carson. To Hall he spoke warmly, "I thank you so very much for delivering unto us this vital piece of intelligence. You are dismissed."
As Hall departed the room, Carson perused the message inside the folder. He smiled as well while nodding his head.
HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK TONIGHT AND RENDEZVOUS WITH FIRST SCOUTING GROUP TOMORROW MORNING REPEAT HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK TONIGHT AND RENDEZVOUS WITH FIRST SCOUTING GROUP TOMORROW MORNING STOP WILL ARRIVE AT STRAITS OF DOVER SOON AFTER NIGHTFALL THURSDAY REPEAT WILL ARRIVE AT STRAITS OF DOVER SOON AFTER NIGHTFALL THURSDAY STOP
BRITISH KILL AMERICAN CITIZEN ON CAPTURED LINER
"The British government reluctantly admitted yesterday that last Friday they had killed a completely unarmed American citizen named James Hickey aboard the captured ocean liner, America. They also admit that they had also injured three other American passengers. They claim that these injuries were not serious but have callously declined to provide any details so far. The British further claim that a riot had broken out aboard in the steerage area of the America and that the armed guards stationed there were required to use force to restore order. The American people have been deeply concerned about the fate of the passengers aboard the America since hearing of their capture. The death of James Hickey only serves to confirm their fears. It remains to be seen how President Wilson will respond to this deliberate provocation."
----NY Journal American Tuesday May 18, 1915
-------Rathnure (Wexford) 1705 hrs
Upon reaching New Ross Count Tisza had allowed most of his Hussar regiment to rest and tend their mounts but sent out a troop each out on ahead to reconnoiter Bunclody, Enniscorthy and Wexford city. News of the morning rout of the Wexford Battalion made its way back to the Count. He now brought most of his regiment to the assistance of the fleeing Irishmen at the hamlet of Rathnure. The 8th Battalion Cameronians had after some delay begun to chase after the Wexford Battalion. They rounded up some of the slower Irish rebels which served as an incentive for the other rebels to march even faster. The arrival of the Hussar Regiment rallied the rebels and they now prepared to make another stand with help of the Hussars.
The pursuing Cameronians had become dispersed during their pursuit. Their lead company boldly attacked the hamlet by itself and came under a hail of fire from both the rebels, dismounted Hussars and the 2 machineguns assigned to the Hussar regiment. The lead company of the Cameronians took fairly heavy losses and quickly fell back. Their commander quickly concluded that a second frontal assault on Rathnure was ill advised and instead tried to outflank the enemy but the Hussars were able to pivot and counter this without much trouble. The Hussars meanwhile tried to capture the supply wagons of the Scots. They captured one wagon and were only prevented from getting the rest by the last minute arrival of a Cameronian platoon. After this the fighting tapered off and the 8th Cameronians withdrew a few miles to the northeast.
------HQ British Irish Command the Curragh (Kildare) 1715 hrs
Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton was on the telephone with Gen. Henry Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps. "Gen. Friend felt compelled to abandon Fermoy, general," Wilson reported, "He continues to fall back before the Austrian attack but he believes that he can hold the line at the outskirts of Mitchelstown. Meanwhile Gen. Egerton has failed to make any progress towards Mallow and rescuing the 10th Division despite the assistance of a battalion from the 11th Infantry Division. On the contrary the widening gap between the Lowland and Welsh Divisions is now presenting a real risk to both of them. It may soon become necessary to pull the Lowland Division back all the way to Buttevant."
"Meaning that not only have we failed to rescue 10th Division but we have lost the initiative as well. We will need to stop using the railway station at Buttevant if and when the German artillery gets within range."
"I am afraid that we should begin assuming that will happen before long, sir and immediately start scheduling the 11th Division to detrain at Charleville instead of Buttevant. This will of course further delay the redeployment of the 11th Infantry Division by several hours but I can see no way that it can be avoided."
"Gen. Braithwaite will see to the changes to the railroad scheduling but I for one am not ready to give up on the 10th Infantry Division! Gen. Egerton must make another attempt to breakthrough the enemy and take Mallow as soon as possible---and if that should fail he must make a night attack. You should put all elements of the 11th Division at his disposal today to support this crucial attack."
"It may already be too late for the 10th Division, general. I now have intelligence from several sources that suggests that its resistance is collapsing. That pathetic gaggle of Papists is just as unreliable as those of the 16th Division which also disintegrated under a similar set of circumstances. In both instances I am sure that we will find that many of the Catholics are all too eager to surrender at the first opportunity."
"I have just about had it with your repeated calumny of the predominantly Catholic units under your command, Gen. Wilson!"
"Speaking the truth is not calumny, general. We should not blind ourselves to unpleasant truths of which there is an overabundance here in Ireland. Treason is all around us in a myriad of different forms."
"Grossly exaggerated as usual and I must warn you that I am not in the mood for your inflammatory political rants. Now getting back to what really matters I must insist in the strongest possible terms that you make every effort to rescue the 10th Division. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir. Very clear."
-------HMS Iron Duke heading north St. George’s Channel 1805 hrs
Adm. Bayly was expressionless as he held the wireless message from the Admiralty that his chief of staff, Adm. Madden has just provided him.
WE HAVE GOOD INTELLIGENCE THAT GERMAN BATTLEFLEET WILL LEAVE CORK TONIGHT AND RENDEZVOUS WITH THEIR BATTLECRUISERS TOMORROW THEN RETURN TO GERMANY REPEAT WE HAVE GOOD INTELLIGENCE THAT GERMAN BATTLEFLEET WILL LEAVE CORK TONIGHT AND RENDEZVOUS WITH THEIR BATTLECRUISERS TOMORROW THEN RETURN TO GERMANY STOP CONTINUE TO LOCH NA KEAL REPEAT CONTINUE TO LOCH NA KEAL STOP SHIPMENT OF SUPPLIES TO BELFAST WILL RESUME EARLY TOMORROW MORNING REPEAT SHIPMENT OF SUPPLIES TO BELFAST WILL RESUME EARLY TOMORROW MORNING STOP
"The Germans really are going home just as the Admiralty has been predicting, admiral," Madden commented.
"That is assuming that this latest piece of ‘good intelligence’ proves completely reliable," replied Bayly shaking his head slightly, "I will remind you once again that has not always been the case. You should know that better than I."
"Yes, I am well of that, sir, but I do feel that we should accept what intelligence we can get but temper our response with prudence and caution. Even our own eyes can sometimes play tricks on us but that does mean we should go through life blind."
Bayly tapped his lips then responded, "That was well put, admiral and I do tend to agree with your dialectic but only in part. I suspect that the Sea Lords and the First Lord have their own doubts about the quality of this ‘good intelligence’ otherwise they would not be waiting until tomorrow morning to resume sea traffic with Ireland. We have been worried all day about running into the German battle fleet and quite frankly this wireless message reduces my level of concern only a little. And even if we do not have the High Seas Fleet lying in wait for us there is still the possibility of a submarine or two waiting for us esp. north of the Isle of Man. Or perhaps a minefield in North Channel, eh?"
Adm. Madden had observed that Adm. Bayly had become more concerned with the threat posed by U-Boats since the incident involving Thunderer and London. The formidable Adm. Bayly no longer mocked his predecessor for being paranoid about submarines. "These are very real possibilities we need to address, sir. There have been two periscope sightings so far today."
"Which usually turn out to be nothing more than the product of an overactive imagination. Nonetheless we still need to be careful which is why I have insisted on frequent zigzags during daylight hours."
"As you are already well aware, I am in full agreement on that point, sir but wonder if we should increase the speed of the battle squadrons and armored cruisers to 16 knots and the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron to 22 knots with orders to take up station just above North Channel before first light."
Bayly scratched his chin as he thought that over, "Zealandia is still leaking a little from her battle damage but another knot should not worsen that too much unless the seas become much rougher. I am more hesitant about the light cruisers though. For one thing if they encounter the German battle cruisers in the predawn hours they could find them in a situation where visibility is increasing faster than they can increase the range. We suspect that is what happened at Dogger Bank. Add to that the possible risk from mines and/or submarines we were just discussing. Let’s station them to the immediate south of the channel during the night with orders to send one cruiser through the channel at first light."
------Wicklow Mountains (Wicklow) 1850 hrs
Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the distance. Maj. Rommel hobbled his way up the slope of the mountain, aggravating the throbbing pain emanating from the wound in his side. Other than this pain he was finding mountain warfare to be very interesting. Rommel saw that it opened up a cornucopia of tactical possibilities for a creative commander such as himself. His two strongest unit the 1st and 4th Dublin Battalions had in the last hour started to engage the vanguard of the British soldiers pursuing them in the mountains. Rommel was now coming to confer with Sean Heuston, the commandant of the 1st Dublin Battalion who was now scrambling down the side of the mountain to meet Rommel midway.
"How well are things going, commandant?" asked Rommel.
"We have driven them off for now, sir, but I bet that they will be back before too long. We had about 50 of them in a deadly crossfire at one point and turned half of them into casualties but we would have done better maybe even eliminated the whole bunch except that the men with those Russian rifles are now completely out of ammunition. Fortunately the men who have either the Mannlicher or the Lee-Enfield rifles still have a few rounds left."
"Yes the ammunition situation with regards to the Mannlicher rifles improved noticeably with the arrival in Dublin of a portion of the ammunition and weapons we had appropriated from the U.V.F. arsenal at Cavan."
"Is there any place nearby where we might secure more rounds for the Russian rifles, sir?"
"Yes, there is. I had thought the closest one would be in County Wexford but just in the last half hour I received some information that I would very much like to believe but am not sure that I do. The information is that there are friendly forces now in control of Arklow in the southeast corner of the county."
"If you don’t mind my asking, sir, just what is it about the information that you find hard to believe?"
"For a starter it is claimed that part of the force happens to be Austrian cavalry."
-----near Zeila (British Somaliland) 1855 hrs
In the last few days Lt. Col. Rabadi had received some disturbing news. The British were continuing to patrol the north coast of French Somaliland not only by sea but also on the ground with Marines and some Sikh troops. For that reason von Mücke had made only a minimal attempt the previous night sending a mere 3 dhows with supplies and some Yemeni irregulars. One dhow ended up being captured by a French gunboat. Another narrowly escaped capture and was forced to turn back. The third did make it to Somaliland but the next day Royal Marines captured both the Yemenis and the supplies. Their ally, the Afars continued to skirmish with the packets of British troops in northern French Somaliland but so far the enemy found their losses acceptable.Lastly there was a worrisome rate of sickness among the reinforcements landed in the last fortnight which had been hard marched south in arid countryside and were receiving inadequate water.
