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eoncommander

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I am finally caught up! Really enjoyed both parts of this so far (i.e 1901 and FAWHA).

I started writing this before the latest chapter went up, but I think it still stands. I admit to being a little confused as to why an American naval landing in northern Spain wouldn't have been a higher priority. With Anglo-American control of the seas, and Spanish forces stretched thin anyway, I feel like a landing in Bilbao (for instance) might have been able to roll up the whole Spanish line in the north. And if you shout "Gallipoli!" in response, I would merely point out that such a disaster had yet to occur ITTL. (American army-navy rivalry might have been a real obstacle however.)

I do wonder if the Portuguese can actually count on British help in defending the country beyond the forces necessary to secure Gibraltar, since manpower and especially materiel is in such short supply. I am worried that Portugal gets run over by the Spanish before the Entente breaks through in the north.
 
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Portugal certainly seems like a country without a lot of great options. Very good chapter.
 
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Wraith11B

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Certainly, the USMC might have made much more of a difference had they conducted an amphibious assault into Spain, as @eoncommander proposed; certainly if it had succeeded, the calls to disband the USMC would be significantly less adamant.
 
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but also crippled HMS Victoria
I wonder what she was rammed by. Um - shot by. Mined by? Kraken - no, not that one. Crippled by. Sorry: sometimes the timelines blur. That's a nice 'oh by the way' name-drop; made me smile.

The situation has parallels to the Spanish-American War, where Spain is clearly going to lose but fights on for the sake of honor. It simply cannot end well but it can cost a lot of casualties on both sides that a rational nation might seek to avoid. Spain would be lucky to keep the monarchy and avoid a civil war follow-on to this one - the mediation of Portugal, however galling to Spain, might help. If France has any political capital at all, Spain is going to become a French client state and, really, a return to that condition might not be a bad idea for everyone.

Strategically, Spain is a fairly large country and you can back up from the coasts for a while. That said, Spain has limited ability to raise and equip troops and Madrid is the obvious political center; no western European government can long hold power if its capital falls and Spain is as or more vulnerable than most.

Also the Entente troops will be eager to be done with Spain and get at the real enemy: Italy. ;) Despite her better-than-Spain economy and population, Italy is not strong. She has an exposed coastline and though her mountains are rough, her peninsula has not much interior depth. She does have at least some railway connections to Germany, but I cannot see Germany as willing or able to give much assistance (other than to double-down in France). So once Spain is induced to yield, I'd expect Italy to be the next and obvious Entente target.

What's going on in Egypt? I assume the Canal is British and, in the absence of airpower, a valuable and useful waterway and thus a strategic target.
 
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nuclearslurpee

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TheButterflyComposer

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Yes I'm thinking crush the Spanish, then smash the Italians, and then with Germany surrounded on several fronts, squeeze.

Can the british hold them off in the west, no the russians in the east, until that happens?

But the western allies of Germany seem to be in deep trouble...
 
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@TheButterflyComposer - I agree, but I also suspect that Germany's only concern about their 'allies' is how much Entente power and attention they soak up before they collapse.

The longer the war goes on, the higher the price - but time is not on the German side. They need to win fast and win big and so far that hasn't happened.
 
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slothinator

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It seems that Portugal will be a wildcard in any case: with a coup in both directions and a shaky new legitimacy, Manuel II has a very unenviable job right now.
And Spain looks to be in trouble as well now that all its borders are hostile and pushing inwards.
The Pact grows weaker every day but I'm sure they have an ace up their sleeve given the length of the war ahead of us.
 
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DensleyBlair

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As slothinator says, none of these recent developments its seem particularly to lend themselves to what we know is a gruellingly long war. I'm left wondering where the kicker comes in.

Great stuff, as per.
 
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As slothinator says, none of these recent developments its seem particularly to lend themselves to what we know is a gruellingly long war. I'm left wondering where the kicker comes in.

Great stuff, as per.
Well even if Spain collapses, Italy is harder to crack (even from all sides). And even if they are smashed too, Germany can hold out for a while by themselves. It's just that they'll lose eventually.
 
