by Tom B
------north Cappawhite (Tipperary) 0010 hrs Thursday May 27, 1915
Despite being harassed by the German cavalry of Brigade Frauenau, the British 13th (Western) Division had advanced as far as Cappawhite yesterday. This lay in the midst of Red Hill Forest in the lower portion of the Hollyford Hills which were a southern extension of the Slieve Felim Mountains. Learning from the British aviators and his cyclist company that the enemy was concentrating and entrenching near the village of Doon, General Shaw, the division’s commander, had decided against attempting an attack off the march with tired men. Instead he formed up his division here with his headquarters inside of Cappawhite and all of his artillery deployed a mile to the west. Another mile further west 6 battalions were preparing to launch a dawn attack from cramped narrow trenches being hurriedly dug with help from the division’s pioneer battalion, the 8th Welsh Regiment. The general was also wanted to secure the patch of high ground to the north which rose to over 1400’ tall. He decided this task could not wait until morning and therefore ordered the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment to immediately secure that key peak as an observation post
Feldmarschalleutnant Krauss, the commander of the Erzherzog Karl Division, had been provided good intelligence about the advance of the enemy from both aviators and Brigade Frauenau. Yesterday afternoon he concentrated one of his brigades in the vicinity Doon and had them digging a trench nearly 9 km long roughly a kilometer east of the town with a strongpoint at each end. He also prepared a 5 kilometer long second trench line that ran through Doon itelf with a strongpoint in the town. The Welsh Division to their north remained a threat though not a very serious one as according to their intelligence that division had been weakened to little more than a reinforced brigade. Krauss kept on his brigades in the Slieve Felim Mountains to guard against a Welsh attack but only let them keep 2 batteries of the 75mm Déport field guns as artillery support. The rest of his batteries he moved to counter the threat from the east posed by the 13th (Western) Division. General von François had sent Krauss the foot artillery battalion though with the admonition that he was not avoid wasting ammunition. He was also provided the use of the 1st Irish Field Artillery Battery which was two third Irish Volunteers and one third German. It had been equipped initially with captured British 15 pounders but they had been recently upgraded to captured 18 pounders. Most of the ammunition aboard Lusitania was for 18 pounders, incl. HE as well as shrapnel shells and it was already made available to the 1st Irish Field Artillery Battery.
Krauss had recognized the tactical value of the small mountain north of Cappawhite and established a small observation post there well before the British arrived. He had previously organized and armed a small rebel company at the nearby village of Hollyford which lay a little further to the north. As the 13th (Western) Division made its approach Krauss decided to reinforce the observation post with Hollyford Company, one of his Czech battalions pulled from the brigade in the north and one of his howitzer batteries.
With several gaps in the cloud cover the already badly tired men of the 5th Wiltshire now tried to work their way up the gradient under relatively bright moonlight. The Hollyford Company had arrived at dusk and had immediately started digging trenches as directed by the crew of the observation post. The Czech battalion had joined them only an hour ago. They started digging as well but stopped once they became aware of the approach of the enemy. The 5th Wiltshire made two attempts to storm the heights and were repelled with heavy losses both times. After that the Czechs began to harass them with a few of the very light mortars they called Priesterwerfers.
------Shavli (Lithuania) 0055 hrs
While the nighttime counterattack of the Russian 25th Infantry Division on the German 49th Reserve Division was failing miserably, General Scheffer-Boyadel, the commander of XXV Reserve Corps carried out his plans to envelop the enemy’s right with the 226th Reserve Regiment and the 21st Reserve Jaeger Battalion. In the half hour between the setting of the moon and first light Scheffer-Boyadel personally led them into position for their flank attack which took the Russians by surprise. They took over 1,000 prisoners and even captured a Russian battery though after that the enemy rallied and even mounted a counterattack which failed to recapture the lost cannons but did manage to blunt much of the momentum of the German attack. .
------west of Cappawhite (Tipperary) 0235 hrs
Krauss had ordered Brigade Frauenau which had withdrawn to Donohill to attempt to raid the rear of the 13th (Western) Division in the predawn hours. General had anticipated the Germans might attempt to do this and assigned 3 battalions to guard the rear of his division. Oberst Frauenau attacked as the nearly full moon was setting in the west. This meant that as his brigade emerged from the southeast their enemy would tend to be silhouetted against the setting moon while they would be barely visible in the growing darkness. They were unable to reach the enemy artillery or supply dumps. Most of their mounted attack fell upon the 72nd Field Company of Royal Engineers which lost half their men in a few frantic minutes. The surviving Royal Engineers rallied with the aid of the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers which marched to their rescue. Facing an alerted force of infantry at least equal in size to his entire brigade, Oberst von Frauenau ordered his cavalry to break off the attack. They galloped off into the woods then proceeded east towards Dundrum from which they would try to disrupt General Shaw’s line of communications.
------Mexico City 0245 hrs GMT
There was an entusiastic victory celebration underway in Mexico City with Obregon’s and Zapata’s soldiers drinking and carousing. Music could be heard in most of the city. Shots were sporadically fired into the air. The local prostitutes made good money.
Meanwhile inside the Presidential Palace Zapata, Obregon and Jahnke shared a bottle of fine cognac with some equally fine cigars. "And what did you do with the carcass of that jackal, Carranza?" asked Zapata.
"Preside---uh, I mean senor Carranza is still alive," replied Obregon.
"He is? Why?"
"He may yet prove useful to us."
"In what way?"
"While Gonzales controlled most of the regular troops loyal to Carranza, some of the governors still have some loyalty to him as well. I think it will behoove us to maintain the fiction of his being sick a little while longer."
"Perhaps but you do not need to keep him alive to do that if you are clever," commented Jahnke.
Zapata grinned enough for the cigar to drop out of his mouth. Chuckling he picked it up and pointed with it towards Jahnke, "Your German friend here makes a good point, yes? If you lack the cojones to shoot him yourself I will be more than happy to do it for you."
Obregon darkened visibly, but before he could respond to the insult, Jahnke piped in, "Shooting is not the best means of execution. There are certain poisons that I can recommend that will make it look like Carranza died of natural causes even if there is an autopsy."
Zapata shrugged, "Much as I would like to shoot Carranza, I can be persuaded to use poison."
"If and when we do decide to kill Carranza then we will use your poisons, senor Jahnke," said Obregon still struggling to rein in his anger.
Jahnke could see that Obregon was angry. While he wanted Carranza dead he did not want the partnership of Obregon and Zapata to fall apart. "Perhaps it would be best if we wait a few days before killing Carranza. Even using the proper poison people might become suspicious if he were to expire immediately after the battle."
Zapata shook his head vigorously, "Bah! Some people will be suspicious no matter what we do. I know that if I wasn’t in on this arrangement I certainly would be suspicious. I am willing to bet you gold that Villa is going to be very suspicious no matter what. So I still say let’s kill Carranza now and get it over with."
Obregon did not want to jeopardize his loose alliance with Zapata so he kept enough control over his temper so that he did say many of the things he wanted to say. However he was not going to let his junior partner get away with telling him what to do. "No! No one is killing Carranza today," he said in the same voice he would use to address a sergeant, "That is my last word on this subject. There are other more important things we need to discuss today."
Zapata glared daggers for half a minute and Jahnke became even more worried that this would result in a confrontation that might spin out of control. Suddenly though Zapata’s malevolent glare broke into a wicked grin and he asked with a chuckle, "Like what to do about Villa?"
Obregon became less and grinned as well though not as broadly, "Yes, senor Zapata, that is one of the topics."
------Shavli (Lithuania) 0300 hrs
The 2nd Infantry Division began its morning attack with a sharp bombardment to which the guns of the Russian 28th Infantry Division made no response as they had very little ammunition left. The Russians had begun to entrench after their failed nighttime counterattack but these were incomplete when the shelling started. The Russian batteries were down to a mere handful of shells and therefore did not return fire. The German howitzers supplemented by minenwerfers hit the forward Russian trench hard.
The artillery of the 49th Reserve Division also commenced firing on the Russian 29th Infantry Division at this time. It did not have the foot artillery batteries that the 2nd Infantry Division had its disposal and therefore made less of an impression allowing the Russians to hold the German frontal assault to a negligible gain. Their attack did succeed in pinning much of the Russian 29th Infantry Division making it more difficult for them to deal with the attempted envelopment of their right flank, which was still causing problems.
------southeast of Loughrea (Galway) 0350 hrs
Around midnight the West Riding Division had shifted its attacks to the south of the lake. There it had made two attempts to drive the Germans back with bayonet charges. The first had been a costly failure but the second did drive the 2nd Battalion 184th Infantry Regiment all the way back to the vicinity of a tiny hamlet called Aille. There the German officers rallied their men and halted the British advance aided by the arrival of 3 Maxim machineguns. There was a pair of hills both about 600’ high to the southwest. Once the British frontal assaults had been checked the battalion commander, fearing that the enemy would try next to flank him from the south, ordered St. James and his cavalry troop to proceed as quickly as possible to the top of closer of the hills. Dawn was not far off and from the top of the hill the former Buffalo Soldiers would soon have a good view as the cloud cover still had several gaps in it.
There was now just barely enough twilight that Cornelius could make out the British soldiers and wagons to the south. He watched them through his binoculars for a while then handed the binoculars to Attila the former Hussar who was alongside him saying, "Here you take a look. See that column of cannons? They are heading south now away from us. Their ammo wagons behind them are coming from the west and then following the guns by turning south at the intersection."
Attila watched for a few seconds. His eyesight was not quite as sharp as St. James but with every passing minute the light grew a little bit stronger. Finally he nodded his head slightly and said, "Perhaps they want to position their artillery there to support a flanking attack, sir. I do not pretend to be an expert on artillery."
"I do not know as much about artillery as I would like," replied St. James, "So I cannot rule out your theory. However I am leaning more to the idea that the enemy is trying to avoid us and escape rather than trying to get into position to attack. Unfortunately the German officers we have dealt with did not see fit to share the big picture with me. If they had I think I would have a better idea of just what is going on here."
Attila snorted, "Officers tend to do that. Not just the German ones either. From what you have told me, American officers were pretty much the same way."
"Ain’t that the truth."
Attila pointed to the left, "I take it that you saw that bunch of British soldiers massed over there, sir. They are not moving south with the rest of the column. I think they could be preparing to attack the Germans."
St. James shook his head, "Yeah, I saw them. They look to be at most a single company or what’s left of one. They are too weak to do much on offense and they have dug slit trenches. If you look real hard you can see where they have tried to hide a machinegun nest with camouflage."
"Really? Are sure, sir? Oh wait, yes, I think I can just barely make it out now. An attack through the gap between this hill and the one to our right will completely outflank that position."
St. James nodded and grinned slightly, "That thought has occurred to me as well". He then gave Attila a slight nudge to get him to momentarily lower the binoculars. Cornelius pointed to his right and said, "Now if you will take a look over there you will see a procession of horse drawn ambulances coming this way. If this is all part of an attack why are they moving ambulances to the forefront?"
"So you think the ambulances are part and parcel of the movement of the entire division?"
"Yes, I do. Take a good look at those ambulances. It looks to me like very tired overworked horses struggling to move overcrowded vehicles."
Attila stared in that direction using the binoculars then answered, "Yes, I would tend to agree with that, leutnant---oops I mean lieutenant."
"Give me back the binoculars," St. James ordered, "then get back on your horse and inform the Germans at Loughrea of what we’ve discovered. I am sending you because you speak German fluently even if it has that odd Austrian accent. Try to speak to at least a major if at all possible. I don’t want some junior officer assigned to intelligence duties sitting on this."
------Longford town 0415 hrs
The rebels at Athlone had a working telegraph link with Longford Battalion. The battalion commandant, Captain Werner Allmendinger, was now awakened by the company who was his duty officer while he was sleeping. "Captain Allmendiger! Sorry to wake you, sir, but we just received this telegram from Athlone."
The half awake battalion commandant accepted the slip of paper in his left hand while putting on his reading glasses with his right.
LARGE ENEMY FORCE BELIEVED TO BE UVF ARE APPROACHING ATHLONE FROM THE EAST REPEAT LARGE ENEMY FORCE BELIEVED TO BE UVF ARE APPROACHING ATHLONE FROM THE EAST STOP TAKE YOUR BATTALION SOUTH TO ATHLONE IMMEDIATELY REPEAT TAKE YOUR BATTALION SOUTH TO ATHLONE IMMEDIATELY STOP
Allmendinger was now very much awake. As with most of the I.R.A. captains in the Irish Brigade he had been a feldwebel before being selected for Operation Unicorn. When Major Schirmer had arrived at Carrick-on-Shannon he only had a few Irish Brigade officers with him. He had assigned Allmendinger to run what was then Longford company. While Schirmer had then turned his attention further north the Longford Company had grown into a large battalion. Yesterday had been a particularly good day for recruitment which he believed was due to the news of the call up of the Ulster Volunteers, though one of his company commandants argued that the very controversial execution of the Countess Markievicz was also a factor. When he had gone to bed just before midnight the battalion had attained a strength of 917 men. Quite possibly a few more had joined while he was sleeping.
There was also a support company into which he placed all the women plus all the men he deemed poorly suited for combat but not completely useless. There had a few that he had sent back, mostly those too young, infirm or way too old. The support company currently consisted of 219 men and 33 women. That unit handled the supplies incl. the food they had scrounged up in the local area. They ran the telegraph office and guarded the handful of constables the Longford Battalion had captured. They tended the wounded which so far was small. They were useful but now they presented him with a dilemma.
Should he take them long with him? The mission of the Longford Battalion had been nebulous from the beginning but he had been instructed by Schirmer that he was to be subordinate to Athlone. Now Athlone needed him so his battalion has had a clear cut mission. The question though was whether or not taking the support company would hinder or help. He briefly considered sending a telegram back to Athlone requesting their guidance but the horrible possibility of women in combat convinced him the choice was obvious. He would leave the support company here and march south as quickly as possible with Longford Battalion.
------near Cappawhite (Tipperary) 0435 hrs
As the 13th (Western) Division prepared to move out towards Doon the half dozen howitzers now positioned in the highlands to the north had a good view of the dispositions of the 13th (Western) Division. The Red Hill Forest was not a vast uninterrupted woodland but instead had many breaks for farmland. The British had in accord with common practice tried to position their artillery under tree cover on the reverse slopes of hills. From their outpost in the high ground to the north the Austro-Hungarians could make out one of the British batteries and the half dozen 10.5cm howitzers now began to enfilade the British battery. The observation post also transmitted information to the rest of the divisional artillery about the location of 7th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment which was being held in reserve and not in the trenches dug for the troops selected for the assault. It appeared to be in range of 7.5cm Déport gun batteries positioned near Doon. One of these batteries soon opened fire on the 7th Gloucestershire.
These developments upset General Shaw’s plans which were to use all of his division’s artillery to bombard the Austro-Hungarian trench line then mount an assault. General Wilson had informed Shaw that the Austro-Hungarian division had suffered heavy casualties since it arrived in Ireland and that while it had performed better than expected it still was markedly inferior in quality to the German units, esp. the 6th Bavarian Infantry Division which had earned the respect of the British generals in Ireland. Shaw’s artillery batteries were all facing west and preparing to commence their own bombardment at 0500 hrs. One of the 18 pounder batteries received permission to open fire on the 7.5cm Déport guns that were firing but soon discovered they were out of range. These 18 pounders though came under fire from one of the German 15cm batteries near Doon. After that an improvised artillery duel ensued which put a large crimp into General Shaw’s detailed firing plan. Contrary to Shaw’s expectations the British possessed only a small superiority in the number of guns and this was more than offset by the qualitative superiority of the German 15cm howitzers. The Austrian gunners concentrated on suppressing the British howitzers believing that the 18 pounder field guns firing mostly shrapnel shells could not do much harm to their trenches.
