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Thread: The Great War (mod 1914)

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    The Great War (mod 1914)

    Let me start by telling you something: if you like AARs with thousands of images and as a fewer words as possible, stop reading right now; if you are looking for an AAR with thousands of tanks and planes conquering countries in weeks, spectacular dashes from the Channel to the Urals and continuous movement and action, stop reading right now; if you like invincible generals who rarely make mistakes and are always right, if you look to read about heroic acts that change the course of a battle and, perhaps, of the war, stop reading right now.

    This AAR is not for you. Look elsewhere, because you're not going to like it.

    This AAR is going to be my own retelling of the First World War, one of my endless obsessions, because it was during this cataclysm when our present world began to take shape.

    For all this I guess this AAR is going to be a slow one, as the Great War, with hardly any great push and casualties by the thousands por a few inches of muddy ground. You'll find plenty of lions led by donkeys, but, as you can imagine, I am not quite eager to make the same appaling mess that Haig, Nivelle and Cadorna did. I plan, however, to keep the Great War going on until November 1918. If by then it's not over, you can tell that something is going wrong.

    Game: HOI2
    Mod: 1914.
    Scenario: 1914
    Dificulty: Normal
    Country: The British Empire, because it's the country that I'm more familiar with from all that took part in WW1

    Goals

    -To make the war to last from 1914 to 1918 in order to

    -reproduce the main campaigns of the war in the different theatres of war and

    -to win the war with the allies and to avoid repeating the bloody Versailles Treaty, having Germany in shambles and, thus, f*****g as much as possible our good and beloved Bohemian Corporal.

    -Not ending like Allenby, that is, having my readers sending me to the Tower for lack of updates

    PS: Don't worry about the rest of the AARs (thus, no need to say "another Kurty's AAR?"). I shall keep all of them running.



    I hope...


    Antebellum: The Road to War

    1914

    Chapter two: Sarajevo.
    Chapter three: Preparing for war.
    Chapter four: Kanalkampf.
    Chapter five: Northern Mist.
    Chapter six: "Essentially, the English Channel is
    a bitch of body of water to cross.... ".

    Chapter seven: The Battle of the Frontiers.
    Chapter eight: Charleroi and Mons.
    Chapter nine: The Battle that Was not, yet Turned the Tide.
    Chapter ten: The Empire at War.
    Chapter eleven: Corsair Warfare.
    Chapter twelve: Trenches in the West.
    Chapter thirteen: The Old Sick Man of Europe.
    Chapter fourteen: British Difficulties, German Opportunities.
    Chapter fifteen: We Must Hack Our Way Through.

    1915

    General Overview.
    Chapter sixteen: The Future is Hidden by Clouds of Dust.
    Chapter seventeen: Sailing to Byzantium.
    Chapter eighteen: Gallipoli - The Fatal Shore
    Chapter nineteen: Head-on against the Wall
    Chapter twenty: The Shell Scandal
    Chapter twenty-two: Coalition government
    Chapter twenty-three: And Giuseppe Took his Gun.
    Chapter twenty-four: The first Battles of the Isonzo.
    Chapter twenty-five: Coming to terms with the Army.
    Chapter twenty-six: Remembrances of a past gone and buried
    Chapter twenty-seven: Persian Oil, British interest, Allied obligations
    Chapter twenty-eight: Clash in the Channel
    Chapter twenty-nine: Black October.
    Chapter thirty: A Change in Command .

    1916

    General Overview
    Chapter thirty-one: Preparing the Big Push
    Chapter thirty-two: Verdun or the Mincing Machine
    Chapter thirty-three: Éirí Amach na Cásca
    Chapter thirty-four: From Russia to the Somme
    Chapter thirty-five: Grasping at the Shadow.
    Chapter thirty-six: Over the top.
    Chapter thirty-seven: Cry havoc...
    Chapter thirty-eight: Calvary sharpening their Swords
    Chapter thirty-nine "We Are a Bit Stuck"
    Chapter forty: The Allied offensives.
    Chapter forty-one: Revolt in Downing Street.
    Chapter forty-two: A Hell of a Time
    Chapter forty-three: The Growing Pains of the Tank (1)
    Chapter forty-four: Revolt in the Desert.
    Chapter forty-five: Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
    Chapter forty-six: Reality and the Royals
    Chapter forty-seven: Blame the Torpedos!
    Chapter forty-eight: Enter the Colonials!
    Chapter forty-nine: Winter Is Coming
    Chapter fifty: The Yarmouth Raid
    Chapter fifty-one: The battle of Jutland - the action of Cramorty Firth
    Chapter fifty-two: The battle of Jutland - the action of Cramorty Firth (2)
    Chapter fifty-three: The battle of Jutland - Dogger Bank
    Chapter fifty-four: Up to the leads!

    1917

    General Overview.
    Chapter fifty-five: When Teddy goes marching in...
    Chapter fifty-six: Arms and the Man.
    Chapter fifity-seven: "Where's Johnny Turk?"
    Chapter fifty-eight: Agitation in the trenches
    Chapter fifty-nine: Many Wars Away...
    Chapter sitxy: Revolution in Petrograd
    Chapter sitxy-one: Imperial bussiness and American innuendo
    Chapter sitxy-two: Kaiserschlacht
    Chapter sitxy-three: Mourning and mirth
    Chapter sitxy-four: The Crucible
    Chapter sitxy-five: The Devil's arythmetics
    Chapter sitxy-six: They called it Passchendaele
    Chapter sitxy-seven: The glorious summer of 1917.
    Chapter sitxy-eight: Et in Bulgaria ego....
    Chapter sitxy-nine: There's a long, long trail...
    Chapter seventy: A "genius of evil".
    Chapter seventy-one: Red Flag over the Winter Palace.
    Chapter seventy-two: Achtung, Panzer!
    Chapter seventy-three: Flemish kermesse, Bulgarian Via Dolorosa
    Chapter seventy-four: Closer to the Rhine

    1918

    General Overview.
    Chapter seventy-five: Peace offensives
    Chapter seventy-six: War on the Skies
    Chapter seventy-seven: Bulgarian Kermesse
    Chapter seventy-nine: The Iron Thrones Are Trembling
    Chapter eighty: Ultimum moriens
    Chapter eighty-one: The Coupon Election.
    Chapter eighty-two: Settling Accounts.
    Chapter eighty-three: A revolution and its ghost..
    Chapter eighty-four: Peace treaties.

    Epilogue: Aftermath.

    THE END
    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 29-09-2011 at 11:10.
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    Chapter one: Antebellum


    The route which led to war in 1914 was long and tortuous, with many complex and related factors eventually combining to drive them into a protracted and cataclysmic struggle. Among these factors were new naval and military technology, colonial rivalries, economic competition and irreconcilable national ambitions. However, perhaps the most important and obvious turning point towards a general European conflict was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, which gave rise to a new power, Germany, brought about a fundamental shift in the European balance of power. Germany's subsequent and accelerating progress towards economic ascendancy only intensified the anxieties of her neighbours and competitors.

    For the best part of two decades, between 1871 and 1890, the new European status quo was not seriously challenged. Bismarck was a relatively benign influence on Europe, and kept the continent in check through his diplomatic dexterity and deviousness by entangling intrigues that ensured that France, eager for revanche after the defeat 1870, remained isolated. The defeat at Sedan and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine poisoned the soul of France, and as malady that poisoned his spirit. "N'en parlez jamais; pensez-y toujours", Leon Gambetta had said and Victor Hugo stated:
    France has only to think about rebuilding his army, to concentrate his strenght, to nurture his holy anger, to call to arms the young generations to create a popular army, to work without rest, to study the methods and weakest points of the enemy. Once she has become the great France, the one of 1792, she will expose her ideas through the sword. Some day she will be irresistible. And that day she will recover Alsace and Lorraine.
    The poison was there. War would come, sooner or later. Meanwhile, Britain was happy to acquiesce in Bismarck’s new system in the realisation that his diplomacy worked for the preservation – not expansion – of Germany.


    His Imperial and Royal Majesty, The German Emperor, King of Prussia, Wilhelm II

    However, the ascension of Wilhelm II to the throne in 1889 and the sacking of Bismarck in 1890 resulted in an unpredictable flood of events that began to erode the foundations of his carefully constructed Continental system. The new agenda of the Kaiser set out to expand the power and influence of Germany, firstly by expanding its colonial possessions and by building of a large navy. However, he soon run into troubles.

    Wilhelm caused a rapid deterioration in Russo-German relations that led to a rapprochement between Tsarist Russia and Republican France. Paris jumped at the oportunity to begin his vendetta. In 1892 both countries concluded a military agreement - reinforced by additional talks in 1893 and 1894 - under which each promised to come to the other's aid if either were attacked by Germany. This agreement compelled Germany to strengthen her existing links with the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, linking Germany to a dilapidated empire that was itself finding it increasingly difficult to curb the nationalist aspirations of its diverse subject peoples in south-eastern Europe. Thus Germany was embroilled in the troubles at the Balkans, where the decline of Turkish influence caused a void of power which Austria and Russia rushed to fill, tempted by the territorial and political prizes in the region. In seeking to exploit such opportunities, Austria and Russia each embarked upon a course which could only end in confrontation. The rise of Serbia added yet another hazardous element to an unstable regional mixture. Serbia had been infuriated by Austria's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 but had herself gained influence and territory as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, giving Austria, in turn, mounting cause for disquiet and irritation.

    Illustration from the French magazine Le Petit Journal on the Bosnian Crisis: Bulgaria declares its independence and its prince Ferdinand is named Tsar, Austria-Hungary, in the person of Emperor Francis Joseph, annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II looks on.

    Those changes ultimately forced Britain to review her relations with other leading players on the European and world stage. Admittedly, Germany was not the only power that made Britain uneasy. Recurrent tension in her relations with France and Russia, previously her chief naval competitors, had caused Britain to pass the Naval Defence Act in 1889 in order to safeguard the supremacy on which her national security and prosperity rested. The Act embraced the doctrine that the Royal Navy's establishment should, at any given time, match the combined naval strength of any two other countries. The maintenance of this 'Two Power Standard' became more difficult as the United States and Japan also began to overhaul Britain industrially and to build ocean-going fleets.

    To secure her possessions in the Far East from the possibility of French or Russian attack – or more worryingly – a Japanese attack, Britain secured an alliance with Japan. To the relief of British strategists, the Japanese alliance considerably reduced British anxieties in the Far East and enabling Britain to concentrate more warships in home waters.


    Joseph Chamberlain, the British Colonial Secretary


    In finding support in Europe, Britain’s first attempt was to seek the friendship of Germany. Britain was, in fact, relatively friendly with Germany for much of the last quarter of the 19th century. It was the German Navy Laws of 1898 and 1900 that did most to alienate Britain. When France and Russia appeared to remain antagonistic towards Britain, Britain approached Germany and began negotiations for a formal alliance. The British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, went as far as to suggest an Anglo-German alliance which would be eventually extended to the United States of America. However, German Chancellor, Bernhard von Bülow, misunderstood the British bargaining position: he correctly assumed that Britain yearned friendship, but he was wrong when he supposed that she would never seek it with France or Russia. Von Bülow concluded that if Britain could only find friendship with Germany, then she should be put off until a later date when Germany had more influence. Negotiations broke down. It was effectively necessary for Britain to neutralise the threat of Germany, not by aligning with her, but by lending support to the two weaker powers who already opposed her: France and Russia.

    Negotiations between Chamberlain and Paul Cambon began almost as soon as the talks with Germany broke down, putting aside petty differences for the sake of self-preservation. By April 1904, the Entente Cordiale had been signed by Britain and France – an understanding, not an alliance – that put aside the two powers’ differences in Egypt, Siam, Morocco and Newfoundland. A similar understanding was reached with Russia in 1907, once Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/5 had all but removed the long-standing Russian threat to India. Thus before the end of the first decade of the 20th century Britain had swung noticeably towards the Franco-Russian alliance.

    The understandings with France and Russia did not constitute formal agreements and neither did they commit Britain irrevocably to go to war in support of either power, but she was now at least morally bound to France and Russia in opposition to the Central Powers, Germany and Austria. Any unforeseen incident involving one or more of these countries might well ignite a general conflagration which, because of the rival alliance systems, could engulf them all. In these circumstances it would certainly not have served Britain's interests to stand aside and allow Germany to conquer France and occupy the Channel ports. Therefore, despite all the contradictions in Britain's new international stance, the possibility of her participation in a European war on the side of France and Russia was - as Germany should have been well aware - far from remote.


    The Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought, the world's first moder battleship.

    Diplomatic manoeuvres, opposing alliances and naval rivalry were not the only ingredients which rendered the European powder keg more explosive and conditioned nations and peoples for armed conflict. The decades before 1914 also saw the rise of a popular press ready to glorify deeds of military valour or take an unashamed Jingoistic line when reporting foreign affairs. Chauvinism and aggressive imperialism were similarly encouraged by capitalism. Fashionable ideas about 'national efficiency' and concepts such as 'Social Darwinism' emphasised the survival of the fittest and fostered the belief that war was a purifying ordeal necessary to counter any signs of national decadence and moral degeneration. As most political and military leaders erroneously thought that should war come, it would be short, statesmen were generally more willing to solve international disputes by military rather than diplomatic means.
    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 24-07-2010 at 17:43.
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    The Spanish Civil War, and now the mud and blood of the Great War? For someone with a reputation for levity, you have been making some grindingly depressing choices for AAR's lately, kurt.

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    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Chapter two: Sarajevo.




    The incident that finally ignited the flames of war in Europe occurred on 28 June 1914, when, during an official visit to Sarajevo, capital of the newly annexed Austrian province of Bosnia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated with his wife. The assassin, Gavrilo Princip, had been recruited and despatched to Sarajevo by the Black Hand, a Serbian terrorist group, with the connivance of the chief of Serbian military intelligence. The Serbian government itself did not inspire the assassination but certainly knew of the plot and made well intentioned, if feeble, attempts to warn Austria about it. Austria eagerly exploited the opportunity to humble Serbia and thereby erasing her challenge to Austro-Hungarian authority in the Balkans.


    Franz Ferdinand and his wife leaving Sarajevo's city hall
    on their way to their fatal meeting with Princip.


    A wave of horror swept Europe, but nothing happened inmediately. First, however, Austria sought the support of Germany in taking action against Serbia. Hoping either that Russia would intervene and war would ensue, or that weakness of Russia’s part would break the encircling Entente powers, forestalling Russian modernisation, erradicating the dangers to Austria-Hungary and suffocating domestic opposition, Germany, on 5 and 6 July, granted Austria-Hungary a ‘blank cheque’ giving it license to pursue whatever means it felt necessary to subdue Serbia.

    Having obtained Germany's endorsement, on 23 July Austria issued a ten-point ultimatum to Serbia. The latter accepted nine of the points but rejected, in part, the demand that Austrian officials should be involved in the investigation of the assassination, regarding such interference as a challenge to her sovereignty. In fact, the ultimatum was designed to be rejected and caused great concern in Europe’s capitals, except Berlin, where the strength of the ultimatum was welcomed. On 25 July Serbia mobilised her army; Russia also confirmed partial mobilisation before entering, on 26 July, a 'period preparatory to war'. Austria reciprocated by mobilising the same day and then, on 28 July, declared war on Serbia. Once Russia mobilized, war was unavoidable, as it could no be stopped and would inmediately led to Germany's mobilization, due to the nature of the German war plans. In any case, Russia could not afford to acquiesce meekly in the destruction of Serbian sovereignty, or increased Austrian influence in eastern and south-eastern Europe. On 29 July Germany demanded an immediate cessation of Russian preparations, failing which Germany would be forced to mobilise. Consequently, on 30 July Russia ordered general mobilisation in support of Serbia.


    Kaiser Wilhelm II addresses his subjects in 1914, from the City
    Palace in Berlin. "I know no parties, only Germans", he proclaimed.

    Russian mobilisation was considered as a threat and, thus, a Kriegsgefahrzustand (threatening danger of war) was proclaimed on 31 July, followed to an ultimatum to Russia. Her failure to respond led Germany to order general mobilisation and declare war on Russia on 1 August. This action caused France to mobilise and set in motion the intricate machinery of European alliances and understandings, for the Schlieffen Plan required, from the outset, a violation of neutral Belgium and an attack on France, quite independent of any action the Russians might take. On 2 August Germany handed Belgium an ultimatum insisting on the right of passage through her territory. This was firmly rejected and the next day Germany declared war on France. Early on 4 August German forces crossed the frontier into Belgium.




    In Britain, the cabinet was divided over the issue of war and peace. The maintenance of France was essential to the balance of power. Britain could not afford to see France wiped out as a great power. With a war between France and Germany ever more certain, the British Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, knew that the Parlamentarian support to war would waver and it could even lead to a return of the pro-war Conservative Party to power. Then Germany violated the neutrality of Belgium, who had declared their intention to defend its neutral status the day before. Thus, the cause of Belgian neutrality helped sway a sceptical cabinet, including Lloyd George, towards favouring war with Germany – by 3rd August, Asquith was certain that if Germany breached Belgium’s neutrality, that he would be able to lead a united cabinet, and a united country into war.


    Herbert Asquith (1852-1928)


    As King Albert of Belgium appealed to King George V for help, the focus of attention moved to London, where Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey made his way through a crowded Whitehall towards the Palace of Westminster, where the House of Commons was packed with Members of Parliament and the galleries crammed with onlookers. Grey’s powerful speech prepared Britain for the war. He was followed by Andrew Bonar Law, the Conservative leader, who confirmed his party’s support for Grey’s policy. All the issues, even the related with Ireland and the Home Rule, could be forgotten.



    Ultimately, Britain could not stand aside. The risks of standing aside were far too great: she would face massive insecurity by virtue of Germany dominating the continent as well as occupying the entire coast running from the North Sea to the Atlantic. It was likely that Britain would have to fight a war against Germany in the future, without any allies and without any reputation whatsoever, having let Belgium and France be crushed. With naval bases in Northern France and with Europe’s shipyards and navies under German control, the Royal Navy’s ability to defend the country would be severely undermined. In the likelihood of France’s defeat, Russia would have to come to terms with Germany, at which point Britain would be under pressure, not only in Europe, but in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Central Asia. Standing aside would leave Britain with a security problem of a near unlimited scale.



    On the morning of 4th August, the German Army began to move into Belgium, and the British ultimatum was sent. Cheering crowds lined Whitehall, singing the national anthem and other patriotic songs into the evening, when at 11pm, the ultimatum expired, and Britain declared war on Germany.


    “THEY SHALL NOT PASS!”. The Punch's vision of
    Little Brave Belgium facing the bully Hun.


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    @Davout: There as dark side in me, you know... I'm torn at this. If there is a feature of WW1 that grips our minds is the appalling number of casualties. If I'm to follow history, that should repeat. However, I'm not quite keen on turning myself a butcher, so... we shall see...

    @El Pip: Well... just let me on my own... About Jutland... the IA will take care of that...
    Last edited by Kurt_Steiner; 04-08-2010 at 20:03.
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    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    David Stevenson's 1914-1918 presents a reasonably compelling argument for Britain to have said "bugger Belgium" because there were no real strategic reasons to go to war. Germany didn't have the annexation of Belgium as a war aim and in any event, history had shown since at least the time of the Spanish Armada that control of the western end of the Western opening of the Channel was the critical area and that the Eastern end was easily bottled up so that possession of Antwerp et al made no real difference to Britain's national security.

    On the other hand, it would be a pretty short war if the BEF doesn't turn up.
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    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
    David Stevenson's 1914-1918 presents a reasonably compelling argument for Britain to have said "bugger Belgium" because there were no real strategic reasons to go to war.
    I wasn't aware there was in fact an argument not to say bugger Belgium, with the benefit of hindsight damned if I can see a single compelling argument in favour of defending Belgium.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    -Not ending like Allenby, that is, having my readers sending me to the Tower for lack of updates
    Good luck, sir! But remember that if you jump ship mid-voyage, as it were, that we can always find a spot in the Tower next to old Allenby for you.

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    Franz Ferdinand...shot to death because his driver made a wrong turn which put the car face-to-face with Princip.

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  19. #19
    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    If you ever heard Franz Ferdinand live, you would shoot them too.

    El Pip, I was tempted to quote you as the source for the Bugger Belgium movement but I thought it might carry more weight to quote an academic. I have seen the errors of my way and will not repeat that mistake.

    I will be interested in whether there is a repeat of the Marne or the AI on both sides gets to digging trenches just that little bit earlier. Also I can't see the AI being as suicidal as the French High Command in the Alsace Lorraine offensives.
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  20. #20
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
    I will be interested in whether there is a repeat of the Marne or the AI on both sides gets to digging trenches just that little bit earlier. Also I can't see the AI being as suicidal as the French High Command in the Alsace Lorraine offensives.
    I don't know about that. I have seen AI do wonders.
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