by Tom B
MANY FAILURES IN THE IRISH CAMPAIGN
"The Germans have been in Ireland nearly a month now and it has become painfully obvious that the government’s handling of the situation has been a failure. Not only has the government failed to destroy the invasion force as promised in the Prime Minister’s famous Fortnight Speech, it has allowed the Germans to reinforce it. The government has told us repeatedly that the liberation of Limerick was imminent and yet the enemy remains ensconced there. While the Royal Navy did manage to win a modest victory over the German battle fleet in the Celtic Sea the unpleasant fact of the matter is that they were unable to prevent the Germans from reinforcing their invasion force in Ireland. Compounding the crisis the invasion has fomented a Fenian uprising that has plunged much of Ireland into chaos. Admittedly General Hamilton did finally overpower the rebellion inside Dublin, but there are signs that the rebels are continuing to fight on elsewhere. They even have significant presence in a corner of Ulster now.
While the British public resoundingly supports the prime minister’s tough line towards obvious treason in Ireland, they are quickly becoming disillusioned with the results of the Irish campaign to date. Criticism of the government within Parliament waned last week after news of the naval victory in the Celtic Sea but if the government cannot show genuine success on the ground as well this week a vote of no confidence is a very real possibility." -----The Times of London Sunday May 23, 1915
------outskirts of Wicklow town 0005 hrs May 23, 1915
Major Rommel suppressed the urge to yawn. He felt very fatigued but he was determined not to show it as he met with Cathal Brugha, the commandant of the 4th Dublin Battalion. "Have you eliminated the remaining pocket of enemy resistance here?" Rommel asked.
Brugha had expected that question, and replied cautiously, "Uh, not yet major. We did whittle them down some but this bunch is being very stubborn. However come morning we shall take care of them. You have my word on that."
Part of Rommel felt like yelling but he did not have the strength to yell at this time. Instead he shook his head and sighed deeply with obvious disappointment. "See that you do," he ordered sternly, "but there is something else of greater importance that I have come here to discuss. Did you station a half company at Killoughter to guard against attacks from due north as I had ordered?"
"Yes, major, I have half of the 2nd company dug in there."
"Good. I want that half company to march north as rapidly as possible and attack Greystones, preferably before dawn. There is a small company of Irish Volunteers with Greystones as their HQ. Pearse was very disappointed that they did not come to his aid during the Dublin Rising. Recently two members of Greystones Company joined Dublin Brigade. They tell us a story that sounds vaguely familiar. The R.I.C. arrested the company commandant and confiscated nearly all their firearms back in April. After that no one stepped forward to take command of the company even though they were steadily growing with the addition of disaffected Redmondites. If we can reach Greystones I am sure we can quickly absorb nearly all of that company. Our weapon situation has improved with the rifles we captured from the Royal Scots Fusiliers. We should now be looking to expand to our size."
"What if my men encounter resistance, major?"
"That will depend on how much resistance. They will very likely encounter a roadblock manned by the R.I.C. before they reach Greystones. Hopefully that will not be too strong so they should be able to overwhelm the constables without too much trouble. Now if they encounter a very large force of constables or regular soldiers then they should pull back. I want you to send the rest of the 2nd company following behind them in case they do run into trouble. One thing I need to emphasize is they should try to avoid using the coastal road by daylight. In most places it is dangerously exposed to any British warships that might be patrolling off the coast."
"Yes, major, we have already been shelled twice here in Wicklow."
"Even at night it is not completely safe, but we have a fairly heavy cloud cover tonight and the moon will be setting soon. However even then there is the small but not insignificant risk of British warships close offshore using searchlights. Certain stretches of the coast will offer cover against this while others will be exposed. They should cross the latter as quickly as possible and avoid doing anything that might attract the attention of a British warship. Is that clear?"
"Yes, major, I will spell this out in my orders. And if my men do take Greystones and absorb the local Irish Volunteers, what should they do next?"
"Remain at Greystones and await further orders."
-----HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 0015 hr
General Hamilton and his chief of staff, General Braithwaite, had been moderately encouraged by what they were hearing from General Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps, in the last few hours. The news about the initial success of the West Riding Division in the Broadford Gap gave them some hope that they would finally be inside Limerick city in the morning. General Wilson also placed a great emphasis on the 11th (Northern) Division being able to hold its position in the face of determined enemy attacks. General Wilson had barely mentioned the Lowland Division being forced to bend its right flank way back and the problems that was causing.
A few minutes earlier General Hamilton had talked with General Maurice, the commander of the Northern Region. This conversation was more disturbing. A sizable rebel force remained in the middle of County Tyrone, cutting the important rail line between Omagh and Enniskillen. Sir Ian felt that it was important to prevent the rebel force from penetrating still deeper into Ulster where it could disrupt heavy industry. He ordered that the 1/7th Battalion Highland Light Infantry be told to move around the rebels and reinforce Omagh from the west. General Hamilton was also unhappy to learn from General Maurice that the tactical situation at Athlone had degenerated into a standoff on account of the bands of rebels at Longford and Mullingar cutting the line of communications of the British forces as well as threatening to attack from the rear.
As General Hamilton discussed these developments with his chief of staff, a telephone call came in for him from General Lowe, the commander of Eastern Region. "General Hamilton, I have just received word from the 8th Royal Irish Rifles that their vanguard came under heavy enemy fire, incl. machineguns, as they approached Laragh. That battalion was forced to fall back to the north to camp until first light. The strength of the rebels in this action only serves to accentuate my concern about the fate of the missing Royal Scots Fusiliers."
"So I take it that you still have no intelligence whatsoever about the 1/5th Royal Scots Fusiliers?"
"That is unfortunately true, sir."
"And is the commander of the 8th Royal Irish Rifles, absolutely certain that it was rebels and not dismounted Hungarian Hussars he was fighting?"
"Uh, his message said rebels not Hungarians, sir, but in the dark it is very possible that he was confused. Then again, perhaps it is a mixture of both that he encountered. That would explain the machineguns."
"Hmm. Is the 8th Devonshire still going to try to retake Arklow all by itself early tomorrow?"
"That is correct, general. If the most or all of the Hussars are at Laragh as you suggest, then it could make things easier for the Devonshires."
"Perhaps but cavalry have a way of moving quickly when the need arises. Retaking Arklow with its munitions plant remains a very high priority. The Royal Irish Rifles need to keep whatever forces they encountered near Laragh busy so the enemy cannot reinforce Arklow. This is even more important that trying to rescue whatever is left of the 1/5th Royal Scot Fusiliers."
------HQ British 11th (Northern) Division north of Ballyneety (Limerick) 0020 hrs
News that his line had been breached to the west of Ballyneety had worked its way to General Hammersley, the commander of the 11th (Northern) Infantry Division. He now learned that the initial counterattack had failed as well. Even though the Bavarian Jaegers were still pinned down along the narrow dirt roads still further west, General Hammersley hastily concluded that his defensive position was now compromised with a high risk of his forces at Ballyneety being enveloped and possibly trapped before dawn. The general ordered Ballyneety abandoned with the entire front of his division to pull back to a line almost 2 miles to the north. This was the withdrawal he had wanted very much to make since the late afternoon. Only after this maneuver was well underway did he notify General Wilson at HQ VI Army Corps.
------Queenstown (Cork) 0050 hrs
General Hermann von François demanded to see the acting base commander for Queenstown. "And how can I help you, Your Excellency?" asked the base commander
"I will be meeting with Admiral von Ingenohl soon. I do not want any portion of the 183rd Infantry Brigade offloaded until after that meeting."
The base commander was surprised by this request and after a few seconds asked, "Uh, is it that you wish other units to be landed before---"
"---No, no, no!" interrupted the general, "I do not want so much as a single soldier belonging to the 183rd Infantry Brigade landed until I tell you otherwise. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Your Excellency, very clear."
-------SS Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm Haulbowline Island (Cork) 0055 hrs
Meanwhile the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was one of the first transports to unload. The former ocean liner had been modified by the Kaiserliche Marine. The most important alteration was. expanding her cargo holds. For her current mission she had been loaded at Wilhelmshaven with 890 30.5cm shells, 380 28.1cm shells, 1,700 15cm shells, 1,500 8.8 cm shells and 45 torpedoes. The ammunition was to be unloaded and transferred to the High Seas Fleet today to replace some of what had been expended at Celtic Sea. Some of the torpedoes would be kept for the U-Boats.
Also aboard the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm was the 5th OKW Landsturm Battalion. Back in December after the Battle of Dogger Bank, the newly formed OKW demanded troops be temporarily removed from the Heer to work in the shipyards to expedite the repair of the High Seas Fleet. General von Falkenhayn tried to argue that this should be done solely with Landsturm. Tirpitz had replied that men in the Landsturm were for the most part not well suited for shipyard work and could therefore only be part of the solution. In the end certain recently formed reserve and Landwehr divisions were temporarily held back from the front for a while with some of their men used in the shipyards. However a dozen battalions of Landsturm were put under the permanent command of OKW. These battalions were used more than expected with the result that the most of the men were being used at the shipyards constantly. The twelve battalions were eventually consolidated into eight so that the officers and senior NCO’s could be used elsewhere.
Once most of the ships damaged at Utsire had been repaired the workload at the shipyards became less frantic. Some of the soldiers were returned to their battalions, where they received additional training orchestrated by OKW. When sending the second wave was finally approved, a member of the OKW suggested sending one of the OKW Landsturm battalions in the fourth wave for rear area guard duty. (The 5,300 American volunteers being escorted by von Spee’s Atlantic Squadron was officially labelled as constituting the ‘third wave’. The fact that the ‘fourth wave’ had arrived in Ireland before the ‘third wave’ was causing some confusion and not just among the Germans!) Tirpitz approved the idea and selected the 5th OKW Landsturm Battalion because it had the greatest current strength which was increased to more than 80% by hurriedly removing still more of its workers from the ‘yards. These were loaded aboard the converted liner along with the naval ordnance. They were provided only 6 mules as draught animals and a bare minimum of supplies.
-----near Jaroslaw (Galicia) 0145 hrs
Yesterday after some fairly heavy morning rain, a fierce artillery duel developed in the early afternoon between the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army and the Russian Third Army. The Austro-Hungarians eventually prevailed due to their much greater quantity of heavy artillery. As a result of that their IX Corps was able to expand its position on the east bank of the San and now controlled most of the city of Jaroslaw. As soon as it was dark the corps bridging pioneers hurriedly constructed a new pontoon bridge over the river. Though the water level had risen as a result of yesterday’s precipitation it was still not very wide in this spot and the bridge was now complete. Trucks carrying supplies roared over the bridge and before additional artillery pieces were brought across as well.
