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TheButterflyComposer

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It's not a group brimming with initative, don't expect incredibly daring and innovative tactical shocks, but it's strong on gunnery, training and following the plan.
The problem is they don't have a plan. We need to come up with a few that they could feasibly come up with and push, and then hopefully get the best one selected. But we certainly want them to be thinking, rather than sitting idle and getting bored. Churchill for one should never, EVER be bored in wartime. Strange things happen.

The naval plans that I can think off right now that they might suggest would be a Baltic landing, a Balkan landing and, depending on what the Ottomans do, an Anatolian landing. Of those, we can discount the latter for now because hopefully turkey doesn't get involved. Unless they make it very apparent before the war starts, which might change the whole strategy of the EC plan (Russia takes Austria, France takes Germany, Britian takes turkey) or something like that.

So the choice between assaulting against Germany or Austria. Well...I think everyone would prefer the former, since it would be easier and far less risky than steaming into the Med, up the Adriatic and landing in the middle of the invasion of Serbia. So realistically, if the navy wants a plan, and they don't just default to economic blockades (it did work, but they could and should have been doing more), then they should either go for this Baltic assault or perhaps plan a comprehensive attack on several landings in turkey. Depends though, on what the Ottomans do and how well the French get support for direct aid on the western front.
 

El Pip

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The problem is they don't have a plan.
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Vice-Admiral Montoya, Admiralty Plans Department.

The BEF has been earmarked for the Continent since at least 1906 and the Haldane Reforms, the territorials are for home defence, reinforcement and the base on which larger armies will be built from. There are no Army troops available for any ambitious schemes, at best the Navy could scrape up a division from it's reserves and the Royal Marines (as it did OTL). You are not doing anything world changing with a single division. Moreover the fleet is not configured for any adventures; the Siege Fleet hasn't been built yet and it will take 12-18 months.

So the Admiralty falls back on it's plan;
1. Establish Distant Blockade
2. 'Tidying up' (Sink the various German raiders, capture the German colonial Empire, etc)
3. Build Siege Fleet and earmark a new expeditionary force from New Armies/India/Empire/Wherever
4. After 12/18 months, when they are ready, apply the forces from (3) as necessary in Baltic/Adriatic/Near East depending on how badly the Army has cocked up.

If the German High Seas Fleet comes out then give it a damn good thrashing, but the Admiralty didn't expect the Germans to risk their fleet as it was the inferior force. (I suspect the German AI will happily charge out to it's doom, which is all for the good as it frees up more of the Grand Fleet for Point 4).
 

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So the Admiralty falls back on it's plan;
1. Establish Distant Blockade
2. 'Tidying up' (Sink the various German raiders, capture the German colonial Empire, etc)
3. Build Siege Fleet and earmark a new expeditionary force from New Armies/India/Empire/Wherever
4. After 12/18 months, when they are ready, apply the forces from (3) as necessary in Baltic/Adriatic/Near East depending on how badly the Army has cocked up.
The blockade works so that's good.

It took a suprising amount of time for the Navy to remove the excess German ships OTL, but shouldn't be too much of a problem in game (if they have ships elsewhere at all). Capturing the colonial empire was I recall, a massive effort though, esepcially in East Africa. They went to ground fairly quickly and competently held up quite a few forces for the entire war. Unless that commander dies or something badly wrong happens, I imagine something similar will hold up action on that front for at least a few years. The rest of the colonies should be dealt with in short order however.

The last two points are good but require the picking a target first because all three landings would be quite different. I imagine that if the german high fleet was indeed sunk however that political pressure at least would be on a german landing, unless something really dire was happening elsewhere. If that is the case, then they would need to build quite a force and campaign plan to make it worthwhile (assuming the war has gone roughly on otl for 18 months to 2 years, pressure would be on to secure a breakthrough somewhere to stop the nightmare of the western front and save the eastern front from collapse).

However, this idea would mean (barring complications in east africa, the german fleet not being sunk and any problems with mines/coastal defences) that, if done correcty, might mean we avoid 1916 otl conditions (i.e. the really bad year of the war) in full and indeed end the war that year. But it does depend on how good the camapign is planned out first and how much time and free reign the miltiary has to do it all properly.
 

MacGowan

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So sorry for being late. I got sick yesterday and I've just been laying on the couch. :confused:
I should have the AAR up within 10 hours
 

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JULY 21 - JULY 28, 1914

MOBILISATION

"I pity the Tsar. I pity Russia. He is a poor and unhappy sovereign. What did he inherit and what will he leave?"

- Sergei Witte, Ex-Prime Minister, 1896 -​





St. Petersburg, Russia​

The Winter Palace lay on the embankment of the Neva River. Built on a monumental scale to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. The capital itself had often lived on the edge of the empire—bordering into Scandinavia—as Peter the Great once chose it as his window to the West. It was here that the Tsar Nicholas Romanov and his family ruled over the Russian people.

