by Tom B
"May 19 Curragh One of the contributing factors to the crises in mid May was the repeated acts of sabotage committed during the night by small bands of rebels in areas we considered otherwise safe such as County Kildare. Some of these were directed against our railroads which hindered our ability to shuttle men, equipment and supplies to where they were needed the most. Even more aggravating was the nightly snipping of our communication wires. Nearly every night my HQ lost either the telegraph or telephone connection to VI Army Corps at Marychurch. Sometimes both forcing us to rely on wireless."
---Ireland Diary, Sir Ian Hamilton
------HQ Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 0010 hrs Wednesday May 18, 1915
The lieutenant in charge of the wireless section brought Gen. Hamilton the eagerly awaited wireless message from VI Army Corps, which had just been decoded. Hamilton’s chief of staff, Gen. Braithwaite was there as well; his face radiating frustration. Hamilton took the message and dismissed the lieutenant. He read the message aloud.
WEST RIDING DIVISION HAS NOT YET PENETRATED INTO LIMERICK BUT EXPECTS TO DO SO BEFORE DAWN REPEAT WEST RIDING DIVISION HAS NOT YET PENETRATED INTO LIMERICK BUT EXPECTS TO DO SO BEFORE DAWN STOP BOTH WELSH AND LOWLAND DIVISIONS ARE FORCED TO MAKE ORDERLY WITHDRAWALS TO THE NORTH REPEAT BOTH WELSH AND LOWLAND DIVISIONS ARE FORCED TO MAKE ORDERLY WITHDRAWALS TO THE NORTH STOP BELIEVE MOST OF TENTH DIVISION HAS BEEN ELIMINATED REPEAT BELIEVE MOST OF TENTH DIVISION HAS BEEN ELIMINATED STOP WILL FORM NEW LINE FROM BUTTEVANT TO MITCHELSTOWN TONIGHT REPEAT WILL FORM NEW LINE FROM BUTTEVANT TO MITCHELSTOWN TONIGHT STOP ALL DIVISIONS EXPERIENCING SEVERE SHORTAGE OF ARTILLERY SHELLS REPEAT ALL DIVISIONS EXPERIENCING SEVERE SHORTAGE OF ARTILLERY SHELLS STOP LOWLAND DIVISION SUFFERED HEAVY CASUALTIES IN FAILED ATTEMPT TO TAKE MALLOW REPEAT LOWLAND DIVISION SUFFERED HEAVY CASUALTIES IN FAILED ATTEMPT TO TAKE MALLOW STOP
Gen. Braithwaite shook his head and sighed deeply, "London is not going to like this, sir. Not in the slightest."
"That goes without saying but if we really do take Limerick tomorrow things will turn around quickly as we will then have 4 divisions to pit against the enemy in Cork."
"I would feel more confident if they were 4 divisions close to full strength, sir, but we both know that is far from being true. The Lowland and Welsh Division are both weak in artillery. The former came to us that way while the latter lost 3 of its artillery brigades at the Battle of Rathmore. The Welsh Division is weak in infantry as well. Really we should think of it as a reinforced brigade not a division. The other 3 divisions have been seriously weakened by our habit of detaching battalions from them for line of communications and other special missions. The more I think about it the more I believe that keeping the 34th Brigade in Dublin for pacification is an unnecessary luxury we can ill afford at this time."
Hamilton smiled slightly and nodded, "I share your concern, general. However I would remind you that there are only 2 battalions of the 34th Brigade inside Dublin. We detached one of its battalions and sent it off by rail to County Leitrim. Later Gen. Hammersley decided to send the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers to clear out the rebel pocket at Navan, which he rightly thought posed a threat to completing our mission inside Dublin."
"The 6th York and Lancaster should remain in Leitrim, sir. Heaven knows we have our work cut out for us in Sligo and Leitrim in the near future and we barely have enough forces in Connaught as is. On the other hand we should start the transfer of the 34th Brigade by entraining 9th Lancashire Fusiliers once the rest of the 11th Infantry Division is on its way and a suitable train is available. After that the other two battalions should follow. Oh and the field artillery battery should go as well, sir. I do not see any further need for any artillery whatsoever in Dublin."
"Neither do I but we had hoped to send it along with 2 battalions to put an end to the rebel control of Waterford at some point."
"I recall that, sir but the most important objectives right now are Cork and Limerick. That is where we need to make a maximum effort now esp. in County Cork where we have completely lost the initiative along with greater part of the 10th Infantry Division."
"Tsk, tsk. I have not completely given up hope on the 10th Infantry Division. For one thing Gen. Wilson’s appraisal of that situation is badly distorted by his political sentiments."
Braithwaite shook his head, "Without a doubt Wilson was deeply prejudiced against the 10th Infantry Division and willing to give up on its rescue too soon, general. Yet I think it highly unlikely that anything more than scattered remnants of it now remain."
"I prefer to be more optimistic. It was bad enough losing the 16th Division."
"We would still have the 31st Brigade and 5 batteries east of Limerick, sir."
"Yes but they are badly weakened as well are they not? London consistently fails to appreciate the extent of our losses plus the fact that we must detach battalions to guard our lines of communication and fight outbreaks of rebellion all over this blasted island. Add to that they provide our artillery with only a fraction of the ordnance that they need, constantly telling us that the "nature" the war in France is more artillery intensive than it is here in Ireland."
"Do you think the War Office will look to make scapegoats, sir?"
Sir Ian declined to answer but looked grim and nodded slightly.
------Fethard (Tiperrary) 0030 hrs
The 3rd Tipperary Battalion was currently divided into 4 companies. Commandant McElroy decided to use 2 companies to attack the British cordon to the west of Fethard. From the top of the town’s defensive walls during the day the Tipperary Volunteers had observed 3 British machine gun nests—one each to the north, east and south but none to the west and this was the main reason McElroy decided to attack in that direction. He selected what he regarded as his two best companies for this attack. His objective was threefold. The most important was to try to capture some of the enemy’s supplies, esp. food. The second was to boost sagging morale amongst the Tipperary Volunteers. Lastly he hoped that this provocation might incite the British to make another assault on Fethard, though he prayed that if they did the British would not bring in any artillery to assist.
The clouds had thickened during the night and a light rain was now coming down. One of the companies selected for the attack left Fethard led by McElroy with the second company departing soon afterwards. Aware from past experience that shotguns were likely to be more effective in the darkness he equipped many of the men in these two companies with a shotgun plus a pistol. McElroy had emphasized how important it was for everyone involved in this operation to be as quiet as possible. He hoped to achieve total surprise. The British had one relatively feeble searchlight in this sector of the cordon. They used it cover the road and would sometimes swing it around to scan the road to the west looking for raiders or infiltrators coming up from behind. McElroy’s men began their charge when the searchlight was turned away from them. However the light returned quicker than expected and illuminated the Tipperary Volunteers well before they could close. A cry of alarm arose. The men of the 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment who were sleeping were now awakened and grabbed their rifles. Flares were fired into the sky. This provided more light but it did not eliminate confusion.
Some of the Irishmen were hit by the frantic last minute rifle fire of the defenders but the great majority within the first rebel company were able to close with the British where those armed with shotguns soon proved their worth. Those of the defenders who belonged to 1/4th Duke of Wellington were able to put their bayonets to good use but few of the constables present were so inclined. The defenders were badly outnumbered and began to slowly fall back but soon reinforcements from the adjacent sections of the cordon began to arrive. The rain made the ground slippery. Even with the light from the flares the fighting became chaotic. There were incidents on both sides of men being hit by friendly fire.
McElroy had hoped for complete surprise and an easy victory but found his men struggling to reach the British supply wagons. He saw one of his men horribly eviscerated by a British bayonet. He also observed that the British were reinforcing the point of attack quicker than he had anticipated. McElroy was not sure how many men the British had in their cordon. His working assumption was that it was at least a complete battalion plus some constables while in fact it consisted of 3 companies little better than half strength as well as some R.I.C. McElroy suddenly realized that even if they did manage to capture a supply wagon getting it back inside the walls of Fethard while the British counterattacked was going to be difficult.
"Fall back! Fall back to Fethard!" yelled a disheartened McElroy just as his second company was beginning to enter the fray. Some of the rebels heard him but others did not. Those that heard him began to withdraw and this eventually caused the other rebels to realize that a retreat was underway. Any semblance of formation disappeared in the retreat. It was a mob of men running. A few armed with rifles would occasionally turn around to fire a round more out of frustration than anything else. British rifles felled some of them as they fled.
The staggering of the retreat confused the British defenders who just moments ago feared that they were in danger of being overrun. The darkness and the rain aggravated their confusion causing their officers not to order an immediate pursuit. When the order was finally given it was too late to do much more than capture 18 enemy wounded laying in the mud. Most of the rebels had made it back inside the walls of Fethard. They were relieved to be alive but they were still hungry.
------Manorhamilton (Leitrim) 0140 hrs
Lt. Col. Heinrici I.R.A. marched his two battalions at Sligo hard through the night despite a steady rain that started just before midnight and then proceeded to attack the British forces encircling Manorhamilton which consisted of the 6th Battalion York and Lancaster plus 130 constables. Since the initial attack on Sunday there had been no daylight fighting between the British and the 2nd Northern Ireland Regiment. At night each side sent out small recon parties to probe each other which had resulted in some skirmishing. As at Fethard the British position was only very partially entrenched with only a few slit trench and 3 strongpoints. The rear of the cordon was moderately patrolled both day and night. These patrols were strongest to the west which was the direction from which the British thought a rebel attack was most likely. However Heinrici had decided to swing his 2 battalions around to the northeast of the town and attack the town from what the British thought to be the least likely threat axis.
The 1st Northern Ireland Battalion led by Maj. Schirmer descended upon a York and Lancaster rifle company, which was struggling to wake itself. In a few minutes more than a third of the company was captured and most of the rest killed or wounded. A Vickers machinegun was taken along with 2 supply wagons, one loaded with ammunition the other with food, fodder and medical supplies. The adjacent companies of 6th York and Lancaster soon entered the fray. Heinrici ordered Schirmer to pivot to his left while Heinrici himself led the 3rd Northern Ireland Battalion to the right. He also sent a messenger into Manorhamilton with orders for the no longer isolated 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion to join him with half of their strength.
The result was that the remainder of the British cordon hurled individual platoons or still smaller packets of constables one by one against entire rebel battalions and these were mowed down mercilessly. The two Russian Maxims that the Northern Ireland Regiment had at its disposal were set up and contributed to the slaughter. Eventually the British battalion was fatally wounded in one of these attacks and as he lay dying ordered the counterattacks halted with his last breath. This order took some time to reach all of the battalion and the R.I.C. By the time it did the battalion had lost nearly half of its effective strength and its acting commander decided to withdraw 4 miles to the west and regroup, taking what was left of the R.I.C. with him.
Upon learning that the enemy was retreating, Col. Heinrici was very tempted to pursue but reluctantly decided against it. The men he had brought from Sligo were very tired and soaked with rain. Furthermore the commandant of the 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion erroneously believed that two enemy battalions had encircled him and passed this misperception on to Heinrici, who decided it was best to get his men out of the rain and to get some needed sleep. He instructed the 2nd battalion in detail on how to perform an effective reconnaissance on the British. He also added the captured Vickers to his regimental machinegun section. Lastly he ordered that each of his battalion commanders try to find five men in their battalion with some knowledge of explosives. Two German pioneers fluent in English along with a half ton of explosives had landed with Heinrici and they would train these men to be pioneers as well.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 0200 hrs
The West Riding Division resumed its attack with inadequately rested soldiers though the German Marines it fought were somewhat less exhausted. During the night, Gen. von Jacobsen had reinforced this critical area with another half battalion of Marines pulled from defending the Shannon at O’Briensbridge. The defenders in and around Similebridge were able to hold their position and inflicted heavy losses on the British.
The fighting raged on and on with the men on both sides growing even more exhausted.
------near Shavli (Lithuania) 0400 hrs
The Russian XXXVII Corps resumed its attacks on the XXV Reserve Corps with a spirited artillery duel. The Russians still only thought they were facing a single infantry division at Shavli. Gen. von Scheffer-Boyadel was perfectly content to let his batteries duel with their Russian counterparts even though he still lacked foot artillery. The Russians were disappointed with the results of the duel and finally began to suspect that the Germans were in greater strength than they had been told by Fifth Army. They decided to postpone the infantry attack planned for later in the morning. Meanwhile two German cavalry divisions helped guard the flank of XXV Reserve Corps while the elite Guard Cavalry Division made hit and run feints against the Russians.
