The March of Time - 20th Century History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Karelian, Mar 8, 2013.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 127: "Message for you, Sir!"

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    [​IMG]
    11th of October, 1905, Saturday.
    The Billiard Room of the Royal Palace, Kristiania, Norway, 11km from the frontline.

    The city was quiet. Wind whistled in the chimneys and swept rain to windows, soaking the mounted police patrols that rode back and forth along the empty cobblestone streets.
    The men gathered around the ornamented fireplace at the Billiard Room smoked cuban cigarettes or decorated pipes in silence. They listened, just like all other inhabitants of the city.
    Despite the rain and wind they could all hear it: a distant, rumbling noise in the east. "So, what news from the front?", a bearded, sullen-looking man finally said while stubbing his cigar.

    Lieutenant-General Olssøn, standing in his uniform near the billiard table stopped his silent conversation, and turned around. "Nothing new. The enemy has more men and more guns, and they've committed them both in full force, as you can hear just as well as I. What more there is to say?", the round-faced, balding Minister of Defence said and waved with his hand dismissively. "I told you all that we couldn't win a war should it come to this, remember? That we weren't ready, and...?" The hall erupted to shouting. "The millions we poured to your vaunted border forts!" "Impregnable wall, indeed!" Another voice of a frail, old and angry man: "And how many times I told you all before Karldstad that we could still back down and get a deal where every second foreign minister would be a Norwegian, remember that?!"

    "GENTLEMEN."

    The man standing next to the billiard table didin't turn around, but instead leaned forward, closer to the table, and observed the game he and Olssøn had been playing. Yet the room fell silent, as Prime Minister Peter Christian Hersleb Kjerschow Michelsen rose up, and turned to face his government. "Now, are we a group of old fishwives or the government of Norway?" And before anyone could answer, he continued. "The old swagger is at his deathbed. Berlin and London are most upset. The Russians have sent their troops to Åland. And most importantly, the people are with us. We are united like never before in this historical test of our nation. We will prevail. So leave your childish bickering and hysterics inside these walls. Right now need unity, more than ever. Time is on our side."

    "Goddamnit, Christian! I should punch you to the face right here and now! Stop it! Can't you see that we cannot talk our way out of this anymore! It is just as Olssøn said! We can hear their cannons already and you are mocking us from raising alarm, and calling for patience! You - You are a brazen liar, Christian Michelsen, and you have a lot of blood in your hands! And let me tell you something right here! I will not walk to the gallows as a fool who followed such a hustler as you! We must end this war, you hear me? We must end it right away, we must capitulate! I cannot allow a single soul to lose their lives for your lies, Christian! You'd let this city burn rather than admit that you have been wrong, and that your gambles and games and lies have brought doom and downfall upon Norway!

    Jørgen Løvland was an old headmaster, and when he had lost his temper - which was rare before the war, the whole school could hear it. The empty rooms and corridors of the royal palace echoed from the shouting mach that erupted when Christian Michelsen, a Prime Minister with an ego to match the title, rose to defend his honour and policies against this tirade.

    The 20-something adjutant who ran inside without knocking a moment later saw all eyes on the room to turn towards him, just when the towering figure of general Olssøn was standing between Minister Løvland and Prime Minister Michelsen, who both looked ready to expand their debate to a mêlée.

    "Mr. Prime Minister, Sir! Several telegrams addressed to you in person!"
    Michelsen corrected his jacket collars with a pompous move, walked towards the adjutant with a quick pace without even looking to Løvland, grapped the telegram envelopes, and tore them open with haste. And then he bursted to laughter.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 128: The Other Side Of The Hill

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    12th of October, 1905, Sunday.
    Lørenskog, 10km East from Kristiania.


    War Diary of the Tredje Arméfördelningen
    22nd of September 1905 -
    12th of October, 1905, Sunday.
    +10C, wind from South-West, overcast.

    "...The bridgehead established over Nitelva during the daylight hours was used as basis, from where the detachments sent in from reserve advanced in pursuit of the enemy around half past nine in the evening, when the bridge engineers of the K. Göta Ingeniör-Kår had utilized the timber and logs transferred from the Glomma by land to establish the first makeshift bridge over Nitelva. 1st Battalion of the K. Elfsborg Regiment pursued the enemy infantry that was retreating in a semi-organized fashion along the direction of the railroad, while the enemy infantry units engaged still stubbornly held their positions at the hills further south and west. Judging from the nature of the combat of previous 24 hours, it seems obvious that the enemy planned to fight to the utmost in their positions behind the river to check our advance. The only rational object of the continued resistance at this position is an apparent attempt to force us to a decisive battle, and it can be concluded that the enemy leadership is fighting desperately, as they have ran out of space to be traded for time."