The enemy now think that they have succeeded in hamstringing me Rabadi told himself it is time to prove them wrong. He decided it was time to strike in part because some supplies and reinforcements had recently made their way to Djibouti but more importantly he saw the intensive training he had given both the Abyssinians and his own men paying off. Another consideration was the increasingly intense warnings from Sheik Hassan that he would not be able to hold the key mountain passes leading into eastern Abyssinia much longer if Rabadi did not siphon off more of the enemy strength. As far as he could tell the enemy remained a combination of the Senegalese and the K.A.R. which were still not coordinating very well with each other. Recent reconnaissance hinted that the Senegalese were not in a defensive posture but instead were readying themselves for a resumed offensive. There had some strong points on the front line but there were gaps that could be exploited esp. at night which was what Rabadi now intended to do. He attacked with a strong force and easily penetrated one of the enemy’s weak points. The Friendship Battalion with its mixture of Ottomans and well armed Abyssinians was in the vanguard of the assault.
Raiding parties incl. some Oromo cavalry were unleashed at this point while the main body advanced less rapidly into enemy territory. There were first a few brief skirmishes but then the Senegalese entered the fray in force. Under the pale moon with only an occasional flare combat was at very close range. Men hacked and stabbed and clubbed and choked. The Senegalese were ferocious combatants under these conditions but largely due to Rabadi’s intensive training the Abyssinians and mostly Arab soldiers were now as good as their enemy or perhaps one should more correctly say almost as good. With superior quantity and near equality in quality the attackers before too long overpowered their opponents and forced their way deeper into enemy territory.
-------Buckingham Palace 1905 hrs
Prime Minister Bonar Law was dining with King George once again. "I had the pleasure of talking at length with Adm. Bayly Saturday," said the monarch, "It was very illuminating. I have traveled all the way to Devonport to congratulate him on his impressive victory. Instead he tells me that it was not much of a victory at all, that if you factor in the losses to cruisers and losses and the damage to the dreadnoughts it should rightly considered as a draw and he expected naval historians will ultimately view it as such."
"I do not pretend to be a naval historian, Your Majesty, but the indisputable fact is that dreadnoughts are the key measure of naval strength and we traded a predreadnought for a dreadnought in the Celtic Sea last Friday."
"One of the oldest and weakest class of German dreadnoughts! The most disturbing aspect of this is for the rest of the month Adm. Bayly intends to avoid another fleet action and he tells me that the Admiralty concurs with that policy. This is our great victory?"
"It is a step in the right direction, Your Majesty, admittedly a small step. The German battle fleet was badly hurt Saturday and we now have good intelligence that they will be returning to Germany in the next three days to lick their wounds. When they reemerge from the yards we will be ready and waiting for them."
"They may emerge sooner than you think, prime minister to escort the invasion of England! I still believe the invasion of Ireland was intended as a diversion to weaken England for the German master stroke."
"We, uh, have not discounted that possibility, Your Majesty. I assure you that we still have strong defenses in place."
"Do you? Not long ago I was told 10 first line infantry divisions---where first line is defined as Territorial or First New Army---were the absolute minimum to defend us against an invasion and now we have only 7. We have deployed 4 of those divisions to Ireland and another to France during the last 3 weeks,"
Bonar Law had expected that this topic could come up eventually, "I do not know if Lord Kitchener as told you but that 10 division figure has been reevaluated, Your Majesty. For one thing the divisions of the Second New Army are now considered to be able to serve a greater role in repelling a German invasion."
"Yes, Lord Kitchener has indeed informed me of that ‘reevaluation’ which strikes me as a noxious combination of obfuscation and wishful thinking motivated more by political expediency than military science. Ironically Lord Kitchener has also told me that one of the Second Army divisions performed quite poorly in Ireland and in fact has been completely wiped out by the Germans---something that has yet to be revealed to our newspapers."
Ouch. Does it escape His Majesty that Lord Kitchener’s contempt for the 16th Division was mostly because it was composed of Redmondites thought the prime minister who replied cautiously, "You should already know that the policy since the beginning of the war is that we do not reveal details about specific divisions, Your Majesty. Ever."
"Yes, which is very convenient for you because you can then hide the demise of both the 2nd and 16th Divisions---oh and the 12th Indian Division in Mesopotamia as well. One of the few benefits to the German invasion of Ireland has been that the debacle in Mesopotamia has been receiving only a small fraction of the attention that it deserves. That could have well resulted in a vote of no confidence."
"Perhaps, Your Majesty, but this is all rather speculative, is it not? I am more concerned right now with what may happen in the future instead of what might have been."
"Are you, prime minister? You do not seem very concerned about a possible German invasion of England? Are you even a little bit concerned that Belfast is on the brink of starvation?"