Lesya was a beautiful, young girl working as a personal servant to the House Romanov; an honor she was blessed to have. The hours were long, but she and her family were well taken care of. And she had even been privileged enough to travel the empire wide: Moscow, Tsaritsyn, even the Balkans once. All at the Romanovs side.

“Hurry along now, child.” The older servant Ms. Sharonova said and sent her out of the kitchen.

The halls were wide and seemed to go on forever, the tall arching walls looking down. They always made her feel so small and insignificant. She moved as fast as she could without running. Her small shoes hitting the hard marble floor in a series of rhythmic clicks as she hurried across the palace. In her hand she balanced a silver plater with a jug of water on top.

“The Austro-Hungarians mobilise as we speak, Your Majesty. The people demand we unsheathe the sword on Serbia’s behalf.” Sazonov declared. The Foreign Minister was a bald man of around 55. His unpretentious beard the mirror opposite of the European autocracy.

“And what about the Germans, cousin?” The Grand Duke questioned, adorned in ceremonial medals and a pristine uniform as he looked across the hall to the Tsar.

“What about them?” The Tsar answered, distantly, gazing out of the window. His figure unassuming, dressed in a spotless, but plain uniform.

Lesya entered the room quietly without the men noticing and approached the Tsar. She bowed before him and placed the jug of water on the table beside him.

“The Germans,” Sazonov continued. “And the Austro Hungarians, take our kindness for a weakness. They have always done this. We give them loaf of bread, and they take the farm, Your Majesty.”

“It is time we take a stand.”
The Grand Duke added. “Nicky, we must show strength in this.”

The Tsar placed his hand on the ridge of his nose. The two men stood there silently.

“Is partial mobilisation good enough?” He asked after a long pause. “And I‘ll reach out to Willy.”

The Grand Duke nodded “Yes, Your Majesty.”

“We will show strength and determination.”
The Tsar announced. “But we will not be the aggressor here.”

He raised his hand again, this time to end the meeting. The two men bowed in response and reversed out the door.

Nicholas II closed his eyes, leaned back, and took a deep breath.

“The world has gone mad.” He sighed.

“Lesya!”

She was still kneeling in front of him. “Stand up, girl.” he laughed. “I want to see your face when I speak to you.”

She looked up at him and he smiled tenderly in return. His wrinkles showing his age and weariness.

“Is the family well?” he asked with heartfelt interest, and she nodded back in her usual shy manners. “Good.”

Nicolas had seen it all during his reign as Tsar. Riots, wars, famines, and assassination attempts.

“This talk of war makes me tired, Lesya.” He stretched and rubbed his neck. “Would you be so kind and fetch my little boy?”

Yes, Your Majesty.”

Lesya reversed out the room. Rhythmic clicks echoed as she hurried through the palace. The tall arching walls looking down at her.
They always made her feel so small and insignificant.






-------------------------------------------------


London, England​

Early dawn always sent a shiver through John’s bones. He wondered if other people had the same sensation, or if it was a result of having a bullet lodged in his body.

He exited the cab and spotted Cecil standing at the entrance. Next to him was their superior: General Charles Douglas.

John lit a cigarette and leaned against the wall. He had crossed paths with Douglas once in South Africa. When he had been a young man, fighting for the good of the empire. Or believing he did. A lifetime ago.

His dear Margaret had spent last night arguing. He had explained to her that if war broke out in Europe, then he would be bound to leave for France. She told him that his old injuries alone should prevent it, and that she almost lost him once and that was enough.

“What an ungodly hour to be awake at.”
Cecil hobbled over. The General nowhere to be seen.

“I take it General Douglas is in good spirit, sir?” John threw the cigarette on the ground and stepped on it.

“Perhaps his spirit, but his body is old.”
Cecil answered. “We have grown accustomed to fighting local tribes on the fringe. This new century shall wake us all up. General Douglas is on his way out. I give him 6 months at the most.”


The map greeted them in its usual intimidating fashion. The red pins clustered together in Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Serbia. John grabbed a seat as Ms. Coward entered the office carrying two cups of tea, she seemed as chipper as always.

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

John nodded in return and dreamed of coffee.


TOUR DE FRANCE:
“You know what the French are doing? Riding around on bloody bicycles.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Cecil.” He grumbled. “The winner of Tour de France was announced 2 days ago. Belgium cyclist Philippe Thys won by close margins.”

“Good job?”
John questioned.​

“Good job?” General Cecil was flabbergasted. “These French nincompoops...” He picked up a newspaper and threw it—with full force—at the wall. Ms. Coward let out a yelp and ran out the room.

“These French fools, Captain John Robertson, shall be facing the might of the German army, and they are, dare I say, preoccupied with faffing about.”

John gulped down.

