by Tom B
COAL SHORTAGE GROWS WORSE
"The shortage of coal throughout France reached alarming levels yesterday. Many factories were unable to function at all while others were forced to work a reduced shift at a severely diminished capacity. The government is trying to route what coal there is to those industries producing weapons and ammunition. The primary reason for this shortage is now starting to become clear. The inflow of coal from the United Kingdom has been sharply reduced in recent days. Neither their government nor our own is telling us why this is happening. There is considerable speculation that presence of the German battle fleet in Ireland is connected with this but government spokesmen refuse to comment on this possibility. They do warn the public of a reduced railroad schedule and possible electrical power outages in the coming days. Fortunately this shortage is not happening in the middle of winter when coal is needed to heat most buildings."
---Le Figaro Thursday May 20, 1915
------Limerick city 0010 hrs Thursday May 20, 1915
Gen. von Jacobsen the commander of the Naval Division was meeting with the commanders of the 16th Uhlan Regiment and 2nd Chevauleger Regiment. "I think we are holding our current positions," said von Jacobsen, "The enemy is trying again to take Ennis tonight. The shells you brought us, Oberst von Frauenau will be put to very good use in the morning. The question now before me is how best to use the two fine cavalry regiments I now have at my disposal. I could dismount both of your regiments and send you up north to fight in the meat grinder going on around Sixmilebridge, but that seems to me to be a waste of the unique talents possessed by cavalry and I am not sure it is necessary."
The two obersts briefly exchanged uneasy glances then turned back to the general and nodded without saying anything. The general continued, "Another possibility is to have you attack the flanks of the portion of the British 10th Infantry Division which is currently positioned to the immediate east of Limerick. It has been very passive since its left wing was crushed from the front and behind and it has not made any effort to extend its cordon all the way to the Shannon again. Instead its own left flank is refused anticipating that we just might attempt another attack. I admit it is tempting to use you in such an attack but the risk that you would get caught and mauled by their artillery is too great."
"So instead I have a third option. The sooner Gen. von François can defeat the concentration of British forces in northern Cork, the sooner he can join us here with his main force. To achieve that end I am sending you south to attack line of communication of the enemy forces. You may take the two armored cars with you. We still have a small amount of petrol we can provide you for those vehicles.
I want your regiments to fight together in this action so I am forming a temporary cavalry brigade. Oberst von Frauenau, as you are the more senior officer I am placing you in command of this brigade which will be called Cavalry Brigade Frauenau. You will depart Limerick a half hour before first light to reduce the chance of British air patrols spotting you."
------Belgian Army HQ Picardy 0020 hrs
After returning to the City of Brass from his fractious meeting with Sir John French, King Albert summoned Lt. Gen. Harry Jungbluth, the Belgian chief of staff to a late night meet with King Albert. The general was firmly ordered to bring no else incl. his aide to this meeting. Jungbluth had been a lifelong friend and confidant of the monarch. He knew that the king would share thoughts with him that he did not want others to know about. When the general arrived at the king’s quarters he could hear a recording of Carmen being played on a phonograph.
After King Albert greeted his friend, he shut the door and asked the general to sit down in one of two chairs that were positioned very close to each other. The general did so and the king sat into the other one. The king leaned forward so his own face was mere inches from the general, who was finding this a bit unusual. Then it dawned on him that the music was intended to make eavesdropping difficult.
"What is wrong, Your Majesty?" he asked with mounting concern speaking in a soft voice that was only slightly louder than a whisper."
"The war is wrong, my dear old friend. Just about everything is wrong about this stinking mess of a war we find ourselves in. Today was the last straw. Field Marshal French dares to blame us for some very limited success the Germans achieved against his Second Army. This is complete ingratitude of the worst type. It was our bold attack near Nouvion at the behest of the now disgraced Gen. Smith-Dorrien that prevented the Germans from closing the noose on the British First Army. Gen. French dared to deny this fact to my face. Again I am told that we should be doing more. Again I am told that my officers are expected to take orders from British commanders. We are being made the whipping boy for the setbacks of the B.E.F."
"Yes, many of our generals are disgusted at how they are being treated by their British counterparts, Your Majesty. Some go so far as to suggest we should move from the British to the French sector of the front."
"That would not solve our problems. In fact now that Clemenceau is the French premier it would make things worse. In addition to the disrespect and ingratitude there lies a greater problem. Quite simply put it that the Entente is losing the war. Clemenceau beats his chest and announces a great offensive but since it captured Compiegne has accomplished nothing but waste the lives of brave Frenchmen. The British have repeatedly told us that the German invasion of Ireland was a colossal blunder but they have told us that there would be no Irish rebellion of any significance and that prediction has been disproved."
"The British did however win an important sea battle last Saturday, Your Majesty. While not an overwhelmingly victory it does suggest that they have finally turned the corner in the naval war."
"Yes they tell us that but we also know that the line of communications of the B.E.F. remains cut and that the flow of British imports to France has been sharply reduced perhaps halted completely."
"Both of which we are told are no more than a very temporary inconvenience, Your Majesty," said Jungbluth but his tone of voice lacked conviction.
"We shall see if that is true, now won’t we? These are the same people who tell us that Germany is extremely overstretched at this moment. And then today we are told that this supposedly impregnable Russian fortress---what is its name again?"
"Kovno, Your Majesty."
"That this great fortress of Kovno has fallen to the Germans. Those who pass this tidbit on to us are utterly astonished! As if this were the first time in this war that the Germans have seized a mighty fortress. Have our moronic allies already forgotten Antwerp?"
Jungbluth grinned slightly and shook his head, "I thought much the same exact thing at the time, Your Majesty, so your point is well taken. That the Germans can take such a mighty fortress in Lithuania at the same they are invading Ireland, mangling the B.E.F. and apparently crushing Serbia despite some recent setbacks, speaks volumes."
Albert nodded and there was a hint of tear or two forming in his eyes. When he spoke it was in a still softer voice that the general could just barely hear over the aria in the background, "Back in October when the pocket around Ostend was collapsing I came very close to surrendering myself and our nation to the Germans. I was willing to get down on my knees before Kaiser Wilhelm and beg, yes beg, for my country and my throne. It was only the intervention of first Churchill, then de Broqueville and finally my beloved Elisabeth that persuaded me to go with my naïve government and what could be saved of our military into exile. After that I was repeatedly told that a great combined offensive by the British and French would liberate Flanders in stages. Like a fool I believed this rubbish and eagerly volunteered what I could to assist in this effort."
"You are being too hard on yourself, Your Majesty."
"Am I? Listen carefully now my dear friend. Even before the recent spate of bad news and the degrading insults from Gen. French, I undertook some preliminary steps in secret towards negotiating a peace treaty with the Germans. I am encouraged by the act that amongst the Socialists that dominate the Reichstag there is a broad consensus against annexing any portion of Belgium. Furthermore there was the very encouraging speech before the Reichstag by the extremely popular Adm. von Ingenohl in favor of moderate peace terms."
"For which he was widely reviled by the German annexationists, Your Majesty."
"Yes he was, but I still feel we must at least try to negotiate. I have no reason to doubt that if Entente do indeed end up losing this war, M. Clemenceau would greatly prefer that the Germans annex all of Belgium rather than surrender a single acre of French soil."
"All too true, Your Majesty, but I do not think Clemenceau would still be premier at that point."
That comment made the king a little less sad, "Yes, that is a good point. Hopefully a more reasonable politician will replace him. The same could be said about Mr. Bonar Law. In fact until this recent overrated naval victory I was hearing that a vote of no confidence was just days away."
"I had heard similar rumors as well, Your Majesty. It is widely believed that the more thoughtful Mr. Balfour is his most likely replacement."
"That should prove to be at least a small improvement. However right now it is Belgian politicians that I am worried about most. Not of what I am telling you now must get back to them."
"I will do as you order, Your Majesty. I must respectfully point out that if your negotiations succeed they will learn of it eventually."
"Hopefully by that time it will be a fait accompli. Yes I am well aware there were will be some consequences once this awful war is over. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but yes?"
Jungbluth had some doubts about this and for a few seconds considered expressing them but in the end all he said was, "As you wish, Your Majesty."
"Good. Now there is something else we must discuss. Having our forces split between two locations gave rise to the recent unpleasantness. I want you to notify Field Marshal French and Gen. Plumer that I am moving that portion of the 5th Division we have here back to our original location between the British II and IV Corps. That will serve to remind Sir John of what we accomplished."
Jungbluth frowned, "Yes, Your Majesty, but I would strongly suggest that we accomplish this move in stages over a period of at least 48 hours lest the entire front line unravel."
"Yes, yes, you are quite right, general. I do not want us to make a statement by burning down the entire house. I think 48 hours is the right amount of time."
------near Jaroslaw (Galicia) 0100 hrs
The Russian Third Army under the command of Gen. Radko-Dmitriev, had been steadily shifting its strength to the south the last few days to assist the Russian Eleventh Army in trying to halt the advance of the Austro-German Center Army. Archduke Josef Ferdinand, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army had been waiting for his opportunity to participate in the Galician offensive. He finally received the go ahead from the War Committee yesterday afternoon to proceed with his plans. The San River was not very high at this time and could be easily forded in carefully selected places. The archduke assigned the IX Corps the mission of capturing Jaroslaw as the first step towards establishing a fortified bridgehead over the San.
The moon had long since set as the men of the 106th Landsturm Infantry Division and the 10th Infantry Division forded the river in near total darkness. Their enemy in this sector was the III Caucasian Corps. Initially the Russians were surprised by this attack which allowed the Austro-Hungarians to eject them from a portion of the riverbank but after the initial shock they rallied and prevented the enemy from seizing the key communication center of Jaroslaw by coup de main. However the improvised Russian counterattacks were unable to eject the Austro-Hungarians from the east bank.
------Oldcastle (Meath) 0305 hrs
The battalion of Irish Volunteers formed at Cavan city armed with weapons captured by Tom Ashe from the local arsenal of the U.V.F. had grown like the mythical Hydra since then. They suffered casualties in their fight against the R.I.C. who at first tried to overwhelm them and when that failed to isolate them. Yet the rate at which the Cavan Battalion suffered casualties was less than half the rate at which the battalion gained new members as the attempts of the constables to cordon them had proved to be only partially effective. The local R.I.C. did not understand this at all and seriously underestimated the size of the rebel force. At dusk the Cavan Battalion fought a short sharp battle with the R.I.C. and broke out of Cavan city rapidly heading south. For a while the constables pursued resulting in a series of confused skirmishes in the darkness. The constables captured a dozen stragglers but eventually lost contact. As they made their way south the rebels cut every telegraph and telephone wire they could find
Later in the night the battalion overpowered roadblocks in the southern portion of County Cavan. After that they were able to ford over the River Inny near Mountnugent. After that they soon crossed over into County Meath. Their objective was the P.O.W. internment camp which had been established in the last few months at Oldcastle. This camp was guarded by members of the Royal Defense Corps armed with pistols and old Martini-Henry rifles. Though the rebels thought the camp might include some captured German soldiers, its 1,300 internees were all male German civilians of military age including some merchant marine and reservists with military training. There had been plans to start sending some military P.O.W’s as well to Oldcastle but these plans had been indefinitely postponed after the invasion of Ireland. For this reason the British reinforced the guard detachment with only 20 R.I.C. after the invasion. They did use the facility to intern the Irish Volunteers commandants they arrested in southern Cavan, western Meath and eastern Westmeath and Longford counties immediately after the Germans landed.
The constables assigned to the camp merely conducted a few daytime patrols of the nearby area. They did not stand watch. There had been some concern of late that some of the internees, esp. the reservists, were plotting a breakout. The camp guards this night were as worried about possible mass escapes as they were about an attack. The rebels did not take them by surprise though and they raised the alarm and fired their Martini-Henry rifles. They were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the rebels, some of whom were armed with shotguns. The battle had moved inside the camp before the constables were ready for action. At that point things became even more confused with a dozen of the German reservists quickly coming forward to offer their help to the rebels. Fighting went on for more than an hour but in the end the rebels and their allies overpowered the guards and the constables. The rebels had lost 14 men killed and 23 wounded in the attack but had captured additional weapons, ammunition and a large amount of food as well as badly needed medical supplies.
The rebels were exhausted by now and in need of sleep. The reaction of the freed German nationals was somewhat ambivalent Some of them had grown used to their moderately comfortable captivity and were now apprehensive about what the sudden change would bring. Others though were eager to fight alongside their Irish liberators. They started by performing guard duty and fortifying the camp while most of Cavan Battalion slept. Meanwhile the Irish Volunteer commandant interned at the camp tried to contact their respective companies.
------middle of nowhere Herzegovina 0500 hrs
With the arrival of 37th (East Lancashire) Division last night Gen. Birdwood, the CANZAC commander, now resumed his attack on the Austro-Hungarian Sixth Army. It commenced with a spirited 20 minute artillery bombardment which now included the artillery brigades of the 37th (East Lancashire) Division. The blacklegs were in the mood for an artillery duel and returned fire with determination. The British batteries became so involved with this duel that they were unable to do too much to soften up the enemy trenches or cut their wire barrier. The subsequent assault by 4 battalions of the 37th (East Lancashire) suffered fairly heavy casualties but failed to take any portion of the enemy trench.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 0500 hrs
Having made negligible progress at penetrating the enemy defenses at Ennis during the night, Gen. Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, resumed his attack directly north of Limerick, believing that the German batteries were out of ammunition while his own batteries had received a limited resupply late yesterday. The British bombardment lasted only 15 minutes and the German batteries did indeed remain silent during the shelling. When the infantry men of West Riding Division emerged from their trenches the German batteries erupted with a flurry of shrapnel shells badly disrupting the British attack. The defenders again managed to hold on in 30 minutes of frantic trench combat.
------Arklow (Wicklow) 0520 hrs
A pioneer unteroffizier got out of the motor car. Accompanied by a Jaeger, Hauptmann. Schumacher approached and greeted the pioneer, "You must be Ziethen! Gefreiter Gaulart here has told me so much about you!"
Ziethen wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. He tried to smile without much success. "And you must be Hauptman Schumacher," he answered as he saluted, "Major Rommel wants to express his gratitude for the ammunition you sent Dublin Brigade last evening."
"How is Dublin Brigade doing?" asked Schumacher.
"They are holding their own for the time being, Hauptmann. Major Rommel’s biggest worry is running out of ammunition and you have helped in that regard."
"And now you are going to ask me for more," sighed Schumacher, "Unfortunately I do not think I can spare any more at this time. Bullets that is. However we do have at our disposal a large amount of explosives that we do not need. This is why your Jaeger friend here predicted that you would show up eventually."
"Yes, the explosives could prove useful, Hauptmann. With your permission I would therefore like to inspect what you have."
"Certainly unteroffizier. Gefreiter Gaulart knows where they are and will escort you to them."
------Charleville (Cork) 0530 hrs
The German 73rd Fusiliers Regiment had continued to hammer the right flank of the Lowland Division throughout the night, forcing the Scots back into the town itself. This resulted in the Lowland Division becoming intermixed with the 11th (Northern) Division. Exhaustion was putting a brake on the German attack by dawn, though north of the town the Lowland Cyclist company was making a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful effort to prevent the 2 Dragoon squadrons of the 111th Infantry Division from cutting the road leading to Limerick.
Meanwhile Gen. Wilson, who was not completely informed of the full extent of Gen. Egerton’s difficulties, had ordered Gen. Hammersley to make another attack on the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division at dawn. He now finally had all of his artillery transferred from Dublin and ready for action. These commenced firing and were soon lustily engaged by the artillery of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division plus 2 foot artillery batteries of 15cm howitzers. The Bavarians were only partially entrenched with some shallow slit trenches and a few improvised strongpoints. Some of them were out on patrol. When the shelling started they scrambled for what cover they had readily available while their artillery dueled with the British. The German gunners were highly experienced veterans while their opponents were New Army crews whose training had been halted more than a fortnight earlier than scheduled. The British batteries had a very meager stockpile of shells and could not afford to engage in a prolonged duel.
As they had been expecting to continue their advance this morning, the Bavarians had neglected to lay down any barbed wire. When the British shelling stopped two less than half strength Bavarian battalions found themselves assaulted by 5 British battalions. The defenders were slowly pressed back more than a mile but as they withdrew their supporting artillery steadily whittled down the attackers. When the Bavarians were reinforced with 2 more battalions from the reserve they managed to halt the British advance.
------Galicia 0600 hrs
Soon after dawn most of the artillery of the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army had erupted in a massive shelling to support the XI Corps in attempt to take Jaroslaw. This generated an intense artillery duel with the Russian Third Army. The Austro-Hungarian 106th Landsturm Division remained pinned down on the east bank but the 10th Infantry Division was able to make slow but steady progress creeping towards the outskirts of the city.
