Oh I do understand why the Marines lost out and as with any combat, the learning curve can be quite painful for one or both sides.

So more destruction of OTL museum and memorial sites. Well war is hell and heritage locations offer no protection.


From my own research I have found out that Royal Navy of the era considered US ships well build, but poorly crewed. The number of hits the American Squadron scored in training exercise was an order of magnitude lesser than RN ships (although at this point the RN had 3 years to hammer out mistakes). The crew conditions were also notorious. At least OTL Americans didn't learn their lessons on the field of battle .

So more destruction of OTL museum and memorial sites. Well war is hell and heritage locations offer no protection.
Well a lot more of French towns had faced war. Amiens is most likely well within a siege gun range. Soissons and Chateu - Terry are held by Germans. I wonder what about Arras. In real world it was held even when Germans attacked it from two sides. On the other hand it is probably abandoned because of fear of encirclement. Of course BEF wouldn't allow to anything of value to be left there for enemy.
From my own research I have found out that Royal Navy of the era considered US ships well build, but poorly crewed. The number of hits the American Squadron scored in training exercise was an order of magnitude lesser than RN ships (although at this point the RN had 3 years to hammer out mistakes). The crew conditions were also notorious. At least OTL Americans didn't learn their lessons on the field of battle .

Well a lot more of French towns had faced war. Amiens is most likely well within a siege gun range. Soissons and Chateu - Terry are held by Germans. I wonder what about Arras. In real world it was held even when Germans attacked it from two sides. On the other hand it is probably abandoned because of fear of encirclement. Of course BEF wouldn't allow to anything of value to be left there for enemy.

I had just hinted at it but ITTL Arras was besieged and was the scene of a brutal protracted urban fight lasing several months. It was where tanks made their operational debut in TTL south of the city when the French 5th Army and the BEF counter attacked. Units of the German 7th Army were forced to withdraw from the city to avoid getting trapped . As for Arras itself, there's not much of a city left there anymore, 42 cm guns aren't kind to buildings.
Last edited:
Part 4 Chapter 18
Chapter Eighteen

15th May, 1917

Arras, France

Sargent Henry Bligh was stalking through the city streets he ruled with an iron fist to meet with this Swell that the Brass had sent. There was a word that described the situation he found himself in, ironic. Three years earlier the Magistrate had given him the choice of the Royal Army or prison. He’d no idea then that his youth spent as an enforcer for one of London’s most notorious gangs had prepared him to become a hero.

Henry had been ordered to join the rest of his unit in the withdrawal from the Somme. It remained the only fight he’d ever backed down from in his life. He'd found the experience infuriating. Then had come Arras, they had been no more than a rabble when they had reached the city with an entire German Army Corps nipping at their heels. He’d found himself in an unlikely position of having days to turn schoolboys from the English Midlands into true fighters. Showing them how to wring every advantage of buildings from the attic to the sewer and fight like rabid animals over every inch of it.

Then the Huns had started their storming of the city and he’d found himself battling them block by block with rifles, bayonets, pistols, axes, knives and clubs. Henry had walked through that maelstrom a spiked trench club in one hand and Webley revolver in the other like a god even as the city was blown apart around him. If he’d had to give up a block he made sure that the Huns payed the tax in blood.

Henry had given better than he got but still there were small matters, like him wanting to know the name of the total bastards who’d invented the flame thrower or Big Bertha that he knew would never get resolved. He also wished that Paul Mauser wasn’t dead so he’d pay him in kind for coming up with that accursed machine pistol.

Then one day it was over. The Huns were gone, just like that. He’d learned that the BEF and the Frogs had kicked the Hun’s balls up between their ears south of Arras and the ones in Arras had gotten clear to avoid getting stuck. Henry felt like he’d been robbed. There should have been some final reckoning in the city. Instead the Huns had just gotten up and left. Where was the justice in that?

With how the front lines had moved away from the city they were told to hold in place. Henry’s boys might no longer be fighting the Huns but they were enforcing their rules within the city. The Brass might not have liked how order was being maintained inside Arras but no one was in a rush to be the first one who ordered them out of Arras. But that was coming to an end, Henry knew that the Brass was going to bring them to heel. He just wasn’t sure how it was going to happen.

They’d sent him into the Army to keep him from living a life of violence and destitution. Much of what he’d done in Arras would have gotten him sent to prison forever or sent dancing the hemp fandango if he’d done even a small fraction of it back in London. Now, a Swell had come looking for him personally and Henry already had a sinking suspicion as to why.

“I’m pleased to have finally caught up with you Sargent Bligh” The Swell said shaking his hand “Lieutenant Colonel Montgomery.”

“That’s nice, Sir” Henry said “If you can tell me what you need?”

“Why, I need you Sargent” The Swell said “You’ve won the Victoria Cross so you’ll need to come with me.” The bastard.

Henry looked around at his boys, they all thought that is was him finally getting his due, but Henry knew better. He’d have to leave Arras, his city, to go to London to receive the VC and he’d have to be gracious about it. Meanwhile his boys would get scattered around the Army. The Bastards always won in the end, always.

