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British Intervention - 3/4/2007 7:10:01 PM   
sol_invictus


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This topic was discussed many months ago and at the time, Frank was of a mind that Great Britain would eventually intervene on the side of France and Russia even with no German violation of Belgium neutrality. I agree that eventually, Britain almost certainly would have been pulled into the conflict with the possible complete defeat of Russia and a France beset by the full fury of a total German effort in the west.

I, like every future Kaiser, would like to know what the scale is for the chances of British intervention, without a German violation of Belgium neutrality. To make a Russia first strategy viable, I am guessing that Germany would need a nice probabilty of continuing British neutrality until at least early to mid 1915. That would maybe give Germany time to at least cripple if not conquer Russia before Britain would have time to make her efforts felt. So what are the chances for British intervention with a passive Germany in the west?

A related point; once Britain does jump off the fence; what is to keep her and France from then violating Belgium neutrality and trying to outflank Germany's right flank in the west? Would such a strategy by the Triple Entente result in American disgust and make American intervention much less likely? If not, what are the possible Diplomatic disadvantages that would make that decision a difficult one? I can think of several Strategic reasons why the Triple Entente might not want to attack Belgium, but there has to be some Diplomatic reasons why they would have to think long and hard before they decided on such a move.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 3:44:29 AM   
Huskalator

 

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I think it would be cool if Belgian Neutrality were not violated that the British populace would not have quite the tolerance for casualties that they did historically.

Is tjis realistic or would it not have mattered?

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 4:04:59 AM   
sol_invictus


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I don't think it would have really changed the British toleration for casualties either way. There is a real question though whether Britain would have entered the war without a German violation of Belgian neutrality. The majority of the Cabinet and population were set against joining the war until the German ultimatum was sent to Belgium. Once Germany violated Belgian neutrality, it became a matter of honor and treaty obligations. I imagine that even without a German violation, Britain would have found it very difficult to have stayed out of the war for long, but I do belive that it would have delayed British intervention for at least a few weeks or even months. One of the great what ifs of history.

< Message edited by Arinvald -- 3/12/2007 4:20:52 AM >


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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 7:33:42 AM   
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The first problem is what about the channel defense? The British and the French had an "understanding" that the British would secure the coast and the channel allowing the French to redeploy the fleet to the Med to face the Italians and the Astro-Hungarians. So any sort of sortie by the Grand Fleet into the North Sea or down the coast would be met by the Home and or Channel fleets.

A declaration of neutrality from the Germans vis Belgium might have taken the wind out of the English sails for a while. The English foreign policy had for centuries been to maintain the balance of power. Napoleon had been the one time that policy had failed. I think that the realization of that fact would have eventually pushed England into assisting if not out right joining of France in the war eventually. The key is when/if Russia falls. After all we are dealing with second degree history here.

As far as Belguim goes, the French war plan 16,(which resulted in a general being fired), was attacking the German flank by going through Belgium while holding in front of the lost providences. The tragi-farce of the dismissal was not that he advocated attacking through Belgium, but that he didnt advocate attacking through the lost providences also.

The planning for the attack through Belgium was solid and well though out in anticipation of the German plan but fell short in reality because the French did not believe that the Germans would use the reserve troops in a front line role. That however is another post...

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 7:56:34 AM   
sol_invictus


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It's all a moot point now since Britain starts the game at war. It will be interesting to see if a German Eastern strategy is still a viable option. The CP will almost certainly find trouble with the entire British Army free to go wherever it wants. Turkey may find an unwelcome visitor early in the war. So many possibilities.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 7:05:11 PM   
7th Somersets

 

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Without Britain (and the commonwealth) being in the war at - would we have a world war? More of an aggravated Franco-Prussian set to?


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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 7:22:15 PM   
EUBanana


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Arinvald

It's all a moot point now since Britain starts the game at war. It will be interesting to see if a German Eastern strategy is still a viable option. The CP will almost certainly find trouble with the entire British Army free to go wherever it wants. Turkey may find an unwelcome visitor early in the war. So many possibilities.


Presumably the British Army is initially really small, though, so I suppose the CP player will have some time, regardless, while the BEF is built up.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 7:58:42 PM   
7th Somersets

 

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Yes - small but perfectly formed. I think the game models the 'build up' of armies very well - a good example is the USAs intervention. It seems to take a long time for them to develop/deploy after they become involved, but once they start to arrive in numbers they are a potent force.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/12/2007 11:09:26 PM   
sol_invictus


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EU Banana,

True, Britain will start the war with a small army, yet it is an exceptionally good army that has vast strategic mobility. With no need to rush to France's defense, it will be free to threaten the Baltic coast of Germany, venture into the Baltic to lend Russia help, threaten Astro-Hungary's Adriatic coast, and Turkey in several areas. It could also even ship French troops to these same areas.

