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Cavalryman
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Victory in 1918

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:24 pm

For what it is worth I have just comleted a game (1918 Scenario) achieving victory as Germany in January 1919. The basic ploy was to concentrate my all of my grand offensive resources against Paris in March, retreat to a more easily defensible line in Alsace and Lorraine while at the same time keeping things calmish against the Brits....then once Paris was mine concentrated but limited hammer blows at the British to seperate them from their allies.......The Americans gave me some cause for concern.....but loosing Paris seemed pretty effective in reducing French morale...

It is interesting to consider why the Germans went for the British in 1918 instead of trying to sieze Paris outright.....diverting resources out to the east of Paris might not have been the best option....of course it is a game.....but an interesting "ponder point" all the same.......might it have worked in reality?....not so sure...the British were chosen because they seemed the weaker and more worn out of the allies.....but if one considers what might have happened to French morale had Paris fallen ...it offers a tantalizing prospect!

By the way....massed ranks of Cavaly managed to achieve a breakthrough....or at least exploit it...and were first into the French capital.....BRAVO...TALLY HO!.....or other similar Germanic terms for pursuit!!!!!

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Cavalryman
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Err...might I object in ever so slight a manner old chap?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:30 pm

Offworlder wrote:Also the Schlieffen plan did not take into account the diplomatic changes that had taken place since its inception. Like all the other plans made prior to WWI, they were also faulty in the sense that each antagonist thought that they were going to fight a war close to the Franco-Prussian war. But it is hard to see what the Germans could otherwise do if they really wanted to knock out France in the first place. Schlieffen's (and his successors) main fault is that they did not have an alternative plan(s), something that the elder Moltke would not have allowed to happen.

It is interesting to note that the last European war(s), the Balkan Wars were relatively mobile and therefore misleading as to the real nature of future warfare. Though General Staffs took note of the Russo-Japanese war, they arrived at the wrong conclusions - that morale would triumph over steel. Most praised the Japanese resolve in attacking en masse, despite the fact that very often they ended getting shredded. Yet, they won the war...


IMHO I am not certain that the Schlieffen plan ever existed other than in the minds of the allies......German pre-war planning was based around following up success wherever it happened....streching out the enemy forces and striking at the point of advantage...... the "Schlieffen Hammer" of history probably owes more to post war historians than to anything held in the minds of German commanders at the time....just a thought old boy!...toodle pip!

06 Maestro
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Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:35 am

Cavalryman wrote:
It is interesting to consider why the Germans went for the British in 1918 instead of trying to sieze Paris outright.....diverting resources out to the east of Paris might not have been the best option....of course it is a game.....but an interesting "ponder point" all the same.......might it have worked in reality?....not so sure...the British were chosen because they seemed the weaker and more worn out of the allies.....but if one considers what might have happened to French morale had Paris fallen ...it offers a tantalizing prospect!


The German High Command knew that they could not break through the French lines unless the French reserves were deployed in the wrong area. The whole March offensive was about drawing off the French Reserves to set up the situation for the renewed (ploy) drive on Paris-it worked brilliantly-except the ploy turned into the full offense-a big mistake on the German side.

If the Germans had stuck to the original plan instead of seizing what appeared to be a opportunity for victory (see how it goes?:bonk :) , they would have come much closer to victory than what transpired.

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Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:06 pm

I think it is also true to say that the Germans were a little suprised at the scope of their success...a slightly more optimistic approach in the planning cycle at the start of March 1918 might have given them the option of going for Paris at the start of the offensive.....and several commentators have said as much including some of the post war memoires on the German side...the French were still recovering from the issues of 1917....of course I am a simple working man....not of great interllectual prowess I assure you old bean...so what the hell do I know?....But it still is an intriging prospect to consider what might have occurred....the French were far from invincible in 1918....and the distance between success and failure might have been the distance to Paris.....granted that the presence of the Oise, Aisne and Marne would have certainly complicated matters for the advance....and those Yankee Johnnies forming up and trying to get themselves into some sort of fighting shape without killing off all those Mid-Western farm boys might have had a thing or two to say about it all don't you know!.....damnably interesting nevertheless old chap!...so glad you even cared to comment...feel awfully priviledged!

