The Guns of Lausanne






In May 1923 the first world war was almost over. Almost as the last of the peace treaty conferences, that between the allies and Turkey, was still being held in Lausanne and appeared to be heading for failure. Already earlier in the year it had been brought to a temporary halt when the British delegation had temporarily withdrawn after Turkey had demanded that its differences with Britain over Mosul be settled by separate Turkish-British negotiations instead of the peace conference. France had its own differences with the new Turkish government over the issue of the Ottoman public debt. The most dangerous issue though was ongoing disagreement between Greece and Turkey, as Turkey still flush with victory the past year in Anatolia was demanding terms the Greek side found intolerable. By May while some little progress had been made things appeared to be in the brink of collapse as Turkey was demanding war reparations from Greece as well as territorial concessions in the west bank of the Ebros river. On its part Greece, represented by Eleutherios Venizelos was bound and determined not to accept either term. Leaving Eastern Thrace, placed under Turkish army control by the Mudanya armistice, to Turkey was already being considered as more than excessive on the Greek part and as far as indemnities went Greece was on one hand unable to pay any as it had to cope with well over one million refugees forced out of their homes by the Turkish army and second not feeling that it had to pay any in the first place. Indeed general opinion particularly in the public and among the refugees from Anatolia and Eastern Thrace was that if someone was due indemnities that was Greece and specifically the refugees.

By May quite a few things had changed in the military situation as well. In September 1922 the Greek army was still reeling from disastrous defeat in Asia Minor. Out of the 3 corps of the "Asia Minor Army" one had evacuated virtually intact but the other two had been severely mauled during the retreat to the sea and for practical purposes few of their surviving units could be considered battle worthy. D corps in east Thrace had evacuated it under the terms of the Mudanya armistice intact but only fielded two infantry divisions. To make things worse discipline had largely broken down and morale was highly problematic. Seven months later the picture had been changed dramatically for the better, largely as a result of the work of general Theodore Pangalos.

Pangalos had been chief of staff of the Greek army under general Leonidas Paraskeuopoulos before November 1920. Forced out by the royalists he was now placed at head of the army by the 1922 revolutionaries and proved the right man for the task. Discipline was quickly restored between improving the soldiers conditions and summarily executing a number of grafters and troublemakers. Morale was restored, to no small extend due to the "execution of the 6" by the revolutionaries, pre-revolutionary government members held responsible for the disaster of the previous year, while most of the older reservists that were too worn out to be of much military value were demobilized. Post that Pangalos himself one of the youngest officers in his rank selected the best officers he could find for the units of the reconstituted army almost completely disregarding rank, politics or the army register in doing so. [1] Pangalos efforts had ended in establishing an army of 3 corps with 9 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions that by late May had reached 129,000 men and 436 artillery pieces. Material was generally adequate aside from heavy artillery where only 41 pieces were available. Still compared to any time after November 1920 the "Army of Ebros" was much better off on most accounts and particularly leadership.

On the other side of the hill the Turkish army had increased to over 200,000 men. But only a small fraction of this force was actually deployed on the European side of the straits. Under the terms of the Mudanya armistice Turkey was allowed to maintain no more than 8,000 men in Eastern Thrace in order to maintain internal security while neutral zones had been declared in the straits and parts of the Ebros. That particular term of the armistice had been subverted but still Turkish forces in Eastern Thrace amounted to about 35,000 men and 100 artillery pieces while a much smaller force was present in Constantinople. Coupled with complete Greek naval superiority [2] and the lack of any means to significantly hinder it from entering Dardanelles to stop troop movements between the Anatolian and European coasts the Greeks had very reasonable chances of making a successful drive to the Bosporus and were thus all the less eager to accept any further concessions to Turkey. Pangalos was actually eager to restart operations and avenge the defeat of the previous year and was hardly alone in thinking so within the rank and file.

The prime concern of the Greek government was the stance of the three great powers in case of a repeat of hostilities. From the Greek point of view success required neutrality on the part of the Greek powers so that Greek military operations particularly the entry of the Greek navy in the Dardanelles was unhindered. Of the three Italy wouldn't have been adverse to see a repeat of hostilities, Mussolini proclaimed support for Greece and even actively tried to encourage it to repeat hostilities after the agreement between Greece and Turkey. Whether Mussolini actually meant the support he was professing or just wanted to see the war restart in order to gain something from the defeated is open to question but certainly Venizelos was suspecting so. Britain and France would not like to have a renewed war to add to their other problems of the time but did not appear likely to try to actively suppress hostilities either, especially in view of the problems they had themselves with Turkey. The Greeks had actually received unofficial assurances from British officers in the area that they'd remain uninvolved.

Thus things were coming to a head by May 26th 1923. A last minute attempt a few days earlier to find a solution directly with Venizelos meeting Ismet Inonu the head of the Turkish delegation had failed completely. Venizelos had proposed that Turkey be given the Karagats triangle opposite Andrianople in the western side of Ebros in exchange of forgoing its indemnity claims. Inonu refused. The Greek delegation asked for a session in the conference in the morning of the 26th where Venizelos was to declare that Greece was in no position to pay indemnities. Were Turkey to refuse to back down again, Greece would denounce the armistice in midday of the 26th and resume military operations in the 27th. The Greek navy with a corps embarked was already underway. War seemed certain.

Then Inonu backed down at virtually the last moment. At the start of the May 26th session he proclaimed that Turkey would forgo war indemnities given the inability of Greece to pay them and asked that the Karagats triangle be given to Turkey. Venizelos quickly agreed and the Greco-Turkish issues and war were over. It would take till July for the final treaty to be signed due to disagreements between France and Turkey over the Ottoman public debt but with Greece and Turkey having reached an agreement any chance of seeing fighting restart was gone.

* * *

What is notable is how close to seeing the war restart things came. So say that Inonu decides to hold on despite the last moment pressure placed on him in the last two days before May 26th by France and Britain. [3] Venizelos declares that Greece will pay no indemnities as planned, Inonu refuses one last time and the Greeks denounce the armistice the same day as a result. By the dawn of the 27th 7 Greek divisions under Pangalos attack across the Ebros with 3 more landing under cover of the fleet in the Gulf of Xeros in order to take control of the Catalja lines ahead of the main body of the army. The bulk of the Greek navy has entered the Dardanelles already from midnight. The Turkish side reacts violating in turn the neutral zone of the straits the same day to send troops on the European side while the British, French and Italian army and navy contingents observing the neutral zones remain neutral.

The outcome of the crossing of the Ebros isn't much in doubt. The river has a frontage of nearly 200 km. There is no way that an army of 35,000 can effectively cover all of it with the means available in 1923 and in when outnumbered by about 3 to 1. The river itself has several potential crossings and Greek army engineers had prepared all the material needed for a surprise crossing for some time by may. In the Bosporus the Greek navy is not going to be able to completely stop the transfer of reinforcements from the Asian to the European side but will be seriously hindering them and inflicting a heavy toll on them. Ships and boats transporting troops through the sea of Marmara will be at the mercy of patrolling Greek warships and a lot of them at the time had Greek crews and owners in the first place further complicating things. In Constantinople troops will be having support from shore batteries but this will be dealing with the Greek battleships, a losing proposition for the artillery available to the Turkish army. Any troops landing in Gallipoli will be facing the same obstacles and with 3 Greek divisions landed at Bulair bottled up there. Furthermore the Greek advance on land will be putting increasingly more of the north coast of the sea of Marmara under Greek control.

Thus over the course of June the campaign is decided. The advance force landed in the gulf of Xeros reaches Catalja by June 7 while taking control of most of the coast of Bosporus and partially cutting off the line of retreat of the Turkish forces in Ebros. It takes the main body of the Greek army which in the meantime has crossed Ebros, captured Adrianople and defeated the Turkish army in Lule Burgaz, for the Catalja line to be carried. By June 20 the Greek army bloodied but victorious is in Constantinople.

And that is probably the end. The Turks are in no position to successfully cross to the European side of the straits in the face of the Greek army and with the Greeks dominating the sea. The Greeks likewise are in no position to carry on any serious attack on the Asian side of the straits in the face of the Turkish army. Landings in the Anatolian coast might be technically feasible given the large Greek merchant marine but this would be inviting defeat. The Greek army may have destroyed the Turkish army in Europe but the Turkish army in Anatolia is still effectively intact, sans what limited reinforcements managed to find their way to Europe, and considerably outnumbers the Greek one. The Greek government is not particularly inclined to try grabbing defeat off the jaws of victory and even if it was Venizelos would not let it. Armistice is signed over the HMS Iron Duke in July 10 1923 and the Lausanne negotiations resume.

* * *

And how things are affected from this last episode of the great war?

The final settlement in Lausanne is no different than that of OTL as far as anything but Greco-Turkish relations are concerned. Even were Greece and Turkey are concerned the differences are relatively minimal and follow the status qwo as established after the Greek defeat in Asia Minor and the Turkish defeat in Eastern Thrace. The border between Greece and Turkey is set on the Bosporus with the islands Imbros and Tenedos in the mouth of the Dardanelles remaining Greek while the exchange of populations between the two countries is extended to include the Turks of Thrace and the Greek of the Asian side of Constantinople. The Greeks of Eastern Thrace find themselves in the rather happy condition of being the only refugee group to return to its homes. Italy to the chagrin of Mussolini failed to make any tangible gains out of the renewed hostilities. This will have consequences later.

Turkey ends up worse off than OTL but not extremely so with no possessions of Europe and having to deal with about half a million more exchangees than in OTL between losing Thrace and the European part of Constantinople. Still given the number of Greeks ejected from Anatolia (and Armenians before that) it should be able to handle the larger influx if not with ease at least without facing insurmountable problems either. Overall GDP will probably end up being relatively lower. Population is hardly affected in terms of size though composition will differ slightly with Turkey having no Greek minority and the small remnant of its Armenian minority being further diminished.

The prestige of Kemal and the nationalists will be taking a hit from defeat in Thrace but victory in Anatolia is still fresh in memory and all things told the loss of Thrace while a painful setback hardly negates it. Kemal's position in control of Turkey might be shaken a little but not notably affected. Nevertheless a number of longer term effects could be of considerable importance on how Turkey shapes. The first question counts on how the nationalists handle the defeat. It is hardly out of the question that the western powers will be accused for Turkish failure to hold onto Thrace. Potentially this coupled with the loss of Thrace could be enough to significantly strengthen revisionism inside Turkey by the 1930s. