WI: Britain and France on different sides in WW1

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by PGSBHurricane, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. PGSBHurricane Well-Known Member

    Nov 27, 2019
    It wasn’t until 1904 that France and Britain stopped being archenemies and became allies via the Entente. Just a few years earlier, in 1898, the two almost went to war with each other over Egypt. The Scramble for Africa in the 1880s caused great tensions between European powers, including the British and French. What if the two countries never aligned with each other in 1904 and instead took different sides? How would that impact the outbreak of World War I in 1914, assuming the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria still happens?
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  2. LucaTheDevilCat My Timelines make Hitler look like a liberal

    Aug 24, 2015
    The only straightforward way I think this could happen is if WW1 is delayed by 10 years or so. Russia has had a decade extra to industrialise and modernise as well as probably being the fastest growing economy with a more efficient army and railway system. Such a change could make Germany more focused on the east and Britain question over who’s the real enemy (balance of power in Europe).
  3. Protagoras Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2019
    Saying they are on different sides implies they are still involved in this timeline; was that your intent? And obviously the outcome depends on who joins which side. It's hard to see either joining CP, but strange bedfellows, I suppose. If Britain decides to support CP (maybe the French/Russian alliance with France hostile to Britain leads to Russia squabbling more with Britain in Central Asia or something, so Britain jumps at the chance to fight Russia with the support of powerful allies), Belgium may just go along and also join CP (or at least let the Germans through without complaint), and France probably falls quickly, with Russia either seeing the writing on the wall and also giving up quickly or suffering even worse than OTL. Probably Italy never joins Entente (giving the Franco-Russian faction that name for convenience; it doesn't seem any less appropriate than continuing to call a faction that includes Britain the Central Powers, and I'm not going to bother to invent new names for this brief speculation), Ottomans and Bulgarians may join CP sooner. Really, with no British blockade and perhaps a BEF helping the Germans, hard to see how the war doesn't end very quickly, with probably a much more reasonable peace settlement as a result of the much shorter war (also helped somewhat by the fact that even a CP-friendly Britain wouldn't really want their CP allies making excessive gains). In the Far East, Japan presumably honors its alliance with Britain, and so may gain some Russian territory when the Russians submit.

    If instead the scenario is that France is somehow convinced to join the CP, to give up their dreams of recovering Alsace-Lorraine in exchange for divvying up the British Empire, things again go ill for Russia. And if the CP can pressure Italy into joining the winning side, the Royal Navy will face a challenge trying to both keep the Germans bottled up in the North and maintain operations in the Mediterranean against very strong opposition. The strength of the Royal Navy could make the war of Britain essentially alone against the expanded CP a long slog, though, likely ultimately bankrupting Britain (as the real war nearly did) and as the CP probably eventually wins, likely a bitter peace settlement that involves Britain giving away a lot of its colonial possessions to the CP. It's an interesting question what happens to Japan on this scenario; do they stay loyal to their alliance with the British, and if they do, will the CP ever get around to trying to fight them or will they accept a status quo antebellum on that front to get the war over with? It does seem unlikely that they'd gain anything in any event.

    But details matter a lot. Obviously, in either scenario, diplomats will not be idle; whichever country doesn't join CP in your scenario will be trying very hard to find other friends, and if they are successful enough that could of course substantially change either scenario. Certainly if the Entente can somehow get the U.S. to support them from the beginning, for example, that would do a lot to balance out the massive strengthening of the CP in these scenarios (not sure how they do that, but not sure how CP get either Britain or France to join either, as I said).
    Rath likes this.
  4. Kaze Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2017
    There is invasion literature from the Victorian period that suggests an invasion of the British isles from France, so the fear was there.
  5. RMcD94 Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Dominion of Scotland, Imperial Commonwealth
    This is really easy to do. Wilhelm doesn't peruse a navy.

    Russia and France continue to threaten British interests colonially, especially with the great game.

    Ottomans won't join in I'd guess, they hate Russia but also don't like Britain.

    How annoyed the USA is with British blockades matters a lot. If it's neutral I'd say cp win. If Russia collapses as historically then cp win every time. If USA join entente and no Russia collapse then entente win or draw.

    A lot depend if France can dday. They tried tons of times historically and unlucky weather always ruined it. Divine wind strikes again and they might be screwed

    Britain may also just stay neutral in such a war if they have no alliance with France. France in the cp would never result in war because Britain wouldn't agree to fight France Russia and Germany
    CV(N)-6 likes this.
  6. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    what about reverse Schlieffen plan?

    France actually invaded Belgium first in attempt to surprise Germany... Britain is bewildered and declare war on France because their guarantee on Belgium, that way Britain suddenly found themselves in the camp of Central Powers (albeit reluctantly).
    Protagoras and Nivek like this.
  7. NoMommsen Donor

    Feb 7, 2016
    Deep down Dark Deutschland
    ... as well as an awfull lot of invasion literature in Britain of late 19th, early 20th century suggesting an invasion by german troops ...
  8. sarahz Well-Known Member

    Nov 5, 2013
    hmm surely the easiest way to start a war like that is to have a few more Russian shells hit British ships off Dogger Bank. Once the British and Japanese are fighting Russia and France then Germany Italy and Austria Hungary may think AHA our time has come.
  9. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

    May 18, 2016
    Leafy Southern Blighty
    You think in a post-1900 timeframe the only thing stopping the French invading Britain is the weather?

    What's the French version of a Wehraboo?

    So laughably impossible, it’s ASB or a swarm of PoDs to the point history is unrecognisable...
  10. kmmontandon Active Member

    Jul 5, 2019
    Fashoda goes briefly hot, at least locally. A few months of low-level fighting in central Africa that's eventually brought to a cease-fire, but the acrimony is there, and prevents any kind of entente.

    This creates enough enmity that, along with the Germans getting interested in NW Africa, the French decide to rely on Russia and possibly Italy for an alliance against Germany.

    Alternately, the French decide to ally with Germany, and offer massive concessions and land in Africa and the South Pacific in exchange for a.) looking the other way if the Germans fight Russia, and b.) they get the A-L back. Germany might actually go for a land swap, if it's big enough (Madagascar, Morocco, and a a few islands in the Pacific, maybe even one or two in the Caribbean).
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  11. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    The French put their fleet between the Russians and British as the Baltic Fleet passes through the Channel after the Dogger Bank incident making it clear that if the RN starts shooting they'll shoot back.
  12. Antiochus V Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2015

    You need a scenario where the balance of power is heavily skewed towards towards France and Russia. I don’t think the above is enough

    Some ideas on how to get there:

    -There has been no Franco-Prussian war
    -Germany is less belligerent and not building lots of warships, and has a smaller military with a less militaristic outlook in general.
    -Italy is a French ally
    -The war is a decade later so Russia is much more modern and threatening

    I think the US would try to stay neutral, and much of the fighting would be in Germany or around its borders.
    The Hapsburgs would likely implode at some point, and Russia would probably face the same stresses. I think the end result would be some sort of white peace.