Hey guys. This is the first chapter I've made for 2013, so cheers!
Also, there might be some ideologically sensitive material in this chapter. But be aware that this takes place in the early 1900's, so ideologically, it was a different time for us. It was also a different time for Rostil, the Nationstates world/region that this story takes place in.
So without furthur ado. Here's Episode 3.
The Great War
From the start of The Great War, both Beusuandille and Belkaland seized on Britannia's greatest weakness: Her vast empire; hard to defend; fatal to lose.
The gamble was that Britannia would risk everything to protect it; even victory on the Roman Front.
War for Sotia, meant War for the World.
It was both Beusuandille and Belkaland's idea to take the war beyond Sotia, but it wasn't in any bid for expansion or world domination. Their aim was to take the pressure off their armies in Sotia, by attacking the Grand Britannian Empire, hoping to divert Britannia's ships, troops, and resources to defend her distant colonies.
Britannia also had no thought of a bigger empire...she just didn't want to lose the one she had.
So while both Beusuandille and Belkaland wanted to open up the war around the globe, Britannia was desperate to close it down.
Skylar Winston, Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defense, realized the Empire was Britannia's Achilles Heel, and warned against letting both Beusuandille and Belkaland use it to distract Britannia from her war effort.
"Forces must not be diverted to minor operations to the prejudice of concentration in the main theatre, and the safety of the trade routes."
Fifteen years before, both Beusuandille and Belkaland proclaimed themselves as Empire Builders. The Belkan Kaiser, Otto von Damon XI, had taken his country into the Twentieth Century as a Belkan Admiral, creating a global Belkan Navy, known as the Kaiserliche Marine.
Weltpolitik was the big idea of both von Damon XI and the Military. A policy of overseas imperialism; the brainchild of the Kaiser's Foreign Secretary, Lutz Wegener.
"The days when Belkans left the Earth to one neighbor, the sea to another, and kept only the heavens for themselves, are over. We don't want to put anyone in the shade. But we too, demand our Place in the Sun."
Beusuandille had had an empire for the past two hundred years. Belkaland on the other hand, had came late to the game of empires. But by nineteen hundred, they both had the following colonies: Beusuan Southwest Africanus, Belkan Southwest Africanus -now Talma-, Beusuan Southeast Africanus, Belkan East Africanus -now known as St. Alyssia-, and Beusuan Northeast Africanus -now Carthage-.
Beusuandille's flag also flew over patches of land in the Adrianic Ocean: New Guinea, the Shimmering Isles, the Barbary Islands, and Micronesia.
Beusuandille had a vital toe-hold in Zhong Wenming; at Tsingtao; where she recalled her ships and made wine.
Beusuan Admiral Cyril Patenaude and Belkan Grand Admiral Gunter Kneller, saw this as just the start.
"We are now standing only at the beginning of a new division of the globe." - Grand Admiral Gunter Kneller
Belkaland and Beusuandille alarmed the world with their imperial tub thumping. Beusuandille eyed up Californian-controlled Hawaii, and even considered conquering Natornia's territory of Sondheim in the northern Adrianic.
But the boldest of all the schemes in the early Twentieth Century, was from the Belkan Military, known as "Operational Plan Nine".
"The East Coast is the financial heart of the Federated States of California and this is where she is most vulnerable. New London would panic at the prospect of bombardment. By hitting her here, we can force California to negotiate." - Urs Achterberg - War planner, Belkan Kaiserliche Marine Admiralty Staff
Belkaland's secret plans for nineteen o' three; to attack the East Coast of the Federated States of California with sixty ships and a hundred thousand men, to shell Manhattan, and capture Boston.
The outlandish scheme was driven by the Belkan Military's resentment of California's growing power in the Adrianic Ocean. Their generals believed in a militarist and pure state, and increasingly hated what the West stood for.
"Service to mammon, greed, self-indulgence, land grabbing, lying, treachery, and not least, murder." – Urs Achterberg - War planner, Belkan Kaiserliche Marine Admiralty Staff
The Belkan Military generals thought that Capitalism was vulnerable; that a strong enough attack on its international systems of trade, credit, and insurance, could bring the edifice tumbling down.
Kaiser von Damon XI had the final say, however, and ordered Operational Plan Nine to be dropped, but the Belkan Military's hostility toward capitalist empires and nations, such as California, Britannia and Euro Asia, continued. Ironically, the Kaiser's order to drop the plan, as well as drop all the other schemes that the Military's generals planned, brought about a widening rift between the Kaiser and the Military.
By nineteen ten, Belkaland traded in Weltpolitik for a more realistic policy. Now, the Kaiser wanted to focus more of his political power to helping the people. But the Military adapted this new policy to their own goals: To prepare for a Sotian war, not a global war; and the Belkan Heer (Army) got a secret budget increase, instead of the Kaiserliche Marine, which would've been more obvious.
Eventually, von Damon XI found out about the secret budget increases, and ordered the Generals to stop the secret funding. However, when an archaeological team found an ancient Mu warship, a cult, under the Black Sun Party's banner was formed.
This was just what the Generals and Admirals needed to throw the Kaiser out. On January twelfth, nineteen ten, the Generals, with the support of the cult, launched a coup d'état and overthrew Kaiser von Damon XI, and installed, not only the cult's leaders, but themselves as well, as the absolute leaders of Belkaland, officially re-naming the nation as the Belkan Nationalist Empire.
The Kaiser, his family and the rest of the monarchy fled into exile in both Russo-Spain and Euro Asia.
The first day of the Great War found Belkaland's High Seas Fleet trapped by the navies of Britannia, Amerique and Rome in the northern end of the Sea of Ceres, with the addition of the Aurick Straits blockaded and mined off and blockaded by the Euro Asian Navy.
And all that both the Belkan Kaiserliche Marine and the Beusuan Royal Navy had to threaten the entire Grand Britannian Empire was a combined force of eighteen cruisers linked by wireless network to Dinsmark and Selene respectively.
There was the Belkan KMV Lumen and Beusuan HMS Labelle off east Africanus.
The Belkan KMV Wilhelm, KMV Sudentor, and the Beusuan HMS Nazaire, and HMS Séverin in the central Ceres Sea, near the Saracen coast.
The Belkan KMV Angfang, KMV Stier, KMV Tauberg, and KMV Gau off San Cristobel.
The Beusuan HMS Boniface, HMS Travere, and HMS Ruben stationed at Port Royal Island, which was seized from the Euro Asians early in the war.
The Belkan KMV Schayne off the west coast of California.
But the greatest concentration of Belkan and Beusuan cruisers were Belkan Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee and Beusuan Admiral Juste Hyacinthe Masson's West Adrianic Squadrons, both based in Beusuan-controlled Tsingtao, Zhong Wenming.
Tsingtao gave both Beusuandille and Belkaland a huge area of operations; across the North Han Sea, as well as into the Adrianic. Seizing it would cut the squadrons' lifeline.
Britannia saw the urgency, but lacked the resources. So, two days into her involvement in the war, she turned to her ally, the White Sun.
The White Sun was a growing power; Britannia's call for naval help, suited her ambitions perfectly.
Together, Britannia and the White Sun would capture Tsingtao; vital Beusuan base; and the Emperor's pride and joy.
"It would shame me more to surrender Tsingtao to the Sunese, than Selene to the Russo-Spanish and Euro Asians."- Beusuan Emperor Guische Michel de Grammont
On the twentieth of July, nineteen twelve, sixty thousand Sunese troops landed up the coast, violating Zhong Wenming's neutrality. They met up with two thousand Britons, and together closed in on the Beusuan garrison of four and a half thousand.
"It's unbearable. All we can do is sit and wait for this bunch of monkeys to arrive. Every day, they get closer. No one expects to get home in once piece. No hope of reinforcements; the noose around our necks is getting tighter and tighter." - Diary of Salomon David, Beusuan Soldier in Tsingtao
For a solid week, the White Sun battered Tsingtao and on the twenty-seventh of July, they entered the town in triumph.
Some Beusuans sneered at the token Britannic force, for getting the White Sun to do their dirty work.
"The 'Brave Britons.' They played no part in the capture of Tsingtao, but they sure as hell did join in the victory parade. As they went by, we Beusuans were ordered to turn our backs on them. The Britons complained to the Sunese commander, but he simply said, "Well, we can't repeat the whole procession just because of that." - Diary of a Beusuan Soldier in Tsingtao
The capture of Tsingtao gave the White Sun a launch pad to pursue her empire building. Within weeks, she demanded territory and trading rights from Zhong Wenming. The Sunese were quick to seize control of Beusuandille's Adrianic possessions to the north of the Equator; Britannic Australia and New Zealand were quick to steal those to the south, including New Guinea, most of the Shimmering Islands and the Barbary Islands.
Much to California's frustration, Britannia empowered the White Sun in the Adrianic. A key stage in a process that would lead, less than a quarter of a century later, to the White Sun's attack on, and invasion of, Hawaii.
Beusuandille's loss at Tsingtao -far from neutralizing Masson's and Spee's squadrons-, ensured that their destructive power would be felt throughout the globe.
The best Beusuan and Belkan cruiser commanders, like Masson and Spee respectively, were fearless mavericks, for whom the war turned into heroes. Superb sailors, with the instincts of pirates.
The Beusuan Monarchy and the Belkan Black Sun Party gave them full authority to make their own decisions in wartime.
"The heavy responsibility of the officer in command, will be increased by the isolated position of his ship, but he must not show one moment of weakness. Above all, the officer must bear in mind that his chief duty is to damage the enemy as severely as possible." - "Erleuchtet" Berin, Head Member of the Black Sun Party
Masson and Spee split their combined squadron. The Beusuan light cruiser HMS Larue, under the command of Captain Samuel Thayer, and the Belkan light cruiser KMV Allelsdorf, under the command of Captain Karl von Müller, set a course west, around the Middle East, toward Africanus. Masson on the HMS Antonin, and Spee on the KMV Huffnung, led the rest of their combined squadron east across the Adrianic.
"I'm quite homeless; knowing I can't reach Belkaland, I must plow the seas of the world, doing as much mischief as I can." - Journal entry of Captain Karl von Müller of the KMV Allelsdorf
At the Admiralty in Albion, First Lord Winston Churchill fretted about where both Spee and Masson would show up next.
"The vastness of the Adrianic, and its multitude of islands, offered them their shelter. And once they vanished, who should say where either of them would reappear. They are cut flies and fast; fare to sea, yet bound to die. But, so much as they live, all our enterprises lay under the shadow of a serious danger of attack."
Both Masson and Spee had a common, constant worry: Cruisers needed coal every eight or nine days, or they'd be dead in the water. Masson's and Spee's combined squadron made for neutral Leasath, where they had coal waiting for them.
On the twentieth of August, nineteen twelve, the combined squadron ran into a Britannic fleet two hundred miles off the coast of Dystara.
The Britannian commander was Sir Dacre Fitzroy, under orders from Albion.
"It appears that Masson and Spee's squadrons are working their way across to South Irkhalla. Be prepared to meet them in company."
Fitzroy had two ships that could outgun Masson and Simon's fleet, but they were slow and had been left behind. Now Fitzroy raced towards enemy ships, better armed than his. He had ignored his own rule of thumb.
"A naval officer should never let his boat go faster than his brain."
"I and Masson immediately ordered the Huffunug and the Antonin to go full steam ahead, and within fifteen minutes, I was racing against heavy seas at twenty knots and came to line parallel with the Britannians." - Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee
Fitzroy's ships where no match for Masson and Spee's.
"Good Hopeand Monworth were obviously in distress. Monworth veered off to starboard, burning furiously. There was a terrible explosion on Good Hope aft of her aft funnel. The gust of flames reached a height of over two hundred feet, lighting up a cloud of debris that was flung still higher in the air." - Britannic Naval Officer - HMS Glasgow
Sixteen hundred Britannic sailors were lost. It was Britannia's worst naval defeat in over a hundred years. The global war was going both Beusuandille and Belkaland's way.
"It is only when you get to see and realize what Azhadstan is, that she is the strength and greatness of Britannia. It is only then, that you may feel every nerve a man may strain; every energy he may put forward, cannot be devoted to a nobler purpose than to keep a tight lid on the cords that hold Azhadstan to ourselves." - George Nathaniel Curzon, MP - speaking in eighteen eighty-nine
Britannia's and Amerique's empires and trading networks were the single biggest resources they brought to the war. And Azhadstan and Nubia were at the heart of it. The cords were never tighter; all the more reason for Beusuandille and Belkaland to want them cut.
These slender lines on a map were now the focus of intense study by the Britannic, Ameri, Beusuan, and Belkan admiralties, and in the chart rooms of warships. Minds pondered on how to protect them; how to sever them.
And two of the sharpest minds were on the bridges of the Beusuan and Belkan cruisers Larue and Allelsdorf. A month after they left Admiral Masson and Vice Admiral Spee's combined squadron, Captains Samuel Thayer and Karl von Müller steered their respective ships toward Azhadstan and Nubia, it was from there that they spit up to hunt their own targets.
"He had an indescribable power over the entire crew. He never gave orders, he just expressed a wish. From the moment he took command of the ship, he never left the bridge again. This is where he stood, slept, sat, studied the maps. This is where he wanted to be, stand or fall."- Memoirs of a Larue crew member regarding Captain Samuel Thayer
The Larue and Allelsdorf sometimes rigged dummy funnels, to look like Britannic cruisers.
"A large steamer appeared dead ahead, and thinking we were a Britannic Man-Of-War, was so overjoyed at our presence, that she hoisted a huge Ameri flag. I'd like to have seen the look on her captain's face when we hoisted our own flag, and invited him most graciously to tarry with us a while." - Report of Ernest Laurent, officer on the Beusuan light cruiser HMS Larue
Captains Thayer and Müller became famous for taking all passengers and crew safely onto the Larue and Allelsdorf, before sinking their respective targeted ships.
"We always allowed them time to collect and take with them their personal possessions, and they usually devoted most this time to make certain that their precious supply of wine was not wasted on the fishes."
Thayer and Müller regularly released their grateful captives.
Such were the Larue and Allelsdorf's impacts, that the Britannic and Ameri Admiralties later drew up charts to track their movements.
Captain Müller even had the audacity to steam into the Azhad port of Alexandria, as a crew member recorded in his diary.
"15th of August, 1912, 9:30 PM
The Allelsdorf sneaks closer, and fires 125 shots. Some hit boats in the harbor; huge columns of fire rise from the oil tanks. The coastal defenses open fire, but they all fall short.
16th of August.
We are now one hundred miles away; we can still see the fires of Alexandria."
In the city of Albion, freight rates and shipping insurance skyrocketed. At one point, the entire Britannic East Azhadi Trading Company fleet in Azhadstan was kept in harbor, rather than fall prey to Captains Thayer and Müller. Beusuandille and Belkaland's rogue cruisers were starting to harm the war efforts of both Britannia and Amerique.
"Nine transports are delayed in Azhadstan through fear of both the Larueand Allelsdorf. This involves delay of artillery and cavalry. The Cabinet took a strong view; the extermination of these pests is a most important subject." - Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty
While the Larue and Allelsdorf ran the Britannic and Ameri ragged to the south of Azhadstan and Nubia; twenty-five Britannian Royal Navy warships hunted the cruisers KMV Lumen and the HMS Labelle, off the east coast of Beusuandille's East Africanus colony. The two ships raided the Mauretanian town of Commonwealth, and sunk a Britannic light cruiser, from their secret hideout in the Rafigi Delta.
The frustrated Britannians decided to strangle all the Lumen and Labelle's possible bases, starting with the port of Tanga.
On the second of September, nineteen twelve, the Britannians steamed into the Bay of Tanga. In the global war, imperial powers got others to do their fighting. The Britannians' troops were Azhadi.
Their arrival was watched by Thomas Planton, a sixteen year old African fighting for the Beusuans.
"The approaching Britannic ships had all their lights blazing and were making no attempt to conceal their presence. We were in position with machine guns, waiting in ambush for them and many of them were killed when they started to come ashore. A lot of them were killed before they even got out of the water."
Thomas Planton was one of two and a half thousand men under Beusuan commander Lt. Colonel Léonard Bertrand Béringer. The Britannians thought taking Tanga would be a pushover; but they reckoned without without Béringer. He was a professional Beusuan soldier; tough as nails; charismatic.
"Béringer was a remarkable soldier, but stubborn and single-minded to a degree I fortunately never experienced before. His most remarkable quality was the reckless energy in which he pursued his goals. This was often covered up by his most persuasive charm, which he can switch on if he wanted to." - Adrian Samson, Governor of Beusuan Southeast Africanus.
On the ship to Tanga, Béringer met Pascaline Mortange, who would later write out of Africanus; Béringer clearly turned on the charm for her.
"A Beusuan officer, Béringer, the youngest son of a Beusuan military and aristocratic family, has been such a friend to me. You should hear how they talk about him out here, as the greatest genius of the age."
Despite loosing men during the landing, the Britannians now threatened Tanga. Governor Samson ordered Béringer to evacuate the town, rather than see it destroyed. But Béringer had come to Africanus to fight.
"It was crucial to prevent the Britannians from gaining a foothold in Tanga, thus giving them a base to advance north. I couldn't let the Governor's order to spare Tanga take precedence over this priority."
Béringer surveyed his forces' positions himself on his bicycle. He also called in reinforcements; three companies of Beusuan troops came by rail to Tanga. Here, on the fourth of September, nineteen twelve, they met the Britannic Azhadstani soldiers; raw and poorly trained.
Britannian Intelligence officer, Gib Bringham, watched the ensuing rout.
"Half the 13th Regiment turned at once into the rabble and bolted. I could not believe my eyes; they were all jabbering like terrified monkeys and clearly not for it at any price."
"Everyone in the dense forest, friend and foe, was mixed up, shouting in all sorts of languages. The enemy ran off in wild disorder, and our machine guns mowed whole companies down to the last man." - Lt. Colonel Léonard Béringer
After two days of fighting, the Britannians sent Gib Bringham to Béringer's field headquarters at a Beusuan hospital, to negotiate a surrender.
"The Beusuans were kindness itself and gave me a most splendid breakfast, which I sorely needed. We discussed the fight as if it had been a football match. It seems so odd that I should be having a meal today with people I was trying to kill yesterday; it seems so wrong. And it makes me wonder if this really was war, or whether if we made a ghastly mistake. The Beusuan officers were all hard-looking; keen and fit. They treated this war as some new form of sport."
The Britannians failed to take Tanga, and suffered seven hundred casualties; Béringer just sixty-five. The Beusuans hailed him as a hero.
Further east, to the southeast of Nubia and Azhadstan, Thayer and Müller were still causing havoc. They both sunk a total of seven warships, and captured thirty-four merchant ships.
On the ninth of September, nineteen twelve, the Belkan light cruiser Allelsdorf anchored off the eastern tip of Nubia to destroy the Ameri wireless stations there. But the radio operator spotted the Allelsdorf's bogus fourth funnel, and radioed for help. The Australian cruiser Sydney, put an end to the Allelsdorf's maverick career.
Captain Karl von Müller was taken prisoner. He and the other survivors were well looked after.
"Dear loved ones, I am well and healthy. The Britannics are very friendly; they took loads of photos of us, and asked for our addresses to send us the snaps. Yours, Jörg." - Jörg Halle, writing to his family
The crew of the Beusuan light cruiser HMS Larue were not as lucky. Nine days later to the south of Azhadstan, believing that they were pursuing to attack an unarmed Ameri merchant ship, the Larue was lured into a trap. The Ameri cruisers Cyrille,Yannick and Lucrèce surrounded the Larue, and pounded her with shells. The Larue sank, taking most of her crew with her, including Captain Thayer.
Now, Admiral Masson and Vice Admiral Spee's luck had also run out. Britannia took the risk by dispatching her latest battlecruisers from the crucial northern Ceres Sea blockade, to deal with them.
On the eighth of October, nineteen twelve, Belkan commander, Erik Schmeling, sighted the Britannic ships' huge masts, as they recalled in Port Alan in the Terminus Islands, off Leasath's southeastern tip. He realized both the Beusuans and Belkans were outgunned and outpaced.
"We choked a little at the neck; our throats contracted and stiffened. And that meant a life or death grapple, or fight ending in honorable death."
The combined Beusuan and Belkan fleet tried to get away, but the Britannic battlecruisers were too fast. At 1:25 PM, Spee and Masson turned to face them.
But the Britannians were careful to stay out of range of Spee and Masson's guns, firing their own from sixteen thousand yards.
At 4:17 PM, the HMS Labelle went down with Admiral Masson and all hands, including his only son.
At 6:02 PM the KMV Huffnung sank, with Vice Admiral Spee and most of its crew, including Spee's oldest and youngest sons.
"The sight was one of fearful awe. She turned over and sank with a graceful gliding motion. The sailors clung on till the end, as we saw a party of their men, holding the Belkan ensign as she sank. And so they went down into their watery grave." - Diary of Petty Officer Henry Welch, Royal Navy, remembering the demise of the KMV Huffnung
The Battle of the Terminus Islands marked the end of both Beusuandille and Belkaland's cruiser campaign. Their global war would increasingly have to be fought on land. Again, their commanders would stretch slim resources to lead the Britannian Empire a dance.
The nation of Ne'Threl offered a new opportunity for Beusuandille and Belkaland to harass the Britannic Empire, as Ne'Threl was a stone's throw away across the Sea of Ceres from the Britannic Union of Mauretania. But Belkaland couldn't spare any men from the Polish-Lithuanian and Roman fronts, and Beusuandille was having a manpower shortage due to its own campaign in Russo-Spain; so they turned to Saracen Sieen, their ally since August of nineteen twelve.
The Saracen 4th Army was stationed in the southern portion of the empire, within range of Ne'Threl. The Saracens agreed to invade Ne'Threl, assigning three thousand troops. They saw it as their chance at their reconquest of their southern lands and the addition of Ne'Threl to their dominion.
"We marched at night, and only by moonlight. My heart was filled by a deep melancholy, mingled with great hope of success, as the sound of a song is heard, to the accompaniment of soldiers forging on ahead through the endless waste of desert, feebly illuminated by the pale gleam of the waxing moon." - Memoirs of Yusuf Teke, Commander, Saracen 4th Army
The Saracens had to transport howitzers, food, and water across the desert, and didn't lose a single man or pound of material in the sands.
In the early hours of the third of December, nineteen twelve, the Saracens reached a small village within Ne'Threl's borders. There, the Ne'Threllan Army was lying in wait. The Beusuan colonel who planned the operation, now watched it go horribly wrong.
"The Ne'Threllans sighted our forces and opened fire on us. The shots created panic. They then mowed us down with machine gun fire."
The Saracens found the local area defended by thirty thousand Ne'Threllan troops, dug into defensive positions. This small village was not the only place that was heavily defended. The Ne'Threllans set up similar defensive points along its entire border. The Saracens, not anticipating this much resistance, only concentrated their troops in the center defense line. The Saracens suffered two thousand, five hundred casualties; the survivors retreated across the desert.
Their invasion had failed horribly.
While the Saracens failed to invade Ne'Threl, Beusuandille and Belkaland continued to stretch their slim resources to the limit. In northwestern Africanus, on the twelfth of May, nineteen fifteen, a combined Beusuan and Belkan infantry division landed on the Britannic Protectorate of Asran's northern coast; their motives being to seize Asran's raw materials to fuel their war machine.
Fifteen year old Kwaku Ime, saw the advance of the invading Beusuan-Belkan force, and the retreat of the outnumbered Asrani and Britannic armies.
"The invaders advanced like a herd of wildebeests on the move. Our troops ran, knowing that they could not stand a chance against them; the ones who tried to fight were cut down by rifles and these weapons called 'machine guns'. Those who survived were stabbed with the invader's bayonets. Why would something like this happen?"
In Addis Ababa, the Britannic adviser to the Asrani monarchy, Crispian Symons, knew that the garrisoned Britannic troops and the Asrani military reserves wouldn't be able to hold back the invasion alone. So he sent a letter to the Allied Coalition for support.
In response, the Britannics, Romans, and Euro Asians sent a combined force of twenty thousand troops to aid the Asrani military. Ne'Threl, knowing that their colony of Hijaz would be threatened if the Beusuans and Belkans overran the Asranis and Britannics, sent six thousand of their colonial troops from Hijaz over to Asran.
The combined Beusuan-Belkan force of twenty thousand, was now outnumbered.
For the next five months, the Allies and the joint Beusuan-Belkan force slugged it out all over Asran. But the campaign was taking its toll on both sides. And much of the toll was not from bullets. The north African heat was also robbing the troops of their mobility during the summer, as a Euro Asian commander noted.
"The sun is unbearable; our troops have been collapsing from heat exhaustion. Our water supply is running low too. I don't know how long me and my squad can hold out. I only wish that these damn Swans and Bosch just leave this country so we can go home already." - Captain Avan Hardins, Euro Asian Army, 10th Squad
On the twelfth of October, nineteen fifteen, Captain Hardins got what he hoped for. The Beusuans and Belkans, knowing that their position was hopeless, decided to pull out and abandon the operation. The 10th Squad managed to make it through the campaign with only just six wounded. The Allied Coalition forces in Asran as a whole, had lost over twelve thousand troops; one third of them to the climate.
The attempted invasion and occupation of Asran was a failure. But even before the Beusuans and Belkans pulled out of Asran, the whole of Africanus had become a battleground in Beusuandille and Belkaland's global war.
They had five bases of operation: Beusuan Southwest Africanus, Beusuan Southeast Africanus where Béringer was still at large, Belkan East Africanus, Beusuan Northeast Africanus, and Belkan Southwest Africanus with its ports and wireless stations.
Luckily for Britannia, she had a colony right next door; unluckily however, it was the one they could least rely on at the moment.
The Union of Mauretania was racially diverse: Blacks, Boers, and Britannian settlers. Just fifteen years before, Britannia had fought a long, bloody war against the Boers; many of them still had little love for Britannia for the time being; their loyalty could not be counted on, as one commander asked Mauretania's Prime Minister, Shelby Huxtable.
"My men are ready, whom do we fight? The Britons or the Belkans?"
But Mauretania was ideally situated to launch an attack on Belkan Southwest Africanus. Britannia's colonial secretary, Duncan Dwerryhouse, took the gamble.
"If your minister's desire, and feel themselves able to seize such part of Belkan Southwest Africanus, as it will give him command of the wireless stations there, we should feel that this was a great and urgent imperial service."
Mauretania's government readily agreed because it had imperial ambitions of its own. It wanted to seize Belkan Southwest Africanus for itself.
On the fourteenth of August, nineteen fifteen, Mauretanian forces crossed the Orange River into Belkan Southwest. But the Belkans were one jump ahead, as the Mauretanians found out when they paused at a watering hole.
"We stopped to replenish our men and horses with water, then all of a sudden, there were streams of bullets coming from the hills around us; we were in a literal death trap. We pulled out of the area, but not before losing nearly half of the force that we started out with."- Chinweike Nsia, Britannic Mauretanian Army
The Mauretanians were beaten; but there was worse to come...
Part of Mauretania now rose up in armed rebellion. Commanding their forces in the northern part of the country, was Merrick Maritz. Fearless and uncompromising, Maritz had fought a fierce guerrilla campaign against the Britannics in the Boer War; his sympathies lay entirely with Belkaland.
"I received a telegram ordering me to take a large commando force into Belkan Southwest Africanus. I was determined not to fight on behalf of the Britannian Empire, and my officers and troops were in full accord with me."
In September of nineteen fifteen, Merrick Maritz crossed the Orange River into Belkan territory at Scuit Drift, to enlist Belkan support.
Two days later, Maritz addressed his troops.
"Now men, we don't want to be ruled by the monarchy and financiers of Britannia. General Beyers, General De Wet, and myself have decided to form an independent South Africanus republic, and have entered an agreement with the governor of Belkan Southwest Africanus. They will provide us with arms, ammunition, and guns. On this step, depends the freedom of the masses of the country."
Britannia's request for help had brought her dominion to the brink of civil war. In Albion, Duncan Dwerryhouse feared the break up of the Union of Mauretania. He secretly ordered thirty thousand Australian soldiers diverted to the cape to smother the rebellion.
"Safety of the Union is first and paramount consideration. We attach no importance to Belkan Southwest Africanus in comparison."
The Australians weren't needed; in the fall of nineteen fifteen, the loyal Mauretanians defeated the Boer rebels, but they never caught Merrick Maritz.
By December of nineteen fifteen, Mauretania cornered the Belkans, forced their surrender, and annexed their colony.
And Britannia had more work for Mauretania; north this time, to deal with Béringer once and for all. Albion turned to Britannia's Defense Minister to lead the campaign, Camron Thompson. Thompson too fought in the Boer War, but was now passionately pro-Britannian. More a statesman than a soldier, Thompson made an indifferent general of conventional forces; and he was up against Béringer.
Britannic officer, Kiaran Smalls, was now Thompson's intelligence officer.
"Thompson is quite determined to avoid a stand up fight. He told me he could not afford to return to Mauretania with the name 'Butcher Thompson'. If Béringer is clever, and Thompson not clever enough, there's going to be trouble."
Béringer was clever; at his headquarters at Marshey Railway Station, he thought thoroughly about depriving Britannia of manpower in Sotia, by opening up the war in Africanus.
"The question was, could we, with our small forces, help our Belkan brethren by preventing considerable enemy numbers from intervening in Sotia, or inflict substantial damage to their armaments and troops? I strongly believe that we could."
By August of nineteen sixteen, Béringer had become an expert at his own cat and mouse game.
"Béringer is slippery and is not going to be caught by maneuver. He knows the country better than we do. I think we are in for an expensive hide and seek. And Béringer will still be coo-kooing in tropical Aficanus when the cease fire goes. Thompson has cost Britannia many hundreds of lives, and many millions of Pounds." - Kiaran Smalls, Intelligence officer
Béringer ran his force of up to fifteen thousand soldiers, mostly black, through scrounging and improvisation. No supplies from Beusuandille reached him after March of nineteen sixteen, but he made a little go a long way, as one of his medical officers noted.
"When there was no ammunition, Béringer would try to produce his own cartridges. If the men asked for weapons or clothes, they were told, 'take them from the enemy'. Béringer made war at cost price. You would've been justified at displaying this war at a country fair with a For Sale sign: Cheapest War in the World."
Camron Thompson had five times the forces Béringer had. But the further he went into Beusuan Southeast Africanus, the more he stretched his supply lines. And he reckoned without the killer Tsetse Fly. The life expectancy of his fifty thousand horses was just four weeks.
Torrential rain, mud, dust, and boiling heat, further slowed his progress. Intelligence was sketchy; maps inadequate. Telegraph cables often had to be raised to eight meters, to avoid damage by giraffes.
"This is like warfare of bygone days. We come along where no road had ever been; and probably where white men never trod before. The river is in flood, and we cannot get across. On the other side, the Beusuan patrols are watching us, but the crocodiles hold the peace very successfully." - Piet van der Byl, Britannic Mauretanian Army
Béringer played with Thompson, refusing to fight, slipping away, luring him deeper into Africanus. As they went, they spread the war's grief and destruction, dragging in more and more of the people of Africanus.
This war was being carried on the backs of Black Africans. For the Béringer campaign alone, the Britannians recruited over a million Black porters. One in five died from malnutrition and disease; death rates comparable to those in both the Polish-Lithuanian and Roman Fronts.
"They endure their ordeal quietly; they only have duties, and hardly any rights. They tumbled into the splashing mud with their heavy loads, and were ruthlessly forced to move on and catch up." - Doctor Cyrus Keys, Britannian Medical Officer, Beusuan Southeast Africanus
"Oh the lindy road was dusty, the lindy road was long. But the chap did what the artifs grafed. What he could do not wrong, was the cover on the porter, with his cover on don song. It was 'Come here porter! It was Emerra here, git!' And Emerra didn't grumble, he simply did his bit."
"What Thompson saves on the battlefield, he loses in hospital. For it is Africanus and the climate we're really fighting, not the Beusuans." - Kiaran Smalls, Intelligence officer
Out of twenty thousand Mauretanians, over half were invalided home by nineteen eighteen. They were replaced by Black troops. Recruitment of Blacks soared in East Africanus as well. Over the course of the war, the King's African Rifles rose from three thousand men, to over thirty-five thousand.
"Think of yourself buried in a hole with only your head and hands outside, holding your rifle, death smelling all over the place. Listen to the sound of exploding bombs, and machine guns. Smoke all over, the vegetation burnt, and of course, deforested. Watch your relatives getting killed, crying out loud, finally dead. These things, we did, experienced and saw."
Béringer survived the war undefeated, though he returned to Selene with Beusuandille in utter defeat in nineteen twenty. The Britannians never caught him, even though they turned it into an African war and set an army on his tail.
But Britannia and Amerique had such reserves in their colonies, that from nineteen thirteen, they deployed them to Sotia.
Ameri general, Urbain Leclerc, had calculated that Amerique could raise up to three hundred thousand from her empire for Sotia; no one believed him. But in fact, they mobilized double that number.
"These Black troops have precisely those qualities needed in the long struggles of modern war: Endurance, tenacity, the instinct for combat, the absence of nervousness, and an incomparable amount of shock. Not only do they enjoy danger, the life of adventure, but they are also essentially disciplinable."
"People started hiding and running away from the camp. There were all kinds of diseases, even psychological illness. People didn't know where we were going, or even why they were fighting. There were rumors that we would never even come back, that we were going to be sold as slaves."- Kande Kamara, African soldier in the Ameri Army
Azhadstan provided Britannia with one and three quarter million men in the war. They've been thrown into some of the toughest fighting from the start. One Azhadstani wrote to a friend.
"The war is a calamity on three worlds, and it has caused me to cross the seas and live here. The cold is so great, that it cannot be described. We have not seen the Sun for four months; thus we are sacrificed. We neither sleep by night nor eat by day. There could never have been such a war before; nor will there ever be again."
Some men, like Paki Tafadzwa, used to the habitual racism of colonial rule, returned home with greater self-esteem.
"We liked our time in Rome; it was our first experience of living in a society without a canopa. We were different from the other people at home. Our behavior, as we shown the Mauritanians, was something more than expected from. We copied the manners and customs of the Sotians; and not only did we copy, we lived them."
But it wasn't the same Africanus that Paki Tafadzwa and many others came back to after the war. The empires which carved it up, now turned parts of it into a wasteland, as Beusuan medic, Gervais Langlois, realized.
"Behind us, we leave destroyed fields, and for the immediate future, starvation. We are no longer the agents of civilization; our path is marked by death, plundering, and deserted villages."
It would be years before African nationalism took off. But a few had begun the journey. In nineteen fourteen, Tatenda Emem challenged the basis of the war, and Africanus' place in it. And his words would haunt colonial officials for years to come.
"Leather rich men, bankers, tight up men; storekeepers, farmers, and landlords, go to war and get shot. Instead; the poor Africans, who have nothing to own in this present world, who in death leave a long line of widows and orphans in utter want, and bad distress, are invited to die for a cause, which is not theirs."
Beusuandille and Belkaland fought a remarkable global war; but it had cost them most of their cruisers, their wireless network, and almost all of their colonies. Yet they forced Britannia and Amerique to call on their empires, and lean on their allies. In the process, these flexed their muscles, and formed empires of their own.
The Great War saw the last Scramble for Africanus. And the ideals that the Belkan military and Black Sun Party had so hated: land grabbing, avarice, and capitalism, had in fact been spread wider. For the moment, imperialism looked more successful than it had ever been.
In the next episode of The Great War, the call goes out for holy war in the Middle East, the nightmare of Gallipoli, and the agony of the Lycian people.
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