by Tom B
REBELS INVADE DONEGAL!
"This newspaper has just learned that a large rebel force entered County Donegal from Leitrim yesterday, though the government so far, has declined to comment on this report. This incursion has been the third violation of Ulster by rebels so far in this war. First there was the rebellion in Monaghan where the rebels seized an arsenal of the U.V.F. While this band of traitors was eventually crushed, mobilization of the U.V.F. would have prevented the incident altogether. The same can be said about the more recent rebel attack on County Cavan. The government has been providing sparse information about what exactly is going on in Cavan other than to say the rebel force there is small has been "isolated and is well contained". Once again this is another instance which mobilization of the U.V.F. would have completely prevented the problem.
Now we have the invasion of Donegal and we must again ask why our government continues to deny the U.V.F. permission to mobilize. A week ago the government’s argument was that the German expedition to Ireland was on its last legs and the annihilation of the Germans would free up more than sufficient forces to crush the rebellion everywhere. Now that the Germans have been reinforced this line of reasoning has been completely invalidated. Gen. Hamilton has hands full with the reinforced German presence in Munster. The more recent argument that we have been hearing about the Battle of Dublin decapitating and demoralizing the rebels has now been thoroughly disproven by what is currently happening in Donegal. The need to use the U.V.F. to eradicate the rebellion is now undeniably overwhelming and we hope and pray that our government will finally accept this."
---Belfast News-Letter Friday May 21, 1915
------near Jaroslaw (Galicia) 0010 hrs May 21, 1915
The Austro-Hungarian IX Corps had seized enough of the east bank of the San for pontoon bridges to be constructed without much difficulty. Meanwhile the fighting continued esp. inside the city of Jaroslaw, where their 10th Infantry Division very slowly advanced in fierce house to house fighting.
------Philadelphia 0120 hrs GMT
Another American flagged collier left Philadelphia full of fine Pennsylvania anthracite bound for Ireland. By coincidence another collier then left less than an hour later bound for Rome.
------HQ British Second Army Abbeville (Picardy) 0205 hrs
Heavy rain driven by gusts of wind had moved into the Straits of Dover and the nearby portions of France soon after midnight. General Plumer had turned in to get some badly needed sleep an hour earlier. He had been receiving insufficient sleep since replacing Gen. Smith-Dorrien as the commander of Second Army and was very tired. Now he was awakened by his staff who told him that Field Marshal French was on the telephone and demanded to speak with him immediately. Groggily Plumer got of bed and took the call, "This is Gen. Plumer speaking."
"General, this is Field Marshal French. I have just received some very disturbing news from my naval liaison. Part of it is that we are definitely not going to be receiving any supplies from England today."
"Oh dear, that is very bad news, sir. Did they by any chance tell you when they will be sending supplies?"
"I asked them that and their response was that they would get back to us later about that."
"I do not think that I have to tell you, Field Marshal, just how serious a development this is given our critical situation with regards to ammunition."
"Yes, general, I am all too cognizant of that and expressed my dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms to the Royal Navy."
"Uh, by any chance did they say why today’s convoy was canceled?"
French paused, "Yes and no. That is they did not explicitly tell me anything about the naval situation, but they expressed certain concerns that I find suggestive. One was a concern that the German battle fleet might shell First Army again. I have already discussed this with Haig and he making sure his men are well prepared inside their trenches just in case. The other concern is a bit more surprising and it affects you. I want you to send Cavalry Corps and one of the divisions in I Army Corps off to Dieppe as soon as we are done with this conversation. Which infantry division do you feel you would be best suited for this mission?"
"Uh. that would have to be the 42nd Infantry Division which is being held in close reserve, sir. Does this mean that the Admiralty has some information that there is a possibility Germans might try to take Dieppe by sea?"
"They are being very unclear about just what information they possess, which leads me to believe that there is some guesswork involved in all of this, but to answer your question, I’d say yes they are for some obscure reason very worried about the Huns trying to take the port of Dieppe."
Plumer was shocked for a few seconds then said, "Field Marshal, if the Germans succeed in landing a few divisions at Dieppe they could easily attack my rear in conjunction with the Sixth Army pinning my front and the results would be absolutely disastrous for both Second Army and First Army."
"I am well aware of that, general, which is precisely why I am giving you these orders and expect them to be carried out with the utmost speed."
------east of Przemysl 0230 hrs
Southwestern Front had reinforced Eleventh Army with a poorly trained second line infantry division late yesterday. Gen. Schebarchev decided it was time to launch a counterattack using this division and two others. He realized that with the AustroGerman Center Army’s superiority in artillery, which was aggravated by his own shortage of shells, a daylight attack was hopeless and so instead he ordered a night attack. A quarter of the infantrymen involved in this assault did not have a rifle. There were a few hand grenades distributed among the attacking battalions, where only a handful of the men had received training in their use. The attacking waves struggled with the German and Austro-Hungarian wire barriers and discovered that by using star shell illumination German artillery could still inflict serious casualties even at night. As they were tangled up in the wire German and Austro-Hungarian machineguns poured a stream of hot lead into their ranks. Some of the Russians made it into Center Army’s trenches but not enough to take and hold them. The attack petered out before dawn.
------ENE of Shavli (Lithuania) 0300 hrs
The commander of the Russian XIX Army Corps ordered the 38th Infantry Division to make a predawn attack on the German 1st Cavalry Division. This achieved very fleeting surprise and had suffered some losses as it struggled with the uncut wire barrier. Despite this enough men made it through to overpower the badly outnumbered cavalrymen occupying the forward trench. The 1st Cavalry Division made only a single unsuccessful attempt to retake the lost trench. After that its commander, Gen. Hermann Brecht, concentrated on counterattacking the flanks of the Russian salient, which slowed the Russian advance but did not stop it. The cavalrymen were still hard pressed and losing ground when the sun rose. The Russians, most of whom were seasoned veterans, continued to press forward.
------Laghy (Donegal) 0355 hrs
Since the Northern Ireland Brigade entered County Donegal 232 men plus 11 women had come forward to join it. This was more than the 196 casualties that it had suffered. The brigade’s commander, Lt. Col. Heinrici had decided to withdraw from Donegal both the town and the county. He did this for multiple reasons. The first was that he had made little progress in eliminating the British defenders from the portion of the town they occupied. He had tried one large attack after dark that failed and decided not to try anymore. The second reason was that Donegal was close to the sea and he anticipated that British warships would shell his positions as soon as it was light. The third reason was he was certain that if he remained too long in any one spot, esp. inside Ulster the British would before long concentrate enough force, incl. artillery to eradicate him. He felt that he needed to keep the Northern Ireland Brigade mobile but the British forces in Donegal had barred his way to the north and northeast. He was free to move to the west but realized that posed too much risk of having his line of retreat cut off. He also realized that if suffered too many casualties the wounded would slow him down greatly and possibly degrade morale.
So Heinrici decided to withdraw to the south under the cover of darkness. At the hamlet of Laghy he encountered 30 constables which he was able to overpower without much difficulty. After that the brigade did not head SSW towards Ballyshannon but instead southeast towards the village of Pettigo on the border of County Fermanagh.
------Limerick city 0405 hrs
Oberst Hell’s plan to reinforce Limerick before dawn had proven overly optimistic. It soon became clear that the Marine Feldersatz companies and the bulk of the supply wagons could not reach Limerick before dawn. The West Limerick Battalion had lagged behind the 1st Seebattalion during the exhausting night march. It was decided that they would leave the Marine Feldersatz and the West Limerick Battalion behind at Croom to rest during the early morning. The West Limerick Battalion would recruit in the local area during the day and in the late afternoon they would set out for Limerick.
The 1st Seebattalion then pressed on by itself. On the outskirts of the city its exhausted men were greeted by the cheers of the Irish Volunteers of Foynes Battalion. They were then permitted to get some sleep but were warned that they would be seeing some action in the early afternoon.
------Meiszagola (Lithuania) 0500 hrs
Before dawn the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade had positioned its 4 batteries of 21cm Morsers within range of the 700’ tall hill that dominated the area around Meiszagola. These now commenced firing along with the 8 batteries of 15cm ex-naval guns and the 3 foot artillery batteries armed with 15cm howitzers and 6 batteries of.10.5 cm howitzers belonging to VIII Army Corps. The defending Russian division only had its 6 batteries of Putilov 3" field guns. These were deployed at the crest of the hill operating in direct fire. The still incomplete Russian entrenchments were all on the forward slope.
The German army airship had arrived before dawn and she was able to spot for the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade, though this meant that initially the German rate of fire was rather slow as the gun crews awaited wireless reports from the airship. The Russian batteries bravely but foolishly tried to duel but were soon suppressed. The howitzers chewed up the Russian trenches.
------HMS Achilles Donegal Bay 0510 hrs
The armored cruiser Achilles was currently anchored in Donegal Bay. She had been detached from the rest of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron which were now off Rosslare Pt., covering the delivery of the 8th Battalion Devonshire to Rosslare harbor. The captain of the Achilles had been told he was to bombard rebel positions in and around Donegal but he was now told that the current position of the rebels was unclear and to hold his fire.
------Knocklong (Limerick) 0530 hrs
Austro-Hungarian shrapnel shells exploded in and around the railroad station at Knocklong where the battered Welsh Division had fallen back to make a stand. Feldmlt. Krauss had quickly set up observation posts in the foothills of the Galty Mountains which were now used to good effect. The Welsh Division’s 3 batteries of 15 pounders were again overpowered by the firepower of the Erzherzog Karl Division. Further compounding Gen. Friend’s problems, the cavalry of the Frauenau Brigade were seriously threatening his rear. He was forced to deploy two battalions of the badly depleted 108th Brigade supported by one of his batteries to counter the German cavalry. Even if that prevented the enemy cavalry from attacking his rear, they were still free to disrupt his line of communications.
The Welsh Division was being attacked by an enemy with a decisive superiority in manpower and esp. firepower led by a skillful general. It had insufficient time to establish anything like rugged entrenchment found in France. Its line of communications was effectively cut and its left flank exposed. The position it occupied offered few advantages for defense other than few buildings that could be converted into strongpoints, and it was overlooked by enemy observation posts in the Galty foothills. Man for man the British infantry were superior in quality to their blackleg opponents but not so vastly superior as to completely negate the enemy’s advantage in numbers.
Gen. Friend, the current commander of the Welsh Division, soon realized that his division was in serious trouble. He wanted to pull back still more but Gen. Wilson had issued rigid orders that he must hold on to Knocklomg at all costs. Friend now tried to contact VI Army Corps HQ and Nenagh but was unable to get through because either the German cavalry and/or Irish insurgents had severed the communication wires. He then tried sending a messenger on a motorcycle to try to reach Gen. Wilson.
In desperation he also contacted Gen. Hammersley, the commander of the 11th Infantry Division on his right, to see if he could get some assistance. The 11th Infantry Division however was deeply involved in yet another attack on the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division ordered by Wilson. Gen. von Gyssling had responded to this attack in accordance with his instructions from Gen. von François which was not to take needless casualties by trying to hold on stubbornly to every inch of ground. Instead von Gyssling was permitted to wage a "bend but not break" defense. He also received some well appreciated assistance from Brigade Hell esp. from the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment with its 3 machinegun companies.
------Kilmallock (Limerick) 0530 hrs
Further west at the town of Kilmallock, Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division, had received orders before dawn from Gen. Wilson that he should be looking for an opportunity to seize the initiative, esp. after the expected breakthrough by the 11th Infantry Division in the enemy center. Instead he ended up with his hands full trying to prevent the German 111th Infantry Division from outflanking him. As a result of this his front had become nearly a semicircle with his artillery batteries pointing in several different directions.
------near Sally Gap (Wicklow) 0545 hrs
Lt. Col. Churchill was now receiving a report from one his company commanders, "Colonel, There is no sign of the rebels in or around the Sally Gap. If I had to guess where they went it would be to the south along the Military Road."
Churchill grinned broadly, "It has finally happened! The disloyal vermin have run out of ammunition and so in desperation are fleeing to the southern part of the county, where they will most likely try to disperse into the mountains. We must prevent that by not wasting a single second. You are to take your company incl. the detachment of constables I gave you and march them down the Military Road as quickly as possible. In the meantime I shall order the rest of the battalion to follow right behind you. Before this day is over we shall finish off Dublin Brigade!"