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eoncommander

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Well even if Spain collapses, Italy is harder to crack (even from all sides). And even if they are smashed too, Germany can hold out for a while by themselves. It's just that they'll lose eventually.
I think also there was a hint in an earlier chapter that Russia collapses faster ITTL, which would help Germany hold out longer.
 
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BigBadBob

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Ah, I ventured correctly then. Very good to see Spain surrounded on all sides and destined for defeat. Now the question is, how long can they hold out, how much will the allies give to take it, and how much will the enemy give to keep them in?

Longer than anyone expects, for the reasons this chapter gets into.

I am finally caught up! Really enjoyed both parts of this so far (i.e 1901 and FAWHA).

I started writing this before the latest chapter went up, but I think it still stands. I admit to being a little confused as to why an American naval landing in northern Spain wouldn't have been a higher priority. With Anglo-American control of the seas, and Spanish forces stretched thin anyway, I feel like a landing in Bilbao (for instance) might have been able to roll up the whole Spanish line in the north. And if you shout "Gallipoli!" in response, I would merely point out that such a disaster had yet to occur ITTL. (American army-navy rivalry might have been a real obstacle however.)

I do wonder if the Portuguese can actually count on British help in defending the country beyond the forces necessary to secure Gibraltar, since manpower and especially materiel is in such short supply. I am worried that Portugal gets run over by the Spanish before the Entente breaks through in the north.

Thank you!

I would chalk it up to the same dynamics that have the US involved only on a small part of a sideshow front. Until November 1912, all but the safest operations for the AEF risk a catastrophic blow to Roosevelt's re-election hopes, and after 1912, even a pro-war Washington has not really faced the same reckoning as Westminster did in 1912. The British have reluctantly accepted that this will require the kitchen sink, while the US is content with a mostly naval contribution, even if Funston is putting on a show in the Basque Country.

The Portuguese are helped immensely by just how stretched Spain is, and just how little they expected the defection. In today's chapter, they are forced to abandon Catalonia to prevent the Portuguese and XIII Corps rolling them up in Andalusia.

Portugal certainly seems like a country without a lot of great options. Very good chapter.

Thank you!

Certainly, the USMC might have made much more of a difference had they conducted an amphibious assault into Spain, as @eoncommander proposed; certainly if it had succeeded, the calls to disband the USMC would be significantly less adamant.

Indeed. I suspect the USMC will have its day, but it will be further east.

I wonder what she was rammed by. Um - shot by. Mined by? Kraken - no, not that one. Crippled by. Sorry: sometimes the timelines blur. That's a nice 'oh by the way' name-drop; made me smile.

The situation has parallels to the Spanish-American War, where Spain is clearly going to lose but fights on for the sake of honor. It simply cannot end well but it can cost a lot of casualties on both sides that a rational nation might seek to avoid. Spain would be lucky to keep the monarchy and avoid a civil war follow-on to this one - the mediation of Portugal, however galling to Spain, might help. If France has any political capital at all, Spain is going to become a French client state and, really, a return to that condition might not be a bad idea for everyone.

Strategically, Spain is a fairly large country and you can back up from the coasts for a while. That said, Spain has limited ability to raise and equip troops and Madrid is the obvious political center; no western European government can long hold power if its capital falls and Spain is as or more vulnerable than most.

Also the Entente troops will be eager to be done with Spain and get at the real enemy: Italy. ;) Despite her better-than-Spain economy and population, Italy is not strong. She has an exposed coastline and though her mountains are rough, her peninsula has not much interior depth. She does have at least some railway connections to Germany, but I cannot see Germany as willing or able to give much assistance (other than to double-down in France). So once Spain is induced to yield, I'd expect Italy to be the next and obvious Entente target.

What's going on in Egypt? I assume the Canal is British and, in the absence of airpower, a valuable and useful waterway and thus a strategic target.

I must confess that it was simply the first name that came to mind when naming the crippled ship. My subconscious is clearly a smarter writer than me.

Egypt, I will get to eventually, as Part Five deals with the war outside the 'French Fronts' of Iberia, Italy, Belgium, and France. Suez though, remains British. The problem for the Entente right now is that the Mediterranean remains a hazardous route as long as the Spanish-Italian Fleet remains afloat.

Right flag, wrong commentAAR. I don't even know what the Hell thread this is.
Oops, yeah that should have been eoncommander...

Hah!

I hope you enjoyed the Hell thread this was.

Yes I'm thinking crush the Spanish, then smash the Italians, and then with Germany surrounded on several fronts, squeeze.

Can the british hold them off in the west, no the russians in the east, until that happens?

But the western allies of Germany seem to be in deep trouble...

Germany is cursed to have nothing but weak links for allies, which inevitably leaves it trying to fend off all Europe. Too central geographically for anything else, really. They're a threat to everyone.

@TheButterflyComposer - I agree, but I also suspect that Germany's only concern about their 'allies' is how much Entente power and attention they soak up before they collapse.

The longer the war goes on, the higher the price - but time is not on the German side. They need to win fast and win big and so far that hasn't happened.

The Germans certainly have a plan for a win that can prolong the war. The question is whether they can get it before the full might of the Western Entente descends upon them.

It seems that Portugal will be a wildcard in any case: with a coup in both directions and a shaky new legitimacy, Manuel II has a very unenviable job right now.
And Spain looks to be in trouble as well now that all its borders are hostile and pushing inwards.
The Pact grows weaker every day but I'm sure they have an ace up their sleeve given the length of the war ahead of us.

By the end of this chapter, it might be more accurate to say Iberia is a wildcard.

As slothinator says, none of these recent developments its seem particularly to lend themselves to what we know is a gruellingly long war. I'm left wondering where the kicker comes in.

Great stuff, as per.

Thanks!

Well even if Spain collapses, Italy is harder to crack (even from all sides). And even if they are smashed too, Germany can hold out for a while by themselves. It's just that they'll lose eventually.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Just have to...

I think also there was a hint in an earlier chapter that Russia collapses faster ITTL, which would help Germany hold out longer.

Trying not to spoil too much, but the first Part of Act Three, as currently planned, is called WAR IN THE NORTH.
 
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22
Catalonian Campaign

Now is the time, reapers.
Now is the time to stand alert.
Let us sharpen our tools well,
For when another June comes.

From Els Segadors (The Reapers), the Catalan Anthem


Though the defection of Portugal back to the Entente would have an electric effect all over the Spanish Front, and ultimately the Mediterranean Theatre of the war, this does not mean that either side had been waiting patiently for the outcome of the Exiles’ landing since the Forcing of the Pyrenees had reached an endpoint in May. The Spanish did not know of its existence, and the Entente had little reason to believe it would succeed. In Spain, May-July was defined by the Battle of Girona.

Though the bulk of the fighting happened in the area north of the town, in the wider province, the name derives from the fact that, as the fight for the pass at Le Perthus/Els Limits had been about breaking into the lowlands around Figueres, so the push to Girona was about pushing through the pass between the Catalan Coastal and Transversal Ranges that the town dominated. From there, Entente forces hoped to push down through the Coastal Depression, capturing the major cities of Catalonia, including Barcelona and Tarragona.

With the Royal and US Navies preparing to launch an expedition to challenge the Spanish-Italian fleets in the Mediterranean, the two ports would provide a fall-back and, in the event of a successful clearance of the sea, a landing place for supplies. The latter would obviate the need to have supplies pass through the bottleneck of the Pyrenees. This, in turn, would allow for a further offensive into Spain to advance at a faster pace. This was the nature of warfare in the mountainous terrain of Iberia. The Spanish terrain negating Entente advantage in capability, and so prolonging the former’s ability to stave off a general collapse, even if Entente forces could force localised victories.

One of those localised victories was the capture of northern Girona in July. Between arriving on the outskirts of Figueres and 24 July, when everything in Iberia began to change at great pace, the British had suffered 42,893 casualties. French forces in the region had experienced roughly the same number, as had the Spanish [1]. Though this was little compared to the slaughter that was – once again – happening in northern France at the time, especially when compared to the progress made, the forces engaged were smaller. At such a pace, Spain would hardly provide the kind of quick and easy victory that the Entente had hoped for. The desire to do anything to increase the chances of a Spanish collapse led to decisions that would immensely complicate things once the Iberian front did open up in late-1913.

The most consequential was the decision not to discourage the rise of the Catalan and Basque nationalist movements. With the scale of the war, many had come to comprehend that the world could never be the same afterwards. The rhetoric making its way from one side to another, being most often mediated by national propaganda efforts, tended to be the kind that emphasised or exaggerated the most aggressive war aims. Some, in fact, were outright lies. In Spain, such a war aim was the dismantlement of the country. The Entente, not satisfied with the humiliation of 1902, would essentially undo the Reconquista, breaking Spain into its regions.


Catalonia - Copy.jpg

The Catalonia Administrative Region, 1910

Where the Military Absolutist government in Madrid had miscalculated was that, to many regions, this sounded not so much like a threat than it did a promise. Particularly in Catalonia and the Basque country, there had always been an uneasy relationship with the central Spanish state. The onset of Absolutism strained this relationship further, with the informal autonomy of the two areas being crushed by a new regime that was insecure from the start, having been born in humiliation. More so than the rest of the country, these places were under military government, down to the level of every-day policing [2].

As the war led to further crackdown on civil liberties, the prospect of liberation arriving with Entente armies allowed the simmering resentments of the Basque and Catalans to boil over. When reports of unrest in places like Barcelona and Bilbao began to trickle through the Spanish lines into Entente territory just after the Forcing of the Pyrenees, and were confirmed as their forces pushed further into the area north of Girona, the men in charge decided that it would be beneficial to allow such disruption to their enemy’s efforts continue. Their governments, by and large, agreed. The assumption was that the unrest was largely anti-war sentiment manifesting as nationalism in areas close to the front. Once Entente troops had passed through, the situation would calm down, and any remaining unrest handled by reinstated local institutions. This assumption would turn out quite mistaken.

The Portuguese defection forced the Spanish to redirect troops from other fronts to prevent Portuguese troops and XIII Corps from advancing up the Andalusian plain to within striking distance of Madrid. Many of these units had to be diverted from the main Spanish troop concentration, in Catalonia. This allowed Entente forces to make significant progress down the Coastal Depression. With British and French forces coming closer and closer to Barcelona, the city finally broke into outright rebellion.

On 17 September, small armed groups attacked the symbols of government authority, at City Hall and Governor House. Though Army units stationed there put up some resistance, their resolve crumbled upon the arrival of hundreds, then thousands, of Barcelonans in support of the rebels, armed with whatever they had to hand. The proclamation of the Catalan Republic happened on 19 September, with Entente troops mere miles from the city. The next day, Major-Generals Augier and Ross, of the French 48th and British 31st divisions, respectively, entered Barcelona.

There, they found that the leaders of the Catalan Republic expected their newly proclaimed nation to be treated very much as a co-belligerent. The strength of their divisions meant that they were in control of the city, but the two commanders decided that the fate of the Republic was not a decision for them to make. Going up the chain-of-command, this was the decision of their superiors as well, until it reached the political leadership.


Governor House - Copy.jpg

Governor House in Barcelona, 1910

Unlike in Bilbao, where the American Expeditionary Force faced a similar conundrum, the presence of two armies complicated the calculation immensely. The Americans could choose, alone, to respect the Basque Republic as the legitimate government of the territory. It reduced their administrative burden, and chimed well with their instinct to take the justification for the war of self-determination for oppressed peoples more instinctively seriously than the British and French, who had much more of an interest in a stable Spain. Self-determination was all well and good, but Iberia descending into internecine warfare between a weakened Spain and its surrounding states was not exactly ideal for European stability post-war.

If it had been one of the armies, then the tension with the Catalans would have remained, but at least one’s preferred solution could have been implemented in full. As it was, there was a need to accommodate the conflicting goals of the French, the British, and the Catalans. The first wanted to institute a full military occupation, with the fate of Catalonia a question for the post-war [3]. The second were more sanguine about letting the Republic continue, but not so sanguine as allow them to act as anything other than a local government while the war continued, ready to be reabsorbed into Spain (if with increased autonomy). The third’s goal was obvious. Above all this, there was the question of how to keep the tension from resulting in an uprising against the Entente ‘liberators’, at the very least before the war was over.

