Prince Charles Ascends or how a car accident saves Europe

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Johnrankins, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    August 29, 1935 King Leopold is killed in a car accident in Switzerland along with his wife Astrid. His brother Charles is made Prince Regent a day later.

    Sept 1,1939 Germany invades Poland
    September 17, 1939 USSR invades Poland
    Sept 21, 1939 King Charles and Prime Minister Édouard Daladier meet in Paris discussing the situation
    Sept 23, 1939 Hitler makes a speech denouncing the meeting claiming that the Belgians and French just made a secret pact and are about to jump Germany.
    Sept 24, 1939 Outraged Belgians call for preparation for war with Germany.
    Oct 3rd, 1939 The Belgians request that the French Army marches into Belgium to help protect it. The Belgians start deploying along the Meuse with the French starting to arrive a day later. The Belgians deploy all but two of their infantry corps along the Meuse with 2 infantry corps along with the cavalry corps and the Chasseurs Ardennais in reserve.

    The Anglo-French deploy 15 more divisions behind the Meuse with another 5 in reserve. They are entrenched along the line with heavy artillery and anti-tank weapons deployed. Small forts start dotting the area. It isn't the Maginot Line by any means but it is getting more formidable.

    Further back is the rest of the Anglo-French army in the north manning the Dyle Line and the Eschaut Line and another 5 divisions in reserve.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  2. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Oct 3rd, 1940

    Don't you mean 1939?
     
  3. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Yep, changed. Outside of that what do you think? I am no military genius. Is this a decent plan for a defensively minded country like France? The idea is to bleed Germany through a series of lines of fortifications.
     
  4. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    It’s got to work better than reality. What is so different about Charles?
     
  5. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    From what I read he was a far more decent person and more realistic than Leopold.
     
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  6. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    Not such coward as his older brother. In OTL he acted as regent after WW2 and managed keep Belgium as one nation.
     
  7. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Don't expect this war to end too soon. I am going to take some ideas from PDF's excellent Blunted Sickle. One of them being Stalin being willing to trade enough to keep Germany going so that the Germans and French can keep beating on each other while he scoops up all the goodies while they are busy. With luck, he figures he can take on the winner and become the head of a "Worldwide Communist Government" or at least start it on that path.
     
  8. benben Well-Known Member

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    Typical misunderstanding how the Belgian political system works. It is a constitutional monarchy, where the King has little actual power. The policy of Independence was not Léopold III’s policy, it was the policy of the Belgian government and it had overwhelming support in Parliament and public opinion at large. The Pierlot government was extremely touchy vis-à-vis any initiative that might have jeopardized Belgian neutrality after the war started in September 1939. To give you an example, the cabinet of Léopold III was secretly sharing Belgian defense plans with the French military attaché in Brussels, but the King always made sure the Government didn’t know as it would have triggered a constitutional crisis. So, no, I don’t think that replacing Léopold by another monarch would have changed anything before the invasion of Belgium.

    What it might have changed is Leopold’s decision to remain in Belgium after the surrender of the Belgian army. There, the King clearly refused to heed the advice of his Ministers in a way that was constitutionally itchy. Another person may have followed the Government in France. But then ? After the French Armistice, the Belgian Government sought to reconcile with Léopold and to come back to Belgium. This eventually came to nothing, prompting the Prime Minister and a few other Ministers to leave for London. But if the King had been in France at that time, it is not unlikely that they would have gone back to Belgium and hence that Belgium would have been in a position where it wouldn’t have had any legal representation with the Allies. A perfect disaster, in my humble opinion.

    Now, I wonder why you qualify Léopold as a coward. There are a number things that can be reproached to him, and which may reasonably justify the view that it was not a good idea to resume his reign after the war. But I would not rank cowardice as one of them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
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  9. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    I was given to understand he had quite a bit of unofficial influence. Not officially backing government policy as talking to various parliamentary figures behind closed doors.

    I didn't call Leopold a coward, Lalli did.
     
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  10. benben Well-Known Member

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    Léopold did meet quite a few people as part of his role, but the notion that he somehow conspired to impose a policy on the country is simply flatly wrong’ and certainly not supported by any serious scholar.

    After the remilitarisation of the Rhineland and the lack of reaction to it, Belgian diplomacy, whose cornerstone had been the now defunct Locarno treaty, was at a loss. Léopold saw an urgent need for rearmament, but the Government had not been able to fully articulate what the new foreign policy would be. There was however a certain consensus that Belgium had to avoid being dragged into another wear and steer a somewhat independent course.

    To win passage for the defense spending bill, Léopold did make an intervention in the Council of Ministers, where he articulated that policy of Independence. The Ministers reacted enthusiastically because the speech somehow crystallized how their thinking had been evolving. It was also felt that such a policy was the only one that could summon a sufficiently broad base of support, between Socialists who still had a pacifist streak, to Catholics who were not entirely comfortable with the Front Populaire, to Flamingants who did not want to have anything to do with France. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Socialist Emile Vandevelde, asked then for permission to publish the King’s intervention. This was an unfortunate move, because it uncovered the crown, and also gave the impression, especially in foreign chancelleries, that this was the King’s policy. But make no mistake, it was the policy of the democratically elected Belgian Government. If Leopold’s opinions had been contrary to his Ministers’, he wouldn’t have had any impact. In fact, Leopold’s main goal was to get the defense spending through and he simply assumed that the policy of a independence was a given.
     