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 0600 hrs
The artillery of the West Riding Division again commenced firing. The 18 pounders fired only shrapnel shells while a quarter of the rounds fired by the howitzers were HE. The German artillery again declined the invitation to duel, and instead waited for British infantry. They did not have to wait long as the British shelling lasted only 15 minutes. The German Marines had steadily improved their entrenchments and other defenses in this area except they were still short on barbed wire, which was part of the supplies sitting in wagons at Croom. The German 7.7cm field guns now erupted as their 10.5cm howitzers which were down to literally 3 rounds each were held back; this being yet another precious item aboard the supply wagons at Croom. The 7.7cm guns caused some losses to the attackers but not enough to completely disrupt the assault across a short no man’s land. The German machineguns also inflicted losses but enough British soldiers reached the forward trench to take it if they possessed a decisive numerical advantage. Unfortunately for them it was the defenders who had a numerical advantage and after a few minutes of frantic close quarters combat they drove back the attackers having suffered roughly half the casualties of their attackers.
------north of Verdun 0600 hrs
Heavy morning rain caused the planned French attacks to the north of Compiegne and in the Montagne de Rheims to be cancelled. Near Verdun however the sky was cloudy but it wasn’t raining and so the attack by Third Army against the German Fifth Army went ahead on schedule. The bombardment was shorter this time as Gen. Joffre was already warning his army commanders to expect reduced delivery of shells in the coming week. The assault by 4 French regular divisions struggled with barbed wire, shrapnel shells and machineguns. Those brave souls who made it through fought the Boche with both grenades and hand to hand combat. A portion of trench was taken at a stiff cost only to be lost to a subsequent German counterattack.
------ENE of Shavli (Lithuania) 0640 hrs
The Russian attacks by both the XXXVII and XIX Army Corps on the Army of the Dvina continued throughout the morning. The German I Army Corps was still a day away but a pair of 15cm howitzer batteries had arrived at Shavli during the night increasing the defenders’ firepower. Most of the Russian attacks failed but the 1st Cavalry Division was still having serious trouble holding the Russian 38th Infantry Division, which threatened the XXV Reserve Corps with envelopment. This compelled Gen. von Marwitz to finally commit the 11th Landwehr Division which now began to arrive at the battle. After a few minutes of spirited fighting the Russian advance was finally halted.
------Old Admiralty Building 0650 hrs
Rain was coming down hard in London. "What is the latest news about the High Seas Fleet," the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Carson anxiously asked as he removed his raincoat.
"There was a brief skirmish between Dover Patrol and their light forces off Cape Gris Nez just before dawn, First Lord," replied Adm. Callaghan, "Three of our destroyers were damaged. One was very hard hit and temporarily lost control of its steering. The damage to the other two was very light. Two sailors were killed and two more were wounded. Adm. Bacon believes that the Germans suffered some light damage in return. A lookout on one of our destroyer’s thought he caught a fleeting glimpse of a large vessel, probably an ocean liner. After that Dover Patrol lost contact with the enemy. From Adm. Bacon’s report it would seem that the rain is even heavier there than it is here and is seriously reducing visibility. Furthermore the seas have now become rather rough, not enough so far to be dangerous for destroyers but greatly hindering their mobility."
"Hmm. I assume that these heavy seas would also hinder the ability of our submarines to move on the surface."
"That is correct, First Lord. It would also reduce what their officers could see through their periscopes, and ground all our airplanes as well."
Carson sighed slightly and nodded as he digested this. After nearly a minute he brightened somewhat, "The good news in all of this is that it is impossible for the Germans to make an amphibious assault in this weather."
"Yes that certainly is quite true, First Lord. Unfortunately our meteorological section is currently predicting that the storm will peter out around noon. After that a landing would become possible."
"If you ask me our meteorological section is far from being infallible."
"That is true, First Lord, but in all fairness I have found them to be reasonably accurate when it comes to short term predictions."
"In that case I would say that you are easily impressed, admiral, but for the sake of argument if we assume what the weather boys tell us is true then there remains a very real threat of invasion. When this naval skirmish took place during the night did Dover Patrol get any idea of where the Germans were heading?"
"That is a good question, First Lord, and the answer is that the Germans were engaged west of the Straits heading either southwest or SSW."
"Well then, Adm. Wilson that would certainly be in accord with your theory of a landing behind the front lines on the French coast," Carson remarked.
"Yes, it is, First Lord," Callaghan replied before Wilson could answer, "but we should not rush to a hasty conclusion. There are other reasons why they would be heading in that direction."
"I suppose that is so, admiral," replied Carson, "but the fact remains the does make the possibility of a landing on the French coast seem more likely. Admiral Oliver, is there anything, anything at all they you can offer that might shed some light on this?"
Adm. Oliver shook his head, "Nothing so far, First Lord, but we should be picking up vital intelligence any minute now."
"And when you do, I expect you to share it with all of us immediately, Adm. Oliver," Carson chided.
"But of course, First Lord, that goes without saying."
"Oh how I wish that it did, admiral," replied Carson tartly.
------Limerick city 0700 hrs
Gen. von Jacobsen had sent most of the Naval Division into Clare and by now he was guarding the eastern approaches with only one Marine battalion plus a machinegun company, the 5th Kerry Battalion, most of the Limerick City and Foynes Battalions, one of the improvised Landsturm companies formed from the sailors on the first wave’s transport ships and some support units both German and Irish. They also had a pair of the 3.7cm guns which had been of some limited use when the Germans took Limerick and a downright disappointment ever since.
Gen. Wilson had guessed that in order to defend Ennis and Sixmilebridge the defenders inside the city must now be very weak. This impression was reinforced when he learned that the regiment of Uhlans that had been inside the city was now harassing the rear of the 11th Infantry and Welsh Divisions in the southeast corner of the county. He therefore ordered the 31st Brigade to attack Limerick from the east one more time. The attack was preceded by the artillery that had Gen. de Lisle had assigned to remain behind at Limerick to support the 31st Brigade---2 batteries of 18 pounders, 2 batteries of 15 pounders and one battery of old 5" howitzers. The bombardment did not last long as these batteries had only a very small stockpile of ammo. The infantry assault was made by 2 battalions.
One of those battalions attacked a sector defended by a single company of German Marines, 2 machineguns and the 5th Kerry Battalion. Capt. Schultz, the commander of the 5th Kerry Battalion found himself hard pressed. When the shelling started he told Mother Superior to take the women in his battalion further back inside the city. Instead she led them into a section of the trenches out of sight of the captain. This turned out to be the section where the assault by the 31st Brigade came closest to succeeding. The mixture of Irish Volunteers and German Marines that were on the verge of being overwhelmed by the Ulstermen were shocked and embarrassed to find themselves being rescued by a bunch of women.
------German embassy Rome 0715 hrs
Prince Bernhard von Bülow had been the German Chancellor before Bethmann-Hollweg. His term as chancellor had been marred by a serious of indiscretions by Kaiser Wilhelm culminating in a very embarrassing interview published in the London Daily Telegraph in October 1909. This caused such an uproar in Germany that he tendered his resignation to the Kaiser who refused to accept it. However soon afterwards von Bülow demanded that Kaiser consult with the Reichstag before making any public policy statements. After that confrontatiom von Bülow found it increasing difficult to work with the Conservatives in the Reichstag esp. over the budget. In the July of 1909 he again tendered his resignation and this time it was accepted.
The prince had married the stepdaughter of an important Italian politician. For that reason he was asked back in December to become a special ambassador to Italy, whose entry into the war on either side was very much up in the air. He soon replaced Ambassador von Flotow completely and played a small role in replacing Salandra with Giolitti, who was not hostile towards Austria. This had virtually eliminated the possibility of Italy joining the Entente, but eventually Berlin grew disappointed that Giolitti manifested scant interest in joining the Central Powers. Matthias Erzberger, a prominent German politician belonging to the Catholic Center Party, had been assigned the difficult task of organizing German external propaganda early in the war. Erzberger had arrived in Rome by train late last night accompanied by a small team to assist him. Von Bülow invited Erzberger to have breakfast alone with him.
"This coffee is most excellent, Your Highness," Erzberger told his host after his first taste, "It is becoming increasingly difficult to get any coffee whatsoever in Germany these days."
"Yes I am hearing that the illegal British blockade is causing serious shortages despite the great victories won by the Kaiserliche Marine.."
"We can live without coffee, Your Highness. It is a small hardship."
"I do not know if I would agree with that. I have become very accustomed to Italian coffee. I should be glad that this posting has been made permanent," replied von Bülow with an obvious lack of seriousness.
Erzberger grinned slightly then took a bite of a sweet roll and washed it down with more coffee. Then he said, "Yes, Your Highness, the coffee is most delightful and so are these rolls."
The former chancellor nodded and consumed a piece of sausage, "Yes and this sausage is excellent as well."
Erzberger’s grin disappeared and he shook his head a little, "I am sure they are, Your Highness. They do smell wonderful but alas today is Friday."
"Oh, but of course, I had forgotten. I did not intend you tempt you into sin."
"I know that, Your Highness."
"Good! Now let s turn to why you are here in Italy at this time."
"Wednesday morning I was summoned to meet with Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke and Grossadmiral von Tirpitz at that fancy headquarters of theirs. They told me that the naval battle in the Celtic Sea last Saturday was a severe disappointment and therefore would not result in the quick defeat of Great Britain which they had previously thought possible. They were both worried that the bold Irish strategy they had embarked on might encounter very serious difficulties if the war dragged on too long. They both believe that the best hope to end the war this summer lay in adding new members to our alliance and that the country that would make the biggest difference is Italy. So I was sent here on their behalf to assist in your very important project."
This did not surprise von Bülow who answered, "I have been doing my very best to persuade the Italians to finally honor their treaty commitments, but there are several thorny problems that have been making that exceedingly difficult. The biggest of them is signor Giolitti. At first we thought the downfall of Salandra’s government was a step in the right direction. Giolitti happens to be one of the few prominent Italian politicians who is genuinely favorable towards the Dual Monarchy. However one problem with this is his government is dependent on the support of Socialists in the Chamber of Deputies. The Italian Socialists are very strongly opposed to entering the war on either side. The only exception of any significance is a pompous fellow called Mussolini who we know to be on the payroll of both the British and the French. However the bigger problem is Giolitti himself. He firmly believes that Italy is not prepared to wage war on either side. He is therefore firmly committed to neutrality though he has made it clear that he is willing to do us some small favors, such as sending arms to the Abyssinians, for which he feels we should be eternally grateful."
"We should make it clear to him they we in fact are very grateful and so is Emperor Iyasu, but that it is now time already for Italy to take the next step."
"I have told Signor Tottino, the Foreign Minister, much the same thing Wednesday morning. As you may recall Tottino appeared to be a genuine Triplicist before the war started showing what we thought was a genuine interest in working with Austria-Hungary."
"And how did Tottino respond, Your Highness?"
"He parrots almost verbatim what Giolitti has been saying---that Italy is too weak to take on the Entente. This did not surprise me but I was disturbed that he sounded a little bit more convinced about what he was saying this time around."
"How so, Your Highness?"
"Well for one thing he repeatedly mentioned Italy’s need for coal. Apparently the British have been rerouting their colliers bound for Italy to French ports of late."
"Oh, well isn’t that strange? I had not known that."
"I mentioned it in some detail in the telegram I sent to von Jagow later that day. I do hope that the Foreign Ministry passes important information like that on to OKW in a timely manner."
"Your Highness, I was asked by von Moltke to send periodic telegrams directly to him updating him on my progress. My team was provided a special cipher for these telegrams. I will send him a telegram later today with this information just to make sure. However I wonder if this rerouting of colliers could work for us. Is it not a serious breach of contract on the part of the British?"
Von Bülow shrugged and snorted, "One would think so but I have been told that is a legal matter which is less than perfectly clear, but then again in my experience all legal matters are less than perfectly clear."
"You would know that better than I, Your Highness."
Von Bülow frowned and even squirmed a little as he was sure that Erzberger was referring to his libel suit against Adolf Brand, who had alleged in his periodical Der Eigene that the chancellor had indulged in a homosexual affair. Even though the prince had been victorious in court with Brand being sentenced to 18 months in prison, it remained something he found very distasteful to remember much less discuss. "So one would think there would be some anti-British sentiment manifesting itself that we could use," he said, "but what I could gather from Tottino is it is just the reverse. This whole incident is driving home just how much they depend on Britain for coal."
"Ah, well that is very interesting, Your Highness. But could we not supplant the British as their main suppliers?"
"That has been looked into. There are some serious problems that we are not sure we can solve satisfactorily. Giolitti remains unconvinced and Tottino now seems to be agreeing with him."
"It is a shame then that we did not manage to secure Signor Sonnino as either foreign minister or still better prime minister. While he is clearly less friendly towards Austrians than either Giolitti or Tonnino, I have been told that he thinks Italian prestige requires her to enter the war on one side or the other sooner or later."
"I have heard that as well and believe it to be true. However I could see Sonnino asking more from the Austrians than they could be persuaded to give, which is the Trentino and maybe a small border adjustment on the Isonzo. Even those are problematic. The Baron Macchio is extremely evasive whenever I bring up the topic of concessions."