I am glad to hear that the build-up for Britain is slow. This is certainly realistic and may give Germany a small window in which to really hurt Russia before British force is felt. I am really looking forward to the many strategic possibilities that this game seems to offer. I imagine that the first turn in email games, when deployments are revealed, will be a tense time.

< Message edited by Arinvald -- 3/12/2007 11:19:07 PM >


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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 5:38:13 AM   
pompack


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Arinvald

This topic was discussed many months ago and at the time, Frank was of a mind that Great Britain would eventually intervene on the side of France and Russia even with no German violation of Belgium neutrality. I agree that eventually, Britain almost certainly would have been pulled into the conflict with the possible complete defeat of Russia and a France beset by the full fury of a total German effort in the west.

I, like every future Kaiser, would like to know what the scale is for the chances of British intervention, without a German violation of Belgium neutrality. To make a Russia first strategy viable, I am guessing that Germany would need a nice probabilty of continuing British neutrality until at least early to mid 1915. That would maybe give Germany time to at least cripple if not conquer Russia before Britain would have time to make her efforts felt. So what are the chances for British intervention with a passive Germany in the west?

A related point; once Britain does jump off the fence; what is to keep her and France from then violating Belgium neutrality and trying to outflank Germany's right flank in the west? Would such a strategy by the Triple Entente result in American disgust and make American intervention much less likely? If not, what are the possible Diplomatic disadvantages that would make that decision a difficult one? I can think of several Strategic reasons why the Triple Entente might not want to attack Belgium, but there has to be some Diplomatic reasons why they would have to think long and hard before they decided on such a move.



Interesting point Arinvald and an excellent "what if".

Personally I believe that as long Belgium was respected, the High Seas Fleet stayed in port and the German Army stayed out of Paris and the Channel Ports, the British would have sat on the fence for quite a while: this is the set of conditions that make the Eastern Option such an interesting posibility. Of couse it didn't work for Napoleon and it didn't work for Hitler and Van Creveld says it's logistically impossible in a single generation anyway so we need to factor in the possiblility of an early Revolution

Hopefully a downstream change would allow this (but let's get this thing birthed first )

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 6:10:20 AM   
sol_invictus


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Yes, I just want this blasted game, finally.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 3:47:13 PM   
Syagrius

 

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Amen to that

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 5:59:45 PM   
spence

 

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The various strategic options available to the Central Powers (principally Germany) before the war are probably one of the most fascinating aspects of this "protogame". I'm a little rusty on my history of this period but the Schleiffen Plan had been in place for a while when the war began. Implementation of that plan had been what had been logistically prepared for (inadequately perhaps).

Assuming that the Player becomes von Moltke (the younger) and decides to fiddle around with "THE Plan" and to in fact throw out "THE Plan" entirely, logistical preparation for the new Eastern Plan would have taken time and effort and would have presented the Entente with an interval to divine the new plan AND make some different preparations of their own.

A completely free strategic plate for Germany would be neat but should be accompanied by a completely free strategic plate for the Entente as well...including no certainty whatever for the German Player as to what the Brits are going to do.

< Message edited by spence -- 3/14/2007 6:00:17 PM >

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 7:02:21 PM   
7th Somersets

 

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Spence

Both sides do have complete freedom. It makes for a lot of variety - not only on the Eastern/Western front options, but also on the TE options on how much they choose to fight on the 'other' fronts - Salonica, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Gallipoli (or anywhere else you might choose).

All good fun...


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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 7:17:15 PM   
spence

 

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I was of the impression that the game begins with Britian at war with Germany regardless of German respect/disregard for Belgium Neutrality.  That kind takes the blush off the rose for an Eastern strategy (in my mind anyways). 

But I would hate to have a patch that would make British Participation something that the German Player could "control" to any RELIABLE extent.  WWI happened because governments grossly overestimated what they could control. 

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 7:26:41 PM   
sol_invictus


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Spence, I agree, changing the plan would have taken some major effort, but if Germany is to be forced to go with the pre-war plan; I don't think it should even be called the Schlieffen Plan since it was heavily modified and weakened by Molke the Younger; then France should also be forced to wade through blood by way of their Plan XVII.

