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Methuslah

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Taming the Bear: Britain in the Second Great War (All The Russias)

Taming the Bear: Britain in the Second Great War

nw_solent_ships_01.jpg


Introduction: The Miracle on the Vistula
In 1921, it appeared that the Russian Civil War was almost over; the Ukraine had been crushed, Red forces were advancing into the Caucasus and could even threaten the newly-formed nation of Turkey, and only support from the Royal Navy was keeping the Baltic States alive. The only ray of hope appeared to be in the Far East, where Japanese forces successfully liberated Admiral Kolchak moments ahead of his execution. Worst of all, the Soviet cavalry armies were marching deep into Poland, threatening Warsaw itself. Now had to be the time for action, but Lloyd George had convinced the Entente not to intervene. Then Pilsudski changed the rules of the game, and smashed the Soviet forces in a series of sharp, decisive battles. Although peace talks began, they did not last – Polish forces rapidly began to push on the border, battering back the Red Army as they went.

Armoured_Car_Korfanty_1920.jpg
Improvised Polish armoured car, marching on Minsk in 1921

Lloyd George's foreign policy, the development of several years, had been undone in a week. He fell with speed, protesting all the way but with his few allies shunning him – he would end a columnist for the Manchester Guardian, writing more and more bitter polemics, and crafting a devastatingly brutal history of the Great War. His successor was the core of the anti-Bolshevik wing of the Government, Winston Churchill. Although it was clear that the coalition would collapse with the General Election, and likely that the Labour Party would win, he had some months remaining to 'crush the spirit of Communism, once and for all'.

The French were willing to move if the British would; Major-General Ironside returned to the field, fresh from successes in Persia, and led two divisions of British infantry to support the attack. In the north, Vice-Admiral Cowan led a scratch fleet with Iron Duke as his flagship, as well as the recently completed aircraft carrier Hermes, and recaptured Murmansk, the Royal Marines returning having been driven out just two years before. The French worked in the south, with General Weygand leading four French divisions to support the attack on Kiev, and sending munitions to help stave off defeat in the Caucasus – where British Indian Army forces were heavily engaged. In the East, Japanese forces began to hack into Siberia, with Admiral Kolchak now safely under their control in Vladivostok. Only the United States refused to become involved, and President Harding withdrew from the Entente, stating that, “The United States refuses to become involved in the petty disputes of European warmongers. There is no justification for the spilling of one drop of American blood in this conflict.” Famously, General Groves and many of his men resigned their commissions on hearing this news, instead taking up positions in the Transamur Volunteer Army.

American_troops_in_Vladivostok_1918.jpg
American Siberia Intervention Force withdrawing, April 1921​

As forces began to carve their way deep into the heart of Russia, it rapidly became clear to all concerned that in order to prevent Russia being carved up by the Entente powers, some sort of accommodation would be required. A cabal of Soviet officers, led by the dismissed Josef Stalin, met with a delegation led by Alexander Kerensky, operating with the support of Pilsudski, Petlura, and Denikin. They guaranteed to bring about peace, on two conditions – no restoration of the Tsar, but instead a democratic government on the French pattern, and a full amnesty for all involved on both sides. To the White Generals, this as beyond their wildest dreams, and it was signed within two weeks. The Entente, which had spend money and blood, were incensed, but Churchill pointed out that the goal of stopping Bolshevism spreading across Europe had been achieved. Poland insisted on retaining the Ukraine, as a semi-independent puppet state, and Japanese preserved Transamur.

The Entente then withdrew, confident that the 'Russian Question' had been well and truly solved. Russia had been surrounded by a cordon of small, puppet states, and had been shorn of its most valuable territories. The country was weak and divided, and under Kerensky seemed to be falling deeper and deeper into a nightmare of its own making.

149keren.jpg
Kerensky on his 'Tour of Reconciliation', December 1924​

Until, for the second time in the century, an assassin's bullet changed the world forever...
 
Last edited:

Methuslah

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General Notes

This will be an 'All the Russias' AAR, written in the history-book style, with Great Britain as the protagonist. I've gotten bored of the usual Second World War, and am out for something more interesting - even by April 1939, I have no idea where things are going to go next.

Naturally, this uses Sarmatia's 'All the Russias' mod, being run on Doomsday 1.3. In addition, I've added the 'Proper UK and US Elections' mod, with a few little tweaks to make things interesting. I'm also using SKIF, because I can't image not. I've added an alternate German flag, but I fear I could not remember from where - credit due to the creator.

Changes
  • 1936 US Election changed to give Alf Landon victory
  • French 1938 Election changed - but I don't want to spoil the surprise
  • For some reason, All The Russias converted the UK's three light carriers - Eagle, Hermes and Argus - to fleet carriers. Eagle and Hermes I accepted, but I jiggled names to make them 'Great War' and have the 'Ark Royal' as a Courageous-class. Given the construction of Eagle and Hermes, I reckon this is a fair fit anyway.

So - onto the game! I'm planning to get to the action fairly quickly with a few 'state of play' posts taking the action up to late 1938, where the fun really begins...
 

Methuslah

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The Spanish Civil War - and the Demise of the Bomber

pst_8510.jpg

On July 18th, 1936, a faction of Spanish army officers and right-wing politicians launched a coup in Spain, with the intent of bringing down the government and replacing it with one more sensitive to the aristocracy. The democratic element, however, was not as weak as they had assumed, and instead of simply collapsing in on itself, managed to muster strong resistance. Seeing a potential ally, both Germany and Italy despatched military missions, but operating separately – Germany in the air, and Italy on land. The Luftwaffe elected to use this war as a chance to test new techniques of warfare, and specifically to evaluate the effectiveness of bombing; large numbers of the Dornier Do 17 bomber were dispatched.

Photo04cvHermes1NP.jpg
HMS Hermes delivering Gloster Gladiators, August 1936​

Once this became common knowledge, groups within the British military called on the Government to provide assistance. The civilian government was in turmoil over the Succession Crisis, and was strongly distracted – as a result, Anthony Eden managed to approve a covert program of assistance. Obsolete military equipment would be dispatched to Spain, with the highlight two hundred Gloster Gladiators, then being replaced by the Royal Air Force. Although no serving officers would be permitted to volunteer for Spain, it was made clear that the careers of those who did would not be damaged. As official observer, the RAF selected a young officer whose career had collapsed in the wake of a brutal crash – Flight-Lieutenant Douglas Bader.

Gloster_Gladiator.jpg

Bader's 'Observer' Gladiator over Seville, January 1937

Bader viewed his orders somewhat loosely, and with tacit official approval returned to flight duties, at first as observer and later as pilot, leading a 'Big Wing' of fighters over Central Spain out of Madrid. The fateful day would be January 2nd, 1937, when a group of Condor Legion bombers made for a small town called Guernica. Bader was waiting with twenty-eight fighters, and the result was brutal. Not a single plane escaped the assault, and not a single bomb fell on Guernica. When Bader made his excited report to Whitehall, it was hardly believed; the concept of long-range strategic bombing was central to RAF policy, but this landmark victory – obsolete fighters against modern bombers – seemed to prove that the fighter was king.

203.jpg
Wing Commander Bader, in 1939 during the Battle of the North Sea​

A Government eager to save money seized on this opportunity, and axed the expensive Strategic Bomber program. The fighter would now be king, and resources were poured into the perfection of the Hurricane fighter, as well as possible replacements. Desperate to retain a mission, the RAF turned to to the Army. The Navy had won back control of the Fleet Air Arm the previous role, but the concept of ground-air co-ordination had possibilities. Plans were laid for the development of new medium- and short-range bombers, and a series of exercises took place – supervised by Squadron-Leader Bader, back from the war with medals from the victorious Republican government – which tested the theories in practice. When war did break out, mastery of these techniques would prove invaluable.
 

wilegfass

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Ewww Landon.

Better be good...
 

unmerged(87674)

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"Korfanty" armoured car probably doesn't take part in invasion of Minsk. It was used during insurgency in Silesia. Belaruss is too marshy, only cavalry.
But anyway "jolly roger" :D
 

unmerged(87183)

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Cool so far.

Keep it up.
 

Methuslah

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Wilegfass - To be honest, I wanted to give the US Elections mod a proper shakedown; launching with Landon shakes things up a little, takes things still further from history...

trekaddict - Well, Hurricanes, anyway...

LIFO - I couldn't resist that skull and crossbones on the back...

Maj. Von Mauser, Rudie - Thanks!
 

Methuslah

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The Heirs of Beatty: The Royal Navy in the Interwar Period

sr_jutland_01.jpg

Newspaper portrayal of the Battle of Jutland

The Royal Navy ended the Great War with a profound feeling of frustration. Although they could claim a strategic victory over the German Fleet, Jutland left a sore taste in the mouth. The 'great battle' that the Navy had been waiting for, the Second Trafalgar, and it proved to be a draw. Admiral Beatty and his disciples vowed that they would never allow that to happen again. The Navy would be at the forefront of strategic, tactical and technical innovation.

Then came the 'peace dividend', and the rundown of the Royal Navy after the War's end. Although the premiership of Winston Churchill briefly arrested this, the signature of the Washington Treaty restricted the navy drastically. That, combined with the Labour Government which dominated the Twenties, meant no new naval construction, and the retirement of dozens of ships. First Sea Lords Beatty and Keyes did what they could to arrest this decline, but there were limits. The Fleet Air Arm fell under RAF control from 1923, and remained so until 1936.

Naval construction during the Twenties and early Thirties was largely confined to a series of cruisers, as well as some destroyers; the only exception were the two Nelson-class battleships, Nelson and Rodney. Preparation work did begin on a series of more advanced ships, battlecruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers, and in 1935 the lines of Ark Royal, a new aircraft carrier were laid down.

01_ark_royal_launch.jpg
The Ark Royal in 1937, immediately after launch​

The change came in 1936, when a combination of the assassination of Kerensky and the failed German attempt to remilitarize the Rhineland caused Prime Minister Baldwin to increase the Defence Estimates for the next three year, and terminate the Ten-Year Rule. First Sea Lord Chatfield immediately held a naval review, and a series of exercises were held in the Atlantic. The immediate conclusion was that the screening forces of the Grand Fleet were outdated and inefficient, and required immediate modernisation.

