Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

I think he is talking about the Browning Automatic Rifle. It wasn't an LMG in 1918 but an Automatic Rifle that just weight way too much.
There's that too, but also:
…The lull in fighting over the winter of 1918 saw a massive shift in doctrine and equipment among the Entente. New aircraft were reaching the front with better performance than anything the Germans had, presuming that they could muster enough fuel to sortie. New tanks were arriving in greater numbers, with the speed and reliability to do more than crawl to static trench lines. The US army adopted increasing numbers of automatic rifles, submachine guns and semi-automatic conversion kits for their bolt action rifles, the French adopted a semi-automatic rifle and the Italians a proper machine gun. New types of gas were being synthesized, that made the ersatz material based German protective gear almost useless. In a material sense the battles of 1919 would be as unlike 1918 as 1915 was 1914.
Which seems to indicate that the US is looking at a general adoption of semiautomatic rifles to supplement the BAR. Perhaps the .30-06 Chauchat colored their thinking somewhat.

That's what I get for editing after miller time, I meant submachine gun
The Beretta Model 1918?
 
Part 2-23
…By the start of 1919 the death of the Hapsburg Empire was already sealed. December 1918 saw the Entente powers recognize at Pittsburgh a plan for a state for the Czechs and Slovaks, a Czechoslovakia, with an assembly for the Slovak minority established. The proposed state would contain a large German and Hungarian minority that would prove troublesome…

…As early as 1914 the Hungarian opposition had been willing to declare independence, as long as her territorial claims were recognized. The military success of the Central Powers had quieted Hungarian secessionism until the Fall of 1918 when it became clear that the war might be lost, and the economic damages inflicted by the war were becoming too great to bear. However the leader of the opposition, the pacifist Count Karolyi, was not yet ready to actively launch a revolt against the Hapsburg government. He was however willing to begin greater talks with the Entente…

…December of 1918 saw an agreement worked out between the Yugoslav committee that represented South Slavic interest abroad, the Serbian government in exile and the representatives of the opposition in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia. The three groups agreed to form a common state, a federation under the Karadordevic dynasty with constituent realms of Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. Despite such a state being the goal of all parties involved, for the Serbian government it was a bitter pill to swallow, as they wanted a much stronger unitary state. However given that Serbia was a completely occupied nation whose only bargaining chip was a single corps of troops in Albania, they were forced to accept this compromise by their Entente backers.

The formal creation of a Yugoslav state would have to wait until the opposition in the Hapsburg Empire had a chance to successfully revolt…

…With victory now a real and distinct possibility within the year, the Entente began to look to the peace table. President Marshall, out of loyalty to Wilson, or his belief that his role required him to execute Wilson’s vision to the best of his abilities, supported a peace based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Certain elements of the Democratic party within the Senate were willing to agree with him on this matter, out of personal preference or loyalty to Wilson, and even a number of Republicans with strong internationalist sentiments agreed on it. Many minor nations and aspiring nationalities, the Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, and Armenians, agreed on the matter.

However even within the US there was great opposition. Some of it was purely personal, Woodrow Wilson had made a lot of enemies and many of them in the Senate were vindictive enough to oppose the matter out of pure spite. Others were more principled and based their opposition on their personal political views. Some were isolationist and were afraid of the proposed League of Nations and that it could draw the United States into a war without its consent and negatively impact its sovereignty in other ways. Still others feared that enforcement of some of the fourteen points could draw the United States into further fighting in the East, getting still more Americans killed, a view growing increasingly popular as the casualties mounted. Finally there were those with large Irish American and German American constituencies who were worried about their reelection chances.

In the other great powers their views of a peace treaty were rather different. In Britain there was perhaps the smallest difference in views, Lloyd George having done a similar speech a few days earlier that had been overshadowed by Wilson’s. Brtiain signed off on all points save the Freedom of the Seas, the idea of Britannia Ruling the Waves being too great to ignore. It was also Britain who first came up with the idea of forcing Germany to pay reparations, with Lloyd George wanting Germany to pay the pensions and medical costs for the British soldiers. Finally Britain wanted to eliminate both the heavy warships High Seas Fleet and the U-Boat arm, and further ensure Germany was never again able to threaten British naval supremacy.

For Italy they wanted rather more. They had done well through secret treaties and had no intention of repudiating them. They had paid much blood for the gains they had been promised, and had no intention of surrendering any of them in the name of self determination.

France was perhaps the strongest opponent of Wilson’s idea for a just peace. Clemenceau, upon hearing of Wilson’s points said, “The good lord had only ten!” Clemenceau, and the French as a whole, wanted to punish Germany. They had seen Germany win what was effectively an economic victory, with the war having devastated France while leaving Germany intact. To prevent this the French were determined to carve off as much territory as possible, no matter what the inhabitants thought of it and took up the British cause of reparations with a converts zeal. Furthermore, while it was Britain that was most insistent on the naval limitations, it was the French who wanted to abolish the German air force and reduce the German army to little more than a police force. Finally the French were the biggest proponents of intervening in the quagmire that was Russia, both to regain their greatest ally and to recoup part of the enormous amount they had invested in that country over the years.

Even Belgium was willing to compromise on the principal of self determination when it suited them, such as their demand for part of the neutral Netherlands, one which cost them quite a bit of sympathy when it came out…

-Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014
 
Wow, that's some huge changes over OTL; the next war(s) are going to be so much bloodier when the ethnic genocides are unleashed; I see how you're trying to set up realistic consequences for a longer WW1 and it's effects; and I think you're succeeding, but wow does the knives look sharper now.
 
Well, Yugoslavia will no doubt implode eventually as it did multiple times IRL. Always such a bad idea.

Great installment as ever.
 
Part 2-24
…No one expected that it would be the Italian front that would see the first major assault of 1919, the front against the Ottomans being considered little more than a sideshow and the Russian Civil War being ignored. More than half of the front there lay within the alps and the winter snows would make it difficult to campaign. It was expected that the Italians would have to wait for the snow to melt, then wait for spring floods to end before launching a campaign against the Austrians. Certainly the Austrians were privately expecting to have until mid-April at the very least before they felt the Italians would risk an attack.

Had matters purely been up to General Diaz they would have had until May. However they were not, Diaz had higher orders. Prime Minister Orlando was worried that if they waited that long then there might be severe consequences for Italy. The Austrians still held Venice, one of the most important cities in the country and a considerable amount of territory. If the offensives in France, scheduled for late March, did as well as planned, then it was possible that by the time the planned offensive started in May the Germans may be suing for peace. If that was the case the Austrians were sure to follow in an instant. With the Austrians squatting on a considerable amount of Italian territory, and an intact army in the field, the Italian bargaining position would be much weaker.

Italy would still make considerable gains in that event, however given the opposition that the Americans, and to a lesser extent the British, were showing to Italian aims they may not get half of what was promised. This was unacceptable for a nation that had sacrificed so much, for a cause that many were not entirely sure of. No, Venice had to be retaken and the Austrian Army shattered as soon as possible.

This left Diaz with a problem; he was confident he could breach the Brenta line and retake Venice with the troops and equipment he had on hand. However the Austrians would just fall back onto the Piave with a damaged but intact army. It would then take time to bring up the heavy engineering and artillery units needed to force that river, by which point the river would likely be at the flood stage and prevent a crossing until it abated. If he wanted to destroy the Austrian Army he would have to think more audaciously. A plan he had considered several months prior was looked at, with additional months of preparation the specialist units necessary for it were now present. While risky the sheer audacity of the plan would be its best defense, nothing like it had been attempted before.

On March 10th the Italian assault began. Launched in four places, each assault targeted the seam between two ethnically Slavic units where deserters provided good intelligence. Firewall bombardments cut off forward positions for Arditi to attack, and airpower and heavy artillery interdicted reinforcements. The initial strongpoints were cleared and perimeters were established Italian Engineers quickly threw up bridges while follow up waves headed inland at three of the crossings.

The Austrians did not question their good fortune at the failure of the fourth crossing, they had more immediate worries. Too many of the units they had planned on for counterattacking and crushing the Italian attack were still refitting in the rear, with many soldiers on leave. They could not be brought up fast enough to crush the Italian beachheads as had been planned. What was worse was that the second-rate units they had holding the front were performing even worse than they had expected. Any chance of holding the Brenta line was gone, what was worse was that they would likely have to abandon plans to try an active defense of the Piave. Rather than be reserved for counterattacks, the first-rate divisions would be needed to hold the river line.

Unbeknownst to the Austrians the Italians had throw up additional bridges at that fourth lodgment and transferred over large stockpiles of supplies and most of the Bersaglieri. Once the Austrians were confirmed to be in retreat Diaz unleashed them. Attacking in a quiet sector of the front the ferocity of the assault quickly took the defenders by surprise. The Italians rapidly broke through and motorized elements of the Bersaglieri, formerly cyclist troops, punched into the gap along with the majority of the Italian Army’s Armored Car strength, with the rest of the fast-marching Bersaglieri following.

Simultaneously the Italian Air Corps “Bomber Mass”, supported by the “Fighter Mass”, attacked the closest bridge over the Piave. However rather than bombs they dropped men and arms, almost half of the men were incapacitated by the jump, and others were unable to retrieve their weapons. Despite this they were able to overpower the small force defending the bridge and take up positions to guard it. The first parachute assault in history had just occurred and the Austrian high command had no idea to react.

The Italian air corps continued to drop men and supplies on the bridgehead while attacking nearby Austrian positions. The remnants of the Austrian air arm made a vain attempt to disrupt the process but were mostly destroyed in the process. The paratroopers were able to fight off a few small, disorganized counterattacks on the first two days. By the evening of the second the Austrian High Command had determined what had happened and ordered a full division scale assault on the Italian paratroopers. By then it was too late, the armored thrust had relieved the paratroopers several hours before the counterattack could go in. Lacking anti-armor weapons the Italian armored cars proved decisive and stopped the Austrian counterattack cold.

With the Italians over the Piave the river’s use as a defensive line was untenable. The Austrian reserves had already started moving to take up defensive positions on the river. Redeploying them to contain the bridgehead would take longer than it would take for the Italians to bring up reinforcements with their superior motorization. The decision was regretfully made to fall back to the Tagliamento.

The retreat turned into a rout almost on par with Caporetto. Austrian morale, already low hit rock bottom. Ethnically German and Hungarian units held together in the main, but were forced to abandon much of their equipment, as while plans existed for a retreat to the Piave, none existed for a withdrawal to the Tagliamento. Other units disintegrated outright due to desertion and mass surrenders; the other nationalities being unwilling to fight anymore for a realm that did not adequately represent them and was clearly lost. Three divisions were forced to surrender almost intact because they had been cut off by the rapidity of the Italian advance to the Piave, and a second bridge was captured intact by sheer negligence. Venice was liberated on March 20th to thunderous cheers by the San Marco Marine brigade.

The Italians suffered 40,000 casualties, with the paratroopers and Arditi paying particularly high butchers bills. The Austrians lost 80,000 dead and wounded and an incredible 400,000 captured or deserted, along with the loss of 3500 artillery pieces. While a lesser bill than the Italians paid at Caporetto, there would be no foreign aid to hold the line, no extreme national effort combined with foreign purchases to rebuild shattered units. Confidence in the Dual Monarchy was shattered, both in the Army and in the country at large.

Orlando had his victory and Diaz sighed in relief. His crazy gamble had worked, for the near loss of a relative handful paratroopers he had almost completely destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Army as a fighting force. Only the spring floods were stopping him from an advance that would break the Dual Monarchy once and for all…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004



A/N: Okay second time I managed to copy/paste without having to manually adjust formatting, but my browser is not letting me adjust properly and I have to do a new one to get the bold right. Also I apologize for any random accounting jargon that may have missed my editing
 
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This is the first time I think I've ever read anything on AH.com where the Italians fought not just well but exceptionally well.
 
