by Tom B
"At this time the Germans still thought that the Grand Fleet was still operating out of Devonport. In his memoirs von Ingenohl makes it extremely clear that he would not have agreed to General von François’ plan had he known that the Grand Fleet had relocated to the Isle of Mull and was currently patrolling north of Ireland."
---Augustine Wolf, Ingenohl’s Glory
------HQ British Ireland Command Curragh (Kildare) 0015 hrs
General Sir Ian Hamilton was on the telephone with General Lowe the commander of the Eastern Region. "The 8th Royal Irish Rifles attacked again after dark, sir," reported Lowe, "but again were driven back with substantial losses. I have ordered them to try one more time."
"I see and has there been any word as to what happened to
the Royal Scots Fusiliers?
"No, sir, none whatsoever. By itself that is very worrisome but in the last half hour I received word that a force of several hundred rebels have marched up the coastal road and attacked Bray. The local constabulary have proven insufficient to stop them so I have ordered additional constables sent there immediately in motor vehicles. Hopefully that should be enough to turn the tide but it could be hours before we know for sure."
"Hmm When we first learned that some of the rebels had escaped Dublin we thought in terms of hunting down and finishing off an animal that chewed off its leg to escape a trap. For largely political reasons we wanted to capture Pearse. Now it seems that this wounded beast is more dangerous than we first thought and is now on the prowl."
"Yes that is precisely my concern, sir. I am tempted to commit all of the 9th Royal Irish Rifles, the only regular soldiers I still have inside Dublin, to eliminate the rebels at Bray, but there is a good chance that this is merely a hit and run raid and when the Royal Irish Rifles arrives at Bray the rebels have melted back into the mountains."
"Hmm Have there been any signs of resistance inside Dublin itself in the last 48 hours?"
"Inside the city of Dublin a soldier was badly wounded by a sniper whom we later captured, sir. The bodies of two constables who had been brutally murdered in Tallaght recently were discovered this morning. A small bomb was detonated at the Amiens street railway station in the late afternoon yesterday. Fortunately no one was killed but it wounded 5 men and 2 women, all civilians. Oh and there was an incident where a constable shot and killed a drunk who assaulted him with a broken beer bottle. There have also been some instances of young lads throwing rocks."
"These types of incidents could go on for a while, but it seems like leaving the constables in charge of Dublin for a day or two does not present us with a serious risk. I would therefore suggest sending the entire 9th Royal Irish Rifles to eliminate the rebels at Bray as quickly and completely as possible. In the morning I am going to send you another 300 constables from Belfast which to my thinking has more than it needs. I once thought the same thing about all of Ulster but recent events have raised some doubts about that."
"I can make good use of whatever you can give me, sir."
Hamilton waited a few seconds before replying, "I will tell you now that General Braithwaite and I are seriously considering detaching a battalion from the 13th Division tomorrow and assigning it to your region London has been pressuring me to take back the munitions factory at Arklow as soon as possible and Curzon keeps telling how important it is to apprehend Pearse. As I said before the mystery of what happened to the Royal Scots Fusiliers makes me worry that the remnant of rebels that escaped Dublin may possess some teeth."
------Galway city 0055 hrs
When the Germans landed in Ireland back in April, the company of Irish Volunteers in Galway city had less than 170 men on its rolls. Moreover its commandant was rather timid and elected not to participate in Liam Mellowes’ ill fated uprising. Soon after that the R.I.C. arrested him anyway and seized the company’s puny cache of firearms. A few men who had been with Mellowes but had escaped ended up in Galway, where the stories they told of what had happened galvanized many of the local National Volunteers to switch to the Irish Volunteers which grew to just over 300 members. Eventually a new commandant was chosen and he renamed it the Galway City Battalion and divided it into 2 companies. For a while in early May the West Clare Battalion had begun to slowly smuggle Moisin-Nagant rifles and ammunition into Galway through the rough region called the Burrens. However the Galway City Battalion had only received 50 rifles before the current offensive of the West Riding Division into County Clare terminated the gun running. The commandant of the Galway City Battalion had been arrested Friday morning along with his deputy. The two company commandants unfortunately had some personality problems so neither was willing to accept the other as the new acting battalion commandant.
After defeating the R.I.C. at Oranmore the Roscommon Battalion had continued on towards Galway. News of this now reached the Galway city companies. The 2nd Galway City Company reacted first with its commandant ordering his men to assemble. They were inadequately armed with only two dozen rifles and a handful of shotguns and pistols. Nevertheless they fell on the constables from behind as they were readying their defense against the Roscommon Battalion approaching from the east. The morale of the constables which had already become shaky now began to break. Complicating matters still further the German cavalry squadron had circled around to attack Galway from the northwest. When news of this development reached the commandant of the 1st Galway City Company he finally ordered his men to assemble as well. Nearly half of the defending R.I.C. were killed or captured in the next hour. The remainder fell back on their barracks which they turned into a strongpoint. After making one unsuccessful assault the rebels were content to cordon off the constables. They seized the train station without much trouble but had some difficulty at the harbor where the coast guard put up a stiff resistance.
------Broadford (Clare) 0100 hrs
At dusk a motorcyclist had delivered to General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, a scathing letter from his superior, General Henry Wilson, the commander of the VI Army Corps sharply criticizing him for his lack of aggressiveness in trying to retake Limerick the last two days. Wilson continued to believe that the German Naval Division was a mere shell of a division and would collapse completely if attacked with resolution. General Baldock had been thoroughly checked in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge. Trying to hug the north bank of the Shannon was too dangerous due to the German warships anchored there. So the general decided to try another night attack through the Broadford Gap. This time he found stronger German defenses. Baldock had lacked confidence in the prospects for this attack but was merely going through the motions in accord with the orders he had been given by Wilson. For that reason his instructions for this attack made it clear that it was to be terminated if it encountered more than light resistance. This engagement amounted to little more than a brisk skirmish before the attackers withdrew.
------Presidential Palace Mexico City 0150 hrs GMT
Do you think General Gonzales is bluffing?" Kurt Jahnke asked General Obregon. They had spent the last 3 days first trying to deceive Gonzales and when that failed to co-opt him which did not seem to be working either.
Obregon shook his head then answered wistfully, "No, my German friend, I do not."
"You sound very sure, general."
Obregon nodded, "I have spies inside Gonzales’ army. They tell me that he is planning to attack early tomorrow morning."
"How long have you known this? Why did you not tell me sooner?"
"Only a few hours. I was busy at the time and did not see what good would come from notifying you immediately."
Jahnke was irritated by the bluntness of the general’s response though admittedly in at least the short term there was precious little that he could contribute. "If you have spies in Gonzales’ army might he have some spies in yours?"
"Oh, yes, indeed. I am certain of that."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because we caught one of them this morning and he soon gave us the name of two accomplices. Tomorrow morning after we finish interrogating them we will either shoot or hang all three of them. I have not decided which. You can watch their executions if it will amuse you, senor."
Jahnke ground his teeth. At times he had implied that General Obregon needed to be a little more ruthless if he was to rule Mexico and this rubbed the general the wrong way. The big issue was that Obregon refused to kill Carranza as Jahnke had repeatedly suggested. Now the general saw an opportunity to rub in Jahnke’s face that he did indeed possess the necessary harshness while also implying that the German had a sadistic streak. Jahnke shook his head, "I think I will decline that invitation, general. Are you sure you have caught all of Gonzales’ spies?"
Obregon waited a few seconds before shrugging, "No I am not sure of that at all. It is just one more uncertainty we need to live with. Or die with as the case may be."
------near Shavli (Lithuania) 0200 hrs
General A. E. Churin the commander of the Russian Fifth Army was under heavy pressure from Gen Alexeev, the commander of Northwestern Front, to achieve decisive results this day. Unfortunately both XXXVII and XIX Army Corps had very little ammunition left for their artillery. Churin therefore ordered both of those corps to make simultaneous night attacks while III Army Corps which still had a modest stockpile of shells would attack later in the morning once the 25th Infantry Division had arrived and was in the line.
The attack by the XXXVII Army Corps came from the northwest of Shavli and fell mostly on the German 49th Reserve Division though a small portion fell on a cavalry division to the southwest. The XXXVII Army Corps had suffered grievous losses in its prior attacks. Even in the dark the field artillery of the 49th Reserve Division was able to impact the outcome of the battle with some help from the star shells with which its batteries had been provided. The thick German wire barriers were intact. In a battlefield garishly illuminated by star shells, flares and searchlights German machinegun and shrapnel shells tore into the Russian foot soldiers as they struggled to get through the barbed wire. Some companies even managed to become disoriented in the dark. Only a pitiful handful of Russians made it through the wire to attack the German trenches. Most of the battalions involved in the assault were nearly wiped out. Only a small fraction made it back to their own lines. German casualties were less than 100.
Meanwhile the attack of XIX Army Corps was directed against the sector of the front now occupied by the German I Army Corps, with most of it falling on the 2nd Infantry Division. An hour before this attack started the Russians had sent out small parties of riflemen mixed with combat engineers to try to create lanes in the thick German wire barriers. This produced mixed results. Some of these parties were wiped out but others did succeed in opening gaps in the wire. The German commanders were alerted by this activity that an imminent attack was highly likely. Here too they were able to use their artillery with some effectiveness with the help of star shells. One difference though was that the soldiers belonging to the first line units of XIX Army Corps were better trained than those of the second line units of XXXVII Army Corps. Another was the gaps that the Russian engineers had cut in the wire. The Russians still suffered heavy losses but enough men made it through the gaps in the wire that there were intense brutal fighting inside the trenches in several places. The German reserves though proved sufficient to eject the Russians and so their line held. .
------Slieve Felim Mountains (Limerick) 0215 hrs
Krauss committed only one of his brigades, the 140th, to the night attack on the Welsh Division. With some guidance from a few members of the Cork Ersatz Company they were able to work their way into the mountains. They overpowered the thin defenses of the badly weakened North Wales Brigade. Fearing that his division’s artillery might be overrun General Friend, the acting commander of the Welsh Division, ordered the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards to counterattack while the rest of the division withdrew to the north. Using bayonets with great skill and even greater ferocity this elite unit administered a sharp shock to their Czech opponents hurling them back in disarray. However the Czechs had managed to bring up into the mountains a few of their light mortars, which they called presterwerfers. Some of these weapons now rained down shells on the Grenadier Guards.
As usual nighttime combat degenerated into confusion. General Friend received reports that his perimeter had been breached. He felt that what was left of his division was in danger of being overrun and ordered a full scale retreat of his entire division well to the north into County Tipperary where he intended to establish a new defensive position in the Silvermine Mountains. On the other hand Feldmarshalleutnant Kraus was made a bit cautious by somewhat exaggerated accounts of the counterattack by the Grenadier Guards. He therefore ordered his men to set up defensive positions in the Slieve Felim mountains.
------from Morlay to Nolette (Picardy) 0345 hrs
The artillery of the German Sixth Army erupted in a sudden intense bombardment against positions of the British units holding the narrow bottleneck which connected the British First and Second Armies, which were the Meerut, 1st Infantry and 43rd (Northumbrian) Divisions. Soon after this the German pioneers opened the canisters and released their largest discharge of chlorine so far. Gas helmets had been fashioned in England in early May but due to the disruption of the cross Channel sea traffic recently there were not enough of these crude respirators for everyone. The shift in the wind after midnight had alerted the British officers to the possibility of a gas attack. The close proximity of the enemy in this sector and speed of the assault resulted in many of the men who had been provided a respirator not getting it on in time. And those that did discovered that it was less than 100% effective with the levels of chlorine in the air was in many places much more intense than it had been in prior attacks. Morale in Meerut Division had seriously deteriorated in the last two weeks. When the gas cloud wafted into their midst the Indian troops, many of whom had suffered in the initial German use of chlorine back in April fell back in panic to NNW.
General von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, had removed the 42nd Infantry Division from the XXI Army Corps on the extreme left of his army replacing them with an independent Landwehr brigade General von Falkehayn had only recently provided him. The 42nd Infantry Division was quickly repositioned under the cover of night and put under the temporary command of the Guard Corps. The 42nd Infantry Division was still a square division and because it had very little action in 1915 was at full strength. It was assigned the task of assaulting the Meerut Division and the left wing of the 1st Infantry Division. The British battalions of the division bravely tried to hold the line by themselves but these were units that had suffered heavy cumulative losses in the prior fighting and had been on half rations for four weeks. The precipitous retreat of the Indians had created gaps which the Germans used to outflank them.
While the right wing of the 42nd Infantry Division, which was the 65th Infantry Brigade, assaulted the Meerut Division, its left wing, which was the 59th Infantry Brigade, attacked the left wing of the British 1st Division. The 2nd Guard Division attacked the rest of the British 1st Division while the 1st Guard Division attacked much of the front held by the 43rd (Northumbrian) Division further south. Both the 1st and 43rd (Northumbrian) Divisions had suffered severe losses in the counterattacks demanded by Sir John earlier in the month and since then had received only a handful of replacements. Furthermore as these two divisions were inside the bottleneck region they too were experiencing problems receiving adequate supplies, esp. the 1st Infantry Division. Their men and draught horses were undernourished though not as badly as those in First Army to the north.
The Prussian Guards quickly took Nolette from the 1st Infantry Division but were unable to advance any further towards their main objective of Noyelles-sur-Mer which would have finally cut First Army’s line of communication. Meanwhile the 1st Infantry Division also tried desperately to hold on the town of Morlay, another place which could cut the line of communication from determined attacks by the 42nd Infantry Division.
------Patrickswell (Limerick) 0500 hrs
The German 111th Infantry Division made yet another attack on the village of Patrickswell beginning with a sharp shelling. The Scottish defenders took some more casualties but still managed to repel the German assault with small arms fire. While General Sontag, the commander of the 111th Infantry Division, did not intend this attack as merely a feint he had a backup plan in case it did not succeed.
------Galicia 0500 hrs
Conrad’s Galician offensive continued. While the Central Powers ad been able to advance they had not yet created anything close to the general collapse of the Russian Eleventh and Eighth Armies that Conrad had optimistically predicted. Center Army had not yet achieved a full fledged breakthrough restoring genuine open warfare. Instead the Russian Eleventh Army fell back a few kilometers with each attack and then proceeded to dig a new trench line. General von Linsingen was advancing by what would be considered a very satisfactory pace in France but it was still a version of positional warfare while General Böhm-Ermolli was advancing less consistently, which irked Conrad. Both armies were still finding it necessary to fire off large quantities of shells to make progress. Russian morale had suffered but overall it was not yet close to a complete collapse even though some units did panic.
The offensive continued this morning according to its usual pattern with the Austro-Hungarian Second Army again participating. Once again the heavy artillery and minenwerfers of Center Army and Second Army dominated the Russian Eleventh and Eighth Armies. Once again the Russian artillery was handicapped by a paucity of shells. This day Center Army advanced more than 4 kilometers but once again experienced trouble on its left flank due to pressure from the Russian Third Army. The Second Army again suffered more casualties than Center Army and advanced only 2 kilometers.
Midday yesterday artillery of the Russian Third Army had destroyed the pontoon bridge the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army had erected over the San River near Jaroslaw. Last night the bridging pioneers of Fourth Army rebuilt it over the narrow water obstacle. Fighting continued in and around Jaroslaw with the Fourth Army slowly expanding their bridgehead.
------Ballyneety (Limerick) 0530 hrs
Both Hamilton and Wilson continued to view the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division as being extremely weak and therefore insisted that the 11th (Northern) Division attack them this morning. General Hammersley, the division’s commander, was not as optimistic about this attack and remained deeply worried about the threat to his left flank posed by the Austrians. Another of Hammersley’s worries was the marked reduction in supplies reaching him in the last 24 hours. He had only a small stockpile of shells and would have preferred to have hoarded them for defensive uses. However he had been ordered to mount an attack and so he sent his 2 strongest battalions to attack Ballyneety again.
Even though General von François was pressuring him to be more aggressive this morning, General von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division did not want to resume his own attack until the afternoon after the Feldersatz companies had caught up to him and were integrated into his very badly depleted battalions. This would also give him time to receive additional shells being brought up from Cork. Lastly and perhaps most importantly he hoped that the Austro-Hungarians to his east would finally have some success against the enemy’s left flank. To this end General von Gyssling’s issued orders to both his own men and Brigade Hell for them to make a demonstration to draw the enemy’s attention but hopefully suffering very little in the way of casualties doing so. This was something usually easier to say than do, but it was a tactic the division had used in the past. General von Gyssling hoped it would deter the 11th (Northern) Division from reinforcing its left flank making it easier for the Erzherzog Karl Division to envelop them.
Before this demonstration got underway General Hammersley’s attack commenced with a short bombardment. Once again the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division was surprised. The planned demonstration was immediately postponed. The available German artillery which included 2 foot artillery batteries of 15cm howitzers as well as the entire 6th Bavarian Field Artillery Brigade did not immediately try to suppress the British batteries. The British shelling stopped before the order was given for the German batteries to return fire. The German batteries instead opened up on the British battalions that emerged to assault Ballyneety. The 6th Bavarian Infantry Division was seriously short on men but it still had nearly all of its machineguns and had a wire barrier in place. The cautious British attack was repelled without much trouble.
------Limerick city 0605 hrs
Major Jack White I.R.A., the commander of the Limerick City Battalion, had recently moved his command post to the eastern portion of the city because that was where 3 of his 4 companies were currently employed. He was hungry. There was a shortage of food in Limerick. Before the enemy had changed strategy they had been able to get much of their food from County Clare. However the British now controlled most of Clare and that source was no longer available. General Jacobsen had established a small reserve of food but much of that had been used up yesterday even with the men placed on half rations. There was a rumor going around the Irish Volunteers that the German Marines were receiving more food than them. This rumor was very bad for morale esp. as White suspected that it was probably true. What was undeniably true was that the British prisoners they had captured were receiving even less food than the Irish Volunteers. Adding a layer of uncomfortable irony to this situation was the fact that more than half of these prisoners were Irish, being either members of the 10th (Irish) Division or R.I.C. Worst of all Major White was well aware that the civilian population that had remained inside Limerick was starving. Fortunately more than half of Limerick’s civilians had fled at some point (and unfortunately a significant number had been killed by collateral damage), most into Clare but still there were too many mouths to feed inside Limerick.