Wilhelmshaven, Jade Bight, Germany

“I think it’s messed up that your ship gets put in port for the next several months but the two of you have to go to sea again” Rhona, Esther’s older sister, was saying. She was seated at the kitchen table opposite of Gunther in the tiny apartment that Jacob and Esther rented with the housing stipend that the Navy gave him.

“That’s just how it goes” Gunther said “No one is indispensable in the Fleet but they like to put you where your skills are needed.” What was unsaid was that wasn't quite true, they couldn’t figure out a way to train other teams to do what Jacob and Gunther did yet. So, Admiral von Hipper was dragging them with him to the new flagship regardless of what they might want.

“With the Moltke in drydock they’d have to put us somewhere” Jacob said from the sink where he was drying dishes and putting them in the cupboard.

After they returned to port the crews repairing the battle damage had discovered that there was a serious problem with one of the Moltke’s propeller shafts… After that the list of what was worn out or broken aboard the Moltke just kept piling up. The ship had been run hard since the war started, the wear and tear was starting to show. Then there was the matter of damage from a couple of torpedo hits that had never been properly repaired. What that all amounted to was that war or no war the battlecruiser was in for a refit and wouldn’t be out for at least six months. And that was if manpower and material shortages didn’t cause any delays.

It wasn’t just the Moltke either. The Seydlitz had been heavily damaged when the Wyoming had gotten some lucky shots in. 1 Scouting Group was down to just two working ships. Jacob had feared that the Texas might be their swan song when the Fleet had astonishingly sent three battleships to 1 Scouting Group. The new flagship, the newly commissioned SMS Bayern was his assignment.

“…I don’t see why you think it’s so retrograde” Esther was saying. She’d come back into the kitchen while Jacob had been lost in thought.

“It looks like something that would belong to a Medieval knight in the Crusades” Rhona was saying “And you have to admit that it’s sort of ugly.”

Rhona said she saw herself as a modern woman in the mold of Rosa Luxemburg whom she modeled herself after. Jacob knew the truth, Rhona had always been that way, long before she’d ever heard the name Luxemburg. Shortly after Esther and Rhona’s father had moved his family to Bremen’s small Jewish community Rhona had split open Jacob’s head with a ballpeen hammer over some forgotten infraction when they were children. At the moment, she was giving her opinion of the Jacob’s EK2 which was sitting on the kitchen table with it's black and white ribbon.

“It’s an acknowledgement of service” Gunther said “Jacob had to take it on behalf of the crew of the Moltke.”

Esther sat there with a smile on her face reading the citation listening to Gunther and Rhona debate the medal he’d been presented with on the deck of the Moltke for his role with the Texas and Wyoming. “Both of you are right” Esther said “It says it all right here; On behalf of Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire and His Majesties Imperial Navy, Lieutenant at Sea Jacob Isaac Schmidt is presented with the Iron Cross 2nd Class for Resourcefulness and Courage… and as it happens, he’s my knight in shining armor.” With that Esther kissed him.

“Also, he’s going to be a father” Esther said to him.

“What, how?” Jacob asked feeling like he’d been poleaxed.

“How do you think” Esther said to him.

Gunther was smiling and started clapping, Rhona just rolled her eyes “Men” she muttered.
Last edited:
part 4 Chapter 19
Chapter Nineteen

3rd June, 1917

Near Château-Thierry, France

The US Marine Corps had turned out to be absolutely relentless. Their orders were to hold, no matter the cost. They were holding, but it was by their fingernails. Creeping artillery barrages followed closely by infantry and attacks that could come at any time, day or night had become the order of the day. Horst could see that Sjostedt was looking awful. Pale, eyes rimmed red with exhaustion. He couldn’t imagine that he looked any better.

It was almost a relief when they were attacked by the French instead. Except there was one thing that they had not anticipated, a clanking smoking machine came into view with the French infantry following. They had heard of these machines used by the British in the Arras sector but had seen nothing like this before. The front of this one was vaguely like a rhinoceros with a steel bar projecting up at a vertical angle. There was a cannon on the right-hand side and on each side, were two machine guns in ball mounts.

The cannon on the vehicle fired and one of the machine gun nests exploded. Horst thought he saw bodies and what was left of one of the platoon’s machine guns flying through the air.

The golden rule on the battlefield was to keep as low as possible. That holds doubly true when presented with the unexpected. The vehicle rolled right over the top of them as they huddled in the bottom of their foxhole the vehicle’s track having sunk into the earth just inches from them. Then it was past and they were back into bright sunlight.

Horst knowing that French infantry were right behind was up and shooting at anything that moved. Firing his rifle in five shots in rapid succession. He it wasn’t until he reloaded that he noticed that Sjostedt was no longer next him.

He glanced over his shoulder just in time to see Sjostedt, who’d crawled out of the hole below the level of the gunners on the French vehicle jamming a block of explosive into the vehicles tracks the fuse already lit, crazy bastard. As Sjostedt jumped back towards their hole, his luck which had held since Verdun ran out. Horst saw what looked like a puff of dust on the right side of Sjostedt’s chest and he collapsed landing hard just shy of the foxhole.

