Add other fronts? (outside of the East & West)

  • Yes

    Votes: 9 69.2%
  • No

    Votes: 4 30.8%

  • Total voters
    13
  • Poll closed .
Prologue

C.Z.A.R

Donor
31 to the Somme

1643300959922.png


"When you march into France, let the last man on the right brush the channel with his sleeve."

-- Alfred von Schlieffen
1643301043327.png

Prologue: The Denkschrift

It is extremely necessary for the planning before the Erster Weltkrieg to be discussed for a total comprehension of what comes next. Neither side, both the Central Powers & Entente, lacked war-planning. Several war-committees, hearings, conventions, etc., led to the decisions taken in the fateful August of 1914.

Prelude to the Prologue

Throughout 1890 to 1895, the German High Command had almost total knowledge of French war-planning. They knew the exact French deployment plan, based off of changes to the Paris rail-net and several German agents, and planned accordingly. A common misconception about this period and the time leading up to it is the actual German plan.

Von Moltke the Elder & Waldersee had several debates on what to do in the case of war. E. Moltke (he will be referred to as this throughout the TL) had advocated for a total offensive in the East against Russia. This was, however, heavily disputed by Waldersee, and rightfully so. The eastern railnet was completely underdeveloped, on both sides of the border. A decisive victory against Russia was impossible, and E. Moltke would simply repeat the mistakes of Napoleon. Waldersee planned to deploy west, but this time is mostly unknown.

More importantly, Schlieffen picked up where they ended. From 1896 to 1905, Schlieffen held annual wargames. This gives us insight into what he planned to do in the case of war.
In 1897, he planned to defend in the west and use his rail mobility to destroy the Russians in East Prussia.
In 1899, he planned a massive counter-offensive against French forces in the Ardennes.
In 1900, he planned to deploy most of his army in a massive Ostaufmarsch. The exact details are unknown.
In 1900-1902, smaller Ostaufmarsch were planned.
In 1902-resignation, Schlieffen tilted towards a strategic defensive based on rail mobility. This was best demonstrated in the Great Kriesspiel Game of 1905.

Where this POD begins, however, is his resignation.

Schlieffen wrote a memorandum on a possible war with France. This is accredited, wrongfully, as the "Schlieffen Plan". However, such a plan didn't exist. Regardless, for this TL, it is vital. It was an example of what Germany could do with a levée en masse.

Following his resignation, Moltke the Younger would, instead of IRL, focus himself on fulfilling this idea. At every opportunity, he pleaded to the Reichstag & the Chancellor to pass military bills. Finally, in 1907, the Military Bill of 1907 was passed, in-spite of the German Naval Leagues. This was extremely important, as it gave Moltke exactly what he needed. Schlieffen's Denkschrift would remain as the primary source for all German "Aufmarsch"s.

This bill, however, did not only influence Germany.

1643303402391.png

Joseph Joffre, French Chief of the Army Staff

Joffre would be extremely frightened by the German military uptake. France was at it's absolute maximum in terms of manpower, and Germany's 88 divisions as opposed to 62 French ones was a major threat. The bill itself would only be complete by 1911, and Joffre was unlucky enough to be appointed in that year. He immediately convened a winter Franco-Russian convention.

They came to a conclusion that Russia must bring it's entire nation to arms as quickly as possible. It was the only way for victory. Only the Eastern Steamroller could destroy the Hun. Joffre was forced to cancel the attacks in Lorraine, also being forced to compose a new army built by scraping the barrel of French manpower. It was intended to delay the extra 24 German divisions as they were projected to rather go through Nancy or across the English Channel.


1643303877435.png

Czar Nikolai II, Czar[Tsar] of Russia

The Tsar would immediately be swarmed by both government & military officials. The Russo-Japanese War had inspired massive reform across the nation, but had failed to fix the defects in the army. A hearing was organized for December 19th, 1911. Some of the most influential Russian & French military/government officials were present. The question at hand was simple,
"How to use all of Russia's strength to bear?"
Almost immediately, a consensus would be made that the effective combat power of a division was it's artillery, and flooding manpower would lead to no success. The Tsar agreed, but also wished that Russian divisions be larger to close the gap. Further reforms were also proposed, resulting in:

16 ⮕ 18 field battalions, per division, infantry
6 ⮕ 12 batteries of field guns, per division

These reforms would be perhaps completed by 1915/1916 at the earliest. The French offered to fund the mission, but an unlikely development in the British supplied the necessary artillery for a hefty price.
1643301043327.png
Footnotes:
- For 1914, each post will be 1 month on one front. In 1915-1918, it will become anywhere from 3, 6 or even an entire year. Or, maybe the war won't go on that long!
- Thank you to these users for providing extremely useful insight for the entire community on WW1:
@NoMommsen
@Riain
@Helmuth48 (also for mapping resources)
etc.

-And, finally, thank you to Terence Zuber for writing extremely informative books on the buildup to WW1. He answered several of my questions and was extremely helpful.
 
However, such a plan didn't exist.
Not to derail this, as it looks very interesting.

However, this is what Zuber contends, but this is far from universally agreed. Perhaps most importantly:
in 2006, Germany’s Military History Research Office (MGFA) published Der Schlieffenplan: Analysen und Dokumente, edited by Michael Epkenhans, Hans Ehlert and Gerhard P. Groß (The Schlieffen Plan: Analyzes and documents. Age of World Wars, Volume II ). This volume contains a copy of Schlieffen's 1905 Memorandum misfiled in the German Military Archives at Freiburg and German deployment plans from the year 1893/94 to 1914/15, most of which had been lost otherwise. These documents, not yet available in English translation, are said to strongly support the traditional ideas of a "Schlieffen Plan" that Zuber disputed.[3][4]
 
Last edited:

C.Z.A.R

Donor
Not to derail this, as it looks very interesting.

However, this is what Zuber contends, but this is far from universally agreed. Perhaps most importantly:
They are translated now. In The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I, German deployment documents are translated. Ritter has also published a translated version of the 1905 Memorandum.

My main sources are:
Inventing the Schlieffen Plan: German War Planning, 1871–1914
German War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and Interpretations
The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I
The First World War: Volume I: To Arms
 
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Chapter I

C.Z.A.R

Donor
1643308957971.png
Chapter I: The July Crisis

1643309286389.png


In the year 1878, the Austro-Hungarian realm had basically occupied Ottoman-controlled Bosnia. In 1908, it was formally annexed. This move was done during an age of global, and most importantly, Slavic/Balkan nationalism. This cultivated into the Balkan Wars, where the Ottoman Empire faced invasion from several Balkan powers, seeking to reunite their peoples independent of Turkish yoke. Disputes between these powers would carry on, resulting in Bulgaria, the strongest of the powers, against basically all of their neighbors.

Serbian South-Slavic nationalism was massive. A significant portion of the Bosnian population was Serbian, and they saw it as rightful Serbian clay. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was scheduled to do a tour through Sarajevo, the biggest city in the area. Ferdinand was heir-apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne. A team, composed of six armed irredentists, five Bosnian Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim, coordinated by Danilo Ilić. At ~10 AM, a bomb was thrown, but it missed. After a wrong turn, one of the assassins pulled out a pistol and shot the man. Ferdinand was dead.

1643310102302.png

Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated.

Right after, Serbian diplomats informed the French & Russian Governments that the Serbs had warned Austria of the assassination attempt. Then, they denied knowledge of the plot. During this, heated debates were happening in Austria-Hungary, where a large portion of the A-H government wanted war. This was for several reasons, but it culminated by the 19th of July. Germany had completely backed A-H in whatever they did, and they made necessary calculations for war.

On the 20th, Russia & French had a meeting. This would extend much longer then planned, mostly due to them deciding that war was necessary with Germany. [POD]
French President Poincare's absence from France would be extremely influential. France gave Russia a blank cheque, similar to what Germany did for Austria. The possibility of war was still greatly disputed. At the near conclusion of negotiations, Austria had sent an ultimatum for Serbia. This was disastrous.

Jean Jaurès and Joseph Caillaux were anti-war socialists. Their influence was massive in France, and they linked up to attempt to start negotiations. While Poincare was gone, they began to organize a general strike in both Germany & France. This would presumably force both powers to immediately cease hostilities. Word spread across Germany & France, and after Russian mobilization, the strike was about to begin. It was scheduled for the 1st of August, and by that point, war had broken out between Austria & Serbia. This was the final chance for the continuation of European peace & harmony.

In Germany & Russia, Wilhelm & Nicholas would send dozens of letters to one another, desiring peace. They came to the agreement that both would cancel mobilization of the 1st of August, and force the Austrians & Serbs to compromise.
1643308970943.png
Footnotes:
Poincare should be spelled Poincaré.
Jaures should be Jaurès.
Chapter 2 will be August. If war breaks out, the chapter will end at the start of hostilities.
 
Chapter II

C.Z.A.R

Donor
1643326786933.png
Chapter II: Peace, War and the People
1643326898701.png


On July 30th, Jacques & Caillaux were prepared for a European-wide strike, Nicholas & Wilhelm had organized a convention in Konigsberg, and socialists across Europe were pleading for peace. However, the militarist factions in the countries had other opinions. The German High Command pleaded for war, knowing that the earlier it begun, the better for Germany. In France, there was a massive national wave of militarist action, dedicated to retaking Alcase-Lorraine & for revenge for 1871. Regardless, it seemed as if this crisis would just be like the rest. This would all change, however, with two bullets.

1643327443069.png

Assassination of Jean Jaurès

Jean Jaurès would be fatally killed on July 31st. This was met by massive uproar by the socialists in France & Germany. From this, an opportunity was formed. The pro-war French had claimed the assassin was German, and this was all they needed. Paris would devolve into massive riots & protests, and upon the return of Poincare on August 1st, the country was in chaos. Although it would end on the 2nd-3rd, France was forced into an uncompromising pro-war position. Russia soon followed suit, knowing the fall of France meant also the fall of Russia.

The strike would still start, but it was significantly delayed. On the same day, war was declared all across, the strike began in Germany. This delayed mobilization by 2 crucial days. Regardless, we are to war!
1643326786933.png
 

C.Z.A.R

Donor
View attachment 714123
Chapter II: Peace, War and the People
View attachment 714124


On July 30th, Jacques & Caillaux were prepared for a European-wide strike, Nicholas & Wilhelm had organized a convention in Konigsberg, and socialists across Europe were pleading for peace. However, the militarist factions in the countries had other opinions. The German High Command pleaded for war, knowing that the earlier it begun, the better for Germany. In France, there was a massive national wave of militarist action, dedicated to retaking Alcase-Lorraine & for revenge for 1871. Regardless, it seemed as if this crisis would just be like the rest. This would all change, however, with two bullets.

View attachment 714126
Assassination of Jean Jaurès

Jean Jaurès would be fatally killed on July 31st. This was met by massive uproar by the socialists in France & Germany. From this, an opportunity was formed. The pro-war French had claimed the assassin was German, and this was all they needed. Paris would devolve into massive riots & protests, and upon the return of Poincare on August 1st, the country was in chaos. Although it would end on the 2nd-3rd, France was forced into an uncompromising pro-war position. Russia soon followed suit, knowing the fall of France meant also the fall of Russia.

The strike would still start, but it was significantly delayed. On the same day, war was declared all across, the strike began in Germany. This delayed mobilization by 2 crucial days. Regardless, we are to war!
View attachment 714123
This chapter was relatively short. The next one? VERY LENGTHY.
 
Chapter III

C.Z.A.R

Donor
1643376134184.png


Chapter III: Fall of France...?
1643376170452.png

The Franco-German frontier is a front of 100 mines, spanning from the Vosges to Luxembourg. The area has one natural boundary in the form of the Vosges, with the majority of defenses for both sides relying massive fortress cities and complexes. The French Nation had constructed its own series of fortifications across the border, spending thousands upon the modernization and expansion of forts. The greatest fear of France, however, was the bypass of these defenses further north, through Belgium & Luxembourg. Joffre had correctly predicted that the Germans would wheel their assault through these lowlands, namely due to the massive railway buildup in that area.

In terms of deployment, the French Army deployed a total of 69 (nice) divisions of roughly 16,900 each. They have were divided between six armies. Their plan was extremely simple. Spoil the German advance at all-costs. Fortifications had been constructed by Belgium, which were supposed to be utilized to stall the German advance. On the logistical side, France had an advantage which would be exploited to it's absolute maximum. Paris and it's reliable roads and rail networks would allow for troops to be immediately shipped off to the front, with little logistical challenges. Heavy deployment of infantry by Germany would start a major need for supplies to be shipped as they marched through the flatlands of France. French armies, if forced to retreat, would destroy railway networks behind them, crippling the slow moving German army. This would force successful German offensives to stop for supplies. France would be bought crucial time, and the front would devolve into a stalemate.

Germany planned to do nearly exactly what Schlieffen wanted. The 88 German Divisions assembled on the border. Each Army had atleast 5 Korps, while the French had only 3-4 per army. An important factor was the 8 Ersatz Corps, which followed the First Army in their planned march on Paris. This was a massive advantage, as numerically, it was 88:70 divisions. German plans depended on a swift and successful push into France and Belgium to destroy several French armies and envelop Paris with Ersatz divisions. This plan, however, had been partially compromised due to the delays in mobilization. The Germans had 2 deadlines for advance times. The German armies, alongside the Ersatz, would swing across the border, reaching the line Brussels-Mons-Sedan-Metz within M+22. To accomplish this, the German Army would need to cover a large swath of land & defeat any French armies in a short timeframe. Then, by M+31, they had a new deadline. The 3-5th armies would advance on the Meuse & Aisne. The 1-2nd, the strongest & most important of the armies, would aim for the Somme.

Moltke, upon the declaration of war, would state "31 to the Somme!"

1643386489143.png

Battle of Alcase-Lorraine
August 5th - September 1st

The French Army would only find itself against 3 armies in Alcase & Lorraine. Germany ordered several offensives across, unknowingly into the Gap of Charmes. Upon news of the attacks in Lorraine, Joffre knew what he had to do. The outnumbered French soldiers would be continuously engaged across the front, and punishing the German army would be extremely challenging. Outside of logistics, the only way to feasibly win was to draw away as many Germans as possible. In the south, he planned for the French to defend Manonviller, to then fall back onto the Moselle. The German Armies would presumably break through the river, and then would be quickly caught and pinned down in the Gap of Charmes. French infantry would play a vital role in enveloping the German units.

Regardless of alerts from French command against the operation (since it would over-extend French forces), the military continued progress towards the objective. On August 8th, after heavy preparations, German 6th & 7th armies launched a concentric attack between the fortresses. This was perfect. Dubail's 1st Army & Castelnau's 2nd Army pulled out of their border stations, setting the center of their forces weighted on Manonviller. The orders were simple, lose the engagement and retreat to the Moselle. On the sunset of the 10th, the German armies with ordnance and automatic weapons, began an offensive into the fortress, which presumably "destroyed" the French, leaving them with numerous losses. On the 11th, French soldiers were forced into a retreat, taking up positions on the Moselle. The Germans followed suit, with Rupprecht eager for victory.

Moltke was originally busy, stationing his headquarters in Diekirch, Luxembourg, after it had collapsed to German forces. After being handed a map & status report by his secretary, his mood would instantly change. The German Army was about to be destroyed. He rushed to send over 20 urgent messages to his southern command, arriving on the 13th.

The French Army, on the same day, began an assault to dislodge the German rear. The artillery barrage came first, with the Canon de '75 softening up German resistance. In just a few hours, the best of the French soldiers began a coordinated frontal assault, threatening the attacking Germans with total envelopment. Rupprecht, believing his flanks would hold, continued to attack on the Moselle, failing to dislodge the defenders. On 15th of August, the French captured Rambervillers, breaking the German 7th Army's flank. On the 6th Army's flank, long-range ordnance fire shelled German forces, and on the 18th of August, the German Army suffered and was unable to fight on. Rupprecht finally ordered a retreat, and although it was supposed to be organized, it turned into a bloody & confused brawl. French reinforcements soon launched another attack from Nancy & Epinal, catching the rear of the Germans. 4 1/2 German corps were enveloped, and they would surrender on the 21st. Moltke's rear was exposed, and crucial reinforcements would need to be sent by the 23rd, resulting in MAJOR consequences further west. This would also only be reinforced by the diversion of troops to the East.

1643383437317.png

French Soldiers assault German rear-positions. This was mostly guarded by weak & undersupplied Landwehr divisions.

Battle of the Frontiers
August 14th - September 1st

The French Army would find itself against 4 massive German ones, going through Belgium & Luxembourg. The French, in response, deployed the BEF, Sixth, Fifth, Fourth, and Third armies to quickly take up defensive positions on the left bank of the Meuse river. A couple of border engagements occurred, with Belgian forces being routed by massive German armies. They would blow up numerous railway networks and stall the German advance. Both on the 20th-21st, Franco-German forces would encounter one-another at Charleroi & the Ardennes. The German plan was simple, use their massive numerical superiority, supported by their artillery. In the Ardennes, German forces would see little success. Upheld by their better braced positions (& also terrible German logistics), French forces were able to hold off enemy armies. Cut down by efficient machine gun fire, which was backed by heavy artillery, the German 3rd & 4th Armies seemed defeated. Later on the 23rd, Moltke had taken away troops from the German 1st & 2nd to supplement Alcase-Lorraine. The Germans in the Ardennes were forced to attack to continue the advance onwards, as decisive victory over the French here was crucial. By the time they finally broke through, Anglo-French forces had withdrawn.

Further north at Charleroi & Mons, the French 6th & 5th and BEF were struggling. Moltke ordered the 1st Army to outflank the BEF & drive a wedge between them and the 6th. At the same time, the 2nd Army was breaking through Lanrezac's 5th Army near Charleroi, unable to defend against a bigger & stronger force. The BEF & French seemed doomed, as the BEF was outflanked at both sides, the 6th was stuck in place due to Ersatz corps, and the 5th was being pounded. Lanrezac, against superior orders, knew that unless he withdrew, the French & BEF would be outflanked and annihilated. The lines of retreat to be closed at any moment, and he had to act quickly. After making contact with the 6th under Foch, they conducted a withdrawal, with the BEF following suit.

Lanrezac, Foch and the BEF organized a fighting retreat, with a spoiling counter-attack at Guise to dislodge the German forces. Joffre made the correct calculation that German forces had outrun their logistics, unable to keep up the momentum with the massive amount of Landwehr & Ersatz corps trailing them. All 3 of the armies launched a concentric offensive, successfully stalling the German advance. This was not without heavy losses, and it took just 2 days for the Germans to recover. Regardless, the Anglo-French forces would retreat in order.

1643385758418.png

British Forces at Mons

On 25 August, Moltke was furious. Although he had reached the objective by M+22, he had failed to destroy any French armies and lost over 4 corps (including 2 Landwehr) in Alcase. Furthermore, he had to take away even MORE men for the East. He still knew, however, he had a chance. The Ardennes was broken through, and the 3rd & 4th had the capability to hold down the Aisne river. This would threaten France from their right. Then, the massive 1st & 2nd, although logistically compromised, could swing into Paris, going down the channel & Oise. Then, the great envelopment of Paris would happen, with the Ersatz corps. For him to finish this operation, however, he had to reach & cross the Somme in M+31 days. (September 6-12th) If he did not complete this objective, French resistance would harden and he could be halted outside of Paris. Even if he didn't meet his goal, he had faith that the superior German forces could swing to Paris and send the Ersatz to win the war.

Joffre had seen how the German armies pivoted. He knew the Germans wanted to pin him down on the Aisne (Paris-Verdun line), and then destroy him all-across. He knew his forced would be extremely over-extended, and that he was outnumbered in all areas. He had to make a choice, rather:
- Pull men off of Alcase-Lorraine, and then concentrate his armies entirely in one area
- Over-extend his lines & rely on reserves
- A dangerous mixture of both.

Joffre chose to...
END.
1643376134184.png
Footnotes:
Very packed Chapter, the East will follow suit in Chapter IV.
Maps will be readied within 12 hours. For an outline (of the situation west of the Aisne):
The BEF is at Soissons
The French 6th is at Peronne
The (newly formed) French 7th is at Doullens
The French 5th is at La Fere

The German 1st is facing the 6th & 7th
The Ersatz are in the rear, ready to push down the Oise
The German 2nd is facing the 5th, BEF & Group D'Amade (basically an Army)
 
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Deleted member 2186

View attachment 714218

Chapter III: Fall of France...?
View attachment 714219
The Franco-German frontier is a front of 100 mines, spanning from the Vosges to Luxembourg. The area has one natural boundary in the form of the Vosges, with the majority of defenses for both sides relying massive fortress cities and complexes. The French Nation had constructed its own series of fortifications across the border, spending thousands upon the modernization and expansion of forts. The greatest fear of France, however, was the bypass of these defenses further north, through Belgium & Luxembourg. Joffre had correctly predicted that the Germans would wheel their assault through these lowlands, namely due to the massive railway buildup in that area.

In terms of deployment, the French Army deployed a total of 69 (nice) divisions of roughly 16,900 each. They have were divided between six armies. Their plan was extremely simple. Spoil the German advance at all-costs. Fortifications had been constructed by Belgium, which were supposed to be utilized to stall the German advance. On the logistical side, France had an advantage which would be exploited to it's absolute maximum. Paris and it's reliable roads and rail networks would allow for troops to be immediately shipped off to the front, with little logistical challenges. Heavy deployment of infantry by Germany would start a major need for supplies to be shipped as they marched through the flatlands of France. French armies, if forced to retreat, would destroy railway networks behind them, crippling the slow moving German army. This would force successful German offensives to stop for supplies. France would be bought crucial time, and the front would devolve into a stalemate.

Germany planned to do nearly exactly what Schlieffen wanted. The 88 German Divisions assembled on the border. Each Army had atleast 5 Korps, while the French had only 3-4 per army. An important factor was the 8 Ersatz Corps, which followed the First Army in their planned march on Paris. This was a massive advantage, as numerically, it was 88:70 divisions. German plans depended on a swift and successful push into France and Belgium to destroy several French armies and envelop Paris with Ersatz divisions. This plan, however, had been partially compromised due to the delays in mobilization. The Germans had 2 deadlines for advance times. The German armies, alongside the Ersatz, would swing across the border, reaching the line Brussels-Mons-Sedan-Metz within M+22. To accomplish this, the German Army would need to cover a large swath of land & defeat any French armies in a short timeframe. Then, by M+31, they had a new deadline. The 3-5th armies would advance on the Meuse & Aisne. The 1-2nd, the strongest & most important of the armies, would aim for the Somme.

Moltke, upon the declaration of war, would state "31 to the Somme!"

View attachment 714240
Battle of Alcase-Lorraine
August 5th - September 1st

The French Army would only find itself against 3 armies in Alcase & Lorraine. Germany ordered several offensives across, unknowingly into the Gap of Charmes. Upon news of the attacks in Lorraine, Joffre knew what he had to do. The outnumbered French soldiers would be continuously engaged across the front, and punishing the German army would be extremely challenging. Outside of logistics, the only way to feasibly win was to draw away as many Germans as possible. In the south, he planned for the French to defend Manonviller, to then fall back onto the Moselle. The German Armies would presumably break through the river, and then would be quickly caught and pinned down in the Gap of Charmes. French infantry would play a vital role in enveloping the German units.

Regardless of alerts from French command against the operation (since it would over-extend French forces), the military continued progress towards the objective. On August 8th, after heavy preparations, German 6th & 7th armies launched a concentric attack between the fortresses. This was perfect. Dubail's 1st Army & Castelnau's 2nd Army pulled out of their border stations, setting the center of their forces weighted on Manonviller. The orders were simple, lose the engagement and retreat to the Moselle. On the sunset of the 10th, the German armies with ordnance and automatic weapons, began an offensive into the fortress, which presumably "destroyed" the French, leaving them with numerous losses. On the 11th, French soldiers were forced into a retreat, taking up positions on the Moselle. The Germans followed suit, with Rupprecht eager for victory.

Moltke was originally busy, stationing his headquarters in Diekirch, Luxembourg, after it had collapsed to German forces. After being handed a map & status report by his secretary, his mood would instantly change. The German Army was about to be destroyed. He rushed to send over 20 urgent messages to his southern command, arriving on the 13th.

The French Army, on the same day, began an assault to dislodge the German rear. The artillery barrage came first, with the Canon de '75 softening up German resistance. In just a few hours, the best of the French soldiers began a coordinated frontal assault, threatening the attacking Germans with total envelopment. Rupprecht, believing his flanks would hold, continued to attack on the Moselle, failing to dislodge the defenders. On 15th of August, the French captured Rambervillers, breaking the German 7th Army's flank. On the 6th Army's flank, long-range ordnance fire shelled German forces, and on the 18th of August, the German Army suffered and was unable to fight on. Rupprecht finally ordered a retreat, and although it was supposed to be organized, it turned into a bloody & confused brawl. French reinforcements soon launched another attack from Nancy & Epinal, catching the rear of the Germans. 4 1/2 German corps were enveloped, and they would surrender on the 21st. Moltke's rear was exposed, and crucial reinforcements would need to be sent by the 23rd, resulting in MAJOR consequences further west. This would also only be reinforced by the diversion of troops to the East.

View attachment 714236
French Soldiers assault German rear-positions. This was mostly guarded by weak & undersupplied Landwehr divisions.

Battle of the Frontiers
August 14th - September 1st

The French Army would find itself against 4 massive German ones, going through Belgium & Luxembourg. The French, in response, deployed the BEF, Sixth, Fifth, Fourth, and Third armies to quickly take up defensive positions on the left bank of the Meuse river. A couple of border engagements occurred, with Belgian forces being routed by massive German armies. They would blow up numerous railway networks and stall the German advance. Both on the 20th-21st, Franco-German forces would encounter one-another at Charleroi & the Ardennes. The German plan was simple, use their massive numerical superiority, supported by their artillery. In the Ardennes, German forces would see little success. Upheld by their better braced positions (& also terrible German logistics), French forces were able to hold off enemy armies. Cut down by efficient machine gun fire, which was backed by heavy artillery, the German 3rd & 4th Armies seemed defeated. Later on the 23rd, Moltke had taken away troops from the German 1st & 2nd to supplement Alcase-Lorraine. The Germans in the Ardennes were forced to attack to continue the advance onwards, as decisive victory over the French here was crucial. By the time they finally broke through, Anglo-French forces had withdrawn.

Further north at Charleroi & Mons, the French 6th & 5th and BEF were struggling. Moltke ordered the 1st Army to outflank the BEF & drive a wedge between them and the 6th. At the same time, the 2nd Army was breaking through Lanrezac's 5th Army near Charleroi, unable to defend against a bigger & stronger force. The BEF & French seemed doomed, as the BEF was outflanked at both sides, the 6th was stuck in place due to Ersatz corps, and the 5th was being pounded. Lanrezac, against superior orders, knew that unless he withdrew, the French & BEF would be outflanked and annihilated. The lines of retreat to be closed at any moment, and he had to act quickly. After making contact with the 6th under Foch, they conducted a withdrawal, with the BEF following suit.

Lanrezac, Foch and the BEF organized a fighting retreat, with a spoiling counter-attack at Guise to dislodge the German forces. Joffre made the correct calculation that German forces had outrun their logistics, unable to keep up the momentum with the massive amount of Landwehr & Ersatz corps trailing them. All 3 of the armies launched a concentric offensive, successfully stalling the German advance. This was not without heavy losses, and it took just 2 days for the Germans to recover. Regardless, the Anglo-French forces would retreat in order.

View attachment 714238
British Forces at Mons

On 25 August, Moltke was furious. Although he had reached the objective by M+22, he had failed to destroy any French armies and lost over 4 corps (including 2 Landwehr) in Alcase. Furthermore, he had to take away even MORE men for the East. He still knew, however, he had a chance. The Ardennes was broken through, and the 3rd & 4th had the capability to hold down the Aisne river. This would threaten France from their right. Then, the massive 1st & 2nd, although logistically compromised, could swing into Paris, going down the channel & Oise. Then, the great envelopment of Paris would happen, with the Ersatz corps. For him to finish this operation, however, he had to reach & cross the Somme in M+31 days. (September 6-12th) If he did not complete this objective, French resistance would harden and he could be halted outside of Paris. Even if he didn't meet his goal, he had faith that the superior German forces could swing to Paris and send the Ersatz to win the war.

Joffre had seen how the German armies pivoted. He knew the Germans wanted to pin him down on the Aisne (Paris-Verdun line), and then destroy him all-across. He knew his forced would be extremely over-extended, and that he was outnumbered in all areas. He had to make a choice, rather:
- Pull men off of Alcase-Lorraine, and then concentrate his armies entirely in one area
- Over-extend his lines & rely on reserves
- A dangerous mixture of both.

Joffre chose to...
END.
View attachment 714218
Footnotes:
Very packed Chapter, the East will follow suit in Chapter IV.
Maps will be readied within 12 hours. For an outline (of the situation west of the Aisne):
The BEF is at Soissons
The French 6th is at Peronne
The (newly formed) French 7th is at Doullens
The French 5th is at La Fere

The German 1st is facing the 6th & 7th
The Ersatz are in the rear, ready to push down the Oise
The German 2nd is facing the 5th, BEF & Group D'Amade (basically an Army)
If they can get Paris, the war might be over for the French, unless they can slow the Germans enough for British forces to arrive in force.
 

C.Z.A.R

Donor
France has done amazingly but it still might not be enough to stop the German advance. The numerical difference is massive & French armies will need to cover the entirety of the front. They can only count on the Germans outrunning their logistics or a gap opening up. Or, maybe, a miracle from a French commander.
If they can get Paris, the war might be over for the French, unless they can slow the Germans enough for British forces to arrive in force.
 
Casualty Report #1

C.Z.A.R

Donor
Casualty Report, West:
1643387289135.png

Triple Entente:
349,140 KIA/WIA - France
~5,000 MIA/Captured

35,401 KIA/WIA - UK

1643387378608.png

Central Powers
316,320 KIA/WIA
66,540 MIA/Captured/Sick/Starved
 
a total of 69 (nice) divisions

Crude and immature. I 💓 it!!!!

IIRC a member called Hoplophile has said France was going to go from 22 to 24 Regular Corps using Colonial troops (Pied noirs?) and form a heavy field artillery arm in 1914-15.
 

C.Z.A.R

Donor
Crude and immature. I 💓 it!!!!

IIRC a member called Hoplophile has said France was going to go from 22 to 24 Regular Corps using Colonial troops (Pied noirs?) and form a heavy field artillery arm in 1914-15.
You’ve stumbled upon something that becomes important later… 😅
 
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