Of lost monkeys and broken vehicles

Part 20 Of riots and germs
  • Athens, November 30th, 1922

    Dimitrios Gounaris, former prime minister and head of the largest party of the "United Opposition" had finally been persuaded to return to Athens and take up his seat in parliament a couple months before only to be struck with a severe case of typhoid in early October, during his years of absense he had grown unaccustomed to Athenian water. In November 7th he had been moved to the Anagnostopoulos private clinic but despite the efforts of his doctors his condition kept deteriorating, till he died, much to the shock of Athenian society. It was a pointed reminder of the bad condition of Athens water system, water was still brought to the city from wells and from the ancient Hadrian's aqueduct bringing water to Athens since 140 A.D. It was hardly enough for a city that together with Piraeus had reached 453,000 people in the last census two years earlier. Questions and pressure in the parliament mounted with Petros Protopapadakis, who had succeeded Gounaris in leadership of the Populist party leading the questions, Protopadakis a civil engineer who had produced one of the studies about Athens water supply back in 1899 was uniquely suitable for the task. He was less suitable at keeping the Populists in one piece as MPs start deserting the Populists for Nikolaos Stratos Conservative party and Ion Dragoumis parliamentary group.

    Athens, December 23rd, 1922

    The plans for Athens new water supply were already underway since 1918 but the war had delayed them. With the fighting over the government signed a $10 million contract with the US Ulen company and the Bank of Athens for the wholesale replacement of Athens water supply. The centrepiece of the new system would be the dam of Marathon which would be completed in May 1928.

    Constantinople, December 24th, 1922

    Christmas was coming. And with Christmas was coming the first time in 469 years that the Christian liturgy would be heard within Hagia Sophia. That the Greeks of the city were excited at the prospect was an understandment, as tens of thousands had start gathering around Hagia Sophia already from mid-day in anticipation of the mass that was to begin in the early morning hours. The Inter-Allied police was less happy at the prospect fearing a backlash from the Muslim population of the city even though the Sivas government and the sultan had publicly adhered to the agreement that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum. It would quickly prove that the police was right to be wary. Turning the Hagia Sophia into a museum was bad enough for the more pious among Constantinople's Muslims. Letting it operate as a church on top of that was even worse. The call to "defend" it from the Christians spontaneously start being raised in several mosques throughout the city during the afternoon prayer, with crowds starting to gather. Quickly the crowds turned to a demonstration and quickly the demonstration into riots as clashes erupted with the Greeks that had start gathering around Hagia Sophia who emboldened in the aftermath of the war showed no signs of backing down. Soon the rioting was out of control with Turks attacking Greeks and Armenian churches and shops and the Greeks and Armenians fighting back and attacking Turkish mosques and shops.

    The mass did take place despite the rioting, the ecumenical patriarch bluntly stated to the allied high commissioners that it was their job to enforce the agreements and he was going to hold the mass whether they protected him or not even if it would cost him his life. But it would take three days and deployment of the allied army units stationed in Constantinople to put the riots under control despite the calls on all sides for calm. By the time the riots subsided there were over two dozen dead and the cost was estimated in the millions.

    Geneva, January 14th, 1922

    George Kafandaris had resigned his position as allied high commissioner for Constantinople in the aftermath of the bloody Christmas of 1922. But Italian and Turkish hopes that his replacement would not be Greek had quickly been dashed as Venizelos proposed, Aristeides Stergiadis the Greek governor general for Smyrna in his place and the League council confirmed him in position, Stergiadis credentials for efficiency and impartiality during his tenure in Smyrna had been impeccable, so much so that the Greeks were accusing him of favouring the Turks, while he was well respected by both the British and French. Given his success in Smyrna he was the logical choice for Constantinople, his tenure would continue for several years. The only man not happy with the choice was Benito Mussolini for him, installing Stergiadis over Italian disagreement was a personal slight to him anf he Mussolini had not taken up power in Italy to continue accepting slights. Greece needed to be taught a lesson. The Regia Marina was quietly ordered to start preparing for a possible operation the other side of the Adriatic. Of course a suitable excuse for the operation would be needed. But that was what secret services were for...
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    Part 21 Old kings and new calendars
  • Ruhr, January 11th, 1923

    French and Belgian troops occupied the region as Germany had failed once more to meet her war reparation obligations. The French, unlike Britain and the United States, believed, not necessarily without reason, that Germany was deliberately trying to avoid the payment of reparations. The German government offered no open resistance but ordered its nationals on the Ruhr to stop every activity that could be to the occupiers benefit. In the meantime inflation was running rampant within Germany. This was not considered bad by everyone of course. Bodosakis purchasing agents in Germany were buying all the machinery, that their employer's gold could get.

    Geneva, February 21st, 1923

    Former king Constantine I, finally succumbed to the multiple ailments that his pneumonia had left him back in 1915. In Greece the reaction to the news were mixed. For the Venizelist majority it mattered little. For the Royalist minority it was a cause of grief, the old king was still overwhelmingly popular among them. Hiw death also brought the question of succession and here even the Royalists were becoming split between themselves. For some it was obvious that ling Alexander, left by Constantine as "caretaker" of the throne was now the sole king, after all the young king was rather popular by his own. For the more strict Royalists though Alexander remained just a caretaker king till the true successor George II could return to the throne.

    In the meantime Constantine's body was moved to Italy, from there the Greek destroyers Aetos and Ierax carried it to Greece, Venizelos in hopes of mending further the National Schism had agreed to a public funeral with the full honours of a head of state despite the opposition of many in his own cabinet.

    Athens, February 16th, 1923, Old calendar/ March 1st, 1923, New calendar

    Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar as did the patriarchate of Constantinople. Not everyone was happy with the decision. The Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Jerusalem refused to switch to the Gregorian calendar. So did many parishes within Greece giving birth to an "old calendarist" movement. Still the majority of the population followed the state and church to adoption of the Gregorian calendar. Outside Greece with the exception of Jerusalem the other Greek controlled churches, in Alexandria, Cyprus and the diaspora followed the lead of Constantinople. The Slavic churches would not continuing to follow the Julian calendar even as their home countries were switching one after the other to the Gregorian one.

    London, April 1923

    David Lloyd's George cabinet soldiered on but it was recognised by everyone including himself that in the elections that were due no later than the end of the year the coalition was not going to continue. Negotiations were underway between the two Liberal party factions to re-unite the party as it was recognized that entering the elections split was going to be catastrophic. The negotiations were greatly hindered by the antipathy between Asquith and Lloyd George and who would lead to the election the re-united party. In the end that Lloyd George held the premiership had proven the deciding factor and the two factions had reached a tacit agreement for Lloyd George to lead the Liberals when the election came. Provided he also financed the Liberal electoral campaign from his slush fund.

    Berlin, May 1923

    Mustafa Kemal had not returned to Turkey after the end of the Paris negotiations and the treaty of Chantilly. Of course he recognised the need to self-exile at the very moment he left Turkey, his heading of the peace delegation was a polite way to remove him from the motherland in the aftermath of the war. He had set court in Berlin not unlike some exiled king. Paris and London were out of the question, Rome was a possibility but not right away given her occupation of part of Turkey, this left Berlin as the obvious choice.

    Today the monotony of the day had been broken by a delegation of Arabs from the Morrocan Rif. There Abd El-Krim after winning a devastating victory against the Spanish at Annual in 1921 was continuing his war against them in hopes of forcing recognition of the independence of an independent Rifian republic. Abd El-Krim's agents had contacting Kemal asking for his aid in the fight against the Spanish. Kemal declined the request to join in person even though he sympathized with them but agreed to help recruit any Turkish veterans that might be interested. A few dozen Turkish volunteers, mostly veteran officers and non-coms from the war would join the Rif rebels by the end of the year helping Krim's efforts to establish a regular army.

    Greek-Albanian border south of Tepelen, May 27th, 1923

    General Enrico Tellini was not a man exactly enamoured with the fascist regime that had taken over Italy. The regime knew as much and had decided that something had to be done about it and said something could also be used to further Italian policy goals. And thus the general and three of his companions were found murdered near the border. The assassins would never me found but Mussolini immediately blamed Greece, producing an ultimatum in May 29th demanding that Greece accept responsibility for the murders and pay 50 million in reparations. Venizelos reacted by proposing arbitration by the League of Nations the same day while he asked for British and French aid. An Italian naval squadron, already waiting for the "accident" to happen was already underway.

    Corfu, May 31st, 1923

    The Italian squadron including three battleships and several smaller craft, had shown up outside the harbour demanding the surrender of Corfu. When the Greek prefect had declined the demand they had opened up on the city, killing dozens of civilians and an Italian infantry brigade with about 5,000 men had landed and captured the town. The Greek 10th infantry regiment, taken by surprise and at peacetime strength had retreated to the interior of the island where reservists start pouring into her ranks. On the same day Mussolini in Rome gave a speech reminding that Corfu was Venetian for 4 centuries before being annexed to Greece hinting that he considered it rightfully Italian territory. The Corfu crisis was beginning...
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    Part 22 The wooden rooster's crowing
  • Athens, June 1st 1923

    Italy simultaneously with the bombardment and occupation of Corfu had closed the straits of Otranto to Greek ships and suspended sea-borne communications between Greece and Italy. The Albanian government had at the same time closed the Greek Albanian border and massed what few troops it had on the border. The Greeks had been caught by surprise but Venizelos start reacting swiftly. Martial law was declared through out Greece and the fleet along with the Smyrna Army corps in Ionia and the VIII infantry division in Epirus were quietly mobilized. Greece starting a war with Italy on its own was not practical. But Greece was not necessarily on its own. Just as Greece appealed to the League of Nations asking for its intervention, Venizelos was contacting Britain and France asking for them to mediate if Italy was willing to negotiate, to help defend Greece otherwise. Nikolaos Politis, the Greek foreign minister, had been sent right away to Belgrade and from there had continued to Bucharest asking Greece's Balkan Entente allies for their support. And there were military options the Italians had apparently not taken into consideration. The Italian mandate in Caria was wide open if the Greeks crossed the Meander, with the geography making its defense all the more difficult as the mountain ranges that run vertical to the river separated the few Italian troops there into multiple contingents along the valleys. [1]

    Understandably, the Greek press was up in arms against Italy. The Italian ambassador's complaint to the Greek government when one of the papers had called the Italians "the fugitives of Caporetto", had been met by a flat refusal to take any action against the newspaper, the ambassador being simply informed that Greece had freedom of the press. Mussolini had in turn recalled his ambassador with Greece reciprocating. [2] The opposition had stood understandably at the side of the nation with Ion Dragoumis in particular being particularly scathing in his rhetoric against Italy. Nikolaos Stratos at the head of the Reformist Conservative party can been less scathing but had not omitted calling in parliament for the immediate completion of the battleship Salamis and the procurement of further heavy units to replace to old Kilkis and Lemnos pre-dreadnoughts. Had Greece possessed the three battleships projected by the Greek naval program he argued Italy would had never dared to occupy Corfu. [3]

    London, June 3rd 1923

    Italian actions had been to put it mildly a nasty surprise to the British government. David Lloyd George was a known partisan of Greece of course but he wasn't alone in his support of Greece this time. Lord Curzon, the foreign minister described the Italian action as "violent and inexcusable" and that if Britain did not back the Greek appeal in the league of nations "that institution may as well shut its doors". [4] Winston Churchill with Lloyd George's backing had ordered the Mediterranean fleet on a "goodwill visit" to the Aegean. Britain of course did not want war with Italy but the presence of the Royal Navy in Greek waters was a pointed reminder that attaching Greece would be problematic. Mussolini would have to be insane to want to take on the Royal Navy. Of course reports from the British embassy in Rome claimed that this was possibly true but even if insane he was preferable to communists. This put something of a crimp to the British ability to safely predict his actions...

    Rome June 10, 1923

    The crisis went on. Both the Balkan Entente members as well as Czechoslovakia were openly supporting the Greeks, as did Britain and to a lesser extend France. International opinion in general was decidedly supportive of Greece. Within Corfu, the Greek 10th Infantry now and full strength was dug in in the interior of the island effectively limiting Italian control to the town of Corfu and the Italians had been quietly informed that if they tried to advance to the interior the Greeks would fight back, of course Greek resistance could be likely overcome but Mussolini did not want to start an actual war at the moment. Not all was bad though. Within Italy a wave of patriotism had swept the nation securing the fascists hold on power. Britain when told that if it insisted on the Greek appeal being taken before the League of Nations, Italy would simply leave the League had backed down an agreed that the matter should be dealt by the ambassadors conference, particularly since France also preferred this and wanted to retain Italian support against Germany. In Sivas calls were being raised in the Turkish grand national assembly to attack Greece in conjunction with Italy, a welcome increase of Italian influence within the country. Mussolini chose a French newspaper to declare that if Greece did not find the perpetrators of the murder by June 27th, Italy would refuse to leave Corfu. Of course there was the minor issue that according to the Greek "Corfu office of information" established under lieutenant colonel Fessopoulos to coordinate Greek intelligence operations related to the crisis the murderers were being harboured by the Italians in the first place but that was surely the Greeks problem...

    Geneva, June 29th, 1923

    The ambassadors conference voted by three to one that Greece was not responsible for the murder. Then it continued by claiming that nevertheless she was responsible for some undefined negligence before and after the murder, for which a formal apology should be presented to Italy. Since Greece was not responsible for the murder, there was no reason for the 50,000,000 lire indemnity claimed by Italy, the formal Greek apology should suffice, behind the scenes Venizelos had made it clear that Greece was willing to compromise and accept a formula that let Italy maintain face but was not paying a single penny for a crime she was not responsible for. Italy was free to go to the International court of justice for her demand for Greece to pay the occupation costs for the month Corfu remained occupied. It was a decision both sides could live with. The Greeks got the Italians off Corfu. But they would remember the forced apology, the half million pounds demanded by Italy was instead assigned to the navy. Mussolini got to pretend he had won and show to the Italian public how his government followed a dynamic foreign policy unlike his predecessors and had forced Greece to a formal apology, increasing his popularity. Money, Italy was above mere money, the Greek formal apology was worth much more fascist propaganda would claim. But Mussolini would remember he failed to keep Corfu. A day of reckoning would come he claimed. The League of Nations was the only one that had no reason to be happy with the result. In her first major test it had failed.

    Corfu, June 30th, 1923

    Back during the Great war, when Italian troops had been stationed in Corfu before the Greek entry into the war, the commander of the Italian garrison, had hanged a wooden rooster from the gate of the Corfu New Fortress and claimed Italians would leave the island when the wooden rooster crowed. Italian troops had left under cover of night in 1918. Now they were leaving again and several thousand Corfiotes were in the port to see them off, all crowing like roosters. The wooden rooster had after all crowed for a second time. It remained to be seen it it would crow for a third time as well...

    [1] That is obviously a factor not present in OTL. But Italy would hardly have more than 10-15,000 men in peacetime in the area, it had fewer during the Greek-Turkish war after all.
    [2] The incident is copied from OTL, but TTL reaction is liable to be different. A Greece that has just won its war with Turkey and is closely connected to Britain and France is an entirely different beast from the OTL one both militarily and politically...
    [3] There had actually been supporters of the idea that Greece needed to be able to build up to 3 battleships in OTL 1923-24, like admiral Periklis Rediadis. Saner heads prevailed, three battleships was 60% of the French and Italian tonnage an more than any of the proposed lesser power allocations in the 1924 Rome naval conference. But Stratos is a navalist, "heavy units" can mean anything, the naval staff hoped to eventually build heavy cruisers in replacement of the pre-dreadnoughts which count for heavy units and besides... he is in the opposition he won't need to put his claims to actual work...
    [4] Historical
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    Part 23 Of conspiracies and elections
  • London, July 7th, 1923

    David Lloyd George, declared a victory of his government's foreign policy over the just concluded Corfu crisis, then went to the king and asked for a snap election, normally the election should had been held no later than December 1923. In truth it was clear to everyone that the coalition government was running out of steam for the past year if not earlier. Both Lloyd George's National Liberals and the Conservatives were preparing to enter the elections separately when they came and the coalition had had a close call during the crisis when the British government had quietly contacted the dominions over the option of British led League of Nations action to force Italy out of Corfu. Reaction from the Dominions particularly from the Canadian government had been cool but the debate had remained mostly behind the scenes. [1] The Conservatives had even debated leaving the government, but given public outrage for the Italian attack on Corfu had decided against any rash movements. Only for Lloyd George to pre-empt them it now appeared.

    Britain, August 4th, 1923

    The elections had failed to produce a decisive result. The Conservatives under Stanley Baldwin, Andrew Bonar Law had retired from party leadership for health reasons, had gained 38% of the vote and 258 seats, fifty short of a majority. Labour under John Robert Clynes [2] had gained 29.7% of the vote a nearly 40% increase from 1918 and 166 seats. The Liberals for all their internal problems, neither of the Asquith and Lloyd George factions were very happy with each other to put it mildly although Baldwin's support for protective tariffs in the lead-up to the election had unintentionally helped bring the two factions closer together, had managed to come slightly ahead of Labour in the popular vote with 30.7% and 183 seats. [3] David Lloyd George would remain prime minister for a while yet forming a minority government with Labours tolerance and limited participation in the government. This did not stand well with everyone in the Liberals. Winston Churchill would refuse to join a government backed by labour and stood initially as an independent. Within a year he would cross the floor and join the conservatives.

    Dublin, August 27th, 1923

    Prime minister Michael Collins still had a slight limp from a bullet that had wounded him during an ambush in the civil war the previous year, it could had turned lethal he reflected had he not accidentally delayed his departure reading a newspaper on the ongoing exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in the aftermath of the treaty of Chantilly, an ordered compensated exchange of populations could be a solution to the question of North Ireland after all. [4] The pro-treaty Sinn Fein under his guidance, he had staunchly rejected proposals for a new party, had done well in the elections gaining 43,3% of the popular vote and 83 seats in the Irish Parliament, forming a majority. The anti-treaty Sinn Fein under Eamon De Valera had still come second with 27.4% of the vote and 34 seats. The smaller Labour and Farmers parties had fared far worse gaining 14 and 5 seats respectively.

    Greece and Turkey, September 1923

    The last exchangees reached their new countries. Nearly 2,280,000 people, 845,000 of the Greek and Armenian had moved in either direction under a League of Nations commission led by Norwegian Friedrich Nansen. For a change both governments had cooperated in the commission and had done their best to make the exchange as orderly as possible, with exchangees bringing with them all their movable property and assessments of their landed properties for compensation in their new countries with Constantinople banks, accessible from both sides of the border, proving a help to the process. Things had often proven considerably more problematic on the ground, particularly in the case of the Pontic Greeks and the Armenians who had been often lucky to get out alive, but the exchange had been generally considered a success by both governments and the League. [5] The Sivas government had been forced to concentrate on the matter above all else, even according to its own statistics the number of Greeks and Armenians in its territory in 1914 was in excess of the 1.4 million refugees it was receiving, but this was not making the task any less titanic for a country that had been nearly constantly at war since 1911. Even though she was not a member of the League of Nations, Turkey had used her help to contract a loan of about 12.3 million pounds, mostly from US banks to help with resettlement. At about 7% interest and 88% price of issue, terms could had been better but were not necessarily much worse than past Ottoman loans. [6] Greece, in a much better economic and diplomatic situation, even though it was receiving another 200,000 refugees from the Soviet Union and Bulgaria, had also contracted loans but on quite better terms.

    Athens, October 2nd, 1923

    Queen consort Aspasia was again pregnant, she had been actually already in her fourth month of pregnancy now that it was announced. That was a problem for the split royalists. Currently even if the more staunch royalists thought that it was high time for Alexander to renounce the throne in favour of his brother George, a prospect that Alexander who was more interested in cars than the throne would not had minded in the slightest had circumstances been different, who was the legitimate successor to Constantine from the royalist point of view, there was no disagreement over the line of succession after George, prince Paul stood to succeed Alexander as well after all. But if a son was born to Alexander and he was proclaimed crown prince, the legitimist cause would suffer a mortal blow. It was all well an fine to say Aspasia was not a royal. This was more than compensated in a country like Greece by the fact she was Greek, accusations that the dynasty was foreign, were always coming fast from enemies of the dynasty. [7]

    News of an agreement between the Venizelos government and the opposition, Nikolaos Stratos of the Reform Conservative party and Ion Dragoumis, who had recently renamed hi "Macedonian group" to National party, after the death of Dimitrios Gounaris its main leaders in parliament over the matter of Royalish officers cashiered in 1917 who had not returned to service in 1921 further exacerbated things for the Royalists. Under the agreement all the officers, not convicted of crimes, would not be returned to active service, instead would be reinstated and immediately retired and pensioned with their 1917 ranks, any not too old would be placed on the reserve list, while any proffesionaly competent that so desired could join the civil administration, mostly as engineers. Further Victor Dousmanis, the head of the general staff under Constantine would be fully pardoned and also receive his pension. The pardon pointedly did not include Ioannis Metaxas still in exile in Italy, who had been convicted to death in 1920. It wouldn't do to have such issues closed by compromise...

    Athens, October 16th, 1923

    The chief royalists met in secret to debate their situation, the grip of Venizelism on Greece was growing with every passing day between victory in the war, Venizelos restoring the excesses of his 1917-20 government and not least the exchange of populations. The Muslims now leaving had overwhelmingly voted against Venizelos and for the royalists in 1915 and 1920. The Anatolian Greeks and Armenians that had come to Greece would be just as overwhelmingly voting for the Venizelists [8]. It was notable who participated and who not in the meeting. Stratos and Dragoumis were not, they had not been invited or knew of the meeting in the first place. The new Italian ambassador was. Two weeks later Metaxas would be secretly invited by Mussolini in the Palazzo Venezia.

    [1] This is not quite the mess that the OTL Chanak crisis was, but the Lloyd George cabinet has given more enthusiastic support to Greece than the conservatives in OTL and underlying trends, ie the dominions wanting their own say in foreign policy is unaltered.
    [2] This is the first election from 1918, hence Ramsay MacDonald is still out of parliament and thus has not taken over the party again.
    [3] I gave Labour its OTL 1922 performance under Clynes and the difference between 1922 to 1923 to the Liberals who thus come slightly ahead of the popular vote instead of slightly behind. Does it mean such a swing in parliamentary seats? Frankly no idea first past the post is notoriously problematic from the point of calculating electoral results based just on overall popular vote. But the cube law usually gives a reasonable approximation, so used it to split seats between Liberals and Labour.
    [4] What you expected butterflies not to start showing up? :p
    [5] Suffice to say the actual people being exchanged may well have a pointedly different opinion to put it mildly. But the OTL exchange, which was under worse conditions has been also hailed as a great success.
    [6] A copy of the Greek refugee loan of 1924 actually.
    [7] Can relate from personal experience. You could hear in the 1980s from anti-monarchists that "the Glucksburgs were foreigners and not one of them besides poor Alexander ever deigned to marry a Greek" it is way worse in the 1920s.
    [8] In OTL they voted about 90% Venizelist in the 1920s, it fell to about 80% in the 1930s.
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    Part 24 The broken road and the broken car
  • Munich, November 15th, 1923

    Adolf Hitler would later claim he had been inspired by Mustafa Kemal and Benito Mussolini in his attempt to seize power. Unlike them his coup attempt had ended in a prison cell as the Bavarian state government instead of meekly submitting to the coup attempt had fought back. Hitler had fled only to be arrested a couple days after the collapse of the coup along with several of his followers and put on trial, he would be convicted but in practice his conviction would prove no more than a slap in the wrist. Herman Göring had been luckier as he had managed to escape to Austria only with a light wound.

    Morocco, Rif republic, November 1923

    About 100 Turkish volunteers had slipped through French Morocco into Rif. All of them where veterans of the Great war and the war with Greece. Language could had been a problem but most of them could speak Arabic at least after a fashion. Abd El-Krim lost no time putting them to use training Rifian soldiers. The Rifians made some of the best light infantry in the world as they had proven in action. But they were understandably lacking when it came to taking full advantage of the artillery and other heavy equipment they had captured from the Spanish. Soon this would start changing. And the Rifians had over 200 guns in their possession. in the meantime attacks on Spanish outposts continued without stop. The strain on Spain was growing. Already back in September a royal dictatorship under Miguel Primo de Rivera had taken over Spanish government...

    Athens, November 25th, 1923

    The 195 hp 8000cc engine of the Hispano-Suiza H6B, roared in the Kifisias avenue as it driver kept increasing speed as he drove it from down-town Athens, towards Marousi. The driver loved fast cars was very confident, perhaps excessively so, of his driving abilities and wanted above all else to test his new toy, in the straight empty road after one more boring meeting back in Athens. The speed showing in the speedometer kept increasing. 90 kph, 100 kph, 120 kph, 145 kph the maximum the car maker said the H6B could reach he observed with satisfaction. He was already near Psychiko. At this speed he failed to notice the puddle in the road yesterday's rain had opened. He lost control. Before he could regain it the car was out of the road and hit a tree. By the time gendarmes and civilians reached the accident site it was already too late. King Alexander of Greece was already dead, his neck broken by the crash.

    Athens, November 29th, 1923

    Eleutherios Venizelos cursed the idiot kid and his cars. He had received the report from the accident, if anything it was pure luck that more people had not died in the accident as Alexander had violated about every road safety rules there were and common sense. But it was not just any idiot kid it was the king of Greece. He had been given a public funeral with full military honours the previous day of course, while admiral Paul Koundouriotis had been proclaimed regent in a special session of the parliament. And now the matter of succession was again open. Perhaps bringing back George II might be the best compromise, but his own party had with good reason balked at the idea, Constantine's crown prince was considered perhaps wrongly as pro-German and responsible for 1915-17 along with his father. The current assembly had a mandate to amend the constitution, one of the amendments discussed had been changing the line of succession to the children of Alexander. But Alexander was now dead with no male children. Aspasia was pregnant but unborn children did not count in the line of succession. He could of course take the advice of Alexandros Papanastasiou, that it was high time for Greece to become a republic, Venizelos was personally sympathetic but found the timing questionable. Yes republicanism was growing in Greece but was it strong enough for such a step? With a sigh he start drafting the letter offering the throne to prince Paul of Greece...
    Part 25 Of plots and kings
  • Athens, December 6th, 1923

    The response from prince Paul had taken a week to come back from Switzerland. Perhaps not unsurprisingly it was flat out refusal. Paul stated that he of course wanted to serve Greece but the legitimate king of the country was his brother George ever since the death of their father, "crown prince Alexander" had been the surrogate left by their father when he had been forcefully expelled from the country in 1917. Following the unfortunate death of his brother, he was assuming the role of crown prince of course, but he would accept the succession only if his brother renounced the throne. Which George of course was not giving up. Why he should after all when it looked like the royal family finally had the upper hand over the hated Venizelos. Or so was the argument of most of the family at least and George despite being more moderate in person had taken the advice of his uncles and mother on the matter.

    Athens, December 20th, 1923

    The debate on the Greek parliament was becoming heated in the extreme. The Liberals would not accept George to the throne. As alternatives were proposed either, altering the line of succession to the descendants of Alexander assuming, Aspasia had a son or otherwise offering the throne to prince Peter. Both options had their problems of course. For one noone knew whether Aspasia would have a son and there was the matter of her marriage with Alexander not being officially recognized. For another even if a son was borne to Aspasia, the country would have to go through a regency for the next 18 years. The memory of Otto's regency in the 1830s was still strong nearly a century after the fact and none to kindly, with reason it was seen as one of the reasons that had undermined Otto's rule from the start. Making Peter the king would mean a far shorter regency of two to three years and by all accounts Peter was a very promising youngster, very much unlike his father the less kindly minded pointed behind the scenes. There were practical considerations of course. As Peter was not an adult yet his father would need to be persuaded to accept the throne in his name simultaneously renouncing his own rights to the throne. But prince George hated Venizelos with a passion since his time in Crete two decades earlier when the prince had tried to play absolute monarch and Venizelos had revolted against him. And either proposal would need a two thirds supermajority in parliament, the Liberals held a majority but would need the backing of one or more parties of the opposition to get sufficient votes to elect a new king. To make things more interesting the left wing of the Liberals under Alexandros Papanastasiou was by now openly advocating a republic helped by the impasse on the succession.

    On the Royalist side things were not getting particularly better. Ion Dragoumis had been a personal friend of Constantine but truth to tell was not much invested on who was going to be the new king, provided the king was a Greek nationalist meeting his standards of course. Nikolaos Stratos, a former Venizelist and always the most conciliatory among the Royalists could be willing to reach a compromise, quiet discussions to that effect were taking place, but run the risk of his own MPs revolting against him. Panagiotis Tsaldaris and Ioannis Rallis were already taking advantage of the crisis to reinforce the Populist party, which had suffered multiple defections after Gounaris death by raising once more the flag of staunch Constantinism, this time in the name of restoring George to the throne. This too run its risks. Constantine himself had been extremely popular but he was dead and Alexander had been himself very popular. But the royalist public was not as emotionally vested over supporting installing George to the throne no matter what, particularly with the war over and Venizelos rolling back the excesses that had taken place in his absence for the past couple of years. The debates in parliament went on just as live went on, the government was operating just as efficiently under Koundouriotis recency.

    Paris, December 25th, 1923

    Prince George was adamant than bypassing his nephew and namesake would be treason. Worst yet not just treason but helping that devil Venizelos. It did not matter that it would mean his own son becoming king. His wife Maria Bonaparte was trying to persuade otherwise but with rather little success so far. She debated with herself whether involving pince Valdemar of Denmark, George's uncle and likely lover would help persuade him. Of course there was the matter of persuading Valdemar first...

    Coast of Messenia, January 1st, 1924

    The little cove was deserted, on new years eve. Well almost deserted. The little motorboat start unloading its cargo of Mannlicher-Carcano and converted Vetterli-Vitali rifles, alongside a handful of machine guns. The royalists waiting for them, quickly and efficiently start loading them on the waiting mules, most were veterans of the wars and were gone to their hiding places. It was not the sole boat unloading arms. Time was ticking and it was not in the Ultras favour. Back in November the accidental death of Alexander had looked like an act of providence that made the plans for a more drastic solution to the royal problem much more practical, or even unnecessary in Venizelos accepted George to the throne. But five weeks had already passed from the death of Alexander and life went on under the regency. If a lot more time was left to pass there was a clear danger on the population just growing accustomed to the regency. Or just as worse of Stratos actually reaching a deal with Venizelos, rumours to that end abounded already...

    Athens, 02:00 January 6th, 1924

    Venizelos left the Deltas estate in Kifisia to return to Athens, it the epiphany was a public holiday in Greece and in the morning he would have to attend the church function along with the government. Two cars suddenly closed on his car and that of his guards and unceremoniously opened up with rifles and a light machine gun against the prime minister's car. His driver sped up immediately while Venizelos jumped down to stop giving a target. The attack continued for several minutes till the PMs car could find shelter to the barracks of the 1st infantry regiment. Only the fact that his car was armoured had saved Venizelos life.

    Greece, January 6th, 1924

    The country expected to wake up to a public holiday. Instead it woke up in war as a junta of royalist military officers, most of them out of active service rose up in revolt taking over several garrisons. Metaxas, brought to Patras by an Italian seaplane, along with generals Anastasios Papoulas, Xenophon Strategos and Panagiotis Gargalidis, proclaimed that they were establishing a provisional government, in the name of the legitimate monarch George II to oversee his immediate restoration. Metaxas, Papoulas and Strategos were of course all staunch royalists, Papoulas had been just released from prison. Gargalidis was more of a surprise as he was professing himself Venizelist after 1917 but he was an ambitious man and it looked as if under Venizelos he had little chance of ever commanding the army, so had been bought off. But if the coup plotters expected that with Venizelos dead, his government would fall apart and the country bow down to their will, they had seriously miscalculated. For one thing they had failed to kill Venizelos. For another even had they killed him the Venizelists were not going to give up without a fight and they had rushed things in the aftermath of Alexander's death, in several garrisons loyalists had come on top. It remained to be seen which side was actually stronger...
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    Part 26 Not the son of the eagle
  • Athens, January 6th, 1924

    The army just like the rest of the government had been caught by surprise. Its head general Leonidas Paraskeuopoulos was with his family in his native Smyrna. His chief of staff Theodore Pangalos was in his own home in Eleusis near Athens. This left lt general Alexandros Mazarakis-Ainian the deputy commander of the army general staff as the acting commander in Athens. Following demobilization Army Corps A had returned to its base in Athens, it was control of its units, particularly the II Infantry division that would determine control of Athens. For a moment it looked like control might be lost, Mazarakis while an excellent organizer was hardly the most decisive officer the Greek army had even produced. But accident had brought Venizelos right at the barracks of the 1st infantry regiment while he escaped the attempt on his life, and the Cretan politician was anything but indecisive. He immediately got on the phone calling Pangalos immediately back to Athens and ordered the regiment to action. By the morning Athens was fully controlled by the government. The coupists had managed to take over the 7th infantry regiment, along with a number of smaller units but both the 1st and 34th regiments, and the Corps artillery had remained loyal and had both the Evelpidon military academy and the Naval Cadets school. The 7th had surrendered to Pangalos after some skirmishing, the junior officers and the common soldiers had little stomach to fight against their fellow soldiers, often their neighbours in civilian life [1] out of the blue.

    Smyrna, January 6th, 1924

    There might had been plots in some units of the Greek army in Asia Minor to support the coup. But Greek Ionia was overwhelmingly Venizelist. So were nearly all the commanders of the Asia Minor army, any neutralists quickly followed the lead of their pro-government colleagues. Outright royalists like colonel Alexandros Papagos, in Philadelpheia [2] with his cavalry regiment did nothing, the alternative would be getting crushed. This accident of luck would save Papagos future in the army. Huge demonstrations in support of the government would erupt in Smyrna and several smaller Ionian towns. General Paraskeuopoulos, accidentaly in Smyrna would oversee a call up of reservists to reinforce the Asia Minor army, lest the Turks got ideas of taking advantage.

    Thessaloniki, January 6th, 1924

    Colonel Ziras a usually apolitical officer had joined the rebellion, for unclear reasons, either perceived slights by Venizelists or as a result of his tedency to get involved in card playing for considerable amounts. If he thought Thessaloniki would fall just on his name he was quickly proven mistaken, as general Leonardopoulos, the commander of the recently created C army corps and a former officer of the army of National Defence in 1916 stayed loyal to the government and fought back. With the population also largely backing the Venizelists particularly thanks to the influx of Pontic Greek refugees, the result was largely forgone. Ziras carried some of the garrisons of Macedonia but not Thessaloniki.

    Patras, January 7th, 1924

    Results were at the very least mixed for Metaxas and the so called "majors committee" that had launched the coup. Peloponnesus had come under full control of the rebels, with royalist volunteers flocking to their colours. Parts of western Greece and Epirus had also fallen to the coup but notably, Constantine Gouvelis the head of the North Epirote rebels back in 1922 despite being openly a Royalist who had been removed from the army in 1927-21 outright refused to participate on news it was being led by Metaxas, he had been a prominent member of the Military League back in 1909. The Cyclades, parts of central Greece and parts of Macedonia were under rebel control, although at Lamia the XIII Infantry regiment had stayed loyal to its commander Nikolaos Plastiras despite the soldiers being royalists. In the navy Dimitrios Oikonomou and Epameinondas Kavvadias had managed to take over the light cruiser Helli and several smaller ships in a surprise raid in the Salamis naval base but the rest of the fleet and particularly the other 3 cruisers and the 1st destroyer flottila with it Aetos and S class destroyers had remained loyal to the government. Again personal loyalties had played a role, Alexandros Sakellariou despite being a royalist had refused to join the rebels. The rest of the country was under the government's control. Worse yet both Stratos and Dragoumis had outright condemned the coup. If the rebellion was to succeed immediate action was needed. Metaxas moved to Corinth and launched an attack north towards Athens before the government could recover from the surprise.

    Greek-Bulgarian border, January 10th, 1924

    Colonel Ziras would escaped to Bulgaria with loyalist troops in his pursuit. It was a rather humiliating end for a man that had made a name for himself leading a regiment in the battle of Dobro Pole, but the alternative was to stay and get caught by the troops of colonel Kondylis pursuing him and there were no guarantees for his treatment afterwards. The coup had effectively collapsed outside the Peloponnesus and the Cyclades, the previous day units under major Psarros had taken his native Anfissa and Plastiras had occupied Chalkis. But Metaxas still had the better part of three divisions marching on Athens from Corinth.

    Mount Kithairon, January 12th, 1924

    Metaxas had proclaimed a "march on Athens" and led the III, IV and XIV Infantry divisions all taken over by the rebels towards it. Pangalos had taken up defensive positions with the II infantry division in mount Kithairon, reinforced by elements from the XIII and I infantry divisions. For a change this was a real battle. Of shorts at least, neither side had their heart at killing their fellow Greeks if they could help it. Metaxas had been an excellent staff officer, nicknamed the little Moltke, but had never directly commanded units in action himself, thus actual operational command was in the hands of Papoulas. Pangalos might not have been as good a staff officer, though by all accounts was brilliant, but unlike Metaxas was also an infantryman with quite a record in command of frontline units. Perhaps inevitably the battle start tilting towards the defenders, particularly as the kept receiving reinforcements by rail from the north. When the Crete division under cover of the fleet landed on the flank of the royalists it was too much and they start falling back towards Corinth in disarray.

    Corinth, January 16th, 1924

    Metaxas had left defence of Corinth to major Maniadakis. Maniadakis had tried to defend the town. But when the navy under commodore Xatzikyriakos had threatened to bombard the town, the citizens start spontaneously raising white flags and the conscripts start joining them, Maniadakis was forced to surrender. Loyalist troops marched into the Peloponnesus. Resistance was collapsing as it was becoming increasingly clear the coup had failed.

    Ionian sea, January 20th, 1924

    Metaxas had boarded the torpedo boat Kios, former Austro-Hungarian 99M to try escaping to Italy. Two days before Kavvadias had tried to put up a fight with Helli in the gulf of Patras only to be defeated by the destroyers of commodore Kolialexis, little damage had been inflicted by both sides. But Kios had been detected by loyalist Greek warships. Destroyers Aetos and Leon gave pursuit intercepting Kios which between being sunk and surrendering chose to surrender. Metaxas alongside Stratigos were taken in custody. The next day the last rebel troops under Papoulas would surrender in Tripoli.

    Athens, January 25th, 1924

    For all the fighting, as civil wars went the Metaxas coup had been relatively bloodless with not much more than a hundred death overall. But now the country already shocked by the coup itself, faced a different shock as increasing evidence surfaced that Italy had supported the coup with arms and money. Greece made an official complaint to the League of Nations, for the Italian involvement in its internal affairs which Rome promptly ignored. The Greek ambassador was recalled from Rome with the Italians reciprocating but it was in neither country's benefit to push things further, with Britain mediating relations would be restored in March, Greek participation in the Rome naval conference being used as a pretext, but relations between Greece and Italy remained frosty. Within Greece relations were rather less subdued. Open support for outright abolishing the monarchy had emerged in the aftermath of the coup, Venizelos had refused to condone it, still entertaining hopes that Aspasia might have a son, but did state in public that personally he was a republican. His followers did not need much more prompting than that. On the royalist side Dragoumis following the evidence of Italian involvement in the coup and disgusted at the stance of George II who had failed even to uter a word of support for the people rebelling in his name, was now supporting the proposals to have a referendum on the future of the monarchy, even though he stated that he would personally support the monarchy. The parliament would decide a month later that a referendum would take place simultaneously with the parliamentary elections in the end of the year.

    Goudi, March 20th, 1924

    Metaxas looked with a bit of disbelief the dozen soldiers lined opposite him. Of course he had been condemned to death back in 1920 but he'd never believed it would actually come to this. But the court martial after the failed revolution, he refused to think of it as a coup, had just given him a second death sentence and apparently Venizelos was not in the mood for mercy. At least as far as he was involved. He, Papoulas and Stratigos had been sentenced to death. The officers that had actively participated had been cashiered, removed from the reserve list and their pensions suspended but otherwise with few exceptions left free, Metaxas did not know this but it was the deal Stratos had made in exchange for agreeing to the referendum. A referendum to remove a king. It would be comic if it was not treasonous. It did not matter any more. The second leutenant, not even a regular officer but a reservist he noted, was ordering the soldiers to take aim. Well he had done his duty to his king even if his king did not even bother to utter a single word in his support. Ironic given how he had wanted to leave completely politics after the death of king Constantine and had to be persuaded otherwise. The soldiers fired. Then nothing.

    [1] The army was recruiting regionally.
    [2] Turkish Alasehir
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    Part 27 Of ships and guns
  • Rome, February 25th 1924

    The naval conference to extend the principles of the Washington Naval treaty to all lesser naval powers had begun in Rome under the auspices of the League of Nations in February 15th. The Greeks and Italians had quietly taken advantage of the occasion to restore diplomatic relations, with Greek foreign minister Nikolaos Politis sent to head the Greek delegation to the conference, while notably the Soviet Union and Turkey had been also admitted to the conference, with the Turkish delegation headed by Rauf Bey. As a basis of the negotiation had been used the proposals of John Roderick Segrave, Britain’s naval representative to the League from 1920 to 1923. Quite simply Sergrave had proposed that all parties aside from the WNT signatories should accept the battleship tonnage they had in November 1921, with every ship with artillery heavier than 8in counted against battleship tonnage. Thus Spain and Argentina would be limited to 81,000t each, Sweden to 62,500t, Brazil to 45,000t, Chile to 35,000t, Greece to 36,000t, the Netherlands to 26,500t, Norway to 16,000t and Denmark to 13,000t. As for the Soviet Union Segrave proposed a quota of 175,000t of battleships and 60,000t of aircraft carriers the same with France and Italy under Washington.

    Now ten days later the conference was closing down in complete failure. Only Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands had agreed to the proposed tonnages. The Soviet representative Berens had asked for no less than 490,000t for the Soviet Union and the right for the Soviets to lay down 150,000t of new battleships to reach that tonnage. When that tonnage was unanimously refused, he had offered to accept 280,000t on provision that the implementation and supervision of the treaty would not be supervised by the League but some other organization, that the Bosporus and Dardanelles were closed to warships and that the Korean Straits were demilitarized. These terms, challenging the League, abrogating the treaty of Chantilly and still giving the Soviets 60% more tonnage than France and Italy were equally unacceptable. Aside from the Soviets, Spain had asked for an 105,000t tonnage limit, which was accepted in principle only for more problems to emerge when the Spanish demanded the right to lay down new battleships in 1927, 1929 and 1931. Then Spain agreed to a naval holiday only if France and Italy agreed not to lay new battleships either. In the Baltic Sweden agreed to a 60,000t limit only if every other country with a Baltic coast agreed to the same limit, while in South America both Brazil and Chile demanded parity with Argentina at 80,000t. In the Aegean, Turkey had had her navy limited to ships no larger than 10,000t in the treaty of Chantilly but had managed to avoid having its number of ships limited, given the Turkish economic situation this had been a concession the Entente had been willing to accept. Rauf bey now stated that Turkey would accept her navy being limited to the 33,000t it had on paper in November 1921 as long as the tonnage limits of the treaty of Chantilly were removed. On the other side of the Aegean Greece, with the Italian occupation of Corfu in mind had argued that Salamis already launched should be also accounted into her tonnage, thus raising it to 56,000t and further that here right to either take delivery of Salamis or lay down a replacement ensured. The only thing that remained from the Greek point of view was the confirmation that the country wanted to take delivery of Salamis and that Turkey was already pushing back against the disarmament limits of the treaty of Chantilly.

    Athens, April 1st, 1924

    Queen consort Aspasia had a baby girl. She would be named Alexandra after her deceased father. The predicament of the royalist side remained, with the only practical options being George, which was guaranteed to unite the Venizelists against the monarchy or prince Peter which was just as likely to turn the majority of their own supporters against their own leaders. The more cynic of said leaders start simply calculated that remaining intransigent would at the very least secure their voter base. Dragoumis and Stratos were not among them, they would campaign for monarchy as an institution, leaving the decision for whom the king should be for the future.

    Athens, April 18th, 1924

    The Greek army supreme war council convened to decide on standardizing the rifle calibre for the army. Greece had adopted 6.5x54 back in 1903 but by now there were strong arguments over adopting a different calibre and since the army had no less than 4 main rifle calibres in service with about 144,000 Mannlichers, 91,000 Mausers, 84,000 Berthier and Lebel rifles and 100,000 P14 Enfields there was no particularly strong reason to standardize on it. The army had tried to obtain the results of the French army tests for a new rifle but to no avail, the French refused to share their results and had only allowed a Greek delegation to test file their new 7.5x57 in hopes of obtaining Greek orders. This had not gone very well with several weapons bursting in trials, apparently the new cartridge was so close in dimensions to the German 7.92x57 that the weapons had been chambered with the wrong rounds. An embarrassment overall that the French were looking into.[1] Finally the council decided upon adopting 7mm as the standard army calibre stating the inability to have spitzer bullets at 6.5mm as the reason. [2] 200,000 rifles would be built initially with an option for another 200,000 to follow. It was hoped that rifles would be also produced locally by the newly established Hephaestus Works. The council would also confirm orders to the French Schneider for no less than 676 artillery pieces. Over two thirds of these were mountain guns, with 288 75mm and 192 105mm pieces ordered. The rest were 96 105mm "long" guns and 100 155mm howitzers. [3]

    Athens, May 1924

    The first phase new Greek naval law called for the modernization of the cruisers Averof, Kounduriotis and Katsonis, conversion of Helli to a training ship and the laying down of 1 cruiser, 6 destroyers and 6 submarines by 1930. In effect it was following almost to the letter the proposals of the Kelly naval mission back in 1920 for a navy of 4 cruisers, 2 destroyer flotillas and 6 submarines. The two pre-dreadnoughts Lemnos and Kilkis would remain in service, the decision on their replacement likely by new heavy cruisers would be taken as part of the second phase of the naval program. An order for six submarines of 960t displacement submerged [4] was placed in France, at 119,000 pounds per ship, the French ships cost half the price Vickers was offering for here H50 submarines. The first pair of destroyers would be laid down the next year in the new Skaramanga naval yard under the supervision of Yarrow engineers. The Greek ships would be similar to the Yarrow designed Admiralen class of the Royal Netherlands Navy, with heavier topedo and anti-aircraft armament in place of the aircraft facilities of the Dutch ships.

    The fate of the battleship Salamis had proven a serious bone of contention. Against his better judgement Venizelos had agreed to have the battleship completed in the aftermath of the Corfu incident. But the allied control commission, at Italian insistence had flatly refused to allow the export of the ship from Germany, at which point Greece terminated the contract with Vulcan citing the inability of Vulcan to deliver the ship and demanded a return of the instalments with Vulcan refusing and the issue taken in court. But Venizelos had refused to add a replacement in the current naval law, claiming that the Greek navy was at the moment completely superior to the Turkish navy so there was no reason to rush the construction of new battleships, instead Greece could concentrate her limited resources on aircraft and the light fleet for the time being. It was a decision hotly challenged in parliament, with Stratos a former minister of the navy that had split with Venizelos back in 1912 over ordering the Salamis as a fully fledged battleship leading the charge. But Venizelos would not budge. For the time being the only new ship ordered would be the destroyers and submarines.

    Washington DC, June 1924

    The Greek military attache looked again at the rifle rounds in front of him. Following the news that Greece was looking at 200 to 400,000 new rifles at 7mm calibre he had received a visit from one of the main US designers John Pedersen to propose the rifle and .276 round he was developing in that calibre. The rifle was still being developed of course but had already piqued his interest, just as it had done for everyone else in the know in Washington. If it worked it would be an excellent weapon for the Greek army, provided it could be afforded of course, a semi-automatic was bound to be quite pricier than standard rifles he supposed. But the round was a different matter and needed consideration on its own merits. After all since the general staff had decided to switch, the only other 7mm round readily availably was the Mauser 7x57 the Serbs had been using during the war. [5] He start drafting the report to send to Athens...

    [1] The Greeks asking for French test results and being refused is historical. So is 7.5x57 being so close to 7.92x57 that there were multiple accidents from its use that led to adoption of 7.5x54 in its place in 1929. Here the Greeks have a bit more diplomatic influence and quite a bit more money for the French to be a little more helpful in order to grab Greek orders.
    [2] Same as OTL. Of course both the Japanese and the Swedes had spitzer bullets at 6.5mm so not certain how the war council made the argument in OTL.
    [3] The orders are historical, in OTL they were later reduced to 468 guns to save money.
    [4] That's the Glaukos class of OTL, the only difference is the first pair (OTL Papanikolis and Katsonis) being also built to the same standard.
    [5] He's a Greek officer, so liable to think of the Serb Mauser rather than Spain...
    Part 28 Of votes and football
  • Sivas, March 3rd 1924

    Turkey and Germany signed a new treaty of friendship that included granting Germany the same lowered tariffs the Entente powers were getting till 1929. Turkey had been under no obligation to accept this, but relations between the two wartime allies were excellent, unlike these with France and Britain towards which Turkey remained wary and Turkey wanted to further strengthen commercial ties between the two countries and secure German investment within the country. Since 1922 the share of Germany in Turkish foreign trade had significantly increased, at the very time that the British share was fast dropping.

    Kayseri, August 1924

    The Turkish aircraft association had been established back in February as a private association to further civilian aviation in Turkey, after all the country was not allowed military aircraft by the treaty of Chantilly. Now a contract was signed with Junkers establishing the Motor Türk Anonim Şirket (TOMTAS) as a joint stock company between Junkers and the association to build an aircraft factory in Kayseri. Of course this was solely to further civilian aviation. After all the association was private, that several of its leading members were in the government and the army was accidental, people had a right to hobbies and making investments when off work. And off course Junkers as a German company was also forbidden from making military aircraft so wasn't making any...

    Smyrna, September 1924

    Young Alexandros Isigonis was both lucky and unlucky. Unlucky as two years ago he had lost his father. Lucky as he was the heir to the factory his grandfather Demosthenes had established. After 40 years of operation the Isigonis industry was the largest machinery works on the east side of the Aegean, building machinery of all kinds, steam engines and small ships. Just a few months before the factory had landed a contract to assemble about 250 cars for the Greek army. Alexandros found cars intriguing. He had bought a small one earlier in the year and had spent all summer driving it around and fixing it when it invariably broke down. Come October he would begin attending the engineering school of the Ionian university here in Smyrna.

    Sivas, September 1924

    The first Turkish football championship took place in Sivas between September 4th and 12th, with 14 teams participating in the matches of the first round. Several of the teams hailed from Constantinople, the Turkish teams in the city had outright refused to compete in a Constantinopolitan football championship together with the Greek and Armenian teams in the city despite the hopes of the League high commissioners for one. One Altay, originally established in Smyrna in 1914, had been forced to relocate to Sivas after the peace treaty. Harbiye, the team of the Turkish military academy would win the championship after a surprise win against Besiktas in the quarter-finals.

    Piraeus, September 1924

    The court officially approved the establishment of the Olympiakos football club. The creation of the new club spelled the end of APS Piraeus a football club established just the previous year that had come close to winning the 1923-24 Panhellenic championship, before losing it to Apollo Smyrna. The remaining members of APS would form themselves Ethnikos Piraeus, with both teams participating the the Piraeus local championship. This would be one of five Greek local championships, the other four being these of Athens, Ionia, Macedonia and Constantinople. At the end of the local championships play-offs between the local champions would establish the Greek champion. Olympiakos would quickly establish itself as the dominant team in Piraeus, just like Panathinaikos and ASP, the Pera Sports Club, dominated the Athenian and Constantinople championships respectively. The Macedonian and Ionian championships were more even as is Thessaloniki Ares was facing off Heracles and the weaker but dangerous Maccabi Thessaloniki [1], while in Smyrna Apollo had to contend with Panionios.

    Britain, October 1924

    New elections, proclaimed when David Lloyd George had tried playing his hand more than he should and Labour reacted by removing its tacit support for the Liberal cabinet, took place. Labour's calculation that the Liberals could not afford to finance a second election within a year of the previous one had proven less than accurate as Lloyd George had financed Liberal candidates from his slush fund, over the previous two years in power the sale of honours might have been less blatant than before the honours scandal but had continued on a smaller scale nevertheless. Unlike the previous year, fear of the rise of socialism and communism had fuelled the political discourse of the election. The Conservatives had easily come first with 42.4% and 377 MPs, followed by Labour with 32% and 162 MPs and the Liberals with 23.5% and 64 seats [2] Staley Baldwin would become the new PM. Lloyd George could at least claim he had helped the country recover economically and had several successes in foreign policy. The Royal Navy certainly could not complain, much, Lloyd George had refused the proposals to cut 3 million pounds from the naval estimates for 1923 and had also allocated part of the 1.5 million from the sale of 2 used light cruisers and 6 destroyers to Greece in 1920 to naval construction, in hopes of speeding up economic recovery. [3] Two heavy cruisers had been ordered in 1923 with 5 more in 1924. [4]

    Greece, October 1924

    The assembly concluded its work on the new draft constitution. Much like Britain power in the new constitution would lie with the prime minister, the president/king depending on the results of the coming referendum would have limited well defined roles. The number of members of the parliament would be reduced from 369 to 250, but at the same time the senate disbanded in 1864 was established again with 120 members that would serve for 8 years, half of them would be elected every four years. Originally proposals had been made to elect the senators for 9 years and replace a third of them every three years. But Protopapadakis had correctly pointed out that these way Greece would have elections every three years and separate parliamentary elections every four which was hardly practical and had suggested the scheme finally adopted on grounds of expedience and economy. The electoral law for the parliament was updated to using ballots for the election, while the senate despite conservative opposition would be elected using proportional representation.

    Greece, November 9, 1924

    Time for the elections had finally come. The Royalist opposition unlike 1920 was not united, reactions to the execution of the three and the referendum differed between the disparate parties of the Royalists in the aftermath of the January coup. Both sides had tried to use the economy in their favour, the Liberals pointing to continuing economic growth, land redistribution and the settlement of exchangees, nearly 31 million pounds including a 5 million pound internal loan and land worth another 36 million pounds had been provided. The opposition had pointed to the exchange rate of the drachma falling to 182 to 1 to the pound from 25 to 1 in 1914 while direct attacks on the exchanged populations and the populations of the Asia Minor Greeks where much rarer, the best know were these of Georgios Vlachos of the Kathimerini newspaper. In the end the overwhelming support the Liberal enjoined among the 1 million exchanged and the in Ionia and Thrace, all of which voted for the Liberals with margins near 90% [5] decided the election. The Liberals received 50.8% and 148 seats in parliament with the Royalists receiving 44.9% and 102 seats. The communists received 4.38% and no seats in parliament although they elected 5 senators.

    The republic referendum had been hoped by conservatives to prove more favourable and retain the monarchy. Venizelos himself had not openly endorsed the republic but just his statement that he personally was a republican was sufficient for his followers. The royalists had done everything they could even having priests proclaim that the switch to the Gregorian calendar was a republican conspiracy. In the end the republic received a solid 62%, meaning that even some of the voters of the Royalist parties had voted against the monarchy... [6]. The result was clear. Greece would become a republic.

    [1] No PAOK in Thessaloniki TTL. Which on one hand means stronger Ares and Heracles but also that someone got to take the niche of the third team.
    [2] Effectively gave the Liberals their 1929 share of the vote reducing by the same about that of the Conservatives and Labour.
    [3] After all he has Keynes for an advisor...
    [4] Inspiration for this has come from @NOMISYRRUC who in another thread was kind enough to provide some very detailed data on British naval estimates. Based on these, they were 56.2 million in 1922, 52.6 in 1923 and 55.6 in 1924. TTL I'm having the continued Lloyd George ministry keep the 1923 estimates at ~56 million just like the previous and the next year with the money used to order a pair of cruisers early. This all other things being equal means that by 1930-31 the RN may or may not have about 4 more million to use for construction compared to OTL. Say of an early Ark Royal or a pair of Surreys...
    [5] Historical
    [6] OTL it was 70% but there were accusations of irregularities in the number of the yes votes. Even if they were it's nothing compared to the rigged vote of 97.88 for the monarchy in 1935...
    Part 29
  • Athens, March 25th, 1925

    The second Greek republic was officially proclaimed on Greece's independence day. The next day a joint session of the parliament and the senate elected admiral Koundouriotis, till then regent, as president of the republic, with only the Communist party senators voting against him. Otherwise life went on. The economy was keeping to grow, with ambitious plans to further extend the Greek railroad and road network and improve port facilities around the country. Marshland was being reclaimed in Macedonia and elsewhere, the largest project was draining the gigantic malarial swamp to the west of Thessaloniki that was Lake Giannitsa despite the arguments from some officers in the Greek army that the project was endangering the defences of Thessaloniki. Agrarian reform had accelerated since 1922 with the added impetus of the slightly over 1 million people from Turkey, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union that had to be resettled in the country. Exchangee resettlement was one of the biggest items in the Greek budget, outlays in the previous three years had already totalled 31 million pounds including an internal loan of 5 million pounds in 1923. But it was estimated that at least as much would be needed over the following years while the drachma kept losing ground relative to the pound.

    Bulgaria, April 1925

    The country was in ever increasing turmoil since the end of the war. The Agrarian Union's democratically elected government had been overthrown by the army and IMRO militants in June 1923, rumours claimed with Italian financing, after prime minister Alexandar Stamboliyski had signed a treaty with the kingdom of Yugoslavia to suppress IMRO raids into Yugoslav territory and rejected Italian overtures to sign a secret military alliance aimed at Yugoslavia and Greece. Stamboliysky had been then brutally murdered and a regime under Alexandar Tsankov took over the government. Raids against Greece and Yugoslavia had continued unabated while thoughout the rest of the year and 1924 both the Agrarians and the strong Bulgarian Communist party which had polled over 19% in the 1923 elections were forcibly suppressed. The communists had fought back with a failed coup attempt of their own in September 1923, with over 800 killed in the fighting that erupted, and a series of terrorist attacks by the "military organization" of the party throughout 1924. This now came to a head with the the MO attempting and failing to assassinate king Boris III in early April and successfully assassinating general Konstantin Georgiev. Worse was to come in Georgiev's funeral as the MO bombed the St Nedelya church leaving 150 killed and about half a thousand wounded. Tsankov promptly declared martial law and proceeded to even more violently suppressing the communists with hundreds of people summarily executed over the next few weeks. There would be a while till Bulgaria returned to normality. In the meantime both Greece and Yugoslavia were getting increasingly annoyed at the raids in their territory. Border posts were reinforced while consultations between the two allies begun over joint action to terminate the raids...

    Rome, May 1925

    Mustapha Kemal had decided to accept Mussolini's invitation to temporarily settle to Rome. Italy was of course occupying South-Western Anatolia, Caria the Italians were calling it, but that was supposed to be temporary. And even if it was not, Turkey had more serious issues and if it was to fight Greece again to recover the lost territories, it needed allies. Mussolini's Italy might be opportunistic but was the only viable ally against Greece. Britain and a France had show their preference to Greece, the Soviets were potentially useful but an unlike ally, Turkey remained in the grip of the house of Osman and this was perceived by Moscow to be in Britain's pocket, not without some justification and Germany not much of a factor after the war. Only Italy was left. After all Smyrna and Constantinople were worth Mugla. For now.

    Athens, August 1925

    The army had held competitive trials between two sets of test Mannlicher rifles, locally made at the newly established Hephaestus works, one chambered in Pedersen's new 7x51 cartridge and one chambered to the older Mauser 7x57. Pedersen's round was slightly less powerful but appeared preferable to the committee overseeing the tests, no doubt the similarity of the round to the existing Greek 6.5x54 helped. It was decided to adopt the round. Not the semi-automatic rifle Pedersen was designing though. This was not quite ready yet, was expected to cost considerably more than OTL and the committee did not like the use of a waxed cartridge. Instead the Mannlicher-Philippides bolt action rifle a simplified version of the Mannlicher-Schoenauer was chosen with 200,000 rifles in total ordered directly from Vickers and her Hephaestus subsidiary. Pedersen might have failed to obtain a order for his rifle alongside the cartridge but had piqued the interest of Vickers, enough for its representatives in the United States to start negotiating obtaining a licence for the rifle. This though would have to wait for the US army trials which were scheduled for the next year though...

    Greek-Bulgarian border, September 1925

    How the incident had begun was open to debate. The Bulgarians would later claim Greek soldiers had crossed the border at which point the Bulgarians opened up on them. The Greeks would claim the Bulgarians had opened fire against a Greek border outpost without provocation and the Bulgarian regulars were trying to help a group of IMRO militants pursued by the Greeks escape over the border. No matter which side was reporting the truth what was clear was that two Greek soldiers had been killed followed by a skirmish between the Greek company covering the border outpost and its Bulgarian opposite number. But the Greeks and the Yugoslavs were anticipating such an incident and were quicker to react. Within a day both the Greek and Yugoslav ambassadors had delivered communiques, demanding from Bulgaria compensation for the deaths of the Greek soldiers and to take immediate action to stop the raids against their territory, while the matter was taken to the League of Nations. Bulgaria would be condemned by the League and forced to pay reparations to the families of the Greek soldiers that had been either killed or wounded in the incident. The Tsankov government in Bulgaria would be replaced before the year was out...
    Part 30 A revolt and a fair
  • Syria, July 1925

    France following the end of the war with Turkey in 1921 had reduced the Army of the Levant to a little over 14,000 regulars and about 8,000 auxiliaries [1] most of them coming from Syria's minorities. This given the treatment Syria was so far receiving and the fighting that had already taken place in 1920 was perhaps ill advised. Syria had been split in 6 autonomous states [2] much to the discomfort of Syrian nationalists and perhaps worse Syrian elites had seen their rights and prerogatives reduced compared to Ottoman times. Things would finally come to a head when the mandate's high commissioner general Maurice Sarrail, not the most diplomatic of men as he had proven to the allied detriment during his time as commander of the Macedonian front during the Great War, threw to jail a Druze delegation that had come to Beirut to petition him. The Druze were the first to revolt under the command of Sultan Al-Atrash, by August after Al-Atrash had scored his first victories against the French colonial forces and French troops were forced to retreat from Druze territory, the revolt would spread like wildfire to the rest of Syria. Hame would be the next to revolt in August [3] under Fawzi Al-Qawuqji, a former Ottoman officer, who left his position in the French colonial army to lead the rebels. By September the rebels would lead a major assault against Damascus, which Sarrail's troops beat back while thanks to Al-Qawuqji's contacts in the Turkish army, Syria's Turkish minority would join the rebellion and arms and volunteers would be smuggled over the border. There would be some notable exceptions to participation to the rebellion though. Greater Lebanon, dominated by the Maronites, remained allied to France and so did the Kurds, particularly after attacks by Turkish and Arab rebels against Kurdish villages. The Alawites would prove initially more ambivalent but the same dynamic that had brought the Kurds on the French side would help to secure Alawite support as well as attacks on largely Alawite French colonial troops spilt to attacks on civilians as well despite efforts by rebel commanders to control things.

    Black Sea, August 1925

    The first major manoeuvres of the Soviet Black Sea fleet in several years took place, including testing landing operations of 2 naval infantry battalions of the 51st infantry division. Much like the simultaneous manoeuvres of the Baltic fleet they left much to be desired. The Soviet fleet lacked in training and organization and not least was much inferior in material, both in the Baltic and the Black sea. In the Baltic the pair of refurbished dreadnoughts available were hardly sufficient to deal with the British or the French, though at least provided enough of a deterrent against local powers. If anything things were far worse in the Black sea. The British presence in Constantinople was a dagger pointed straight at Ukraine. And the single cruiser and 5 destroyers of the fleet were far inferior even to the Greek navy at the moment. Come Autumn Kliment Voroshilov, who had replaced Frunze after his accidental (officially at least) death in a routine surgery, would receive requests from the navy for immediate measures to strengthen the fleet. But the proposals would be strongly opposed by the army under Tuchachevskii.

    Thessaloniki, October 1925

    Eleutherios Venizelos opened in person the city's first international trade fair. Since the idea had been first aired the previous year significant effort had been part in international participation to the fair, the only countries notably absent were Turkey, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. Venizelos would take advantage of the opportunity to announce that work would begin to establish the country's third university in the city, but what would mostly remain in people's memory from the fair was Christos Tsigiridis opening Greece's and the Balkans first radio station for the occasion. Overall the fair could be deemed a success helping the city's further growth. Thessaloniki was a city in flux after the 1917 fire and the exchange of populations. The Hebrard urban plan was being strictly followed, ideas to split up the about 1,300 new holdings in the city centre had been rejected by the government out of hand. Some 33,000 Greek and Armenian refugees had taken the place of the city's 46,000 Muslims while Thessaloniki also remained home to a strong Jewish community of over 60,000 people nearly 37% of the 161,000 people of the city after the population exchange which was increasingly assimilating to Greece [4]. Not all was rosy for the city of course. Thessaloniki was only a distant third behind Athens and Smyrna in population, the two cities had slightly over 450,000 and 370,000 people respectively and this inevitably affected her influence within Greece and the attention it was receiving by everyone, including the government. And while its Jewish community was generally assimilating to Greece some friction inevitably existed. Part of it was politics as the community since 1915 tended to support the Royalist parties, first Gounaris Populists and in the last election, Stratos Conservative Reformists. Part of it was problems over the fate of the old Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, one of the world's largest with about half a million tombs, which while initially off the city walls the growth of the city in the previous century had effectively brought in her very centre. The city council wanted to remove the cemetery, with land provided for a new one. But from the Jewish point of view this was highly problematic as for religious reasons moving the tombs was unacceptable making a compromise difficult...

    Kayseri, October 1925

    Operation of the TOMTAS aircraft factory begun. The first aircraft to be built would be a FIAT BR.3, ostensibly unarmed and for postal service use, in total some 65 BR.3s and Junkers A20s would be assembled by the factory over the next couple of years. How seriously the non militarized part was being taken by anyone was open to question. What was certain was that the Greek counterpart of TOMTAS in Phaleron, near Athens had already begun construction of 100 Breguet 19s for the Greek army's Air service along with a smaller number of Blackburn Velos for the Naval Air Service... [5]

    Sivas, December 1925

    The German Julius Berger Tiefbau gained the Turkish contracts for the construction of new railroads that would connect Sivas with the existing railway network and the sea. A 409km line from Sivas to Kayseri and from there to the existing Baghdad railroad to the north of Mersin would be built first giving Sivas an outlet to the Mediterranean. A second 380 km line would connect Kayseri to Ankara. Last a 402 km line between Sivas and Samsun would give the temporary capital an outlet to the Black sea. An 120 million Reichsmark credit agreement between the Deutsche Orient Bank of Berlin and the Turkish state would provide financing for the initiation of the project.

    [1] That's slightly larger than the ~6,000 of OTL. The additional numbers are mostly Kurds from the additional territory France retained in 1921 as well as the Kurdish statelet in created in North Syria.
    [2] Including Rojava /Kurdish region TTL
    [3] The Syrians have been alienated even more TTL due to the creation of a Kurdish state as well, so the revolt spreads even faster.
    [4] No different than OTL besides tensions in Thessaloniki between the Jewish community and the refugees being relatively lower, as the number of refugees is one third that of OTL and they are far better off economically.
    [5] One difference from OTL is Venizelos forcing the army to also use the Phaleron aircraft factory, in OTL initially the army did not want to use it because it had been created by the navy...
    Part 31 Of bears and peacocks
  • Teheran, October 1925

    Persia was officially proclaimed a republic and the Qajar monarchy abolished. It was the final act of a political campaign "spontaneously" initiated by supporters of Reza Khan Pahlavi in mid-1924. Reza Khan had not failed to take note of the Greek monarchist uprising and the proclamation of Greece into a republic in 1924. The first event had fuelled his paranoia, what happened in Greece potentially could happen in Persia as well with Qajar loyalists trying to overthrow him, a vote of no confidence initiated by Hasan Modarres in July 1924 helped drive the point in his mind. The second event had fuelled his ambition of becoming sole ruler of Persia. After all if a Cretan lawyer could overthrow kings and help destroy the Ottoman empire, surely Reza Khan, could do better. Opposition led by Modarres had failed to stop the push for a republic after Reza Khan, by now named Pahlavi, had managed to neutralize the opposition of the Shia clergy thanks to Pahlavi, negotiating with the British the return of the Najaf grand ayatollahs, exiled in Qom since 1920, to Iraq and a questionable incident in Teheran that had led to the death of the US acting consul Robert Imbrie but allowed Reja to show himself as a devout Shia. Reza Pahlavi was voted by the majiles the first president of Persia. The new president appointed Abdolhossein Teymurtash as his prime minister. It now remained to be seen whether Reza's ambitions would be satisfied with the presidency or he aimed for even more... [1]

    Bursa, May 1926

    The death of sultan Mehmed VI early in the month had been the cause of some concern, not only to the Turkish government but also the allied powers as for the first time it brought forth the prospect of handling the coronation of the new sultan. Kemal from Rome had sent "strong" advice that the coronation should not take place in Constantinople with Western troops still occupying the capital. Thus Bursa the first Ottoman capital was chosen instead and the 58 year old Abdulmejid II was proclaimed the 37th Ottoman sultan. As well as caliph, protector of the Islamic holy cities, commander of the faithful, khan and kayser-i-Rum, literally Caesar of the Romans. A cynic might have noted that the last title was worth about as much as Latin emperor of Constantinople in the eyes of the presumed subjects while the Islamic holy sites were under the control of the Saudis, who had completely conquered the Hashemite kingdom of Hejaz. Not taking seriously the hold to the title of the caliphate was of course an entirely different matter. Kemal might had preferred prince Osman Fuad, a personal friend of his with a notable war record as sultan but Abdulmejid even though likely more interested in his paintings than ruling the country still had no interest in leaving the throne. After all by now most power was risiding with the government and the Sivas assembly. Elections in 1924 had just confirmed the arrangements at the time of the armistice with Ahmet Tevfik Pasha by now in his eighties had been replaced as grand vizier by Salih Hulusi pasha, another supporter of the sultanate with strong connections to the Kemalists while the all important war ministries were under the outright control of the Kemalist Rauf Orbay and Kazim Karabekir [2].

    Athens, July 1926

    The Hellenic Electrical Railroads opened their first underground station, below Omonoia square in Athens. Further tunnelling was taking place to extend the subway from Omonoia square to Attikis square thus uniting the Piraeus-Athens electric railway with the Athens-Kifisia and Athens-Laurion railways, thus forming what was to become the main artery of a new metro system for Athens and Piraeus. [3] Till then commuters would have to walk the distance between Omonoia and Laurion squares, where the Kiffisia railway was ending. Plans called for gradually elecrifying the whole railway up to Kifissia and potentially extending the line from there to Tatoi, should the airport of Athens remain there. The technical chamber of Greece had already proposed the previus year a rather ambitius plan with no less than 5 metro lines covering Attica, but it was understood by everyone that this, if it happened would take several decades at a minimum. [4] In the meantime, the short term plans were much less ambitious, but rather more practical. A new station had been built in the new suburb of Kallithea between Athens and Piraeus. Kallithea had already grown to over 11,000 people but was still anything but contiguous with the two main cities with huge olive groves and vineyards separating it from them. [4]

    Washington D.C., September 1926

    Thanks to sir Basil Zaharoff's influence, Vickers had taken note of the Pedersen rifle since Pedersen had managed to sell his new cartridge to the Greek army, after all Vickers was building 125,000 Mannlicher-Filippidis rifles for the Greeks in Britain with even more being produced or converted by her Hephaestus subsidiary in Greece. In the meantime the Pedersen rifle had been tested with good results back in February and in May an order for 20 rifles for further testing had been made. Vickers representatives now offered Pedersen a contract for the licence production of his rifle in Britain, which Pedersen accepted.

    Moscow, October 1926

    The Soviet government increasingly feared invasion by the capitalists was imminent. In May marshal Pilsudski had taken over Poland. In the summer a number of countries, including Britain, had removed their ambassadors from Moscow, while propaganda by the capitalist press was deemed to be increasing, and the British elections in late 1924 had already revolved around fabricated claims of British interface. The last straw had been the visit of the British Mediterranean fleet and a Greek squadron to Constantinople back in August. Defensive measures to fight back against the coming invasion were ordered including reinforcing defences in the Black sea coast against a Little Entente naval attack. But more was needed. Stalin had initially entertained thoughts of a 40% cut in the planned Soviet 5-year naval plan that was to begin in 1928. But with the threat of imminent war and the threat posed from the Black sea now he had second thoughts. The building program should be completed in its entirety including the conversion of the unfinished hull of the battlecruiser Izmail to an aircraft carrier and the complete reconstruction of the battleship Frunze to a fast battleship making 27 knots. Further at least one dreadnought should be moved to the Black sea as soon as it became available, to match the Greek threat. It remained to be seen whether this was affordable and whether the Soviet Union had the technical ability to complete the ships... [6] More immediate steps could also be taken. After the short Kars conflict in 1921 relations with Turkey remained strained but it was recognized that Turkey could still be brought in the anti-imperialist forces if it was not dependent on Britain and France for weapons. Thus the sale of 76 heavy guns to Turkey was approved. The guns were a mix of new construction and existing stocks, 16 were 107mm long guns bought from Japan in 1914-18, as many were British 4.5in howitzers and the rest Russian 6in howitzers, but they were all reasonably modern and at about 5.6 million gold roubles including ammunition were far cheaper than anything Turkey could buy elsewhere. The Turks, already trying to rebuild their army, the treaty of Fontainebleau limited the size and equipment of the army but did not ban conscription after all, were of course all too happy to accept the deal. Along with an order for machine guns from Czechoslovakia the previous year it was the first serious arms purchase Turkey.

    Athens, December 1926

    The Greek supreme war council decided to choose the Czech ZB-26 light machine gun over the Hotchkiss M-1922 for the army. There had been some arguments that light machine guns were not really needed, as the army had about 4,000 Chauchat LMGs available. But it was recognized that the Chauchat while better than nothing was a highly problematic weapon. As a replacement the Czech weapon had proven relatively superior in trials besides it had also been chosen by the Greeks Romanian and Yugoslav allies while M-1922 had not been adopted by anyone so far.

    [1] Not as well versed in modern Persian history as I'd like so most of this is based in "Iran a modern history" by Abbas Amanat. In OTL events in Iran were triggered by the proclamation of Turkey as a republic in October 1923, with Reza launching a campaign to make a country a republic, which failed in early 1924 to a degree again due to events in Turkey were Kemal had also abolished the caliphate in the meantime increasing the already existing fears of secularism. TTL even in Turkey should affect Iran. Post that Reza was ambitious in his own right and already had the example of Italy, so news from Greece merely provide the needed trigger to completely remove the Qajars if delayed. But by then the clergy is at least neutral...
    [2] No break of either with Kemal so far...
    [3] This is line 1 of the modern Athens metro.
    [4] That's the Verdelis plan from OTL. All I can say is my fellow engineer was not thinking small...
    [5] No refugees... so the ancient olive grove that covered most of the area between Athens and Piraeus is still around. Parts of it could even survive to the modern day TTL... maybe.
    [6] The 1926-27 war scare is entirely historical, much like the early 1980s the Soviets feared they were about to be invaded... at the very time the people supposed to be about to invade them hadn't even noticed. And here it has an additional naval angle with the straits wide open from the Soviet point of view.
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    Part 32 Of past and present rebels
  • Spanish Morocco, November 26th, 1926

    The Rif revolt was in increasingly dire straits for the past several months under the inexorable pressure of French and Spanish troops. The Rif rebels had come close to throwing the Spanish to the sea after their victory in Annual in July 1921 and for a second time in late 1924 when the Rif army, reorganized with the help of Turkish volunteers had turned an attempt of the Spanish army to retreat from its outlying outposts to a near rout. Coupled with an increasingly war weary Spanish population it looked like Rif was close to actually winning its war against the Spanish. But then the Rifian forces had been provoked into attacking French outposts and after initial Rif success the French had reacted by bringing overwhelming force under marshal Petain which combined with renewed Spanish attacks. Abd El Krim on the run himself was now forced to surrender to the French, who arranged his exile to the island of Reunion from where he was not likely to be a threat ever again. With him the last vestiges of organized Rif resistance were gone but it would still take the Spanish till the summer of 1927 to destroy the last die hards that fought on.

    Syria, June 1927

    The French army had been forced to bring to Syria over 50,000 men to fight the Syrian revolt, besides greatly expanding recruitment within Syria itself. It had not been either cheap or popular at a time that France was also fighting a major war in the Rif and as always feared Germany. But when all was said and done France was a great power that could bring to bear forces far stronger than anything the Syrian rebels could muster, while its colonial empire allowed her to minimize casualties among metropolitan troops, not a small consideration after the bloodbath of the Great War. The rebels had still fought on an increasingly bloody and brutal war for nearly two year, helped to no small degree by the smuggling of arms and volunteers over the Turkish border before the revolt was finally crushed. By the end of it several things were far different than they had been at the start of the war. The French had been forced to increasingly rely upon the Kurds, Alawites, Circassians and Maronites that had remained loyal to them, over 20,000 had been recruited into the "Troupes Speciales du Levant", nearly half of them Alawi, the rest about evenly spread between Kurds and Maronites with a sprinkling of other nationalities. But this in turn had brought much increased tensions between all three groups and the predominantly Sunni population of Syria which in turn had brought increased sectarian violence as the rebel had targeted any and all supporters of France and their families and they in turn had reciprocated. In the Alawite state, where an Alawite majority was before the revolt mostly ruled by a minority of Sunni landlords, who for the most part supported the rebels, most of the Sunni minority being forced to flee while the land of Sunni landlords would had backed the revolt was redistributed among their share-croppers. Lebanon had also seen a notable though far less dramatic outflow of Sunnis. On the reverse in Damascus and Aleppo most of the handful of Alawis and a notable number of Christians had moved the other way round, although it should be noted that many of the most notable Syrian nationalists were Christians themselves. And perhaps most importantly the French High commissioner had committed to the Lebanese, Kurds and Alawis that their states would remain separate from the State of Syria that had been established in 1925. Whether the promise would be actually held remained to be seen...

    Bhamdoun, Lebanon, July 1927

    Several leading Kurdish nationalists along with members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation gathered in the town, ostensibly by accindent as it was on of Lebanon's main holiday resorts. The real reason was forming Xoybun a nationalist organization with the express aim of launching a Kurdish revolution in Turkey. Hopes were that the new uprising would fare better than the 1921 one, which had proved an abject failure with limited support, or for that matter an abortive attempt at revolt led by Sheikh Said back in 1925. Said still felt loyalty towards to sultan and that had proven the undoing of his movement as his attempts to contact the sultan had brought the attention of the Turkish government that had reacted fast and brutally with mass arrests and over 500 summary executions ordered by the "courts of independence" for people suspect of participating in the conspiracy. Xoybun would soon establish offices in Beirut, with the French government turning a blind eye on its activities and delegations established in several European capitals as well.

    Mount Ararat, Turkey, September 10th, 1927

    The Kurds rose up in revolt, pushing back elements of the Turkish third army that occupied the area and proclaiming a republic in the liberated area. Soon the rebel forces had reached about 8,000 men led by Ihsan Nuri a former Ottoman army officer. Xoybun was quick to openly support the revolt trying to secure French and British and appeal to the League of nations. The appeals failed but the French government also failed to take any action to suppress Xoybun activity in support of the revolt and arms and fighters crossing the border into Turkey. Claims that French support went beyond that with provision of arms and soldiers of the Troupes Speciales, given leaves with no questions asked to join the rebels remained unsubstantiated.

    Constantinople, League of Nations, December 25th, 1927

    The night was cold. But the roads leading to Hagia Sophia were full of Christians, mostly Greeks but with a fair number of worshippers from other nations. Today was after all one of the few days every year that Hagia Sophia was a church. Mustafa Kemal and the handful of his bodyguards, well clad in modern European clothes hardly felt the cold as he mixed in the crowd. Perhaps the bottle of raki he had finished earlier helped there. Either way he hardly cared. What he cared about was having a look at the results of his handiwork, or rather his failure first-hand now that he was back in Constantinople, one always should know the enemy. And six years of self-exile in Germany and Italy were enough. His lieutenants had handled things well enough but it was high time he took back the reins directly. The question was how and when...
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    Part 33 Of figurative and real earthquakes
  • Smyrna, March 31st, 1928

    The ground start shacking. Then it start shacking some more, buildings moving with it. When Enceladus was done with the bride of Ionia, hundreds of buildings were in ruins, more had suffered various degrees of damage and dozens of people were dead. At 6.5 on the Richter scale the earthquake had been the largest the region had suffered in many decades. Venizelos would visit the city the next day to oversee the damage and the relief efforts in person. Within a month a commission, under architect Constantine Kitsikis, would be established to create a new city plan for Smyrna, while part of the proceedings of a 4 million pound loan, originally intended for railroad and road construction would be redirected to the reconstruction effort.

    Scaramanga Navy yard, Attica, April 27th, 1928.

    HNS Hydra, the latest destroyer of the Hellenic Navy joined the fleet. Spetsai the second of the class could be seen fitting out in the background, while Psara and Kimon, laid down, the previous year after Hydra and Spetsai had been launched emptying the slipways were projected to complete in 1931. Hydra herself, at 1,360t standard displacement and with a main armament of 4 Vickers 4.7in guns, while modern was hardly exceptional, much like the A class destroyers being built for the Royal Navy and the Dutch Admiralen class she derived from the experimental HMS Ambuscade. Her significance lay elsewhere, she was the first warship actually built in Greece, since wooden warships had become obsolete back in the 19th century. As soon as Spetsai also became operational, the three much older destroyers Velos, Lonchi and Smyrna would be decommissioned and broken up leaving the fleet with two flotillas of 16 destroyers in total along with a dozen torpedo boats and six submarines. Overall the modernization of the navy was steadily continuing, although no great urgency was felt, even with recent additions to the Turkish navy, its Greek counterpart remained dominant in the Aegean.
    Following the advice of the British naval mission under admiral Webb, a thorough modernization of Averof had been completed a few months earlier, replacing its old machinery with turbines and oil fired boilers, improving deck armour and torpedo defences and installing new fire control. At 400,000 pounds the modernization had been costly but it had kept Averof relevant at only a fraction of the cost for a new heavy cruiser, at 26 knots post modernization, Averof was notably slower but in exchange was far better armoured and slightly better armed. Planning was underway to ask for tenders for two new cruisers to replace the older pre-dreadnoughts, while the protected cruiser Helli, almost useless as a fighting unit, was being converted to a training ship, with a secondary minelaying capacity, as soon as the conversion was complete she would be renamed to Athena.

    Sivas, June 1928

    Rauf Orbay, minister of marine read the results of the recent German federal elections with interest if for somewhat non political reasons. The SDP had made its opposition to the construction of so called panzerschiffe, "armoured ships", one of the main planks of its campaign. While it had gained 22 more seats in the parliament, a coalition in support of construction of the ships had emerged from the elections, even though now the communists were asking for a referendum on the ships. But it was the concept of the ships in question which he found interesting. After several years without any new construction he had managed to place orders in Dutch shipyards for 4 modern destroyers, built to the design of the Swedish Ehrenskold class and a coastal defence ship with 4 of the late Yavuz guns similar to the Swedish Sveriges but faster at 25 knots top speed. But these while improving the situation of the fleet, it would have as many modern destroyers as the Greeks and the new "battleship" was arguably superior to the Greek pre-dreadnoughts did not affect the overall inferiority of his navy. The Greek light fleet was clearly superior, Averof after its modernization probably matched his new heavy unit and intelligence claimed the Greeks were also planning a pair of heavy cruisers. But this new German idea offered opportunitied and he still had half a dozen 283mm guns available at his disposal. He start drafting a letter with his idea to Kemal. Kemal... another problem. Istanbul had returned him to the assembly in a landslide back in April and since then he was increasingly getting directly involved in political affairs. True he was supposed to be on the same side and party with him, but Kemal's idea of this was that everyone had to take his orders. Just one more thing to ponder about...

    Athens, September 1928

    Back in 1924, the royalist parties had entered the elections split between each other and had been easily defeated by the growing Venizelist tide. In the four years that had passed the three main royalist parties had evolved on their own. Nikolaos Stratos Reform Conservative party was by now the main opposition force. Stratos, a former Liberal, had accepted the results of the referendum on the monarchy, his party as its title might suggest took a position of the centre-right of the political spectrum, broadly more conservative than the Liberals but often enough finding common ground with the more conservative elements of them. Ion Dragoumis National party much like its leader was a mix of some often disparate ideas at the same time being strongly nationalistic but also supporting the demotic language and even socialist ideas on occasion. Dragoumis was often accused of ideas similar to the Italian fascists, which while not entirely correct was not entirely wrong either although Dragoumis himself was virulently against Mussolini after his meddling in Greek affairs and the party was strictly political. It's main appeal was its leader, if Dragoumis chose to leave politics the party was likely to die with him. The populist party was only a shadow of itself after the deaths of Dimitrios Gounaris in 1922 and Petros Protopapadakis in 1927. Its current leader, Panagiotis Tsaldaris, tried to keep it relevant by populist propaganda in support of the throne, making acceptance of the 1924 referendum, the executions of Papoulas and Metaxas and virulent accusations against every single act of Venizelos its main policy planks. But Tsaldaris had neither the influence of Stratos nor the personal appeal of Dragoumis and this was showing. No matter the differences between the three parties though, they agreed on a single matter, that losing yet another election to Venizelos was entirely unacceptable. And thus their leaders came together to agree to a coalition between themselves. The United Opposition of the 1920 elections was back.

    Greece, November 11st, 1928

    Elections. Venizelos Liberals had every reason to hope to be reelected. They had done a reasonably good job on the economy, completed refugee settlement in Greece, nearly 75 million pounds had gone to the task including a 6 billion drachmas internal loan back in 1926, to be paid by the refugees, and had taken prompt action over the Smyrna earthquakes and had continued to do well in foreign policy, although truth to tell, nothing of much consequence had happened there after 1924. But this did not change that they were nearly continuously in power since 1910. Increasingly more people had start looking for change and with society slightly less polarized than in 1920 and 1924 it was easier for many to think about voting differently. In the and populist appeals over absolving refugees of the payments for the loans they had been given to resettle and earthquake victims in Smyrna over their loans, had swayed a small but significant part of the electorate. Enough for the United opposition to win 49.78% and 136 seats to the Liberals 46.95% and 114 seats. It was time for Nikolaos Stratos to test his abilities as prime minister...
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    Appendix The Turkish navy in 1929
  • The new Turkish coastal battleship Barbaros.

    When it enters service, the Turkish navy will be as follows

    A. Capital ships

    Barbaros (7,700t, 4x283mm, 25kts, built 1929)
    Turgud Reis (10,670t, 6x283mm, 16.5kts, built 1894)

    B. Cruisers

    Mecidiye (3,970t, 4x130mm, 22kts, built 1904)
    Hamidiye (3,900t, 2x150mm, 22kts, built 1903)

    C. Destroyers and torpedo boats

    4 Zafer class (974t, 3x120mm, 36kts, built 1929)
    2 Peyk-i Zafer class (774t, 2x105mm, 21kts, built 1907)
    3 Samsun class (284t, 1x65mm, 28kts, built 1907)
    1 Akhisar class (165t, 1x47mm, 24kts, built 1904)
    Part 34 The more things change...
  • Stockholm, December 10th, 1928

    Kostis Palamas had been called by Romain Rolland the greatest poet of Europe and had been nominated for the Nobel prize for literature twice, in 1926 and 1927. Third time was apparently the charm as Palamas became the first Greek to win the Nobel prize for his poetry, in particular his "Twelve Lays of the Gypsy". The growing role and influence of Greece over the last two decades probably hadn't hurt Palamas chances... [1]

    Athens, December 11th, 1928

    The new government of the United opposition, received its vote of confidence in a joint session of senate and parliament. Stratos following the earlier example of Venizelos kept for himself the ministry of the army in addition to being prime minister, with Ion Dragoumis receiving the ministry of foreign affairs and Tsaldaris the ministry of public works. Rear admiral Periklis Rediadis would become minister of the navy and George Pesmazoglou minister of finance. In the army general Konstantinos Nider, would become the new chief of the general staff with Konstantine Gouvelis assistant minister of war but Stratos carefully avoided touching any of the primary Venizelist officers in the army otherwise. After all after 11 years it wasn't practical to reinstate any of the officers that had been removed by the Venizelists back in 1917.

    It remained to be seen how Stratos government would fare but its material prospects at the moment looked relatively good. State finances were generally sound, taxes had returned slightly over 13 billion drachmas in 1928 out of total state revenues of 16 billion and the budget remained balanced. The debt service at 1.38 billion this year and 2.42 billion in 1929 was notable but hardly crippling, the only foreign loans singe the end of the war were the $10 million taken to rebuild Athens water system and 4 million pounds for infrastructure projects earlier in the year. GDP had grown from $780 million in 1921 to $963 million in 1928, if anything the growth was all the more pronounced when looking at it in constant prices, industrial output had doubled and the country was on its way to becoming self sustained in wheat production over the next few years. Infrastructure had seen steady improvement most notably a new railroad between Kalambaka and Veroia in Macedonia had been completed in 1927, the Greek road network had been expanded from about 11,000 km to 17,000 and significant effort had been put at drainage of swamps, hoping both to reclaim land and combat the malaria endemic to the country. Refugee resettlement was mostly complete, with exchangees being settled in Macedonia, Ionia and Thrace, 6 billion drachmas in bonds issued in 1926 had gone a long way towards completing the process but ironically might have helped cost the Liberals the election as many exchanged had been miffed at being responsible for paying the bonds instead of being given loans for free. The one thing that had definitely not gone well had been the drachmas exchange rate which had finally stabilized to 250 drachmas to the pound in 1927, fully 10 times the exchange rate back in 1914.

    Athens, February 1929

    Ford had first proposed establishing a car factory in Greece back in 1926. Despite its policy in favour of developing industry within Greece, negotiations with Ford had gone nowhere under the Venizelos government. Pesmazoglou, an economist of note, had repeatedly accused Venizelos for the delays and of supposed influence of British finance causing them. As soon as he became minister of finance he took it upon himself to complete the deal with no further delays. By this time next years the first cars would be coming out of Ford's factory in Piraeus. Pesmazoglou also hoped to see the virtual monopoly Bodosakis had in Greek heavy industry broken, since importing the first Siemens-Martin furnace from German reparations back in 1923, Bodosakis steel factory in Eleusis remained the only one of its kind in Greece producing 36,000t of steel in 1928. But no candidates appeared to exist so far.

    Deutche Werke shipyard, Kiel, February 1929

    Erzatz Preussen, the first German panzerschiff was laid down. If people thought the provisions of the treaty of Versailles would severely hinder German naval power, the new ship under construction, she would be named Deutschland, had just thrown a spoke in the wheels of these ideas and of the naval disarmament treaties in general. The presence of the Turkish naval attache in the laying down of the ship would go relatively unnoticed.

    Britain, May 30th, 1929

    In its four and a half years in power the Conservative party hadn't done badly, quite notably it had introduced the Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act in 1925 an unprecedented act on the part of Tories and introduced universal women suffrage in 1928. But the economy had grown only slowly, the British return to the gold standard under Churchill in 1925 at the pre-war exchange rate of $4.86 to the pound had probably been a mistake, and the voters acted accordingly. For the first time in history Ramsey MacDonald's Labour came first in an election with 36.1% of the vote and 258 seats. The Conservatives had come slightly behind with 34.4% and 224 seats. The Liberals despite increasing their vote share to 28.3% of the vote and nearly doubling their seats to 124 where still a distant third in parliament. [2] But with none of the other two parties gaining a majority, Lloyd George could now play king maker. Already recognizing the predicament the Liberals were in his price was simple. Electoral reform and introduction of Alternative Vote for British parliamentary elections. Labour was willing to pay the price. Stanly Baldwin hesitated and bad blood between him and Llooyd George over the end of the coalition government six years earlier certainly didn't help. Britain would get her first Labour government in history, even one at the sufferance of the Liberals. And the Liberals would get their price.

    Mount Ararat, Turkey (free Kurdistan proclaimed), July 1929

    Two Turkish divisions launched a renewed offensive against the Kurdish rebels. Despite initially gaining ground the Kurdish rebels under Ihsan Nuri, managed to stave the attack off. By September the Kurdish rebellion would close two years and no end appeared to be in sight. Lack of air support, aircraft couldn't be used in open violation of the treaty of Chantilly, to attack Kurdish positions were certainly a problem from the Turkish point of view, as was the ability of rebels to draw supplies through Iran and from French Syria. Grumblings within the grand national assembly increased. By August, with some behind the scenes prompting from Kemal grand vizier Salih Hulusi pasha was gone, replaced by Bekir Sami bey. He was the first openly nationalist grand vizier since the end of the war.

    Phaleron, Piraeus, September 1929

    The first of 50 Hawker Horsley's and Fairey IIIFs came out of the aircraft factory to join the recently formed air force that had replaced the separate army and navy air services back in 1927. Stratos was actually of two minds over the new arm and had thoughts of returning to the navy its own air service but nothing had come out of them so far.

    New York, October 1929

    Rumblings in the international stock markets were being felt since the start of September. But by the end of October Wall Street had crashed, quite worse than in the panic of 1907 over two decades earlier. Over the next few years repercussions would be felt around the world.

    Sebastopol, November 1929

    Battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna formerly Sebastopol joined the Soviet Black Sea fleet along the light cruiser Profintern, the former Svetlana. For the first time since the October revolution the Soviets had naval superiority in the Black sea as Parizhskaya Kommuna comfortably outgunned the much older Greek battleships Lemnos and Kilkis combined. This was of some concern the the Balkan Entente and the Greek naval staff, Rediadis the navy minister had been on record that while aircraft were likely to make battleships obsolate further in the future, the Greek navy needed at least one battleship and ideally as many as three. [3] Most navy officers, with the exception of a vocal minority under vice admiral Kolialexis, agreed with him. But for the time being Stratos refused to alter the existing naval program as adding even a single battleship to the fleet would require expenditure of 5 to 8 million pounds. Meanwhile Soviet yards were busy rebuilding the battleship Frunze to a new modernized design as part of the first five year plan... [4]

    [1] In OTL Palamas was nominated virtually every year between 1926 and the start of WW2 and arguably did deserve the prize. Sorry Sigrid Undset!
    [2] The Liberals start from a relatively stronger position TTL
    [3] From OTL parliamentary minutes
    [4] A side effect of the Soviets feeling more threatened TTL from the British/French presence in Constantinople
    Last edited:
    Part 35 Second battleship summer
  • Yugoslavia, January 6th, 1930

    The kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was in increasing political turmoil if not outright dysfunctional for the past two years with the royal government locked in endless parliamentary fights with the Peasant Democratic Coalition of Stjepan Radic's Croatian Peasant Party and Svetozar Pribicevic's Independent Democratic Party. Thing's had been bad enough that an exasperated king Alexander had claimed to Pribicevic that it was impossible to work with the Croats and that if they wanted, the Croats and the Slovenes could immediately have their own separate states, a proposal the Peasant Democratic Coalition was quick to reject. Things had only gone worse when Pribicevic and two more representatives had been killed inside parliament by a fellow representative in June 1928. [1] It was obvious to all that something needed to be done. It was far less obvious that the action king Alexander's had decided to take on Christmas eve [2] was the one required or advisable at all as he dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution and proclaimed a royal dictactorship. Several politicians, Radic among them, would be quickly arrested, although after a few weeks Radic, suffering from diabetes and nearly blind from it would be moved from prison to a hospital.

    Aberdeen proving grounds, April 1930

    Testing for a new self loading rifle to be adopted by the United States army went on, the two man competitors being Garand's T3 design and Pedersen's T1 design. Both designers were constantly present for the trials, Pedersen after licencing his rifle design to Vickers back in 1926 was now concentrating his efforts on securing its adoption by the army. Nevertheless the simpler Garand rifle was steadily gaining ground in the trials. Even that thought would not be necessarily a total loss for Pedersen as both rifles were using his .276 cartridge. Of course Pedersen also had to combat a significant faction within the army wanted to stick with the older 30-06. [3] In Britain trials of the rifle had begun as well but funding was anything but certain, costs to replace the existing rifles would amount to at least 3-4 million for the first quarter million rifles after all, while the Royal Navy was pressing for adding at leastone of the four fleet carriers it had hoped to build throughout the 1920s in the 1931 estimates which would had cost about the same. [4]

    Westminster, July 1930

    The Representation of the People Bill had been introduced to parliament back in January, as the Labour government applied her part of the agreement with the Liberals. Now it passed its second reading in the Commons with 382 votes to 224 [5]. Now after passing its third reading in the Lords it was returned again to the Commons for consideration. Despite Lloyd George's hope that the bill would be discussed, and passed, before the parliament adjourned for the summer this was not to be and the bill would have to wait for the fall. But hopefully it was just a delay...

    Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino, Trieste Italy, July 1930

    Rauf Orbay and the Turkish navy had taken careful not of the laying down of the Deutschland the previous year. In many ways the ship was ideal for Turkish needs. It was understood, at least within the navy, that when war with Greece would come again the navy should be able to cut off Greek communications between mainland Greece and Anatolia or at the very least threaten them, But Turkey was denied submarines by the peace treaties as well as the right of building ships larger than 10,000t. At 10,000t Turkey could build either coastal battleships, as it had already done with Barbaros, which were liable to be relatively slow or heavy cruisers. But the Greeks were already planning the construction of a pair of heavy cruisers, Turkish cruisers would not be offering any qualitative advantage. Deutschland, fast and with battleship sized guns was offering an obvious advantage although its protection, while better than most cruisers still left it vulnerable to heavy cruiser guns. The ship cost though an eye watering 82 million reichsmarks, and some of its features were simply useless for Turkish conditions, what was the point for the diesel engines and massive range when your goal was to operate in the Aegean.

    Thus the Turkish navy had turned to the Italians. Could Italy offer a similar ship, preferably as well protected as Barbaros, using the heavy guns left behind from Yavuz and at a reasonable price? Italy had several reasons to be accommodating. Mussolini wanted to support the Italian shipbuilding industry and had already passed into law the offer of subsidies for all construction including warships for export. Just as importantly he wanted to bring Turkey further towards the Italian orbit and strengthening the Turkish navy against the Greeks was to the direct benefit of Italy in view of the bad relations of Italy with Greece. Hence the Turkish request had received Mussolini's direct support with the Italians offering an adaptation of their own Zara class heavy cruisers, ostensibly 10,000t ships but in reality closer to 12,000t standard displacement. Machinery had been reduced by a third still allowing a very respectable 29 knots top speed, belt improved from 150 to 200mm and the 8in guns of the Italian ship exchanged for Yavuz's 6 remaining 283mm guns. And Italian prices even without taking into account subsidies or recycling older guns were far more reasonable than the Germans. And thus the battleship Fatih was laid down.

    Athens, September 1930

    The news of the laying down of Fatih had been received with considerable concern by the Greek naval establishment and the public. The ship was described with good reason as clearly superior to anything the Greeks possessed. In any future war it was absolutely necessary for the Greek navy to be able to dominate the Aegean. In parliament heated arguments were made against the Venizelos government that it should not had abandoned the construction of the battleship Salamis, or when the Italians had refused its export in the Inter-Allied control commission ordered a replacement. Venizelos had countered that the reinforcement of the Greek light fleet and air force under his government was sufficient to counter even Fatih succesfully, while he had left the navy fund with nearly 2 million pounds to procure additional ships, the country need not to panic. The argument about the light fleet and air force might well have been correct. But it was not an argument the public wanted to hear nor one the navy wanted to hear as majority naval opinion was that the only safe answer was one or more heavy ships of its own to counter the Turkish ship. It was a costly option, any counter was liable to cost two to three times as much as the Turkish ship but it was considered the only safe alternative. It had been learned that the French were preparing to build ships between 23,300-26,500t to counter the German pocket battleships, while the British were mulling over 20,000t and 27,500t battlecruisers. Thus the tender sent to Britain, France and the US called for a ship between 20-28,000t. The cruiser plans would be put on hold for the time being with both the army and the air force procurement budgets would be reduced to finance the ship. For many it looked as if the events of 1913-14 were repeating themselves...

    [1] Seems to me Racic's actions in June 1928 were hardly spontaneous. But this time Radic is luckier and Pribicevic decidedly less so.
    [2] Serb Orthodox church is still using the Julian calendar...
    [3] In OTL Pedersen was off to Britain for a time in 1930 which likely affected at least to some degree his chances. Here Vickers has bought the design already from 1926...
    [4] Back in 1924 Lloyd George unlike MacDonald did not reduce the cruiser program from 10 to 7 ships. So the RN has a bit more leeway at the moment. Or perhaps not.
    [5] That is a year ahead if OTL to secure the Liberal's support for Labour's government.
    Part 36 Of rebels and battleships New
  • Cyprus, October 1930

    Back in September 1929, the Greek Cypriots had sent a committee led by the metropolitan of Citium Nikodemos Mylonas, a member of the Cypriot Legislative council, to London with an agenda of two main issues. The first was to complain about the lack of representative government in the island, the British colonial administration tended to overrule the legislative council whenever it found it convenient, while the legislative council was designed to nullify the supposed numerical superiority of the Greek councillors as is a addition to 12 Greek and 3 Turkish councillors elected from the population there were an additional 9 councillors directly selected from the British govern. The second was to demand for one more time union with Greece. The British colonial minister Lord Passfield had flatly refused both requests answering the HM government had no intention to give the island any short of autonomy or self-government and even more so to let it unite with Greece. Then in December 1929 the Legislative Council had passed a decision reducing the autonomy of the Greek schools in the island.

    The first reaction had come in January 1930 when the Greek councillors, the Greek mayors of the island and archbishopric of Cyprus had created Ethniki Organosi Kyprou, the Cyprus National Organization to coordinate Greek political activity on the island. The first action of EOK was to create offices of London to keep it directly appraised of any decisions affecting Cyprus. Then in March 25th, the Greek independence day, it had conducted a "referendum" collecting signatures in churches in support of union with the motherland. Not unexpectedly Greek Cypriots had signed it by the thousands. Equally not unexpectedly the British colonial administration had ignored it. Now at the new elections for the Legislative council, thanks to EOK coordination a solid block of pro-Enosis councillors had been elected with the attempts of sir Ronald Storrs, the British governor to back pro-British candidates within the Greek community failing.

    It now remained to be seen how things would progress as Cyprus was being increasingly affected by the world economic crisis. Storrs, governor since 1926 after doing considerable work to improve conditions in the island early on, kept losing popularity since 1928 when he had forces a penal code that included corporal punishment. Within the Greek community factions around Nikodemos and the bishop of Kyreneia Makarios were starting to place themselves for the succession of the current archbishop. Greek mainland politics had found their way into the island, with Nikodemos and Makarios being supported by Venizelists and Royalists respectively. The Greek consul in Nicosia, kept a carefully correct stance towards the British administration, although within the Greek community he tended to lean towards Makarios. After all he was a Dragoumis man, picked over Alexios Kyrou for the position, who while of Cypriot descent was also coming from a prominent Venizelist family with his family running the influential Estia newspaper in Athens.

    Britain, February 1931

    The Representation of the People Bill had finally passed both the parliament and the house of Lords and received the royal assent. From now on Britain would use alternate voting as an electoral system.

    Athens, March 25th, 1931

    A dozen Vickers 6t tanks, joined for the first time the parade for the Greek independence day. In total 50 had been ordered the previous year, initial plans for 3 battalions with 150 machines in total, to equip the army's single tank regiment had been drastically reduced to provide financing for the naval program. So had the army's hopes for more heavy artillery, following an order for two dozen Skoda M1928 guns back in 1929 Stratos had refused additional requests for funds beyond an order for a number of much cheaper105mm field guns again from Skoda. Still Stratos was not overtly concerned. It was true that Turkey had ordered some 300 modern guns at the start of the year, 75mm mountain guns from Bofors and Skoda 105mm pieces from Italy. But Greek orders up to 1928 had been over 700 guns. Venizelos might had left him with a naval problem he mused when he had failed to secure delivery of the Salamis and insistence on a light fleet but at least had left him a reasonably well equipped army.

    Athens, July 1931

    The Greek battleship tender had received quite a bit of interest. Initial thoughts for minimal design of about 20,000t armed with either 6 10in or 6 12in guns had been quickly dropped, on British advice that Greek needs would be better served by a fully fledged battleship. Probably that British advice had something to do with a fear of so called "cruiser killers" proliferating, threatening the construction of more and by other countries and making existing cruisers vulnerable. Further even though the recent London naval treaty had left battleship sizes intact Britain was still hoping that a reduction would take place and had managed to gain French and Italian agreement that any new ships they laid down before 1932 would not exceed about 26,500-27,500t in displacement, thus pressured Greece to not exceed this with her ship as well. No matter whether Britain had ulterior motives the advice was still sound, the smaller ships were estimated to cost 4-4.5 million pounds as opposed to ~5.5 million for the larger unit which would be far superior and able to deal with Italian battleships as well, while Greece could hardly afford a full sized treaty battleship so had little reason not to agree to limiting her ship's size. British hopes of using at most 12in guns were flatly refused though. France had already offered a copy of her planned Dunkerque, while US shipyards had offered similar ships with either 14 or 16in guns and so had actually done even Vickers which had offered designs based on her earlier project 892 battleship, essentially a reduced faster Nelson class ship, that had not managed to gain exports earlier in the 1920s. This had been followed by another British tender for a 27,500 battlecruiser armed with 8 13.5in guns. No decision had been made yet but the designs, particularly the Vickers ones, looked attractive to Greek planners, even if Italy or the Soviets build ships up to the treaty limit of 35,000t they might have more but not heavier guns. A decision would have to be taken soon, Fatih in Trieste had already been launched.

    Project 892.png

    Vickers Project 892 small battleship design, schematic from Diminishing Returns: Small Battleship Designs, 1919-1953, by Stephen McLaughlin in Warship 2008

    London, August 1931

    Under the pressure of the economic crisis a national government, had to be formed with Ramsay MacDonanld remaining prime minister. Stanley Baldwin and David LLoyd George, recently recovered from a kidney surgery, would become Lord President and Home Secretary respectively.

    Cyprus, October 24th, 1931

    The previous month governor Storrs had forced through a new taxation law against the majority of the Legislative council. It had triggered the public creation of Ethniki Rizospastiki Enosi Kyprou (EREK), the Cypriot National Radical Union, clandestine discussions for her creation had been underway for some time. EREK modelling itself after the Radical party in the Ionian islands the previous century called for a campaign of civil disobedience and widespread demonstrations and strikes followed. British colonial authorities reacted by dispersing the demonstrators by force, with two demonstrators shot dead and seizing EREK's newspaper, causing heated protests led by Nikodemos of Citium in the legislative council and yet more demonstrations. At a point it seemed that Cyprus was on the verge of an uprising with Nikodemos threatening to resign from the legislative council outright and changing his decision only on the advice of the Greek consul. In the end after a week of demonstrations quiet start returning to the island and what threatened to turn into a spontaneous uprising subsided. With quiet returning in Cyprus so it did in Greece were large scale demostrations had taken place outside the British embassy in Athens as well as the British consulates in Smyrna and Thessaloniki in support of the Cypriots despite calls by both Stratos government and Venizelos Liberals for calm.

    The crisis would almost re-ignite itself the next month when it appeared that the British planned to abolish the legislative council and municipalities. But moderates would prevail in the British government, perhaps helped with some prompting on the part of Dragoumis that it would become virtually impossible to the Greek government to place the battleship order with Britain if it happened as it would be intolerable to the Greek public. Greece would actualy place the order for the new ship to Britain in December.

    Teheran, November 1931

    Negotiations between the British and Iranian governments had been ongoing without result to replace the existing oil concessions with a more equal agreement but had been going nowhere and this year the Anglo-Iranian oil company had even massively reduced the amount of money given the Iranian government. President Reza Pahlavi was not going to accept a continuation of this, after all he was not absolute ruler of the country, the idea of turning himself from president to shah as Ahmed Zogu had done in Albania had passed his mind but he had to dismiss it when it appeared it would fail to gather significant support. Rousing patriotic fervor in the midst of economic crisis would hardly hurt. Thus Abdolhossein Teymourtash, his chief minister had received instructions to outright cancel the D'Arcy concession. The British government would take the matter to the international court in the Hague while behind the scenes tried to put a wedge between Reza and Teymourtash. This proved less than successful, Pahlavi was too dependent on Teymourtash support.