------Brigade Hell south of Buttevant (Cork) 0430 hrs
Gen. von François had ordered Oberst Hell to go on the offensive with his improvised brigade at first light. The purpose of this was to pin the Lowland Division---which apparently had escaped an attempted double envelopment yesterday evening---while the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division on its right and most of the 111th Infantry Division on its left tried again to envelop and destroy the Scots. Gen. von François informed Hell that his brigade now had a greater infantry strength that either the Bavarians or the portion of the 111th Infantry Division on his right.
Hell worried about how best to use the four I.R.A. battalions now in his brigade. Even with German commandants he could still see them getting themselves butchered in foolish assaults or just as easily being thoroughly routed by a determined British counterattack. He decided to put each of the Irish battalions under the command of a German unit. He placed the 2nd Kerry Battalion under the command of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, the 1st Kerry Battalion under the 2nd Seebattalion, the North Cork Battalion under the 1st Seebattalion and the West Limerick Battalion under the Foot Guards. He gave all of them limited objectives and warned against a precipitous assault on the Buttevant army camp. The Bavarian Jaeger Regiment still had a pioneer company with minenwerfers attached to it and Hell’s immediate objective was to get those minenwerfers within range of the enemy’s defenses at Buttevant.
------Dessie Abyssinia 0435 hrs
"Have there been any further word about the enemy force, father?" eagerly asked Iyasu, "Are they really coming here to do battle with us?"
"Oh yes indeed there certainly is some important news, Your Majesty. Word has come back from our cavalry of an encounter with the British cavalry."
"Excellent news indeed! I take it that our fine Orome horseman routed the enemy."
"Unfortunately that is not the case, Your Majesty. The British cavalrymen---actually we believe most of them to be Indians in service to the British crown---decided against fighting the Orome on horseback but instead they dismounted and fought using their deadly rifles with great effectiveness. It was our cavalrymen---those that survived that is---that were forced to retreat."
Iyasu momentarily gaped at hearing this news, then said, "This is disgraceful, father! We will have no more retreats! It is bad enough that the bulk of my army sits here at Dessie instead of advancing against our enemies."
Ras Mikael gave his son a steely look, "Sometimes withdrawals are necessary, Your Majesty. And often it is much better to have your enemy come and fight you at a place of your choosing. Your grandfather, the great Menelik, understood these principles and used them wisely."
Iyasu rolled his eyes and shook his head a little, "These tactics do not seem very manly if you ask me father, but I trust your judgment, even though I know it does not always sound that way. And it looks that you were right about the enemy coming her to fight us just as you wanted. How soon will they arrive here?"
"Barring very heavy rain I would say two maybe three days, Your Majesty."
------Sally Gap (Wicklow) 0450 hrs
In the pass through the Wicklow Mountains known as the Sally Gap, Rommel was holding off the pursuing Scots with all of his forces except for the 4th Dublin Battalion which he sent down the Military Road with orders for Commandant Brugha to try to make contact with the friendly forces rumored to be at Arklow. The Scottish attack had been repelled without too much trouble and it appeared that the pursuing force was not as large as he feared and moreover it lacked artillery. If he had an unlimited supply of ammunition and food Rommel thought he could hold off the enemy indefinitely but the reality of his situation was awful in regards to ammunition and only slightly better when it came to food. He had even sent some of his to fish in nearby Lough Tray despite the battle that was underway.
------near Przemysl (Galicia) 0500 hrs
The Russian Eleventh and Eighth Armies continued to experience a grave shortage of artillery shells. Gen. Brusilov had attempted to preempt the nearly inevitable attack of the Austro-Hungarian Second Army against his right wing with a night counterattack but while this had inflicted significant losses on the Austro-Hungarian soldiers inside the recently captured trenches with only a single strand of barbed wire, it did not dissuade the resolute Gen. Böhm-Ermolli from proceeding with his morning attack.
In daylight the battle was once again decided by superiority in artillery. The Austro-Hungarian Second Army was only able to advance slightly more than a kilometer due in part to the disruption caused by Brusilov’s night attack. The Center Army once did better advancing nearly 3 kilometers against a disintegrating Eleventh Army taking a considerable haul of prisoners in the process. However it again experienced problems on the wings of its advance esp. on the left wing where the Russian Third Army was able to enfilade the growing salient. This prompted Gen. von Linsingen to send telegrams to Conrad strongly recommending that the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army on his immediate left come into action against the Russian Third Army as soon as possible.
------German Sixth Army HQ (Picardy) 0545 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck had placed a telephone call to Gen. von Falkenhayn to discuss recent developments, "There was some intelligence coming in from I Bavarian Army Corps during the night that suggested that the British were withdrawing to the south, general. This has been confirmed by early morning air patrols. It does not appear to be a complete collapse but rather a preplanned evacuation. There looks to be a new defensive line being prepared west of Domvast. This defensive line looks to be incomplete and comparatively weak. I have therefore ordered Gen. von Xylander to pursue the enemy as quickly as possible and then make a determined effort to breach the new line of entrenchments. I have also ordered the III Bavarian Corps to join in this attack."
"Interesting. While this all sounds very promising but what exactly do you hope to accomplish?" asked Falkenhayn.
"If we can punch through the unfinished new defensive line today I believe we have a realistic chance to maintain some momentum and reach Abbeville in another day or two, general."
"Abbeville is admittedly an important communications center, but I have doubts that you can accomplish this with such a narrow salient. Artillery fire from the flanks of the salient always presents a serious problem if the salient is too narrow."
"Yes it does, general, but only if the enemy has shells for their cannons. We have some intelligence which suggests that the artillery of the British Second Army is running low on ammunition and what ammunition it does have is being carefully husbanded for the batteries guarding their dangerously narrow line of communications with First Army. So I believe that under these circumstances it is possible to take Abbeville without having to expand the breach in order to capture St. Riquier first."
"Hmm Yes there is something to that. By all means proceed with your plans. Even if you fail to take Abbeville this will function nicely as a diversion that the British cannot afford to ignore. This should help you to achieve what remains as your primary objective namely to sever the line of communications for the British First Army."
"I understand that, general, and plan to make another attack on the line of communications once we finish emplacing all of the gas canisters and get a favorable wind. Are we going to be receiving the additional canisters you said might be available?"
"No. I have decided that they are to be used in another operation as you have more than enough already."
"But general given the importance---"
"---please do not whine and complain, general, it will do you no good and is very unbecoming in an officer. My mind is made up on the matter. Instead of additional chlorine I am going to provide you soon with some of the improved T-shells in the next day or two."
"Thank you, general. I have read the paper written by Gen. von Mudra on how best to use that weapon and will strive follow the tactics he outlines."
"Good. It should prove useful and is much less dependent on the weather than the chlorinecanisters. There is one other development that I should warn you about. The 900 Bavarian replacement troops you were expecting tomorrow morning will not be coming as they are urgently needed elsewhere. I know all too well that you have used most of your Bavarian divisions hard and some of them should receive replacements but you will just have to make do."
------Ober Ost 0605 hrs
"Good morning, general," Oberst Hoffman greeted Gen. von Seeckt, the chief of staff of Ober Ost.
"Good morning," replied von Seeckt, "I have been thinking about your suggestion last night that we assign the mission to Gen. von Mackensen and transfer command of the units at Kovno to his Eleventh Army and leave Gen. von Marwitz only to control the rest of his army detachment."
"Yes, general, it seemed obvious that Army Detachment Marwitz was becoming spread out over too wide an area for a commander to control effectively and it will only get worse as we lunge for Vilna."
"I have accepted that, but it has occurred to me that now that Kovno has fallen, the importance of Gen. von Below’s attack on the Russian Tenth Army has become less compelling. After all its main objective was to prevent their Tenth Army from interfering with the siege."
"Agreed, general, though I do not think Gen. von Below is going to see it that way, yes?"
"You are right on that point. He has told me more than once that with two more infantry divisions he can encircle and destroy the Russian Tenth Army. In fact the last he said that he was willing to settle for infantry division and a cavalry division. He foolishly dismisses the possibility of an attack against his right flank by the Twelfth Army if he should try this. The more I think about it the more I am convinced he can now spare I Army Corps which I want to move to Shavli by hard march. Combined with the XXV Reserve Corps, 11th Landwehr and 4 cavalry divisions it will form a small army that will not only be able to rebuff the Russian attack but could even seize the initiative before long."
"That will depend on how much strength the Russians will commit to the attack in the next few days, general. I know we defeated yesterday’s attack with ease but that is just the beginning."
"What you say is very likely. Nevertheless I still feel that with 2 more first rate infantry divisions and some foot artillery we can do more than hold on there."
"So are you thinking longingly about Riga in the near future, general? That is not going to be easy."
"I am well aware of that but there is just enough of chance we should be prepared to exploit it. And if not there are other options to consider though they will take more time to reach fruition. It is for this reason I want to call this new formation the Army of the Dvina."
------B.E.F. HQ (Picardy) 0700 hrs
Field Marshal Sir John French had a distinguished visitor. It was none other than King Albert of Belgium. French tried to avoid having to deal with the monarch pleading that he was too preoccupied with the German attack on the VI Army Corps which was at least partially true and that whatever the king wanted to communicate could be accomplished just as well through his staff. Albert however insisted on speaking to the field marshal alone. The only concession the king was willing to make was to promise to be brief.
"Field Marshal French, as your time is understandably limited I will get straight to the point," said King Albert, "Yesterday you personally berated two of my best generals over the telephone concerning the behavior of our 17th Regiment yesterday morning. We feel that we must protest this outrage in the strongest possible terms. Let us make ourselves clear for what is hopefully going to be the last time---the Belgian Army is under our authority not yours. We have agreed to a degree of coordination that often makes it appear that our units are under the command of certain high ranking British officers such as yourself. However this activity, which should rightfully be regarded by you and your subordinates as merely practicality mixed with traditional Belgian courtesy and nothing more."
French never did care much for King Albert whom he regarded as a dilletante but both the Foreign Office and War Office and stressed the importance of treating the Belgians with tact and respect so he did not say what he very much wanted to say, "I, uh, may have gone a little too far yesterday, Your Majesty, but these last four weeks have proven to be a series of crises for the B.E.F. and if we are to pull through this and go on to liberate the Pas de Calais and then your great nation we shall require your complete cooperation which is not what we got from the 17th Regiment. Not even close, Your Majesty, and as a result our defensive position was severely compromised."
"On the contrary, Field Marshal, the 17th Regiment did what was necessary in its grave tactical situation and promptly notified Gen. Lomax at II Army Corps of its intentions in accord with the protocols we have established. Unfortunately Gen. Lomax went beyond what is permitted under those protocols and tried to order the 17th Regiment as if it were a subordinate unit which most assuredly it is not."
The insufferable arrogance of the Belgies just gets worse and worse thought French grinding his teeth. He tried to force his face to conceal what he was thinking, "I am afraid that I have a somewhat different interpretation of the protocols than you do, Your Majesty. The withdrawal of that regiment left the flanks of two of my divisions exposed."
"Only slightly and it could have been avoid altogether by some small pivoting of their flanks, field marshal."
Like he knows what he’s talking about "Uh, that tactic is not as easy as you make it sound, Your Majesty, esp. on short notice."
"Perhaps a little but I refuse to believe that the correct tactical option yesterday was for my men to remain crowded in their forward trench only to be slaughtered like sheep by the dreadful German howitzers. My army cannot afford to waste men the way you British generals do."
How dare he! "We do not ‘waste’ men, Your Majesty but the cold fact remains that war requires sacrifices and that applies to this infernal war most of all. Yes, I realize that the paucity of Belgian replacements makes you reluctant to sustain losses, but sometimes they are necessary."
"And when they are truly necessary I have not hesitated. Surely you have not forgotten that it was the attack of my division that prevented the Germans from completely cutting First Army’s line of communications."
"That was what Gen. Smith-Dorrien told you, Your Majesty. He was wrong about a great many things and that was one of them."
"I do not see how you have arrived at that strange opinion, field marshal. It is obvious that our attack combined with that of Second Army of course put pressure on the supply line of the Guard Corps which in turn saved Nolette."
"As I said before this meeting began, Your Majesty, my free time is very limited and I am not going to spend it rehashing what is now almost ancient history. If you will excuse me I have a battle to fight and a war to win."