    The officer casualties of the engineer battalion had reached a point where senior lieutenants were field-promoted to captains. The growing doubt that someone in the unit had murdered their own officers during the battle could not be verified, but after Glomma the reported mood among the new reservists was near-mutinous, and several soldiers had been reprimanted for calling their task "a madmen's job that would get them all killed." Illegal leaflets were also found from field quarters, but their actual ownership or origin could not be verified. Desertions among the Bohuslän regiment rose to an alarming degree before the attack over the Glomma, as many men undoubtedly realized that fleeing after crossing the river would be considerably harder. Afterwards the mood has seemingly improved, and the men are almost eager - the general view among the whole Army seems to be that once Kristiania falls, the war will end.

    The heavy artillery ammunition ran out during the day, and the resupply we received is totally inadequate. Same applies to the field artillery batteries. The infantry regiments sustained heavy casualties during the crossing, as the suppressive fire was not as effective as during the crossing of Glomma, and several enemy machine gun positions remained operational. General Nordenskjöld views the situation as totally untenable, and fears that a determined Norwegian counterattack could now roll through the whole bridgehead with ease. I do not share his worry. The bridgehead shall be expanded, and once the enemy has been routed from this line, our reconnaissance does not expect further organized resistance until the city of Kristiania itself."

    Major Curt Vilhelm Rappe gestured his secretary to stop typing, took the paper sheet, added a stamp to the report copy, and turned towards the General's adjutant, Count Klingspor.
    "Now when the official paperwork is done, I feel that everything is slowly unravelling, Carl. I had to order two more deserters shot for today alone. It cannot go on like this. We have practically no artillery ammo left by tomorrow at this rate! And ever since that ruffian Thord arrived to the K. Lifreg. Husarer, the cavalry has been all about skjut, bränn och tig in their anti-dødsgjenger operations. They are riding around the hills and countryside like an Apache warband! Have you seen the foreign headlines?!"

    Klingspor took a sip of coffee, carefully keeping his moustaches dry, and sighted. "I concur with your general assessment of the situation, sir, I really do. But at the end of the day it has been enough, hasn't it? The rebels are beaten. We'll march to Kristiania and hoist His Majesty's flag, dictate terms, and march home to deal with all the rats that have crawled out while we were gone."

    Major Rappe nodded, and rubbed his eyes a bit. "I suppose you are right, Carl. It's just this damn war. Every prewar calculation thrown out of the window, every one of them! The men are hungry, flat-out tired from forced marches, their boots are falling apart, and the weather is only going to get worse. It's the lot of the soldier, but things back home are a lot worse than we feared. This war needs to end, and soon."
    "And it shall end, Sir, since we are about to win it. For victory. Se, vi går upp till Jerusalem." Carl toasted with his engraved hip flask, and passed it on to the major.
    "Well said, Carl."

    War Diary of the Anden Akershusske (2det) Infanteri-Brigade
    22nd of September 1905 -
    12th of October, 1905, Sunday.
    +10C, wind from South-West, overcast.

    "The general advance of the enemy against the whole length of our line continues unabated. Colonel Steffens was wounded in battle around six in the afternoon, and Colonel Petersen took command of the remaining forces of the Landstorm battalion, which was reorganized to a two-company strong unit and sent to the rear for refit after it had been rendered combat ineffective due the heavy casualties sustained during the fighting. Colonel Petersen further reported that the main elements of the Oplandske Landværnskavaleriekorps, with whom he arrived during the night, have now taken up positions along the road and surrounding hills.

    The situation in the sectors of the 1st Landværnet battalion continues unchanged, with constant skirmishing with enemy reconnaissance patrols and harassive artillery fire tying down our forces to holding the current positions limiting the enemy bridgehead. The 1st Line Battalion further south has established contact to the Landværnskavaleriekorps, and thus the enemy bridgehead, under fire from our artillery, is again contained."

    Generalmajor Holtermann chuckled. Cavalry Corps, my ass. A fancy name for a glorified battalion-sized collection of scattered groups of old cavalrymen with carbines, hasted here from northern bank of Glomma after they had spent weeks there as a delaying screening force. Fresh reserves indeed.

    The Swedes had no reason to change a winning strategy. The bastards just attacked frontally, hammering the parapets and dugouts down with their artillery that no longer exposed itself but remained hidden behind crestlines. At the same time they were utilizing the terrain with great care, always finding and turning the flanks of even the strongest defensive position, time and time again. If they were pinned down by machine guns and rifle fire, as had often happened both today and before, they just called in more artillery, regrouped, and attacked again from a different flank. What was he supposed to do to that without actual reserves?

    The mediecal church of Lørenskog shook a bit as a lone artillery shell landed nearby along the road, and tiny pieces white plaster fell from the roof. Holtermann didin't really pay attention to his surroundings now due his exhaustion, but had ordered his HQ to relocate to the church the moment the Swedes had crossed the river. Getting killed now would serve no purpose.

    For the past weeks he had contemplated his memoirs a lot. What to write and whom to blame. He had ultimately opted to disregard the whole idea as vainglorious. The men he had sent to their deaths for the sake of Norway would not be writing their memoirs, so neither should he. He had instead decided to speak his mind to the next noisy reporter he'd come accross, but it seemed that now when he actually wanted to talk to one of them, they were all gone. Most likely running around at the battalion and company headquarters, putting their lives to danger while witnessing the "tragically heroic last stand of the doomed Nordic warrior nation", or other such nonsense.

    A field telephone rang, and the signal corporal looked at him like a confused child and stuttered: "Sir, General Olssøn on line 1!"
    Holtermann froze for a split second. He had hoped for the war to end for a long while, and had recommended negotiations at any terms - since outright asking for a surrender would have been an act of mutiny, and in any case beneath the honour of an officer - but now he suddenly felt just as lost as the corporal who gazed him with fear and confusion in his eyes. Olssøn had never called him directly like this, not in a middle of a night.
    "Gimme that!", he muttered from behind his teeth and seized the receiver. "Holtermann."
    "Yes. Really? Of course, Sir. Yes. Right away Sir. Over."

    He felt dizzy. "Corporal." "Yes sir?" "Wake up the clerks, tell them to copy this message for every battalion HQ. In paper only, no signals!"
    When the signal corporal left the sacristy, Holtermann noticed that he had taken his gloves off without really thinking about it. Damn fingernails again. He needed a drink. And all the reserves he could muster. Cooks, runners, cart drivers, anyone who could point a rifle to the general direction of the Swedes and hold the line until further notice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
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  3. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Baiona , Ipar Euskal Herria (Bayonne, FR)
    It sounded like a miracle is about to happen.
    A foreign intervention to stop Sweden, or a revolution back home? ...

    I can't wait for the conclusion ^^
     
  4. Oldbill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2015
    OH MAN! What a cliffhanger!
     
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 129: We Get Signal

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    13th of October, 1905, Monday.
    Furuholm, Strömstad.


    Ernest Tunstedt liked his job. Here he was, sitting alone in an almost cozy signal room. The warm light of the kerosene lantern, monotonous drone of the generator at the background, and the static white noise in his clunky headphones. The miserable weather outside did not bother him one bit. His father had been right: technical school and applying for telegram service had been a good investment to his future. He, Agren and Gustavsen had the small cabin all for themselves, and the only other people in this small rocky island west of Strömstad were the half-squad of local reservists from Kustartillerie. Here they were, near-forgotten and at the same time performing a critical part in the Swedish war effort. Or so Captain de Champs had told them.

    While they had despaired with the chaotic signal cacophony of the first days of the war, soon enough they and the other naval signal crews had created a working routine, at the same time when the enemy had opted to avoid further major naval engagements, sparing them the trouble of keeping the admirals informed by relaying messages back and forth between Karlskrona and the Norwegian coast. As of late they mostly just sent and received the routine test signals, and that was it. Ernest had no trouble with this state of affairs.

    Nights like these were perfect for writing. "My dear Ida..." Ida was certainly quite something. Well-mannered and light-hearted, quick to laugh and ten years younger than him. Until this autumn the fact that her father owned a sawmill had meant that his chances had been less than stellar. An aspiring young technical student and a son of an accountant simply was not enough for that level.

    But a decorated war hero would certainly be totally another matter! A 1st-class signalist of Torpeddepartementet of the Kungliga Marinförvaltningen!
    "I still cannot tell you any specifics about our assignments and duties, other than that they are of vital importance..." And he did not even have to exaggerate with this detail. Captain de Champs had stressed secrecy to a degree that his lectures had become a running joke, although he still had good reputation among his men. Rumour was that de Champs and friherren Dahlgren, that uppity bastard and the commander of the entire department were merely waiting the war to end to fight a duel because of the way de Champs had mocked and blamed the coastal artillery for the failed summertime tests at Gotland. Well, military honour and wireless signalling were no laughing matter.

    And due the diligence and resourcefulness of Ernest and his coursemates, the signal detachments established by the Torpedo Department of the Royal Swedish Naval Materiel Administration had so far served His Majesty's Navy well. The systems they operated were technically limited as far as their range and reliability were concerned, and only de Champs and a handful of other specialists trained in Germany and Britain were fully initiated to their mysteries. But they were still a giant leap forward as far as commanding a naval force at war was concerned.

    And their efforts would be appreciated. Ernest wanted to believe his gut feeling that despite his personal feud with his superiour, Captain de Champs would have a bright career ahead of him. And as the best student of the first signal course, Ernest would only have to do his duty and look forward to a bright future career. And with that part of his life in order, eventually Ida's father would surely also come to his senses, and...

    The static bursted to life, with a sudden cacophony of traffic. Ernest nearly fell from his chair from surprise, but quickly re-adjusted his headphones, scrambled to grap a formal message sheet, watched the clock for time, and at the same time kicked the door at his left and shouting to Agren and Gustavsen to wake up.

    13th of October, 1905, Monday.
    Skagerrak, c. 30km west from Strömstad.

    SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II
    was leading the column. Since all ships of the squadron had their searchlights on, the scene at the North Sea reminded Grossadmiral von Koester of a street with Christmas lights. It had all been much simpler before electricity, he thought to himself. Back in the day in Plymouth. Good, happier times. But the modern world was remorseless. One had to adapt or perish. "Any new signals?" "Sir, we are picking up a lot of W.T. traffic. Its seems that everyone is testing their signal equipment or receiving instructions from mainland." The old admiral merely nodded. He was happy that Alfred was taking care with this aspect of the whole endeavour. Personally he longed back for the time when a ship at sea was still a realm of its own once it had sailed away from port. Now he had to live with the fact that those scheming oafs from Wilhelmstraße could constantly bombard him with instructions and inquiries. Hans von Koester watched how the more distant column of searchlights at the horizon in their starboard side was slowly fading to the darkness as a constellation of stars in the otherwise dark night.

    He consoled himself with the thought that every captain equipped with some type of wireless were most likely having similar trouble with their diplomats at home. It had taken more than a month to turn the rumours of possible action to actual orders, and weeks of bored waiting had turned to utter haste in a span of days. Well, he had been sailing long enough to know that was just business as usual. And the end result pleased him. He kept his political opinions to himself and knew when to shut up, but privately he felt good about the whole enterprise. Sailing with the Royal Navy was preferable to sailing against it.

    13th of October, 1905, Monday.
    Furuholm, Strömstad.


    Ernest begun to compose and send report message to Karlskrona. His face was pale, but otherwise he was focused on the task at hand, just like the rest of the team. The paper tape recorders were still rolling like film reels, spewing out garbled bits of morse code that Agren and Gustavsen wrote down as it kept coming. He had no idea whether everyone outside of their small island knew about this already - the Kustartillerie supply boat delivery did not include newspapers - but he had to get the message out to Karlskrona and Stockholm as quickly as possible. The spark gap transmitter was ready. He started to operate the signalling key, focusing on getting the whole message out as clearly and quickly as possible. "..-. .-.. . .-. .- / -. -.-- .- / ... .. --. -. .- .-.. ... - .- - .. --- -. . .-. / -.. . - . -.- - . .-. .- -.. . .-.-.- / .. -. ... - .-. ..- -.- - .. --- -. . .-. ..--.."
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  6. galileo-034 Extreme Centrist Conspirator

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Location:
    Baiona , Ipar Euskal Herria (Bayonne, FR)
    So:
    "Flera nya signalstationer detekterare. Instruktisner?"

    I get to admit my Morse is basic so I had to look for the punctuation.
    Else, I imagine that's in Swedish.

    I don't know it means, but if I was to risk a guess based on the similarities, and the narrative, I'd say it has detected radio traffic from the German ships and is requesting instructions.
     
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  7. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2017
    means " several new signal stations detected. Instructions?"
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
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  8. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

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    Mar 6, 2017
    Also one wonders what the russia fleet (and the french in general?) are up to at the moment and if the former will prove as incompetent as in OTL.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  9. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Correct.
    This was a time when SIGINT and code books for wireless were still brand new concepts, and technology was developing with amazing speed. Captain de Champs was one of the leading experts of wireless military signalling in the world in OTL, and the Swedish Navy Signal Instructions he helped to write in 1903 already mentioned the possibility that signals could be intercepted and jammed, just like the Russo-Japanese War would prove in OTL.

    Some militaries were still occasionally sending uncoded wireless messages in 1914, so doing so nearly a decade earlier when everyone is still trying to figure things out is more than plausible - especially in a situation that is a major cause of alarm.

    They have indeed detected the wireless signals from the sea. But the German ships mentioned in the update have early Telefunken systems, just like the Swedes. They were more tactical than operational in their capacity, so c. 30km at night conditions is within their extreme range. These range limitations mean that Swedish wireless messages to Christianiafjord and back thus have to be relayed from one patrolling ship to another, with the land station mentioned above working as an important relay link in this signal chain.

    And since professor Wien has not yet presented his paper about radio waveform generation, every transmission is bound to be picked up by all stations within range, since every country is now transmitting on just a single pre-set frequency.
    This is no news to the Royal Navy, and has not stopped them from rapidly expanding their W/T capabilities with a near-exponential rate.
    At the end of 1900 RN had 32 Marconi and 19 Jackson sets, and three shore stations.
    By 31st of December 1901 the Royal Navy had a total of 105 sets, and eight shore stations.
    About half of the fleet has been fitted with wireless sets by 1904.
    RN has thus already operated and tested W/T on a worldwide scale for half a decade by 1905, when they set for a policy where every ship larger than destroyers were due to be fitted with W/T, with destroyers and lesser craft also under consideration. Even though the Admiralty itself did not yet have their own set by October 1905, and only Malta had complete shore-to-ship wireless capacity, the expansion has been swift and comprehensive due the insistence of Fisher. In OTL the Admiralty achieved the capacity to send wireless orders to ships everywhere in the home waters and Mediterranean by 1906, by 1909 157 ships were equipped with WT, and by 1914 the number had risen to 435.

    Here the signals that are shocking Ernest and his fellow signalists are mostly originating from Royal Navy vessels experimenting with their long-range main spark sets.
    I might actually compose a whole update about naval wireless telegraphy later on, but for now this is enough for the needs of the story.
     
  10. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    The Russian navy is going through quite a bit, as the naval build-up initiated after the Crimean War continues. Do note that a lot of the things mentioned here have not yet occurred in October 1905: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-century-history.272417/page-16#post-12037415

    Right now the Russian Navy is preoccupied with the question of Åland and the other personal initiatives of Admiral Yevgeni Ivanovich Alekseyev: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-century-history.272417/page-23#post-15280410
     
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  11. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Interesting developments I very much looking forward to where you are taking this.
    About the Swedish Cavalry roaming the countryside looking for sharpshooters - seems we are on a much shared perception of what would happen in this war. Did write something alike when working on my TL on subject back in March!
     
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  12. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    There was a recipe for a really ugly conflict in 1905: the Swedish draconian military laws and the extensive Norwegian paramilitary forces fighting prepared to wage a Boer-type guerrilla war were a mixture that could only lead to one outcome, as far as the civilian population caught in the battlefield was concerned.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  13. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

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    Mar 6, 2017
    As I've said earlier, sota bror will definitly not be a thing in the coming century.
     
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  14. Karelian Well-Known Member

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    Sep 8, 2011
    War crimes tend to create lasting enmities. And at the same time violent past can also be used for a strong motive for "never again"-type of mentality after the personally most affected generations are no longer in power. As it is in TTL, the previous war in Scandinavia ended in 1864, less than 41 years ago.
     
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 130: Marlborough Conference, Part 1: "...And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say."

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    [​IMG]
    A Conference of Ambassadors had so far been a panacea of European diplomacy in the face of a mounting crisis where multiple Great Powers were directly or indirectly involved. These diplomatic events had a century-old roots as a cornerstone of post-Napoleonic European diplomacy, with the first meeting of ambassadors having taken place at Paris in 1815. They had since been assembled for various reasons accross the continent: at Frankfurt to define the territories of the states of German Confederation, and at London to abolish the slave trade and suppress piracy, and again later on to settle the Belgian question in the 1830s. The latest, recently concluded conference at Rome was just the latest of the kind in a long list of meetings involving matters of the Ottoman Empire, joing to the ranks of conferences of 1853, 1860, 1869, 1876, 1880, 1896 and 1902. Recently the Boxer War settlement had also been dealt with with an ambassadorial conference in Peking. Thus the 1905 Conferences at Rome and London merely followed a well-established tradition of international European diplomacy.

    In autumn 1905 the regicide followed by a virtual revolution and local uprisings in the Ottoman Empire had raised tensions and locked the Powers to a dangerous impasse in the Near East. Fixed on the matter at hand, they had failed to foresee and forestall a suprising new regional war in the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. Since then the armies of Sweden had fought their way to the outskirts of Kristiania, while the Powers had been preoccupied with finding a settlement to the future status of Macedonia. This was finally achieved by October 1905 with the start of an international military observer commission led by General Degiorgis. With the partially mobilized Russian Caucasus Military District now officially chasing Armenian ARF Dashnaki combat detachments while still unofficially standing ready to invade at the borders of Ottoman Anatolia, tensions remained high. The Royal Navy was also once again out at sea in force, sailing to the two strategic straits at the outlets of Black Sea and the Baltic as a strong arm of the British foreign policy. The situation in the Ottoman realms was thus precarious, and the tensions in the region made the Powers willing to tread lightly in their mutual relations for the time being.

    But having seemingly stabilized the volatile Balkans with a joint effort for now, the Powers now focused their attention to Scandinavia. Known as the Marlborough Conference, the international mediation effort aimed to end the war in Scandinavia with invitations for both Swedish and Norwegian representatives. While both governments dutifully accepted the invitation to attend, hopes of a quick armistice followed by an early peace in the beginning of October were found to be unrealistic.

    The Swedish military leadership wanted to seize Kristiania to conclude her war against the rebellious Norwegians with a clear victory, while the Norwegian government refused to surrender their capitol. Meanwhile the daily work of the ambassadorial meetings at the conference was slow. A wide range of issues, including the future of the Franco-British guarantees of the territorial integrity of the now-separated United Kingdoms as per the Treaty of 1855 were now on the table. This matter interested the governments of Britain, Germany, Russia and France way more than the fate of Norway per se. The Norwegian naturally wanted all possible guarantees for their independence, integrity and neutrality - but in their current situation, they had no real position to bargain from. Hence the Michelsen government saw no alternative but to show defiance in the face of defeat, and to continue armed resistance against the Swedish invasion while urging the Powers to intervene.

    Unfortunately for Norwegians, their fate was only a part of a larger Baltic puzzle. The juridical position of the Danish Straits was much more murky than the status of the Black Sea Straits, and it was in reality unclear whether Denmark and Sweden would be obliged to keep the entrances to the Baltic open for belligerent warships in a time of war. While Britain and France wished to avoid upsetting the balance of power and the current status quo in the Baltic, Russia viewed the post-Crimean War dictates and the disarmament of strategically important Åland with disdain. While the French government recognized the Russian wish to abrogate the neutralization of the islands, Britain was able to secure French support for their mutual cause of trying to keep Berlin and St. Petersburg from getting too close in the Baltic.

    The Chamberlain government in Britain was willing to renew the security guarantee for both Sweden and Norway separately, provided that such new treaties would not be directed explicitly against Russia. Meanwhile both British and German diplomats favoured German participation to the new treaties. And at the middle of this Wilhelm II was busily conducting his own personal royal diplomacy with Nicholas II at Björkö, while also publicly discussing the topic of Norwegian succession. And in his personal quest for glory Admiral Alekseyev had brought the Åland question to the fore as well by sending a small naval contingent to the islands. So while the German diplomatic and political leaders sought to rein their erratic monarch in and the Russians were caught in their own internal power struggles regarding the course of their foreign policy, the conference was getting nowhere.

    Ultimately the only thing the various ambassadors could immediately all agree upon was the fact that the Powers wanted to preserve their unity of purpose and action. Mutually frowning upon the idea of any kind of unilateral intervention out of the fear of unforeseen escalation and pure mistrust of the true intentions of such initiatives kept the situation manageable, but also prevented any further military action at all for the time being. The conference ultimately endorsed a program of a neutral, autonomous Norway, jointly guaranteed by the Powers and capable of independent economic development. Even though general agreement that Norway should be independent to avoid further antagonism between the Powers was found quickly, the general details and postwar borders and status of Norway made the Powers again disagree among themselves, especially since Swedes showed no willigness to yield territory occupied with a heavy loss of life.

    And since Sweden had a critical status regarding the future of the Danish Straits and the wartime naval access to Baltic, neither Paris, Berlin, London or St. Petersburg were initially willing to strong-arm Stockholm to a deal. But they could not tolerate open defiance to their agreed-upon Norway plan either. The future of Norway thus gained new significance just when the frontlines were quickly approaching the Norwegian capitol. “If Sweden marches to Kristiania, Russia might then feel forced to march against Sweden, and Britain might then in turn have to march against Russia, with Germany and France drawn in as well - all this on account of Norway. It would be intolerable", as one British diplomat remarked in early October when the conference was assembling for the first time.
     
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  16. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

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    Mar 6, 2017
    Oh dear, that sounds distressingly familiar. just need the austrians now.
     
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  17. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

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    Mar 6, 2017
    oh also, what we really need now is a hotzendorf.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
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  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 131: Marlborough Conference, Part 2: Okkupert

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    [​IMG]
    "The guarantee of integrity alone need not be held to prevent one of the guaranteeing powers from temporarily occupying Norwegian territory without any intention of retaining it."
    Foreign Office clerk Eyre Crowe, 1905.

    A joint naval demonstration was ultimately viewed as a necessary first step for forcing the warring Nordic states to a truce. The war was front-page news in Europe, as the international news agencies of Wolff's Telegraphisches Bureau, Agente Havas and Reuters Telegram Company were all sending constant stream of news from the battlefields. Headlines all over Europe wondered whether the international naval action would succeed in eliminating the growing possibility of a wider European war. Frustrated by the snail-paced diplomacy, First Sea Lord Fisher ordered the Channel Fleet to descend to the Norwegian coast, where they were told to wait for the arrival of other contingents. After initial hesitation, the German Navy send the I. Geschwader to join the British-led force, and the French, Italians and Austrians followed suit with a token few ships. Russia sanctioned the actions of the demonstration, but Admiral Alekseyev wanted to use the Russian Baltic Fleet for a separate, simultaneous demonstration at the outskirts of Stockholm archipelago and Gotland. The Powers then shortly debated the scope of the blockade, with the French and other arguing for a more restricted zone around Kristianiafjord. Ultimately the operation was limited to the area between Kristianiafjord and the Swedish border, effectively preventing any further Swedish naval troop transportation.

    The ambassadors showed unusual harmony in their insistence that "the will of Europe had to be enforced." They advised the Norwegian government to ask for an armistice without delay. The British government did not believe that the situation warranted immediate military action, and hoped that a financial lure could eventually induce Swedes to withdraw from the occupied territories. Meanwhile the Powers termed their joint naval blockade "pacific", emphasizing that the international squadron had strict orders to remain neutral vis-a-vis the Swedo-Norwergian war, and to fire only if fired upon.

    The British admiralty stated that the blockade "does not imply any kind of warlike action such as the occupation of places." Ultimately Lansdowne was also privately willing to agree for "one or more of the Powers taking measures to implement conference decisions in which Britain had joined." British diplomats assured the Swedes that "reasonable compensations" would be in order in a case the Swedes accepted the terms agreed upon by the Powers; and in a case of further Swedish intransigence Britain might have to be forced to leave Stockholm to the mercy of Russians, at least as far as the status of Åland was concerned.

    The Russian government, unwilling to admit that Admiral Alekseyev had acted without orders from the Supreme Autocrat, now insisted on abrogation of the ‘Åland servitude’ of 1856, and stated their intent of refortifying and occupying the islands. The British reacted by stating that the treaties of 1855 and 1856 would then have to be revised at the same time. Russia favoured the permanent neutralization of Denmark, to be guaranteed jointly by Germany and itself, with the obvious intent of using this as a mean of keeping a hostile naval power (Britain) out of the Baltic. For Britain, this was totally unacceptable.

    The British main concern was to ensure the right of belligerent vessels to use the Straits. This could be achieved by two means: merging the two old treaties to one new treaty, or by adding a specific reference to the Danish Straits to a renegotiated treaty. By merging the Treaties of 1855 and 1856 Britain could continue to have a voice in Baltic affairs, alongside with France. But this course of action might enable Germany and Russia to demand the inclusion of the Straits of Dover and the Channel as an entrance to the North Sea - since if France and Britain were to be treated as Baltic powers, what stopped Russia from demanding herself to be treated as a North Sea power?

    So the Åland convention held special importance. The British cabinet ultimately opted to go with the reference to the Straits in an old treaty, with a statement that specified the borders of Baltic and North Sea. With Denmark increasingly written off as a German client state in a case of war, Sweden was now seen as the only reliable guarantor of the free navigation of the Straits.

    The German foreign office, with Holstein and Chancellor Eulenburg in a rare agreement on this course of action, was especially sensitive to British policies, and offered an arrangement of a North Sea status quo treaty as a possible compensation for Britain. Britain, hardly expecting to prevent closure of the Baltic by herself, thus opted to support the German views of a status quo convention. Britain then sought to France in to the North Sea convention, and through that to the assurance of Sweden against possible future Russian expansion, playing the two Contintental allied Powers against one another in Scandinavia. Germany was thus suddenly in a whole new situation, being courted by both Britain and Russia regarding her future choices in Scandinavia. For his part, the Russian Foreign Minister Muraviev aimed to "Éliminer toute influence éntrangère de la mer Baltique" in a fashion of Catherine the Great’s Neutrality League of 1780. Meanwhile Britain knew that Åland Question was a point of contention between Germany and Russia, and hoped to use this issue as a wedge to keep Wilhelm II from realizing his grandiose schemes of a new continental alliance. Swedish adherence to the Russo-German entente seemed imminent. The French, from their part, were especially alarmed by the evidence of Russo-German cooperation and by the fact that Russia had disputed the Åland issue without consulting the French government beforehand.

    But Russia was not the only Power suffering from out-of-step, self-contradicting diplomacy. The German diplomatic corps were cautious to avoid too close a relationship with Russia if the cost would be the alienation of Britain, that was markedly nervous about a possibility of a German-Russian combination in the Baltic. Holstein was firmly aware that a revision of the status of Åland would mean an ultimate exclusion of Britain from a position of influence in the Baltic region. Meanwhile Chancellor Eulenburg was firm in his conviction that Germany should to avoid entaglements in any such policy offensives towards Britain, Russia or France at such a volatile international situation. This left Wilhelm II and his personal royal diplomacy as a problem to be managed. Holstein proceeded with his usual tactics, leaving the actual work of cajoling and distracting the Oberster Kriegsherr to Eulenburg. He merely supporting the Chancellor with a memorandum that assured Wilhelm II that while the planned post-war guarantees from three Great Powers were something on paper, in reality the planned post-war status quo would made Sweden depended upon German support and goodwill in her future foreign policy.

    Meanwhile Lansdowne’s warnings, international isolation, and the threat of a Russian presence in Åland strained the Swedish government to a breaking point. With the fatally ill Oscar II no longer seen in public, it was left to the Crown Prince to guide the realm towards an uncertain future. The beginning of the international blockade had led to a general strike in Stockholm and rest of Sweden, paralyzing the economy and society of the country and threatening the supply efforts of the frontlines. In the face of bitter opposition of the war faction, the government had to concede that Sweden would have to cease her offensive to Kristiania, submit to the "will of Europe", and ask for a ceasefire in order to secure a settlement that would not seem like a total humiliation.

    Meanwhile Norwegians were kindly informed that the Powers, led by Britain and Germany, would now proceed to jointly occupy Kristiania and "possibly other southern ports that are necessary for the supply and operations of the international fleet." The collective note from the conference at London stated that the king’s action was "a real contribution to general peace and is in the true interest of Sweden." Simultaneously, the admirals of the international fleet were instructed to prepare for the occupation of Kristiania as soon as they could gain Norwegian maritime pilots to safely guide them through the minefields of the fjord. The state-sanctioned part of the war in Scandinavia was seemingly drawing to a close.
     
    YoGO, galileo-034, Ran and 7 others like this.
  19. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    "Seemingly drawing to a close."

    "Seemingly."

    Ominous word, that.
     
    Karelian and Driftless like this.
  20. Orcbuster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2017
    And there is our man.
     
    Karelian likes this.
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