------Noyelles-sur-Mer (Picardy) 0210 hrs
With Sir John French still having only food and fodder to send him, General Haig, the commander of First Army decided to send 4,000 more of his wounded back through the narrow bottleneck during the night. About half of these came from the Indian Corps. Most of the rest came from the 6th Infantry Division. Men who were very lightly wounded and expected to return to duty in the near future were not included. The Germans as usual periodically sprayed the road with shrapnel shells in the vicinity of Morlay and Noyelles-sur-Mer using batteries of 7.7cm field guns they had registered on the road at dusk. These random bursts did not shut down the road completely but they slowly bled the A.S.C. companies that brought supplies to First Army each night. Now they were also hurting the evacuees as well as the medics that tended.
The Indian wounded and British wounded found themselves intermixing during this perilous trek to safety, esp. during one of the German shellings when everyone dove into the trenches dug along the side of the road to offer some protection. The British soldiers were dismayed by the poor morale they now observed among the Indians, who had been zealous about fighting in the war when they arrived in France late last year. The deterioration of morale had multiple causes. A cold debilitating winter in the trenches was one of the more important ones. The many hardships that the First Army had endured in the last month was another. Most of the Indian wounded were unhappy with the fact that if and when they fully recovered from their wounds they would be returned to the front line.
------IRT Eamonn Ceannt 0545 hrs
Lookouts aboard the armed trawler of the I.R.N now spotted a vessel approaching from the south. As the wireless operator notified the High Seas Fleet the trawler cautiously intercepted the ship which they stopped and inspected. She turned out to be a Spanish flagged merchantman with a cargo of horses, which the captain claimed had been purchased by the Germans for delivery to Ireland. Haulbowline confirmed this. The freighter was permitted to continue on to Queenstown.
------HMS Iron Duke west of Isle of Islay 0610 hrs
The battle squadrons of the Grand Fleet along with their screen continued to cruise off the Isle of Islay. The 1st Light Cruiser Squadron had been sent to patrol off the Isle of Man while the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron was on station off of County Mayo.
"One of our submarines torpedoed one of their troopships yesterday, sir," Admiral Madden informed Admiral Bayly, "It would have make things easier for General Hamilton if she had sunk quickly taking her soldiers with her but N.I.D. now tells us she is believed to have made it to Kinsale."
Bayly shook his head slightly and snorted before he replied, "Of course it would have made things easier for us if that submarine had been able to torpedo a German capital ship instead."
"Sir, we both know that it is hard for submarines to get into an effective firing position when warships are approaching at high speed and making frequent zigzags. Moreover the presence of a large screen makes it still harder as it forces the approaching submarines to submerge earlier."
"I already know all that," grumbled Bayly, "Tell me something I don’t know. Like when do we expect the Isle of Man packet ships to arrive at Londonderry."
"Shortly after the hour, admiral." The Isle of Man packet ships were hauling the 38th Infantry Brigade along with HQ staff of the 13th (Western) Division plus some supplies.
"I cannot believe it is taking so long to sweep those damn mines off the Larne!"
"A thorough minesweeping does take time, sir, if one wants to be completely sure that all mines have been removed. And unfortunately for us the Admiralty has made it clear that there are other important areas that require the attention of the available minesweepers right now. Using Londonderry as an alternative though is only mildly inconvenient---"
"---what are you talking about, sailor?" thundered Bayly, "It is a much longer sea route then going from Stavanger to the Larne."
Madden sighed inaudibly. It was now painfully obvious his superior was in an ill humor. He decided not to argue his point, "Uh, you are quite right, sir. I don’t rightly know what I was thinking."
"You can say that again," growled Admiral Bayly, "Getting back to the subject of submarines have there been any periscope sightings this morning?"
"No, sir, not a single one."
"Hmm, well the day is still young."
Madden never knew how best to respond to that sort of sardonic cynicism. After several seconds he decided to try to change the topic. "Well, sir, in two more days we shall have Warspite at our disposal. Then we can start planning our next round with Admiral von Ingenohl."
Madden had hoped this might lighten the admiral’s sour mood but Bayly wagged a finger, "We are getting a ship whose shakedown was cut down to the bare minimum. You should know better than I that unlike some within the Admiralty Jellicoe felt that a new warship was not fully effective until she had been worked up for several months. We both know that Queen Elizabeth had more than her share of teething problems. For one thing she never did deliver the speed that was expected of her."
"But she did shoot well, admiral, delivering a potent punch. That is what we need the most when we face the Germans again."
Bayly frowned while shaking his head from side to side, "That is only partially true. Putting too great an emphasis on Queen Elizabeth now strikes me as one of our mistakes in the last battle. While it will be good to have Warspite, I shall feel even better when Temeraire returns to us from the yards Thursday. We can then form the fleet into 3 squadrons of six battleships."
"Restructuring the fleet again will take at least another full day to do properly even though we have provisional plans and procedures for that ready to be implemented."
"Yes, which means it will be late Friday before I would be willing to even to consider seeking another fleet action."
"Sir, I would respectfully point out that the Admiralty believes von Spee will try to rendezvous with the High Seas Fleet before then."
"Yes, I think that is bloody likely."
"Uh, the Admiralty would like to prevent that if at all possible."
"Just like Jellicoe tried to do back in February with a much stronger fleet than we have now. You were there, Admiral Madden. How did it go?"
"Uh, not very well, sir."
"Not very well? Well that surely is a masterpiece of understatement! A damn disaster is more like it. It is something I would like very much not to repeat if you don’t mind. We will deal with Huns but only when I am good and ready."
------Greystones (Wicklow) 0355 hrs
The first roadblock that the 2nd company of 4th Dublin Battalion encountered was at the hamlet of Kilcoole and it was manned by only 6 constables. The Irish Volunteers were able to overcome them easily but one of the constables managed to escape and was able to warn Greystones before the rebels arrived. On the outskirts of Greystones under a dark grey sky with rosy hints of dawn the Irish Volunteers encountered stiff resistance from 34 constables and were driven off. Their acting commandant dispatched a messenger on a bicycle to send word of this setback south to the rest of the company and then on to Brugha at battalion HQ. He then tried to outflank the constables through the hamlet of Delgany. This let the rebels penetrate into the town itself but then they encountered another force of constables who just arrived from the north in motor vehicles. The rebels shot two constables as they dismounted from their vehicles but the rest were able to prevent them from seizing all of the town.
As the fight raged on for Greystones packets of men belonging to the local company of Irish Volunteers began to come forward to join 4th Dublin Battalion. These were almost uniformly unarmed and 4th Dublin had with them only a few spare firearms with which to arm them. The fighting raged on for most of the morning with still more constables arriving from Dublin in motor vehicles. The rebels were eventually forced out of Greystones and pulled back to Delgany.
------Buigny Ste. Maclou (Picardy) 0500 hrs
At the urgent request of General Plumer,the commander of Second Army, General d’Oissel hurriedly redeployed the XXXVI Corps during the night. The distance involved was only about 4 kilometers but as it involved a change of direction with British soldiers being rotated in to replace them in their prior positions and then taking over their new jumping off from another group of Tommies. This was a taxing maneuver and the rain drenched soil did not make things any easier. Fortunately the liaison with Second Army was handled well and the Frenchmen were in place for an early morning attack, though most of the men had received little if any sleep.
General Foch, the commander of the Western Army Group, had in the last week come to realize just how important the battle being fought by the B.E.F. was. Despite Clemenceau’s mounting ire towards the British government, Foch arranged in the last few days for the XXXVI Corps to receive nearly 3,000 replacement troops and to be well stocked with artillery shells. This allowed General d’Oissel the luxury of a fairly long bombardment today. However the problem remained that all he had in the way of artillery was a mixture of 75s and obsolete deBange 90mm guns. As usual these guns did little harm to the German trenches and only occasionally cut a strand of wire. They could suppress German batteries somewhat except the German gunners were in no mood to be suppressed and countered the French bombardment with a much heavier weight of shell. Soon it was the French batteries that were suppressed.
Despite this setback General d’Oissel reluctantly decided to proceed with the planned assault. His main objective was the town of le Plessiel on an important road leading into Abbeville. The assault consisted of 4 battalions each from the 28th Infantry Division and the 67th Territorial Division. The French Army at this time was in transition in regards to their uniform. In half of the battalions involved in this assault the men still wore the infamous red pants that had been standard at the beginning of the war. In the other battalions most of the men wore the new horizon blue uniforms. They all still carried the cumbersome haversack. Among the Territorial battalions which had received much less training in its proper use the haversacks had become waterlogged from yesterday’s downpour. On their heads the soldiers all wore a kepi. Last Friday the French Army had decided to issue the Adrian helmet to all soldiers but at the insistence of Clemenceau the first delivery of these helmets were all being sent to Second Army.
These soldiers found strong wire barriers insufficiently cut by their bombardment. First shrapnel shells then machineguns tore into their ranks as they struggled with the thick wire. Here and there a Frenchman slipped through the wire and charged the forward trench but this happened too rarely to do much harm to the defenders. The senior French officers recognized the all too familiar signs of a failed attack and before long called this one off as well before the casualties went from bad to horrific.
------north of Ballyneety (Limerick) 0530 hrs
General Wilson the commander of VI Army Corps became deeply upset when he learned of General Hammersley’s decision to abandon Ballyneety. Wilson ordered an early morning attack to try to retake it. Likewise both General von Gyssling and Oberst Hell had been surprised when the British had abruptly abandoned their line during the night after stubbornly holding on to it yesterday. A battalion of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division moved into Ballyneety at dawn without firing a shot while the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment probed forward on their left. The British batteries now opened fire and the Bavarians inside Ballyneety were again surprised and scrambled for cover while the Jaegers merely hit the dirt. The supporting Bavarian artillery was surprised as well by this. Most of them were in the process of being moved forward to new firing sites when the shelling started and were in no state to duel with the British. Fortunately for the Bavarians General Hammersley continued to worry about the Austro-Hungarians enveloping his left flank and would only commit 10 of his 16 batteries to the bombardment. He was also worried about his supply of shells as he had been expending them more rapidly than he was receiving more so the bombardment was brief.
The British assault on Ballyneety itself was made by 2 battalions with 2 more battalions being sent against the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment and another battalion against the Bavarian position east of the city. The last attack was the most successful as the 6th Bavarian Division had only a single badly understrength rifle company guarding that area and they quickly fell back before the British attack. The attack on the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment went badly once the Jaegers deployed one of their machinegun companies, something they had become very adept at doing quickly.
The attack on the village of Ballyneety turned out to be a touch and go affair. The Bavarians had set up single strongpoint which had been unharmed by the bombardment. It held off the British attackers while an additional Bavarian battalion arrived as reinforcements. Meanwhile General von Gyssling’s artillery which included 2 batteries of 15cm howitzers as well the 6th Bavarian Field Artillery Brigade had completed their repositioning and were now more than ready to duel with the British batteries. They soon overpowered the British batteries and prevented any more British infantry from reaching the village. This along with continued pressure by the Erzherzog Karl Division on his left flank persuaded General Hammersley to call off the attack and pull his men back to the original start line.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 0540 hrs
The 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles was suffered more than 300 casualties during the Battle of Dublin and last night it suffered 71 more as it advanced on Laragh. After withdrawing to the north its commander had received orders from General Lowe to exert pressure on the enemy forces at Laragh and to determine whether or not they included Hungarian Hussars. Reluctantly he sent a patrol down the Military Road and it came under a hail of rifle fire outside Laragh. The colonel soon realized his battalion would be cut to ribbons if he tried to proceed down the Military Road. Unfortunately this was the only road nearby. He therefore ordered his soldiers off the road even though the terrain was very rough as they were still in a section of the Wicklow Mountains. His men found themselves thoroughly frustrated by the terrain where any hint of so much as a game path was well covered by rebel snipers. The end result was a gradual erosion of the strength of the 8th Royal Irish Rifles, some of it due to the enemy but some of it also being due to the scrapes, sprains, bruises and fractures endured by the Ulstermen on the steep hills off the road.
As this was going on Rommel arrived along with Pearse. "The British can do nothing here during the day with infantry alone," he told Pearse after carefully observing the combat for several minutes through his binoculars.
"Hmm so what do you think they will do, major?" asked Pearse, "Bring in some artillery or try again after dark?"
Rommel shook his head slightly, "There will be a bright moon if the clouds break up, and even if they don’t we demonstrated last night that we can hurt them bad in the dark as well. As for artillery field guns are likely to be ineffective in these rough hills. Howitzers would be a problem but Barry tells me that the British did not leave any artillery he could see in Dublin."
Pearse snorted, "I do not consider Barry to be a particularly reliable source of intelligence."
"I am not so sure. He is a bright lad and alert though with certain bad traits. That devil Flynn for all his faults did appreciate the value of reconnaissance and trained his men well in that regard. However besides a night attack or artillery the British have one other option and that is to send another force down the road to the east in order to take us from behind while this bunch merely holds our attention."
Pearse nodded, "Yes, that is a good point, major. So, should we post a company somewhere around Annamoe?"
Tapping his lips Rommel took his time before replying, "My immediate answer was going to be yes, but the more I think about it there is no reason why 1st Dublin Battalion alone cannot hold this position with ease even during the night. I am therefore going to personally take 5th Dublin and 3rd Kerry to Annamoe but then proceed on further north to make contact with the company of 4th Dublin I sent to attack Greystones. If Dublin is as weakly held as Barry maintains it should be fairly easy to take Bray as well."
Pearse chuckled loudly provoking Rommel to ask, "And what is so blasted funny in what I just said?"
"You seem to be paying more attention to what Barry has been telling than you are to Count Tisza’s orders about guarding Arklow."
Rommel was irritated, "The enemy is thoroughly blocked from advancing through here to Arklow. What I plan to do in the northeastern portion of the county will serve to neutralize a possible enemy thrust along the coast which would very seriously threaten Arklow. It will also serve to keep the enemy off balance."
"If you say so, major. I just wonder if the count will see it that way."
-------east of Przemysl 0600 hrs
For multiple reasons neither Center Army nor the Austro-Hungarian Second Army had attacked yesterday. One reason was the heavy rain through most of the morning. Another was that both armies had run down their stockpile of artillery shells. Lastly General Böhm-Ermolli, the commander of Second Army, wanted to rotate one of his divisions that had suffered heavy losses, out of the line and replace it with a fresh division from his reserves. Late yesterday Center Army had received a large consignment of German shells and a much smaller amount of Austrian ordnance. Second Army had also received a smaller than expected delivery of shells. General von Linsingen, the commander of Center Army had been told that the rate at which the Austrians produced munitions---there was virtually none coming from Hungary---remained modest. He therefore suspected that when it came to ordnance Conrad was temporarily assigning priority to his Fourth Army to support the bridgehead at Jaroslaw. Conrad also had the Third Army in Serbia and the Seventh Army in Bukovina which needed to supply with ammunition.
Böhm-Ermolli had informed von Linsingen around midnight that he would not take part in this morning’s attack as the rotation into line of the new division was expected to take the rest of the day, which von Linsingen doubted was the complete story. The German general decided that Center Army would go ahead and attack without Second Army as he did not want the Russian Eleventh Army to have any more time with which to improve its newest entrenchments and possibly receive reinforcements and ammunition.
Center Army began its attack as usual with a sharp bombardment. Initially it was only German howitzers as their ammunition situation was better than the Austro-Hungarian batteries in his mixed army. The German batteries therefore targeted sections of the line that were earmarked for the Austrian as well as German assaults. The Russians batteries tried to respond but were hindered by their shortage of shells. Towards the end of Center Army’s bombardment the Austrian batteries joined in along with the minenwerfers and 7.7cm field guns. The end result was heavy losses in the Russian trenches esp. the forward one. The Russian Eleventh Army was still using only a single strand of wire and it was now completely cut in several places. The defending Russian artillery was mostly suppressed though a few batteries did inflict some casualties on the German and Austrian battalions making the assault as did a few machineguns that had survived the bombardment. Bayonets and grenades were needed to finish clearing the forward Russian trench. The attackers captured nearly 3,000 prisoners along with 7 machineguns.
This time the Eleventh Army declined to counterattack the center of the advance, something which had not worked well for them during this offensive. Instead they applied pressure to the flanks of Center Army’s advance and concentrated on holding the next trench line. This caused considerable trouble when Center Army tried to continue on to the next Russian trench. The end result was that the fighting continued well into the afternoon. The German II Army Corps had advanced at the maximum 4 kilometers; the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps only 3 kilometers. So far in Conrad’s Galician offensive Center Army had been making considerably better progress than Second Army. Furthermore Russian pressure on both flanks of Center Army caused its progress to be greatest in the center. The net result was that Center Army was slowly carving out a salient in the Russian lines. General von Linsingen was well aware of this and he was also equally aware of both the opportunities and risks it presented.
------Haulbowline naval base (Cork) 0605 hrs
Admiral von Ingenohl reluctantly consented to meet with General von François who had demanded to see him. He soon wished he had refused the request. "This is a risky strategy that you are suggesting, general, both for my fleet and your army."
General von François attempted a disarming smile, "This is only a little further north of where you were originally intending to link up with Admiral von Spee is it not?"
The admiral’s nostrils flared as he reluctantly admitted, "That is true."
"So you go a little further north and take a little more time and voila we kill two birds with one stone."
"It will take a lot longer and therein lies the risk for my fleet."
"Some extra time that von Spee and your cruisers could use for additional commerce raiding, yes?"
The admiral shook his head "Which would accomplish next to nothing as Admiral von Spee reports that the seas west of here are nearly deserted."
"How can that be? One of the assumptions of Operation Unicorn was that you would have rich hunting in the so called Western Approaches."
"Well this is not the first assumption of this harebrained operation that has turned out to be deluded, now is it? The British have apparently rerouted their traffic so most of it now avoids the Western Approaches. We also have some intelligence that very few if any British flagged merchantmen are being allowed to leave port recently."
"Hmm this is the first that I have heard of that, admiral, but then again I am pretty isolated out here, yes? But does this not mean that we are having an impact on their trade which is the very lifeblood of their empire, yes?"
Admiral von Ingenohl’s scowl deepened and he waited a few seconds before replying, "A small temporary effect. Once this fleet is back in Germany where it belongs, the British will be able to use at least their western ports again in relative safety."
The general was not surprised by this. He had known for some time that von Ingenohl considered Operation Unicorn to be the height of folly and wanted to return to Germany as soon as possible even if it meant being berated by Tirpitz about the Battle of the Celtic Sea. What the general was now proposing delayed that return. Hopefully not that much he said to himself though admittedly that will depend to some degree on the Irish. "I will send a wireless message to OKW about my plan if you deny request. I have every confidence that they will support me in this matter but it would be better if we could resolve this without bothering them."
The admiral reddened and glared at the general but did not immediately respond. I have heard that the ‘German Nelson’ here is already in trouble with Tirpitz over the Reichstag speech and the Battle of Celtic Sea thought von François Does he really want to make things worse?
Finally von Ingenohl answered through a clenched jaw, "That will not be necessary, general. Our time would be better served if we plan this little operation of yours so that it presents the least risk to my fleet. It will have some impact on the rendezvous with the Atlantic Squadron. It will probably delay the arrival of the so called ‘third wave’ at least a few hours."
"I can live with that, admiral."
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 0640 hrs
The rain had tapered off after midnight but had not stopped completely. General Lee’s expeditionary force began withdrawing at first light. An hour later his ally, the Abyssinian rebels, started to do likewise. Meanwhile Iyasu’s forces were preparing themselves to fight off another attack. That attack never came and with visibility still being impeded by the weather it was not clear to them what the enemy was doing. Ras Mikael soon sent out patrols, first small bands of light infantry then larger groups of Orome horsemen. Eventually he realized that the enemy was withdrawing back on the road leading towards Gondar. He knew his son would insist on a pursuit and ordered his army to do just that.
In accord with General Lee’s instructions Zauditu’s forces retreated at a slower pace than they were capable of. Once it became clear that they were being pursued horns were blown. At this prearranged signal they turned about to meet Iyasu’s army. During the false withdrawal General Lee had repositioned his two batteries to cover the most direct route of enemy pursuit. Iyasu’s troops had run beyond the support of their own artillery. The British batteries opened up. They inflicted considerable losses but they were too few to completely halt the attack. Furthermore contrary to Lee’s instructions the Abyssinian rebels did not hold their ground but now advanced to engage their pursuers. General Lee had also wanted to position most of his machine guns as well but it had proven hard to set them up where they had clear line of sight due to the mass of Zauditu’s soldiers. Only three were able to open fire on Iyasu’s men. They too inflicted losses but were unable to halt the attack.
Soon the two masses of Africans converged into a relatively a short range firefight, which prevented the British artillery and machineguns from participating. Iyasu’s men had superior quality rifles which nearly all the rifles of Zauditu’s soldiers were old single shot black powder rifles. This along with the overall superior training of Iyasu’s men tipped the balance. Fitawrari Hapte Giorgis eventually saw this and ordered his men to charge the enemy to attack hand to hand. Many were shot as they approached out of the cloud of blackpowder smoke that had formed but Iyayu’s men were not proficient enough with their rifles to stop the charge completely. Eventually the melee that Hapte Giorgis sought came to pass. He was convinced that morale was shaky amongst Iyaku’s followers and that it would crack and break in hand to combat. This theory was soon disproved for while there were some men on both sides who were reluctant to fight their fellow Abyssinians there were more who did so with zeal. Neither side held a significant advantage in morale. Iyasu’s forces did have superiority in numbers though initially the rough terrain which funneled the fight into the road made it very difficult to utilize this advantage. The end result was attrition with a growing pile of bodies from each side.
Meanwhile General Lee was desperately trying to find an effective way to use his AngloIndian battalions to tip the balance. He too was disappointed that the morale of Iyasu’s followers did not seem to be unraveling as rapidly as expected. There was also disturbing signs that Ras Mikael was now bringing up his own artillery though mud was slowing this process. The strength of the Abyssinian artillery had been a rude shock to General Lee yesterday and while neither their accuracy nor rate of fire was up to European standards it was still sufficiently competent to do their grave harm to his expedition provided they had enough ammunition. Lee ordered his battery of 15 pounders repositioned to a spot where they might be able to shell the Abyssinian guns as they were being moved forward.
This tactic worked initially but in the meantime morale was beginning to show signs of cracking but it was amongst the rebels loyal to Zauditu. In addition to having superior numbers on this battlefield nearly half of Iyasu’s troops were permanent soldiers of the Abyssinian Army who usually were better trained and more disciplined than their opponents. General Lee tried to coordinate a way with Hapte Giorgis to get his men into the action but that was not proving easy. Complicating things a new storm front moved in. As the mass of indigo clouds approached the battlefield there was a wall of water pouring down from it accompanied by thunder and lightning. When the downpour reached the battle it interfered with the fighting and the two sides started to disengage. More than 200 wounded men drowned to death in the rain.
The two armies separated. By the time General Lee finally squeezed one of his Indian battalions to the forefront of Zauditu’s soldiers, Ras Mikael had withdrawn his own men out of rifle range back onto the high ground. Neither Lee nor Hapte Giorgis thought chasing after the enemy was a good idea esp. in the pouring rain. They took care of their wounded and huddled in their tents. The dead would be buried when the rain let up. Meanwhile the general and the fitawrari pondered their options.
------Gorey (Wexford) 0705 hrs
The 8th Battalion Devonshire had doggedly pursued the fleeing Wexford Battalion steadily nibbling away at them. As this pursuit reached the town of Gorey the Erzherzog Karl Hussar Regiment arrived and tried to rally the fleeing Irish Volunteers. The sight of the Hussars who had rescued Wexford Battalion in nearly the same place a few days earlier did serve to steady the nerves of most of the panic stricken Irishmen. One overly eager Hussar squadron commander thought he saw an opportunity to make a cavalry charge against the British infantry but the enemy reacted quicker than expected and their rapid rifle fire nearly wiped out the Hussar squadron. The rest of the Hussars more prudently chose to fight dismounted alongside the Irish Volunteers. The Hussars’ machinegun troop again proved invaluable in helping to repel the initial attack of the Devonshires on the town which was a close run affair as some of the Irish Volunteers did panic.
After that attack the 8th Devonshire tried to flank the rebels at Gorey but the Hussars kept a close watch on them and harassed them when they were in column. When the Devonshires to attacked from the west Count Tisza was able to pivot both Wexford Battalion and his Hussars quickly and effectively to counter it. After that failure the 8th Battalion Devonshire licked its wounds while sending out strong patrols which invariably resulted in skirmishes with the Magyars.
Count Tisza did not see an effective way to seize the initiative as he had sustained heavier losses than expected. He sent a rider off to Arklow ordering the squadron he left there under Schumacher’s command to now come and rejoin his regiment which the count believed need reinforcement.
------HQ British Second Army Toeufles (Picardy) 0815 hrs
"So nothing has happened all morning?" asked Field Marshal Sir John French in a skeptical voice over the telephone, "I mean other than d’Oissel’s failed attack."
"That is essentially correct, field marshal," replied General Plumer, the commander of Second Army, "Oh, the Germans did send out some small bombing parties against our trenches before first light. But that has been it. Their guns have remained silent. It is something of a mystery. Maybe they needed to regroup for some reason before resuming their attack. Unfortunately due to the severe shortage of petrol we were only able to send two airplanes aloft this morning and the weather hampered their reconnaissance. So we suffer from a paucity of information right now, sir."
"Ugh. I have been trying to get Foch to provide us with more petrol but it is to no avail," French lamented, "He says that the entire French Army is dreadfully short on the stuff as well right now and it is starting to limit how much their own airplanes can fly as well as immobilizing their motor trucks and ambulances."
"I was not aware of that, sir."
"Clemenceau has begun seizing commercial petrol to serve military needs but he realizes that is a stopgap measure and is not inclined to share it with us."
"Well sir, in that case I do hope that a right decent amount petrol is included in those supplies we shall be receiving from England later today."
"Yes, it is. I made doubly sure that the bright boys back in London were made aware of our most urgent needs. Now be aware that the Admiralty has warned us that there could well be another hiatus after today’s convoy so we can ill afford to go hog wild with what we receive today. That includes petrol as well as ammunition. Keeping our airplanes flying will take precedence over using our buses."
"Yes, field marshal, we definitely need to set some priorities---at least until a regular dependable flow of supplies is restored."
"Getting back to your tactical situation, do not let this unexpected quietude lull you into complacency. I firmly believe that an all out assault on Abbeville is inevitable but maybe d’Oissel’s attack this morning was partially successful as a spoiling attack, disrupting the Germans’ plans. Even though they failed to gain any ground they may have gained us some precious hours maybe even a whole day."
------SMS Prinz Heinrich Western Approaches 0825 hrs
The old armored cruiser which had become part of von Spee’s Atlantic Squadron now captured an 870 ton schooner with mixed propulsion out of Freetown bound for Glasgow hauling cocoa. This was the only prize that the entire Atlantic Squadron captured all morning. Admiral Maas decided she was not worth keeping and ordered her sunk.
------HQ German Eleventh Army Elektranai (Lithuania) 0845 hrs
Oberst Marquard, the chief of staff of the Eleventh Army approached his commander, General von Mackensen, "Your Excellency, our wireless section has just received excellent news from the 5th Cavalry Division. It claims to have linked up with the 9th Cavalry Division. This means that the line of communications for the Russian forces at Vilna has been severed. They are effectively encircled."
This news pleased the general, but he was not ecstatic. "Yes, yes, but this ring is fragile. The Russian strength at Vilna is more than enough to allow them to escape by blasting their way through our cavalry if they so choose," he admitted with some reluctance. He was a former cavalryman and one of the things that depressed him about the current war was the many limitations of cavalry it had highlighted, though here on the Eastern Front it still demonstrated some utility.
Marquard nodded, "That is correct, Your Excellency, but if they choose to take that path then they must abandon Vilna quickly. As we speak the II Bavarian Corps is enveloping Vilna from the south and VIII Army Corps from the northwest. Soon they will form an inner ring of infantry around Vilna to supplement the outer ring formed by the cavalry and when that happens the Russian forces still inside Vilna will be trapped."
"As Vilna is a supply center the trapped forces can draw on it will take too long for us to starve them into surrendering. We must anticipate that Stavka will mount a relief force of considerable strength before long. This is indeed a problem but also a potential opportunity if we handle it correctly. We must resist the temptation to try to resolve the issue at Vilna with a hasty premature assault. We shall instead grind them down with our heavy artillery. The defenders seem to possess nothing heavier than Putilov field guns."
"That is correct, Your Excellency, and I am happy to report that the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade now has at least one battery of 21cm Mörsers within range of Vilna. I do feel compelled to point out that until we take Vilna we cannot penetrate much deeper into Russia so while haste presents one problem an overly long struggle there could also deny us opportunities."
"I understand that, but there is no overwhelming reason for us to advance any further right now. This motorized artillery brigade has proven its worth but it is very dependent on a steady supply of petrol and has been plagued by breakdowns lately some of which are the result of the poor quality of roads out here---something which will only get worse if we advance further. General von Seeckt has repeatedly stated that he wants to force the enemy to come to us and I believe that we have now forced their hand."
ENTENTE BRUTALLY EXECUTES IRISH PATRIOTS
"At dawn yesterday the brazen government of France beheaded Eamon de Valera, the Irishman born right here in New York City whose only crime was making speeches in Spain celebrating the idea of Ireland finally freeing herself from British oppression. His execution sends a clear signal that the Entente is prepared to prepared to kill American citizens fighting for Irish LIBERTY which raises concerns about the fate of those American citizens captured aboard the ocean liner America. A few minutes after de Valera’s beheading a British firing squad in Dublin executed the Countess Markievicz, who had long championed the rights of the Irish working class and had heroically led the Irish Citizen’s Army in the Irish Revolution that was birthed in Dublin back on May 10. Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law has made it abundantly clear that he regards the Irish freedom fighters as traitors and intends to execute every last one of them. His French counterpart, Prime Minister Jacques Clemenceau, has gone out of his to demonstrate his support for the Bonar Law’s draconian policy."
------NY Journal American Sunday May 23, 1915
------Loughrea (Galway) 0910 hrs
When he marched the West Riding Division into County Clare, General Baldock had stationed his cyclist company along with half of the 2nd West Riding Royal Engineers Field Company and a platoon of the divisional signal company at Athenry to supplement the R.I.C. in that area to guard his line of communication. Vague reports of a sizable rebel force at Loughrea reached Athenry during the night. Moreover the telegraph and telephone wires connecting Athenry with both the West Riding Division HQ to the south and VI Army Corps HQ to the east were cut during the night, though this was not an uncommon occurrence lately
The West Riding cyclist company now cautiously approached the town of Loughrea. Their commanding officer had been given wildly conflicting intelligences as to the size of the rebel contingent at Loughrea. The Roscommon Battalion was at this time preparing to leave just as soon as Mass---the second being said this morning for the battalion, was finished. The alarm was raised as soon as the cyclists were seen. Some immediately left the Mass but others stayed until the end. Strong points had been set up along with barricades. The mission of the cyclists was firstly reconnaissance and then only if the rebel presence in Loughrea was determined to be weak were they to attack. However determining the size of an enemy within a town was not easy and the cyclist company commander was forced to launch a probing attack. This encountered enough resistance to convince the captain that the rebels inside Loughrea were too strong for his company to eliminate by themselves.
As this was going on the Marine Cavalry Squadron was returning to Loughrea from the northwest. They dismounted and engaged the cyclists while sending a rider into Loughrea with orders for the Roscommon Battalion and the Athlone Cyclist Company to attack. As the Irish attack was starting the commander of the British cyclists began to worry that he could be in serious trouble and ordered a rapid retreat back to Athenry. There was some brief exchange of gunfire with the cavalrymen as they departed. The West Riding cyclists were pursued for a while by both the German cavalry and the rebel cyclists but eventually their pursuers gave up the chase.