------Abbeville (Picardy) 0500 hrs
Beginning Tuesday night General von Fabeck, the commander of Sixth Army, had begun shifting much of his army’s heavy artillery from the bottleneck region connecting the British First and Second Armies back east to the vicinity of Abbeville. In the meantime General Plumer, the commander of Second Army, was concentrating his RGA batteries and sending nearly all the shells arriving from England to support his efforts to rescue First Army. The end result was that the German artillery once again possessed overwhelming superiority over the enemy in the vicinity of Abbeville, though this was partially mitigated when some of the British batteries were drawn into a duel with the German batteries within range. The Belgian position at Millencourt-en-Ponthieu was shelled in addition to those of the British IV Army Corps.
------Galicia 0500 hrs
A structural change had occurred over the last three days in the organization of Conrad’s Galician offensive. The methodical progress made by General von Linsingen’s Center Army against the Russian Eleventh Army had taken it roughly halfway to its objective of Lemberg resulting in a pronounced salient in the line in front of Przemysl. This meant it was often subjected to enfilading fire against its flanks esp. from the Russian Third Army on its left. The Austro-Hungarian XVI Corps on the right wing of von Auffenberg’s Fourth Army had kept contact with German II Army Corps on the left of Center Army. It had already experienced some fighting with the Russian Third Army but now Conrad’s orders was for von Auffenberg to make a full scale attack against the Russian X Army Corps on the right of the Third Army. This corps had become spread out over a front of nearly 20 kilometers due to the advance of Center Army. General von Linsingen would not try to advance any further against the Russian Eleventh Army this day but would use its heavy artillery to supplement that of Fourth Army.
The combined bombardment that now fell on the Russian 31st Infantry Division was very intense and lasted 3 hours. The Russian batteries in the area made a foolhardy attempt to duel but were quickly suppressed. In last half hour the Austro-Hungarian minenwerfers joined in the bombardment. The 31st Infantry Division which had most of its men in the shallow forward trench was very hard hit. The 2 Austro-Hungarian divisions that made the assault encountered relatively light resistance and captured nearly 3,000 prisoners. Before the day was over they had advanced 3 kilometers.
Meanwhile to the south General Böhm-Ermolli’s Second Army made another attack on the right wing of General Brusilov’s Eighth Army. Second Army’s stockpile of shells was much less than Fourth Army’s so their bombardment was limited to only one hour. Brusilov remained in a very difficult situation. The offensive by General Lechitski’s Ninth Army in the Bukovina had stalled in the last week and General Ivanov, the commander of Southwestern Front was therefore constantly pressuring Brusilov to do more to assist Ninth Army. So the left wing of Eighth Army was on the offensive while its right wing which was being slowly but inexorably stretched by the enemy advance, was on the defensive. Worst of all it was receiving woefully inadequate ordnance for its artillery and was as usual being overpowered by the Austrian batteries For this reason while the subsequent attack by 4 divisions of the Austro-Hungarian Second Army paid a serious price they were able to advance nearly 2 kilometers.
------southeast of Loughrea (Galway) 0535 hrs
General Schußler, the commander of the 183rd Infantry Brigade had moved his HQ to Loughrea soon after dawn. Attila’s report eventually worked its way up to his staff. The general combined this with the rest of intelligence and concluded that St. James’ hypothesis possessed some likelihood. He ordered the 184th Infantry Regiment to attack the marching column of the West Riding Division with the support of his lone battery of 7.7cm guns. These guns gave the dug in company of the 1/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington guarding the sharp bend in the road a brief shelling. This caused very few casualties but it distracted the defenders while the 3rd Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment guided by Attila approached the hill where St. James and the rest of the Buffalo Soldier cavalry were perched. The battalion commander conferred briefly with Cornelius.
Passing by on the road south of the hill were the West Riding Division’s pair of howitzer batteries. These were armed with obsolete 5" BL howitzers which were a heavy burden for their draught horses, which showed obvious signs of exhaustion and appeared to St. James to be on the verge of collapse and possibly even death. This would make many cavalrymen sad but St. James had a coldly utilitarian attitude towards horses going so far as to believe that they should be rode to death if need be. Behind the limbered howitzers came their ammunition wagons. The horses pulling these wagons were much less tired than those pulling the howitzers because the wagons were nearly empty.
A quarter mile behind the last wagon of the howitzer brigade marched the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. This battalion had marched the furthest in the last 24 hours as they had been as west as Clarinbridge at one point. They were the tail end of the West Riding Division acting as a rear guard. They had fought two brief confused actions with elements of the 183rd Infantry Brigade during the night. These men looked as if they were on the verge of collapsing as well.
The Germans attacked through the gap between the two hills. Half of the battalion descended on the howitzer batteries. The other half swung around the base of the eastern hill to attack the Duke of Wellington company from the rear. Part of St. James considered having the Buffalo Soldiers attack dismounted but he could not resist the impulse to attack on horseback. His cavalry troop led the attack on the rear of the Duke of Wellington company. Cornelius himself was in the lead. His goal was to knock out the British machinegun nest before it could be turned around. The Duke of Wellington had not dug a continuous trench line but rather a hodgepodge of shallow slit trenches and foxholes. None of his Cornelius’ men carried a lance. The American cavalry used saber and pistol instead of a lance for mounted combat. St. James carried a sawed off shotgun as well as a pistol. He also carried 2 hand grenades.
The men of the Duke of Wellington company had not slept at all during the night. They were very groggy even though the brief shelling had stimulated their senses for a few minutes. Suddenly horsemen were charging them from the rear. St. James skillfully steered his horse through the trenches and approached the machinegun nest. One soldier rose up to challenge Cornelius with his rifle only to be blasted by the sawed off shotgun. Three more British soldiers were trying to swing their weapon around. St. James chucked a grenade into their midst then backed his horse off before it exploded. He then set to dancing his horse amongst the enemy which were unsure as to whether they should try to emerge from their trenches. Some of those who tried to get up were cut down by St. James’ saber while some who did not were stomped in the head by his horse. Meanwhile his Buffalo Soldiers were all around; some of them were throwing grenades as well. These kept the British infantry occupied as the two companies of German infantry arrived.
Cornelius’ horse was suddenly struck by 2 bullets in quick succession and toppled over. He barely got free from his saddle to avoid being pinned under the dying beast. As he lay on the ground a British soldier lunged at him with his bayonet. Struggling to get to his feet Cornelius managed to parry the blow with his saber. The British soldier tried again and was parried again. As he pulled his rifle back for a third attempt Cornelius, who was now on his feet, sprang forward and sliced open his stomach with his saber. The victim howled in pain and tried feebly to work his rifle. Cornelius grabbed it from him and proceeded to club him unconscious with it. St. James now had two Lee-Enfield rifles---one in his hands and one on his shoulder. He worked the bolt on the one in his hands and wounded a British soldier. By this time the Germans had arrived and were in the process of overrunning the enemy’s position.
As this was going on the artillerists of the howitzer brigade struggled fiercely to defend their guns while the dog tired men of the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers tried to rush to their aid. Upon learning of the success 3rd Battalion was having the commander of the 184th Infantry Regiment committed his other two battalions to the attack.
When word of this attack reached General Baldock, who was nearly 4 km south at the time, he found himself facings the horns of a dilemma. He knew that there had been a large enemy force, quite possibly an entire division, that had reached Gort late yesterday. He had eventually concluded that the Germans intended to crush the West Riding Division between that force and the other enemy force to the north which General Baldock knew from the few prisoners he had captured to be the 183rd Infantry Brigade. To prevent this General Baldock had decided that he must retreat across the Shannon at Portumna. The enemy had barred the most direct route to Portumna at Loughrea. Unable to breakthrough at Loughrea he was forced to swing around to the south of the lake using the poorer quality narrow secondary roads. This strategy had been working until this latest setback. Baldock did not want to abandon his howitzer brigade and the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers but he realized that to turn around the entire strung out column of his division to counterattack was to court disaster. Like his men the general had not slept at all. His weary mind eventually decided to send the rest of the 109th Brigade which was not that far from the fighting, back to try to rescue the howitzers and the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers which was part of their brigade. He would give them a single battery of 15 pounders for artillery support providing that battery with half of the shells he still had left. He hoped and prayed that this would be enough for he intended to keep on marching towards Portumna and safety with the rest of the division.
------Nairobi (British East Africa) 0545 hrs
There was a momentary lull in the rain. These seemed to be coming a little more often of late. Indoors Oberst Lettow-Vorbeck and his deputy, Major Kraut had much to discuss. When they had captured Nairobi the British tried to disable their wireless station but the Germans were soon able to repair the damage and restore operations. An hour ago the station had received a transmission from their Abyssinian allies claiming that they had recently won a great victory over a combined British and rebel force which was now retreating in disarray back to Gondar.
"This alone means our campaign is a success," Lettow-Vorbeck declared with pride, "For we forced one of the British expeditions to turn back allowing Iyasu to concentrate on the rebels and the expedition out of Khartoum.
Kraut nodded but his facial expression was more somber. With some irony this had been confirmed by another bit of news that reached them late last night. They had established an outpost on Mt. Kenya. During a lull in the storms Tuesday afternoon the outpost had spotted the vanguard of sizable force entering the village of Chuka on the road leading to Embu. That was almost certainly the expedition that had been intended for Abyssinia. "We should immediately order the Aembu company to withdraw to Thika, Oberst," said Kraut, "Otherwise they will be crushed by the enemy without serving any purpose."
Since taking Nairobi, Lettow-Vorbeck had been able to recruit and train 6 field companies from the local natives. Three of these were Kikuyu. There were 2 companies of Nandi and a small company composed mostly of Aembu plus some Ambeere. This company was currently stationed in the town of Embu where it was receiving intensive training while also trying to recruit additional Aembu.
"Yes, that makes sense. Thankfully we now have the telegraph line extended all the way to Embu. As soon as we are done talking we will send them a telegram ordering them to fall back to Thika without delay."
"Only as far as Thika, oberst? Do you intend to make your stand there?"
"Not at all, in fact I still have not decided whether or not to abandon this lovely little city and scurry back to our own colony. So what I want to do at Thika is try to give the British expedition a brief test with some of our companies and then beat a hasty retreat back here---well as close to hasty as is possible in the rainy season."
------west of Cappawhite (Tipperary) 0530 hrs
The bombardment had not gone as planned but the infantry assault of the 13th (Western) Division went ahead on schedule anyway. Two battalions each from the 38th and 39th Brigades emerged from the shallow trenches which had already suffered a few hits from enemy howitzers firing HE shells. The no man’s land was about 2,000 yards wide. The attackers almost immediately began to be culled by shrapnel shells. Before long the enemy machineguns and rifles tore into them as well. The Austro-Hungarians had only been able to erect two strands of barbed wire but it was only cut in a few places, so it was effective in impeding if not completely stopping the British advance. Already they had suffered heavy losses but nevertheless the soldiers pressed on bravely. Those that did make it to the enemy trench were handicapped by the lack of a decent hand grenade. A few had the awkward and unreliable jam tin bombs. The British were starting to produce an excellent hand grenade called the Mills bomb but only in extremely limited quantities and all of what they did make was being transported to France instead of Ireland.
More than a mile behind them there were 3 more British battalions which had been committed as a second wave. These were now being attenuated by shrapnel shells as well. The British attack was aborted just as they were beginning to come under machinegun fire as well. When it was over total British casualties came to more than 2,000.
-------Rear Cross (Tipperary) 0600 hrs
In case the Erzherzog Karl Division pivoted completely to face the 13th (Western) Division, General Wilson ordered General Friend, the commander of the Welsh Division, to attack from them from the north as well. The Welsh Division unfortunately was still very weak. It did have at its disposal a single RGA battery equipped with the powerful 60 pounder guns but even these weapons could only do so much against an enemy well ensconced in mountains. The rest of its artillery consisted of 3 batteries of obsolescent 15 pounder field guns. The Welsh Division had moved forward into its attack position during the night. It now commenced its bombardment of the section of the Austro-Hungarian line near the village of Rear Cross.
The ensuing assault was made by the elite 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards and 2 battalions of the North Wales Regiment. While the Austro-Hungarian brigade in the Slieve Felim Mountains had a large line to defend most of it was very rough. The portions of the front that Krauss thought the enemy was likely to attack were actually rather small with the area near Rear Cross being at the top of his list. He had an entire Czech battalion and 3 machineguns well dug in there. One of the 7.5cm batteries in the mountains came into play. It let the Grenadier Guards pass untouched but concentrated on the Welshmen that followed. The 4th Grenadier Guards was an elite outfit but until its recent arrival in Ireland it had no combat experience and its officers still tended to think in accord with prewar doctrine. Its commander felt he could route the Czechs at Rear Cross with a bayonet charge.
This attack ended in a costly failure for the Grenadier Guards but it did cause the local Austro-Hungarian commander some serious worry so he sent rather ominous reports to his superiors which worked its way up to the division HQ at Cappamore. This made Krauss reluctant to pull any more of his forces in the north to counter threat of the 13th (Western) Division in the east. Eventually the position at Rear Cross was reinforced with another half battalion of Czechs.
------HQ Russian III Army Corps northeast of Shavli (Lithuania) 0605 hrs
The commander of III Army Corps had become worried that the Germans were trying to encircle and destroy his unit. The news that had filtered their way to his HQ this morning only served to strengthen that perception. The German attempt to envelop the 25th Infantry Division on his right flank was particularly troubling even though it was only partially successful. Compounding his corps’ problems, its offensive thrust in and around the city itself looked to be hopelessly stalled with steadily mounting casualties. III Army Corps was still receiving an inadequate supply of artillery shells. He decided that his current course of action was too risky and issued orders for his corps to disengage and withdraw to the northeast starting with the 25th Infantry Division.
------Moscow 0615 hrs GMT
Shots could be heard sporadically. In the streets of Moscow the police now backed by army units from the local garrison struggled to end the chaos. Prince Felix Felixovich Iusupov the military commander had been up all night meeting with Mayor Cholnokov, Governor Adrianov, General Oboloshev and members of the Moscow Duma. There were also telephone calls from Petrograd where the situation was viewed with mounting concern.
Fighting the urge to yawn a tired Iusupov announced a series of emergency measures. One of them was a curfew extending from 10 o’clock PM to 5 o’clock AM during which civilians would not be allowed to appear on the streets without special permits. He also instituted price controls on accommodations and basic foodstuffs. Lastly he instituted a very unpopular ban on the production and sale of all alcoholic beverages.
------southeast of Loughrea (Galway) 0655 hrs
The German 184th Infantry Regiment eventually captured all eight of the British howitzers, 5 of them in working condition, despite the efforts of the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to try to save the guns. The ammunition wagons were also captured but as St. James had predicted they were nearly empty. Some of the British artillerists did manage to escape into the bogs to the south though. The 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had been driven back to the west in heavy fighting. General Schußler was now committing the rest of his brigade plus most of the Roscommon Battalion to the battle while instructing the armored train to return to Athlone carrying one company of the Roscommon Battalion as reinforcements. The counterattack by the 109th Brigade had caused some trouble for a few tense minutes but they were eventually forced to withdraw to the south. General Schußler’s latest orders were to try to finish off the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers while maintaining contact with the rest of the 109th Brigade.
------Nolette (Picardy) 0700 hrs
The morning attack of the British I Army Corps commenced with a bombardment which included nearly all of the heavy artillery that Second Army currently possessed. General Plumer had allocated nearly all of the shells he had received from England in the latest convoy to supporting this attack. Meanwhile General von Fabeck had moved most of Sixth Army’s heavy artillery to support the attack on Abbeville. However this was only a small shift and some of the German heavy artillery was still well within range of the British RGA batteries which resulted in some of them being diverted to countering the enemy artillery.
------Abbeville (Picardy) 0730 hrs
The German bombardment, which in the last hour included minenwerfers as well as 7.7 cm field guns. In the last few minutes of the bombardment some of the German 15cm howitzers switched to firing the improved version of the T-Shell at the British batteries, using the tactics worked out by General von Mudra as a result of his campaign in the Argonne. This neutralized many of the British batteries which were not otherwise suppressed just before the 9 Bavarian battalions assigned to make the assault emerged from their trenches. In the east the Bavarians had the greatest success quickly taking the rubble which once was Drucat Castle with fairly small losses and advancing a kilometer to take the village of Caours. It was only then as they tried to continue further south to cut the Route de Doullens the important road connecting Abbeville and St. Riquier that they began to encounter stiff resistance from the British 8th Division which halted their progress in front of L’Heure. Meanwhile the Belgians had abandoned their forward trench near Millencourt-en-Ponthieu to minimize losses during the bombardment but were stubbornly holding on to their second trench.
In the center of their attack the Germans were also able to advance a kilometer from Le Plessiel with acceptable losses but then were unable to advance any further. Still further west the Bavarians had their greatest problems. In that area the British bombardment supporting the attack on Nolette had been shifted to countering the German bombardment. The Bavarian assault in the vicinity of Buigny-St.Maclou was quickly broken up by British guns and made no progress. The end result was the small German salient that had existed before the attack with its apex near Drucat had now become more pronounced.
------Old Admiralty Building 0735 hrs
The new prime minister, Arthur Balfour had arrived. He was warmly greeted by Sir Edward Carson, who was to remain as First Lord of the Admiralty in his Cabinet. They conversed for a few minutes then proceeded to a conference room where Admirals Callaghan, Jackson, Oliver and Wilson were waiting for them. Carson made the introductions. "It is a frightful shame that Admiral Bayly is not here," said Balfour, "For I would very much like to thank him in person for his recent victory at the Battle of the Celtic Sea."
"We will gladly relay your sentiments to him, prime minister," stated Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord.
"That is most considerate, admiral," said Balfour, "He isn’t by any chance in port right now? Is it possible for me to converse with him over the telephone?"
"Unfortunately he happens to be at sea with the Grand Fleet, prime minister," answered Callaghan.
"And when he returns to port it will almost certainly be the Isle of Mull which lacks a telephone line, prime minister," added Admiral Wilson.
"Did you say the ‘Isle of Mull’, admiral?" asked Balfour raising an eyebrow, "Is there some special reason why the Grand Fleet is operating there instead of one of the main naval bases?"
"It is the optimal anchorage for the Grand Fleet in terms of defending our precious line of communication to Ireland, prime minister," answered Callaghan.
Balfour rubbed his chin pensively for a few seconds then inquired, "While that seems to be true but doesn’t it also have the drawback of making it difficult to intercept the German battle fleet en route to the Channel?"
The admirals briefly exchanged glances before Callaghan answered, "It does, prime minister, but for the time being it is a limitation we are willing to accept."
Balfour was not completely satisfied with that answer, and asked, "So I take it to mean you are worried that the Grand Fleet was become too weakened to prevail in another fleet action at this time? Is that why the Germans were able to get away with a landing in Galway Bay under our noses that has seriously outflanked General Hamilton’s forces?"
Sir Edward and the admirals squirmed visibly exchanging glances. They were silent for over a minute. Finally Callaghan spoke, "Ahem, uh well you see, prime minister, the German landing at Galway occurred simultaneous with their battle fleet rendezvousing with Admiral von Spee’s force."
"In that case I am even more confused, Admiral Callaghan as that would seem to present Admiral Bayly with an additional reason to attack," replied Balfour, "Kill the proverbial two birds with one stone as the saying goes."
The admirals again sheepishly exchanged glances. Finally it was Sir Edward Carson who replied, "Uh, well, you are of course quite right about that, prime minister. Admiral Bayly felt that he lacked the strength to prevail and therefore did not challenge the German battle fleet."
Balfour pondered this admission for a few seconds before saying, "Disagreeable as the truth can often be, it is always worse to try to evade it."
"Well put, prime minister," replied Carson stiffly, trying to hide the fact that in fact he found Balfour’s aphorism to be simplistic.
"If you might permit me to be blunt, gentlemen, it has become hard to avoid the impression that the Royal Navy has become downright scared of the enemy. How else to account for our merchantmen cowering in port for nearly a fortnight now? There are many in Parliament who ask why our sea traffic did not resume at something close to a normal pace after the Battle of the Celtic Sea."
Again Carson and the admirals looked embarrassed. Finally Carson replied, "There has been some increase in traffic, prime minister. We have sent supplies thrice to the B.E.F. in the last week along with some coal for the French."
"Which Clemenceau bitterly complains is only a fraction of what France needs."
"The French can get by for the time being, prime minister, though it may be necessary for them to curtail their current grand offensive," answered Carson.
Balfour’s face showed an ambivalent expression. "Is that your opinion as well, Admiral Callaghan?" he asked.
"Yes, it is, prime minister. We are by no means insensitive to the plight of the French people who have too much of their population suffering under the yoke of German occupation. However this is a very delicate moment in this vexing war. Prudence and patience is called for and we seem to getting little of either from Clemenceau."
"Hmm it is of course my intention to practice both of those virtues in full measure, but I worry that an excessive prudence can lead to timidity just as excessive patience can lead to procrastination. I would hasten to point out that it is not only the French who are suffering from the passivity of our merchant fleet. There are factories here in Britain that are idle due to a lack of coal which was previously provided by coastal colliers."
Callaghan was going to answer that but Carson beat him to it, "Yes, we are well aware of that problem, prime minister. For that reason we are leaning towards resuming some of the coastal traffic along what we believe is relatively safe routes in the next few days."
Balfour brightened noticeably, "Excellent! That is precisely the sort of thing I was hoping to hear, First Lord."
------Athlone (Westmeath) 0720 hrs
The Ulster Volunteer Force had arrived at the eastern outskirts of Athlone a few minutes earlier where they reported to the commander of the 10th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who was the ranking officer in the area. The 10th Royal Irish Rifles were themselves Ulster Volunteers from Belfast who had answered Lord Kitchener’s call and joined the 36th (Ulster) Division back in September. The same was true of the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles which was also participating in the Battle of Athlone except that its men came from County Down. These men had been subject to the training and discipline of the British Army for roughly 8 months. The same could not be said of the newcomers. These members of the U.V.F. had some paramilitary training but it was not the same thing.
The leaders of U.V.F. reinforcements expressed great enthusiasm at the prospect of butchering the Papist traitors. The armored train which had proven to be a major obstacle in the past was not present. This made the British officers eager to attack as quickly as possible before it might return. Therefore a plan was hastily put together for the 10th Royal Irish Rifles to make a diversionary attack from the northeast of Athlone to be followed by the 16th Royal Irish Rifles and half of the Ulster Volunteers attacking from the southeast with the other half of the Ulster Volunteers attacking from the south in the hope of overrunning the rebels.
The defenders consisted of 1st and 2nd Athlone Battalions and Cavan Battalion plus the small company formed from the released German internees willing to fight. The rest of the freed prisoners had been sent across the Shannon along with the 1st Athlone Support Company. The defenders were outnumbered roughly two to one. The 1st Athlone Battalion had a pair of machineguns which they put to good use but the decisive weapon in this battle was the rebels with their bolt action rifles, a mix of Lee-Enfields and Moisin-Nagants. Except for those who had joined in the last few days the men of the Athlone Battalions had acquired considerable battle experience by this time and roughly a third had become deadly shooters. Cavan Battalion was not quite as experienced and not as fully equipped with military grade rifles but they still made a serious contribution.
The assault from the southeast was the first to falter. The commander of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles soon realized from what he had learned from the previous fighting at Athlone that the attack was hopeless and ordered his men to fall back. The 2,000 Ulster Volunteers that were with him reluctantly obeyed his orders. The other 2,000 which were attacking from due south were faring somewhat better in part because for the most part they were being fired on by Cavan Battalion which was not as sharp as the Athlone battalions. Some of the U.V.F. did make to the rebel breastworks. Nearly a fifth of Cavan Battalion was armed with a shotgun and a pistol instead of a rifle and at close range these men became a factor in the fighting allowing the defenses to hold while the threatened position was reinforced from the 2nd Athlone Battalion. This portion of the attack eventually petered out with roughly half of the 2,000 Ulster Volunteers involved becoming casualties.
-----Loughrea (Galway) 0740 hrs
The headquarters of the German 183rd Infantry Brigde was in the process of leaving Loughrea as the battle with the West Riding Division was steadily moving to the southeast. General Schußler had departed a few minutes earlier with most of his staff, but he left his adjutant behind to take care of some minor details. One of those was what to do with St. James. While he had been eager to continue fighting Cornelius’ cavalry troop had been ordered back to Loughrea. The horse he had lost in the battle was replaced by one of the draught horses captured from the British in the fighting. Cornelius selected one he thought would make an acceptable riding horse at least in the short run.
St. James was now meeting with brigade adjutant. They conversed in German. "The reports I am getting about the performance to date are most impressive, leutnant, esp. your cavalry," said the adjutant, "We may even get you a medal eventually but in the meantime there are some things we want to do. You have some men as part of what I am told is being called the Black Sheep Squadron---some other day when we have more time you will explain how that odd name came to be---that are still in Galway. One of your subordinates named Garvey has been stirring up trouble in your absence. We believe that once these men are back under your direct supervision you will take a strong hand to this Mr. Garvey. Do you know that he has the audacity to call himself a generalfeldmarscahl? Unbelievable!"
"Yes, major, I will definitely take a firm hand with that individual," replied St. James.
"Very good. And then there is the matter of these experimental weapons, some type of rockets as I understand it. These too are still at Galway in the care of their inventor, Dr. Goddard. Am I correct?"
"Yes, major, that is correct."
"Well you are the only one who has any idea how they are to be used. So I think it is time we moved them here as well. We are placing a few trucks at your disposal at least temporarily. Do not overuse them though as petrol is in short supply currently."
"I understand, major. Thank you."
"Another thought has occurred to me. A small minority of the Irish Volunteers have previous military, mostly in the British Army. Now of these there is a handful who have cavalry experience. There were five of these we know of in Roscommon Battalion. We can use more cavalry up here and we currently have some surplus horses. Earlier today we told these 5 Irishmen that we would let them serve as cavalrymen but only if they agreed to serve in your unit. Two were horrified at the idea and said no. However two of them said ‘yes’. The remaining one asked for some time to think things over. I gave him until sundown to make up his mind. Your unit took a few casualties today. These men should make acceptable replacements. We can probably get you a few more from the South Mayo and Galway Battalions before long."
------Nolette (Picardy) 0800 hrs
Most of the British bombardment had stopped though some of the 18 pounder guns shifted their targets beyond the forward trench in an attempt to prevent German reinforcements from moving forward. The assault was made by 4 battalions each from the 15th Brigade and the 4th Brigade. The 15th Brigade had been in the 5th Division which had been stationed on the far right of Second Army near St. Riquier where there had been very little fighting for several months. The 15th Brigade was therefore at full strength. The same could not been said of the 4th Brigade which had suffered heavy cumulative losses in the previous fighting in the bottleneck region. The other two brigades in the 1st Division had suffered still heavier losses. A few replacement troops had reached the division during May but they were only a fraction of the cumulative losses.
In the last fortnight very small quantities of a new hand grenade called the Mills bomb, had begun reaching the B.E.F. General Plumer was very interested in this new weapon and insisted that it be used experimentally on a small scale several times. The results were very promising. He then suggested to Field Marshal French that he should formally request that the War Office produce as many of these new grenades as possible and send them all to the B.E.F. As General Hamilton’s campaign in Ireland appeared to be much more fluid than what the B.E.F. was experiencing, Plumer believed Second Army should receive all of the new grenades. Sir John French was soon persuaded to go along with this suggestion even though he thought Plumer was exaggerating the importance of bombs as the British preferred to call them.
General Plumer had ordered that all of the consignment of Mills bombs on the latest convoy from England be sent to the 1st Division which already had a small quantity with which it had been experimenting with in actual combat. The Mills bombs were all distributed to the battalions involved in this morning’s assault. These new grenades proved very useful in the assault on the Prussian Guards. Casualties were still very high among the attacking battalions but they did manage to secure roughly a 2,500 yards wide stretch of the enemy forward trench in ferocious trench fighting. The Prussian Guards launched fierce counterattacks but the British regular soldiers stubbornly held on to most of their gains only losing a little on the flanks.
------north of Cappawhite (Tipperary) 0815 hrs
Once it became clear that the frontal assault on the enemy trench line had failed, General Shaw began to examine his options. He could of course outflank the right of Austro-Hungarian trenches using the main road between Tippperary town and Limerick city. This would also present him with another chance to annihilate the rebel force he had chased all the way from Templemore. Another option would be to try to outflank the Erzherzog Karl Division from the north but to do this would require taking the patch of high ground in the Hollyford Hills that had caused considerable trouble earlier and remained a thorn in his side. Shaw even considered the possibility of a double envelopment of the enemy.
Meanwhile Brigade Fraeunau had succeeded in cutting both his telegraph and telephone wires. This put General Shaw out of touch with General Wilson at VI Army Corps HQ at Nenagh. It also meant he had no idea how well the Welsh Division was faring in its attack into the Slieve Felim Mountains nor what the air patrols were finding as the airplanes were operated out of a field near Nenagh. The division’s cyclist company had a nasty early morning firefight with Brigade Frauenau near Dundrum and had narrowly escaped. The 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers which was part of the 40th Brigade was sent off on a hard march towards Dundrum to rescue the cyclists and try to reopen the line of communications.
After that General Shaw decided that his next step would be to capture the high ground to the north. The remaining two battalions of the 40th Brigade were sent to reinforce the 5th Battalion Wiltshire. Two of the division’s four howitzer batteries and an entire artillery brigade of 18 pounders were ordered to turn north to support this attack. In the meantime the importance of this high ground was not lost on Krauss and he had reinforced his forces there with his division’s minenwerfer company, 3 machineguns and the 1st Cork Ersatz Company.
The British assault was preceded by a 15 minute bombardment by the 6 batteries that had been turned north. The howitzer battery in the hills had prudently shifted its position since the early morning engagement. Its crew decided to remain silent for the moment. Using information transmitted from the observation post the German 15cm howitzers opened up on the British howitzers that were firing and soon suppressed them. This in turn briefly escalated into a haphazard resumption of the earlier artillery duel. However both Krauss and Shaw were worried about their supply of shells and the exchange was soon terminated.
While the shells were bursting all around the Irish Volunteers of Hollyford Company were terrified. Four of them ran away in utter panic. What kept the rest of them from doing the same was the calming presence of their fellow Irish Volunteers of the 1st Cork Ersatz Company, who had been shelled on several prior occasions. The casualties were from the British shelling was fairly light. This was in part because the enemy howitzers had been quickly suppressed. The flat trajectory 18 pounders posed much less of a threat.
The three British battalions picked for the assault now made their approach. The battalion that had tried to take the hill during the night, the 5th Wiltshire, was the closest and tried to charge up from the south. The minenwerfer company which had been silent now concentrated on them. This battalion soon received the attention of the machine guns and the priesterwerfers as well. The 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers also approached from the south but the 8th Battalion Cheshire Regiment tried to flank the defenders from the east and thereby drew the attention of the howitzer battery which soon broke up the attack. The minenwerfers eventually shifted their targeting to the closing South Wales Borderers as the defenders’ rifle fire had become more than enough to hold off what was left of the 5th Wiltshire.
The South Wales Borderers joined the Wiltshire men in trying to work their way up the gradient in the face of heavy fire. Eventually after taking heavy losses both battalions were forced to withdraw to the south.
------OKW Berlin 0935 hrs
Admiral von Tirpitz entered Generalfeldmarschal von Moltke’s office. It was obvious that the grossadmiral was angry. "What is wrong, admiral?" asked von Moltke.
"The so called German Nelson! That is what’s wrong?"
"Oh, and what has Admiral von Ingenohl done now?"
"Read this," said von Tirpitz who handed von Moltke a sheet of paper.
HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK FRIDAY NIGHT AND RETURN TO GERMANY USING THE NORTHERN ROUTE REPEAT HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK FRIDAY NIGHT AND RETURN TO GERMANY USING THE NORTHERN ROUTE STOP PLAN TO COAL OUR TORPEDOBOATS FROM THE LINERS AT SHETLANDS REPEAT PLAN TO COAL OUR TORPEDOBOATS FROM THE LINERS AT SHETLANDS STOP USE OF NORWEGIAN COLLIERS AS WELL SHOULD BE EXPLORED REPEAT USE OF NORWEGIAN COLLIERS AS WELL SHOULD BE EXPLORED STOP
"Hmm I know you that you do not like the idea of the High Seas Fleet returning via the northern route because even with sacks on coal on their decks some of the torpeoboats in his screen cannot make it home under power without taking on more coal en route," said von Moltke, "Which is why we developed plans to anchor in the Shetland Islands during which the torpedoboats could be coaled from the liners. There are some obvious risks to this plan but passing through the Straits of Dover has its own risks."
The message I handed you received two hours earlier. This one was received in the last half hour. The admiral then handed von Moltke another sheet of paper.
HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK EARLY SATURDAY MORNING AND PROCEED DIRECTLY TO THE STRAITS OF DOVER REPEAT HIGH SEAS FLEET WILL LEAVE CORK EARLY SATURDAY MORNING AND PROCEED DIRECTLY TO THE STRAITS OF DOVER STOP
"Hmm well it appears that Admiral von Ingenohl has had a very sudden change of heart," replied a somewhat puzzled von Moltke.
"This message was sent in the old codes. The prior message was sent in the new codes."
Initially this increased von Moltke’s puzzlement. Then it suddenly dawned on him, "Admiral von Ingenohl knows that the British will read the message in the old codes and he hopes that will cause them to concentrate their efforts on the southern route. We have had some problems with him not the least of which is his strident hostility towards Operation Unicorn but he can be clever at times and this is one of them, yes?"
"No, no, no! The coward is throwing away a priceless opportunity!" thundered the angry old man with the forked beard.
"Uh, I am afraid that I am not following you, Alfred."
"For a short period of time the fact that we know that the British can read our old ciphers but they do not know that we know has presented us with an opportunity to lure what’s left of their fleet into a trap. The so called German Nelson is squandering that opportunity merely to make his return to Germany a little easier. When the High Seas Fleet fails to appear anywhere near the Straits of Dover, the Royal Navy will become very suspicious greatly reducing the likelihood we can ever spring a trap on them."
The portly old man shook his head slightly, "Yes, now I recall hearing some speculation about doing that. It struck me as being a very abstract exercise in wishful thinking. No, let me finish my thought before you jump all over me. I never heard a concrete suggestion that seemed to have a strong chance of working. I will remind you that the British Admiralty must have known of the rendezvous of the Atlantic Squadron with the High Seas Fleet off of Galway yet their battle fleet made no move to counter it, even when it became evident that we were landing troops near Galway. If they would not commit their fleet then what makes you think they would commit their fleet for something else?"
"If von Ingenohl led them to believe that he was splitting up his battle squadrons they might."
"Maybe but only if they believed it. Why would we repeat the same mistake they made at Dogger Bank, esp. after losing the Battle of Celtic Sea."
"Celtic Sea should rightfully be regarded as a draw."
"That can be argued. What cannot be argued is that the Royal Navy considers it to be a small victory. That is painfully obvious from reading their newspapers. They would find it very strange if we were to split up our battle squadrons after it. Even if they did send their fleet to engage what they think is a single battle squadron., they would be very cautious. Admiral Bayly would not engage until after his scouts verify that there is only one of our battle squadrons present."
"With adroit tactics on the part of von Ingenohl we might be able to force a battle on Admiral Bayly. Now that the Grand Fleet is using predreadnoughts in quantity it we who possess the edge in speed."
"A small edge, yes, but not an overwhelming advantage. I still do not see what you suggest as very likely."
------near Clonakilty (Cork) 0945 hrs
The shortage of draught animals which had delayed the deployment of the 7th Cavalry Division had also kept the 10th Jaeger Battalion confined to Cork for the time being but it was able to send out its bicycle company to take over guarding the President Lincoln. This permitted the 11th Uhlan Regiment to return to their original mission which was to eliminate the remnants of the 16th (Irish) Division. These were now clustered around the small town of Clonakilty on the coast. A rebel battalion, the South Cork Battalion was also in the area. They had been fighting the remnants of the 16th (Irish) Division for over a week with their own casualties being more than twice of the enemy. It was now hoped that with the help of the Uhlans they could finally prevail. The adjutant of the 11th Uhlans had ridden out to the South Cork Battalion and with their I.R.A. commandant worked out a joint plan of attack.
The rebels of South Cork Battalion now attacked Clonakilty from the north and northwest while the Uhlans approached from southeast. The survivors of the 16th (Irish) Division lacked machineguns but they still had their Lee-Enfield rifles. They were being attacked from front and rear but they had some time to dig themselves into a hedgehog defense though they lacked barbed wire. The Uhlans were able to overwhelm an enemy outpost without much trouble but after that their attack faltered under a hail of rifle fire. The South Cork Battalion was also experiencing similar trouble once again. The attack was eventually aborted at both ends after which both the Germans and the rebels established their own defenses along the perimeter, while trying to secure good posts for snipers.
------Verdun 1005 hrs
General Augustin Dubail had been the commander of the French First Army at the beginning of the war. Earlier this year Joffre had assigned him command of the Eastern Army Group. Under him was the Seventh Army in southern Lorraine and Alsace, First Army in northern Lorraine and Third Army which was responsible for the Region Fortifée de Verdun and the Argonne Forest. General Sarrail had commanded the Third Army but after some embarrassing losses to Armee Abteilung Mudra in the Argonne Joffre had replaced Sarrail with General Georges Humbert. The sacking of Sarrail generated some angry protests from the Socialists. To appease them Clemenceau ordered that Sarrail be given command of the Seventh Army which was regarded as the least important of the armies.
The offensive by the Third Army out of Verdun was by far the most important current action of the Eastern Army Group. There were small actions elsewhere. Armee Abteilung Strantz had in a series of very limited but intense attacks gained a foothold on Les Éparges. There were French efforts currently underway to dislodge the Boche from Les Éparges using a sizable mine. Likewise there were a sporadic series of small engagements in the Woëvre Plain as both sides tried to nibble away on each other. For the most part the Germans had the upper hand except in the Bois le Pretre near the Moselle where the French usually had the advantage. For that reason General Dubail had wanted to make another attempt to take the moderately important communication hub at Pont-a-Mousson. Preparations for that attack were begun in April only to be postponed indefinitely once Clemenceau had become both prime minister and war minister.
General von Mudra in the Argonne was another of Dubail’s worries. He had earlier in the year moved into Aubreville. The French Third Army had eventually pushed him back roughly one kilometer but doing so had been very costly. Since then von Mudra had been nibbling away in different places in the Argonne, usually skillfully using the tree cover to mask his concentration from French aviators. The French defenses at Aubreville were now very strong but Humbert did not have enough men and artillery to be strong everywhere in the Argonne.
General Dubail had arrived at Verdun few minutes ago. The primary mission of his visit was to check in person on Third Army’s offensive north of Verdun. He also wanted to check on the relationship between the military governor at Verdun and General Humbert. Shortly after becoming war minister Clemenceau had issued a proclamation reducing all place forte to region fortifée which reported to the local army group instead of GQG. Furthermore it ordered the resources of the forts to be placed at the service of the field armies. There was even some vague language in one of the paragraphs about disarming the forts which was clarified later. The end result was that Belfort, Epinal and Toul were in the process of being stripped of artillery, men and supplies to support the Clemenceau Offensive. The situation at Verdun though was more complicated as it had become one of the three foci of that offensive. The firepower and manpower of the fortress was being used to reinforce the local attacks.
Another attack had been scheduled for this day beginning with a bombardment commencing at dawn. By this time word had filtered up to Third Army HQ that the subsequent infantry assault was not successful. It would take a few more hours before even a preliminary casualty count would be available. Dubail was of course disappointed but not completely surprised. Ever since the Battle of the Marne even small advances were the exception instead of the rule. He wondered once again if General Humbert was part of the problem but as far as he could tell Humbert was a competent general.
"I cannot afford to provide you any more reinforcements at this time," Dubail warned Humbert, "I had to transfer another reserve division from First Army to Second Army yesterday. I also sent 8 chasseur alpins battalions from Seventh Army to the Pyrenees in the last 3 days. There is some worry in Paris that Spain may soon go to war against us."
"Is this all on account of that one Irish orator with a Spanish name that Clemenceau beheaded? The Spanish are very emotional but surely they will not be so stupid as to go to war over that."
"I still have some friends on the General Staff and they tell me that their pet theory is that Dato thinks he can get Gibraltar if he plays his cards right and the outpouring of sympathy for the Irish is just a way to confuse the powerful Spanish Left."
"Hmm In that case their politics appear to be even more convoluted than our own. What impact will the loss of the chasseur alpins have on the Seventh Army?"
"The offensive in the Vosges which was supposed to begin next month has been pushed back to July. Hopefully by then the current crisis with Spain will have turned out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding and I will get my chasseurs back."
"And just maybe the British will resume sending us the raw materials our war industry so badly needs."
"Again what my friends on the General Staff tend to believe that the recent disruption of our trade with the British will end soon. They were very encouraged by the recent victory by the Royal Navy in the Celtic Sea. The German battle fleet will be forced to try to limp their way back to Germany soon. Hopefully the Royal Navy will finish them off as they do but even if the Germans somehow make it home trade will soon be resumed to prior levels. It also means the German invasion of Ireland is ultimately doomed."
"Quite frankly I thought it was doomed from the very start! Apparently the British Army has suffered some reverses."
"Yes, they have. So much so that it brought M. Bonar Law despite his naval victory."
"Changing governments often result in a period of political paralysis. I wonder how long it will take for a new British government to form?"
"I have been told it already has and that M. Balfour is the new prime minister."
"Hmm I wonder if that is good or bad?"
"Bonar Law became prime minister without ever serving in a Cabinet. Balfour on the other hand, has been prime minister before so he brings a considerable amount of experience to the job. I therefore see a definite improvement."
------Nish (Serbia) 1040 hrs
Esat Pasha received word late yesterday of the attack by the British cavalry on Prishtina. Even though the attack failed to retake the city, he realized that they would raid his supply line. Some of his supply wagons had arrived midmorning and some more would arrive before nightfall but after that he could expect nothing more. One of his options was to send one of his three divisions halfway back to Prishtina in order to secure his line of communications. After considerable thought he decided instead to gamble on one final push by the entire corps to take the city of Nish as his intelligence indicated that the enemy was steadily weakening.
"The Irish campaign was very unlike those of the Western Front. It was very mobile. Some of us began to joke that it was too mobile as our feet were constantly sore from all the marching. It was both exciting and fatiguing even though that sounds like a contradiction. We had landed in County Cork which I have been told is the largest of Ireland’s 32 counties. We had marched and fought our way not only through this large county but then continued on into the counties of Limerick, Clare and Galway. As we headed east after reaching Gort it began to look like we would soon be crossing into County Tipperary."
----Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger
------Old Admiralty Building 1105 hrs
"It is a shame that the PM has left," crowed Admiral Henry Oliver, the chief of the naval war staff, "He would have seen first hand the importance of Room 40."
The last few minutes Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord of the Admiralty, along with Admirals Callaghan, Jackson, Wilson and Oliver had been discussing the latest wireless intercept decrypted by Room 40."
"I knew that the High Seas Fleet was going to return to Germany soon," declared Admiral Wilson. It was the second time he had said it during this meeting. The other admirals were sure he would say it at least one more time before the meeting was over.
"I for one am not prepared to celebrate simply because the German fleet is preparing to leave Ireland," said Carson. He had been walking out the front door when a messenger ran to him with news of this message. "I want us to take definitive action to prevent the Germans from ever returning to Ireland," he continued, "The simplest and best way being the complete annihilation of the High Seas Fleet!"
"Within the hour, First Lord, we begin start sending orders assigning our submarines to stations all along the likely German route in addition to reinforcing Dover Patrol and laying mines on both sides of the Straits of Dover," replied Admiral Callaghan, the First Sea Lord.
"All of which I approve of heartily, Admiral Callaghan, but by themselves they will merely weaken the German battle fleet. I want that fleet destroyed! To accomplish that Admiral Bayly must be ready to engage them after they run the gauntlet and then finish them off once and for all. He now has Invincible, Warspite and Temeraire. That gives him more than enough strength to finish off the Huns. "
Before this meeting is over he is going to invoke Nelson thought Admiral Callaghan wearily. Since the Battle of Celtic Sea Carson had been less deferential to the Sea Lords than he had been previously. The antinomy of an apparent victory making the Grand Fleet even more reluctant to engage the Germans did not sit at all well with Sir Edward. When Balfour highlighted this very same antinomy earlier in this day by asking why the Grand Fleet had done nothing to interfere with either the landing at Galway Bay or the return of von Spee’s squadron, it made the First Lord feel ashamed.
"Yes, it does, First Lord," replied Callaghan cautiously, "Yet we still must exercise prudence and caution."
"Prudence and caution are not what Admiral Nelson is remembered for!"
"Unfortunately so, First Lord. If it were certain mistakes made earlier in this conflict may well have been avoided."
Carson’s initial reaction to that remark was very negative and he nearly made a sharp retort but after several seconds of intense thinking his ire dissipated somewhat. "Where should we deploy the Grand Fleet?" he asked.
"We should post the Grand Fleet where it can pounce on the High Seas Fleet soon after they emerge from the Straits of Dover," answered Admiral Callaghan.
"But not too close to the Straits. The Germans are likely to have their submarines concentrated in that area as well. Furthermore if their zeppelins and seaplanes happen to detect the Grand Fleet too early all hope of achieving surprise is lost."
"Is complete surprise absolutely necessary for us to achieve a total victory?" asked Carson. It was as much a complaint as a question.
"No, but it would certainly help, First Lord," replied Callaghan.
------Ballyconnell (Cavan) 1120 hrs
Colonel Heinrici’s three battalions had spent the night in the vicinity of Belturbet. He continued to receive a steady flow of new volunteers which he continued to shove into the already bloated 2nd Northern Ireland Battalion. There was also the never-ending process of scrounging for food. The standard procedure was essentially to beg from the Catholics while outright confiscating the property of the Protestants, many of whom were affluent landowners. This made Heinrici, the son of a Lutheran minister, somewhat uneasy but he at least his men were being fed. In the early morning his cavalry troop and cyclist company reported a large body of armed men not wearing British uniforms marching hard towards Belturbet from the north and northeast. The estimates of the size of this force varied widely. Heinrici felt he could not ignore the possibility that the largest estimates might be true. He had learned only late yesterday of a German landing in Galway. He considered making a run all the way to Galway but decided he would make his stand nearby instead and believed he found the perfect place. Seven miles west of Belturbet at the base of the mountain called Slieve Rushen (aka Slieve Russell) lay the village of Ballyconnell. The Woodford River ran in front of Ballyconnell and was deep to be a satisfactory water obstacle.
Heinrici now deployed his three battalions in the village and on the mountain. The main entrance to the Pollnagollum, the largest cave system in all of Ireland was on Slieve Rushen. Heinrici planned to make good use of the caves.
------south of Murroe (Limerick) 1130 hrs
The 11th (Northern) Division had secured the village of Murroe when they had ended their disorganized retreat yesterday morning. The front line in this area curved from the Austro-Hungarian positions in the Slieve Felim Mountains to the northeast to the German positions to the southwest along the Mulkear River. It was for most of yesterday the boundary between the 6th Bavarian Division and the Erzherzog Karl Division. However with the Naval Division taking over more of the front line late yesterday, and German aviators warning of an approaching threat to the right flank of the Erzherzog Karl Division, General von François shifted his line during the night so that all of this sector was now the responsibility of the 6th Bavarian Division. He also reinforced 6th Bavarian Division with one of the minenwerfer companies of the independent pioneer battalion.
General Wilson had ordered the 11th (Northern) Division to attack here this morning. He still believed that this was still the boundary between the 6th Bavarian Division and the Erzherzog Karl Division and that an attack here combined with the attack of the 13th (Western) Division from the east and the Welsh Division from the north would cause the Erzherzog Karl Division to implode. General Wilson continued to believe that the entire Austro-Hungarian Army suffered from bad morale and that this particular division would be worse than most because it was nearly half Czech. However he also conceded that after the chaos of the last day which included its commander, General Hammersley, suffering a breakdown, the 11th (Northern) Division needed some time to regroup and prepare. He therefore left it up to the acting commander, General Sitwell when to attack as long as it was before noon.
Sitwell was not at all eager to attack so he waited all the way until 1130 hrs. The wait did allow his division to receive some additional shells as well as other supplies. The 11th (Northern) Division now commenced a 15 minute bombardment, which almost immediately provoked a vigorous response from the Bavarian batteries. General von Gyssling, the commander of the 6th Bavarian Division, continued to worry about how under strength his battalions were. The inadequate number of replacement troops he had received with the fourth wave were only a little more than the casualties he had suffered since their arrival. To minimize further casualties he positioned more men in his second trench line instead of his forward trench. He did decide to position the Irish Volunteers of the Kerry Ersatz Company in the forward trench this time. He had been using that unit very cautiously since General von François had assigned it to his division. Its members had been handpicked from three of the Kerry battalions as having the most potential as soldiers. Also with them in the forward trench was one of the companies of the Musketen battalion armed with Madsen automatic rifles.
When the bombardment was over, the British assault was made by 3 battalions each from the 32nd and 34th Brigades. Seconds after they were out of the trenches the Bavarian artillery shifted their fire to no man’s land which was about a mile deep. Before they advanced very far the German Maxims opened fire. As they moved still closer riflemen, both German and Irish, opened fire as well. General von Gyssling had deployed his minenwerfers cautiously. They were too far back to reach the British trenches but could hit the middle of no man’s land. They now commenced firing as well.
The Bavarians had been able to erect only two strands of barbed wire, but as the British bombardment had barely touched it, it was enough to entangle the British attackers in the killing zone. To his credit General Sitwell was near the front line watching the battle unfold in person instead of relying on reports filtering their way back to his headquarters. He did not like what he was seeing and soon issued orders for the attackers to withdraw which kept the casualties down.
-------south of Loughrea (Galway) 1150 hrs
"My fuckin’ feet are killin’ me," complained James Cagney Jr.
"Mine too," muttered Jack Moran, who liked to think of himself as a gentleman and only resorted to vulgarity when he was really mad.
Fred Austerlitz was tired as well but as a professional dancer he was used to being on his feet for extended periods of time. His feet hurt from the march but not as badly as those of his two companions.
"I guess it’s our own damn fault that we’re doin’ so much marchin’. The fuckin’ Brits are so scared of us they are running for their lives. I wish those dirty yellow bellied rats would turn around and fight us like men."
That produced an odd facial expression from Jack who after a few seconds replied, "I don’t know Jimmy. Maybe marchin’ ain’t so bad after all."
Cagney gave Jack a hard look and asked "And what in hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Oh, never mind, forget what I said," answered Jack.
"No, I want you to tell me what you meant by that remark."
"I said forget about it!"
Jimmy turned to Fred, "Hey Fred, do you have any fuckin’ idea what our friend Jack here is trying to tell us?"
Fred sighed. He had a good idea what Moran was expressing which was that for all its discomfort marching was not as anywhere as dangerous as combat. It was something Fred felt as well. He had good guess that deep down Jimmy felt the same way but was hiding his own fear under a mask of false bravado. However if he told Jimmy that he would very likely explode. So after a few seconds Fred answered cautiously, "Jack was just making small talk, Jimmy. He said ‘forget about it’ so why don’t we do just that, eh?."
Cagney went quiet for nearly a minute. Just as he was about to say something, their company was suddenly ordered to halt. The 2nd American Volunteer Battalion had marched out of Clarinbridge late yesterday along with the South Mayo Battalion. They had not marched far before camping for the night out in the open which was a new experience for most members of the battalion. After a poor night’s sleep they were forced to rise before dawn and resumed marching to the east. Along with the South Mayo Battalion they were chasing after the fleeing West Riding Division.
The early morning attack by the German 183rd Infantry Brigade had prevented the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers from escaping to the southeast with the rest of West Riding Division. Instead it had been slowly forced back to the west. General Schußler’s plan was to prod the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers further to the west with one battalion from the 184th Infantry Regiment while the rest of his brigade pursued the main body of the West Riding Division and linked up with the 111th Infantry Division. The 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers would be crushed between the pursuing German battalion and the South Mayo and 2nd American Volunteer Battalion coming from west.
The commander of the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion now brought his men out of a marching column into a firing line. He found a series of very small hills and deployed his men lying down on the top of the hills. A few minutes later several hundred soldiers wearing British uniforms became evident. They were in a jumbled formation and some of them kept turning to look towards their rear. It was obvious that many of them were walking wounded.
The officers of the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion repeatedly yelled at their lads to hold their fire. The enemy kept moving forward. Eventually some of them could be seen pointing towards where the Americans were positioned. "I think I hear gunfire in the distance," Fred whispered to Jimmy and Jack.
"I hear it too, Fred," replied Jimmy. Jack said nothing. Fred noticed that he seemed very pale.
"No talking!" yelled their platoon leader.
A minute later came the order, "Fire!"
The men of the 2nd American Volunteer Battalion commenced firing with their bolt action rifles which were Russian Moisin-Nagants. As instructed they did not fire frantically but took careful aim with each shot even if it reduced their rate of fire. The men in enemy uniforms began to fall to the earth. Fred flinched when he saw the man he was shooting at fall. He wondered if it was his last shot that hit him. Fred continued firing nonetheless. The enemy was now firing back Even lying prone a few of the Americans were hit.
Eventually two other groups appeared. A little to the north of the Americans the Irish rebels of the South Mayo Battalion came into view. These advanced for a while then started firing from a kneeling stance. Lastly Germans could be seen coming from the west. Suddenly some of the enemy officers were waving white flags. Second later the order was given, "Cease fire! Cease fire!"
Fred noticed that some of the men of the South Mayo kept firing even after it was obvious that the enemy was surrendering. The other thing was the British soldiers who threw down their rifles and raised their hands walked to the east making it obvious that they wanted the Germans not the rebels to take custody of them.
"Well that was easy!" yelled Cagney triumphantly. Some of the other men in the battalion began to yell and cheer. Fred didn’t participate in the cheering. He found some of the things he had seen disturbing. He turned to Jack who still looked pale and asked in a whisper, "It isn’t always going to be this easy, now is it?"
Jack said nothing but he nodded vigorously. Sweat trickled down his face.
------Tipperary town 1205 hrs
The German 7th Cavalry Division had departed Mitchelstown at dawn. Its lead squadron now entered Tipperary. Waiting for them was a company of the 1st Tipperary Battalion plus their battalion commander, Major Weise. There was also a Chevauleger wachmeister from Brigade Frauenau. As soon as the squadron commander determined that the town was safe he sent word to General von Unger the division commander who was waiting outside the village along with his staff. They promptly set up a temporary HQ inside Tipperary.
The general soon met with Weise and the wachmeister. "We were abruptly assigned to Ireland on very short notice," said the general, "There seems to be misconception in Berlin that horses grow on trees here in Ireland so we were sent here with only a few hundred of our own horses. We have been struggling to get horses since we arrived. General von François has become impatient and ordered me into action with only two of my three brigades. Some of my other units still do have their full complement of draught horses. The Tipperary battalions were ordered to collect horses and we received a modest number yesterday. Have you gathered any more for us since then?"
"Not many, Your Excellency," replied Major Weise, "We were very hard pressed yesterday and barely escaped destruction."
"I will take whatever you have. And any fodder you have as well."
"Yes, Your Excellency, but I must warn you it is not much."
That warning was not unexpected. The general turned towards the wachmeister and asked, "What is the current status of Brigade Frauenau?"
"Your Excellency, the brigade is currently concentrated in the vicinity of Dundrum where it is trying to disrupt the enemy’s supplies and cutting their telegraph wires. However just before I left our scouts reported a force of British infantry marching hard towards Dundrum from the west. It is unclear as to whether or not any artillery is supporting the enemy infantry which appears to be at least one full battalion. If the enemy does not have any artillery the oberst intends to make a fight of it. However if it turns out that the enemy has artillery support or more than one battalion, he intends to withdraw towards here."
General von Unger looked at a map and tapped his lips for half a minute as he thought. Finally he turned again to Major Weise and pointed to a spot of the map east of Dundrum, "What can you tell me of this Cashel, Major?"
Weise was grateful that he did not detect the usual sarcastic pronunciation of his I.R.A. brevet rank and replied, "There was a sizable enemy force at Cashel not long ago, Your Excellency. We have tried to determine from friendly civilians in the area whether or not they are still there, but so far have not even a preliminary answer to that question. I would point at that there is a feature called the Rock at Cashel which would be a strong defensive position."
The general turned again to the wachmeister, "Can you shed any light on this?"
"A troop was sent to scout Cashel this morning, Your Excellency. They reported skirmishing with some constables on the outskirts of the town but saw no signs of actual soldiers. They have not yet tried to enter either the town or the Rock, so Oberst von Frauenau is not completely convinced by this that the British Army has completely abandoned it."
After some more thought von Unger reached a decision, "I am sending you back to your brigade. Tell Oberst von Frauenau that his brigade will become part of my division for at least the next few days. More importantly tell him that my orders are for him to make a slow fighting withdrawal from Dundrum east towards Cashel but not too quickly. He is to keep his eyes open to the risk of an enemy attack on his rear coming out of Cashel. Is that clear?"
"Perfectly clear, Your Excellency."
"Good. My division needs to rest and feed their mounts. Once that has been accomplished we shall continue on to Dundrum where we will hopefully come in behind the British infantry allowing us to eliminate them quickly," said von Unger, who then leaned over to examine the map more closely. After a few seconds he asked, "Which one of you knows best the status of the armored train? Is it ready for action? What are the conditions of the tracks?"
"Major Weise will know the train’s status better than I, Your Excellency, but as for the tracks my brigade discovered that the British destroyed a small section nearly a kilometer northeast of Donohill."
The general squinted some more the map saying, "Donohill, Donohill, oh there it is. Has anyone been able to repair the destroyed section of the track?"
"No, not yet, Your Excellency," replied Weise.
"Hmm. The armored train could prove useful but is too valuable to be risked haphazardly. The most immediate task I am assigned your battalion as well as the 2nd Tipperary Battalion is to see that the track is repaired. To that end I am going to send half of my mounted pioneer detachment to assist. This may draw the British south into a renewed engagement with your men. If they do we will try to come to your assistance."
------west of Portumna (Galway) 1215 hrs
At first light the 4th Squadron 22nd Dragoons had trotted out from Derrybrien followed closely by the 1st Seebattalion. A half hour later the 73rd Fusiliers Regiment which had been granted a little more sleep marched out as well. Further west the rest of the 111th Infantry Division followed behind them In the late morning the dragoons had reported the British forces had formed a defensive perimeter roughly 3 km west of Portumna but were only beginning to entrench. These consisted of the forces which had fled Gort yesterday plus a company that the West Riding Division had been left behind there to guard the bridge when the division had marched into Clare. The 1st Seebattalion and the lead battalion of the 73rd Fusiliers Regiment now tried to attack without artillery support only to discover to their consternation that the British had 2 batteries of 15 pounders well emplaced. Making matters worse both of these batteries had received a ration of additional shells in the morning. The artillery quickly broke up the German attack.
While this was going on the main body of the West Riding Division which had skulked around Loughrea during the night using narrow secondary roads was arriving at Portumna. The attack of the 109th Brigade had failed to rescue either the howitzer brigade or the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers but it had succeeded in keeping the 183rd Infantry Brigade thoroughly distracted for nearly two hours while the rest of division worked its weary way towards Portumna. Some of them were now trying to limp their way over the Portumna Bridge, a modern swing bridge completed only 4 years earlier.
------Cork city1230 hrs
"Is it true that the damn Brits killed the Countess?" Jim Larkin asked Sir Roger Casement while they were having lunch together. Larkin had been the founder of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1908. He started a very prolabor newspaper in 1911 called The Irish Worker. Together with James Connolly he organized the Irish Labour Party in 1912. After the Dublin Lockout ended he emigrated to the United States leaving Connolly in charge of the I.T.G.W.U. and the Irish Labour Party. While in America he gave speeches to raise money for his union which had been financially devastated by the lockout. When Connolly was arrested he gave speeches trying to generate public support for him. When the Irish rebellion broke out he spoke eloquently in favor of Irish independence. Ireland was not his only interest though when he was in America. He had joined the Socialist Party of America and became deeply involved with the Industrial Workers the World. Larkin had returned to Ireland aboard the Lusitania. When he learned that Casement, whom he had met during the lockout, was in Cork as well he contacted him and suggested that they have lunch together.
"I am afraid so," answered Casement, "The British newspapers all say that she was executed. I see no reason why they would lie about something like that."
"She was a most remarkable woman though admittedly a tad eccentric. Her death is a great loss to all Irish workers. I will miss her very much."
Casement nodded, "So will I."
"Connolly and her were obsessed with the Citizen Army. While I did not oppose the idea I did not share their unbridled enthusiasm. Do you by any chance know what happened to Captain White?"
Casement smiled slightly, "He’s Major White I.R.A. now. He is in command of the Limerick City Battalion. From what I hear he’s doing a good job of it."
Larkin raised an eyebrow, "That is interesting. What about Will O’Brien?"
"That one is a real mystery. Word has it that the R.I.C. arrested him and the British have him tucked away somewhere."
"And what about Yeats? As I understand it he and his American apprentice, a Mr. Pound, helped the Countess escape capture soon after the Germans landed. Yeats was captured later and sentenced to death. If the American newspapers are to be believed General von François at one point offered to exchange a captured British general for Yeats. Is that true? And if so did the exchange occur?"
"I heard the same story but have had my own doubts. I never heard that the exchange happened. What happened to Yeats is just one more mystery. To my knowledge the British have not acknowledged his execution."
