by Tom B
WIDESPREAD SHORTAGES GROWING THROUGHOUT BRITAIN
"The government formally acknowledged yesterday what has been common knowledge for several days now, namely that Great Britain is experiencing a series of increasingly serious local shortages in certain key commodities. Probably the most disturbing is the shortage of coal, which is beginning to impact British industry in many places. The key reason for these shortages has been the recent curtailment of our coastal sea traffic. The overworked British railroad system has proven to be an imperfect substitute at best. If the vital coastal sea traffic does not resume soon these shortages will only grow worse."
----The Times of London Wednesday May 26, 1915
------Limerick city 0005 hrs Wednesday May 26, 1915
After the Limerick City Battalion had returned to Limerick during the night, Major White had been summoned to the headquarters of the Naval Division. He now returned to his battalion HQ. Sergeant Donahue was still there waiting for him. She stood at attention and saluted.
Jack returned the salute, "At ease, sergeant."
"Should I go fetch the company commandants, sir?"
White thought that over for a few seconds then answered, "Nah, they have had a busy day. They must be exhausted. I know that I am. You must be as well."
Bridget was getting ready to deny that she was tired even though she was, when she noticed thatmore than exhaustion was etched in the major’s face. "Begging your pardon, sir, but if you dunna mind me asking, is something wrong?"
White sat down at his desk. He pulled out a pint of Irish whiskey and two shot glasses. He poured himself a shot of whiskey and downed it quickly. He then leaned the bottle in the direction of the second glass and asked, "Would you care for some, sergeant?"
"Uh, thank you very much, sir, but I dunna drink hard liquor."
Major White raised an eyebrow at that. "In that case would you mind very much if I do?"
"Uh, no, sir. Go ahead right ahead, sir."
"Have a seat, Donahue."
"Thank you, sir."
White poured himself another shot of whiskey. As he raised the glass he said, "I have some really smashing news that I am certain will cause many more Irish men---and women---to flock to our cause."
"Uh, and what might that be, sir?"
The major downed his medicine with a grimace then answered, "The British executed the Countess Markievicz Saturday morning."
Mother Superior gasped, "Oh, that is terrible news, sir. I know that you got to know her fairly well when you were training the Citizens Army in Dublin."
White thought about a third drink but instead put a cork in the bottle and his boots up on top of his desk, "I knew Jim Connolly as well. His death is why I am here doing what I am doing."
"I did not know that, sir."
"It’s a long story. If I wasn’t so bloody tired right now I’d tell it to you, but there are other more important things we need to go over right now. As a starter I have finally laid to rest the silly notion of sending you to the support company. I convinced the Germans that you would be asset to my staff and so they are willing to make an exception in your case. You have been permanently assigned to my staff."
"Oh, thank you very much, sir. I do appreciate that."
"Good. Just don’t get the impression that you can get away with those tricks you played on poor Captain Schultz!"
"Uh, I am not exactly sure what you are referring to, sir?"
"Don’t play innocent with me, young lady!" Jack yelled while pointing a finger at her. Bridget did not know how to respond to this unexpected eruption and therefore remained silent. White stared at her for more than a minute. She tried not to squirm but ended up doing so anyway.
"Cat got your tongue, eh?" White taunted as his taciturn expression softened. After a small pause he added, "While we are the subject of Captain Schultz, it might be of some interest to you that the Germans have decided to send him and your old unit, the 5th Kerry Battalion, first to Newcastle West but eventually all the way back to northern Kerry. They will be marching out early in the morning. I don’t know if there is anyone there that you want to say goodbye to."
"Hmm Maybe Lt. McAndrews but that is about it, sir."
"I thought you told me you didn’t think McAndrews was much of an officer."
"Aye, that is certainly true, sir. Still I think I grew a wee bit fond of him what with me practically nursing him back to health and everything."
"Hmm and there is nothing else going on between you two?"
"What do you mean? Oh, heaven’s no, sir! Don’t you be even thinkin’ that sort of rubbish!"
White snorted at that and shook his head before saying, "If you are going to be in the thick of things in the days ahead one thing you will find out is that soldiers can and will think all manners of rubbish! You had better get used to it."
------Nenagh (Tipperary) 0010 hrs
After being informed that the Germans had landed in Galway Bay and that the siege of Limerick had been lifted, the four reporters at Nenagh had been told very little. They had learned that part of the U.V.F. was being mobilized for action, but not how big it was nor where it would be used. In fact the reporters had been sternly warned against pestering General Wilson’s staff with too many inquiries. This left them to speculate amongst themselves about just what was happening. Murdoch had somehow managed to acquire a bottle of Jameson from the military and they were now sharing it.
"Well it looks like we are not going to be photographing the Union Jack flying over King John’s Castle anytime soon," remarked C.P. Connolly, the American reporter from Colliers.
"That is the third time you have said that tonight, C.P." growled Jeremy Thorne, the reporter for the Belfast News-Letter, "You are positively gloating over it, now aren’t you?"
"Uh, I may have said it once before, but not twice and in neither instance was my intention to gloat. I was merely remarking on the facts of the situation," replied Connolly.
"I only recall you saying it once before, C.P. but both times it did sound like you were trying to annoy us," said the Australian reporter, Keith Murdoch, "And so we would all greatly appreciate it if you did not say it again."
"Hear, hear," said Sax Rohmer and seconds later it was repeated by Thorne. Along with Murdoch they were all glaring at the American. Connolly grimaced uncomfortably then shrugged and said, "Gentlemen, it was not my intention to annoy any of you. It is simply that General Wilson’s repeated smug assurance that Limerick would fall did strike me as being, uh, what’s the right word, uh, presumptuous, that’s it, it struck me as being presumptuous."
"Aye, it struck me the same way," Murdoch conceded.
Thorne gaped then said, "What in bloody blazes are you two saying? General Henry Wilson is a great man! He will go down in history as the man who turned this entire campaign around and saved the empire from both the Papists and the Huns."
"That remains to be seen," replied Connolly.
"In the end it all boils down to the Royal Navy. Tomorrow Admiral Bayly will corner von Ingenohl off Galway Bay and finish what he started in the Celtic Sea. The German fleet will be destroyed thereby ensuring victory here in Ireland and ultimately in the war," Rohmer prophesied.
"That too remains to be seen," said the American.
"The navy is very important but the decisive weapon in the Irish campaign shall prove to be the Ulster Volunteer Force," said Thorne replying to Rohmer while pointedly ignoring Connolly, "Now that they have been unleashed---which I am sure is the result of General Wilson’s intercession, the enemy’s days in Ireland are numbered."
"Or it could make the Irish rebellion grow still larger," argued Connolly.
"And that just might be a good thing, Mr. Connolly," replied Thorne, "That way we can get rid of all the poison in the system."
Connolly shook his head and rolled his eyes. Thorne had imbibed some of the whiskey but not enough to be inebriated. "I cannot believe that you could say anything so blasted stupid, Mr. Thorne."
"It is not stupid, Mr. Connolly. It is the plain truth. Ireland desperately needs purgation."
"Yes, it does--- from foolish and immoral attitudes such as yours!"
"Immoral? Immoral you say? What could possibly be more immoral than treason, Mr. Connolly? Contrary to what many think there are indeed snakes in Ireland. It is just that they walk upright to hide their true nature."
------near Noyelles-sur-Mer (Picardy) 0035 hrs
The loss of Morlay had not completely eliminated the importance of the stretch of road near Noyelles-sur-Mer. This was now being used as the line of communications for the British 42nd (North Midland) Division which now served as the spear point of General Plumer’s attempt to retake Morlay and save the 5 trapped divisions of First Army. This night the A.S.C. companies hauling supplies, esp. badly needed artillery shells, along with 3 more RGA batteries, were trying to use the road after dark as German artillery made it too dangerous to use by day.
It was not completely safe by night either. There had been heavy cloud at nightfall but around midnight it began to break up. The bright light of a nearly full moon began to illuminate the battlefield. The Germans were now significantly closer to Noyelles-sur-Mer than they had been.. Hoping to be able to make good use of the bright moon at some point they had raised an observation balloon at last light. Earlier in the night German 7.7cm batteries had periodically at random intervals fired brief harassing bursts at the road. Now they opened up with a more sustained effort as the balloon had now spotted a large convoy of horse drawn supply wagons followed by a battery of siege artillery. This shelling was devastating to both targets. The road remained effectively unusable for the remainder of the night.
------Hunter’s Cross (Clare) 0100 hrs
The Naval Division had spent the night redeploying. The 1st Naval Brigade was assembled across the Muklear River opposite the Lowland Division replacing Brigade Hell which shifted to the southeast. The 1st Naval Brigade also continued to guard the key Shannon River crossings at O’Briensbridge and Killaloe. Meanwhile the 111th Infantry Division took over most the trench line north of Limerick, esp. the sector near Sixmilebridge. However in the vicinity of Hunter’s Cross which lay WSW of Sixmilebridge, the German Marines were not relieved. Instead the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment received orders to mount a diversionary attack during the night.
This battalion had an effective strength of just over 500 men. Dense fog had rolled in after dark. The no man’s land was considerably wider here than it was near Sixmilebridge. Because of its proximity to the Shannon from which German warships could provide fire support, the British thought this was a likely place for the Germans to attack and had added another strand of barbed wire here late yesterday. The British officers did not think the German Marines would be ready to attack before midmorning and some believed they would not dare to attack. However standard procedures and precautions were being observed "just in case". There was some small delay in becoming fully aware of the German attack which was compounded by the fog but this small measure of surprise was not enough for the German assault to succeed.
Soon flares were being fired into the sky. Their light and that of 2 small searchlights tried to illuminate the battlefield. The fog diffused this light into a milky confusion. Hazy glimpses of soldiers would suddenly become visible and just as suddenly disappear back into the gauzy whiteness. Luminous streams of tracers from British machineguns whipped back and forth across no man’s land. The shrieks of those men the machineguns found just added to the subconscious impression that this was some supernatural horror.
It soon became apparent to the German battalion commander that his attack had no chance of succeeding. Feeling that he had done all he could to create a credible diversion as ordered, he did not hesitate in ordering his men to fall back.
------Clenagh (Clare) 0105 hrs
The Foynes Battalion had sent 3 of its 4 companies to Limerick city, keeping the 4th company behind to help guard the supply dumps at Foynes. The German success at Limerick during the last few days had greatly reduced the need to guard these dumps which were now nearly exhausted anyway. The fourth company still received a steady influx of new members. When it reached 300 members it was split into 2 companies. Late yesterday these 2 companies had received orders for an important mission. Each of them had 3 German Marines attached to them to assist their Irish Brigade commandants.
A motley collection of small vessels had arrived at Foynes at dusk yesterday. The slightly better trained 4th company was loaded aboard the faster vessels after which the 5th company was crammed into the rest. The ships then proceeded up the Shannon past Coney Island to the vicinity of the tiny hamlet of Clenagh where the soldiers of the 4th company now started to come ashore. German warships in the Shannon had periodically swept the shore with their searchlights to help illuminate the way as the dense cloud cover obscured the bright moon but were ordered not to concentrate on the intended landing area as it might make the British suspicious. A few of the Irish Volunteers landing at Clenagh were familiar with the area and helped prevent the others from becoming too disorganized in the dark. A perimeter was quickly established and patrols sent inland.
