A Better Rifle at Halloween

Don't have the details at hand unfortunately, but there were more formations available
The original BEF plan was for 6 divisions plus the Cavalry Division, which was over sized. In addition given that Kitchener is dead, the Territorials had 14 Divisions, some of which will be used. In addition many battalions were on imperial service and they will be returned as quickly as they can be replaced with Territorial units. The biggest problem the British army faced was that the Regular Army was a wasting asset, it's highly trained regulars were destroyed during 1914, and the army was deskilled as a consequence.
The biggest problem the British army faced was that the Regular Army was a wasting asset, it's highly trained regulars were destroyed during 1914, and the army was deskilled as a consequence.
Thats where the real value of the Territorials lay. They had a high portion of former Regulars that could be used with some effect as a broader Cadre. Something like the the 60,000 + US Army Reserve Officers Corps in 1940. Although imperfectly used they were irreplaceable in expanding the US Army from 230,000 to 6,000,000 & and beyond.
Thats where the real value of the Territorials lay. They had a high portion of former Regulars that could be used with some effect as a broader Cadre. Something like the the 60,000 + US Army Reserve Officers Corps in 1940. Although imperfectly used they were irreplaceable in expanding the US Army from 230,000 to 6,000,000 & and beyond.
The trained Territorials were mostly gone by Easter 1915, and the regulars were gone by Christmas 1914.
A military appreciation
3:00pm 9th August 1914, London.

The meeting had moved onto a Military Appreciation, Sir John French was presenting the position of the major powers as currently understood. Germany was thought to have 6 armies in the west, spread between the push into Belgium, currently somewhat bogged down before Liege, some part resisting the French in Alsace Lorraine with the remainder of its troops on the defensive in the East, it was thought that approximately 4 million men were under arms already or being called up. The German army was principally conscript with soldiers serving a 2- or 3-year term depending on specialisation, with further reserve obligations declining with age. There was a small number of professional soldiers and long service NCO’s, the Army Inspectorate is entirely professional.

The French army has approximately 2 million men under arms now with additional reserves being called up. They were to attack into Alsace Lorraine under plan XVII. The French army like the German consisted largely of conscripts with a 2- or 3-year term of service, this had recently been extended following the German increase in the size of the Army. In addition to a professional General Staff a number of long service regular units like the Foreign Legion existed and they were already being returned to France.

Belgium was the smallest participant, their army consisted of approximately 220,000 men, with a regular army of 120,000 and a reserve of 60,000. Other potential forces included the Garde Civique of almost 50,000 men. They were poorly equipped and not held in any regard. The majority of Belgian military spending had gone into the National Redoubts and Antwerp, Namur and Liege. Leige was currently besieged with its fortresses surrounded and 1 division and 1 brigade trapped inside the lines, they retained radio communications with Antwerp and were reporting that several German attacks had been rebuffed but that bombs and shells had hit civilian areas with heavy casualties. It was thought that sufficient food and ammunition was in place to hold for at least 1 month, General Leman who had narrowly missed being killed by a German shell was enforcing a draconian rationing on the civilian population and pushing ahead with further entrenchment and earth works.

Russia, Austria and Serbia were also covered with the Russian plans to attack East Prussia discussed.

Once the summary of the international situation had been completed the much more detailed discussion of what Britain and its Empire was doing began. General Smith Dorien had just departed for France with his Chief of Staff the just promoted Lieutenant General Henry Wilson, they had completed a series of meetings with the French command and had agreed to deploy GHQ with 4 regular divisions, 1st and 2nd Divisions would form I Corp under the command of Lieutenant General Rawlinson, II corps commanded by Sir Douglas Haig would have the 3rd and 5th divisions. The Cavalry division would be formed from 1st through 4th cavalry brigades and be commanded by Major General Allenby they would come under the command of GHQ.

The Belgian Force, III corps commanded by Lieutenant General Plumer. Would initially consist of 4th and 6th Divisions, with 5th Cavalry Brigade. In addition Churchill had promised the Royal Marine Brigade would be available for service in Belgium.

The Territorials would be mobilised for deployment as immediate reinforcements, with any men who did not undertake the imperial service commitment being replaced by reservists, returnees and other volunteers. It was anticipated that the first 6 Territorial divisions would be available for service by mid-September, with all of them undertaking as much training as could be done. It was accepted that this would place Britain at risk of raids by the Imperial German Navy, but it was felt that it was a risk that must be borne. The idea that German could successfully invade Britain, after defeating the Royal Navy and whilst fighting France and Russia was in the realm of fantasy. No doubt they may be able to land small parties, but it was felt that even with almost all the regular troops and half the territorial army in France there was little they could do. It was suggested that the former militia might be re-embodied in part to guard strategic points and to reassure the civilian population, this would allow for the eventual release of all the territorials and the regulars for service.

The Sub-committee discussed the need to be able to preserve the fighting skills of the regular army and to a lesser extent the territorials, the plan was to comb potential leaders from their ranks as the new volunteers were trained up to replace them.

The meeting continued in this vein as various schemes and plans were discussed.
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The trained Territorials were mostly gone by Easter 1915, and the regulars were gone by Christmas 1914.
To some extent this is a myth. They certainly had many losses but they were diluted rather than gone. My grandfather was a regular SNCO in France in 1914 and he saw the war through as did many of his peers. The same for Territorials who learned on the job and propped up the succeeding volunteer army. In the beginning it was the South African War army that began the training of the volunteers until they too were diluted by Regulars and Territorials In the role.
The myths are part of why it’s a fun era. Plus I think it leads itself to alt history, I managed to drown Kitchener early that alone is worth a couple of divisions.
I realised I am missing a commander for II corps in the real world it was grierson who the died then it was smith Dorian. I suppose it must be grierson again.
I realised I am missing a commander for II corps in the real world it was grierson who the died then it was smith Dorian. I suppose it must be grierson again.
IOTL French wanted Plumer after Greirson died. Kitchener put Smith-Dorrien in, possibly to check French. Plumer would be a good choice ITTL IMO.
Panoply of War
4:00pm 9th August 1914, London.

Lloyd-George now took the floor, he began to talk what he saw as the main area’s of weakness. “Gentlemen, we are in a war with two empires which have been arming and preparing for this war for decades” he continued “Our army is a precision instrument, it is not a club or a hammer but more like a sabre but for this war we must grow the army to match our empire.”

“Our financial position is sound, we can fund the war with bonds as in the past and we have plans to issue a large war loan which we are confident will be oversubscribed”. With that confident speech the meeting briefly discussed options for assisting their allies in their financing of the war and that of the empire. The consensus view, including that of Walter Cunlife who was attending the sub-committee as Governor of the Bank of England, was that “Business as Usual” would not suffice, but that with effort the war could be funded from British holdings. “We have already suspended the payment of gold; we have confiscated the gold we are holding for both the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we will in due course do the same for any commercial enterprises or nationals of those Empires. We will work to maintain financial stability, and the exchange rate of the pound.”

The next phase of the meeting was a discussion of what all that money would be spent on, Lloyd George again stood up. “Whilst our finances are sound” and nodding his head to Cunlife he turned back to the committee and said “sadly our industry is neither as modern or as well organised as our finances. We start this war at a distinct disadvantage in steel, coal and many other areas of industrial production and our producers are smaller and less efficient than that of our enemies.”
“As we have already discussed we have virtually no heavy artillery greater than 4.5” saving fixed coastal guns, while even as we speak German and Austrian Super Heavy Artillery is shelling the fortresses at Liege and the benighted inhabitants of the city caught in the trap.” “As we agreed I have appointed a chief purchasing officer Sir John Brunner, who will report to me directly and thence to you” Lloyd George resumed his seat and invited Sir John to speak.
“Gentlemen, first let me thank you for the honour you have done me, I was opposed to war as you all know but now that it is upon us, we must win. Our enemies are powerful, and their chemical industries are advanced, my own company has competed with them for many years, Haber their chief chemist is a genius and no doubt he will give us trouble.” He continued to speak for some time touching on the areas of weakness, he was concerned by manpower saying “Many of our chemists and key workers have volunteered or will volunteer, we must make sure that the army gives them back to industry or at least puts them in places where we can use that potential. We will need new factories for munitions and for all the panoply of war we need men who can work in them.”
Grierson will have a role but first he will have an interview without coffee with the Director General Army Medical Services.
Liege Unbowed.
8:00 am 10th August 1914, Leige.

General Leman was a worried man, his garrison was surrounded, the civilian population was panic stricken and the Germans had attacked several times only beaten off by the concerted efforts of the fortifications and the infantry. Leman knew what the Germans wanted Liege for, they wanted the railways and he was going to deny them. He had two plans, the first was to simply hold his position until relieved, an unlikely event in his mind if not in his conversations and orders where he did everything to preserve morale, the second was to systematically destroy the railway lines and every piece of critical infrastructure.

He had used the Guard Civique, to round up labourers and railway workers. The labourers: men, women and teenagers dug, filled sandbags, and built breastworks and barricades. He had additional sandbags and earth berms placed at the forts as much as was practicable. Within the town the civilians were used to prepare the town for a siege, food supplies had been secured and would be rationed out to those who worked, a minimum being made available for the old, infirm and children.

He had sent the Archbishop and a number of town notables out to speak to the German commander in attempt to secure free passage for the civilian population, that had failed, the German going so far as threatening to sack the city if it did not surrender.

The Railway workers had been advised to devise the best way to render the railways useless, one clever engineer had worked out how to rip up the tracks using a pair of locomotives and a couple of weighted trucks to pull giant plough which tore apart the track ties. The railway workshop was working night and day to fabricate several more so they could be used on all the lines. Where that was not practical the trackworkers pulled the rails from the ties and piled them up to burn. They were also destroying the signalling equipment, blocking culverts, and preparing all of the bridges for destruction. Once that had been completed he would have the water towers demolished and the coal dumps burnt along with the storage sheds and workshops. He was charged with defending Liege, but its destruction would help Belgium and he would gleefully ruin it for that end.

The 6000 men of the Guard Civique were largely busy ensuring the labourers laboured and the civilians panic didn’t cause problems, the remainder were preparing the city itself for battle, they had deployed additional guards at key points such as the bridges to ensure the could not be captured by coup de main.

The fortress troops were doing all they could with their obsolete guns to defend the city, whilst enduring heavy bombardment from the Germans. Fort de Barchon, had been heavily attacked with much damage but the infantry dug in nearby and a pair of field guns had driven off the attacking German column with heavy losses.

The infantry was digging in, they had already stopped several German attacks including a spirited one attempting to force a breach in the lines between the northern fortresses. Their morale was good and they were using their field guns to good effect, the lines still held and new positions to were being prepared as quickly as they could.

Leman thought that they might be able to hold for another fifteen to twenty days, if, when the city fell it would take the Germans weeks to rebuild the railway lines and he hoped that gave his nation and its allies the time they needed.
Analytical Engine
Dublin 10th August 1914.

Percy Ludgate, was at the Dublin post office, he had just sent a letter to Professor C.V. Boys with whom he had collaborated in the past. With the coming of the war and the formation of the committees for scientific investigation, Ludgate was keen to offer up his analytical engine for war work. He had continued to work on it after its presentation at the Royal Dublin Society in 1909 and he had taken to heart the advice given by C.V. Boys in the July 1909 edition of Nature “If he will, in the instance, produce his design for a machine of restricted capacity, even if it does no more than an arithmometer, he will, by demonstrating its practicability and advantages, be more likely to be enabled to proceed step by step to the more perfect instrument than he will if, as Babbage did, he imagines his whole machine at once.” Ludgate had done just that perfecting a small series of prototypes which he had kept entirely to himself, before working upwards in complexity and capacity to the latest design. He had sent a complete set of plans along with a detailed description to Professor Boys, with his letter requesting that the device be presented to a suitable authority for its encorporation in the war effort.
Farquhar meets Lt Col Malcolm
1:30 pm 10th August 1914, London.

Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm, 14th Battalion the London Regiment (London Scottish) stood as Moubray Farquhar and Arthur Hill were ushered into the private room, already present were several regimental officers and the imposing figure of the Regimental Sergeant Major, the door man at the club had not even attempted to dissuade him from entering the club despite it being strictly officers only. The Secretary having spoken to Farquhar and Colonel Malcolm had allocated them a large private room, it was equipped with a large table, protected by a canvas drop cloth. The officers were seated at the second smaller table on which was a pot of tea and a tray of scones.

Another man carrying a rifle case came into the room at the same time, he placed the case on the large table and dropped a set of webbing alongside it, he then spoke briefly to Arthur Hill and let himself out of the room.

Once Farquhar and Hill had been introduced to the other men present, they began their presentation, Farquhar explained the operation of the rifle including a brief history of the evolution of the rifle. He then passed the rifle around to the assembled men, handing it first of all to the Colonel, to the RSM he passed the web gear. Making sure that he could see how clever the design was, he commented that they had had the advice of a number of former senior NCO’s on the design, he hoped that they had done a good job. He pointed out that the web gear was designed to carry the weight of the 9 magazines in 3 pouches on the wide belt and the shoulder harness, the bayonet frog was carried on the left side of the belt.

Meanwhile the Officers were examining the rifle, they were impressed by the fit and finish of the rifle, the length was shorter than that of the Magazine Lee Enfield with which they had been previously equipped. The bayonet, when liberated from the webbing which the RSM had already donned was found to be very similar to the current sword bayonet and was evidently well made.

Very shortly it was resolved that the only thing to do was to take the rifle up to the range and see how it performed, Colonel Malcolm had already organised this if he found the meeting satisfactory, he rang ahead to the estate to inform them. Moubray Farquhar anticipating this as well, he had had several additional rifles kept in his vehicle along with several thousand rounds of ammunition. The man who had carried the rifle in was waiting with the car nearby. The club doorman hailed a pair of cabs, and they set off, Farquhar, Hill and Colonel Malcolm in one vehicle, the other officers and the RSM in the other.
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No one has tried to derail the thread into the correct way to prepare a scone, or if pumpkin scones are an abomination, or sacred to the blessed memory of Lady Flo.
It's a WWI British Army thread so the only thing to go with a scone is Plum and Apple Jam.

Oh oh oh It's a lovely war
What do we want with eggs and ham
When we've got plum and apple jam.
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