“It might send the wrong signals, sir. If they mobilise in the hour of diplomacy.”

“Oh, don’t get me started on mobilisation.”


THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION:
The world is unraveling. Look to the Americas where Mexico is now in the midst of a grand revolution. There are 5 factions and counting. The Mexican president himself had to flee to Kingston, Jamaica a few days ago. Who can say where they will be a year from now?


IRISH HOME RULE CONFERENCE ENDS:
Not surprisingly, The conference we discussed last week ended without any solid agreement on the solution to the Irish Home Rule. All sides, however, stated that it was a useful engagement, with Unionists and Nationalists for the first time having meaningful discussions on how to alleviate their fears about the other.


IRISH GUN SMUGGLING:
And as we attempt to repair the British Empire here at home, these traitors will have it set aflame,” Cecil tossed a picture down on the table in front of John. It was of Erskine Childers in a sail boat.

“Two days ago his personal yacht, The Asgard unloaded 1500 Mauser rifles outside of Dublin. In the middle of the bloody day, attracting quite the crowd. The police and military of course showed up, but a riot ensued with many policemen refusing to obey orders, and the weapons evaded us. As the soldiers returned to barracks, they were accosted by civilians who threw stones and exchanged insults. The soldiers then shot into the crowd and bayoneted one man, resulting in the deaths of four civilians and wounding of at least 38.”

“Good Lord!”
John gasped.​

“I blame it all on that Childers fellow, stirring up trouble.”

“But bayonetting civilians, sir.”
A knot appeared in John’s stomach.​

“Don’t be soft, boyo.” Cecil said icily. “Attacking soldiers is a capital crime.”

John shut his mouth and thought of the Boer children.


THE ROYAL NAVY RE-ORGANISES:
“Thankfully, the situation is moving in the right direction. The Royal Navy sailed to Scapa Flow after the King’s inspection. Once there it was re-organised by the meticulous hands of Lord Churchill and Admiral Fisher.

They have sent the smaller ships to protect transport ferries. Established a Submarine Fleet which was also sent to Dover.
The Grand Fleet will now be captained by Jellicoe and Beatty. It’s a rather large fleet. And it’s job will be to keep the bloody Germans in their ports



BRITISH BLOCKADE PLANS:
At the moment of war the Royal Navy will enact a blockade of all ships heading or leaving Germany. We shall starve out the Germans, Captain. With France and Russia surrounding her, she will solely be able to supply herself through the south. And we are in the process of organising a Mediterranean blockage as well. Let us see how fast the Germans beg for mercy.”

John thought of the Boer children.


SERBIA MOBILISES FOR WAR:
“Expecting a declaration against them, Serbia mobilised for war while Austria-Hungary broke off diplomatic relations. The British Ambassador to Austria-Hungary reported to us: 'War is thought imminent. Wildest enthusiasm prevails in Vienna."

“Another Balkan war it is, then, sir?”


RUSSIA PARTIALLY MOBILISES:
“If only it were that simple, Captain. Russia in response has partially mobilised. I believe they attempt to call Austria-Hungary’s bluff.”

“Will they stand down, sir?”


AUSTRIA-HUNGARY MOBILISES:
“Emperor Franz Joseph I signed a mobilisation order for eight army corps to begin operations against Serbia, while their ambassador von Gieslingen simply packed up and left Belgrade.

Not to mention the government in Paris canceled all leave for French troops as of 2 days ago, and ordered the majority of their troops in Morocco to return home.”

“And what is our government doing about it?”


BRITAIN WILL STAND WITH FRANCE AND RUSSIA:
“In his talks with The German Ambassador, Our foreign minister Grey drew a sharp distinction between an Austro-Serbian war—which does not concern Britain—and an Austro-Russian war—which very much does.

Grey sent another peace proposal asking for Germany to use its influence to save the peace. He warned that if Austria continues with its aggression against Serbia, and Germany with its policy of supporting Austria, then Britain would have no other choice but to side with France and Russia.”

“Is there no possible way out of this? This is madness, sir.”

“The French Foreign Minister informed the German Ambassador in Paris, that France is eager to find a peaceful solution, and will be prepared to do her utmost to influence St. Petersburg, if Germany will caution moderation in Austria, since Serbia had fulfilled nearly every bloody point of the ultimatum”.

Cecil looked out of the window. The sun was shining and children playing in the park.

“I fear we’ll have to draw up a new map soon.”






-------------------------------------------------


Paris, France​

“The War of 1870 was a national disgrace,” Patrice complained, his gray thick brows living a life of its own. “Now the Germans want more! Always more!”

Maxence tried to calm him down. The other guests of Le Café du Croissant seemed only to pay attention for mere seconds before going back to their busy lives.

“Patrice, we are in the beginning of a revolution. A wonderful revolution.”

“Are we, Maxence? For all I can see is squabbling. All these parties jumping over each other, chasing false idols. Meanwhile, across the border our enemy grows in strength. I do not think we need another fumbling revolution, no?”

Patrice had seen plenty of compromises that had gone nowhere. Union strikes, and dubious deals made behind closed doors. The years had not been kind on him. Once well respected, but lately his star had faded.

“Then why come here?” Maxence asked him, hoping to reach the old liberal. “We are 2 minutes from L’Humanité. People from Le Bonnet Rouge are sitting right over there.”

“You know that we can hear you, no?”
Mr. Dolié laughed from the neighboring table.​

Patrice ignored him. “I’ve been coming here for many years, Maxence. I believe in a strong France, and I believe in strong coffee. I will not be chased from either.”

A picture of a little girl was placed in front of him.
Patrice and Maxence looked up to see Mr. Dolié standing there with a smile on his face.

“Mr. Thibault, this is my daughter. We all wish for a strong France.” He laid his hand on the old man’s shoulder. “But it must be a kind France, an honorable France. for what is strength without compassion? What is France without love?”

Patrice grunted. “You stole that from the newspaper you write for, no?”

“Perhaps.”

Maxence studied the picture of the little girl. She was holding a poppy flower. Her smile had the same joyful innocence as her father’s. A pair of missing front teeth made her all the more precious.

“Only love the Germans know is at the wrong end of a bayonet.” Patrice declared. “When we get back Alsace-Lorraine, then we can talk about compassion.”

Mr. Dolié turned towards Maxence and shrugged his shoulders. “Be careful life does not make you this jaded, Mr. Brisson.”

Maxence, embarrassed, awkwardly smiled.

“I won’t.”

“And perhaps it is best we keep him away from Mr. Jaurece, no?”





 
Last edited:

TheButterflyComposer

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Excellent update, aside from one issue. The Russians didn't have the option of partial mobilisation due to how inefficient their transport network was and some other issues. I believe someone quite bluntly told the tsar it was full mobilisation or nothing. Naturally, Russiam mobilisation and sending everything to the western borders basically was the final nail and there was certainly going to be a war with Austria and Germany across Europe. Nicky and willie did try for personal peace letters though, that's true, it's just that one had to go to war or be deposed and the other had to go to war or the empire would collapse.

Both ended up happening anyway but still...
 

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Meticulous is not an adjective often used in referring to Winston Churchill, whatever his other faults or strengths. Mind you, I am not entirely sure I would apply it to Fisher either. Regardless, the Navy is now in the right place.

@TheButterflyComposer - just because it wasn't attempted in OTL doesn't mean it might not be attempted in this one. And it would hardly be the first or last time a political leader asked for something that was, shall we say, a mite impractical.
 

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Meticulous is not an adjective often used in referring to Winston Churchill, whatever his other faults or strengths. Mind you, I am not entirely sure I would apply it to Fisher either. Regardless, the Navy is now in the right place.

@TheButterflyComposer - just because it wasn't attempted in OTL doesn't mean it might not be attempted in this one. And it would hardly be the first or last time a political leader asked for something that was, shall we say, a mite impractical.
True, but this was indeed a momentous event in the July Crisis. This was the first general mobilisation out of all the participants, and before a war anywhere had been declared/threatened. We know that the germans and austrians were fairly determined to go to war at that point but at the time, the russians looked excessively aggressive and basically forced everyone to eother double down and mobilise their own forces, or fold. Nobody did the latter and thus russia can be blamed for the former, so the central power line of thinking goes.

Here's the thing: partial mobilisation isn't as dramatic (or effective but we'll get to that). So the central powers don't have the excuse of russia literally moving their whole army against them. This would change at least in small ways the narrative of the war on both sides, during and after the conflict.

Getting back to partially mobilizing instead of calling up everything...this may have doomed russia. They were not ready for war with 4 million men covering their failings. Having a mere 2 million or less against germany and austria in 1914 won't end well. In fact, they may do so badly that ottomans are convinced to join early and invade the flank.

Not good basically.
 

MacGowan

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MID-WEEK Q&A

Excellent update
Thank you :)
The Russians didn't have the option of partial mobilisation
just because it wasn't attempted in OTL doesn't mean it might not be attempted in this one.
As far as I can tell an OTL Russian partial mobilisation (sort of) occured around 24th July, and the General mobilisation on 30th, not covered in this week
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_Crisis

Perhaps I should be more clear about what is actual in-game events and what is not.
That being said, some weird things have already begun to happen with in-game events.

Spoilers: This sunday's AAR will be a bit short as the events of WWI have been delayed for another week. No good idea to why. I ran several tests and the events fire later.



 
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TheButterflyComposer

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As far as I can tell an OTL Russian partial mobilisation (sort of) occured around 24th July, and the General mobilisation on 30th, not covered in this week
Sources vary of course but this exact source notes that the Russian War Ministry and Minister argued that partial mobilisation was not technically possible. Thus, the Tsar duly ordered a full mobilisation. Germany protested, the Tsar backed down, the Russian military unitedly argued for mobilisation, and thus Russia did end up having a general mobilisation.

So yes, Russia can say it is partially mobilising, but only for a day or two. After that, the reality of the situation means they either have to back down, generally mobilise, or, I guess, do both as in OTL.

Continuing on with this Wikipedia page, this mobilisation duly led to Germany mobilising, France backing Russia and Austria begin serious war planning against Serbia and then Russia. Basically, at this point, Russia and Austria are going to go to war, which means Germany is going to war, which means France is going to war, which means Belgium is (probably) going to war, which means UK is going to war etc. etc.

That all being said, if the Russians dither a little more on whether they mobilise or not, this benefits Germany as they believed (correctly) they could mobilise far quicker and were in the process of doing so in OTL whilst Russia debated whether to go through with it or not. So, if Russia is even a few days late in their decision to general mobilise, that could affect the first few weeks of the war greatly, when the eastern front moved dramatically around quite a lot. I'm not sure what the game is doing, but in-universe, delays for Russia, the 'slowest' of the Great Powers, are crucial for everyone else. Would be very interesting to see and debate these effects.
 

MacGowan

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JULY 28 - AUGUST 4, 1914

ON THE EVE OF WAR

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

- Foreign Minister Edward Grey, 1914 -​





Newcastle, England

“These treacherous Brits.” General Reşid hissed. “They have given us nothing but excuses.”

Admiral Orbay brushed his mustache and looked out over the port. There rose the Dreadnought Reshadieh in all her splendor. A titan of steel. State-of-the art. 27 guns in all. Now the British were having second doubts in handing her over to the Ottomans.

“Churchill?”

“We believe so” General Reşid replied. “They received our last payment, and now we wait for a ship that never come.”

“Have you heard back from Admiral Djemal?”

“No, it is too early. A decision must be made now. By us”

“Do you trust me, Reşid?”

“The Hero of Hamidiye? Until the end, brother.”

“The payment has been made in full, the hour of transfer has come and gone. I believe the ships are now legally ours.”

“Bold.”

“I believe there is an opportunity for our men to board the ships unseen in the dark of night.”

“The Sultan Osman I aswell?”

“I will command the Sultan Osman I.” Admiral Orbay replied. “Once we are onboard, we will message the shipyard and the port authority of our departure.”

“Fearless, Rauf. But what if they arrest us? Or worse?”

“It will cause an international crisis, and I would like to see Churchill weasel his way out of declaring war on two Ottoman ships headed for home.”

General Reşid looked upon the mighty Reshadieh. The Greeks and Russians had been a thorn in their side for years. Soon their old Empire would rise again.

“General Enver might disown us, The Sultan surely will. It will be our heads on the chopping block whether we succeed or not.”

Admiral Orbay knew he was right. They could very likely face a court martial for this.

“A war is coming, brother. If we fail, we fail only in our attempt to preserve the Turkish nation. If we succseed, we will arrive in Istanbul with a navy to rival our enemies. we will be national heroes. However...”

He stopped.

“...Allah alone knows all.” Reşid said.

“Allah alone knows all.”
Orbay replied.​






-------------------------------------------------​


London, England

“Do you plan to go to France?” General Cecil asked.

“Not sure yet, sir.” John replied. Doubt fogging up most of his life at the moment. “I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore.”

“Rubbish!” He exclaimed. “The empire needs men to lead these young boys.”

“You raise a fair point, sir.”

“Cecil.” He sat down next to him.

“Have you spoken to the missus?”

“She’s aware she married an army man.”

Cecil nodded in respect and took another sip of his tea. They were sitting next to each other with the great European map looking down at them.


TRANSPORT FLEET C TO ALEXANDRIA:

“The transport fleets we spoke of are now organised into 3 squadrons with supporting firepower. A, B, and C.

A and B will be in the channel to support traffic from and to France. Transport fleet C, however, has set sail for Alexandria. There it will help transport troops from and to Africa, not to mention act as an extension to the far east. I fear our colonies will need much attention in the upcoming months.


THE QUESTION OF ITALY:

The Italians are technically in an alliance with Germany, and Austria-Hungary. But they have now issued a statement in where they declare this alliance only a defensive one. Truth is, the Italians have had enough of the German sentiment for a while, and are flirting with the other side. We are attempting to convince them to join us.


POLITICAL ASSASSINATION IN PARIS:

It seems that not a day goes by without a bloody assassination. Did you know Dear Queen Victoria herself had eight attempts on her life? Yes, eight!

Well, a few days ago the leader of the French Socialist Party was murdered at the hands of Raoul Villain, a 29-year-old French nationalist. I see the look you’re giving me. I wish death on no man, regardless of how I feel towards his political leanings. The Socialist Party was staunchly against a war with Germany. They were due to attend a conference on August 9, in an attempt to dissuade France from going ahead with the war. Now it appears little is left to prevent France from gearing up.


THE ESCAPE OF THE OTTOMAN DREADNOUGHTS:

Heads will roll, whoever we have to blame for this blunder.

The Ottoman Admiral Rauf, along with 500 Turkish troops, arrived in Newcastle to sail the 2 dreadnoughts the British sold to them home. With the increasing tension in Europe, last thing Churchill wishes to do is to arm the enemy.

However, someone did not receive the memo. For the dreadnoughts set sail without full permission, leaving the ports before the Royal Navy knew quite what to do.

Gibraltar and the Mediterranean fleet have been put on alert. By the time they reach either points the diplomatic landscape should be more clear on what course of action we should take.


RUSSIAN GENERAL MOBILISATION:

A few days ago, what was first thought to be a partial mobilisation in fact evolved into a general mobilisation. Bound by treaty to defend Serbia, Nicholas II of Russia ordered the Russian Imperial Army against the Austria-Hungarian, and German border. The message to Austria-Hungary is now very clear: Invade Serbia and be invaded.


GERMANY MOBILISES IN RESPONSE:

Perceiving the Russian mobilisation as aggression and a threat towards their sovereignty. The German Empire mobilised their own soldiers against them. However, they also moved forces towards the French and Belgium border.”

“An invasion through the Lowlands?”

“That is the leading theory” Cecil said, and sat back down next to the Captain.

“John…” He paused for a moment, looking for the right words to say. “I do not wish to order you. You were sent to me as an assistant. keeper-of-the-books, so to speak.”

John looked down at his service ribbons on his chest.

“You want me in France.”

“I fear General Douglas’ days of good health is behind him. General Kitchener will be made Secretary of War in a few days.”

John thought of the Boer children and clinched his fist.

“You want me in France.”

“We want you in France. On a special assignment. Officially you’ll be just another Captain, but you’ll report directly to Kitchener and myself.

Only if you want the job. This is not an order, John. But I need a man I can trust to report back what is really going on down there.”

John stood up, and walked to the window.

“Think it over with the missus,” Cecil said cautiously. “And respond tomorrow. Thing will happen very fast from here on out.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Cecil.”





-------------------------------------------------


Paris, France

“Ah! Mr Bisson!” Mr. Dolié laughed, ignoring Patrice standing next to him.

Maxence smiled and shook his hands.

“These are the bright minds of France, no?” Mr. Dolié said, extending his arms as if introducing Le Café du Croissant.

“Crowded today.” Patrice complained.

“Mr. Jean Jaurès is here now, very exciting.” Mr. Dolié whispered.

There next to the window he sat. The socialist party leader himself: Jean Jaurès. He was with a few other acquaintances. Passionately he spoke to them. Occasionally interrupted by guests walking up to shake his hand, but he always indulged them.

“Damn traitor.” Patrice muttered.

“Pardon me?” Maxence replied.

“You heard me. He is a coward. We must beat back the Germans and reclaim our land. And this man.”
Patrice pointed at Jaurès. “And his pacifist party want nothing more but to hide, and runaway, and, and…”

“Hello Gentlemen.”

A stunning beauty appeared in front of them.

Maxence was speechless, Patrice lost his train of thought. Her eyes were oceans to fall into and be lost forever. Her smile radiated a warmth and kindness.

“This is Mrs. Dolié.” Mr. Dolié said. Maxence tried to hide his infatuation.

He laughed, “It is okay, Maxence. She is a beautiful girl.” He winked. “Not sure what she sees in me.”

“Silly man.” She replied and smiled. “Now, you promised to go see Mr. Jaurès.”

“Ah yes! Gentlemen.” He excused himself.


“Mr. Jaurès?” Mr. Dolié held out his photograph. “This is my little girl.”

“May I see it?" Jaurès asked with a kind smile, and received the photograph to examine it.

“A wonderful child” He said. “How old is she?”

“6 years, Mr. Jaurès. The future of France.”

Mr. Jaurès kindly smiled and nodded “Congratulations to you and your wife, and to the future of France.”

The guests raised a toast.

“To the future of France.”

A woman cried out.

“Jaurès was killed! Jaurès was killed!”

Jaurès fell like a sledgehammer to his left; people in the restaurant were standing, shouting, gesticulating, rushing around. It was a moment of confusion. Mr. Dolié stood there frozen in time. drops of blood on his face. Maxence looked over at Mrs. Dolié. Her face had lost all of it’s love and warmth.

“The shots came from outside!” Patrice yelled as he made a dash for the door.

On the table a photograph drowned in a puddle of blood.

Maxence could have sworn he heard the distant sound of marching drums.



 
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stnylan

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That is a ballsy move by the Ottomans.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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"Alright old chap, take us through it again."
"Yes Prime Minister."

The man rose and directed everyone's attention again to the map of Europe.

"We shall dispense with diplomatic niceties here and cut straight to the chase: Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia are going to declare war within weeks. This will be followed by an invasion of Serbian by Austria, and presumably some joint offensive/defensive campaign by the central powers against Russia."

"Damnation," several people muttered words to that effect. They had all seen the writing in the wall since mobilisation was declared but honestly, few in the room wanted yet another large German war of expansion. That Russia was an old enemy was irrelevant, as the Hapsburgs and that fool Kaiser were dead-set on challenging the British anyway they could.

"We strongly suspect this will lead to a joint declaration of war against France within days of that conflict breaking out."

Louder mutters throughout the room. It was a fond daydream of the foreign office and many clubs within the land that the Germans and the French would contue to kill each other for the rest of time, but with such an anti-British kaiser on the throne of Prussia and France being at least for now fairly friendly with London meant that they were in the strange potion of siding with the republic, at least morally. In practice, despite realpolitik demanding some response to balance out the powers of Europe, there was little appetite to come to France's rescue, at least for now.

"This isn't good," Lord Grey said eventually. "Germany might well defeat France, and then where shall we be? A unified continent against us, even if in trade and not in bullets, is completely against everything we have striven for these past few centuries."

Many heads nodded. It was indeed a problem.

"Is it possible the Kaiser will back off from his colonial ambitions if he secures a continental empire?"

Grey frowned at the question. "I do not believe so. If we were to suddenly find ourselves masters of Europe, I do not be,ieve our response would be timidity or humbleness."

The room was quiet for a while.

"Continue please," the Prime Minsiter said to the presenter.

"So, as I said, Germany and Austria will face a two, technically three front war. Serbia is not expected to last for too long but it is still hardly ideal for them."

"They need to take France out quickly," a general at the back mused.

"This is our thinking as well. We have been aware for many years of the german high command writing several camapigns for this exact scenario and we have, we believe, secured most of them ourselves."

The room erupted with interest.

"We suspect the Germans will attempt a knock out blow with a lighting fast camapign through northern france, sieze paris and gain a quick surrender."

Grey coughed. "That is likely, both because the french did surrender with the fall of paris last time and because, quite frankly, with the fall of eastern france, they would be unable to fight any longer. However, this dependence on a quick peace would mean fairly benevolent terms from the germans."

Men nodded around the room. It would not be the disaster everyone feared if germany won in france. This did not mean it was preferred however.

"Does that mean the Germans mean to move through Belgium?" The prime minster asked.

The room sharpened. This was their ticket into the war.

"We suspect so, yes sir. This would require a declaration of war on Belgium, which we would naturally match with war ourselves."

Kitchener sighed. "That limits our strategic options. Having declared war to defend Belgium, it would be expected to send troops to back that up. We'd be in a defensive land war against the prussians. Hardly playing to our strengths."

"Dammit man, we must defend our honour and our friends, les we lose both!" Several voices shouted out.

"Enough," the prime minster said. "He has a point gentlemen, just as we must send men to belgium we also must play to our strengths, not the germans."

Churchill shifted in his seat and seemed desperate to speak, but the admirality quickly shushed him and drew away to plot. For some reason, quite a few army officers including Kitchner went with them. They were allowed to leave primarly because it was understood that barring the unexpected, the military had all the information it needed.

"Now, politics." Grey sighed. "Italy is trying to play both sides, so we must play their game for now. I regret that the Ottomans are certain to join the war on russia however."

"Shit," someone said. Well, quite, everyone else thought. It had been british policy for years to defend the ailing Turks against russia. To undo it all now was galling. But it would have to be done.

"Aside from the Ottomans and Italy," the presenter continued, "we know the dutch are planning to remain neutral, as are the Americans of course. I'm afraid we have little idea what the Spanish are going to do, but I suspect nothing. Likewise, Scandinvia is fairly neutral, aside from the fins of course, who are already causing trouble in russia. Aside from these, only japan is confirmed as honouring our alliance, come what may. They and the Empire should easily defeat any problems that arise in the pacific."

The room hummed. If they were to join the war, and it seemed like they must, they were in a very strong postion.

"Our only weak point, as you may guess, is that france may fall without our help. Otherwise, we hold every advantage over the central powers and they know it. We must prepare for either a short sprint to secure france before the germans give in and surrender, or a gruelling boxing match that will go on for years between the continental powers, with we british struggling to enter anywhere with confident approach on land, even as we rule the waves utterly."

"Right," the prime minster said, "so I want a camapign plan drawb up to defend Belgium and France if need be, and some ideas as to how we can avoid or crush a stalemate if one developes. Dismissed."
 