White had been told that some food and ammunition had been brought to Limerick by boat from Foynes during the night but he doubted very much that it would be enough to meet the needs of the military for today much less the civilians. Portions of horsemeat were now beginning to be distributed as fodder was in even worse supply than food. For two or three days that should help but soon it would impair the mobility of the German artillery. Yesterday more than 80 men and a dozen women had joined the Irish Republican Army in Limerick and it was painfully obvious to the major that the vast majority of those had done so in order to get some food. White doubted the combat value of these new members and ended up sending more than half of the men and all of the women into the support company.
White had been told that General von François was doing everything in his power to lift the siege of Limerick. The major was very familiar with Irish history and knew that this key city had been besieged several times in the past. He suspected that those sieges had likewise resulted in similar deprivation. He again found himself wondering if he had been right to throw his lot in with Casement and the Germans. His thoughts returned to Dublin during the lockout of 1913 when he had agreed to provide military training to Connolly’s newly formed Irish Citizen Army. White knew that Connolly had been executed in England on a charge of treason. He briefly wondered what ever happened to Connolly’s mentor, the eloquent Jim Larkin. Was he still in the United States? Then his thoughts turned to the lovely but frequently outrageous Countess Constance Markievicz. He had heard the story that she had evaded arrest with the help of her friend the greatest living Irish poet, William Butler Yeats and his young American assistant Ezra Pound. He presumed that she had become involved one way or another in the Dublin Rising and that boded ill because after holding off the British longer than anyone thought possible the revolt had been crushed a week ago, which probably meant that she was either killed or captured. There was a rumor going around that a small portion of Dublin Brigade had in fact escaped into the Wicklow Mountains.
White’s batsman poked his head inside the major’s small office, "Sorry to bother you, sir, but a Sergeant Donahue is here and she demands to see you immediately."
It took Jack a few seconds to recall who Sergeant Donahue was. He was puzzled why she was here but decided he could spare a few moments to satisfy his curiosity, "Yes, by all means send in her in, please."
Mother Superior marched into his office and saluted sharply, "Staff Sergeant Bridget Donahue, sir."
White returned the salute, "Have a seat, sergeant. Since I do not have much time this morning, sergeant, I will ask you be brief and get to the point. I do hope that you are not wasting my time with some minor administrative matter between your battalion and mine."
"No, sir, this is definitely not about an administrative matter. This morning before dawn I went out by myself and scouted the enemy position. In the early morning twilight I saw clear signs that the enemy was pulling out most of their forces opposing us. I was even able to observe a British battery and it was positioned facing away from us pointing to the east."
The major raised an eyebrow, and after a few second replied, "I have received a few reports this morning that the enemy was moving their troops around more than usual."
"Those reports are incomplete and misleading, sir. What is really happening is that the enemy is withdrawing presumably to meet some threat coming from either the east or southeast. This must be the Germans trying to lift the siege. The British are trying to hold the perimeter around Limerick with a threadbare force, essentially a bluff, while they try to stem the German advance. One piece of evidence supporting this is that in several places they have replaced soldiers with constables."
White took some time to absorb this, "This is very interesting, sergeant. Assuming what you say is true what do you want us to do about it?"
"Begging your pardon, sir, but isn’t it painfully obvious? We should attack immediately."
Major White grinned, "You certainly are not shy about speaking your mind, sergeant. What did your battalion commandant say when you informed of him this?"
Sergeant Donahue hesitated a few seconds before answering, "I have not told Captain Schultz about this, major. I thought it would be better if I told you first."
"Uh, could you be so kind as to tell me why?"
The normally self confident Sergeant Donahue fidgeted a little, "Permission to speak freely, sir?"
"By all means."
"Well you see, sir, much as I dislike being critical of a superior officer, I must tell you that Captain Schultz, is for a German, surprisingly passive and very much lacking in initiative. For that reason I went out scouting this morning while he was asleep without notifying him. I am supposed to report to city support company this company this morning," said Mother Superior making the city support company sound like Devil’s Island, "He probably thinks that is where I am now."
White snorted and chuckled while shaking his head. Bridget did not know what to make of this and asked with some irritation, "Did I say somethin’ funny, sir. If so it was certainly not my intention. I am most serious."
White’s grin slowly evaporated, "Oh I am sure that you are ‘most serious’ as you say. It is just that, hmm, how should I put it---it is that you remind me of someone."
"Oh, and if you might pardon me for askin’ who might that be?"
"The Countess Markievicz."
"You flatter me, sir," replied Bridget trying very hard not to blush, "But getting back to Captain Schultz, he does respect rank and I believe he will order 5th Kerry Battalion to participate in an attack if you tell him to do so, even though you are not a German. Our two battalions combined should be enough to overpower the British forces still holding the perimeter. I know where we can attack that their machine guns cannot reach. Of course it might go easier if other battalions were persuaded to participate as well."
White bit his lower lip for the better part of a minute then shook his head, "The commander of the Marine battalion in this sector is technically in charge. He is a very cautious and conservative officer. His orders are to hold the perimeter and so far he has shown himself to be competent but not brilliant in doing just that. However he too is lacking in initiative and will not even begin to consider an attack without consulting his regimental commander first and I fear that it will work its way up to General Jacobsen before anyone will dare to approve it. It is much more likely that someone at either the regimental or brigade HQ will simply deny the request. Or General Jacobsen for that matter."
Mother Superior nodded, "I thought that might be the situation, major. Limerick has been under siege for a long time and from what I can see and hear that has robbed the German Marines of any inclination to go back on the offensive."
"Yes, before he died Harry made similar comments only in much more colorful language."
"Harry?" asked Sergeant Donahue.
"You know---Captain Harry Calahan. That officer who died in your arms."
"Oh, I remember him, sir. How could I ever forget that? It’s just that I was momentarily thrown off by your referring to him by his first name. I tend to think of him of him as Captain Calahan. I know this is going to sound very superstitious but I sometimes his spirit is still with us somehow."
Jack nodded, "I know exactly how you are feeling which I think is why we are having this conversation."
------Bray (Wicklow) 0615 hrs
The commander of the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles had decided to split his battalion in order to hit the rebel forces at Bray from two directions. The first half to come into action after a hard march approached the small village of Enniskerry just west of Bray. Rommel was well aware that he might be attacked from this direction. He sent Tom Ashe with orders to establish only a small well concealed outpost inside the village itself which could be attacked either from due north using Monastery Road or from the west coming through Kilmolin. The bulk of the 5th Dublin Battalion would be positioned south of Enniskerry inside the Powerscourt Estate, whose huge Palladian house was to be turned into a small fort.
The half battalion of Royal Irish Rifles approached Enniskerry from the west. One messenger from the rebel outpost pedaled hard on his bicycle to the south to warn Ashe. Another pedaled equally hard to the east on Bray Road. The more he thought about it the more Rommel disliked the idea of making a stand inside Bray itself. In particular he was deeply worried about the possibility of being shelled by British warships. For that reason he moved the 3rd Kerry Battalion to the west of the town on Bray Road nearly midway to Enniskerry. He left the occupation of Bray to the newly assembled and partially armed Bray Company. They erected some barricades and posted their 20 best shots in sniper posts some of which Rommel had pointed out to them.
The Royal Irish Riflemen charged through Enniskerry then continued down Bray Road heading for Bray. These ran into the 3rd Kerry Battalion which were ready and waiting for them, incl. their lone machinegun. Because the 9th Royal Irish Rifles had suffered heavy losses during the Battle of Dublin the half battalion had a strength of just over 300 which was just slightly larger than the enemy they now faced. The 3rd Kerry Battalion was the most experienced and hardened of Rommel’s units. A storm of lead tore into the Ulstermen as they tried to overrun the rebels cutting them down in large numbers.
Meanwhile the 5th Dublin Battalion debouched from the Powerscourt Estate and after overpowering a weak patrol of Royal Irish Riflemen proceeded up Bray Road to attack the half battalion from the rear. They quickly captured the supply wagons of the Royal Irish Riflemen and overpowered the lone machinegun assigned to the half battalion as it was being set up. Rommel was with the 3rd Kerry Battalion. Once he saw the enemy turn to meet the threat to their rear he ordered the Kerrymen to attack. Hit from front and rear resistance soon collapsed. As this was going on a messenger arrived from the acting commandant of the Bray Company which reported an enemy force which they grossly overestimated as being as large as 1,000 men, rapidly descending on Bray from the north. This was the other half of the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles which were in fact roughly the same size as the half battalion Rommel was in the process of annihilating except it was accompanied by a band of 70 constables it had picked up on the way. This news worried Rommel who sent the messenger back with orders that Bray Company was to delay the new enemy force as much as possible. He then concentrated on annihilating the trapped half battalion as quickly as possible. This did not take too long.
After that was accomplished Rommel briefly toyed with the idea of rushing his two battalions east to reinforce Bray Company and make a defensive stand in that large town. He reluctantly rejected that option due in part to the overestimate of the enemy’s strength but also due to continued worries about being shelled by British warships. Moreover it had his strategy to keep the enemy off balance by attacking in the northeast corner of the county then withdrawing not to get bogged down this far north. Rommel sent off another messenger ordering Bray Company to disengage and join him.
The commander of the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles had accompanied the half of the battalion that was attacking Bray from the north. Some of the constables he had picked up on the way had escaped from the ambushes Rommel had instigated against the penny packet attempts by the R.I.C. to reinforce Bray during the night. Their reports made the colonel a bit cautious as he approached the town and that instinct was reinforced when the well placed rebel snipers began to inflict a few casualties on his vanguard. The colonel advanced cautiously while he waited for some sign that the attack of his detached half battalion had outflanked the rebels. Eventually he grew impatient and finding the enemy barricades very weakly manned cleared them away without much trouble but continued to take some losses from rebel snipers which slowed his progress.
------northeast of Shavli (Lithuania) 0630 hrs
The Russian III Army Corps had 3 infantry divisions. The last to arrive at the front was the 25th Infantry Division. Despite coming off a hard forced march its men were not allowed to rest but were immediately assigned a section of the front and committed to participating in the morning attack. As they assembled for the attack German howitzers plastered their concentration points. The combined artillery of the Russian III Army Corps now commenced firing. The defending 50th Reserve Division had been assigned 3 more batteries since yesterday. These batteries were equipped with Putilov field guns that had been captured at Kovno. Despite this the Germans decided against trying to duel with the Russians but waited for the Russian infantry to emerge. When they did they opened up with great effectiveness
The Russian bombardment had done little to cut the German wire barrier which was 3 strands thick. The 3 infantry divisions packed together created a mass of men that tended to get in each other’s way esp. as they struggled with the uncut wire. They took appalling losses to artillery and machineguns but these Russian soldiers were relatively well trained first line units and they bravely pressed on. Despite their losses enough made it into the German trenches to take a swatch of it which they were able to hold against a German counterattack. However the Russian III Army Corps had paid a huge butcher’s bill for their small gain and were already feeling pressure on the flanks of their advance. They soon found themselves unable to advance any further.
------Murroe (Limerick) 0700 hrs
Krauss was disappointed that his men had failed to capture the British heavy artillery in the mountains that had been a thorn in his side the last two days, but he was moderately pleased when it became clear that remnants of the Welsh Division had been chased clear out of County Limerick. This left him with a relatively free hand to attack what he thought was the badly exposed left flank of the 11th (Northern) Division. However General Wilson had anticipated this threat after learning of the retreat of the Welsh Division. To counter it he placed the 31st Brigade under the temporary command of General Hammersley. The 31st Brigade had previously been deployed facing Limerick. Most of the brigade was turned about to face the Austro-Hungarian units approaching from the east with only the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers hastily supplemented with 160 constables to hold the trenches along the eastern edge of Limerick. The artillery that had been assigned to support the 31st Brigade was now turned to the east.
Krauss had left one of his regiments along with a single howitzer battery in the Slieve Felim Mountains. He had another regiment make a pinning attack on the 11th (Northern) Division at Boher. He committed his other two regiment to an attack to what he thought was the vulnerable empty area. This attack now began to run into the 31st Brigade near the hamlet of Murroe. The Erzherzog Karl Division had already suffered appreciable casualties since arriving in Ireland but their battalions were still considerably stronger than those of the 31st Brigade which had repeatedly hurled itself at Limerick’s entrenchments. The men of the 31st Brigade were moderately better marksmen but that was not anywhere near enough to make up for the enemy’s large superiority in numbers. The Ulstermen were forced to fall back to the west but this was not a route. Eventually their supporting artillery opened fire on the pursuing Austro-Hungarians and broke up their formation and for a while halted the attack.
------Old Admiralty Building 0710 hrs
The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Edward Carson, was finally back at the Admiralty having been preoccupied in drawing up plans for a partial mobilization of the U.V.F. "Do we have any new intelligence of any significance, Admiral Oliver?" he asked
Oliver smiled broadly, "Yes, First Lord, on the basis of decoded wireless transmissions we now know that von Ingenohl has left Cork with the High Seas Fleet and is planning to rendezvous with von Spee’s Atlantic Squadron at 1600 hrs about 90 miles west of Inishmore."
Carson looked weary and did not seemed as impressed as Admiral Oliver had expected. "That is very good, Oliver," he replied with muted enthusiasm, "Now will someone kindly tell me that there is something we can do the prevent it from happening."
Oliver frowned and bit his lip. He turned to Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, who answered for him, "If you might permit me to be blunt, First Lord, we tried doing precisely that back in February and the results were disastrous."
Carson was taken aback by Callaghan’s tone, "I am very well aware of what transpired at Utsire, Admiral Callaghan! However I had thought Admiral Bayly has recently demonstrated that we have put those dire days behind us."
Callaghan could see that Carson, who was normally respectful bordering on deferential to the admirals, had too much stress and too little sleep of late and was now haggard and irritable. He measured his words carefully, "First Lord, we have been over this several times in the last week. Admiral Bayly did win a small victory over the Germans but in doing so many of our most powerful vessels were badly damaged and are now in the yards. As far as we can tell the damage to the High Seas Fleet was less severe. Warspite does not join the Grand Fleet until tomorrow and even then it will be risky to engage the Germans in a renewed fleet action. To do so today would border on insane."
"Are you implying that I am losing my sanity, admiral?"
"Uh, why certainly not, First Lord, that was in no way my intent."
Carson rubbed his bloodshot eyes and barely stifled a yawn before grousing, "Well it sure sounded like it! We let the High Seas Fleet move about with impunity and whenever I ask about showing some backbone I get bloody Utsire thrown in my face!"
------SMS Wörth anchored in Shannon 0730 hrs
During the night the old battleship moved to the south shore of the Shannon. A new communications cable was brought out to her from County Limerick in the early morning. She now commenced firing HE shells with her 28.1cm 40 cal guns. Her target was the town of Mungret which was occupied by elements of the Highland Light Infantry Brigade. The shelling was painstaking slow at the beginning as the observation tower the Germans had constructed with Irish help spotted the fall of the shells and reported it back in Morse code to the naval gunners. The rate of fire picked only modestly once the range was established. This was the first time that the men of the Lowland Division had experienced shells of that power. They were not entrenched in this sector but based their defense on two strongpoints they had established. Even though they were only suffering fairly modest casualties from the battleship’s shells they were intimidated by the violence of the explosions and abandoned the village including the strongpoints.
The 73rd Hanoverian Fusilier Regiment then moved into Mungret after the shelling stopped thereby threatening to turn the right flank of the Lowland Division. This threat forced General Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division, to hurriedly reinforce this sector.
------Limerick city 0740 hrs
After letting Sergeant Donahue point out in person where she believed the enemy defenses to be most vulnerable, Major White visited Captain Schultz, the commandant of the 5th Kerry Battalion. He did not bring Bridget with him as she felt her presence might serve to make her former commandant suspicious. As Mother Superior had predicted Captain Schultz followed Major White’s orders without complaint, but with only limited enthusiasm. The attack now began with Sturm Company Calahan, once again led by Lieutenant Monteith making a quick assault on one of the weak points Bridget had discovered. There they were able to surprise a small number of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and some constables who were only able to fire a few shots at the last minute. The sturm company quickly overpowered them in their trenches with shotguns.
Once that breach in the enemy line was established White committed his other two companies to the attack and soon after Schultz committed both of his rifle companies. The rebel units rolled up the British line, which as Sergeant Donahue had said was weakly held.
Once the attack was underway Mother Superior visited Major Ritter von Thoma, the commandant of the West Limerick Battalion. He had remembered her from the night when she had helped him reach Limerick. "What brings you to my headquarters, sergeant?" von Thoma asked trying to be polite though it was obvious that he was concerned about the growing sound of small arms fire in the distance, "Has this anything to do with the enemy attack now underway."
"In a way, yes, major, except it is the Limerick City and 5th Kerry battalions that are attacking not the British. Major White asks that your battalion join in the assault at the earliest possible moment."
The major momentarily gaped then replied, "I was told nothing about a planned attack."
"An opportunity arose, sir, and Major White decided to exercise some initiative. He tells me that is one of the things he likes about the German army is that they permit junior officers more freedom of initiative than he was permitted when he was in the British Army."
Major von Thoma shook his head and chortled before saying, "You put poor Major White up to this now didn’t you, sergeant?"
"No, sir, I merely brought certain key facts to his attention. That is all I did, sir."
The major shook his head some more, "You are a very dangerous woman, Sergeant Donahue and not just to the enemy."
------Morlay (Picardy) 0805 hrs
The German 42nd Infantry Division had overwhelmed the British battalions of the Meerut Division that had been trying desperately to hold the line, while driving off a counterattack by 3 Indian battalions that had been rallied but still had shaky morale. Supported by an effective counterbattery fire that suppressed most of the nearby British batteries the 42nd Infantry Division now proceeded to envelop the British 1st Division at Morlay. In nearly a half hour of intense fighting much of it at close quarters the Germans finally captured this key town and cut the line of communication.
Further south the British 1st Division was also furiously counterattacking the Prussian Guard at Nolette. The battle there went back and forth with each side making little progress.
------northwest of Olita (Lithuania) 0830 hrs
To comply with General Alexeev’s orders, General Sievers, the commander of the ordered the 47th and 48th Infantry Divisions plus an independent brigade to attack the current left wing of the German Eighth Army, which consisted of the Guard Reserve Corps. This attack was completely unexpected by General von Below the commander of Eighth Army, who was still eager to resume his offensive against Tenth Army despite losing I Army Corps to the Army of the Dvina. He therefore had only partially entrenched erecting only a single strand of barbed wire.
General Sievers did try to provide adequate artillery support including 8 howitzer batteries, two of which were equipped with Schneider 155mm howitzers. The artillery bombardment was fairly brief with the Russian gunners more interested in dueling with their counterparts than helping the lowly infantry. The artillery of Eighth Army accepted the challenge and eventually prevailed by sheer firepower.
The 47th and 48th Infantry Divisions had suffered heavily in the prior attacks by the German Eighth Army. Since then they had received a handful of minimally replacement troops none of which had been issued a rifle. There were serious problems with both the quantity and quality of officers and NCO’s in both divisions. Most of their combined attack fell on the 3rd Guard Division. The no man’s land was very large and the attackers were thoroughly culled by shrapnel shells as they advanced. A good number did make it through the wire but morale was generally poor in the attacking battalions as a result of the earlier fighting. Few of the attackers had much stomach for trench fighting. They were also handicapped by a shortage of grenades. The end result was that while there were several tense minutes where it looked like portions of the forward trench line were about to be overwhelmed in the end the defenders held.
------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 0840 hrs
Once Admiral von Spee learned when and where his Atlantic Squadron was to rendezvous with the High Seas Fleet he ordered Prinz Heinrich and Kronprinz Wilhelm to the west at the same time his squadron was heading east. These two warships were only temporarily under von Spee’s command. Once Atlantic Squadron rendezvoused with the High Seas Fleet their orders were to operate as independent raiders in the Western Approaches.
Commerce raiding continued to be very disappointing for the Atlantic Squadron. Kronprinz Wilhelm now captured the only prize of the morning. This was a very old 2,100 ton steamer out of Charleston bound for Liverpool hauling a cargo of cotton. Her engines were in poor shape and she could only sustain a speed of 6 ½ knots. She was clearly not worth keeping as a prize and was sunk as soon as her crew was removed.
------Kragujevac Arsenal (Serbia) 0855 hrs
Kronprinz Rupprecht had arrived at Kragujevac by motor car a few minutes earlier. The Serbs had abandoned this important arsenal during the night and retreated to the south leaving behind only a small rearguard which despite their weakness had managed to delay the fall of the arsenal by several hours through pluck and tenacity. It was the Austro-Hungarian Third Army that had the honor of taking this fort. Its commander, General Tersztyánszky, would be arriving here anon and would indubitably crow about his accomplishment. Rupprecht sighed at this prospect. He did not like Tersztyánszky on either a personal or professional level. He felt that much of the responsibility for the success of the Serbian counterattack fell on Tersztyánszky’s shoulders, though he freely acknowledged that Ludendorff had fostered a poor working relationship with their allies, esp. the Austro-Hungarians. Rupprecht briefly wondered how Ludendorff has doing. The British were claiming that he was their prisoner. The British colonial division which had played a key role in the Serbian counterattack was no longer in the area according to is intelligence section. Were they trying to rejoin the rest of the British expedition in Herzegovina?
Rupprecht put these thoughts aside and turned to the immediate future. Now that the main Serbian arsenal had fallen and their army was on the run General von Falkenhayn would almost certainly start removing portions of the Tenth Army for use elsewhere possibly as early as tomorrow morning. Rupprecht was not happy with that prospect. The Serbs had already demonstrated that it was dangerous to underestimate them. Yet the Bavarian prince was well aware that the Heer was badly overstretched at this moment and needed every division.
CAILLAUX AND MALVY ARRESTED!
The Ministry of Justice has announced that Sunday afternoon it had arrested on charges of treason both Joseph Caillaux, a former prime minister, and Louis Malvy, the former Minister of Interior. The government has not yet released details pertaining to these very serious charges. The arrests of these prominent politicians have stunned the nation. Coming on the heels of the controversial execution of the Irish demagogue, Eamon de Valera, these arrests are seen as another sign that Prime Minister Clemenceau has little tolerance for any form of dissent."
---Le Figaro Monday May 24, 1915
------10 Downing St. 0905 hrs
The War Committee was again in session. "What is the latest news from the Admiralty, Sir Edward?" Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law demanded from Carson at the start.
"We now have some good intelligence, prime minister, that the German fleet left Cork and is now on its way to rendezvous with Admiral von Spee’s squadron west of Galway this afternoon."
"And are the Sea Lords still adverse to another fleet action at this time?"
Carson frowned deeply and shook his head, "Intractably so, prime minister, much to my disgust and dismay."
Bonar Law shook his head as well, "Is this all about Warspite?"
"Mostly but not completely, prime minister. Admiral Bayly would prefer to wait for Temeraire to rejoin the Grand Fleet as well. The Admiralty also hopes that our submarines may be able to weaken the German battle fleet in the next few days."
"I cannot begin to express my dissatisfaction with this policy, but I am not the fool that Sir Winston was to impose my personal whimsy on the Admiralty."
"Neither am I, prime minister."
"What do they think von Ingenohl will do after rendezvousing with von Spee?"
"The admirals are in complete agreement that after the rendezvous, he will return immediately to Cork to unload the so called American Volunteer Brigade and coal his warships. They are not in agreement about what he is likely to do after that. Some feel the most likely course of action is for him to return to Germany with the liners von Spee escorted from the United States which hold considerable quantities of contraband. Others are not so sure feeling that he may remain in Ireland for a week or even more supporting commerce raiding in the Western Approaches and only then return to Germany. Another sortie into the Channel to pick up more supplies and reinforcements at Boulogne and Calais is possible as well."
"Hmm and when they do return home will they stay put while most of their capital ships are being repaired?"
Carson paused before replying, "You had dinner with the king again last night, prime minister. Are you asking me if there is any justification to his fears that the Germans will invade England next?"
"Yes, yes, that is quite obviously my foremost concern."
Again Carson paused before answering, "Admiral Wilson is starting to share His Majesty’s concerns about an invasion of England, prime minister. However all the other admirals I have consulted regard it as only a remote possibility but not one that can be completely ignored."
"So there is a real threat after all? Does that mean that we were we rash to send another division to Ireland?"
Carson shook his head emphatically, "No, not at all, I am completely convinced that we were fully justified in sending the 13th Division to Ireland."
Bonar Law turned to Kitchener, "And what about you, field marshal? Do you concur with the First Lord on this matter?"
"Yes I do, prime minister. There can be no talk of sacrificing Ireland to save England. We simply must turn things around in Ireland. For that reason not only was committing the 13th Division amply justified but so too is the use of the U.V.F. to crush the Papist traitors once and for all."
"Before we move on to that topic, field marshal, this committee would like to know just what is happening in Ireland. As a start has Limerick finally succumbed to General Wilson’s attack?"
Even though this question had been anticipated a stern frown manifested itself on Kitchener’s face, "No it has not, prime minister."
"Well has our army at least broken into the city?"
"Not yet, prime minister, at least according to the last dispatch from General Hamilton. However our attacks continue apace and General Wilson remains confident that the German marines are on their last legs."
"We have all heard that before, Lord Kitchener. Many, many times before. For that matter so has Parliament," Bonar Law stated with barely concealed sarcasm.
Kitchener gave the prime minister an icy stare but made no immediate response. Lloyd-George spoke next, "Has General Hamilton managed at least to halt the attempt by the Germans to lift the siege, field marshal?"
Kitchener’s expression became slightly less dour as he turned towards Lloyd-George, "That is correct, Chancellor. In fact General Hamilton speaks of a promising counterattack currently underway against the very weak 6th Bavarian Division. If it succeeds we might be able rupture the enemy center completely."
"That is encouraging, but what about up north? Has there been any progress made at Athlone, Sligo or County Tyrone?" asked Lloyd-George.
"A large band of rebels was turned away from Omagh yesterday, chancellor. That should give Ulster a breathing space whilst we ready the U.V.F."
Bonar Law turned to Carson, "Well, Sir Edward, have you finalized the plan for partially mobilizing the U.V.F. we discussed Friday?"
"Yes, I have, prime minister, even though it turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. I have with me the original and four copies of the plan," replied Carson who then opened a briefcase and extracted from it five documents each of 13 pages. He quickly distributed the documents to the other members of the War Committee.
After scanning the first page, Grey cleared his throat and said, "There is a lot here, First Lord. Wouldn’t it be best if we postponed our discussion until tomorrow so we can digest this plan properly?"
"No, no, no!" replied Bonar Law, "The details in this plan are proof of Sir Edward’s thoroughness but there is no good reason for us to debate the details. Correct me if I am wrong, Lord Kitchener but there are no signs as yet that the rebels are disbanding?"
"That is correct, prime minister. Turning the righteous fury of the Orangemen on them will surely persuade those lucky enough to survive to disband."
"Precisely. So now let us review this plan that Sir Edward worked so diligently to prepare despite all his other pressing duties. Everyone take a few minutes to read it over and then we can discuss it and take a vote."
The plan Carson had produced combined procedural details such as which battalions of the U.V.F. would be mobilized with how many men and who would lead them with some discussion of what the legal status of this armed paramilitary organization would be and how it would interact with both the British Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary. There was even a good sized paragraph about demobilizing when it was no longer needed. Lloyd-George was not particularly interested in the list of battalions and skipped over most of that information. He was disappointed that there wasn’t some process spelled out for excluding workers in key war related industries from the mobilization process. This was something he had suggested to Carson late Friday. Lloyd-George also noticed that the prime minister went through his copy very quickly and guessed that Carson had very likely provided him with a preliminary draft sometime yesterday.
Lloyd-George finished reading a minute before Kitchener and noticed the prime minister was already tapping his fingers impatiently. Grey continued to read intensely causing Bonar Law to complain, "You don’t need to memorize it, Sir Edward."
Grey looked up. It was obvious which ‘Sir Edward’ the prime minister was addressing. "I am not memorizing it per se prime minister, but some of the legal nuances of this plan require serious reflection. I believe we need to have the attorney general counsel us on several issues it raises before we can go forward."
The prime minister snorted and shook his head, but it was Carson who spoke, "The attorney general helped me write the sections you are referring to, Sir Edward. You have my assurance that there is nothing here that troubles him in the slightest."
"Satisfied?" asked Bonar Law arching his right eyebrow.
"Uh, only partially, prime minister," Grey replied, "I would really appreciate an opportunity to question Smith in person before reaching a conclusion. There may be significant revisions that may need to be made to some of the paragraphs."
"We don’t have time for that!" roared Bonar Law as he slammed right fist on his desk, "As we speak there is a dangerously strong rebel force in County Tyrone and the rebels continue to control Sligo and Athlone. If we approve this plan now, repeat now, the First Lord has assured me that we can have 20,000 Ulster Volunteers ready for action early tomorrow morning. They are urgently needed"
"Has the situation in Ireland deteriorated so much that waiting until this evening could spell disaster?"countered the Foreign Secretary. Immediately after saying it he wondered with some regret if he was being too blunt. Kitchener, Carson and the prime minister glared daggers at him. He turned to his fellow Liberal hoping for some understanding.
There was a strange look on the face of the Welsh Wizard, sympathetic but also calculating, as he said, "It would, I think, be productive to make a distinction between the basic idea of this plan, which is to mobilize 20,000 Ulster Volunteers in the next 24 hours, and all the ancillary details. I too have some concerns about the latter which I would like very much to discuss with the attorney general, though in my case I think a simple telephone call should suffice. So what I propose is that we plan on reconvening this evening say around 7 to iron out the nitty-gritty. That would give us plenty of time to consult with Smith. However in the meantime we go ahead and grant the First Lord’s plan tentative approval so he can set the process in motion. This way very little time will be lost."
Grey’s sigh was audible. While he did have reservations about certain details, in fact he remained deeply opposed to the whole ideas and was using the details as a pretext to delay the new policy. He realized that Lloyd-George had very likely surmised this and so the chancellor must be deliberately boxing him into a very awkward situation..
Bonar Law sighed as well. His facial expression was deeply ambivalent. "We are all so terribly busy right now that scheduling another meeting today borders on being an act of intolerable cruelty. However I will concede that the chancellor makes a decent point. What is important is that the partial mobilization of the U.V.F. commence as soon as this meeting is over. If there are a few issues with some of the details---though I don’t see any myself---then by all means talk with Smith today and then we can consider some minor alterations tonight perhaps over supper. But for the time being can we at least agree on the heart of the matter so the First Lord can go ahead and start the mobilization process?"
At this four heads turned to stare at Grey. There was an uneasy silence for nearly a minute. "I am not sure what to say, prime minister," the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs admitted candidly, "I still have some strong reservations about using the U.V.F. at all and some of what you and the chancellor are calling minor details may have some bearing on the prudency on the whole enterprise."
Grey feared this would provoke the prime minister’s wrath but to his relief he replied in a surprisingly calm voice, "A week ago I myself had very strong reservations about using the U.V.F. However I was at that time firmly convinced that the destruction of the main rebel body at Dublin would be the end of the rebellion. That guess has not been confirmed by the facts of the last few days. General Hamilton has his hands full with the Germans and Austrians. He has too little to spare to deal with the rebels which is why they have been able to run hog wild in Connaught and even threaten Ulster. I still do not like using the U.V.F. but I see no alternative. This government is hanging by a thread right now. Desperate measures are required. Surely you must be able to see that."
Grey was mildly surprised by the prime minister’s candor in acknowledging the precarious political situation. It was that most of all which was putting his feet to the fire in regards to Ireland at this moment. He looked at Lloyd-George once again for some sign of support but instead he saw that the chancellor was in full agreement with the prime minister. Grey remained silent for nearly a minute. He was starting to sweat.
"Well what is going to be, lad?" asked an impatient Bonar Law.
Part of Grey wanted to stand on principle, but he was aware as the rest of them that things were not going well in Ireland and if they did not improve soon it could seriously impact the outcome of the war. The point about desperate measures being required was not lost on him. He squirmed in his seat finding it uncomfortable to meet any of the eight eyes staring at him. He felt like a lone holdout juror at the end of a lengthy criminal trial.
"I have previously mentioned that we should have someone record minutes of these minutes of these meetings," he finally said.
Bonar Law’s face first showed surprise which then gave way to irritation, "Yes, you have. When it was just three of us we felt it wasn’t necessary, but now there are five perhaps it might be useful. However I will point out that you are still evading the key question before us right now. Do we approve the limited use of the U.V.F. against the Catholic rebels in Ireland?"
Grey nodded slightly, "Yes, it might seem like I am evading the question. The reason I wish for formal minutes this session is I would like my vote to be recorded as an abstention. If the rest of you feel that this drastic step is urgently needed, I do not want my reservations to disrupt the decision making process of this government. However I still insist on an evening session to review and possibly revise elements of the First Lord’s plan."
Bonar Law rolled his eyes and snorted then shook his head. "You are posturing, Sir Edward," said Kitchener pointing his finger at the Foreign Secretary.
Lloyd-George on the other smiled beatifically and said, "Now, now. Sir Edward is acting in good conscience and we should commend him for it. As for minutes I would be more than happy to compose a set for this session and the one this evening. There is no need to bring in an outsider to fill that role. If there are no objections I shall record four votes and one abstention on the motion to start a partial mobilization of the U.V.F. effective immediately." At that extracted a small notepad and a pen from inside his jacket and soon commenced scribbling.
"Well then that’s over and done with. Now then what is the next urgent piece of business we need to discuss?" asked the prime minister.
"The Admiralty wants us to formally declare a 200 nautical mile zone around Ireland where we reserve the right to inspect all neutral shipping. Any neutral suspected of transporting supplies to either the Germans or the Irish rebels will be seized."
"This is contrary to the provisions of the Treaty of the Hague!" protested Grey.
"More importantly, might I ask why is it needed?" asked Bonar Law.
"We have good intelligence, prime minister, that in the last few days the Germans have purchased supplies and are now shipping them in neutral flagged vessels with instructions to go to Cork. These supplies fall into two categories. The first category is items such as coal which we believe are to be used by the Germans in Ireland. The second category is contraband such as copper which we believe are being sent to Ireland which is to serve as a depot. From there the Germans intend to transfer the contraband to their own hulls and then use their battle fleet to escort it home in a large convoy."
"Yet another reason why it is important for us to win in Ireland as quickly as possible!" Lord Kitchener commented.
"I am wondering though why this new proclamation is necessary?" asked Lloyd-George, "If we know that certain neutral flagged ships are heading for Ireland with cargoes we do not want to get there, then why don’t we stop and seize only those vessels?"
"A good question, chancellor," replied Carson, "The answer is in two parts. First is that we have no right to stop much less seize neutral vessels on the high seas unless we declare a war zone, such as we have done in the North Sea and the English Channel. Yes, there are problems with the Hague Treaty, which I am sure Sir Edward will inform us anon. However there are those who say that even our current blockade of the Central Powers already violates the Hague, which is one reason why we do not publicly label it as such. So you see we are already impure by the high standards of Caesar’s wife."
"A fitting analogy, First Lord. So by declaring a war zone around Ireland we provide the Royal Navy full justification to intercept these vessels," spoke the prime minister, "But what is your second reason?"
"Our intelligence apparatus is very good, prime minister, but it is by no means perfect. As an example, we did not know about a Spanish vessel bringing riding horses to Cork until nearly a day after she left la Coruna. This made it impossible for the Royal Navy to intercept her until she was close enough to Ireland that the presence of the German fleet at Cork made it too dangerous to do so. We believe it to be likely that there are some neutral merchantmen employed by the Huns that we have not discovered. For that reason it is desirable for us to inspect any and all neutral merchantmen within the proposed 200 mile zone."
"We are having trouble with Spain right now. Intercepting that freighter far from Ireland would have seriously aggravated an already tense situation," Grey remarked.
"The Spanish are of little importance. They are a weak nation wallowing in fading memories of past grandeur," said Bonar Law.