I think that if the decision had been made early enough, say mid July, the German military machine could have been flexible enough to send more forces east. They would still have needed to maintain large forces in the west in any case, so it would not have been a matter of immediately moving the entire German army east.

Since Russia is the only major nation that the CP can concentrate all three major powers in her coalition against, I see some possible, major early success in the east. Of course, as 7th Somersets has stated, this would also open up some strategic options for the British and even some French forces. I still think that any non-violation of Belgium neutrality should possibly delay British intervention for at least a turn or two. This would certainly make a Russia first strategy more attractive for the CP. It should all be very interesting in any event.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 7:45:31 PM   
spence

 

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Delaying Britian's entry by way of an Eastern Strategy is fine so long as the extent to which it can be delayed is a thing that the Germany Player CAN NOT RELIABLY CONTROL.


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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 7:47:18 PM   
TriumphRider

 

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The Kaiser did order von Moltke to cancel the Schlieffen plan and prepare to deploy troops on the eastern front (On August 2nd) because he [the Kaiser] believed at the 11th hour the British would remain neutral if the Germans avoided violating belgian and luxembourg's neutrality. Motlke refused, but was still ordered to cancel/postpone the invasion of Luxemburg and Belgium was given an ultimatum later that day. So there was the possibility that the Germans could have launched and eastern attack. This was Moltke the elder's preference too was it not? Defeat the Russians then turn on the French? Germany's greatest advantage in that war was it's ability to transport troops from one front to the other with great speed.

Also remember that the Russians upset the Schlieffen plan, nut just Moltke the younger. Schlieffen gambled that the Russian mobilization would take 40 days before it could present a threat to the German frontier. But Russia attacked with it's standing army and did not wait until full mobilization to attack.

Also, remember, you players, that Tannenburg was not the defeat it seemed. The Russian army was still largely in tact, it took four years of attrition and shortages to really wear down the Russian military and the patience of the Russian people. I think, despite Germany's military superiority, an adventure focused on Russia could take more time than one might think. Beware of getting caught up in defeating Russia and it taking too long. Without pressure on the western allies, they'll be free to build up while the Central Powers are grinding themselves down on the eastern front. I think a two front war is unavoidable, and it has to be fought. Diverting Russian attention with smartly used Austrians is probably the safest strategy.


< Message edited by TriumphRider -- 3/14/2007 7:54:20 PM >

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RE: British Intervention - 3/14/2007 11:13:32 PM   
sol_invictus


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Spence, I completely agree; I would not want a lack of Belgian neutrality violation to mean anything other than a moderate Chance of a Delayed British intervention. I really don't think Britain would have been able to stay out of the cataclysm that was occuring on the continent and would have eventually felt compelled to jump in.

TriumphRider, all good points that the CP will have to take into consideration when choosing the front for the main effort. It was indeed Molke the Elder's thought that Russia should be the main target, but that was many years earlier and obviously the situation had chaged quite a bit. Your point is well taken; even with a full joint attack from Germany, Austria, and Turkey; Russia will not collapse in a matter of months. The choice of either front will be a gamble for the CP, but whatever the choice; failing a relatively quick and decisive strategic blow against either France or Russia, the CP are almost surely doomed. Of course, Britain may also find that her potential targets are not the expected soft underbelly that she may hope to find either. Hopefully, we will soon be able to try out these differing strategies. It may prove that going for France first is indeed the "correct" choice in the majority of games.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 12:32:41 AM   
iamspamus

 

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Hmmm, I disagree here.

1) The Kaiser only wanted partial mob or Eastern mob, but the marshalling of troops was affected by railroad timetables. It was said by staff that once it was set in motion, it couldn't be changed.

2) The Russians definitely both mobilized quicker than expected and pushed into East Prussia with "what they had" there at the time. However, your assessment that Tannenburg was not a big victory, is incorrect. It was. It shattered an army. Granted the Russians had many more. It was also a morale victory for the Germans and a shock / morale dive for the Russians. The Germans big mistake was not realizing that they would roll a 6 on a d6 :-) and shifting "unneeded" troops from the W Front over.

3) It did NOT take 4 more years for the Germans to grind down the Russians. (It's lat for me, so I might have my facts off a bit, but...) Basically, after Tannenberg the Germans spent the rest of 1914 concentrating on the W Front. 1915 saw them switch to the E Front to help the Austrians, but 1916 saw them back concentrating on the W Front and France while the Russians did the Brusilov offensive. Early 1917 saw the Tsar abdicate. Pretty much from that time, the Russians didn't advance against the Germans at all. Ther was some action on vs. the Austrians, but pretty limited. It did take them almost a year to finally "collapse", but they were just tottering from that time.

So, if the Germans could have been able to hold vs. the W Allies and maybe just the French and to fully concentrate on the Russians, it would not have taken nearly so long. The difficulty of course is "holding against the W Allies". This can be done by a "modern" player, but without that hindsight and in that age of attack, attack, attack, I'm not sure that it could have been done. They didn't have the ability to trade space for time, especially in the Ruhr. I mean they freaked over the Russians invading East Prussia!

So, I think that it would be / should be hard to beat the Russians. Harder than many think, but easier than you asses. IMO the hardest part will be holding off the W Allies advance. That should be able to be mitigated by not invading Belgium.

Do I think that the Brits would have ultimately come in anyway, probably. But their big issue that made it a "just war" was the trampling of "little Belgium's" rights. Then to be honest without Britain whispering in Italy's ear, would THEY have come in so quickly? Don't know. So, not invading Belgium should push the entry of Britain and Italy back a variable, random amount of time.

There I combined two threads!
Jason

quote:

ORIGINAL: TriumphRider

The Kaiser did order von Moltke to cancel the Schlieffen plan and prepare to deploy troops on the eastern front (On August 2nd) because he [the Kaiser] believed at the 11th hour the British would remain neutral if the Germans avoided violating belgian and luxembourg's neutrality. Motlke refused, but was still ordered to cancel/postpone the invasion of Luxemburg and Belgium was given an ultimatum later that day. So there was the possibility that the Germans could have launched and eastern attack. This was Moltke the elder's preference too was it not? Defeat the Russians then turn on the French? Germany's greatest advantage in that war was it's ability to transport troops from one front to the other with great speed.

Also remember that the Russians upset the Schlieffen plan, nut just Moltke the younger. Schlieffen gambled that the Russian mobilization would take 40 days before it could present a threat to the German frontier. But Russia attacked with it's standing army and did not wait until full mobilization to attack.

Also, remember, you players, that Tannenburg was not the defeat it seemed. The Russian army was still largely in tact, it took four years of attrition and shortages to really wear down the Russian military and the patience of the Russian people. I think, despite Germany's military superiority, an adventure focused on Russia could take more time than one might think. Beware of getting caught up in defeating Russia and it taking too long. Without pressure on the western allies, they'll be free to build up while the Central Powers are grinding themselves down on the eastern front. I think a two front war is unavoidable, and it has to be fought. Diverting Russian attention with smartly used Austrians is probably the safest strategy.



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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 2:42:23 AM   
sol_invictus


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iamspamus, I agree completely.

Since you are here and from the UK, maybe you can answer a question I have. Why in hell did Portugal feel the need to enter the war? I realize that the UK and Portugal had a special relationship for many decades, but what interest could Portugal have felt for them to make the choice to go to war? Did Britain offer German SW Africa as a plum?

Decided to see what the mighty Google could tell me and it seems that Germany actually declared war on Portugal over some seized ships. Like Germany needed more adversaries.

< Message edited by Arinvald -- 3/15/2007 6:00:11 AM >


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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 8:03:20 AM   
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The reason I say Tannenburg was not the victory it seemed was because (and you are correct in saying a good chunk of the Russian army was shattered) firstly:
The main reason I say the Russians were not defeated at Tannenberg was because of Galicia and Brusilov. Granted these were not against the Germans, but look at the effects those offensives had against Germany's war effort. Russia forced Germany, perhaps not in a direct way army to army, but forced Germany to expend MUCH needed resources on her ally Austria. I think there is a lot of myths surrounding Tannenberg. I really think a great resource to check this out:

The First World War by Holger Herwig, he covers the entire war from the perspective of the Central Powers, interesting stuff.


PS:
I was simply pointing out that the Kaiser telegrammed Moltke and ordered him to stop the schlieffen plan and go east. Moltke refused outright saying "the paperwork would take a year" so it did not happen, however, the occupation of Luxembourg was delayed.

< Message edited by TriumphRider -- 3/15/2007 8:05:16 AM >

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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 5:35:49 PM   
sol_invictus


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TriumphRider, I assume you are replying to Iamspamus but I will continue to throw in random thoughts. I agree that Tannenburg didn't cripple the Russian Army, but it certainly set it back on its heels. The rushed Russian offensive did achieve its goal though, in that it forced the Germans to draw off forces from the West and relieved pressure on the hard pressed French; needlessly as it turned out. If Molke had just kept his nerve and not felt compelled to rush the three Corps east in a moment of panic, things just might have gone better at the Marne; maybe.

I think the Kaiser's reply to Molke when he stated that making the last minute change was not possible; something like ,"Your uncle would have given me a different answer". I do think that August first or second was just a tad to late for such a change, but if the decision had been made a couple of weeks earlier, when the crisis began, things could probably been hashed out.

It seems that the German General Staff simply assumed that Britain would enter the war regardless, but that the German Army could defeat France before Britain could bring her forces to bear. Ludendorf made the same mistake later when he opted for the unrestricted U-Boat campaign. Again, America was discounted and it was decided that Germany could bring Britain to its knees before American force could be deployed.

I guess now that we know that Britain starts the game already at war, the actual question becomes American intervention. I really don't know anything about the rules governing American actions. I assume that a German policy that honored Belgium neutrality would help forstall American intervention, but I imagine any rules governing the U-Boat campaign will be the deciding factor. I wonder if anyone could comment on that. Does Germany, at some point, have to choose whether to commence unrestricted U-Boat operations and what effect does this have on both British resources and American intervention? I imagine that at that late stage it will be a moot point. If Germany doesn't already have the war well in hand by 1917, I think the game will be up. Another question that would govern a German decision about which front to concentrate on at the begining; does Germany have to leave forces in Russia after conquest? I would think so, but I wonder how large this garrison would be? So many questions and concerns, no wonder Ludendorf lost his mind toward the end.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 6:12:14 PM   
spence

 

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A long time ago I read "1914" (I think) by Alexander Solsenitsyn. For anyone unfamiliar with it, it concerned itself with the Tannenburg Campaign from the Russian perspective. As I recall it was originally supposed to be the first of a trilogy which concerned itself with the coming of the Russian Revolution (not sure what the other books were or even if the trilogy was ever completed). From Solsenitsyn's perspective (at least) Tannenburg marks a decisive moment in the advent of the Revolution.

Following the Russian Revolution and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the Germans maintained a fairly large number of troops in the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States. Certainly some eastern garrison should be required if Russia leaves the war.



< Message edited by spence -- 3/15/2007 6:17:01 PM >

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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 10:18:34 PM   
Syagrius

 

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Very interesting thread. Would be great to experience those difficult decisions in the game, if it eventually get out

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RE: British Intervention - 3/15/2007 10:56:20 PM   
sol_invictus


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spence, i wonder how the game will handle this though. Will there be some minimual number of Corps that the CP will need to maintain in the conquered portions of a defeated Russia? I think there should be some requirement and expect that there is. Same could be said for a conquered France if Germany is still fighting in the east.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/16/2007 8:44:15 PM   
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Hey Arinvlad, I live in the UK but am from the States. To be honest, the W Front is my weakest section. I like the Near East, then the Balkans, then Eastern Front, then Italy, then the West. Kinda the opposite of the norm.

So, in short, I don't know. Sorry.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Arinvald

iamspamus, I agree completely.

Since you are here and from the UK, maybe you can answer a question I have. Why in hell did Portugal feel the need to enter the war? I realize that the UK and Portugal had a special relationship for many decades, but what interest could Portugal have felt for them to make the choice to go to war? Did Britain offer German SW Africa as a plum?

Decided to see what the mighty Google could tell me and it seems that Germany actually declared war on Portugal over some seized ships. Like Germany needed more adversaries.


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RE: British Intervention - 3/16/2007 10:44:08 PM   
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Portugal was sympathetic to the allies from the start and in Feb. 1916, under british encouragement, the Portugese seized 36 German ships in Portugese ports. Germany declared war on portugal in March 1916. the PEF was a disaster though, it was mostly British equipped and did not fare well in combat. I think the British, or have at least read, that the British really resented countries like Portugal sending troops because they often became liabilities that had to be equipped, trained and uniformed all at British expense. And as has already been stated, did not fare well in combat. 

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RE: British Intervention - 3/17/2007 5:20:42 AM   
sol_invictus


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Thanks, I was very hazy on Portugal's involvement in the war.

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RE: British Intervention - 3/19/2007 10:20:52 PM   
jjjanos

 

Posts: 52
Joined: 4/11/2002
From: Wheaton, MD
Status: offline
quote:

I think that if the decision had been made early enough, say mid July, the German military machine could have been flexible enough to send more forces east.


Mid July of what year? Changing the mobilization plans in July 1914 was impossible. The logistics would have taken weeks.

(in reply to sol_invictus)
Post #: 30
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