If anyone else in the entire world had asked that Andrew Bonar Law’s response would have been livid, but this was his king and he kept his temper in check except for his face which reddened involuntarily, "Yes am I deeply concerned, Your Majesty. Tomorrow we are planning to begin shipping food to Belfast."
"Ah, but we ourselves are far from sufficient in food and therefore rely heavily on imports. So this can be a temporary solution at best."
Bonar Law nodded and attempted a smile, "Yes, that is quite true, Your Majesty. The disruption of agricultural exports from most of Ireland as well as the impact of the German Navy on our sea lanes have resulted in a substantial drop in our food imports. This is yet another reason why it is imperative that we resolve things in Ireland as quickly as possible even if it means a temporary dimunition of our forces here in Britain."
The king gave that argument careful thought for nearly a minute as he scratched his cheek then shook his bearded head though not too vigorously, "If the German fleet does indeed return to Germany to lick its wounds then the threat to our western ports is reduced to a tolerable level. Yes, von Spee remains a problem but he will need coal soon and will surely try to get it in Ireland. At that point the Grand Fleet can make short work of him provided we keep the fleet stationed at the Isle of Mull. After that our vital commerce can resume unfettered except maybe for a few two light raiders the Germans may have let loose in the Atlantic. This is why I remain more concerned about the perils of invasion rather than starvation." He pointed his knife at the prime minister with the last comment.
Bonar Law frowned, "We obviously need to worry about an invasion, Your Majesty, but Sir Edward and myself feel that the threat to our trade must also be taken very seriously. That is why Ireland is so important."
"Ireland is important primarily because it contains many of my loyal subjects. And a few demonstrably lacking in loyalty it is now quite apparent. I am not trying to say that there is no risk to our trade---that would be utter fatuity---but things must be viewed in the proper context."
-------US Senate 1925 hrs GMT
Senator O’Gorman of New York was orating, "Last Friday a heinous and despicable act was committed by the British Empire. One of their sailors killed a completely unarmed American citizen named James Hickey aboard the German ocean liner, Amerika, which they had captured close to our shores---well within the 100 mile limit the president arbitrarily imposed on the Germans. Now ever since then I and many of my fellow Americans have been extremely worried about how the British would treat the passengers aboard the Amerika, many of whom had manifested a willingness to fight for the liberty of the Irish people. We all know how much the current British government detests the thought of the Irish being free to decide their own destiny. This is the reason Prime Minister Bonar Law says that he execute all of the rebels and most of Parliament seems to agree with him. Well then my fellow Americans how do you think he feels about the American passengers who were on their way to fight for Ireland? Do you have an inkling, a feeling, a teeny weenie little hunch maybe of what this might be? I know that I sure and heck do. I tell you that if President Wilson does not make it clear that the cold blooded slaughter of American citizens is absolutely unacceptable then James Hickey is not going be the last. Given a chance the British will happily butcher every last one of them!"
This provoked cries of outraged protest from several senators. "Order, order, Senator O’Gorman still has the floor," yelled Jack Clarke, the president pro tempore of the senate, while he pounded his gavel repeatedly.
"Mr. President I must protest that the senator from New York has exceeded the boundaries of civilized discourse," yelled Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts.
Clarke pointed his gavel at Lodge, "You shall have your chance to speak soon enough, Senator Lodge. You may continue Senator O’Gorman."
"Thank you, Mr. President. I know that there are those in here who love the British Empire with all of their soul; many of whom love it more than they love the United States, though none of them will dare to admit that. Many of them seem to have a palpable allergy to the truth and it makes them extremely nauseous to hear it. They would do anything to silence me but I will not keep silent. The truth demands to be spoken! President Wilson may be willing to turn his back on the American citizens aboard a ship named after their country but if he does such a callous dereliction of duty then shall he the suffer the indignation and wrath of the American people!"
-------SMS Danzig North Sea 1930 hrs
The small German cruiser, Danzig was 15 nm ahead of the predreadnoughts, Deutschland and Hessen. Her skipper could now make out the valuable two prize ships that Seydlitz and her escorts had captured off the Moray Firth. In close proximity to the captured merchantmen lay a large torpedo boat and a surfaced U-Boat which had escorted the prizes since their capture. Danzig signaled the torpedo boat by searchlight and she soon departed. The U-Boat remained undisturbed. Seydlitz was not visible but she was nearby acting as a covering force.
As this was going on the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm approached. This ocean liner had belonged to North German Lloyd at the beginning of the war when she sought refuge at Odda in Norway. She had taken advantage of the Battle of Utsire to make a dash back to Germany where she was subsequently modified into a lightly armed troopship. She had been ordered to take part in this sortie. What occurred next is that the predreadnoughts took over the role of escorting the valuable prize ships to Hamburg, while Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm proceeded to join Seydlitz and her flotilla which then steamed to the southwest.
-------HQ British First Army Le Crotoy (Picardy) 1940 hrs
Gen. Haig was on the telephone with Field Marshal French. It was eerily quiet as it had been nearly all day for the British First Army. Much different from what it had been just a few days earlier. "Have you reached a decision about withdrawing First Army behind the Somme?" asked Sir John French.