"That may well be true, prime minister," said Lloyd-George, "but it is also an inconvertible fact that we are very dependent on them for iron ore while they are much less dependent on us for coal than say Italy is. In this war dominated by material it would be unwise to provoke the Spanish."
"Just as it is unwise for us to further provoke the United States which I am guessing accounts for more than half of the neutral vessels the Germans are using," added Grey.
Bonar Law shook his head wearily then declared, "We cannot sit back and let the Germans get away with this!"
"Hear, hear!" said Kitchener.
"Prime Minister, for the sake of king and country I very reluctantly stood aside concerning the U.V.F. but to have this latest proposal from the Admiralty sprung upon us out of nowhere is simply intolerable," replied Sir Edward Grey huffily, "If you want to put this to vote today then I can tell you right now that I will vote against it plain and simple. Give me time to study it proper then I might be open to persuasion."
The prime minister opened his mouth to respond but before he did Lloyd-George jumped in, "These neutral cargo ships must be at least a week away from arriving at Ireland. Therefore there is no compelling reason why this measure needs to be decided today. If given time to study it I think I can be persuaded as to its necessity but I will not vote for it today."
Bonar Law and Carson exchanged glances then the latter said, "The Sea Lords have themselves debated the proposed policy and---"
"---The Sea Lords are not experts on diplomacy and foreign relations!" interrupted Grey.
Carson permitted himself to show only a trace of the irritation he now felt "I understand that, Sir Edward, but if you would let me finish what I was going to say before I was interrupted, it is that while they would like the proclamation as soon as possible they readily concede that it has diplomatic ratifications and if need be can wait until the end of the month. As you have done me a favor in regards to mobilizing the U.V.F. let me return the favor by concurring with you that a decision on this matter can wait a day or two."
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 0920 hrs
The Battle of Dessie had turned into an awkward chase. The British expeditionary force along with Zauditu’s followers had retreated all night along the road leading back to Gondar with an Indian battalion being used as a rearguard. The Abyssinian army had pursued and engaged in a series of small engagements with the Indians. Casualties from this night fighting were running about 3 to 2 in the Indians’ favor. In the daylight this ratio improved to about 5 to 2. This ratio of exchange was high enough to discourage Iyasu’s forces from pressing their pursuit as hard as possible but not high enough to tempt General Lee to turn around and attack.
King Alphonso had arrived at the Cortes to deliver an address, "Esteemed gentlemen of the Cortes, we have come here to address you on a topic of mounting concern. While Spain has wisely avoided becoming entangled in the great war currently raging in Europe we are not blissfully oblivious to what is going on. One aspect that has gripped our attention is the current attempt by the valiant Irish population to throw off the yoke of British oppression with the help of the Germans. This should sound familiar to those of you who are well versed in our nation’s glorious past as we too once undertook the very same mission of mercy.
The Irish people sent us a remarkable man to plead their cause to us. His name was Eamon de Valera, a strangely Spanish sounding name for an Irishman. Apparently his father was Spanish. His brave speeches were an inspiration to many of our people. He turned the hearts of many. So much so that so that representatives of the British government put ever increasing pressure on us to turn senor de Valera over to them. We are not going to go into specifics but we will say that this pressure included some thinly veiled threats of a dire nature."
The king paused to let his last remark sink in. It was in fact something of a half-truth. What threats there were had been mostly the usual vague hints that it was terribly unwise to displease the world’s mightiest empire. The king was not bothered by this distortion. It shocked the Spanish legislators as he hoped it would. Many gestured and cried out in outrage.
The monarch continued, "Our dear countrymen, we must now confess to making a mistake. Believing that we were acting in the best interest of our nation we struck a deal in secret with the British diplomats. We released senor de Valera to the custody of the French with the understanding that they in turn will turn him over to the British. We did it this way because the German navy is currently in Ireland and makes sea traffic between Britain and our nation precarious. However we made it a condition of our releasing senor de Valera that the British promise not to execute him."
The king again paused. This last statement had an even more tenuous relationship to the truth. In negotiating with the British diplomats, incl. the ambassador, Alphonso had repeatedly advocated sparing de Valera’s life but all he could secure from them was a promise to "seriously consider" clemency and that if de Valera was executed it would come after a proper trial in England like Connolly had, not one of the military courts the British Army had instituted in Ireland. They did promise that this trial would not happen for at least a month giving both nations time to cool off. After the French decapitated de Valera they claimed to be completely surprised as well.
The king continued, "We have made several mistakes these last few days which we shall now correct. It is now time to make our displeasure known. To that end we have consulted with the prime minister and the cabinet and have concluded that the best cause of action is to implement an immediate trade embargo against the British Empire including Canada and Australia. We are not at this time extending this embargo to include France despite our outrage at Prime Minister Clemenceau’s abrupt and unjust execution of senor de Valera."
The king again paused and looked at his audience. What he was not going to mention was that wartime exports to Britain had been very lucrative for Spain so what he was proposing would hurt Spain as well as Britain. However it would hurt Spain far less than entering the war which Alphonso was trying to avoid at all costs despite the steadily mounting pressure from the Right. He was still not sure this halfway measure would work. It was therefore with some trepidation that he moved on to the next topic. "As we have said previously the British have made threats against us. While we believe these threats to be hollow we cannot be completely sure. To this end the cabinet has suggested a partial mobilization as a necessary precaution. This step has been considered previously in order to bring our war in Morocco to a speedy victory but was postponed for both political and financial reasons. Doing so now will serve two purposes and we therefore call upon this great body to put aside the usual posturing and approve the necessary emergency measures as quickly as possible. Again we must reiterate that our intent is not to go to war against the British much less the French, but we must be prepared if either of them feels the need to bring the war to us."
There was a spirited round of applause, yet the king could see some obvious disappointment etced on some faces. While some of the Socialists had fallen in love with Connolly and de Valera there was still a larger faction that continued to favor the Entente despite their blemishes and saw this whole affair as devious German manipulation. On the Right there were those who thought the time had come to join the Central Powers and besiege Gibraltar and rightly feared that Alphonso’s ploy was an inadequate halfway measure lacking in national honor. He fully expected them to continue to pressure him into entering the war. Oh, there was another person present that even though he studiously avoided looking at during this speech, he was sure was positively livid right now esp. as he had not told her in advance what he planned to say. The king was certain that he would have a very unpleasant time once he returned to the palace.
------Bandon (Cork) 0945 hrs
Even with the arrival at Cork of the fine riding horses bought in Spain, the 7th Cavalry Division was still seriously very short on horses. Some elements of the division did have their complement of suitable mounts by now though. One of them was the 9th Hussar Regiment which had been aboard the ill fated Kronprinzessin Cecilie and was the first to land near Kinsale. While the rest of the division was still unready General von François ordered the division’s commander, General Fritz von Unger, to send the 9th Hussars Regiment to attack the remnants of the 16th (Irish) Division that were spread out between Bandon and Clonakilty. This constituted the smaller of the two pockets of enemy resistance that remained in County Cork with the other being the force of enemy infantry and yeomanry operating out of the Bere Peninsula. General von François wanted to eliminate both of these potential threats. He had hoped that the South Cork Battalion would be able to deal with the remnants of the 16th Division but their commandant was being very cautious. A series of skirmishes with the enemy did not go well for his battalion and he did not feel that he could prevail without assistance.
So while the South Cork Battalion attacked the British remnants at Clonakilty from the west the 9th Hussar Regiment struck at Bandon. There the cavalrymen dismounted to fight an understrength company of the 7th Battalion Leinster Regiment. Their first attack was driven off with the assistance of a single Vickers machinegun. The Hussars then hurriedly remounted and attacked the enemy from two different directions not covered by the machinegun, dismounting at the last minute. Even without the support of their machinegun the Leinsters put up a stiff fight. They sent a messenger to their battalion commander at Timoleague urgently requesting reinforcements but he had his hands full dealing with an attack from the west by the I.R.A. South Battalion. It took several hours and cost the Hussars more than 100 casualties before they finally eliminated that one company. Meanwhile the attack of the South Cork Battalion had ended up being a costly failure for the rebels.
------Powerscourt Estate (Wicklow) 1010 hrs
Rommel had withdrawn the 5th Dublin Battalion, 3rd Kerry Battalion and Bray Company back to the small fort he had made of the Powerscourt Estate. The remainder the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles had pursued the rebels through Enniskerry. These now launched into a direct assault on the mansion and came under a storm of fire incl. 2 machineguns. The British colonel commanding the battalion ordered a withdrawal after taking more than 50 casualties in this assault. There was a respite as the each side considered their next move.
The O’Rahilly poked his head inside the ornate study which Rommel was using as his office. "I have been interrogating the prisoners as you requested, sir. They are for the most part a closed lip bunch so far but I have established a few facts. They are all from the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, which in turn is part of Lord Kitchener’s so called New Army. They are Protestants from Belfast, all former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force."
"This is somewhat useful information in the long run, captain. Is there anything more relevant to our current situation?"
The O’Rahilly did not make an immediate reply. Rommel could see something was troubling him. :Well, what is it, spit it out, captain!" he ordered.
"Well, sir, you see there were three of the prisoners who were very self-righteous AngloIrish Prots and did their best to provoke us. All three of them claimed that the Countess had been executed at dawn Saturday."
The study was very quiet for nearly a minute with Rommel as still as a statue. The O’Rahilly thought he saw a single small tear roll down his left cheek. Finally the major said in a voice tinged with both anger and sadness, "You saved me the trouble of trying to find a newspaper today."
------southwest of Limerick 1035 hrs
For several days now had been a gap in the British cordon around Limerick which no longer extended all the way to the Shannon. With his division being backed up against Limerick Gen. Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division worried about the possibility of a sortie out of Limerick attacking his rear. General Wilson had partially allayed his fears by informing him that the Germans at Limerick had their hands full with the attack of the West Riding Division coming at them from the north and that only a weak rear guard was warranted. Egerton therefore committed only half of the 1/5th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers with only a single machinegun plus the divisional cyclist company to guarding a little more than 2 kilometers.
After eliminating the 31st Brigade’s remaining presence from the trench system in front of Limerick, Major White had briefly entertained the fantasy of using the Limerick City Battalion to attack the British artillery to the east but after Sergeant Donahue had returned from the West Limerick Battalion she convinced him to attack the rear guard of the Lowland Division instead. The West Limerick Battalion now commenced at diversionary attack on the left company of the 1/5th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers. As that was going on White moved the 3 companies of Limerick City Company he had available through the trenches he had just captured to attack the right flank of the half battalion. This succeeded in rolling up the half battalion. Eventually the cyclists arrived to complicate the situation, but the two rebel battalions still retained the initiative.
Meanwhile the 5th Kerry Battalion had been left to guard the trenches and prisoner that had been taken. Captain Schultz visited the local battalion of German Marines hoping to persuade him to move his battalion forward along with the machinegun company.
The Marine oberstleutnant was much to Schultz’s surprise deeply upset and berated him, "You Irish battalions had no authorization to make that attack. None! Nothing whatsoever! I am in charge in this sector. You should all be taken out and shot for what you’ve done!"
Schultz was dumbfounded. Again he brought excellent news yet nevertheless found himself in big trouble. He had blindly assumed that Major White’s attack had been approved through the proper channels. Now he had learned that it had not. "I was merely obeying Major White’s orders, Oberst," he protested in his own defense.
"Major White is not in your chain of command! He had no authority to launch this attack and you should have known that."
"Uh, but I, uh, assumed he was carrying out proper orders through the chain of command. How was I to know he was acting on his own?"
The oberst continued to scowl for nearly a minute. Finally his features softened, "You said you captured a portion of the British trenches. How big a slice did you take?"
"Most of their trench system, oberst. Maybe all of it."
"All of it?"
"Yes, oberst. We have also captured some enemy supplies, including a handsome amount of food," said Schultz patting his own belly appreciatively, "There is some left! We would be more than happy to share it with your men."
"Hmm Yes I think we should occupy these trenches immediately. It would be foolish for us not to."
-----OHL Valenciennes 1045 hrs
General von Falkenhayn was in a good mood as he had received an hour ago a report from General von Fabeck that the morning gas attack had gone well and Sixth Army was making progress in the critical bottleneck region. He therefore decided to meet with General Krafft von Dellmensingen who had come here from OKW. If nothing else this meeting would distract him from reports that yesterday First Army had employed a controversial new tactical doctrine that had been frequently advocated at OHL but which he continued to oppose.
"It is good to see you again, general," von Falkenhayn greeted his visitor, "I hope you had a pleasant trip."
"Yes, I did, Your Excellency. I must confess that I find myself growing fond of travel by motorcar," replied von Dellmensingen.
"And how is Feldmarschal von Moltke? We have heard someworrisome reports about his health."
"The generalfeldmarschal’s health has improved the last few days, Your Excellency, though I am not going to pretend that he is completely recovered. He is being buoyed by some favorable developments in Operation Unicorn."
"Oh? I had heard that the big sea battle we had hoped would win the war did not turn out so well. It was at best a draw and from some perspectives a small defeat."
"Uh, that is unfortunately quite true, Your Excellency. Admiral Tirpitz remains very unhappy for that reason. However the rendezvous of the Atlantic Squadron with the High Seas Fleet should be taking place this afternoon providing Admiral von Ingenohl with additional strength which bodes well should the Royal Navy challenge us again in the next few days."
General von Falkenhayn waved his left hand and shrugged slightly, "Possible but not probable. I still believe that the war will be won here in France even if OKW has trouble seeing it."
General von Dellmensingen did not seem offended by the last comment, and answered, "I will admit that it may seem that we do not understand the importance of the Western Front, Your Excellency, but let me reassure that we do. In fact it is one of the main reasons why I am here. There is an aspect of warfare where our army has been sadly deficient in my opinion. There is one way to alleviate that deficiency quickly. If we can do that it will increase your tactical and strategic options."
------near Sixmilebridge (Clare) 1100 hrs
General Wilson was blaming everyone but himself for his lack of success at Limerick but most of all he liked to blame General Baldock the commander of the West Riding Division, whom he felt was not aggressive enough in his attacks. When Wilson learned of the unsuccessful night attack in the Broadford Gap, he became upset and sent a motorcyclist to Baldock emphatically ordering him to make a maximum effort near Sixmilebridge before noon. General Baldock now reluctantly complied with these orders. Because the flow of supplies had been reduced his artillery brigades had only a meager amount of shells. They now fired off three quarters of what they had left. The artillery of the German Naval Division was likewise short on ammunition. They did not duel with their British counterparts and on General Jacobsen’s orders continued to remain silent when 4 British battalions made their assault because the general felt that machineguns and rifle would be sufficient to repel the attack due to the improved entrenchments in this key sector of the frontline. This was a good assessment on his part. The attackers struggled mightily with the wire barriers and possessed only a handful of jam tin bombs. They suffered over 800 casualties and failed to gain any ground.
------Parliament 1125 hrs
In both Commons and Lords criticism of the current government’s handling of the war steadily intensified during the morning. The Irish campaign was the primary focus of most speakers but a few also mentioned the disasters in Mesopotamia. Occasionally an MP would try to defend Bonar Law by mentioning the recent naval victory in the Celtic Sea but it was clear from the reaction of the listeners that they were not as impressed by that battle as they had been last week. Many were now confused and upset that the Grand Fleet had not followed up on their victory. The fact that food prices were rising and petrol was in short supply was being viewed with increasing alarm. Likewise the few who tried to laud the government for crushing the rebels at Dublin were soon reminded that it had taken a week to overwhelm weakly armed and poorly trained rebels. The fact that the government had repeatedly predicted the liberation of Limerick was roundly treated with mocking sarcasm.
Ironically the only speech that ended up working for the prime minister came from Sir John Redmond, who rashly launched into tirade against the government’s policy of treating all the Irish rebels as traitors. This provoked considerable criticism from ardent Unionists who made it abundantly clear that they supported the prime minister’s tough stand even though they were disappointed with other aspects of the Irish campaign. Walter Long was one of those who took this position. On the other hand Balfour remained conspicuously silent during these debates.
------HQ British 11th (Northern) Division 1150 hrs
The news reaching divisional HQ all morning was deeply worrisome to General Hammersley, its commander. First he learned that the remnants of the Welsh Division had been ejected from the Slieve Felim Mountains. Hammersley realized this meant that it would soon make it easier for the Austro-Hungarian Division to attack his left flank. He was thankful that General Wilson understood this problem and placed the 31st Brigade along with their supporting artillery under his temporary command to protect his left flank from the Austrians. However he soon became worried about the ability of the 31st Brigade to both guard his flank and contain the German Naval Division inside Limerick. These worries increased once he learned how badly understrength the 31st Brigade had become during cumulative losses it had suffered during the siege of Limerick. These worries were redoubled when the general learned that the 31st Brigade had been driven back for a while by the Austrians.
Meanwhile there was the news arriving from VI Army Corps HQ that there was going to be a sharp reduction in the flow supplies incl. ammunition for at least a day. Then there was the unsuccessful attack on Ballyneety which Hammersley saw as proof that the 6th Bavarian Division was not as weak as Wilson and Hamilton kept telling him it was. The final straw was the news that reached his HQ a few minutes earlier the weak elements of the 31st Brigade that were trying to hold the perimeter at Limerick were being overpowered by an enemy attack. This meant that the rear of his division, incl. his artillery, supply dumps and even his headquarters, was now open to attack by the Naval Division. The same applied to the 31st Brigade causing Hammersley to worry that being hit from front and rear simultaneously that brigade could collapse completely resulting in his division being boxed in on 3 sides. On the verge of a nervous breakdown he ordered the 11th (Northern) Division to move 5 miles to the ENE to reinforce the 31st Brigade. He sent a messenger to the Lowland Division on his right that he would be moving and would soon be breaking contact. He waited a few minutes before sending a messenger to notify General Wilson which was not specific about how much his division was shifting to the left while emphasizing what he perceived as the weaknesses of the 31st Brigade.
------east of Toluca (Mexico) 1200 hrs GMT
When General Gonzales’ army arrived at the town of Toluca to the west of Mexico City, General Obregon did not immediately entrench his own army as that would give away his own intentions too quickly. Instead he discretely set up a series of strongpoints on the western approaches to Mexico City. However when his spies provided him with unambiguous intelligence that Gonzales was preparing to attack in the morning he ordered his men to dig furiously though out the night as well as erecting barriers of barbed wire.
After a relatively brief bombardment Gonzales’ cavalry and infantry attacked but were unable to dislodge General Obregon’s troops from their trenches, and suffered heavy losses from artillery, machineguns and rifle fire esp. the cavalry which had not dismounted. Gonzales then fought an artillery duel with Obregon for a few minutes and pondered his next move. He later sent out patrols which skirmished with Obregon’s men.
------Isle of Inishmore (Galway) 1205 hrs
Motorboats launched from the 2nd Torpedoboat Half Flotilla carrying well armed seamen cautiously approached the Isle of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands which lay at the mouth of Galway Bay. The sea state was very choppy now and with breakers coming clear across the Atlantic pounding on razors of limestone. The sailors in the motorboats had more than the waves and the rocks to worry about. There was a fair possibility that the British may have erected some ad hoc fortification on the Aran Islands with Inishmore the most likely place. The torpedoboats had not come under fire so far nor could they see any signs of a modern fort on any of the islands. This was only partially reassuring to the senior naval officers and this landing party was sent to scout Inishmore.
Doing their damned best to avoid the rocks under the steep limestone cliffs the boats sought out the small cove where lay the village of Kilmurvey which had a small beach. Upon entering the cove the sailors looked around nervously. The dangers of nature were now less but there some other dangers. To their relief they were able to land their boats without being fired upon. The sailors stormed ashore and promptly seized the nearby hamlet which consisted mostly of a few bread and breakfasts. After that a half dozen of the sailors proceeded up the nearby cliffs to the historic Dun Aengus Fort built a least a millennium ago. The Germans were not interested in archeology but that this location remained an excellent spot for an observation post. Most of the rest continued on to Kilronan the largest village on the Aran Islands. On the way there they encountered 4 constables. These were eliminated in a short sharp firefight which killed 2 of the sailors and lightly wounded a third. This was the only resistance the Germans encountered. After a while 11 men came forward claiming to be Irish Volunteers and promised to assist the Germans if provided with arms which the sailors eventually did.
------HQ British Second Army Toeufles (Picardy) 1215 hrs
Sir John French was on the telephone with General Plumer, the commander of Second Army. "Despite a counterattack by the 1st Division, the Germans continue to hold on to Morlay, sir," reported Plumer, "though they have prevented the enemy from reaching the bay."
"They do not have to reach the sea to cut First Army’s supply line," replied French, "Even when the weather is good Haig can get only a quarter of what he needs through la Crotoy. So it is absolutely imperative that we reopen the supply route. Haig does not feel that he can get Meerut Division to do the job so he has ordered 29th Division to move through the Indians to mount the necessary counterattack this afternoon. While he is doing that, what can you do to provide more pressure in the bottleneck region?"
"I have talked with General Munro, sir, and he has ordered the 43rd Division to reinforce 1st Division with 2 battalions. Unfortunately the 43rd Division is unable to render more assistance because it was also caught in the German gas cloud suffering serious casualties---"
"---these blasted gas helmets we were sent don’t seem to worth much!"
"I am investigating that, sir. For the time being I think we would be ill advised to discard the gas helmets."
French waited a few seconds before responding, "You are probably right but I am still not happy. I want a preliminary report on the results of your investigation before midnight. Understood?"
Plumer sighed. He doubted the staff officers he had assigned that task could reach a sound conclusion so quickly. It is hard to conduct interviews with officers and men in the front line with howitzer shells bursting all around you. "Understood, field marshal. Uh, as I was saying the 43rd Division is also under heavy attack, apparently by the Prussian Guards---"
"---the Prussian Guards! I thought we inflicted such heavy losses on those bastards that they would be too weak to conduct effective attacks."
"There is some intelligence they have been replenished with sizable number of replacement troops in the last week or so."
"Sounds like the once elite unit has been watered down with second rate replacements into something very ordinary. In that case why in blazes are they causing us so much trouble today?"
"Well there was the gas cloud, sir."
"Oh, yes, I must have forgotten the gas cloud," said French with sarcasm that was obvious over the telephone line, "Enough with your excuses! What are you doing to help General Munro?"
"I am shifting 3 batteries of heavy artillery from the Abbeville area to I Army Corps, sir."
"Only 3 batteries? Why not send every RGA battery you have?"
"Because I believe that the enemy still has not given up on trying to take Abbeville, sir."
"Bah! It should be painfully clear now that Abbeville is a secondary objective if not a complete diversion---one that you fooled you completely. Their primary objective remains the destruction of First Army. If we do not open up the line of communication once again, success is within their grasp."
"I am well aware of that, sir. Hopefully the attack of the 29th Division in conjunction with the counterattacks Munro has underway will do it but if it does not I am working on plans to move the 42nd Division into the bottleneck to be used in a dawn attack tomorrow morning."
"Good! That is precisely the type of decisive action we need if we are to prevail in this war. Except you need to move all of your heavy artillery. Consider that an order."
------Barna (Galway) 1355 hrs
After sending their landing parties ashore on Inishmore, the large torpedo boats of the 2nd Torpedoboat Half Flotilla continued into Galway Bay through the North Sound. There they searched for sign of enemy artillery. They detected none. They were also looking for submarines. One of the torpedo boats had a rack with 3 depth charges. So far they detected no submarines or any other enemy warship.
Behind them steamed the two troopships which anchored 5 km southwest of Barna. The small cruisers of 4th Scouting Group were currently deployed off the Connemara. They had launched a pair of steam pinnaces which had rendezvoused with the George Washington and then steamed to the west. Each of these pinnaces now towed a string of 3 longboats from the George Washington carrying half of a company of the 1st Battalion 183rd Infantry Regiment. Unlike the first wave of Operation Unicorn where any unit that might be landing on a beach received considerable training in this task, this band of Saxons only received some very hurried training in the last 24 hours.
The Aran Islands serve as an effective breakwater for Galway Bay so the seas were considerably milder than it had been off Inishmore but it was still a fairly rough trip. When the pinnaces got close to the shore they released the longboats which then rowed to the pebbly beach at the village of Barna, a seaside suburb of Galway. Fortunately for them there was no enemy opposition as most of the Saxon infantry were seasick in varying degrees. As they recovered their commanding officer started with their first objective which was to secure this coastal suburb of Galway. He had with him 2 Irish Volunteers familiar with Galway. He had also been provided a small signal section for communicating with the George Washington. The clouds were too thick for the heliograph to be used effectively but signal lamp was effective and it reported that Barna had been taken without any resistance and that they had not yet made contact with rebel forces. After that the company commander sent a platoon east to try to capture the excellent sandy beach at Silverstrand and search for signs of either rebel forces or an approaching enemy attack. They found neither but they did talk with a few civilians who told the Irish Volunteer with them that there was a sizable rebel force fighting inside Galway city.
------from Friarstown to Ballyneety (Limerick) 1400 hrs
Under pressure from General von François, General von Gyssling finally resumed his attack having absorbed the Bavarian Feldersatz companies into his rifle battalions. He ordered a 15 minute bombardment which did not provoke a response from the batteries of the 11th (Northern) Division which were in the process of being hauled away as part of the repositioning ordered by General Hammersley. The infantry assault that followed consisted of 4 battalions of the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division emerging north of Ballyneety while to the west Oberst Hell committed the Reserve Bavarian Jaeger Battalion and the 3rd Battalion 4th Foot Guards to taking the hamlet of Friarstown. The first attack ran into 2 battalions of the 33rd Brigade that Hammersley had ordered to stay behind as a rear guard while he was moving the rest of his division. General von Gyssling did not want the battalions which had just received replacement soldiers throwing away lives and so he sent orders emphasizing caution and the need to minimize loses. The end result was that even without any artillery support the two British battalions managed to hold the Bavarians to a very small gain, though it did let the Germans move their minenwerfers forward. It also meant that the 2 British battalions were effectively pinned and could not easily disengage to join the rest of their division.
Things progressed differently to the west. There the 7th Battalion Cameronians from the Lowland Division had relieved the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire of the 11th Division near Friarstown minutes before the German bombardment started. The 7th South Staffordshire did not tarry in the area but hurried to the northeast to catch up with the rest of their division. At this time General Egerton was still unclear as to how much of the front line the Lowland Division needed to take over from 11th Division as Hammersley, whose nerves was starting to fray, was deliberately avoiding specifying just how much he felt his division needed to move to either Wilson or Egerton.
It was General von Gyssling’s intention that Brigade Hell do the heavy lifting in the current attack The 7th Battalion Cameronians had suffered heavy cumulative losses in the Battle of Dublin and the subsequent unsuccessful attempt to rescue the 10th (Irish) Division at the Battle of Mallow. The German shelling, esp. the 15cm howitzers, now caused some more. The Cameronians fought bravely but they were defending more than a mile of the front they had just taken over against Prussian Guards and Bavarian Jaegers without artillery support.
------southwest of Nish (Serbia) 1410 hrs
The Ottoman III Corps had continued its advance overpowering weak Serbian stoplines until it had reached the banks of the South Morava River. The Serbs had retreated across the river, which while still moderately swollen from the spring rains could be forded with much risk in several spots. However it was soon evident that the Serbs knew those spots all too well and had them covered. Esat Pasha decided it would be easier to cross the river by night possibly with the aid of a short pontoon bridge. He had outrun his supply train a little. A small pause would give the caravans from Prishtina time to catch up.
------Gorey (Wexford) 1425 hrs
The 8th Battalion Devonshire continued to press its attack against Count Tisza’s Hussar Regiment and the Wexford Battalion and there had been heavy fighting near Gorey all morning. The 2 companies of the 4th Dublin Battalion which Pearse had committed as the reinforcements demanded by the count now arrived from Wicklow town after a hard march. In addition to providing additional firepower their arrival helped boost the still shaky morale of Wexford Battalion. The days fighting wore down to a standstill. The 8th Devonshire had not seen action before coming to Ireland and their commander was finding himself surprised at how fast his men were expending ammunition and was therefore beginning to worry that the amount he had would last all the way to Arklow which remained his chief objective.
------Silverstrand Beach (Galway) 1445 hrs
Von der Tann had been detached from the rest of 1st Scouting Group. She was positioned in North Sound were she had launched a pair of steam pinnaces which had rendezvoused with the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. Each of these pinnaces towed 3 longboats carrying one half of a rifle company belonging to the 1st battalion 184th Infantry Regiment. The procedure was similar to the landing at Barna. As the longboats approached the beach the soldiers became worried because they could see soldiers waiting for them on the beach until they could see that the uniforms were feldgrau. These were from the platoon that had been sent from Barna to secure this important beach. They had arrived only a few minutes earlier without encountering any resistance.
Once the company from the 184th Infantry Regiment were ashore and at least partially over their seasickness they marched east towards Galway. Before they got there they encountered a platoon of the Athlone Cyclist Company that had been sent reconnoitering west of Galway. One of the Irish cyclists who spoke passable German explained to the Germans the situation in Galway to the best of their knowledge. Meanwhile they sent a messenger pedaling furiously back to Galway with news that German soldiers had landed
------Limerick city 1455 hrs
"I have been told that you were the one responsible for this morning’s attack. Is that true?" General Jacobsen asked Major White, who was standing at attention and sweating profusely. The general had left his headquarters and moved to a stout stone building in the southwest corner of the city where he summoned White to meet with him. He almost had the major placed under arrest.
"Yes, general that is true, Your Excellency. It was I who ordered the attack."
"And it was not only your own battalion which you ordered to attack but the 5th Kerry and West Limerick battalions as well."
"Uh, Your Excellency, I did indeed order the 5th Kerry Battalion to attack. As for the West Limerick Battalion I did not order them per se. Major von Thoma exercised his own initiative in assisting us after our initial victory."
"I see. You outrank Captain Schultz and I know for a fact that he is easily intimidated. Neither is true about Major von Thoma."
"That is all correct, Your Excellency."
"What you did with your own battalion is an extreme use of initiative but you had absolutely no authority over 5th Kerry Battalion."
"I understand that, Your Excellency."
"Yet nevertheless you went ahead and did it anyway!"
"Yes, I did, Your Excellency. I take full responsibility for my actions."
The general stared hard into White’s eyes. After a few seconds he sighed, "When this is over we will have another talk about chain of command and other topics I would think the son of a Field Marshal would understand better. However there is no denying that your improvisation, for want of a better term, has turned out very well. However I understand that your attack to the southwest has been stopped. Is that true?"
"Yes, Your Excellency we succeeded in ejecting from crude entrenchments what we later determined from captured prisoners to be the rearguard of the Lowland Division. The enemy was only able to halt our attack by throwing first their divisional cyclist company and then some Royal Engineers at us while turning one of their batteries on us. Since then I have been able to get 10 of my best snipers into buildings in the Limerick suburbs from which they are harassing the enemy esp. their artillery."
The general snorted. He tapped his right cheek for a few seconds in thought. Finally he asked, "Do you have any suggestions, White?"
The major took a deep breath, "The enemy forces between us and the enemy artillery are not entrenched. If we can get some artillery support I believe we can overpower them."
The general snorted again and shook his head, "You Irish really are something, you know?"
White opened his mouth to reply but decided what he was about to say might be construed as impertinent and closed it. "You were about to say something" asked Jacobsen.
"Uh, no, sir."
"My batteries have very little ammunition left, major. Just before noon the enemy attacked at Sixmilebridge once again and I ordered my batteries to hold fire because of the scarcity of shells. Now you ask me to provide you with artillery support."
"With all due respect, Your Excellency, if my plan works your batteries will have many more shells tomorrow morning."
The general nodded but said, "And nothing if your plan fails."
"That is correct, Your Excellency, but I believe it’s worth the risk."
The general was silent for more than a minute. Finally he said, "I think I may be losing my mind. Must have something to do with a prolonged lack of sunshine. I am going to provide you with some artillery support. However I am also going to reinforce you with a battalion of the 2nd Naval Regiment I rotated out of the trenches near Sixmilebridge and have been holding in reserve inside Limerick. It has an effective strength of only just over 300 men."
"Thank you, Your Excellency. You won’t be sorry."
"We’ll see. Oh, and before I forget there is one question I keep meaning to ask you. There is a female I.R.A. sergeant by the name of Donahue who was supposed to report to the Limerick support company this morning but is missing. You haven’t stumbled into her by any chance?."
"Uh, she happens to be back at my HQ right now, Your Excellency."
"Why am I not surprised?"
------HQ British VI Army Corps Nenagh (Tipperary) 1505 hrs
General Henry Wilson, the commander of the VI Army Corps was in a decidedly mixed mood. When he learned that the War Committee had approved the use of 20,000 of the U.V.F. to crush the Irish rebellion he was ecstatic. However nearly everything else this day made him angry and confused. For much of the day he had lacked telegraph and telephone connections with any of his divisions. Just before noon a telegraph line had been established with the Welsh Division and only a few minutes ago telegraph communications had been reestablished with the 11th (Northern) Division. General Hammersley had informed that he was moving his division but had not seen fit to tell his superior how far he was moving. Now that the telegraph was working the first thing that General Wilson demanded to know was how much of the front line the Lowland Division would need to take over. To this Hammersley disingenuously answered that it was only 1 ½ miles. This was only correct if the 2 battalions of 33rd Brigade which he had originally intended as a rear guard were included as still being part of his front.
------Galway city 1525 hrs
The orders that had worked their way from General von François to the commandant of the South Mayo Battalion were for them to arrive at Galway city no later than noon. The South Mayo Battalion had marched as hard as they could and except for their cyclist platoon, which had been sent ahead to make contact with the Roscommon Battalion, were only now starting to reach Galway with more than 100 stragglers strung out miles behind to the north. The South Mayo Battalion joined in the battle against the coast guard forces guarding the harbor. They also made contact with the Germans of the 184th Infantry Regiment which were advancing on Galway.
------OKW Berlin 1535 hrs
Until the U.40 arrived in Cork with the new codebooks OKW found itself in the awkward position of repeatedly telling Admiral von Ingenohl that they did not require details of his operations. The frustrating result of this was that they had only the very haziest knowledge of what was going on in Ireland at this time. Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke tried not to let it bother him too much. He thought he was feeling a little bit better the last two days but he would not go so far as to say that he was feeling well. He wondered how much longer he could continue functioning in his current position. Operation Unicorn had been conceived as the master stroke that would bring the war to a quick and decisive victory. However the disappointing results of the Battle of the Celtic Sea had dampened that optimism and it once again looked like it would be a long war. He wondered if he would be around to see the end of it. He also thought about his dear old friend, Colmar Freiherr von Der Goltz who was helping their Ottoman allies win impressive victories in Mesopotamia. He hoped the Baron was taking good care of himself as his constitution had become rather frail in recent years.
"Your Excellency, I have Feldmarschal Conrad on the line. He wishes to talk to you. Shall I put him through?"
What does that insufferable egotist want now? von Moltke thought to himself while grinding his teeth. "Yes, put him through."
"This is General von Moltke speaking. What can I do for you, general?"
"Good afternoon, Helmuth. I do not know if you know this already but my Third Army captured the main Serbian arsenal at Kragujevac this morning."
Hmm is Conrad calling merely to crow about his accomplishments? Annoying as that is it could be worse "Why yes Kronprinz Rupprecht sent us a telegram with all the pertinent details. It is starting to look like the Serbian campaign is back on track despite some setbacks. It is wonderful what our two nations can accomplish when they work together, yes?"
"Yes, well put. In fact that is the reason for my telephone call. In addition to crushing the criminal Serbs my army has undertaken an intense offensive against the Russians in Galicia. I am not sure how much you know about this."
I know quite a lot in fact. General von Linsingen still has some empathy for his predecessor, von François, and keeps us up to date about the operations of Center Army and to a lesser degree the neighboring Austrian armies. "We know the basic facts. Center Army and Second Army appear to be grinding down the Russians and making steady progress."
"Yes, it is a huge success but it struck me this afternoon that there is a way that we could expand on its success but I need some timely German assistance to make that happen."
Oh so this is about something more than mere boasting. Oh lucky me! In fact from what von Linsingen has told us Conrad is actually disappointed about the pace of the advance. He had expected to have broken the Russians completely and resumed open warfare by now "I think I should remind you that the Heer is very overstretched at this moment."
"Uh, yes, I keep hearing that. However it strikes that the Serbian campaign is now at the point where General von Falkenhayn will be tempted to remove as much as an entire corps from your Tenth Army."
"If he is he has not seen fit to tell us." One reason Dellmensingen is at OHL today is to see if there is anything to this speculation. "But assuming for the sake of argument your theory is correct then I take it that you believe you want this corps for some mission?"
"You read my mind, Helmuth. As you are very probably aware the Russians began an offensive in the Bukovina using their Eighth and Ninth Armies. We believe that its main objective was to spark revolt amongst the Romanian element in Transylvania and encourage Romania to join the Entente. I could spend at least an hour outlining all the reasons why this strategy is wrong."
"Please don’t. I will take your word on it. You are after all the world’s greatest strategist." I do hope my sarcasm was not too obvious. "So get on with what you’d like to do with this corps that may or may not become available soon."
"The Russian Eighth Army is being stretched right now. Its left wing is on the offensive in the Bukovina and must strive to maintain contact with the right flank of the advancing Ninth Army. However the right wing of Eighth Army is currently under intense pressure from my Second Army. What I propose is to put your corps under my Seventh Army and use it to attack the boundary between the Russian Eighth and Ninth Armies which we now believe to be vulnerable. Russian Ninth Army is currently overextended and experiencing supply problems. If we can create a gap between it and Eighth Army it will collapse."
The same old over optimism He never learns Still there may be something to this idea and if we are ever going to try Dellmensingen’s bold idea we will need Conrad’s cooperation "This sounds very interesting but I am not to going to reach a conclusion over the telephone. Telegraph me a working summary of your plan and then send the whole thing when it is finalized and we will take it from there."
------Friarstown (Limerick) 1540 hrs
The 7th Battalion Cameronians had been ejected from Friarstown by Brigade Hell once the German pioneers brought 17cm minenwerfers into action against them, demolishing their only strongpoint. What was left of that battalion retreated to the northwest; their withdrawal covered by short burst of artillery fire from a battery of 15 pounders. This created a gap of more than a mile between the Lowland Division and the rearguard of the 11th (Northern) Division north of Ballyneety. Upon learning of this Oberst Hell immediately ordered all of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment, not just the Bavarian Reserve Jaeger Battalion to pursue the Scots. Earlier in the day he had earlier in the day incorporated the 2nd Kerry Battalion into the 1st Kerry Battalion. The combined battalion was now the strongest battalion in his brigade at least as measured by the number of able bodied soldiers. Hell now put the 1st Kerry Battalion under the command of the Foot Guards battalion and sent them to attack the rear guard from the 11th (Northern) Division from the flank and rear.
------SMS Blücher approx 53°N 11°W 1550 hrs
The 3 cruisers of 2nd Scouting Group were no longer as spread out as they had been previously. Their primary mission this day was scouting not commerce raiding. They were now only 20 nm ahead of the main body of the Atlantic Squadron, which was much closer than they had been for most of their Atlantic crossing. The ocean had been eerily empty all day until now. From the bridge of his flagship Admiral Maas could now see the old small cruisers of 5th Scouting Group. When they had learned that Operation Unicorn had been faltering for a while this caused some doubt about whether or not the second wave would be sent at all. Both Admiral von Spee and himself had become worried about whether or not this rendezvous with the High Seas Fleet off the coast of Ireland would happen. Maas was glad that it had but he now wondered would come next. It was quite possible that his flagship would be returned to 1st Scouting Group. He wondered if that was the best cause of action as she had demonstrated some desirable quantities as a commerce raider but in 1st Scouting Group she would merely be the little sister of the more powerful battlecruisers.
------Moscow 1555 hrs
Tensions had been running high in Moscow ever since the fall of Kovno had been announced. During the afternoon the workers at the Giubner printing factory went on strike demanding the firing of all Alsatian workers. Due to the influence of the French Embassy all natives of Alsace-Lorraine had been declared French subjects by the Russian government and had been exempted from deportation. Now the entire workforce of 1,500 gathered outside the factory waving flags and portraits of the tsar. They alternated between singing patriotic hymns and shouting "Down with Germans!" They then marched to the nearby Prokhorov munitions factory where sabotage had been suspected due to a recent explosion and an outbreak of cholera. The Guibner employees tried to get the Prokhorov workers to join their procession but the police barred them from entering. Eventually the frustrated crowd dispersed.
------Morlay (Picardy) 1600 hrs
When General Haig, the commander of First Amy, learned of the fall of Morlay which effectively severed his line of communication, he had the 4th and 29th Divisions in reserve. This was due to the fact that both divisions were very weak due to very heavy casualties. Of these two the 4th Division was in the worse shape. With the Meerut Division still in disarray from the German gas attack, Haig ordered the commander of the 29th Division, General Hunter-Weston whom he regarded as having an admirable aggressive spirit to move through Meerut Division in the afternoon and counterattack at Morlay.
Hunter-Weston was supposed to coordinate his attack in detail with I Army Corps which commanded the 1st Division. Hunter-Weston waited until just before his attack to contact I Army Corps and General Munro the Corps commander found these last minute communiqués vague and confusing. The result was that 29th Division began its attack only a few minutes after 1st Division HQ was notified. In a rush to launch his attack Hunter-Weston did not wait for the 2 batteries of siege howitzers that Haig had put at his disposal to become ready. His bombardment now commenced with only is divisional artillery brigades. His 18 pounders fired only shrapnel shells. A quarter of what his howitzers fired off were HE.
The German 42nd Infantry Division had in the last half hour made another unsuccessful attempt to continue its advance and reach the coast. Most of its men were either in captured British trenches or the larger shell holes. This close to the sea meant that the water table was high. The trenches flooded easily. For that reason the Germans in this segment augmented their trenches with breastworks rising above it. General Munro had started to emulate this with I Army Corps. The Germans of the 42nd Infantry Division were adequately protected from the British shelling and their own supporting artillery which included batteries armed with 15cm howitzers and 21cm Morser returned the fire of the British guns. Hunter-Weston then hurled 5 battalions, all of which were less than half strength into the assault. The German 42nd Infantry Division did not have wire barriers erected in front of Morlay yet but they did have machine guns in place. The ranks of the attackers were thinned by the German artillery. Those that survived discovered to their dismay that while there was no wire at the point of attack they were in fact outnumbered by the defenders.
------Russian Black Sea Fleet ~30 nm northeast of Varna 1630 hrs
The Black Sea Fleet with all 5 of its operational battleships, Evstafi, Ioann Zlatoust, Panteleimon, Rostislav and Tri Sviatitelia, accompanied by 2 cruisers, 10 destroyers, 2 seaplane carriers and an assortment of minesweeping vessels had departed Sevastopol on an important mission last night. The Almaz and Imperator Nikolai I now commenced launching a total of 8 seaplanes. One of these headed due east, another SSW and the rest southwest towards Varna. When they arrived at Varna they dropped small bombs by hand on the port facilities causing a tiny amount of damage. There was no antiaircraft fire except for some ineffectual rifle fire. After expending their ordnance they then flew over St. Constantine and Helena to the north of Varna before flying back to their carriers.
------HQ Lowland Division southwest of Limerick 1645 hrs
The day was not going well for General Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division. His division which had already been badly weakened had come under attack from the southwest, due west, northeast and now the southeast. His men had been shelled by German warships in the Shannon. He had not received any supplies since yesterday morning. The 11th (Northern) Division on is left had abruptly notified him that he must take over more of the front line and been maddeningly vague as to how much. His telephone connection with VI Army Corps had been cut during the night. He still lacked telephone communications but his telegraph had finally been restored less than an hour earlier.
Since then Egerton had sent several telegrams to General Wilson, his superior, trying to explain the difficulties he was having and asking permission to withdraw his entire division 2 miles to the east. He realized that this would permit the German 111st Infantry Division to link up with their Naval Division, effectively lifting the siege of Limerick but he saw his division as being in grave danger if he failed to do so. His only response from General Wilson was a short telegram contemptuously telling that because the attack from the northwest out of Limerick was composed only of rebels it was not worth worrying about.
Another telegram now finally arrived from VI Army Corps.
YOUR REQUEST TO WITHDRAW TO THE EAST IS HEREBY DENIED REPEAT YOUR REQUEST TO WITHDRAW TO THE EAST IS HEREBY DENIED STOP YOU MUST KEEP THE ENEMY TO YOUR SOUTH FROM LINKING WITH THOSE INSIDE LIMERICK REPEAT YOU MUST KEEP THE ENEMY TO YOUR SOUTH FROM LINKING WITH THOSE INSIDE LIMERICK STOP HAVE ORDERED HAMMERSLEY TO TAKE BACK THAT SECTION OF THE LINE HE ABANDONED EARLIER TODAY REPEAT HAVE ORDERED HAMMERSLEY TO TAKE BACK THAT SECTION OF THE LINE HE ABANDONED EARLIER TODAY STOP
------Maryborough (Queen’s) 1715 hrs
General Shaw, the commander of the 13th (Western) Division watched with impatience as the train carrying his divisional ammunition column pulled up to the station. The assembly of his division at Maryborough was running behind schedule. This was due in part to some sabotage inflicted on the railroad tracks by small bands of rebel guerillas up north during the night. His division was still not complete. The 123rd A.S.C company, 41st Field Ambulance Company and the 28th Sanitary Section that were still en route. Shaw was not going to wait for those units. Late yesterday he had sent the 6th Battalion East Lancashire and a platoon of Royal Engineers on ahead to guard the key railroad junction at Ballybrophy. To guard against the German armored train he had instructed the Royal Engineers to destroy a section of track on the line going southwest to Templemore.
Today Shaw had sent the divisional cyclist company and ‘D’ squadron 1/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry on ahead around noon to reconnoiter. He now ordered the rest of the division to commence its long hard march towards Limerick.
------SMS Seydlitz 53°15’N 10° 40’W 1740 hrs
After reluctantly agreeing to permit the landing the 183rd Infantry Brigade at Galway, Admiral von Ingenohl promptly assigned the responsibility for overseeing the operation to Admiral von Hipper. The initial landings at Barna had been nearly an hour late and the subsequent landing at Silverstrand Beach even later. Furthermore worries about British artillery possibly guarding the bay had persisted in von Hipper’s mind. He was finally convinced now by reports filtering back from the German forces ashore which were now in contact with the rebels that the main roadstead near the city of Galway was safe to use. From there the landing of men and material from the troopships would proceed more rapidly esp. if rebels used the very light vessels in Oranmore Bay to assist. The admiral now gave orders for the George Washington and Kaiserin Auguste Victoria to move into the roadstead.
------east of Friarstown (Limerick) 1735 hrs
Of the two battalions General Hammersley had left behind as a rear guard the 7th South Staffordshire was on the right. It was still facing the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division to the south when it now came under attack from the 1st Kerry Battalion on its open right flank and the Foot Guards from behind. The Irish Volunteers had been able to position two of their four machineguns so that they could enfilade the shallow British trench while firing from a slightly elevated position. This attack soon eliminated more than half of the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire with the rest fleeing in disarray to the east leaving behind their machineguns and supply wagons. The gap in the enemy lines now grew wider by more than a mile.
Meanwhile the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment had been sent by General Hammersley, the commander of the 11th (Northern) Division to take over control of more than 1 ½ miles of the front that his division had abandoned in the morning. Hammersley felt this was the minimum response he could make that would satisfy the letter of General Wilson’s orders to him though definitely not its spirit. This battalion tried to reach Friarstown but on the way it stumbled into the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment and a meeting engagement erupted. The regimental commander of the Jaegers saw this as a threat to his right flank and therefore halted his advance to the northwest in order to deal with the Lincolnshires. When news of this reached Oberst Hell he committed the 2nd Seebattalion which he had been keeping in reserve to assist the Jaegers in guarding their flank.
------Limerick city 1800 hrs
The artillery support General Jacobsen had promised commenced firing. It consisted of 3 batteries of 7.7cm field guns and 2 batteries of 10.5cm howitzers. The Limerick City Battalion had 4 of the infantry guns that had been made for the I.R.A. by cutting off a portion of the barrels of captured Russian Putilov 3" field guns. Two of these surprisingly useful weapons were still at Killaloe still guarding the bridge over the Shannon there but Major White now had the other pair at his disposal to use in this attack as well.
The Lowland Division had only a single battery of 15 pounders pointing towards Limerick at this time. Like all the batteries in the Lowland Division they were now seriously short on ammunition. This battery fired off all of its remaining shells trying in vain to duel with the German guns but was quickly overwhelmed. The half battalion of the 1/5th King’s Own Scottish Borderers which had been fighting the rebels was now reinforced with the other half of the battalion. They were also supported by the divisional cyclist company and the Royal Engineers of the 2/2nd Lowland Field Company. In their exposed positions these defenders suffered fairly heavy losses from the German shelling. Those that survived though managed to put up a stiff resistance. White was able to move the two infantry guns forward with some alacrity and with their help knocked out a key British machinegun nest which had most of Limerick City Battalion pinned down.
------Old Admiralty Building 1835 hrs
"We had decoded two wireless messages we regard as a bit of a surprise, First Lord," Admiral Oliver to Sir Edward Carson, "The first was from General von François to Admiral von Hipper requesting an update on the landing operation in Galway Bay. The second---"
"---did you just say that there is a German landing near Galway?" interrupted Carson whose jaw had just dropped.
"Aye, First Lord, though the reason I am sure about that is von Hipper’s reply to von François. Here you can read it for yourself," replied Oliver who handed Carson a sheet of paper.
HAVE TAKEN BARNA AND ESTABLISHED CONTACT WITH LOCAL REBELS REPEAT HAVE TAKEN BARNA AND ESTABLISHED CONTACT WITH LOCAL REBELS STOP BOTH TROOPSHIPS ARE NOW BEING SENT TO MAIN ROADSTEAD WHICH WE BELIEVE TO BE SAFE REPEAT BOTH TROOPSHIPS ARE NOW BEING SENT TO MAIN ROADSTEAD WHICH WE BELIEVE TO BE SAFE STOP
Carson stared at the clock in the room and sighed deeply. He would have to leave for the War Committee meeting soon. "This is very disturbing news, Admiral Oliver, I wish I had learned about this sooner."
"Uh, this message came into my possession only a few minutes ago, First Lord."
"You are referring to the second message, admiral. You should have notified me promptly about the first message. Have we informed the army of this yet? General Hamilton is going to want to know this immediately."
"Surely General Hamilton must know this already, First Lord. We have an extensive corps of coast watchers in those parts of Ireland not controlled by the Germans."
"Yes, I am well aware of that, Admiral Oliver. However I am also very much aware that the bands of rebels in Connaught have cut telegraph and telephone lines wherever they can so it is distinctly possible---in fact downright probable--- that the reports of our coast watchers along Galway Bay are not reaching General Hamilton speedily. I want you to send this information over to the War Office as soon as this meeting is over."
Admiral Oliver was not happy with that order but he reluctantly answered, "As you wish, First Lord."
"Do we have any idea whatsoever as to the size of the German force being landed at Galway?"
"Uh, no we do not, First Lord. All we know is that it involves two troopships meaning it is not a division. A brigade would be our best guess."
"You mean a German brigade with 6 battalions organized into a pair of regiments?"
"Ah, yes that is correct, First Lord."
"And normally without any artillery but they may have some attached to them for this operation. I have sufficient knowledge of army tactics to know that this landing if successful represents a serious threat to the West Riding Division."
------Varna (Bulgaria) 1830 hrs
After recovering its seaplanes the Russian Black Sea Fleet continued steaming towards the port of Varna. The Rostislav and Tri Sviatitelia separated from the rest of the fleet and now commenced firing on the coastal forts of Varna. The Russian gunners were hindered to some degree by the sun which was low in the western sky.
------Kilbeggan (Westmeath) 1840 hrs
The Cavan Battalion along with the mostly civilian prisoners they had freed at Oldcastle was on the move again. After much discussion with his subordinates Commandant MacLoughlain decided it was best to try to reach Athlone where he had some information that the rebels remained in control. MacLoughlain marched his battalion southwest to the village of Kilbeggan, where they briefly engaged 6 constables who soon fled to the south in motor vehicles. After that the rebels captured the constable’s station which held a small amount of ammunition and food. The rebels were more interested though in capturing the Locke’s whisky distillery. This facility had been in operation since 1757 making it the world’s oldest whisky distillery. The rebels shared the whisky with the Germans some of whom had become very vocal in their complaints about how the Irish Volunteers were running things. Most of the complaints ceased for the rest of the day though the few that were expressed seemed louder.
------HQ Armee Abteilung François Buttevant (Cork) 1850 hrs
Earlier in the day General von François had felt he was on the verge of the decisive victory of the Irish campaign. With the help from the 28cm guns of the Wörth the 111st Infantry Division had taken Mungret and appeared to have completely turned the right flank of the Lowland Division. Meanwhile the Erzherzog Karl Division appeared to be able to drive all the way to the Shannon. There was even a promising report that the I.R.A. in Limerick were causing disruption in the enemy’s rear. The general was convinced that he was going to encircle both the Lowland and 11th Division. After destroying those, the West Riding Division in County Clare would be at his mercy with the 183rd Infantry Brigade cutting off the British line of retreat.
In the last few hours though the general received news less to his liking. Krauss had reported much heavier resistance by the British which had halted his progress. Meanwhile to the west the 111th Infantry Division reported having trouble advancing beyond Mungret. Then suddenly good news had arrived from Oberst Hell who had apparently broken through the boundary between the Lowland and 11th (Northern) Division. This promising new development encouraged von François to see an opportunity to destroy one but not both of the enemy divisions south of Limerick. He ordered General von Gyssling and Oberst Hell to attack to the north with the goal of linking with the Naval Division inside Limerick thereby encircling the Lowland Division.
