[...]The German Winter Assault of 1920 was one of the first combined arms offensive maneuvers in modern history. Over the course of two months, the German army proceeded to advance in a careful, methodical fashion, with concentrated infantry pushes supported by massive artillery barrages. The 2nd and 4th Armies, under the command of Erich Ludendorff and
Herzog Albrecht von Württemberg engaged in successive attempted breakthroughs and encirclements of isolated French forces, pushing the enemy back into Lorraine.[...][...]As ill-maintained as they were, the French in-depth fortifications still proved to be a considerable hindrance for the German
Heer, especially when one takes into account the bravery of the French defenders; but the Germans quickly brought new, innovative weaponry to bear. New ballistic caps were introduced for the use of field artillery and utilised for the first time to penetrate the French bunkers, to great effect. And the 4th Army was the first to utilise the dreaded German
Flammenwerfer for the first time in combat against enemy fixed positions.[...]
[...]A January blizzard slowed the advance after about forty to fifty kilometres from the Rhein, along the Saint-Dié-des-Vosges - Belfort line, where it would remain for the rest of the winter.[...]
-Pierre DeVille, The Lorraine on Fire: a Chronicle of the von Papen Wars, Marseille 1948.
"War is the father of all," said Heraclitus: and the Germans demonstrate the veracity of the argument. In order to break the French fortifications of the Rhein, the Germans develop new ballistic caps for their armor-piercing projectiles. Now shells lose very little velocity when in the air; and they strike harder and deeper. The French bunkers crack like eggshells.
On the 22nd of December, the Ariadne
spot a French convoy in the Mediterranean. They...vaccilate.
It's three days to Christmas. The French still have one battlecruiser around. Is it worth it, to engage?
No, the Germans decide. Better not to take the risk. Also, the Kriegsmarine still has a modicum of respect for their opponents. We are not the army, slaughtering people on the Holy Days. Let the garlic-chewers through.
(Also, let's not risk our ships against a potential battlecruiser)
. The Admiralität
does not lose any sleep over 8 freighters, but the captains of the light cruisers do feel a certain disappointment when they realise that they could have wiped that convoy out pretty easily.
28 December: and the Derfflinger
loses two boilers in a pressure explosion. Eight dead; twenty wounded; and a month in drydock.
Hello, Frau Zelle
. What news from Britain?
Wait, the Redoutable?
Isn't that the British 15-inch response to the Zähringens?
What do you mean it's under construction?
Yeah, it's the old Redout....
. How interesting.'Improved Director'
, I see. She's being refitted!
The Brits are catching up on Fire Control tech. Brilliant. All Germany needed was accurate
15-inch fire from the Brits... Oh mein Gott.
This is delicious
. The ship designers finally
submit their preliminary concepts for a new generation of Zerstörer
. A new generation that will blow everything the opposition has out of the water, figuratively and literally.
Time to go big.
Double Urgle. Goddammit, the French
are outperforming us in submarine warfare?
Yes, alright, the blockade has something to do with that, but 5 German submarines sunk!?
And, um Gottes Willen,
SOMEBODY KILL THAT VERFLUCHTEN
Well, at least we have a new quintet of Piepers
leaving the yards, to deal with the French subs...
January: and the Winter Offensive reports success across all fronts. Ludendorff and von Württemberg have pushed the French out of Elsass - Lothringen, but have been slowed down by one of the most strong blizzards in the last generation. There is no need to push further - both sides settle down for the rest of the winter. The Germans take the opportunity to consolidate, resupply and reinforce their advance positions.
AND THE LORD SPAKE THUSLY: 'THOU SHALT BUILD ME A NEW ZERSTÖRER
AND IT SHALT BE SWOLE'
-DAMMIT! Please tell me that somebody has found that bloody cr-YES! Freya
, you magnificent *****!
I have nothing. Herr
Stroheim, please explain.
March 1921: and the U-Boote
finally manage to extricate their heads from their aft torpedo tubes. Galster deploys them on raids against French patrol ships and coastal traffic: and the U-135 bags herself a French minesweeper.
Not good, by any stretch of the imagination. But better
And, hey, bigger convoys work! French submarine performance drops by around 50%!
You little hero
Oh, great. Another
The little Bremen?
The sister-ship of Frauenlob?
Built in the nineteenth century?
Not properly maintained since 1912?
Catches up to a French cruiser built in (*checks*) 1910?
*Checks stats of Bremen*Crew Quality: Elite
But of course.
And then, because karma's a *****, a French submarine catches Wittelsbach
unawares near the Spanish coast. The escorting Zerstörer
drive her away, and the German ship reaches harbour safely, but she'll be out of action for at least sixty days.
Her station in the Bay of Biscay patroling force is taken up by the Graf Spee
. And on the 21st of April, the Graf
gets to avenge her older sister.
Just before midnight, in a pitch-black, overcast night, the Graf Spee
and the Lützow
are sailing towards the south-east and the Spanish coast, when the faint, directed navigation light of the S15
is obscured by - something
. The lookouts of the Graf
realise, horrified, that there's a completely blacked-out enemy capital ship
less than 500 yards ahead.
The ensuing panicked maneuvering, alarms and all-in-all cluster****
that ensues, results in the Graf
opening up with her main guns against an enemy DD in literally point-blank range (less than a hundred yards
), blowing the enemy ship clear out of the water. The fireball of the enemy torpedoes cooking off is just
enough for the G9
to make out a black shape closing in fast from starboard; and then the French destroyer rams the German ship on the bows, tangling them up together in a mass of twisted metal.
The enemy destroyer manages to bring two deck guns to bear onto the wrecked G9
, firing into her bridge and aft. And then heavy guns boom from the darkness. One shell strikes the G9's
torpedo launchers; one of her torpedoes goes off, carving a chunk out of her hull. Another salvo finds the Graf's
'X' Turret and penetrates it, killing the crew.
But then the Germans fire back. The capitals train their main batteries onto a closing Epee
-class destroyer and nail her with five 12-inch shells, turning her into matchwood. The Lützow
, meanwhile, peppers a nearby French light cruiser with her secondaries.
The cruiser turns to avoid the German fire; and runs straight into a torpedo fired into the melee by the G7
is a charnelhouse, by now, but she still has a torpedo launcher and the enemy battlecruiser is nearby. The Germans desperately turn the launcher around, under constant fire, and dump a spread directly into the Frenchman's path, from less than a kilometre away.
One torpedo finds her mark.
But the French destroyer that has rammed the G9
returns the favour. She has a broadside shot at Lützow
and she takes it, nailing the German Schlachtkreuzer
with a torpedo amidships.
At this point, the S15
has eyes on both the enemy ships. One is a Tourville
, running towards the east. The other, the one G9
has torpedoed, is...
Holy ****, that's a 14-inch gun, 40k-ton behemoth, and the flagship of the French fleet!
The Graf Spee
immediately takes her under fire, pumping two 12-inch shells into her belt.
, mangled by French secondary fire, turns and launches her fish. From a range of 1.5k yards, she scores a single hit, further holing the Guedon's
Meanwhile, the Graf
has found the range
. With all that this implies. I don't think I need to elaborate. You all know what happens when a Zähringen
-class straddles a target at under 5k yards.
is hurt, but not mortally. She is flooding, and her port wing magazine is gone
, but she can still do her cruise speed and she can still bring eight 12-inchers to bear. Problem is, she cannot see anything to shoot at - and signals this to the Graf Spee
proceeds to torpedobeat like a baws [look at the top of the message log], weaving between three French torpedoes, and charges down the French ships.
turns to disengage, but the Graf
is right on her tail, continuously pumping 12-inch shells into her weakly armored aft. Finally, the Lützow
acquires a target, and opens up with main and secondary guns.
As the G7
slip beneath the waves, the Graf
keeps up the withering fire on the Guedon
. **** the Tourville
- get the French supercap!
And they do
get her. At 00:37, the flagship of the French Navy slips under the waves.
It is then - and only
then - that the G9
follows suit. It is almost as if she wanted to make sure that her prey had met her doom, before giving up the ghost.
The Germans pick up their survivors (and many French prisoners) and begin their journey to Gibraltar: there is no
way they're braving the Channel and the French submarine patrols.
What a victory! The French flagship is gone, accompanied by two destroyers. Somehow
that cruiser survives the torpedo strike with minimal damage. The Germans 'only' lose three Zerstörer
, and the little darlings certainly went down swinging!
MVP? The Graf
, beyond any doubt. Fifty
confirmed hits on the enemy ships in total. Surprisingly, French records indicate that the Guedon
was hit more than a hundred and thirty
times by capital-grade weapons. Whether this was the French panicking and miscounting, or whether this meant that the Germans scored more hits than they could confirm in the gloom is debatable; we suspect that the truth lies somewhere in between...
What a victory, indeed! It takes time for the reports to reach the Admiralität
, but when they do, the mood is jubilant. Several Iron Crosses are awarded for this night's work; including to the entire crew of the G9
for their tenacity and valor under fire.
This success breathes new life into the German Fleet - the captains, officers and crewmen are determined not to give the French an inch
anymore. The little obsolete Nymphe
, patrolling the Indian Ocean, engages the enemy cruiser Lelande
as she tries to attack merchant shipping and drives her away, under a hail of 6-inch fire; the Moltke
and Prinz Adalbert
twice drive away the raider Galilee
from German waters.
That's the last straw for the French. They have completely and utterly lost control of the seas; the Germans can, at their discretion, land troops in their northern coast, completely bypassing Belgium and the Netherlands. On the 29th of April, they sue for peace, a peace that the Kaiser outright orders
von Papen to grant them. Germany is at a perfect position to dictate terms and to ensure that she emerges the undisputed ruler of the Kerneuropa
What the utter ****?
"Large territories and considerable war reparations" = 4 victory points.