"Yes I have, Field Marshal. I have decided that there is insufficient reason to warrant a complete withdrawal behind the Somme at this time. However I have concluded that the extremely depleted 4th Infantry Division should be withdrawn to a rear area where it can be reconstituted with fresh troops. I would point out that its infantry component is barely cadre strength right now. The large number of wounded we have from division are contributing to the strain on our hospitals which remain woefully short on medical supplies. Withdrawing that division along with its wounded will reduce that strain. It will also reduce our food requirements which are still not being met. The same goes for fodder so hopefully we can avoid having to put down any more starving horses."
"So you are confident that First Army can hold its current position?"
"The Germans have been relatively inactive the last few days, field marshal. This confirms my suspicion that they paid a heavy price to destroy 2nd Division and in the process have chipped and blunted the edge of their sword."
"Perhaps, but an alternative explanation is that they wanted to concentrate their attacks on Second Army for a while. First it was relentless enfilading artillery fire being poured upon IV Army Corps. Then this morning they attacked the Belgians occupying the boundary between II and IV Corps. The Belgians abandoned their forward trench line during the bombardment contrary to our wishes and the Germans took advantage of that to expand laterally against the respective flanks of II and IV Corps."
"I had not been informed of that, field marshal. How serious is Gen. Plumer’s predicament?"
"He has halted the German progress but he lost two square miles today that he is unlikely to recapture any time soon. In fact he had been planning on giving up still more territory tonight which will make IV Corps less vulnerable to enfilading fire. I am sure that Foch and Joffre will complain bitterly about this but Gen. Plumer has convinced me that it is necessary."
Haig recalled hearing a rumor that insisting upon a similar withdrawal was the immediate cause of Smith-Dorrien’s removal but decided it would be extremely unwise to bring that up now. "Yes, the French get upset at any further loss of territory, field marshal. It was one factor that contributed to my decision against a withdrawal at this time."
"So when do you plan to withdraw the 4th Infantry Division? Tonight?"
"Oh, no sir that is much too soon. There are detailed preparations that need to be accomplished beforehand. The earliest opportunity would be Thursday night but in order to minimize our losses as the men pass through the dangerous sections of the road I feel it is my duty to insist on the artillery of Second Army making a maximum effort to suppress the German artillery starting at dusk and continuing up until midnight."
"Hmm. That might present a problem, general. The Second Army is already running low on shells and the Admiralty has informed me a little more than an hour ago that the next shipment of supplies from England is now scheduled for Friday morning."
"Does that mean that I will not be receiving any more shells before Friday night, sir?" asked a worried Haig.
"Yes, you will have to conserve what you have very carefully. Avoid artillery duels. Do not try to use your artillery for any reason after dark."
"Yes, but of course, sir. But what about other supplies? I assume that the French will be able to provide food, fodder and medical supplies."
"In theory, yes, but as the old saying goes ‘the devil is in the details’. The liaison is proving more difficult than it should be and we are getting barely half of what we need from them today. I am hoping for an improvement tomorrow. Oh before I forget they are not going to be providing any petrol which is already frightfully scarce around here. So use your motor vehicles as little as possible."
"I assume that applies as well to the A.S.C. companies that run the gauntlet every night, sir? Because they are faster the motor trucks were proving very useful in performing that hazardous mission."
"You are right, general. Starting tonight it will only be old fashioned wagons drawn by horses or mules bringing you supplies."
"That is undesirable but hardly catastrophic, sir. We will make do. However getting back to withdrawing the 4th Division I believe we can and should wait until the line of communication back to England is reestablished and Second Army has enough shells for the needed counter battery work."
"I can see some merit in that."
-------SMS Pillau west of Mayo (54˚15’ N 11˚10’ W) 2005 hrs
The seas had become rougher in the late afternoon under thickening cloud cover. The first few drops of rain were starting to fail. The commander of the L.10 had realized earlier that his airship was no longer useful. The Zeppelin had climbed above the clouds and was now on its way back to Killarney The visibility had deteriorated which reduced the effectiveness of the German raiding. The 4th Scouting Group took one last prize before sunset, a 3,100 ton freighter out of Lagos with a cargo of palm oil heading for Belfast. She could sustain 9 knots and that helped persuade the Germans to keep her and her prize crew were ordered to proceed to Cork. As this was going on orders were received from Adm. von Hipper for 4th Scouting Group to change its heading to SSW.
------Ballynoe (Cork) 2010 hrs
The 2nd Tipperary Battalion had fought a short sharp battle with a band of 25 constables who seeing themselves greatly outnumbered and in danger of being encircled sped off to the northeast in motor vehicles, leaving behind two dead constables. The Tipperary Volunteers now took possession of the weapons and ammo on these bodies. The commander of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion, Capt. Caspar Vopel I.R.A. briefly looked at this but then turned his attention to his own casualties from this brief encounter. One rebel was wounded in the left arm. Vopel had served as a feldwebel on the Western Front since the start of the war and he had seen more wounds than he could count. In his estimation this wound was probably not too serious unless it became infected and the soldier might be able to return to at least limited duty in a little more than a week. The other casualty was a different story. He had been shot in the stomach and was screaming piteously. Vopel had seen this all too often. He knew that the poor man would be dead before morning---with luck in a little more than an hour. Part of him felt sorry for the suffering soldier but another part of his heart had grown calloused and hard. That’s what war does to a man.
Vopel observed the other men of his battalion. They were obviously feeling sympathy and sadness for their mortally wounded comrade but it was also clear that they too had witnessed all of this before. This battalion had seen action soon after the invasion landed. Since then it had added a goodly number of new recruits incl. some from County Waterford and County Cork, but all of them had at least seen some combat during the recent Battle of Cork. Their souls are starting to become calloused as well thought Vopel that is good. Well at least as long as the war is going on. Maybe not so good afterwards, ja?
"Do you plan to continue on to Tallow, sir?" asked one of his two company commandants.
"No. Our overworked ponies and donkeys are ready to pass out. We will camp here tonight," replied the captain. The 2nd Tipperary Battalion currently had only 362 men, not counting the two casualties. The Irish women who had once served alongside the men even in combat had been transferred to the 3rd Cork Support Company at the insistence of the Germans. The tenth of his men deemed least fit were also transferred to the support company. The battalion had also left all of their wounded behind in Cork. Supposedly the most seriously wounded were to be evacuated back to Germany.
The second wave had brought 6,000 more steel helmets for the I.R.A. and now all of Vopel’s men were wearing one. One of his two companies were armed with Russian Moisin Nagant rifles the other with Lee-Enfields. The second wave had brought 41 more of the Belgian autoloading shotguns assembled from spare parts found in Belgian factories and Vopel had secured 6 of those for his battalion. He was even provided 30 hand grenades but he had been denied a machinegun. There was a shortage of draught animals currently so his battalion currently had only carts drawn by Connemara ponies and a few scrawny donkeys. He was provided a motorcycle and some petrol though. That was because initially his battalion’s mission was primarily to guard the right flank of the Erzherog Karl Division and if they encountered a large enemy force Feldmlt. Krauss would need to know as quickly as possible. Vopel had also established a 12 man bicycle squad for performing reconnaissance.
Beyond being a flank guard the mission of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion involved returning to County Tipperary probably through Clogheen in order to stir up more insurrection. It was carting along an additional 200 of the Russian rifles plus a large quantity of ammunition. It only brought two days worth of food along as it was expected to live off the land. Even these modest loads proved a tiring burden to the relatively feeble draught animals they had been provided which caused the battalion to make somewhat slower progress than the captain had wanted. That was the primary reason he was willing to stop and make camp here.
` The 3rd Tipperary Battalion had been ordered into County Tipperary from Waterford by Rommel but nothing had been heard from them in a nearly a week and many in Cork were now assuming the British had eliminated them. The commandant of the 3rd Tipperary Battalion was not a German of the Irish Brigade but a controversial Tipperary Volunteer named McElroy. When he was assigned command of the 2nd Tipperary Capt. Plunkett had warned Vopel that the Tipperary Volunteers had a history of willfulness with their leader, O’Duibhir refusing to follow the orders of the 16th Uhlan Regiment even though the Uhlans had saved the Tipperary Volunteers. There was also the lingering influence of McElroy whom Plunkett darkly compared to the late infamous Joe Flynn. Vopel took that advice to heart but did let it intimidate him.
------Fethard (Tipperary) 2105 hrs
Commandant McElroy felt hungry. In Fethard that was not unusual---nearly everyone felt hungry today. When he had captured the walled town of Fethard McElroy had expected a repetition of what had happened the last time the rebels had been there. He expected massed enemy counterattacks being massacred over and over before its walls. Well it had not really been quite that easy the first time but it was how he liked to remember it. Unfortunately it seems that the British had learned their lesson and after one brief tentative attack decided it was better to cordon off the city. They did so from what they regarded as a safe distance but after one of their men was badly wounded by a rebel sniper they moved still further away.
The cordon was not airtight at first and during the dark nights rebels slipped in and out of Fethard without too much difficulty. Food was reaching Fethard though even in this initial stage it was less that McElroy had expected. A handful of new volunteers also made their way into Fethard through the encirclement. There were even several civilians anxious about their safety who departed the town at night. Each night though the British officers tightened up their ring with R.I.C. reinforcements filling in some of the gaps and the last two nights they had shut off nearly all of the flow in either direction. Last night only one young lad made it through the cordon in Fethard and he told of two friends that had accompanied him had been captured by the constables. Each of the last two nights McElroy had sent a messenger to try to get word to the rebels at Waterford about his predicament but he now doubted if either of them had made it out.
The town had secure well water but it was quickly running out of food even though McElroy had cut the rations in half. Tomorrow it would be cut again. There were still some civilians inside Fethard and they were suffering as well. Some of them, esp. the mothers of young children, were becoming very outspoken in blaming the Tipperary Volunteers for their predicament. None of the Volunteers was suggesting that McElroy should surrender on account of Bonar Law’s promise to execute all rebels but some went so far as to suggest that he should try to negotiate with the local British commander under a flag of truce for the civilians to be allowed to leave. The idea of conversing with the enemy made McElroy’s blood boil and refused to do it telling his subordinates they he did not trust the British would behave honorably with rebels.
McElroy began to make other plans. He tried not to think of the emptiness in his stomach.
------London 2125 hrs
"I am very glad that you were able to meet with me on such short notice, Clara," Michael Collins told Clara Benedix at their rendezvous point.