The Italians can't have much left in the tank after that through.

Still it was an impressive victory for the Italians. Reaching the Tagliamento from where they started is almost a miracle.
 
The Austrians did not question their good fortune at the failure of the fourth crossing, they had more immediate worries. Too many of the units they had planned on for counterattacking and crushing the Austrian attack were still refitting in the rear, with many soldiers on leave.
Italian Attack?
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Remember that the Italians OTL turned around the setbacks of 1917 so hard Austria-Hungary collapsed. This is more par for the course.
The Italians had pretty much stabilised the front after retreat from Caporetto before the French & British reinforcements arrived. They also halted the Austrian offensive in 1916. Where they often failed was when being thrown repeatedly against the Isonzo defences. Poor leadership of brave men.
 
Italian Attack?
Fixed, too busy trying to fix other problems, but at least it looks like I cleared out all the parts of my accounting essay that migrated into this

One thing to remember, this is about the same results as OTL Vittorio Veneto, only difference is the use of paratroops for more than scouting/harassing in the leadup and the motorized thrust
 
Just binge-read this.

I hope this goes on long enough too see what causes Wilson to be ranked with James Buchanan. Sure, WWI is a longer and more traumatic affair than OTL, but "Orthodox" history also strongly suggests a Kaiserboo-ish sense that we backed the wrong side, and should've allowed the Central Powers to win.

My guess is that we're setting either the "victorious" French or British up to collapse after the war and fall to *fascism, but I'm curious how it pans out.
 
Part 2-25
…following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw from their outer territories by a splintering of their coalition. Too many viewed the action as a betrayal of the principles of the July Revolution, with units defecting, deserting or even simply going home. Units loyal to the Bolshevik cause were forced to withdraw in order to preserve themselves. The new Cheka, more oppressive and within months an order of magnitude larger than the Czarist Okhrana, was kept very busy dealing with the Bolsheviks old allies the Left-SRs and other socialist parties that had supported them in the July Revolution. However the anti-Bolshevik coalition was no better organized.

Opposition forces were stretched in an arc from Archangelsk in the north to Kazan, to Ulyanovsk to Penza, Tambov, Lipetsk and the borders of the Ukraine in the south. The Moscow centered nature of the Russian rail and telegraph networks provided no ends of difficult to their movements and communications. Furthermore the practical authority of the provisional government in Omsk over the anti-Bolshevik forces was almost nil. The provisional government was as much a product of the February Revolution as the Bolsheviks were and just as tainted in the eyes of the conservatives and reactionaries who provided the military leadership. Only the control of the flow of supplies from abroad gave the provisional government any real influence.

As such both parties spent spring and early summer of 1918 merely skirmishing and reorganizing, with most of the remaining anti-Bolshevik pockets in the West being neutralized, and the same for Bolshevik insurgencies in the Caucuses and most of the cities in the East. The flashpoint that would reignite the conflict was Tsaritsyn, better known by its Bolshevik renaming of Stalingrad.

Early in the Russian civil war Bolshevik insurgents established themselves in the industrial areas of the city, and unlike elsewhere managed to hold out. If the Bolsheviks could link up with them, then they could control the Volga River and cut off Anti-Bolshevik forces in the South. Thus at the beginning of July they launched a two-pronged assault to take the city. The first focused on taking Tambov as a jumping off point to taking Saratov and then moving down the Volga to Tsaritsyn. The second focused on taking Lipetsk, moving on to Voronezh, and then overland to Tsaritsyn.

The initial attacks were successful and Tambov and Lipetsk fell within two weeks. At this point the Anti-Bolshevik forces realized what was going on and mobilized reinforcements to defend Saratov and Voronezh. At Saratov perhaps the fiercest battle of the war would ensue as the city would change hands no fewer than 11 times between September 1918 and June 1919. Only the relative paucity of artillery ammunition on both sides prevented the city from being turned into a moonscape as sometimes seen on the Western front or in some of the greater battles of the Second World War.

At Voronezh the matter was different, there were fewer forces available in that section of the front to face the Bolsheviks, and more importantly fewer supplies. Bolshevik artillery and machine gun crews were thus able to establish fire superiority over their counterparts and the Anti-Bolshevik forces retreated into the city to stand a siege. Forty days into the siege a relief expedition was beaten off, as was another thirty days later. Ninety-Six Days into the siege the defenders surrendered on December 10th. The Bolsheviks were then free to advance on Tsaritsyn.

Trotsky himself took command of the forces at Voronezh, recognizing the importance of the offensive. Despite the winter snows an offensive would go in, the Bolsheviks at Tsaritsyn could not wait until spring to be relieved. If they were defeated a considerable amount of troops would be freed up to check the Bolsheviks elsewhere. A sled borne supply train was organized and the force departed on December 20th.

Small parties of cavalry and light infantry harassed the column on the way, slowing its pace to a crawl. Attacks on their supply train forced them to forage from the civilian population, before scorched earth forced them to eat dead horses and mules. Slowed but not stopped the Column arrived at the outskirts of Tsaritsyn on February 2nd. A blocking force attempted to keep them from breaking the siege, but the defenders were not expecting the quantity, nor frankly the quality of the artillery Trotsky brought with him. Despite outnumbering him they could not bring their superior forces to bear due to the need to contain the industrial districts and Trotsky was able to defeat them piecemeal with his superior firepower. By February 4th the Anti Bolshevik garrison of Tsaritsyn was forced to withdraw, and none too soon for the bedraggled Bolsheviks in the city. Another week and they would have had to surrender.

With Tsaritsyn in their hands the Bolsheviks had cut off their enemies in the South. Once the Volga thawed sufficiently a Bolshevik column easily traveled down river and seized Astrakhan within two weeks campaign. The Provisional Government and the anti-Bolshevik forces realized that the situation was lost and pulled out of Saratov in late June, having wasted enormous amounts of blood for no gain. The Bolsheviks were poised to wrap up the south over the summer, and then sweep north and east, however the situation in the West had just changed enormously…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004


Edit: Okay figured out bold even with my crap browser. Now time for something completely different
 
Part 2-26
…Entente preparations for the 1919 Spring offensive had begun even before the German Spring offensive of 1918. At this point it was expected that American forces would be used during the late summer and fall to help secure jumping off points for an offensive in the next year. The German Attacks caused this to be abandoned, and the Entente were forced to contend with starting from a far inferior position, with the British and especially the Americans playing a far more prominent role given the enormous losses inflicted on the French.

What remained of the early plans was an emphasis on using the Entente’s ever growing material superiority against the Germans. The Entente had more guns, more ammunition, more gas, more planes, more trucks and especially more tanks. The emphasis on planning was that bullets, not blood would be spent for victory to as great a degree as possible.

This took a number of forms. One highly ambitious plan from the British called for a massed use of tanks and airpower to attack German supply and command nodes. The plans architect, J.F.C. Fuller of the Tank Corps, argued that it would allow the German army to be effectively defeated without paying an enormous cost by going for the head and leaving the body to rot.

Fuller’s plan was considered too ambitious by many on the Imperial general staff and at the Supreme Headquarters. Many plans had promised a quick end to the deadlock without having to fight the mass of the German army and all had ended in failure. No one had any great expectations that Fuller’s would be different.