------HQ German First Army Noyon 0925 hrs
"So much for Falkenhayn’s sanguine prediction that the French offensive would take a prolonged pause," Generaloberst Alexander von Kluck drolly commented to his chief of staff, Generalmajor von Kuhl. A massive French bombardment had begun over two hours earlier. Last Thursday OHL had abruptly decided to cut the delivery schedule for heavy caliber artillery shells (but not field artillery shells) to First Army by a quarter. Their justification had been that the reduced production of French munitions would compel Joffre to cancel all offensive operations and these precious items were needed more urgently elsewhere. General von Kluck had suspected that the cutback was also intended to dissuade him from attempting a counteroffensive as he longed to do.
General von Kuhl nodded, "You are quite right, Your Excellency."
"Well then we shall soon see how well your new tactics work," said von Kluck.
------near Shavli (Lithuania) 0945 hrs
The Russian III Army Corps was starting to participate in the attack of Fifth Army against the Army of the Dvina in the vicinity of Shavli. Like the XIX Army Corps this was a battle hardened unit composed of first line infantry divisions that had seen action from the start of the war. The 3rd Cavalry Division had arrived at the front soon after dawn and dismounted taking over a section of the line NNW of Shavli between the XIX Army Corps on their left and the XXXVII Army Corps on their right. Next the 28th Infantry Division joined the battle coming into line alongside the 3rd Cavalry Division. Together the two divisions now attacked with an understanding that the XIX Army Corps had begun a pinning attack further south at 0900. This assumption proved false as the attack of the XIX Army Corps ended up being delayed an hour because the repositioning of the artillery had taken longer than expected.
The Russian attack fell on the German 50th Reserve Division which had considerably less frontage to defend now that I Army Corps had arrived at Shavli. Fifth Army had told the commander of the 28th Infantry Division that the German forces near Shavli had been badly worn down by the previous attacks and were now on the verge of collapse. This was grossly overstated. The 50th Reserve Division had improved its defenses in the last day and now had a battery of 15cm howitzers supporting it for the first time in the battle. The attackers only had Putilov field guns at their disposal which as usual had only very limited effectiveness against entrenchments. They tried to draw the German artillery into a duel but the German guns held back behind reverse slopes and waited for the Russian infantry and dismounted cavalry to make their assault. This came in the form of 10 infantry battalions, 3 of which belonged to the elite 97th General-Field Marshal Graf Sheremetev's Livonia Infantry Regiment plus the 3rd Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna’s New-Russia Dragoon Regiment, an elite cavalry unit at least on horseback which they were not at this moment. The German guns now erupted and shrapnel shells tore holes in the attacking formations that soon found themselves struggling with largely uncut wire barriers while German machineguns contributed to the slaughter. Those who made it through were too few in number to take the German forward trench and this attack was soon called off.
Further south the Russian XIX Army Corps made their delayed attack with most of it falling upon what turned out to be the German 2nd Infantry Division not the 11th Landwehr Division as had been expected. Here the Russians had 2 batteries of 122mm howitzers and one of Schneider 155mm howitzers but they currently possessed only a meager amount of shells for their howitzers, most of them shrapnel shells. The German gunners of I Army Corps were more inclined to duel with the Russians than the 50th Reserve Division had been and there was a spirited exchange which neither side won decisively. Most of the German batteries were not suppressed when 14 Russian battalions made their assault and they quickly switched targets with devastating effectiveness. The German 2nd Infantry Division had sustained some losses during von Below’s fierce offensive against the right wing of the Russian Tenth Army but it had more than enough able bodied riflemen and machineguns to deal with the Russian attack which they repelled without much difficulty inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.
------Templemore (Tipperary) 1005 hrs
The 1st Tipperary Battalion had left Thurles and now approached the town of Templemore where there was a small army camp which was in the process of being expanded. The armored train had accompanied the Tipperary Volunteers and with the help of its machineguns and artillery the town was quickly captured incl. the railroad and R.I.C. station. The army camp which was garrisoned with only a few moderately well armed instructors and a few engineers, quartermasters, cooks and clerks held out with the greatest valor for nearly five hours.
------northeast of Compiegne 1100 hrs
General Joffre had in fact wanted to halt most offensive operations at this time but Clemenceau, the War Minister as well as Prime Minister, had adamantly insisted that Second Army continue its offensive with a major attack Sunday. Shells were beginning to become scarcer along the entire front and Joffre was forced to funnel what he could scrape together for General de Castelnau, the commander of Second Army, to use today. The bombardment fired off 705,000 shells, not counting the French mortars which joined in during the last hour. It was now time for the French infantry.
Starting with Compiegne the cumulative losses of the German First Army during the Clemenceau Offensive had been heavy though French losses were still more severe. This had eventually caused General von Kuhl, the intellectual chief of staff of First Army to question the wisdom of stuffing a majority of his infantry in the forward trench. Major Bauer had arrived from OHLThursday afternoon and discussed tactics. Bauer told von Kuhl that several staff officers at OHL had been discussing changing the standard tactics of the Heer so that the forward trench was less densely manned and instead there would be a strong reserve with which to mount counterattacks. Bauer admitted that General von Falkenhayn was opposed to these ideas but Bauer felt that he could be persuaded eventually. General von Kuhl was convinced and together they persuaded the perennially offensively oriented General von Kluck by emphasizing the aggressive counterattacks it would permit.
The French infantry assault was made by 2 divisions of the XX Corps on the right and 2 divisions of General Petain’s XXXIII Corps on the left. The tactics of the French Second Army had improved in the course of this battle, esp. those of the XXXIII Corps. Their mighty bombardment had not completely suppressed the German batteries which now took a toll on the advancing Frenchmen. The wire barriers had been cut but only in a few places and attackers bunched up in those places. The front trench was not as packed as usual and had suffered losses from the bombardment but there remained some operational machine gun nests to plague the attacking infantry. With liberal use of grenades and bayonets the forward trench was eventually taken except on the flanks where the Germans applied strong pressure,
------Old Admiralty Building 1115 hrs
Sir Edward Carson was not present at this time because he was very busy working on the plans for partially mobilizing the Ulster Volunteer Force which was turning out to be more complicated than he had anticipated. Admirals Callaghan, Jackson, Wilson and Oliver were have a discussion. "We keep returning to two overlapping questions," said Admiral Jackson, "The first is how long the High Seas Fleet can remain in Ireland. The second is how long do they intend to stay?"
Admiral Callaghan cast a glance at Admiral Oliver and asked, "Is there any light that N.I.D. can shed on either of these questions?"
"Nothing so far from Room 40, sir. You are aware already that some the neutral flagged vessels that the Germans are using to haul cargo are colliers. We now have good intelligence from one of our agents that one of the colliers departing from Philadelphia was instructed to head for Cork."
Callaghan nodded slightly, "We had guessed as much, but nonetheless your revelation provides us with some confirmation. This development argues against the possibility that von Ingenohl plans to leave very soon and never come back, but I would caution against concluding that he feels that the High Seas Fleet can remain in Ireland indefinitely."
"At a minimum he would need to periodically repeat his recent deep sortie into the Channel to garner supplies and reinforcement from occupied France. There is some risk every time he does that," commented Oliver.
"It is obvious to me that von Ingenohl intends to rendezvous with von Spee’s squadron in the next few days. The ocean liners von Spee is escorting contain considerable copper and other valuable contraband in their cargo holds. The Germans will want to get this to Germany as soon as possible," said Jackson.
"They could intend to offload the contraband at Boulogne and Calais though admittedly that would be cumbersome as neither of those ports is intended for large transatlantic liners. I would see a return to Germany as much more likely," stated Callaghan.
"I agree with that but I still maintain that there exists a very real possibility that the ultimate German goal is to invade England and that Ireland is merely a diversion intended to weaken us here by drawing off our strength to Ireland," argued Wilson.
Callaghan rolled his eyes and sighed. Admiral Wilson had of late become persuaded that King George had been right all along in worrying that the invasion of Ireland was primarily intended to weaken England in preparation for an invasion. Callaghan did not accept this scenario as being the most probable explanation but he was disturbed that no one in this room incl. himself had made a compelling argument ruling out that possibility. The fact that the Germans were putting intense pressure on the B.E.F. at this time did jibe with the idea they wanted as little of the British Army as possible remaining in England. "We shall keep that in mind," Callaghan commented with partial sincerity, "but we need to consider other possibilities as well. Currently the German navy is causing some disruption of our commerce incl. a complete shutdown of our trade with France which has potentially grave consequences for their war economy."
"It also makes it difficult for us to supply the B.E.F. adequately," added Admiral Jackson, "I for one believe that the German offensive against the B.E.F. is intended as much more than a mere diversion. Surely the enemy has been very serious about trying to destroy First Army and taking the important communication center at Abbeville."
"That is a good point. I feel a bit guilty that we have neglected the valid needs of the B.E.F. in our focus on Ireland. We must not forget the French either. Their need for coal is going to become even more severe now that the stream of Italian bound colliers we can divert to Marseilles has run out," stated Callaghan.
"If the High Seas Fleet does indeed remain in Ireland more than two or three more days we must send more convoys across the eastern half of the Channel with supplies for the B.E.F. and coal for the French," said Jackson.
"I am leaning towards sending another convoy to le Havre tomorrow night," declared Callaghan, "as I believe that rendezvousing with von Spee’s ships is von Ingenohl’s next order of business which means there is little chance of another sortie back into the Channel until that has been accomplished. It is time to start laying mines off Cork. Nobody here needs to remind me that we have a very small stockpile of mines left but we should use at least half of what we have available."
------northeast of Compiegne 1230 hrs
Preceded by a short but sharp minenwerfer bombardment First Army’s counterattack began hitting the French advance from both the front and the flanks while the artillery concentrated on trying to suppress the French batteries. With a liberal use of hand grenades the counterattack rudely ejected the section of trench briefly captured by the French XX Corps, which had been trying to continue its advance when the counterattack started. It had a more difficult time with the sector held by XXXIII Corps where the French had done a better job of moving forward and setting up their Hotchkiss machineguns. There the fighting lasted well into the afternoon as both sides poured in reinforcements. The trench fighting was as brutal as ever with men stabbing, clubbing, gouging and strangling each other. Ultimately Petain’s men were able to hold on to most of their gains but continued to be pressured on both of their flanks. Petain acknowledged that there was no possibility of his corps advancing any further.