------HQ Lowland Division Buttevant (Cork) 0715 hrs
Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division, held a message in each hand. In his left hand he held a telegram from Gen. Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps, that had arrived 10 minutes earlier. It read
PERMISSION IS HEREBYGRANTED TO MAKE ORDERLY WITHDRAWAL TO LINE FROM LISCAROLL TO BALLYHOURA REPEAT PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED TO MAKE ORDERLY WITHDRAWAL TO LINE FROM LISCAROLL TO BALLYHOURA STOP
Gen. Egerton remained convinced that his withdrawal to Buttevant yesterday had prevented the encirclement of his division by the Germans. However in the early morning the enemy retained the initiative and was making a renewed attempt to encircle him while going on the offensive against his center as well. The gap with the Welsh Division had become so large the Welsh Division was essentially fighting a separate battle. The trains carrying the 11th Infantry Division were steadily unloading at Ballyshakkin just outside the market town of Charleville 8 miles to the north. Gen. Hammersley the commander of the 11th Infantry Division was insisting that he needed to assemble his division at Charleville before he could give the Lowland Division any more assistance than the two battalions and one field artillery battery that had been loaned to the Lowland Division yesterday.
Gen. Egerton had warned Wilson two hours earlier that the Lowland Division risked becoming encircled if it remained at Buttevant. He asked for permission to withdraw the division north to a line extending from the town of Liscarroll east to the hamlet of Ballyhoura. This line the general regarded as a defensible position. Liscaroll held a centuries old fort that could still prove useful while Ballyhoura was shielded from an enemy envelopment by the Ballyhoura Mountains that lay immediately east of it. Initially Wilson refused to grant permission and insisted that Egerton hold on to Buttevant. So far he had been able to hold off the attempt by the German 111th Division to envelop his right but in doing so his batteries had fired off nearly all of their ammunition. Meanwhile in center the Bavarian Jaegers had managed to bring powerful 17cm mortars within range of the camp’s outer defenses.
The most disturbing news of all was what a messenger had just delivered. Gen. Egerton held it in his right hand and slowly read it a second time:
"Our supporting battery has completely exhausted its ammunition. After a heavy bombardment the Germans have broken through our defenses and a strong force is now proceeding unimpeded towards Ballyhoura."
This meant that these Germans, which Egerton correctly guessed as belonging to the 6th Bavarian Division, were now not only enveloping his left flank but if they succeeded in establishing themselves at Ballyhoura would seriously undermine the new defensive line he had finally received grudging permission to fall back on. If this line was breached he saw his next option to be to fall back almost all the way to Charleville where he could call upon the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division for assistance. He expected that even mentioning this possibility was likely to draw the wrath of Gen. Wilson, so for the time being he would try to rectify the problem at Ballyhoura. If that did not work he would then begin his withdrawal back towards Charleville and only after it was well underway would he notify VI Army Corps.
------Old Admiralty Building 0720 hrs
Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty, was meeting with Adm. Callaghan, Adm. Oliver, Adm. Jackson and Adm. Wilson. "Did N.I.D. acquire any more useful intelligence during the night, Adm. Oliver?" asked Sir Edward.
"Yes we did, First Lord. Adm. von Ingenohl sent a wireless message to Berlin and Adm. von Hipper that he had departed Cork and was on his way to rendezvous with the battle cruisers. About an hour ago we decoded a reply from Hipper establishing a rendezvous point west of Dingle."
"Is there anything useful we can do with this information, Adm. Callaghan?"
"Yes, First Lord. We resumed sea traffic with Ulster. The first wave of transports, a group of five Isle of Man packet ships out of Stranraer should be arriving at the Larne as we speak."
Carson frowned slightly and sighed, "Yes that is very welcome news indeed. But what I was really trying to ask is whether there is any tactical use for this information, such as directing our submarines towards the rendezvous point?"
"Neither of the two submarines we currently have stationed in the Celtic Sea could reach the point in time, First Lord," replied the First Sea Lord, who decided not to mention the fact that one of those submarines was also experiencing severe difficulty receiving with her wireless.
"Then perhaps we should station them along the most likely German route to the Channel from the rendezvous point."
"We are already doing that, First Lord, though the exact route is mere guess work on our part."
There was uneasy silence after this which inspired Adm. Jackson to shift the topic of conversation, "We now have some estimates on the anticipated repair times for the major units of the Grand Fleet, First Lord. Repairs on the Queen Elizabeth are not expected to be completed before the first week of August. We so believe that we can return both Marlborough and Thunderer to the Grand Fleet in the middle of July. The damage to Neptune’s machinery is going to require at least 3 months in the yards though. Vanguard can be repaired in about two months once we get her to Portsmouth where there are available dry docks."
"Yes this is roughly what I had been expecting. Might I ask when do you intend to move Vanguard, Africa and Black Prince to Portsmouth?" asked Carson.
"Midmorning Friday, First Lord," replied Callaghan, "By that time the High Seas Fleet should be well beyond the Straits of Dover and will no longer pose a threat."
"And how long do we expect repairs to take on Dominion and Africa?"
"In both instances we expect the necessary repairs to take close to 4 months, First Lord. Dominion has very serious machinery damage while much of Africa’s superstructure has severe fire damage."
"Hmm. Repairing our damaged capital ships and completing Canada and Barham as quickly as possible remain our highest priority. However there are voices in Parliament clamoring for us to order still more warships. The prime minister remains under a great deal of pressure and may try to appease his critics by ordering two more capital ships even though Lloyd-George has repeatedly made the point that our resources are stretched enough as it is. The last time we discussed this topic---back in April shortly before the Germans landed in Ireland and we became sorely distracted---you were leaning towards ordering more battlecruisers. Is that still the case?"
"That is correct, First Lord. While we are still in the process of analyzing the recent Battle of Celtic Sea one thing that it obviously confirms is our worry that our scouting forces are very vulnerable without battlecruisers. Those should definitely be what we build next," replied Callaghan.
"Ah but what design? As I recall your analyses of Utsire led you to conclude that the design of the new Hood class needed more armor and a stronger secondary battery. I heard talk back then about trying to combine the best features of Tiger and Hood into a design for a new class. Has this design been finalized?"
"It is very close to being finished, First Lord," replied Admiral Jackson, "We would like to analyze the lessons of Celtic Sea further and based on what they tell us we make minor modifications."
"Are you still leery of using small tube boilers in this class, admiral?" asked Carson.
"I am afraid so, First Lord, though we are comfortable with equipping them with geared turbines. Since we have decided to increase the maximum thick of both the belt and the upper barbette armor to 10" the maximum speed of this new class is only expected to be 29 knots."
"So we have finally given up on my illustrious predecessor’s idea of speed as armor?"
"We have come to that conclusion based on our analysis of Utsire and Celtic Sea, First Lord," replied Jackson.
"I will pass this on to the War Committee. How many of these vessels do you think we should order?"
Callaghan answered, "At least three maybe four, First Lord."
"As I have said before the Chancellor will be opposed to starting any new projects while we are experiencing a shortage of high grade steel which is only going to get worse in the next few weeks due to the partial disruption of our iron ore imports. We will be lucky if we can get the lead ship of this class laid down in early August."
-----HMS King Orry off the Larne 0730 hrs
The King Orry was an Isle of Man packet ship completed back in 1913. She was the first Isle of Man packet ship to be equipped with geared turbines. She had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy back in 1914 to be converted into an armed boarding vessel. Since the Battle of Utsire the Admiralty had been reluctant to use her in her intended role. After Ireland was invaded back in April she found herself being used instead to ferry men and supplies across the Irish Sea.
Along with 4 other packet ships she had set out from Stanraer at first light. She carried some replacement troops for the Lowland Division as well as ammunition and other supplies in her cargo hold. The night before she sailed her captain had a disturbingly vivid dream. In it he could see a long row of battleships behind his vessel. Suddenly he realized they were German battleships! The entire High Seas Fleet was sailing behind his weakly armed boarding vessel! He had awakened from this dream soaked in sweat.
Now as his vessel steamed towards Larne he worried that somehow his dream was prophetic. The Admiralty had claimed that the Irish Sea was now free of enemy vessels but nevertheless he kept pestering his lookouts if they saw anything suspicious behind him. The early morning visibility had been very limited with patchy fog and haze. It could easily hide the dreaded German battle fleet. The fog was slowly burning off. He felt as if any minute the billowing white curtain be swept away by a gust of wind to reveal the dreaded nemesis.
The entire packet ship shuddered greatly as a geyser of water erupted on the starboard side near the bow. The ship had struck one of the mines Kohlberg had laid off Belfast and the Larne. Her bow was almost blown off and her boilers soon flooded. She stayed afloat long enough for two thirds of the men aboard her to make it off incl. the skipper who finally forgot about his strange dream.
------Mitchelstown (Cork) 0735 hrs
The Welsh Division halted its retreat at Mitchelstown and administered a sharp check to the Czechs in the vanguard of the Erzherzog Karl Division which were forced to fall back a kilometer. The Welshmen then counterattacked. Feldmlt Krauss personally rallied his men and for a while there was spirited fire fight. Gen. Friend however wisely realized that his division was too weak to retain the initiative and ordered his men merely to hold the line.
Krauss spent the rest of the morning skillfully probing the defenses of the Welsh Division while carefully positioning his artillery and minenwerfers. His division was still short on draught animals, which was impeding his ability to move his guns and supplies rapidly, but he had been promised most of the horses being taken from the encircled British 10th Division. Krauss looked at the possibility of turning the enemy flank. The enemy right flank was essentially hanging the air so large was the gap between it and Lowland Division. Gen. Friend was doing his best to cover that gap with a regiment of yeomanry that had been placed at his disposal. Krauss was more intrigued by the enemy left flank. The foothills of the Galty Mountains appeared to offer natural protection but some of the men of the Cork Ersatz Company pointed out that there was a path through the mountains at Kilbeheny that could possibly be exploited.
------HMS Iron Duke off the Isle of Man 0815 hrs
Adm. Bayly stared again at the wireless message he had just been handed.
A PACKET SHIP IS SINKING OFF LARNE FROM EITHER MINE OR TORPEDO REPEAT A PACKET SHIP SINKING OFF LARNE FROM EITHER MINE OR TORPEDO STOP
"Just as I feared," Adm. Bayly said in a ‘I told you so voice’ as he handed it to Adm. Madden.
"You were right, sir. There must be either a minefield or a submarine in North Channel."
"Yes both certainly is possible, admiral, but only one sank this poor packet ship so we should not jump to any conclusion. If it is a minefield there is a question as to whether it was laid parallel to the coast off the Larne or perpendicular across the breadth of North Channel."
"Again that is certainly a distinct possibility, admiral. However would the Germans consider our transit through North Channel to be probable?"
"I don’t know. It may be the primary reason they raided off Glasgow was to compel the Admiralty to move us there."
"The enemy would not have enough mines to lay a thick perpendicular minefield, sir. If we were to transit North Channel in line instead of cruising formation I think the odds of striking even one mine would be low."
"Not low enough as far as I am concerned. Even one mine strike could prove fatal esp. to our predreadnoughts. I am not going through North Channel until I know what the situation is and am not afraid to tell the Admiralty that. In the meantime we are going to cruise around the Isle of Man making frequent zigzags. If the Admiralty feels that we must go through North Channel it will be after nightfall and as you have suggested it will be in a line ahead formation. In the meantime we should recommend that they go back to using Kingstown again as it is now comparatively safe compared to Belfast and the Larne esp. since we are going to be remaining in the Irish Sea for a while."
-----Paris 0830 hrs
The Council of Ministers was again in session. "There is some excellent news, premier," reported Jean Augagneur, the Minister of Marine, "We received word from the British last night that they will resume their sea traffic with us on Friday, first with merchantmen heading to our Atlantic ports put then later in the day to all our ports incl. Rouen."
"Why Friday and not today? After all the Royal Navy claims to have won a great victory last Saturday. If that is indeed true then why are they hesitating in shipping to us the supplies they know that we desperately need to wage war?" asked Clemenceau.
"The British did not elaborate, premier."
"Of course not. Why should they tell us anything? We are merely their ally. Meanwhile some of our munitions factories are now completely idle and the rest are working at half of their capacity or less. And it is still worse at the plants making weapons! By tomorrow I expect nearly all of our war industry to be idle around noontime. Even if the British resume sea traffic Friday morning as they promise it is unlikely that we can resume full scale production before Monday at the earliest. Don’t they realize that we are in the middle of the offensive that can win the war? Do they want to win the war? I am beginning to have some serious doubts about that."
"The British have told us that the Germans are going to limp their way home to lick their wounds, premier. They understand that the disruption of trade is having an impact on our economy esp. our war industry but the British who rely heavily on imports are suffering as well. They say that things will get better for both our nations very soon."