More importantly Fuller’s plan was physically impossible. Fuller was using production projections from early 1918 to base his arguments on. Even accounting for those optimistic figures the Spring Offensive would have to be delayed a month to have sufficient numbers of the new tanks and ground attack aircraft, a tradeoff Fuller and others in the Tank Corps thought was worth it and few others did. With the disruption caused by the German Spring Offensive and the need to shift priorities, as well as greater than expected use of steel by the Navy and design difficulties with the Mark D Tank and the Sopwith Salamander trench fighter meant that even in the best case the attack would have to be put off until summer. This was blatantly unacceptable and Fuller’s plan was roundly rejected…

…The largest influence Fuller’s plan would have would come postwar. Fuller used his position at the war office to passionately argue in favor of his plan, claiming that last phase of the war would have gone better if his plan was implemented. He published several books supporting that view, alongside his publications on military history and the occult…

…Fuller would prove to be the Brusilov of the West, in that his ideas were taken, improved upon and implemented to their greatest effect by the Germans. Whereas Brusilov’s ideas would take two years to reach their zenith in the Spring Offensive, Fuller’s would take two decades. And where Brusilov’s ideas were copied without his consent, Fuller fully approved of and actively encouraged what the Germans did with his work in the interwar period…

…The final plan of the Entente Spring offensive of 1919 was essentially the German plan from Spring 1918 in reverse. The same Firewall bombardments and stormtrooper infiltrations that the Germans used on the Entente would be turned on them. The Entente forces would have far more artillery, far more air support, make greater use of specialized infantry gear and would have armored support. One new wrinkle would be added to the plans in the use of gas. The Entente were both preparing to use it on a larger scale than ever, but also had a new horror that would be mixed in with the traditional Mustard Gas, something that looked likely to replicate the initial success of gas at Ypres in April 1915…

…German plans for the Entente Spring offensive were based on the same plans they used to bleed the British white at Passchendaele. Two thirds of their divisions would hold the frontline and would be focused on delaying Entente breakthroughs. The remaining third would consist of higher quality Eingrief, or counterattack, divisions that would hit the enemy while they were in the exposed forward positions.

Ludendorff placed a disproportionate number of Eingrief divisions in Flanders to face the British. His postwar memoirs would claim he did this as part of a deliberate strategy to bleed the British and weaken them at the peace table vis a vis the Americans. Other sources claim that he thought the primary weight of the Spring Offensive would come there, believing the British would continue to insist on the Kriegsmarine bases on the Flemish coast as a primary target…

-Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014





Okay some progression, I hope
 
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…The largest influence Fuller’s plan would have would come postwar. Fuller used his position at the war office to passionately argue in favor of his plan, claiming that last phase of the war would have gone better if his plan was implemented. He published several books supporting that view, alongside his publications on military history and the occult…
…Fuller would prove to be the Brusilov of the West, in that his ideas were taken, improved upon and implemented to their greatest effect by the Germans. Whereas Brusilov’s ideas would take two years to reach their zenith in the Spring Offensive, Fuller’s would take two decades. And where Brusilov’s ideas were copied without his consent, Fuller fully approved of and actively encouraged what the Germans did with his work in the interwar period…
These two paragraphs are...ominous.

British-German Axis? Or at least significant sympathy for Germany.

For that matter...
Trotsky himself took command of the forces at Voronezh, recognizing the importance of the offensive. Despite the winter snows an offensive would go in, the Bolsheviks at Tsaritsyn could not wait until spring to be relieved. If they were defeated a considerable amount of troops would be freed up to check the Bolsheviks elsewhere. A sled borne supply train was organized and the force departed on December 20th.
...wasn't it Stalin that won the battle of Tsaritsyn OTL?

Does Trotsky end up leading the USSR?

Fascist Germany with widespread internation support vs an expansionist USSR? Dark days for Europe, these portend...

EDIT:
Oh, also.
…The final plan of the Entente Spring offensive of 1919 was essentially the German plan in ?reverse?.
Or perhaps:
…The final plan of the Entente Spring offensive of 1919 was essentially the German plan in 1918.
 
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These two paragraphs are...ominous.

British-German Axis? Or at least significant sympathy for Germany.

EDIT:
Oh, also.

Or perhaps:
I'm going to point out in OTL Fuller was the only major British officer of his cohort from WWI not to be reactivated in WWII, in part because he was the seniormost British fascist to avoid getting arrested (due to connections, Oswald Mosley was surprised Fuller did not join him in prison) and in his 1961 reissue of one of his books openly claimed Britain fought on the wrong side in WWII

I did edit that a bit just now
 
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