------HQ West Riding Division Tulla (Clare) 1235 hrs
When General Wilson, the commander of the VI Army Corps, devised his plan to attack Limerick city through Clare, General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, had inquired about his line of communications. Wilson answered that when Athlone fell supplies for the West Riding Division would come by rail via Athlone passing through Athenry to arrive at Gort where it would be unloaded. Until then the rail route that would be utilized would proceed through Claremorris in County Mayo heading to Athenry. The problem with this was that not only did Athlone remain in rebel hands but another rebel force had emerged recently in the southern portion of Mayo cutting the rail line at Claremorris. General Wilson had abstractly mentioned the possibility of supplies being landed at Galway and shipped by rail through Athenry to Gort, but the Royal Navy nixed that idea as being too risky as long as the High Seas Fleet remained in Ireland. So the line of communication for the West Riding Division in the last few days relied heavily on its 4 ASC companies hauling supplies offloaded at Nenagh’s train station around the north end of Lough Derg and from there to either Gort or Tulla. Baldock was forced to keep a company of the 1/7th Battalion West Yorkshire at Portumna at the north end of Lough Derg to guard his line of communications though he did remove the field artillery that had been stationed near there to counter rebel boats using the Shannon..
Last night both the telephone and telegraph wires to VI Army Corps had been cut again. Before either was repaired a motorcyclist arrived with a message from General Wilson informing him that due to the presence of a rebel force supported by an armored train at Thurles, use of the train stations at Nenagh and even Roscrea were now temporarily suspended and everything would be detraining at Maryborough in Queen’s County instead. This meant that the round trip distance for his ASC companies had become too long for his division to receive more than minimal supplies. General Wilson’s message had only addressed this problem in vague terms stating that it would not last long and suggesting that the West Riding Division should live off the land as far as food and fodder were concerned with the ASC companies concentrating on hauling ammunition. What General Baldock found esp. galling was that Wilson insisted that the supply problem not be used as an excuse to postpone further attacks on Limerick.
Another motorcyclist now brought General Baldock news from his division’s cyclist company that it had been fighting both a German cavalry squadron and "a few hundred" Irish rebels near Loughrea in County Galway. The general saw this enemy force posing three possible threats. It might go northwest and attack Athenry, southwest and attack Gort or southeast and attack Portumna. The general regarded the last threat as being the most likely as it would sever his already horribly strained line of communications. The general discussed this briefly with his staff then ordered the rest of the 1/7th Battalion West Yorkshire withdrawn from his front line near Sixmilebridge to join their company stationed at Portumna. After he had done that his thoughts turned to ‘C’ squadron 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars, the division’s cavalry squadron, which he had sent off to clear the portion of Clare southwest of Ennis. The yeomanry had encountered negligible resistant until it reached Kilrush where it engaged some German sailors and a few rebels, but these were only able to hold out for about 30 hours. Baldock decided the R.I.C. were now sufficient to control that sector and ordered the horsemen north to reconnoiter the rebel threats to his line of communications.
------HQ Army Detachment François Buttevant (Cork) 1250 hrs
General von François had returned from Cork. "How did your meeting with Admiral von Ingenol go, Your Excellency?" asked his chief of staff, Major von Rundstedt.
The general grimaced, "It was as bad as I had expected, but once I threatened to go to OKW over this head he backed down. I remained there a while to go over the important details with his staff. I cruelly decided to leave poor Plunkett with the Admiral. I hope he doesn’t shoot him."
The major looked mildly confused and asked, "Your Excellency, Captain Plunkett is eccentric but he would not do something insane like that. Oh, or did you mean Admiral von Ingenohl might shoot Plunkett? I admit that Plunkett can be annoying at times but then again that can be said of nearly all of the Irishmen---"
The general rolled his eyes and shook his head, "---uh, I meant it as a joke, major."
"Oh. I see, Your Excellency. Very funny, Your Excellency," von Rundstedt replied stiffly, his taciturn face devoid anything resembling mirth, "Might I ask if Admiral von Ingenohl changed our plan in any way?"
"Yes, he only insisted on some fairly minor changes to the plan. I will fill you in on them later. Right now I am more interested in how our attacks near Limerick are coming."
Major von Rundstedt frowned slightly as he replied, "The 111th Infantry Division was repelled by the Scots again at Patrickswell, Your Excellency. After the confusion at Ballyneety in the early morning General von Gyssling has become cautious and seems to want wait until the Felderstaz companies that came with the latest wave---are we still calling it the fourth wave?"
The general grinned awkwardly, "Yes, I suppose so even though it is confusing bordering on nonsensical. What were you saying about von Gyssling? I was told that the Bavarian Feldersatz companies had been sent to Mallow be train before I left Cork. "
"Your Excellency, while he does not openly admit it I sense that the general is reluctant to attack with his infantry until after he has absorbed the Feldersatz into his division. Unfortunately it will be after midnight before they catch up with him. The general further complains that the delivery of ammunition and other supplies to his division has been erratic. I will concede that his complaint has some validity. The shortage of draught animals continues to be a problem and it is impacting our supply trains."
"Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke seems to think that Ireland is overgrown with horses. Why else would he think to send me a cavalry division?"
The acting chief of staff shook his head slightly, "The Irish Front remains one with open flanks, Your Excellency. Under those conditions cavalry divisions still possess considerable utility."
"Hmm we shall see once we round up enough horses for the 7th Cavalry Division. Speaking of open flanks how are the Austrians doing against the enemy’s exposed left flank?"
"Krauss continues to worry about the enemy forces in the Slievefeliem Mountains, Your Excellency. He believes that they may pose a threat to his own right flank."
"Hmm I thought that they were merely the pitiful remnants of the thoroughly smashed Welsh Division."
"Krauss is unsure about that, Your Excellency. For one thing the enemy now has some heavy artillery with them there which is causing the Austrians some difficulty. This would be the first time we have encountered enemy heavy artillery in Ireland."
"Not a promising development if it turns out to be true. What type of heavy artillery do they think it is?"
"Definitely not the British siege howitzers according to Krauss, Your Excellency. Probably 60 pounders but it could be naval 4.7" guns that have been converted to army use. No matter what they are, Krauss wants to attack the enemy forces in the mountains after dark. If that attack is successful he believes that he will have a free hand to attack the flank of the 11th Division tomorrow."
The general tapped his lips and thought that through before answering, "I have wondered more than once if Krauss is overreacting to the threat posed by the British forces in the mountains. They may be nothing more than an irritant intended to distract him. I do not want to order him to ignore the possible threat though. I will permit him to do what he wants for the next twelve or so hours and will even put Brigade Frauenau under his command but come dawn tomorrow he must renew his efforts against the flank of 11th Division."
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 1305 hrs
The rain came down in waves, tapering off for up to a half hour but then it would intensify again only to taper off still later. General Noel Lee had gone to confer with Hapte Giorgis soon after the morning fighting finished. When he returned he conferred with his staff. He now briefed Sir Ronald Graham, who inquired, "I am more than a little bit confused about what happened this morning, general. Yesterday it was painfully clear that our attack was unsuccessful, but it is not at all clear to me who won today."
The general shook his head slightly, "I have discussed that very same question at length with Hapte Giorgis, Sir Ronald. He believes that the overall casualties today were roughly equal. Even if that were true---and I suspect it is overly optimistic---it is still not good news as Iyasu’s forces seriously outnumber our own so attrition works against us. The fitawrari and I had believed that morale was bad amongst Iyasu’s forces and they would lacking enthusiasm fighting their countrymen. That theory is called into question by what we observed today. It was Zauditu’s followers that showed signs of breaking today even if Hapte Giorgis is reluctant to admit it. If we had not had the downpour quenching the battle things could have gone very badly for our allies today."
"So if and when the rain goes away do you expect the enemy to resume their attack?"
Lee nodded, "I think that to be highly likely. We have seen them trying to move some of their artillery forward during the intervals when the rain moderates."
"And there is nothing we can do to prevent that?"
"We did hurt them in one place that was in clear sight and within range of our 15 pounders. They learned from that experience and are moving their guns more prudently. By now they may already have some that can hit our own soldiers. Not good."
The diplomat sighed audibly, "It does not sound like you are optimistic about making another attack once the storm breaks up."
General Lee nodded, "The plain fact is that we are badly outnumbered not only in manpower but firepower as well. We grossly underestimated how much artillery Iyasu would have available and the enemy’s ability to use those weapons properly. The same goes for their machineguns. After yesterday my only real hope was to get an infantry battle away from their artillery and then what Zauditu’s followers told me about the poor morale of Iyasu’s soldiers turned out to be true. So I was able to accomplish the first half of that but only to fail the second. I see no alternative but to make an orderly withdrawal back to Gondar starting tonight while sending word to General Maxwell that we require reinforcements esp. artillery."
------Dromore (Tyrone) 1340 hrs
Sunday brought some surprises for Colonel Heinrici. He had expected renewed enemy attacks but so far they had no materialized. The patrols of the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion reported that the enemy forces which had been to the west and southwest yesterday had disappeared. The Northern Ireland Cavalry Troop scouted to the east and reported no sign of the enemy out there. On the other hand the patrols the 3rd Northern Ireland Battalion had sent out to the northeast towards Omagh had been hotly engaged. Heinrici worried that this might be a sign that a large enemy force, perhaps incl. some artillery, was assembling at Omagh. He had already moved the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion into Dromore in case there was a large attack out of Omagh.
The other surprise was that in the early morning very few Irish joined his brigade. But just before noon this picked up quite dramatically with more than 100 new members arriving in the just last two hours. This phenomenon puzzled Heinrici for a while until he interviewed a few of the newest arrivals and they all mentioned attending an early Mass before setting out to join. This illumination briefly amused the son of a Lutheran minister. He realized this midday torrent of new recruits would diminish soon. Heinrici knew that the British would come after him in overwhelming strength sooner or later so he dared not tarry too long in any one place. He now issued orders for 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion plus his brigade HQ to move east to Fintona immediately. At first light tomorrow he planned to move the entire brigade south into County Fermanagh.
------Craughwell (Galway) 1350 hrs
After their small fight with the West Riding Cyclist Company the Roscommon Battalion decided against attacking Athenry which their intelligence indicated was well defended. So instead they proceeded due west to the village of Craughwell which was very weakly held by 7 constables that tried to flee to Oranmore in a truck at the approach of the rebels, who then seized their station which held no ammunition and only meager quantities of ammunition and food. After that the rebels used some explosives which they had captured at Custume Barracks to destroy a section of the railroad track just west of the village.
As the Roscommon Battalion rested at Craughwell, the German cavalry squadron patrolled to the south and west of the village. Meanwhile the Athlone Cyclist Company patrolled to the north and eventually this resulted in renewed skirmishing with elements of the West Riding Divisional Cyclist Company. The battalion rested for three hours at Craughwell during which it absorbed 23 new members from the local area and scrounged up an appreciable amount of food. After that the Roscommon Battalion continued on its way to the west.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 1405 hrs
Padraig Pearse periodically visited Churchill, who was still barely hanging on to life. Much of the time he was unconscious but sometimes he would stir and even occasionally rasp or whisper something faint which was barely coherent at best. Churchill’s body was covered in dank sweat resulting from a dangerously high fever. Pearse had his rosary out and used it to pray for Churchill. Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with Thee... Pearse had prayed for him many times. He was not exactly sure why he was so interested in Sir Winston. There were many badly wounded Irish Volunteers in this marginally sanitary makeshift hospital they had set up in an abandoned schoolhouse. Some of the wounds were so truly hideous it tore a man’s very soul to gaze upon. Yet none of them drew Pearse’s attention like this enemy officer.
"There you are!"
Pearse turned around and saw Hauptmann Schumacher, the Bavarian company commander from Arklow, approaching. "I have been looking all over for you and Rommel. I would have preferred Rommel but I cannot find him so you will have to do."
"Major Rommel is up in the northern portion of the county along with the 5th Dublin and 3rd Kerry battalions, captain," replied Pearse.
"North? How far north?"
"Hmm definitely as far north as Greystones, but he also mentioned Bray as a possibility as well."
"Greystones! That is too far away. And Bray is even worse. He was ordered by Count Tisza to guard Arklow against any threats coming from the north and west, not to go running off like this."
"The major feels he can best keep the enemy off balance by stirring things up in their own backyard."
"That strategy is too risky. We need to keep our combined forces concentrated. The main reason I am looking for Rommel is that I have received word from Count Tisza that his situation at Gorey has become difficult and he wants one of your battalions to reinforce him there as quickly as possible. Since I cannot get in touch with the wunderkind right now it looks like I will need you to give the orders."
Pearse took his time before answering. On the one hand it had been a while since he had given an important order without consulting with Rommel first. On the other merely passing on Schumacher’s orders was not much of an improvement. "All I can give you is the 4th Dublin Battalion which is at Wicklow and with only 2 of its 3 companies. The other company is at Greystones."
Schumacher’s nostrils flared and scowled, "For the time being it is important to reinforce the count with whatever is available as quickly as possible."
Suddenly Churchill stirred and moaned. Ignoring Schumacher Pearse leaned over and could see Sir Winston’s eyes half open though with a dazed feverish gaze. "You are awake, Sir Winston. That is great!" gushed Pearse.
"Oh, wonderful," said Schumacher with obvious sarcasm, "but there are more important things than this prisoner right now."
Churchill eyes became more focused and he looked at Schumacher. He began to mumble very faintly. Pearse could not make out what he was trying to say so he bent over putting his face mere inches from Churchill’s. He could now make out, "Is that?"
"Is that what, Sir Winston?" asked Pearse.
Churchill was still barely able to breathe much less talk. He raised his right hand and weakly pointed in the direction of Schumacher. Again he wheezed and rasped, "Is that, gasp, is that Rommel?"
Gazing into Churchill’s eyes, Pearse shook his head. Before he could answer Schumacher stepped closer and asked, "What is he saying?"
"He wanted to know if you were Rommel," said Pearse only granting Schumacher a brief glance over his shoulder.
Schumacher shook his head vigorously and snorted contemptuously, "My God, no! I am not that unreliable glory hound."
Pearse was about to tell Churchill that Rommel was not there, but then he noticed that Sir Winston had lost consciousness once again.
------SMS Blücher Western Approaches 1420 hrs
Blücher was the only element of the Atlantic Squadron to capture a prize this afternoon. This was a 2,300 ton freighter out of Vancouver bound for Plymouth with a cargo of lumber. Admiral Maas deemed neither the ship nor the cargo to be worth keeping.
------Maryborough (Queen’s) 1435 hrs
A train rolled into Maryborough station carrying half of the 6th Battalion East Lancashire. It also carried Major General Frederick Charles Shaw, the commander of the 13th (Western) Division along with his divisional staff. From the moment he had first learned of the invasion General Shaw had felt that sooner or later he would wind up in Ireland and now he was here.
General Hamilton and General Wilson were in total agreement that the 13th (Western) Division should be used to attack the right flank of von François’ forces. Originally they intended for the division to detrain and assemble at Roscrea, but the presence of a new armored train at Thurles caused them to use Maryborough instead. The most direct train route from Londonderry to Maryborough was not available due to the rebel forces currently occupying both Longford and Mullingar. This meant that the troop trains had to be routed through Dublin which lengthened the trip. The general had been warned that the Irish sometimes tried to sabotage the railroad tracks at night as well as cutting the communication wires. Even if there was no sabotage his division was not expected to be fully assembled before late afternoon tomorrow.
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 1600 hrs
The rain had tapered off to little more than drizzle. The sun had set and there was no discernible twilight under heavy cloud cover. General Lee had decided this was his opportunity to escape. He assigned one of his Indian battalions to act as a rear guard while the rest of the combined force pulled up camp and headed down the road leading back to Gondar. Before their withdrawal was complete a band of Iyasu’s Oromo cavalry sparred with Indian rearguard. The Indians had little trouble with the cavalry but soon additional elements of Iyasu’s army which had been alerted joined in the fray. The result was the Indians were forced to perform a fighting withdrawal in the dark in terrain which they did not know as well as their enemy. While they were able to keep from being overrun by their Abyssinian pursuers their casualties steadily mounted through the night.866-nerahelp
-----HQ Russian Tenth Army Augustow (Poland) 1620 hrs
Telephones were a luxury in the Russian Army. General Baron F. V. Sievers, the commander of the Russian Tenth Army sometimes thought it was a luxury he could do without. Now was one of those times. He was on the line with General Alexeev, the commander of Northwestern Front. "Yes, general what can I do for you?" Sievers asked.
"You must go on the offensive against the Germans northwest of Olita tomorrow morning. Your primary objective is to cut the rail line connecting Insterburg and Kovno."
Sievers gulped, "Uh, General, I feel that it is my solemn duty to remind you my army has had its hands full these last two weeks fending off the enemy’s attacks. Tenth Army is in no shape to go on the offensive."
"You are being defeatist! The German Eighth Army has not attacked you for several days now. We believe that is because they were forced to give up at least 2 divisions plus some heavy artillery to support the attack on Vilna. They are now weak enough for you to attack with a reasonable chance of success."
"Tomorrow is too soon, general. I will need at least a full day to plan and prepare properly, preferably two full days."
"No, it must be before noon tomorrow. We have two infantry divisions cut off by the enemy at Vilna, and must rescue them. I am seriously considering moving Second Army HQ on your right flank equipping it with two corps. Your attack will put needed pressure on the Germans while Second Army is assembling."
Sievers waited before replying, "If I must go on the offensive can I at least be supplied more shells, general? I used up most of what I had trying to halt the German attack and have received scant amounts since then."
Sievers could hear Alexeev’s sigh over the telephone before saying, "I can see what I can do, but Stavka has been giving priority to Southwestern Front and much of what I do have must go to Fifth Army which is trying to overwhelm the German flank guard at Shavli and is experiencing some difficulty."
------near Shavli (Lithuania) 1630 hrs
Coming off a very hard march the Russian 27th Infantry Division was ordered into the line by the commander of the III Army Corps replacing the 3rd Cavalry Division. The attack was preceded by a 15 minute bombardment. This time the Putilov 3" field guns were augmented by 2 batteries of 122mm howitzers which had greater effectiveness against entrenchments. However the bombardment was too brief to seriously hurt the German defenders and it created too few holes in the dense wire barriers. The mass of Russian infantry were larger this time around but the defenders were still strong enough to cut down large numbers of them with shrapnel shells, machineguns and rifles. Those Russian soldiers that made it through the wire were not numerous enough to overpower the Germans in the forward trench though they did inflict a significant number of casualties.
------Ottoman III Corps southwest of Nish (Serbia) 1710 hrs
As the Ottoman III Corps approached the key communication center of Nish from the southwest the Serbian Second Army realized to their dismay that they posed a grave threat to their rear and rushed units hurriedly pulled out of the line to try to halt or at least slow the Ottoman advance. This did surprise Esat Pasha in the least. A greater concern to him was his lengthy supply line which was highly dependent on the Bulgarians. He was relieved to learn that food and fodder were arriving from Greece by rail at Pristina in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of his 4 divisions. That left ammunition as his main concern. The Bulgarians though were being very cooperative as their First Army was experiencing considerable difficulty advancing towards Nish against determined Serbian resistance in rough terrain and Esat Pasha’s bold move offered a possible solution to that thorny problem.
The Serbian units that were arriving to oppose the Ottoman advance were arriving in penny packets coming off a hard march. There was very little artillery and what little there was wound up being poorly coordinated with the infantry. If the terrain was less rugged Esat Pasha would have brushed them aside like some annoying insects but in these hills they were now able to slow his advance but not stop it completely.
------SMS Lothringen Western Approaches 1805 hrs
Admiral von Spee summoned his staff to a meeting. "I have just received a wireless message from Admiral von Ingenohl. Tomorrow we shall rendezvous with the High Seas Fleet off the west coast of Ireland."
------Tuam (Galway) 1845 hrs
Accompanied by the original armored train the South Mayo Battalion marched south from Claremorris as soon as the early morning Mass was over. They now invaded the town of Tuam. The armored train was in fact a bit of a bluff as it had not a single shell for any of its cannons. One of its machineguns though still had a belt of ammunition left. This weapon fired two relatively short bursts, while Irish Volunteers with rifles fired through gun ports in one of the armored cars. This was enough to intimidate the constables guarding the railroad station, nearly a third of which surrendered while the rest fled. After this initial shock the constables regained their spirit. They barricaded themselves inside their local station where they repelled two rebel attacks. The South Mayo Battalion however controlled the rest of the town and in less than 2 hours absorbed 82 and 4 women from the local company of Irish Volunteers, which as usual had been almost completely disarmed by the R.I.C. back in late April. The effective strength of the South Mayo Battalion now numbered over a thousand, but the new members served only to aggravate the shortage of firearms, esp. military quality rifles.
The battalion commandant ordered that provisions be appropriated from Tuam and its outskirts. The battalion would spend the night in Tuam but he warned his men that they would be on the march again before dawn.
------Buckingham Palace 1905 hrs
King George had summoned Bonar Law to have supper with him again. The monarch had been speculating with himself about the odds that next Sunday he would be dining with Balfour instead. He had encountered Balfour socially on several occasions and doubted if he had the right temperament to lead the British Empire in a time of war. The man he was dining with now was much more suitable in that regard but things were not going well and it now seemed a matter of when not if the government would fall.
"I have instructed Lord Kitchener to have prepared and delivered to me no later than noon Tuesday a detailed report on what exactly happened at the Battle of Rathmore," the king informed Bonar Law.
The prime minister was chewing a piece of potato. He stopped chewing for a few seconds and tried to show as little emotion as possible. He showed enough that the king knew that he had struck a nerve. Bonar Law then swallowed quickly and wiped his chin. All he could think to say was, "By all means, Your Majesty."
King George was about to consume a morsel of lamb but he put down his fork and stared hard at Bonar Law for a few seconds then asked, "Is that all you have say?"
The prime minister squirmed, "Uh, I am not sure what there is to say on this matter, Your Majesty. I shall remind Lord Kitchener of this at tomorrow’s War Committee meeting. Not that he would neglect a request from his sovereign, of course."
"Of course. We have every confidence he---or should we say his staff---will produce a complete, accurate unbiased report on that very important battle. Perhaps you would like a copy?"
"Maybe though I am already fairly familiar with what happened during that engagement."
"I wish we could say the same thing but in fact this key battle remains something of a mystery to us. The 16th and Welsh Divisions had the initiative against the 6th Bavarian Division and everyone seemed confident that we would trap the Bavarians with their back to the sea in western Kerry and destroy them. Then this Battle of Rathmore occurs and everything changes. When it is over the Germans have regained the initiative and then rebellion erupts first in Cork then later in Dublin. It is now clear to me that it is the turning point in the entire Irish campaign, yet we have only the haziest idea as to what exactly happened there."
That is because while my government readily admitted to suffering a defeat at Rathmore we have kept to ourselves just how big a defeat it really was thought the prime minister with some apprehension we never admitted just how badly the Welsh Division was hurt in that battle. After few seconds he said, "Lord Kitchener’s report will clarify things, Your Majesty." Hopefully not too much though. Do I need to emphasize this to Lord Kitchener?
"Clarification is long overdue," said the monarch. For a minute they both returned their attention to their food then King George asked, "And what is the latest news from Ireland, Andrew? Does the main German force have a chance to relieve their marines at Limerick?"
"We have taken measures to prevent that, Your Majesty."
"Oh, so I take it that you are reinforcing Sir Ian still more? What division did you send this time?"
"The 13th (Western) Division, Your Majesty," answered Bonar Law who had known before he came here that this topic would come up inevitably.
"Hmm I have heard that earlier this week when the German battle fleet sortied from Ireland deep into the English Channel that there were those in both the Admiralty and the War Office that were very worried that the Germans intended to invade England at that time."
"There was some speculation about that possibility at that time, Your Majesty. Instead the German fleet returned to Ireland with supplies and reinforcements they picked up at Calais and Boulogne. This is the main reason we felt it necessary to reinforce General Hamilton with an additional division."
"Hmm You said ‘main’ reason, implying that there are others."
Bonar Law hesitated before replying, "Ah, the secondary reasons are, uh, rather complicated, Your Majesty? Suffice it to say the War Committee feels that the Irish Campaign is now at another tipping point and with further reinforcement General Hamilton can now defeat and destroy the invasion."
King George scowled, "We have encountered first with Asquith and now with you, Andrew, this strange attitude that seems to imply a monarch is incapable of dealing with complexity."
"I deeply apologize if you have received that impression, Your Majesty. I have been trying to avoid overburdening you with excessive details in this time of crisis."
"In a time as troubled as this one details are the least of a monarch’s burdens. It has been clear to us for sometime that we are not receiving a clear picture about what is going on. This unfortunately appears to be true about nearly all theaters of this war but it seems most particularly so about the Irish campaign. I intend to rectify that starting with this report about Rathmore but after that moving on to understand just how did we manage to lose Cork."
Bonar Law squirmed. He had come to conclusion that there was a twofold problem. The first was that he now strongly suspected General Hamilton of filtering and coloring what he chose to report back to London. That information was in turn was further redacted by the War Committee hiding behind the Defense of the Realm Act. Some in Parliament were realizing this and now it was woefully apparent that King George had reached the same conclusion.
"The War Committee will gladly provide you whatever information you feel that you have been lacking, Your Majesty," answered the prime minister with only partial sincerity.
The king reached for his wine, which he slowly consumed while staring hard at Bonar Law. Finally he laid the goblet down and said, "You have on several prior occasions express my concern that the invasion of Ireland is primarily intended to siphon off our strength before invading us here in England. For a few hours this week some others shared my concern but the moment the immediate threat receded you went right back to doing what the Germans want you to do."
This shift in topic actually reduced Bonar Law’s tension slightly. It was a topic where he felt himself to be on firm ground. "Your opinion on this matter has not been ignored, Your Majesty, but the War Committee has reached a different conclusion and has been acting accordingly."
King George took another sip of wine then declared, "We are not trying to exceed our rightful bounds by trying to impose our will in this matter. There is clearly a professional disagreement on this matter but with the fate of our nation hanging in the balance our concerns will be expressed until we are persuaded otherwise."
------Delgany (Wicklow) 1945 hrs
Major Rommel arrived at Delgany where the R.I.C. were still holding off the 2nd company of 4th Dublin Battalion. Rommel quickly perceived what needed to be done and gave instructions to both the 5th Dublin and 3rd Kerry Battalions. The constables were soon eliminated except for a half dozen which escaped in a motor car. Once he was convinced that he had full control of Greystones, Rommel then turned his attention to the larger town of Bray which lay 4 miles north. He left behind at Greystones the 2nd company of 4th Dublin Battalion along with the local company of Irish Volunteers which they were arming and organizing. Rommel accompanied 3rd Kerry Battalion as it marched north along the coastal road. He ordered Commandant Ashe to take the 5th Dublin Battalion back to the Glen of the Downs and from there attack Bray from the west through Kilmacanogue.
------Kronprinzessin Cecilie Summer Cove (Cork) 2035 hrs
The clouds partially concealed the sunset in a way that made it seem even more beautiful. The Kronprinzessin Cecilie lay anchored in the River Bandon off Summer Cover that lay down river of Kinsale, which she would have been unable to enter even if she had not been torpedoed. The damaged ocean liner had finished offloading those men of the 7th Cavalry Division she carried. These had been brought ferried in boats into Kinsale. After that she offloaded equipment and supplies plus the 170 horses which had been loaded onto her at Boulogne (which were only a small fraction of what the cavalrymen would need. The rest were assumed to be waiting for them at Ireland.) The offloading of the supplies was going slower than expected due to the list caused by the torpedo. Still worse was the process of winching down the horses to a waiting boat.
Only a little more than half of the supplies and 77 horses had been offloaded when offshore the E.5 the same British submarine that had torpedoed the liner the first time had a clear view of her in the periscope. The captain of the E.5 had learned via wireless that the troopship he had damaged lay anchored in the River Bandon far enough down river for an attack to be possible but not easy. His submarine could not make it up river to attack the German flotilla coaling at Kinsale but with careful maneuvering he was now in a fairly decent firing position for torpedoing the ocean liner. He had expended much of his battery charge doing this as he had intelligence that the two ancient forts guarding the mouth of the river had been captured by the Germans and at least one of them was now probably being used with much more modern weapons. This made him reluctant to approach too close on the surface.
The British submarine commander was torn between firing two torpedoes now or only fire one and wait to see if it hit. He decided to fire a pair for a combination of reasons. Some of the German torpedoboats now carried depth charges. He had never been depth charged but had spoken with officers from other submarines who had and they made it abundantly clear that it was an experience he should try to avoid esp. in shallow waters. So he fired two torpedoes. To his relief neither torpedo exploded against the river bottom.
The first torpedo detonated aft on the port side of the liner. At this time a horse was being painstakingly lowered into a boat. The shock of the torpedo caused the horse to fall more quickly landing in the water alongside the boat instead of on the boat where it had been intended.
Seconds later the second torpedo detonated 40’ forward of where the first torpedo impacted. Yesterdays torpedo had holed the starboard side near the bow so at first these latest hits merely counterbalanced the star board list but eventually she developed a list to port. The plain fact was there was too much seawater entering her hull. The captain in desperation tried to counterflood which prevented the troopship from capsizing but caused her to sink faster. It soon became painfully obvious to the crew that she was doomed and the order was given to abandon ship. Most of the crewmen made it off before she went under.
------Oranmore (Galway) 2155 hrs
The rebels belonging to the Roscommon Battalion had been warned by their commandant not to expect to get any sleep this night. They now approached the town of Oranmore. The sun had set more than an hour earlier. Shards of light from a gibbous moon seeped through the cloud cover. The German cavalry squadron and the Athlone cyclist company were already hotly engaged with 70 constables which were holding their position. The arrival of Roscommon Battalion now tilted the balance in favor of the rebels and the constables were forced to withdraw back to Galway city.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 2200 hrs
Having been completely stymied by day the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles renewed their attack after dark. They too found themselves illuminated by some moonlight busting through gaps in the cloud cover. The fighting went on until nearly midnight and Ulsterman did inflict some casualties on the men of the 1st Dublin Battalion, but they suffered considerably more in the process and were forced to call off the attack.
------Bray (Wicklow) 2310 hrs
The 3rd Kerry Battalion had marched up the coastal road without being bothered by British Warships despite the moonlight breaking through the clouds periodically. They now arrived at the edge of Bray and encountered 45 constables. The 3rd Kerry Battalion was Rommel’s most experienced force and its battle hardened veterans along with the few Jaegers that remained incl. Julius handled the constables very roughly, quickly eliminating nearly half of them. The rest fled back into the town where they concentrated on defending both the train station and their own station, while calling more reinforcements. Rommel had from previous encounters with the R.I.C. had expected that they might do this. He ordered his men not to attack either station. Instead they were to cut the telegraph and telephone wires leading into the town and make contact with the local company of Irish Volunteers. Rommel did ordered his Pioneers led by Unteroffizier Ziethen to destroy a section of railroad track using explosives from the Arklow Kynoch plant. As usual this took longer to accomplish than Rommel wanted.
When Ashe arrived from the west with the 5th Dublin Battalion Rommel had already achieved control of most of the town. The additional constables that Dublin was sending to reinforce Bray arrived in a series of penny packets which 3rd Kerry and 5th Dublin Battalions gobbled up at the edge of town. Meanwhile his men made contact with the local company of Irish Volunteers which they proceeded to assemble and arm.
------SMS Seydlitz exiting Cork harbor 2345 hrs
Admiral von Hipper was happy to have his flag back aboard Seydlitz The George Washington and Kaiserin Auguste Victoria had departed Cork 10 minutes earlier and 1st Scouting Group was now next to depart with the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla following close behind them. In another half hour the 4th Scouting Group which was also under von Hipper’s command would leave Cork as well. .