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Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:47 pm

Cavalryman wrote:I think it is also true to say that the Germans were a little suprised at the scope of their success...a slightly more optimistic approach in the planning cycle at the start of March 1918 might have given them the option of going for Paris at the start of the offensive....


I agree that they were somewhat surprised at the success although it is true they did expect some significant success.

.
Cavalryman wrote:.granted that the presence of the Oise, Aisne and Marne would have certainly complicated matters for the advance..


Yes, that was part of the finale equation.


Cavalryman wrote:.and those Yankee Johnnies forming up and trying to get themselves into some sort of fighting shape without killing off all those Mid-Western farm boys might have had a thing or two to say about it all don't you know!....

You would think that the buildup of the US forces would have given an added incentive for Germany to concentrate on knocking out of the war the British Army, or capturing Paris (no guarantee of surrender though in either case). I don't recall the General Staffs position on the arriving Yanks. No matter, those finale attacks were dubbed the "Peace Offensive".

Your above mentioned plan seems to be the most logical, but there were issues of preparation for a new offense in the newly acquired area-this was not an easy task and would take time. The feigned great attack towards Paris was a good move, but should not have received the reserves IMO. The second great offensive against the British Army could have been launched in May at which time the British were still very badly shaken by their losses-it could have led to a great German victory that could have given them a numerical advantage to fall-and the possibility of success against France. There is a lot of if's in there.


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Cavalryman wrote:damnably interesting nevertheless old chap!...so glad you even cared to comment...feel awfully privileged!

Please no, Cavalryman, it is I that is privileged by your participation-your post sparked my interest.


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Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:58 am

This is a really fascinating thread, and its almost making me want me to take time away from the game in order to read a book on WWI . . .

But what is also making me wonder about is the reverse question: instead of could the Central Powers have won, what if we tried to ask:

Was World War One invevitable?

My wife bought me a couple-years-old VHS set (Time Life published it I think) on WWII (one tape on Land, one on Sea, one on Air, etc. . . . not exactly high-brow history, but interesting to watch . . .). Anyway, they had some interview footage of this one famous WWII historian in there, and I recall him saying something along the lines of:

"World War II is really 'World War One Act II'" meaning that, viewed from farther in the future where the broad social-structural patterns may become more evident, future historians may well redefine WWI and WWII as being part of one big war, broken momentarily by peace, much the way the Hundred Years War was seen as a string of smaller and separate wars at the time.

Whether or not that supposition is true is in and of itself an interesting one on which I bet a lot of guys on here might offer some interesting commentary. But to link this tangent more directly to the topic of this thread, what this model of thinking makes me wonder is: if we entertain the hypothesis that WWII was a more-or-less inevitable continuation of events that started in WWI, then it definitely raises the question of whether WWI was inevitable.

I myself am certainly not well-read enough to have a reasonable opinion on big questions like this, but I'd love to hear any of you guys who are better versed in it.

Well whattaya think guys? Should I start a new thread, or would this question be a nice way to keep this one going?

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Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:13 am

[quote="Anthropoid"]

A new thread would be a good idea-you have brought up a rather large subject.
I will say only this (until a new thread)-I disagree that it was just a continuation.

Anthropoid
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Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:34 am

06 Maestro wrote:A new thread would be a good idea-you have brought up a rather large subject.
I will say only this (until a new thread)-I disagree that it was just a continuation.


Good suggestion! New thread started here! :)

Tom_B1
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Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:34 am

Anthropoid wrote:Was World War One invevitable?

Well whattaya think guys? Should I start a new thread, or would this question be a nice way to keep this one going?


Inevitable no probable yes.

Start a new thread.

Thomas Niksa
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Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:58 am

An interesting question, and one I've spent much thought on. What always stands out for me is the Central Powers' failure to properly smooze Italy in the years running up to the war, to the point the alliance with Rome was pretty much a dead letter by August 1914 regardless of how hostilities started. Had things been different, valuable French troops would have been drawn off that were railroaded up before the Marne; and even if France had fought on, the Austro-Hungarians would have had more troops to quell Serbia or deploy against Russia.

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Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:57 am

Thomas Niksa wrote:An interesting question, and one I've spent much thought on. What always stands out for me is the Central Powers' failure to properly smooze Italy in the years running up to the war, to the point the alliance with Rome was pretty much a dead letter by August 1914 regardless of how hostilities started. Had things been different, valuable French troops would have been drawn off that were railroaded up before the Marne; and even if France had fought on, the Austro-Hungarians would have had more troops to quell Serbia or deploy against Russia.


Good point. I just tried the new patch yesterday and went with the German gambit coupled with the Austrian/Hungarian concessions--and it worked. It seems likely that France will be overwhelmed rather quickly. The italian Army grows at a good pace.

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Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:44 am

06 Maestro wrote:The German High Command knew that they could not break through the French lines unless the French reserves were deployed in the wrong area. The whole March offensive was about drawing off the French Reserves to set up the situation for the renewed (ploy) drive on Paris-it worked brilliantly-except the ploy turned into the full offense-a big mistake on the German side.
If the Germans had stuck to the original plan instead of seizing what appeared to be a opportunity for victory (see how it goes?:bonk :) , they would have come much closer to victory than what transpired.

Yes. But it goes to full attack for the french could everytime redeploy their reserves where needed, so the german command was upset. But you're right they would have more result by sticking to their plan instead of loosing men in many tactical only battles.

Cavalryman wrote:I think it is also true to say that the Germans were a little suprised at the scope of their success...a slightly more optimistic approach in the planning cycle at the start of March 1918 might have given them the option of going for Paris at the start of the offensive.....and several commentators have said as much including some of the post war memoires on the German side...the French were still recovering from the issues of 1917....

Germans were surprised both by their starting success and the final resistance of french army. But beggining of 1918 is the end of the french recovery: They put women (secret weapon lol) to work, who gave army tanks and all. Mid 1918 french has the more powerfull army of the world.

..the French were far from invincible in 1918....

No. They went from victories to victories crushing the germans.

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Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:56 am

One of the "Central Powers" victory not much covered here is a victory through the Ottoman Empire.

If the Ottoman Empire had defeated the English in Suez, English capacity to bring reinforcements and supply to Europe would have been crippled, making the submarine war even more effective.


Even more, if the OE had defeated Russia in the Caucasus campaign in 1915 or 1916 (i.e. if they had a more competent leadership), they could have allowed the Austrians to use all their forces against the Italians and / or send troops to the Germans. It could also have pushed the Russians out of the war earlier.

Finally, a victory at sea by the High Sea Fleet, while unlikely, would have ended de facto the English blockade.

I believe that, after the first Battle of the Marne, the chance of winning for the Central Power were dependant on 1. their capacity to limit English assistance to the French, and 2. their capacity to kick the Russians out of the war earlier than they did.

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Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:16 pm

In my opinion, the only prospect for an Alliance victory lay in British neutrality. Since that was never going to happen, preventing American entry and continuing the fight through to mutual exhaustion might have gotten them a draw provided they were willing to give up Belgium as a minimum.

Narwhal wrote:
Finally, a victory at sea by the High Sea Fleet, while unlikely, would have ended de facto the English blockade.


This is one of the great myths of the Great War, repeated endlessly until it has become unassailable dogma. The battleships of the High Seas Fleet could have sunk every dreadnought Britain possessed and it would have made no significant difference to the effectiveness of the blockade. Consider this; a distant blockade ensured that the boarding steamers and AMC's enforcing the blockade were out of easy reach of German raiders, even the aggressive anti-convoy operations of 1917 demonstrated this. The Kaiser's capital ships lacked the endurance to operate off Britain's west coast and had to transit several choke points crammed with RN submarines if they tried. Time and again RN submarines laying off the Helgoland Bight torpedoed German battleships at the start of a sortie. Mines took a continual toll in damage as well and with the tempo of operations necessary to maintain sufficient naval presence in the eastern Atlantic the attrition would have quickly eliminated any perceived German superiority. Every time they sailed they would have had to run multiple barriers of mines and submarines in both directions and in these operations events proved that the battleship was tremendously disadvantaged.

The High Seas Fleet and indeed the battleship itself had become strategically irrelevant; battleships helped get Germany into the war but geography and lack of the relevant technologies ensured that they could never help win it. Provided the British people and government remained committed to victory, no naval victory alone by Germany could ever be decisive.

With no surface blockade of Britain possible, the only option to impose economic war was the submarine but the loss of battleship superiority and the mere threat of surface raiders would have ensured that battleship-escorted convoys quickly became the norm. Even a half-division of pre-dreadnoughts would make any surface raider balk and none of the German capital ships had the legs to operate as raiders in the Atlantic.

The RN knew all about operating convoys when there was a surface ship threat; the first convoys on the east coast, the so-called Coal Convoys started the first month of the war and continued without pause through to the Armistice. The Admiralty had legitimate operational and technical reasons for believing that convoys would not be effective against the U-Boat threat but they did know that the convoy negated the surface raider.

The inability to reliably coal at sea and the massive fuel consumption of coal-fired vessels operating at battle speeds ensured that only the submarine could enforce a blockade of England and it carried too much political baggage should such a campaign fail, as it did in the event.

When Churchill wrote that Jellicoe was 'The only man who could lose the war in an afternoon' he was using typical Churchillian hyperbole that bore no relation to reality and yet everybody believed him then and still do to this day. The only problem is that nobody bothers to analyze exactly how the High Seas Fleet might have effectively blockaded the British Isles. Probably because they might discover that there was no practical means for them to do so.

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Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:27 am

Random wrote:This is one of the great myths of the Great War, repeated endlessly until it has become unassailable dogma. The battleships of the High Seas Fleet could have sunk every dreadnought Britain possessed and it would have made no significant difference to the effectiveness of the blockade. Consider this; a distant blockade ensured that the boarding steamers and AMC's enforcing the blockade were out of easy reach of German raiders, even the aggressive anti-convoy operations of 1917 demonstrated this. The Kaiser's capital ships lacked the endurance to operate off Britain's west coast and had to transit several choke points crammed with RN submarines if they tried. Time and again RN submarines laying off the Helgoland Bight torpedoed German battleships at the start of a sortie. Mines took a continual toll in damage as well and with the tempo of operations necessary to maintain sufficient naval presence in the eastern Atlantic the attrition would have quickly eliminated any perceived German superiority. Every time they sailed they would have had to run multiple barriers of mines and submarines in both directions and in these operations events proved that the battleship was tremendously disadvantaged.


I stand corrected. I always thought the blockade was more "close" to German Ports : i.e. most of it was interception in the Northern Sea. I suppose that even German convoys would have been ineffective if only a few RN battleships survived.


Would a German naval victory stopped the British convoy of supplies to the Russian Empire, though ?

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Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:57 pm

Narwhal wrote:Would a German naval victory stopped the British convoy of supplies to the Russian Empire, though ?

That's a good question but I suspect not. There were no convoys to Russia as there were to be in WW2 so probably a naval victory in the southern North Sea was unlikely to impact trade with north Russia, at least initially. The farthest that the High Seas Fleet ever ventured was to the latitude of Stavanger, Norway on 24 April 1918 with Scheer attempting to intercept one of the weekly Norwegian convoys from Scotland. That sortie was a fiasco; demonstrating the material decline of the Fleet and accomplishing nothing positive for the war effort.

Historian Norman Stone in The Eastern Front 1914-17 spends a fair bit of space discussing aid to Russia and my understanding is that the Russians were largely incapable of moving the supplies that were sent via the Barents Sea ports, Persia and Vladivostok. It's possible that disruption of deliveries might just have allowed them to clear the huge transportation backlogs.

British firms also defaulted on a number of lucrative contracts after receiving payment from the Russian government, generally using gold currency, and frequently invoked the delivery problems as the reason.

Curiously despite being a vastly inferior force the Russian Baltic Fleet was able to repeatedly interfere with Swedish-German trade, forcing the Germans to run convoys and extracting a steady attrition due to mines and (mostly British) submarines. Because big ships were seldom involved and the Bolsheviks were not inclined to praise the war efforts of the former regime, the actions of the Russian navy in WW1 are mostly ignored in English language histories. It's an instructive campaign to study as it demonstrates the impact of geography and technology on machine-age naval operations and I think shows why the Kaiser's fleet could never defeat Britain.

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Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:42 pm

Random wrote:That's a good question but I suspect not. There were no convoys to Russia as there were to be in WW2 so probably a naval victory in the southern North Sea was unlikely to impact trade with north Russia, at least initially. The farthest that the High Seas Fleet ever ventured was to the latitude of Stavanger, Norway on 24 April 1918 with Scheer attempting to intercept one of the weekly Norwegian convoys from Scotland. That sortie was a fiasco; demonstrating the material decline of the Fleet and accomplishing nothing positive for the war effort.

Historian Norman Stone in The Eastern Front 1914-17 spends a fair bit of space discussing aid to Russia and my understanding is that the Russians were largely incapable of moving the supplies that were sent via the Barents Sea ports, Persia and Vladivostok. It's possible that disruption of deliveries might just have allowed them to clear the huge transportation backlogs.

British firms also defaulted on a number of lucrative contracts after receiving payment from the Russian government, generally using gold currency, and frequently invoked the delivery problems as the reason.

Curiously despite being a vastly inferior force the Russian Baltic Fleet was able to repeatedly interfere with Swedish-German trade, forcing the Germans to run convoys and extracting a steady attrition due to mines and (mostly British) submarines. Because big ships were seldom involved and the Bolsheviks were not inclined to praise the war efforts of the former regime, the actions of the Russian navy in WW1 are mostly ignored in English language histories. It's an instructive campaign to study as it demonstrates the impact of geography and technology on machine-age naval operations and I think shows why the Kaiser's fleet could never defeat Britain.


+1.
Excellent post on the blockade, there are several myths that refuse to die-

British Blockade's dependency on Dreadnoughts
Belgium massacre by Germans
Imperial Germany being = Nazis or worse
Unrestricted SUB Warfare being bad but blockade by Britain being benign.
Ottomans being a push over (due to the geographic difficulties of the 1st Balkan War and Italo-Ottoman War in Cyranecia and Tripolitani of 1911)
Russians not having modern weapons (Russia had a very modern Air force- IGOR SIKORSKY anyone? and excellent artillery as always but corruption, inefficiency and logistics played their part- geography too)


I think CP would have won despite British entry if the USA had not entered the war directly, munition or supplies or war credit support was ok.. but those potential 2 million extra troops scared LUDENDORFF and a normally cool and calculative, efficient, even ruthless general staff took an emotional decision to prepone the attack and wasted it on the British, a well planned tactical + strategic attack on the French would have caused a collapse if those "DOUBHBOY" reinforcements were not there. As it was allied lines did get badly hit, the reason ANZAC and CANADIAN corps were not used to defend were they were at their end of manpower.. there was talk of disbanding one division in each of these corps to compensate other divisions.

Consider this-
In War, IMP. Germany alone raised over 13.25 Million out of a pop. of 65 Mill i.e. 250+ divisions
Austria out of 52 Million raised some 100+ divisions
Bulgaria mobilised 800000 i.e. 1/4 of population.
Turkey too mobilised over 1/4 of Anatolian Population.

UK raised 70+ divisions (30% from commonwealth inc. India, Canada, Anzaz and SA) and was facing man-power shortages in 1917 and 1918..
France raised 100+ divisions and by 1917-1918 had been bled white.
Together FRANCE + UK + WHITE DOMINIONS (Canada, Anzac only, not SA) had about 100+ Million population.
Armies raised was far lesser compared to population - 16 million or so.

A hard knock for FRANCE and a scenario may have been reached wherein armistice with reversed conditions may have been signed.
Also no AMERICA means after CAPORETTO, Von Below's victorious troops would have continued on the ITALIAN front, ITALIANS may have collapsed under continued pressure immediately, instead they were allowed a respite as these troops need not be hastily rushed to the WESTERN front, an offensive in late APRIL/MAY instead of MARCH may have succeeded.

SA not included as it was bearing burden of Africa and was further split due to the BOER sympathy (rightly) for Germany.
India not included as it was a volunteer army (limited volunteers), if conscription was imposed there may be a armed rebellion.

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