by Tom B
BONAR LAW FINALLY MOBILIZES ULSTER VOLUNTEERS!
The British government has announced that it will mobilize and deploy a portion of the Ulster Volunteer Force. At this time it refuses to disseminate the exact size of the force being mobilized. The primary mission of the U.V.F. as expressed by government spokesmen will be to guard Ulster and to crush any manifestation of rebellion in adjacent counties. We are of course extremely pleased with this development though we would have preferred that it had happened earlier and was not limited to only a fraction of the U.V.F. This extremely important development marks a sharp turning point in the Irish campaign and will have an impact that will endure well past the end of the war."
------Belfast News-Letter Tuesday May 25, 1915
------HQ British Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 0015 hrs Tuesday May 25, 1915
The telephone wires from the Curragh to General Wilson’s HQ at VI Army Corps had been cut soon after sundown. The rebels had only managed to cut the telegraph wires just after midnight. "Wilson in his thick headed stubbornness refuses to admit it, sir, but it appears fairly obvious to me right now that the Germans have lifted the siege of Limerick," General Braithwaite confessed to General Hamilton.
"It is difficult for a rational mind to escape that unpleasant conclusion," answered Sir Ian nodding with a grim expression on his face, "At least Lowland Division appears to have escaped encirclement even though General Wilson is most unhappy with General Egerton’s decision."
"Egerton did what he thought was necessary to save his division from complete annihilation, sir. That would be a loss we can ill afford right now. "
"I agree completely! However it strikes me that the Lowland Division is still not completely out of the woods yet. Its right flank is now exposed to the enemy."
"That is unfortunately quite true, sir. Hopefully the enemy will not be able to exploit it effectively in the dark."
Hamilton nodded then said, "I hope so too but I still do not understand why 11th Division is not doing more to help. Wilson is excessively critical of all his subordinates but even I am starting to become concerned about General Hammerley’s mental state. We may need to remove him from command before long."
"That is definitely one of our worries right now, sir. Another is that poor General Baldock is now confronted with a powerful enemy force assembling in his rear."
"All too true. I stressed to Wilson that the West Riding Division must quickly and decisively defeat the enemy forces at Galway or else they will be forced to withdraw from County Clare altogether."
------in and around Ballybrophy (Queen’s) 0035 hrs
Elements of the 1st Tipperary Battalion now approached the town of Ballybrophy in the chill rain. Their commander, Major Weise, had received some limited and suspect intelligence to the effect that there were now British soldiers present in large numbers at this key communications center. Later Weise learned that the enemy had destroyed a section of railroad track just southwest of the town. For that reason, he decided to leave the armored train behind at Templemore. He then probed the town proper and encountered a stiff resistance. This attack of the Tipperary Volunteers was soon terminated as Weise saw little chance of taking the heart of the town. Instead he sent men incl. a few with dynamite to attack the stretch of track that proceeded northeast of Ballyprophy going on to Roscrea and Nenagh. This mission encountered nighttime patrols which were a mix of R.I.C. and a few soldiers of the 6th Battalion East Lancashire. A series of confused firefights in the dark ensued. In the midst of the confusion the Tipperary Volunteers managed to dynamite a small section of the railroad track. Soon after that a half company of East Lancashires dispatched from Ballybrophy arrived and promptly drove the rebels off without much trouble. Increasingly worried about the possible size of the enemy force nearby, Weise now became less bold and ordered his battalion to withdraw to the south where the armored train would offer them some protection.
------Viceregeal Lodge Dublin 0045 hrs
"I was informed almost perfunctorily of the decision to deploy a portion of the Ulster Volunteer Force well after it had been made," Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of Ireland, complained bitterly to Mary Spring Rice as they lay naked together in bed, "Not even so much as the pretense of asking for my counsel beforehand."
She lifted her head off his chest and looked at her lover, "If it is any consolation, my dearest, I don’t think that they consulted with Birrell either."
"Hah! That is minimal consolation at best, my love. Birrell is universally regarded as being thoroughly discredited if not disgraced."
"That is a bit harsh, dear."
"Perhaps but all too true nonetheless. So it is no surprise that he was kept out of the loop. I had expected to be treated differently."
"And what would you have told them if you had been asked? The last time we discussed this matter you thought the U.V.F. should be used only as a last resort."
"Exactly! I would require a detailed explanation from General Hamilton as to why the military situation has become so grave as to necessitate embarking on this radical course of action before I would agree to it. I have yet to be provided with a satisfactory explanation from Sir Ian about what has happened at Athlone which I suspect is a key element in this abrupt change in policy."
"No matter how bad the military situation is right now, I think that setting the U.V.F. loose will only make things worse in the long run."
"If by long run you mean the postwar period then I would be inclined to agree with you. As I have repeatedly reiterated, I regard the use of the U.V.F. as a last ditch measure because it will have ingering political consequences."
Mary shook her head, "No, my love. This move will backfire well before the war is over. It will cause half of the Redmondites to join the rebellion. It is bad enough that we executed the Countess, using the Ulster Volunteers will surely push them over the edge!"
"The Countess was a Socialist loon, my dear, if you would kindly pardon both my bluntness and my redundancy. Her death may cause some measure of dissatisfaction amongst Socialists around the world but it will not carry much weight with Redmond’ followers, who I am sure have little use for Socialism."
Mary shook her head, "You are failing to take into consideration what a charismatic figure the Countess had become."
"Bah! You know as well as I do that she wasn’t even Catholic!"
"In this case that doesn’t matter. The sentimental Irish Catholics will love her all the more telling themselves that had she lived she would have converted eventually."
"Harumph! Bloody unlikely if you ask me."
"I am not so sure about that but what’s important is that the Irish Catholics, who love a good martyrdom, will tend to see it that way."
Curzon sighed, "I will concede that her death may inspire a few lads to join the rebel cause. Two dozen maybe three. Not enough to make a difference in this campaign. After a week memory of her will fade in people’s minds."
Mary shook her head, "That’s where you’re wrong, my love. This war will be long over before the memory of her fades."
------ENE of Przemysl 0100 hrs
The Russian Eleventh Army had been reinforced with an additional second line infantry division late yesterday. Its commander, General Shcherbachev decided to try to regain some of the territory his army had lost by launching a night attack against Center Army. Believing that the Eleventh Army was defeated and demoralized, some complacency had steadily crept into the thinking of most senior officers in Center Army over the last few days. Their preparations for defending against a counterattack were therefore not as thorough as they should have been. In particular the barbed wire barriers were inadequate.
The Russian attack which involved 3 divisions and which struck at both the German II Army Corps and the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps did manage to achieve a measure of surprise. The Russians were able to reach the enemy trenches with acceptable casualties. Fierce trench melee ensued. Unfortunately for the Russians the morale of most of the troops involved in the attack had suffered as a result of the enemy offensive and the shortage of officers compounded this problem. Another problem was that two of the divisions involved were second line divisions where the soldiers had received inadequate training and not everyone possessed a rifle. The net result is that while the Russians did manage to take portions of the forward trench they had paid a considerable price to do so. They were having a difficult time holding on to what they had taken in the face of mounting enemy counterattacks much less try to advance still further.
------HQ West Riding Division (Clare) 0120 hrs
General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, could see that he was not going to be getting much sleep this night. A motorcyclist had just arrived with a dispatch from General Wilson as the telegraph lines were still inoperative.
The Germans have linked with the Naval Division inside Limerick which means you should temporarily suspend all attacks intended to break into Limerick. Instead you must deal with the enemy forces landing at Galway Bay. We do not know the exact size of this force as yet but believe it to be less than a full division. Most likely a German brigade possibly with some small amount of artillery attached. You should therefore be able to defeat this new threat quickly while continuing to bottle up the enemy inside Limerick and Ennis."
This letter was something of a relief to Baldock who had been afraid it would turn out to be another demand that he bludgeon his way through the entrenchments of the Naval Division. As soon as he first learned of the Germans landing at Galway, Baldock along with his staff had begun planning how to deal with this problem. Now he could begin putting these plans into action. He had been using the 109th Brigade over which he had been given temporary command, to attack Ennis. He decided that one of its battalions, the 10th Inniskilling Fusiliers along with a battery of 15 pounders and 100 constables would be sufficient to guard Ennis. Further to the south he would leave the 1st West Riding Brigade supported by the 2nd West Riding Artillery Brigade RFA to hold the trench line north of Limerick. The rest of his division would turn north to concentrate once again at Gort.
------SMS Lothringen off Clifden (Galway) 0130 hrs
On the orders of Admiral von Ingenohl, responsibility for the landing at Galway Bay now passed from Admiral von Hipper to Admiral von Spee. The primary reason for this was that von Ingenohl was going to return to Cork soon and he wanted 1st Scouting Group to leave now to scout ahead in the Celtic Sea. Admiral von Ingenohl was still not aware that the Grand Fleet had been relocated to the Isle of Mull and so mistakenly believed that they remained at Devonport. He believed that if Admiral Bayly came looking for another fight he would be coming up from the south. Admiral von Ingenohl was completely oblivious to the possibility of the Grand Fleet possibly trying to pounce on him from the north. A secondary reason for assigning responsibility for the landing to von Spee was that his experience with the landing of the first wave back in April he would be the best qualified to complete the much simpler Galway landing.
The battle cruisers of 1st Scouting Group now turned to the south at a speed of 20 knots. They were accompanied by 4th Scouting Group and the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla. Admiral von Spee’s 3 battleships had taken up station 5-6 nm west of Clifden. When the sun rose he intended to move further so he could not be reported to the very powerful wireless station at Clifden. He continued to command 2nd Scouting Group and deployed them to the northwest to act as scouts. The offloading of the 183rd Infantry Brigade was going reasonably well. The only unit of the brigade that had not finished landing was the field artillery battery of 7.7cm guns that had been assigned to it and even that was expected to be finished in another hour and a half. The brigade had not been sent to Ireland without any draught horses but it had been provided with nearly 500 mules. This was not sufficient to the brigade’s needs but it had been assumed that Irish horses would make up the difference. Offloading the mules in a darkness inadequately illuminated by searchlights was proving to be a taxing procedure, worse than the offloading of supplies which was also underway.
The 1st Battalion of the 183rd Infantry Regiment remained at Barna and Silverstrand Beach. It had landed without any wagons, supplies or draught animals. The brigade commander had promised the battalion commander that he would be correcting that problem before dawn. In the meantime this battalion found itself engaged with small bands of R.I.C. which had been in the Connemara hunting for the rebel units that had been engaged in guerilla warfare in that area for nearly 2 weeks. They were now being rushed back to Galway city in motor vehicles but in doing so many of them tried to pass through Barna and ended up being intercepted by the Saxon infantry which handled the constables without too much trouble.
The rest of the brigade was currently huddled in either Galway city or Oranmore. The brigade commander was pleased to find that the Roscommon and South Mayo battalions had accumulated over 300 horses and ponies plus some mules and donkeys. He persuaded those battalions to give up most of their draught animals in exchange for providing them with more Moisin-Nagant rifles and ammunition both of which they needed
The three liners carrying the American Volunteer Brigade that had been chosen to land at Galway were the Barbarossa, President Grant and President Lincoln carrying in total roughly 2,000 men of the American Volunteer Brigade. It was decided to form the 1st American Volunteer Battalion from all of the men aboard the President Lincoln and about half of the men aboard the Barbarossa. The 2nd American Volunteer Battalion would be formed from the American Volunteers aboard the President Grant and the remaining men aboard the Barbarossa except that St. James’ Black Sheep Squadron would remain completely separate. Garvey reluctantly decided to have the U.N.I.A. contingent join the Black Sheep Squadron fearing that many of his men might defect to St. James if he did not.