Erzberger nodded, "Yes, I am not surprised that the ambassador is evasive, Your Highness. I suspect that is in accord with his instructions from Vienna as I know that our ally is not being pragmatic on this issue. While I am here I intend to meet with the Holy Father and see if I can persuade him to pressure Kaiser Franz Josef into ceding the Trentino."
"Good luck. Pope Benedict has been extremely reluctant to intervene in the war except for pushing his naïve peace proposals."
"Hmm Well the Holy Father did make that statement critical of British policy towards the Irish rebels."
"Which Vatican officials tell me in private the pope now regrets."
"Oh, that is rather unfortunate, Your Highness. I thought his comment was completely justified. I wish he had said more."
"Maybe you can persuade the Holy Father to do that as well. Perhaps it would be helpful if you mention Admiral von Ingenohl’s speech before the Reichstag. That should serve to put the pontiff in the proper frame of mind."
Erzberger grinned slightly, "I had planned to do that, Your Highness. I even brought along a transcript of that speech in Latin."
The former ambassador rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly, "I doubt that I would like it any better in Latin. I still cannot believe that he had the gall to do that!"
Erzberger took his time and ate some more before responding, "As you could imagine Westarp was positively livid after that speech, Your Highness. He was not the only one. Krupp and most of the industrialists were shocked as were many in the military who felt embarrassed. That includes Tirpitz."
"I can well imagine. If it wasn’t for the popularity von Ingenohl gained by his two great victories Alfred would have found an excuse to have him cashiered or worse. Now that the so called German Nelson has lost a battle he may find that he is now very vulnerable, yes?"
Erzberger again took his time, carefully choosing his words, "Tirpitz has reasons to be cautious in how he handles this situation. He has told me that he might like to be chancellor after the war is over. There are many in the Reichstag who liked the speech very much and would be very upset if he mistreated their hero."
He is deliberately baiting me with this revelation to test my reaction thought von Bülow who momentarily gaped He rightfully suspects that I have plans to become chancellor once again and that my friendship with Tirpitz is central to those plans. Regaining his composure he said, "Yes I can see that most of the Socialists would be delighted with the speech. But what about your own party?"
"Most including myself liked it, Your Highness. However I must admit that there are a few in the Center Party who are rather thrilled at the prospect of large scale annexations. You see, whether it is Polish, French or Belgian territory that we end up annexing, most of the people Germany will be absorbing are Catholics and that in the long haul is very good for our party."
"That is one way to look at it, though really one should be thinking about what is good for one’s country and not what is good for one’s party, yes?."
"That is very true, Your Highness, which is why I am strongly opposed to any large scale annexations. It is in fact one reason I too liked von Ingenohl’s speech which was a good dose of reality about war aims."
Erzberger leaned forward a little as he said that and stared directly at von Bülow, who bit his upper lip as he thought He is definitely baiting me. How far have I fallen that I must curb my tongue with a member of the Center Party? Ugh! He poured himself more coffee and very deliberately drank it while meeting Erzberger’s defiant gaze while trying to act unperturbed. Finally he said, "While war aims is a most stimulating topic, it is best if we leave that discussion to another time and concentrate on your mission."
------Meiszagola (Lithuania) 0730 hrs
The German artillery ceased firing except for 4 batteries of 21cm Morsers targeting the Russian batteries which had pulled back to the reverse slope of the hill with the airship spotting for them. It was time for 4 battalions each from the 15th and 16th Infantry Divisions to make their assault up the narrow valley. The forward Russian trench lay a little above the base on the hill. It had been hard hit by the shelling but there was still some resistance left in it. There was only a single strand of barbed wire in front of it with several gaps created by the shelling. The attackers suffered serious losses but enough made it into the forward trench to capture nearly 3,000 prisoners many of them still dazed by the shelling. However they soon found that moving further up the hill was proving difficult. It would have been even more difficult if all of the Russian infantrymen possessed a rifle, instead of only three fifths of them. The Russians had hand grenades but not many and had received too little training in their proper use. The German VIII Army Corps committed 4 more battalions to the fight and soon two pioneer companies with minenwerfers were methodically brought forward. The Germans slowly worked their way up the hill taking losses all the way. Meanwhile the airship spotted a mass of Russian cavalry estimated to be an entire division galloping towards Meiszagola.
-----Paris 0805 hrs
The Council of Ministers was again in session. Jean Augagneur, the Minister of Marine was speaking, "Premier, the British notified us about an hour ago that they are not allowing their merchantmen to leave port today contrary to what they had told us just yesterday."
Clemenceau was aghast, "This is completely unacceptable! What possible justification could they have for this atrocious action?"
"Premier, they warn us that the German battlefleet is probably not heading straight back to Germany as originally thought, but will remain around the Pas de Calais for a while."
"And the Royal Navy will let them get away with this? Pardon me, monsieur, but I remain deeply confused. On the one hand the British claim that they have recently won a victory over the Germans, yet on the other I am completely mystified that the Royal Navy is not following up on their victory. This should be their opportunity to finish off the menace of the Hun battlefleet once and for all. Did they tell you when the Grand Fleet will arrive on the scene?"
"No, premier, they did not see fit to tell us anything about their deployment at this time. However they did remind us that colliers heading for Italy and Greece are being redirected to Toulon, Marseilles or Bordeaux when they arrive at Gibraltar."
"Yes we already know about that but it is only a temporary partial solution to our problem, keeping our munitions factories and railroads working at less than full capacity. Furthermore since it only affects British colliers that were at sea at the time that the British began holding their merchantmen in port it is quickly becoming irrelevant. I should also point out that while coal is the most important import there are other items such as steel, which are vital to our war industry as well. We need to know when the flow of these inputs will resume."
"I have told the British much the same thing, prime minister, but they refuse to answer, saying that they will discuss that topic with us later today."
"And did they set a specific time for when this extremely important conversation will take place?"
"No they did not, premier."
"They must be made to understand that the consequences of their policies. The overstretched Boche are on the verge of collapsing. Two weeks more weeks of our relentless attacks and they are finished! However for our great offensive to reach the decisive climax our men must have bullets and our magnificent artillery must have shells. The British are ruining our priceless opportunity for a quick victory by being too cautious. They have a huge merchant marine. Why are they suddenly so scared that they might lose a handful of merchantmen to the German fleet?"
Augagneur shrugged, "I do not have a good answer to that question, premier."
------north of Dessie (Abyssinia) 0825 hrs
Rain had begun before dawn and steadily intensified and was now a torrent. The main body of the British expeditionary force was slowed to a crawl about 8 miles from the Abyssinian army at Dessie. The commander of the expedition, Gen. Noel Lee had ordered a halt to the march and met with Sir Ronald Graham telling him, "While there are some skirmishes between our cavalry and the enemy, we are not going to have our battle today, Sir Ronald, even if the weather clears in the afternoon. I plan to camp here and attack tomorrow if the weather permits. This will give us time to conduct a proper reconnaissance and prepare accordingly. It will also permit our stragglers to catch up with us."
"So you don’t think Iyasu’s forces will come out and attack us?" asked Graham.
The general shook his head, "Much as I would like that, Sir Ronald, it is highly unlikely in my estimation. The lad is impulsive but our intelligence is that his sober minded father is running the show at least when it comes to military operations. Our reconnaissance so far indicates that he has found himself a good defensive position and awaits our attack. I have discussed this at length with Hapte Giorgis and he fully agrees with my assessment."
"But are both you and he confident that we can prevail tomorrow?" asked Graham anxiously.
"This is not Adowa; we are not Italians and above all Iyasu is certainly not Menelik! He is a frightfully unpopular brat who is suspected by many of being a Moslem. His regime is tottering. All that we need to do is kick in the barn door and it will all come crashing down. I have not the slightest doubt about the outcome of tomorrow’s battle."
------SMS Stralsund Western Approaches 0850 hrs
The first prize of 2nd Scouting Group this day was a 3,900 ton freighter out of Singapore bound for Glasgow with Liverpool with a cargo of tin. She was captured by Stralsund. The prize was on fairly recent construction and could sustain a speed of 11 knots though she lacked a wireless. She was not sunk but sent back to join the convoy which was escorted by von Spee’s battleships.
------Galicia 0900 hrs
The predawn attack by the Russian Eleventh Army on Center Army, while failing to retake any ground and suffering fairly heavy losses, did at least have some partial success as a spoiling attack, causing Gen. von Linsingen to postpone his planned early morning attack. He managed to persuade Gen. Böhm-Ermolli, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian Second Army to do postpone his attack as well. The stockpile of shells of both Center Army and Second Army were dwindling and this morning their bombardment was shorter and less intense than on the previous days. Even though the Russian defenders remained seriously short on shells this meant their bombardment was less devastating than on previous days. Center Army was able to take the forward Russian trench but took more casualties than expected and was unable to advance any further. This was due in part to the reinforcements Scherbachev had recently received. Today’s results disappointed von Linsingen, who had thought that the Russian Eleventh Army was on the verge of a complete collapse.
The attack by the Austro-Hungarian Second Army experienced even more difficulty. Where it attacked Brusilov’s Eighth Army it was unable to take even the forward trench. Where it attached the left wing of Eleventh Army it succeeded in grabbing the forward trench but suffered heavy losses doing so and spent several hours fighting off determined counterattacks.
Meanwhile to the north the Russian Third Army managed to destroy the pontoon bridge over the San but in the process came under heavy counterbattery fire from the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army which had a decent stockpile of munitions at its disposal. This resulted in a protracted artillery duel which the Austro-Hungarians won allowing them to break up the Russian counterattacks against the bridgehead.
------10 Downing St. 0905 hrs
"The plain truth is this, prime minister, the Admiralty no longer believes that the German fleet is on their way home," declared Carson at the morning session of the War Committee. When I left the building the admirals were still very unsure about what the Germans intended to do. The two most likely hypotheses are that they are either returning to Ireland with additional supplies and reinforcements or else attempting to land an expedition on the French coast behind the lines to turn the flank of the B.E.F."
Andrew Bonar Law was stony faced as he asked, "And what about an invasion of England? Is that out of the question?"
"No, I am afraid it is not, prime minister," said Carson regretting his words as soon as he uttered them.
The other four members of the War Committee hissed as one. "Lord Kitchener, did you know of this?" asked Bonar Law.
"No, I did not, prime minister," replied Kitchener, "which I consider outright negligence."
Carson rolled his eyes and chose his words carefully, "Before everyone gets overly excited, could you please permit me to clarify a few salient points. First, is that while the Admiralty thinks an invasion of England is possible they now view it as highly unlikely because the patrols we have in place to warn us of that development have not encountered a German move towards our coast. There was a brief early morning skirmish that suggests that the Germans might indeed be moving to landing on the French coast. As Lord Kitchener should be able to confirm, we did promptly notify both Gen. Roberston and Field Marshal French of this risk. Then---"
Bonar Law interrupted, "---Well, is this true, Lord Kitchener?"
Kitchener sighed slightly, "Yes it is true about receiving a warning about a possible risk of a landing on the French coast, esp. the area around Dieppe. However until this meeting we did not hear so much as a peep about a possible invasion of England, which is unbelievably irresponsible"
"That is because we regarded that possibility as being quite remote for the reasons I have just outlined, field marshal," replied Carson with an air of exasperation as if he were trying to explain something to a child, "One fairly obvious thing I have failed to mention so far is the rather wretched weather we are experiencing today. It is still worse in and around the Straits of Dover. Until the storm clears the enemy will be unable to land troops anywhere."
"And what do our weather wizards---what is the right word?"
"Meteorologists, prime minister."
"That’s it. Funny word. So what do these ‘meteorologists’ predict with their charts and crystal balls about today and tomorrow?"
"They believe that the storm will subside in the early afternoon, prime minister."
"Which means that they could then attempt a landing on our shores!" Kitchener thundered.
"Theoretically yes, Lord Kitchener," answered Carson wearily, "but as I have endeavored to explain the Sea Lords and I firmly believe that to be highly unlikely."
As Kitchener opened his mouth to make an angry retort, Bonar Law spoke, "I do not want this meeting degenerating into a shouting match. Sir Edward, I find myself in agreement with Lord Kitchener that the Admiralty should have notified the War Office immediately if they thought there was any chance of an invasion. As for you, Lord Kitchener, I would find it much more professional if you would stop crying over spilt milk and focus instead on what can be done and needs to be done right now."
Kitchener sulked in silence for half a minute glaring at the First Lord. Eventually he spoke in a tight lipped voice, "Prime Minister, I shall notify Southern Command of this threat forthwith and put them on the very highest state of alert. It would be very helpful if the Admiralty can give us some guidance as to where the landing is likely to occur."
"We think that if there is to be a landing in England either Sussex or Kent is more likely than East Anglia because what limited intelligence we have suggests that the German fleet remains somewhere in the eastern half of the English Channel. Once again at the risk of provoking an argument I will state that we regard an invasion of England as highly improbable."
Grey who had previously been silent spoke up, "And what about a hit and run infantry raid?"
"I take it that you mean a hit and run raid on England, Sir Earl," replied Carson, "though a hit and run on the French coast is also a distinct possibility. Such a raid on the English coast is a little more likely than a full scale invasion. While it might be good for German morale and prestige I am not sure what else it could accomplish. On the other hand a hit and run raid on the French coast could be useful as a diversion."
"A hit and run raid on our own coast could be seen by the Germans as an effective way to discourage us from further reinforcing Ireland, First Lord," Lloyd-George speculated.
Carson and Kitchener both raised an eyebrow at that, and the former admitted, "You raise a good point there, chancellor. It is in my own cherished opinion that the enemy’s real intention at this time, is to reinforce their Irish expedition with still more men and materials in the next few days, but that is merely an educated guess on my part. Perhaps they will attempt the raid you suggest first as a diversion."
"Argh! So instead of having the German fleet sulking home to nurse their wounds as we had naively assumed, we find ourselves facing three possible strategic threats, one to England, one in France and one in Ireland. I cannot say which one is worse," groaned Bonar Law.
"Prime Minister, the Germans face great risks in attempting the first two options but in my estimation there is less of a risk for them with the third option of reinforcing Ireland---at least in the near term," replied Carson.
"But we can ill afford to ignore any of these disturbing possibilities," commented Grey.
"Hear, hear," said Bonar Law, "Until he have some definitive intelligence we must be prepared to deal with all of them."
------HQ British VI Army Corps Nenagh (Tipperary) 1005 hrs
Both the telegraph and telephone lines connecting VI Army with HQ Ireland Command were currently working. At this moment Gen. Henry Wilson, the commander of the VI Army Corps, almost wished they were not. He held in his hand a message from Gen. Friend that had been delivered by a motorcyclist a few minutes earlier. This was the first message that he received from the Welsh Division in several hours as German cavalry had not only cut wires but also intercepted previous messengers. Wilson forced himself to read it again:
I am very sad to report that despite the best efforts of my valiant men, my perimeter has been completely overrun. My remaining artillery and even this HQ are in grave peril. Already I have lost 3 more guns and about a third of my supplies. What is left of this division is retiring in less than perfect order towards the village of Hospital. We are being harassed on our march by a sizable force of German cavalry. The best thing I can say about my present situation is that Austrian pursuit so far has been half hearted. I plan on stopping at Hospital long enough to regain order and cohesion. Once that is done I believe it is necessary to continue my withdrawal to at least as far away as Pallas Grean."
"Get me Gen. Hamilton on the bloody telephone," he ordered with mounting dread.
A minute later he was talking with his superior, "General, I have some extremely bad news to report. I have just learned that the Austrians have overrun much of the Welsh Division, capturing 3 artillery pieces and a fraction of their supplies. What is left of the division is withdrawing to Pallas Grean."
There was an ominous pause before Hamilton replied, "How did this happen, general?"
"I would say a combination of reasons, sir. First is that division has been little more than a reinforced brigade since as far back as the Battle of Rathmore. Secondly it has been deprived of ammunition during more one key engagement recently. Finally I have concluded that Gen. Friend is an ineffective leader and am seriously considering relieving him."
"I happen to be short on generals at this choice moment. I am not going to prevent you from relieving him but ask that you hold off for the time being at least until we can find a suitable replacement."
"I believe that we do not have far to look, general. Gen. Maurice is the logical replacement for Gen. Friend."
"Perhaps but Gen. Maurice happens to be very busy right now."
"With all due respect, sir, the mission of Northern Region would become incredibly easy is the U.V.F. were permitted to arm and assemble. In that case it would not require an officer of Gen. Maurice’s caliber to crush the rebellion ."
There was more than a minute of silence on the telephone line. Finally Hamilton’s voice came through, "I will take that suggestion under consideration, general, but we are not going to be discussing that pet topic of yours right now. Is that clear?"
"Yes, general, perfectly clear."
"Good, now then getting back to your current tactical situation, is the Austrian division pursuing the Welsh Division?"
"Yes, general, but not with full vigor."
"Hmm this exposes the left flank of the 11th Division does it not?"
"Yes, it does, sir. It therefore raises the disturbing possibility that the reason the pursuit of the Welsh Division is as Gen. Friend put it ‘half hearted’ is that the Austrians are considering pouncing on that exposed flank."
"Which could easily make an already bad situation even worse. Did the 11th Division enjoy any success against the Bavarians this morning?"
"They did make some slow and steady progress which is encouraging but no there is no clear sign that the 6th Bavarian Division was collapsing as we had hoped."
"By Jove, what is holding that pesky division together? Their infantry strength must be reduced to no more than that of a battalion by now."
"That were my thoughts exactly, general, which is why I thought today’s attacks were almost certain to succeed."
"It is a mystery. Is the Lowland Division still fending off the German flank attack?"
"Yes, it is, sir, but Gen. Egerton says that he is hard pressed."
"So even if Limerick falls in the next hour---which it won’t--- both the Lowland and 11th Infantry Division looked to be poised over the Abyss if the Austrians pivot and envelop the left flank of the 11th Infantry Division."
Wilson found Hamilton’s tone to be disagreeable but forced himself to behave professionally, "That is a very real danger, sir. However while Limerick certainly is not going to fall within the next hour, I still resolutely believe that it will fall within the next day."
"I have heard that before."
Wilson resisted the urge to growl, "We are making progress, sir. I am throwing everything I have available into the attack, incl. the 31st Brigade. Sometime tomorrow the Union Jack will fly over King John’s Castle."
Again there was a pause on the telephone line. Finally Hamilton said, "Let us assume that is true. In that case what you need to do is obvious. Pull back both the Lowland and 11th Infantry Divisions all the way to Limerick. If the enemy pursues all the way to Limerick then you can smite them with a counterattack which includes the West Riding Division."
Hmm London is not going to like this plan but it does make some sense thought Wilson, "I will do that, sir. What about the Welsh Division?"
"If the Austrians chase them they should lure them as far as possible from Limerick. On the other hand, if the Austrians give up the chase then they should proceed to Limerick as well, but use them very cautiously as a reserve."
------SMS Nautilus northern edge of the Baie de Seine 1040 hrs
After leaving Boulogne having replenished its stockpile of mines and partially coaled, Nautilus along with the 5th Scouting Group, Kronprinzessin Cecilie, Kaiser Wilhelm II and a torpedoboat flotilla rendezvoused with the High Seas Fleet. Escorted by the small cruisers of 5th Scouting Group barely visible in the rain 10 km to the north she proceeded to lay mines in the sea lanes leading to the mouth of the Seine. Her captain carefully kept her out of range of French coastal artillery, though in this stormy weather, which had improved only slightly in the last half hour, he realized that he was probably being overly conservative but then again there were other reasons for not getting too close to the French coast.
After laying a dozen mines a lookout shouted, "Torpedo! Torpedo off the port bow!"
The captain of the Nautilus looked for the torpedo’s wake with his own binoculars but failed to see it. He wondered if the lookout was seeing a torpedo that wasn’t there. That did happen occasionally. He decided that he did not want to take a chance on that possibly, "Helm! Hard port rudder!" he ordered hoping to turn into the torpedo and present a smaller target aspect.
"I see it, Kapitän!" yelled his first officer.
"Where? Where?" the captain wanted to know.
The first officer pointed, "There, Kapitän. I do not think we can avoid it."
The captain finally saw the wake of torpedo in the final seconds of its approach. It was hard to see in all the waves. He was forced to agree with his first officer that they were not turning fast enough to avoid it. "Brace for an explosion," he ordered the bridge crew.
The fateful explosion never came. When he finally resumed breathing the captain wondered what had happened. Even if it was a dud there should have been a noticeable impact.
"It passed just under us, Kapitän," declared the first officer, who then pointed to the starboard side, "Look there!"
The captain looked at where the first officer had pointed. The depth control of the torpedo was having serious trouble in these rough waters and after a few seconds it briefly porpoised. He then turned to his first officer, "These waters are too dangerous! We shall lay two more mines in rapid succession. As soon as the last one is deposited we shall immediately come to a heading of 310°. Notify 5th Scouting Group of this by both signal lamp and short range wireless."
------FS Berthelot Baie de Seine 1038 hrs
The captain of the French submarine shook his head in disgust as he lowered the periscope. Submarines were temperamental beasts and French submarines were esp. so. There were supposed to be two submarines on station guarding the mouth of the Seine at all times but the other submarine had developed problems with her diving planes and her replacement had yet to arrive on station. The Berthelot had experienced her own mechanical problems trying to patrol on the surface in this foul weather. Despite the limited visibility her lookouts had detected a suspicious vessel. They had submerged as quickly as possible and identified the suspicious vessel as a German warship through the periscope. They were able to get into a fairly favorable position and fired a single torpedo. The captain now wondered if he should have fired two. The target was a small warship and he was not sure that the target was worth it or even if it would have made a difference---torpedoing light craft even in good weather was tricky business.
He now considered whether or not to try again. The target vessel had suddenly turned indicating that it had spotted the torpedo and was now aware of his existence. The Royal Navy had told the MN that the Germans now possessed a new weapon that they used against submerged submarines. Three British submarines had been damaged by this weapon so far and it was feared that one of the British subs that were missing and presumed lost may be due to this new weapon. He decided against another immediate attack but if the German warship, which might be a minelayer, remained in these waters he would try again if the opportunity arose.
------Tipperary town 1050 hrs
Captain Vopel had finally managed to cajole Commandant McElroy to remain at Caher with the 3rd Tipperary Battalion to guard his tenuous line of communications. Vopel then proceeded to march the 2nd Tipperary Battalion northwest to the town of Tipperary. He now arrived with the lead company and fought a brief battle with 17 constables. They barred his way into the town but some of his men came from this area and they showed him an easy way to outflank the R.I.C. The fight was soon over. A half dozen constables escaped in 2 motor cars and the town was his. Vopel immediately started his men working on ways to fortify Tipperary. It had been nearly three weeks since the Tipperary Volunteers had been in this area. As with most of Ireland there had been a shift of opinion in favor of the rebellion since then and soon after he arrived a steady stream of men began to join their ranks.
The battalion motorcycle was still functioning and so the major sent its rider off again to try to find the Erzherzog Karl Division in order to notify Feldmlt. Krauss that the Tipperary Volunteers were again guarding his flank.
------west of Knocklong (Limerick) 1105 hrs
After most of the Welsh Division was overrun, Feldmlt. Krauss ordered one of his brigades supported by a single battery of field guns to pursue the fleeing remnants of the division. He ordered the other brigade supported by the rest of his artillery to attack the now exposed left flank of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division. Shifting his artillery, esp. the howitzers, took some time nor was his relatively inexperienced men able to fully exploit their tactical advantage. Nevertheless this was a very stressful time for Gen. Hammersley the commander of the 11th (Northern) Division. He had been advancing slowly against heavy resistance for most of the morning when he received word that his flank was now under attack. This was followed a few minutes later by a motorcyclist arriving at his HQ with orders from Gen. Wilson to immediately retire all the way to Limerick. Breaking off his attack, countering the enemy attack on his flank and making a speedy withdrawal proved taxing for a newly trained division still in its first week of combat. However the Austro-Hungarians were inexperienced as well. Gen. Hammersley also experienced some luck in the fact that the cavalry of Brigade Frauenau, which were potentially dangerous in this situation, were instead concentrating their attention on the Welsh Division not him. That let him disengage without losing any of his remaining artillery and only a fifth of his supplies.
------Kilmallock (Limerick) 1115 hrs
To the west the Lowland Division was having an even harder time trying to comply with Gen. Wilson’s orders to withdraw all the way back to Limerick city. The right wing of the Lowland Division was curved well back in order to counter the repeated attempts by the 111th Infantry Division to envelop them. Moreover the Germans controlled the main road leading to Limerick. The 111th Infantry Division harassed the left flank of the Lowland Division while strongly engaging the meager and hastily organized Scottish rearguard. The Lowland Division lost a pair of 15 pounders, 5 machineguns and a third of its supplies during the withdrawal.
------HQ Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 1120 hrs
Gen. Hamilton was on the telephone with Gen. Maurice, the commander of the newly formed Northern Region inquiring, "Gen. Maurice, have you committed the 6th Leicestershire yet?"
"Not yet, sir, but I am on the verge of using that battalion to reinforce our forces at Athlone. I have received word today that there is yet another rebel force of some size which arrived in County Longford late yesterday. This poses a new threat to our forces there."
"I understand your concern about Longford but I must inform you that I need that battalion sent to Nenagh as quickly as possible."