-----near Jaroslaw (Galicia) 0120 hrs
Russian artillery had destroyed the Austro-Hungarian pontoon bridge over the San River yesterday. Engineers of General von Auffenberg’s Fourth Army were busy rebuilding it in a slightly different spot now that clouds had thickened enough to block out most of the moonlight. The Austro-Hungarian engineers hoped that the clouds did not mean heavy rain as the San could be still be forded without too much difficulty in a few places allowing reinforcements to cross the river. If the San had been a stronger water obstacle the Austro-Hungarians would be forced to abandon their bridgehead. As it was they were doing only a little better than a stalemate here. They had forced the Russians out of Jaroslaw but the enemy had meanwhile hemmed in the city and the rest of bridgehead with a well dug entrenchment that was proving difficult to breach.
------Royal Palace Sofia (Bulgaria) 0125 hrs
It was a late night but no one was yawning. Tsar Ferdinand I and Prime Minister Alexander Malinov waited as General Nikola Zhekov, the Bulgarian commander in chief finished his telephone call From the bits and pieces they could overhear there was hints that the news was not too bad but they could not sure and that made them anxious.
As soon as he hung up the telephone, the general turned to his monarch and announced, "They’re gone, Your Majesty, the infernal Cossacks have returned to their ships."
The prime minister looked happy as he said, "Well that is a relief! I guess we can all get some sleep and take this up again in the morning."
The tsar looked stern, and groused, "Who can sleep at a time like this? You tell us that the Cossacks have gone back to their ships. So you are telling us that you have let them get away? There should be piles of dead Cossack bodies rotting on the beaches!"
The general fidgeted slightly, "Your Majesty, the Opolchenie battalions had their hands full defending the most vital sections of Varna. They were not strong enough to counterattack and pursue such a strong enemy."
"Which is precisely why we must strongly reinforce the coast so that nothing like this will ever happen again," said Malinov.
"Which is exactly what the Russians want!" replied the general, "This hit and run raid was intended to force us to remove forces from First Army and Second Army in the hope of saving their ally, Serbia."
"I care more about the needs our people than what the Russians may or may not want, general! And besides, haven’t you told us that Serbia is already doomed?" asked Malinov, "The more I think about it the more it becomes obvious to me that simply removing one regiment and one battery from each army as we discussed before is not going to be enough because it is not just Varna but entire coast that we will need to defend."
"The battle for Nish is in its final phase," argued Zhekov, "To withdraw anything more from First Army could well delay that victory. In fact Kronprinz Rupprecht has expressed some dissatisfaction with the small force we are removing from First Army."
"Yes he did," remarked Tsar Ferdinand, "but you will note that he had no objection to removing the same elements from Second Army. I would not be surprised if he eventually suggests that we weaken Second Army still further. Right now they actually want our Second Army to fail. That is because our so called allies clearly do not want us to have any claim whatsoever to territory on the Adriatic once the war is over."
"I am not so sure about the Germans, Your Majesty," the general replied, "Their guidance about how best to use Second Army is frequently inconsistent and confusing. They do sometimes talk about our lending a man in the obliteration of the AngloFrench forces inside Herzegovina but then they will also ‘politely’ warn us about alarming the Italians by approaching Albania too closely. The Austrian position on the other hand is by no means confusing. They make it very clear that they so not want us in either Albania or Montenegro."
"Hmm I think the Germans are merely being more subtle," mused Tsar Fredinand but perhaps I am mistaken. That is an issue we can take up again in the morning. For the time being let us start with the small withdrawals from both armies. However going forward our discussion will just be about what we need to defend coastline. We have long thought of the Russians as being kin with whom we had a special relationship. Now our cousins if you will have done this to us! Simply protecting ourselves better must be part of our response but it cannot be all of our response."
------southeast of Athlone (Westmeath) 0155 hrs
Commandant MacLoughlain decided he would try to bring all of Cavan Battalion along with the liberated internees to Athlone after dark circling around to approach it from the south. The Ulstermen of the Royal Irish Rifles had patrols out as usual but with dense clouds obscuring what otherwise would be a near full moon these missed a great deal. Eventually they did bump into some of those trying to reach Athlone, but only after many others had already reached Athlone. A series of confused firefights erupted in the darkness. Things became even more confused when the 1st Athlone Battalion sent out one of its companies to assist Cavan Battalion and the internees. These briefly fired on some members of Cavan Battalion mistaking them for the British. The Ulstermen captured 44 of the Irish Volunteers of Cavan Battalion and executed all but eight of them on the spot. They also captured 61 German internees. Some of these were immediately executed as well but most were spared once the Ulstermen realized what they were.
Meanwhile the vast majority of both Cavan Battalion and the freed internees made it to Athlone unharmed. Cavan Battalion soon received many of the Moisin-Nagant rifles that had arrived yesterday. What to do with the German internees, some of whom wanted to fight and others who definitely did not, was less clear. The fact that there were no German uniforms readily available was definitely a stumbling block. For the time being a small company was formed from those who were willing to fight without a proper uniform and had some military training.
------west of Dessie (Abyssinia) 0230 hrs
The Abyssinian Army of Iyasu continued to harass the rear of the retreating coalition of Zauditu’s rebels and General Lee’s Anglo-Indian expedition. Iyasu’s soldiers had learned the hard way that they were getting a less unfavorable ratio of casualties at night even with the bright moon and so pressed the Indian troops assigned as a rearguard hardest after dark. Tonight’s fighting had been the heaviest yet. However the Abyssinian now began to pull back. At first it seemed that they wanted to be out of rifle range come dawn but eventually General Lee’s morning patrols discovered that Iyasu’s men were disengaging completely. Iyasu’s army had been experiencing logistical problems even before the battle and was now running low on food
------south of Lake Rosroe (Clare) 0325 hrs
While the 5th company of the Foynes battalion was finishing its awkward landing at Clenagh, the 4th company had marched east on a narrow trail to cut the main road leading south from Newmarket-an-Fergus. They discovered British telegraph and telephone wires here which they promptly cut. They then sent out patrols to the east to locate their main objective which was the British artillery positioned south of Lake Rosroe. They soon descended upon the ‘C’ battery of the 2nd West Riding Artillery Brigade. Most of the brigade was still asleep. They were sentries of course who managed to raise a last minute alarm but it was not enough to prevent the attackers from eventually overrunning the camp and seizing all four of its 15 pounder guns intact. They only found a small number of shells though. One of the German Marines attached to the company was a signals specialist who fired off a colored signal rocket after overrunning the battery.
Meanwhile the 4th company Foynes Battalion searched for additional batteries and before long found one. However this one was now fully alert and there was some predawn twilight. The British artillerists easily repelled the ensuing Irish attack. After that failure the 4th company fell back to the west taking with them their prisoners and captured guns.
------ENE of Shavli (Lithuania) 0350 hrs
Throughout the night the Russian III Army Corps had pursued the 50th Reserve Division as it fell back towards Shavli, capturing substantial amounts of German supplies and draught animals but taking less than 500 prisoners. Meanwhile the German 49th Reserve Division which had been hurriedly moved from the west, now crashed into the open right flank of the Russian 25th Infantry Division. While the Russian officers and soldiers of that division struggled to recover from that shock, the 27th and 28th Infantry Divisions continued their dogged pursuit of the 50th Reserve Division.
------north of Gort (Galway) 0435 hrs
Skirmishing between ‘C’ squadron 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars and the Athlone Cyclist Company north of the town of Gort had begun soon after first light. It had briefly drawn in the German cyclist company of the 183rd Infantry Brigade. Before sending the 183rd Infantry Brigade to Galway, General von François had met with its commander, General von Schüßler and one of his topics was a tactic that had often worked during the Irish campaign. The general now sent the Roscommon Brigade in the vanguard to make contact with the enemy, which turned out to be the 109th Brigade positioned 5 miles north of Gort. The Roscommon Battalion was ordered by General von Schüßler to make contact with the enemy then flee towards the north as if in panic.
The 109th Brigade was supported by an artillery brigade with 2 batteries of 15 pounder guns. These were short on ammunition but one of the batteries subjected the Roscommon Battalion to a brief shelling. The Irish Volunteers of the Roscommon Battalion had never been subjected to enemy artillery before and in their subsequent retreat it was not necessary for many of them to feign panic. The Ulstermen of the 109th Brigade gave chase with relish. When they were beyond the support of their artillery they entered into a firefight with 4 battalions of the 183rd Infantry Brigade which were at full strength while the 3 battalions of the 109th Brigade were roughly half strength. Man for man the British had a small advantage in an open field rifle engagement but the greatly superior German numbers overwhelmed that. They were soon whittling down the Ulstermen who were soon forced to fall back towards Gort where the rest of the division was assembling.
The pursuit of the 183rd Infantry Brigade was quickly called off when the British artillery brigade commenced firing on their lead battalion. The 183rd Infantry Brigade had only a single battery and even that was not yet in position. General von Schüßler was uncertain about the enemy strength around Gort and that caused him to be overly circumspect in trying to follow up on his initial success.
------Sixmilebridge (Clare) 0500 hrs
The combined artillery of the Naval Division (which had received considerable ammunition by train from Cork during the night) and the 111th Infantry Division plus 2 foot artillery batteries with 15cm howitzers commenced their bombardment of the positions of the 1st West Riding Brigade in the vicinity of Sixmilebridge. The British only had two batteries of four15 pounders each and they were soon thoroughly suppressed. The German bombardment lasted only 40 minutes as that used up nearly all the ammunition they had available. In the last 20 minutes the minenwerfers of the pioneer companies of both divisions joined in the bombardment.
Initially the Germans had considered attacking some place closer to the Shannon where they could use the fire from their warships more effectively. However they had already learned that the effectiveness of low trajectory naval gunfire against entrenchments was disappointing. The sector around Sixmilebridge had the shortest no man’s land and its barbed wire barriers were less dense. This persuaded General Sontag to make his attack there. .
The assault was made by 4 battalions of the 111th Infantry Division plus the 3 companies of Foynes Battalion that had made it to Limerick. These Irish companies had not seen much action in yesterday’s combat and were well rested The German battalions on the other hand had slept only a little more than 4 hours. The sector they attacked was only held by a single battalion, the 1/6th Yorkshire. Half of the 1/5th Yorkshire had been nearby as well but it had been sent chasing after the 4th company Foynes Battalion after those Irishmen had attacked their supporting artillery.
The 1/6th Yorkshire had in the course of the siege of Limerick been reduced to an effective strength less than 500 men. The German bombardment had taken a toll on them as nearly all of them had been deployed in the forward trench. Those that survived were spread out over nearly two miles. Fighting bravely they inflicted losses on their enemy as they struggled with the barbed wire but were too weak to hold their trench. After that the brigadier in charge of the 1st West Riding Brigade realized that there was no chance of halting the enemy advance and ordered his entire brigade and their remaining artillery to withdraw rapidly to the north.
General Sontag had his 2 cavalry squadrons standing by to exploit a complete rupture of the enemy lines. Once he learned of the British withdrawal he committed both of them immediately.
------SMS Kaiser Friedrich III off Clenagh 0510 hrs
After midnight night the captain of the predreadnought Kaiser Friedrich III received orders to shift his vessel’s position in the Shannon. She was now anchored off the area were the 4th and 5th companies of the Foynes Battalion had landed. She had sent a detachment of her crew to set up an observation post before dawn.. The 4th company had retreated back to areaaround Clenagh after capturing a British RFA battery linking up with the 5th company. Half of the 1/5th Battalion Yorkshire had pursued the Irish Volunteers and was now engaged in a vigorous firefight.