------near Shavli (Lithuania) 0200 hrs
General A. E. Churin the commander of the Russian Fifth Army was disappointed with the results of yesterday’s fighting but continued to believe that the German forces near Shavli were on the verge of a collapse. He therefore ordered all three of his corps to make a simultaneous predawn attack. The Russian XXXVII Army Corps had been so weakened by its losses that it was scrapping the bottom of the barrel to find soldiers to hurl against the trenches of the 49th Reserve Division which even in the dark mowed down their attackers as they struggled with the thick wire barriers.
The attack of the III Army Corps against the 50th Reserve Division was a different matter. There the strength of 3 first line Russian infantry divisions were again able to overpower the defenders even though General von Marwitz had assigned 2 battalions of Landsturm to reinforce the 50th Reserve Division yesterday afternoon. The attackers were able to progress more than a kilometer but had paid a heavy price to do so. Instead of attempting a counterattack to regain the lost forward trench the commander of the 50th Reserve Division, General Hans von der Goltz, concentrated on holding the second trench which he was just barely able to do. He pressed the corps commander, General von Scheffer-Boyadel, for reinforcements.
Further to the south the XIX Army Corps again attacked a sector of the front currently held by the I Army Corps. Once again it sent out small parties of engineers escorted by riflemen in order to clear gaps in the German wire. This time it was much less successful as the Germans were anticipating that the enemy might repeat last night’s tactic so the Russian engineers were treated rather rudely. When the Russian infantry assault came the wire barriers were virtually untouched. The XIX Army Corps attacked more to the south than it had the previous night and so their assault was roughly equally split between the German 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions. The XIX Army Corps had lost heavily in the prior attacks and possessed only a very small advantage in overall numbers, which was thoroughly wasted as the attackers became frustrated by the largely uncut wire, machineguns and shrapnel shells directed with the aid of German star shells, steadily culled their numbers. Those few that ended up making it through the wire proved insufficient to take the forward German trench. The darkness impeded the timely flow of accurate flow of information to higher commands. In this instance it caused the attack to drag on long after it should have become obvious that the attack was only wasting Russian lives.
------southwest of Nish (Serbia) 0210 hrs
The cloud cover had never thickened enough to block out the bright gibbous moon. It finally set a few minutes ago. Ottoman engineers now feverishly worked on very short pontoon bridge across a narrow stretch of the South Morava River too deep to wade while elements of the III Corps attempted to ford the river in other locations. The latter came under determined fire from Serbian outposts. The darkness greatly reduced the effectiveness of the Serbian fire so they were only able to delay but not prevent the Ottoman soldiers from crossing the river and were soon falling back towards Nish. The Ottoman forces which had forded the river pursued cautiously. Before long they were joined by wagons and guns brought over the short pontoon bridge.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse west of Galway Bay 0320 hrs
"It is time for us to leave as well," Admiral von Ingenohl informed his staff, who promptly transmitted the signals they had prepared earlier in the night. The German battle squadrons along with 5th Scouting Group and the 3 remaining torpedoboat flotillas, came to a heading of SSW and increased their speed to 16 knots. The remaining ocean liners that had been part of the Atlantic Squadron incl. Lusitania fell in behind them.
------south of Limerick city 0300 hrs
The situation south of Limerick had grown more confused with each passing hour. Both Brigade Hell and the 111th Infantry Division had separately made contact with the forces inside Limerick. In the process they had encircled a significant portion of the Lowland Division which they mistakenly believed to be most if not all of that division. General Egerton had ended up moving the Lowland Division nearly 3 miles which was more than General Wilson had sanctioned. Elements of the Lowland Division, the 31st Brigade and the 11th (Northern) Division had become jumbled together and on one occasion this had resulted into them firing on each other in the dark.
Still worried about casualties General von Gyssling had ordered his division to try to roll up the enemy front line which was a jumbled mix of elements of both the Lowland and the 11th (Northern) Division, instead of trying to force their way forward to reach Limerick. In this he was largely successful against the 3 battalions of the 11th (Northern) Division which had already been seriously weakened during the day and which were spread out over a relatively wide area. Compounding the confusion for both sides was exhaustion as the men had continue fighting throughout the night.
------Varna (Bulgaria) 0355 hrs
A formation of 5 small torpedoboats built in France for the Bulgarian navy approached where they expected the Russian Black Sea Fleet to be. Their hope was to attack the Russian predreadnoughts silhouetted against the dawn twilight. They failed to find the main body of the Black Sea Fleet as the always cautious Admiral Ebergard had moved it further out into the Black Sea. The Bulgarian torpedo boats searched for only a little while. What desperate chances of success their mission dissipated with each passing minute. Instead of battleships they found a pair of lightly armed Russian minesweepers. The Bulgarians took out their displeasure on the minesweepers but their 3 pounder guns were unable to sink either, only chew up the superstructure and inflict casualties. They dared not wait too long as 3 Russian destroyers which had been detached from the screen guarding the Russian transports were now spotted in pursuit. In addition to having much stronger guns the Russian destroyers were faster than the Bulgarian torpedoboats which were just barely able to reach the safety of Varna naval base before the pursuing Russian destroyers could get within effective range.
The plastun brigade continued its attack as the darkness gave way to the first rosy hints of twilight. The raiders had been given vague objectives. Essentially it boiled down to causing as much mayhem as possible in a short time without suffering prohibitive losses in the process. The coastal forts, harbor and train station were their key objectives. The Cossacks encountered too much resistance on their way to the forts and so concentrated on the docks and the train station. They were repelled from the fort and the train station where another Opolchenie battalion had just arrived. The Cossacks did make it to some of the warehouses near the harbor which they set ablaze. This destruction was soon expanded to practically every nearby building. Stores were looted. Rapes were not uncommon with the NCO’s and officers being at best indifferent, at worst active participants. Likewise the innocent Bulgarian civilians the Cossacks encountered were often pummeled or worse.
------near Morlay (Picardy) 0500 hrs
Yesterday evening General Plumer had placed the 42nd (North Midland) Division under the command of I Army Corps and had ordered General Munro, the corps commander, to use it in an early morning attack to reopen First Army’s line of communications at Morlay. This attack was coordinated with First Army which was to launch a simultaneous attack from the north. Moving the 42nd (North Midland) Division into its attack position in the dark was far from easy. They marched along the single road that passed dangerously close to the enemy lines in the vicinity of Noyelles-sur-Mer and on three occasions the batteries of the Guard Corps had fired on the division’s densely packed columns using star shells to provide illumination. This shelling caused enough disruption that Munro wisely decided to hold back one of its brigades. Even with that it still could not get all of the ammunition columns for its artillery brigades through. The 42nd (North Midland) Division took over the trenches occupied by the left wing of the 1st Infantry Division which was then finally able to concentrate on holding Noyelles-sur-Mer against the continuing attacks of the Prussian Guards.
There was some discussion between Plumer and Munro about postponing the attack but Sir John French adamantly insisted that it go forward. The bombardment now commenced. Due to the paucity of shells it lasted only 30 minutes. Anchored out in the Baie d’Somme the monitors Humber, Mersey and Severn had arrived during the night and added the firepower of their 6" guns and 4.7" howitzers to the bombardment. Even with this, the overnight buildup of forces in the bottleneck and the inclusion of some batteries of First Army the German artillery in this sector still held a measure of supremacy so they were not at all reluctant to vigorously duel with the British gunners, and even the monitors.
The infantry assault that followed was a two pronged affair. From the northwest the 29th Infantry Division attacked with 5 battalions, incl. 2 that had been detached from the 6th Division last night. From the south the 42nd (North Midland) Division made its assault with 6 battalions. Not one of these 11 battalions was even close to full strength. Both of these divisions were attacking the German 42nd Infantry Division, which had erected 3 strands of barbed wire during the night to protect their gains. The British bombardment had cut the wire only slightly. The German artillery had not been suppressed during the artillery duel and turned their wrath on the British infantry as they crossed no man’s land and struggled with the wire. The defenders had suffered minimal losses from the bombardment which had been predominantly shrapnel shells. First machineguns then rifle fire tore into the ranks of the attackers. The attackers from the 42nd (North Midland) Division had some rifle grenades and jam tin bombs. Unfortunately only one of these battalions made it through the German wire in significant numbers. The rest of these were pinned down in no man’s land and eventually were forced to abandon the assault and crawl their wretched way back to their jumping off point.
The 5 battalions of the 29th Division possessed no bombs of any sort but had been given strict orders from General Hunter-Weston to press on no matter the cost. The casualties they suffered were truly horrific. All of them were reduced to less than company strength before it was over. They accomplished very little with only a handful ever reaching the German trenches. When the fighting ended the Germans remained in clear control of Morlay.
------northeast of Shavli (Lithuania) 0600 hrs
As the III Army Corps had enjoyed the only success in the night attack of the Russian Fifth Army, Gen. Churin, who was under increasing pressure from Southwestern Front to do better, had ordered it to follow up on its victory in the morning. The combined artillery of III Army Corps now commenced firing on the entrenched positions of the 50th Reserve Division. The German artillery did not return fire but waited for the Russian infantry to emerge. The Russian bombardment only lasted 20 minutes and even that was enough to nearly exhaust their very limited stockpile of shells.
The Russian infantry then emerged from their trenches. The Germans had erected only a single strand of fire since the loss of their forward trench. Even though the Russian shelling had cut it only a little it could only slow not stop the experienced Russian soldiers. The German artillery and machineguns inflicted serious losses on the attackers but the defenders remained badly outnumbered and were not able to hold the trench. Fearing that his artillery was in danger of being overrun General von der Goltz ordered his division to retreat to Shavli. The III Army Corps gave chase.
------Fermoy (Cork) 0635 hrs
The 7th Cavalry Division still did not have all the horses it needed but General von François ordered its commander, General von Unger not to simply wait idly in Cork city but to use the captured army camp at Fermoy as an assembly point. The eastern portion of County Cork and the western parts of County Tipperary and County Waterford were where the Germans expected to acquire the remaining horses von Unger needed. Mounted on a magnificent Spanish stallion the general trotted into Fermoy along with the 26th Cavalry Brigade which had its full complement of mounts, many of them Spanish as well. The division’s horse artillery battalion had lagged three hours behind because it had considerably less than its full complement of horses.
------Athenry (Galway) 0640 hrs
The 2nd battalion of the184th Infantry Regiment along with the Roscommon Battalion now approached the town of Athenry which was an important railroad nexus. The Athlone Cyclist Company had arrived on the scene to reconnoiter nearly 2 hours earlier. They reported a sizable contingent of R.I.C. which had erected defenses. The cyclists were then ordered to make a feint attack on the eastern end of Athenry. The Germans now attacked the city from the west while Roscommon Battalion attacked from the north. Initially the constables resisted but when it became obvious how much they were outnumbered and that they were fighting Germans and not just rebels most of them fled south to Gort in a variety of motor vehicles. The few that were unable to escape soon surrendered. After that the train station was quickly secured which opened up the railroad line between Galway and Athlone.
------Cairo 0700 hrs
General John Maxwell, the commander of the British forces in Egypt, had avidly followed the accounts of the Irish campaign in the newspapers. He had half envied the British generals involved in that campaign even though it was painfully obvious that things were not going all that well there. In fact the vagueness of the British reports were disturbingly similar in that respect to the accounts of the Mesopotamian campaign which Maxwell knew to be an unmitigated disaster. This made him fear that things were even worse there than the newspapers were admitting.
However these musings about Ireland were in the back of General Maxwell’s busy mind right now. What lay in the forefront of his mind were the reports that had filtered their way to him from General Lee in Abyssinia. The battle with Iyasu’s forces at Dessie had not gone well. Lee’s forces were now retreating back to Gondar with the enemy in pursuit. Lee had made it very clear in his reports that he needed reinforcements but esp. more artillery. The Abyssinian Army had rudely surprised General Lee with superior firepower at Dessie.