"I will do so immediately, general. Does this mean that there has been another, uh, ‘setback’ in Munster?"
"Yes that is correct. There has been a setback in Munster," Hamilton admitted without volunteering anything in the way of details.
"Uh, might I ask just how serious a ‘setback’ we suffered?"
Hamilton paused a few seconds before answering, "Serious enough, general. It’s a complicated situation and I do not have the time right now to go into the details."
"Uh, I understand that, general, though it would help me to perform my duties if I had a better picture of what is going on."
Hamilton turned to his chief of staff, Gen. Braithwaite, who read the expression on his face and commented, "He is pumping you for information, isn’t he? I told you Robertson ordered him to spy on us."
"What is that? I can’t hear what you’re saying, general," came Maurice’s voice over the telephone.
Hamilton gestured with hand for his chief of staff to be quiet then answered, "Oh, Gen. Braithwaite was just telling me something that is not terribly relevant to this conversation. What is relevant is the situation in County Donegal. Are the rebels there still retreating back into Leitrim as your report indicated?"
"No, general, our latest intelligence shows them heading instead towards the northern part of Fermanagh. I am worried that while we stopped them at Donegal they may be planning to circle around and thrust into County Tyrone."
"Belfast is already short on food. If the rebels disrupt the agricultural counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone that situation will become much worse."
"Yes, I understand that general which is why I am moving the 3rd Inniskilling Fusiliers back to Omagh. More importantly I have ordered the 1/7th Highland Light Infantry to pursue and eliminate the rebels."
"Well then it looks like you have matters well in hand."
"This band of rebels, yes, general, but there is the unpleasant fact that with the partial exception of Galway, we have lost all communication with Connaught."
"We are well aware of that general, but once this rebel force in Donegal is eliminated and Athlone finally retaken, we are confident that pacification of Connaught can be accomplished rather speedily. Furthermore the fall of Limerick would go a long way as well to that end as it would make it very unlikely that the rebels in Connaught would be receiving any more arms."
"And exactly how is the siege of Limerick progressing, general? Are we into the city itself yet?"
"Uh, not yet but Gen. Wilson believes the German Marines to be on their last legs. The attack he has planned for this afternoon should do the trick."
"Huh, that sounds very promising, sir, very promising indeed. It will be simply smashing to see the Union Jack flying high once again over King John’s Castle. And as you say it will go a long way towards straightening out our strategic situation. However it is my duty to suggest one other option for you to consider. We could permit the U.V.F. to assemble and use them to eliminate the rebels."
Hamilton rolled his eyes and sighed, "Gen Wilson suggests that option at least twice a day. There are political reasons against going down that road. The War Committee, Viceroy and Chief Secretary are all in complete agreement."
"General, I understand all too well that there would political consequences to arming the U.V.F. but to mind they are outweighed by the purely military consequences of failing to do so."
"We are not ignorant of the military consequences, general. The War Committee has again and again made it clear to me that they not us will decide if and when it is necessary to assemble and arm the U.V.F. It is bad enough that Gen. Wilson mentions this topic way too frequently. Do not emulate him."
-------House of Commons 1125 hrs
Walter Long was speaking, "It is all well and good to laud the War Committee for our recent victory over the German fleet in the Celtic Sea but I feel that it is my solemn duty to bring up the less than satisfactory campaign we have waged on the ground inside Ireland. How many times has the government told us that the fall of Limerick was ‘imminent’? Quite frankly I have lost count. Now please do not get me wrong. If the German resistance at Limerick does collapse in the next 24 hours no one here will be happier than I. But I must ask what if tomorrow comes and the Germans remain ensconced inside Limerick? And what if their forces inside Cork manage to eject us out of the entire county? Yes, yes my dear colleagues I can see that some of you adamantly refuse to so much as consider that possibility. And again I must beg your indulgence, for again I must ask the horrible question, ‘What if the enemy drives us out of County Cork while holding on to Limerick? How might this influence the rebellion?’ Yes, yes, I know that we supposedly decapitated the rebellion at Dublin and we therefore want to believe that the rebels will simply lose heart and give up. Perhaps they will eventually but we have yet to see any sign of this. The government has very reluctantly admitted that a rebel force aided by an armored train took the key city of Athlone, which dominates central Ireland as any student of Irish history can attest. Have the supposedly disillusioned rebels surrendered there? No they have not."
Long paused to take in the reaction of the other MP’s. There were no catcalls. Those whose facial expressions were clearly the most unhappy belonged to either the Labour Party or the Irish Nationalists. That did not bother Long as he fully expected intractable antipathy from both of those parties. He was only interested in his fellow Conservatives and to a lesser degree, the Liberals. He was very pleased to see no one in his own party upset over what was implicitly a sharp criticism of Bonar Law. He caught a brief glimpse of his potential rival, Balfour who as usual gave off an air of philosophical detachment. The Liberals were demonstrating a mixed reaction to Long’s words. He knew that most of them would prefer Balfour as the next prime minister, but Long hoped to persuade some of them.
------SMS Blücher Western Approaches 1150 hrs
Blücher took her first prize of the day, a 4,100 ton freighter out of Colombo bound for Dublin with a cargo of tea. Adm. Maas, the commander of 2nd Scouting Group, quickly decided that she was not worth keeping and ordered her sunk.
------Old Admiralty Building 1210 hrs
Adm. Oliver trotted excitedly down the hallway holding in his right hand a folder containing the latest work product of Room 40. "This one is helpful, First Lord, even though it does not cleanly spell out their intent. Here read it for yourself," he announced as he handed Carson the folder. Sir Edward thanked the admiral then opened the folder to read:
NAUTILUS ATTACKED BY SUBMARINE OFF MOUTH OF SEINE WHILE MINELAYING REPEAT NAUTILUS ATTACKED BY SUBMARINE OFF MOUTH OF SEINE WHILE MINELAYING STOP MINELAYING WAS NOT COMPLETED REPEAT MINELAYING WAS NOT COMPLETED STOP NAUTILUS WILL NOW ATTEMPT TO LAY MINES OFF CERBOURG REPEAT NAUTILUS WILL NOW ATTEMPT TO LAY MINES OFF CERBOURG STOP
Carson read it again then handed it to Adm. Callaghan while saying, "The Germans are doing a bit of minelaying. We should not be surprised by this development but right now we should consider this to be the least of our worries. We still do not have an inkling about what the Germans intend to do with their blasted troopships."
Callaghan handed the folder to Adm. Wilson then said, First Lord, "I see this latest piece of intelligence as a partial confirmation of my suspicion that they are indeed heading back to Ireland though they do not seem to be in as much of a hurry as they were last week. Cherbourg is on their route and Adm. von Ingenohl intends to take advantage of that to lay some minefields."
Wilson passed the folder to Adm. Jackson, then said, "That is one possibility but I would not dismiss the possibility of an invasion of England. The Germans could be planning to come ashore further west than we had previously anticipated---say at beaches of Brighton hoping to seize Newhaven to use as their main port. I would remind everyone that the coastal defenses are quite weak west of Eastbourne."
"And I must also mention that laying mines off Cherbourg could be intended to make sure that the line of communication to the B.E.F. remains cut while they land their forces at Dieppe," remarked Adm. Jackson.
"Oh wonderful, this wireless message not only fails to put to rest any of our nightmares but merely gives us one more problem to fret over," Carson commented, "We should at least warn the French about this."
Oliver frowned and spoke up, "First Lord, I would counsel waiting at least two hours before doing so and then being somewhat imprecise in what we tell them. If the French respond too quickly to this development it could make the Germans suspect that we’ve broken their codes."
Carson drummed his fingers on the wooden conference table at which he sat. After a half minute he said, "We seem to have the same conversation over and over Adm. Oliver. I do understand your concerns about ruining our great edge in intelligence by using too conspicuously. Nevertheless too much caution greatly degrades its utility. There has been too much friction between us and the French. They ask a great many questions and in all honesty we have been downright niggardly in providing them answers."
Oliver reddened at this criticism so Callaghan decided to mediate, "First Lord, I would suggest that we wait just one more hour then notify our French counterparts that we suspect that the Germans have laid mines off the mouth of the Seine and may be planning to do the same off Cherbourg."
Oliver opened his mouth to protest but then decided against it. Carson noticed this and asked, "Is there something you wish to say, Adm. Oliver?"
Oliver sighed deeply and shook his head then answered, "Uh, I have nothing to add at this time, First Lord."
"Then I take it that you have no objection to Adm. Callaghan’s suggested course of action?"
He certainly but after a few seconds bit his tongue and said, "I have no objections to the admiral’s suggestion."
"That is good because to my way of thinking it is if anything still a bit too indirect, but I don’t want to waste any more time arguing about what we should tell the French. Is there anything that we should be telling the army right now? They are worrying themselves sick right now about a possible German invasion."
"There is still nothing definitive that we can tell them right now, First Lord, as we have not ruled out the possibility of an invasion of England," Adm. Wilson commented.
"I agree. We should wait until we have something more definitive before passing it on to Lord Kitchener," said Adm. Callaghan.
Carson sighed. He was not completely happy with that suggestion as well but unwilling to impose his will on the Sea Lords either.
------HMS Achilles off Sligo 1230 hrs
After not finding any rebels to hit near Donegal, the armored cruiser Achilles was then dispatched to shell the coastal town of Sligo, which was known to be in rebel hands. The cruiser anchored in Sligo Bay and used both its 9.2" and 7.5" guns. The shelling almost immediately caused pandemonium. People ran screaming from the town. Before long several fires were started. After 10 minutes the shelling stopped. The captain of the Achilles had been told to wait to see if there was any visible sign such as a conspicuous white flag that the rebels wanted to surrender. He did not see any and after 10 more minutes resumed the shelling. There were more casualties, mostly among the civilian population. The fires grew steadily worse.
Eventually the shelling stopped and the cruiser raised anchor. Once beyond Sligo Bay she headed northwest to rejoin the rest of her squadron. The city continued to burn. Eventually many of the adult civilians returned to join with rebels to work with them to extinguish fires and repair what could be repaired. And as they did more than a few decided to join the ranks of the rebels as well.
------Glenmalure Valley (Wicklow) 1320 hrs
Both Pearse and the O’Rahilly were softly singing,
"Lift MacCahir Óg your face, brooding o'er the old disgrace
In 1580 during the Second Desmond Rebellion a force of 3,000 English soldiers led by Baron Arthur Grey entered the Wicklow Mountains to take the stronghold of the rebellious O’Byrne clan led by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne, which was situated at Balinacor in the Glenmalure Valley. Those of the Baron’s military advisers who were experienced in Irish warfare, had warned against this move but he wanted to quash the rebellion before England’s great rival of that time became involved. In the ensuing battle his relatively inexperienced soldiers found themselves frustrated by the steep valley walls and were slowly bled by snipers. Eventually they fled the valley in panic. During their retreat the Irish swooped down on them killing more than a quarter of the English soldiers with swords and poleaxes and forcing the rest to fight a rear guard action all the way to Rathdrum.
It was now the 1/5th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers plus a contingent of constables that nosed their way into the valley. Unlike Arthur Grey they entered from the east not the northwest having marched down the Military Road which had not existed in the Elizabethan era. The battalion had suffered very heavy cumulative losses both from the Battle of Dublin and the subsequent fighting near the Sally Gap and so had an effective strength of about 550 men. Their commander, Lt. Col. Sir Winton Churchill was convinced that the rebels of Dublin Brigade were down to the last 200 bullets and was determined to finish them off before they could escape and disperse. In particular he wanted both Pearse and Rommel either dead or alive.
"Shhhh Stop singing and be quiet," Rommel ordered.
The O’Rahilly immediately stopped. Pearse though complained, "Come on now, Major. I dunna think the Brits will be hearin’ us way up here and t’is a really fine Irish song about the last battle that was fought here. Good for the soldier’s morale if---"
"---Shut up and be quiet or I will shoot you."
Pearse did not think Rommel was serious but he didn’t want to find out for sure. He bit his lower lip, folded his arms and sulked in silence. After a few seconds he turned to the west and glanced up at Mt. Lugnaquillia where some of Dublin Brigade’s best climbers had established an observation post just before noon. This had helped alert them of the approach of their British pursuers. The rebels were positioned in dense trees on either side of the lone road that snaked through the valley. The 3rd Kerry Battalion, 5th Dublin Battalion and the HQ company of Dublin Brigade were posted north of the road while the 1st Dublin Battalion led by Commandant Heuston were to the south. In both cases Rommel ordered that most of the men be posted deep in the woods completely out of sight of the road with only a few of the best marksmen overlooking the road from partially concealed sniping positions at the edge of the woods where they had camouflaged themselves. The good news today was that they had received a large shipment of ammunition before dawn. Yesterday they had in fact been dangerously low on ammunition and that was one reason that they had withdrawn to the south.
The Royal Scots Fusiliers accompanied by some constables were now in plain sight below. A small advance party composed of both soldiers and constables had entered the valley a few minutes earlier. Rommel had ordered his men to hold their fire and to stay hidden. Rommel would occasionally glance at the enemy through his binoculars but not too often as he feared the enemy might catch a reflected glint off the lenses even though the sun was currently masked behind thickening clouds. He thought it very probable that there would be at least some rain before sunset. As long as it did not rain hard in the next few minutes he would be happy.
Both Heuston and Ashe had been ordered in the strictest terms to wait until the 3rd Kerry Battalion where Rommel was located, opened fire. Rommel raised his binoculars and looked again. The column of British soldiers continued to march into the valley but he could see that many were uneasy about the possibility of ambush and were constantly turning to gaze up at the walls of the valley. As we was about to put the binoculars down again Rommel observed someone who looked to be an officer. He was obviously agitated and was pointing towards the south wall. The officer now dispatched two of his soldier to scramble up towards where he was pointing.
He probably spotted someone in 1st Dublin Battalion thought Rommel still watching through his binoculars. He saw the column slowing then grinding to a halt. My measure of surprise is evaporating now is the time. "Ready! Aim! Fire!" he ordered while putting down his binoculars and taking up his own rifle. Only 19 rifles fired in the first few seconds but then the adjacent 5th Dublin Battalion commenced firing and soon after that the 1st Dublin Battalion. As this was going on, the riflemen, who had been held back inside the woods now sprinted forward to join in.
Down below Churchill had also begun to suspect a trap just before the firing started, but remained convinced that the rebels were nearly out of ammunition. The relatively few shots being fired initially reinforced his conviction. He therefore felt it would be a serious mistake to try to fall back. Instead he ordered his men to charge up the northern slope. Brandishing his sword he led his men yelling, "For King and Country!" Churchill was still not completely recovered from his wound in Dublin though and some of his soldiers pulled ahead of him. As the enemy rifle fire intensified one of the soldier ahead of him was hit and fell backwards. Churchill reacted too slowly and was toppled himself by the falling body. They both tumbledl down the slope as did most of other soldiers who had been hit---which was becoming all too common.
The fall knocked the wind out of Sir Winston and caused several bruises and scrapes. The soldier who had been hit lay on top on him not dead but twitching and moaning incoherently. He was also bleeding profusely. As Churchill struggled to regain his breath his soldier servant arrived and moved the severely wounded soldier off Sir Winston’s body as quickly as possible. When he was done all three of them were covered with blood. "Are you hurt, sir?" asked the batman, "Should I summon a medic?"
Churchill shook his head as he wheezed and coughed. He found being speechless extremely frustrating. Finally he was able to gasp, "By all means call a medic, Dunbar, not for me rather but for this poor wretch here."
While the soldier servant fetched a medic, Churchill reevaluated his tactical situation. It was now becoming painfully clear that if the enemy did not indeed run out of ammunition very soon his battalion was in a tight spot. The attempt to storm up the northern slope had obviously failed and his battalion was now caught in a deadly crossfire coming from elevated positions. His battalion only had two machineguns, both old maxims instead of the superior Vickers. One had already set up and was firing up at the enemy. As Churchill watched the soldier operating this machinegun was hit in the head by a rebel round and promptly collapsed very probably dead.
A medic approached and asked, "Your batman told me you were injured, sir."
"No, no, no! I am not the one who’s hurt. It’s this poor chap here that needs attention."
The medic then examined the wounded man who had toppled Churchill. As he did Churchill then remembered his soldier servant. "Dunbar? Are you there, son? Where are you?"
"Colonel, your batman was killed seconds after he found me," answered the medic, "And this one on the ground here one will be joining him before long. There is nothing I can do for him. Are you sure you that you are not injured---"
"I have already told you that I am not injured! If you can’t help this soldier then go find someone you can help! Go!" snapped Churchill. He had been fond of Dunbar, who had been an extremely helpful batman and it pained him that the man had perished. The former First Lord of the Admiralty suddenly found himself remembering his past failures incl. the Belgian campaign and esp. the fateful decision that led to the disaster at Dogger Bank. Now he again faced ruination. He actually found it comforting to think that if Glenmalure was to be another failure his death would surely spare him further disgrace.
The major who was his second in command approached crouching, "Colonel! I heard you were injured!"
"You heard incorrectly, major," replied an annoyed Churchill who nonetheless realized his blood soaked uniform would make that question nearly inevitable.
"We are being shredded in this position, sir. We must withdraw back to the Military Road immediately."
Churchill turned away from the major and stood up fully. He waved his sword high in the air with his right hand, and likewise waved his cap with his left hand. He bellowed at the top of his now recovered voice, "Rommel! Rommel! Here I am! What are you waiting for? Do it!"
The major was astonished by this and again wondered if his superior had been injured after all, just not physically. Seconds later a trail of bullets raked their position in the distinctive pattern made by a machinegun. Several British soldiers were hit but Churchill who was the most exposed was miraculously untouched.
"Hah! You missed Rommel! You missed!" taunted Churchill.
The single machinegun that Dublin Brigade still possessed had only half of a belt of ammunition left because the predawn shipment of ammunition Rommel had received did not include any belts. Rommel had therefore ordered that weapon be kept well out of sight in the woods and only be brought up once the battle was well underway. It did not fire long.
"Well would you look at that officer waving his sword at us like he doesn’t have a care in the world," remarked the O’Rahilly, "Now don’t that beat all."
"It is magnificent!" said Pearse with obvious deep seated admiration.
"But it is not war," replied Rommel as he fired his Lee-Enfield.
To this day historians have debated whether or not it was Rommel’s bullet that struck Churchill. Whoever fired it, Sir Winston almost instantly fell back. The major managed out of sheer reflex to catch his body before his head could strike the rocky ground. There was a strange look on Churchill’s face. "Warrender, give me back my dreadnoughts," he groaned feebly then slipped into unconsciousness.
The medic who had been sent off a minute earlier quickly returned and muttered with sardonic irony, "Well now, it looks like you were hurt after all, colonel."
"See what you can do with him," the major told the medic. The enemy machinegun had mercifully stopped firing. The battalion sergeant major and adjutant had approached in the last half minute. "We must withdraw as best we can from this bloody death trap," the major ordered.
The sergeant major interrupted, "Begging your pardon, major, but you might want to take a gander at what is happening on that tall mountain to the west."
------Clonakilty (Cork) 1345 hrs
After escorting the transports that delivered the8th Battalion Devonshire to Rosslare, the 2nd Cruiser Squadron proceeded to escort two Isle of Man packet ships with supplies to Berehaven. On the way they stopped at the coastal town of Clonakilty taking care to swing wide around Cork, as there were disturbing reports of one or more German submarines being on guard near the harbor.
A party was sent ashore from the Natal. They were looking for the surviving remnants of the 16th (Irish) Infantry Division, more half of which belonged to the 7th Battalion Leinster Regiment. The last time there had been any contact with these units was more than a week ago so the anxious landing party was very unsure if they still existed or if they would find the enemy in control of this region. To their relief they found the remnants roughly where they had been previously. The naval lieutenant in charge of the landing party soon met with the commander of 7th Leinster, who was the senior officer in charge of the survivors.
"What in blazes happened?" asked the Lt. Col., "It has been more than a week since we have had any contact with friendly forces, despite being told that we would be supplied by sea regularly. We were beginning to think that you had forgotten us."
"I am very sorry that we have not been able to get back to you sooner, sir," replied the Lt., "but the Royal Navy has been very busy these last few days, sir. I don’t know if word has reached you out here but the Grand Fleet engaged the German battle fleet Saturday."
"So there was a naval battle Saturday? We have heard some wildly inconsistent rumors in the last two days about that. Please tell me that the version where most of the German fleet was destroyed is true."
The naval officer shook his head, "Oh, how I wish that I could, colonel. The battle was a strange one and did not last long. We sank a German dreadnought without losing any battleships in the gun battle though a German submarine sank a badly damaged predreadnought the next day. We consider the battle to be a victory but we acknowledge that is a modest one and that the German fleet remains very much a threat."
"Hmm well at least is a big improvement over Dogger Bank and Utsire, eh? Is the Grand Fleet off Ireland right now?"
"Uh, I am under strict orders not to discuss that topic, colonel."
"Oh and why is that? Is the great Royal Navy afraid that my men are a security risk just because they happen to be Irish Catholics?"
"Uh, I was not informed of the reasons behind my orders, colonel."
The colonel stared at him intensely for nearly a minute then shrugged slightly and sighed, "Of course not. And I suppose they forbade you tell us anything about the German fleet either?"
"Oh, I am allowed to tell you that most of the German fleet has left Ireland."
"Well that at least is encouraging, but it implies that some of the warships are still around, right?’
"I do not know for sure about that, colonel. All that I have been told is that ‘most’ of their fleet has gone home. You can make whatever inferences you choose from that."
The colonel thought that over and decided that berating the messenger for providing insufficient information was pointless, so instead he said, "Now that ‘most’ of the German warships have gone I take it that we can finally receive the steady flow of supplies we were promised a week ago and never received. My men are seriously underfed. The only reason the food situation is not still worse is that some of the local residents remain very loyal to the Crown. They provide us with some food and fodder but we could use more." He decided not to mention that most but not all of their providers were Protestants, who wanted protection from the local Catholics. This was very ironic given that his soldiers were overwhelmingly Irish Catholic.
"Again you must accept my apologies on behalf of the Royal Navy for---"
The colonel waved his left hand and interrupted, "---yes, yes, apology accepted. I am more interested in the immediate future than the past right now."
"Ah, well yes, colonel, we do expect to be much more regular in our deliveries now that the German fleet has departed. As soon as this meeting is concluded, my party will signal for supplies to be brought ashore forthwith."
The colonel smiled slightly, "That would be deeply appreciated. However I hope it will become unnecessary soon. What can you tell about what is going on at Cork? Last we heard VI Army Corps was making an attack intended to retake the city."
"Uh, that operation was not a success, colonel. Instead the Germans have steadily pushed our own forces north of Mallow."
"Mallow! That far north? And what about Limerick and Dublin?"
"I am happy to report that the rebellion in Dublin was crushed Monday, sir. As for Limerick the army changed it strategy and attacked through County Clare which at first made good progress but has had a tougher go of it as it approached the northern edge of the city. Still the army is confident that the city will fall either today or tomorrow. Once it does then Gen. Hamilton will be able to concentrate his forces on Cork."
"Hopefully he can do that before the enemy can concentrate their forces against me. Do you know if the enemy force includes some Austrians? Our patrols engaged some men in strange uniforms a few miles west of Kinsale Monday. Some of us believe that they were Austrians."
"That is correct, colonel. The enemy reinforcements that arrived last week are believed to contain some Austrians. I do not have any details about what the units are though."
The colonel snorted briefly, "Austrians in Ireland, eh? Curiouser and curiouser. Maybe the Mad Mullah will show up here before this bloody insanity is over. What do you think of that?"
"Uh, well I don’t rightly see that happening, colonel," replied the lieutenant to what he hoped was a rhetorical question.
The colonel snorted again with a disturbing sense of irony, "I sure hope so. I have my hands full as it is. Not only is there a very unspecific number of Austrians at Kinsale but there is a rebel force at least equal in size to my own to my west. My men had skirmished with it on three occasions. Just yesterday we learned that they are called the South Cork Battalion. I have no doubt that man for man my soldiers are superior, yet the unpleasant fact is that each engagement has cost me casualties that I can ill afford right now. Nor could I afford to ignore the expenditure of precious ammunition in these skirmishes. I therefore resisted my ardent desire to mount a full scale attack to destroy this band of traitors. I have been worried the last two days that my soldiers will be crushed between the Austrians to the east and this rebel battalion to our west."
"I see, sir. I should tell you now that I was instructed to get a written report from you before I depart. It would summarize your current strength and outline your tactical situation, as well as providing any information that might prove useful."
The colonel paused for a few seconds then nodded, "I would be more than happy to do that. For one thing I intend to include in it the painfully obvious fact that Ireland has completely gone to Hell."
------near Sixmilebridge (Clare) 1400 hrs
As Gen. von Jacobsen had promised the 1st Seebattalion was thrust into action in the afternoon where it relieved a battalion of German Marines who had been whittled down to barely the strength of a company. This was just in time to fend off a renewed assault by the West Riding Division. This attack came on the direct orders of Gen. Wilson despite the misgivings of Gen. Baldock, the division’s commander. The divisional artillery fired off all its remaining shells in support. The German Naval Division again declined to duel and waited for the British infantry. The 4 British battalions that made the assault were the strongest battalions Gen. Baldock had available and only one of them was currently more than half strength. They lacked even jam tin bombs and were attacking an entrenched enemy with superior numbers. The previous attacks had at least possessed some justification as attrition. This time the attackers were slaughtered in great numbers.