Horst dragged Sjostedt to the relative safety of the foxhole just in time to see the side of the vehicle blow apart and catch fire. Horst could hear the rest of the platoon firing as he turned back to the fight just in time to see a Frenchman’s bayonet had been aimed right at his exposed back. He got the butt of his rifle up just in time to deflect the bayonet. Someone else, he never saw who, shot the Frenchman through the head.

The destruction of the vehicle stopped the French advance cold but Horst wasn’t paying attention. The first thing Horst noticed was that Sjostedt had scrapped the skin off the front of his nose and over his cheekbone when he landed and it was bleeding freely. Sjostedt was gasping for breath “Got the fucker” he said and started coughing, Horst noticed that blood was coming from his mouth and a red stain was spreading on the front of his tunic. The platoon’s medic finally made an appearance, tearing open Sjostedt’s tunic he saw that there was a hole in his chest that had blood oozing from it, every time Sjostedt tried to breath, air bubbles formed in it. This is bad, the thought kept running in Horst’s brain again and again.

The medic was going through his bag. Pulling out a bandage. “Press this over the wound, hard” The medic said. Horst was fixated on Sjostedt’s blood that was soaking around his fingers. Then he noticed that the Medic was cutting into Sjostedt’s side with a scalpel.

“What the Hell do you think you are doing!” Horst yelled.

“Your friend has a collapsed lung” The Medic “If you can’t handle this…”

“No” Horst “I’ll be fine” He’d seen enough people get hit before but it had never been anyone he’d been too close to. How had he done this for more than year and that had never happened? How many times had he rolled the dice with Sjostedt or Emil Holz?

4th June, Verdilly, France

They had gotten Sjostedt to the field hospital. Horst had been there for several minutes when the surgeon had gotten angry with him “We are going to do everything we can for your friend but right now you need to get back to your platoon Oberfeld” throwing him out.

That was when Oberlieutenant von Hofstadter found him “I understand that it was Unteroffizer Sjostedt that destroyed that French tank” von Hofstadter said “Is that true, Oberfeld?”

“Those things are called tanks?” Horst asked numbly “Yeah, it was Sjostedt.”

“You’ll be pleased to know that means that I’m putting him up for decoration” von Hofstadter said “Provided of course that he lives…”

The Oberlieutenant trailed off when he noticed that Horst was looking at him with a look of pure loathing. Sjostedt’s blood was still dried onto his hands and this coward was talking to him about decorations and whether or not Sjostedt lived or died?

Horst took a breath and brought himself back under control “You do that, Sir” He said. Then turning on his heel he walked into the night.

Hours later Horst was sitting on the side of the road, he was faced with the prospect of returning to the platoon before he was ready. The sky in the East was already lightening, he’d have to be back by dawn like it or not. That was the problem, at the moment, he would rip apart the first Soldat who messed up anything. He knew that intellectually but in his heart, he just wanted to hurt someone right now and wouldn’t be the least bit picky.

That was when the taped over headlights of a convoy of lorries came down the road. The lead lorry stopped when they saw Horst and he noticed that all the others had to slam on their brakes to avoid collisions, a few even had to pull up onto the shoulder.

“You there” A cheerful voice called out “Are you with the 4th Division?”

Horst stood there for a long moment, finally he said “Yes, I’m with the 4th”

“Good” The man said getting out of the lorry “We’ve been assigned to work in support of your Division.”

As the man stepped into the dim light from the lorry’s headlights Horst could see that he was an Oberstlieutenant. A spare man, the uniform he was wearing looked like something from another era, cavalry. Boots shined mirror bright and all.

“Who are you?” Horst asked.

“Oberstlieutenant Manfred Wolvogle, 1st Armored Cavalry Brigade” The Oberstlieutenant said shaking Horst’s hand, when he saw Horst’s hands “I’d suggest washing your hands…um” he was fishing for a name the way officers did.

“Oberfeld Walter Horst” Horst said “And what do you mean by armored cavalry?”

“You’ll see soon enough” Wolvogle said “We came as far as rail could take us, now we’re trying to get to the front with as few breakdowns as possible.”

“The front is a few kilometers that way” Horst said pointing down the road.

“Oh, brilliant” Wolvogle said then he turned to the truck behind him “We’ve almost made it, just a few more kilometers down the road” he yelled at the lorry’s driver.

As Wolvogle walked back to the lorry he turned and asked “Do you need a ride, Oberfeld?”

“No, I’m fine” Horst said. He had a feeling that Wolvogle was the sort who was best had in small doses.

“Very well, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you!” Wolvogle said out the window of the lorry as it drove off.

Lorry after lorry followed down the road, Horst could some were flatbeds with tarp covered crates and others were carrying men. Typical supply convoy moving up in darkness he thought to himself. Then he heard a clanking sound, like that French tank, yesterday now. He was about to throw himself into the ditch when he noticed that these were very different.

Light glinting off their grey paint, black and white crosses identifying whose side they belonged to. Where the French tank had waddled along these seemed to move forward with purpose and intent. They were low slung and looked dangerous. Horst smiled, he had wanted to hurt someone, make them pay for what happened to Sjostedt. This looked like there would be a lot of opportunities to do that. To make the French and Americans scream. The prospects of having a better day today suddenly looked a lot better.
Last edited:
Schneider CA as depicted in last post.
Part 4 Chapter 20
Chapter Twenty

4th June, 1917

Rural Germany, in transit

Sjostedt was standing in the mesa desert of his childhood. The only sound was wind. Or was it, he thought he could hear rhythmic clicking, like on a train. Then that faded.

He could remember he’d been there with Horst, in France.

“Dwelling on that won’t help you” he heard a voice say.

He turned and saw it was an old man of the Diné, he was seated on a boulder with a red blanket wrapped around his frail shoulders.

“What should I do instead?” Sjostedt asked.

The old man just shrugged “How should I know, this is all on you, in your head.”

“All on me” Sjostedt said “So none of this is real.”

“Who’s to say what's real when they’ve pumped you full of enough morphine to knock over an elephant.”

“How long have I been here?” Sjostedt asked.

“Time is an abstract concept invented by men to meter their lives, maybe you’ve been here since last week and perhaps not until tomorrow.” The old man shrugged.

There it was again, the clicking. He been there with Horst, his buddy since Verdun, in France… Something about that, something had happened that he couldn’t remember. What had happened? Then the rhythmic clicking again, what sounded like a train whistle and the bell of a crossing sounding strange with the Doppler effect.

“Why do you insist on dwelling on that?” The old man asked “It’s always the same with you warrior types, obsessed with the dark and violent.”

“Who are you to tell me what to do?” Sjostedt said “You just said that none of this is real.”

“No, I said that who’s to say what’s real. But that’s rich coming from someone who lives half in and out of as many worlds as you do.”

Sjostedt turned and focused on the old man “I know who you are” He said “I have no need of your tricks and riddles.”

“You say I’m the one full of tricks and riddles yet there you are, being you.”

Then Sjostedt thought he felt himself being lifted up and set down. “Gunshot wound, pneumothorax, diminished breathing sounds in right side, attempted treatment in the field was unsuccessful” A voice said “Unteroffizer Sjostedt, can you hear me?”

“Yeah, I hear you” Sjostedt said “What do you want?”

“What did he just say?” the voice said.

“I said, what do you want?” Sjostedt said.

“Again, can anyone understand what he just said?” The voice said.

“That name sounds Danish, some local dialect up there?” Another voice said.

“Who cares” The first voice said “Let’s get that bullet out of his chest and put in a tube to re-inflate his lung, we’ll let someone else sort that out.”

“Why should I bother to pull any tricks when the greatest trick is one you’ve pulled already pulled on yourself?” The old man’s laughter filled Sjostedt’s ears. As he fell into darkness it turned into the high-pitched howls of a coyote.

5th June, 1917

Outside Château-Thierry

When the war started Oberstlieutenant Wolvogle had witnessed what he thought was the demise of the cavalry. Machine guns and barbed wire had made his career redundant. The ultimate indignity for him had come when he had watched as his men were parceled out to different regiments, as infantry. At the age of 49 he was too old to start over and with this new form of warfare there was no élan, no glory. Just men pushing forward through mud into barbed wire into artillery and machine gun fire. An assembly line of death. He found that obscene, far more than any French pornography that an official Censor might get their panties in a twist over.

Then he’d gotten a letter from General von der Marwitz asking his opinion about this new contraption that was being developed by ordinance. He’d seen the possibilities right away and the chance to be a proper cavalry officer again.

Now he was getting ready to put his ideas to the test and he couldn’t be happier. The brand new Raupes were still getting the kinks worked out but he’d planned on that. The 4 of the 20 had broken down on the road between the railhead and the front. He’d left mechanics and a lorry with spare parts with each one, so they’d come straggling in over the course of yesterday. He was already doing better than those Limey pricks in the Somme.

Here in the early morning hours in the mustering area they were as ready as they would ever be. Wolvogle walked up to his personal Raupe. He’d had the men paint the name Lucifer on it, his favorite horse. He missed that horse, foals he’d sired in his life had never had his fiery spirit. The men had also painted a monstrous looking fire breathing black horse with red eyes. That was nothing like what his Lucifer had looked like but he loved it.

Manfred Wolvogle climbed up the side and through the commander’s hatch. Inside the crew had been waiting for him. The driver down in the front left of the Raupe pushed in the clutch, the two mechanics, started turning the crank on Wolvogle’s signal. The engine turned over and started purring nicely. He sat down in the commander’s seat and took nods from the gunner and the loader, the two best from his training cadre. With that he checked to make sure the radio he’d shoehorned under the ammo rack worked, the headphones and telegraph key were in easy reach of the commander’s seat but anything else required some creative contortions on his part. He then reached up and grabbed the pull rope for the airhorn he’d had mounted on the Raupes. The cavalry signal for “boots and saddles” everyone mount up split the air as the roar of D.II engines filled the air. The others responded in kind.