Maxwell had been very worried about another Ottoman attempt to take Suez which is why he had provided Lee’s expedition with so little artillery. More recent intelligence now made the prospects of a second attempt to seize the Suez Canal in the next few months seem rather remote. Maxwell therefore felt that he could afford to reinforce Lee’s expedition with 3 batteries of 15 pounders, 1 battery of 5" howitzers and another battalion of Indian infantry. Even with the new intelligence about the Sinai this was the most that Maxwell felt he could spare until he himself was reinforced and that did not seem likely before the 2nd Australian Division began to arrive at the end of June.
------Wicklow town 0710 hrs
Rommel had marched his forces south to Wicklow town during the night. The British had elected not to pursue him. When he arrived at Wicklow Rommel was irritated when he discovered that the 2 companies of the 4th Dublin Battalion he had left there were nowhere to be found. If he had in fact been pursued those companies could have been very important. Rommel eventually learned that Pearse had ordered that those companies elsewhere.
Rommel suspected that Schumacher may have had something to do with this redeployment. He realized that he would have to confront Schumacher before long. There were some differences of opinion that needed to be worked out. However Rommel was very seriously short on sleep right now and saw no reason why that confrontation could not wait a few hours.
------south of Limerick 0730 hrs
The 111th Infantry Division with some help from the 5th Kerry Battalion and Limerick City Battalion methodically contracted their noose ever more tightly around the trapped portion of the Lowland Division. They already had machineguns posted within range of the British artillery inside the pocket.
Meanwhile the rest of the Lowland Division was slowly being pushed northeast by a combination of Brigade Hell and the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division which continued to exploit its open left flank and kept it from entrenching. General Wilson continued to rage at both Egerton and Hammersley but eventually he gave the former temporary command of the 31st Brigade with orders to counterattack to the west. Most of this counterattack ran into the Bavarian Jaeger Regiment and the Musketen Battalion which shredded the attackers with automatic weapons fire.
The Erzherzog Karl Division had not been as active as the other divisions during the night. The 11th (Northern) Division had concentrated against it yesterday and halted its progress towards Limerick. Krauss had decided to let most of his men get an adequate amount of sleep during the night. In the morning General von François had reinforced him 2 batteries of 15cm howitzers and the independent Pioneer Battalion. In the vicinity of Boher the Erzherzog Karl Division made another attack on the entrenchments of 11th (Northern) Division. Hammersley had fired off most of his artillery shells the day before and was down to only 10 shells per gun. His division had been informed that they would receive more shells in the early morning but this shipment was behind schedule and had not yet arrived when the enemy bombardment started. With a decisive advantage in artillery and using the tactics Hauptmann Rohr had taught them at Prague the attackers were now able to take a mile wide stretch of the forward British trench with serious but acceptable losses. The second trench line of the 11th Division was incomplete and there only two strongpoints. When he learned of this General Hammersley went into a full scale panic. Shrieking at his staff he ordered his entire division to withdraw to the north immediately and strictly forbade any notification of General Wilson at VI Army Corps HQ.
------Moscow 0745 hrs
The workers of the Giubner plant again assembled waving flags and portraits. They marched again towards the Prokhorov factory. This time they were joined by the workers from the Riabov factory and soon afterwards they split into groups, one of which went to the Tsindel factory where they demanded to check for German employees. The manager of this plant was a Russian subject of Swedish origin named Karlsen. When he refused to allow the crowd to enter the workers forced open the gate and stormed inside and caused large scale destruction. Thinking that Karlsen was a German name they beat him severely. When a few policemen arrived and tried to rescue Karlsen the crowd began to throw stones. The policemen tried to save the unconscious manager by dragging him to a nearby sailboat then pushing it away from the shore. The crowd responded to this by pelting the boat with rocks until it sank drowning poor Karlsen.
Meanwhile another group of workers proceeded to the Zhako & Co shoe polish factory causing much destruction. They seized 4 workers of German origin and started to beat them. The police arrived and saved the Germans by pretending that they had come to arrest them and haul them off to prison. Soon afterwards the police used the same ruse to save Veber, a German subject who owned a wool mill and the Vinter steel works. Veber along with his wife and foreman had been beaten nearly to death before mounted police intervened using whips on the stone throwing demonstrators.
Likewise at the Shrader factory, its director, Robert Shrader was severely beaten before a contingent of police led by the Moscow chief of police arrived to drag him to a nearby police station. However the crowd followed them to the station where they burst in and tore Shrader away from the police and threw him to the ground where they began to kick him violently. Shrader’s life was saved by mounted police using whips.
Meanwhile the crowd had broken into the apartment of Betti Engels, looking for Ianson, Shrader’s managing director who was a German subject. They did not know that Ianson had been interned. Instead they found his wife, Emiliia, his sister Konkordiia and aunt, Emiliia Shtolle. The workers threw Betti and Konkordiia into a drainage canal where they both drowned. They then proceeded to beat Emiliia Ianson to death on the spot. The 70 year aunt died in a hospital soon afterwards from the injuries the mob inflicted. The crowd also set the apartment on fire.
------Galway Bay 0800 hrs
Admiral von Spee had originally wanted the liners to depart Galway Bay at 0700 hrs but the offloading of supplies and mules had gone slower than expected, so he extended the deadline by an hour. Even with the extension the offloading of both the George Washington and the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria was still incomplete. The 3 liners he had escorted from the United States had finished landing their American Volunteers as well as the limited number of motor vehicles, horses and weapons they carried, incl. Dr. Goddard’s rockets.
The 3 predreadnoughts of the Atlantic Squadron were already heading SSW at 15 knots making frequent zigzags. The cruisers of 2nd Scouting Group were now cruising 20 nm west of Inishmore. Admiral von Spee had ordered Admiral Maas to position 2nd Scouting Group to the northwest of the ocean liners after they emerged from South Sound.
While this was going on, the commander of the 183th Infantry Brigade, Generalmajor von Schüßler had decided on his course of action. Even though some of the mules had not been offloaded, the draught animals he had appropriated from the Irish Volunteers of the Roscommon and South Mayo battalions had provided with nearly enough to meet his needs. He therefore ordered his entire brigade along with the Roscommon Battalion to move towards the key communications center of Gort in the southern portion of the county. A cyclist company had been assigned to the brigade to provide it with its own reconnaissance element. This company was already on its way towards Gort along with the Marine Cavalry Squadron.
General von Schüßler did not know what to make of the two battalions of American Volunteers. He decided that for the time being he would leave them at Galway city and Oranmore along with the Galway City Battalion and the South Mayo Battalion. The latter two units were instructed to form a support company consisting of the 10% of their men deemed least fit for combat as well as the women. This unit among other chores would distribute the supplies land at Galway and Oranmore beyond what the brigade was able to bring along. The units left behind at Galway Bay were instructed not to be visible from the water in large numbers as with the withdrawal of von Spee the next warships they would see would very likely be British. Nevertheless they were to keep a watch on the bay as there was a threat that the enemy might attempt their own landing there. They were also ordered to make contact with the rebel forces known to be fighting a guerilla war in the Connemara providing them with arms and ammunition.
------Council of Ministers (Paris) 0805 hrs
"Monarchs cannot be trusted!" snarled Premier Clemenceau, "King Alphonso’s promises to our president early in the war means nothing!"
"Uh, I must point out that slapping a trade embargo on the British does not violate the promise made to President Poincaré, which was not to attack us," argued Theophile Delcasse, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Clemenceau shook his head, "That is sophistry! Spain’s actions violate the spirit if not the letter of the royal promise. And Spain’s actions go beyond the mere suspension of trade. They are mobilizing as well!"
"Yes, premier, they are mobilizing but it is only a partial mobilization. Only if they were fully mobilized would they pose any threat to us and even then a rather modest one."
"You are not thinking, monsieur! The Spanish jackals anticipated that we would not permit them to fully mobilize. So they pretend that their mobilization will be only partial. Once this partial mobilization has been accomplished, look for that snake, Alphonso to invent an excuse to justify completing the process. In the meantime I find myself compelled as the War Minister to move a territorial division, a cavalry division and 3 alpine battalions to the Pyrenees. Without firing a shot, the Spanish are already having a negative impact on our great offensive."
"Premier, we believe that this crisis with Spain can be solved through skilled negotiation by the British. We believe Ireland is at best at secondary issue with the Spanish. What is more likely driving the Spaniards is their desire to regain control over Gibraltar," replied Declasse.
"That may well be true but how does this help us? The British will never surrender Gibraltar to the Spaniards!"
"An immediate unequivocal return of Gibraltar is indeed out of the question, premier. But there are other options that a skilled negotiator, perhaps along the lines of commitment towards an eventual two flags codominion over Gibraltar. There are ways this could be structured that would satisfy both Spanish prestige and British strategic needs."
"Perhaps but even that would be a blow to British pride that could topple M. Law’s increasingly unstable coalition government. Have the Spanish answered our inquiries about increasing our own imports of iron ore?"
"Not yet, premier."
"Hmm if they do agree to a large increase in the amount of iron ore they will sell to us, then it might, I will repeat might, be a sign that this is all an elaborate charade on their part. Of course even if they do agree I am very reluctant to pass it on to the British until they resume full scale commerce with us. The amount of coal the British are sending us today is not enough, not even close to enough and they know it. Furthermore coal is not the only import our all important war industry needs and they know that as well. It is time for them to stop overprotecting their huge merchant marine. And it is also time for them to be more forthcoming about the naval situation. Propaganda has its place as a necessary evil but it can become counterproductive if its motivation becomes purely political which is what I fear is what is going on across the Channel."
------Tuylen southeast of Varna 0820 hrs
The commander of the Russian submarine Tuylen stared through his periscope and scowled. He could clearly see the German battlecruiser Goeben or whatever the damn Turks called her now. The problem was that he saw no way to get his vessel into a decent firing position. However in a few minutes he would be able to report her position and course to the Black Sea Fleet by wireless.
------outskirts of Nish (Serbia) 0825 hrs
Having crossed the South Markova River Ottoman III Corps had pressed onwards relentlessly against weak Serbian stop lines. The resistance stiffened only when their vanguard reached the outskirts of the city. Esat Pasha soon accepted that he could not take this city by coup de main. He eliminated some outlying Serbian outposts while carefully positioning his artillery in preparation for an early afternoon attack.
------10 Downing St 0905 hrs
The War Committee was once again in session. "The siege of Limerick has mot unfortunately been lifted, prime minister," Lord Kitchener informed the committee, "However General Hamilton is hopeful that the attack of the 13th Division against the enemy flank will be so effective that the enemy may be forced to abandon Limerick later this week."
The lifting of the siege could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back once it reaches Commons thought Lloyd-George. "How does happen, field marshal?" Bonar Law asked.
"I am not privy to all the details, prime minister, but I do know that the Lowland Division was in danger of being encircled at one point and was therefore forced to move to the east thereby allowing the German 111th Infantry Division to link up with the Naval Division inside Limerick."
"And what about the Germans at Galway?" asked Bonar Law, "As I understand it they pose a serious threat to the line of communications of the West Riding Division."
"As we speak the West Riding Division is being sent north to deal with that threat, prime minister. I would hasten to add that the situation with regard to the railroads in Ireland will improve markedly once the Ulster Volunteers take Athlone."
"Speaking of which how is the mobilization of the U.V.F. proceeding, First Lord" asked Bonar Law turning to Carson.
"There have been a few small problems that have cropped up, prime minister, but we are resolving them quickly," answered Carson, "We will have at least 1,000 men ready to be entrained before noon at both Belfast and Derry. Most of the 20,000 of the first phase will be ready for action before nightfall."
"First phase?" asked Grey with some concern.
"There was in the plan a section that discussed the possibility of calling up an additional 4,000 Ulster Volunteers if necessary," answered Carson.
"As I recall it was a deceptively small section and therefore rather easy to miss," remarked Lloyd-George.
"You make it sound as if I was somehow being deceptive, chancellor," Carson replied defensively.
"Oh, no, that was not my intent at all," said Lloyd-George, "I was merely trying to show how easy it was to overlook that provision." Grey realized now that his fellow Liberal was trying to make him feel less embarrassed and for that Grey was grateful. Last night’s session had been rough on him again on the topic of declaring a 200 mile war zone around Ireland then stopping all neutral shipping in that area. Grey had continued to voice opposition to the proposal even though he reluctantly admitted that within the Foreign Office there were those who saw nothing wrong with the idea as it was patently obvious that Ireland had indeed become a theatre of war.
"Let us move on then," the prime minister ordered, "It seems to me that there are no new developments of any real significance with regard to Spain since last night. Am I mistaken Sir Edward in believing that we still do not know if Spain will permit France to increase their imports of iron ore which they can then pass on to us."
"You are not mistaken, prime minister," said Grey, "though we do have some intriguing intelligence which suggests that a spirited internal debate is going on behind closed doors in Madrid on this very matter."
"That is encouraging for several reasons," Lloyd-George mused, "Not the least of which it hints that the political consensus behind Spain’s policies is fragile and could fall apart at any moment."
"Perhaps but the Spanish mobilization has begun with only weak protests from their Socialists, indicating that the misplaced sympathy some of them have for Connolly and de Valera has them too badly split to have an appreciable impact on policy," stated Carson.
"Mark my word, prime minister," said Kitchener, "When the truth comes out we will find that the Jesuits are behind all this chicanery."
------ TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim southeast of Varna 0915 hrs
"Commence firing on the lead battleship," ordered Kapitän Ackermann. In the distance he could see three Russian predreadnoughts, the Evstafi, Ioann Zlatoust and Rostislav. The Russian battleships were turning as presently only their forward turrets could be brought to bear on the Yavuz.
------ TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim southeast of Varna 0924 hrs
The Russians scored the first hit in this duel with a 12" shell that penetrated the battlecruiser’s bow and burst inside the crew quarters. This caused 4 casualties and started a modest fire which was extinguished without much trouble.
-------Evstafi 0929 hrs
A 28cm SAP shell penetrated the armor of Evstafi’s port battery and exploded wrecking one 6" gun and killing its crew. It also badly wounded two members of an adjacent gun crew. A small fire was started but it was soon extinguished.
------ TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim southeast of Varna 0933 hrs
A 10" shell from Rotislav struck the upper edge of the main belt of Yavuz amidships. It failed to penetrate but drove in the armor plates and burst externally. Less than a minute later a 12" shell narrowly missed the battlecruiser. Its shrapnel caused a few very small holes but more seriously the shock wave caused the crude repairs that had been made to the mine damage to start to leak a little.
------ TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim southeast of Varna heading SSW 0939 hrs
The Russian batteships scored their third hit on the Yavuz. This was a 12" shell that struck the face armor of the starboard wing turret. The armor was not penetrated and the shell broke up without exploding. However the concussion of the impact caused the turret to jam in place. Meanwhile the other two Russian predreadnoughts, Pantelimon and Tri Sviatitelia, had caught up and were now firing on the Yavuz as well. As in the previous engagements between the battlecruiser and the Black Sea Fleet Russian gunnery had proven more competent than the Germans had expected even though the Russian spotters struggled with the usual problems of distinguishing splashes of different ships. The Yavuz had scored only a single hit to three for the Russians and now Ackermann had one turret at least temporarily out of action. He accepted the obvious fact that there was no way he could win this engagement. If the Russians slowed his ship significantly it could prove disastrous.
Ackermann had already ordered steam raised for flank speed. He now ordered engineering to make the necessary turns for flank speed and for helm to turn 8 points to port.
------C.25 SSE of Fardurris Pt. 0950 hrs
After learning of the German landing at Galway the Admiralty had decided to station one submarine each off North Sound and South Sound. Galway Bay was itself too shallow for submarines to operate submerged. They assigned the E.14 to the west of North Sound which the Germans had been using initially and where they thought they would have the best chances of finding capital ships. The E.14 had been on station since shortly after dawn. The submarine’s commander had at one time caught a distant glimpse of Stralsund off to the west but that had not tempted him to disobey orders by leaving his assigned station.
The C.25 was assigned the station off South Sound. She was a ‘C’ class submarine with temperamental petrol engines and like all of her class was a very poor boat on the surface despite being surprisingly nimble submerged. She had some problems taking up station and had arrived only a few minutes earlier. Had von Spee decided against delaying the departure of the ocean liners she too would have had a dull morning. As such she had been unable to get into an effective firing position to attack a pair of lightly armed liners which had emerged from South Sound making frequent zigzags. However trailing a few miles behind that pair were three more enemy troopships which were not yet zigzagging. He selected one as a target. He only had 4 torpedoes total aboard his boat. He debated whether or not to fire 2 torpedoes at one liner or one torpedo each at two liners. He decided to try the latter even though it was more difficult.
------SS President Lincoln 0952 hrs
By a twist of irony the President Lincoln had been built at Belfast by Harland & Wolff for the Hamburg America line. A pillar of water sprang up in the air very near her bow on the port side. The commander of the C.25 had wanted it to strike amidships but he had been a little off in his estimate of the liner’s speed. The same error caused the torpedo he had fired at the President Grant to pass harmlessly in front of that ship’s bow by a mere 20’.
Back on the President Lincoln the crew contained the flooding as best they could. The ship was in no immediate danger of sinking as long as it did not try to exceed 10 knots. Admiral von Spee ordered the other 4 liners and 2nd Scouting Group to continue on at 14 knots leaving the President Lincoln to fall more and more behind.
------ TCG Midilli nee SMS Breslau off Golden Sands 0955 hrs
While the Vavuz drew the attention of the Black Sea Fleet, the small cruiser Midilli had circled around at high speed with the intention of attacking the Russian transports anchored off the beaches north of Varna. She found them screened by 3 Russian destroyers which had earlier in the morning chased the Bulgarian torpedo boats. These destroyers had returned but were now stationed to the south of those transports off Helena & St. Constantine. The transports off the Golden Sands were defended only by pair of very weakly armed minesweepers. The Midilli now swooped down on the transports and soon set one on fire. She was then distracted by one of the minesweepers which heroically attacked her in a desperate attempt to save the transports until the 3 destroyers could arrive. This it did but was set ablaze and eventually sank.
The 3 Russian destroyers soon arrived. Just like the Yavuz the Midilli could not risk being slowed down. She disengaged after lightly damaging the Pulki. The Russian destroyers did not try to pursue for multiple reasons incl. fears that the Bulgarian torpedoboats might return to attack the transports. The Russian steamer which had been set on fire survived though it had sustained heavy damage to its superstructure from both the shelling and the ensuing conflagration.
------HQ Lowland Division south of Limerick 1015 hrs
General Egerton, the commander of the Lowland Division, struggled to keep his eyes open. For a few seconds he lost the struggle. His mind suddenly started dreaming. After a little more than a minute part of minute part of his mind could vaguely hear someone speaking, "General, General Egerton." With a sudden shock Egerton realized he had fallen asleep. By force of will he yanked himself back to consciousness. He had slumped in his chair. He now sat properly upright. The dream that started to form in his mind now dissolved into a pool of forgetfulness. All he could recall was that it had been very strange. The frustrated act of dreaming made him wonder if he was really awake or if this too was another dream. If it was a dream it was certainly a nightmare.
He stared at his adjutant who was the voice that had awakened him. "What is it now, Dunbar?" he asked wearily with an intuition that he was not going to like the answer.
"It’s the 11th Division, sir. It appears to be on the move again."
"Towards us or away from us"
"Away from us, sir."
Oh please let this be another dream! the general silently prayed. He momentarily closed his eyes then opened them. Disappointingly it looked the same. "Away from us, you say?" asked Egerton.
"That is correct, general."
------U.40 at the entrance to Cork harbor 1025 hrs
The U.40 finally arrived at Cork. The German naval base commander had been expecting the U-Boat. He was definitely not expecting the news she brought with her.
------Moate (Westmeath) 1040 hrs
During the night the Cavan Battalion had absorbed 17 new members incl. a dozen from Tullamore. The battalion along with the freed Central Power internees left Kilbeggan soon after dawn and continued on towards their ultimate goal of Athlone. They now descended on the market town of Moate a little less than 8 miles from Athlone. The town was defended by 10 constables plus 9 British soldiers of the A.S.C. as this town often functioned as part of the supply route for the British forces trying to regain Athlone. The defenders soon realized that they were very badly outnumbered and fled to the west in motor vehicles. The rebels captured a relatively small supply dump.
Commandant MacLoughlain decided that he would spend the rest of the day at Moate to scrounge up more food. He sent out patrols to the west including a cyclist platoon he had organized while the rest of the battalion prepared some rudimentary defences.
"We then entered the city of Limerick which had bravely held out for nearly a month against unrelenting British attack. In the eastern part of the city many buildings were badly damaged by the enemy artillery with some being reduced to rubble. We beheld many civilian men and women that appeared gaunt and malnourished. This made us all very sad but sadder still was the sight of the children who were also suffering from a lack of food. Many of the civilians were preparing to leave Limerick now that the city was no longer encircled, hoping to find food in the rural lands to the southwest."
----Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel
------Gorey (Wexford) 1105 hrs
In the early morning the 8th Battalion Devonshire Regiment had sent out a series of patrols resulting in skirmishes with both the Hungarian Hussars and the Irish rebels. The Devonshires now launched their first full scale attack of the day coming at Gorey from the west. The defenders had steadily improved their defenses under the supervision of the Magyar officers. This attack was repelled without much trouble and this small victory served to further strengthen the once shaky morale of the rebels.
------Parliament 1120 hrs
News of a German landing at Galway Bay as well as the lifting of the siege of Limerick had been released by the War Office in the last half hour. This set off a storm of outrage in both Commons and Lords. Many an MP wondered aloud why the Grand Fleet, coming off its victory in the Celtic Sea was unable to prevent the Germans from landing at Galway and have another go at the High Seas Fleet. Criticism mounted in both houses of Parliament with very few voices defending the current government.
------HQ Lowland Division south of Limerick 1125 hrs
A messenger finally brought word to the Lowland Division that the 11th (Northern) Division was in fact withdrawing to the north and northeast. It was still very vague as to how far General Hammersley intended to move. It was also very confusing because a half hour ago another motorcyclist had brought another set of orders from General Wilson forbidding any further withdrawal and promising that the 11th (Northern) Division would soon take over more of the front line. This was all very perplexing to General Egerton, who was still suffering from a lack of sleep along with the rest of his division. Even if the 11th (Northern) Division was not withdrawing the tactical situation of the Lowland Division was bad despite the temporary addition of the 31st Brigade along with its 5 supporting artillery batteries. Brigade Hell and the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division were attacking with some success from the west and southwest, while there remained the threat of renewed attacks emerging from Limerick to the north.
Seeing no practical alternative General Egerton ordered the Lowland Division to withdraw as well. He did not have either telegraph or telephone communications with VI Army Corps HQ at this time and so he dispatched a messenger.
------west of Mexico City 1130 hrs GMT
Having failed miserably in his two frontal assaults on Obregon’s entrenched defenses the day before, General Gonzales now tried to outflank them. He was restricted though by a limited number of decent roads in this area. Working on advice from the German attaché and his staff, General Obregon had constructed strongpoints equipped with machineguns on the flanks of his trench line. These stalled the initial attack of Gonzales’ army while Obregon reinforced that sector first with cavalry then infantry. The fighting here was touch and go for a while. Gonzales’ army had been roughly equal to Obregon’s when it had arrived at the outskirts of Mexico City but the heavy losses Gonzales had suffered yesterday had given Obregon a modest advantage in total manpower. Likewise Gonzales had expended most of his artillery shells in yesterday’s second attack while Obregon had used much less on defense.