------Pettigoe (Donegal) 1405 hrs
Col. Heinrici halted the march of the Northern Ireland Brigade at the small town of Pettigoe near the border with County Fermanagh. During the day his brigade had gained 47 new members, including a handful from County Tyrone. Within the last hour his cyclist company warned him that a column of British soldiers were hard marching in pursuit. Heinrici decided to fight instead of trying to run. Lower Lough Erne protected his left flank. He guarded his right flank with one of his battalions and met the enemy head on with the other two. He did not have time to entrench but he was able to set up a few machine nests protected by sandbags and position most .of his men behind some cover.
His pursuers were the 1/7th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, which he had fought the day before at Donegal, plus 90 constables. Their commander had interpreted Heinrici’s withdrawal from Donegal as a sign that the rebels were a beaten force fleeing in disarray. He also continued to underestimate the size of his enemy. He sent one company and the constables to try to envelop the rebel right flank and cut off their retreat. He then attacked frontally with the rest of his battalion. This attack encountered rifle which was superior in both quantity and quality than expected as well as having some machineguns and an advantage in cover. The British frontal attack faltered and soon had to be called off.
Meanwhile the company of Highland Light Infantry sent to outflank the rebels had a tough time as well, running into an entire battalion that outnumbered them more than two to one. The company commander decided on a bayonet charge which he hoped would disperse the rebels. It did not and they mercilessly mowed more than half of his men. Those that were left along with the constables pulled back to rejoin the rest of their battalion. After both sides conducted patrols which generated a few skirmishes. Eventually Heinrici decided to move his brigade 4 miles east to the village of Kesh where he would spend the night, but warned his company commanders that the brigade would be on the march again well before dawn. They had acquired a small surplus of good quality horses now and Heinrici organized 33 men with both good shooting and equestrian skills into a small cavalry troop. Meanwhile every hour a steady trickle of local volunteers arrived to join the brigade.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 1440 hrs
Just before dawn the 4th Dublin Battalion had eliminated the R.I.C. and militia guarding the railway station in the coastal town of Wicklow. Using explosives brought up from the Kynochs plant in Arklow they destroyed a section of railroad track. The rebels remained frustrated by the R.I.C. station and the coast guard base even though had received a sizable amount of badly needed ammunition as well as 100 more Moisin-Nagant rifles in the early morning. Adding to their troubles a British armed trawler shelled them soon after dawn.
Orders arrived from Maj. Rommel that Brugha was to desist from further operations in Wicklow town and move to the village of Annamoe, where he was to be as inconspicuous as possible. Soon after they arrived there they began to skirmish with two dozen constables sent by Churchill to reconnoitre Laragh. Brugha now saw that a bonfire had been lit on Mt. Lugnaquillia. This was the signal for 4th Dublin Battalion to march on the town of Laragh as quickly as possible. It overwhelmed the constables and arrived at Laragh just ahead of still more constables followed closely by the 1/5th Royal Scots Fusiliers, who were fleeing east from the rest of Dublin Brigade which was in hot pursuit. Seeing that their line of retreat was cut off the R.I.C. surrendered almost immediately.
The Royal Scots Fusiliers did not surrender---at least at first. Instead they charged the 4th Dublin Battalion trying to break through. The 4th Dublin Battalion mowed them down with a hail of lead. Caught between the hammer of 1st Dublin Battalion, 5th Dublin Battalion and 3rd Kerry Battalion and the anvil of 4th Dublin Battalion, what was left of the 5th Royal Scots Fusiliers was soon obliterated. The rebels captured nearly 300 prisoners including constables, more than half of which were wounded. They also captured the 2 machineguns plus all of the supply wagons, which included some ammo belts for machineguns.
------Dublin 1455 hrs
Gen. Blackadder, the presiding officer of the military court in Dublin, called Gen. Lowe, the commander of the Eastern Region again. This time it was a little less cut and dry. "The court has deliberated and found the Countess Markievicz guilty on all counts, including the murder of the constables that tried to arrest her in Sligo. She did little to defend herself. In fact she tried to claim that she alone was responsible for the death of the constables in Sligo maintaining that Yeats and Pound were merely accomplices after the fact."
"A very remarkable woman to be able kill four armed men like that all by herself," remarked Lowe with obvious sarcasm.
"She is obviously trying to protect the poets, esp. Mr. Pound. Has a decision been reached yet as to when he will stand trial?"
"Gen. Hamilton has told that the Foreign Office is very much opposed to putting Pound on trial here. There have been some problems with bloody Yanks of late and the Foreign Office believes executing Pound will only serve to make things worse. Some believe he should be tried over in England not before a military court and not for another month. Others say we should have your court try him here but commute his death sentence to hard labor."
"Is there any chance then that you’ll be commuting the Countess’ death sentence?"
"Birrell has asked me to do that on account of her being a woman, but we all know that he wants a halt to all executions any way, and so is just using her gender as an excuse. London has made it clear though they have had quite enough of the Countess. There is a shocking number of women participating in the rising, and not just as nurses mind you, but actually bearing arms and fighting like a man. It makes one wonder what the hell is happening to the world. The Prime Minister has made it abundantly clear to Gen. Hamilton that his policy concerning treason applies to women as well as men."
"So should I schedule her for execution tomorrow morning?"
"Yes, let us get this unpleasant but necessary chore over and done with."
------Meiszagola (Lithuania) 1540 hrs
The German infantry had suffered serious cumulative casualties as they methodically worked their way up the hill that dominatedMeiszagola and the surrounding countryside. Finally a battalion of the 29th Infantry Regiment succeeded in driving the Russians off the top of the hill. Those German soldiers that peered over the top of the hill saw confusion down below. The Russian artillery was limbered up and pulling out, abandoning their infantry. Some of the infantry were panicking but their officers were trying to rally them with mixed results. Meanwhile at the base of the hill Russian cavalry had arrived. They dismounted with a quarter of the riders being assigned the necessary task of holding the horses. The rest ascended the hill working their way around the retiring Russian artillery. Then they came under reasonably accurate fire from German light minenwerfers on the forward slope of the hill which now had observers on the top of the hill to spot for them. The attack by the Russian cavalry to retake the crest of their hill quickly failed while the German reinforced their presence.
A little more than an hour later the Russians made one more attempt to retake the top using both the infantry and additional dismounted cavalry. The German howitzers broke up these assaults as they formed up. The Germans then launched their own attack and made it halfway down the opposite slope before dark at which point the Russians finally stopped them.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse northeast of Cherbourg 1545 hrs
The storm had dissipated two hours ago. Admiral von Ingenohl would have preferred that it had lasted longer as he now gazed through his binoculars at an airplane with French markings which was approaching the High Seas Fleet from the south. He hoped that it might try to bomb his warships giving his fleet’s antiaircraft guns a good chance to destroy it. In less than a minute that hope was dashed as the plane banked sharply and turned for home.
------ Neuilly-L’Hôpital (Picardy) 1600 hrs
The weather cleared in the afternoon and Gen. von Fabeck ordered a resumption of yesterday’s attack. The German artillery renewed their bombardment of the British IV Army Corps. Desperately low on shells the British batteries were unable to counter them and remained silent. Initially the Germans held back on their 7.7 cm field guns and minenwerfers. Their howitzers tore up the still incomplete British trenches with HE shells. The percentage of duds was somewhat higher than usual due to shells failing to explode in the soft mud resulting from the morning downpour.
------SMS Prinz Heinrich Western Approaches 1625 hrs
The only prize Prinz Heinrich captured this day was a 5,100 ton freighter out of Hong Kong bound for Liverpool with a cargo of silk. The prize was only capable of a sustained speed of 8 knots and it was decided to sink her after removing two boat loads of silk.
------ Neuilly-L’Hôpital (Picardy) 1830 hrs
In the last hour of the bombardment by Sixth Army the rate of fire quickened and both the minenwerfers and 7.7cm field guns joined in. The assault by 6 German battalions was handicapped by the muddy battlefield with the shell craters turned into large puddles. This slowed down the German infantry but IV Army Corps still had only 2 strands of wire up as barbed wire was one of the items currently in short supply in the entire B.E.F. (with the French providing on a fraction of what the B.E.F had asked) and in several places the wire had been cut during the shelling. A few of the British batteries now opened fire with shrapnel shells. A few British machineguns also opened fire. These inflicted serious losses on the German attackers, who found themselves trying to taking trenches that had become a virtual estuary of riverlets. In the ensuing melee combat many on both sides were killed by drowning.
The Germans eventually took a section of the British forward trench and managed to hold on to it when the British counterattacked. They were in no shape to continue their advance any further under these conditions. They dug in as best they could and tried to drain the water out of the trench. Machinegun nests were set up while minenwerfers were cautiously moved forward. After a while the German batteries resumed firing but more sporadically than before.
------Old Admiralty Building 1905 hrs
Capt. Hall delivered the latest German wireless message deciphered by Room 40. It was from Adm. von Ingenohl to Haulbowline.
WEATHER HAS IMPROVED REPEAT WEATHER HAS IMPROVED STOP ONLY MINOR ENEMY INTERFERENCE TODAY REPEAT ONLY MINOR ENEMY INTERFERENCE TODAY STOP STILL EXPECT TO RETURN TO CORK TOMORROW NIGHT REPEAT STILL EXPECT TO RETURN TO CORK TOMORROW NIGHT STOP YOU MUST CONDUCT THOROUGH MINESWEEPING TOMORROW AFTERNOON REPEAT YOU MUST CONDUCT THOROUGH MINESWEEPING TOMORROW AFTERNOON STOP DEPLOY ZEPPELIN TO SCOUT CELTIC SEA TOMORROW REPEAT DEPLOY ZEPPELIN TO SCOUT CELTIC SEA TOMORROW STOP
"So this finally makes it clear that they are in fact returning to Ireland," commented Carson, "So we can inform Lord Kitchener that his men can stand down from their state of maximum alert. Likewise we can tell Joffre and Sir John that the landing at Dieppe scenario was all a bad dream or something. The downside to all of this is that we must warn Gen. Hamilton that his enemy is about to be reinforced. That is, unless we send Adm. Bayly to intercept with the Grand Fleet. Right now the fleet is still anchored at Loch na Keal with steam raised waiting for orders."
"It is still extremely dangerous to commit the Grand Fleet in its weakened state, First Lord," replied Adm. Callaghan, "If the Germans did invade England risking the Grand Fleet might be justified but not to try to prevent reinforcements from reaching Ireland."
Carson sighed deeply with frustration then said, "So what this all boils down to is that England is much more important than Ireland."
Adm. Callaghan snorted slightly exchanging glances with Jackson, then said, "If you would permit me to be brutally honest, First Lord, that is quite true, but I would not misinterpret to mean that Ireland is unimportant."
"Just not important enough to risk another fleet action."
"Again I would be the first to admit that it sounds awful and that it does present us with some fairly obvious perils. It is true nonetheless in my estimation," answered Callaghan.
"Things will be different when Warspite joins the Grand Fleet, First Lord," Adm. Wilson remarked.
"And what is the latest on when that will occur? I have alternatively heard Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning."
"Unfortunately she is still experiencing problems with vibration at high speed, First Lord. We are hoping to have that corrected in time for her to join the Grand Fleet on Tuesday," answered the First Sea Lord.
"She does not have to make maximum speed," replied Carson, "What Adm. Bayly badly needs right now is her 15" guns. We both know that he intends to deploy her as part of 1st Battle Squadrons just like he did with Queen Elizabeth which means that the most that will be required of her will be 18 knots."
"The vibration is only the most serious problem, First Lord. There are others," said Adm. Jackson, "Based on what we currently know I think we shall be telling Adm. Bayly to expect her to join him at the Isle of Mull at approx. noon on Tuesday. I would point out that two days ago we were content to wait until Thursday morning."
"That was back when we thought the German fleet was limping home to nurse their wounds in the ‘yards," countered Carson, "We told ourselves that we had some time and it would be wise not to rush neither Warspite’s shakedown nor Temeraire’s repairs. Now we learn that the High Seas Fleet is escorting another round of supplies and reinforcements back to Ireland! This disrupts our plans to resume trade with France soon, not to mention those of Gen. Hamilton. So now we find ourselves in a situation where every day is precious. And what of Temeraire? Are her repairs still scheduled to be completed on Thursday?"
"That is correct, First Lord," replied Callaghan, "though to clarify the matter, we are already rushing both Warspite and Temeraire but only to that degree we deemed to be prudent."
"And again I will reiterate that we based those discussions on the assumption that the German fleet was going back to Germany."
"Yes we did, First Lord. However we are still very dubious about the ability of the High Seas Fleet to remain in Ireland for an extended period of time. It is very possible that once they deliver this latest round of reinforcements they will soon head back to Germany after all. So there is no reason to panic----"
"----I am not panicking!" thundered Carson slamming his fist on the conference table.
"Uh, I did not mean to suggest that you were, First Lord. If my clumsy phrasing made you feel that way then I apologize."
Carson glared hard at Callaghan for nearly a minute then relented with a deep sigh, "I have not been getting anywhere near the proper amount of sleep of late and it has apparently made me edgy. Let me shift topics because I have apparently become too emotional about Warspite. It now strikes me that with the High Seas Fleet returning to Ireland the large convoy we are organizing at Malta has become too dangerous. If the Germans detect this convoy in the Western Approaches the High Seas Fleet can easily destroy them along with their predreadnought escort."
"That is an excellent point, First Lord. Since late yesterday I have been thinking along similar lines," replied Callaghan, "I believe that all of us here are in complete agreement that the Malta convoy has now become too risky."
"So what would you propose as an alternative? Go back to routing the freighters with the most valuable cargoes to Inverness and Invergordon? The recent sortie of Seydlitz demonstrated the inadequacies of that policy."
"Yes it did, First Lord, but at present we have no course of action that does not present some measure of risk. I believe that we can make those two ports safer to use in the future by reassigning the Duncan class battleships to Cromarty Firth."
"Without a convoy to escort they can steam much faster but it would be necessary for them to make a wide detour around Ireland," added Adm. Jackson.
"That idea has some merit but returning to the freighters, what about those with more mundane cargoes, like food? Do we simply send them on their way and hope that the Germans can only capture a few and the rest make it?" asked Carson.
"I say that as long as the German fleet remains at Ireland that we hold them at Malta," answered Callaghan.
------Presidential Palace Mexico City 2035 hrs GMT
Gen. Obregon summoned Kurt Jahnke to meet with him. He was holding in his hand a letter which he handed to the German saying, "We have our response from Gen. Gonzalez."
Jahnke read the letter:
"Dear General Obregon,
I am very concerned about the recent illness of President Carranza, which has so completely incapacitated him. This sudden ailment poses a grave political crisis, perhaps even a new constitutional crisis. I am returning to Mexico City with my army as well as an extremely capable physician who I must insist on becoming the new primary physician for our ailing president to ensure that he receives the best possible care. To do otherwise would be irresponsible and could potentially have dire consequences for Mexico. Surely you must see the wisdom in this. To do otherwise would be terribly foolish."
Jahnke shrugged, "He is obviously suspicious but I do not think that he is certain. When he arrives with his army perhaps he will accompany this doctor inside the palace and we can take him prisoner."
Obregon shook his head, "I do not think Gonzales will be that stupid."
"It is at least worth trying---or do you have a better idea?"
"Only that we should be prepared to fight because sooner or later it will come down to that. Have you heard from senor Zapata? Is he going to honor his part of our agreement?"
"I have not yet heard from Zapata but I have no reason to see why he would betray us, general."
"Just like Carranza saw no reason why I would betray him."
"That is not the same, general."
"Oh and how is it different?"
Jahnke paused as he did not have a good answer to that question. Finally he said, "It is different because you did what needed to be done for the sake of your country."
"And maybe Zapata believes betraying me would be good for Mexico. Maybe he is still in communication with that hyena Villa, whom he regards as a fellow Marxist."
"We both know that Villa is an opportunist and a demagogue pretending to be an idealist. And besides you destroyed most of the Division of the North at Celaya."
Obregon made an ambivalent face, "He still has enough strength to cause us trouble, esp. if he has an ally. That is why President Carranza wanted me to chase him down."
"You should used to thinking of Carranza as the former president. You are president in all but name right now---and once Gonzalez is dealt with you shall have the title as well."
"Oh excellent, that will look nice on my tombstone."
------HQ Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 2050 hrs
Gen. Hamilton and Gen. Braithwaite examined together the latest telegram they had just received from London.
GERMAN BATTLEFLEET IS RETURNING TO IRELAND TOMORROW NIGHT BRINGING REINFOREMENTS AND SUPPLIES REPEAT GERMAN BATTLEFLEET IS RETURNING TO IRELAND TOMORROW NIGHT BRINGING REINFOREMENTS AND SUPPLIES STOP
"They give us no indication whatsoever of just how big these reinforcements are," complained Braithwaite, "If it is two more divisions, even if they are both Austrian, we are in a world of trouble."
"Even one more division would be very bad," replied Hamilton, "We must be reinforced as well. I understand that the possibility that the Germans might invade England has made the Imperial Staff reluctant to further weaken Britain’s home defenses but this latest development should make it clear once and for all that Ireland is the German point of gravity and not an elaborate diversion intended to weaken England for invasion."
Braithwaite shook his head, "General, even if they had the will to do what is necessary, I do not see how they have time to send over anything more than two or three battalions before the Germans return."
Hamilton sighed, "I am forced to agree with that. Maybe the Grand Fleet can intercept the Germans before they get here this time. Having won one battle over the Hun fleet last week maybe they are now lying in wait to finish the job."
"Aye, that would be something, sir. I am going to pray long and hard tonight that the Good Lord will make it happen."
"But you don’t think that will happen, now do you?"
"Well, sir, maybe I am becoming too pessimistic in my old age or maybe it’s because very few of my prayers have been answered of late but I do strongly believe that we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that these additional reinforcements will make it here."
"Even if they do I still believe that the decisive battle remains what happens at Limerick tomorrow. I believe that Gen. Wilson is correct that the German Naval Division must be on the verge of a complete collapse but the indisputable fact remains that the West Riding Division has yet to penetrate into the city itself."
"Yes, general, that is all too true. We must be prepared for the possibility that not only does the enemy lands at least an entire division here Sunday but also that their Naval Division has still managed to hold on to Limerick."
"If that happens we would definitely need another division very quickly."
"That goes without saying, sir."
------Rotterdam 2105 hrs
With all British flagged merchantmen being held in port for the last week, passengers were forced to use neutral flagged vessels to travel abroad. The demand caused ticket prices on these ships to skyrocket and some of the major lines had waiting lists. To get to Rotterdam Clara Benedix was forced to spend an exorbitant sum to purchase cramped accommodations on an old Dutch tramp steamer whose captain doubled the number of passengers he carried to take advantage of this situation. The ship had run into heavy seas in the morning making most of the passengers incl. Clara very seasick and delayed their arrival.
She was now ashore in Rotterdam and checked into a medium quality hotel where she freshened up. The nausea from the horrid sea voyage had subsided. She resisted the temptation to wait until tomorrow morning and called her control. His telephone did not answer on the first few rings and she was ready to hang up when he did finally answer.
"Dirk, this is Clara. I need to see you this night. It is very important."
"Clara? I did not expect to see you again so soon, esp. considering how hard it is to travel from England right now. I hope you had a pleasant voyage."
"No, I had a dreadful voyage on a filthy overcrowded boat sailing in a storm."
"Oh dear, you really must love me very much to have put yourself through that."
"Yes, and I cannot wait to see you, my dear." They had adopted a cover that he was her lover, though sometimes Dirk’s flirtatiousness struck Clara as being more than a pretense.
"Well then can you meet me at the usual place in oh, two hours from now?"
"Yes I can meet you then, my love."
------Laragh (Wicklow) 2120 hrs
"Will he live?" Rommel asked the medical officer of the 5th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
"To be honest, I don’t rightly know, major. He is in critical condition right now. I believe the edge of one of his lungs was pierced. He could easily die within the next hour or he could recover completely."
"I see doctor, and which would you say is more likely?"
"Neither, which is too say that my professional opinion is that he will most likely last another hour but die sometime before dawn."
"But you said it was possible that he might survive, ja?"
"Possible? Yes. Probable? No."
"Is there anything more that you do for him?"
"Not right now, major. I would want someone assigned to watch over him that can alert me immediately if he takes a turn for the worse."
"I will do that. You will now tend to my wounded men."
The medical officer merely nodded and left accompanied by an I.R.A. guard.. Pearse was in the room as well, and once the doctor had left remarked, "I am still amazed that we have this powerful politician and former First Lord as our prisoner."
Rommel shrugged, "I am not so surprised. He was removed from the Admiralty in disgrace. The British blame him for our great naval victory at Dogger Bank. He subsequently offered to serve as an officer in the army as a way to redeem himself."
"I see you have been reading the newspapers, major. Still I wonder if we can use him as a bargaining chip. Maybe the British would consider exchanging the Countess for him."
Rommel shook his head vigorously, "Gen. von François boldly offered to exchange Yeats for Gen. Lindley, a corps commander and nothing came of it."
"I am not so sure of that, major. Mr. Yeats has told me that after his trial his execution was indefinitely postponed. I wonder if that postponement was somehow connected with the possibility of an exchange."
"Listen, Padraig, I feel bad, very bad that we could not get her out when we abandoned Dublin. She saved my life when I arrived at Dublin so I feel myself to be in her debt. But as a dedicated officer with grave responsibilities I cannot afford to let it interfere with my judgment."
"War is as much about the heart and soul as it is about the mind, major."
"Still more of your sentimental blarney! I am not going to try to contact the British and suggest an exchange."
"I was only suggesting that you give it some consideration. If Sir Winston dies before dawn as the doctor thinks likely then it is all irrelevant, but if in the morning it looks like he is going to pull through we should reconsider it."
"Right now I am more concerned with the Count than the Countess. I plan to meet him and Schumacher in the morning."
------Drumone (Meath) 2215 hrs
The Cavan Battalion had skirmished twice with the R.I.C. during the day. The second time the constables had been present in greater strength. This convinced Commandant MacLoughlain that he should leave the camp even though he was receiving a steady stream of new volunteers despite the cordon. The question of where they go was not simple but eventually he decided to go south to the important communication center at Mullingar in County Westmeath. From there he would then make for Athlone, where there were other rebels. He further decided that just as they had done at Cavan it would be easier to infiltrate through the R.I.C. cordon around Oldcastle at night esp. since the sky was heavily clouded blocking out the moon. He loaded up as much food and ammunition as he could haul on his motley collection of wagons and carts and took all the internees with him including the dozen German civilians who protested saying they wanted to stay at the camp.
Near the village of Drumone he no encountered a detachment of 46 constables. The result was a confused night engagement in almost pitch black darkness. Before it was over both sides suffered friendly fire casualties. MacLoughlain ignored panicky advice from some of his subordinates that they should beat a hurried retreat back to Oldcastle. The constables took 23 prisoners of which 14 were unarmed German civilian internees but after that it began to become clear that they were sorely outnumbered and so they withdrew. Cavan Battalion along with the rest of the internees continued on towards Mullingar.
------Rotterdam 2310 hrs
Clara met Dirk, her control, at the safe house. "Well then what is so important that you had to return earlier than scheduled?" he asked her, seeing in her eyes that she in no mood for even the usual mild flirtation, "I have told you more than once that too many trips to neutral countries will make British counterintelligence suspicious."
"I have picked up some very good intelligence from my best source, that Irishman, Collins I was instructed to contact back in April. I feel that one item is exceptionally important."
"Oh, and what might that be?"
"The Royal Navy has broken most of the German naval codes. They have been deciphering German wireless messages!"
Dirk gasped. After a few seconds he said, "If this is indeed true it is shocking news and the Kaiserliche Marine must be warned as soon as possible. I will not wait until the morning but pass this information on to Rotterdam Station tonight and they will send it on to Berlin. However I must warn you that something this big is often viewed with suspicion. They are going to want to know details, starting with how Mr. Collins came by this information."
Clara bit her lip and sighed, "He has a source but did not tell me who or what that is. I suspect that there is some person inside the Admiralty he wishes to protect."
Dirk shook his head slightly and frowned, "On the one hand I can understand why he would do that, but on other it does nothing to help us to persuade Berlin."
"You have told me that some other information passed to me by Collins has corroborated."
"So I have. The problem is sometimes agents who have been turned pass on morsels of minor intelligence that are accurate to establish credibility then follow it up with major falsehoods. This could apply to either Collins or this source he is protecting."
"Arrgh! Espionage is such a perverted game!"
"Which is why perverts such as ourselves are the perfect people to play it."
Under other circumstances Clara might have chuckled at that and she replied tartly, "This is no laughing matter. If this is true it could affect the outcome of the war." She then unbuttoned her blouse and reached in. Dirk resisted the impulse to leer as he intuited what she was doing.
Clara extracted a sheet of paper and handed it to Dirk saying, "Since the British are reading our codes I thought it would be pointless to encrypt it. It has everything that Collins provided me. That includes the exact text of two German wireless messages that the British decoded. Hopefully Berlin will accept that as proof."