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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

trekaddict

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Chapter 194

Seconds later


No. This couldn't be happening. This.Could.Not.Be.Happening. He dropped his torch where he was and didn't even register that it shattered into a thousand pieces on the stone floor. He rushed past Drake who was trying to hold him back, but Ian would have none of that and rushed forward to the man now standing in the cell. In the dim light he could barely see him, but it was undeniably him. A year older, some beard growth and incredibly thin, but it was him. Ian studied him from top to bottom. Felix was dressed in some sort of drab and grey-blue garment that was probably standard prison clothing. His face showed the sings of 'being worked over' and he had hollow cheeks that told of weeks of malnourishment, but other than that he seemed to be in comparatively good shape. Ian opened his mouth to say something, but the other beat him to it.

“It is you Ian!”

Ian found himself in a bear hug and when he stepped back he saw it was real.

“Felix.....”

The two men stared at each other before Ian broke.

“God Felix, I thought you were dead! If I had known...”

Felix grinned, even though is what not the grin he usually had had and said:

“I don't blame you, buddy. I did at times, but not now, not anymore.”

Drake had watched the exchange with wide eyes, because he could still remember the time when he had worked with both of them, but he knew that they had no time to loose.

“Sorry to interrupt, but we are on a tight schedule and....”

Ian waved it away and said:

“You're right. But could you take care of packing up?”

“Of course.”

With this Drake stepped away from the cell door while Ian and Felix awkwardly stood in the cell.

“What took you so long?” Felix asked.

This was something Ian wasn't really looking forward to explaining. In spite of Felix apparently accepting that he had been thought to be dead, he would most likely not like that there had been no real efforts to find out if he was really and truly dead.

“Uhm..... To be perfectly honest, we didn't really come for you, we just happened to be coming here. From what we knew this was a minor outpost that coordinates whatever they gather in the Mediterranean Area...”

Felix nodded. After all, they had brought him here only days ago as far as he could measure by the meagre meals he had been given. Then however the whole reality of the situation came crashing down on him: He would be going home, just like he had imagined for more than a year now, and that made him ask a question that had been burning in the back of his mind ever since Ian had opened the door.

“Ian...how...”

Ian turned again and instantly realized what Felix was trying to say.

“They are fine. London hasn't been bombed much, they are fine. I haven't been back since Market Garden, but from what your sister has written me it's all as well as can be expected.”

“Market Garden? Wha..”

Ian mentally smacked himself. Of course Felix had been out of the loop for more than a year and didn't know about a lot of things...

“Oh bugger. I didn't realize that you possibly didn't know. Market Garden. Well...We booted the Eyties out of Africa and are now booting them out of Italy proper.[1] We have invaded Europe, my friend.”

He slapped Felix on the back and then reached into the pocket of the uniform where he had put the Walther PPK.

“You will need this.”

Ian began to walk out of the cell, but then turned.

“It's good to have you back, Felix. It wasn't the same without you.”

Knowing that this was extremely emotional by Ian's standards for public conduct he followed his friend outside and decided not to ask all of his many, many questions until they were alone. Outside he began to take in his friend as he was talking to that other officer, Dre..Dro...Drake was his name and he began to find subtle differences. Ian had visibly aged, not in the way of lines on his face, it was more his behaviour and the evidence that he had seen action in the meantime. Felix only now noticed that Ian was wearing the rank Insignia of a Colonel of Marines, which meant that he had to have a fourth stripe on his Navy Uniform, and he wondered how Ian had managed that. In Intelligence promotions were few and hard to come by, because by the nature of things an Intelligence Officer was seen as a bit of a rouge, and Ian most certainly fit that bill. Something else he saw gave him a bit of a smile, and he made a mental note to ask Ian later. Soon enough the three were walking up to the door of the tunnel again, Ian and Felix instantly falling back into their old routine of work.

The next ten minutes were spent with putting the captured papers into the almost empty backpacks of the Paras that had been emptied of most of the standard equipment meant for the mission into occupied Yugoslavia before they had flown off. Still most was still lying in a heap and all the paras except the one with the backpack wireless set were wondering what to do with it when Ian once again took charge, and decided that what they could carry would have to do. The most important piece of Intelligence gathered was the Enigma that he himself would carry on his back and the codebooks Drake had in his own, and everything else was just a by-product of their mission. As a trained Intelligence Officer he hated leaving anything behind, but there was nothing he could do except making sure that the most important bits were still here, and he had done that as well as he could under the time constraints.

The Time! He looked at his wristwatch and saw that they did not have much left.

He turned to Drake and said: “We better leg it out of here when we don't want to be blown to kingdom come when the RAF arrive.”

Drake nodded. “Agreed. Now, thanks to Gerries generosity we don't even have to walk. All these lorries are filled up to the brim.” He turned to his men and had them collect all the weapons of the Germans that were on the ground floor of the house while Ian took this brief respite to take Felix aside again.

“Damnit, Felix. I still feel...”

Felix waved it away and grinned, this time as loopsided as Ian remembered. “Let's not talk about that. If you had gone back for me you would most certainly have been killed too.”

Ian let it slide for the moment, but he vowed that he would apologize to Felix one day. Right now there was too much to do, because they had little more than two and a half hours left to get to the airfield and secure it for the Dakota to land, and in this moment they were watching how Drake stripped the body of the only dead on their side so far of everything that could allow the Germans to identify him. Both Ian and Felix knew that Drake did not like leaving people behind, but here they could not bring him back, there was nothing they could do but taking his identification and writing a heartfelt letter to his relations. They stashed all the bodies inside and surrounded them with petrol taken from one the car that was parked in a shed close to the house and then mounted the lorries that would take them to the rendez-vous with the second group. Ian had volunteered to drive one of the lorries and Felix had decided that this was about as private as they were going to get, sitting beside Ian.


“You want to know what happened?”

Ian nodded.


“One day I will tell you, but right now it's....difficult...”

Ian said no more. Whatever Felix had suffered through, it had to be difficult for him to say the least, and he couldn't fault him...

“One thing I don't understand.” interrupted Felix. “One thing I don't understand is why they treated me as a regular Prisoner of War when they could have shot me out of hand. The blokes that captured me after I was wounded were SS, but according to what I was told and what I could piece together the Abwehr chaps took me over while I was out. They nursed me back to health before they started questioning me.”

Ian said nothing and shifted the lorry into another gear. This was indeed puzzling and something he would most certainly think about.

“I talked, Ian.” Felix was clearly ashamed. “Once I was in reasonably good health again the interrogations started, and trust me the Germans are good at this. After two weeks I was so hungry and so...broken that I would have told them anything. They mostly asked me about our mission back then, and I didn't know too much about that to begin with. After they were satisfied they chucked me into a castle somewhere in Eastern Germany, where they interrogated me again, probably to cross check what I had said earlier, and about a month ago they put me into the cell where you found me.”

“God Felix... everybody talks sooner or later, I don't fault you for that.” Ian said sympathetically and decided never to press Felix any further.

“You won't, but what about.....” Ian knew Felix well enough to know who Felix was talking about. “Oh bloody hell no, Felix. Your folks will most likely give you the third degree for dying in the first place, but in the long run they'll be glad to have you back. As for the Fleet, trust me when I tell you that the patented Fleming Old Boys network will be working for you.” “Why?” Felix was genuinely puzzled. “Because, my old friend, I trust you. I trust you, you are my best friend and I'll be damned if I ever give up on you again. That's why.”

No more was said until the lorry in front of them suddenly stopped. The pre-arranged contact signal with the second group had been spotted and the lorries were now hidden behind the bend of a minor side road so that a casual by-passer would not see them right away. Felix was given a spare white snowjacket and the most chanchy part of their mission began.

On the Airfield itself no one had seen or heard anything of the battle taking place at the house, only that the lorry that they had sent had not come back yet which was hardly surprising in this kind of weather since the roads were slippery and no one wanted to race the clock on these kinds of streets. The gunfire therefore came as a total surprise. First the guards walking about on the roofs of the few buildings dropped down dead one after another, felled by accurate rifle fire, then several machine guns started hammering their bullets into the barracks and the two Ju-52 that were standing on the field in front of their hangars. The Guardhouse was riddled with fire and fragments when several grenades exploded inches away and then white-clad figures firing machine pistols from the hip more to keep the heads of the Luftwaffe personnell down than to actually kill anyone. The machine guns were belt-fed Bren guns that were the first of the Mk.VIII variety that had one special feature, namely that by simply switching out a part of the receiver one could reconfigure any given Mk.VIII for either belt or magazine feed, something that would later in the war become of prime importance.[2]

The gunners saw that their comrades had broken through the feeble outer defences and picked up their guns, joined by the snipers as the other troopers swept through the airfield buildings like a scythe. The field had been manned by only a small group of Luftwaffe ground crews because no aircraft were permanently stationed here, this was merely a dispersal field for the aircraft defending this part of Europe from the Allied bombers. And even if there had been more of their number, the Luftwaffe crews were no match for the Special Air Service who unlike them had actually been trained in Infantry tactics, and so after only a few minutes the last surviving Germans in six miles were tied up and stashed in an empty ammunition bunker. Drake was uneasy with dividing his small force and therefore did not put out sentries beyond the immediate surroundings of the Hangars and a part of the runway. After they had taken the Airfield, the British had found themselves in possession of some German small arms, but most importantly stocks of food that proved to be far superior to the combat rations the SAS troopers were carrying, and so while his mean feasted on fresh food, Drake was starting to work on the wireless set in the airfield's communication room. The mission had been issued with a portable set, but Drake had found the German one to have a much stronger broadcasting capacity and using this one made sure that the flyboys would hear him. After carefully adjusting the set to the specified frequency he pressed the broadcast button.

“Broadsword calling Dannyboy, Broadsword calling Dannyboy, come in, over.” It took him almost twenty minutes to coax an answer out of the set, probably because the mountains around reflected part of the signal back onto the antenna. “Dannyboy calling Broadsword, I hope you boys are ready to receive us, over.” The quality was too bad to hear what accent the voice had, but Drake felt as if he could hear a faint whiff of foreign. Still, he was glad that the other bloke had finally answered and pressed the broadcast button again.

“Broadsword, this is Dannyboy. Hometown is secured and locked down tight, you can make your approach. Bastion has been cleared of friendly personnel. Over.”

“Roger that, Broadsword. Hold tight, we will be there in an hour.”

All they could do now was wait.


No.133 Squadron was approaching the the valley at low height with the Dakota travelling amidst them. When they crossed over the airfield, Drake personally fired a green flare, because now it was useless to disguise their presence. The Dakota turned, and while two Mosquitoes circled over the airfield she came in to land just as farther east the house went up in a series of Explosions, courtesy of the Royal Air Force.

The pilots then joined their comrades over the airfield and watched as the last SAS troops boarded the plane that immediately turned, spun it's engines to full military power and clawed it's way back into the air. Inside the men slept the sleep of men who had done a day's work and both Ian and Felix did not wake up until Dakota touched down on the airfield it had left hours ago. Felix stepped out and suddenly felt different, free even. He looked around and it was refreshing and soothing at the same time to be surrounded by people speaking English, by the familiar uniforms and mannerisms, and just at that moment, as if on cue a formation of two Squadrons of Spitfires flow overhead, transferring from Sicily to airfields south of Foggia, a British and a Polish Squadron flying in perfect formation. Yes, he was free again.


Spitfire Mk.V of 303 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Warszawski im. Tadeusza Kościuszki (No.303 Polish Fighter Squadron)​



[Notes: So there we go. There are still some issues, some I want to explore, some I think I have to explore for the sake of plausibility.]

[1] No pun intended. Seriously.

[2] In reality I am doing this because of the availability of decent pictures.


Spitfire Image thanks to BaderBusCompany over on whatifmodellers.com
 

Griffin.Gen

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Yeeess! Polish Sptties!
Oh right, the update. :p
Good job, good to see the two togheter again.
 

ColossusCrusher

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Of course, Felix could have been brainwashed...:D
 

trekaddict

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Griffin.Gen Glad you like it. Writing about the exploits of these two was what I was missing the most when Felix was 'dead'.

ColossusCrusher True that. We will find out in due time.




I only hope the next update generates a few more responses.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 195

10th December 1941

Five miles from Monte Cassino


“It's going out.”

The Canadian troops rose from the mud upon hearing this and once again cursed the workmanship of Krupp, Rheinmetall and the unnamed but numbered Soviet factories that built the Artillery that was giving the Axis armies a considerable punch, and that the current opposition of the CEF was mostly Italian with the two Czech Divisions that had been 'allowed' into Italy by the Germans. The Artillery mostly came from the Italian Alpini and Infantry Divisions these days, but a 105mm shell did not care what sort of gun it was fired from, it still exploded and churned up the earth. The Canadians had gone through the brutal darwinistic school that was modern warfare and those that were still alive had learned how to ride out this sort of shelling, so losses were light. When the barrage lifted after ten minutes, the Canadians readied themselves in their foxholes and trenches, because they were to assault. The Allied Armies had mostly abandoned this practice for that very reason, but the Axies, the Italians and Soviets in particular still liked to 'soften up' their targets with guns in spite, and sometimes Artillery was simply needed to be employed in this way. Corporal Griffin wished he was back in reserve with his old unit, but as of three days ago he was a member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada which had a serious lack of NCOs after beating off a Division-sized attack last week. He now found himself in command of a section of Riflemen, with six privates with Lee Enfield rifles forming a rifle group, and a light machine gun group of a Lance-corporal, a gunner with the Bren gun and a "loader" carrying a spare barrel and extra ammunition. The bit of the line his section had defended while the CEF had paused to reorganize was stretched between a cliff that went up almost vertically for ten metres and a low, shallow depression where more Sections of the Regiment connected the line to his old Unit and farther down to the Infantry Regiments of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. It was a foggy day and even the explosions of the Artillery had not done anything about the massive fog that lay over the cold and frozen land. The village that the Highlanders had been tasked with taking was heavily fortified, and since the best road in this area went right through it, it had to be taken. Three attacks so far had failed to bring the desired result. Tanks had been smashed by Stukas that ignored the covering Spitfires and attacked even though they took frightful losses, Infantry had been pinned down by machine guns and light Italian Field Artillery. GoC European Front wanted this village bad, so did Corps and therefore so did he, even though not really on his own accord. He had his section exit the hastily dug trench and slowly they traversed the distance between them and the Village. The almost constant harassing fire of the last two days had prevented both sides from establishing a picket line that would warn anyone of just such an attack, but they still crouched most of the distance to the half-way point, because now the fog was beginning to lift. Without seeing them Griffin knew that the rest of the Battalion was doing the same as his section. He soon reached the ruined farmhouse that lay about halfway between the lines. There the Section took cover while Griffin used the binoculars he carried to take a look at the Italians.


He could see them running about, manning deserted positions again after the British had stopped shelling them. Griffin grimaced at being called British, or god forbid English like the Italians sometimes did in their ignorance and then watched with a bit of guilty pleasure when the lighter Field Guns, 25 pounders and even some 4.5 inchers began a second, quick-fire barrage that threw men, weapons and pieces of village about like a thunderstorm. Even before the barrage had lifted the Canadians rose to their feet and rushed the remainder of the distance over open terrain and by the time they began to attract attention from the still dazed defenders inside they already too close to be beaten back by a force as disorganized as the Italians in the Village were. Griffin raised his Thompson and tried to shoot through the windows of a hut and all he heard was … nothing. The gun had jammed. Cursing, not wanting to be left behind, he drew the Luger he had taken off a dead German Officer and emptied the magazine through the gap for which the term window would be far too flattering. He rammed in another magazine and pocketed the pistol again before picking up his Thompson. In an effort to get the blasted thing shooting again, he slammed his fist onto the receiver a few times, and was soon rewarded by an audible clank. He turned to run after his men and soon saw them fighting against a gaggle of Italians that were hiding behind a makeshift rubble barricade on the main and only road of the village, aided by their comrades that had pretty much overrun most of the village already. Before he could fire his gun the barricade was taken.

The Lance Corporal commanding the Bren group turned to him and said in an accent that was an almost hillarious mix of Canadian and Scottish drawl: “This was far too easy, Corporal.”

Griffin just nodded. Where were the anti-tank guns that had beaten back the attack by the 5th Armoured? And where on earth were the German-made MG 38s that had ravaged the attacks by the Infantry? With a shrug he simply turned and watched together with his men as the rest of the Regiment came up to secure the position, and in the distance he could already see the Cromwells rolling from their camouflaged positions, the the Regimental AA troop's Crusader Mk. X AA tanks with their awkward turrets and the twin Oerlikon 20 mm cannons sticking out of them scanning for enemy aircraft in spite of the Spitfires that were circling overhead now.[1] Griffin had not known that the Village stood in the way of a Corps-wide drive towards Cassino, but he didn't complain. Anything that brought him out of this freezing hell-hole had his wholehearted support.

Not that the weather was any better up north. Still, the CEF was on the move again, and a full week before anyone in Rome had predicted. Rommel was getting uneasy with the situation and the determination of the Canadians, annoyed with the quality of the Intelligence he was forwarded by the Italians and lastly simply exhausted because he had been on the go for almost five days at that point. All this combined slowed the Axis reaction considerably and by the time the reserves were moving up and the news of the Canadian attack had filtered down to the frontline units again, the Canadian Tanks had covered most of the distance towards Monte Cassino. Canadian doctrine, an almost exact copy of the doctrine used by the cousins from the Islands called for the Tanks to be escorted by Infantry the whole time, even though the motorization of the same was expensive. Now it paid off, because the Infantry was easily able to keep pace with the spearheads resulting in the Italians in the village of Cassino not only facing Tanks as they expected but also bloodied and experienced Infantry that swiftly drove them out of Cassino itself. By now only the mountain with the Monastery on top remained and it would prove to be a tough nut to crack, and would have to be paid for in blood.

The first hint at that came when the Infantry sections securing the approaches to the city ran into a long procession of monks that told a story of being thrown out of their castle by a bunch of German Paratroopers armed to the teeth with... the missing anti-tank guns from the Village the Highlanders had taken that very morning. The abbey was the better part of a mile from the town, and the Tanks were mostly hidden among the buildings, so taking pot-shots at them would be a waste of ammunition, something the Canadian Division Commander was thankful for. The news of this immediately raced back up the chain of command and Lt. General Crerar decided that this was a job best left to the Air Force and soon enough a wave of Halifaxes, including the one and only Canadian Heavy Bomber Squadron the RCAF had in Europe, began inflicting a rain of steel and fire on the old sacral buildings, smashing them to pieces. They were followed by three huge waves of Mosquitoes that levelled what had remained standing after the first attack, and it did not stop there. Confident that their foes had been battered into submission the Canadian 1st Infantry Division attacked on the twelfth.

The Germans crawled out of their cellars, manned the rubble and taught the Canadians the same lesson that their British Cousins had learned in Foggia: Rubble made for excellent defensive positions. Anti-Tank guns fired from slits in walls and from behind rubble piles machine guns fired at the advancing Canadian Infantry.

It would take them six full days to clear the monastery and clear the surroundings of stragglers, but when the Maple Leaf Flag was hoisted over the ruins on the 18th and below them the CEF was repositioning itself one thing was clear for all involved: The road to Rome was open, and it was now a race between the Canadians and the British, Belgian, Dutch and Polish Infantry farther south, and luckily for them the French Expeditionary Army that was at last being sent had not yet arrived.



[Notes: Up next is not, as I had originally planned a great reunion of any sort, but rather something else half a world away.]



[1] ITTL the airspace is very contested and the Allies won't have anything like the air superiority they enjoyed after Operation Overlord in OTL anytime soon, if ever. As a result, the development of mobile AA weaponry is several years ahead, the MK.X AA essentially being a Crusader III, AA Mk II.
 
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Le Jones

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A good combat update - is the Italian/German Army in Italy completely shattered now - or has Mussolini some form of reserve somewhere?
 
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Kurt_Steiner

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Not having general Clark to "help" made quite easy the job to take Cassino to the British, I see.
 

Griffin.Gen

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The CEF is kicking ass, I can't complain. :p
Keep it up, who shall be in Rome first?
 

trekaddict

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Le Jones For the bulk of the remaining Italian units is currently in reserve to the north of Rome. They won't stay there though. Right now most of the units on the front are German and Soviet.

Kurt_Steiner True. That and the fact that the Canadians took the town by what was essentially a Coup the Main.

Griffin.Gen I like the Canadians for what the AI did/will do later in the war, just like I like the Belgians for what their AI did last ingame year. The Race for Rome is already decided in my mind, and you shall not suffer too long.
 

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Chapter 196

10th December 1941

The Harold St Claire was uneasy in these surroundings, but his job and his mission required him to act as if he immensly enjoyed himself. He was the British Ambassador to the UAPR after all, and even though he preferred the old White House as he had seen when he had been a minor functionary in the 1920s after the First War. The new 'Red House' as it was called in the Diplomatic Service and the Embassy was an example of the modernist 'realist' style of buildings that was in official favour in Communist America and by European standards plan ugly in spite of the red brickwork that made up it's outside. Inside it was even worse. The Americans had evidently tried to do away with the post-colonial stile of the old White House and had applied similar design principles as they had to the outside and he had to admit that while on the whole it was just not his thing, the modernist 1930s furniture worked together with the paintings that showed scenes from the recent civil war that were still so fresh in the mind of those that held the reigns of power that they could be expected to be at least somewhat truthful. As he waited in the small anteroom, he was looking at a massive wallspanning painting of the Battle of Crown Point as it was known to Canadians, showing a massive Battleship trading shots with a gaggle of Destroyers. He smiled at himself and though that it was funny, because the Battleship in question was the famed APNS Worker's Pride, ex USS Washington, the first major USN unit that had defected, and the Destroyers were part of the convoy that had evacuated the USN Atlantic Squadron from Norfolk. The Communists had claimed this to be a major victory as it had ended the US naval presence on the East Coast, but what was not being told was that USS Arizona had escaped north and was now being worked up and modernized in Halifax, about to be recommissioned as HMCS Canada, ready for overseas deployment. Another painting showed the siege of Denver where a cut-off group of UAPR militia and a few Regulars had held against a 'massive Army' of US Regular and Colorado Guard units. He did not have time to contemplate on this one, as an aide came into the room.

“Mr. Ambassador, the People's Committee for National Defence will see you now.” St Claire stood and walked behind the man into a conference room. It was a room that was clearly designed to show off the power and wealth of the UAPR and the Communist System to foreign visitors, and he had to admit that it was impressive, even though the omnipresence of the red Flags on the walls was again not his cup of tea. It did however perfectly blend in with the burgundy, black specked marble on the floor and the grey-ish marble that made up the walls. In the middle of the room a long conference table was placed, with long rows of seats at two sides. On one side sat the Chairman of the Central Committee, the People's Commissar for Defence and his colleagues of the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Trade Secretariat. Unlike them though his own aides would follow later, having been held up by the need to compile more files from the Embassy archives for this meeting had been arranged on very short notice. Pleasantries were exchanged and the tone of voice used by the Americans alone told him that they had learned from the last official meeting between them and the representatives of the western Allies. Just because they believed themselves to be the cutting edge of political evolution on the globe did not mean that the bloke on the other side of the table did fold to do their bidding, so diplomacy was still needed. The swift military reaction of the Canadians and their refusal to budge on the issue of Quebec had rudely disabused the Americans of the notion that the rest of North America was just waiting for them to liberate them from capitalist rulers and for a while the Americans had retreated behind their border fortifications to re-evaluate their policy towards their neighbours and only the rising threat in the Pacific had made them approach the British again who by their very nature and history were more of an ideological adversary than for example Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But since Realpolitik had at least found a firm footing in Washington, he had at last something to do again instead of just sitting on the roof of the Embassy and waiting for the divine lightning to smythe him down.

“Comrade Chairman” he spoke, using Browder's official title, “your Government has asked mine for an official meeting, so may I ask why? After all, 'matters of mutual interests' can cover a very wide area.”

“That is most certainly true, Mr. Ambassador.” Browder replied and lit his customary pipe. “You see, in spite of our differences we have a common threat threatening both the Interests of the American People and those of the British Empire, especially in the Far East.”

St Claire nodded and was childishly happy that his Chief of Communications now owed him five quid. “I take it you mean the Japanese and the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere?”

“Yes, Mr. Ambassador. Tensions between them and us are rising, and one has to listen to the broadcasts of the BBC and Radio Tokyo to know that there are tensions between you and them too.”

Both knew that these sources were less than accurate and that the best information the Americans had came from less than respectable sources of all kinds, but the art of Diplomacy required that they did as if they did not know that the other had his networks.

“Indeed there are. His Majesty's Government is most anxious to defuse the situation in the Far East for obvious reasons, however I have been instructed to tell you that we are making plans for the case that these efforts should fail, as are our allies and Dominions in the region. The Japanese and their Chinese friends will find the British Empire to be a formidable foe, in spite of appearances.”

Browder could see that St Claire was really believing this, and if the reports he received sparingly from the remnants of the Chinese Communist Party via the Phillipine Trade mission in spite of efforts by Mc Arthur's security apparatus to weed them out then the British had piled so many guns and so much concrete onto Singapore and a lesser extent Hong Kong so that, to put it into the words of a minor functionary in the Second Division of the PSS, were in danger of sinking before a single shot was fired. It seemed that the British were determined to make a fight of it and that was something the Council had been debating over at great length. Some had said that they simply lacked the resources for more than symbolic resistance anywhere, and while that was most certainly true for Hong Kong if anyone looked at a map, then looking at the same map told that Singapore was much easier to defend as long as the Dutch East Indies remained in the hands of the Imperialist remnant Government in Batavia. The Australians had benefited from the great exodus after the Overthrow of the USA to a lesser extent than Canada and Britain itself, but they had still gotten their share of the loot and were using it to the fullest effect, and one could expect that there just as in Canada and Britain many would fight for their adopted nation. The British had trained their pet dogs well, that much everyone on this side of the table was forced to admit, even though their Naval Forces were a joke.

“You see, Mr St Claire the problem facing us is that we are still rebuilding our Naval strength, and it won't be until the end of next year that we can confidently face the Japanese who have by our estimates...” he ruffled through the papers in front of him as if searching for a report that he had in reality memorized weeks ago, “Eight Carriers of varying quality with more under construction, along with an uncomfortably large number of Battleships.”

St Claire wished his aide were already here with his papers, but he had this particular report memorized. “This is similar to our estimates, even though we are unsure about the status of their two Super-Dreadnoughts.”


In reality the GCHQ at Bletchley Park had cracked the Japanese Naval Codes months ago and both them and their branch in India were reading the IJN's mail almost in real time, so the Admiralty and the Government were aware that Yamato and Musashi were currently fitting out, all part of a larger effort to intimidate Australia to press for London to give in to the Asiatic demands. Giving that information along however would have been seen as too strong by St Claire had he been aware of it in the first place. “Add to that that Hong Kong reports that the Chinese are increasing the...confrontational gestures on the demarcation line and that has our people there worried.” At this point the aide arrived carring several attaché cases full with files.

Taking opportunity of this interruption Browder and his until then silent co-leaders ordered Coffee, while St Claire was surprised to find that the Americans had somehow managed a cup of tea that was actually drinkable. The unintended pause gave both sides the opportunity to evaluate what they had heard, as little as it actually was. Still, this was a major improvement in relations and both Governments were aware that on their own they would have a hard time countering the Japanese. Both were committed to this, that much St Claire knew and would communicate to London. Right now however he had to sound out how far the Americans were willing to go, because London was stubbornly unwilling to enter an open and full alliance with the Communists, even though it would only be directed against Japan. Besides, he had to find out about the actual state of the American Pacific Fleet. The APN had been moving units between San Diego and Hawaii with the regularity of a freight service, and so it was difficult at best to estimate the strenght of the squdron stationed at Pearl Harbour with any accuracy. All that he personally knew was that the shipyards at Newport News were working overtime, and the Canadians reported that Puget Sound was teeming with warships of all description that were hastily being upgraded with the best the UAPR could provide. He did however know that he would not come to an agreement today, it was far too early for that and in any case the actual negotiations would be handled by people that attracted less attention. No, the best he could do here was open the door and make sure that the foot of the British Empire kept it open. If something came of these talks the Japanese were in trouble.


[Notes: In January it's once again Exam time. Argh. As a result I have decided to make as many good updates as I can before Christmas to smooth over the wait, since I intend to enjoy the holidays to the fullest by doing exactly nothing at all, so it could be that there are little if any updates during that time, what with AoD coming out soon too. In January I will have even less time to write, so I might only update once or twice that months. Just thought you should know.]
 

Griffin.Gen

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So.... are is this going to be like OTL's Allies+USSR? Seems like it, at least.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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So.... are is this going to be like OTL's Allies+USSR? Seems like it, at least.
My thoughts exactly, but, knowing good old Trekkie a bit, I guess it's not going to be so simple. Anyway, first let's finish Germany and the USSR, then Japan and then it's time to go waltzing Matilda to Rio Bravo.
 

trekaddict

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Griffin.Gen That's what it's looking like, yes.

Kurt_Steiner Simple or not, the Americans have finally realized that in their current state it would be very difficult for them at best to defeat the Japanese on their own, and the only possible co-beligerent that has anything like the economic and military power needed is, much to their annoyance any my amusement the British Empire, for them the personification of Imperialism, which it actually happened to be until a few years before. Mind you, there won't be any lend-lease, so no Merlins for the American Air Force, no ULTRA and no Radar tech, so it should be very, very interesting, even more so since we will have to high-tech Navies operating in the Pacific at the same time.
 

trekaddict

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Chapter 197


10th December 1941


Somewhere in the Highlands of Kenya


“Welcome to our new home.” said the older main with the unkempt grey hair and gestured around on the plateau that stretched before them. There was nothing at all aside from a hut and more importantly a clean stream that would provide them with water, and a road that was connected with the rest of the world. As he began to explain, he turned and the rest of the scientists followed him like sheep.


“We have been building this complex and supporting facilities even before the war, the first survey parties came here in late 1938, and we have been working on it ever since.”

“Excuse me, Professor, but what did take so long? I mean we haven't seen much of it yet, some laboratory buildings, a road and some huts for us to live in.” The man was a young lab assistant the Professor had been working with in Wales. Brilliant but a bit of a loud mouth. Albert Einstein sighed and looked at James Chadwick. Together the two men were leading the modest but determined effort by the British Empire to harness the power of the atom and this facility would be the culmination of their efforts.[1] Neither said anything, but instead Niels Bohr, seconded to the University of Camebridge by the Danish Government in case the Germans decided to overrun the country and immediately recruited by the Welsh Society for the development of synthetic Clothing and coatings, a.k.a. Tube Alloys a.k.a the Maud Committee (Military Application of Uranium Detonation) before even knowing what he would be working on, but working with names like Einstein and Chadwick who had discovered the Neutron in 1932 was too much for the Danish Scientist to pass up and now here he was. He had quickly risen to be working on the most daunting and secret tasks in the MAUD, and therefore was the only one beside Einstein, Scientific Head of the Committee and Chadwick, chief Physicist.

“You see, what we will be working on here not only needs laboratories but also huge ammounts of power, water and supporting infrastructure and facilities. Building these with a war going on at the same time is costly and therefore takes time.” Einstein wished that his pipe was not in his suitcase but rather in his mouth but then decided that there was no point in arguing.

“Gentlemen, we do have a lot to see. You will be assigned quarters back in camp, have half an hour to freshen up before we will take you and just you on a tour of the area. We hope that you will then see that all the effort and money was worth the effort.”

On the way back to camp he still wondered how Whitehall had managed to find the money for this facility and the lesser ones that surrounded it. Tube Alloys had already been hideously expensive when it had consisted of the small and inefficient nuclear pile in Wales, some huts and a canteen where everybody could get something to eat. Had funding been adequate[2] he could have brought this compound to live more than half a year ago at the very least, and even now many of the facilities they needed were not yet built. At least secrecy would easily be maintained.

Later in the bus that would take them through the greater area where the experiments would be conducted, roughly forty square miles that partially bordered Lake Rudolf and were connected with the outside world by train and road.
“Now as you can see we have here a good, paved road and railway connections. The latter has been disguised as part of the so-called Trans Africa Railway that will probably never be built but the concept serves our needs. The compound where you will live and work from now on has an area of 40 Square miles and consists as pointed out before of the main camp back where we set out, a small railway junction ad the edge of the exclusion zone where your mail will be delivered to and various supporting facilities. The largest and most important one is of course this.”

The bus stopped a mere mile from the camp close to a depression in the ground that had been covered by desert camouflage netting that was due to be replaced by steel, covered with earth and planted with weeds 'some day' when funding for it arrived.

“That Gentlemen is a Nuclear Reactor, or at least it will be. The design is far more advanced than the one we had in Wales. It is more powerful and should allow us to create and sustain a far longer and larger chain reaction than ever before, and this time we will not have the problems with stopping the reaction again.” This was referring to an almost-accident in Wales where a reaction had gotten out of control before burning itself out, the pile being short of the critical mass to reach detonation. The almost-disaster had at least had the effect of convincing even the last doubters of the feasibility of a Nuclear Bomb whilst also giving them some idea about the actual size of a critical mass i.e. anything larger than the pile in Wales had been. Einstein and Chadwick had immediately stepped up planning for this facility and adjusted a few things.

Once again moving Einstein detailed the outline of the inner construction of the reactor while the bus was heading out onto the paved road again. This time the road ran along the perimeter which was guarded by a simple fence and guarded by mounted patrols that used actual horses because they happened to be cheaper than building a road and buy cars instead of using horses left over from when a local ex-Colonial and now Imperial Cavalry Regiment had been motorized with Armoured Cars made in India and South Africa and simply creating a dirt path along the usual patrol routes. The road into the compound was, as Einstein had described even though it was clear to all an offshoot from the main, Trans-Kenya road that had begun to sneak it's way from the ports on the coast to each corner of the country, a project going on since the 1920s and cut short by the outbreak of war even though it had almost been completed. Still, of all of the Empire's African Dominions Kenya was the one with the best infrastructure at present and also the one most enthusiastic about the Empire plan if one was to believe the polls in the larger cities and had as a result been the logical choice for the MAUD to establish the compound, unimaginatively called 'Facility 2'. The need for on-site camouflage and deception was small, since in this part of Kenya few nomads had ever been seen and even fewer actually lived anywhere nearby. However one piece of camouflage had been used, namely on the nearby Lake Rudolf the Colonial Administration had established a riverine navigation school for the Colonial Customs Service that was now in the hands of the Royal Navy that was training part of the native Riverine Naval Service there. This had been used to camouflage the increased military activity in the area and also explained why the patrols that guarded the compound were a mix of Royal Military Police and the Royal Marines instead of their very own RAF Regimental Security Group as had been the case in Wales. Still, even the perimeter was so far away from the central buildings that without an elevated position you would not even know they were there, let alone be able to know what they were for.

The Bus was now closing in on the most important, expensive and most delayed building. The Factory they would use to enrich Uranium for the rest of the facility. The biggest obstacle to building the facility and the entire compound here was power supply. Enrichment of Uranium required enormous amounts of power to operate. Cost-cutting after the beginning of the war, a general budget that was too small for all the buildings they needed, so this was the best that could be done. It was a mixture of a hydroelectric plant that was fed by turbines through a river coming from the Highlands through the Rift Valley, and an old-fashioned coal plant fuelled by local deposits that had been discovered when this had still been German East Africa but had not been exploited until the late 1920s and were even now barely enough to fuel the three coal-power plants that existed in the dominion since the exploitation was complicated and therefore expensive for the cash-strapped British Government and Administrations. Resulting from this was a lower power output than Einstein and Chadwick would have liked, would be slowing the process of Uranium enrichment to an excruciatingly slow crawl. Then there was the factory itself. They had managed to collect valuable data on the processes involved, but as it had turned out the small ammounts they had worked with so far were nothing like the industrial production of U235, and many, many problems would have to be solved before they could even think about building a bomb. Then the reactor had to be made to work, all in all it was expected that it would take them at least four to five years until anything really productive came out of this facility.

Sometimes Einstein and Chadwick were wondering if the Government was willing and more to the point even able to fund this project to it's logical conclusion, because the herculean effort of the normal, conventional war and the looming warclouds in the Pacific that had put an end to placing the project in Australia as originally planned were taxing the economy and the resources the Empire could produce to the limit. When the bus was going back to the housing compound, Einstein reflected on the report he had composed and delivered to the Prime Minister. It had been about the chances of the Germans developing a bomb, and that if this sort of weapon could be built, it's destructive power would be...massive to say the least. If the Germans or the Soviets were to get hold of this weapon, there would be nothing to stop them. Nothing at all. The Prime Minister had agreed and so here they were, working to open Pandora's box.


[Notes: This, like everything Nuke related from now on is also going into the knowledgebase.]









[1] It's small when compared to Los Alamos. The Nuclear programme is a bit behind OTL, but not much, because the theoretical work has been done, but actually building a bomb will be an effort that will seriously tax the few resources the British can spare from the war effort.


[2] i.e. on the level Los Alamos had when it was founded.
 

Griffin.Gen

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The Empire is going Nuclear. :cool:
What shall be nuked first? :rofl:
 

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trekaddict

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@all In recent weeks I have noticed that this AAR is generating next to no comments at all. May I ask why that is so? Has the quality of the writing dropped that much? It has some simply because University work is picking up speed. Is the story becoming too repetitive?


Truely honest comments are wanted so that I can improve AAO both for your and my own enjoyment.
 

Ciryandor

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Update rate vis a vis other big AARs is what I see to be the problem here. :) Also, the length factor. The old, narrative-heavy AARs like yours and Draco's really suffer from low comment rates nowadays unless you keep them really long and detailed (that way we have more to debate and nitpick on).
 

humancalculator

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@all In recent weeks I have noticed that this AAR is generating next to no comments at all. May I ask why that is so? Has the quality of the writing dropped that much? It has some simply because University work is picking up speed. Is the story becoming too repetitive?


Truely honest comments are wanted so that I can improve AAO both for your and my own enjoyment.
I am not the most avid commenter, but i have an EXTREMELY busy schedule right now. I usually still read most updates to AAR's that i am subscribed to, but i rarely don't have the time to comment much.
 

trekaddict

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Ciryandor I see. The next update, which I might get done tonight will attempt to address that. Thanks.

humancalculator Righto.