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Bill101

1914 March on Paris AAR

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Reinforcements are arriving!

We have one British division and three French to deploy, so the British occupy Versailles and the French form up in front of them. De Castelnau, one of our best generals, has arrived to command the defense.

1914-10-06paris_zps17c13e09.gif

Epernay is liberated to the north east of Paris, and further south, to stop von Moltke crowing about his successes against the BEF, they destroy the German division that was occupying Fontainebleau. Never, ever, underestimate the British soldier, Mr Moltke!

Foch’s survivors also take a toll of the enemy – even though they can only follow the last orders he gave from his Headquarters before it was overrun by the enemy. But his last orders were to stand firm and attack the Boche wherever he can be found, and they are doing so just as well now he’s gone, as they were when he was around!

The Germans only have a few turns left in which to capture Paris if they are to win the war. They’d better hurry up!

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On the morning of 7th of October the assault against eastern outskirts of Paris begins with the heavy artillery firing in the support of the attack. As a result our troops have entered the great city!

07OctParis_zpsdc2cf924.png

After the fall of Verdun our Fourth and Sixth Armies are beginning to flood the province of Champagne approaching the city of Rheims with Sedan captured two days earlier. It seems that the north of France is now completely undefended and at mercy of the invaders. Another French general is captured near Revigny – a clear proof that the enemy retreat is turning into a complete rout and that the French defence has lost coherence:

07OctArragoneForest_zpsc07d5eba.png

Near Fontainebleau the First Army continues pursuit of the BEF remnants destroying one British division in the process:

07OctBEF_zps0c1f0f41.png

***

Sudden news has reached the German HQ in the evening of 07th of October. It turns out that the French have called for an immediate armistice and the talks are already underway via the Belgian intermediary!

GERMANVICTORY_zps42841d02.png

The French proposal has been very welcomed by the Imperial Government and the orders have been duly dispatched to all the German field units and commanders to arrange the cease fire starting from the morning of 08th of October. Our only condition is the set up quickly a peace conference on some neutral ground, preferably in Brussels. We also invite the representatives of other, neutral countries, especially from Netherlands and United Stated to mediate between the sides during the future peace conference. The German government is not going to place any territorial demands, merely requires the reconfirmation of the current Franco-German border. At the same time His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II insists on establishing some kind of international body which would resolve the future disputes between the states and control the arms race, in order to prevent any new bloody, armed conflict. Germany will also seek to establish a custom union with it’s neighbours, especially with Belgium and Netherlands. More daunting task awaits our diplomacy in the easy. Our conditions for Russia are to re-establish an independent Polish state and to sign a mutual non-aggression pact. We will also insist on including Russia in the future arms control process. Otherwise this country may soon become a serious threat, not only to us but to our partners in Europe and Asia. At later stage our diplomats will try to influence the political reforms in Austro-Hungary and Ottoman Empire because it’s not difficult to foresee, that those multi-ethnic empires won’t be able to function as a healthy members of the modern, international community.

The final disposition of the combatant units on the evening of 7th of October:

FinalStrategic_zps68a5bb75.png

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Everyone thank you for reading, Bill thanks for the game. I will be also posting the campaign's timeline and analysis. So stay tuned!

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I'd like to give my well deserved thanks and congratulations to Ivanov for soundly thrashing the Entente and reaching Paris! :)

That was great fun to play, I really thought my French could hold them for a while but eventually the dam broke and it was very hard to stop them from then on.

I did overestimate Foch's effectiveness in launching a counter-attack from the south, and perhaps should have used my numbers in the north to greater effect.

We have made one small change to this campaign since, which was included in patch 1.02, which was for the French fortresses to provide some fire against any German units in their vicinity.

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As promised here it goes the timeline of the campaign. I will also post a short analysis of some aspects of the campaign.

AUGUST

01-05AUG – frontier battles

02-03AUG – the French enter German Alsace

04 AUG - German counterattack in Alsace

06 AUG - Nancy is captured

06AUGNANCY.jpg

07AUG – the French begin to withdraw behind Meuse and establish a defensive line there

08 AUG - fighting on the approaches to Verdun

10 AUG - Commercy at Meuse is captured

12 AUG – Fortress of Toul is captured

14-15 AUG - German attacks at Belfort and near Verdun aimed at depriving the French the reserves before the main attack at Meuse

16AUG - 01SEP - Battle of Meuse

16AUGCommercy_zps31142022.png

18 AUG – Mirecourt in Vosges is captured. German HQ senses an opportunity and the Seventh Army begins to form. Belgian deception begins.

19-24 AUG - Seventh Army Pushes through Vosges

25 AUG – the French vacate Neufchateau. Seventh Army breaks through from Vosges

26AUGCENTRAL1.jpg

29 AUG – Foch takes over a new French army

30 AUG – Britain declares war on Germany. First Army crosses the Meuse

SEPTEMBER

06 SEP – first combat of the B.E.F. the British along with the elements of the Foch Army recapture Bar Sur Aube

07 SEP - St Dizier is captured

09 SEP – Second Army moves towards Belfort. Seventh Army captures Arcis sur Aube

10 SEP – French counterattacks against the German spearhead

11 SEP - Belfort is captured. The “Bloodiest Day” of the French army.

11SEPcentral_zps43ea3f43.png

13 SEP - Provins is temporarily captured by the German cavalry. Seventh Army attacks Foch Army at Bar Sur Aube

14 SEP – B.E.F counterattacks the German spearhead. Gen Dubail begins the withdrawal from the Belfort area.

15 SEP – Seventh Army captures Troyes

16 SEP – strong Franco-British attacks along the river Aube. The French form Lanrezac Army to operate along with B.E.F

17 SEP - Sixth Army captures Vitry le France. First and Seventh Armies fight at river Aube

18 SEP – Franco-British counterattack at Troyes

19 SEP - Fourth Army moves towards Verdun.

20 SEP - Franco-British attacks against the Seventh Army

21 SEP - Fort Vaux falls. Gen Dubail is captured.

23 SEP – “Operation Wiener Schnitzel” begins. The newly formed Third Army captures Coulommiers, just 60 km of Paris is reached. The First Army launches attacks against the B.E.F and the Lanrezac Army. Fort Douamout is captured.

24-25SEP – heavy rain slows down the German advance. The Second Army arrives from Belfort and endangers the Foch Army.

26 SEP – coordinated Franco-British attacks against the German supply lines in the area of St. Dizier and Bar sur Aube

27 SEP – “Wiener Schnitzel” resumes. The Third Army captures Coulommiers. The Foch Army is cut off from the South by the Second Army.

29 SEP – Third Army captures Meaux. First Army launches attacks against the B.E.F.

30 SEP – Entente launches a series of ultimately unsuccessful attacks against the German supply lines.

OCTOBER

01OCT - Paris is reached by the Third Army. The First Army continues to push the B.E.F. Second and Seventh armies start to reduce the Foch Army trapped in the pocket.

1OCTPARIS_zpscba8dd54.jpg

03 OCT - Verdun is captured by the Fourth Army

04 OCT – the French order general retreat from the positions around Verdun and Meuse

05 OCT – Fourth Army captures Fort Marre. Gen Foch is taken prisoner. Heavy artillery is brought forward to Paris.

06 OCT – French counterattacks against the flank of the Third Army. De Castelnau reinforces the defence of Paris.

07 OCT – the Third Army launches a final assault against Paris. Gen de Langle De Carry is captured by the Sixth Army. The French call for an armistice.

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I love the timeline, thanks for posting that Ivanov.

I just wish I could change a few of the details! ;)

It was a thrilling match alright! More than once I thought I was going to lose ;)

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1914 CAMPAIGN SEEN FROM THE GERMAN PERSPECTIVE - ANALYSIS

As it has been already said, Bill and myself fought a fascinating campaign. Despite the fact that most of the time the Germans held the initiative, the final outcome of the match was uncertain for a very long time. So I would like to make a few comments on some important aspects of the campaign. In order to follow the good German tradition of the post war memoirs, the analysis will be one sided and subjective, so please take it with a grain of salt...;)

1. THE INITIAL DEPLOYMENT

Probably the single most difficult issue with which the German HQ needed to deal at the beginning of the campaign, was the awkward initial deployment of our forces. As we had seen, the invasion of Belgium was never seriously contemplated, but unfortunately only roughly 21% of the initial German strength was deployed on the central front, to strike fast towards the initial objectives, that is Nancy, Toul and the Meuse. This fact made our overall numerical superiority practically irrelevant and was the single most important factor that would make the attack via Belgium more attractive to the German HQ. Ultimately however the benefits of attacking France directly ( keeping Belgian army out of the conflict and delaying the British entry ), outweighed the eventual benefits of the so called “Belgian Option”.

Let’s look where the German divisions were deployed on the first day of the war:

-14 divisions on the central front and main Schwerpunkt of the attack

-23 divisions as the second echelon that could arrive to the main battle area in 2-4 days after being force marched

-21 divisions were deployed against Belgium and were arriving to the main battle area after up to two weeks of continuous marches. Due to their tiredness they were not arriving as coherent, big, offensive formations. Instead they were employed piecemeal to reinforce the existing armies.

-6 divisions in Alsace

At the same time the French were fielding:

-16 divisions on the central front, plus 4 were garrisoning Verdun

-8 divisions in Alsace.

From the above it is pretty clear, that the German armies were not ready to deal a rapid and decisive blow against the French. Their numbers grew gradually, what in turn gave the enemy time to prepare a solid defensive line. The result was a stalemate at Meuse.

THE BATTLE OF MEUSE AND NEUFCHATEAU GAP. BELGIAN DECEPTION :

For some time it looked as the German assault at Meuse bogged down and that our advance towards Paris would end there. Von Moltke’s plan to exhaust the defenders in an attritional battle did not succeed. The French took heavy lose but thanks to the mobilization of the new units the actual number of their division grew slightly as the battle progressed. The German numerical superiority was irrelevant at that stage given the fact that is seemed as there was no enough space for any kind of outflanking maneuver. It was then, that Von Moltke noticed one positive aspect of the Meuse fighting – the battle was engaging a vast majority of the French units, so it seemed that a strike somewhere could have good chances of a success. Two options were considered – Southern Belgium and the mountainous area of Vosges. Belgium was tempting from the logistical point of view but the attack against the country would be a diplomatic disaster. Attack through Vosges was a huge gamble due to the logistic. Also if the French reacted swiftly enough, they could easily extend their defensive lines to the south, sealing off any further breakthrough attempts. Good Kaiser once again rejected the invasion of Belgium and the Seventh Army was formed to lead the assault through the inhospitable terrain of Vosges. Secrecy and deception were primordial during the planning. The operation could only succeed if the French had their attention diverted somewhere else and were deprived of the reserves, that could be sent to face the Seventh Army. Accordingly, further attacks at Meuse were ordered while the Second Army moved against Belfort. Also the Belgian Deception was undertaken. Surprisingly enough the French pretty quickly detected our movement through Vosges but failed to address the threat. We believe that it was due to the lack of reserves, thanks to the timing of our efforts on other fronts and coupled wit the Belgian Deception. On 25th of August the French left Nuefchateau and the floodgate was finally open. It was probably the turning point of the whole campaign.

COULD B.E.F AND THE ARMY OF FOCH TURN THE TABLES?

Was the war already lost by the Entente when the Seventh Army finally crossed the Meuse and appeared on the plains of Chapagne? Certainly it was not. There was still a very long way to Paris and while the Franco-British forces were probably too weak to defeat us decisively, they still had plenty opportunities to slow down our movement or to stop us completely. The main new enemy formations that went into action in September were the B.E.F and the Army of Foch ( AOF ). Their main objective was to counterattack our southern flank along the river Aube. We believe that the plan was over ambitious and in result of it, the best enemy formations were spent while they could be employed more efficiently somewhere else. To begin with, both B.E.F and the AOF had never any significant numerical superiority over our Seventh Army, that they were supposed to defeat. Their efforts forced German HQ to protect our southern flank but also assured that there were no enough units to protect the French capital when the “Operation Weiner Schnitzel” was launched. So all in all B.E.F and AOF could have been employed to a greater effect and possibly prevent our forces from reaching the French capital.

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I concur with Ivanov's assessment, and his strike through the Vosges was not only a surprise, but I was pretty powerless to stop it at the time.

Late in August I did start expecting an invasion of Belgium, and did keep some divisions massed around Sedan to deal with such an eventuality. This delayed their departure elsewhere, and with hindsight the deployment of these units in the Vosges, especially in front of Belfort, might have been very valuable indeed.

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Were you guys taken aback at how easy it was for the German player to bull his way through what was considered the teeth of the French frontier defenses? I mean, there were solid reasons (e.g. terrain, fixed fortifications, etc.) why the German planners avoided doing what Ivanov did.

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Were you guys taken aback at how easy it was for the German player to bull his way through what was considered the teeth of the French frontier defenses? I mean, there were solid reasons (e.g. terrain, fixed fortifications, etc.) why the German planners avoided doing what Ivanov did.

Well it wasn't easy to be honest. I mean to move beyond Meuse. Maybe the last posts of the AAR made an impression that the campaign was a piece of cake for the Germans, but in fact even with the Meuse crossed and Verdun captured the victory was secured in the last possible moment. Few more days of rain could change the outcome. In the mid August I honestly thought, that I wouldn't be able to move any further - hence the gamble in the Vosges. Having said this, we believe that the French frontier fortresses should be a little more formidable obstacles, so in the post 1.01 patches they will provide a defensive fire. The Germans can build few artillery units, so the defensive fire of Toul, Belfort and Verdun will make up for the lack of the Entente artillery units.

One of the most important factors why the Germans managed to previal at the end, was their constant numerical superiority achieved thanks to not attacking Belgium and keeping the Brits out of the war for as long as possible. But the Battle of Meuse proved, that it was not possible to overcome the main French defences in a frontal attack, even despite the clear numerical superiority of the invaders. An outfanking manouver was needed and only when the open and wider terrain west of Meuse was reached, the Entente armies were overwhelmed by the superior numbers.

As a side note, the move through Vosges was inspierd by the Manstein's plan to send the panzers through the Ardennes in 1940 and the Belgian Deception by the pre Normandy Allied efforts to convince the Germans that the main invasion would take place in the area of Pas de Calias. So the WWII lessons turned to be quite useful in 1914 :)

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