"If the Germans are in fact limping back to Germany then why isn’t the Royal Navy planning to finish them off and be done with it."
"Uh, they are not discussing that topic or anything concerning the operations of their battle fleet with us, premier."
"I do not expect our ally to reveal their plans in the finest detail with us. It is true that we do not reveal too many details of our own plans to them but we still give them some inkling of what we are up to, but with the British and esp. their navy we are given only a fraction of what we deserve, n’est ce pas?"
"That is all too true, premier."
"Of course it is true. Since the German fleet is now expected to return to Germany soon do you and the admirals still favor moving one or two Danton class semidreadnoughts to the Atlantic?"
"Uh, we now think that redeployment to be unnecessary, premier."
"Because the German fleet is believed to be heading home?"
"Yes, precisely so, premier."
Clemenceau thought that over but made no reply to Augagneur. Instead he turned to M. Pierre Colliard, his Minister of Labor and Social Security, "M. Colliard I am hearing rumors that certain unions are unhappy with the resource allocation scheme M. Thomson devised."
"Uh, that is unfortunately correct, premier. Several factories not connected to the war effort have been idle since the middle of yesterday because they are lacking in imported raw materials. The workers in those factories believed they are unfairly being singled out."
"That is partially correct---they are in fact being singled out but that is because they are not essential to the war so it is by no means unfair."
"We can see that, premier but it is eluding many of the workers, who are not going to receive wages for days when their plants are idle."
Clemenceau shook his head, "I once had great admiration for the French working man but in recent years I have come to see them for what they are and I often do not like what I see. France is in great peril and they are whining over losing a few days wages? Unbelievable and completely despicable! Ah but are they going to do? Going on strike would be supremely irrelevant."
"Idle workers can cause unrest, premier," warned Steeg, the Minister of Interior, "surely you must be well aware of that by now."
"But yes I am all too aware of it, monsieur. It is the manifestation of the subtle and sometimes not so subtle acts of treason that are stabbing France in the back right now. It is time for us to take some definitive steps to let the French people know that treason in any form will no longer be tolerated!"
"Do you have anything specific in mind, premier?" asked Steeg with a hint of worry in his voice.
"Yes, I do. Several things in fact, but for the time being let me mention one. There is a certain Irish agent provocateur that the Germans sent to stir up trouble in Spain just before they invaded Ireland. His name is Eamon de Valera---apparently his father was Spanish---and he has performed his dastardly mission all too well. In order to appease the British who were most upset by this, King Alphonso wisely had M. de Valera arrested and after a few days decided to turn him over to the British. However with all this naval action off of Ireland the British were leery of sending a ship to pick up the prisoner in Spain. So the Spanish are sending him by rail to Paris. He will be arriving here late tonight. The British want us to take care of him for a few days then ship him across the Channel once they feel it is safe to do so."
"What are you planning to do, premier?" asked Briand, the Justice Minister, who like Steeg sounded worried.
"I plan to ‘take care’ of M. de Valera once and for all. As the War Minister I have arranged for a special military tribunal to try M. de Valera tomorrow. He will be publicly beheaded Saturday morning. That should send a clear signal to the traitors here in France but just in case there are other steps we can and will take."
------SMS Straßburg west of Ireland 0850 hrs
The early morning hunting of the 4th Scouting Group was disappointing. This was due in part to a squall that sharply reduced visibility. The L.10 had experienced some trouble with her steering late yesterday and so she remained docked at Killarney today trying to rectify the problem. The cruisers had moved out of the squall and Straßburg did manage to find a worthy prize, a 3,400 ton freighter out of New Orleans with a cargo of grain bound for Belfast. After a brief discussion this prize was deemed worth keeping and the prize crew was told to make for Queenstown.
------10 Downing St. 0905 hrs
The War Committee was again in session. "Lord Kitchener, can you kindly give us an update on Ireland? Let us start with Limerick. Has it fallen as you had predicted?"
Kitchener hesitated while clearing his throat, "Not yet, prime minister. Gen. Hamilton reports intense fighting going on just north of Limerick. He believes the enemy resistance there is collapsing and once that happens we will be inside the city itself."
"Which could easily hold for at least two or three days, Field Marshal," remarked Lloyd-George, ‘Haven’t we learned the hard way from our experience in Dublin that fighting in an urban area can be difficult?"
Kitchener tried to respond with only the barest acknowledge of Lloyd-George’s existence, "Limerick is considerably smaller than Dublin, Chancellor. Once they lose their artillery the Germans will realize the hopelessness of their situation and surrender in a heartbeat."
Bonar Law pounded his fist on his desk in frustration, "You assured us yesterday that the Union Jack would be flying over King John’s Castle today, Lord Kitchener. Now you tell us that we still have not even made it into the city of Limerick?"
"Yes, I spoke too soon, prime minister, but nevertheless very important progress is being made on the outskirts of the city. It is only a matter of time."
"I would like very much to believe that Lord Kitchener but we have heard that the liberation of Limerick was imminent more times than we can count and it is beginning to resemble the torment of Tantalus!"
Kitchener remained silent with an attitude more defiantly stoic than chastened. "And what of the battle in County Cork, field marshal?" asked Carson, "As far as the Admiralty is concerned that is the critical battle."
"The enemy has the initiative for the time being. We withdrew to a line extending from Buttevant to Mitchelstown. When the redeployment of the 11th Infantry Division is complete we will counterattack."
Bonar Law did not like that either and to confirm his suspicions stared at the detailed map of Ireland open on his desk. "So the Germans captured Fermoy? How did they get so far north, field marshal? Gen. Hamilton was supposed to keep them penned up inside Cork while reinforcements were brought in from Dublin and Limerick."
"It was the Austrian division that captured Fermoy, prime minister. I would hasten to point out that that there have been several problems, not the least of which is the Royal Navy permitting the Germans to cut the line of communication between Ireland and Britain."
"So Gen. Hamilton and the War Office are trying to blame the Royal Navy for an unending series of disappointments in Ireland?" Carson interjected.
"Well I would point out that it was the Royal Navy that allowed the Germans to land not one but two waves of invaders, First Lord," Kitchener retorted.
"That is true, Lord Kitchener, but I am still appalled that by the fact the seven British infantry divisions employed to date in Ireland have not been able to do better," commented Bonar Law, "And unfortunately all too many in Parliament agree with me. If they knew the full details of what has happened there instead of the sugar coated half truths we release to the press this government would have collapsed in early May. As it is it is still teetering. Though the back to back victories at Celtic Sea and Dublin have helped some if Limerick does not fall soon then this government will."
------west of Domvast (Picardy) 0930 hrs
The German Sixth Army had moved most of its artillery forward and now commenced a fierce 30 minute shelling of the new British defensive line. The British batteries were soon suppressed. The shallow forward trench was hit hard by howitzers firing HE shells. The even more incomplete second trench was hit as well. A few minenwerfers joined in as well in the last 10 minutes of the shelling. When the bombardment was over the German infantry attacked. The new trench line had only a single strand of wire in front of it and it was now cut in several places. The British forward trench had been seriously weakened but not completely neutralized by the German bombardment. The Bavarians held a large advantage in numbers but the defenders still inflicted fairly large losses and were only overcome through a copious use of hand grenades followed by the usual savage close quarter melee inside the shallow trench.
The stubborn British defense of the forward trench left the incomplete second trench vulnerable and after another 10 minutes of shelling the Bavarians pressed on and were able to take that as well in the center but began to experience problems on their flanks. Nevertheless the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division captured the hamlet of Canchy and was able to slowly continue its advance towards Neuilly-L’Hôpital despite determined resistance by the British 7th Infantry Division.
------Castlebar (Mayo) 0940 hrs
Yesterday the armored train had finished its maintenance and returned to Athlone. Soon after it departed the South Mayo Battalion advanced at a leisurely pace northwest towards the town of Castlebar. They now numbered over 600 men. They had already absorbed most of the Irish Volunteers company at Castlebar but their commandant felt he persuade the Westport and Foxford companies to join him if he took Castlebar. He also hoped to gather more food as they had scavenged most of the area around Caremorris pretty thoroughly.
The South Mayo battalion was weakly armed. Each of its 3 companies had 50 Moisin Nagant rifles brought from Athlone aboard the armored train. Two small R.I.C. stations had been captured night yielding them seven of the precious Lee-Enfield rifles plus nearly 2,400 rounds of .303. Each rifleman was allowed to practice with a mere 10 rounds as ammunition was also a concern. Other than that the rebels had 37 single shot rifles if one counted the 11 of .22 caliber plus 81 shotguns and 140 pistols. The remainder of the battalion lacked any sort of firearm and were armed with improvised pikes, sledgehammers or machetes. There were even two brothers sporting longbows. As usual the best marksmen had been provided rifles. There were three dozen improvised bombs with a dangerously dubious reliability.
The battalion doubted that his ragtag battalion could stand up to a company of British soldiers in an open field engagement. Against small bands of the R.I.C. though they were adequate though definitely in need of some additional training. This was demonstrated when they reached the outskirts of Castlebar where they were engaged by 45 constables. After a handful of casualties on both sides the R.I.C. decided that the rebels were better armed than expected and withdrew to the town. When the rebels reached Castlebar they found half of the R.I.C. plus most of the weakly armed local militia were guarding the train station. The commandant of the South Mayo Battalion had no interest in the train station having torn up a section of track on the way. He concentrated instead on the barracks of the R.I.C. which was currently held by only 9 constables but his attempt to capture that prize by coup de main failed miserably. After that the rebels decided to wait until dark before making another attack and cordoned off the barracks. Meanwhile 20 additional constables had arrived in motor vehicles from the north but the rebels were able to pin them down and prevent them from linking with the other constables. For the rest of the day the action consisted mostly of sniping by both sides.
------SMS Prinz Heinrich 1005 hrs
With Yorck badly damaged from the Battle of Celtic Sea, Adm. von Ingenohl temporarily disbanded the 3rd Scouting Group and sent the less damaged Prinz Heinrich off by herself soon after nightfall yesterday on a mission into the Western Approaches that combined scouting and commerce raiding. She now took her first prize, a 2,800 ton freighter out of Alexandria bound for Plymouth with a cargo of cotton cloth. After considerable discussion the prize crew was ordered to bring her back to Queenstown.
------west of Manorhamilton (Leitrim) 1035 hrs
With intelligence that the British forces that had cordoned off Manorhamilton were really just a single battalion after all Col. Heinrici decided to try to eliminate it altogether. He sent the 2nd battalion of Northern Ireland Regiment to envelop the 6th York and Lancaster from the north and the 1st battalion from the south and he took personal command of the 3rd battalion along all of the regiment’s 5 machineguns to cautiously engage the enemy frontally.
The 6th York and Lancaster had not entrenched and only established a single strong point. They were patrolling vigorously though. Heinrici sent one of 3rd battalion’s companies out ahead and it drew the attention of a British patrol. This lead to skirmishing which escalated into a brisk firefight and most of what remained of the 6th York and Lancaster was soon drawn in. The rebels suddenly withdrew apparently in panic. The British pursued energetically only to run into a hurricane of lead from the remainder of the 3rd battalion incl. the machineguns. As this was going on the enveloping battalions began to run into British patrols but it was too late for 6th York and Lancaster to escape the double envelopment though a few constables did effectuate an escape in motor vehicles.
The soldiers of the 6th York and Lancaster fought with great heroism in an impossible situation. For a while their heroism inspired the constables to fight as well but as the pocket was reduced to a mass of dead and dying bodies they began to surrender and eventually so did some of the soldiers. The 6th York and Lancaster was eliminated completely before noon. All of their supply wagons were captured along with 3 more Vickers machineguns. In addition 4 motor vehicles that had been used by the R.I.C. were captured. The casualties of the North Ireland Regiment had been 59 men killed and 107 wounded which Col. Heinrici found very satisfactory for all that they had accomplished. Contrary to what many German officers involved in the preparations of Operation Unicorn believed they had been able to function together in a formation larger than a battalion. He marched the North Ireland Regiment back to Manorhamilton and put the medical supplies in the captured supply wagons to good use while he contemplated his next move.
------south of Prichtina (Serbia) 1045 hrs
The Serbs had scraped the bottom of the barrel to make a final effort to halt the Ottoman III Corps 3 miles south of the key city of Prichtina. They were even employing some companies of women soldiers in this battle which shocked their opponents. The Ottoman vanguard was halted in its tracks by Serbian firepower. Esat Paşa had been half expecting that this would happen. He decided against a hasty assault on the Serbian defenses so he carefully positioned his artillery, conducted a thorough reconnaissance and methodically prepared his attack. The III Ottoman Corps had begun to outrun its supply train in the last 24 hours and that was another reason to take some time so as to let the stores catch up with them.
------Dublin Castle 1105 hrs
Lord Curzon, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, decided to meet with Augustine Birrell, the Chief Secretary of Ireland. He was somewhat surprised that the War Committee had not yet replaced Birrell as it was common knowledge that Bonar Law and Carson blamed Birrell for the revolt inside Dublin as well as other shortcomings. It struck Curzon that like the fall of Limerick the sacking of Birrell was an event that was always going to happen very soon and yet never materialized. "I am glad to see that you are unharmed, Mr. Birrell," said Curzon, "I was told that the rebels attempted to seize the castle at one point."
"Yes there was some excitement here on the first day of the rising, Your Excellency. I had heard that you were evacuated to the Curragh. That was a prudent precaution."
Curzon snorted, "Yes, indeed I was most disagreeably ordered to leave. And just as disagreeably ordered to return yesterday morning. It would seem that Gen. Hamilton fears that I might learn too much by being in close proximity to his headquarters."
"I have been right here in Dublin Castle, Your Excellency and I have learned only a fraction of what I would like. I have some hazy information about what is happening here in Dublin but only confusing bits and pieces about what is happening elsewhere. Do you know if Limerick been taken as I had been told it would be?"
"Not yet to the best of my knowledge."
Birrell shook his head vigorously, "The imminent fall of Limerick has become something of a running joke between Sir Matthew and myself, Your Excellency."
Curzon grinned slightly, "I often feel much the same way but I derive very little in the way of solace from sardonic humor."
"Did you say ‘solace’, Your Excellency? I once knew well the meaning of that word but now I have forgotten its meaning."
Curzon wagged a finger disapprovingly, "We cannot afford the luxury of self pity right now, tempting as it may be. Have you heard anything about the portion of Dublin Brigade that escaped to the south? Has Pearse been killed or captured?"
"Uh, I have been told that two Scottish battalions were sent to pursue the escapees and that there is some fighting currently going on in the Wicklow Mountains, Your Excellency. Oh and it might interest you to know that none other that Sir Winston Churchill been placed in charge of the pursuing force."
"Churchill! What a curious twist of fate brings him of all people here to Ireland. Of course this is all of his own making. Without his abominable decision to send only a single battle squadron of the Grand Fleet to the Dogger Bank last December we would not find ourselves in our current predicament. I sure hope he does not underestimate the enemy this time around. Mountain fighting is not easy, esp. if the enemy knows the terrain better than you do. Anyone who doubts this should spend some time fighting the infernal Afghans! So this operation may well take considerably longer than Gen. Lowe is anticipating. Did anyone tell you how many rebels escaped from Dublin?"
"Less than a thousand is what I keep hearing, Your Excellency."
"If it is close to a thousand then two battalions may not be enough to ensure a rapid resolution."
"There are several hundred constables involved as well, Your Excellency."
"That is good but I still worry it may not be enough. Does Sir Winston have any artillery at his disposal?"
"I do not think he has any, Your Excellency. However I may well be mistaken as I only know what they tell me and that is not all that much."
"Yes, yes, I have been experiencing much the same problem. What do you know about what is going on outside Dublin and its bordering counties? I have some knowledge that the main action between our army and the Germans right now is taking place in counties Cork and Clare."
"That is pretty much all that I know as well, Your Excellency. The further that events are from Dublin the less I am told."
Curzon shook his head cynically, "Everyone keeps telling me that now that Dublin has been pacified, that the Irish rebellion has become tertiary and all that matters is defeating the Germans. Perhaps I should say the Germans and Austrians. Yet I know that the rebellion is not just Dublin. The rebels are in Waterford and up in some of the northern counties as well. Do the rebels still hold Athlone? I have been reading up on Irish history, esp. its wars. Both Limerick and Athlone are key points for controlling central Ireland."
"I have not heard anything about Athlone being retaken, Your Excellency, but as I keep saying I am being told very little. Though there is a prevailing assumption that now that the center of the rebellion has been crushed here in Dublin it will fall apart once the Germans are defeated."
"Which we both suspect is going to take longer than London is being told."
"Quite so, Your Excellency. Oh there is one relevant topic of discussion amongst the generals that I am privy to. While Gen. Hamilton and Gen. Braithwaite both feel that the rebellion will disintegrate once the Germans are defeated, they still feel that they need a better command structure to counter it. There are now rebel elements scattered over much of Ireland and they are better armed and organized than the early outbreaks in Galway and Wexford which were handled without too much trouble. Gen. Hamilton feels that neither his own HQ nor that of VI Army Corps should be directly handling most of these operations. He wants to limit the jurisdiction VI Army Corps to Munster. BGen. Lowe is to take command of all forces in Leinster except for Counties Longford and Westmeath. Those counties along with all of Connaught and Ulster Gen. Hamilton wants to place under the command of another brigadier, but he has yet to decide on who that will be. Gen. Braithwaite sees a need for this brigadier to have a large staff at his disposal and they are already short on staff officers so they are asking Lord Kitchener to send more of those."
"Well then, this at least is some sound reasoning on Gen. Hamilton’s part. My only criticism shall be to ask why he did not think of this sooner?"
"The excuse that I keep hearing, Your Excellency, is that they did not anticipate a German second wave nor that it would take so long to quash the Dublin rising."
"Hmm. I do wonder how much longer London will take these excuses. I have been told that the military trials of rebels will resume soon. Do you have idea how soon?"
"Tomorrow, Your Excellency, with executions to resume Friday. I have protested that is too soon but have been told that London intends for these executions to make an unambiguous statement."
------SMS Moltke 11˚ 30’ W 52˚ 10’ N 1120 hrs
Adm. von Hipper puffed heartily on his cigar as he gazed through his binoculars. To the SSW a large mass of smoke darkened the sky. He was sure that was the High Seas Fleet even though he could not yet see the dreadnoughts. What he did see was Stuttgart and Hamburg which had just arrived at the rendezvous point. The rest of the 5th Scouting Group was off doing some commerce raiding.
Signals were being transmitted to Stuttgart by searchlight while the wireless aboard Moltke was in contact with Adm. von Ingenohl aboard Friedrich der Grosse using the short range bands. There was no need for the flagships to come in sight of each other. 1st Scouting Group would swing around to the west of the High Seas Fleet which would leisurely reverse course and fall in behind the battlecruisers.
The lookouts now reported seeing additional vessels SSW. "I can see them admiral," Raeder commented, "it is the liners."
"Remind them that they will be travelling with us until we reach the Straits," commanded von Hipper.
------Bélem (Brazil) 1125 hrs
Not all that long ago rubber had made the port of Bélem very rich. At great cost incl. the loss of 6,000 lives the Madeira-Mamoré Railroad had been constructed to facilitate the transport of rubber from the depths of the Amazon. Unfortunately by the time the railroad was completed in 1912 the price of latex had plummeted due to stiff competition from high productive Asian fields controlled by the British Empire. The prosperity that rubber had brought to the ports of Bélem and Maunas had faded rapidly in recent years. However in the last week a buyer had come forward who was very interested in buying Brazilian rubber. That buyer was Germany. The 6,100 ton Brazilian steamer Uberaba now departed Bélem with a cargo of Amazonian rubber. Her captain was surprised to learn to learn that his destination was Cork not a German port.
------SMS Wörth Shannon 1130 hrs
As the attacks by the West Riding Division continued in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge the venerable old predreadnaught Wörth was again called to help. This time she fired her amidships turret with its 28 cm 35 cal. guns. She now had her own cable linking her fire directors with spotting stations on the land. Her rate of fire while finding the range though it was not as ponderously slow as the day before but it was still very slow nonetheless, esp. as she was trying hard not to hit friendly forces. This shelling did manage to inflict a few casualties but its main impact was more psychological than physical, disrupting the latest British attack.
------Old Admiralty Building 1150 hrs
Sir Edward Carson had returned to the Admiralty a few minutes ago and was now meeting again with Callaghan, Oliver, Jackson and Wilson. "We lost the King Orry, one of the Isle of Man packet ships carrying ammunition and reinforcements, off the Larne to either a mine or a submarine, First Lord," reported Adm. Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, "the other packet ships arrived at the Larne without incident."
"This is very disturbing news, admiral. Is there no clue which might lead us to guess whether it was a mine or a torpedo?"
"The explosion occurred in a good location for the enemy to lay a minefield, First Lord but it would also be a good spot for a submarine to post herself. The King Orry was technically a warship so she would be a legitimate target for the submarine. However neither a torpedo wake nor periscope were sighted so therefore we believe a mine is more likely."
"But a submarine cannot be ruled out," added Adm. Wilson, "as all too often lookouts fail to observe such small objects."
"Hmm. That is all too true, admiral. In that case what may I ask what is the Grand Fleet doing right now? " said Carson.
"Adm. Bayly is very reluctant to enter North Channel until more is known, First Lord. He has the Grand Fleet steaming around the Isle of Man right now," answered Adm. Callaghan, "He has gone so far as to suggest that we send supplies to Kingstown via Milford Haven as an alternative to using Belfast and the Larne. He does not fully realize that we have merchantmen at sea outbound from Glasgow. We could redirect them to Kingstown but they would still have to transit North Channel. If the menace is merely a minefield laid parallel to the shore near the Larne and maybe Belfast as well then we can safely get them into Kingstown."
"If my recollection serves me more than half are carrying food for Belfast rather than supplies for the army," stated Carson, "Delivering that food to Kingstown would necessitate shipping it by rail to Belfast and not only is the Irish rail network overworked right now but it has been steadily degraded by repeated acts of despicable rebel sabotage."
"True but in that case, First Lord, some of the food should be distributed to the inhabitants of Dublin," suggested Adm. Wilson, "who need the food as much if not more than those in Belfast."
The other admirals fidgeted slightly and cringed as Wilson said that and looked uneasily at Sir Edward, who took his time to respond, "Uh, yes, that is an interesting option, Adm. Wilson. We were of course planning to send some food to Dublin as well but only after Belfast is properly taken care of."
Carson paused and looked at the admirals. What he saw on their faces made him feel uncomfortable so he elaborated, "Belfast with its heavy industry is absolutely vital to the war effort. That includes the new battlecruiser, Harland & Wolff are building."
"But of course, First Lord," replied Adm. Oliver unconvincingly.
So Carson continued to elaborate and justify, "Besides what I have been told the population of Dublin---not counting the captured rebels---falls into three groups. Those that either never left or have returned once the rebellion terminated, those that fled during the fighting and live in tents on its outskirts and lastly those who have fled far away incl. many who are now in Ulster. This last group is probably the largest so in a sense whatever help we provide Belfast also aids the Dubliners."
"That is quite true, First Lord. So are you suggesting that the freighters with military supplies should proceed to Kingstown but those carrying food for Belfast should wait for minesweepers to clear a safe channel?" asked Adm. Callaghan.
Carson continued to look embarrassed and hesitated before replying, "Well in rough essence, yes that is my suggested plan. I will of course leave working out the details to you distinguished admirals. If for instance you suddenly conclude that it was a submarine after all that would change things."
Callaghan nodded, "As always we appreciate your confidence in us, First Lord."
Carson smiled a little, "But of course, Adm. Callaghan. I am not a pompous dilettante who will run roughshod over you like Churchill did. Now moving on, how do we stand on transferring the Duncan class battleships back to home waters?"
"Now that we know that the High Seas Fleet is returning to Germany, we have decided to use all four of them to escort a convoy of merchantmen being formed at Malta," replied the First Sea Lord.
"How soon will this convoy be ready to leave?" asked Carson.
It was Adm. Jackson who answered, "Saturday morning, First Lord. Additional freighters, mostly iron ore carriers, will be added to the convoy at Gibraltar and La Coruna. Their destination will be Liverpool whose docks have been very under utilized of late."
"And how is Adm. Limpus taking this?"
"He is politely trying to persuade us that 3 of the Duncan class would be more than sufficient as an escort, First Lord," replied Callaghan.
"Which is not true, admiral. The most serious threat to the Atlantic sea lanes once the High Sea Fleet returns home is von Spee’s contingent and that includes 3 predreadnoughts, First Lord. It is best that we have some measure of superiority," remarked Wilson.