For the better part of an hour there was a tense situation where it looked like Gonzales’ forces might overpower Obregon’s but in the end the defending infantry were able to hold their position with the help of their artillery. After that Gonzales called off his attack and pondered his next move.
------IRS Eion MacNeill Western Approaches 1150 hrs
The AMC Eion MacNeill had been converted from the captured British freighter Callisto. Most of her officers were German belonging to the naval branch of the Irish Brigade but her seamen were I.R.N. She flew the green flag with gold harps of the provisional Irish Republic. She had departed Queenstown Saturday night to perform both scouting and commerce raiding. She now took her first prize, a 3,100 ton freighter out of Karachi bound for Plymouth with a cargo of wheat. The prize was not sunk but given a prize crew and ordered to make for Cork.
------Varna (Bulgaria) 1200 hrs
The Cossacks had been unable to reach either the civilian dockyards, the naval base or the train station though a battalion of them had succeeded in destroying a small section of railroad track on the outskirts of the city. They had caused widespread destruction in much of the city. Their own cumulative casualties were somewhat higher than expected but not catastrophic. This was to be a hit and run raid. It was now time for them to withdraw back to the beaches to the north. The Opolchenie battalions which had been hard pressed in defending the most critical areas were inexperienced and so made no immediate attempt to pursue the Cossacks, who were therefore able to withdraw without any trouble other than moving their wounded.
------Ober Ost 1305 hrs
General von Seeckt and Oberst Hoffman were briefing Generalfeldmarschal von Hindenburg about the latest developments. "A concentration of Russian cavalry was able to breakthrough Eleventh Army’s outer ring of cavalry around Vilna this morning, Your Excellency," said von Seeckt, "Nevertheless General von Mackensen is confident that they will not penetrate his inner ring of infantry."
"Let us hope his confidence is justified. What progress has he made towards capturing Vilna?" asked von Hindenburg.
"He continues to bombard the city mostly using the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade, Your Excellency. He plans to breach the enemy’s entrenchments tomorrow morning. After that he will advance methodically into the city proper. He is well aware of the difficult problems often encountered in urban combat and will try to avoid taking excessive casualties."
"Life is precious but so is time, von Seeckt!. If the Russians are preparing a counterattack against von Mackensen might it not be better to capture Vilna as quickly as possible?"
"That is quite true, Your Excellency, but General von Mackensen must surely be aware of that as well. I would think it best if we trust his judgment and that of his chief of staff on this issue."
The old generalfeldmarschal took his time before replying, "If Ludendorff were still here he would be demanding that von Mackensen capture Vilna as quickly as possible. You are different from Ludendorff, yes?"
The chief of staff was not sure if that was a rhetorical question and chose not to answer it. After a few seconds of silence Hoffman answered instead, "It is obvious that they have very different personalities, Your Excellency. For what it is worth I too have faith in the sound judgment of General von Mackensen and his staff. I would advise against ordering them to make an immediate assault on Vilna."
"I see. Well in that case I am not going to interfere with Eleventh Army. Moving on, is there any further developments with Eighth Army?"
"Very little, Your Excellency," replied von Seeckt, "So far today the Russian Tenth Army is showing no signs of resuming yesterday’s attack. General von Below in turn wants to launch a full scale counterattack but I have ordered him to hold off for the time being."
"So once again we surrender the initiative?" complained von Hindenburg.
"Sometimes that is necessary, Your Excellency."
"Yes it is but I still do not like it. Which reminds me, what is the latest news from the Army of the Dvina? Is it still under heavy Russian attacks?"
"The Russian attacks are indeed continuing, Your Excellency. And there is some disturbing news that they have broken through our lines to the northeast of Shavli."
"What? Does this mean that General von Marwitz has been defeated?"
"Not necessarily, Your Excellency. General von Marwitz believes that the enemy has suffered heavy losses so far and so can still be decisively defeated. To that end he has requested reinforcements. Early this morning I ordered Division Breugel and a foot artillery battalion to be transferred from Ninth Army and moved to Tilsit by train as quickly as possible."
"I suppose that Ninth Army can afford the loss of one of those weak temporary divisions, but we should not have to resort to robbing one of our armies to reinforce another," grumbled von Hindenburg while rubbing his chin "However the real issue here is that OHL should be sending us more units both from France and Serbia, but von Falkenhayn refuses to do so. We should be complaining more. That is another difference between you and their predecessor. A big difference."
General von Seeckt was not sure how to respond to that. He did notice what seemed like a slight smirk on Hoffman’s face. "I will again remind OHL of our needs, Your Excellency," was all he could think of to say.
"In the meantime there is something else we should be doing, Your Excellency," suggested Hoffman, "Now that Vilna is encircled by infantry as well as cavalry, General von Mackensen does not need all of the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade. I strongly suggest that one of its regiments be sent to the Army of the Dvina immediately. I know that the brigade’s artillery tractors and trucks have suffered a disturbing number of breakdowns in the last week but the entire brigade still has enough operational vehicles to move one regiment quickly. Petrol should not be a problem either as more than half of what we captured at Kovno still remains."
"An interesting idea but I would point out that it would leave the remaining artillery regiment nearly immobile," replied von Seeckt.
"True but does it matter, general? Right now it is being used to bombard Vilna," Hoffman answered, "The guns are not going to be moved much while that is going on. In the meantime our mechanics will be busy repairing those vehicles that can be repaired. We should make it a high priority that they receive the spare parts they need and replacements for those vehicles that are beyond repair."
The chief of staff thought that over. After nearly a minute he announced his decision, "I think this is an excellent idea. Unless you have some objections, Your Excellency, I going to issue the necessary orders to Eleventh Army."
"Ah, here is something you and Ludendorff have in common," replied von Hindenburg, "You and he are much more comfortable dealing with newfangled innovations like motor vehicles. I am not so comfortable but I will trust your judgment on this topic."
-------SMS Seydlitz south of Kinsale Head 1355 hrs
The mission Admiral von Ingenohl had assigned 1st Scouting Group today was not to head straight back to Cork but rather to scout the Celtic Sea again for signs of the Grand Fleet, which the Germans still assumed to be using Devonport as its anchorage. Along with the small cruisers of 4th Scouting Group they had found nothing.
The wireless section now delivered a slip of paper to Admiral von Hipper. It contained a message from the base commander at Haulbowline. Puffing on his cigar the admiral read
IT IS URGENT THAT FIRST SCOUTING GROUP RENDEZVOUS WITH EAMONN CEANNT AT 1600 HRS AT 51 NORTH 8 WEST REPEAT IT IS URGENT THAT FIRST SCOUTING GROUP RENDEZVOUS WITH EAMONN CEANNT AT 1600 HRS AT 51 NORTH 8 WEST STOP
Hipper arched an eyebrow and removed the cigar. He handed the message to Kapitän Raeder, his chief of staff saying, "This is a rather odd. What do you make of it?"
Raeder read the message twice, then handed it back to the admiral saying, "Yes it is very strange indeed, admiral. Not so much as a hint as to the reason why it is so important that we meet with the Irish warship. Should we request clarification?"
Admiral von Hipper took three deep puffs on his cigar as he thought that over. Finally he shrugged, "We can quibble about his authority to order us but I am willing to accept that he would not send this message without good justification even though it is mysterious. We will notify Admiral von Ingenohl that we intend to make this rendezvous."
------southeast of Limerick city 1345 hrs
The Lowland Division again found itself in a difficult situation. Trying to follow the precipitous withdrawal of the 11th (Northern) Division it was now under attack from Austro-Hungarians to the southeast while a bizarre combination of Bavarians, Irish rebels and Prussian Guards were pursuing it from west and southwest. Mercifully there was no attack currently issuing forth out of Limerick to the northwest but General Egerton was still required to deploy the strongest battalion of the 31st Brigade to guard against that threat.
A battery of 15 pounders was firing off its last few shrapnel shells at short range trying to halt the pursuit of both the 3rd Battalion 4th Foot Guards and 1st Kerry Battalion that were intent on overrunning them. The Prussian Guards fell to the ground and opened fire on the gun crews which were within effective rifle range. The Irish Volunteers soon did likewise. The shields of the artillery pieces only offered partial protection to the gun crews. When the guns fired their last shells the Prussian Guards rose to their feet and quickly fixed bayonets then charged. The British gunners were eventually overwhelmed but they managed to at least demolish the sights on all their cannons before they were captured.
Meanwhile to the east the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire which was part of the 11th (Northern) Division’s rearguard became cut off from the rest of the division. It soon found itself encircled by the Erzherzog Karl Division. This action however drew much of Krauss’ attention away from the Lowland Division which would have disintegrated completely had he made a maximum effort against their flank as the Scots were trying to follow the frantic withdrawal of the 11th (Northern) Division. As it was the Austro-Hungarians still took over 300 prisoners and captured 5 supply wagons.
------Templemore (Tipperary) 1350 hrs
After their elaborate nighttime raid against the key railroad junction at Ballybrophy the 1st Tipperary Battalion had withdrawn back to the outskirts of Templemore. The battalion commander, Major Weise was becoming increasingly worried. He summoned Captain O’Duibhir to meet with him. Before the invasion the Tipperary Volunteers had something of a distinctive almost autonomous identity within the Irish Volunteers. O’Duibhir was well respected by the Tipperary Volunteers and his word carried considerable weight with them. Indeed he had caused them to disobey the orders of the commander of the 16th Uhlan Regiment at one point. So it was very important right now that he not do anything to undermine Weise’s authority at this critical time.
"I have just received word that our cyclist platoon which we were relying on for reconnaissance encountered a company of British cyclists and were almost completely wiped out," said Major Weise, "Only four of our men managed to escape and one of those has a scalp wound. The rest were either killed or captured."
"Oh dear God, that is awful news, sir," replied O’Duibhir.
"Yes, it is but I’m afraid that our troubles are just beginning. The standard reconnaissance element of a British infantry division includes a cyclist company so I believe there is a good chance that an entire British division could be headed our way. Mind you, this is not an unexpected move on the part of the enemy. As with the other two battalions of the Tipperary Volunteers we are guarding General von François’ right flank. Against say a regiment of cavalry we would be an effective barrier but against an entire division , which could crush us easily, we function merely as a tripwire alerting Armee Abteilung François to the threat. I have already dispatched a motorcar to the Austrian division warning them of the possible danger. They will pass on the information to General von François."
"And what of us, major? We have been retreating all day."
"For good reason and I’m afraid our retreat is far from over. We must prepare to abandon Templemore in the next hour. We will take what ammunition and food we can carry without being slowed down and then fall back to Thurles. The armored train will provide us some assistance against the enemy’s vanguard but we should not delude ourselves into thinking that it will enable us to hold off an entire division."
"And what happens once we reach Thurles, sir?"
"The enemy is very likely heading towards Thurles as well. Not in order to chase us but because it is on their way to attacking the flank of the German and Austrian forces south of Limerick. They will also want to make Thurles secure so it can function as their rail head."
"Sounds like we will abandoning Thurles as well, sir"
"Yes I am afraid that is likely to be unavoidable. How much further we will have to retreat after that is less clear to me. The British will have several options once they reach Thurles. They may veer sharply to the west and attack out of the Slieve Feliem Mountains. However what I think is most likely is that they will launch their attack on the Austrian flank out of the Golden Vale. In that case I think we would need to move only halfway to Cross Roads."