As Wolvogle stood up in the commander’s hatch, there behind him was the real reason he’d wanted a radio. The aerial had the black and white pennant of the Prussian cavalry at the top of it. Vollmer never would have agreed to that if Wolvogle had not had a practical reason for it. He yelled down into Lucifer at the driver and then waved forward. As dawn broke they were rolling down the road towards the front lines. It’s great to be back Wolvogle thought to himself.

When Horst had told the others in the platoon about his encounter with Oberstlieutenant Wolvogle the day before the others had responded in disbelief, then all day yesterday stories had come in about these incredible machines and the madman who was commanding them. Then in the morning hours the Raupes came down the road, 20 of them.

Horst saw Wolvogle in the lead Raupe, the vehicle came to a stop. “I understand that you know where the Frogs are Oberfeld!”

“They’re that way!” Horst yelled back pointing towards the French lines.

Wolvogle smiled and a horn split the air, the sound was unmistakable. CHARGE! The Raupes went forward assuming a staggered line formation.

The rest of the platoon was staring at Horst. “You heard the man, CHARGE!” he yelled at them. The summer offensive had begun.
Last edited:
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Well done!!!

There are currently a handful of ATL's going on right now that have me constantly checking back for more, and this is one of them.

Thanks for a most engaging, entertaining, and well written ATL!
Catching up on the cool updates and things continue to churn on. Enjoyed reading Sergeant Bligh and those darn meanies taking him away from his fun and mates. I willl guess soon enough the PTB will realize it is better to return this homicidal maniac back to the front.

Jacob will become a father soon and continues to work on thwarting the Entente's fleets.

Soon a tank battle will begin and we shall see if the new German tanks will win over the Entente's.

Thanks for a nice set of updates. Best wishes for the New Year.
Part 4 Chapter 21
Chapter Twenty-One

5th June 1917

Over the Marne Front, France

Unteroffizer Jonathan Erdmann had signed up for the Flying Service wanting to fly scouts. He’d been diligent, worked hard and after being at near the top of his class at flight school and had gotten posted to Schlasta 21. A recon/bomber squadron.

Jon had a hard time hiding his disappointment with the assignment. Then he’d gotten a crack at the new Halberstadt CL.II and had started to come around. The two-seater was as fast and almost as maneuverable as an Albatros scout. But they’d been held on their side of the lines while the Oberlieutenant who commanded the squadron made them do practice runs with the concrete practice “bombs” until he could see the targets in his sleep.

This morning they had finally been cut loose. In the pre-mission briefing they were told that the 5th and 2nd Armies had launched a big push and their job would be a seek and destroy mission. Any troops or supplies that they spotted being rushed to the front were valid targets.

Jon was almost trembling with excitement as he walked out to the flight line. His gunner, Soldat Hagen Martz was standing by the plane.

“W-What’s the p-plan?” Hagen said with his usual stammer, he didn’t seem like much but he was good at picking off targets at shockingly long range. Back when they were flying DFW recon planes more than one British or French scout pilot had come to grief because of that.

“Our plan is that we get to really ruin some people’s day” Jonathon said climbing into the narrow cockpit.

“Y-you messing w-with me?” Hagen asked.

“I shit you not” Jon said “All the 12.5 kilo bombs on the racks are real and so are stick grenades.” Referring to the line of grenades along the left side of the gunner’s cockpit.

Jon sat there feeling the plane rock a bit as Hagen climbed into the back. He pulled the radiator cover shut and caught the eye of the mechanic. The man nodded as Jonathan cracked the throttle slightly. Then the mechanic expertly swung the prop, the engine sputtered but didn’t catch, Jonathan pumped the throttle and put it back to barely cracked then waited a moment. Nearby he heard the engine of Hans’ plane start up. The mechanic then caught Jon’s eye again and swung the prop, this time the engine roared to life. He sat there for a moment waiting for the thermometer on the back of the pipe to the radiator to rise.

Once the engine was up to temperature Jon opened the throttle all the way. The Halberstadt lurched forward rolling across the bumpy field. As his plane accelerated he pushed the stick forward lifting the skid off the ground. The plane shot forward swiftly reaching 90 km/h. Ahead of him he saw Hans climbing away from the field. The wheels lifted from the field and they started to climb. Jon saw that the engine was starting to over-heat so he opened the radiator.

They crossed the lines at a 1000 meters, out of range for most of the ground fire, there were a few explosions and black puffs of smoke. But it would take a run of phenomenal bad luck to be hit by that.

Once they were over the enemy’s rear area they began to look for targets. Supply convoys, trains or troop concentrations on the roads below. Hans wagged the wings of his plane, he’d spotted something. Both planes dove for the deck and flew at treetop level. Jon saw figures in green on the road as well as several lorries.

The gunner on Hans’ plane was using a 20mm, it was heavy and it hampered the plane but it could one shot most things on the ground, he opened up on the lories. Jon could see the shells hit and the ammunition, explosives and fuel went up in fireballs. Hagen opened up with the observer’s machine gun. Jon was busy minding his flying but he could imagine that those below were catching Hell.

When he reached the end of the run Jon pulled back on the stick and performed a hammerhead. He accelerated back down the road, this time careful to keep his altitude above twenty meters, any lower and the bombs wouldn’t arm before they hit the ground. Jon pulled the bomb release lever and felt the plane lurch upward as the weight of the 12 bombs was released. Hagen was pulling stick grenades off their rack and throwing them. The grenades had an impact fuse in the head and a streamer unfurled from the base that armed them when they were thrown and made sure they hit head first. Jon made one more run, using the synchronized machine gun to strafe anything that was still moving.

After that, he joined Hans flying back east. He didn’t bother to look back.

Coulommiers, France

Renaud Allard, had only a 6th Grade education but he understood how the world worked a lot better than most politicians, presidents or kings. He was not inclined to be philosophical or sentimental about his work. For decades Renaud had dug graves. First for the church, then for the military, then back to the church and now back to the military again.

The man he was about to bury was young, only 21 years of age when he’d died violently. It was unclear what had gotten him the gunshot wounds or the force of the crash. But he was lucky, many tended to get burnt up or mangled beyond recognition these days. This one had been a scout pilot, whose plane had crashed near the French lines the day before, had been brought to Renaud.

He saw from the young man’s identity disk that he was German but Renaud had long since given up caring about such distinctions. After the war was over and Renaud had gone back to work for the church someone would come along who’d want to sort out who was buried where. but in the mean-time Renaud would keep the paperwork straight. If the dead cared about who their neighbors were, they were very quiet about it.

Renaud wrote Ernst Udet under name, the date, who the man was; Scout Pilot and the location of the man’s death. He made sure that the identity disk was placed back into the coffin and went about his task.

Days later the paperwork he’d filled out would serve to confirm the 39th kill of Georges Guynemer. But Renaud Allard cared about that about as much as his charges.
Last edited:
More death and destruction on th Front. Udet has died but I am sure more TTL pilots will be filling his place and getting their own kills marked.

How quickly will it be before the Entente gets its own ground attackers?
Part 4 Chapter 22
Chapter Twenty-Two

6th June, 1917

Château-Thierry, France

Wolvogle was pacing in his command post, a bundle of frenetic energy. He was talking rapidly while his clerk struggled to keep up. He was relating the events of the prior day.

“In conclusion, after deeply penetrating enemy positions to a depth of…” It occurred to him that he had no idea how far he’d gone, that would need to be looked up when he got the chance. “…We turned south and circled back to our lines.” He was an old cavalry hand, he knew that it didn’t matter how far you pushed into enemy territory, outstripping your logistics would defeat you as surely as the enemy. “Taking over a hundred prisoners, capturing supplies and artillery pieces.” He knew that the exact totals would be included in the final report to High Command.

For one day’s work that would have been a triumph but it was what had happened that afternoon that he was most proud of.

“The next action took place at the village of Azy-sur-Marne…”

When the 1st Armored had linked back up with friendly forces they had had paused for a time. Wolvogle saw that Oberfeld Horst and his men had kept up, they’d been a huge asset when it came to rounding up the French prisoners. When he complemented their endurance he heard quite a bit of grumbling that he was positive they’ve not want in the official record. So, he’d pretended not to hear it.

It was when Wolvogle saw the map that he’d seen an opportunity to have his Brigade shine. “…in that I must give my complements to Oberfeldwebel Walter Horst, acting platoon leader of…” He knew that Horst was 4th Division, 140th Regiment. Wolvogle had wanted to work with that outfit. Their reputation as ass kickers was exactly what he wanted. But he didn’t know Horst’s Company. One more thing for the clerks to sort out…

Horst had spent the entire morning chasing after Wolvogle’s Raupes. Finally, as morning turned to afternoon they had found themselves footsore and back at their own lines outside Château-Thierry. The whole thing had been a circle jerk.

“You and your men did an admirable job keeping up today Oberfeld” Wolvogle had said to Horst as soon as had stopped. It felt as if they had walked across half of France that morning. “I’m going to take Azy next I hope you and your men are up for it.”

“Fucking worthless strutting peacock” Someone muttered behind Horst. If the Oberstlieutenant heard it he didn’t let on.

Sometime later they heard the engines start up. If Horst was going to hare across France so that Wolvogle could revive the glories cavalry charges of yore, then the least he could do is give Horst a ride.

Horst ran up to the Raupe that he knew was Wolvogle’s and jumped up onto the back of it. He noticed that a half dozen of the others had followed. Wolvogle turned around, he had the brim of his short-brimmed cavalryman’s cap pulled down low over his eyes against the glare of the afternoon sun. He smiled when he saw Horst. “You men decided to be dragoons this afternoon” Wolvogle asked with approval.

“Be what?” Horst asked.

“No matter” Wolvogle said “If you are going to ride on the bonnet mind the exhaust pipe, it gets hot.” The pipe stuck out the top of the Raupe, occasionally belching smoke and flames. When Wolvogle hadn’t given Horst the boot the other commanders of the Raupes didn’t object to having the infantry men riding on their vehicles.

They went down the road at a sedate 12 KM/H, it was actually a nice day. Here and there was evidence of the war but for the most part it a pleasant drive through the country. They rounded a bend in the road and Horst could see a group of French soldiers running for buildings of a partially ruined French village.

Horst grabbed the machinegun mounted to the ring on top of the Raupe. the MG16 had been locked in the back of the ring facing rearward but that was perfect if Horst was going to use it. He fired a quick burst at the Frogs who went to ground.

Wolvogle wasn’t angry about nearly having the gun barrel hit his face. He was laughing “Keep up the good work Oberfeld!” he yelled “Give ‘em Hell!” Then the airhorn blasted out “CHARGE!” and the Raupe leaped forward.

Wolvogle had developed a system with the driver of his Raupe. He’d kick the back of the driver’s seat on the side that was the direction that he wanted to turn and the driver, being a mere Soldat (Wolvogle liked to consider them Troopers) didn’t dare complain. He was now kicking the right side of the driver’s seat to get them off the road before… A shell from a 75mm tore through the air in the space that they had just vacated.

The Raupes ran across the field at the best speed they could. Horst could see that it would be the Raupes that would attract the majority of the fire so he jumped off as soon as the Raupes slowed to a stop and were shooting their main guns into the buildings of Azy.

Horst saw a hole get punched into the side of one buildings and all the windows blew out as the shell exploded inside. He ran forward he could tell that the platoon was spread out behind him. They knew their job.

When he’d been on the back of the Raupe he’d seen where the 75 mm had been that had fired on them. He ran through the village streets to where he saw French soldiers attempting to relocate the 75.

“Sorry but you lot aren’t going anywhere with that” He said to them. There was always that moment when French soldiers started at Horst in shock that he spoke perfect French, this lot however ran off leaving Horst with the 75mm cannon.

Elsewhere the sound of fighting as the platoon routed out the French defenders who’d not run off. In the distance the Raupes engines could be heard with the thunderclap of their main guns. Later outside of Azy he found Wolvogle who was supervising field repairs of one of the Raupes with parts from another that had gotten knocked out by the 75mm.

“Your men did well today” The Oberstlieutenant said “Did you know that there was an entire French Company dug into those buildings?”

“No Sir, I didn’t” Horst said.

“There was” Wolvogle said “And I understand you got quite the souvenir.” Referring to the 75.

“Yes, Sir” Horst said with satisfaction.

“Good thing” Wolvogle said “We’re going to need it for when the Frogs counter attack, so find the ammunition.”

“Wait, what Sir?”

“You heard me” Wolvogle said “We just took a village on the sacred soil of France…” Horst knew that Wolvogle was directly mocking Georges Clemenceau with that. “…And that will drive the Frogs mad so they’re going to throw everything they got at us in the next couple of hours.”

So, Horst had a single infantry platoon, a captured cannon and the Raupes led by this madman to hold this village against what should have been a predictable French counterattack. It had been such a nice day too.
Last edited:
Another action packed chapter. I will wonder if Horst might get bumped up to a field promotion after his latest deeds.
Let's just say that the reward that Horst get's for his actions might not be his idea of a reward.

That is how it can be. I could see him getting transferred to Wolvogle command and motorized infantry senior NCO. He might then also have to be around Brass a lot more and away from his old comrades.

I shall await what you decide his fate will actually be. :)
Part 4 Chapter 23
Chapter Twenty-Three

6th June, 1917


Manfred Wolvogle looked at his clerk. “Did you get all that?” He asked.

“Yes, Sir” the Clerk said, that was mostly true, he’d worked with Wolvogle for months and knew what he could and couldn’t fudge.

“Yes” Wolvogle said, thinking about where he had been “After we had taken the village of Azy I was approached by Oberfeld Horst who’d personally captured a French 75mm cannon. Understanding the possibility of counter-attack he suggested…”

Horst was furious with the situation and Wolvogle but most of all he was furious with himself for getting sucked into Wolvogle’s orbit. He was currently helping push the French 75 to the other side of the Village of Azy-sur-Marne to the North-Western corner to cover the fields where they expected the attack to come from. They had found several crates of 75mm shells but he and his men were infantry. While he understood the concept of operation of the cannon, the swinging breach and the lanyard. Trying to make sense of the complex aiming mechanism was an entirely different matter. The gunner from the broken down Raupe had tried to explain to Horst the concept of azimuth and after watching his eyes glaze over had volunteered to do it himself.

With that settled it just left the matter of getting the cannon across the village. Normally that wouldn’t have been too difficult except the streets were covered in broken masonry. Finally, they wrestled the cannon into position only to find that one of the Raupes was being used to move the shell crates.

“Why didn’t…” Horst started to say. But then he stopped himself. Everything else today was ass backwards. Why should that be any different. He started helping move the heavy crates into the lee of the house where they were setting up the cannon.

It was an hour or so after that when the French had started shelling the village. The soil of France may be sacred but that didn’t stop the Frogs from blowing it apart to kick them out of it, Horst thought to himself. Wolvogle had moved the Raupes east of the village until the shelling stopped. What that worked out to was that with his platoon dug in on the north-western corner of the Azy was that the vast majority of the shells hit empty buildings, at least Horst hoped they were empty. Even with this being a battlefield there were still civilians scattered around. People too destitute or stubborn to leave.

That was when the artillery shells started landing in front of their positions. Horst always hated this part, the shells started landing progressively closer to their positions. Creeping artillery barrages, made to cover the advance of infantry. He was crouched in the doorway of a building, hoping that it wouldn’t collapse on him.

After a short eternity, the shelling passed. Which meant that they were about to have the Frog infantry crawl up their backsides. Horst ran to the low wall that he’d scoped out as a firing position earlier. As he peered over the wall he saw hundreds of French soldiers. “Shit” He muttered, when Sjostedt had gotten hit he’d realized that he’d rolled the dice dozens of times and won each time. Now this, it looked like snake’s eyes all the way.

As the platoon’s machine guns opened up Horst snapped out of it. Their position was good and with Wolvogle’s brand of insanity at work they might just pull this off. He fired on one of the soldiers in the blue uniforms and watched the man go down. He worked the bolt of his rifle barely aware of the cartridge as it ejected and spun away over his right shoulder. He did that again and again. Reloading with practiced ease. Still the French soldiers kept advancing. Then he heard the sound of their 75 fire and a Schneider tank he hadn’t even noticed exploded into flames.

He saw them then, a half dozen of the French tanks. If Wolvogle was going to do something he needed to do it soon, Horst thought to himself as he kept shooting.

One of the Schneiders burst into flame as Wolvogle’s Raupes made their appearance. Wolvogle had cut through fields around the village flanking the French advance. The 75 fired again, this time it missed the Schneider, flew the target and detonated off in the distance. But it turned out not to matter because that same Schneider was struck by a 57mm shot and caught fire.

Once the Schneiders were all knocked out the Raupes continued their advance. It turned out that they had a machine gun as part of the 57mm mount that Horst didn’t even know they had. That one, plus the one for the Raupe commander put paid to the French counterattack.

Wolvogle’s Raupe stopped near Horst’s position and Wolvogle called out to him. “I must say I’m impressed with how steady you’ve turned out to be, why I’ve…” Wolvogle was interrupted by the resumption of French shelling. “Hang on a minute!” Wolvogle yelled as he went down into the Raupe for something. A moment later counter fire began, what sounded like 15cm guns.

“There, that’s better” Wolvogle said “Now what I was saying was that…”

“Wait” Horst said “Did you just call in that artillery, Sir?”

“What did you think that this is?” Wolvogle said pointing at the radio aerial.

“I thought that it was a flagpole.”

“Oh, I see” Wolvogle said “It’s for the radio.”

“There’s a radio in there?” Horst asked.

“Why, yes” Wolvogle said “I had it installed, very useful.”

“A friend of mine, Emil Holz, thought it would be great if infantry had radios” Horst said.

“That’s nice” Wolvogle said, clearly not really caring about that “You did well today, there’s reinforcements coming down the road so have a good evening Oberfeld.”

With that, Wolvogle’s Raupe drove off followed by his 17 working Raupes. Leaving Horst to try to figure out the butcher’s bill that his platoon had just paid. Three of his men were unaccounted for. While Horst had hoped that they’d run off because that would mean that they were still alive, he also knew that if they had they’d soon wish they weren’t when he got a hold of them. If he never saw Oberstlieutenant Manfred Wolvogle again it would be too soon.

What neither Wolvogle or Horst had realized at the time was that the engagement that had turned one sided because of luck, better design and good tactics had been the world’s first tank vs. tank battle.

The next day as Wolvogle was completing his report he was handed a piece of paper that held some of the information he’d been after. Oberfeld Horst was 4th Division, 140th West Prussian Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Company. He made the request that the entire 2nd Company be attached to the 1st Armored Cavalry. He needed people he could work with and Oberfeld Horst had the balls to do this sort of work. He still needed to see about the acting Company commander, one Oberlieutenant Eric von Hofstadter, just the name put Wolvogle in mind of a real apple polisher.
Last edited:
The first armored battle and the follow up will be fun to see how it may go. Horst has the eye of Wolvogle and will regret each new encounter I am sure. I await the next update to see how Emil is doing.


How did they fit a WWI radio set into a tank? I bet that the gun is a dummy, because there is no hope of fitting radio, gun, recoil clearance and ammo into one, with some spare space for the crew. Unless somebody worked on superheterodyne radio behind the lines and got a sudden genious idea of aligning diodes in-line.