"I take it that this is something too important to wait until our usual Sunday meeting," replied Benedix, who looked both annoyed and intrigued.
"I think so. Very much so. I have some very good intelligence that the Royal Navy has been able to decode nearly all German wireless messages for some time now."
Clara’s jaw dropped. She was speechless for a few seconds then asked, "How certain are you of this, Michael. Is it all German codes or merely some that the Royal Navy can decipher?"
"There are a few that they have not yet broken, but they have enough to read nearly all naval messages."
Clara whistled softly, "This is very important news---provided it is true, Michael. Which raises the question of how you learned all of this. Was it from reading the mail at the post office?"
Collins frowned slightly even though this question was not unexpected, "I have a very good source that makes me confident that this intelligence is indeed accurate, but I am not at liberty to divulge any details."
Clara wrinkled her pretty face, "I am anticipating that Berlin is going to view this with some skepticism. They are going to want to know some details."
Collins nodded with a small sigh. He had not seen fit to tell the German spy about his friend, Sam Malone who was helping him in the post office. He certainly was not going to tell her about Childers. "I understand and share your concerns but I must balance them against certain moral obligations. There is some I can offer that might help persuade any doubting Thomas in Berlin. I have with me the transcripts of 3 German wireless messages that the British were able to decipher. The German Navy should be able to check them against their own records and this will confirm our claim to them."
-------30 km WNW of Shavli (Lithuania) 2200 hrs
Devastated in its failed frontal assault on the German XXV Reserve Corps the Russian XXXVII Corps next tried to outflank the Germans but they found the arc of the enemy entrenched line to extend further than anticipated. The Germans also shifted their cavalry to make a still wider envelopment difficult. The Russian commander instead decided to test the enemy’s defenses to the northwest of Shavli with a night attack believing that would remove the German artillery from the equation and reduce the effectiveness of the German Maxims. They also believed the German defences to be thinly manned in this sector.
There was just enough moonlight to rob the Russians of surprise after that the Germans fired off star shells which let them use their artillery with some effectiveness. Added to the light of the moon and star shells were searchlights and parachute flares when the Russian infantry got in range of the machineguns. The wire barrier was not as thick as it had been where they had attacked in the afternoon but here it had not been cut at all. The concentration of German defenders was considerably less in this sector but it more than enough to inflict heavy losses on the Russian soldiers struggling with the uncut wire. This attack failed and the Russian generals then let their men, dog tired after a hard march, get some badly needed sleep.
------Alexander Palace Tsarkoye Selo 2205 hrs
"You were right after all about an important fortress falling, my friend," Tsar Nicholas II told Rasputin as he poured himself another brandy, "I should not have doubted your seership."
Rasputin nodded as he imbibed more from his own goblet of brandy, "You are most gracious but there is no need to apologize, Your Majesty. Is it not human nature to be plagued by doubts?"
"My uncle had repeatedly assured me that the counterattack by Fifth Army would resolve the situation there well before the fort was in any serious trouble."
Rasputin’s nostrils flared and his dark eyes flashed at the mention of his intractable enemy, the Grand Duke. He downed his remaining brandy like it was water before answering frankly, "You trust your uncle too much, Your Majesty. He will only make a bad situation still worse. Not only is he bungling the handling of the war but at the same time he is conspiring with members of the Duma to have you deposed and replaced by himself."
"Are you basing this allegation of conspiracy on your clairvoyance or rumors?" asked the Tsar as he refilled the mystic’s goblet.
Rasputin tried to make himself look as inscrutably arcane as possible. He did a good job of it. "Both, Your Majesty."
The Tsar frowned slightly, "I have heard the same rumors myself ---but getting back to the war I take it that you are still deeply pessimistic?"
"You just told me that Kovno has fallen, Your Majesty. Does that not answer your own question?"
"Touché---but there are other recent events that lead me to believe that the war is far from hopeless. For instance the British won a fleet action against the Germans south of Ireland Saturday demonstrating that they have finally turned the corner in the naval war. Among other things it means the reckless German expedition to Ireland is doomed."
Rasputin paused to think that over. Eventually he shook his head, "We have heard that song before, Your Majesty. I do recall the British prime minister promising to annihilate the German invasion force within two weeks. He did that more than three weeks ago."
The Tsar frowned some more. He downed some more brandy in order to loosen his thinking, "Yes that is another good point. The British attaché has tried to pass the blame for that deadline being missed on the unexpected insurrection in Dublin. I would point out that the British finally crushed the rebels in Dublin yesterday which they say is effectively the end of the Irish rebellion."
Rasputin shook his mangy head with vigor, "The British are very much mistaken, Your Majesty. The Irish rebellion is far from being over. As for the naval battle I have been told that the Germans lost only a single battleship. This is admittedly a much better outcome for the British compared to their other sea battles but I would not read too much into it."
"We shall see; we shall see. There are other reasons for optimism. The German attempt to destroy the British First Army failed. The Germans may have taken Kovno but an attack is underway against their vulnerable left flank. Meanwhile our offensive in the Bukovina has made good progress and is surely impressing the Romanians, who are growing more and more tempted to join the Entente."