  11. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    For a moment thought was the british prince charles
     
  12. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    "Has an influence on"<> "Conspire to impose". Just because I have an influence on some people it doesn't mean I am dictating to anyone. It means I am trying to persuade people I get along with to my point of view.
     
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  13. benben Well-Known Member

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    Never mind, my point is it would take much much more than a change of monarch to steer Belgium off the neutrality course. The forces at play were much too consequential.

    I personally find the idea of a French-Belgian alliance in the run-up to WWII nevertheless very interesting to explore for its military implications, but I haven’t found quite yet a credible PoD or make it work. Such a PoD would probably need to take its origin outside Belgium, maybe a different French reaction to the remilitarisation of the Rhineland.
     
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  14. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    I could add another POD if you wish, my main interest is in having a French-Belgian Alliance in WW2. Maybe Hitler overreacts to meeting between Charles and Édouard Daladier and blows his top threatening Belgium. Maybe he is trying to scare them away from an alliance and scares them into an alliance instead.
     
  15. Fearless Leader Donor

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    A better POD would be having Leopold's dad Albert not die in a car crash in the Alps. Under Albert, Belgiums Foreign policy would be quite different. He was quite healthy and only 58 when he died in OTL so having him live another decade would be quite feasible.
     
  16. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    If the king can't change much I don't see how it makes much of a difference if it is Albert or Charles.
     
  17. benben Well-Known Member

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    I’m afraid that wouldn’t be the case, for the same reasons given before. Albert was quite weary of being too close to France, actually. On the other hand, such was Albert’s prestige that he may have convinced the Ministers not to leave for France when the Belgian army sure, and that would have been quite a disaster as well...
     
  18. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Changed the first post.
     
  19. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Jan 5th,1940
    The British send the Belgians 300 3 ton trucks and the French another 200 to help motorize the Belgian Army more.

    Jan 7, 1940 Belgium places an order for 42 M2A2 tanks. Although by no means as good as most of the French tanks they are at least available and better than nothing and it doubled the Belgian Army's tank forces. The tanks proved comparable to the Panzer Is.

    Jan 9. 1940
    Belgium places orders for 30 P-36s and the Netherlands place orders for 26 M2A2s and 24 P-36s. Workers at the Rock Island Arsenal start working overtime.

    Jan 16, 1940 France places an order for 40 P-36s Curtis starts putting their workers on overtime.
     
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  20. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    May 7,1940 A company of tanks is added to the 1st , the 6th and the 9th divisions. There have only 3 months of training and are using M2A2s. Most of the time they are quickly destroyed but do hold up the enemy on occasion, when there is no armor support or where armor support is limited to Panzer Is.

    May 9th,1940 With only 26 M2A2 tanks the Dutch decide to put them all in one battalion of tanks formed into two companies. More concentrated the Belgians they prove to be more useful and most of the crew survive to fight and learn. The Belgians formed a new air regiment out of the P-36's and they are better than all Belgian planes outside the Hurricane. They are given to to the more veteran units along with the Hurricanes who dump their old planes on the new recruits. Unlike the Belgians the Dutch find them poor planes but they are better than nothing.

    May 10 1940 Germany invades Belgium . Unlike OTL the French and Belgian armies are lined up along the River Meuse. The Germans find crossing it no easy affair. They have 5,000 men KIA and 15,000 WIA in the two weeks it takes to cross it and force the Allies to retreat. The Germans lose 60 tanks , mostly Panzer Is. They also lose a few thousand artillery guns and 150 planes. The Allies have 4,000 KIA and 16,000 WIA while losing 100 tanks including all M2A2s, a few hundred artillery and 200 planes with the Belgians losing a good majority of their planes outside the Hawks and Hurricanes . The Germans capture 25,000 men, a lot of supplies and hundreds of mortar. The Allies retreat to the Dyle Line.

    The Dutch are found behind the Peel-Raamline Line and are not run over. The Germans were unaware of any Dutch tanks and are shocked when they run into the battalion of tanks. M2A2s might not be the best tanks in the world but do just fine against infantry without armor, air or anti-tank support. They hold the Germans up a full 3 days on that part of the line as the Germans try to send enough anti-tank guns and air support there without weakening other points on the line too much. After the smoke clears the Germans find they lost over 500 KIA and 1,500 WIA along that part of the line while the Dutch lose only 175 KIA and 900 WIA along that part of the line. Total losses for the Germans in those 3 days are 1,000 KIA , and 2,000 WIA and the Dutch with 1,250 KIA and 5,000 WIA. They however lose all their tanks. The Dutch are enthusiastic about the M2A2 and the Dutch place an order another 52 of them. The Dutch lose all their Hawks and do not order more.

    May 16,1940 Like the Dutch the French find the Hawk among the poorer planes. Not as desperate as OTL they use them mainly as trainers. When they place no more orders complaining about the inadequacies of the plane it wakes up the US. Not wanting to fall further behind the US puts more money into fighter aircraft research. All further production of Hawks is halted and the production of Warhawks is stepped up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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