"In that case might we be calling on the 2nd Tipperary Battalion for some assistance, major?"
"That is definitely a possibility just don’t get any wild Irish fantasies that two battalions of Tipperary Volunteers could take on an entire division even with the help of an armored train."
------Morlay (Picardy) 1400 hrs
Upon learning of the failure of the morning attack to free up First Army’s line of communication Sir John French ordered a second attempt be made in the early afternoon despite the misgivings of General Plumer, the commander of Second Army. The convoy of transports from England had arrived at Le Havre during the morning but those supplies, esp. the precious artillery shells were still more than an hour away from reaching any of the batteries of Second Army. They would not reach I Army Corps in the bottleneck region until after dark as I Army Corps’ own line of communication was too perilous to use by day.
The brief opening bombardment by the batteries of I Army Corps and First Army therefore did little more than alert the German 42nd Infantry Division that another attack was coming. Dover Patrol had reinforced its supporting firepower in the Baie de Somme with the cruiser Sirius and 3 ‘E’ class destroyers. The low trajectory of the naval guns---except for the 4.7" howitzers on the monitors---greatly limited their effectiveness against entrenchments. Most of the German artillery was not suppressed nor was the barbed wire cut significantly. When the infantry of 29th Division and the 42nd (North Midland) Division made their assault they ended up suffering even worse than they had in the morning without gaining any ground.
------Athlone (Roscommon/Westmeath) 1410 hrs
A train that had been captured at Galway railroad station now pulled into one of Athlone’s stations. It carried the rifle company of the 2nd Athlone Battalion that had been leant to the South Mayo Battalion and was now being returned. It also contained 700 Moisin-Nagant rifles and what was more important 150,000 rounds of cartridge ammunition for those weapons as those members of the two Athlone Battalions who had been armed with the Russian rifles were nearly out of ammunition. There was also belts of ammunition for the machineguns and shells for the artillery aboard the armored train at Athlone.
------Clones (Monaghan) 1420 hrs
Colonel Heinrici was pleasantly surprised when both his cyclist company and cavalry troop reported no sign of a pursuing enemy force coming from either the north or northwest. He decided he could indulge in the luxury of letting two of his battalions rest in the vicinity of Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh. The North Ireland Brigade was picking up an encouraging stream of additional members every hour from Fermanagh. When the North Ireland Regiment was formed some of its recruits had come all the way from the southern portion of Fermanagh. Now they were picking up new members from the half of that county that lay north of Lough Erne. Heinrici also treasured. having a whole day to conduct vigorous training which his entire brigade needed badly, esp. the newest additions which he had been shoving into the 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion.
While this was going on Heinrici had sent the 3rd Northern Ireland Battalion southeast to the town of Clones just over the border in County Monaghan. This was in part because not finding any threat coming at him from the north, Heinrici immediately started to worry that the British might be trying to take him by surprise from the east. This battalion now arrived at Clones. Its patrols found no sign of the British Army in the area. It sent the 7 constables it encountered on the edge of town fleeing east in 2 motorcars.
Clones was the hometown of O’Duffy and there were many in the area who felt guilty about not joining his ill fated uprising. These now came forward to join the Northern Ireland Brigade. The rebels also scrounged for food and acquired more wagons, carts and draught animals. They even acquired 2 motor cars and a truck. They also acquired some information. It was at Clones that the Northern Ireland Brigade first learned that the U.V.F. was being deployed and it was at Clones that they first learned of the executions of de Valera and the Countess Markievicz.
-------HQ Irish Command Curragh (Kildare) 1425 hrs
General Hamilton was again talking on the telephone with General Wilson, the commander of VI Army Corps, who told him, "The Austrians somehow managed to overrun 11th Division’s only complete trench line this morning and instead of counterattacking as he should have, the fool panicked and now has division in a headlong retreat. He did not inform this headquarters of his decision and apparently took his damn time before notifying the Lowland Division which puts them at considerable risk. I intend to relieve General Hammersley of command well before the day is over. I have already started an official inquiry into his actions that should lay the ground work for disciplinary action. The commander of the 34th Brigade, Sitwell is the senior brigadier in the 11th division. I will have him assume temporary command."
"I too am dismayed by General Hammersley’s behavior yesterday and today. I will leave it up to you whether or not he needs to be relieved today. I will however warn you that relieving an officer in the middle of a retreat can sometimes add to the confusion," replied Sir Ian Hamilton, "Right now I am more interested in the predicament that General Egerton finds himself in. Is he in any danger of being encircled?"
"No, sir, he is not because he too appears to be in a full scale withdrawal as well. A few minutes ago I dispatched messengers to both Hammersley and Egerton telling them to halt their retreat immediately and establish a defensive line with no gap between them."
"That may be very difficult for General Egerton to do safely if General Hammersley continues to be unresponsive."
"Which is yet another reason why we need to remove General Hammersley as soon as possible, sir."
------10 Downing St. 1435 hrs
There was a telephone call from Buckingham Palace. "We have been closely following the debate in Parliament. We think it would be best for the nation if you invited Arthur Balfour to supper tonight," King George told Bonar Law.
------Moray Firth 1455 hrs
The Royal Navy was having trouble sweeping the diffuse minefield the Germans had laid in Moray Firth. Their limited contingent of minesweepers they had available was split between multiple demands at this time with mines in the Larne, the Downs, the mouth of the Thames and the mouth of the Seine also requiring attention. The diffuse nature of the German field in the Moray Firth exacerbated the minesweeping problems.
There was a vigorous debate within the Admiralty of late about whether the residual risk from the mines in the Moray Firth had been reduced enough to permit using the ports of Inverness and Invergordon again. Some admirals argued that the east coast English ports were too vulnerable to sorties by German warships and while there was less risk of that at Leith, the port of Edinburgh, there were intractable limits to the capacity Leith could handle and distribute nationwide by rail. Compounding this problem was the British rail system was increasingly overloaded trying to compensate for the suspension of coastal sea traffic. A rough temporary compromise emerged where some but not all of the vessels heading towards either Inverness or Invergordon with important cargoes were rerouted by wireless to Leith. A dozen freighters had safely transited the firth since then.
One of those ships not being rerouted to Leith was a 4,300 ton freighter out of Singapore hauling rubber. In this case she was not rerouted because she lacked a wireless. Her original destination had been Liverpool but she has been met by a British torpedoboat in the Straits of Gibraltar and she had instructed the freighter captain to proceed instead to Inverness and not to come within 300 nm of Ireland on the way. She now struck a mine. She was an old boat and lacked watertight compartmentation. She foundered in 11 minutes.
------Moate (Westmeath) 1510 hrs
Worried about the possible threat to their rear, the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, which had been involved in the Battle of Athlone sent its strongest company plus 50 R.I.C. to probe Moate. These easily smashed a rebel patrol then proceeded to engage the main body of Cavan Battalion at Moate. Less than half of the rebels of Cavan Battalion had a rifle, and about a third of what rifles they did have were single shot rifles like the Martini-Henry. The usual procedure was being followed of assigning the available rifles to those Irish Volunteers who had demonstrated a decent prowess with the weapon. The released German prisoners with military experience had provided Commandant MacLouglain good advice about setting up defenses. The fighting did not last long as the commander of the Ulstermen quickly concluded that he was not strong enough to prevail. The protracted fighting at Athlone had taught the 16th Royal Irish Rifles a lesson they had resisted learning namely that it was dangerous to underestimate the rebels. The company commander dispatched a messenger on horseback to inform the battalion commander at Athlone while ordering his company to disengage and withdraw to the west.
------Helena & St. Constantine (Bulgaria) 1520 hrs
Unlike the landing the evacuation of the raiding force was not going to use the Golden Sands Instead the entire brigade was ordered to use the beaches at Helena & St. Constantine. The transports which had been off the Golden Sands had been moved south but only in the last two hours so as to leave some uncertainty in the minds of the Bulgarians. Admiral Ebergard moved his battlefleet closer to the transports to offer protection including briefly shelling Varna’s coastal forts again as the Cossacks had failed to wreck the fort during their raid.
So far there was no sign of any pursuit by the Bulgarians. The inadequately trained Opolchenie battalions which had struggled desperately to guard the most vital sections of Varna had been very reluctant to leave their strongpoints and barricades when the enemy withdrew. This allowed the Cossacks to reach the beaches impeded only by their own congestion. They soon began loading the boats that were waiting for them on the beach.
------Wicklow town 1525 hrs
Hauptmann Schumacher arrived at Wicklow a few minutes earlier. He sought out Rommel and now found him. Schumacher was not happy. As usual he treated Rommel’s I.R.A. rank of major as a joke. "Where have you been, Rommel?" he demanded to know, "You were ordered to guard Arklow against enemy threats from the north and west. Instead you go wandering off on some dangerous adventure in the northern portion of the county."
"The best way to keep the enemy from preparing an attack on Arklow is to keep them off balance. That I did taking more than 200 prisoners as well as capturing substantial quantities of ammunition and weapons. Furthermore I brought back nearly 200 Irish Volunteers from Bray and Greystones as reinforcements."
This surprised Schumacher somewhat. It was hard to argue with success like that esp. in light of Rommel’s other achievements. Nevertheless Rommel’s cocky attitude and unorthodox methods continued to annoy him. "Maybe you just were lucky again," he snarled, "Write up a detailed report and I will decide. If you have any more clever ideas run them by me first!"
Rommel made no reply. "Is that clear?" Schumacher added.
"Jawohl," replied Rommel but with little enthusiasm.
------Royal Palace Bucharest 1545 hrs
Prime Minister Ion Bratianu was granted an audience with King Ferdinand. "Your Majesty, I have wonderful news," he reported with barely contained glee, "I have learned that the Russians have boldly invaded Bulgaria by sea at Varna. This completely shifts the momentum in the Serbian campaign!"
To Bratianu’s profound disappointment the monarch did not looked suitably impressed by this revelation. "So you are finally admitting to me that the Central Powers had recovered from the Serbian counterattack and regained the initiative in the campaign?" asked the king.
Bratianu was speechless for nearly a minute before finally replying, "Uh, Your Majesty, the current Serbian campaign like those last year, have displayed several surprises most of them favorable to the wily Serbs."
The king snorted then shook his head dismissively, "You are dodging my question, prime minister. The Austrians have captured the most important Serbian arsenal. The Bulgarians now control the Vardar valley and the Ottomans have seized Prishtina. There are even disturbing reports of Greek vultures descending from the sky to nibble at the Serbian corpse."
"Your Majesty, that is the dastardly action of King Constantine! The Greek people overwhelmingly favor the Entente. Serbia is not dead. If we add our strength to the Russian invasion force at Varna then it is Bulgaria not Serbia that will perish."
The king continued to shake his head, "I am not convinced. There have been some ominous developments on the Eastern Front. The Germans have taken Kovno and now threaten Vilna."
"Ah, the Germans have fallen into a clever Russian trap, Your Majesty! As we speak the Russians are hammering away at their inadequate flank guard near Shavli. Once it collapses the reckless German offensive will collapse. The Russians will have an excellent opportunity to capture the German siege train."
"The battle around Shavli has been going on for several days. If the German forces there are as weak as you are assuming, that battle should been over before today. There are some other facts you are not mentioning either. The Russian offensive in the Bukovina, which we were watching with great interest, appears to have stalled. Meanwhile the Austrians have launched their own offensive in Galicia which as far as I can tell is making some progress."
"Very limited progress, Your Majesty! And even that comes at a heavy cost in casualties and a lavish expenditure of ammunition that Austrians cannot sustain. As for the Bukovina the Russians are merely taking a small pause while they move up supplies and reinforcements. After that their advance will continue."
"That is just what the Russian attaché is telling you. We shall wait and see what happens. And not just what happens next door to us. For one thing the Spanish embargo is very puzzling. Do they really love the Irish that much or are as I suspect, they really interested in reclaiming Gibraltar."
The prime minister took his time before replying, "Uh, the Spanish are obviously playing a complicated game, Your Majesty. I would respectfully counsel against becoming distracted by their devious machinations."
"And we in turn will counsel you against ignoring them completely! There is much going on in the war that you choose to overlook. Things are very complicated at this moment and not just in Spain. It is my guess that they will become less complicated fairly soon. Only then will we consider entering the war."
-------SMS Seydlitz 51° 8° 1610 hrs
Having rendezvoused with 1st Scouting Group, the I.R.N. armed trawler, Eamonn Ceannt, was now communicating with Admiral von Hipper’s flagship using its searchlight transmitting unencrypted Morse code. Two seamen were assigned to translate the message with a third was ready with a pencil and a scratch pad to write down what was reported. The admiral became concerned by the expression he saw dawning on the face of one of the sailors. "What is it?" he asked, "What are they saying?"
The senior of the two seamen who was not writing answered without turning, "British have broken our codes."
The cigar dropped out of the admiral’s gaping mouth and fell to the deck. Raeder was gaping as well.
The seaman continued speaking very lose as he translated the Morse code, "we have new codebooks aboard."
------south of Limerick 1705 hrs
The 111th Infantry Division with some help from the West Limerick Battalion and Limerick City Battalion, had been methodically reducing the trapped piece of the Lowland Division all day long. By noontime they had finally realized that it was considerably less than half of the entire division. What was left of the pocket was now overrun. Over 1,200 prisoners were taken two thirds of which had been wounded. Nearly 300 uninjured albeit somewhat gaunt, horses were captured and after being fed and groomed by the veterinary detachment of the 111th Infantry Division were sent south for the 7th Cavalry Division. The Germans had captured a 5" howitzer intact but the Scots managed to wreck the rest of their trapped artillery before the Germans could capture them.
A pair of Vickers machineguns were captured in working condition. Both of them were soon given to von Thoma’s West Limerick Battalion. Only a small amount of food and only a tiny amount of ammunition was captured.
As this was going one General Sontag, the commander of the 111th Infantry Division received new orders from General von François. He was instructed to move all of his division into Limerick relieving the Naval Division in the trenches north of Limerick. Tomorrow morning he was to attack the elements of the West Riding Division entrenched there.
------Helena & St. Constantine (Bulgaria) 1735 hrs
As the Cossacks were being methodically ferried from the beaches to the transports waiting offshore, one of the Opolchenie battalions that had been defending Varna finally showed up and began to harass the Cossacks on the beach with long range rifle fire. This eventually prompted the Cossacks to counterattack driving the Bulgarian soldiers away from the beaches.
------SMS Friedrich der Grosse Celtic Sea 1740 hrs
Admiral von Ingenohl was annoyed with Admiral von Hipper once again. He was also more than a little confused as he watched the torpedoboat detached from the 1st Torpedoboat Flotilla rapidly approaching his flagship. "What information does it possess that von Hipper could not more easily transmit by wireless?" he wondered aloud.
"I suspect this might have something to do with the strange rendezvous with the Irish trawler so urgently requested by the Haulbowline base commander, admiral," Admiral Eckermann, his chief of staff replied.
Admiral von Ingenohl shrugged, "That is as good a guess as any, I suppose, but why all the mystery?"
The torpedoboat pulled alongside the flagship and began communicating via searchlight and this mystery was soon solved. So were some others.
"OKW believes our codes have been compromised," said Eckermann, "I do not believe it, admiral."
"No, this would explain a great many mysteries. Why were the British so close to us when we were on our way to raid Scarborough? Or why were they waiting for us at Utsire? I have long suspected that our wireless transmissions were part of the problem. The Admiralstab kept telling me that our codes were perfectly secure so instead I thought it was the use of direction finding by the enemy that was the problem even though that provided a less satisfactory explanation of what happened at Dogger Bank and Utsire."
------OKW Berlin 1825 hrs
"Admiral, the wireless message from Ireland you were expecting has arrived," a member of OKW’s communication’s section informed Admiral von Tirpitz as he was meeting with Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke. He then handed the admiral a piece of paper.
CURRENT ABLE BODIED IRISH STRENGTH UNDER MY COMMAND IS ABOUT EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED REPEAT CURRENT ABLE BODIED IRISH STRENGTH UNDER MY COMMAND IS ABOUT EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED STOP THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE FORCES IN COUNTY GALWAY AND POINTS NORTH NOR DOES IT INCLUDE REMNANTS OF DUBLIN BRIGADE IN WICKLOW REPEAT THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE FORCES IN COUNTY GALWAY AND POINTS NORTH NOR DOES IT INCLUDE REMNANTS OF DUBLIN BRIGADE IN WICKLOW STOP IT DOES INCLUDE SMALL IRISH NAVY REPEAT IT DOES INCLUDE SMALL IRISH NAVY STOP
"This was transmitted under the old codes, not the new ones, yes?" asked the grossadmiral.
"That is correct, admiral."
"Good. You are dismissed."
"Mind if I look?" asked von Moltke.
"Here go ahead."
After reading it von Moltke said, "So as I understand your little scheme, this message tells us two things. The first is that Admiral von Ingenohl has been informed that the old codes were compromised and has the new codes in his possession. Secondly it tells us that there are roughly 17,000 Irishmen under his direct command because our instructions was to halve the figures supplied by General von François. Even making allowances for the rebel forces up north and the many casualties the Irish have suffered I still find it to be a disappointing .figure. Remember how Plunkett kept us how 80,000 would rise up in the first 3 days?"
"That is not important now. What we have will suffice esp. now that we have 5,000 more from America to add to the equation. Hopefully the British will be lured into complacency by believing that it is only 8,500 men."
"Admiral von Ingenohl will have to start using the new codes soon, won’t that make the British suspicious?"
"We shall see."
-----HQ Lowland Division east of Lisnagry (Limerick) 1835 hrs
The Lowland Division had finally established a defensible line by falling back behind the Mulkear River. The division’s right flank lay on the Shannon. On its left flank the Lowland Division had finally established a good contact with the 11th (Northern) Division. Coordination with the 11th Division had improved markedly after General WH Sitwell had replaced General Hammersley who had apparently suffered a nervous breakdown. The front line of the 11th (Northern) Division curved to the northeast through the town of Murroe up into the western foothills of the Slievefeliem Mountains crossing the border into County Tipperary for half a mile.
The enemy pursuit of the Lowland Division had weakened for multiple reasons. For one thing the soldiers of Brigade Hell and the 6th Bavarian Division were exhausted though so were the soldiers of Lowland Division. For another the enemy units had become intermixed causing command and control confusion. Also the Lowland Division had finally begun receiving in the midafternoon the supply shipments they had been scheduled to receive in the early morning. Their batteries now possessed enough shells to conduct an effective defense. Lastly the inexperienced Austro-Hungarian troops had become unintentionally intermixed with the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division and this was causing more than a little confusion at the higher headquarters.
One of Egerton’s problems was that General Wilson, who seemed to have no real appreciation just how weakened his division had become and how close to annihilation it had come this day. Wilson was deeply upset at just how far Lowland Division and the 11th (Northern) Division had retreated. He kept insisting that both divisions seize the initiative and go back on the offensive as soon as possible. To General Egerton soon as possible did not mean today.
-----Omagh (Tyrone) 1850 hrs
By this time roughly 2,900 Ulster Volunteers had arrived at Omagh Major Dickerson who was in command of the half battalion of 1/7th Highland Light Infantry at Omagh, was now also the acting commander of the this brigade sized band of U.V.F. He had been warned though that there were some problems with the remaining 1,100 Ulster Volunteers that he had been assigned and it could be as late as midnight before the last of them detrained at Omagh. Meanwhile he had good intelligence that the rebel force he was ordered to destroy had departed Tyrone and were now nestled in the northern part of County Fermanagh and just over the border in County Monaghan. It was unclear what the rebel intentions were. Perhaps they were withdrawing from Ulster but another possibility was they intended to march on Belfast through Monaghan. In either case Major Dickerson foresaw a long chase ahead of him, and decided it was best to get it started now. He marched both the Highland Light Infantry and the Ulster Volunteers south out of Omagh leaving behind orders for the remaining U.V.F contingents to follow him as soon as they detrained.
------10 Downing St 1900 hrs
Arthur James Balfour arrived on schedule to dine with the prime minister. Though he was normally a very patient man, Balfour did not take very long to get down to the point this evening, "Please do not take it personally when I tell you that it is over, Andrew. You know that as well as I do, old chap. There is going to be a vote of no confidence in Parliament before noon tomorrow."
"That remains to be seen, Arthur," replied the prime minister an ambivalent mixture of stubborn defiance and stoic resignation.
"Oh, come on, now. It will not even be close. This is not mere guesswork on my part. I have in fact a good idea of what the tally will be and it is overwhelming. The only reason it did not happen today is there is a widespread fear amongst the more responsible MP’s of political paralysis during the transition at a time when we can ill afford it. The king shares their concern. Some of the less savvy Liberal MP’s---and all of the Labour MP’s--- are deeply worried that our party might be rallying around Long whom they cannot abide much less support. For that reason the sovereign will ask me to try to form a new government within an hour of the no confidence vote. The king has made it quite clear that he will not permit a dissolution of parliament during war time."
Bonar Law stared at Balfour. There was often an air of smugness about Balfour that he found irritating. Now was one of those occasions. "Calling a general election at this time would be foolish bordering on irresponsible," he admitted, "Are you sure you have enough votes to form a new government quickly? Long does have his supporters."
"Only in our party and some of those are amenable to persuasion. I can count on the overwhelming majority of the Liberals and quite a few from Labour as well."
Balfour frowned slightly at that, "Hmm not altogether likely, I suppose. Quite frankly we didn’t approach him. He has become a prickly fellow of late."
"A despicable traitor is more like it. The attorney general was preparing for have him arrested and tried for treason."
"Ah, I am not sure that I will follow through on that, Andrew. Treason after all is an extremely serious charge."
"Of which he is guilty, though admittedly a jury of his peers might not agree. We were holding off to give Smith as much time a necessary to make his case as strong as possible."
"When I have the time I will go over with him the evidence he has collected to date."
"So you plan on keeping Smith as attorney general?"
"Oh, yes. I plan on making very few changes to the Cabinet. Henderson will become a minister without portfolio in exchange for the support of the majority of Labour’s MP’s. Birrell will of course, be replaced. Quite frankly I am astonished that you have not done so already."
"Rest assured it is not because I have any great love of Birrell! I have wanted so much to sack him---maybe even prosecute him for negligence. But finding someone even remotely qualified for the job and who could be persuaded to take it under the current circumstances has proven deucedly difficult."
Balfour grinned slightly, "I am already encountering those very same problems nevertheless I am confident that an acceptable candidate can be found shortly. However there are more important decisions that my government will need to make in the next few days. For one thing are you satisfied with General Hamilton’s performance in Ireland?"
Bonar Law took some time before answering, "We have not discussed this much in the War Committee--- I pray that you are planning to continue the War Committee. Trying to reach decisions with the full Cabinet like that moron Asquith attempted to do would in our current situation be disastrous."
"Rest assured I am indeed planning to continue the War Committee though I am thinking of adding Henderson."
"That would be a mistake."
"It will further strengthen his position within the Labour Party and therefore help to marginalize MacDonald."
"Hanging MacDonald would be far less complicated---and effective!."
"As far as I concerned pacifism per se is not the same as treason."
"A distinction without a difference if you ask me."
Balfour permitted himself a barely audible sigh before replying, "We are reverting to a previous topic, Andrew. I was asking if you personally were satisfied with General Hamilton’s performance. There are a growing number of MP’s who are not."
Again the prime minister paused while pursing his lips and scratching his chin before replying, "Quite frankly neither am I, Arthur. Strangely no one has yet to bring this up in the War Committee except for some rather oblique criticism."
"Does Sir Ian still enjoy the full confidence of Lord Kitchener?"
The prime minister shrugged, "As you are likely to find out, Lord Kitchener can be downright inscrutable at times. I can sense that he is not fully satisfied either but so far he has not broached the topic of relieving Hamilton. The two of them go back a long way. I am sure it is something Kitchener would like very much to avoid."
"Which I more than understand. Nevertheless it may prove to be necessary."
"Perhaps but I do not see an obvious replacement."
"As with replacing Birrell I am sure one could be found. Changing the subject many MP’s including myself are downright bewildered by the recent behavior of the Admiralty. After defeating the German Fleet in the Celtic Sea they have been almost passive. Why were the Germans allowed to land in Galway Bay yesterday? It just doesn’t add up. Something is not being revealed."
Bonar Law took his time before answering, "As the old saying goes, ‘The devil is in the details.’ In this case those details include the fact that some of our most powerful dreadnoughts incl. the Queen Elizabeth were very badly damaged. They were sent to the shipyards for repairs. The remaining fleet that Admiral Bayly has at his disposal as been regarded as too weak to have another go at the German fleet which was damaged not quite as severely as our own. I would hasten to point out that Warspite joined the Grand Fleet today so we not going to permit the Germans to simply do as they please any longer."
This produced a faint smile from Balfour, "Well that was both edifying and reassuring. So is another fleet action expected off Galway tomorrow?"
"Not likely. In fact we believe the German battle fleet to be on their way back to Cork right now."
"Oh. Might I ask why you seem to be so sure of that?"
Again Bonar Law took his time before replying, "There are certain things that I am not at liberty to reveal to you now, Arthur. If and when you actually do replace me, the First Lord will brief you on the details."
Balfour looked slightly disappointed by this. "Are you going to tell me the same thing about what is really going on with Spain?"
"No. That is because we have a paucity of reliable intelligence on that situation. The Foreign Office has a detailed report that as far as I am concerned is little more than idle speculation. If you so wish I will have them send you a copy."
"I would appreciate it if they did. Even if it is, as you say, mostly speculation, it would still have some merit. Oh, and what was the opinion of the Foreign Office about the legality of today’s declaration of a 100 nautical mile war zone around Ireland where neutral shipping will be stopped?"
"Opinion in the Foreign Office was sharply divided which made Grey reluctant to go along. Originally we had suggested a 200 mile zone but we compromised this morning on a 100 miles in order to get Grey to agree."
Balfour arched an eyebrow as he said, "I am afraid I don’t understand the logic beind that. If a 200 mile zone was unlawful then so would be a 100 mile zone."
"How long have you been in politics, Arthur? Long enough to know by now that compromises do not always make sense. Besides our action has something of a precedent in the 100 mile limit President Wilson declared around their East Coast."
"Which many, including some in the U.S. Congress, consider unlawful as well."
"The beliefs of a small but vocal minority within a legislature about legalistic hairsplitting is not all that important. I do hope you are not thinking of revoking the war zone around Ireland if you do takeover. The wily Germans are using neutral shipping to send supplies to Ireland both to supply their invasion force and to use Ireland as a staging area to get contraband war materials to Germany. We need to put a stop to that."
Balfour raised his right hand and made a vaguely dismissive gesture, saying, "I have not decided one way or the other. Clearly this is a thorny issue that requires a vigorous debate not a hasty rash decision."
Bonar Law ground his teeth fuming at the insinuation by his almost inevitable successor that he had been hasty and rash. Beyond the personal indignation he once again worried that Balfour as a wartime prime minister would share many of the shortcomings of Asquith.
------NNE of Shavli (Lithuania) 1915 hrs
General von Scheffer-Boyadel, the commander of the XXV Reserve Corps, had intelligence that the Russian XXXVII Army Corps was now essentially a spent round with battalions worn down to the size of companies and batteries almost completely out of ammunition. During the afternoon the general decided that it could be ignored for the time being. He began phasing elements of the 49th Reserve Division out of line and moving them east in small groups that he hoped would not draw the attention of Russian air patrols. He also began moving into their place some squadrons of the nearby cavalry division as well as a regiment of Landsturm General von Marwitz had put at his disposal.
The sun had set nearly a half hour earlier. The withdrawal of the 49th Reserve Division to the east now greatly accelerated according to plans carefully drawn up in the afternoon.
------Helena & St. Constantine (Bulgaria) 1925 hrs
The Opolchenie battalion which had been driven off earlier now returned bringing another battalion of the Bulgarian Territorial infantry with them. By this time there were considerably fewer Cossacks on the beaches. Those that remained counterattacked once again but this time they were weaker and the Bulgarians were stronger. The counterattack failed with fairly heavy losses. Soon after this the Russian destroyers offshore opened fire on the Bulgarian positions. Their low trajectory fire did not cause many casualties but it still spooked the inexperienced Opolchenie into moving back to positions not as close to the beaches.
------HMS Minerva entering North Sound Galway Bay 2005 hrs
The old protected cruiser Minerva from the 11th Cruiser Squadron was assigned the task of investigating Galway Bay. From intercepted wireless messages the Admiralty believed that the High Seas Fleet was now a long way from Galway Bay. However they were not completely clear about the German dispositions so there was still some risk of Minerva being caught and trapped by more powerful units, such as Blücher. There was also the very real possibility that the Germans had mined either North Sound or South Sound. . And there was also a possibility that the enemy had set up a battery of coastal defense guns to guard the bay.
None of which turned out to be true. When she passed Galway city she turned about then slowed to a mere 5 knots. After that she commenced a deliberately slow shelling of Galway with her 6" guns. The late afternoon visibility was mediocre at best. Her gunners were trying as best they could to target what appeared to be enemy concentrations.
When the shelling started Fred Austerlitz, James Cagney and Jack Moran were together with the rest of the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion. There was some confusion as to whether or not they would spend the night inside Irish buildings. The ocean liners had brought some tents along with them but it turned out that there were barely enough to shelter half of the battalion for the night. There were rumors running rampant that some of the Americans would end up sleeping in barns. Already some of the Yanks who had run off to Ireland with romantic ideas about what war was like were having second thoughts. There had been two showers during the day and the sky looked like it would soon rain again.
"Do you here that?" Jack asked the others, "It sounds like thunder." Then there came a whistling sound.
The sound of shells exploding abruptly altered the conversation. "What the fuck?" yelled Cagney. Fred’s father Fritz, who was their company commander, could now be heard yelling, "Get down on the ground! Lie flat on the ground!" The three of them did just that. The turf was still wet from the previous shower.
One of the shells exploded not that far from where the three of them lay prone on the ground. It was close enough to make their ears ring and reduce the sensitivity of their hearing. However they could still hear the agonized scream of one of the members of their company not far from them. "I’m hit, I’m hit!" he shrieked. This was followed a few seconds later with, "Oh God, I’m bleeding! I’m bleeding bad! Somebody help me. Somebody please HELP ME!"
The shelling continued for a few more minutes though none the shells came quite as close to Fred, Jimmy and Jack. For a while the wounded American Volunteer continued pleading for help but no one would help him. Eventually he went silent. Only when the shelling finally ceased did two men who were supposed to be medics go over to see what they could do. Others gathered around including Fred, Jimmy and Jack. Captain Austerlitz also went over to look. There was a very large pool of blood on the ground. The victim had taken a piece of shrapnel in the right thigh which had cut an artery. The victim was now unconscious having gone into shock from the loss of blood. One the medics tending him looked up at Captain Austerlitz and shook his head. As everybody watched in horror and dismay the victim bled out and died.
Fred felt sick and vomited. Jack did not vomit but became pale as a sheet and trembled for over a minute. James on the other hand reddened with rage. He raised his right fist towards where there had been orange flashes in the bay and yelled at the top of his voice, "Do you think you can scare us you fuckin’ limey bastards? Well you can’t scare me! You hear me! I ain’t afraid of you bastards! I ain’t afraid!"
As he was yelling Fr. Duffy, one of the two priests who had accompanied the American Volunteer Brigade approached accompanied by John Prout, the only platoon leader in the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion who was Irish. The priest took note of Cagney’s bravado and told him, "Now now young lad, being brave and being afraid are not mutually exclusive, you know."
It had been anyone but a priest, Cagney would have argued against that. Instead he mumbled feebly, "Uh, I will keep that in mind, Father. This soldier here needs the Last Rites." He was a little bit grateful that the chaplain did not chastise him for his profanity.
The priest bent over and examined the body of the soldier. After a few seconds he closed the man’s eyes. With a profound sadness he told the assembled American Volunteers, "It is too late for the Last Rites. However I can and will pray for his soul. Will you pray with me?" He took out his rosary and along with the Catholics in the group, incl. Cagney and Moran, prayed for the slain soldier.
------east of Shavli (Lithuania) 2030 hrs
After conversing at length with his two corps commanders about their respective situations, General von Marwitz ordered the 2nd Infantry Division along with a battalion of foot artillery temporarily detached from I Army Corps and placed under the XXV Reserve Corps with the 11th Landwehr Division replacing it in the trench line. The foot artillery battalion began to move soon after sundown. This redeployment now began to be implemented with the 2nd Infantry Division with its units being pulled out of line in an orderly fashion. They were replaced in the trench line by elements of the 11th Landwehr Division and sent off marching hard to the northwest.
------Helena & St. Constantine beaches (Bulgaria) 2135 hrs
The Opolchenie had been reinforced still more and being told by their senior officers that the cover of darkness should protect them from the Russian warships moved forward. They were however very cautious in their advance. When the Russian cruiser Kagul lobbed a few shells wildly in their general direction some of the Opolchenie scattered and the rest hugged the ground and refused to advance any further.
------Maryborough (Queen’s) 2250 hrs
The last of the trains carrying the 4,000 Ulster Volunteers assigned to attack Athlone arrived at Maryborough. It had already been decided that the Ulstermen would spend the night inside the town and march out for Athlone at first light.
------SS König Wilhelm II entering mouth of Cork harbor 2315 hrs
The shocking revelation about the Kaiserliche Marine’s codes being broken had filled Admiral von Ingenohl with a strong premonition that the Royal Navy had some dreadful ambush waiting for him on his return to Cork. His first concern was of course the Grand Fleet which he believed to still be a very potent threat. Even with the additional ammunition brought to Cork by the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm he had still not fully replenished all the shells that he had expended at the Battle of the Celtic Sea so he feared running out of ammunition before the enemy would in an extended fleet action.
British submarines were another worry for the Grossadmiral esp. in light of their sinking the Kronprinzessin Cecilie and badly damaging the President Lincoln. Torpedoboats attacking in the dark of night were yet another source of apprehension. Lastly he was deeply worried about mines. The fact that the I.R.N. minesweepers were not finding any he regarded as a possible indication of their complete and utter incompetence.
The commander of the High Seas Fleet therefore decided to send the ocean liners von Spee had brought back from the United States into Cork harbor first to function as canaries in the coal mine. The König Wilhelm II was in the vanguard because she was the smallest liner. These vessels all entered the harbor without incident incl. Lusitania. Still not completely convinced Admiral von Ingenohl sent Admiral von Spee’s Atlantic Squadron in next. Only when that was finished without mishap did von Ingenohl send in the High Seas Fleet with 1st Scouting Group entering last.
-----Helena & St. Constantine beaches (Bulgaria) 2250 hrs
The Bulgarian Opolchenie made another cautious attack on the beaches. The beaches were deserted except for the bodies of a few Cossacks who had died from their wounds while waiting for available boats to ferry them back to the transports.