Chatfield was a true heir of Beatty. He believed that the Navy badly needed more fast, heavily-armed ships to hunt down the enemy, and bring it into range of the main battle fleets. The plan was for the construction of three fleets for home defence, consisting of four battleships of the new King George V class, three new Battlecruisers, modelled on the American Alaska-class, and three Indomintable-class Fleet Aircraft carriers. Scouting and air defence would be provided by three escort aircraft carriers, of the Unicorn-class, and air maintenance would be fulfilled by a single, specially constructed ship of the Unicorn type. This required time to design and construct, however, and it was thought impossible that these ships, and these fleets, could be ready much before mid-1940. As a stopgap measure, limited modernisation of newer designs was implemented, with the construction of nearly a hundred destroyers of the Tribal-class to screen the Home, Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets, as well as the older battlecruisers and aircraft carriers. This work would not be wasted, as Chatfield had his eye on the Italians in the Mediterranean and the Japanese in the Pacific. One had recently captured Ethiopia, and the other was currently engaged in China – both were a potential threat to the Empire.

Photo10ddFaulknor1NPPeterCrocker.jpg
HMS Faulkner, one of the many Tribal-class Destroyers commissioned between 1936-38​

The Fleet Air Arm had at last 'come home' in 1936, and again a series of modernisation plans were implemented. The doctrine of the day called for naval aircraft to fulfil the reconnaissance and light bombing roles, and for this the Swordfish was reasonably well-suited, though its successor, the Skua, was ordered for the North Sea Carrier Fleet. It was at the time considered that no fast planes, such as the Hurricane, could operate from a carrier, though experience would later prove this judgement an error.
 

unmerged(87183)

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Build some Battle Crusiers.......


Nice little update, hopefully the Navy comes out strong.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(85800)

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very good so far, as you say its nice to see something different to ww2. variety is the spice of life :) looking forward to seeing how this goes.
 

Enewald

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another british aar.

But shall be more interesting as there is that Russia...
 

Methuslah

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Ironside's Army and the 'Russian Mafia'

Ironside's Army and the 'Russian Mafia'

The British Army came out of the Great War with seven years experience of fighting across the entirety of Europe, from Sedan to Uralsk, from Archangel to Jerusalem. These doctrines were carefully refined, under the supervision of Major-General Ironside, hero of the Great Intervention, and the officers who had served under him during that campaign – figures such as Alexander, Neame and Platt. Many jealous officers throughout the Twenties and Thirties would claim that a 'Russian Mafia' had taken over the Army, and the majority of soldiers in key positions did have the Russian Campaign Medal pinned to their chest.

761px-Stachiewicz_Ironside.jpg
General Ironside in consultation with Polish leaders, 1936​

By 1936, General Ironside had become Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and his subordinates were all in key positions – Neame commanding the Royal Artillery Corps, and Neame and Hollington commanding the two partly-mechanised Cavalry Corps. Doctrine concentrated on the 'winged fortress' concept that, it was felt, combined the best of the Great War and Russian experience. Secure a fixed strongpoint, hold it, and use fast, mobile units striking out on both sides to envelop an enemy and draw it into the big guns. Ironside had used this technique at the Second Battle of Kiev, and again at Minsk, both times using the feared Polish Lancers – the British greatly admired these fearsome soldiers, and sought to emulate their ferocity with their own forces. Indeed, until relations soured in the Thirties, it became quite fashionable for young cavalry officers to spend some time with the Polish army in a liaison role.

dcwd-2s.jpg
Universal Carrier operating in Egypt, 1938​

Although the army took something of a back seat during the late Thirties, compared with the Air Force and the Royal Navy, plans were drawn up for a new range of divisions, and Lieutenant-General Alexander took a position at the Staff College, preparing a new generation of officers for commands in the war everyone was anticipating. Ironside hoped for two more Cavalry Corps and six more Infantry Corps, two of them backed by artillery support, by 1940, though these hopes were to be frustrated as events ran ahead of him. He did prepare prototypes of new Cruiser tanks, designed to replace the few old Great War models the army still possessed, and advocated the light bombers, such as the Fairey Battle, to provide the army with the same air support that had worked against the Bolsheviks in Russia, and later in Spain against the Nationalists.
 

Enewald

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That's right, make the british army a cavalry army... the horses shall win... :p
 

El Pip

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It is of vital importance the Royal Navy is maintained as the world's premier fleet. Thus I approve of this AAR. :D
 

trekaddict

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El Pip said:
It is of vital importance the Royal Navy is maintained as the world's premier fleet. Thus I approve of this AAR. :D

As do I. British Naval Power must keep the peace at all times.
 

RossN

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I am afraid I shall be rooting for the Bear in this particular AAR. ;)

Very interesting start. Great to see more battlecruisers, my favourite type of warship. :)
 

trekaddict

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RossN said:
Great to see more battlecruisers, my favourite type of warship. :)

Blasphemy! Battleships ftw!