I must say, this is truely a great TL, and I cannot yet see how the war will end, so I eagerly await the next chapters! The PoVs you employ make it even more enjoyable to read. An Entente victory does seem certain at this, though I hope that the various butterflies will have a deep impact on the outcome. For example, were there any repercussions after Clemenceau's bloody coup? I mean, sure, Germany attacked an American warship, but did American sympathies for the French not also suffer?
 
I must say, this is truely a great TL, and I cannot yet see how the war will end, so I eagerly await the next chapters! The PoVs you employ make it even more enjoyable to read. An Entente victory does seem certain at this, though I hope that the various butterflies will have a deep impact on the outcome. For example, were there any repercussions after Clemenceau's bloody coup? I mean, sure, Germany attacked an American warship, but did American sympathies for the French not also suffer?

Good questions. However I can't tell you too much because that would give away the entire endgame of the War.
 
Part 5 Chapter 34
Chapter Thirty-Four


1st September, 1917

Reims, France

Emil walked into the bar that was crammed to the rafters with noncoms from the 4th Division. He got more than a few quizzical looks at his presence. He could hear the mutters to the effect of “What’s the Brass doing here” around him. He fought his way through the crowded room to the booth in the back of the room where Horst and Sjostedt were cooling their heels tonight.

“You could have had me meet you out the Division’s bivouac” Emil said.

“No” Horst said “Too many unfriendly ears, Oberst Wolvogle has many friends but just many enemies in the 4th.”

“I don’t know what you expect me tell you.”

“What do we say?” Sjostedt asked “We’ve been called to testify as witnesses.”

“Just tell the truth” Emil said “That’s all anyone wants from you.”

“The trouble is that if we do that me might as well hang Wolvogle ourselves” Horst said.

It was strange, here was Horst worried about a man he’d called insane, crazy and a madman on numerous occasions. Emil’s own first encounter with Wolvogle had occurred two days after the Battle of Ussy when the Oberst had arrived in Reims walked into General von Gallwitz’s office and demanded to be arrested.

“That is exactly the sort of thing that Wolvogle does” Horst said “And this time I don’t see how we get him out it.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After the Battle of Ussy, Schuhart was quite sure that the French handler would be putting the screws to his agents. He had been going through the dirty laundry of the 2nd and 5th Armies. He had found things like some of the radio operators in the 5th Army headquarters had an illegal bookmaking operation or the gin still being run by the clerks and typists of the 2nd. All beneath his notice.

Jacob Schmidt’s theory was that the Subject St ring were people who had been morally compromised or bribed by a black marketeer named Stoltz and when this Stoltz had disappeared he’d passed his network to the French. That had enabled Schuhart to narrow his pool of suspects. He’d already identified two officers of the Military Police and a Staff Officer in the 5th Army. That just left the one that was thought to be a Staff Officer in the 2nd Army.

A couple of weeks earlier Schuhart had left several files that would be something that a spy would want to pass along. Tonight, a file was missing. Even though he now figured he knew the identity of the spy he would give it a few days. Let some French or American Army Division get a bloody nose. After that, even if he didn’t get the traitor then the French would take care of it for him.


3rd September, 1917

Reims, France

After days of gathering evidence the Court Martial was ready to proceed in what was had become the strangest proceedings that anyone had witnessed.

Horst had fought his way up to the front church pews of the improvised courtroom. He figured that the Gothic cathedral had seldom been this packed when it had been put to its intended purpose. Most of the Brass from the 4th Division was there, the entire surviving 1st Armored Cavalry, what looked like half the journalists in Europe and probably hundreds who were there just because they were curious.

“Sir, it’s not too late to put up some sort of defense” Horst said.

“Don’t worry about me” Wolvogle said. He’d had his wife send the formal black uniform of a Prussian Hussar from their home outside of Berlin, all black and silver. Horst had noticed that many others in 1st Armored had adopted the same uniform.

“But Sir…” Horst said.

“I said don’t worry about me, Oberfeld” Wolvogle said “It’s always good the way you’ve watched my back but I’ve got this.”

Horst noticed that Wolvogle had the same gleam in his eye that he got right before he did something particularly insane.

“I hope you do” Horst said “Good luck, Sir.”

Wolvogle just smiled.

Horst had an easier time making it back to where Emil and Sjostedt were seated. Emil had pulled rank to get them good seats.

“I don’t get it” Horst said “He’s not going to call witnesses or defend himself. What’s he doing?”

“He knows exactly what he’s doing” Emil said.

“How’s that?”

“Because the fix is already in” Emil said matter of fact.

Horst and Sjostedt looked at Emil in astonishment.

“You can’t give someone a Blue Max, an audience with the Emperor at the same time they’re supposed to be in front of a firing squad” Emil said shrugged “It’s politics”

“You need get back to the Front where at least it’s sane” Sjostedt said “This place is having a bad effect on you.”

With that the three Officers who were to sit Judgement had entered.

“We call this Court of Honor on the matter of Oberst of Cavalry Manfred Moritz Wolvogle who stands accused of gross insubordination, striking a superior Officer and exceeding his authority. Does the accused wish a statement?”

Wolvogle shot to his feet “Damn right I did all that”

The Prosecuting Officer looked at Wolvogle “You freely admit that you struck Generalmajor Broun in the face on the 19th of August.”

Broun was there, his head was still heavily bandaged to immobilize his broken jaw.

“I did more than that” Wolvogle said “I broke that son of bitch’s jaw when I pistol whipped him after he said that we should surrender to the Frogs and Amis.”

That caused a stir in the cathedral. “If the accused would refrain from the use of colorful expletives” One of the Presiding Officers said.

“Sorry about that, Sir” Wolvogle said, clearly not meaning it.

“So, you freely admit that you are guilty of all charges.”

“Yes” Wolvogle said “I throw myself upon the mercy of the Court.”

“You understand the consequences of that, Oberst Wolvogle?”

“Yes” Wolvogle said.

“Very well, we find Oberst Wolvogle guilty of all charges but in light of his long service to the Empire and his own admission of guilt we are reducing the charges to one count of disorderly conduct. He is to be charged a one Papiermark fine and is prohibited from wearing the Imperial Eagle on his uniform for one day."

With that it was as if there was an explosion in the cathedral. People who were for and against what had just happened yelling at each other. Later when they had fought their way clear Emil told Horst and Sjostedt that they should get used to hearing the words General of Cavalry Wolvogle because it was going to happen.

At the same time this was happening the 42nd Infantry “Rainbow” Division of the US Army attacked what Intelligence had said was a gap between two German Army Corps. It turned out that it was occupied by the 54th Corps Jäger Division.
 
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Notre-Dame De Reims (Reims Cathedral)
dsc02382.jpg
 
General of Cavalry Wolvogle

What is the equivalent of an Obrest? Captain?

So, our dude hits a General with a pistol and later get promoted to a General? I should write that down

At the same time this was happening the 42nd Infantry “Rainbow” Division of the US Army attacked what Intelligence had said was a gap between two German Army Corps. It turned out that it was occupied by the 54th Corps Jäger Division.

Again, go Jaeger! Can't believe I'm still rout for the Germany....
 
How dare that court martial be that harsh to the poor Oberst. A WHOLE day being deprived of wearing the Imperial Eagle and extorted by one paper mark. They have some nerve. :closedtongue:

Well he has the conviction on his record, but his deed have won him favor. A promotion and more men and equipment should be arriving soon to fill out his new regiment/division.

Schuhart have dangled the bait for the spy and it was taken and swallowed. Now will come the decision to either to continue the agents false information, arrest and interrogate them for all their contacts, or something in between. Emil may well feel the pinch and may even be sent back to join Horst and friends.
 
Part 5 Chapter 35
Chapter Thirty-Five


Reims, France

15th October, 1917

Bauer was laying on the bunk in one of the cells in the old city gaol contemplating the cracks on the ceiling and the finite nature of all things when Emil Holz showed up.

“You really are a piece of shit aren’t you” Emil said.

“What are you complaining about?” Bauer said “I’m in here and you’re out there.”

“Do you honestly think your bullshit affects only you?” Emil said “You even care?”

“I can say that I think that…” Bauer sat up and his words trailed off when he saw that Emil was wearing the old coat and stained tunic that he’d worn when he’d first met him back near the Somme River, ages ago. “What’s up with that?”

“Because of you General von Gallwitz was transferred back to Berlin and the new General has his own people” Emil said “I had that creep Schuhart up in my face yesterday. You want to know what he said, that he couldn’t find any proof that I knew what you are, otherwise I’d be in there with you. So, I was given the opportunity to rejoin my old unit and find the appropriate means to cleanse the stain on my honor.”

Bauer looked down at his boots “What did what I did have anything to do with you?”

“Because I told you to transfer out when you told me that Stoltz was blackmailing you” Emil said “Do you understand what they ordered me to do?”

“Yes”

“I want you to say it” Emil said furiously. Bauer was suddenly glad that there was a locked door between them.

“They want you to get yourself killed in combat so they don’t have to deal with you.” Bauer said.

“Yeah” Emil said “I never trusted you because on some level I always knew this was going to happen.”

Bauer heard Emil’s footsteps fading with distance and the word “Prick” before the door slammed and he was alone again.

Bauer laid back down on the bunk and stared at the ceiling some more. After the farcical Court Marshal of Oberst Wolvogle last month everyone had been in a festive mood. Then things had soured. The Americans, French and British had been pressing in on all fronts. The only small blessing was that Monsieur Ombré had vanished. He would later learn it was because Schuhart had burned him as a source. When the Inspector had him arrested. What had followed was a real Court Marshal. Everything he’d done. The passing of information on to the French, the blocking of investigations into Stoltz’s activities, they even had the Generalmajor’s wife giving tearful testimony about how Bauer had seduced her. As if her blackened eye hadn’t told a different story.

That was it, he’d been condemned to execution delayed only by the departure of General von Gallwitz. Now he had until sunrise before he had a date with the firing squad. Which was going to come at any time.

There was the sound of the door to the gaol opening again, he was hoping it was Emil here to rub it in again. It wasn’t, it was four soldiers, three Soldats and a Gefreiter. They unlocked the cell and stepped in. “On your feet, Filth” The Gefreiter said. He would never had spoken that way to Bauer before. But now that he had been stripped of all rank he was lower that even these Soldats that he could tell were looking for an excuse to give him a severe beating.

Bauer didn’t resist as they led him out to the waiting car that took them out to the edge of town. There were hundreds of soldiers that were representatives of every Division of the 2nd Army. They were clearly making an example of him by making sure that every soldier in the entire Army Corps knew what had happened to him. There was also a handful of French civilians who were there to see the spectacle of the seeing Boche kill one of their own.

Pulling Bauer roughly from the car they led him out and had him standing there as his hands were tied behind him. “If you know what’s good for you won’t try anything funny” The Gefreiter said to him. Bauer stared at the man for a long second, marveling at the absurdity of that.

There were 12 soldiers who were waiting as a Hauptman who Bauer didn’t know loaded cartridges, individually, into their rifles with his back to them. That was also absurd. Like if a soldier who knew their weapon wouldn’t know that a blank cartridge was fired in it.

That was when Bauer saw Monsieur Ombré in the crowd of French civilians, the man gave Bauer a sarcastic two-fingered salute and walked away. Of course, he’d known this was going to happen. That was when the blind fold was put over his eyes Bauer was laughing, it was all so absurd. Life, the War, everything.

Schuhart was watching the crowd, he saw the Frenchman give a sarcastic salute to Bauer. Naturally the French spymaster would be degenerate enough to be there when the fallen German soldier he’d taken advantage of was executed. The Frenchman walked into Reims. As Schuhart followed him up the street he heard the sharp crack of a dozen rifles.

The French spy, perhaps sensing something was off ducked into an alleyway. Schuhart drew his pistol as he rounded the corner and saw nothing but an empty alley. That wasn’t possible, the Frenchman must be around here somewhere? Something closed around Schuhart’s throat and he couldn’t breathe. He reached up and found a wire had been cinched around his throat.

Sauvageot twisted off the wire of the garrote as the German Investigator’s face turned purple. He let go of the handles. The German continued to claw at the wire that was choking the life from him.

Sauvageot caught the man’s eye “I’m sorry Monsieur Schuhart but while your methods were clumsy they were effective. You didn’t even attempt to turn my agents” He said “I can ill afford to have you refine your methods, so goodbye.”

The last thing that Schuhart saw was the Frenchman walk away as he collapsed. As darkness claimed him the last thought that ran through his mind was that the pavement his face landed on smelled of piss.
 
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How dare that court martial be that harsh to the poor Oberst. A WHOLE day being deprived of wearing the Imperial Eagle and extorted by one paper mark. They have some nerve. :closedtongue:

Well he has the conviction on his record, but his deed have won him favor. A promotion and more men and equipment should be arriving soon to fill out his new regiment/division.

Schuhart have dangled the bait for the spy and it was taken and swallowed. Now will come the decision to either to continue the agents false information, arrest and interrogate them for all their contacts, or something in between. Emil may well feel the pinch and may even be sent back to join Horst and friends.

What Wolvogle was convicted of is the same as what he would have gotten is if he had started a bar fight so it's something he can live with.
 
What Wolvogle was convicted of is the same as what he would have gotten is if he had started a bar fight so it's something he can live with.

Totally understood. My lines about the Oberst were made in fun. He deserved his promotion and medals. Now to see if his ways will keep him alive or if he will go out in a blaze of glory. He might just prefer that though. :cool:
 
Called it right about Emil. Back on the front lines and a black stain on his record. Makes the earlier post about his promotion being the last for quite a long time.

I was surprised that Shuhart's arrogance got him killed, but I can see just why he fell to it instead of trying to get others to follow the spy. Germany lost a skilled agent, and France retains the use of theirs.
 
Totally understood. My lines about the Oberst were made in fun. He deserved his promotion and medals. Now to see if his ways will keep him alive or if he will go out in a blaze of glory. He might just prefer that though. :cool:

I knew that. As for what happens to Wolvogle, lets just say that it will play out in a place that he could never have imagined.
 
I knew that. As for what happens to Wolvogle, lets just say that it will play out in a place that he could never have imagined.


Cool. Well I appreciate the hint, and take all of my guesses and predictions with a grain of salt. I sure do, and am happy to be proven wrong. Makes for a more exciting story.
 
Part 5 Chapter 36
Chapter Thirty-Six


15th October, 1917

4th Division Bivouac, Outside Reims

The day before Oberlieutenant von Hofstadter had been loaded onto a truck strapped to a stretcher. His drinking, which had been excessive even by the standards of the Western Front, had gotten way out of control since Ussy. He’d interrupted breakfast when he’d killed an Ami “tank” with his pistol. Everyone in the Company had chipped in to buy the farmer a new milk cow and prevent von Hofstadter from being brought up on charges. Word had reached them that Headquarters was sending a replacement.

There had been a few other developments, a new armored vehicle was going the replace the Raupe which were to be phased out. Not too difficult since there weren’t very many Raupes left. The new vehicle, Panzerkampfwagen or Panzer as it was being called had a rotating turret like the French FT17 but it was much larger with an improved 57mm and an extra machinegun in the hull. Horst was withholding judgement until he saw them in action. They had also received a new machine gun, a monster version of the MG16 almost two meters in length that fired a 13.2 mm bullet. Again, Horst was withholding judgement. Right now, they were still trying to figure out how they’d use the damned things. There were also rumors that the High Command was considering merging 1st Armored Cavalry into 4th Infantry Division. The new composite unit, 4th Panzer Division. What sort of name was that?

One thing that Horst wasn’t ambivalent about was that he was glad he wasn’t going to be in Berlin any time soon. Wolvogle had departed that morning to receive the Pour le Mérite from the Emperor himself. It had played out exactly as Emil had said it would. The thought of Wolvogle and Kaiser Wilhelm in the same room, the Emperor was rumored to be as much of a loose cannon as Wolvogle. Horst could imagine the sorts of ideas those two would cook up. “We could invade England, we just need the men to hold their breath while we march across the Channel” Horst could imagine Wolvogle saying. “Smashing idea” Wilhelm would say back “Think we can use this new giant battleship of mine too?” Horst sorted at the thought.

“What’s so funny?” Sjostedt asked.

“Nothing” Horst said.

The lorry that was bringing the day's mail out from Headquarters rolled in. Horst watched as Emil got out and walked over to them, he was dressed a lot like he had back in Verdun, right down to the beat up rucksack and rifle slung over his shoulder.

“What are you doing here?” Horst asked.

“A friend of mine said that I needed to get out of Headquarters and back to where things are halfway sane” Emil said.

“Sounds like your friend knew what he was talking about” Sjostedt said.

“I also heard that your Company’s old commander went nuts and shot a cow” Emil said “I’m here as his replacement.”

“About time they sent someone who knows what they are doing” Horst said “Welcome back, Sir.”

“Thank You, Oberfeld” Emil said.

It really was nice to be back.


22nd October, 1917

Élysée Palace, Paris, France

It was late evening when Georges Clemenceau walked towards the conference room, the news he’d been getting from the Front was buoying his mood. While there had been some hiccups, the Boche were getting pushed back. He’d been called by the President for some mundane reason which was the reason for this visit. It was when he entered the room that he’d noticed that President Poincaré wasn’t alone. The American Ambassador William Graves Sharpe and Commander of the AEF, John Pershing were seated there as well. Clemenceau also noticed that Poincaré was refusing to meet his eye. What was going on here?

“We asked for the two of you here tonight because it’s time that we move to end this” Sharpe said.

“We are” Clemenceau said “We are pushing the Boche back, soon we have them back over their own borders, then we…”

“Raze their cities and sow their fields with salt” Pershing said “How long will it take to do that, two years, Three? In the meantime, how many more battles like Ussy or Compiègne where the Germans kick your teeth in, even while retreating?”

“The Boche murdered your Ambassador” Clemenceau said “And you are talking about starting negotiations with them.”

“Walter Page was also deeply uncomfortable with how you butchered anyone who stood in your way and settled old scores in the wake of the coup attempt last year” Sharpe said “He felt that the United States needed to intervene on behalf of civilization, not France.”

“But you’re already here” Clemenceau said.

“We don’t have to be” Pershing said “We pull back and have the US Navy blockade French ports the way they are doing with the Germans and you’d have the Germans in Paris by early Spring at the latest.”

“They can’t be serious” Clemenceau said to Poincaré who still continued to stare at the wall.

“Calm down, Georges” Poincaré said with resignation “They have us over a barrel.”

“If both sides can agree to pull back to pre-war borders” Sharpe said.

Clemenceau listened to what Sharpe was saying, he was proposing that France accept a white peace with the German Empire. All the death, all the bleeding, all the sacrifice, it would have all been for nothing. It would mean that the Germans would come out even, the Americans would win and France will have lost. As he sat there it felt like his head was about to explode and he noticed a pain in his left shoulder.

“That is thoroughly unacceptable!” Clemenceau yelled “It is a betrayal of everything that we have fought for, we…”

Clemenceau stopped midsentence, it felt like someone was standing on his chest.

“Are you well, Mr. Prime Minister?” He heard Sharpe say but it sounded like it was from very far away as darkness rimmed his vision.

Four days later

4th Division Bivouac, Outside Reims, France

Horst was reading a French newspaper.

“It says here that Le Tigre suffered a fatal heart attack and that they’re giving him a State funeral” Horst said checking the date on the paper “That means that they put him in the ground, yesterday, I think.”

“What’s that mean for us?” Sjostedt asked.

“The Hell if I know” Horst answered.
 
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