TheButterflyComposer

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The hour for words has passed. It is now the hour for deeds, for the bullet and the bayonet.
With what shells? With what bullets? We have a nasty surprise coming in the new year if someone doesn't try to fix it soon.

I imagine someone in the treasury and perhaps a few politicians involved in the reform bills and workers unions are quietly sobbing because they realise that the war is going to bankrupt them and mess up control of Ireland and India to the point where control is inevitably going to be lost. You could even include Churchill in this group because he knows damn well what the public reaction is going to be either side of the Irish Sea to another long and unpopular war.

Everyone is going to be swept up in 1914 war propaganda but also try to stay in reality and realise how screwed they are if the war goes on into 1915.
 

Specialist290

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All that is true, but at the same time it's pretty clear at this point that there will be a war, whether the British want it or not. There's too much inertia behind this train to stop it now.

As pointed out, not stepping in now is tantamount to effectively conceding the initiative -- and thus possibly the whole game -- to the Germans. Then you'll have a newly-emboldened Germany, flush with victory, with the backing of its allies and the resources grabbed from a defeated France and Russia, slowly crowding the British out of an increasingly-hostile Continent. Then you will have a war you can't win, or at least the slow decline of the Empire as it's smothered by the Germans on one side and the up-and-coming Americans on the other. (The fact that they happen to be on good terms with Britain at the moment isn't going to override the Monroe Doctrine, nor avert the Americans' increasing influence in the Pacific Rim and the Far East).

In short: You go to war with the army -- and the political, economic, and domestic situation -- you have, not the one you wish you have.
 

J_Master

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"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

- Foreign Minister Edward Grey, 1914 -
A while back I read a book defending the German perspective on the war, and it has made me understand this powerful quote a whole lot better. Grey was dictating foreign policy for the 9 years before the beginning of the war. He declined multiple calls for rapprochement and reaffirmed British relations to the Entente. At that moment, he realized what he was partially responsible for.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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All that is true, but at the same time it's pretty clear at this point that there will be a war, whether the British want it or not. There's too much inertia behind this train to stop it now.
This is where the tragic part comes in.

Yes, they need to get involved, and as said above, they really do need to land in Belgium if that does end up being the reason they join (it probably will be). At that point, they are in the uncomfortable postion of bascially serving as France's other army, at least until both the rest of the empire shows up and the French either win the war or get stuck in a stalemate. The possibility that not only will GB have to defend Belgium no matter what, but also potentially have to bail out france at any moment, all while the french try to order them around is galling for them. And until and unless the Navy comes up with and pushes a naval landing somewhere, that's what everyone is stuck with. Fighting a land war in Europe, with a sub par land ally (that's already repeatedly been thrashed by the enemy in recent times) against the best land force in the world. Good lord, that's a kick in the teeth.

On the other team, Germany has to gamble literally everything on France losing before Christmas 1914. After that point, an unlimited supply of men will steam into France from the two largest colonial empires in the world and in essence it becomes a second russian front only worse because there's no room to manoeuvre.

Mind you, this is with historical hindsight. Germany did very well considering they were fighting a two front war and were under heavy blockade. Indeed, at the very least they had several chances of victory and came close several times, which is more than can be said for WW2 (where most historians seem to be in agreement that they were doomed from the beginning).
 

El Pip

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John nodded in return and dreamed of coffee.
This is the real problem with the British war effort, filthy bean-juice drinkers in the highest ranks of the Army. Fingers crossed he does indeed go to France and get hit with a shell in the face. Things won't improve till this happens.

Indeed it wouldn't surprise me if it was his catastrophically malignant incompetence that allowed the Ottoman Dreadnoughts to escape. At this point they were on sea-trials with an entirely British crew, so short of the Ottomans making a boarding action and taking that crew hostage they cannot get them. And if the Ottomans have taken two crews hostage and stolen two ships (they aren't Ottoman property till after sea trials are complete) that is an act of war.

Also that Grand Fleet, 63 Capital Ships! You must be throwing the Pre-Dreadnoughts in as well to get that sort of figure, I hope their slow speed doesn't cause problems when the Fleet tries to deploy. Then again HOI/DH doesn't model the issues around ship endurance (you can't run a triple expansion engine at full power for extended periods) so maybe it won't.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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At this point they were on sea-trials with an entirely British crew, so short of the Ottomans making a boarding action and taking that crew hostage they cannot get them.
Well it is a paradox gane. Maybe the crews were all corpses, and the government was too embarrassed to say anything.

But yeah, the turks have stuck their foot in it this time. In fact, a war with the ottomans is potentially enough of an excuse not to bother with France and Germany. If Germany realises this, they could avoid Belgium and just go straight through france.

Also that Grand Fleet, 63 Capital Ships!
Well they are throwing everything together. I suspect those pre-dreadnaughts are going to be used on some mining or naval landing operation though. Using them as interceptors is a bit...daft.