"You make a good point, Adm. Wilson," answered Carson, "Yet I do wonder if Adm. von Spee’s force will be history before this convoy reaches St. George’s Channel. He is going to need coal shortly and we all agree he is most likely going to try to coal in Ireland. As he does Adm. Bayly will swoop down on him with the Grand Fleet and the game is over."
"We all agree with that, First Lord but he may be coaling at sea from prizes even though that will certainly damage his hulls permitting him to delay his return," said Adm. Oliver.
"Coaling at sea---esp. in the Atlantic---strikes me as an act of utter desperation," said Carson with a visible shudder.
"Yes it does, First Lord, except that we have reason to believe that he did just that with the Asiatic Squadron," Adm. Oliver replied.
"Nevertheless we expect to eliminate von Spee’s current squadron in the next 10 days. If it happens early then the convoy escort will be too strong but that it is better than being too weak."
Carson gave that some thought, "It seems that we do have extremely good odds of destroying von Spee’s warships soon. However it is not clear that we will be doing that before he reaches Ireland. This could mean that the roughly 5,000 Yanks he has brought with him will be added to the forces of Gen. von François."
"Surely that would not alter the military situation in Ireland too much, First Lord," commented Wilson.
"No, though it will not please Gen. Hamilton. I am more worried about the political aspects of the situation. Grey has made it abundantly clear to the War Committee that killing just one rowdy Fenian aboard Amerika is causing another tempest in a teapot across the pond right now. It makes one wonder what will happen if thousands of these besotted loons get ashore and start dyng in droves."
"If the Germans give them a rifle and they get slaughtered I would blame the Germans, First Lord, for deluding some dangerously naïve neutrals," answered Wilson.
"Hear, hear. So would all of us here, but there are going to be millions of Yanks who are going to see things differently. Despite their affectations about being supremely practical, the Americans are in fact a hopelessly sentimental lot."
Callaghan chuckled slightly, "Yes they are certainly are, First Lord, though the Foreign Office is more qualified than I to ascertain the political ramifications. While we are discussing the United States I would like to suggest that we finally release the merchantmen we have been holding in port from Baltimore north. Because of his coal situation Spee must be far from the American coast by now. By the time these merchantmen reach the middle of the Atlantic his squadron should be rusting on the bottom of the ocean. There are many valuable supplies, incl. artillery shells, that we have purchased but are merely wallowing in American warehouses near the docks. It is time for them to be shipped."
Callaghan gestured towards the other three admirals, "We are all in agreement on this point, First Lord. We are somewhat hesitant about sending the 2nd Canadian Division over at this time."
"Why not send them as well, admiral? We need every division we can get right now."
------Neuilly-L’Hôpital (Picardy) 1240 hrs
Some of the batteries of the British IV Army Corps had shifted to new positions. These now opened fire on the advancing battalions of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division south of the hamlet of Neuilly-L’Hôpital disrupting their attack. This was followed by a heroic counterattack by the 1st Grenadier Guards and the 2nd Scots Guards. The British regular infantry continued to be fearsome in an open field battle. This attack succeeded in pushing the Bavarians back into Neuilly-L’Hôpital but then they regrouped and were reinforced with 2 more battalions. Combined with renewed artillery fire this stopped the British counterattack but the Bavarians in turn found it difficult to resume their advance on account of enfilading artillery and machinegun fire coming from the east. Likewise the 1st Grenadier Guards and the 2nd Scots Guards were repelled when they made another attempt to resume their counterattack.
The advance of the German Sixth Army towards Abbeville had stalled.
------Enniscorthy (Wexford) 1255 hrs
After skirmishing in the early morning with patrols of the Cameronians who had retired to the vicinity of Kittealy, Count Tisza took his Hussar regiment trotting off to attack Enniscorthy with Wexford Battalion following behind on foot. He swung his Hussars to the east of the city feeling that the British defenders would not be anticipating an attack from that direction. These defenders consisted of the half company of Royal Irish Rifles that was now only a little more than half strength, plus 42 constables. They had not been expecting any attack as they felt that the Cameronians had succeeded in thoroughly routing the latest outbreak of rebellion in County Wexford. When the Hussars galloped into town nearly half of the R.I.C. quickly surrendered and most of the rest fled. The Royal Irish Riflemen were another matter. A half dozen of them were taken by surprise and captured in the initial assault but the rest holed up in several key locations incl. the railroad station.
Wexford Battalion arrived at Enniscorthy from the southwest within the hour. The Hussars provided them with the Lee-Enfield rifles they had captured earlier. The battle became one of snipers.
------Kilbeheny (Cork) 1300 hrs
After unsuccessful morning attacks on the right wing of the Welsh Division Feldmlt. Krauss decided to try to turn the enemy’s right flank at Kilbeheny in the western foothills of the Galty Mountains. The defenders there were the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who were only beginning to entrench. This battalion was part of the 108th Brigade that the Welshmen had rescued during the Battle of Cork. It had been less than half strength at that time. The Austro-Hungarians began their attack with a 20 minute bombardment. The batteries of the Welsh Division had fired off the last of their shells in the morning. Some of the shells landed at the Larne in the morning were destined for the Welsh Division but they had yet to arrive. The division’s minenwerfers participated in the bombardment. When the guns stopped firing the 4 battalions of infantry, 2 Czech and 2 Magyar began their assault. They brought some of the light mortars called presterwerfers with them. These proved useful in knocking out 2 machinegun nests that had survived the shelling and were tearing into the advancing Austro-Hungarian soldiers.
The Ulstermen fought hard but they had been seriously hurt by the shelling and were badly outnumbered. Those that were dazed by the shelling were soon captured. The rest were forced to withdraw as best they could to the west on the road to Ballyarthur.
------Carrick-on-Shannon (Leitrim) 1310 hrs
The Longford Battalion had spent the last week at Carrrick-on-Shannon along with the Leitrim support company. For a while there had been a series of small firefights with the R.I.C. with mixed results but in the last two days the constables had ceded control of the immediate area around Carrrick-on-Shannon to the rebels making it easier for them to scrounge for food and draught animals. They had maintained some communication through messengers with the 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion to the north at Manorhamilton up until the 6th Battalion York and Lancaster surrounded the town. Despite some casualties in the skirmishes the battalion had steadily grown with the addition of new members, mostly disenchanted Redmondites, and now numbered 661 men. The commandant had used the recent quiet to conduct intensive training.
Now they had visitors in the form of 3 motor cars and a truck. The lead car flew a green flag with golden harps and the men in it wore I.R.A. uniforms. The guards admitted the vehicles and summoned their own commandant. An officer emerged from the first car. The commandant of Longford Battalion was struck by how short this officer was. "I am Lt. Col. Heinrici, Gen. von François has placed me in charge of all I.R.A. forces in the northern half of Ireland. That includes your unit."
The two of them conversed. Heinrici had brought along 2 of the Vickers machine guns he has captured at Manorhamilton as well as 2 men who would train Longford Battalion to use them properly. "The reason that you have not been able to get any weapons and ammunition from the river boats is that the British have sited artillery near Portumna," Heinrici informed the commandant.
"And that situation cannot be rectified, colonel?"
"Probably not. If Gen. von François has something in mind, he did not see fit to share it with me."
"So do you want me to remain here or join your forces at Manorhamilton, sir?"
"Neither. You are to march as hard as you can back to Longford and from there you are proceed to Athlone, which the general and I both feel is very important and requires reinforcement."
"Should the Leitrim support company remain here?"
"No by itself it is too weak by itself and could easily be overrun by a determined attack of the local R.I.C. I am moving it to Manorhamilton. The Northern Ireland Regiment---I am by the way considering renaming it the Northern Ireland Brigade---is now clearing out enemy resistance in the northern half of County Leitrim. Whatever I decide to call it will advance into County Donegal tomorrow."
------Rathkeale (Limerick) 1325 hrs
The 2nd Chevauleger Regiment reached the town of Rathkeale as instructed without too much difficulty. The Chevaulegers promptly contacted the rebel outpost there as Oberst Hell had ordered. They informed them that the British had not tried to re-establish their siege line around Limerick but instead conducted frequent vigorous patrols to the south of the city. These patrols had clashed with the 16th Uhlan Regiment. As the Chevaulegers rested, another column of motor vehicles caught up with them. This group was escorted by the two Daimler armored cars that the second wave had brought with them. There were also 30 men from the 2nd Cork City Battalion riding shotgun in the trucks. Maj.von Frauenau decided it was necessary to tend to his tired mounts, but once that was done he would try to reach Limerick.
-----SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 1330 hrs
Commerce raiding was only part of the mission of Kronprinz Wilhelm which had steamed further and further west since departing Queenstown. She now began to transmit periodic encoded wireless messages
------Athlone (Westmeath) 1350 hrs
The Roscommon Battalion had grown rapidly in the last 4 days. With the help of the Athone cyclist company and Marine Cavalry Squadron it had fought several skirmishes with the Connaught Rangers and the R.I.C. to the north while receiving some hurried training. Because of the growing shortage of rifles they had received from Athlone 200 Martini-Henry rifles that had been captured inside Custume Barracks. The Roscommon Battalion departed Roscommon city late yesterday and now arrived at Athlone. The 10th and 16th battalions of Royal Irish Rifles had resumed their attack in the morning despite the return of the armored train. They had been unable to advance against the defenders, the 1st Athlone Battalion and half of the 2nd Athlone Battalion. With the arrival of the Roscommon Battalion the rebels launched a counterattack against the enemy flank. This attack had some limited initial success allowing the rebels to capture two buildings the Ulstermen had converted into strong points. The enemy rallied though and launched their own counterattack retaking one of their strongpoints in some particularly fierce combat. After that the fighting trailed off with both sides worried about preserving ammunition.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 1405 hrs
Rommel had sent the 4th Dublin Battalion under Commandant Cathal Brugha down the Military Road to try to make contact with the friendly forces rumored to be in control of Arklow. When they reached the village of Laragh they found 38 R.I.C. waiting for them. These constables had been told by their superiors to intercept a gaggle of poorly armed rebels fleeing in disarray from Dublin which were heading their way. The force they found heading towards them now was larger and better organized than anticipated. The rebels definitely did not surrender in droves after a few shots were fired. Instead they organized a methodical attack under Brugha’s direction.
------SMS Blücher mid Atlantic heading east 1415 hrs
The only prize 2nd Scouting Group had taken two prizes so far this day. The first was a 740 ton schooner with mixed propulsion out of Liverpool bound for Halifax with a cargo of high quality porcelain vases. The second was a 3,300 ton freighter come all the way from Sydney hauling a cargo of wool bound for Southampton. As they grew closer to Ireland Adm. von Spee decreed that they would be more willing to keep prizes and had issued some guidelines to that effect but it was decided that neither prize met the guidelines, and so both were sunk.
The 2nd Scouting Group had also stopped a Norwegian flagged tramp steamer during the morning. After verifying the vessel’s nationality with an inspection they reluctantly let her continue on her way to Liverpool.
A serious storm had built up in the last two hours and Blücher was now pitching and heaving inside the worst of it. Adm. Maas continued to be disappointed with the results of his cruisers’ commerce raiding. The current storm was now sharply reducing the likelihood of finding any more prizes. The admiral silently prayed that it would be one of those storms that dissipates quickly.
Suddenly a sailor from the wireless section approached the admiral and saluted. He held a slip of paper in his hands, "Admiral, we have just decoded a wireless message for Adm. von Spee and yourself coming from theKronprinz Wilhelm. The signal was somewhat faint but we believe we received all of it, admiral."
------SMS Seydlitz off the Thames Estuary 1455 hrs
Screened by a flotilla of 9 large torpedo boats the battlecruiser Seydlitz now terrorized the mouth of the Thames. Kapitän zu See Moritz von Egidy had been expecting to take several prizes off what is normally Britain’s busiest port but he was deeply disappointed bordering on shocked to find absolutely nothing. He had also hoped to provoke Harwich Force or Dover Patrol into doing something rash but they were conspicuously absent as well. Von Egidy was very tempted to shell North Forelend to see if that would stir things up but he had strict orders that he was to conserve ammunition and avoid damage from British coastal artillery.
------British Somaliland 1510 hrs
A gentle rain was now failing. Somaliland was now in what passed for a rainy season in this arid region so the precipitation was merely unusual instead of incredible but it was still welcomed by the men fighting without the benefit of shade. The current attack of the Ottomans and the Abyssinians was not a hit and run raid as they had done before but an all out offensive into enemy territory. The Senegalese initially bore the burden of the attack. Each side was sparingly armed with heavy weapons and had a very limited stockpile of artillery shells so it was predominantly infantry vs. infantry combat. The intense training imposed by Col. Rabadi was now paying off and the Abyssinians were proving to be almost as good as their fierce opponents and with a considerable superiority in numbers that was proving to be good enough. The nearby British forces were starting to come to the aid of the embattled Senegalese but so far this amounted to only a single company of the King’s African Rifles, which was under strength as was very common amongst the K.A.R.