Rasputin gave the Tsar another of his mysterious looks then consumed more brandy finally saying, "The counterattack in Lithuania will be a disappointment, Your Majesty and the war is not going to be won in the Bukovina. The plain cold fact of the matter is that this war is not going to be won at all. From the very beginning I felt that this war was a huge mistake for Mother Russia and with every passing day I grow even more certain."
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 2230 hrs
In the dark the West Riding Division launched another series of attacks against the German Marines in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge. The Germans had managed to strengthen their defenses during the day but they were not able to keep the British attackers out of the trenches. The Naval Division was almost out of hand grenades. The trench warfare was waged with bayonets and all manner of improvised bludgeons. This went on until midnight with the British gaining a half mile stretch of the German forward trench. Their repeated attempts to advance further south were repeatedly repulsed often by enfilading fire from the flanks. The blood kept on flowing.
------HQ British Lowland Division Buttevant (Cork) 2250 hrs
The reports working their way back to Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division ranged from bad to worse. Despite being reinforced with another battalion and a battery of 18 pounders belonging to the 11th Infantry Division, his attacks had been mowed down mercilessly. Gen. Wilson kept telling him that the secret was to attack a sector defended by the rebels in which case success was guaranteed esp. if a bayonet charge was used. This interesting theory had several problems in practice. First was that all the I.R.A. battalions near Mallow had a German battalion nearby to steady their nerves and provide extra firepower. They also had fire support from German minenwerfers and artillery. Moreover their level of fortification had steadily increased during the day and now included a strand of barbed wire plus slit trenches and even some breastworks.
The most important difficulty was that the quality of the rebel troops---at least when fighting from prepared defenses---was turning out to be not all that bad. This did not come as a complete surprise to Gen. Egerton as he had experienced this firsthand for several days in Dublin but whenever he tried to explain that to Gen. Wilson he was answered with incredulity and sarcasm followed by an insistence that his orders if followed could not possibly fail but fail they did.
Meanwhile Gen. Egerton had other problems. A gap had arisen between the Lowland Division and the Welsh Division on its left. Gen. Egerton had been warned by Wilson that the badly worn Welsh Division was now in headlong retreat after an attack by the Austro-Hungarian division and this was causing the gap to widen dangerously. Egerton was forced to position one of his battalions as a flank guard against an envelopment of his left by the wily 6th Bavarian Division. The general had thought a single battalion would be enough as British intelligence believed the 6th Bavarian Division to have a current infantry strength of less than 3,000 rifles and that at least half of that was involved in crushing the 10th Infantry Division. However their current strength was really just under 5,000 men and while half of them were involved in the hammer and anvil attack on the 10th Infantry Division yesterday. As today wore on and the resistance of the 10th Division was progressively crushed Gen. von Gyssling was able to shift his battalions to the north. Right now he had only a single battalion involved in the encirclement of the remnants of the 10th Infantry Division along with a regiment of the 111th Infantry Division and the1st Cork City Battalion. The rest of the 6th Bavarian Division was involved in the envelopment and were attempting to use the hilly terrain to infiltrate around the British flank guard instead of going through it.
The latest bit of bad news was that there was also another enemy force trying to envelop Egerton’s right flank as well. He correctly guessed that this new group probably consisted of elements of the 111th Infantry Division which strongly suggested that most of the 10th Infantry Division had already been eliminated. This further implied that the Germans were now trying to encircle and destroy the Lowland Division as well. Egerton issued orders halting the attempt to reach Mallow and instead ordered a rapid withdrawal back to the army base at Buttevant.
------Froyelles (Picardy) 2300 hrs
Encouraged by the moderate success of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division during the morning attack, which confirmed the expectation that the British IV Army Corps had been seriously weakened, the commander of the II Bavarian Corps, Gen. Oskar Ritter von Xylander ordered the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division to follow up its success with a night attack. The 1st Bavarian Infantry Division on its right would participate as well. These attacks occurred as the British IV Army was in the process of trying to complete its withdrawal to its new and still incomplete defensive line. The British rearguard though put up a stiff fight and the 1st Bavarian Infantry Division struggled with uncut wire strands. There were a few gaps in the cloud cover through which seeped a glimmer of light from the crescent moon. The usual confusion of a night battle ensued and the fact that the British were trying to evacuate was not readily apparent to the attackers though when they found some dummy soldiers in the trenches some of the officers started to become suspicious but it took considerable time for these suspicions to work their way up to divisional headquarters. In the meantime the withdrawal of IV Army Corps, with the obvious exception of the rear guard, continued close to schedule.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse leaving Cork harbor 2325 hrs
The High Seas Fleet was finally leaving Cork after making some very interim repairs on their battle damage while at anchor. The I.R.N. minesweepers had been hunting mines ever since the fleet had returned from the Battle of the Celtic Sea but had not found any. Adm. von Ingenohl was not completely reassured by this and considered the possibility that the Irish crews were utterly incompetent. One of the minesweepers had spotted a periscope in the late morning though. Even if the crescent moon were to peak through the substantial cloud cover von Ingenohl did not think it would provide enough illumination for an effective submerged attack.
Three torpedo boat flotillas screened the fleet with one flotilla remaining behind at Haulbowline Island. Once they were clear of the harbor the High Seas Fleet headed west with the light cruisers of the 5th Scouting Group leading the way.