Meanwhile to the south, the Austro-German Center Army under the command of Gen. von Linsingen, continued to wear down the Russian Eleventh Army with its superiority in heavy artillery. The recently dug trenches of the Eleventh Army were pounded hard and easily taken by the German and Austro-Hungarian infantry assault. The left flank of the advance proved less troublesome than it had yesterday because the Russian Third Army was now partially distracted by the fighting underway at Jaroslaw. Center Army was able to take more than 2,500 prisoners and advanced roughly 5 kilometers.
Further south the Austro-Hungarian Second Army under Gen. Böhm-Ermolli continued its attack as well. Once again the Russian defenders were severely handicapped by a shortage of shells. Where the Second Army was attacking the Russian Eleventh Army it shared in the success of Center Army and was able to advance nearly 4 kilometers. Where it was attacking the right wing of Gen. Brusilov’s Eighth Army though things remained difficult. It was only because Eighth Army remained very low on shells that Böhm-Ermolli was able to progress 2 kilometers and paid a stiff price to accomplish even that.
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 0625 hrs
A German floatplane followed the Shannon all the way to Athlone. She did not have an observer only a pilot who when he saw the green rebel flag fluttering over Custume Barracks proceeded to land on Lough Ree just north of Athlone. The rebels arrived before long. In place of the observer, the plane carried 5,000 rounds of the 7.62mm rounds fired by the Russian Moisin-Nagant rifles. While the ammunition was being unloaded, the pilot asked if the rebels had any petrol to refuel his aircraft. They told him that they did. As they made arrangements to refuel his plane the pilot was taken to Custume Barracks to meet with Maj. Seibold, the commandant of the 2nd Athlone Battalion.
"Gen. von Jacobsen spoke to me at length by telephone before I left on this mission, major," the pilot told Seibold, "The general wants you to know that he has not forgotten the importance of Athlone even though the situation has become very ominous at Limerick. He asked me to see how you are holding up."
Seibold answered, "We are holding own against the British counterattacks. Our biggest concern has been that we were running out of ammunition for the Russian rifles. You have reduced that worry a bit but we could use more. Any chance of you making another trip, either later today or tomorrow?"
The pilot shrugged, "That will be up to my superiors, major. I will relay your concerns to them upon my return. However there is some other information that they want very much to know. The first is how many battalions do you have here at Athlone?"
"We currently have three battalions, the 1st Athlone, 2nd Athlone and Roscommon battalions. Next question?" asked the pilot who then extracted a small notepad and a pencil from his uniform.
"Do you know how large the enemy force is that is attacking you, major?"
"Our latest intelligence is that it is two battalions plus some R.I.C."
"So we have 3 battalions and the enemy has only two, major" said the pilot as he scribbled on his notepad, "Now here comes the question that Gen. von Jacobsen is most interested in. Do you believe that it is possible to hold Athlone with only 2 of your battalions?"
Seibold paused slightly then shrugged, "Yes, I think we can---provided we get more ammunition and the enemy is not seriously reinforced. Do you know what mission the general has in store for the ‘spare’ battalion?"
The pilot nodded as he scribbled, "Yes I do, major. He wants the spare battalion to try to liberate Galway city."
Seibold rubbed his chin for a few seconds as he mulled that over, "It is not my place to contradict a general officer but I would point out that in the past we considered that option to be too risky what with the strong enemy presence in the southern part of County Galway."
"The general made it clear to me that I was not to relate his instructions as hard and fast orders, major. At least this time. He said that if I do make a second trip up here I may well find myself carrying written orders as well as ammunition. However this time the general wants you to consider this as a strong recommendation but he leaves the final decision in your hands."
"That is a mighty big responsibility that the general is laying on my shoulders, yes? The problem is that command structure is somewhat imprecise here in Athlone. I fear that we Germans have gone native in this regard. I will want to pass this by the commander of the Marine cavalry squadron as I do most important decisions. He happens to be unavailable right now being out on patrol with his squadron but he is expected to return before nightfall. I am going to pass on the general’s orders. I believe it is likely he will select the Roscommon Battalion for this mission."
"You said the ‘Roscommon Battalion’, major?" asked the pilot as he scribbled some more.
"Look here, unless you need to return to your airplane in the next few minutes, I can have my clerk type up a concise report about our current situation here in Athlone for you to bring back to the general. No offense, but I think that would be better than these handwritten notes of yours, yes?"
"Uh, yes, it certainly will, major. Thank you very much."
------Ballyanders (Limerick) 0640 hrs
The Erzherzog Karl Division pursued the retreating Welsh Division across the county line. Gen. Friend had received 700 Welsh replacement troops during the night. That was the first batch of replacements the Welsh Division had received since coming to Ireland. They were of course only a small fraction of the horrendous cumulative losses the division had suffered. He had also received a resupply of badly needed artillery shells. Gen. Friend decided that the best was to delay if not prevent an attack on his right flank was to administer a sharp shock against the enemy vanguard. He positioned his artillery on the high ground to the northwest along with observation posts with an unimpeded view---at least when the weather permitted.
Columns of fairly well trained but still relatively inexperienced Czech and Magyar soldiers came into view and were soon treated to a sudden barrage of shrapnel shells. Their formation was quickly broken and some measure of panic set in which grew worse when two Welsh battalions emerged to make a daring bayonet attack. If the Welsh Division was not as terribly weak as it was Gen. Friend might have considered going over to a full scale counterattack. Instead he prudently ordered his attacking battalions to break off their pursuit and fall back to their prepared defenses. Once again Fldmlt. Krauss and his senior officers were called on to rally the rattled troops. He decided it was necessary to conduct a thorough reconnaissance and carefully position his artillery before attempting another attack.
------Cromarty Firth 0650 hrs
The minefield that the German torpedo boats had laid in the Cromarty Firth were thin. With the British redirecting cargo ships possessing wireless to Glasgow while Seydlitz was in the area, they only now claimed their first victim after several merchantmen and a few destroyers had passed through the area unharmed. This was a 4,100 ton ore carrier out of Mumbai hauling manganese. The explosion killed one seaman. She remained afloat long enough for the rest of her crew to make it off.
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 0705 hrs
BGen. Sir Frederick Maurice had been ferried across the Irish Sea to Kingstown aboard the old destroyer Avon. A motor car was waiting for him at Kingstown. In addition to a military driver carrying a sidearm there were 2 constables as guards in the vehicle and he was whisked off to the Curragh straightaway to meet with Gen. Hamilton and Gen. Braithwaite.
"Gen. Maurice, welcome to Ireland. I hope your voyage here was not uncomfortable," said Hamilton.
The brigadier grimaced slightly before replying "It was a rough ride, general. The seas were choppy and the destroyer a rather small vessel. The crew were a little worried that there might be German warships afoot in the Irish Sea."
"Yes, and that is why the navy remains so hesitant to use Kingstown," Braithwaite commented.
"Which however is our problem not yours," said Hamilton addressing Maurice, "What did Gen. Robertson tell you about your assignment here?"
"Well general, he said that there was a need to delegate responsibility for dealing with the outcroppings of rebellion in the northern portion of Ireland so that you and Gen. Wilson can concentrate on defeating the Germans in Munster."
Hamilton nodded, "That is correct. When I first arrived in Ireland, the rebellion was rightly regarded as a very minor problem and we rightly concentrated on defeating the Germans. Furthermore we had two corps HQ under our command. Unfortunately the Germans were able to capture Gen. Lindley and the rest of VII Army Corps HQ."
"We, of course, considered trying to reconstitute VII Army Corps," added Gen. Braithwaite, "As you are well aware Gen. von François tried to score a diabolically clever propaganda coup by offering to exchange Gen. Lindley for Mr. Yeats. Gen. Hamilton and I were decidedly ambivalent about the offer and so referred the matter to the War Office."
"You might ne interested to know that Gen. Robertson was in favor of accepting that offer but Lord Kitchener was opposed. I was told that the offer later became moot because the rebels captured Kilmainham Jail and released Mr. Yeats. Has he been recaptured since?"
Braithwaite scowled, "No he has not. We believe he was among those rebels who managed to escape into mountains, though we do not know that for sure. The relevant fact as far as you are concerned, general, is that VII Army Corps in unlikely to reappear anytime soon. This means that VI Army Corps HQ is being overwhelmed trying to deal with both the German invasion force and the growing rebellion. For this reason we have decided to divide Ireland into 3 regions. The first region consists of Munster and it shall remain under the jurisdiction of VI Army Corps. With a greater reduced area of responsibility Gen. Wilson will be moving his HQ from Marychurch to Nenagh, much closer to the main action. The second region which we are calling the Eastern Ireland Region consists of all of Leinster except for Counties Longford and Westmeath. Those two counties plus all of Connaught and Ulster comes to a total of 16 of Ireland’s 32 counties forming the Northern Ireland Region."
"And it is that large Northern region where we want you to command, Gen. Maurice," added Hamilton, "things are starting to get out of hand up there. We just learned this morning from the R.I.C. that the entire battalion we sent to eliminate a rebel infestation at Manorhamilton in County Leitrim was itself destroyed by a larger rebel force yesterday. Likewise our attempts to retake the key communication center at Athlone are making very slow progress."
"We believe that a big part of our problem at Athlone is due to the armored train that the Huns fabricated," added Braithwaite.
"Yes, but it is a very rudimentary armored train and it is almost certainly out of ammunition by now," argued Hamilton, "So I think it is high time we stop using it as an excuse for our frustration there. The same goes for the small number of German cavalry operating near Athlone, which we now think is only a single squadron. No, the real problem in my estimation is that we have repeatedly underestimated the rebels. We keep refusing to acknowledge that fact even though the Battle of Dublin slapped us in the face with it."
Gen. Maurice turned his gaze from Hamilton to Braithwaite. What he read in the face of the chief of staff was that he did completely agree with what Sir Ian was saying but did not want to openly contradict his superior in front of a new subordinate.
"Yes, Gen. Robertson has been saying much the same thing the last few days, sir. At least in private."
"So I take it that he is not sharing that opinion with Lord Kitchener?" asked Hamilton.
"Uh, not to my knowledge, sir."
Hamilton momentarily looked liked he wanted to pursue that topic further but remained silent. "Have you decided where my headquarters should be, sir?" asked Maurice.
"We have given that some thought and have decided that the army camp at Armagh would be the most suitable location," said Hamilton, "When you get there your two most important priorities will be retaking Athlone and eliminating this rebel force running amok in County Leitrim. Once that is accomplished you are to liberate Sligo city. You will have complete authority over the R.I.C. within your region as well as all army units there incl. the reserve battalions of the Irish regiments."
"Is there any chance of getting any artillery soon, general? Even a single battery of 15 pounders could make a huge difference against the rebels," asked Maurice.
"Every artillery piece we have is needed against the Germans in Cork and Limerick right now, general," replied Braithwaite testily, "Once Limerick is taken and we have regained the initiative in County Cork then and only then can we think about providing you with some artillery. British infantry should be more than enough to handle poor trained rebels without needing any artillery."
Hamilton was not completely happy with that statement and tried to ameliorate it, "Ultimately we would like to provide you with a battery but it will have to wait until the current crisis has passed."
------Old Admiralty Building 0715 hrs
Sir Edward Carson was meeting again with Adm. Callaghan, Jackson, Wilson and Oliver. "Early this morning one of our seaplanes reported a German battlecruiser, strongly believed to be Seydlitz coaling at Dunkirk, First Lord," said Callaghan, "Some light vessels appear to be coaling as well. We dispatched a second seaplane to confirm this but she has not yet returned to base."
"Coaling a battle cruiser at Dunkirk?" replied an astonished Carson, "The Huns have gone beyond being cheeky to outright arrogance. What can we do to make them pay for it?"
Adm. Callaghan frowned slightly and shrugged, "Unfortunately not much more than we are already doing in anticipation of the High Seas Fleet’s passage through the Straits, First Lord. We are laying mines at key spots and positioning our available submarines."
"There is one other aspect of this that has us concerned, First Lord," added Adm. Wilson, "There is an ocean liner with Seyditz at Dunkirk and she appears to be loading personnel."
"I do not like the sound of that," replied Carson, "You don’t suppose this is a portent of an imminent invasion of England, now do you?"
"With only one liner means we can rule out a full scale invasion, First Lord," Adm. Jackson replied, "But it could mean that the Germans will use the High Seas Fleet to support a hit and run infantry raid on southeast England before they return to Germany."
Carson scowled then turned to Adm. Oliver, "Does N.I.D. have anything---anything whatsoever that would suggest such a raid on English soil is in the works, Adm. Oliver?"
"Uh, no, sir. Nothing at all, First Lord. Not so much as a hint."
"As you are all well aware the king continues to believe the invasion of Ireland is merely a dastardly German diversion meant to siphon off our strength so the Germans can easily invade and conquer England. You and I have tended to see that as an unlikely possibility but a possibility nevertheless that we can ill afford to ignore."
There was a puzzled look on Adm. Callaghan’s face as he answered, "I am not sure what you are driving at, First Lord. This lone liner by itself could not carry a realistic invasion force as opposed to a raiding party."
"Yes I understand that but might this hit and run raid be the prelude to the actual invasion, admiral?" replied Carson, "Perhaps it is intended to test our defenses. Mind you I am not saying that this is in any way probable. I am essentially thinking aloud right now if you have not already guessed that."
"There is nothing wrong with that, First Lord. Let me reassure you that we are taking the threat of a raid very seriously and so is the War Office."
"I know you are and do not intend to be overly critical, admiral. It is just that I can’t escape this vague feeling that we are missing something."
------SMS Stuttgart Celtic Sea 0735 hrs
The commerce raiding of the High Seas Fleet continued to deliver results below what the Admiralstab had expected. During the night not a single prize was taken due in part to limited moonlight. Stuttgart now took the first prize of the day, a 2,300 ton freighter out of Buenos Aires hauling beef to Southampton. Despite the small size the Germans decided to keep her and ordered the prize crew to make for Cork. An army could always use more food.
------Enniscorthy (Wexford) 0755 hrs
Count Tisza’s Hussar regiment spent the morning conducting thorough patrols in the vicinity of Enniscorthy. They captured two tiny rural R.I.C. stations and skirmished with the Cameronians once again on the outskirts of Wexford city. They also reported that a company from the Waterford Battalion was on its way to reinforce Wexford Battalion and should arrive at Enniscorthy in another two hours. Meanwhile the count saw to it that his horses were well fed and properly groomed. He considered what should be his next course of action. He was leaning towards trying to take Wexford city and then the excellent port at Rosslare which could be used as staging areas for a major British offensive.
Suddenly a convoy consisting of a motor car followed by 3 trucks drove into Enniscorthy. The 10 soldiers riding in these motor vehicles all wore I.R.A. uniforms incl. steel helmets. The trucks carried boxes of Moisin-Nagant rifles as well as their ammunition. An Irishman with the rank of sergeant was in charge of the convoy and he demanded to see Count Tisza. As the sergeant was brought to him the count could see he was holding an envelope.
"Your Excellency, I bring you these orders from Gen. von François," said the sergeant as he handed the envelope to Tisza who quickly opened it and read:
"Count Tisza. You are to move your regiment to Arklow in County Wicklow as soon as possible. You will take all necessary action to prevent the enemy from retaking the large munitions factory in Arklow including destroying it if there is no other alternative. Send a summary of your plans plus a report on the current situation in County Wexford back with this messenger. Gen. Hermann von François"
------ Neuilly-L’Hôpital (Picardy) 0800 hrs
Gen. von Fabeck, the commander of the German Sixth Army, was deeply disappointed when he learned that his ambitious thrust towards Abbeville had been stopped by the British Second Army. He insisted that the attack be resumed before the enemy could finish digging new trenches, but Mother Nature intervened with a downpour that started before dawn turning the battlefield into a marsh which made the digging by both sides a mess. Newly dug trenches flooded and sometimes collapsed.
The rain had now subsided enough for the Germans to start their bombardment. Their margin of superiority was not what it was yesterday as Gen. Plumer had reinforced his own artillery in the area incl. bringing in 4 batteries of 60 pounders for counter-battery work. The British batteries were handicapped by Second Army’s rapidly dwindling stockpile of shells. Gen. Plumer insisted that half of the available 18 pounders be held back from the artillery duel to await the likely infantry assault that would follow.
The German bombardment lasted for 45 minutes. During the last 15 minutes their minenwerfers joined in. Some of the HE shells fired by the Germans failed to explode in the mud. The incomplete forward British trench line still took considerable punishment and the inadequate wire barrier was cut in several places. The German infantry assault today included 4 battalions from the 10th Bavarian Infantry Division which had been rotated into position during the night as well as another 4 from the 5th Bavarian Infantry Division. The 18 pounders Plumer had kept out of the artillery duel were able to break up most of the attack but some of the attackers made it through the gaps in the wire to put their grenades to good use. The end result was that the Bavarians were able to establish a toehold which was fought over for hours with both sides committing reserves into successive spasms of attack and counterattack. The Germans did hold some superiority in the number of readily available infantry in this sector of the front. Along with their grenades this ultimately allowed them to hold on to their small gain but they were too spent to advance any further.
------HQ British VII Army Corps Nenagh (Tipperary) 0805 hrs
As ordered by Gen. Hamilton, Gen. Henry Wilson moved the HQ of VI Army Corps from Marychurch to Nenagh in order to be closer to the main action. The journalists in Nenagh were more than a little surprised when Gen. Wilson soon after settling into his new offices sent a sergeant to summon them to have breakfast with himl. Arriving at the hotel lodging house that was now the new Corps HQ, the three of them were ushered by the sergeant into a small dining room where the general was seated at a table, alternately nibbling on an English muffin heavily endowed with jam and drinking a cup of tea. Sitting next to him was a civilian in his late 30’s who was talking at length with the general as they entered.
"General, these are the reporters you asked for," said the sergeant.
"All of them?" asked the general.
"Very well then. That is all sergeant, kindly shut the door as your leave."
As the sergeant turned to leave, the general smiled. Connolly had heard that Gen. Wilson was not a handsome man---downright ugly if the truth be told---and the smile did not improve his features. The general laid his half eaten muffin down on a plate. He arose and said, "Come forward gentlemen so we can get acquainted properly. As you are all well aware by now I am Gen. Sir Henry Wilson, commander of the VI Army Corps. Be so kind as to tell me your name and what newspapers you work for."
The general was staring at Murdoch who answered first, "I am Keith Murdoch, general. I am from Australia and work for both the Sydney Sun and Melbourne Herald. I must say it is a great honor to meet you, general. We have heard so much about you---"
The general held up his hand and interrupted, "---once we have seated and are eating, you can flatter me all you want, Mr. Murdoch. In meantime might I ask why you are here in Ireland and not in Albania and Herzegovina where your countrymen are fighting as we speak?"
Murdoch frowned slightly at that, "Uh, another Australian journalist, a Mr. Charles Bean, was chosen to go along with the CANZAC’s, general. There happens to be a large Irish population in Australia and so there is an immense interest in what is happening in Ireland now. The War Office therefore decided to make me an official war correspondent in this theatre."
"A large Irish population in Ireland, you say? Ah, yes I do seem to recall an Australian troublemaker of Irish ancestry. Ned Kelly was his name if my memory serves me. Is it true that some of Irish Papist riffraff in Australia still view him as something of a hero?"
Murdoch squirmed uneasily, "Ah, well, uh, that is, uh, a very good question, general. Ah, you see, uh, there are a few of what shall we say are romantic types, that still harbor, uh, a misplaced sympathy for that brigand."
"A few you say, Mr. Murdoch. What I am getting at is whether or not the Crown needs to worry about the loyalty of the Irish population in Ireland. I take it you know all about the Catalpa incident?"
"Why of course, general. But that was a long time ago."
"Not long enough, Mr. Murdoch. John Devoy was on the Catalpa and he is widely believed to have played an important role in our current predicament."
"Well that is, uh, certainly very interesting, general, but again I must repeat that the people of Australia except for a miniscule handful not worth mentioning are loyal to the Crown---"
Wilson again interrupted having his right hand, "---Thank you for reassuring me, Mr. Murdoch, though I may want you revisit this topic with you later. Let us proceed with the introductions before the food gets cold. And you are?"
"Mr. Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward at your disposal, general. I am currently employed by the Daily Sketch for this assignment. I too must say what a pleasure it is to meet you."
Wilson arched an eyebrow, "The Daily Sketch? Why would the War Office... Oh, wait a minute, don’t tell me. Now I get it. The War Office wants some first rate photographs of our triumph in Ireland, and that is what your newspaper excels at it, does it not?"
Rohmer felt with some justification that he was being slighted by the general’s logic. "Well, general, it is most certainly true that the resplendent quality of its photography is one of my newspapers many strengths, and the War Office was looking forward to publishing pictures of the dramatic moment when the Union Jack once again flies majestically over King John’s Castle, but I would scarcely say that was their sole reason for selecting this fine patriotic newspaper."
Wilson had snorted contemptuously while Rohmer was speaking. "I am most unfortunately not privy to all the discussions that go on inside the War Office, Mr. Ward, so what you say may very well be true, Mr. Ward," he replied with obvious scepticism and a hint of sarcasm, "But whatever the reason I welcome you and your talented photographer to my headquarters. And that leaves only you---Mr.???"
"Connolly, CP Connolly, general. I am an American and write for an American magazine, Colliers Weekly."
Wilson eyed Connolly with obvious suspicion, "Connolly? Now that is an interesting name. By any chance are you related to that perfidious Socialist agitator, the late James Connolly currently residing in the pits of hell?"
"No, general, I am not. My magazine was very interested in James Connolly’s trial and execution. I was doing some research in Dublin on Connolly and the Transport Union when the Germans invaded. I was the only journalist from a neutral country allowed to report on this great story."
Wilson’s countenance continued to radiate suspicion, "Well then, Mr. Connolly it would seem that you have quite a lot to be thankful for. I am not familiar with American newspaper you work for. If I might be permitted to make a wild guess and ask if most of its readers happen to be Irishmen?"
"If you mean Irish-Americans, general. I would say you are largely correct in your surmise, though I would hasten to point out that there are many readers of Colliers that are not Irish."
Wilson started to say something to Connolly but stopped himself. Instead he turned and gestured to the civilian sitting at his side, "I have someone I would like to introduce to you three. His name is Jeremy Thorne and is a reporter for that magnificent newspaper, the Belfast News-Letter. He arrived at my headquarters at Marychurch Monday so as to give Irish readers all the news they deserve in this daunting emergency."
Thorne stood up and said, "I am glad to meet you gents. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead." He then reached forward to shake hands in turn with Murdoch, Rohmer and Connolly.
"Sit down and eat, gentlemen," ordered Gen. Wilson. After they had begun to eat Wilson again addressed Connolly, "By Irish-Americans I take it that you mean mostly Irish Catholics." He pronounced ‘Catholic’ with sneering contempt.
"In all honesty I don’t frankly know general. The magazine is not a religious magazine if that is what you are driving at. Though I have been told that its founder once considered becoming a priest."
Wilson was finishing his muffin. He raised his eyebrow again at Connolly’s last revelation and just before he sipped his tea commented, "Come now, Mr. Connolly, in that case it should be painfully obvious what this magazine is all about even if it does not openly worship saints and peddle indulgences."
"No, no, no, general. If you have never read the magazine it is patently unfair of you to render such a judgment."
"I must agree with CP, here, general," Rohmer chirped in after swallowing some blood pudding, "Colliers is a rather decent magazine not an instrument of the diabolical Jesuits. Why they have even published some of my fiction."
"Oh, so you are an author as well as a reporter, Mr. Ward. I must confess that I am not familiar with your work."
"I publish fiction under the nome de plume of Sax Rohmer, general."
Wilson was momentarily startled, "Oh, so you are that chappy. While I have certainly heard of your rather unusual works, I must confess that I have not yet had the pleasure of reading any of them, Mr. Ward. Or perhaps should I call you, Mr. Rohmer?"
"Uh, either will do general."
"I have read The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu and must say that I enjoyed it immensely. A simply splendid novel with the most ingenious characters. I think you will appreciate it as well, general," Thorne commented.
"I do not have much free time to be indulging in fiction of late," grumbled the general.
"Yes, but of course, general," said Murdoch, "The grave burden of fighting the German invasion falls squarely on your shoulders. Might I suggest that we shift our conversation from works of fiction to the most recent developments of the campaign?"
"Starting with Limerick," added Connolly, "I take it that it still has not fallen because the Daily Sketch would be taking that precious photograph everyone wants taken."
Finishing his tea Wilson glanced first at Murdoch then more darkly at Connolly. Putting his china cup down he said, "You are quite correct in your deduction, Mr. Connolly. The end game in the siege of Limerick is proving, uh, more laborious than anticipated but our ultimate triumph is inevitable."
"Yes, it was Gen. Wilson’s brilliant change in tactics going through County Clare that turned things around at Limerick," gushed Thorne, "If the War Office had the foresight to assign him here at the start of the invasion, this campaign would have been over a long time ago. That’s for certain. However purely political reasons prevented them from doing so."
It seems the general has found himself a cheerleader mused Connolly while I am getting the distinct impression he does not care much for me. "So when do you think the fall of Limerick is likely to happen, general?" he asked, "This afternoon? Tomorrow?"
The general made a strange looking smile, "We should be inside the city itself today, Mr. Connolly. In the process we will capture most of the German artillery. After that there will be some urban fighting and as we discovered in Dublin that can be nasty business. It could last one day maybe two. The Germans are likely to realize that they are beaten quicker than the stupid rebels did in Dublin and in any case Limerick is a great deal smaller than Dublin which will also make things easier."
"Yes, the Germans may well surrender quicker than the rebels did in Dublin because they do not expect to be dragged in front of a kangaroo court and summarily executed like the rebels."
Wilson’s face darkened visibly but before he could speak Thorne did, "Curb your impudent colonial tongue, Mr. Connolly! The rebels are traitors plain and simple, and amply deserve to be treated accordingly."
"Thereby reducing their willingness to surrender even when they find themselves in a hopeless situation, Mr. Thorne."
Gen. Wilson gave Connolly a very cold look saying, "I would strongly advise you to watch your words, Mr. Connolly, if you wish to continue to enjoy the valuable privileges we have so graciously bestowed on you."
"Those privileges being that we are practically prisoners here at Nenagh, learn only what the briefing officers tell us and everything we write is mutilated by the censors," Connolly retorted.
"You are welcome to express your dissatisfaction in writing to Gen. Braithwaite if you so choose, but I would again counsel civility and restraint, Mr. Connolly."
"I just might do that, general."
Murdoch had mixed feelings about this exchange. He too felt frustrated with the way they were being treated but felt that Connolly was foolishly digging a hole for himself with Gen. Wilson. "Might I change the topic, general and ask what we can report to our papers about the battle between us and the reinforced German forces in County Cork?" he asked.
Wilson continued to glare at Connolly but eventually he sighed slightly and turned to the Australian, "As it is an ongoing operation I am afraid that I am unable to provide you much in the way of details, gentlemen. The enemy, which now oddly includes an Austrian unit, possibly an entire division, as part of its reinforcements, is being hotly engaged by my corps as we speak."
"Can you at least provide us with a rough idea where the fighting is occurring, general?" asked Murdoch.
"Uh, let’s see. Why don’t you go ahead and tell your readers that it is not too far from Mallow," replied the general.
"Could you be just a little bit more specific, general?" asked Connolly, "For instance, is it north or south of Mallow?"
The other reporters had assumed it was obviously south of Mallow. Wilson frowned some more. "The fighting is going on north of Mallow, Mr. Connolly," he very reluctantly admitted again glaring daggers. Murdoch, Rohmer and most of all Thorne gaped in astonishment.
"How in blazes did the enemy get so far north, general?" asked Rohmer seconds before the others were going to ask the same thing.
"Again I am not at liberty to discuss important tactical details but I can say that when the rebellion was crushed in Dublin that freed up reinforcements but even by rail it took some time to redeploy them. In order to fight the enemy with the full force on grounds of our own choosing it was necessary to fall back a wee bit. So you see the withdrawal of our forces was based on sound military principles. We have the Germans right where we want them."
------HQ Army of the Dvina Shavli (Lithuania) 0835 hrs
Gen. von Marwitz, the commander of the new created Army of the Dvina, had arrived at Shavli by motor car along several members of his staff a few minutes earlier. He and his chief of staff, Generalmajor von Böckmann were being briefed by Gen. von Scheffer-Boyadel, the commander of the XXV Reserve Corps about the most recent developments.
"The enemy tried to turn out right flank this morning, general, but the 4th Cavalry Division reinforced with 2 battalions of Landsturm was able to hold them off without too much trouble," said Gen. von Scheffer-Boyadel, "The Russians did not use their artillery at all in this operation. I suspect that they fired off most if not all of their ordnance in their prior attacks. I say we take advantage of this weakness and hit them hard as they are only beginning to entrench."
Gen. von Marwitz tapped his lips pensively then after a few seconds, "If you can make a very brief effective attack then go ahead and do so but do not, I repeat do not let yourself get carried away. We had hoped that the enemy force out of Dvinsk would not arrive until tomorrow but they have changed direction quicker than expected and have marched very hard since then. They should be here by mid-afternoon."
"All the more reason to cripple our current opponents before their reinforcements can arrive, general."
"Yes, yes, I well aware of the concept of defeat in detail, general. I am just emphasizing as clearly as possible that you will need to go back on the defensive later in the day and you should make your plans accordingly. Estimation of the size of enemy forces by airborne observers remains difficult and therefore unreliable. The second wave of the enemy counterattack according to some reports looks to be considerably larger than what you are currently fighting. I Army Corps will not arrive here until late tomorrow. There is only so much I can do with the two cavalry corps to help you before then."
------Clogheen (Tipperary) 0845 hrs
Capt. Vopel had ordered predawn attacks by the 2nd Tipperary Battalion on two of the barricaded buildings held by the R.I.C. in the center of Clogheen. One of these attacks was a complete fiasco. The other only succeeded because the Germans had provided with 30 hand grenades before he set on his mission. This was something of an accomplishment as many of the German officers still felt that the Irish Volunteers would do more harm to themselves than the enemy if equipped with grenades. However Vopel had a few carefully trained men he trusted to use grenades with acceptable effectiveness and that was demonstrated in the night attack.
Soon after dawn a force of 30 more constables arrived in motor vehicles at the outskirts of town and launched an attack but they were easily repelled. Once they saw how badly outnumbered they were the survivors fled off in their vehicles. The latest news was that 7 of the constables inside the town had run out of water and surrendered. Meanwhile a steady trickle of additional volunteers incl. one woman joined the battalion. They were also able to acquire more food and another pony to pull their carts.
Capt. Vopel now decided that he would not let the encircled constables pin him down much longer in Clogheen. It was time to move deeper into County Tipperary. Krauss no longer needed the 2nd Tipperary Battalion as a distant flank guard as the Austro-Hungarians now had the fairly formidable Galty Mountains to guard their right flank. No it was time for the Tipperary Volunteers to liberate their home county. Vopel received some intelligence this morning that the market town of Cahir was currently being held by a relatively weak garrison of constables. That would be his next objective.
------Prichtina (Serbia) 0850 hrs
The Ottoman 26th Infantry Division had finally arrived from Thrace via Bulgaria this morning. Even though they had come off a gruelling march, Esat Paşa wasted no time and hurled them into the battle for the key Serb communication center. The artillery shells they had brought with them served to more than double the Paşa’s remaining stockpile which had become dangerously low in recent days. However the Serbian artillery within the city had fired off all of theirs the day before. The attack of the 26th Infantry Division soon overran several key Serbian outposts but then became bogged down in difficult house to house fighting.^^
------10 Downing St 0915 hrs
"Has Limerick fallen, Lord Kitchener?" Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law demanded to know at the meeting of the War Committee.
"No, it has not as of yet, prime minister," replied Kitchener.
"Have we at least penetrated inside the city proper?"
"Not yet, prime minister. Though it could have occurred by now and the news not yet reached us."
"Do you realize, Field Marshal, that our repeated predictions of the imminent fall of Limerick have now become a source of humor in Commons?"
"There is nothing funny about Limerick, prime minister."
"I can assure you, Field Marshal, there are those who do find humor in Limerick. And unfortunately their number grows each day. At some point their combined laughter will be enough to bring down this government. You must emphasize that in your communication with Gen. Hamilton."
"I will do that, prime minister."
"Good. My next question is about the fighting in Cork, which in many ways is even more important than Limerick."
"Heavy fighting is continuing there, prime minister."
"Yes, but where is it raging currently? Are we advancing towards Cork city?"
"A purely temporary withdrawal was deemed necessary by Gen. Wilson, prime minister."
"Hmm and just how much of a ‘temporary’ withdrawal are we talking about, field marshal?"
"The current line extends from Charleville to Ballyanders, prime minister. The Welsh and 11th Divisions have both launched counterattacks with some success this morning. I see this as a sign that the tide of the battle has turned there."
"I hope and pray what you say is true, field marshal, but the situation in Ireland continues to worry me greatly. We are all agreed that we cannot afford to send any more divisions to Ireland at this time but yesterday you mentioned the possibility of sending 3 or 4 more battalions. Where do we stand with that?"
"Two battalions were sent this morning to Derry, prime minister, as the Royal Navy has warned that Belfast and the Larne will not be completely safe until they have finished sweeping the mines. A third battalion will be dispatched to Rosslare tomorrow morning. We have not yet decided about sending a fourth battalion. Furthermore seeing that Gen. Hamilton has repeatedly lamented that the German invasion force has some heavy artillery and he has none we are landing a battery of 60 pounders at Kingstown tomorrow."
"It is good that you are reinforcing our forces in Ireland as much as is possible without putting England at risk of invasion or neglecting the B.E.F. inside France, Field Marshal," replied the prime minister, "I cannot begin to emphasize the importance of the Irish campaign both politically and militarily."
"Though I for one would like to know what is happening in France right now," added Lloyd-George.
"The Germans attacked Second Army in what we believe was an attempt to take the important communication center at Abbeville, chancellor. They made some small progress but were halted well short of their objective," replied Kitchener.
"It would seem then that the Huns have all but given up on trying to destroy First Army," said Bonar Law, "Now while Abbeville obviously has some importance as a communication center, even if the Germans do manage to capture it, its loss is simply not on a par with the importance of regaining Limerick and Haulbowline. Clemenceau will not see it that way of course but he can go to Hades for I bloody care! I do not want to hear that we must further reinforce the B.E.F. while Ireland still hangs in the balance."
------HQ British VI Army Corps Nenagh (Tipperary) 0920 hrs
Gen. Hamilton had placed a call to Gen. Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps. Contrary to Wilson’s expectation Hamilton was during this call more interested in conveying information than demanding an update about the ongoing battles in Counties Cork and Clare.
"It has been confirmed that a rebel force, which is probably the one we thought was pinned down at Cavan, has in fact taken the internment camp at Oldcastle. I hope you did not send any prisoners there this morning."
Using Oldcastle as a camp for German soldiers captured inside Ireland had been a topic of fairly intense discussion since the landings back in April. It was quickly decided that the medical staff at Oldcastle were not qualified to deal with wounded prisoners. During the campaign of those few German soldiers that were being captured, the vast majority had been wounded. The security at Oldcastle was also a concern. It was deemed adequate for interning civilians but not for handling large numbers of military internees. There were plans to increase the security of the camp but other than reinforcing the guards with 20 constables very little had been implemented. A vague policy emerged that the camp would be needed at least temporarily when the German invasion force in Ireland collapsed at which time it was anticipated that there could be well over 10,000 German prisoners. The interim policy that was worked out as a compromise permitted up to a maximum of 100 captured soldiers could be lodged at the camp at one time and even that was viewed as a temporary expedient until they could be transferred to other locations, such as a camp that had been hurriedly set up near the army training base at Armagh.
"Unfortunately I did indeed send a busload of prisoners both German and Austrian off to Oldcastle early this morning, sir. We have begun taking considerably more prisoners recently and the prisoner facility here in Nenagh was starting to become crowded," Wilson replied.
"Unless the soldier driving the bus realized something was amiss those prisoners were likely freed by the rebels. Well that is not good but it pales beside my other news. We have received word from our spies inside Cork that the Germans are building a second armored train there."
"This is bad news indeed, sir, but not completely unexpected as they have done it before. Do we know how close the train is to being completed?"
"Hmm Our spy gives very little information about that other than the fact that the project was not yet finished at the time he viewed it which was yesterday morning."
"Meaning it could be ready for action as early as today, sir."
"Yes, that is a distinct possibility though it could also be a week before they’re done. We just don’t know. You need to be ready in either case."
"I will do what I can, sir. Might I ask if any consideration been given to constructing our own armored train?"
"Yes, it was considered just before you arrived at Ireland but Gen. Braithwaite and I felt at the time that the campaign would be won before it could be properly completed and would therefore be a grotesque waste of resources."
"The arrival of the German second wave should have entailed a re-examination of those assumptions, general."
"We are taking a very hard second look at that option right now but if we do go down that road we want to make sure that we do things properly."
------Vilkomir (Lithuania) 0930 hrs
. Due to the reorganization recently ordered by Ober Ost, the III Cavalry Corps consisting of the Guard and 5th Cavalry Divisions, was now part of Gen. von Mackensen’s Eleventh Army. It had been deployed to guard the left flank of Eleventh Army against a possible attack by the Russian XIX Corps out of Dvinsk. However by late yesterday it was clear that the Russian XIX Army Corps had veered off sharply to the west to join in the attack already underway near Shavli. Gen. von Mackensen’s orders were now for II Cavalry Corps to break through the weak Russian defences in the area, which currently amounted to a cavalry division and 3 Territorial battalions. Once they had achieved a clean breakthrough they were to head west in order to cut the railway line to Petrograd around Sventziany.
The two regiments of the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade had been deliberately separated after the fall of Kovno. While the 1st Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment had been assigned to support the advance of VIII Army Corps towards Vilna, the III Cavalry Corps except for its 30.5cm howitzer battery which had remained behind at Kovno because of mechanical breakdowns of the tractors, assisted III Cavalry Corps. The Motorized Pioneer Regiment was also remaining at Kovno for the time being due in large part to the high level of breakdowns. Some of its trucks were temporarily reassigned to the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade which had been short on trucks in working condition when Kovno fell.
The 4 batteries of the ex-naval 15cm guns that the 1st Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment possessed as well as its 2 batteries of 21cm Mörsers now erupted in a rapid bombardment lasting 30 minutes. As soon as they ceased firing the batteries began to move out to the south as Gen. von Mackensen now wanted the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade reunited. The bombardment heavily damaged the relatively weak Russian defences. Those men in the Territorial battalions who had survived the shelling either surrendered or ran away in terror. The Russian horsemen offered more resistance but in a few hours what was left of them was swept aside as well. The III Cavalry Corps then sped forward to the east.
------Glencree (Wicklow) 0955 hrs
BGen. Lowe, the commander of Ireland Command’s newly formed Eastern Region, ordered Lt. Col. Sir Winston Churchill to meet with him at the army barracks in Glencree to discuss his progress in eliminating what was left of Dublin Brigade. "The enemy is making good use of the mountains, general, but we know for a fact they are down to their last few rounds," reported an optimistic Churchill.
"I would like very much to believe that, colonel. As you have probably heard by now I am no longer in charge of just Dublin and its immediate vicinity but most of Leinster as well. Unfortunately Gen. Hamilton has just ordered me to send 1/5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers to rejoin the rest of Lowland Division as things are not going well in Cork. I need to know that if you can complete the elimination of Dublin Brigade with just one battalion plus the R.I.C?"
"Once the enemy uses up the last of their ammunition, general, they will try to slip away in small groups but if we prevent that they will have no choice but to surrender. I can still accomplish that with one battalion but admittedly it will take a little bit longer. It will also mean that more of the enemy will be able to escape our grasp but we would still be able to round up most of them."
"Make doubly sure that one of those we do get, either dead or alive, is Pearse. Gen. Hamilton and the viceroy both consider him to be even more important that that sly fox Rommel."
"I see no reason why I cannot deliver you both Pearse and Rommel, general."
------HQ Brigade Hell Buttevant (Cork) 1015 hrs
Gen. von François was in the process of moving his headquarters from Cork to Mallow. He was taking the battalion he had removed from the Erzherzog Karl Division to act as his HQ guard with him to Mallow though he promised Krauss that he would return it eventually. During the move Oberst Hell, his chief of staff, coordinated the movements of the 111th Infantry Division and 6th Bavarian Infantry Division while continuing to command his own brigade. Hell transferred the Musketen Battalion to the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division to help it fight off the continuing attack of the British 11th Infantry Division. The main offensive action intended by Gen. von François was to continue the attack of the 111th Infantry Division on the right flank of the Lowland Division. To assist in this important attack Hell transferred the 1st Seebatallion at a rapid march to the 111th Infantry Division.
------Philadelphia 1035 hrs GMT
The Benjamin Franklin, a 5,200 ton US flagged collier steamed out of Philadelphia harbor. Her captain found it slightly strange that Germany needed to buy coal. He found his destination to be even stranger: Queenstown.
------SMS Stralsund Western Approaches 1045 hrs
The 2nd Scouting Group captured its first prize of the day. It was a 4,100 freighter out of Antofagasta bound for Inverness with a cargo of nitrates. Even with the Haber process this was still deemed to be a valuable cargo and so they decided to keep this prize.
------Shiraz (Persia) 1105 hrs
The entire British colony in Shiraz, including the consul, suddenly found themselves under arrest by the local Swedish Gendarmes who had been persuaded by Wassmuss, who claimed among other things that Sweden had signed a secret treaty to join the Central Powers at the end of the month. The Gendarmes then marched their prisoners down the mountains towards Bushire.
------Ballyshannon (Donegal) 1120 hrs
In the morning Lt. Col. Heinrici IRA marched the North Ireland Brigade out from Manorhamilton through the small towns of Garrison and Belleek then on to his immediate objective of Ballyshannon, which was just over the Donegal county border. There they encountered 35 constables on the outskirts of the city. An energetic long range rifle battle ensued. Before long the R.I.C. realized how badly outnumbered they were and they sped off in motor vehicles. After that the town was easily occupied. Heinrici immediately issued orders on preparing defences starting with selecting the optimal sites to set up his machineguns.
------Grand Fleet off Isle of Mull 1205 hrs
Despite worries about mines and submarines the Grand Fleet arrived at the Isle of Mull without harm. Adm. Bayly had received orders to detach the 2nd Cruiser Squadron which was to cover the transfer of the 6th Battalion Leicestershire and the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire to Derry, along with large quantities of food and coal plus supplies for the army. The battlecruiser Inflexible, which had coaled at Scapa Flow after returning from North America, now rendezvoused with the Grand Fleet. Together they soon anchored in the Loch na Keal and the Grand Fleet commenced refuelling. The return of Inflexible to the Grand Fleet helped lift Adm. Bayly’s otherwise dark mood.
------SMS Moltke SSW of the Isle of Wight 1215 hrs
Adm. Franz von Hipper gazed through his binoculars atKronprinzessin Cecile, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, George Washington and Hohenzollern off the starboard bow. Except for a highly dubious periscope sighting, the voyage back from Ireland had been remarkably uneventful and this was bothering him. The English Channel seemed completely deserted. Neither 1st Scouting Group nor 3rd Scouting Group had taken a single prize today.
Suddenly a lookout called out, "An airplane is approaching off the port bow!"
The admiral turned towards that direction. Soon he saw the plane as well. It was definitely British but that was far from being surprising. They were too away for it to possibly be German. It could be French but then it was more likely to be coming from the south. What did strike von Hipper as a bit unexpected was that it lacked landing floats. "It is not a seaplane," he told Raeder, his chief of staff, "Which means that the British probably established an airbase on the Isle of Wight."
Raeder was watching the plane as well through his own set of binoculars, "You are correct, admiral. The airplane is circling around at a safe distance from our antiaircraft guns. I do not think that it intends to bomb us."
"I agree. Its primary mission must be reconnaissance and it is performing that wonderfully. Any hope that the enemy would not know of our presence until we reach the Straits of Dover has completely evaporated."
"Notify Adm. Von Ingenohl immediately by encrypted wireless," von Hipper ordered his signals officer.
"This is going to complicate matters, admiral. I have heard that in the planning of Operation Unicorn some consideration was given to landing on the Isle of Wight at some point," commented Raeder.
The admiral nodded, "That is true. I was in on some of that discussion. One option we considered involved taking and holding the entire island. Since that would take at least a complete division plus some heavy artillery, Gen. von Falkenhayn was strongly opposed. Another option was a hit and run raid by one or two battalions. There was much less opposition to this from von Falkenhayn but no one was sure what it would accomplish other that striking a blow to British morale and aggravating their concerns about an invasion. Perhaps we have discovered an additional reason, yes?"
------Caher (Tipperary) 1315 hrs
The market town of Caher was defended by 22 constables who made a defiant show for a few minutes against the vanguard of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion but once they saw how badly they were outnumbered they fled northeast toward Fethard in motor vehicles to warn the 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment. Capt .Vopel was then able to secure the town easily. He immediately set to erecting defenses. Caher was in the foothills of the southeast corner of the Galty Mountains. Vopel sent a team familiar with those mountains to establish an observation post atop 483m tall Mt. Slieveanard. The battalion lacked telegraph equipment but it did have a heliograph, some semaphores and a signal lamp, and a few of his men had received hurried training in their use. Lastly the battalion cyclist platoon was sent off to Fethard to try to make contact with the 3rd Tipperary Battalion.
Capt. Vopel was now faced with a surfeit of tempting next moves. He could strike to the southeast and take the large town of Clonmel, an important communications center. Another option would be to march northeast and link up with McElroy’s battalion at the walled town of Fethard---provided they still existed. Heading north and trying to take the Cashel by coup de main was also tempting. The Rock of Cashel was an outstanding defensive position but Vopel realized that if his coup de main failed that fact could easily work against him. The last option, Tipperary town, was the most appealing to Vopel. If the Erzherzog Karl Division had continued its advance its right flank would become exposed again once it moved beyond the shelter of the Galty Mountains. If the 2nd Tipperary Battalion took Tipperary, which lay just beyond the northeast corner of the mountain range, it would then function again as a tripwire for the Austro-Hungarian right flank. For the time being though he was in no rush to reach a decision and was content to let his battalion remain at Caher for the rest of the day.
------SMS Prinz Heinrich Western Approaches 1320 hrs
Operating more to the south today Prinz Heinrich captured a French flagged steamer of 4,700 tons out of Santa Marta hauling coffee to Le Havre. There was some discussion amongst her senior officers as to whether or not to keep her but her size and the fact she could sustain 9 knots tipped the scales in favor of sending her back to Cork.
------Wicklow town 1325 hrs
Rommel had ordered Commandant Brugha to take the 4th Dublin Battalion and capture the coastal town of Wicklow. The mission had several objectives. One was to take the local R.I.C. station hopefully capturing more weapons and supplies esp. ammunition which Dublin Brigade still needed desperately---though food was also becoming very worrisome. Another objective was to block a very possible attempt by the British to retake Arklow using the coastal road. Lastly it was hoped to garner additional Irish Volunteers from the local Wicklow company. One of Pearse’s disappointments during the Dublin Rising was the weak support he had received from the Irish Volunteers of County Wicklow. Hopefully with a battalion from Dublin Brigade in their midst more would take heart and join,
Wicklow was defended by a loosely coordinated mixture of R.I.C., coast guard and some poorly armed militia. The deployment of the constables were split by the need to meet both a possible attack from the west and an attack from Arklow to the south. Those defending the west end of town were too weak in numbers to do much more than delay 4th Dublin Battalion and inflict some losses. After that the fighting shifted into the town itself. The militia were thrown into the fray and suffered casualties without accomplishing much. Brugha was unable to take neither the R.I.C. station, the train station nor the coast guard station though he was able to seize several other buildings in which he set up snipers nests.
------Ballyshannon (Donegal) 1335 hrs
The1/7th Battalion Highland Light Infantry had not been sent to Dublin with the Lowland Division. Instead half of it was sent to Sligo city and the other half to Donegal city. With the help of 1st Scouting Group the North Ireland Brigade, which was then called the North Ireland Regiment, had eliminated the half of the battalion sent to Sligo. The other half of that battalion was now summoned to counterattack the Irish rebels at Ballyshannon. They brought along 65 constables. They knew that rebels outnumbered them but thought it was only about two to one and expected their superior training to more than make up for it. In reality they were outnumbered nearly four to one. Furthermore they were not expecting the rebels to possess machineguns.
Man for man the accuracy and rate of fire of the British riflemen was markedly superior to the rebels but even if the rebels did not possess machineguns it would not have been enough to make up for the heavy numerical disadvantage. Before long the British were forced to break off their attack and withdraw back towards Donegal. Heinrici pursued them vigorously and tried to envelop their left flank with one of his battalions. When the Scots realized what their enemy was doing they accelerated the pace of their retreat. The accompanying constables grew very nervous and a few even ran off. The fighting eventually worked its way into Donegal city where the British were able to deploy their pair of machineguns. They capably defended the town center, R.I.C. station and railroad station. However they did not defend the small local arsenal of the U.V.F. which Heinrici captured easily. After that he decided against trying to storm the British positions. Instead he deployed his best snipers on rooftops and sent one battalion with his pioneers to destroy a section of railroad outside of the town as well as cutting telegraph and telephone lines in the area.
------Old Admiralty Building 1345 hrs
Sir Edward Carson had just returned to meet with the senior admirals. Admiral Oliver was grinning broadly. "An airplane flying out of the Isle of Wight has detected the German battlecruisers and the ocean liners heading east," crowed Oliver, "This is in complete accord with the intelligence provided by Room 40."
Carson had noticed that both Oliver and Hall had both been very defensive about the quality of their intelligence of late. "That is most commendable, admiral," he replied, "It gives us some reason to hope that the German battle fleet is returning home. Yet there remains some possibilities that disturb me. For instance, might the Germans try to shell our southeastern coast somewhere on their way home? Or perhaps hit First Army again?"
"We have minefields defending our coast extending east from Selsey Bill, First Lord," answered Adm. Callaghan the First Sea Lord, "Likewise a minefield plus a submarine are defending First Army, which is thoroughly entrenched not on the road as it was back in April."
"Yes, that is all well and good, admiral. Still we should go ahead and warn Field Marshal French if we have not done so already."
"We did exactly that a few minutes before you arrived, First Lord."
"And you have received no indication of their intent, Adm. Oliver?"
"Uh, not yet, First Lord."
"You intercepted no wireless transmissions?"
"Oh we are picking up a lot of wireless traffic, First Lord, but most of them are summaries of the prizes they’re taken. Oh, and that includes some information they are relaying from Adm. Spee’s squadron."
"So they are in contact with Spee? Does that not definitively confirm our intuition that his squadron is not far from Ireland right now."
Adm. Wilson responded this time, "First Lord, it merely confirms that a portion of Adm. Spee’s squadron is nearby. There is still the possibility that we have discussed several times before that he detached one of his light cruisers."
"Yes, yes I have not forgotten those discussions, admiral. However one small German cruiser afoot will mean little if we can bag the rest anon. Adm. Oliver I want typed transcripts of the German messages made available as soon as possible."
"As you wish, First Lord."
"Excellent. Oh, and have you unearthed even tiniest bit of intelligence about this mysterious ocean liner teamed up with Seydlitz?"
"Uh, well, uh, not any so far, First Lord," replied Oliver apologetically.
"Let me know immediately if and when you do. Even if it is something ambiguous which I know you have a tendency to hoard," commanded Carson testily. He still had great respect for most of the admirals, but Oliver had certain traits that annoyed. It was an open secret within the Admiralty that he was seriously contemplating removing Oliver from his current position, which was the main reason for the admiral’s defensiveness.
"As you wish, First Lord," replied a tight lipped Oliver grinding his teeth.
"We are expecting that another air patrol out of Wight will find the German battle squadrons shortly, First Lord," commented Adm. Callaghan, "We will relay this information to Commodore Keyes and he should be able to use that information to adjust his submarine patrols."
"Though we would expect the Germans to perform frequent zigzags, which will make things more difficult for our submarines," added Wilson.
------HQ British Second Army Abbeville (Picardy) 1350 hrs
German long range artillery were now sporadically shelling Abbeville. Gen. Plumer was already considering moving his headquarters somewhere south. He was now on the telephone again with Field Marshal French, "The fighting remains very touch and go, sir. We gain a few yards then we lose a few yards. Meanwhile the casualty count continues to rise."
"Hmm. It could be worse. Is it safe to say that the immediate German threat to Abbeville has been stopped at least for today? Or am I being overly optimistic?" asked Sir John French.
"I regard that as a fair assessment of the situation, field marshal."
"And there is in your opinion little chance that we can throw the Huns back any appreciable distance today?"
"We are hard pressed as is just to prevent them from advancing any further, field marshal. My remaining stockpile of artillery shells is now perilously low. If my artillery is to support an attack I would need to move precious ammunition from the batteries guarding the line of communication to First Army. I am extremely reluctant to take that step. Things will be different once we are resupplied from England. Is that still scheduled for tomorrow afternoon?"
"Yes, it is, general. The transports should be arriving at Le Havre before sunset. The supply trains should be pulling into Abbeville station around midnight."
As if on cue there was the telltale whistling sound of incoming artillery. When they exploded not far away, Plumer said, "As you may have just heard, field marshal, the Germans now have artillery within range of here."
"Which is one very important reason why you need to do more to push the Germans back! Nevertheless the train station should be safe to use after dark. Is the move of the insufferable Belgies causing you any problem? I cannot for the life of me believe what a spoiled little brat King Albert is."
"I would not be too harsh on him, sir. ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown’ as they say. I do not presume to judge him as he has been very helpful previously---"
"---we have had this conversation before," French interrupted, "and for the last time I tell you their attack was not the reason we were able to keep open the line of communication to First Army. Really I think Albert never was a good commander and has become downright loony since his stubborn consort got herself wounded. And I don’t feel sorry for him one bloody bit over that mess. Honestly what sort of irresponsible knave let’s his own wife get so close to the fighting? He’s a very strange fish if you ask me."
Plumer bit his lip to keep from saying what he wanted to say. After a pause he answered, "Uh, to answer your question, field marshal, the transfer of the main portion of the Belgian 5th Division back to its original sector---"
"---No, no, no! It is not the original sector. They deliberately and irresponsibly retreated from their original sector yesterday. That’s the problem."
"Well, uh, yes that is fairly obvious, sir, but you know what I mean. It is causing some difficulty because I must quickly extend the 41st Division into the trenches they are vacating. Now the 41st Division has been gravely weakened by the cumulative losses it has sustained in the last 3 weeks but fortunately because we have shortened our lines recently it should not be too bad."
"I would deeply appreciate it if you did not crow about how wonderful things are since we shortened our lines," groused French, "There were perfectly valid reasons for not doing that sooner."
"Uh, but of course, field marshal. It was not my intention to impugn your judgment in any way."
"My generals like to say that but then they go ahead and do it behind my back anyway. If First Army had been lost I am completely certain that I would be made the scapegoat."
Plumer decided to try to shift the conversation to more productive topics, "Uh, I feel that it is necessary, field marshal, to point out that the French have in the last two days delivered only about three quarters of the food they had promised us. The same goes for fodder, medical supplies and barbed wire. I am wondering if you should bring it to the attention of Gen. Foch?"
"I would except that I am nearly certain that he is well aware of what is going on. All the miserable lying Frenchie generals are. You see they are unhappy that sea traffic between our two countries has been reduced to a very low level because the German battle fleet is still perceived as a menace despite our recent victory in the Celtic Sea. Their economy depends heavily on imports from us, esp. coal. I firmly believe that they view shortchanging us on promised supplies as a not too subtle way to express their dissatisfaction."
"But surely if the end result of this is that we end up losing Abbeville then they are hurting themselves as well as us, sir."
"Yes, but you see that is why they are sending us most of what of we need. They are depriving us of just enough supplies to make a statement but not enough to create a catastrophe. Or so they think."
"Hmm That sounds frightfully political if you ask me, sir."
"Don’t act so bleeding innocent, general. Politics is a fact of life in this army or any army for that matter."
Plumer took his time before replying cautiously, "Uh, well, there is, uh, no arguing with that, sir."
"Yes, it’s as plain as the nose on your face. Now having established that point, it should be equally as likely that surrendering any more territory is not going to make them deliver any more supplies now is it?"
------Prichtina (Serbia) 1400 hrs
Esat Paşa summoned his divisional commanders to a meeting. "The Serbian elements that are penned up inside Prichtina are relatively weak but very stubborn. I can either waste men and ammunition trying to eliminate them as quickly as possible or I can waste time by tying down my entire command to wear them down methodically. I have decided that there is no reason to keep the entire corps here. I am going to leave the 26th Division here to finish off the Serbs inside and take the rest of the corps towards my next objective which is Nish. Have your men ready to leave an hour before dawn tomorrow."
------IRS Eion MacNeill Queenstown 1415 hrs
After arriving at Queenstown the Germans armed the captured freighter Callisto with a 8.8cm gun forward and aft plus 2 machineguns. They also fitted her with a strong wireless. After consulting the Irish Volunteers they renamed her the Eion MacNeill. This was the first warship of the I.R.N. besides the minesweeping trawlers. There was a small naval component to the Irish Brigade. The man selected to be the skipper of this raider had been an Oberleutnant zur See granted a temporary promotion to the rank of Lt. Commander in the I.R.N. His first officer, chief engineer were German NCO’s. He also had 2 German gunners. The rest of his crew consisted of 82 Irishmen though as long as the Hilfskreuzer remained in port there were 5 more English speaking Germans assisting in their training. The men of the Irish Republican Navy were selected on the basis of having maritime experience. A few crewmen had actually served in the Royal Navy. The rest were only merchant marine or fishermen.
The warship was now engaged in gunnery practice in a section of Cork harbor. While this was going on her wireless section was also practising. She did not have long to work up. She was scheduled to depart on her first raiding sortie Saturday night. Meanwhile Cork and Queenstown were lively. The German hand was firmer here than it had been anywhere else so far in Ireland though they used the 2nd Cork City Battalion as their main instrument of control. The stick was supplemented by the carrot as they Germans distributed not only the agricultural produce of the rural areas but also the food that had been taken aboard prizes. Much of the civilian population of Cork city had fled during the fighting but in the last two days many of the refugees, except for the Protestants, were returning in a steady stream to the occupied city.
------Richmond Barracks Dublin 1420 hrs
The military trials of the rebels which had been suspended during the Battle of Dublin, now resumed. The military courts still consisted of three elderly senior officers with Gen. Blackadder as the presiding officer. The accused were still not permitted counsel or even to call their own witnesses. One of their first victims was Sean McEntee, who had been the commandant of the 2nd Dublin Battalion. It did not take the court long to reach a guilty verdict and pass out a sentence of death by firing squad. The sentence would be passed on to BGen. Lowe for final approval but that was little more than a formality. Before the day was over two more prisoners received the same sentence and they planned to increase their pace in the days ahead.
------HQ Lowland Division Charleville (Cork) 1435 hrs
The reports streaming into Gen. Egerton’s HQ in the last few hours were bad and getting worse. The German 111th Infantry Division had overpowered his flank guard. His artillery which consisted of 5 batteries of 15 pounders and 2 batteries of obsolescent 5" howitzers, continued to be outmatched by the German artillery which was more experienced and included a battery of 15cm howitzers.
A British airplane had landed in the last half hour claiming that a large mass of German cavalry were speeding south towards his rear. Confirming that the Lowland Divisional Cyclist Company was now hotly engaged with the enemy cavalry near Bruff and its commanding officer had reported that he would not be able to hold off the enemy for long. Egerton’s line of communication and perhaps even his artillery were now clearly being threatened. He therefore decided it was necessary to withdraw his division from Charleville northeast all the way to Kilmallock. He informed Gen. Wilson of this by telegram and Gen. Hammersley by messenger
------Oldcastle (Meath) 1455 hrs
Commandant MacLoughlain had decided to attack the Oldcastle internment camp mostly based on rumors that it contained a large number of German soldiers. When Cavan Battalion took the camp he was sorely disappointed to find only 31 of the prisoners were captured soldiers, none of them officers. Later in the morning though a bus arrived with 18 new prisoners as well as 2 guards and a driver unaware that the camp had been captured. The guards were soon overpowered by the rebels. Half of the prisoners on the bus turned out to be Czechs and 6 of the Germans were sailors from the invasion force transports who had been hastily transformed into Landsturm. Most of the civilian prisoners who had been reservists were far from keen on fighting without a proper uniform and suggested instead that MacLoughlain find a way to get them to the nearest German forces. One of the German prisoners belonged to the cavalry squadron operating out of Athlone and when informed of that MacLoughlain decided he would proceed to Athlone---eventually. For the time being his battalion was assimilating new members from the local companies of Irish Volunteers.
However in the late morning penny packets of constables began to arrive in motor vehicles. At first they merely reconnoitred but as their strength increased they were now attempting to form a rough cordon around Oldcastle. This resulted in skirmishing between rebel patrols and the R.I.C. which were able to make it more difficult but not impossible for additional Irish Volunteers to join the Cavan Battalion at Oldcastle. The liberated German soldiers were demanding that they all be armed with the best rifles available either the Lee-Enfield’s captured from the R.I.C. or the Mannlichers seized from the U.V.F. arsenal in Cavan. While part of MacLoughlain realized they were probably right, the arrogant presumption of their demands rubbed him wrong. His command was a motley crew if there ever was one. With nearly a week’s worth of food at the camp though he decided he could afford to wait until tomorrow before reaching a decision.
------Longford town 1505 hrs
Acting on the orders of Col. Heinrici the Longford Battalion was literally back where they had started. A dozen constables had moved into the town since they had departed. Two of these were quickly slain in a brief fire fight then the rest skedaddled in their motor vehicles. A search of the local R.I.C. station turned up 1,200 rounds of .303 ammunition plus some food. The men of Longford Battalion were tired from their march. Their commandant decided that they would rest there for the remainder of the day. He did send scouts to reconnoitre Edgesworthstown to the southeast as well as messengers on bicycles to both the east and west of Lough Derg to try to make contact with the rebel forces at Athlone---assuming that they still existed.
------Madrid 1510 hrs
Two government agents were watching Trotsky speak to a crowd of socialists and anarcho-syndicalists. There had been a thunderstorm in the morning which kept the numbers down but the rain had stopped an hour earlier and the sky was beginning to clear causing the audience to swell in size. As usual the greater part of the speech was about the government’s unfair treatment of de Valera but with several digressions relating to the exploitation of the working class and other topics dear to Trotsky’s heart. At the same time across town Gen. Miguel Primo de Rivera was giving a similar speech about de Valera to an assortment of Rightists and a few radical republicans.
"Senor Trotsky’s Spanish has improved noticeably of late, has it not?" one of the agents muttered to the other.
"Si. He is less awkward in his cadence and his Russian accent is not as overwhelming," replied his partner, "But what he says is still a load of horse manure."
"All too true, my friend."
"The current regime is so insecure of its power it thinks that just the slightest bit of social agitation could topple it. It is for that reason they felt that they must silence Senor de Valera, even though he was talking about Ireland not Spain," Trotsky orated passionately, "First it was Connolly who was perceived as a grave threat to the ruling order so they had him executed. But the spirit of Connolly lives on de Valera so they had him arrested as well and refuse to tell us what they have done with him. I hope that I am wrong, my dear comrades, but I fear that they plan to kill de Valera as well soon. Maybe they have even done so secretly but are too afraid of you the people to admit it. The ruling class thinks that they can stamp out the Truth by slitting the throat with the loudest voice but they are wrong. They have silenced de Valera just as they have silenced Connolly, but it is not working. Who will they silence next? Me perhaps?"
One of the agents leaned to his partner and remarked half seriously, "I will wager 5 pesetas that on this point at least Senor Trostky is correct. He will be the next one!"
His partner chuckled, "I am not foolish enough to bet against you---"
He stopped because he was becoming aware of a growing commotion in the crowd. Several of those who had been listening had started to yell slogans. At first Trotsky thought they might be trying to heckle him. However those who were shouting were almost all youths and several were obviously inebriated. The incoherent shouted slogans soon became standardized into a chant of "Free de Valera! Free de Valera!" Trotsky was relieved that they were on his side but annoyed that they were keeping him from continuing with speech. The chanting increased then suddenly some of the youths picked up rocks and other debris and began hurling into the windows of nearby shops. Order began to breakdown and a small riot started.
------northeast of Shavli (Lithuania) 1520 hrs
The Russian XIX Corps had been in action from the very beginning of the war when it was part of the Fifth Army. It had taken heavy cumulative losses in frequently intense fighting first against the austro-Hungarians and then later against the Germans. Many of its soldiers had died and others maimed but those men who had survived intact had become hardened veterans. Unlike many other Russian divisions, only a few of its infantrymen lacked rifles. When it had been under the command of Gen. von Plehve it had become used to gruelling marches and rapidly executing sudden changes in directions. The 1st Don Cossack Division had already come into action taking on the German Reserve Cavalry Division. Now the 17th Infantry Division began its attack by sending is vanguard, the prestigious Tsar Alexander III’s Borodino Leib Infantry Regiment, against the 50th Reserve Division after a brief bombardment by only half of the divisional artillery. This attack which was motivated by the flawed assumption that the XXXVII Army Corps had already badly weakened the German defenders, was repelled easily.
The Russians followed this up failure with a more methodical attack carefully positioning the entire corps artillery incl. the two batteries of 122mm howitzers and one battery of Schneider 155mm howitzers. Meanwhile the Russian 38th Infantry Division tried to find and turn the German right flank. As this was going on the German 49th Reserve Division quickly wrapped up its brief limited counterattack against a portion of the Russian XXXVII Army Corps and returned to a defensive posture. The 11th Landwehr Division which had not participated so far in this battle was now marching out of Shavli to counter the possibility of the Russian XIX Army Corps breaking through the screen of cavalry and attacking the right flank of the 50th Army Corps.
------Galbally (Limerick) 1530 hrs
After his division’s early morning setback at Ballyanders Feldmlt. Krauss positioned his artillery and set up observation posts in the Galty Mountains. He carefully planned his next attack which was to turn the enemy’s left flank at the village of Galbally near the border with County Tipperary. The Austro-Hungarian batteries now commenced a 20 minute bombardment of the area around Galbally. The defences at Galbally were not entrenched and lacked barbed wire but were centered instead on a pair of strongpoints.
Krauss was once again able to exploit the superior range of his artillery and that the Welsh Division had lost all their howitzers at the Battle of Rathmore. He suppressed the Welsh batteries and quickly took one of the strongpoints but the second stubbornly held out for a while. Gen. Friend, the commander of the Welsh Division, in the meantime understood the threat and promptly committed much of his scant reserves to this sector. This prevented an immediate collapse of the defences but it did not completely shutdown the Austro-Hungarian attack. The battle then turned into a prolonged meat grinder.
------OKW 1540 hrs
Admiral von Tirpitz came over to Generalfeldmarschal Moltke’s office. "This afternoon we have been receiving wireless reports from the High Seas Fleet about the results of our commerce raiding operations off of Ireland, feldmarschal. We are also receiving relayed wireless reports from Admiral von Spee about his commerce raiding," said Tirpitz as he handed von Moltke a typed report, "Here is a preliminary summary."
The feldmarschal briefly looked at the report then tersely answered, "Very impressive, admiral."
Tirpitz shook his head, "No. It is not, feldmarschal."
"Uh, well if you say so, admiral. You are the expert not I."
"Yes I am and I say it is less than half of what it should be, feldmarschal."
"Hmm, why do you think that is so and more importantly what can we do about it?"
"Except for the Atlantic Squadron of Adm. Von Spee, we are not taking any outbound prizes, feldmarschal. When Seydlitz cruised off the mouth of the Thames she found nothing whatsoever. The Zeppelin L.3 cruised off the English east coast today as far north as the mouth of the Humber and she detected only a single merchantman which may well be a neutral vessel. Lastly our agents have reported that there are signs of a serious shortage of coal developing in France. Even their newspapers are starting to admit that."
"Hmm. So if I am correctly interpreting what you are saying, admiral, the British have recently started holding their merchantmen in their ports refusing to let them sail. This would account for the lack of outbound prizes and the French coal shortage. I would imagine that they are experiencing other shortages of war materials as well. Coal is merely the most obvious."
"Your reasoning is sound, feldmarshal."
"Ah, so the meagre number of prizes is actually good news if it means the British have halted their trade with France and probably most of their coastal traffic as well."
Tirpitz nodded, "The Admiralstab and I have reached a similar conclusion. The mission of Seydlitz to the Cromarty Firth was not a disappointment reinforcing our suspicion that cargoes of special importance were being routed to Inverness and Invergordon whenever possible."
"Perhaps the mines that were laid there will serve to discourage that."
"Maybe for a few more days but that is all. However I never assumed there was any way we could interdict all of Britain’s immense sea traffic. We have succeeded in intimidating them for the time being. Sending Deutschland and Hessen plus light forces back out to make a very brief demonstration off Aberdeen is being considered by the Admiralstab. With the Grand Fleet anchored at Devonport the risks connected with such a mission look to be acceptable. Another problem is that while most of Britain’ imports are hauled by their own huge mercantile fleet a significant fraction does come via neutral vessels which we are not interfering with so far. The British will likely increase their use of neutral hulls. We are trying to pre-empt an increased British use of neutral vessels, esp. American ones, by employing them ourselves."
"Hmm this is all rather complicated, yes? However what is fairly straightforward is that every day French industry is deprived of British coal and steel makes Gen. von Falkenhayn’s job that much easier."
"Yes, that is fairly obvious, but we must anticipate that at some point the British will realize that it is better to accept some risk rather than let us win by default."
"And are we prepared to pounce when they do, admiral?"
The admiral with the forked beard sighed, "I would like very much to say that we are, feldmarschal, I really would, but there remains several items that continue to worry me."
"And would one of them happen to be Admiral von Ingenohl?"
The Grossadmiral nodded, "Oh, most certainly, but in all fairness there are some others as well."
------Fethard (Tipperary) 1545 hrs
About two hours ago the enemy forces encircling the walled town of Fethard had begun to leave. To Commandant McElroy the famished commander of the 3rd Tipperary Battalion, this seemed like a small miracle. This enemy withdrawal allowed his battalion to start receiving food from the outlying areas. Much of this food was donated voluntarily but some it was appropriated by force from Anglo-Irish Protestant landowners. Meanwhile 90% of the emaciated civilian population of the town promptly fled into the countryside. After the initial jubilation McElroy grew worried that this withdrawal might be a trick by the British to lure his battalion out from the safety of Fethard’s walls so it could be slaughtered in the open. His patrols confirmed that the enemy, both the British soldiers and the R.I.C. were marching rapidly in the direction of Caher.
The latest development was the arrival of 3 cyclists wearing I.R.A. tunics claiming to be part of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion. They all told McElroy that the 2nd Tipperary Battalion had taken Caher in the morning. They also gave McElroy a rough estimate of the size of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion which turned out to be considerably weaker than McElroy’s own battalion. This finally spurred McElroy to issue orders for his battalion to prepare to depart Fethard.
------ Neuilly-L’Hôpital (Picardy) 1600 hrs
The fighting continued without respite in and aroundNeuilly-L’Hôpital. The Germans had managed to consolidate their meager gains and pressured by a disappointed Gen. von Fabeck prepared to make another major effort. Their batteries had been firing sporadically since noon trying to disrupt the British attempts to dig new trenches and lay down wire barriers but now their firing intensified and the minenwerfers joined in as well. The British defenders were fighting from a very incomplete entrenchment and were hard hit. The British artillery was forced to duel with the German batteries despite serious concerns about their low reserves of shells. After 30 minutes of intense shelling 6 Bavarian battalions made their assault. While the shelling had inflicted serious losses on the defenders enough unharmed British soldiers remained ready and alert to bring down many of the attackers but the no mans land was short here and the British wire barriers incomplete letting some of the attackers get within hand grenade distance with acceptable losses. The result was more heavy fighting with the Germans eventually able to the push the British back nearly a kilometer. Once again pressure on the flanks of the advance was causing problems. The Germans subsequently lost half of there limited gains to a series of desperate British counterattacks. After that both sides were too spent to do much for the rest of the day.
------SMS Regensburg Western Approaches 1605 hrs
Regensburg captured a 3,900 ton freighter out of Quebec hauling a cargo of asbestos bound for Liverpool. The freighter had a wireless but it was weak and unreliable with a poorly trained operator. As asbestos was a highly prized commodity the Germans decided to keep this prize as well.
------near Meiszagola (Lithuania) 1620 hrs
The German 3rd and 8th Cavalry Divisions supported by the 2nd Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment had doggedly pursued the Russian forces fleeing from Kovno towards Vilna. In the process they had repeatedly engaged Russian cavalry and gobbled up the poorly armed and largely untrained Territorial battalions which the Russians were readily sacrificing in order to slow down their pursuers. However on a hill near the village of Meiszagola about 18 miles from Vilna on the road to Vilkomir the 8th Cavalry Division encountered a 2nd line Russian infantry division that had just arrived and soon realized that they could not dislodge them without help.
The 2nd Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment was notified of this development. It was set up with its 15cm/L45 field guns within range of Meiszagola and soon commenced a sporadic shelling. Meanwhile the VIII Army Corps caught up with the cavalry and the 2nd Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment reunited with the 1st Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment. Together they prepared to launch a dawn attack. In the early days of Operation Fulcrum an army airship had accompanied the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade but she was forced to leave on account of steering problems soon after the siege of Kovno started. A replacement was finally on her way and was expected to arrive before dawn.
------La Coruna (Spain) 1645 hrs
A 4,400 ton Spanish flagged steamer departed La Coruna carrying fine Spanish riding horses which had been purchased on credit. Her destination was Cork.
------HQ Army Detachment François Mallow (Cork) 1655 hrs
Gen. von François had Oberst Hell, who was still at Buttevant, on the telephone, "General, there are increasing signs that the British are pulling out from Charleville, withdrawing to the northeast. The main road to Limerick now looks to be clear now."
"But the enemy artillery makes it too dangerous for us to use by day."
"Yes, but if the enemy continues to retreat it should be safe to use after dark, general. I am suggesting that we send horse drawn wagons with munitions to Limerick escorted by 1st Seebattalion, the West Limerick Battalion and the 4 Matrosen Feldersatz companies which arrived here a few hours ago. If these can make it to Limerick before dawn it, which I think is likely, Gen. von Jacobsen’s situation tomorrow will be much improved."
There was only a slight hesitation before the general answered, "This is a very sound suggestion, oberst. You have my approval but do not send any additional units to Limerick on your own initiative. I know you wish to break up your brigade soon so you can perform your duties as my chief of staff full time once again, but we will need Brigade Hell for at least one more day. I am continuing to press the enemy flanks but cannot afford to ignore the enemy’s repeated counterattacks in the center. The 6th Bavarian Division has lost so many men in this campaign I want Brigade Hell to help take some of the pressure."
Hell sighed slightly. The general was unable to hear it on the opposite end of the telephone line, "As you wish, general."
"Very good. Now there is another bit of encouraging news I am delighted to bring up. Word has come to me within the last hour that Maj. Rommel was able to escape from Dublin into the Wicklow Mountains with a portion of Dublin Brigade, incl. Herr Pearse. He has nearly 2,000 men currently under his command though that number includes some walking wounded."
Hell had never really cared much for Rommel whom he considered to be a glory hound of the worst sort, but he also knew that the general was very fond of his golden boy so he answered cautiously after another deeper sigh, "That is wonderful news, general. We had thought that the enemy had completely destroyed Dublin Brigade. There is some potential for propaganda in Pearse."
"We have an open line of communication into County Wexford now and a small mixed contingent at Arklow. I am sending ammunition and some more rifles in motor vehicles. If these supplies reach Rommel I feel confident that he will be able to cause serious trouble deep in the enemy’s rear and keep them badly distracted while we link up with our forces at Limerick."
"Have you given consideration to what you plan to do after that, general?"
"Yes, I have. I have a very interesting plan that I look forward to discussing with you in detail once we can disband your temporary brigade and return you here where you belong."
"I am looking forward to that very much, general," answered Hell with complete sincerity. ^^^^^
GERMANS CONTINUE TO ADVANCE IN CORK
"The government has acknowledged that the German and Austrian forces in County Cork continued to advance yesterday and are now north of Mallow. Meanwhile the fighting north of Limerick remains intense but the government is confident that the Germans are on their last legs there. When it occurs, the liberation of Limerick will free up British forces to counter the main enemy force in County Cork. The government did confirm that rebel forces with the assistance of German warships have captured the port of Sligo. While it is still believed that the defeat of the Irish rebels in Dublin signals the end of the rebellion, it appears that this dissolution will take some time during which they can still cause problems for Gen. Hamilton."
------The Daily Mail Thursday May 20, 1915
------Velés (Serbia) 1710 hrs
During Operation Tourniquet, the Serbian Macedonian Army had suffered heavily under the blows of the Bulgarian Second Army and the Ottoman III Corps. Weak to start compared to the other Serbian armies, they had received negligible reinforcements from Putnik, who committed nearly all of his available reserves to his bold counterattack against the German Tenth Army. After the fall of Skopje what was left of the Macedonian Army began to split into two pieces. The weaker fragment tried in vain to counter the Ottoman march to the north. The other considerably stronger portion fought hard to halt the advance of the Bulgarians down the Vardar Valley. A ferocious battle had begun yesterday morning near the important communication center at Velés, where the Macedonian Army made one final desperate effort to halt the Bulgarians. The Serbs fought hard but in the end the much greater strength of the Bulgarian Second Army was simply too much for them. The Bulgarians had now taken Velés and were trying to mop up what was left of the Macedonian Army, which was hurriedly retreating into the rugged hills to the west and southwest. South of Velés the Vardar Valley empties into a broad plain and this was now open. The Bulgarian Cavalry Division after scooping up a Serbian battalion which had been reduced to less than the strength of a company, trotted southeast towards the Greek border.
------SMS Blücher Western Approaches 1725 hrs
Blücher now captured a rickety old 1,300 ton schooner with mixed propulsion out of Inverness bound for Jamaica with a cargo of typewriters. Neither the cargo nor the vessel were regarded as worth keeping by Adm. Maas and the ship was promptly sunk with explosive charges.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 1800 hrs
The West Riding Division made another assault on the German Marines in the area around Sixmilebridge. The German entrenchments in this sector had slowly evolved over the course of the last two days. They were still a bit haphazard bordering on sloppy. They only had a single strand of barbed wire as the German Naval Division had nearly exhausted their stockpile of that precious commodity. The no man’s land remained short. Fortunately for the Germans the attackers possessed only a modest number of barely adequate jam tin bombs. For their part the German Marines were down to their last few hand grenades. The end result was more short range fighting; more men clubbing, stabbing, stomping, kicking, clawing, gouging and even occasionally biting each other inside the narrow muddy trenches. The end result was that a small British gain paid for with heavy casualties, was soon lost to a determined German counterattack.
------Caher (Tipperary) 1810 hrs
The 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington had been involved in the original siege of Fethard where it had lost nearly half its strength. After the rebels and Uhlans broke out of Cashel it had been ordered to guard Cashel as line of communication duty for a while. When the rebels recently returned to Fethard it left one company behind at Cashel and the rest marched down to Fethard. There it made one cautious attempt to assault the walled town and when that failed it tried to cordon off the rebels with some assistance from the R.I.C.
This morning it had received word from the R.I.C. that another rebel force had taken the important market town of Caher. The battalion commander decided that to relinquish the cordon around Fethard and force marched his battalion along with the constables under his command to deal with the new threat at Caher. These were spotted by the rebel observation posts in the mountains as they approached Caher. The 2nd Tipperary Battalion numbered just under 400 men and the combined strength of the 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington plus the accompanying R.I.C. was only slightly more. The defenses that Capt. Vopel had ordered erected as quickly as possible now proved their worth but even with them the rebels were hard pressed for several tense minutes.
Then word came to the commander of the 1/4th Duke of Wellington that another sizable band of rebels were approaching his rear. He ordered his men to turn about to meet this new threat which he hoped to defeat quickly in an open field engagement. The marksmanship of his men was superior to the rebels but he was outnumbered nearly two to one by the 3rd Tipperary Battalion, which contrary to his expectation held their ground resolutely. The colonel still thought he could ultimately prevail but worried that his battalion would be destroyed if the rebels inside Caher counterattacked at this time. He reluctantly ordered his men to break off the action and withdraw to the north.
This turned out to be a prudent move because Capt. Vopel before long did attack. Disengaging under these circumstances was difficult. A few of the constables panicked and a half dozen of them surrendered to the rebels but most of the R.I.C. and all of the Duke of Wellington soldiers kept their head. The colonel was able to prevent his machineguns from being captured and only lost one supply wagon. This wagon did not have any ammunition but contained mostly food. The famished rebels of the 2nd Tipperary Battalion were not disappointed. What was left of the 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington quickly retired to Cashel where its fourth company was stationed.
------SMS Moltke Eastern Channel 1830 hrs
First Scouting Group was heading ENE with Moltke in the lead. Their speed had been increased to 20 knots an hour ago. The 4th Scouting Group along with flotilla and the transports had been detached earlier. "It is time, admiral," Raeder informed Adm. Von Hipper.
"Yes, it is time. Flags! Signal a 16 point turn to port in succession."
------northwest of Kilmallock (Limerick) 1855 hrs
The 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers had been part of the 16th (Irish) Infantry Division, but had been detached early on to perform line of communications duty guarding the railroad at the town of Kilmallock. It had one serious engagement with the rebels back in April but since then had seen very little action while the rest of its division had suffered near total destruction at the hands of the Germans. News of what happened to their division has made the 6th Connaught Rangers eager to take on the Germans. During the afternoon Gen. Wilson ordered them placed under the command of Gen. Egerton as the German 111th Infantry Division continues its efforts to envelop the right flank of the Lowland Division. Wilson warned Egerton not to expect much of the 6th Connaught Rangers, an overwhelmingly Catholic unit, but to the contrary their spirited counterattack succeeded in removing the immediate threat to the right flank of the Lowland Division.
------British Somaliland 1910 hrs
The fighting continued in Somaliland all day and the casualty numbers that worked their way back to Lt. Col. Rabadi’s HQ steadily mounted. He was not surprised in the least by this. He had been frankly expecting a war of attrition and hoped that his working assumptions about the size of the Senegalese forces, which were partially based on intelligence provided by Sheik Hassan, would prove to be correct. Now came word from the commander of the Friendship Battalion that they were under attack by what appeared to be an Indian unit. This worried the senior Abyssinian officers but Rabadi saw it as good news because it meant he was drawing off at least a fraction of the forces that were trying to take control of the key mountain passes and break into Abyssinia. He ordered the attacks to continue.
------Madrid (Spain) 1920 hrs
King Alphonso was having dinner with the Conservative Prime Minister, Eduardo Dato. "We received word from the French ambassador only a few minutes before you arrived that a French military tribunal has sentenced senor de Valera to death by guillotine," declared the monarch eyeing his guest warily, "However he is being permitted to make an appeal to President Poincaré for mercy tomorrow. If that fails the execution is to be carried out at dawn on Saturday. I am very seriously thinking about sending a telegraph to Poincaré strongly recommending that he commute de Valera’s sentence. The Irishman is a major nuisance but he does not deserve to die for what he has done."
Dato took his time before replying, "If de Valera had made it to Britain would they not try him for treason just like they did with Connolly, Your Majesty?"
"Probably but they would at least put on a better semblance of a fair trial."
"Just like they did with Connolly, Your Majesty?" asked Dato with a slight hint of sarcasm.
"Well yes, Connolly’s trial was better. I did not say perfect."
"There was a disturbance here in Madrid today, Your Majesty. The police now have it under control, but we should anticipate a repetition if the French do ahead with de Valera’s execution."
"Then perhaps I should have senor Trotsky arrested tomorrow. Truth be told, I find him to be even more insufferable than senor de Valera was."
"I too dislike senor Trotsky immensely, Your Majesty but I think arresting him at this time would only serve to make the situation worse."
The monarch consumed more wine before responding, "Hmm I talked to the Conde de Romanones at length about this very matter just yesterday. He tells me that the enthusiasm for de Valera by the Left is being exaggerated. He assures that less than a quarter of Socialists and maybe a third of radical Republicans have any interest in de Valera and Ireland."
"And do you believe him?"
"He knows the Left better than you, Eduardo."
"The Conde de Romanones is, of course entitled to his opinion, Your Majesty, but his obvious disdain for what he wrongly regards as German manipulation of Spanish politics distorts his judgment. I do know that while many on the Right are interested in de Valera and Ireland, they have not lost sight of the big picture. They see clearly that the Germans are winning this war and that this presents us with a priceless opportunity."
The king darkened, "How many times must I remind you that I personally promised President Poincaré that I would not attack France! My personal honor is at stake here!"
Dato paused and measured his words carefully, "Ah, but there is no need for you to renege on your promise, Your Majesty. I have been told that certain representatives of the German government have suggested a plan---"
"---so those intriguers have approached you as well, premier? I guess I should not be surprised."
"Yes, they have, Your Majesty and the plan they suggest is ingenious to say the least. You get to honor your promise and Spain gets what she has sought for so very long."
"That is not completely true, senor. For one thing, their plan involved destabilizing French Morocco by providing arms to that brigand Al-Raisuni. Doing that would violate the spirit of my promise to Poincaré if not the letter."
"That is very true, Your Majesty, which is why I persuaded the Germans to alter that part of the plan. We will not do that but merely prepare to do that in case that impetuous fool Clemenceau decides to declare war on us once we declare war on the British and lay siege to Gibraltar. You did not make any promises to King George after all. We can use the mistreatment of the Irish as a causus belli. The Left will be badly divided while the Right will support you wholeheartedly."
"Have you considered the risks of such a war? We currently have only 14 infantry divisions. We have good cavalry but are seriously weak in artillery and machineguns, which have shown themselves to be the dominant weapons of this war. If the French do decide to attack we could be in serious trouble."
"The vaunted French field artillery are a low trajectory weapon that will not do well in our mountains, Your Majesty, and are completely worthless without ammunition. The French are short on coal right now because the British are too scared to use the English Channel. You can read this in their newspapers if you doubt my word. This means that two weeks from now their army is going be short---very hort---on ammunition. Meanwhile the Germans are on the verge of winning a great victory over the B.E.F. and after that they will roll up the entire Western Front. Once that happens the French will be too occupied to spare the strength necessary to attack us. They will however find it necessary to station at least four divisions in the Pyrenees just in case we do attack. That is the beauty of the plan. We can weaken them without so much as firing a shot! However just in case the French do attack, the Germans had made arrangements to purchase some artillery from the Italians and deliver it to us on very short notice. These weapons will be sent in an Italian flagged freighter as soon as we sign the secret treaty."
"Hmm just how much artillery are we talking about?"
The prime minister removed a slip of paper from his jacket and looked at it, "Let’s see here. My notes say 50 mountain artillery cannons plus 8 mortars of 21cm calibre, Your Majesty. The Italians will also ship a large quantity of ammunition for these weapons."
"That does not seem like all that much, senor."
"Admittedly the quantity is not as much as we would like, Your Majesty, but nonetheless the heavy mortars will be of considerable help in the siege of Gibraltar, while the mountain guns would be useful in the Pyrenees in the unlikely event of a French invasion."
"If I go give my approval to this plan and our involvement in this war ends up being as minimal as you suggest historians may accuse us of waging ‘Platonic War’. It would be seen as being anything but Hidalgo"
"Ah, in that case, there is one other recent revision to the proposal that I have yet to mention but which I firmly believe is very much in accord with the Hidalgo spirit, Your Majesty."
------Caher (Tipperary) 1935 hrs
"You are in charge of your own battalion but you are not in charge of mine!" Commandant McElroy defiantly yelled at Capt. Vopel who had summoned him to a meeting after the battle, "We saved your bloody arse this afternoon if you haven’t noticed."
"We were holding our own when you arrived! And if it wasn’t for our presence here, you and your men would be still starving to death at Fethard," countered Vopel.
"Bah! We would’ve found a way out of that mess sooner or later by ourselves."
Vopel had been warned more than once about possible problems with Commandant McElroy once he made it to County Tipperary. He ground his teeth and resisted the quintessentially Prussian impulse to demand complete obedience or else. When the Irish Brigade had been formed the working assumption was the Irish Volunteer commandants would always obey the commands of the Irish Brigade officers. That assumption turned out to be true in most cases but not all. He reluctantly decided to try rational persuasion rather than authority or threats, "Look here, commandant. Returning to Fethard is not the best use of your battalion. If you do not want to accompany me to Tipperary then you should remain here to guard my line of communication."
"We would be vulnerable here. At Fethard we have walls to protect us."
"Those walls may not mean much if the enemy brings up artillery next time, esp. howitzers. And it did not prevent the British from cordoning you off. My men have begun to make Caher defensible. I can give you instructions on how to complete that process."
"Nothing we can do would make it as strong as Fethard!"
"Perhaps but here you are more likely to receive supplies from Army Detachment François and you would also have the option of melting away into the Galty Mountains if the enemy proves too strong."
McElroy pouted silently for half minute then argued, "We sent raiding parties out deep into County Tipperary as Maj. Rommel had ordered. When they return, they will be looking for us at Fethard not here."
Vopel thought that over then answered, "Increase the size of your bicycle section to a decent platoon. Send them out on patrol. You can have them keep an eye on Fethard but Cashel and Clonmel are where you really need to reconnoiter as either one of them would make an excellent jumping off point for a British counterattack."
McElroy saw some wisdom in Vopel’s suggestions but did not want to admit it. He remained silent. Finally Vopel asked, "Well am I right?"
McElroy ground his teeth. Finally he spoke, "I’ll think about it."
------Donegal city 1950 hrs
The fighting had continued between the North Ireland Brigade and the half battalion of the1/7th Highland Light Infantry in Donegal. BGen. Maurice, the new commander of the Northern Region had decided shortly after arriving at his new HQ to send the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire, one of the two battalions that had at Derry in the morning, to reinforce Donegal. This unit was dispatched in two trains to Stranorlar and then force marched to Donegal. The battalion commander rode in the first train with half of the battalion and decided to throw it into action at Donegal before waiting for the rest of the battalion which was more than a mile behind to catch up.
Heinrici had his cyclist company out on patrol. He assigned the 3rd North Ireland Battalion the task of keeping the1/7th Highland Light Infantry pinned down and positioned his other two battalions along with their machineguns to deal with the newcomers. The initial overconfident attack by 2 companies of the 6th Bedfordshire, who did not expect much from the rebels, was driven off easily. A second more cautious attack by the entire battalion proved more difficult but eventually the rebels repelled that as well. Casualties were relatively even. After that there were a few indecisive skirmishes between patrols until dusk. Meanwhile the Bedfordshires made contact with the half battalion of Highland Light Infantry and together they consolidated and improved their defences.
------Galbally (Limerick) 2005 hrs
Feldmlt. Krauss, the commander of the Erzherzog Karl Division, had decided his best bet was to bleed the badly weakened Welsh Division dry at Galbally. After two attacks there were too few defenders left to hold off the third attack, which was now supported by well placed minenwerfers including the light presterwerfers. The Austro-Hungarian artillery continued to suppress the British 15 pounders. Galbally was quickly overrun turning the British flank. Gen. Friend was forced to abandon Ballyanders and withdrew his division to the north trying to find a suitable new defensive position and still be able to defend the nearby railway.
------Arklow (Wicklow) 2020 hrs
Count Tisza rode ahead with the lead squadron of his regiment into Arklow. On their ride to Arklow their only obstacle encountered by his regiment was a band of 21 constables and some militia at Gorey which they quickly routed. The count was looking forward to reabsorbing the Hussar troop that had been detached from his regiment. Schumacher cautiously greeted his distinguished visitor as he entered the town, "Welcome to Arklow, Your Excellency. I am Hauptman Schumacher, the senior officer in this area."
Tisza leaned down from his horse with that all too common air of superiority that cavalrymen evince towards mere infantry and which Hussars elevate to a fine art. "You were the senior officer, Hauptmann but I have a rank of Oberstleutnant and therefore outrank you. Furthermore I was sent here to take charge on the direct orders of Gen. von François."
"I understand, Your Excellency, and will obey."
"Good. Is the troop of my Hussars that was temporarily assigned to you here?"
"No, Your Excellency, they are up north in the town of Wicklow where they are assisting a small battalion of rebels which escaped from Dublin in trying to secure that important town."
"I see. What other forces do you have here?"
"A company of Bavarian infantry, which unfortunately is very weak from cumulative losses since arriving in Ireland, and another small battalion of rebels, Your Excellency."
"Hmm I shall want to see exact counts of effectives for both those units in an hour, preferably less. Also include your best estimate of the current strength of my Hussar troop. I hope for your sake that you have not foolishly wasted my precious Magyar horsemen!"
Schumacher could not avoid gulping, "Jawohl, Your Excellency."
"Do not scamper off just yet my young Bavarian friend. I need to know if there are any signs of a British attack aimed at retaking this town with its important munitions factory."
"Uh, no, Your Excellency, There is however a sizable British force in the north of the county that is trying to eliminate those remnants of the Dublin Brigade that managed to escape. If they succeed in that they are very likely to come here next."
"So it would seem that gives us an additional incentive to help what is left of this Dublin Brigade, yes?"
"Why yes, it certainly does, Your Excellency."
------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 2025 hrs
TheKronprinz Wilhelm captured her only prize of the day, a 2,600 ton freighter out of St. Louis hauling grain to Belfast. Her cargo was considered borderline but she was in reasonably good condition and could sustain 9 knots so eventually it was decided to keep her and send her back to Cork. Meanwhile the Kronprinz Wilhelm continued to serve as a wireless repeater vessel between von Spee’s Atlantic Squadron and Ireland.
------London 2035 hrs
David Lloyd-George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, paid a visit to Arthur Balfour. After a few minutes of exchanging amenities Lloyd-George got to the point, "The Irish campaign is not going well, Arthur. It has not been going for some time now."
"Yes, yes the siege of Limerick is taking much too long. I grant that the despicable use of poison gas by the Germans at Limerick upset Gen. Hamilton’s plans but still he has had more ample time to recover from that perfidy and retake that key city."
"Limerick is where the government has found it the most difficult to obfuscate matters and it is there that the people have the least distorted perception. Nearly everywhere else in Ireland it is much worse. At the Battle of Rathmore they only admitted to a small ‘setback’. In fact it was a huge defeat. The Welsh Division lost half of its infantry and most of its artillery. This so radically altered the tactical situation it soon led to most of the 16th Infantry Division being eliminated by the Germans which is something else we have not yet told the public."
"But which you are now seeing fit to tell me, David," replied Balfour, "Oh dear, you are quite correct. This is not the common perception of the campaign at all. And how might I ask is the current fighting progressing? I keep hearing that Limerick is going to be liberated any minute. The problem is that I have been hearing that for too long."
"Most of Parliament would agree with you. Limerick may fall soon but then again it may not. As for the other aspects of the campaign things are definitely not going well. The forces we have in County Cork have been handled roughly by the Germans and Austrians and have steadily retreated. They may well have been pushed out of the county altogether by now. This means that the main enemy force could lift the siege of Limerick as early as Saturday morning."
Balfour as usual was very measured in his demeanor but he was clearly startled. After a few seconds he replied, "This is all very troubling, but I am still wondering why you are confessing all of this to me right now."
"As you are very likely to be prime minister before the end of the month, you have a right to know, Arthur."
Balfour waved his right hand abstractly and grinned equally abstractly, "That is an interesting way of looking at things, chancellor. Are you doing telling me this information on your own initiative or at the behest of some other party?"
"It was my own decision. I felt it was necessary."
"I applaud your foresight and courage as Andrew might look askew at informing a potential rival of his failures."
"I consider the prime minister to be my friend and so I am not doing this lightly, Arthur but for the good of Empire it needs to be done."
"Yes in these difficult times we must put aside purely personal matters and strive for the higher good."
"I could not agree more, Arthur. That is why I believe that I must accept that a vote of no confidence is certain if Limerick does not fall soon and probable even if it does. I am here with an eye to the future. Many in my party feel that you would make a better prime minister but they do have some questions about how you would govern."
Balfour took sometime before responding. He examined Lloyd-George and then nodded slightly when he was sure what the chancellor was really asking, "I would only make small changes in the Cabinet. Clearly Birrell must be replaced. Quite frankly I am amazed that he has not been sacked already---"
"---There are reasons for that we can discuss later as they are rather complicated. Please go on. I am much more interested in whether you mean to continue the War Committee."
Again Balfour nodded, "Yes, I am. Trying to get the entire Cabinet to reach a working consensus on strategy as Asquith did is way too cumbersome. And rest assured, chancellor, I would not think of removing you. My only misgiving about the War Committee was that originally it was too small when it consisted of only you, Carson and the prime minister. I am going to add Henderson to it as a minister without portfolio. As you know all too well he adamantly refused to serve in any capacity under Andrew but he has told me that he would join my administration. This will help him marginalize MacDonald and the rest of the pacifist faction within the Labour Party which has been causing some trouble of late. I even considered doing something similar with Redmond but I realized that move would provide Long with a powerful weapon with which to undermine me within my own party."
"I will be frank and readily admit that I would much rather serve under you than Long, who has most of Andrew’s shortcomings but only a trifling fraction of his strengths."
Balfour smiled broadly full of self-satisfaction. "So then I can count on your support in Commons at such time that it is necessary to form a new government, David?"
"That goes without saying, Arthur."
------Calais harbor 2105 hrs
The 2nd Torpedoboat Flotilla had arrived before sunset and immediately started coaling frantically. Then after dark the small cruisers of the 4th Scouting Group followed by theKaiserin Auguste Victoria, George Washington and Hohenzollern arrived and began to coal as well. In addition to coal the warships loaded ammunition. Meanwhile the transports loaded the 183rd Infantry Brigade and some Feldersatz companies as well as munitions and other supplies. The British prisoners as well as the German and Irish wounded came ashore at Calais. On the outskirts of the harbor nets were laid from auxiliary vessels hoping to keep enemy submarines out.
Lt. Daniel Cummins I.R.A. was one of the Irish wounded who was being assisted by a German orderly to a large German military hospital. It now struck him that there was some irony with his being in France. When the Germans landed in Kerry he had been on his honeymoon in Killarney. He was one step above poor working as an automobile mechanic in Cork city. Susan, his bride, had talked about going to Paris for their honeymoon but he did not think they could afford that and besides it was reported that German airships occasionally bombed Paris. When Rommel formed the 3rd Kerry Battalion at Killarney Cummins, who had been in the 1st Cork City Battalion before the invasion, he quickly joined up despite being a newlywed. Susan was as Fenian as he was did not protest.
As the battalion became more motorized Rommel called upon Cummins’ broad knowledge of motor vehicles but he also saw some leadership qualities in Daniel and before long promoted him to the temporary rank of lieutenant. His knowledge of Cork proved very useful when the 3rd Kerry Battalion reached that city. Despite all the horrible wounds and corpses he had seen there was something inexplicably intoxicating about his adventures with the Rommel and the 3rd Kerry Battalion (motorized). He had even earned Rommel’s admiration by fixing a problem with one of the Daimler armored cars which had stumped the other mechanics in the battalion. Now he had made it to France but poor Susan was still stuck in Killarney. He had written her a letter while he was aboard the George Washington and posted it but the delivery of civilian mail in the occupied territory was very unreliable so he worried she might not receive it and think the worst.
Despite that he could not help but to wonder what new adventures lay ahead.
------Boulogne 2110 hrs
A very similar pattern was happening at Boulogne. The 4th Torpedoboat Flotilla arrived at dusk and immediately began to coal. They were followed by the Kronprinzessin Cecile and Kaiser Wilhelm II after last light. These began to load the 7th Cavalry Division and the 10th Jaeger Battalion as well as copious ammunition. Unlike what was happening at Calais the cruisers of the 5th Scouting Group and Nautilus had arrived as well and now began to coal. Nautilus was restocked with mines while she coaled as well. Here too antisubmarine nets were laid across the outer perimeter of the harbour.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 2130 hrs
Having been stymied during the day, the West Riding Division once again continued its attack after dark. Having no more reserves of Marines to reinforce this sector Gen. von Jacobsen ordered Maj. White to send Sturm Company Calahan to that critical sector. This was their first action since their charismatic leader had perished. Lt. Monteith remained their acting commander. They were used as a fireman unit and were soon rushed in to counterattack one small sector of the trenches where the British had gained a toehold at considerable cost. They had only 3 grenades left but still had ample ammunition for their autoloading and pump action shotguns. It did not take them very long to eject the British soldiers. The men felt that the spirit of the former leader was smiling at them from Purgatory.
------Castlebar (Mayo) 2135 hrs
The commandant of the South Mayo Battalion summoned his company commanders. "I brought this battalion here for two main reasons," he told them, "One was to absorb more new members. In this we have been moderately successful. We have gained well over 100 new members since we arrived here. The second goal was to seize the town and take additional weapons and ammunition from the R.I.C. Sad to say, me darlings, but on this score we haven’t done shit. We have had a stalemate at best with the constables all day. I had hoped that a night attack might work but as you know better than I that didn’t bloody work either. In fact it was a first rate cock up. So coming here did next to nothing to solve our shortage of weapons and gaining new members is pointless if we dunna have any weapons for them. So I have decided that we are going to have to withdraw back to Claremorris. We will leave an hour before dawn so tell your men to get what sleep they can early---except for your sentries of course. We acquired a fourth wagon plus 7 additional draught animals since we came here. We will transport the most seriously wounded in the wagons and load the supplies in the carts."
------ HMS Phaeton north of the Sandette Bank 2150 hrs
Harwich Force had steamed out at dusk and tried to position itself to try to make a night torpedo attack on the High Seas Fleet as it emerged from the Straits of Dover. Some light from the waning crescent moon seeped through gaps in the cloud cover. Harwich Force had just sunk a very small German torpedoboat, the A.3 on patrol in the Straits. A British destroyer had suffered no casualties and extremely minor damage to its superstructure from 5cm shells during the brief engagement. The A.3 had managed to fire off a signal rocket and it was suspected that she may have gotten off a wireless transmission as well.
Commodore Tyrwhitt was a bit apprehensive despite this small success. The Straits themselves presented serious hazards in the form of sandbars. When he was further away he fretted about possible enemy minefields. Now that he was closer to the enemy shore coastal artillery became a worry as well as he could see powerful searchlights fan out from the shore but did not believe they were strong enough to illuminate him effectively at this distance. They were enough to dispel any thoughts of getting closer. Lastly there was the very high probability of German cruisers and flotillas being sent to clear the way ahead of the capital ships. He had fought those at night on other occasions and had suffered for it.
Yet there was still no sign in the weak light of the German vanguard. Tyrwhitt wondered where they could be. Most of Dover Patrol was also at sea with their obsolete and obsolescent vessels. They too had suffered a steady series of ships damaged and sometimes sunk during the war. Adm. Bacon, the commander of Dover Patrol, had not made contact either. Before too long Dover Patrol’s Tribal class destroyers with their notoriously short endurance would be required to return to coal further weakening Adm. Bacon’s strength.
Suddenly a German star shell burst in the night sky not too far from Harwich Force. Tyrwhitt was not sure if it was sufficient to illuminate them for effective fire by the German coastal batteries. He did not want to find out and ordered his force to move further away from occupied France. He continued to wonder why the German battle fleet had not arrived.
------near Sally Gap (Wicklow) 2205 hrs
Rommel along with the O’Rahilly went to see Pearse. "We have received word that a Hungarian Hussar Regiment has arrived at Arklow," Rommel informed Pearse, "The cavalrymen brought a large quantity of ammunition for both the Moisin-Nagant and Lee-Enfield rifles but oddly none for the Austrian Mannlicher rifles. It seems that when they were assigned to Ireland they were rearmed with captured Lee-Enfield rifles.
"So we still don’t have bullets for those Mannlichers that Childers went to such great lengths to bring ashore last July?" mused Pearse after a sigh, "By any chance, did they bring any more of the Russian rifles?"
"Yes they did but not too many and Capt. Schumacher has made it clear that he wants some of them for Wicklow Battalion. Oh, and before I forget, guess who is the commander of the Hussars?"
Pearse snorted, "What sort of a question is that, major? I know very little about the Austro-Hungarian Army and absolutely about their cavalry commanders."
"So you’ve never heard of Count Tisza?"
"Why of course I have but he’s a politician. Oh wait, I recall reading that he got sacked recently. Some scandal about him being disrespectful to Kaiser Franz Josef. Mother of Mercy, you don’t mean---"
"I could scarcely believe it myself when I first heard it, Padraig," the O’Rahilly piped in with a grin while Pearse gaped and gasped, "I wondered if this Capt. Schumacher might be playing a joke on us all."
Rommel shook his head, "Bavarians can sometimes have a strange sense of humor---Gefreiter Gaulart is a very good example, but not that strange."
"If this is indeed true, then I can see some, uh, interesting conversations in the days ahead," Pearse remarked with obvious ambivalence.
"Yes, I wholeheartedly agree," said Rommel, "but we will cross that bridge when we get to it, yes? In the meantime we have to deal with our own situation by our devices. The British attacks today were definitely a bit odd."
"How so, major?" asked Pearse.
"At the one hand they were more intense, bordering on reckless. Yet despite that it seemed that that the enemy strength is now much less."
Pearse shrugged slightly and then grinned, "Maybe that is because me fine Irish boys killed most of them."
Rommel grinned but only a little and shook his head, "I wish that were true, commandant. Well maybe it is a little bit true but I think something else is going on. I have warned the battalion commandants that the British might be looking for a way to outflank us. That is one reason why it is important for Commandant Brugha to take Wicklow."
"Cathal is a good officer, major. I have confidence that he will ultimately prevail, but it may take some time. You are too impatient sometimes, major, and I am not the only one who feels that way."
"Patience is for monks not officers!" Rommel protested.
Pearse shook his head, "Do you really want to spend the next hour arguing about this? Now that would be a waste of time!"
Rommel glowered for nearly a minute but then he softened somewhat, "Yes arguing with you is all too often a waste of precious time. There is something much more productive that we can discuss. .Capt. O’Rahilly here has been telling me about another bit of Irish history that I find very interesting. It happened not far from here."
Pearse required a few seconds to jog his memory then he nodded with a cherubic smile, "Yes, major, I think I know what you are referring to. Please go on."
------HQ Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2235 hrs
The telephone line to VI Army HQ at Nenagh was down again. Gen. Braithwaite, the chief of staff, had almost become accustomed to the nightly disruption of telephone and telegraph service. He was thankful that the telegraph line was not cut. Yet he thought cynically the night is still young. His greatest concern at this time was with the ongoing fight against the Germans and the Austrians in Counties Clare and Cork. However he realized that he could not completely ignore the Irish rebellion even though Dublin had been pacified. The telephone line to Armagh was still working so he decided to call Gen. Maurice and check up on what was happening in the newly formed Northern Region.
"I know I have been here only a few hours, sir," Maurice complained, "but already I feel it is my duty to inform you that the forces I have been provided are insufficient to perform my mission, sir."
Braithwaite sighed slightly then chided, "Now, now general, you are being much too pessimistic. I know for a fact that you received two fresh battalions from Britain this morning."
"That I did, and soon after I arrived here I learned that a large rebel force was attacking the town of Donegal, sir. I immediately sent all of the 6th Bedfordshire there by rail."
"Well done, general! Prompt decisive action is precisely what we need right now. That should have smashed the rebels quite splendidly."
"Unfortunately I just received word a few minutes ago that it did not, general. The rebels held their own and we are now struggling to hold on to most of the town, having lost a portion of it. Did you know that the rebels have machineguns now?"
Braithwaite sighed, "Yes, yes, we have heard that about some of their units from time to time. They even had a few in Dublin about which Gen. Egerton often complained bitterly. Surely though they must lack the skill needed to use those weapons with anything more than marginal effectiveness."
"I do not know about elsewhere, general, but they definitely proved effective at Donegal this afternoon."
"Hmm Maybe they have Germans manning the machineguns," replied Braithwaite who was unwilling to concede the point.
"Perhaps, but it is not just the machineguns, general. The quality of the rebel rifle fire was not as awful as I had been led to believe."
Braithwaite resisted saying what he really wanted to say at this time. He and Gen. Hamilton had speculated that Gen. Robertson had sent Maurice to Ireland in part to report back to him on their handling of the Irish campaign. For that reason they needed to treat him very carefully. Braithwaite finally admitted with some reluctance, "Yes, there are varying degrees of bad, general. The rebels sometimes fall into the less severe categories. That should not be used as an excuse too often, am I clear?"
"Perfectly clear, general. However I feel that it is my duty to inform you of other problems that you may not be aware of."
Braithwaite raised his eyes and ground his teeth still more. After a deep sigh he replied, "Go ahead."
"Thank you, sir. Well for one thing, I have no idea what is going on in more than half of the 16 counties under my command, including all of Connaught, on account of the telegraph and telephone lines being so disrupted."
"Those cowardly rebels who crawl out from under their rock at night to cut our communication wires are a problem nearly everywhere. Now that the Dublin Rising has been crushed Gen. Hamilton and I both believe the entire rebellion will steadily fade away and that hopefully will include the despicable wire cutters. It will not happen overnight but it will happen. What are you doing with the other battalion that you received today?."
"I am holding it as a reserve for the time being. I was tempted to use it against the rebels and released internees at the Oldcastle camp but that lies outside the boundaries of my region. Alternately I am tempted to use it against Athlone which continues to hold out. Now with the threat to Donegal and the naval anchorage at Lough Swilly not yet defeated I feel that I must wait until the morning to reach a decision. This is exactly why I claim that I require more reinforcements."
"You raise some valid points but you are being too pessimistic, general. We do not have any further reinforcements we can send you at this time. You must make do with what you have."
-----Old Admiralty Building 2310 hrs
Captain Hall hurriedly entered the conference room where Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the admirals were waiting for him nervously. "I have the decoded wireless reply to Admiral von Ingenohl’s inquiry, First Lord," Hall announced blinking more than usual.
"Go ahead and read it aloud, Capt.," Carson ordered, "Then pass it around for all of us to examine."
Hall nodded and withdrew a typed sheet of paper from a manila folder. He read it as ordered:
LOADING OF ALL TROOPSHIPS ON SCHEDULE REPEAT LOADING OF ALL TROOPSHIPS ON SCHEDULE STOP TROOPSHIPS WILL DEPART BEFORE FIRST LIGHT REPEAT TROOPSHIPS WILL DEPART BEFORE FIRST LIGHT STOP PARTIAL COALING OF CRUISERS AND FLOTILLAS ALSO ON SCHEDULE REPEAT PARTIAL COALING OF CRUISERS AND FLOTILLAS ALSO ON SCHEDULE STOP
Hall stopped and handed the paper to Carson, who briefly glanced it and asked, "Hmm Is this all that there is?"
"That is correct, First Lord," replied Hall.
"Good Lord! His Majesty was right after all!" moaned Adm. Wilson, "Ireland was merely a diversion and the Huns are now preparing to descend on England as we speak! We must warn Lord Kitchener immediately!"
"Now, now let us not jump to any hasty conclusions," counselled Adm. Callaghan, the First Sea Lord.
Capt. Hall had not been dismissed. He looked like he wanted to say something but instead exchanged glances with Adm. Oliver who at one point briefly shook his head when he had established eye contact with Hall. "There are other possibilities as well," spoke Oliver.
"Such as?" asked Carson.
Adm. Jackson answered that, "In the middle of April, First Lord, the C.I.D. conducted a series of war games revolving around the idea that the Germans might attempt an amphibious landing along the French coast. As I recall while several scenarios were examined but the one Hankey found the most interesting and therefore received the greatest attention focused on an attempt by the Germans to seize the port of Dieppe and then quickly land 5 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions there. One cavalry division would raid Rouen and one of the infantry divisions would guard Dieppe. The rest of the force would then swing north to take Abbeville from the south cutting the line of communication of the B.E.F."
"Oh yes, now I remember seeing a typed report on that study a few days before Germans landed in Ireland," Carson replied, "As I recall it would tie the High Seas Fleet down to an increasingly hazardous position in the eastern portion of the English Channel for at least four days. Moreover the War Office felt that the invasion force would be vulnerable to a French counterattack unless substantially reinforced which in turn would extend the period where the High Seas Fleet would be restricted."
"That is all true, First Lord. I would hasten to point out that to my knowledge no one has re-examined that scenario since the invasion of Ireland which may now prove to be short sighted. We all know that the B.E.F. has been very seriously weakened and that much of the First Army still hangs by a thread. An attack on the rear of the B.E.F. streaming out of Dieppe could prove catastrophic before the French would have time to react effectively," said Jackson.
"I recall that memorandum as well and believe it has too many problems for the Germans to even attempt. An invasion of England is much more likely," Adm. Wilson argued stubbornly.
"But an invasion of England would surely engender just as many problems initially and would take much longer to reach fruition," Jackson retorted.
Carson looked at both Hall, who was still standing and Oliver, and asked, "Either of these scenarios strikes me as being too bold but then again a month ago I would have said much the same thing about an invasion of Ireland. The Battle of the Celtic Sea strengthens us in the long run but in the short run it seems like it opens up a small window of opportunity for the blasted Huns. Does N.I.D. have anything that might shed some light on what the enemy is up to?"
Hall was going to answer that but then stopped himself and turned to Oliver who again shook his head ever so slightly hoping that only Hall would notice it. Hall remained silent and let the admiral speak, "Uh, well we have no real intelligence, but nevertheless I feel that we are ignoring a much more likely possibility. These troopships are probably the liners returning from Ireland and the troops they are loading are probably additional reinforcements for that campaign."
Hall arched an eyebrow at that as he continued to blink as usual. After a few seconds he caught Oliver’s eye and nodded slightly. Adm. Oliver had never passed on the decoded messages about a German fourth wave because he was not prepared to answer the inevitable questions about what the implied third wave was. Oliver now found himself not wanting to bring up these messages because he would be sharply criticized for not passing them on sooner.
"I was just wondering the same thing myself, Oliver," said Adm. Callaghan, the First Sea Lord.
"It is the simplest explanation of the situation, sir," replied Oliver stiffly.
"While Occam’s Razor has some appeal in the realm of philosophy, I see some peril in extending it to the art of war," commented Carson, "In fact the cause of our present predicament stems in large part from a simplistic interpretation of the German wireless message we intercepted. It told us that the German fleet would arrive at the Straits of Dover late today and we blithely assumed they intended to go through the Straits and continue on to Germany. We based our plans to resume trade with France tomorrow on that cheery assumption. I think we need to change those plans."
Callaghan nodded, "You are most correct, First Lord. We must continue to hold our merchantmen in port tomorrow."
"Clemenceau is not going to like that, admiral."
"I am well aware of that, First Lord, but the French must wait a little bit longer. Until we have a firmer idea just what the Germans are up to we cannot make any definitive plans."
"Hmm Should we not at least summon the Grand Fleet immediately?"
Callaghan frowned slightly, "And where precisely should we send them, First Lord? Even if the German plan is to invade England it makes a big difference whether the landing is to be in Sussex or Suffolk. Should we send Adm. Bayly back down the Irish Sea or around the Orkney’s? It makes an important difference especially with the German artillery at Cape Gris Nez."
"Argh! Well then how long before we have a better idea of what the Huns are up to?" asked a frustrated Carson. He looked at all of the admirals but he looked particularly hard at Oliver and Hall.
Oliver exchanged a brief glance with Capt. Hall then answered, "Uh, it is hard to say for sure, First Lord. We could intercept a wireless message any minute now that could clear things up. Otherwise at the very latest it will be soon after dawn tomorrow."
Carson was less than happy with that answer, but said nothing further to Oliver and turned instead to the First Sea Lord, "Have you ordered Adm. Bayly to raise steam, admiral?"
"Not yet, First Lord."
"We should do so immediately."
"As you wish, First Lord, but I must respectfully remind you that even with the addition of Inflexible the Grand Fleet remains too weak to risk another fleet action at this time."
"I only partially accept that conclusion, admiral. If the Germans invade England in large numbers we may have no choice, though hopefully we can whittle down the High Seas Fleet with submarines, mines and night torpedo attacks before the engagement. Have you notified the War Office yet of this new intelligence?"
"Not yet, First Lord," answered Adm. Callaghan, "These scenarios we have been discussing are largely speculation. We have in the past been very reluctant to share details of Room 40 intelligence with the army or anyone else for that matter, as the wider the dissemination the greater the risk that the Germans might surmise that most of their codes have been broken."
"I understand the logic behind that, admiral," said Carson, "but nevertheless the potential peril to the Empire of not telling them anything at this time is too grave. I am not going to tell you exactly what you will tell the War Office but we simply must tell them something."
------SMS Seydlitz leaving Dunkirk 2330 hrs
Screened by the 7th Torpedoboat Flotilla, Seydlitz steamed out of Dunkirk naval base. She was closely followed by the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm. Once clear of the harbor they turned west and headed towards the Straits of Dover at 16 knots.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse English Channel 2340 hrs
"Oh, how I hate Operation Unicorn, let me count the ways," Grossadmiral von Ingenohl complained to Vizeadmiral Eckermann, his chief of staff. This was not the first time that Eckermann had heard him say that and knew better than to argue with his superior, who continued ranting, "We are now forced to circle around in the eastern half of the Channel all night playing musical chairs with our flotillas once again. Right now First Scouting Group has no screen whatsoever."
"They will have the 7th Torpedoboat Flotilla to screen them after they rendezvous with Seydlitz, admiral," replied Eckermann, who immediately wished he had not opened his mouth.
The man many called the German Nelson waved his right hand in irritation, "I know that! I am not an idiot! There is still a period of vulnerability. This is all insane. We should be returning to Germany to put most of our warships back in the yards not getting ready to go back to Ireland."
To Be Contined