"Hmm very odd. And what about MacNeill and Pearse?"
"MacNeill was executed, I’m sad to report. Pearse on the other hand managed to escape from Dublin along with a piece of Dublin Brigade into the mountains of Wicklow. I do not know if he is still alive though. Apparently the British have cut all our communications with what’s left of Dublin Brigade. He could very well be dead by now. Which would be a great shame because we desperately need to establish a provisional Irish government and Pearse is the logical choice to head it."
Larkin grinned, "I agree wholeheartedly about the need to form an Irish government---a truly independent Irish government, not collection of puppets with the Germans pulling their strings. I was seriously considering staying in the United States feeling that I could play a useful role in shaping the opinion of that powerful neutral. At almost the last minute I decided to come back because I realized that in this time of trouble the working men of Ireland need an advocate in high places more than ever."
Casement was not completely surprised. While he did not know Larkin very well personally he knew that the man was a powerful orator. Casement could see Larkin having a role in the provisional but maybe not as big a one as he wanted.
------Foreign Office London 1235 hrs
Prime Minister Balfour decided to have lunch at the Foreign Office with both the Sir Edward Grey, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Lord Robert Cecil, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. When Asquith had been forced to form a coalition government after the disastrous Battle of the Dogger Bank, Grey was permitted to remain as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but the Liberal the Under-Secretary, Sir Frances Dyke Acland was replaced with Lord Robert Cecil, an Independent Conservative. When Bonar Law became prime minister, there had been some rumors to the effect that he wanted either Balfour or Curzon to replace Grey but the Liberals demanded that Grey be retained.
Working with the strong willed Bonar Law had not been easy for Grey, who was uncomfortable with his Unionist agenda. When the Irish rebellion steadily grew after the German invasion, Grey was forced to bite his tongue as he was sorely tempted on more than one occasion to tell the prime minister that he was reaping what he had sown. While he had not confronted Bonar Law he suspected that the prime minister had some inkling of his sentiments. In early May Grey wondered if Bonar Law was looking for an excuse to replace him. Curzon could no longer be considered as a possible replacement because his overwrought performance as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had succeeded in offending too many powerful people. Grey had worried that Balfour was still a potential replacement until it became obvious that it was Bonar Law that Balfour wished to replace. Grey then swung his support behind Balfour once he promised to keep Grey on as Foreign Secretary and a member of the War Committee.
Grey saw Balfour as being an improvement over Bonar Law for many reasons. Balfour had been a prime minister before while Bonar Law had never previously held a Cabinet position. And while Balfour was a Unionist he was not as rigid in his Unionism as Bonar Law. He was also more even tempered than his successor and less inclined towards making hasty decisions. Grey was a little bit disappointed that the new prime minister had requested that the Under-Secretary join them. On more than one occasion Bonar Law had gone directly to Lord Cecil to implement policies that Grey disliked. He had hoped that Balfour would discontinue that onerous practice.
"I am calling a meeting of the full Cabinet tomorrow morning," Balfour told Grey and Cecil, "I was shocked to learn that Andrew did have a single meeting of the Cabinet while he was prime minister."
"When the War Committee was instituted, prime minister, its members quickly adopted the idea that they would be making all the important decisions so there was no need to gather the entire Cabinet," replied Grey.
"The War Committee has proven itself very useful tool for reaching quick decisions," said Balfour, "even though I had some serious reservations about the idea when it was just a triumvirate. But even in its expanded form it should never completely replace Cabinet meetings."
"That is my opinion as well, prime minister," answered Grey.
"Do you feel the same way, Lord Cecil?" asked Balfour, "Feel free to disagree with me if you can present a worthy argument."
Lord Cecil nodded, "In principle, yes, prime minister, just as long as there is not a reversion to the interminable and intractable debate that paralyzed policy making under Asquith."
Balfour permitted himself a slight grin, "I do enjoy a well argued symposium. Dialectics is an underappreciated pleasure. Nevertheless I am all too aware that it can lead to form of paralysis, which I shall disallow. For now there are two topics I wish to discuss---Spain and the United States. I will start with Spain. I am baffled by the sudden turn of events in Spain and how we suddenly find ourselves in this mess---and more importantly how do we get ourselves out of it?"
Grey had of course expected this topic would come up and responded, "The problem began with the Connolly trial, prime minister. The hanging of that deluded Socialist knave---if you will pardon my redundancy---spawned an outpouring of sympathy by his fellow Socialists throughout much of Europe. There was even some dissent in Paris resulting in a one day strike."
"Yes, I remember that and found it a bit odd at the time but then again French politics is always a bit odd. Please continue."
"The Connolly Incident seemed to strike a particularly sharp response with the Spanish Left, both the Socialists and the Anarcho-Syndicalists. However it likely would have faded away but for the arrival of the Irish provocateur with the Spanish name of de Valera---apparently his father was Spanish but his mother was Irish. He was fluent in Spanish and demonstrated considerable skill as an orator. He made a considerable impact on the Spaniards. He transmuted the Left’s sympathy for Connolly into a sympathy for the Irish Rebellion but also made some on the Right see the struggle in Ireland as being the result of Protestant persecution of Catholics. We know for a fact that de Valera was part of the outlawed Irish Republican Brotherhood and that he was being paid by the Germans while he was in Spain."
"Neither of which surprises me at all, but please go on. I think you were getting ready to bring up the Pope."
Grey softly chuckled, "Well yes I was. Pope Benedict made what Church officials have repeatedly told me was an off the cuff remark critical of our harsh policy towards the rebels. This stirred things up further esp. when Clemenceau openly rebuked the Holy Father. Again this has been nearly forgotten in most places but in Madrid it provided the clever Mr. de Valera with additional ammunition. Making matters still worse Clemenceau picked this time to expel a radical Socialist by the name of Trotsky and he wound up in Madrid, where he soon began making speeches lauding the Irish rebels."
"Yes I have heard of this disagreeable Mr. Trotsky. I find it amazing that King Alphonso has permitted him to remain in Spain."
"His patience with Trotsky is running out, prime minister. He may throw Trotsky into prison but he seems to prefer the option of find some other country that will take him permanently. There is a preliminary indication that the United States might be willing to accept Trotsky though not with any enthusiasm."
"Hmm if I were President Wilson the last thing I would want right now is another rabble rouser running fomenting trouble," said Balfour, "They have enough of those already."
Lord Cecil chuckled a little and nodded, "All too true, prime minister. And the problem is that Trotsky has learned all too well to twist the situation in Ireland to suit his purposes. That routine is likely to even more popular over in the States where Fenian demagoguery is already out of control."
"So let us hope and pray that King Alphonso decides to imprison Trotsky," said the prime minister."
Grey shook his head, "That might make matters worse, prime minister. I will remind you we wanted to silence de Valera and succeeded in doing so but look where it has led us."
Balfour scratched his left cheek for a few seconds, then spoke, "Yes, I fully understand your point but if Clemenceau had turned de Valera over to us as we had requested instead of seizing the opportunity to use the guillotine to make a political statement, things would have been much better. We would’ve waited at least 3 weeks to trial. By then things would have cooled off in Spain and I would have instructed the Attorney General not to seek the death penalty against de Valera. Before the year was over the Spanish would barely remember him."
Grey took a few seconds before responding, "I do not wish to argue against your hypothetical scenario, prime minister, but I must point out that we believe that there is much more to the Spanish problem than Mr. de Valera and Ireland. Within the Spanish Right there are many who favor entering the war on the side of the Central Powers. Their motivation is diverse but some of them fantasize about reclaiming Gibraltar. Several things have prevented them from doing so. First there is the very strong Spanish Left who might paralyze the country with general strikes. However with some of the Spanish Socialists worked up about first Connolly and now de Valera this has become less of a threat. Then there is a fear that Spain could lose the war. There is quite frankly a widespread perception among the neutrals right now that the Central Powers are winning the war. Related to that is the fear that a long war even if it did not end in defeat could still end up bankrupting the Spanish government. However the same voices that say that Germany is winning also predict an end to the war this year. Lastly there is King Alphonso who seems strongly opposed to entering the war on either side though he is not above doing small favors for both sides."
"And so is the king now turning against us as well?" asked Balfour.
Grey shook his head slightly, "It is hard to tell for sure, prime minister, but our best guess at present is this embargo he imposed was meant to deflect any calls for going to war."
"I see but why then is he mobilizing?"
"A good question, prime minister. Our best guess---and it is little more than an educated guess---is that the king is afraid that despite his best efforts the crisis could escalate into war and wants to be prepared."
"Alternatively he may want it to appear that he is preparing for war to temporarily appease the bellicose faction," added Lord Cecil.
"Those are interesting points," said Balfour, "What is imperative right now is that first we keep this crisis from getting any worse and then proceed to resolve it by delicate diplomacy. To that end I think we need to stop the self righteous posturing that Bonar Law frequently resorted to. Telling the rest of the world that they have no right to judge our Irish policies may play well with our citizens, esp. the lower classes, but they only make us appear arrogant in the eyes of the neutrals. Likewise demanding that the Spanish end their embargo and stop their mobilization immediately carries with it an implicit threat that will only serve to reinforce their desire to mobilize and is therefore counterproductive."
"Very well put, prime minister," said Lord Cecil, "Unfortunately there is another prime minister who sees things differently."
"Hmm. For a second there I thought you were talking about Bonar Law, but now I realize that you are referring to Clemenceau," said Balfour, "What has the Tiger done now?"
"He has issued a statement demanding that Spain halt their mobilization immediately and resume their trade with us."
Balfour shook his head, "He is not making things any easier, now is he?"
------HQ Army of the Dvina south of Shavli (Lithuania) 1255 hrs
At midday it became increasingly clear to General von Marwitz that the Russian III Army Corps was withdrawing to the northeast. He now issued orders for the 2nd Infantry Division to be returned to the command of I Army Corps and strongly recommended that it be used to attack the exposed right flank of the Russian XIX Army Corps. He also ordered General von Scheffer-Boyadel, the aggressive commander of the XXV Reserve Corps not to try to chase the III Army Corps. He still worried that the Russian XXXVII Army Corps might rejoin the battle soon. He had repositioned a cavalry division and a Landsturm regiment to the northwest of Shavli while the XXV Reserve Corps concentrated on countering the attack of III Army Corps but knew that this was little more than a bluff. If the XXXVII Army Corps attacked with resolve they could at best slow the enemy’s advance. General von Marwitz therefore ordered von Scheffer-Boyadel to return the 49th Reserve Division to the sector of the line northwest of Shavli.
------south of Cork 1305 hrs
A half flotilla of German torpedoboats was out on patrol. One of them was equipped with 3 depth charges stored on ramp. To their disappointment they found no submarines. They now ran into a freighter flying a Spanish flag. They stopped the vessel and sent over a small boarding party. The merchantman was indeed Spanish. She was hauling diesel oil in barrels which had been purchased by the Etappen-Dienst in Spain. She had left La Coruna before the British had declared the 100 nm war zone around Ireland and lacking a wireless her captain had not yet learned of it. One the torpedoboats escorted the freighter into Cork harbor.
------Ben Bulben (Sligo) 1315 hrs
After the Royal Navy shelled Sligo, the 4th Northern Ireland Battalion was reluctant to remain inside the city. Instead it set up its main camp and those of the Sligo Support Company to the south of the city while only keeping a single platoon inside the city. Another platoon manned an outpost atop Ben Bulben, a large rock formation at the west end of the Dartry Mountains. There had been a steady cold rain in the late morning but it had now tapered off to drizzle. They could now make out columns of soldiers marching out of the northeast on the coastal road towards the town of Grange. They had a telegraph connecting them with the small station inside Sligo and their operator quickly sent a warning.
------west of Portumna (Galway) 1325 hrs
The 111th Infantry Division now had 3 batteries of 7.7cm field guns in place and made another attack with their support. The East Clare Battalion had worked its way up the west bank of Lough Derg during the morning but it had been worn down to only 2 weak companies. Finally accepting the seriousness of the threat to the West Riding Division General Wilson had reinforced it with half of the 3rd Battalion Leinster Regiment and more than 100 R.I.C. The 164th Infantry Regiment was unable to make any progress heading straight for Portumna. The 73rd Fusilier Regiment together with the 1st Seebattalion had more success moving NNE and they were able to cut the minor road that the West Riding Division was using for its retreat west of the small village of Gortanummera. By this time most of the division had made it to Portumna but 109th Brigade, which had fought several rearguard actions incl. the unsuccessful attempt to rescue 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the howitzer brigade, had lagged far behind and was now trapped between the 111th Infantry Division and the pursuing 183rd Infantry Brigade.
------Loughrea (Galway) 1340 hrs
Lieutenant St. James found himself being the de facto sheriff of Loughrea. The Roscommon Battalion had abruptly left Loughrea around noon. After a German aviator had reported seeing a large body of enemy troops concentrated around Athlone, the Roscommon Battalion was being sent to reinforce that critical communication center. They left behind only 8 of their members, half of them lightly wounded, in Loughrea, to act as both police and recruitment station.
The German Marine Cavalry Squadron had arrived soon after the Roscommon Battalion departed. St. James’ troopers helped the German cavalry tend to their mounts. The squadron looked to be half strength according to what Cornelius knew about German cavalry. He talked briefly with the squadron commander. He told Cornelius that while he wished that he was going back to help Athlone his orders were to try to seize the bridge at Banagher, one of the two bridges over the Shannon between Portumna and Athlone. Cornelius offered to go along with his Buffalo Soldier cavalry troop but his offer was declined.
The rest of the black sheep squadron had now arrived---the U.N.I.A. contingent, the Ghaidars, the Turks and Dr. Goddard with his rocket carried in three trucks. St. James’ first order of business was to have another fight with Garvey ordering him to stop wearing that silly uniform of his and calling himself a "Field Marshal." Garvey as usual was very stubborn and St. James doubted he would behave. However on another topic Cornelius scored a victory. There was a member of the U.N.I.A. contingent named Patrick Murphy, who was half Irish and had spent several years in the American west. Murphy was very respectful of St. James and claimed to have learned how to handle both a horse and a rifle while out West. Soon after they had arrived in Galway Cornelius had given Murphy a chance to demonstrate his prowess with both and was not disappointed. St. James now wanted to add Murphy to his cavalry troop. Garvey reluctantly agreed to this probably because he sensed that Murphy would likely leave U.N.I.A. if he refused.
------GQG Chantilly 1410 hrs
General Foch the commander of the Western Army Group was on the telephone with General Joffre. "I am becoming worried about the B.E.F.," said Foch, "They are having a very hard time reopening the line of communications to First Army. In the meantime the Germans are slowly but steadily advancing towards Abbeville. General Plumer was warned us that the Boche came very close to cutting the road between Abbeville and St. Riquier this morning and that if they do cut that road he will feel compelled to withdraw the corps he has at St. Riquier, abandoning that town to the enemy."
"That is disquieting. Did Plumer tell you how far south would he move the corps?"
"He mentioned Buigny-L’Abbe which is about three kilometers south from St. Riquier."
"Three kilometers? Not good but it could be worse. Our assumption until recently has been that once the British defeated the German invasion of Ireland they could then turn their full attention back to the B.E.F. which would at least stabilize the situation. The problem with this is that it now appears that the Irish campaign is going quite badly. The Germans look to have seized the initiative there and have managed to lift the Siege of Limerick. This was the last straw for the British Parliament and they removed Bonar Law even though he had won a small naval victory recently. While I still expect the British to prevail over the Boche in Ireland, it is now painfully clear that this is going to take much longer than we originally thought. This in turn means that Lord Kitchener may not be able to reinforce his Second Army enough to rectify the current crisis. Have you been able to get their casualty figures from Field Marshal French yet?"