"Brigade Hell has been remarkably useful to us starting with the Battle of Ratmore," the general related to Major von Rundstedt, "but I really do feel I need to disband it soon. I need Hell back here where he belongs. Do not take that comment as criticism of your own competence. You have performed very well under difficult circumstances. The truth is that I need you to perform the duties you were originally assigned, which is organizing and administering occupied Ireland which quite frankly is a mess."
------east of Toluca (Mexico) 1900 hrs GMT
General Gonzales decided that is previous attack had failed because he did not bombard Obregon’s position long enough. He tried again with a lengthy bombardment firing off nearly all the shells he had readily available. After that he attacked with just infantry as he had decided that sending mounted cavalry against trenches and barbed wire had been another mistake. Gonzales’ protracted shelling had not hurt Obregon’s entrenched forces as much as he hoped nor had it shattered the morale of the defenders. Gonzales’ second assault was repelled by Obregon’s men with heavy losses.
------10 Downing St. 1905 hrs
This session of the War Committee had been scheduled to discuss declaring a war zone around Ireland and to refine details of the mobilization of the U.V.F. However there were other things that the prime minister now found more urgent to discuss. "What in bloody blazes is going on in Spain?" he angrily demanded from the Foreign Secretary.
"Prime Minister, the Spanish have imposed an embargo on us and are increasing their level of mobilization even though King Alphonso claims to have no intention of going to war against either us or the French," replied Grey.
"Do we believe the latter" asked Lloyd-George.
"The French have already expressed some doubts about it, chancellor. They worry that King Alponso is looking for an excuse to back out of his promise to President Poincaré not to attack France."
"I see but I asked what the Foreign Office and you personally believe."
"Ah well then there is considerable uncertainty at the Foreign Office, prime minister. We have of course been well aware that this de Valera bloke was a first rate agent provocateur, which was precisely why we pressured the king to turn him over to us. However the Foreign Office repeatedly stressed that we should wait at least a month before executing him, maybe even let him off with a life sentence as King Alphonso had requested---"
"---traitors do not deserve to live!" Kitchener interrupted.
"Field Marshal, please! Let the Foreign Secretary continue," said the prime minister.
Kitchener glared in silence while Grey resumed talking, "We believe there are two very distinct political blocs at work in Spain. One is a highly idealistic group that have become enchanted with shall we say quixotic notions about Irish independence. Because of the great uproar made over James Connolly some Spanish Socialists mistakenly feel that the Irish are fighting to establish a socialist republic. If we had de Valera in our possession but had held off on his trial I believe we stood a chance to undermine the size and influence of this group. Unfortunately for us Clemenceau’s brazen decision has made things worse for us with these idealists The other bloc consists of those on the Spanish Right, who favored Germany from the beginning of the war and are constantly seeking ways to assist her. Some of those want to enter the war immediately but there are others who concede that it would be a rather dangerous move given the relative weakness of their army."
"Sounds like a very astute assessment of the situation," declared Lloyd-George, "I see the chance of war being remote but we cannot afford to shrug off the potential impact of this trade embargo on our war effort as it could well hobble our steel production for the remainder of the year."
"There must be alternative sources of iron ore, chancellor!" declared Kitchener dismissively.
"The Spanish are not extending their embargo to the French," remarked Grey, "We can get the French to order more and then export it to us."
Lloyd-George shrugged as he responded, "While that is a possible solution I see some potential problems with it. First it is distinctly possible that the Spanish may extend their embargo to include the French as well before long. After all it was the French who decapitated de Valera. And if they do not they may very well refuse to increase their shipments of iron ore to France much above current levels, esp. once they realize what the French are doing. Lastly even if Spain is not a problem, I could see Clemenceau being very tempted to lay down conditions, beginning with a full scale resumption of our trade with France."
"Well that does sound fair," commented the prime minister, who then turned to Carson, "Speaking of which is there another convoy in the works, First Lord"
"Yes, there is, prime minister. In fact it has already departed Newhaven."
"And are we shipping anything to the French besides some coal?" asked Lloyd-George.
"No, only coal, chancellor."
"More coal than the last time?"
"Ah, I would say roughly the same, chancellor. We are using the same colliers."
"Which the French claim provided them with less than half of what they were receiving on an average day this year. And while coal is their most pressing need at this time, there are other exports, such as steel, that are also vital to their war industry. I would expect that Clemenceau is going to want those exports resumed in quantity before he’d start shipping us Spanish iron ore."
"Perhaps we should explore increasing our imports from Sweden as an alternative plan," suggested Bonar Law.
"Sweden is not entirely reliable, either, prime minister," replied Grey, "Unlike King Alphonso whom we believe is reluctantly bowing to pressure from the Spanish Right, King Gustav has been demonstrating sympathy towards the Central Powers from the beginning of the war even though he used the Three Kings Conference to downplay speculation about Sweden joining the Central Powers.. There are a few paramilitary groups in Sweden that have tried to foment unrest in Finland until their government clamped down."
"Aye, and one of them went so far as to send a few men to Ireland that ended up getting involved in the Dublin Uprising," added Carson, "While the impact of the loss of iron ore could be very serious but there is another piece of news I learned only a few minutes before I departed the Admiralty that I believe is even more urgent. As we speak German forces are landing in Galway Bay. They are threatening our operations to capture Limerick city through County Clare."
"This is the first that I had heard about this, First Lord," Kitchener argued, "Why was I not notified sooner?"
"Uh, we only just learned of it, field marshal. A message detailing the known facts was being telegraphed to the War Office just as I was about to leave for this meeting. You must have left before it was received," Carson answered. He had decided against mentioning that there had been two intercepted wireless messages and Admiral Oliver had sat on the first.
"I see. And do we have any idea how large a force it is, First Lord?"
"Nothing exact, field marshal. There is a very tentative educated guess that it could be a German brigade, possibly reinforced with a battery or two of field guns."
"And is the Grand Fleet steaming rapidly towards Galway Bay to destroy this threat?" asked Kitchener.
"Now, now you have already been informed that Admiral Bayly is planning on rendezvousing with Warspite off the Isle of Mull tomorrow."
"So the great almighty navy is not going to interfere with the landing in Galway, First Lord?"
"Spare us the sarcasm, field marshal. We have been over and over the fact that the Grand Fleet is too weak for another fleet action at this time."
------HQ Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 1915 hrs
Gneral Hamilton was on the telephone with General Wilson telling him, "We have just received a cable from London that the Germans have been landing troops in the Galway Bay area."
"What? Are you sure about this, general? I have heard nothing about this from the Coast Watcher Corps," replied Wilson.
"That is not at all surprising on account of the fact that there are fairly strong rebel forces at Galway and they are cutting telegraph and telephone wires wherever they can find them."
"Aye, that is about all those Pope worshipping jackals are good for, sir. Once the U.V.F. is unleashed even that will end very quickly."
"Perhaps but instead of salivating about that prospect why don’t you tell me how you plan to deal with the Germans landing in Galway. They post a very serious threat to West Riding’s line of communication."
Wilson paused a few seconds before replying, "Did this intelligence come from the Admiralty, sir"
"Uh, why yes it did."
"Well then it looks like they will soon be solving our problem, sir. Admiral Bayly will finish what he started at Celtic Sea. For the life of me I cannot fathom why he let the Germans escape. Nelson certainly would have finished the job."
"I have been given no indication one way or another about whether or not the Grand Fleet plans to intervene."
"But surely they must, sir. The Admiralty is merely withholding the information from us in the army. They tend to do that."
General Hamilton shook his head and sighed. What he was now hearing from General Wilson was something he was hearing far too often this last week. While he did not know the details of the Battle of Celtic Sea Sir Ian had a suspicion that it was not the decisive shift in the balance of naval power that many were hoping it was. He therefore replied, "We must base our current plans on the assumption that Admiral Bayly does not engage, which means that General Baldock will find himself with a German force that can severe his line of communication and maybe attack him from the rear."
Wilson waited more than half a minute before responding, "I find this all very speculative, sir, as I do very much believe that the Royal Navy will solve this problem for us today along with annihilating the German battle fleet, which will guarantee that we shall win this war in the long run. However if indeed I am being overly optimistic, I would point out that once the West Riding Division overpowers the German Marines and penetrates deep inside Limerick it will be able to link up with the Lowland and 11th Divisions. This will provide it with a new line of communication."
Hamilton continued to shake his head as he sighed deeply, "You are making yet another questionable assumption, Wilson, which you then wrongly present as a boldface fact. I would like more than words could begin to describe that West Riding Division will break into Limerick city in the next 12 hours but I do find myself wondering what will happen if they don’t."
The telephone line remained quiet except for the faint hiss and crackle of static. "Nothing to say, Wilson?" Hamilton finally added.
"Ah, well, uh, in the unlikely event that the Royal Navy does not destroy the invasion force in Galway Bay and the West Riding Brigade does not penetrate into Limerick and link up with the 11th Division then General Baldock would be forced to split his division sending one part north to defeat the Germans near Galway while containing the remnants of the German Naval Division just outside Limerick. But I must reiterate that I find this contingency highly unlikely on several counts."
"I have lost count of the ‘highly unlikely’ events that I have seen come to pass in warfare. It is good to be prepared, is it not?"
"Uh, yes, that, uh, goes without saying, sir."
"Then we need not waste any more time debating it. Moving on, I must say that General Braithwaite and myself have reviewed the current situation south of Limerick and certain events are causing us some concern. Firstly there are the reports of an enemy attack emerging out of Limerick which poses a danger to the rear of 31st Brigade, 11th Division and even the Lowland Division."
"Ah, but as I very clearly spelled out in my reports, sir, the forces attacking south out of Limerick are merely the worthless Papist traitors which are of no account as soldiers."
"Our less than pleasant experiences at Dublin and Athlone do not support that extreme assertion. Moreover the rebels emerging out of Limerick are not the only problem. There is also a German afternoon counterattack in the center which apparently is turning out to be more than a feint and had some limited success at Friarstown. This is rather disturbing as we had regarded the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division as being so weak in riflemen that it would be hard pressed to defend its lengthy sector of the front much less mount an effective attack."
"Uh, I had some problems with General Hammersley this morning, sir. He read too much into the rebel attack and conversely did not have enough faith that the brave Orangemen of 31st Brigade could prevent the Austrians from enveloping his left flank. He therefore decided to reinforce the 31st Brigade with elements of his own division. He further compounded this error in judgment by a series of vague communications with both my HQ and that of Lowland Division. These deficiencies resulted in a small German success at Friarstown but I have given firm orders to General Hammersley that will rectify the situation. For this reason I have denied a request by General Egerton to move his division to the east."
Hamilton arched an eyebrow at that revelation then asked, "How far east?"
"Two miles, sir, which will be enough to let the 111th Infantry Division make contact with the Naval Division. The siege of Limerick would effectively be lifted."
This time it was Sir Ian who took his time before replying, "We definitely do not want the siege lifted. However it would be still worse for us if the enemy were to encircle and destroy Lowland Division. I have granted you a proper range of initiative in handling your corps. I am now going to insist that you permit General Egerton to withdraw to the east if he feels there is a genuine threat of being encircled."
"But general, I must in good faith protest---"
"---I do not want to hear your protests, general! I have given you an order and expect it to be carried out. If the Lowland Division is encircled due to your intransigence I will sack you immediately! Do not have any delusions that your Unionist political connections can save you!"
General Braithwaite had just finished a separate telephone conversation with General Maurice, the commander of Northern Region. Overhearing her superior’s outburst he asked, "Is it really that bad, sir?"
Hamilton turned nodded to his chief of staff and nodded silently. Annoyance and disgust was etched on his face. Meanwhile he could hear two very deep sighs emanating from the telephone receiver. He wondered what was etched on Wilson’s face right now. He was sure it must be even uglier than usual. Hope it isn’t so hideous that it would turn his staff into stone he thought. Finally Wilson’s words came through, "I will of course obey your orders, sir. It goes without saying that I have no desire to see the Lowland Division encircled, but I have every confidence that General Egerton can avoid that fate while preventing the 111th Infantry Division from linking up with the German Marines inside Limerick."
"General Egerton will be gratified to learn in your confidence in his leadership as well as your trust in the soundness of his judgment in a difficult situation. I do hope that my position in this matter is clear."
"Ah, yes, perfectly clear, sir."
"Good, now if you will excuse me there is much that I need to discuss with my chief of staff. Goodbye." said Sir Ian who then terminated the call.
"I overheard some of that, sir," said Braithwaite, "It does seem that you managed to drive home the importance of not letting the enemy encircle Lowland Division. We cannot afford to lose another division."
"I think I did. I hope I did. Henry Wilson is a hard man to intimidate. And he does have a point this time around. It will makes things much harder if the German 111th Division establishes a firm link with the Naval Division."
"In additional to the impact that event would have on our tactical situation, sir, the effective raising of the siege of Limerick could well have serious political repercussions."
"Unfortunately wat you say is all too true. Bonar Law is under a great deal of pressure in Parliament at this moment despite the naval victory in the Celtic Sea. It would not take much to bring down his government. The Germans lifting the siege of Limerick just might do it."
"Or for that matter the German landing near Galway if the Royal Navy does not smash it which now seems very likely."
"Or even a wider understanding of what really happened at the Battle of Rathmore. I have learned today that His Majesty had recently expressed an interest in that key battle. Perhaps he realizes that along with the widening of the Irish Catholic Revolt that battle marked the turning point in this ill fated campaign."
"That does not bode well, sir. While we freely admitted that the battle was a defeat we never explicitly acknowledged just how severe a defeat it was, how it effectively emasculated the Welsh Division and set in motion events that led to the destruction of the 16th Division.."
"Well that cheery thought more than satiates my capacity for political speculation, strange as it may sound coming from a general rank officer. Let us switch the topic of conversation. What did General Maurice think about our ideas for deploying the U.V.F?" asked Hamilton.
"He concurs with us on several key points sir. For instance, the U.V.F. had a rather primordial logistics apparatus. If they were merely fighting within Ulster as originally intended this would have been only a moderate handicap. However we are planning to deploy them beyond the borders of Ulster which will serve to aggravate the problem."
"Which means that the A.S.C. will be required to supply them. We should petition the War Office for additional A.S.C. companies as soon as possible. For the most part the Ulster Volunteers will ironically be armed with Mannlicher and Mauser rifles so we will need to move the appropriate ammunition from their arsenals. The First Lord’s plan touched on this but did not address the details which we will need to iron out."
"General Maurice also agrees with us, sir, that the U.V.F. is probably not going to be able to fight effectively in groups larger than 4,000. So what I have come up with is to start by committing 4 groups. One group of only 3,000 will reinforce Eastern Region, say with 2,000 inside Dublin and the rest stationed here. With the rebels causing so much trouble in County Wicklow I have begun to wonder if we have sufficient forces guarding our headquarters."
"Do you think this Rommel fellow would be so bold as to try to strike us here?" asked Hamilton while arching his right eyebrow."
"Quite frankly I wouldn’t put it past him, sir. That is why I want enough strength so if and when he tries we can smash him good and get rid of that nasty pest once and for all."
"Birrell is going to complain mightily about stationing Ulster Volunteers in Dublin."
"That is to be expected but Birrell is irrelevant. Quite frankly I am astounded that he hasn’t been replaced yet."
"It is a very difficult position for anyone---made even more so by the Viceroy’s incessant meddling, so I think very few politicians of stature would want it. And some who might want it are likely to be controversial. The last thing Bonar Law needs right now is another controversy. But we are digressing. Where are your other three groups going?"
"All three of them would have a strength of 4,000 men. The first would be sent to reinforce our units at Athlone with orders to take back that important communication center. The next group would be sent to Omagh and put under the command of the half battalion of 1/7th Highland Light Infantry currently there. Together they will destroy the rebel force now in County Tyrone. The last group I want to send to Donegal city where they will be placed underneath the 6th Bedfordshire and together they will clean up Sligo."
"Hmm So that leaves 5,000 men uncommitted. Are you proposing that we keep them in Ulster as a reserve for the time being?"
"Yes, general, that is it precisely. I would like to rearm as many of them as possible with Lee-Enfield rifles while providing them with some additional training."
General Hamilton took a half minute before replying, "I see nothing wrong with any of this plan though I think posting 1,000 at Maryborough to guard the line of communications might be a good idea. I would like to think some more about this overnight but you and Maurice have preliminary approval to begin putting this into action."
------Dessie (Abyssinia) 1925 hrs
"We must destroy them completely, father!" Iyasu yelled at his father, "Both the British invaders and Zauditu’s vile brood of traitors."
Ras Mikael took a deep breath before answering, "The rough terrain makes it very difficult to concentrate our forces, Your Majesty. All we have been able to do so far is to bring a mere fraction of our troops to nibble away at the Indians who are guarding the enemy’s rear."
"We must do more, father! They cannot be allowed to return to Gondar and regroup."
Ras Mikael shook his head saying, "We cannot do more than we are already doing and even that must end in the next two days as we are rapidly exhausting our provisions."
"I have heard that, father, but surely our valiant soldiers can go two or three days without food if it means that we can crush our enemies."
"Please, Your Majesty, the last thing we need right now is a seriously underfed army. It would be extremely bad for morale."
For a few seconds Ras Mikael feared his son would insist but finally Iyasu equivocated, "I see no reason why we must decide this issue today nor do I wish to be a disrespectful son. We shall discuss this again tomorrow when both of our minds are fresher."
------HQ Lowland Division southwest of Limerick city 1940 hrs
The image that was being painted in General Egerton’s mind from the reports flowing into his headquarters was of a noose being methodically tightened around the neck of his division. If either Brigade Hell or the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division made it all the way to Limerick, his division would be encircled. Not only had his own counterattack against the German 111th Infantry Division at Mungret failed but since then the Germans had been able to make some slow progress in that sector. Meanwhile the attack out of Limerick which now included some German Marines as well as the Irish rebels, was still advancing and was now threatening to overrun some of his artillery. Lastly and most disturbingly of all an enemy attack had penetrated the boundary between his left wing and the right of the 11th (Northern) Division.