Back at his HQ Rabadi opened the finally decorated silver cigarette case and withdrew another cigarette as he was handed the newest batch of casualty reports. He lit the cigarette and momentarily wondered if the enemy kept his line of communication essentially closed it meant he would run out of cigarettes before this campaign was over. The thought of living with cigarettes made him shudder a little. He calmed his nerves by drawing deeply on the cigarette. Then he looked at the casualty report. It was not pretty. That men under his command, both Abyssinians and Ottomans, were dying in droves did not upset provided it meant that the enemy was dying in at least equal numbers. The possibility that he was wasting his men without inflicting commensurate harm did bother him even more than the prospect of living without cigarettes.
The offensive would continue.
------2 miles south of Charleville (Cork) 1520 hrs
Pressured by the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division, Brigade Hell and the 111th Infantry Division (which now had all 3 of its regiments in action) the Lowland Division had been unable to hold Gen. Egeron’s planned stop line and was forced to flee back to the outskirts of Charleville, much to the disgust of Gen. Wilson. The Germans pursued vigorously capturing a machinegun and 2 supply wagons as well as the stores at the Buttevant army camp but a sharp rearguard action by Scottish infantrymen prevented any of their precious artillery from being captured.
The transfer of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division from Dublin was still not complete but Gen. Hammersley had enough of his forces available to administer a rude shock to the vanguard of Brigade Hell and the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division both of whom had advanced beyond the support of their artillery. The batteries of the 11th Infantry Division had an adequate stockpile of shells---unlike all the other British batteries in Ireland which were down to less than a dozen shells each. The hardened veterans of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division had survived for as long as they had by learning to respect what shrapnel shells could do to a human body. They quickly halted their attack and pulled back seeking cover. Within Brigade Hell the Bavarian Jaegers had become deeply respectful of artillery. The two Seebattalions and the Prussian Guards were a tad bolder and suffered for it along with the I.R.A. battalions under their supervision.
While this was going on Gen. Egerton halted the retreat of Lowland Division and turned to face the pursuing 111th Infantry Division. Northeast of Dromina the Highland Light Infantry checked the progress of the German 164th Infantry Regiment but the division’s artillery fired off nearly all of their few remaining shells in doing so. Informed of this setback and that the enemy had been strongly reinforced in the vicinity of Charleville, Gen. Guido Sontag, the commander of the 111th Infantry Division ordered a temporary halt to his attack on the Lowland Division. He positioned his artillery while allowing the most of his infantry to get some badly needed rest except for the 73rd Fusiliers Regiment he ordered to move to Dromcollier just over the Limerick county line. Sontag did that because he suspected that the enemy right flank was hanging in the air.
When the 111th Infantry Division was formed back in March its reconnaissance element consisted of 2 squadrons of the 22nd Dragoons. When the division was assigned to the second wave of Operation Unicorn, OKW provided them with a cyclist company as well. When they landed at Cork horses were initially in short supply and the dragoons had been without mounts but that had been rectified yesterday. Gen. Sontag finally had his cavalry as well as the cyclist company and decided to make good use of them to probe the enemy right flank esp. since the second wave had brought only a single airplane with them which was very badly overworked right now.
------SMS Köln SSW of Ireland 1605 hrs
During the afternoon Adm. von Ingenohl ordered that the small cruisers of both 4th and 5th Scouting Groups to vigorous conduct commerce raiding. Köln now captured a 4,400 ton freighter out of Trinidad with a cargo of cocoa beans bound for Plymouth. After some discussion it was decided to send her into Queenstown.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 1615 hrs
.The 4th Dublin Battalion continued to press the R.I.C. detachment at Laragh. Rommel had placed so much importance on their mission that he had provided Brugha his remaining able bodied Jaegers. Julius Gaulart in particular was in his element in the mountains. He had succeeded climbing up a mountain slope regarded as impassable and secured a wonderful sniper’s post overlooking the constables barricaded in the valley below. He quickly killed one then winged another. Now he badly wounded a third in the stomach. We felt some sympathy for the poor man who would spend the rest of the day dying in agony. Leaning over an outcropping of rock he took careful aim and fired again and the body stopped moving. Julius felt a little better. Suddenly he heard a bullet ricochet off a rock near him. The constables had seen his last shot and now knew where he was. No good turn goes unpunished he muttered to himself with a weary sigh as he slid back behind the rock. He decided to wait a while behind the rock before emerging again to either take another shot or shift position. As he was waiting he heard a strange sound. He tried to identify it as it sound vaguely familiar. He then realized what it was it.
It was a bugle.
The sounds of gunfire had become frequent. Julius cautiously peak over the outcropping. Down below he could see cavalry which apparently had just charged the constables from behind. At first he thought they were German cavalry but they didn’t look like any German cavalry he had seen before. For one thing they had no lances but relied solely on the sabre which they were employing with great ferocity. The constables were no longer worried about Julius’ sniping as they had their hands full with the cavalry. Julius aimed selecting a constable who was not engaged in close combat with one of the horseman and fired. His first shot missed but his next one wounded him in the right shoulder.
Meanwhile the 4th Dublin Battalion had emerged from cover and charged the position with Commandant Brugha leading the way. By the time they reached the constables the fighting was almost over. More than half of the constables had been taken prisoner. The rest lay dead or dying. As usual the R.I.C. had motor vehicles with them. This consisted of 4 motor cars, 2 vans and 2 trucks. One of the cars though had been disabled by a bullet in the engine. The R.I.C. had roughly 2,900 rounds of .303 with them.
Commandant Brugha approached the commander of the cavalry who turned out to be a Hungarian Hussars not Germans but unfortunately it turned out that man spoke very little English. Instead one of his NCO’s did the talking. He told Brugha that they were part of regiment of Hungarian Hussars that had landed at Waterford. Initially they lacked mounts and instead were ferried to Arklow in motor vehicles along with some Bavarian infantry and Irish rebels. After Arklow was secured they were finally provided some acceptable mounts. Yesterday afternoon they had taken the town of Rathdrum to the south which had been defended by only 11 constables who were easily overpowered. Today they had continued scouting to the north after a rebel platoon from Arklow had relieved them at Rathdrum.
"It is our good fortune that you did and we are eternally grateful for your intervention," replied Brugha, "We are part of the Dublin Brigade that managed to escape into the Dublin Mountains where we are being pursued by the British. We are moderately well armed but we are desperately low on ammunition."
The NCO translated this for his troop leader. His reply when translated back was, "We will do what we can to help you. I take it that some of your rifles are Lee-Enfield’s, yes? They are good rifles. You start by sending the ammunition we just captured back to your brigade. Meanwhile we will notify Hauptmann Schumacher back in Arklow. If nothing else we have captured a large quantity of explosives. Do you have anyone who is good with explosives?"
------south of Prichtina (Serbia) 1700 hrs
The massed artillery of the Ottoman III Corps commenced a sharp 20 minute bombardment of the Serbian positions. The weak Serbian artillery here was soon silenced. Esat Paşa had determined through strenuous reconnaissance that the enemy’s right wing was their weakest spot and concentrated his shelling there. When the shelling stopped the Ottoman infantry began their assault. The defenders only had a single strand of barbed wire and few of the dreaded machineguns. Nevertheless serious losses were inflicted on the attackers by accurate rifle fire and for several tense minutes the outcome of the battle was far from clear. The Ottomans eventually wore down the defenders with superior numbers. With their forward defensive line compromised the Serbs made a fighting withdrawal into the city itself with the Ottomans pressing them closely.
------Charleville (Cork) 1730 hrs
When Gen. Wilson heard that the Lowland and 11th Infantry Divisions had fended off the Germans near Charleville he was elated. He sent orders to Gen. Hammersley to follow up his success with an attack as soon as possible. Gen. Wilson also ordered Gen. Egerton to return the 2 battalions and 1 field battery that had been temporarily loaned from the 11th Division but also told Hammersley not to wait for their arrival to launch his attack
Because German artillery were now in range of the Ballyshakkin train station the British were now forced to detrain at Kilmallock station instead. This slowed further the arrival of the last elements of the 11th Division as well as the vital supplies landed at the Larne in the morning. Pressured by Gen. Wilson Hammersley reluctantly commenced his attack with his division not yet complete. When he commenced his 15 minute bombardment Hammerley was heartened that the German artillery failed to reply. Instead they repositioned themselves if necessary and awaited the British infantry. It was not a long wait. Hammersley threw 4 battalions into the assault and 3 of them were quickly mauled by German artillery which incl. 2 batteries of 15cm howitzers. The 4th battalion involved in the assault was somehow neglected by the German guns permitting it to attack Hell’s Brigade. Most of its attack fell on the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, which had neither entrenched nor laid down a wire barrier but had set up nests for all 3 of its machine gun companies as well as preparing 4 strong points. They had little difficulty repelling the attack.
------SMS Stuttgart SW of Ireland 1855 hrs
The German commerce raiding continued. Stuttgart now took a 5,000 ton fruit carrier out of Capetown bound for Liverpool. This prize crew was told to bring her into Queenstown.
------GQG Chantilly 1910 hrs
Clemenceau had decided to drop in on Gen. Joffre again. "What is the progress on my grand offensive, general?" he asked eagerly.
Joffre shook his head, "Second Army made no attacks today, premier, because it is rotating two fresh divisions into the line. Gen. de Castelnau will resume his attack tomorrow. Fifth Army made another attack in the Montagne de Rheims but it was unsuccessful. Continuation of Third Army’s attack north of Verdun was postponed until tomorrow morning due to heavy rain."
"All of these attacks must continue with unabated fury. What little reserves the Germans have left is being rapidly exhausted. They cannot reinforce all three sectors."
"They might be able to prop up their defenses in all three sectors if they were willing to cease their attacks on the B.E.F., premier."
Clemenceau sighed, "Perhaps that is true, but only because Falkenhayn seems to think the B.E.F. is the weak link on the Western Front. If he had succeeded in trapping the British First Army that would have an opportunity to roll up the front but it has not happened and he foolishly keeps wasting his men and ammunition trying to finish the job."
Joffre shrugged, "The Germans have left the critical line of communication alone recently and are concentrating instead on weakening the British Second Army, which is making a modest withdrawal even though we have repeatedly requested that they refrain from doing so."
"But yes! It was one of my very explicit conditions for providing them the use of two of our infantry divisions."
"Any further loss of our sacred soil is most unpleasant, premier but sometimes it is necessary to withdraw distasteful as it is for me to admit this. Foch outlined the planned zone of withdrawal and I agree with him that they have negligible strategic value."
Clemenceau glared at the general before asking incredulously, "So you agree with the cowardly British decision?"
"The fact of the situation, premier is that the B.E.F. has had a very bad time since the Germans unleashed their fiendish new weapon back in April. The First Army came very near to total destruction and did in fact lose an entire division, something they only admitted to us yesterday. The situation in Ireland has made it impossible for Kitchener to reinforce them properly or even to give them all available ammunition."
"I hope you are not going to suggest that we should reinforce them still more."
"That may be necessary to avoid further loss of territory, premier, esp. if their line of communications to England remains severed."
"Their line of communication will be restored Friday afternoon. Surely Field Marshal French can summon enough resolve to hold out until then."
"It may take more than willpower, premier. If they cannot they could still lose 5 more divisions and maybe half of their heavy artillery. That would seriously weaken the B.E.F. well into the fall when we had expected them to be strengthened by the so called New Armies beginning to arrive here in France. Even if the British destroy the German expedition inside Ireland within the next week which is what they are currently predicting, they will still be too weak to assist in our grand offensive."
"I am not sending them anymore divisions, esp. not after they reneged on their promise not to surrender any more territory and then to make matters worse completely cease exporting the coal and steel we need to wage war. They should be grateful that we are not recalling the two divisions we have already sent or stop providing the B.E.F. with food and fodder."
Joffre shrugged, "Gen. Foch and I are less than pleased with the behavior of our ally as well, premier. Our liaison has deteriorated since Gen. Wilson was reassigned to Ireland. Despite this I worry that we may find that by punishing them we end up punishing ourselves as well."
Clemenceau rubbed his chin as he pondered that, "Perhaps I shall feel more magnanimous once the war critical imports are restored to the proper level. Right now my highest priority remains pushing the Boche as far as possible from Paris, the heart of our great nation."
------Enniscorthy (Wexford) 1940 hrs
The 6th squadron of the Hussars which had not been able to accompany the rest of the regiment when it departed Waterford due to a lack of mounts had finally been able acquire suitable mounts this morning. They now rejoined their regiment at Enniscorthy. Soon after they arrived the Cameronians showed up from the west having learned from the R.I.C. of the attack on Enniscorthy and that some Royal Irish Riflemen might need rescuing. By this time Wexford Battalion and the Hussars had time to prepare their defenses. The two determined attacks by the Cameronians were bloody failures after which they withdrew to Wexford city.
------Clarina (Limerick) 2005 hrs
On the way to Limerick the 2nd Chevauleger Regiment ran into the 16th Uhlan Regiment as it passed through the village of Clarina. However it was only a single squadron of Uhlans and a badly under strength one at that. Maj. Von Frauenau was happy to see them but did not feel they were an adequate escort for his precious cargo and so decided to press on towards Limerick taking them in tow. This turned out to be a prudent decision as they ran into a company of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers near Mungret. This eventuated an escalating firefight between them and the German cavalry with the armored cars bringing their machineguns into play at one point. The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers eventually withdrew and von Farauenau forbade any pursuit as it would interfere with their mission. They continued into Limerick where they were heartily welcomed by Capt. Schultz, the commandant of the 5th Kerry Battalion, who was guarding that sector.
------SMS Regensburg mid Atlantic 2025 hrs
The 2nd Scouting Group claimed one more prize this day. It was a 3,900 oil tanker out of Galveston bound for Glasgow. It was their first prize since Lusitania to have a wireless set but it was an inexpensive set of limited range and marginal reliability. It tried to send out a call for help but Regensburg found it easy to jam the transmission. There was no question this time. This prize was a keeper.
------Clogheen (Tipperary) 2040 hrs
The 2nd Tipperary Battalion had made good time this day even though much of land they passed through was quite hilly. Part of this was on account of their acquiring 2 mules in Tallow and 3 fine horses in Lissmore which meant that the supply carts no longer slowed their rate of march. Another factor was that the Tipperary Volunteers encountered no opposition until they reached Lissmore and even there the small band of R.I.C. soon ran away in their motor vehicles after a brief firefight which had demonstrated to constables that they were hopelessly outnumbered. The local station yielded 1,200 rounds of .303 and some food. The battalion also picked up 14 new members on their journey incl. a woman whom Capt. Vopel very reluctantly decided to accept.
The Tipperary Volunteers were very eager to return to County Tipperary so they had marched hard all day. When they reached the town of Clogheen the rebels encountered the R.I.C. again. This time though there were 50 of them and they did not flee as soon as they saw that they were badly outnumbered but fell back into prepared defensive positions incl. some buildings turned into strongpoints. Capt. Vopel warned his men against charging those positions and instead tried to encircle the enemy but that took esp. as his men were exhausted from a grueling march. Clogheen was a sizable town and the constables were concentrated so it did not prove too difficult to establish rebel strongpoints and sniping posts around them. Meanwhile the battalion motorcyclist was sent west to inform Feldmlt. Krass of their situation and that had not detected any significant force moving against the Austrian flank.
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2100 hrs
Gen. Hamilton wanted to talk over today’s developments with Gen. Wilson before night fell and the wires got snipped as what had become the usual rule of late. "The Welsh Division had its right flank turned at Kilbeheny which made it impossible for them to remain at Mitchelstown, sir," reported Wilson.
Hamilton already knew this from some telegrams he had received so he was not surprised but neither was he happy, "I see. And just how far back does Gen. Friend intend to retreat this time, general?"
"Gen. Friend believes he can hold a line running from Ballyanders west to Killfinnane provided he receives enough artillery shells, general."
"Didn’t he receive the shells that were shipped from the Larne today?"
"Yes, he did, sir, but he believes that he will need still more very soon."
"We shall see what we can do, general. However looking at the map I am very worried. The position that the Welsh Division is falling back towards in going to put German---I mean Austrian, artillery within range of Kilmallock station tomorrow. So that will become yet another train station we cannot use."
"I understand that, sir, but the redeployment of the 11th Infantry Division is still expected to be completed before midnight."
"I am well aware of that fact, Gen. Wilson, thank you very much," replied Hamilton testily, "But going forward there is the need to use the railroad for supplies and reinforcements and as you continue your backpedaling that becomes more complicated."
"The retreating should end tomorrow, sir. Now that the 11th Division is in place we can and will regain the initiative in Cork!"
"That remains to be seen. For both our sakes I certainly hope so. And why is there no progress at Limerick, general? As I take it we are still not into the city itself, yet. I promised Lord Kitchener the city would be taken today!"
"The Germans are scrapping the bottom of the barrel at Limerick, general. Our latest intelligence is that their artillery there has run out of ammunition which is why they have resorted to such desperate measures such as using their antique battleships in the Shannon. On the other hand the West Riding Division was unable to make use of its artillery because the latest shipment of shells did not arrive until late in the day. They will be ready come tomorrow morning."
------SMS Moltke SW of Ireland 2105 hrs
"The 5th Torpedoboat Flotilla arrived, admiral," Adm. Raeder announced prosaically as he lowered his binoculars.
Adm. von Hipper took a hearty puff on his latest cigar then removed it from his mouth. Still gazing through his binoculars he answered, "Yes, I can see that. Go ahead and signal the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla to proceed to Queenstown and refuel as per their instructions. After that we will signal the 5th Torpedoboat Flotilla that they will serve as our screen from now on."
The High Seas Fleet had come to Ireland with 5 flotillas. Adm. von Ingenohl had decided against reorganizing his flotillas after the Battle of the Celtic Sea. 1st Scouting Group had circumnavigated Ireland with only the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla and 4th Scouting Group as its screen. When the High Seas Fleet had departed Haulbowline last night Adm. von Ingenohl had taken 3 flotillas with him leaving the 5th Torpedoboat Flotilla behind at Cork with instructions that they were to rendezvous with 1st Scouting Group on its way to the English Channel, replacing the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla.
"Tomorrow we run the Channel again," sighed von Hipper who then returned his cigar to his mouth and puffed hard.
------SMS Seydlitz Dunkirk naval base 2155 hrs
The battlecruiser Seydlitz arrived at Dunkirk. Her torpedo boat flotilla had arrived earlier and was already coaling. The Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm had also docked and was soon loading men and well as supplies. Now Seydlitz anchored in the roads because she was too big for the docks. She coaled as best she could from small boats.
------Ennis (Clare) 2200 hrs
Believing that his lack of success at Sixmilebridge was because the German Naval Division had reinforced that sector with units taken from Ennis, which was only partially correct, Gen. Baldock ordered another night attack on Ennis which he believed would allow him another entry path into Limerick. This too was another nasty affair with the burden for most of the attack falling on the resolute Ulstermen of the 109th Brigade. The amount of German Marines in Ennis had been reduced but not to zero and they fought fiercely during the night alongside the West Clare and Central battalions.
------Old Admiralty Building 2245 hrs
It was another late night for Adm. Sir Henry Oliver, chief of the naval war staff. Capt. Hall, the head of the Naval Intelligence Division, now stopped by and handed Oliver a manila folder, "Room 40 has just decoded this wireless message, admiral. It is from Gen. von François to OKW. Quite frankly it has us all a bit puzzled."
WHAT WILL BE THE COMPOSITION OF FOURTH WAVE REPEAT WHAT WILL BE THE COMPOSITION OF FOURTH WAVE STOP
For a few seconds Oliver blinked even more than Hall then he scratched his chin and shook his head. Finally he asked, "Fourth wave? What happened to the third wave? Are you sure this is correct?"
"Yes it is, admiral, I had my own doubts so I asked the decoders to double check their work."
"So what in bloody blazes does it mean, captain?"
"I do not rightly know, sir? Could it be that the Germans have still another wave coming into Ireland using the northern route again?"
"After the initial landing Adm. Callaghan instituted strong cruiser patrols to prevent the Germans sneaking in undetected via that route again even though it is reducing the availability of cruisers for other operations. Given the short nights I cannot see how the Germans could possibly slip another wave through our net."
"That is what I thought, sir. I am not sure what other explanation is there?"
"Neither do I, captain. It remains something of a mystery."
"Should we share this intelligence with the War Office, sir?"
Oliver took his time and rubbed his chin again before replying, "I think we should hold off on this one at least until we get the reply from Berlin which may shed some light on this puzzle. The First Lord has told us more than once that Lord Kitchener has been critical of the quality of our intelligence. I do not want to supply him with any more ammunition."
"As you wish, sir."
"Before you go, captain, there is one more topic I would like to discuss. Have you taken a good look at Lt. Childers lately? I saw him today and quite frankly the man is a mess. I don’t mean his uniform. That is in acceptable condition but the man inside it is not right. For one thing his posture and bearing is all wrong. He looks sickly. When was the last time he saw a doctor?"
"Less than two weeks ago, sir, I too had similar concerns and ordered a physical. I have the physician’s report if you would care to look at it. In a nutshell the physicians do see signs of stress taking a toll on him which they attribute to the loss of a limb combined with overwork."
"Are we really working Childers that hard?"
"He was eagerly putting in very long hours at one time, sir, but I forced him to limit his shift except in case of emergencies."
"Which unfortunately have become all too common of late."
"True, but most emergencies do not require Childers’ extended presence though he usually thinks otherwise. There is one other thing that I have noticed of late. He tends to get embroiled in political arguments. He is cleared a Redmondite while many of the other officers are vociferous Unionists. Needless to say the current situation in Ireland is making things a wee bit awkward for Redmond’s supporters."
"Hmm We should not let politics undermine the unit’s morale. The last thing I want to do is come down hard on a national hero, esp. one with a V.C. and a wooden leg, but if the man has become a liability rather than an asset to our outfit then we need to rectify the problem one way or another."
------Drews Court (Limerick) 2305 hrs
During the early afternoon Oberst Hell had decided to release 2 of the Irish battalions from his brigade. The North Cork Battalion he sent to Buttevant for line of communication duty. It was also hoped that unit would be able to drum up some more new recruits. The other change was dispatching the West Limerick Battalion under Maj. Ritter von Thoma to Dromcollier to assist the 73rd Fusilier Regiment in making a night flank attack on the Lowland Division as he reasoned that they would be familiar with the terrain.
Under a partially cloudy sky weakly illuminated by a crescent moon, the West Limerick Battalion now led the Germans incl. Junger. In the hamlet of Drews Court on the boundary between County Cork and County Limerick they ran into the right edge of Lowland Division’s perimeter which was the 1/7th Battalion Royal Scots which in the fighting it had seen in Ireland starting with the Battle of Dublin had been reduced to roughly half strength. It had not entrenched and had no barbed wire and had established only 2 strongpoints. Their sentries were alert though so the attackers achieved little in the way of surprise. The 1st and 2nd battalions of the 73rd Fusiliers hit the battalion, which were oriented to the northwest, from the north while the 3rd battalion of 73rd Fusiliers along with the West Limerick Battalion struck from ENE. Both sides fell in the confusion of a night battle but the Germans enjoyed superior numbers and the Scots were in a difficult tactical situation.
When news of this action reached Gen. Egerton he feared that his entire position was compromised and his artillery threatened. He therefore ordered an immediate withdrawal of the entire division to the east.
------HMS Iron Duke North Channel heading 320° 2350 hrs
"It looks like we made it through North Channel without any problems, sir," Adm. Madden told Adm. Bayly.
The Admiralty had ordered Adm. Bayly to transit North Channel at last light and continue on to the Grand Fleet’s new anchorage at Loch na Keal. This would not be the first time that the Grand Fleet had been based there. Back in October Jellicoe had used that base for a while due to his fears of German submarines attacking the fleet as they were anchored.
Adm. Bayly had not objected to the order which he understood was perfectly reasonable, yet he was anxious all during the transit and still felt a bit nervous. The more he thought about the Battle of Celtic Sea the more he was convinced that it was not the great victory that the government and the press were making it to be. In some ways it did not seem to a victory at all and he felt that upon closer examination many in the Admiralty would come to the same conclusion. For this reason he felt that if he were to lose even a single predreadnought in North Channel it might give his enemies within the Royal Navy a reason to campaign for his removal.
"You are probably right, admiral, yet I will feel better once we are past Southend. You should try to get some sleep now. I know that I will need at least another hour before I will be able to get to sleep."