The result was an uncomfortable limbo, in which the Catalan Republic continued to operate as if it was being accorded full recognition by the Entente, but the British and French forces in the city essentially ignored anything and everything they did. As long as thousands of troops remained in Barcelona, both permanently and passing through the port on their way to the front, the Republic knew it could not push its luck too much. The Entente, meanwhile, could not crush or negotiate with it. The former would surely incite the uprising they wanted to avoid, having removed the semblance of respect that kept Catalan hopes alive, and the latter would be an acknowledgment of the Republic that would equally surely lock in an independent Catalan state in the minds of the region’s inhabitants.


Spanish Front October 1913 - Copy.jpg

The Spanish Front, 1 October 1913

The other side to the semi-recognition of the Catalan and Basque Republics was the effect it had on the Spanish. The government already knew that defeat would mean the end of Military Absolutism. One humiliation had swept them into power, and another would, with absolute certainty, sweep them out. If the Entente did not demand it in the peace, their own populace would hang them as failures that had, in fact, brought worse than humiliation. They had always feared that their propaganda about the breakup of Spain by the Entente was, to some extent, true. This confirmed it.

In October of 1913, the strategic situation of the Kingdom of Spain was truly dire. It was now fighting on two fronts, isolated from its allies, and without even the men and materiel to match what its enemies could devote to what was, to them, a sideshow. Even knowing it would result in their own removal from the levers of power, the Absolutists might have entered into negotiations over an armistice. Having surrendered in good time, they could perhaps negotiate themselves some sort of protection from the mob. More importantly, they might be able to negotiate the survival of Spain as an independent nation and a monarchy [4].

The actions of the Americans in Bilbao and the French and British in Barcelona dashed these hopes, as far as the Absolutists could tell. It was also the message they made sure the people of Spain took from the recent reversal of fortune. What might perhaps have been an actual, triumphant march to Madrid as Entente troops occupied a surrendered nation to keep it pacified, would instead turn into the violent campaign known as the March to Madrid.


[1] – Even in Iberia, the defenders held a significant advantage.

[2] – For the rest of Spain, Absolutism had essentially allowed institutions to remain untouched, as long as visible dissent was kept down.

[3] – Part of this was that the French government itself was bitterly divided between factions that wanted a stable Spain, a Catalan buffer state, or the outright annexation of the region to France.

[4] – Republicanism was perhaps the only thing Military Absolutism feared more than humiliation. It was the success of republican parties in the 1904 election, the first after the Spanish-American War, that precipitated the Absolutists’ coup.
 
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J_Master

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As slothinator says, none of these recent developments its seem particularly to lend themselves to what we know is a gruellingly long war. I'm left wondering where the kicker comes in.

Great stuff, as per.
It currently seems that the kicker is a Spain unwilling to surrender. I myself am keeping German victories in Central and Eastern Europe in mind, and the fact that it was already confirmed that Russia will face revolution and exit the war that way
 
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As my professor from the course: "Europe in the Age of Total War, 1914 - 1945" (which I took at uni) always said: before the First World War, defeat meant revolution. And that was more than some governments were willing to bear.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Hmm. Honestly, it would probably be better to try and sort out Spain into smaller chunks. It's been an unruly state for a long time and a lot of people in it, don't want to be.

Even if Germany takes Russia out in a separate peace, they shouldn't be able to take advantage much. They're still locked into Europe. Not much chance of maneuvering, whilst the entente do.
 
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Certainly, Germany doesn't have the freedom of action that the sea gives, but they do have the advantage of interior lines, and they're likely to be able to take advantage of the ability. I'd certainly hope that we don't see Project Catherine courtesy of Cerberus and Churchill...
 

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Certainly, Germany doesn't have the freedom of action that the sea gives, but they do have the advantage of interior lines, and they're likely to be able to take advantage of the ability. I'd certainly hope that we don't see Project Catherine courtesy of Cerberus and Churchill...
Well, Project Catherine was just Churchill recycling a older idea of his, one he had during WWI
 
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Yes, I knew of that one, but I know that one was more of Admiral Jackie Fisher's brain child.