"Yes and no. He continues to give me partially valid excuses about why he cannot provide us with exact numbers and ignores me when I tell him that I would accept even a crude estimate. However my liaison on his staff has recently learned from unofficial but reliable sources that since the German gas attack back in April the total casualties of the B.E.F. number well over 100,000."
"!00,000! Sacre Bleu! That is a huge fraction of their total strength. I was well aware that their offensive capability had been effectively blunted for several months even if they quickly resolve the Irish campaign but if what you say is true we must begin to worry about even their defensive capability if they should lose the isolated units. That is six infantry divisions, n’est ce-pas?"
"Actually only five infantry divisions are at risk as the Germans have already eliminated the 2nd Division---a fact which the British have been very reluctant to admit it publicly. They only recently informed us and have yet to tell their own citizenry."
"I can sympathize with not wanting to alarm their own citizens. It is unwise to burden the public with too many details as they are prone to jump to hasty and unwarranted conclusions. Not promptly informing us is another matter. It makes the premier very unhappy and in this instance I must confess that I feel much the same way. So it is only five infantry divisions are in danger. That is bad enough."
"No, it is worse. That is because at least half of the B.E.F.’s heavy artillery is in the trapped pocket as well."
"Yes, that does make things worse. So is what you are trying to tell me that we need to commit still more divisions? I have already sent them two infantry and a cavalry division."
"I wish it was otherwise as it is my understanding that you have committed all available reserves to the premier’s grand offensive."
Joffre sighed ever so slightly. He knew that Clemenceau wanted to replace him with either Gallieni or Foch. For that reason he viewed Foch as a rival and therefore sharply rationed what information he would share with him. In turn Foch would periodically try to pry information out of him. Joffre decided to be more forthcoming than usual today, "That is not completely true, my friend. There was a small reserve not committed to the so called Clemenceau Offensive but they have now been committed to the Pyrenees."
"To the Pyrenees! So these rumors in the newspapers about the Spanish going to war against us have some validity?"
"Enough that we feel it is at least temporarily necessary to reinforce that sector. In fact we even have drawn up a contingency plan for preempting the Spanish before they can fully mobilize. That of course will require additional units be sent south meaning some curtailment of the current grand offensive."
"Hopefully that will not be necessary. While I hold the Spanish Army in low regard the terrain is most unfavorable to offensive operations."
"True but a truly skilled general should be able to overcome those difficulties, n’est-ce pas?"
Foch took his time before asking, "Uh, who do you have in mind?"
"Why you my friend."
------HQ Armee Abteilung François Buttevant (Cork) 1415 hrs
Captain Joseph Mary Plunkett I.R.A. looked over the Irish soldiers assembled before him. Major von Rundstedt had suggested to General von François that a special I.R.A. company be formed to guard their headquarters as it moved around. It would consist of specially selected Irish soldiers that had demonstrated skill, discipline and bravery. This was similar in concept to the ersatz companies that had been formed. The newest of these, the 2nd Cork Ersatz Company had been formed this morning from men selected from the two Cork city battalions and was now on its way to joining the 6th Bavarian Division. The general had approved the major’s idea but decided that Plunkett should be the company’s commander. The major did not like that idea for the simple reason that he did not care much for Plunkett, whom he regarded as an autodidactic dilettante. He respectfully reminded the general that Plunkett was not in the best of health but von François merely allowed that if Plunkett were to show himself to be incompetent as a commander he would then be replaced.
Plunkett had suggested that the Army HQ Company be formed from one platoon each extracted from the West Clare, Limerick City, 1st Kerry and the North Cork Battalions. Major von Rundstedt had accepted this suggestion but added the requirement that each of the platoon leaders have at least some knowledge of German. The Kerrymen were the last to arrive today. The 1st Kerry Battalion was part of Brigade Hell which was still in the front line between the Naval Division and the 6th Bavarian Division so Oberst Hell was understandably reluctant to part with 50 of his best Irish soldiers. There was some talk at HQ Armee Abteilung about dissolving Brigade Hell again. General von François wanted Hell back as his chief of staff as Major von Rundstedt was extremely overworked and this would only get worse in the days ahead.
With the arrival of the Kerrymen, the North Cork Battalion was released from its responsibility for guarding the HQ and was sent off marching towards Tipperary. Part of the North Cork Battalion had already left earlier in the day having been crammed into the armored box cars of one of the armored trains.
Plunkett had wondered what it would be like to command an actual combat unit. Now that it actually happened he had mixed feelings. Part of him was thrilled even though he thought it highly unlikely that it would see any action and if it did it would likely mean that Operation Unicorn was in very serious trouble. In fact in that case he was sure that some German on the general’s staff would be taking over command of the company. So Plunkett’s command was more administrative than operational and he was already have a hard time handling his current duties as part of the Armee Abteilung HQ staff.
------west of Portumna (Galway) 1455 hrs
General Baldock had ordered the West Riding Division to make one attack to force open an escape route for the 109th Brigade but the 73rd Fusiliers Regiment repelled that attack without much trouble even though it was just beginning to dig trenches. Meanwhile the 1st Seebattalion halted the forward progress of the 109th Brigade while the hard marching German 183rd Infantry Regiment was rapidly descending on its rear. The 111th Infantry Division now had all of its artillery batteries in position but its own supply line was a bit of a problem General Sontag was forced to limit their use.
------Wicklow town 1505 hrs
"Before he left Dublin Barry managed to set up a cell of spies," Rommel told Pearse, "We have been getting some interesting intelligence from them though with some delays. The most interesting is that the British have seen fit to reinforce Dublin with Ulster Volunteers."
Pearse looked unhappy but not completely surprised, "By Ulster Volunteers you don’t by any chance mean the Ulstermen who have joined the British Army."
"That is correct, Pearse. This is the raw version of the U.V.F. Furthermore there are reports in the newspapers that the U.V.F. is being used throughout Ireland to stamp out the rebellion."
"We really should see about getting the Irish Times delivered here. It would make things easier," quipped Pearse.
Rommel was slowly getting used to the odd Irish sense of humor, and actually chuckled a little. "Yes, that would make things easier," he answered.
"How are the people of Dublin taking the presence of armed Ulster Volunteers patrolling the streets?"
"According to Barry’s spies, that depends on one’s religion."
Pearse sighed deeply, "I really do wish our struggle with Britain was not as deeply colored by religion as it. I am not trying to turn Ireland into a Catholic confessional state you know."
Rommel took his time before replying. The Irishmen he worked with gave confusing and inconsistent answers about the role of the Catholic Church in the state they hoped to build. Rommel decided it was for the time being a very theoretical topic that he shouldn’t worry about. Once the war was won he would be happy to discuss it. "I am expecting that the Ulster Volunteers will be paying us a visit soon."
Pearse nodded, "I think we can count on that."
------Dundrum (Tipperary) 1535 hrs
Brigade Frauenau had done as General von Unger had ordered making a slow fighting withdrawal to the east when it was attacked by the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. With the 25th Dragoon Regiment in the van the 7th Cavalry Division rode into Dundrum. They quickly overwhelmed a dozen British soldiers belonging to the 13th Division’s signal company who were trying to restore the telegraph lines to VI Army Cops HQ. After that the dragoons wheeled to the right taking the road leading to Cashel, which let them descend upon the rear of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. They were soon joined in their attack by the 26th Dragoon Regiment. Meanwhile one of the horse artillery was looking for a position where it could assist in the attack on the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The other two batteries were positioned facing towards the northwest anticipating an attack by the 13th (Western) Division.
------west of Portumna (Galway) 1550 hrs
The British 109th Brigade was now being methodically obliterated between the 111th Infantry Division and the 183rd Infantry Brigade. It had never been allowed to entrench so it was fighting in the open and being subjected to enfilading artillery fire. Adding to its problems its men had not had any sleep in nearly 36 hours. The draught animals pulling their supply wagons were in equally bad shape. Several wagons had already been abandoned because their draught animals---mostly horses---had collapsed.
General Baldock was able to hold his perimeter around Portumna so far but he doubted that he lacked the strength needed to force open an escape route for the 109th Brigade. However he had reestablished telegraph communications with General Wilson at VI Army Corps two hours ago and Wilson demanded that he make every possible effort to rescue the 109th Brigade. Baldock interpreted "every possible effort" to mean one more attack. He had deployed some of his 15 pounders on the east bank of the Shannon. He was still considering the option of withdrawing his division completely across the Shannon and then swinging the bridge open. That would be a difficult withdrawal to accomplish while under a determined attack and General Wilson had adamantly refused him permission to take that step. He fired his batteries on the west bank for 10 minutes which exhausted more than half of his remaining stockpile of shells. The German field gun batteries remained silent but the howitzer batteries commenced counter battery fire.
Baldock committed 3 battalions to the assault. Because of his losses this amounted to roughly 1,200 men. The no man’s land was short and the Germans had only been able to erect a single strand of wire. The biggest problem for the British was that by this time there were 18 German battalions plus 1 Irish battalion concentrated around Portumna and at the point of attack the defenders outnumbered the attackers. The attack was a dismal failure with heavy casualties.
------Prishtina (Serbia) 1600 hrs
The cavalry of the New Zealand and Australian Division had made several attacks against the flanks of the Ottoman 26th Infantry Division during the morning. As Esat Pasha had expected they thoroughly disrupted the supply caravans of III Corps. They captured some supply wagons which rewarded them with some food but the ammunition they carried was of no use to them and was eventually turned over to their Serbian allies. As this was going on the rest of the New Zealand and Australian Division reached the outskirts of the city and hurriedly prepared to launch their attack. The division had the weakest artillery establishment of the British divisions in the Balkans, only had 3 batteries of field artillery plus a single howitzer battery. Moreover they were low on shells so the bombardment was limited to a mere 10 minutes. The Ottoman 26th Infantry Division was not overflowing with artillery shells either and so was distinctly disinclined to duel with the British colonials.
With enemy cavalry roaming all around them the Ottoman 26th Infantry Division had been forced into assuming a hedgehog defense. However its northern semicircle was defended by 4 battalions in the trenches with only two deployed on the south side. All of the division’s machineguns were allocated to the north side. The other 3 battalions were kept in reserve. The Ottoman wire barriers were thicker to the north as well. General Godley made his assault with 3 battalions of the New Zealand Brigade. His division had taken heavy cumulative losses since landing in Albania back in February and had received only a small trickle of replacements. The New Zealand Brigade was in slightly better shape than the 4th Australian Brigade. Unlike the Ottoman III Corps the 26th Infantry Division had suffered only a few casualties and so was close to full strength.
The fighting was heavy for the better part of the hour. The brave New Zealanders were handicapped by the lack of anything better than jam tin bombs (and not many of those due to a shortage of explosives) for a grenade. There were also tired after a long hard march south. They slipped through the enemy wire in a few places and some even made it into the enemy trenches resulting in the ferocious hand to hand combat but any bit of the trench they managed to take was lost to subsequent Ottoman counterattacks.
------ Ballyconnell (Cavan) 1655 hrs
The Ulster Volunteers finally caught up with Heinrici’s forces at the village of Ballyconnell. They were accompanied by half of the 1/7th Battalion Highland Light Infantry. The commander of the half battalion, a mere major, had been assigned to be the commander of the Ulster Volunteers as well. When the U.V.F. approached Ballyconnell the commandant of their lead battalion without waiting for orders decided to mount an immediate attack on the village. This commandant was a fanatical Orangeman and told his junior officers to remember the great Protestant victory over the Papists at the Battle of the Boyne and to fix their bayonets.
Heinrici’s defenses had been well prepared and even included a small quantity of barbed wire he had acquired in his battles in Ulster. The Woodford River greatly restricted the routes the enemy could use to approach the town. Most of the men of the 1st and 3rd Northern Ireland Battalions had some combat experience by now and when they were not marching, fighting or sleeping most of their time was spent in a very intensive training program Heinrci had devised which concentrated on teaching fundamental combat skills as quickly as possible. The attacking Ulster Volunteers were mowed down in a blizzard of rifle and machinegun fire. Their brash commandant was leading the charge and was one of the first to get hit and fall to the earth. He heroically raised himself up and ignoring the wound in his left shoulder waved his sword high rallying his troops to continue their charge. This inspired his fellow Orangemen to press on which only added to the slaughter. Before long the commandant was hit again this time in the stomach. Even though he was in agony he implored his men to press on and smite the Papists.
Eventually a messenger arrived from the Highland Light Infantry major ordering an immediate cessation of the attack. The Ulster Volunteers fell back, at first reluctantly then as they were forced to realize what was happening they fell into panic and disarray. Seeing this Colonel Heinrici ordered his forces to make a very limited counterattack. This allowed them to take a few prisoners (though some of his men were disinclined to take Ulster Volunteers as prisoners) but more importantly to collect rifles and ammunition from the bodies on the field. It turned out that the Ulster Volunteers involved in this attack were all armed with Mauser rifles which Heinrici found ironic.
After this convincing demonstration of the strength of rebel defenses the British major in charge of this U.V.F. grew cautious. Ignoring the pleas of most of the U.V.F. commandants he decided against trying one big charge. He spent the rest of the day probing the enemy defenses looking for weaknesses.
He did not find any.
------Ballykeeran (Westmeath) 1705 hrs
After marching all day the Longford Battalion now approached the city of Athlone from the northeast. During its march it had started to hear rumors from the local populace of a large force of Ulster Volunteers being involved in an attack on Athlone. The small cyclist platoon that the battalion used for reconnaissance had not detected any sign of the U.V.F. but did report a sizable body British soldiers barring their way into Athlone. Captain Allmendinger, the commandant of Longford Battalion was not enthusiastic about fighting an open field battle against better trained British soldiers but from what the scouts told him it appeared he stood a fair chance of attacking the enemy’s rear. He therefore decided to attack.
The enemy unit was the 10th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. The armored train which had plagued the British at Athlone several times in the past had returned to Athlone soon after the failed morning attack. This along with the heavy losses suffered in the morning attack discouraged a renewed full scale assault. Instead there were very limited attempts to capture a few buildings on the outskirts of town while teaching the U.V.F. how to dig trenches. There had been rain on and off starting just before noon. If the heavy cloud remained to block out the nearly full moon they would attempt a night attack.
The attack of the Longford Battalion was soon spotted by elements of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles in the vicinity of the village of Ballykeeran. They sent a messenger running back to the battalion commander then put up what resistance they could. Man for man they were better than the rebels but at the point of attack they were badly outnumbered and were soon forced to retreat. Fearing that he was about to be squashed between the Longford Battalion attacking his rear and a sortie by the rebel forces inside Athlone supported by the armored train, the commander of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles, who had grudgingly learned some respect for the rebels during the long Battle of Athlone, reluctantly ordered his battalion to make a fighting withdrawal to the southeast. He also sent word to the Ulster Volunteers to come to his aid.
The 1st Athlone Battalion even though it knew that the Longford Battalion had been ordered to Athlone was sluggish in realizing what was happening and did not make the attack the commander of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles was worried about. Likewise the rebel soldiers of Longford Battalion did not press their attack very strongly, due in part because they were tired from their march south. They did capture two supply wagons of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles. As they approached Athlone some members of the 1st Athlone Battalion thought they might be the U.V.F. and opened fire. Before the mistake was realized and the firing stopped two members of Longford had been wounded; one of them fatally.
Soon after this tragedy nearly 1,000 of the real U.V.F. arrived in response to the urgent request of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles. These became involved in a spirited firefight with both the Longford and 1st Athlone Battalions. The armored train which had returned to Athlone put an end to this by moving ahead a few miles which let it rake the U.V.F. After that the Longford Battalion was then provided with more rifles and integrated into Athlone’s defenses.
------HQ British 13th (Western) Division Cappawhite (Tipperary) 1715 hrs
Reports of the Irish rebels at Donohill made their way to General Shaw an hour ago. Now he had ominous reports of a large new mass of German cavalry at Dundrum. General Hamilton had learned from his spies in Cork of the 7th Cavalry Division’s presence but they also informed him of the problem providing the division with its full complement of suitable mounts. This intelligence was passed on to General Shaw but he had also been told not to expect the arrival of the 7th Cavalry Division before noon tomorrow. Now that they were here they constituted a very serious threat to the rear of his division and were probably chewing up the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers at this very moment. This had to be dealt with before he could continue with his attack on the Erzherzog Karl Division.
However simply turning his division around completely was too dangerous as it would expose his rear to counterattack by the Austro-Hungarians to the west. Instead he ordered two of his field artillery brigades to redeploy facing WSW. The 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington as well as the division’s pioneer battalion, the 8th Battalion Welsh Regiment, were assigned to protect them from cavalry attack while they were redeploying. Shaw ordered the 40th Brigade in the north to call off its attempt to outflank the Austro-Hungarians through Hollyford which was progressing very slowly. They were ordered instead to proceed southeast at a forced march towards Dundrum to attack the 7th Cavalry Division and rescue the 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers which belonged to their battalion.
-----Sligo city 1845 hrs
Accompanied by the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire, whose battalion commander served as their commandant as well, on their hard march all the way from Donegal, the 4,000 armed Ulster Volunteers ignored their tired legs and sore feet to descend upon the city of Sligo. The 4th Northern Ireland Battalion had moved back into the city after being alerted by their outpost on Ben Bulben. After eliminating a weak rebel outpost on the northern edge of the city the officers of the Ulster Volunteers wanted to rush the city immediately but the commander of the 6th Bedfordshire ordered a half hour of rest first while digesting information from the patrols he sent out.
What the scouts .told him was that inside the city the defenses consisted mostly of strong barricades with snipers posted on rooftops and a few strongpoints. From the city ran a shallow narrow trench that ran for about 1 ½ miles southeast towards Lough Gill. The trench did not reach all the way to the lake and lacked a wire barrier. From what his scouts could tell the trench appeared to be very thinly manned. The British colonel was tempted to try to outflank the rebel defenses completely by going around Lough Gill, but his men were tired from the forced march to Sligo and the Ulster Volunteers were eager to unleash their righteous wrath on the detested Papist rebels as soon as possible. The plan he devised was to begin with the 6th Bedfordshire making a purely diversionary attack on the city. Once that had drawn the rebels’ attention he would send 2,000 of the Ulster Volunteers to attack the last half mile on the far end of the trench line.
The 4th Northern Ireland Battalion had 2 of its 4 companies in the city and the other two in the trench. There was still a shortage of rifles with only half of the men armed with a rifle and that included some armed with various types of single shot rifles such as the Martini-Henry. As usual the I.R.A. gave the rifles they had to those who had demonstrated at least some decent marksmanship. The end result was that while they succeeded in inflicting more than 80 casualties on the attacking Ulstermen the defenders were soon overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers. Many of the rebels were killed incl. anyone who tried to surrender, while a few managed to flee to the south. The right section of the trench was soon taken.
After that some of the Ulstermen worked their way west inside the trench but most continued on to swing into Sligo from the southeast which was undefended. The presence of Ulster Volunteers in their rear soon caused the rebels inside the city to panic. The remaining 2,000 U.V.F. that had been held in reserve north of the city were now sent to attack the north side of the city. This accelerated the collapse of the rebels. Here and there an I.R.A. sniper who kept his cool picked off an Ulster Volunteer but otherwise it was total slaughter. It was only in the section of the city where the 6th Bedfordshire roamed that any prisoners were taken. When the colonel in charge of the 6th Bedfordshire learned that the U.V.F. were not taking prisoners he sent orders for them to desist but those orders were completely ignored.
A few Irish Volunteers at Sligo managed to escape mostly to the south. Some of these decided that really weren’t meant to be rebels after all and returned to their homes without their weapons as if nothing had happened. Others sought out the poorly armed Sligo support company and warned them of what was happening in Sligo city. Some members of the support incl. several of the women wanted to run north to try to rescue the 4th Northern Ireland Battalion. The company commandant sadly concluded that would only thing that would accomplish was to assure their own destruction. Instead he ordered his company to begin marching south immediately.
------ESE of Shavli (Lithuania) 1925 hrs GMT
After a hard march the German 2nd Infantry Division now made a night attack on the right flank of the Russian 17th Infantry Division which was part of the XIX Army Corps. The cloud cover was partial so the battle was fairly well illuminated by the nearly full moon. The Russian 17th Infantry Division had positioned a battalion supported by a single battery to guard its exposed flank but the battalion was not entrenched and like most of those in the division had been reduced to roughly half strength due to the heavy losses suffered earlier in the battle. The battery in turn had expended nearly all of its ammunition in the earlier phase of the battle. Nearly all of the meager delivery of artillery shells that Fifth Army was recently receiving had been sent to III Army Corps.
The flank guard battalion was quickly overwhelmed with the Germans who took nearly 300 prisoners. The Russian battery came under some rifle fire and only narrowly avoided losing their guns by making a frantic retreat to the south. The Germans pressed forward into the now wide open flank of the 17th Infantry Division.
------10 Downing Street 1945 hrs
The first meeting of the new War Committee now started. "I must confess this is a little bit awkward," said Balfour, "Arthur and I are the newcomers to this august body about which so much is whispered in the press." He gestured towards Arthur Henderson, who had been added to both the War Committee and the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio in exchange for the support of most but not all of the Labour Party MP’s.
"Rest assured we are not the diabolic cabal that some in the press make us out to be," said Lloyd-George. This evoked a few weak chuckles.
"Oh? In that case I am most disappointed," replied Balfour teasingly evoking additional chuckling.
"I would point out, prime minister, we have tended to be a rather informal body," said Carson which produced a dark glance from Grey who had in fact been arguing in favor of more formality to their meetings, "So if you don’t mind, prime miniter, I would like to start this meeting by announcing some wonderful news. We have some very good intelligence to the effect that the German battle fleet will leave Cork and try to return to Germany Saturday. Plans are already in place to ambush and destroy the enemy fleet on their way home."
"Hear! Hear!" yelled Grey, Henderson and Lloyd-George almost simultaneously.
"That is wonderful news indeed," said Balfour, "Simply smashing. I take it this priceless gem of intelligence did not arrive until after I had departed the Admiralty?"
"That is correct, prime minister. We would have promptly shared it with you if you were still there."
"And is it based on decoding intercepted German wireless transmissions as Admiral Oliver tried to explain to me with great relish this morning?"
"That too is correct, prime minister."
"And I take it that we have utmost faith in the accuracy and reliability of this intelligence?"
At this Carson hesitated. He was all too aware of the doubts that had been expressed about this form of N.I.D. intelligence in this very room. Some of those arguments had been based on an unwillingness to face the truth, in particular Bonar Law’s stubborn refusal to accept General von François’ estimates on the size of the rebellion. Unfortunately subsequent events have tended to support those estimates. He finally answered, "Prime minister, the intelligence is accurate if interpreted correctly. We have run into problems when we’ve added assumptions on to the literal message."
"This sounds a great deal like fundamentalist theologians arguing over Biblical inerrancy, First Lord," quipped Balfour, "but assuming for the time being what you say is true, is the Royal Navy now up to the task?. I do not want to seem overly critical but in all honesty I was more than a little shocked by what I perceived as reticence on the part of the Sea Lords about another fleet action in the near term."
"Their caution does come across as reticence at times, prime minister, but that is because they realize that another defeat could be an unmitigated catastrophe for us all."
"I fully understand that, First Lord, I genuinely do. Yet you must understand that with General Hamilton sorely pressed in Ireland right now, letting the German fleet have a free hand to do what they please is very frustrating to say the least."
"I could not agree more, prime minister," declared Lord Kitchener.
"That is going to end very soon, prime minister," answered Carson who avoided looking at Kitchener.
------northwest of Dundrum (Tipperary) 2015 hrs
The 13th (Western) Division’s counterattack against the 7th Cavalry Division began with 7 field artillery batteries armed with 18 pounders commencing fire on the German positions near Dundrum while another battery shelled the two Tipperary Battalions and mounted pioneers near Donohill. The horse artillery battalion of the 7th Cavalry Division was too weak to reply to this and remained silent. Since their supply line was still disrupted General Shaw was still deeply concerned about his artillery running out of ammunition. So this shelling was limited to only 10 minutes. Sunset was a little more than a half hour away but heavy cloud darkened the twilight sky so the visibility was marginal esp. facing east.
Soon after the shelling stopped the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers and the 8th Battalion Cheshire Regiment emerged side by side from the cover of the Rasheen Wood north of Dundrum. Their attack fell on the 30th Cavalry Brigade, which had only in the last hour finished digging a single shallow narrow trench 6 km long.. Still this was enough to offer good protection against the flat trajectory 18 pounders. The trench had been reinforced with the division’s machinegun detachment but there was only a single strand of barbed wire. In the ebbing light the German horse artillery batteries now opened up on the British infantrymen and soon afterwards the machineguns erupted as well. These two British battalions had already suffered serious losses in the unsuccessful attempts to take the important high ground north of Cappawhite. Even taking into account that a quarter of the 30th Cavalry Brigade was handling the brigade’s mounts, the attackers only outnumbered the defenders by a third. They only had a few jam tin bombs for grenades. They charged forward with great determination but were mowed down in great numbers and forced to retreat back into the Rasheen Wood.
Meanwhile the commander of the 40th Brigade had sent the 5th Battalion Wiltshire to try to outflank the German defenses by passing through the small village of Clonoulty, which lay northeast of Dundrum. This battalion had suffered the most in the attacks on the high ground north of Cappawhite. Its men had not been able to get much sleep the night before and were very tired. When they finally shuffled into Clonoulty the frontal assault on Dundrum had already been repelled and they drew the attention of one of the horse artillery batteries. The 9th Hussar Regiment was ordered to mount up and they galloped off to counter the threat to their flank. Before they arrived the armored train arrived. It moved slowly but never stopped making it more difficult for the British artillery to target it. By this it had grown still darker with diminishing visibility. The train raked any British infantry it could at short range with cannon, machineguns and the men of the North Cork Battalion firing through slits in the armored box cars. It did draw some fire from the 18 pounders but they only caused some minor damage to the train. It reached Clonoulty before the Hussars did and scared off the 5th Wiltshire. A kilometer past Clonoulty the train stopped then almost immediately began backing up. On its return passage things had grown even darker and the horse artillery battalion was now firing star shells intermittently to illuminate the enemy position. The armored train fired sporadically as it slowly made its way back to Crossroads.
While this was going on the 29th Cavalry Brigade and Brigade Frauenau had eliminated more than half of the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and were intent on finishing the job. The British as usual were being very stubborn and did not surrender as readily as most soldiers would do in a similar situation. Once it was dark some of them managed to escape into the wooded areas of the south Tipperary countryside in small groups.
------Nish (Serbia) 2130 hrs GMT
The fighting during the day against stubborn Serbian resistance had caused heavy loses to the Ottoman III Corps, esp. the 7th Infantry Division. Now that the sun was down the Ottomans launched another all out attack by all 3 divisions. Initially the Serbs were able to rebuff this attack. However while the Serbian artillery had fired off their last shell yesterday, some of their infantry units were starting to run out of bullets. The senior Serbian officers at Nish had hoped to do some redistribution of their dwindling ammunition during the night. The units which were down to their last few rounds retreated if they could and surrendered if they could not. This resulted in growing gaps in the Serbian defenses. The Ottomans continued to take losses but at an acceptable rate. Eventually the morale of the defenders cracked and a general retreat ensued. There was some stubborn last ditch resistance at the train station but it fell before the night was over.
Soon after detraining in Bulgaria the III Ottoman Corps had been provided with a mobile wireless station. It was very busy this night.
------south of Sligo city 2150 hrs
The Ulster Volunteers had learned of the existence of the Sligo support company from local Protestant citizens after the battle in the city. Wishing to extirpate all of the rebels, 1,000 U.V.F. now descended on where the camp was supposedly located only to find it abandoned. It was raining steadily. They sent out patrols to search the immediate area but found nothing. Though the Ulstermen did not want to admit it they were tired from their long hard march and the afternoon battle. The commander of the 6th Bedfordshire had given them orders that if they could not quickly locate the support company there were to return to Sligo to spend the night. A few of the more fanatical Ulster Volunteers grumbled and groused about these orders but in the end they complied, vowing to return tomorrow and give chase.
------northeast of Donohill 2330 hrs
With the failure of 40th Brigade’s attack on the 30th Cavalry Brigade General Shaw was very frustrated. He feared that the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers could be lost but more importantly he needed to dislodge the 7th Cavalry Division from his line of communications. He felt it was necessary to neutralize the armored train. He dispatched half of the 88th Royal Engineers Field Company to the 40th Brigade, which he ordered to try to penetrate the small gap believed to exist between the left flank of 30th Cavalry Brigade and the Irish rebels at Donohill. While the 40th Brigade enveloped the German cavalry, the Royal Engineers would mine the railroad tracks.
It was dark. It rained on and off. The heavy cloud cover obscured what would otherwise have been a very bright moon. Stumbling around in the darkness the 8th Battalion Cheshire Regiment ended up further south than planned and bumped into the trench line dug by the Tipperary Volunteers a little bit north of Donohill. Three quarters of the Tipperary Volunteers were being permitted to sleep at this time. A flare pistol was fired. One of 1st Tipperary Battalion’s two machineguns opened fired and the alarm was raised. The rebels had been provided a small quantity of barbed wire and were only starting to erect a single strand. They had not yet made it to the sector where the encounter occurred. There was considerable confusion on both sides. The Welshmen were unsure whether they should attack or retreat. Eventually their battalion commander ordered a charge. Unimpeded by barbed wire they were able to overrun a section of the trench and eliminate the machinegun. The defenders had inflicted losses on the battalion which had already suffered serious casualties during the day. More importantly it delayed the enemy long enough for the sleeping Tipperary Volunteers to waken and organize.
Not content to simple hold the captured trench the Welshmen surged forward hoping to overrun the enemy camp. They clashed at close quarters with the 1st Tipperary Battalion which was roughly equal in size to them. The Tipperary battalions had run from 13th (Western) Division leading many of the men in that division to believe that the rebels lacked the will to fight. They now found out differently. The Irishmen fought hard. Their usual practice of arming the men deemed poor marksmen with a double barreled shotgun, a pistol and a long knife or a machete proved useful in this engagement, partially offsetting the British superiority bayonet skills. The defenders were pushed slowly back but did not break. When one of the companies of 2nd Tipperary Battalion soon arrived as reinforcements the British momentum was soon checked.
As this was going on the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers which was on the left of the 8th Cheshire had lost contact. It too stumbled and groped its way forward in the darkness but eventually entered the gap between the Tipperary Volunteers and the 30th Cavalry Brigade. It then tried to find the left flank of the German cavalry. This was not easy to do in the dark but just before midnight they did. When the 9th Hussar Regiment had been hurriedly shifted to Clonoulty it left only the 15th Dragoon Regiment and the division’s machinegun detachment to defend the trench line in front of Dundrum. Just before midnight the lead company of the South Wales Borderers stumbled on to some the German horse handlers which were stationed behind the trench line. The Welshmen quickly overpowered the enemy and set the horses loose. However one of the cavalrymen managed to escape on horseback into the darkness and raised the alarm.