The Kaiser Friedrich III now commenced firing on the 1/5th Battalion Yorkshire with her port battery of 15cm guns. The Irishmen were too close to the enemy to risk using the main battery. Even the secondary battery was firing quite slowly at first with the first salvoes being deliberately long. The Yorkshire men beat a hasty retreat soon after the shelling started. As soon as it became clear they were retreating, her gunnery officer ordered his guns to cease firing as his captain had made it clear he did not want to waste ammunition on what he regarded as a very minor action.
------Lisnaskea (Fermanagh) 0545 hrs
Whatever ideas Colonel Heinrici had about staying in the northern part of County Fermanagh for another day evaporated completely once he learned that part of the Ulster Volunteer Force was being mobilized. Though he did not know for certain, Heinrici guessed that his 3 battalions were the only large I.R.A. force in Ulster and therefore the main target of the U.V.F. He now marched both 1st and 2nd Northern Ireland Battalions to the southeast with the town of Belturbet just over the border in County Cavan as their destination. He had an hour earlier dispatched a motorcyclist to Clones with orders for the 3rd Northern Ireland Battalion to rendezvous with them at Belturbet
------around Shavli (Lithuania) 0610 hrs
The German 50th Reserve Division had halted its retreat at the outer edge of Shavli and turned around to confront its pursuers. The foot artillery battalion that General von Marwitz had transferred from I Army Corps, had finally arrived to augment the division’s firepower which erupted against the Russian vanguard. This put a brake on the advance of the Russian III Army Corps which then began to site their own batteries.
While this was going on the Russian 3rd Cavalry Division had been moving quickly to try to circle around to the south to cut Shavli’s line of communications and threaten the rear of the XXV Reserve Corps. In doing so it ran into the German 2nd Infantry Division which was marching up hard from the south to reinforce the XXV Reserve Corps. The 2nd Infantry Division posed a potential threat to the left flank of III Army Corps which was already under attack on its right flank. The 3rd Cavalry Division was prevented from outflanking the 50th Reserve Division Shavli, but it was distracting the 2nd Infantry Division for the time being, greatly slowing its march to the north.
------near Morlay (Picardy) 0630 hrs
When they learned of the problems with using the supply road during the night General Munro, the commander of I Army Corps and General Plumer, the commander of Second Army, had wanted to cancel the planned early morning attack of the 42nd (North Midland) Division but Field Marshal French insisted that it go ahead, so they merely delayed it slightly. Because more than half of the nighttime shipment of ammunition had made it through, the bombardment was allocated a full hour this time. The British now had 2 more batteries of heavy artillery but they still were noticeably weaker than their opponents. Dover Patrol did not the 3 monitors this as they had returned to Dover last night to replenish their magazines. They did have a second scout cruiser in the bay.
The next hour produced a lively exchange of artillery fire with neither side able to dominate the other. Once again the British shells were overwhelmingly shrapnel shells. The German defenders suffered some losses but with the support of their powerful artillery they were more than enough to handle the 6 British battalions selected for the assault, as they struggled to find a way through the dense wire barriers that was largely uncut. Their casualties steadily mounted with only a handful reaching the German trenches. Soon it became painfully clear to the senior officers involved that this attack was not working and they returned back to their own trenches.
------Templemore (Tipeerary) 0640 hrs
While its cavalry and cyclists skirmished with a force of rebels just north of Thurles, most of the 13th (Western) Division was at the army camp at Templemore, which the rebels had abandoned in haste. There was still some food and fodder lying around which the rebels were forced to leave behind. General Shaw, the division commander, was sorely disappointed that he not been able to annihilate this band of traitors yet. It was not General Shaw’s main objective of course but it would be a tasty appetizer for his men, preparing them for the heavy main course to follow soon.
The division had marched hard since leaving Maryborough. The general would permit them a brief rest here then it was on to Thurles. Hopefully they would eliminate both the rebels and the pesky armored train at Thurles.
------Galicia 0700 hrs
After taking a small pause yesterday to rotate units and build up their depleted stockpile of artillery shells, the Central Powers Galician offensive resumed. The Russian Eleventh and Eighth Armies were now nearly out of artillery shells and their Third Army to the north was only slightly better off. The commander of the Russian Eighth was in a particularly difficult position as his right wing was once again under heavy pressure from Böhm-Ermolli’s Second Army while his left wing was still trying to support the ongoing offensive of General Lechitski’s Ninth Army in the Bukovina which had slowed to a crawl in the last week. The number of shells Eighth Army was receiving from Southwestern Front was inadequate to support either mission much less both. This was the main reason why the Austro-Hungarian Second Army did reasonably well this morning, advancing a little more than 3 kilometers with casualties that were markedly less than the enemy for a change.
General von Linsingen’s Center Army advances only slightly more. He was still methodically grinding down General Shcherbachev’s Eleventh Army with his artillery. The main problem of Center Army was that of the Russian Third Army on his right flank. As the salient created by Center Army’s advance became more and more pronounced it also became increasingly vulnerable to enfilading fire from the Russian Third Army. Conrad had promised von Linsingen that the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army would rectify that by establishing a bridgehead at Jaroslaw with which to attack Third Army. However this bridgehead was just barely hanging on and while it was obviously distracting Radko-Dmitriev in von Linsingen’s opinion it was not distracting him enough and hr fired off a telegram to Conrad telling him so.
------Haulbowline naval base (Cork) 0705 hrs
Admiral von Ingenohl had ordered General von François to a morning meeting along with Admirals von Spee, von Hipper and Eckermann. "You all know by now about the British being able to read our naval codes," declared von Ingenohl while shaking his head, "I simply knew that our overuse of wireless was at least part of the reason why the British always seemed to be waiting for us, but the so called communication experts at the Admiralstab kept reassuring me that our ciphers were perfectly safe so I thought it must be on account of some direction finding technique. The experts were skeptical about that as well but they could not rule it out completely so I went ahead and imposed my policy of reducing our use of long range wireless."
"I am glad that you did, admiral," von Spee commented, "Otherwise the British would surely have learned of Operation Unicorn while we were in transit. They would have intercepted us with dreadnoughts before we reached Ireland with catastrophic results."
Admiral von Ingenohl sighed deeply and shook his head deeply. Germany would be better off if that had happened he thought but unfortunately I cannot utter that aloud. So instead he said, "Yes, but what is even more important it put the High Seas Fleet at risk---very serious risk. It is just another demonstration of the foolhardiness of these recklessly ambitious plans of OKW."
The admiral had turned to General von François as he said that. The general knew very well that the admiral was once again venting his unrelenting antipathy towards Operation Unicorn, which the general had helped plan as well as now commanding its land forces. "It seems to me, admiral," said von François, "That the fact that we know that the British were reading our codes should open up some possibilities for deceiving them. Already OKW instructed me to send them a wireless message halving the true number of the Free Irish forces."
"Yes, I am well aware of that," replied von Ingenohl.
"Well, it would seem that we could practice a similar deception on other matters. Ideally you could use it to lure the British fleet into a trap."
The so called German Nelson rolled his eyes and sighed, "Some minor deceptions could perhaps be pulled off. I have begun to think about that. But the notion of luring the British fleet to its doom by using such a ruse strikes me as belonging in a silly adventure novel."
"It would not be easy, admiral, but I do not think that we should dismiss the idea so preemptively," argued von Hipper.
Von Ingenohl did not respond immediately. After a few seconds he shrugged while waving his hand dismissively. "I am open to any reasonable plan with a good chance of success once we get back to Germany. However by that time we will have been using the new codes for several days. The British may therefore become suspicious of transmissions in the old codes."
"Perhaps but then that is all the more reason to do this before we return to Germany."
"No, no, no! We are not going to do this while we are still in Ireland! It is too risky for several reasons not the least of which is the shortage of ammunition."
"With the shells that thePrinz Friedrich Wilhelm brought with her our ammunition situation is not that bad," von Hipper countered.
"Perhaps the best course of action would be to make another round trip to the Channel Ports," suggested Generalvon François, "You can get more ammunition for the High Seas Fleet and I can get more supplies and perhaps some reinforcements as well."
"No, no, no! The British will be expecting us to do just that," replied von Ingenohl, "My warships need repairs! We must return to Germany. The sooner the better."
"And how long before you return to Ireland, admiral?" asked von François, "I hope it is not too long. My army is expending artillery shells considerably faster than when we first arrived in Ireland. At our current rate of expenditure we will run out of shells in at most ten days." In fact von Rundstedt provided him with an estimate of twelve days just before he left for this meeting.
"I would strongly suggest that you make your ammunition last as long as possible. It could be a long time before the High Seas Fleet returns here," said von Ingenohl who silently added Hopefully never
------Old Admiralty Building 0710 hrs
"Did we intercept any more German wireless transmissions overnight, Admiral Oliver?" Sir Edward Carson inquired soon after he sat down.
"No, First Lord. Not a single one," replied Oliver, "They are apparently going through another one of their quiet spells. It would strongly suggest von Ingenohl does not intend to sortie again tonight. That is not very surprising as he was only able to partially coal his warships before his last sortie. Also he has von Spee’s warships with him now. We believe the coal bunkers on Stralsund and Regensburg to be nearly empty from their Atlantic excursion."
"Those are good points. They suggest that it is likely that we will see the German fleet back at sea on Friday."
"That is an educated guess, First Lord and while I tend to agree it is still only a guess."
Carson turned to Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord, "Is the Grand Fleet heading back to Ireland now that it has added Warspite?"
"Yes, it is, First Lord. They should be off Galway Bay less than 4 hours from now. It should be noted that Admiral Bayly does not intend to bring his battle squadrons too close to the bay itself as he fears that the Germans may have submarines and/or mines waiting for him there," answered Callaghan, "He wants to take up station west of Dingle Bay."
Carson sighed slightly before saying, "Well, I suppose that makes some sense. What I am more interested in knowing is whether he would be willing to give battle to the German fleet now that he has Warspite?"
"If he can secure a favorable tactical position, yes, First Lord."
"I see---and do you agree with him, admiral?"
Callaghan pursed his lips as he measured his words carefully, "I do in principle, First Lord, though I would like a clearer idea as to how much of an advantage Admiral Bayly feels that he needs."
"I would very much like to know that as well though admittedly there will be some subtleties you will understand much better than I."
"You are being modest, First Lord.’
"I am being honest, admiral. So I take it that Admiral Bayly intends to wait for the Germans off the west coast of Ireland in case they either try to further reinforce their forces in Galway and/or resume their raiding in the Western Approaches."
"And what if they do neither? What if they raid the Irish Sea instead trying to sever our communications with Ireland?"
"We have one submarine stationed off Rosslare and another south of the Isle of Man to guard against that possibility, First Lord."
"That is wise but by itself does not strikes me as being enough. With the Grand Fleet off Dingle, they would not have enough time to react to another hit and run raid by the German battlecruisers passing through the Larne."
"That would depend on how much warning we get, First Lord. In addition to our submarines we have armed trawlers and other light craft on patrol in St. George’s Channel and the Irish Sea."
Carson was not fully satisfied by that response but his great respect for the admirals once again made him deferential. Me decided to segue into a related topic, "In addition to the threat to Ireland’s line of communication, a German sortie into the Irish Sea could be very disruptive if we were to release the colliers in our west coast ports to internal destinations and France. As you are all well aware by now the French are stridently complaining that our recent shipments of coal are insufficient to sustain their war related industries. Likewise rail has proven itself to be an inadequate substitute to our coastal traffic."
"We are not surprised by that, First Lord," replied Admiral Jackson, "For one thing the troubles we have experienced in supplying London adequately since the Germans captured the Channel Ports gave us fair warning. I know there is mounting pressure to permit a resumption of the coastal traffic. Unfortunately we still believe that to be premature, except possibly allowing sea trade between the eastern and western ports of Scotland."
"Which is not going to do much to solve the local shortages of coal which many believe to be the most serious aspect of the problem."
"That is of course a very good point, First Lord. Yet I feel that we need to hold off a while before releasing the west coast colliers."
"Do you feel the same way, Admiral Callaghan?" asked Carson.
The First Sea Lord made an unpleasant grimace and nodded, "I do, First Lord, though it pains me to say so. We should only allow traffic back and forth around the Scottish coast."
"Even though we know for a fact that the Moray Firth is still not completely cleared of mines?"
"We believe that our minesweepers cleared most of the mines, First Lord. The residual risk from the few mines that remain is acceptable in our estimation."
------SS President Lincoln Clonakilty Bay (Cork) 0735 hrs
The torpedoed ocean liner, President Lincoln had struggled with progressive flooding throughout the night. By dawn her speed had decreased to 9 knots and her captain began making frequent zigzags. He exchanged wireless messages with the German harbormaster at Cork who was very interested in the severity of the liner’s flooding as he shared Admiral von Ingenohl’s concerns about the possibility of the liner foundering inside Cork harbor and becoming a navigational menace. He did not like what he was hearing from the captain of the President Lincoln and eventually transmitted wireless instructions that the liner was to make for Courtmacsherry Bay and then beach herself on its northern shore.
Unfortunately as the President Lincoln was off Seven Heads her lookouts now spotted a surfaced submarine approaching them on the surface. They were unsure at first as to its nationality and turned about while sending off a quick wireless inquiry in the clear to Cork. When the reply came back that there were no U-boats operating in the area the captain of the President Lincoln decided to beach his ship in the northeastern end of Clonakilty Bay instead. As there were still some remnants of the British 16th (Irish) Division holding out in the vicinity of Clonakilty this complicated German plans to remove her cargo.
The British submarine in question was the E.13. It was investigating the smoke plume of the President Lincoln but had not glimpsed the liner. The submarine’s skipper was uncomfortable being in shallow water and only discovered the President Lincoln after she had been beached. He continued patrol to the south in deeper waters.
------Cork 0745 hrs
The rest of the American Volunteer Brigade had disembarked from their ocean liners during the night. These were now being formed into 3 battalions. However there were two exceptions. First those who had naval or merchant marine experience were given the option of joining the I.R.N.
The second exception was for those with any experience in artillery were set aside. These were mostly German reservists though there was one Fenian who had been an gunner in the British Army and another who had done likewise in the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War. As part of the fourth wave OKW had sent a newly formed artillery battery that had been trained to use British artillery which had been captured during the Second Battle of Crecy Forest. However this battery was sent to Ireland without any guns or other equipment. It was now split into 2 batteries which were to use British artillery which had been captured in Ireland. The ammunition in Lusitania’s cargo hold was to prove very useful. To fill in the extra manpower needed they would use the American Volunteers plus some Irishmen in the less complicated positions. These two composite units spent the day trying to get organized.
The liners that von Spee had brought back from America had included some horses and even a few mules. This was not even close to being rectify the current shortage of draught animals General von François struggled with in Ireland. Eventually this would be solved with Irish horses from the occupied territory but until it was these two new batteries would concentrate on training.
------Vilna (Lithuania) 0800 hrs
General von Mackensen had reluctantly parted with half of the Motorized Heavy Artillery Brigade as ordered by Ober Ost. He continued to make good use of the regiment he was allowed to retain. Russian cavalry continued to probe the positions of Eleventh Army around Vilna. The dawn airplane patrols did spot the first signs of sizable concentrations of infantry finally approaching from the west, while to the south General von Below’s Eighth Army continued to intimidate the Russian Tenth Army into behaving.
General von Mackensen decided it was time to begin penetrating the Vilna’s outer entrenchments. He assigned the II Bavarian Corps to make the initial assault from the south. General von Mackensen had old fashioned horse towed foot artillery in quantity as well as the motorized regiment. He also had large numbers of minenwerfers. These had begun a steady bombardment starting at dusk yesterday. They had thoroughly demolished the enemy’s forward trench and suppressed most of his artillery. The defenders at Vilna were all second line infantry with very limited training and mediocre morale. More than a third of the infantry men lacked a rifle. There was a serious shortage of officers and senior NCO’s as well.
Most of those Russian defenders who had survived the shelling were wounded or at least dazed. Some of those who were not dazed ran away. The Russian wire barrier was only a single strand here and it had been cut in several places. The battalions of the 3rd and 4th Bavarian Infantry Divisions that made the assault encountered fairly light resistance in what was left of the forward trench and quickly took over 1,600 prisoners. Continuing on to the next trench line proved more difficult as the enemy brought up reserves.
------Newmarket-an-Fergus (Clare) 0810 hrs
The 3rd Squadron 22nd Dragoon Regiment had been ordered by General Sontag to take the town of Newmarket-an-Fergus to try to cut off the retreat of the British units at Hunter’s Cross. The dragoons dismounted on the edge of the twn and tried to enter on foot. They encountered 18 constables and a firefight ensued. As usual when the R.I.C. was badly outnumbered, esp. by Germans, they made a brief almost perfunctory show of resistance then fled to the north in motor vehicles.
Meanwhile the 4th Squadron of the same regiment was ordered to make contact with the 2 I.R.A. companies that had landed at Clenagh. This resulted in them engaging the half battalion of 1/5th Yorkshire that had chased the 2 companies of Foynes which had landed by sea only to get shelled by an old battleship. Part of the 3rd Squadron soon joined in this fighting as well.
------Slieve Felim Mountains (Limerick) 0830 hrs
During the confused night fighting the units of the Erzherzog Karl Division had become jumbled with not only themselves but the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division as well. It took Feldmarschalleutnant Krauss several hours to get his division back into an orderly formation. Before leaving for his meeting with von Ingenohl, General von François had sent orders to Krauss to renew his attack on the 11th (Northern) Division as soon as possible. Moving his men through the rough terrain of the Slieve Felim Mountains took time and he had not received any more ammunition through the erratic supply line since late yesterday. However he was now reassured that he would definite be receiving supplies before noon and went ahead with his attack. He had found a spot where the enemy defenses were weak with no entrenchment probably because the enemy thought that the rough terrain would make it difficult for the Austro-Hungarian forces to debouch from there.
And indeed forming up there was not easy---which was another reason for the delay--- but they were ready now and charged into action. Krauss decided against a preliminary bombardment both because he was low on shells and because he felt that it might ruin the element of surprise. The attackers did take a spread out company of the 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment by surprise and forced them to retreat. However the rest of the 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment soon arrived and drove the attackers back into the mountains with an attack which culminated in a very determined bayonet charge.
------Gort (Galway) 0845 hrs
Embarrassed by his initial encounter with the 183rd Infantry Brigade and alarmed by the enemy’s easy breakthrough at Sixmilebridge, General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division was eager to seize the initiative with a proper attack Even though his artillery had a very meager stockpile of shells available the general ordered a brief bombardment of the enemy which was not entrenched. He only used his 5 batteries of field guns as his 2 batteries of old cumbersome 5" howitzers had not yet arrived. This was enough to send the enemy scurrying even with only a brief bombardment. Both the Germans and the two Irish battalions with them promptly withdrew north to Ardrahan.
The British pursued but not as rashly as they had in the morning.
BRITISH VIOLATE FREEDOM OF THE SEAS AGAIN!
"Yesterday the British government declared the seas within 100 miles of Ireland to constitute a ‘war zone’. Within this zone they will permit merchant shipping by neutrals only if their destination is an Entente port. All other neutral shipping in this zone will be seized by the British! This declaration is a clear infringement on the freedom of the seas and violates the terms of the Hague Treaty. It does not even try to distinguish between contraband and other cargos, which makes it even more OUTRAGEOUS than the illegal blockade they imposed on Germany last year.
-----New York Journal American Wednesday May 26, 1915
------Newmarket-an-Fergus (Clare) 0905 hrs
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd companies of the Foynes Battalion reached Newmarket-an-Fergus relieving the 3rd Squadron 22nd Dragoon Regiment which then proceeded north towards Ennis. The Foynes Battalion along with the 4th Squadron 22nd Dragoon Regiment continued their efforts to block the escape of the British forces coming up from the south. They are only partially successful in this. They did take 49 prisoners and captured 4 supply wagons plus a Vickers machinegun but most of those British soldiers trying to escape eventually succeeded in doing so after some very determined fighting.
------Cork city 0910 hrs
Before returning to his headquarters at Buttevant, General von François decided to have a chat with Sir Roger Casement. "Now that we have lifted the siege of Limerick, Sir Roger, we need to pay greater attention to organizing those sections of Ireland that we control," said the general, "There is a great deal of anarchy in Ireland right now both in those areas we control and those we do not. Looting is widespread. The economy of the entire island is in shambles right now. We need to restore order and it seems to me that a working provisional government for the Republic of Ireland needs to be part of the solution."
"I agree wholeheartedly, Your Excellency," replied Casement, "unless of course you are entertaining the quixotic notion of making me the interim head of government. I would hasten to point out that there already is a provisional Irish government. It was declared during the Dublin Rising with Padraig Pearse as the acting president. I have also been told that a fragment of Dublin Brigade was able to escape into the Wicklow Mountains. If that is still true then your best course of action would be to see if Pearse is with it. If he is you should do everything in your power to bring him here along with any other members of the provisional government to Cork. Plunkett and I can work with Pearse in getting things under control."
The general nodded. Captain Plunkett had told him pretty much the same thing yesterday. "To the best of my knowledge Pearse escaped with Rommel and is still alive. The problem is that our line of communication to County Wicklow, which never was very secure, has been severed completely as a result of the British increasing their strength in County Wexford."
"Your Excellency, I know you are still very busy with the main enemy force you drove away from Limerick but now that you have lifted the siege there must be some units you can spare to regain contact with County Wicklow, even if it is just I.R.A. units."
"War is never simple, Sir Roger, and there are many complexities to our current situation that I need to consider. For instance there is some enemy strength incl. a sizable force of cavalry operating out of the the Beara Peninsula. They are impeding our communication with Kerry despite the efforts of the 4th Kerry and West Cork Battalions. They pose a very real threat Killarney has our largest prisoners of war as well as the Zeppelin base. In the long run the enemy could even use Bantry Bay as a safe assembly area to attack my own line of communication and maybe even attempt to recapture Cork city. At a minimum I am going to have to commit the 10th Jaeger Battalion to reinforcing the Irish battalions."
‘There are no spare Irish battalions you can use for Wexford, Your Excellency?"
"I am looking into it but the two most logical candidates---the East Cork and Waterford Battalions are currently guarding the important secondary naval bases at Youghal and Waterford."
Casement paused, "How about this American Brigade that arrived in Cork yesterday? Couldn’t you send most or all of it to Wexford?"
"Hmm That is an interesting suggestion, Sir Roger. Quitee frankly I have been unsure about what I wanted to do with the American Brigade. My first thoughts had been to use the portion here at Cork as a reserve but I should be able to spare at least one of its battalions to use in Wexford."
------Ennis (Clare) 0930 hrs
General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, had assigned the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers the task of keeping the enemy forces inside Ennis penned up with the meager help of 100 constables and a battery of 15 pounders with very little ammunition. This was a formidable task as the enemy inside of Ennis consisted of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment, the West Clare Battalion (which had absorbed what was left of the Central Clare Battalion), a battery of 7.7cm guns (completely out of ammunition though the British know this) and a company of Landsturm formed from some of the sailors of the transports inside the Shannon. The commander of the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was forced to stretch his force into a thin cordon around Ennis that in fact was mostly a deception.
The commander of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment had consistently erred on the side of caution since arriving in Ireland. During the night one of his observation post had received a message from one of the ships in the Shannon that most of the enemy forces in Clare were heading north and that the cordon around Ennis was likely very weak. The oberst ordered several predawn trench raids. These raids confirmed that the enemy had in fact gravely weakened his cordon esp. in the area southwest of the town. However in his conservatism he initially planned to wait for the next nightfall to make his attack. Two of his battalion commanders pleaded with him in person not to wait that long. Part of their arguments was that like Limerick had been, Ennis was running out of food. The German Marines and Irish Volunteers had been on half rations for nearly four days. Already they were beginning to slaughter their starving horses for meat. The plight of those civilians that had remained behind in Ennis had become truly pitiful. Eventually the regimental commander relented and ordered an attack. He sent his strongest marine battalion plus all of the West Clare Battalion to storm the southwest sector.
Up until 0900 hrs the British force here had consisted of a half company of the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and 50 constables. At that time the half company of Ulstermen had departed leaving only the R.I.C. This was because the battalion commander had received orders from General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, to withdraw from Ennis at 1000 hrs and join the rest of the 109th Brigade north of Gort. The orders made it clear that he was not to withdraw prior to 1000 hrs lest the enemy forces inside Ennis interfere with the withdrawal of the 1st West Riding Brigade. So the constables were now preparing to leave as well when the attack began. They inflicted some casualties but they were grossly outnumbered and there was only a single strand of barbed wire in front of their lone trench. Only one constable ran away but soon after the first German grenade detonated in their trench most of them soon surrendered.
The battalion commander of the German marines involved in this attack was both surprised and relieved at the ease of his success. He was also more than a little bit confused about what to do next. There was only a single shallow trench in this area and he had taken it. There were no signs of any enemy strongpoints behind the trench. He therefore saw no reason to advance any further but instead dispatched a messenger back to the regimental HQ in Ennis telling them of their success and requesting new orders. While waiting for the messenger to return he sent one of his rifle companies to cautiously explore the trench to his left and then another to explore to the right.
Meanwhile the West Clare Battalion had continued to advance. Rather than the enemy it was searching for food. Most of its members were very familiar with the area and knew where food could be found in the largely agricultural countryside and in less than an hour they started to acquire some in quantity along with 2 new members.
------around Shavli (Lithuania) 0950 hrs
The German 2nd Infantry Division had finally overpowered the Russian 3rd Cavalry Division, forcing it to retreat to the northeast. Continuing at a fast pace to the north after that, the 2nd Infantry Division was now threatening the open left flank of the Russian 28th Infantry Division, which was trying to counter this threat by hurriedly moving one of its brigades to act as a flank guard. This greatly attenuated this division’s participation in the ongoing attack upon the 50th Reserve Division inside Shavli, where the Russians had penetrated into a section of the city resulting in some fierce house to house fighting.
------House of Commons 1005 hrs
Fearing that Balfour’s prognostication might have some basis in fact, Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law cancelled the usual morning meeting of the War Committee and went to Parliament. He had prepared a speech and he now delivered it.
"My fellow countrymen, kindly listen to what I have to say. Back in December the unthinkable happened and this great nation received a blow that shook her to the core. At that time many of you believed that I could easily bring down Asquith and quite possibly become his successor. For the good of the British Empire I chose not to take that path. I now regret that decision for I sincerely believe that I could have avoided or at least mitigated the ensuing catastrophe at Utsire though I am sure that there are some here who will scoff at that claim."
Proving the prime minister right there were some rumblings from the Liberals at this last statement. This caused Bonar Law to pause for a few seconds before saying, "As they are doing at this very moment! But let us not entertain ourselves with airy speculation about what might have happened in possible worlds where different key decisions were made. Instead I stand before you now to address what has happened since I became prime minister. In particular I shall address the Irish campaign which of late has become the focus of so much rancor and controversy. Let me be the first to admit that this campaign has not gone as well as we had wished. Yes, we did suffer a defeat at the Battle of Rathmore and that along with an intensification of the rebellion changed the entire complexion of the campaign. We never pretended otherwise yet my detractors persist in alleging that we have duplicitously used the Defense of the Realm Act to mislead Parliament and the public about that pivotal battle.
Likewise we have been ridiculed for constantly predicting the imminent fall of Limerick only to have the Germans lift the siege yesterday. Did we misjudge the situation? Oh, most certainly. There is no denying that. But to insinuate as some do that we knew all along that the siege was ineffective and doomed to failure and were merely pretending to be confident, that is foul calumny plain and simple. So too is the common allegation that we deliberately misled Parliament about the size of the rebellion in its early stages. I will readily confess that we did underestimate the rebellion but it was by no means a deliberate attempt on our part to mislead anyone. Instead the main fault was an inability on my part to imagine that there could possibly be as many as a thousand traitors in all of Ireland willing to assist the invaders. Even though the rebellion has clearly peaked and is in the process of decomposing my mind I still have trouble accepting its size and this was what caused us not to take the Dublin Revolt very seriously in its initial stage. I freely confess to all of you esteemed gentlemen that this was a mistake, indeed a very serious mistake, but contrary to what some are now claiming there was no disingenuousness much less any outright deceit on our part."
Bonar Law took another pause. He stared at his listeners looking for any signs that he was persuading anyone. To his chagrin he did not see any. He continued nonetheless, "Then there are those critics that feel that I have been too tough on the rebels. They say that I only make things worse by calling all of them traitors. They say that I should only treat the rebel leaders as traitors. I do not understand this logic. If what the leaders order is treason then is not following those orders just as treasonable?"
At this point there were a few shouts of "Hear, hear!" from the Tories but not as much as Andrew had hoped. With a sinking heart he could see that his popular tough policy towards the rebels was not going to save him today.
------Royal Palace Sofia (Bulgaria) 1015 hrs
General Nikola Zhekov, the commader-in-chief of Bulgaria’s armed forces, had now returned to brief Tsar Ferdinand on the latest developments. "So far we have every indication that the Russians are indeed returning home, Your Majesty," the general reported.
"And what of the Ottoman warships that came to our aid? Did they return home as well?" asked the monarch.
"Yes, they have, Your Majesty."
"I do appreciate that brave gesture on their part. I only wish they were more successful but it appears that they are not strong enough to defeat the combined strength of the Russian Black Sea Fleet."
"Yes, Your Majesty, that is precisely what our own naval experts tell me."
"How soon will you have a report ready for me as to the full extent of the damage suffered by Varna?"
"A preliminary version will be ready for your perusal early tomorrow morning, Your Majesty. The final version should be completed by the middle of Saturday."
"That is acceptable but make sure that the prime minister promptly receives a copy of both the preliminary and final reports."
"I will do so, Your Majesty, but if you will permit me to be blunt, the prime minister has been overreacting to the raid on Varna."
Ferdinand sighed slightly then nodded, "That is true but then again as a politician he has a right to be worried. Come the next election this raid will be an issue and opponents will claim that he left our coast unprepared to deal with this form of attack. A second successful Russian raid will make those allegations extremely difficult to refute, yes? Fortunately I do not have to stand for election. It is important that we do not let the Russians distract us to such a degree that we lose sight of our objectives in Serbia. What is the latest news from our armies there?"
"First Army is still struggling with the rough terrain as much as the enemy, Your Majesty, and is making slow progress. What is encouraging is that the Ottoman III Corps is now threatening to take the key city of Nish in the rear of the main Serbian forces. If they succeed in doing so then enemy resistance in that sector should fall apart, though with the stubborn Serbs that may take some time."
"I see and what of Second Army?"
"There we face a different set of problems, Your Majesty. The Serbian Macedonian Army was very badly hurt by our Second Army. What remains of it split into two parts. The smaller portion tried in vain to prevent the Turks from taking the Kachanik Pass and Prishtina. The larger part in turn has fallen back to a position centered on Gostivar. General Todorov has been unable to throw the full weight of Second Army against them largely due to logistical problems. The Greeks have promised to deliver food and fodder to both Second Army and the Ottoman III Corps using the Vardar Valley rail line. So far though they have sent only a little more than half of what those units require. They still will not send any ammunition, so Second Army as well as the Ottomans are relying on ox drawn wagons coming all the way from Bulgaria for all of their ammunition and nearly half of their food. The loss of a reinforced regiment is not going to have an appreciable impact on Todorov---if anything it will mean fewer mouths to feed and rifles to reload."
Tsar Ferdinand rolled his eyes, "King Constantine is playing a complicated game with us. On the one hand he is staunchly pro-German and so is happy to see us in the war as a German ally. But on the other hand his government has long had their own set of objectives with regards to Albania and Macedonia. Yesterday we received a letter from him delivered by a fast motorcar. In it he offered to deliver ammunition as well as food provided we recognized Greek claims to Monastir. This of course is simply outrageous. The Treaty of Bucharest rightfully awarded that city to us only to have the Serbs steal it from us. Now that it is almost in our hands I am not going to surrender it to the Greeks!"
"I would hasten to point out, Your Majesty, that once Nish falls we shall be able to send supplies by rail deep into Macedonia thereby meeting Second Army’s needs. As the rail line terminates at Gostivar, it would provide an adequate flow of provisions for an invasion of northern Albania if we should so choose. "
"An advance through Tirana all the way to Durazzo is very tempting, general, even though Vienna remains most unhappy at the prospect. You would think they would be all in favor as it would help them eliminate the AngloFrench expedition that has been a thorn in their side since February, but the plain fact is that they do want us laying claim to any part of Albania. This matter is very convolute and I see no reason to reach a decision on it now. We will revisit it once Nish has fallen."
------Loughrea (Galway) 1025 hrs
Late yesterday afternoon Lieutenant St. James had talked with some German officers. Because nearly half of the black sheep squadron had military training and in some cases actual combat experience, Cornelius was able to persuade the Germans to provide his cavalrymen with mounts. They even went so far as to provide him with a motor car and 2 trucks in working condition along with some petrol. This was in part because they were curious about Dr. Goddard’s mysterious rockets and what they might actually accomplish on a battlefield. St. James wanted to hold off on using the rockets though. For the time being he was more interested in getting back in the saddle again and seeing what his horsemen could do. He took the prerogative of selecting what he regarded as the finest mount available for himself, a mahogany bay.
The ride was to the town Loughrea was uneventful. There had been some light rain when they set out at first light but it had not persisted and eventually the clouds broke up enough for the sun to peek through. He was pleasantly surprised to find Sandeep’s boast about being an excellent horseman was if anything understated. Likewise Attila the former Hungarian Hussar, showed himself to be superb in the saddle and even more amazing his wife was nearly as good. Riding together with Attila, Sandeep and one of the former Buffalo Soldiers Cornelius entered Loughrea ahead of the rest of the cavalry. They caused quite a stir. Some of the Irishmen looked on them as if they were the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Two women screamed and another fainted. Others made the sign of the cross in order to secure divine protection. And then there were a few who seemed more fascinated than afraid.
------- Ardrahan (Galway) 1035 hrs
The battalions of the 183rd Infantry Brigade that had been retreating from the British West Riding Division were joined the rest of the brigade at the village of Ardrahan and turned about to confront their pursuers. The 7.7cm field guns of the brigade’s sole field artillery battery opened fire on one of the approaching British battalions but the lead battalion, the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, which was already engaged with the Germans. The 183rd Infantry Brigade had not entrenched but it had set up one of its machinegun companies and established 2 crude strongpoints. The Germans had a marked superiority in the number of rifles in this engagement esp. at the beginning, and this was augmented further by the machineguns. The Ulstermen were brave and hoped to carry the day with the support of the other battalions but before too long it became obvious to the senior officers that the enemy was getting the better of them and they ordered a retreat. When the German commanders saw this they decided against pursuing as they remembered the enemy’s superiority in artillery.
General Baldock, the commander of the West Riding Division, was disappointed at the outcome of this action. He was very reluctant to fire off his remaining artillery shells and so he tried to gain an edge through infantry vs. infantry combat. Gen. Schußler, the commander of the 183rd Infantry Brigade, in turn remained cautious as he was all too aware of the enemy’s overwhelming superiority in artillery. He therefore remained on the defensive content merely to prevent the enemy from breaking through and refraining from any counterattack. The German superiority in numbers was still allowing them to inflict somewhat greater casualties.
------HQ British I Army Corps (Picardy) 1050 hrs
General Plumer, the commander of the Second Army, arrived at the headquarters of I Army Corps to meet with its commander, General Munro. "We see no sign that the Huns are preparing to wipe out First Army with one swift blow," said Plumer, "Instead they appear content to let First Army rot on the vine for while we bleed ourselves dry trying to reopen the line of communications."
Munro nodded, "That thought has occurred to me as well, sir. Assuming for the moment that this theory is true how does this alter our plans?"
"We had trouble getting supplies to the 42nd Division last night. The Prussian Guards are now dangerously close to the road and the near full moon further aggravated our problems. If we keep pouring in supplies and reinforcements to the jumping off point for attacks directed against Morlay we will continue to suffer losses we can ill afford even before our attack has begun."
"That too has occurred to me as well, sir, but I have yet to hit on a truly satisfactory solution. Do you have one, sir?"
"I do and it happens to be a frightfully simple one. We do not attack Morlay."
"Uh, I am afraid that I am not following you, sirr. Our goal is to reinstate communications with First Army and in order to do that we must eject the enemy from Morlay."
"Yes what you say is all too obvious---not just to us but the Germans as well. They are waiting for us to do that. Which is why I think we need to retake Nolette before making another lunge at Morlay. To that end I have just ordered the 15th Brigade detached from the 5th Division along with the howitzer brigade from the 3rd Division. These you will use to reinforce 1st Division not 42nd Division for use in a morning attack tomorrow. Not necessarily at dawn---I will leave it up to your discretion as to how much sleep if any you think they will need."
"I cannot help but wonder what Field Marshal French is going to think about this plan when he finds out about it?" asked General Munro.
"Probably nothing good, which is why I am going to avoid telling him if at all possible."
------HMS King Alfred anchored in Galway Bay 1100 hrs
At the request of General Hamilton, the Admiralty ordered Admiral Bayly to send the armored cruiser King Alfred to shell Galway city again. She now commenced firing with er two 9.2" guns and her port battery of 6" guns. The American Volunteer Brigade had learned its lesson from the prior shelling and had only a single company of the 1st Battalion inside the city itself at this time, while sending the 2nd Battalion off to te town of Clarinbridge. The Galway City Battalion also had one of its two companies inside the city. Both the American and Irish companies took some casualties. There were also civilian casualties. Several fires were started which burned out a third of the city before they were finally extinguished. Like the previous shelling this caused some resentment amongst the local inhabitants. The Galway City Battalion had a dozen new members before sundown.
------House of Commons 1105 hrs
The prime minister’s speech had persuaded next to no one. However it did make some in his own party feel a little bit sorry for their leader. It struck them that to take a vote of no confidence immediately after the prime minister stopped speaking would be construed as a slap in the face. They therefore discreetly requested that their Liberal colleagues postpone the vote slightly while reassuring them that the outcome had not been altered by the speech.
As Balfour had predicted the vote when it came was not even close, being nearly two to one against the current government. When it was over there was almost a sigh of relief. Balfour now visited the key party leaders whose support he needed in order to form a coalition government. He had approached them all previously of course, but those commitments had all been made in the abstract. Now that Bonar Law was finally removed, some of them had additional concerns they felt needed to be addressed. To Balfour’s annoyance Walter Long had been busy as well the last two days trying to muddy the waters as much as possible by disparaging him while making a case for his own ascendancy.
------Crusheen (Clare) 1125 hrs
The 111th Infantry Division had vigorously pursued the fleeing 1st West Riding Brigade and the 2 field artillery batteries attached to it. The HQ of each regiment of the 111th Infantry Division had been assigned an Irish Volunteer familiar with County Clare to help identify the small rural byways that could be best used by the Germans. This allowed the German infantry to advance fairly rapidly though their artillery was not able to keep up. They had tried repeatedly to overtake the retreating British artillery and one occasion had gotten within rifle range of one of the batteries but a half battalion of British infantry appeared in the nick of time to cover the withdrawal of battery which was forced to behind two nearly empty ammunition wagons.
The lead company of the 2nd Battalion 76th Infantry Regiment now cautiously entered the town Crusheen which lay on the important road which connected Ennis and Gort. To their relief they encountered no resistance. The men had slept little the night before so they were pleased when the rest of the battalion arrived and the battalion commander announced that they would very likely remain in the vicinity of Crusheen for at least 2 more hours. However he wanted most of his battalion deployed about 600 meters to the south of town where they would have Lough Inchicronan as a barrierto the east and would be able to prevent the enemy from circumventing them by taking the off road through Carrowkeel More. The regiment’s 1st battalion and machinegun company would be joining them in little more than a half hour.
------Laragh (Wicklow) 1155 hrs
Drenched in sweat again Colonel Sir Winston Churchill returned to a semblance of consciousness. He could feel someone poking him and not too gently. He could hear a voice in the room speaking with a German accent. "Well is he conscious? I cannot afford to waste any more time with this. There are much more important things I need to be doing."
He forced his eyelids to open a little. As he focused his eyes he could see Pearse’s face about 10" from his own. Pearse’s face then turned slightly to his right and replied, "Don’t leave now, Major! He’s stirring and it looks like he is trying to open his eyes."
Churchill heard footsteps and could see a man approach wearing one of those inexecrable I.R.A. uniforms. Could this be Rommel? He suddenly wondered Not quite how I envisioned him For one thing he is rather short.
"Oh wonderful," said the German officer with obvious sarcasm.
"Are you awake, Sir Winston?" Pearse asked, "Can you hear me?"
Churchill forced his eyes to open more. He knew it would still be very axing for him to talk. He tried to take a deep breath to help him speak better but instead it quickly degenerated into a coughing fit. When the coughing subsided Churchill tried again to take a deep breath and this time succeeded. "Yes, Mr. Pearse, I am quite obviously awake now," he answered with some wheezing, "By any chance is that the infamous Major Rommel you have with you?"
"It is certainly is, Sir Winston! You have repeatedly told me how much you wanted to meet him. Well now is your chance!" replied Pearse enthusiastically, who then turned to Rommel, "Major, why don’t you at least come over here and shake hands?"
Rommel’s sigh was so loud even Churchill could hear it. Shaking his head Rommel approached Churchill’s bed. "So you are the infamous Rommel," said Churchill, "If I might be frank, lad, you are not like what I had imagined."
Rommel had begun to extend his right hand so he could shake Churchill’s. He was taken aback by Sir Winston’s comment and so pulled his hand back asking, "Oh, and in what way?"
"Well for one thing, you are shorter than I had envisioned esp. since many Irish accounts make you seem ten feet tall."
Pearse tried but failed to repress a chuckle as he knew from past experience that Rommel was a bit sensitive about his height. "What is so blasted funny, Herr Pearse?" growled the major.
Pearse looked sheepish and decided that anything he might say would only aggravate Rommel further so he remained silent. "You seem to be one of those Germans without a sense of humor, Major Rommel," remarked Churchill in a weak wheezing voice, "Here I am a disgraced politician, who has suffered still further disgrace by being taken prisoner, lying here covered in sweat barely able to breathe yet despite all that I am able to find some fleeting solace in levity. While you appear to be in good health and have made a name for yourself here in Ireland---‘
"---I too am recovering from a serious wound," Rommel interrupted Churchill.
"In that case you have my condolences, major, even though you are the enemy. I would however point out that you are now up and walking around while I am clinging to life in this bed---"
"---And it is unfair to accuse me of being humorless! Commandant Pearse here can vouch for that."
Churchill turned to Pearse, "Well is that true, my dear boy?"
"I have indeed heard the major laugh on a few occasions but there are times that his sense of humor abandons him and this looks to be one of those."
Grinding his teeth Rommel tried to hide his annoyance behind a mask of stoicism. "I am here at the request of Commandant Pearse," he said in a stiff voice, "He is fascinated by you for reasons I fail to understand. However you are a senior enemy and as such are deserving of some respect. So in that spirit let me formally introduce myself, I am Major Erwin Rommel of the Irish Republican Army. I am the commander of Dublin Brigade."
"Subject to my authority, that is," added Pearse.
"I see and what may I ask was your rank before you came to Ireland, Major?" asked Churchill.
Rommel sighed again, "If you must know I was a leutnant."
"Ah, so this bit about you being a ‘Major’ is merely some sort of temporary promotion to impress the gullible Irish Volunteers, is it not?"
"Now, now, Sir Winston, that jibe was uncalled for." chided Pearse, who continued to be astonished that someone who was having so much trouble breathing could still manage to talk as much as he did.
"Yes, the rank is temporary. I have been promised a promotion to oberleutnant when I return to Germany though," said Rommel.
"That does sound only fair in light of your accomplishments. Do you have any inkling how soon that might be?"
Rommel shrugged. Churchill’s question had been something he had been asking himself of late. "I do not know, Sir Winston," he answered, "When we trained for this mission we were told that it was extremely important and might bring the war to a quick end. I am not privy to what General von François knows so I have no idea whether or not the operation is working. I have heard that there was a naval battle nearly two weeks ago and that the British are claiming a small victory. If that is true it may mean that I will be here a long time."
"And how does the prospect of a long stay here in Ireland make you feel?" asked Churchill.
An image of Lucie suddenly cropped up in Rommel’s mind and he felt sad. With sheer willpower he forced the image out of his mind but the sadness stubbornly remained. He refused to let it show on his face as he responded, "I am a soldier. I do my duty to the Kaiser and the German people. I will perform my mission. No matter how long it takes."
------SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm Western Approaches 1250 hrs
The German commerce raiding in the Western Approaches remained disappointing. The AMC Kronprinz Wilhelm did take a prize this day. This was a 1,800 ton French freighter out of Trondheim hauling a cargo of sardines bound for La Rochelle. There was a vigorous debate about whether or not to keep her. Since she carried food and could sustain 8.5 knots it was eventually decided to send her back to Cork with a prize crew.
------Moscow 1255 hrs
Crowds had begun to assemble during the morning in the industrial region across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. It had been joined by workers from different factories. At first the crowds were relatively orderly waving flags and pictures of the tsar while singing patriotic hymns. As they made their way to Red Square they began to trash any firm that was either German owned or operated. They also vandalized the apartments occupied by Germans.
After the crowd reached Red Square more and more people joined them many of them youths. By now Red Square was packed with people and all semblance of order broke down. They started by attacking and looting the Einem candy stores and the Tsindel retailers. These had been targets of the xenophobic riots back in October. However within an hour the rioting was expanded to any store with a foreign sounding name, esp. Irish ones as many in the crowd believed the Irish to be allies of the Germans.
------south of Crusheen (Clare) 1305 hrs
The 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had withdrawn from Ennis as ordered by General Baldock taking with them the artillery battery they had been assigned. They also brought with them the 50 constables they still had left. The constables had a motor car with them. When the battalion had started out on its march this car was sent on ahead to reconnoiter and upon its return reported that the road was clear all the way to Gort. At noon they had sent it out again and this time it failed to return. After this the artillery battery which had been in the vanguard of the column was shifted towards the rear.
The company of Ulstermen now in the vanguard now encountered German infantry and machineguns waiting for them in slit trenches between Lough Dromore and Lough Inchicronan There was more bad news in that the German Marines who had been inside Ennis were now in pursuit and were only a mile behind them. To their left was a wet bog with small lakes and no roads. The British infantry might be able to escape in that direction on foot but it would mean abandoning the artillery, machineguns and supply wagons. The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers therefore made an unsuccessful attempt to try to breakthrough the 76th Infantry’ defensive position suffering heavy casualties in the process. The 76th Infantry counterattacked briefly assisted by a single battery of 7.7cm field guns and drove back the Ulstermen. The field artillery battery tried to set up their own field guns in a desperate attempt to fire at the 76th Infantry from almost point blank range but they were now under long range rifle fire from the lead battalion of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers Regiment. Only two of the 15 pounder field guns were able to fire at all and that was only 3 rounds each. Along with the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers they were slowly crushed between the 79th Fusiliers Regiment and the Marines of the 3rd Marine Fusiliers attacking from the rear.
------Ardrahan (Galway) 1330 hrs
It was becoming increasingly clear to General Baldock that the small arms fighting with the German 183rd Infantry Brigade was not working. As far as the general could tell casualties on both sides were roughly equal (in fact they were a little less for the Germans because they usually had superiority in numbers). He had hoped he was facing a green unit but it now seemed obvious that most of the enemy was seasoned veterans. It was particularly disturbing that the Germans were trying to envelop him on the right which would cut his line of communication to Nenagh. Six horse drawn supply wagons had arrived in the last hour and one of them carried 130 artillery shells. The A.S.C. teamsters who brought the shells brought them the good news that additional supplies incl. more shells would be arriving before dark.
Reports which had reached Baldock a few minutes ago, that there were Germans in Crusheen also worried him as it meant that the German force that was pursuing him---probably an entire division--- was approaching his rear faster than he had assumed. Baldock wanted to make an escape to Portumna but the telegraph line from Gort to Nenagh was still working and so he continued to be bombarded by messages from General Wilson that he must obliterate the enemy presence in County Galway. So he reluctantly ordered another bombardment. This time it also included his two howitzer batteries. Once again the Germans were forced to retreat. This time they headed NNE towards the village of Craughwell.
------White House (D.C.) 1405 hrs GMT
President Woodrow Wilson was meeting with the Cabinet. "I am afraid that there have been developments with respect to Ireland that we need to discuss, Mr. President," said William Jennings Bryan, the Secretary of State. The first is the abrupt British declaration of a 100 mile ‘war zone’ around Ireland effective immediately. Neutral merchantmen will only be permitted within this zone if they can confirm an Entente port as their destination."
"And if the British find a neutral merchantman in this ‘war zone’ that cannot confirm an Entente port as its destination?" asked Wilson.
"The British will seize the vessel and sail it to a British port. A formal inquiry would then be held during which the ship’s captain will again be allowed to demonstrate that he was bound for an Entente port. If he cannot the ship and her cargo will be forfeited."
"And the crew?"
"They will be free to go, Mr. President."
"Well that at least is sensible but surely Prime Minister Law must realize that we must protest this new policy."
Colonel House spoke, "Now, now, Mr. President. Let us try to see things from their point of view, shall we? The Germans have of late been buying American goods and shipping them in American hulls with instructions that the vessel should go to Cork. Clearly they believe that they can use us to help supply their invasion force and naval base in Ireland. Sir Cecil has already asked us politely to stop this trade but we have not taken any action whatsoever."
"Ahem! I must beg to differ, colonel," Bryan replied, "We have indeed taken some action in that we have very strongly discouraged the sale of either arms or munitions to the Germans. As for taking any action beyond that, we have not done so precisely because there was no justification for said action---much to the consternation of the British ambassador."
"Oh, but there is ample justification, Mr. Secretary," said House, "The British are well within their rights to prevent supplies from reaching the portion of Ireland now occupied by the Germans. Any neutral merchantman within 100 miles of Ireland that is not headed for Britain, France or Ulster is very likely bringing provisions to the Germans in Ireland such as coal for their warships."
Wilson made an ambivalent expression as he uttered, "I do commiserate with Bonar Law to some extent, colonel. If the German army was rampaging on Long Island I would not want neutrals supplying them either. However both the timing and wording of this document leaves a lot to be desired. The apologists for the Germans, such as Hearst and O’Gorman, will seize on this declaration and distort it into something malevolent. Mr. Darrow may even find a way to use it at Devoy’s trial as that asinine judge is giving him way too much leeway!
So we simply must some protest against this declaration in clear terms. In private we shall inform Sir Cecil that we could live with some modification that pays at least lip service to the notion of a properly constituted blockade and the categories of contraband specified in the London Declaration of 1909. If we can make it appear to the press and the public that we have forced them to soften their policy, even though there is no real difference, then our political enemies will be disarmed."
House’s face took on an ambivalent expression as he said, "As usual you are most wise, Mr. President. I would point out that the numerous defects we see in this British declaration likely comes from the fact that Prime Minister Bonar Law is under a great deal of pressure at the moment. From what we can tell the Irish campaign is not going well---at least on the land. The Germans have lifted the siege of Limerick and remain firmly in control of Cork. Meanwhile rebel forces invaded Ulster---"
The president interrupted, "---we get the picture, colonel. From what I have heard the prime minister has already narrowly survived one no confidence vote and will likely face another due to their failure to retake Limerick. I am not going to predict how that will turn out as his small naval victory over the German fleet may still be enough to keep him afloat. It is hard to say from way over here. What is plainly obvious though is that he is under a great deal of political pressure right now and that I think contributed to this latest declaration coming across as somewhat arrogant. As I said before I believe we can pressure them into a few modest revisions that will make the declaration more palatable to Congress and the American people without emasculating it altogether. It is after all in our own interest as well as theirs that the German invasion of Ireland fail as quickly as possible."
Bryan was neither shocked nor surprised by this last comment but he was irritated. The president’s favoring of the Entente, esp. Great Britain, that he had noticed from the very earliest days of the war, had become even more obvious since the invasion Ireland. This seemed to be connected to a certain deep seated antipathy that Wilson had towards Catholicism in general and Irish Catholics in particular. Much of what the president had just argued made Bryan uncomfortable but instead of arguing agaist them, which he knew from prior experience was likely going to be a waste of breath, he decided to shift the topic of conversation. "On that note, Mr. President, I would like to mention the second bit of important news about Ireland, which is that according to the British, the ocean liners containing those Americans who volunteered to fight for Irish independence, reached Ireland yesterday despite our hopes that the Royal Navy would intercept them at sea. We can assume that these improvised troopships have been offloaded by now. We can reasonably expect these Americans to be in action any day now."
The president sighed deeply, before saying, "Unpleasant news but hardly disastrous, Mr. Secretary. As far as I am concerned these people are no longer American citizens in my eyes."
"The American public may not see it that way, Mr. President," warned Treasury Secretary McAdoo. Bryan was about to say essentially the same thing which was rather unusual as he often found himself disagreeing with McAdoo about anything connected to the war.
"Then they need to become better educated about our neutrality laws!" Wilson retorted with obvious ire.
------GQG Chantilly 1415 hrs
Clemenceau, who was both the War Minister and Prime Minister, dropped in on General Joffre again. "How is my grand offensive coming?" Clemenceau demanded to know.
"Premier, Second Army did not attack today, but is busy preparing to resume its attack tomorrow morning. I am saddened that General de Castelnau reports that his problems with General Petain have grown worse. While he continues to have some respect for Petain as a tactician, de Castelnau is increasingly upset with by his pessimism. Petain has repeatedly argued that the offensive should be suspended until we have amassed much more heavy artillery and ammunition."
"Defeatism is France’s greatest enemy right now, general! It is the infernal inspiration which motivates traitors like Caillaux and Malvy. We must root it out wherever it shows itself. Tell de Castelnau to remove Petain from command and place him under arrest while an investigation is conducted to see if there are sufficient grounds for a court martial."
Joffre was momentarily shocked but not completely surprised by this. He knew that Clemenceau was unhappy with Petain’s pessimism. Joffre himself was not happy with it either but he tempered that opinion with growing respect for Petain’s overall competence. He collected his thoughts a few seconds before replying, "That is somewhat abrupt, premier. I would prefer to leave that decision to General de Castelnau who is much more familiar with the man than I am."
Clemenceau considered that for a few seconds then shook his head saying, "No, no! I have listened to too many excuses for Petain’s disgusting defeatism. As for him being such a gifted general I must then ask why has Second Army’s offensive accomplished next to nothing in the last week?"
Joffre again took his time replying. It was not an easy question to answer. He could of course blame de Castelnau but that would be unfair. Or he could blame himself but that would be unthinkable. "Falkenhayn is scraping the bottom of the barrel in order to reinforce his First Army. The German Army is on the verge of running out of men."
"If that is true, why has Third Army made insignificant progress attacking north of Verdun, and Fifth Army none whatsoever in the Montagne de Rheims?"
Again Joffre took his time before replying, "Our offensive operations will crack the German entrenchments soon, premier. This is because the Germans have no reserves left. First in one sector then in all three, we shall achieve full fledged breakthroughs."
"I share your optimism, general, which is one reason why I cannot abide chronic pessimists like Petain. That is why I must insist that he be removed from his corps command."
"But premier, I have already explained why it is unwise---"
"---enough! I will remind you once again that I am the War Minister and as such I am your superior. I am ordering General Petain removed from command and arrested pending an investigation."
Joffre had been considering his options the last few minutes. He was torn between making a stand---something he felt was long overdue---and trying to reach a compromise with Clemenceau. He finally reached a decision, "I will under protest comply with your order to remove Petain from his current command. However I will not ordered his arrest. That is uncalled for. I will conduct an investigation---a fair and impartial one. If they exonerate Petain then I will find a suitable command for him. Is this clear, premier?"
Clemenceau and Joffre locked gazes. Neither of them blinked for nearly a minute. Finally with a deep sigh the prime minister relented saying, "I do not have the time to argue over minor details right now. Let us move on to the next topic, shall we? Did you prepare the plan for an invasion of Spain as I requested?"
"Yes, premier," answered Joffre who then reached into a valise and extracted a typed document and handed it to Clemenceau, "This is the current working version. Like all military plans it is subject to revision. However the basic concept is to assemble an army of 10 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions plus 2 independent brigades and move it to the Pyrenees. It will not need much in way of additional artillery because the Spanish army is itself rather weak in artillery, though we are planning including some batteries of mountain artillery."
"Are all of the 10 infantry divisions to be line divisions?" asked Clemenceau while leafing through his copy of the plan.
"No, premier. Five of the divisions will be line, 3 will be reserve divisions and the remaining 2 will be Territorial divisions."
"And you are sure these will be enough to break through the Pyrenees and quickly conquer Spain?"
"Yes I do premier. Their weakness in artillery is only one of the defects of the Spanish Army. Even if they were fully mobilized we should be able to prevail. If we attack before they are mobilized victory will be quick with minimal losses. The key is to get through the mountains with as little delay as possible. And the key to achieving that is the chasseurs alpins. We will need to move most of those we currently have in the Vosges to the Pyrenees."
"Hmm That will mean that we will have to postpone Seventh Army’s offensive in the Vosges, n’est-pas?"
"That is correct, premier."
"The Vosges offensive is of secondary importance. I am more worried about the invasion of Spain undermining the current offensive of Second Army and to a lesser degree those of the Third and Fifth Armies."
"It will have an impact but only a rather small one, premier. Right now materials, esp. artillery shells, are proving to be more of a constraint on our ability to attack than men. The expenditure of shells during an invasion of Spain would not be all that intensive even in the initial phase when we are bashing our way through the Pyrenees. So yes your offensive can continue just at a slightly slower pace."
Clemenceau took his time digesting that before saying, "I would prefer to have not even the slightest slowing down of my grand offensive against the Boche. Nevertheless I must confess to being very tempted to demand that the Spanish halt their mobilization immediately and if they do not then go ahead with this plan. If the Spanish are intent on causing mischief then the earlier we deal with the problem the better. There are resources in Spain we could use, esp. coal which we are still not receiving in the necessary quantity from our so called ally, the British. Furthermore a quick crushing of Spain would send a signal to other neutrals such as Italy that might be foolishly tempted to join our enemies."
------Nish (Serbia) 1455 hrs
All four Serbian batteries defending Nish from the south had run out of shells in the last hour. The Ottoman III Corps was itself low on artillery shells but nevertheless was able to penetrate into the outskirts of the city. The Serbs barred the most direct approaches to the train station with strong barricades. The ensuing house to house fighting was messy and often brutal. It was also very slow. Meanwhile the rest of the corps tried to encircle the city but this too proved very difficult.
-------just east of Knockmoyle (Clare) 1520 hrs
When Cornelius St. James had stopped at Loughrea he had managed to find a few local residents who were favorable to the rebel cause and not terrified of his race. They had briefed him in depth about the local area. It had always been one of Cornelius’ strengths that it took him remarkably little time to become familiar with a new area. He could listen to verbal descriptions and form maps in his head.
When they were done, St. James’ cavalry troop trotted out on their horses and headed SSE. His objective was to raid the supply line of the West Riding Division which passed around the north end of Lough Derg at Portumna. He started by cutting the telegraph wires he found in the area. Then he looked around and east of a hamlet named Knockmoyle he found a small foothill of the Slieve Aughty Mountains within rifle range of the narrow east/west dirt road going from Portumna to Gort. He stationed his troop out of sight behind the hillock. Cornelius dismounted and perched himself atop the hill behind some shrubbery. He had acquired binoculars from von Papen before leaving the United States and now put them to good use. He had expected to wait most of the afternoon but in less than an hour saw four horse drawn British Army supply wagons plodding their way west.
As the wagons drew closer Cornelius dropped down behind the hill and instructed his soldiers on what they would be doing. He pulled out a pocket watch and using it waited until he thought the wagons should be almost abreast of the hill. He now very quickly poked his head over the crest of the hill. The wagons were almost where he wanted them. He dropped back down out of sight as his men watched him intensely. "When I say now" he whispered to his sergeants. He waited two more minutes then yelled, "Now!" At that all of his men except the horse holders positioned them on the top of the hill and opened fire on the wagons. Some of them had been assigned the odorous task of killing the horses pulling the lead wagon. The rest of St. James’ men targeted the British teamsters esp. those armed with rifles. They were much more exposed and most were picked off soon.
At that point Cornelius took 9 of his men and together they mounted their horses and emerged from behind the hill and galloped towards the wagons. Three riders circled around to the front of the wagons and three more circled around to the rear. The remaining four horsemen incl. St. James approached the wagons directly. In front of the wagon the bodies of dead and dying soldiers lay on the ground. There was also one badly wounded soldier trying desperately to fire his rifle despite a very nasty wound in his right arm. He fired wildly at Cornelius who then cut him down with saber.
The Germans had reluctantly provided the Black Sheep Squadron with 40 hand grenades. The riders who approached the wagons directly now each hurled on grenade over each wagon. There had been crouched behind the wagons 2 teamsters armed with rifles and a driver armed with a pistol. One of the riflemen was killed by a grenade. The other two were wounded by shrapnel and stunned by the blast of the grenades. The horsemen who circled around to the front and rear of the wagons captured both of them. More importantly they captured the four supply wagons. Two carried food plus some medical supplies. The third had a cargo of .303 ammunition both in cartridges and machinegun belts. The last one hauled artillery shells.
St. James did not waste time savoring his victory. He assigned 4 of his men to drive the captured wagons. Their mounts were used to replace the slain horses of the lead wagon. His cavalry troop then escorted them back to Loughrea as quickly as possible.
------Shavli (Lithuania) 1545 hrs
The attack of the Russian III Army Corps began to peter out. The flank attack of the German 2nd Infantry Division was now forcing the Russian 28th Infantry Division to turn completely to face it. Meanwhile the Russian 25th Infantry Division was still struggling to hold off the German 49th Reserve Division after being taken in flank in the early morning. This left only the Russian 27th Infantry Division to continue the attack on Shavli and it was being continuously pounded by the foot artillery that had been put at the disposal of the 50th Reserve Division. The Russian infantry that had made it into the city had already become bogged down in urban fighting. Russian attempts to surround the city were repulsed by a combination of well positioned strongpoints and a lavish use of artillery.
------Gort (Galway) 1610 hrs
Two badly understrength battalions of the1st West Riding Brigade along with 2 field artillery batteries reached the town of Gort ahead of the German 73rd Fusiliers Regiment which had become the vanguard of the 111th Infantry Division while the 76th Infantry Regiment had become preoccupied with smashing the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Along with two companies of Royal Engineers and 90 R.I.C. they now guarded Gort which had become a key communication center with supply dumps. A brief bombardment by the British 15 pounder guns now drove off the lead battalion of the 73rd Fusiliers Regiment for the time being but these batteries were extremely low on ammunition so there was concern over how long they could hold off the 111th Infantry Division esp. if it brought up its own artillery. This concern was passed on up to the division headquarters.
------House of Commons 1615 hrs
It had taken Arthur Balfour twice as long as he had planned to get his coalition majority mostly due to a combination of Long’s last minute attempt to become the new prime minister and the new set of preconditions that the Labour Party demanded for the support of a majority of their MP’s. Despite these obstacles Balfour now had his majority. Bonar Law agreed to move out of 10 Downing before dawn.
------Clarinbridge (Galway) 1625 hrs
While most of the West Riding Division pursued the 184th Infantry Brigade NNE General Baldock had dispatched the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to the northwest with orders to try to reach Galway city and capture the enemy supply dumps believed to be located near there. They now reached the Clarin River at the mouth of Dunbulcaun Bay. There was a bridge over the river at the appropriately named village of Clarinbridge. General Schußler had sent the South Mayo Battalion to guard this key bridge. Later he had decided to send the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion to reinforce them. This area had long been a hotbed of Fenianism. One of the Irish Volunteer companies that had joined in Liam Mellowes’ ill fated uprising had been the Clarinbridge Company. Soon after arriving at Clarinbridge the South Mayo Battalion gained 5 new members.
The 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers approached the bridge at a rapid march. The South Mayo Battalion was entrenched on the left bank guarding the approaches. The Americans were positioned on the right bank acting as a reserve. The Ulstermen were encouraged when they saw that they faced only rebels and tried to storm the defenses which lacked barbed wire. As usual the Irish Volunteers demonstrated widely varying skill with their rifles ranging from hopeless incompetence to deadly accuracy. They outnumbered their attackers by nearly two to one and there were enough good shots to repel the assault without much trouble.
During the engagement the ‘C’ company of the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion under the command of Fritz Austerlitz, who had been made a captain in the Irish Republican Army, was ordered to cross the bridge in order to reinforce the South Mayo Battalion. When they arrived at the narrow shallow trenches of the Irish Volunteers the enemy was already withdrawing. "Well don’t that beat all, Jack," Cagney told Moran, "the minute they saw you and me coming they decided to hightail it."
Jack Moran had looked deeply worried when they had crossed the bridge with the sound of rifle fire in the distance. He made a small perfunctory chuckle at Jimmy’s levity but he still looked worried. Fred was also with them. He too was looking at the enemy soldiers but mostly at the ones lying on the ground instead of those running away. Some looked incredibly peaceful as they lay on the ground while others lay twisted in grotesque positions. He remembered the American they had seen killed when they had been shelled by the cruiser. He again felt a sense of horror and asked himself What have I gotten myself into?
------south of Craughwell (Galway) 1635 hrs
Meanwhile to the east in the vicinity of the village of Craughwell on the Dunkellin River the 183rd Infantry Brigade once again tuned about to face its pursuers who were intent on driving them into the river. The brigade’s lone artillery battery was now situated on the right bank of the river and again provided some support, but for the most part this engagement was waged by the infantry again. As before the British were unable to overcome the German superiority in numbers.
General Baldock had been far optimistic about this attack and when combined with the news about the very serious enemy threat to Gort he decided that there was a very real risk of his division being completely destroyed in the next 24 hours. He ordered the attack on Craughwell terminated immediately and implemented a plan he had already devised as a contingency to move his division all the way back to Portumna with most of it going through Loughrea. He was actually glad that someone had severed his telegraph lines to VI Army Corps HQ.
------Prishtina (Serbia) 1655 hrs
In its hurried move south to attack the Ottoman forces at Prishtina the 4 cavalry brigades of the New Zealand and Australian Division had been allowed to pull on ahead of the rest of the division. The 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade was in the vanguard and was the first to come into action against the Ottoman 26th Infantry Division. Mounted on their Walers they were able to overwhelm an enemy outpost but as they approached the main enemy defenses they came under artillery fire which quickly disrupted their attack. They then pulled back and contacted the local Serbian units while waiting for the other cavalry brigades to arrive