WW1 in 1915

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by wiking, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. wiking The One and Only

    Jan 19, 2006
    What if WW1 were held off until 1915? Let's say that set up is similar with a Serb nationalist assassinating Franz Ferdinand and A-H going for war and backed by Germany? France and Russia would come in the same way as IOTL and the Schlieffen/Moltke Plan is in effect.
    There are some key differences though:
    The Ottomans would have their battleships from Britain:
    These would give them better battleships than the Russians in the Black Sea, but no motivation to fight in 1915, especially if the German cruisers don't end up in Ottoman ports, which they won't in this scenario.

    The British would have the problem of the Irish Home Rule Crisis to deal with:
    They would probably be bogged down in an early version of the Irish Civil War:

    So Britain cannot join the war in 1915 or at least take active part. Russia would be able to mobilize slightly faster, the French army would be slightly bigger due to the Loi de Cadre extending conscript service to 3 years, while the A-Hs would have modernized their artillery much more and have modern howitzers in service (theirs were not using hydraulic recoil equipped guns; those they did have were bronze barrel guns from the 1880s). The German army would be roughly similar to 1914, but would actually have its new siege guns ready for Liege, unlike OTL (they had to be rushed from the factories to the frontline):

    What does this mean? Well, no BEF at Mons, Le Cateau, Etreux, or Nery in August-September, nor a BEF to march into the gap between German army at the Marne. There is also probably not likely a British force sent to Antwerp, though there might be a blockade of Germany by Britain.
    The A-Hs might do better in Galicia in 1914 with better artillery, but its unlikely. Germany would certainly do better in 1914 in France, especially without much if any British involvement if there is an ATL Race to the Sea. The Russian front is probably going to play out similar. IMHO Britain would get involved ASAP, which might be later in 1915, at least forming a blockade of Germany, but not having troops to send until after the decisive battles in France in the first months of the war. IMHO the Ottomans stay neutral until later on, which means Russia gets more material support early on and longer.

    What would this version of WW1 turn out like?
  2. JLBB Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2013
    Is Conrad still in charge of the A-H armies or has he been replaced?

    EDIT: And what about Moltke?
  3. wiking The One and Only

    Jan 19, 2006
    Moltke would still be in charge, but he would die in 1916 of a heart attack.

    Conrad was on the way out in 1914, so I think he would be gone by 1915; for the sake of argument, let's say he's gone. Not sure who FF would pick, but he'd find someone. Let's say Böhm-Ermoli, as the natural choice, Auffenberg, was out of the running due to Franz Josef hating him and the Hungarians not liking him either.
  4. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

    Mar 30, 2012
    The Russians would have the Imperatzija Marija Class BBs which would nicely balance out the Osman ships - and I believe in 1915 the OE would just take the same decision as 1914 (which was contrary to "common" knowledge not influenced by the BB affair) Tehy closed the straits even before entering the war (Which was totally within all relevant treaty obligations IIRC) - so no more supplies for Russia. I also don't think that "problems" in Ireland would change Britains ability to wage war - the BEF might be butterflied for some time, but Commonwealth troops might arrive and balance that out. THe Royal navy will immediately be executinng their blockade - Irish rebellion or not.

    Obverall it wil be not so much different in 1915

    BTW - how about continuing Conrad waits ;)
  5. Catspoke Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    If Turkey is open to merchant shipping, thats a big deal in terms of Russian survivability. However Turkey has many of the same issues as OTL , it can't live in a Russian victorious world, the extra 2 dreadnoughts, an extra year of recovery from the Balkan wars, and an extra year of Baghdad railway construction might make it actually easier for them to join Germany vs OTL.

    Decent diesel powered submarines were just starting to join the German fleet as well as a growing realization of a distant British blockade, and a loss in the naval race, the extra year to think about might mean different German naval strategies.

    Plus you would have had a celebration (cancelled OTL due to war) of the central railway in East Africa reaching Lake Tanganiyka with the Crown Prince visiting in September 1914. Which would highlight the fact the German colonies were just starting to become pretty worthwhile. If the fact that they can't win in the North Sea becomes apparent in that year. The Germans might think think more about putting a little more military in the colonies. Just a little bit of artillery and supplies, a few more reserve officers in Doulea, Cameroon and such places makes them much easier to defend.
  6. Tom_B Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    Glad to see you transcended binary thinking about British involvement with a middle option of a blockade but without a significant ground involvement.

    Without a war underway does Serbia still get hit with the typhus epidemic? If it does I can't see it puling of what it did OTL.

    Is Giolitti the Italian PM?
  7. wiking The One and Only

    Jan 19, 2006
    It seems silly that Britain would do nothing; it might be too committed until October or maybe later to commit ground troops, but it has to do something, which leaves the blockade, the center piece of their strategy against Germany in any TL.

    No, AFAIk the outbreak was entirely due to conditions at the front; it would breakout ITTL after the war starts if the Serbian campaign lasts long enough due to poor sanitation and the destruction caused by the A-Hs.

    Probably not, the coalition that toppled him in 1914 would still be there IOTL and I don't see the conditions to get him back into power in time.

    I did not know about the Russian BBs, thanks for the update; still, would they have been able to really stand up to the Agincourt?
    They don't sound too impressive in practice and would have some trouble against the British built Ottoman BBs if the Ottomans handle theirs properly. The HMS Erin had heavier guns and armor with the same speed; the Agincourt was about as powerful as these Russian BBs, but had better speed and range. If the Germans get some of their ships into the Black Sea the Russians are going to have a hard time.

    I know the Young Turks (Enver Pasha really) wanted to join in the war, but it was the BB issue that got the public on board, so without that it might take longer/be harder to leverage the populace into war. Good point about the straits, I forgot about that; so Russia is in trouble no matter what and may pick the fight with the Ottomans instead over the issue. Not having the BEF in France for months, especially if it is worn down by the fighting in Ireland, would have major consequences, not to mention what would happen by having the Big Berthas in numbers and ready to go quickly against Liege in 1915. The fighting in France would play out very differently.

    Its a pretty big difference not having the BEF around in the first months of the war and Britain already wracking up debt and losses in Ireland, not to mention Ireland not likely to generate nearly as many troops for the UK in the war due to the hatreds that build up due to the likely violent occupation and desire of militant groups to want to stay at home in case violence continues during the war in Europe drawing British troops off. British power would be significantly weakened over OTL, not just early on.

    I've still got some pain issues, but I might be able to get an update out in a couple of weeks; the problem is the next one is a big one.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  8. wiking The One and Only

    Jan 19, 2006
    Interesting point; they would be significantly tougher than and due to Ireland the British would take longer to come at them in Iraq, which means they could hold their own there; this probably doesn't change much vis-a-vis the Caucasus, but if the war starts earlier in the year, they could well avoid the issues with winter during their first campaign there, but the Armenian resistance and logistics issues would still have major impact on their ability to win.

    Did not know that, do you have a link that explains more about that? The Germans were AFAIK shifting more to Uboats after the 1912 'defeat' in the naval race, so would be quite a bit different in their naval thinking when the war starts.

    Very interesting point here, that changes things more than I thought and could really have an effect on the African Campaign.
  9. JLBB Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2013
    Hm, how would Romania effect A-H decision making? Would the fear of Romania hitting them in the flank cause A-H to take a more defensive approach in the first months or still as aggressive as OTL?
  10. wiking The One and Only

    Jan 19, 2006
    For the Hungarians probably yeah. At this point though the death of the German monarch of Romania in December 1914 would leave things in flux; at the peak of Russia success in Galicia the Romanians stayed neutral due to the weather shutting down their only access point to A-H the Transslyvanian passes; as it was containing Romania was pretty easy and it kept the Romanians out of the war until 1916 when it looked as though A-H was finished; I think the bigger concern would would the Romanians sell them food during the war. If Germany and A-H thought they could win quick with Britain distracted, they would be more concerned about getting Romania on their side, despite their pro-French new monarch. If they win big enough in the first year of the war, the Romanians, looking for expansion on the cheap, will probably jump in at the end for either side, but it would be purely mercenary no matter what.

    So the Hungarians would need more reassurance, though they had no need to worry, as the limited numbers of 3rd and 4th line troops could hold them if necessary.
  11. sparky42 CMII Donor

    Jun 1, 2010
    The Real Capital of Ireland
    In terms of Ireland, you are talking about probably 30K+ British troops (if not more since you are talking about a civil war at this stage) deployed to to stabilise Ireland, so lets assume there's much less than the 200,000 Irish troops serving in the Imperial forces during the war. Also a good chance that the Irish ports/flying plane bases may not be available for anti Submarine operations. Pre outbreak of the war you may also have issues like the Connacht Rangers Mutiny, so they might have had to move other forces to replace "untrustworthy" Irish forces scattered through the Empire.
  12. Catspoke Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    It was May 1914 when Tirpitz asked Ingenohl "What are you going to do if the British don't appear in the German Bight at all".


    Plus the very capable U43 class are entering service beginning 1915:

    Along with the East Africa Central railway completion in August 1914

    And the Kamina wireless in Togo had just been completed in July 1914

    So there has to be some thought very late OTL that the British might will just sit back and avoid the big battle the Germans expected. Tirpitz being the smart guy that he is, and with the extra year to think about the problem, has to think of some of the stuff they tried to do in WW1 to get around the same problem and try and force the british to battle on favorable terms, including submarine raids, airship raids, surface commerce raids and colonial campaigns.

    With all the above happening around the start of the war 1915 and with the growing importance and infastructure of the colonies becoming very apparent. I am thinking the Germans, with a year to think about it are much more prepared to do some of the alternative naval strategy form the start of the war, vs. OTL where they puttered for several months trying to figure out what to do.

    It would be far easier to do such commerce/colonial damage in the first few months of the war, when the British and French have much to do and protect and the Germans still have access to colonies as bases.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  13. Simreeve Differently-Sane Scientist

    Apr 25, 2012
    Worthing, Sussex, England
    With an extra year before the World War began, Britain might well have got more done to sort out the Irish problem politically before the fighting started.
  14. sparky42 CMII Donor

    Jun 1, 2010
    The Real Capital of Ireland
    They were already staring down a violent outbreak in 1914 including the Curragh Mutiny. I can't see how an extra year is going to magically reduce the two armed camps with directly opposed desires and both with a declaration to use force to achieve those desires.