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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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They should have gone with my version :D

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Chapter 224

ireland_118_bg_0617021.jpg


The Harp and Dragon was one of the oldest pubs in the County of Tipperary, and people said it dated from before the English Occupation. Like everywhere in Ireland the people hadn't been boozing and haggling with quite the same enthusiasm, and not only because of the war. In this deeply Irish part of the country for most people the notion that one was now to fight side by side with the hated British was stranger than the idea of Ireland being at war to begin with. Francois Lehay was one of them. His French first name was something that would have gotten him into trouble as a young boy had it not been for his father who liked claiming that he had fought 'with old Collins himself', and that alone made for a lot of respect no matter what side you had been on during the fighting.

As a result he had no love for either the Free State or the British Empire and thus no inclination to sign up for the Army like so many had done. Today Britain was seen as the lesser of two evils. The British might be just that, but at least they weren't godless Communists. Still, with most of his friends going off to war, now that the Irish Army had free access to the war materials that the British and their Commonwealth could produce.

Francois snorted and picked up a newspaper from the stack that the Pub kept around. It was a noted Dublin paper and already several days old. It was from the 28th of April, and now it was 2nd May. It told of the British attacks in Italy and the tank battle that had been fought and also printed the gist the proposed military reforms. Two Infantry Divisions were being formed from existing Regiments, to be organized along British lines for ease of cooperation with the rest of the Allies, an independent Tank Regiment were also to be raised and attached to the Infantry at some point, and this force would be deployed to Italy 'as soon as training standards are met'. In the meantime it meant that the Government was encouraging people to enlist, and for the most part the people obliged. However... the headline of the paper told what he had feared.

'National Service announced – first draft notices to be sent out tomorrow'

That meant that if the County was up to it's usual self, the first ones here should be arriving...today...

He threw some coins at the barman and ran out of the pub without finishing his pint. Outside he ignored the gaggle of his friends, the two Belgian Mosquitoes overhead and ran home as fast as he could. The Village was about three miles from the farm and he jogged most of it without eyes for the Irish countryside.

When he burst into the kitchen of the farm, his parents were already sitting around the table and their faces told him the story.

“So what am I supposed to do now?”

No answer was given to him, and so he took the offending piece of paper from his father's hands and walked back outside. He needed to think, to decide what to do, because his parents were obviously no help. Outside the sun was beginning to poke through the cloud cover and illuminated the world around him. He did not want to fight, to kill and to die for any cause that involved the British, but then again, was he willing to go to prison for it while most of his friends and compatriots in age went off to fight.

He sat down under the tree in the centre of the Farm's biggest field and weighed the arguments, something his mother had taught him to counterbalance the bullheadedness on his father's side.

On one hand he still.. disliked the British. But they were by far the lesser of two evils. But on the other hand he would advance their agenda, however admirable it might be, and he could not abide that. He heard a roar and this time he did not ignore and the different, unexpected roundels on their wings as they flow overhead lower than he had ever seen any plane go. Belgium was another such small nation like Ireland and they too had staked their luck on the British. And what had it gotten them? Occupied, cut off from their families and without chance of reinforcements. He snorted.

But then again....they had to have known all this, and yet he could still remember the reply the Belgians and Dutch had jointly sent back in 1940 when Hitler had offered peace with concessions to the low Countries. The Irish Newspapers had printed the full extend of it, and his father kept it around as an example of defiance. It had been translated as “Sod off.”, and he suspected that this hadn't been the true choice of words. Was this what Ireland was doing now? Shouting her defiance in the face of great odds?

He snorted as he watched the two planes fly away, and then it suddenly hit him – He would not be fighting for the British and their King, but rather for Ireland.......His decision thus made, he rose and began to walk back to the farm, wondering if he would look good in army clothes.



On the other side of the world a wholly different man was much happier with his life. Captain Stephen Halden 'Sam' Beattie was going to sea again for the first time since his undignified retreat from Singapore. At least that was how he saw it even though it had been under orders. That he had been forced to go to sea again with a different ship under his feet had been a major annoyance at first, he, the crew and Belfast had gone through far too much to simply leave her, but a promotion for his old First Lieutenant and a new ship for himself had lessened the effect. Belfast was already out and preparing what was likely to be the last convoy for a while to Singapore, and he was out with the rest of Force Z with as yet secret orders. His new command was 860 feet and 7 inches long, had a beam of 104 feet, 2 inches and would make 30 knots if pushed. She was armed with eight BL 15 inch Mk I naval guns in four twin turrets fore and aft, 14 QF 4 inch Mk XVI naval guns in twin turrets as secondary armaments and as of late also with twenty-six twin Bofors 40mm guns along with a host of machine guns for close in defence. She was one of her kind, but not because she was a Battlecruiser, but more because she was the only ship of the Admiral Class that had been completed.[1]

hms_hood_by_edward_tufnell1.jpg


When he had been told to report to HMS Hood in order to take over command he had at first been baffled at the prospect of taking over the last and best Battlecruiser in the fleet and the finest ship in the world even if it meant sharing his bridge with a flag Officer. However Rear Admiral Murray had shifted his flag and his Captain to Prince of Wales since the latter had better comms facilities.

Right now he was pushing her heard, part to see what she could do and part to reach the rendezvous on time. The group was reinforced by the three Australian Perth Class Cruisers and 'it wouldn't do for the Ozzies to tell stories about a big pom Battlecruiser being late', even if it was by less than five minutes. The Crew of the ship was apprehensive. There were almost as many stories running around about their new Captain as there had been about their old one, because Belfast was somewhat famous in the cruiser community for both the action she had seen and for being the Station Flagship at Singapore for so long. What little was really known came from old hands of the Mediterranean Fleet, and from that they knew that as soon as could be arranged gunnery training was in order, for Belfast was famous as the best shot in the fleet. That the 15'' guns of Hood had more 'oomph' than the ones on Belfast did not deter Beattie in the slightest, because he indeed intended to do gunnery trials as soon as possible and as far away from the base as could be arranged.

“Prince of Wales signalling Sir.”

Beattie stepped forward and watched the blinker light through the bridge window.

“What...kept...you?”

The Bridge crew could almost hear Beattie gnash is teeth.

“Reply: Hood is always on time.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Beattie looked as if he was fuming, but in reality he wasn't, the crew and the base personnel had worked wonders to get Hood out as fast as it had happened and he would make sure that his new crew knew that he appreciated a job well done. Beattie watched as the Force went into formation and noted the lack of transports and Aircraft Carriers, so it wasn't any form of secret landing operation, never mind that the formation that was ordered was utterly unsuited for anything but a Fleet review.

'By Division' looked fine, but was inflexible and a formation best to be left at home even with a relatively small fleet as this one. There was some air cover overhead,most likely from Dutch and Australian bases.

“We've just passed the outer marker, Captain.”

Time to open the orders.

Keep formation and speed. I will be in my cabin if you need me.”

The crew did not watch as he left the bridge since they all had a good idea of what he was doing.

Force Z moved east for most of the day without incident and were joined on mid-day by HMNZS Achilles, along with two more Australian Destroyers. It was a very strange fleet that, noted Beattie as he sat in his chair on the bridge. Force Z was always a Commonwealth Formation, with the RAN and the RNZN providing part of the escort force, but the ships never moved like this and without a clear purpose. Force Z was heading away from the action and that went against the personality of a hard-charging Cruiser and former Destroyer Captain. Late in the afternoon the monotony was broken when the RDF plot showed a contact coming in from the North-East.

“How strong?” Beattie asked.

“Not very, Captain. Probably a single snooper.”

Beattie now cursed the absence of a Carrier.

“As good a time as any to train a bit.”

Before anyone could question this remark, he added:

“Action Stations.”
His First Lieutenant had a quick glance at the Captain who seemed rather relaxed at the prospect of meeting a possible Japanese Battleforce without Carrier support.

When it came into sight of Force Z, the flagship again gave orders not to fire.

“THERE! Green 95, about wavetops!” yelled one of the bridge lookouts, and all but the Officer of the Watch and the Navigator trained their own binoculars to the direction indicated. It was a seaplane, probably launched by a Cruiser. However there were several things wrong, firstly most British Cruisers and Dreadnoughts were starting to part with theirs due to the superiority of the RDF sets that were finding their way onto more and more Royal Navy ships, and secondly because almost 90% of the Commonwealth embarked Aircraft were Supermarine Walruses and therefore biplanes, and this one wasn't. It was a monoplane that wore a blueish gray paint that wasn't in use with FAA Aircraft or the RAF. If that wasn't enough of an identifier, as the plane began to climb in order to circle the Commonwealth Force at altitude. As it came close, Beattie could see the distinctive Red Tail rudder and the crossed hammers on the wings. It was an American plane, meaning that an American ship of at least cruiser size was close by.

“It's time you knew why we are here.” Beattie said suddenly.

“Sir?”

“We are to escort an American Force carrying some, quote 'important dignitary' to Australia where they will meet some of our own. What you see up there should have just teed back to their force that we aren't Sons of Nippon instead of evil British Imperialists.”

“Smoke, bearing Green 100! At least six plumes.”


Again binoculars were trained, and soon the ships themselves were visible.

Force Z changed course and headed straight for the American formation. Prince of Wales was leading, but Hood was right behind her. Beattie's ship recognition skills for American vessels were poor, but he was experienced enough to know what type of ship he was seeing.

The First Lieutenant was standing beside him and also watched the Americans as they were drawing closer.

“Looks like we have a Spam Dreadnought, Gentlemen, and if I am not mistaken that second thing there is a People's Republic Class Carrier.”

USS_Essex_CV-9_broadside_dazzle_194.jpg

APNS New England[2]

That was a serious amount of American Naval Power, considering that most of the American Pacific Fleet was still recovering and massing strength around Hawaii if the rumours were true. As a matter of fact, this was the only available Carrier that the Americans were not using for operations farther north, and APNS New England had been only very recently transferred from the Atlantic to the Pacific, leaving only several old Battleships and land-based Airpower there, and had only picked up the Dreadnought, formerly a Colorado-Class BB right after leaving the Panama Canal. The Canal was a sore point with the powers of Central America ever since Panama had recently seized the zone after the Americans had reduced the troops stationed there. The Panamians had been sensible enough not to use too much force and had sent the Americans home at their own cost, and had even decided to offered to pay whatever loans the old US Government had made to the Republic. At that time the Americans had barely finished the Civil war and had thus been unable to do much except to make a smiling face and grumble about it behind closed doors. As a result Asiatic, Allied and American Diplomatic and Security Services were trying to influence the Panamayan Government to see things more their way.

On the American ship too binoculars studied the other formation, although with much more interest. The Squadron Commander and the American People's Navy had not had a happy war so far unlike the British who had so far managed to keep the Japanese at bay in spite of being outnumbered and even farther from their bases than the American Pacific Fleet. With even more outdated and fewer ships the British had bounced back from a defeat that had robbed them of the core of their Battlefleet, had probably sunk the German Carrier, defeated the combined Axis Surface Fleet (something that had led to rejoicing in America as the Soviets were seen as traitors to the Revolution) and now the ship that had helped do the deed and had sunk an in many ways superior Battleship (the British called them Dreadnoughts these days), and was now and then the pride of the British Navy. The APN didn't have any 'Battlecruisers', and the large Cruisers that were planned would most likely never enter service now that Carriers and the American Union Class (the latter in lieu of the problem ridden Iowa Class). He had to admit though, the elderly ship carried herself with a pride and presence befit of their King even thought his was scientifically impossible for an innate object.

“You seem to admire them, Comrade Admiral.”

“Professional respect more like, Comrade General.”

The Army Chief of Staff knew that the Admiral was one of the few old-school Naval Officers that had changed sides and managed to gain the trust of the party apparatus. He wasn't too sure about these men, but they provided much needed experience and since the war had started a general amnesty for Naval Officers below the rank of Vice Admiral (old system) was in place, and a surprising number had returned to the Fleet.

“I can understand why, Comrade Admiral.” He knew not much about naval details, but he did know that America and the British Empire alike relied on their Navy to keep them save and in the time between the Battle of the Blockade and the Battle of Kristianssand the British had had fewer Battleships than the APN had even with the losses taken during the Revolution. As much as one might hate their system, one had to admit that the British and their European Allies were good fighters, and their handling of the times when America had meddled with Canadian Affairs showed that they were skilled diplomats even to those that were ignorant of history and what had gone on during outbreak of war in Europe. It was going to be a few very interesting weeks, especially when one considered

[Notes: Up next: Italy, behind the German lines for once.]


[1] I figured if one was to loose the torpedo tubes, two additional 40mm mounts could be accommodated.

[2] a.k.a. USS Essex.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Well, in due time the USSR will be reduced to ashes. And then the USSA. :D
 

Ciryandor

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Well, having a tottering USSA for fifty years would be preferable story-wise?
 

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Kurt_Steiner The USSR will be hard to take down, even with the additional Imperial manpower.

Darknesskilla Thank you.

I wonder why though. :D

Ciryandor It's the UAPR, but yes. Never mind that it would be rather hard to explain why all of a sudden a Europe that just went through an immensly destructive war suddenly is able to take down a highly militarized and totalitarian America without turning it into ashes with buckets-o-sunshine, because I would win eventually, because whoever I play my strategy for defeating the US is similar. Land, fight through the initial heavy defences and then just defeat the US Army in detail.
 

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I do occasional work, if you have requests, PM me :D

Fab update btw Trek, but severe lack of giant Landscape striding Gordos.

Thank you. Well, Ireland itself will feature now and then, but I will concentrate on the Irish Expeditionary Force in the future, so perhaps then.
 

Ciryandor

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Ciryandor It's the UAPR, but yes. Never mind that it would be rather hard to explain why all of a sudden a Europe that just went through an immensly destructive war suddenly is able to take down a highly militarized and totalitarian America without turning it into ashes with buckets-o-sunshine, because I would win eventually, because whoever I play my strategy for defeating the US is similar. Land, fight through the initial heavy defences and then just defeat the US Army in detail.


True, and even the seemingly limitless manpower from India will be soaked up like a sponge if you ever did try that on a story basis w/ America. There will always be people who since they feel like they're occupied, would resist even a democratic government.
 

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Very enjoyable, liked the two-part nature of it all. The Naval war in the Far East gets interesting, and I loved the portrayal of the two fleets staring at each other. The calm before the storm?
 

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Ciryandor Also there is simply no reason to go to war with them just yet, even though a Cold War will develop eventually.

Le Jones Thank you!

The Americans and the British are in positions similar to the Soviet Union and the WAllies in real life, only that they trust each other even less, hence the large escorts and the absence of any form of Lend Lease, (reverse direction).

No Magnetron, no Penicillin, no Frank Whittle Expertise and no license built Merlins. All of that will have some impact on the American War effort, just how much remains to be seen.
 

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I can't believe I never posted this here, but over on AH.com the quote is in my sig.

It was said in the context of a discussion about Alternate History writing by certain people that make a habit out of bashing Britain for the Empire. Sarcasm meters are recommended.


Another Member said:
Yep, because nothing makes a good story like constantly beating the reader over the head and shouting EMPIRE BAD! EMPIRE BAD! EMPIRE BAD!





:D
 

El Pip

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True, and even the seemingly limitless manpower from India will be soaked up like a sponge if you ever did try that on a story basis w/ America. There will always be people who since they feel like they're occupied, would resist even a democratic government.
Really? I've always felt that claim was more American pride and ego than an actual rational analysis of the facts. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there would be a resistance movement that would fight hard, I'm just far from convinced it would be any more intense (on a per person basis) than the type found in any conquered nation.

Given how many things Admiral Yamamoto was wrong about I think it's not unreasonable to say he was wrong about occupying America as well. ;)
 

trekaddict

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Really? I've always felt that claim was more American pride and ego than an actual rational analysis of the facts. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there would be a resistance movement that would fight hard, I'm just far from convinced it would be any more intense (on a per person basis) than the type found in any conquered nation.

Given how many things Admiral Yamamoto was wrong about I think it's not unreasonable to say he was wrong about occupying America as well. ;)

Still, it's something I'd rather not do, mainly because there is always somewhere else the rebels can go. For example, the UAPR will have a low-level insurgency in the Rocky Mountains well into the 1950s, and Alaska...well, let's say it will have a disproportionate numbers of counterrevolutionaries that are shot whilst trying to escape.
 

KiMaSa

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Really? I've always felt that claim was more American pride and ego than an actual rational analysis of the facts. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there would be a resistance movement that would fight hard, I'm just far from convinced it would be any more intense (on a per person basis) than the type found in any conquered nation.

Given how many things Admiral Yamamoto was wrong about I think it's not unreasonable to say he was wrong about occupying America as well. ;)

America is a nation of people who love to argue, and who insist on having guns. Frankly given that combination, the so called UAPR will self destruct in much shorter time than it took to see the USSR collapse in OTL. Lincoln was BARELY able to hold the Federal Union together when push came to shove and only through the simultaneous use of all means Angelic and Demonic. A communist State will only have the one set of tools, not both. No... the UAPR might in this timeline have come to pass through despondence and treachery but eventually Europe will see what Europeans have in OTL always seemed to desire... The shattering of America into small and weak Republics
 

trekaddict

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America is a nation of people who love to argue, and who insist on having guns. Frankly given that combination, the so called UAPR will self destruct in much shorter time than it took to see the USSR collapse in OTL. Lincoln was BARELY able to hold the Federal Union together when push came to shove and only through the simultaneous use of all means Angelic and Demonic. A communist State will only have the one set of tools, not both. No... the UAPR might in this timeline have come to pass through despondence and treachery but eventually Europe will see what Europeans have in OTL always seemed to desire... The shattering of America into small and weak Republics

You might be surprised. The UAPR is, at least to a certain degree, much more federal than the USSR or the United States for that matter. You can in a way compare it to the pre-Great War Fallout-verse USA, making it a Confederation of the different people's Republics, the word not being used for obvious reasons. These then have their own sub districts and so on, making for an incredibly ponderous machinery of state and a Bureaucracy even the Germans would be afraid of. Due to it's roots out if Civil war against an increasingly Fascist USG which was a Military state by the time they lost California they can, in terms of Angelic Tools more be compared to Red China in the very late 1980s-mid 1990s. Add to that a Cold War, a *insert long obscenity here*-load of Allied (Alliance name pending) forces from Europe, Africa and Asia, an economy that actually works, given that the Communist block is modelled after China, this should keep them together at least as long as the Soviet Union.
 

trekaddict

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I really have to write up a definitive history of the Civil War one day.....



The point is, the Civil war wasn't as much treachery, it was a popular uprising, many many years after the initial POD (that produced a larger and more militant Labour movement) and after an (in their eyes) more and more despotic Government started shooting at peaceful protesters. Over on AH.com you can read an expertly done timeline that has a similar setting, only that my version ends up with a much more authoritarian state.
 

KiMaSa

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I really have to write up a definitive history of the Civil War one day.....



The point is, the Civil war wasn't as much treachery, it was a popular uprising, many many years after the initial POD (that produced a larger and more militant Labour movement) and after an (in their eyes) more and more despotic Government started shooting at peaceful protesters. Over on AH.com you can read an expertly done timeline that has a similar setting, only that my version ends up with a much more authoritarian state.

Such things are usually easier imagined from outside said house not inside it I suppose. But Europeans fail to realize for instance that Kentucky only pretends to be part of the US... Just as Texans will tell you that we live in the United States of Texas and those lesser 49 states... :cool: