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The Twist, The US Jumps Into The War In 1915.

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  • The Twist, The US Jumps Into The War In 1915.

    The twist.... US jumps in to the war in 1915.

    Midday 23 Jan 1915 just North of the Dogger Bank after heavy morning fog the SS Mechanicsville a 3500 gross ton (10,000 ton displacement) single stack freighter with a crew of 45 and 222 Belgian refugees and 181 American expat passengers in staterooms and the holds, after delivering load of 850 tons of copper consigned to Denmark (and avoiding the Royal Navy) and now enroute to England is intercepted from the SE by the HMS Undaunted and 4 destroyers. She is mistaken for the SMS Odenwald a KM blockade runner/ collier that is actually interned at the time and the British flottilla moves to engage. The American freighters smoke obscures her jack and the British lamps but a lookout reports the closing warships. Mistaking the ships for Germans the captain makes a turn to the NNE hoping to find a British patrol flottilla- not realizing that is who is chasing him and that he is already to the North of the British naval units. The turn convinces the Undaunted that the ship is trying to run to Sweden and at 1344 she opens fire at 7000yds. She scores her first hit at 1410. the 152mm shell blows through 3 state rooms killing a number of people but leaving the ship mechanically intact. A second hit is scored on the bridge at 1411 killing the captain, all three mates and navigator plus the on duty bridge crew. As a result the ship does not slow down or deviate from her course. Several more shells hit starting large fires. Then at 1421 a shell hits the coal bunker nearly depleted after the long voyage across the Atlantic. The earlier hits have shaken the ship hard and the lifted the near empty bunkers coal dust. As a result the shell hit causes a massive explosion that blows the back third of the ship apart and the stern is underwater within 3 minutes. The rest of the ship is quickly sliding backwards into the depth of the North Sea with no time to launch boats. As the destroyers move in to rescue survivors a look out on one of the war ships gets periscope fever and they pull back for 45 minutes watching the ship go down. By the time the destroyers move back in all but 2 persons have died. The elation in the British flotilla at sinking a blockade runner obviously filled with munitions for the commerce raiders turns to horror... As a result the 1 Phillipino Able bodied seaman and Ms. Tina Vanderhesk a 16 year old Danish American girl who lost both parents in the sinking get front row seats to the sinking of the SMS Blucher the next day.

    The reaction a week later from America is furious. 446 people died in what the American yellow press is calling an act of British Piracy worse than anything America has ever been subjected too before. The press likewise latches on to the British"impressment" of Ms Tina. Several British MP's argue for a quick apology and a promise of better safeguards but another faction led by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill argue that an an apology and loosing of the blockade will only encourage more neutral ships to load down with raw materials desperately needed in Germany. Instead they argue to let the sinking of the Mechanicsville serve as a warning and they prevail.

    This sets off a diplomatic fire storm. The British seizure and transfer to prize courts of 15 more freighters in rapid succession through Feb-April: in reality not uncommon but now fodder for the papers which paint a tale of a secret British war on US commerce waged to insure Britain's post war economic advantage. The tales of secret attacks make much better print than simply reporting how many thousand men died in France today. As happened in real life most people ignored the German warnings about the RMS Lusitania and the German declaration of a war zone around the British Isles and she dutifully and tragically enters the history books with 1198 souls on May 7, 1915. The loss of so many lives outrages the Americans and that rage is naturally directed the passenger killing British Navy and for once the German's are not hungry for a big helping of foot in mouth stew and they remain quiet. The British know they've been had... they know the Germans did it, but they also know what the Lusitanian was carrying. So once again the never apologize faction wins out. In fact the British Ambassador in Washington D.C. delivers a message to President Wilson in response to a formal American protest from PM Asquith stating only that the British government is confident that the trade links between the US and UK and the flow of loans will continue despite the recent unpleasantness...

    Upon being completely blown off by the British, Wilson always a prideful imperious man, but a humanitarian has Charles Hamlin the chairman of the Federal Reserve stop all NEW British Loans that were pending and to require payment in gold when servicing existing loans. While neither American intends this as a long term punishment, more a nose tweak to get some respect, the reaction in London is more extreme. Because of light pre-war gold holdings by the Bank of England and the continued existence of the London Gold Market sparked a panic when the news arrived just after lunch. Not unlike what would be seen in 1929 when radio and automobile stocks collapsed the panic ran like wildfire as speculators feared the loss of convertibility of gold stocks the next day.. This quickly spread to silver and the pound sterling and the other currencies pegged to the Royal Sovereign got flooded by speculators holding French and Belgian paper while it was still convertible.

    By the close of business the bank of England was facing a balance sheet disaster. The contracts she was being forced to sing for the delivery of specie while not much in total terms would end up hammering the pound sterling if the Americans did not re-extend credit. Plus any long delay would quickly exhaust the private ad public Gold reserves on the Island of Great Britain. Hamlin listened with dread as the reports of the panic came across the trans-Atlantic cables and without even talking to President Wilson cabled the governor of the Bank of England to inform him that the loan restriction would last no more than 7 days in total.

    So while the Bank of England got the proper message, the crowds near the Western Union Telegraph branch quickly morphed the message as they played the game telephone with thousands of ears. The message transformed from one of reassurance to a total restriction of all British loans in 7 days. Here the British government and its bell helmet bobbies lost control as thousands of young men already in a militant mood and waiting shipment to training centers as part of Kitchener's New Army marched on the port of London and the American vessels anchored there. What resulted as a night of fire that ended up leaving scores people dead and injured and 6 ships, sunk, on fire or sinking at the quays. Then one of the 6, an ammunition ship which had been abandoned to fire after the crew opened the sea cocks exploded. The ship had settled into the mud and not lost watertight integrity once the sea cocks were blocked. When the fire reached a load of explosives intended for the newly formed Royal Engineer mining companies in France the whole ship exploded, she took another ammunition ship with her and all told 2,213 tons of ordnance exploded.

    The explosion at the port of London was not nearly as big as Black Tom Island, but was even more densely packed than Texas City. 3200 people are known to have died in the immediate area of the port and broken glass at Buckingham Palace severely lacerated the arm of Mary of Teck. Big Ben stopped turning forever and the Tower of London had several sections of stone and mortar rocked loose. Most tragically to blood and cultural was the fate of the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace once iconic symbol of the London's World Fair shattered and collapsed under the shock wave burying hundreds of young recruits who had been sightseeing in London for the first time.

    It also knocked out the telegraph line in London, deafened most members of Parliament and other high ranking British leaders and government servants. For the First time since the laying of the first cable London went silent- those in power could neither say nor hear.... Other locations however reported a huge explosion in London
    By the end of the day.....

    to be continued
    Last edited by zraver; 21 Nov 11,, 04:01.

  • #2
    by the end of the day the nation was in mourning even as multiple city blocks still burned. Much like Texas City the first explosion had atomized the on scene fire companies and fire boats. More companies were beginning to arrive but for much of the day New Army recruits had worked side by side with bankers, lawyers and shop keepers hauling water in anything they could to try and fight the massive blaze.

    Earlier the speed of the Telegraph was demonstrated. close to the explosion the sound propagation had out run the telegraph stations. As a result well over 100 people lost all or part of their sight as the shock wave hit windows and blew them into microscopic shards or razor sharp glass. a large proportion of the wounded were housewives looking out of plate glass windows at the rising cloud of smoke. However by the time the now subdued dull rolling boooooom reached Coventry the telegraph messages had sped ahead of the sound propagation.

    However fast messages got sent out of the areas near London, no messages were coming in or going out of the city itself. The center of worlds largest Empire, the center of global banking and commerce, the capitol that put other kings on the thrones of other capitols was as silent as the grave as far as the telegraph was concerned. A few motor carriages and motorcylces were doing dispatch duty but mostly locally. Although no members of Parliament, the admiralty or other senior leaders had died, few could yet hear again.

    Yet as the sun set bobbies re-appeared on the streets, relief kitchens were set up and a hectic but very proper British calm returned. Yet that calm masked a danger that would ultimately propel two of the worlds leading sea powers into an alliance against the third. As he was wont to do Chief of the Imperial General Staff james Wolfe-Murray was unable to provide Feild Marshal Haig with guidence. Wolfe-Murray was too engaged in the relief efforts in London. He should have delegated but he didn't. As a result the highest ranking army officer in the British Army was commanding company sized units. The person Wolfe-Murray usually deffered to Lord Kitchener had left London the day before for a bit of a breather. This left Sir John French free of any control but Joffres... and he was quick to order a brigade of the 1st Canadian division to counter attack to try and regain a bit of the ground that Plumber had given up on 1 May. French knowing London was quiet quickly (by the standards of the time) approved Alderson's request to send in the highlanders. The hope was that the highlanders with the Royal Montreal and the Canadian Scottish leading could catch a retreating Landshwer regiment that had just failed in a minor probing attack and thus get across the trenches and create a breach.

    However, as fast as Alderson and French moved, the hobnailed boots of the Germans moved quicker and the Canadians were barely a third of the way across no mans land when the maxims opened up. Yet the Canadians pressed on and the Seaforth Highlanders made the German lines. However they could not hold alone and were forced back leaving nearly 100 dead and dying British Columbians behind to be taken prisoner. The Germans quickly policed up the wounded and began to interrogate the least seriously injured- which as it turned out were 11 Americans from Bellingham Washington who had volunteered with the Canadians. They had been knocked out by the concussive force of a German 25cm trench mortar shell exploding in the crater next to them. By the time they regained their wits they were prisoners.

    The Americans were quickly passed back through the lines, initially just to get them out of the combat zone. But as non of the Americans spoke German and as they bayoneted guard after bayoneted guard the 11 volunteers reached the conclusion that they had been deemed spies and were being marched back to a special execution field- the Germans being efficient like that. By the time the Americans reached the rear areas not far from the Duke of Wuttermburgs forward HQ the sight of increasing numbers of older men in pristine uniforms and thus obviously officers assembled for a special courts martial the Americans broke. They simply sat down..... The German guards didn't know what to do. They worked in shifts and assumed the Americans were simply tired so the guards stopped as well and a few lit pipes filled with Ottoman tobacco. Major-General Ilse the chief of staff for the 4th Army who had been forward noticed the lollygagging and demanded to know why... and was told it was a group of Americans and they had simply sat down. upon hearing they were Americans the general summoned an interpreter. Having recently been back in Germany in consultations with Falkenhyen, Ilse had been briefed and the growing Anglo-American split. Yet here was a group of Americans fighting for King George and St George. By the time an English speaker had been found a number of the generals feidl grade officers had wandered over and the poor Germans guards were as stiff as iron statues. When the general began asking questions Private Harold Erickson blurted out that they had been captured by mounties and impressed into the Canadian Army and that they preferred Germany and they had all played dead to get away from the Canadians. That was of course a lie, but....

    to be continued....


    • #3
      That was of course a lie but it was not dissimilar from what the Germans were doing in Russian Poland with native Poles and Russian POWs, granted they needed their backs not their trigger fingers...

      So the story resonated with the German officers and suddenly a bunch of former loggers turned adventurers were a cause celeb. Within a few hours they had given the "latest" version of the story to a German war correspondent. They all agreed they were at least 20 miles inside the American border and they saw dozens of other Americans brought in as well.

      After the interview the Americans were loaded on a train and sent to Germany. Where over the next few months- even after their lie was known to the rest of the world- the German press and propaganda arms made hay. First domestically, then internationally and then domestically again.

      The first allied warriors to begin seeing the story did not begin to see it until September when French soldiers who over ran the first line of German trench at the Second Battle of Champagne found multiple copies of the story among divisional press releases. For the most part it was ignored- it did not involve Frenchmen after all. Then late in the month a Canadian trench raiding party meant to blood part of the newly arrived 2nd Canadian Division near Ypres recovered a copy. That its was the 29th is on of those strange twists in war. The 29th was from Vancouver and had a few Americans in it, although not as many as most of the adventurers had joined up with the 1st Canadian. But among the handful of yanks there was one in the 29th who knew one of the supposed yanks in the German paper. he mentioned it to his leader and so it passed the line, then to the 1st divisions and down where the 2 yanks actually pictured were confirmed by comrades as missing on the dates the Germans claim to have captured them. The names listed for the rest of the yanks matched as well. As far as the 1st Divisions was concerned it was a non-issue. Other than updating their casualty reporting the divisions stayed focused on the job at hand- Germans not Yanks.

      The issue might have died there, except that for dumb luck. The Germans had not tried sending the story to the US, even using the diplomatic codes provided to the German Empire by the USA. For whatever reason the Germans did not see how a story by just 11 men- mostly Norwegian immigrants from a backwaters backwater could inflame a nation that still prided itself as a Anglo-Francophile nation. The run of well timed bold coups seemed to be over and it was back to foot in mouth stew, but they did send it East.

      In Turkey a partial version of the story caught the attention of Jeremiah Blyse an international door to door life insurance salesman for New York Life late of the Armenian areas and now headed to the battle lines around the Egyptian border. He thought the story was interesting reading, but the ships coming after him did not so he sent it by Western Union to hos boss on Long Island. The insurance company had already paid for the shipment of messages at the higher rate of the commercial cable so no one at Room 40 flagged it. As a it passed through unmolested. By anyone but the UNB... the story already sensationalist didn't need much embellishing, just add a few more numbers...

      The next morning the story ran lead on every Hearst owned newspaper- 44 dead, 11 captive, Americans from small border community forced to fight for the English King. The papers even had quotes from a retired Prussian general who had settled in Philadelphia expounding on how this proved the British not the Germans were the Huns. Of course that Prussian never existed, but then Hearst never needed him to.

      to be continued...
      Last edited by zraver; 21 Nov 11,, 22:55.


      • #4
        As happened 18 years earlier the crowds were out on the news that the Canadians were kidnapping Americans to fight for Britain. The Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. was the home of some very nervous people likely saying, "whats going on aye." As the diplomatic corps had national papers delivered and if they wanted American News they were more likely to read the New York Times over something Hearst printed.

        The media baron was of course in hog heaven selling millions of papers. The anti-British tirade had died down after the explosion in London but now the British were back on the enemies list.Two days later his papers ran a lead story from one of the supposed wives of one of the dead Americans. The story was spun from whole cloth but it kept story alive as the nation moved from September into October. Then violence real violence... well kinda erupted along the US Canadian border near Blaine Washington. When the original story reached the border area everyone knew it was a joke...

        They knew those guys worked with them and had seen them off in 1914 as they traded double bits for the double quick so they could see The Elephant. But that didn't matter, it was an excuse to get drunk and steal across the border for some fun... The drunk loggers, trappers and a few prospectors dubbed themselves the 1st Blaine Volunteers headed north over the border and stumbled half drunk and half stupid into Abbotsford. Here their grand plan fell apart. The difference between war and friendly tussle is in a tussle everyone knows its just for fun...

        The problem for the invaders is no one told the mounties. Who after what had been going on in the bigger American cities and having its source supposedly right here were not in a mood for games.... but are they ever? So a gang of 30-40 drunk Americans wobbled down mainstreet towards a line of 8 mounted mounties. When the the two sides were about 20 yards apart the mounties horses suddenly jumped forward and the mounties were among the Americans swinging riding crops. It was a rout, cavalry might not do well vs the maxim machine gun in France but it ruled main street abbotsford... that is until a mounties pony stepped in a wagon rut and snapped its right cannon bone with a sound not unlike a gunshot.

        A Mountie who heard it turned his head to see the horse go down and the rider go flying into a group of 7 or 8 Americans. Who were of course overjoyed at being able to give some back. The Mountie, a man trained to think quick but react quicker, who watched his comrade get pitched headfirst in a bad situation, who had heard the crack and saw the thrashing horse pulled a his Colt New Service revolver and opened fire. The pop, pop, pop of real gun fire got everyone's' attention. Soon 2 more Mounties opened fire and the American Mob already in flight was transformed into a howling screaming band of pansies drunk running for the line as fast as they could stumble.

        The RNWMP did not pursue. The cost of the battle was 2 dead Americans, 3 wounded. The Canadian side lost a horse, a nose 2 teeth, 13 bullets unaccounted for and 3 bullets suspected POW interned inside Americans.

        However even as the loggers were retreating the Blaine detachment of the Washington National Guard was hastily being woken up and ordered to assemble. At around midnight the freshly assembled troops and a crowd of towns people were informed the Canadians were invading. In fact 4 mounties were leading a wagon driven by a local Abbotsford freight driver with the bodies of the dead loggers.

        Not knowing the guard had been called up and supremely confident in their ability to handle the locals the RNWMP unit was suddenly faced with a 50 man rifle line with bayonets fixed. No shots rang out but the Whiskey War had its first real POWs. The RCMP riders who had not crossed the border waited in vain for the return of their compatriots. As the sun began to crest over the Cascades the 3 hale riders lead the 4th who could not see due to a broken nose away from the border and towards the telegraph station.

        soon the war moved to a different phase as Lt Gov Barnard and Premier McBride of British Columbia traded Western Union broad sides from Vancouver Island with Gov Lister of Washington who was also arguing with the commanders of the Washington State Guard and the Washington Army national Guard. Eventually Gov. Lister decided to hand the the 4 RNWMP troopers over for trial for murder. The Canadians strongly objected but were rebuffed. Post-war Lister would comment he didn't want a lynching by a vigilante mob, but would have taken that over what he ended up with.

        As the political leadership traded barbs the American military presence continued to grow as a few more members of the national guard showed up. But the biggest addition of "trained troops was a detachment of state guard machine guns. By night fall the force in Blaine included 63 national guard riflemen, 22 state guardsmen operating 3 Gatling guns and 61 local volunteers about half mounted. The 4 RNWMP troopers were largely on their own. Only about 18 men with rifles had arrived. The best men had already volunteered and were gone. With no local reserves to call on near Abbotsford, Lt Gov Barnard had to put out a call for volunteers on Vancouver Island and within an hour 300 or more people had arrived at the quays- most completely unarmed and untrained.

        too be continued.
        Last edited by zraver; 22 Nov 11,, 02:51.


        • #5
          As tensions built near Blaine Washington and the Canadians near Abbottsford began to sweat bullets. America was the one sweating in and around Puget Sound, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island and Vancouver. The Canadian naval force was just 2 small vessels- submarines that could wreak havoc on the merchant and naval traffic in the sound and slide right past the triangular forts. The much larger US naval force including the cruisers Albany, West Virginia and South Dakota (reduced commission). Yet American officers were worried about the impact of the submarines in the confined spaces- the loss of so many allied ships when the British and French tried to force passage of the Dardanelles. Plus if a shooting war develops the US commanders want to wait on support from California to make sure the Imperial Japanese Navy's North America squadron can be defeated.

          If the passage into the open ocean was or could be cleared.... the American captains are all but salivating at the chance to get into open water and start a race to Vladivostock becuase some where out there is the HCMS Rainbow dutifully and ploddingly transferring $140,000,000 million dollars (Canadian 1917 rate) worth of gold. Putting a gold ship into prize court is a dream not dreamed since the age of fighting sail ended. But the fear of the torpedo keeps the American ships low in Puget Sound.

          On the other side of the world everyone is trying to figure how to pull the US in on their side. If the US can patch things up with the UK, the British Isles are safe, if the US sides with Germany, victory isn't assured but an Imperial German- American alliance might finally be the foe to bring down the heirs of Nelson.

          In D.C., Berlin and London everyone is waiting on Wilson to decide. But even Wilson is undecided. In discussions with Hamlin he is considering a freeze of Us loans to belligerents since if the US ends up at war with the UK the billions owed by France and England are unlikely to ever be repaid. Hamlin has actually advocated throwing in on the side of the allies simply to secure the debt owed the US. General Funston, Sec War Baker and others are trying to develop plans to launch, sustain and win an invasion of Canada. America has tried several times and failed and the current peace time army with less than 30,000 effective does not seem to offer much in the way of success. The various state national guard units offer numbers but few are anywhere near ready to go to war. meanwhile Canada has a fully formed divisions finish up training for shipment to France in early 1916. For the moment Canada has the superior ground combat force.

          In Berlin the Kaiser is welcoming the thought of a US alliance. grand visions of a unified battle fleet dance in his head. Hipper and Scheer would also welcome a US alliance. They don't think they will be able to link up, but an American entry on the side of Germany will force the Royal navy to drastically reduce the Grand Fleet to face a new foe. Admiral Holtzenhof doesn't really care about what America can add to the German effort, or take away from the allied effort except in one area... An American entry on the side of Germany would deny the UK a huge merchant fleet.

          Falkenhyen, Ludendorff and Hindenburg all want a US alliance for one reason- reduce allied men and material available for use in Europe or Russia. Yet of all Germany's leaders none is praying for an American alliance more than Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. Adm Holtzenhof's continued insistence on unrestricted submarine warfare is giving the German Chancellor nightmares of an endless stream of Yankee men and material flowing into France. The sinking of the Lusitania gave him nightmares. He still doesn't understand how the Americans ended up blaming the British for the loss of a British ship.

          His nightmare which he briefly sketched out saw Germany starving by 1917 and the end of the German Reich as France seized the Alsace-Lorraine, Saarland and still imposed reparations designed to force Germany to become an agricultural void in the middle of Europe.

          In London David Lloyd George's Coalition Government is still trying to get the war effort running right. To them the one thing America that must be preserved is massive credit lines. Sir Douglas Haig rarely gave the other side of the Atlantic any thought. But now Smith-Dorien and Alderson are trying to figure out how to pull the 2 Canadian divisions out of the line. Meanwhile the Canadian 3rd div newly arrived in France is sitting at Le Harve in case it has to re-embark for a dash home.

          Yet as difficult as that planning is, the soldiers have a simple straightforward job. Not so for a troika of senior admirals trying to figure out how to contain the High Seas Fleet and the American Atlantic fleet. Fisher, Beatty and Jellicoe have the biggest theater to operate in, but force the UK to bet the bank if they guess wrong. They are waiting on a reply from Lacaze the newly installed minister of the navy. The British admirals have asked for the release of the Courbet class and the brand new Bretagne class dreadnoughts. The 6 French vessels are not the best sea keepers but they bring a lot of heavy guns an nearly even out what the US might add to the match up. Sitting off to the side is a proposal by former first Lord Winston Churchill with First Lord Balfour's cautious endorsement to at least look at the idea of using a British submarine force to ambush and sink the brand new US super dreadnought the USS Arizona in an attempt to frame the Germans and help preserve the Grand Fleet's gun power advantage.

          to be continued...


          • #6
            To: Commander Puget Sound Naval Station Bremerton
            From Department of the Navy, commander US Pacific Fleet Admiral Winslow

            Run down of USN deployments along the US West Coast or the Pacific side of Central America.

            In Mexico and Central America: USS Wisconsin BB-9 Illinois Class battleship 12150t. USS Raleigh C-8 Cincinnati Class Protected Cruiser 3200t. USS Cleveland C-19 Denver Class Protected Cruiser 3200t. USS Denver CL-16 Denver Class protected 3200t.

            Oregon USS Marblehead C-11 unarmored cruiser 2072t

            California and West Coast Patrol: USS Oregon BB3 Indiana Class battleship 10288t. USS St Louis C-20 St Louis class protected cruiser 9700t, USS Milwaukee C-21 St Louis class protected cruiser 9700t

            Warning Imperial Japanese head Quarters has at this time not released the IJN Hizen Retvizan class battleship 12708t. IJN Asama Asama class cruiser 9700t currently anchored in Victoria Harbor for possible action against the US. However we believe that such a request for release has or is likely to be made through London on behalf of Canada.

            I am placing Admiral Howard in command upon his arrival in Seattle via Portland

            You are authorized to approach the state governors to begin a call up of the Washington and Oregon naval militias.



            • #7
              If nothing else, this is an enjoyable read ... I'd buy it on Kindle, Zraver! :)


              • #8
                The week passed with a slow let off in tension. The only "ongoing" escalation seemed to be naval reservists were reporting for duty in Bremerton and Portland the crowds in the major cities began to die off. The standoff at the border had not resulted in any more shootings and it was beginning to look like the only result was going to be some RNWMP Mounties being tried for murder by the US Courts. Yet behind behind this apparent thaw, a new crisis was budding, and it was in far off Asia and Asia would be the shot heard round the world.

                The US Asiatic Fleet Headquarters at Cavite in the Phillipines had little to fear of the British. The Royal Navy had been reduced to coastal and river gun boats in China. The new Australian navy was in Europe and the Japanese had split their force into quarters. One quarter operating into the Indian ocean out of Singapore, one quarter protecting the Anzac nations, one quarter assisting the Royal navy from the cape of Good Hope up into the Med. The other quarter was assigned to home island duties by the Japanese navy. On paper it looked like the Philippines was safe. But looks can be deceiving. The US Asiatic Fleet and even the Pacific fleet had been the step children of the navy for some time. Thanks to the out spoken Roosevelt's- Former President Theodore and his cousin Undersecretary to the Navy Franklin Delano with the support of Admiral Mahan efforts by the Wilson Administration to divide the battle fleet along both coasts had gone nowhere. As a result the Pacific fleet had 2 battleships, one only by virtue of the summer's previous midshipman's cruise. The Asiatic fleet had none. It did have 5 destroyers that together barely massed the weight of two of the navy's new O'Brien class destroyers. The Pacific fleet could add 7 more light destroyers.In fact until the tensions the navy was making plans to designate all 16 of the original US destroyers, now terribly underweight and outgunned as coastal torpedo boats. Of those 16, only 2 were not in the Pacific or Asiatic fleets. Of the more modern destroyers neither fleet had a single one. The biggest guns of the fleet were the four 10" guns of the USS Monadnock- an Amphrimite class monitor and the last one still in full commission. The Monadnock was little more than a harbor defense ship for Manila bay, a job she was joined in by navies 9 oldest submarines A2 through 7 and the three b class boats. Those submarines also known as pig boats for the horrible crew conditions did not have the range anything like that of the German U-boats attacking the Allies. They could patrol the entrance to Manila bay but not much farther. The fleets only modern ship the USS Brooklyn was placed in commission about the same time most of her crew were being born.

                This weak force of 2 old capitol ships, 5 obsolete destroyers and 9 short ranged patrol submarines as well as 8 or so gun boats was all that stood between Japan and and the conquest of the Philippines. Yet the US and most of the world was focused on Europe, and if not there the Pacific Northwest. No one had really paid attention to the Japanese naval build up except the British. Counting all the active vessels and those that could be placed in commission in the Pacific Fleet and adding them to the Asiatic Fleet the US had 2 pre-dreadnought battleships, 9 cruisers, 12 destroyers and 9 submarines split among 3 locations. The US also did not anything Room 40, likely becuase the UK still controlled 2/3rds of the worlds cable traffic. US naval intelligence was most commonly via seamen on shore leave telegraphing the war department who they saw where, or chance encounters between USN vessels and the warships of another nation.

                The US might have had time to notice this imbalance after its creation by Mahan and the Roosevelts, except for a bright young Japanese officer whose name would become forever connected with a day of infamy. Isoroku Yamamoto was nearly done with his studies at the naval war college when as a graduation exercise he was tasked with commanding a table top fleet of Japanese dreadnoughts against a table top fleet of American dreadnoughts commanded by one of his classmates. With the fixation on dreadnought vs dreadnought encounters no one had noticed there were no US dreadnoughts to fight. All US battleships excepting two pre-dreadnoughts were on the Atlantic Coast. Yamamoto noticed this and the seed was planted. With in a few weeks that seed has taken root, been passed up the line and Yamamoto had been hastily graduated promoted to naval major and sent to the IJN Kashima as its first mate and executive officer.

                He and the Kashima along with 6 other pre-dreadnougths and an escort of destroyers quietly began vanishing in late October. That quiet disappearance was the first sign. The next sign that all was not well with the Empire of Japan was the sudden arrival of 120 Japanese sailors and marines leaving in the Hizen's lifeboats and towed by a charted harbor tug before landing along the Canadian side of the American border.

                By then the border had settled down, Washington State isn't all that cold in late fall and early winter- if you stay dry. But it is wet, very wet. 265 days a year of rain somewhere in Puget Sound. That type of weather naturally serves to discourage standoffs and it had a predictable effect- the state guard machine gun company had released half its men and the national Guard had released two thirds. All the volunteers had gone home, though many lived locally. Now suddenly it was the Americans who were out numbered and out gunned and the enemy wasn't even Canadian. The RNWMP Mounties tried to get the Japanese to go back, but they resolutely ignored that request with polite deference to orders from their captain and they were only doing what they were told.

                Almost from their arrival the Japanese began causing incidents... one the first night 3 Japanese sailors stole across the border and raided a chicken coop, the next day a patrol "strayed" across the border until challenged by a patrol of the Washington National Guard. The incidents slowly escalated, But by now the public had lost interest and it was no longer selling papers and so few noticed until on December 5th. The only people who seemed to care were all local and they did care. The Washington national Guard had recalled its men as had the state guard. This had lead to even more encounters between the two sides. Although the Japanese government denied firing the first shot witnesses from both the Canadian and American side of the borders reported differently. The result of the December 5th shootout was 4 dead guardsman and the capture of 2 more.

                Within hours the Japanese government had summoned ambassador Guthrie to account for his nations hostile actions against the Empire of Japan and to issue a formal protest. Guthrie duly cabled Washington D.C. However D.C. was just getting the first reports of the shooting itself and was not able to answer right away. But the storm of diplomatic cables had started. By December 6th the news papers were selling again and so where cables between governments. The UK was slow to catch on but figured it out first. Yet they needed Japanese martial help and still were not favorably received by the US having been forced to begin liquidating assets to service and secure loans after Hamlin and Wilson announced the new non-discriminatory gold based loans to belligerents program. Yet they knew a war between the US and the Empire of Japan would pull the UK in to it one someones side.

                In D.C. the Americans were growing increasingly frustrated. They would answer one Japanese cable only to be hit with another saying something at odds with the previous cable. What they not know is Japanese agents in the Philippines and North America along with a few large steamers had been waiting for a specific set of conditions and as December 6 rolled into December 7 they got it.

                The morning of December 7, 1915 was cold wet and foggy at 1 A.M. when the IJNs Hizen and Azama pulled themselves away from their quays and steamed out of Victoria. Attempts by the harbor master and pilot to get them to reply were ignored. By the time the sun began to come up in Washington D.C., up both ships had made a daring blacked out high speed dash past the triangular forts and were into Puget Sound undetected. It was about that time that the Japanese Ambassador to the United States hand delivered a message to the White House announcing that the Empire of Japan felt compelled to declare that a state of war existed.

                President Wilson was still waiting on the arrival of his cabinet to discuss what the declaration of war meant when two new cables arrived. The first from the Phillipines was about the Second Battle of Manila bay. The report claimed the loss of the USS Monadnock and 3 destroyers to a fleet of a dozen Japanese dreadnoughts. In reality it was a force of 7 pre-dreadnoughts and some destroyer escorts. Regardless the USN was not going to win this one.the second from Washington state was reporting that there appeared to be enemy warships inside the northern part of Puget Sound doing extensive damage to merchant shipping.

                In London and Berlin ministers and advisers were called as the news reached Europe.... what now?

                to be continued....

                Naval Reserve (Puget Sound)- USS Colorado ACR-7, USS Maryland ACR-8, USS Charelston (C-22)

                Asiatic Fleet: USS Bainbridge DD1*, USS Barry DD2*, USS Chauncy DD,3 USS Dale DD4*, USS Decatur DD5, submarines A2 through 7, B class x 3, USS Brooklyn (CA-3), USS Monadnock*

                *= sunk at the second Battle of Manila Bay.

                Pacific Fleet- USS Hopkins DD6, USS Hull DD7, USS Paul Jones DD10, USS Perry DD11, USS Preble, DD12 USS Truxton, DD14 USS Whipple, DD15, USS Pittsburg CA-4, USS Maryland ACR-8,

                Panama Canal Duty- USS Stewart DD13

                IJN Fuji, IJN Shikishima, IJN Asahi, IJN Mikasa,IJN Mishima, IJN Katori, IJN Kashima
                Last edited by zraver; 23 Nov 11,, 08:04.


                • #9
                  As the morning continued the news reaching Washington D.C. was grim. it was confirmed that the two Japanese warships that had been based at Victoria had penetrated past the Triangular forts and were now loose and on the hunt. They were now just outside of the Seattle-Bremerton area chasing everything before them. However they were not proceeding faster than their targets seemingly content to drive the various merchant ships and fishing ships south. This was given the US navy cruisers in Bremerton time to get up a head of steam but it would be a hard fought battle. The battleship Hizen was old but powerful.

                  The Japanese vessels were finally engaged by the 3 US cruisers about 9 AM. Between them the USS Albany, West Virginia and South Dakota mounted 8x 8" guns and 34x 6" guns and 7x 18" torpedo tubes. The Japanese had 2x 12" guns, 4x 8" guns, 30x 6" guns 6x 15" torpedo tubes, 5x 14" torpedo tubes and 45 mines. The Americans had numbers and mass, but the Japanese 12" shells might wreck an American vessel in a single hit. As the two sides spotted each other they both began a series of turns. The Japanese to get turned out and the Americans to bring more guns into play. Early firing by both sides was ineffective but as the Americans slowly closed the range the South Dakota put several 6" shots into the Asama. The shots didn't do much damage but the Japanese captain fearing he had been bracketed heeled the ship over in a radical turn in the other direction. This drastically cut her forward speed and let the Americans close to within 3000 yards. More hits followed in rapid succession including at least one 8" shell that knocked out the aft turret machinery room.

                  The US captains scented blood when the Asama began another turn that would let them close even further when suddenly the USS Albany was shattered by a massive explosion that nearly broke her in two. She was soon dead in the water and clearly doomed. The captains of the two big armored cruisers assumed it had been a 12" hit from the Hizen which had been firing steadily but ineffectively. As such they didn't change course except to cut Asama's turn. What they didn't know was that the Asama had turned in behind mines dropped by the Hizen. Thus the American cruisers blundered into the minefeild. Both quickly struck sea mines. Neither would sink but the cost was over a 130 sailors dead. The mines let the Japanese ships retreat north where they ran the triangular forts who together only managed a single hit on the Hizen which did little more than destroy the ships galley and several berthing spaces with 5 dead Japanese sailors. once free and into the open waters the Japanese vessels made for Japan.

                  In Manila bay where the battle had started about the time the Hize and Azama reached the open ocean- the number of US losses continued to climb as the Japanese continued the attack. Although here the Americans did get a bit of payback. A5 managed to slip past the destroyer escorts and get into the path of the advancing Japanese battle line that was advancing into the mouth of the bay at 14 knots, twice the submarines best submerged speed and too fast for the big Endicott guns to track on. Yet A-5 managed to put her single 18" torpedo into the bulkhead between the IJNS Asahi's machinery and engine rooms room knocking out rudder control and power. As the battleship had just started to react to the torpedo and started turn the hit locked the ship into the direction of the turn and the hole caused by the damage deeper under water and broadside to the current and she was left drifting.

                  The Japanese commander immediately ordered two destroyers to assist but the drifting battleship quickly took 3 more hits, 2 from the A5 and 1 from A3 and she capsized before more than a handful of her crew could get off the stricken vessel. The two destroyers then began a hunt for the American subs but failed to find them. That was to be America's only success in combat that day in the Philippines. By noon, they had sunk another destroyer and 4 gun boats as well as a number of merchant vessels. The final American destroyer and 4 gun boats managed to exit the bay as did the American submarines that evening. The sole American cruiser had left port a week earlier to make a trip to Hawaii and so was spared.

                  The result that of the 3 biggest groupings of US navy ships in the pacific 2 had been devastated. What remained was clearly not even a 2nd rate navy, maybe not a 3rd rate navy. Japan was effectively the only real navy outside of the Atlantic.

                  In the various capitols the days battles were top news. In Ottawa the 3rd Canadian Division was quickly ordered to prepare for movement to the border while the government tried to figure out what was going on. Lt Gov Barnard was unable to provide any answers as he did not learn about the departure of the Japanese vessels until he had awoke that morning. This meant London was left in the dark as well. They felt like they were between a rock and hard place. The American battle fleet concentrated on the US East Coast would completely shift the balance of naval power so they did not want war, especially with the Grand Fleet so far away and unable to contest the Americans if they decided to sortie. At the same time they were allies with Japan and a refusal to honor that alliance put imperial possessions in the Indian Ocean and Pacific at risk. Besides getting little information, the Japanese ambassador had no yet delivered a reply from the Japanese government in response to a British query. meanwhile the Canadian and British Ambassadors in Washington had both been summoned to the White House and had not yet reported back. To make things more worrisome Room 40 was reporting activity among the High Seas Fleet.

                  Berlin was quick to offer the US an alliance against Japan. Not that Germany could offer anything and the obvious hope was Germany and USA vs Japan would end up with the US formally joining the Central Powers. Yet Ambassador Zimmerman who had been waiting all day to speak with Wilson or a high ranking member of his cabinet had not yet had an audience. Instead he had been trading pleasantries with the British and Canadian ambassadors. In Kiel the German admiralty had already issued orders to provision the High Seas fleet with the best stocks of coal and foodstuffs.

                  In Tokyo, the day's news even tempered as it was by the loss of the Asahi was still buoyant. It seemed as if Japan had pulled off another Tushima. Supremely confident with victory they expected the United Kingdom to throw in with her, if not know after learning that the Imperial Japanese Army was ashore. It was scheduled to land in 72 hours when the Japanese navy claimed it would have removed the American submarine threat. When the Japanese landed, they would be facing the Philippine division and the Philippine Constabulary.

                  In Manila/Cavite the mood was almost panic. Nobody had expected the light forces of the Asiatic squadron to stand up in battle. That was the job of the forts, and they failed. The garrisons had been caught off guard and the gunnery had been a huge disappointment. Not a single one of the big 10-14" Endicott guns had hit a Japanese battleship and the lighter guns had at the outset been ignored as the forts commanders tried to make sure the big guns were fully manned and by the time they realized the rate of fire was too slow the fleet had sped past. Everyone expected an invasion next and US Army Philippine division was already mobilizing and drawing equipment while the Constabulary was called up for militia duties.

                  In Washington the mood was somber, but divided. President Wilson knew America was at war but with who was not quite clear. On one side lead by Undersecretary for the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt argued for the US to go to war with Britain and coordinate with the Germans to sink the Grand Fleet. The other side was lead by Sec War Lindley M Garrison who argued to ignore the British Empire and to concentrate on Japan. It was a strange effort, FDR was normally an anglophile and Garrison had been pushing for a continental army. But FDR had bet on an East Coast battle fleet and it was the West Coast that was hit and if the battle fleet didn't get into action soon it was his career that would sink. Garrison had been arguing for a standing army of 140,000 with reserves of 400,000. But opposition in Congress had kept the standing army to 29,000 stateside backed by the National Guard. He was under no illusions about what would happen if the Canadian 3rd Division with 15,000 crossed the border headed south.

                  to be continued...
                  Last edited by zraver; 24 Nov 11,, 06:29.


                  • #10
                    Interesting, where's the rest though?


                    • #11
                      Life happened


                      • #12
                        and so will dead chicks and celine dion very soon...


                        • #13
                          Nah, its got me thinking about it again.


                          • #14

                            I'll be anticipating it.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by zraver View Post
                              Nah, its got me thinking about it again.
                              Then I will hold off on the Kittens
                              Human Scum. Proud Never Trumper