It had begun to rain nearly 3 hours ago. The precipitation had been light at first but now it was coming down hard. General Egerton glanced again at the telegram he received a few minutes earlier from General Wilson at VI Army Corps HQ:
PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED FOR LOWLAND DIVISION TO MOVE NO MORE THAN TWO MILES EAST TO AVOID ENCIRCLMENT REPEAT PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED FOR LOWLAND DIVISION TO MOVE NO MORE THAN TWO MILES EAST TO AVOID ENCIRCLMENT STOP HOWEVER IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED THAT THIS MOVE SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AS A LAST RESORT REPEAT HOWEVER IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED THAT THIS MOVE SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AS A LAST RESORT STOP
Clearly General Wilson remained opposed to the withdrawal because it would result in the lifting of the Siege of Limerick. However Wilson had finally acknowledged the threat of encirclement which Egerton increasingly feared. Egerton now felt that he had no alternative and finally gave orders for his division to move. This relocation was far from being a simple matter. The Lowland Division was currently under attack from the west, north and southeast. Effective rearguard forces would be needed to delay and impede the first two of these attacks while the attack of the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment to the southeast needed to be stopped completely no matter the cost. There was also the need to coordinate his move with the 11th (Northern) Division and its commander, General Hammersley, who had been enigmatic bordering on inscrutable all day long.
------HQ German Sixth Army (Picardy) 1950 hrs
General von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, was briefing General von Falkenhayn about the day’s results over the telephone, "The 42nd Infantry Division captured Morlay but was unable to continue its advance all the way to the bay. However the British between them and the beach are in a poor defensive position and suffering for it. More importantly we have now completely severed the line of communication of the British First Army."
"I would feel better if it were cut it at Noyelles-sur-mer as well," commented General von Falkenhayn, "Have the Prussian Guards given up on attaining that objective again?"
"No they have not but they are once again struggling with the tenacity of British regular infantry, a topic we have discussed before."
"Yes, we have. It has become the stock excuse for failure in our offensive operations against the British, though surprisingly I have yet to hear it from General von François."
General von Fabeck rolled his eyes. It was not the first time he had found himself being compared unfavorably to von François, which he found unfair. Ireland unlike France remained a theater where mobile warfare could still be practiced. "I will see to it that the Guard continues their attack during the night and in the early morning."
"Good but I do not want to be misunderstood. I do not want the lives of the prestigious Prussia Guards wasted on attacks with negligible chance of success. As long as we can hold on to Morlay the British will be forced into making desperate counterattacks to reopen their line of communications. You will need a healthy reserve to guarantee that we can fend off these counterattacks and maintain our chokehold on First Army."
"Yes, I am well aware of that," replied von Fabeck trying not to show his irritation at von Falkenhayn stating the obvious, "My immediate goal is to solidify my control of the key communication centers but avoid wasteful casualties. I am not planning to follow that with an immediate attack on British First Army. Instead I will prepare vigorously for what is certain to be an extremely determined counterattack. I hope to bleed the enemy dry. If they badly weaken themselves then not only can we destroy their First Army but we can take Abbeville without trouble and cross the Somme."
"This is a sound plan---at least in theory. Taking Abbeville is important but the destruction of the British First Amy remains your highest priority. Do not forget that."
------south of Limerick city 2010 hrs
As the Lowland Division struggled to move to the east in the increasingly heavy rain, Brigade Hell and the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division attacked in accord with General von François’ orders. The 6th Bavarian Field Artillery Brigade reinforced with 2 foot artillery batteries armed with 15cm guns had just finished a sharp 10 minute shelling. The artillery of the Lowland Division could make no reply because they were limbered up though even if they were not they were still very short on ammunition.
General von Gyssling continued to remain leery of any offensive action that risked heavy casualties his division could ill afford. His participation in the assault was therefore limited to a single regiment, the 11th Bavarian. As an afterthought he added the Musketen battalion which was still under his command. This assault was limited to the sector of the front already cleared by Hell’s Brigade so there were neither trenches nor wire to deal with. In effect the 11th Bavarian Regiment would be following up close behind the Foot Guards and 1st Kerry Battalion.
This attack ran into elements of the Lowland Division that were
in the process of moving. The Scots realized that they were doomed if the enemy
reached Limerick. Heavy open field firefights ensued. Compounding the problems
of the Lowland Division they were still being heavily pressured by the 111th
Infantry Division in the vicinity of Mungret. Less powerful but still a problem
was the attack by the Irish rebels and some German Marines in the north which
had already reached one of the division’s 15 pounder batteries which was
therefore unable to participate in the withdrawal as it fought desperately to
save its guns.
------Golden Sands (Bulgaria) 2015 hrs
Stavka intended that its attack on Varna would be strong enough to save their endangered Serbian ally. For this reason they felt that merely bombarding the forts at Varna would not be enough. They felt some form of invasion would be needed. They initially considered sending an entire corps but abandoned that idea for multiple reasons. As May wore on Stavka reluctantly concluded that they did not really have a corps to spare. Furthermore Admiral Ebergard, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, did not believe he could support a sustained invasion of Bulgaria. As an alternative he favored a hit and run raid. Stavka provided him with a plastun brigade for this raid. After dark this brigade had departed Odessa aboard 14 steamers which rendezvoused with the Black Sea Fleet and together they steamed south,
The plan for the amphibious assault was to have one regiment land at the Golden Sands Beach which lay 17 km north of Varna. The Cossacks had been provided a modest amount of training in amphibious warfare before leaving Odessa. The landing here was unopposed. The initial wave infantry seized the beach easily and set up a perimeter while waiting for the follow up waves to join them.
------Helena & St. Constantine (Bulgaria) 2025 hrs
The second of the two plastun regiments was assigned the beaches of the Helena & St. Constantine area for its landing. This area lay only 8 km north of Varna. The shelling of the Bulgarian forts had been only partially effective due to the setting sun dazzling the Russian gunners. The Bulgarian coastal guns were therefore able to fire on the boats ferrying the Cossacks to shore. However it was now twilight and the enemy were emerging from darkness to the east so this shelling inflicted fairly light losses. More serious was the presence of the greater part of an Opolchenie battalion belonging the 8th Coast Infantry Regiment which arrived at the last moment to defend the beach. Though the Opolchenie were only lightly trained and lacked machineguns they still were able to inflict heavy losses on the first wave of Cossacks coming ashore pinning them down the narrow edge of the beach. The waters of the Black Sea turned red,
------Lisnaskea (Fermanagh) 2055 hrs
Colonel Heinrici had sent the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion north in the early morning to make a feint towards Omagh while he sent his two other battalions marching south with his cyclist company and cavalry troop in the vanguard. After their feint which skirmished with a British patrol the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion turned around and followed the other 2 battalions south. The only resistance they had encountered on their march was a band of 5 constables who holed up inside their station for more than an hour firing away furiously for nearly hour after which they had exhausted their limited ammunition causing them to surrender to the rebel company that had stayed behind to besiege them. This company along with the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion would camp for the night 4 miles to the north.
Heinrici was both surprised and relieved that there was no sign of enemy pursuit so far. He did not want to fight a protracted battle against the British at this time. He had absorbed a large number of volunteers since arriving in County Tyrone. He shoved nearly all of them into the 2nd North Ireland Battalion. Heinrici wanted to spend a full day evaluating these new additions. Those that demonstrated that they had been adequately trained in either the Irish Volunteers or Redmond’s National Volunteers and were acceptable marksmen would then be moved to the other two battalions.
------Patrickswell (Limerick) 2100 hrs
Acting on orders from General von François, General Sontag, the commander of the 111th Infantry Division now expanded the scope of his attack on the Lowland Division. In addition to the eastward thrust out of Mungret he now attacked a section running 2 kilometers east from Parickswell. This attack began with a bombardment which lasted only 8 minutes. In this entire sector the Lowland Division had now thinned out its presence to a rearguard of only 3 rifle companies with a combined strength of about 450 men and 3 machineguns. These were defending too wide a front to do anything more than delay the German assault and inflict some losses. If they stayed to fight too long they would be overwhelmed.
------TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim nee SMS Goeben Istanbul harbor 2210 hrs
Steam was now being raised aboard both the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the small cruiser, Midilli formerly the Breslau. The flagship of the Ottoman Navy had been busy since its arrival at Istanbul. The day after Christmas she had been mined twice off the Bosporus. The Ottoman repair crews had been able to make provisional repairs to this damage and the Yavuz Sultan Selim was again ready for action in late March. On April 3 she sortied again accompanied by Midilli. Together they sparred again with the Black Sea Fleet to assist the Ottoman cruiser Hamidie in returning to the safety of the Bosporus, while sinking 2 enemy destroyers and 2 cargo vessels. Since then they had not put out to sea in order to conserve coal which was in short supply within the Ottoman Empire. .However the recent progress being made in Operation Tourniquet generated some hope that coal would become more available once Nish fell to the Central Powers, because it was the last remaining obstacle to opening the railroad line to the Ottoman Empire.
Admiral Souchon was very eager for renewed activity. When news arrived of the Russian attack on Varna there was no doubt about his putting out to sea.
------Helena & St. Constantine (Bulgaria) 2315 hrs
Elements of the plastun regiment, which had landed at the Golden Beach now began to arrive Helena & St. Constantine, where they attacked the flank of the Opolchenie battalion still hotly engaged with the other plastun regiment. The Bulgarians were not surprised by this move but the Opolchenie were now in a bad tactical situation and were soon forced to retreat south towards Varna where another Opolchenie battalion was busily erecting defenses. The Cossacks who had been pinned down on the beach were now free and linked up with the regiment from the Golden Sands. The combined brigade moved only 4 versts closer to Varna. Their commander decided against trying to take Varna by coup de main during the night and instead let his most of his men get some sleep with the intent to attack Varna at first light,
------SMS Barbarossa Galway Bay 2320 hrs
Leutnant Cornelius St. James convened a meeting in the steerage section of what had come to be known as the Black Sheep Squadron. It included former Buffalo Soldiers, Garvey’s U.N.I.A. contingent, the Ghaidars, the Turkish immigrants, Agnes Smedley, Attila Toth the half gypsy former Hussar and his wife, plus a rocket scientist. "I promised to inform you all when I know something definitive," said St. James, "well now I do. There has been a decision to split up the American Brigade. Barbarossa and two other liners are being sent to Galway to unload. The rest will be going to Cork. There is some military operation currently underway in Galway and the Germans want a portion of the American Brigade to participate in it."
Cornelius paused to take a deep breath then added, "That includes us."
This revelation precipitated some murmuring amongst the listeners. The former Buffalo Soldier tried not to look directly at Garvey but there is no way that is he could avoid hearing Garvey, "This is Ireland not Africa! U.N.I.A. cares nothing about Ireland. We were promised that we were going to Africa to fight either for Iyasu or Lettow-Vorbeck. If this boat stops at Galway go ahead and let the white boys get off. We will stay aboard and wait until we reach Germany where we will be promptly brought to Africa, our ancestral homeland."
St. James shook his head wearily, "For over a week now I have been thinking about what was going to happen once we reached Ireland and I still don’t see how the Germans are going to get any of us to Africa. Once they open a rail link to the Ottoman Empire they could send us to Yemen and then try to smuggle us across the Mandab by night. If this works at all it is very likely to take more than six months to pull off."
"What! Why did Captain von Papen not tell me this?" asked Garvey, "And even if what you say is true, U.N.I.A. can wait six months."
Instead of looking at Garvey, St. James sought out the faces of the other members of U.N.I.A. present. He could tell that more than half of them were very uncomfortable at the idea of travelling six more months.
"And what about us, Cornelius?" asked Sandeep Singh Puri the leader of the Ghaidar contingent, "Will it take the Germans six months to ferry us to India?"
St. James liked Sandeep, unlike Garvey. "As far as I can tell that sounds about right, Sandeep," he answered, "which is why I think you too are better used here and now instead of trying to reach India eventually which frankly may never happen."
Sandeep looked disappointed though only moderately so. "I too have reflected on this matter during our trip across the Atlantic. The more I thought about it the more difficult it sounded, esp. I learned about the poor state of the railroads in the Ottoman Empire. The option of fighting here in Ireland instead cannot be ruled out. I am all too aware of the parallels between the respective political situations in Ireland and India. I would like to discuss this with my men though before I give you an answer though I will say that I have some sympathy to your suggestion."
"I can give you an answer right now!" yelled Garvey, "The U.N.I.A. is going to Africa. We are not going to do any fighting in Ireland."
St. James shook his head and rolled his eyes. After a long and deep sigh he said, "Shouldn’t you at least take some time to talk to your men as Sandeep is wisely doing?"
"No! I run the U.N.I.A. My men will do what I tell them to do!"
St. James stared again at the faces of Garvey’s men. A few of them looked like fanatical devotees who would indeed do whatever Marcus told them no matter how stupid.. The great majority though looked skeptical and unsure. Cornelius had slowly established prestige and authority amongst most of the U.N.I.A. contingent during the training sessions he had conducted on the sea voyage. If Garvey pressed the issue St. James suspected more than half of the U.N.I.A. men would abandon their leader and follow Cornelius instead. "Some of them will, some of them won’t, Marcus. Do you really want to find out which one is the larger group?"
At that Marcus turned to look at his own men. To his satisfaction Cornelius noticed that many of them avoided making eye contact with Garvey, who in turn began to look uneasy about what he was observing. Finally he said, "It is late and perhaps I am being hasty. I will give this matter some thought."
"OK but don’t take too much time. This vessel will begin offloading within the hour."
------SMS President Grant Galway Bay 2325 hrs
Fred Austerlitz, James Cagney Jr. and Jack Moran had gone outside to try to get their first glimpse of Ireland. All they succeeded in doing was getting wet from the rain. They returned to the ballroom where champagne was being served to all to celebrate their arrival at Ireland. The band was playing Irish music.
"You don’t look very happy, Jack," Cagney commented after his third glass of champagne, "Is there something wrong with the bubbly? You and Fred are more used to it than I am. It tastes just fine to me."
"The champagne is excellent," remarked Fred, "It is a shame they waited until the last minute before serving it."
"The champagne is not the problem," said Moran, speaking in a softer voice than usual. "It’s just, it’s…" His voice trailed off.
"It’s just what, man? Speak louder I can barely understand you," said Cagney, "Here we are about to land in Ireland and have the adventure of a lifetime and you are all piss in the your beer glum except it happens to be champagne not beer."
Jack turned to Fred. They simultaneously nodded as if sharing a single thought. Cagney saw this and said, "Now you got Fred doing it! What gives you two?"
"Mistake? Mistake about what? The dancing classes?" asked Jimmy.
"No, you stupid Mick, the mistake was in joining this expedition," Moran said in a low dark voice. Fred nodded some more then added, "We are going to war you know."
Cagney shook his head in disbelief, "I can’t believe what I’m hearing! Especially coming from you, Jack. Jesus fuckin’ Christ! You were part of the Hudson Dusters! Those guys ain’t afraid of anything!"
"Something in my gut tells me war is going to be different," replied Moran glumly.
Fred nodded again. Cagney cuffed him yelling, "Will you stop doing that! You’re givin’ me the willies!"
"Don’t hit Fred again," Moran ordered.
"Or you do what you yellow bellied coward?"
Jack stood up and hissed, "No one calls me that!"
Jimmy stood up as well and countered, "Well then, are you going to do something about it?"
Fred stood up as well. He was worried that his two friends would come to blows. "Now, now there is no need for us to make our last night aboard this fine liner unpleasant. I would not like to have to explain this to my father tomorrow."
Jack nodded to Fred and slowly sat down. "Now sit down and behave yourself, James. There will be more than enough fighting for everyone in the days ahead. No reason for anyone to jump the gun tonight" Fred told Cagney who was still glaring defiantly at Jack.
Finally Cagney said, "Ah, to Hell you two pansies." He then left their table and went in search of another where he could get drunk in peace."
------Limerick area 2340 hrs
Brigade Hell finally reached Limerick city. Elements of the 111th Infantry Division had already linked up the Irish rebels northeast of Mungret. Oberst Hell had received a report that an enemy force was now encircled. This was true but the size of the trapped force was exaggerated in the reports causing him to erroneously conclude that he had encircled most of the Lowland Division. In fact the encircled Scottish forces consisted of what was left of the 1/5th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 3 separate rifle companies each from a different battalion, the 2/2nd Lowland Royal Engineers Field Company, a battery of 15 pounder field guns, a battery of 5" howitzers, the divisional cyclist company, and half of an A.S.C. company. These had been crowded together by the enemy attacks and once they realized that their escape was blocked they tried to assume a crude hedgehog defensive position.
That portion of the Lowland Division that had escaped encirclement had ended up moving 3 miles instead of the 2 miles permitted by General Wilson. General Egerton was very upset with the minimal assistance he was receiving from General Hammersley, which amounted to two battalions, the 6th Lincolnshire and the 7th South Staffordshire, both of which were receiving confusing orders.
"In the late afternoon there was great excitement in my company as it was becoming evident that the enemy resistance near Mungret, which had been so determined earlier in the day was now collapsing. The Scots were on the run! In the chill rain we pursued with great enthusiasm. The enemy had set aside small packets of troops to delay our pursuit. These could be troublesome esp. if they had a machinegun.
The fighting continued after sunset. The sky was lit by an eerie combination of flares, tracers and lightning from the thunderstorm which gave the battlefield a strange beauty that is difficult to describe properly. Suddenly we were put on alert as an enemy force was approaching! As they grew closer some of the men began shooting. Within seconds our officers began shouting, ‘Cease fire, cease fire! They are friendly forces.’
We put down our rifles. Yes, it was true. These were more of the Irish rebels. Most but not all wore that strange steel helmet. A few had tunics in the shade of green the Irish units used. The rest wore armbands that said ‘IRA’. We realized that we had linked up with the forces that had been inside Limerick. The officers had told us that one of our objectives was to lift the siege of Limerick. We were therefore very proud of what we had done.
There was a very strange woman with the Irish rebels. She carried a rifle and wore a helmet and a military tunic. Since coming to Ireland I had heard stories of these wild Celtic Amazons but I had thought that they were only stories. Now I saw one with my own eyes. The Irishmen did not seem to think there was anything wrong with this. Some of them were very respectful to her and I began to wonder if she might be the Irish version of Joan of Arc."
----Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel