Sunday, 16 November 2014

November 2014 - When Eagles Fight

When Eagles Fight


Command Magazine edition

Extracts from the diary of Nicholas II, Emperor of All the Russia’s relating to the Western Front during the late Second Fatherland War.

August 1914

How sad that my good cousin Willy has been led into this misguided support of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire in its reckless attempts at expansion into the Balkans. We could not allow the subjugation of Serbia.  With Germany committed to supporting the Austrian Empire we all seem to have tragically stumbled into war.
Fortunately our glorious army was able to fulfill its commitments to France and mass enough troops in Poland to launch a minor offensive to distract the Germans. For some reason the German army in eastern Prussia was commanded by two old generals, Hindenburg and Ludendorff who seem to have spent half their time asleep. While our glorious Second Army thrust forward in strength towards Tannenberg they could only do feeble attacks against the flanks, which achieved nothing. 
Our real success though, came in Galicia, against the Austro-Hungarian’s, led by the unfortunate  General Mack. Both our forces there were still mobilising but Mack was forced into a ridiculously early offensive by the Austro-Hungarian C-in-C General Conrad.  Far from the vaunted ‘Drive on Kiev’, it turned into a bloody rout with the Austro-Hungarian forces suffering considerable losses.

September 1914

While the Second Army distracted the main German forces the rest of our glorious Army was able to mobilise and secure most of the Prussian Front with a wall of divisions. We managed to make several minor attacks against weak German forces, with some success.  The Germans however lacked sufficient forces to counter attack successfully.
On the Galician Front I realised that the Austro-Hungarian forces were extremely fragile and the weak link in the Central Powers armoury. They were deployed badly with Conrad appearing to believe that he need fight in concentrated formations rather than holding a continuous line. This meant our aggressive Cossack cavalry could sweep behind them cutting them off from supply.  I therefore ordered STAVKA to focus its efforts on the Galician front.
General Thomaskovich showed the aggressive nature which lay behind his normal caution and drove forward relentlessly, turning the Austro-Hungarian flanks and encircling several Corp. Obsessed with this idea of the offensive Conrad again ordered General Mack to launch counteroffensive’s which, while they did cause some casualties on both sides, did little to help.  Overall they were largely misguided, as the Austro-Hungarian forces should have retreated to form a continuous line in the mountains. Instead they were left in the open, with unprotected flanks.

October 1914

Once again we are able to build up our front in East Prussia and make successful attacks against some of the weaker German forces. All this acted as a tremendous morale boost to our armies and starts to shatter the illusion of the invincible Prussian military system.
In Galicia General Thomaskovitch once again drives forward, encircling Austro-Hungarian units and destroying them.  Still failing to understand the flimsy nature of the Austro-Hungarian Army, Conrad again endeavoured to hold the line rather than retreat.

November & December 1914

Our Army continues to build up on all fronts. Once again we launch minor local attacks against weak German forces.  STAVKA is attempting to draw German forces against the Russian Army rather than let them send forces to support Austria.  As the German offensive against France has clearly failed, they are now forced to withdraw units to bolster their East Prussian Front against our successful forces.
The war is showing up some of the Empires strengths and weaknesses.  Men are still flocking to the colours and we can replace all our losses with ease.  However, manpower planning has been weak and too many essential workers have been stripped out of our factories. As a result we are starting to suffer from ammunition shortages. A problem enhanced by the fact that ammunition consumption has been far higher than anybody ever expected.  Alexandra advises me that her trusted confident Rasputin has recommended that we should arrange to have ammunition made in China, where labour is cheap and plentiful.  Reluctantly I ordered this to be done to prevent another of her ‘scenes’.
The Germans are increasingly building up forces in East Prussia, however we have built up a fairly solid line along the rivers and swamps and still hold Warsaw.   Even so, we are not entirely on the defensive but are still able to go on the offensive against some of the weaker German forces.
In Galicia Conrad still tries to hold too far forward and once again we were able to do the sweeping encircling movements that destroy large Austro-Hungarian forces.

January & February 1915

Little changes on the Eastern Prussian Front but in Galicia, we once again, go on the offensive against the Austro-Hungarian Army. Finally Conrad realises he must move back to the Carpathian mountains.
The ammunition shortages are one of the biggest problems we face but although our artillery is weak we still have such large forces we can make successful offensives.

March & April 1915

Once again Conrad fails to appreciate the dashing spirit of the Cossack cavalry who charge into the rear of Austro-Hungarian units to encircle them and cut them off from supply. Although some of these formations are rebuilt, they have lost the core of their best soldiers and they never come back with the enthusiasm of the early days of the war.  Many of the new recruits are from the minor nationalities and have no loyalty to this Austrian dominated Empire.  The ammunition shortages is no better, something will have to be done about this, Rasputin assures us supplies from China will be pouring in soon.

May 1915

In East Prussia more German units are arriving, their deployment however is poor and they have left a weak flank in central Poland.  Clearly we need to strike first and I order STAVKA to launch an attack against this flank.  While this succeeds, the Germans, with their skilful counter attacks, inflict some casualties on us but it is the courageous Russian forces that have the initiative.
In the Carpathian’s the Austro-Hungarian Army now make skilful use of the rugged terrain.  Unfortunately they have not paid sufficient attention to supply and once again General Thomaskovitch is able to encircle units and inflict crippling losses.
All of this has been done despite a complete disaster in the ammunition resupply.  The ammunition supplied by the Chinese is a dreadful failure and most of it does not detonate. Once again our glorious troops have overcome these deficiencies and given us magnificent victories.  We cannot afford any more of Rasputin’s advice and I commented to a number of junior officers that it would be helpful if accident befell him!

June 1915

Fighting continues to rage west of Warsaw with our offensives meeting success but being counter-attacked and forced back by the German army. Casualties are heavy but we can still replace them unlike the Germans and Austro-Hungarian’s. I have ordered General Thomaskovich to take command of the East Prussian front.
In the eastern Carpathian’s the steady weakening of their forces means the Austro-Hungarian Army has now been pushed back into the open plains, although they still hold the western flank of the Carpathian’s in strength.
My beloved Alexandra is distressed to learn of Rasputin’s unfortunate death when he fell under a carriage while drunk.

July 1915

Fighting now rages in central Poland with attacks and counter-attacks.  The real success though comes in Eastern Prussia, where we are gaining major successes under General Thomaskovich’s inspiring leadership.  Our successful attacks may not take territory but have inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans.  The German army has now been weakened across its entire front, allowing us to stage major attacks against many weak units. 
In the east Carpathians, our forces continue to drive back and destroy the Austro-Hungarian Army.  The latter are reduced to a fraction of the pre-war strengths and are unable to launch any successful counter-attack or construct a defensive line.
Even our continuing and worsening ammunition shortage does not greatly effect our attacks. Our numerical superiority is such that we can still launch major offensives against Germans and the crumbling Austro-Hungarian forces
Disturbing reports are reaching us from the Far East that Japan is preparing to stab us in the back while we are engaged in this European war and seize all our Pacific possessions.

August 1915

Again General Thomaskovich drives forward in East Prussia, further weakening the German front with minimal casualties to our wonderful Army. It is clear that the Germans will soon have to fall back extensively, either to Danzig or perhaps even further.
In Hungary, for we are now well into the Austro-Hungarian Empire and continue to push the weakening Austro-Hungarian Army further back.  STAVKA is now planning our drive on Budapest.
August 20th - Rumors reach us that General Conrad has been shot and General Mack has been appointed C-in-C of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Further reports say that he is in despair and has advised the Emperor he should consider a negotiated peace.
August 21st - I receive a personal message from the German Emperor via the Swedish Embassy.  Wilhelm informs me that he has discovered from General Mack, the scale of the monstrous Austrian deceit, engineered by Conrad, whereby the Germans were led treacherously into this war. He hints at a conference to discuss an end to the war.  France and Britain have also been advised. I send messages to all three countries stating that Russia will act in coordination with its Allies but that we are prepared to consider a negotiated end to the war.
August 23rd - Cousin Willie sends a further message to suggest possible terms for discussion.  As the Austro-Hungarians caused this war he suggests the breakup of their Empire.  Austria and Hungary would be turned into two minor powers.   Eastern Poland would be given to Russia while the minor components could be absorbed into some of the Balkan states.   He suggests that perhaps the Czech’s may wish to become a German province.  In turn, Germany will return Alsace-Lorraine to the French and the High Seas Fleet would be handed over to the British.
August 24th - After an exhausting day with a flood of telegrams back and forwards it is agreed there will be a general ceasefire as of midday (Berlin time) tomorrow and a peace conference will meet in Paris on the 27th.  I arrange for details of this settlement to be passed to the Japanese embassy.

August 25th - Dear Cousin Willie telegrams to advise me that he is arranging for some of the misguided Russian revolutionaries currently held in Germany, such as Lenin, to be dispatched immediately to Leningrad to be dealt with by the Russian judicial system.
(Steve T)

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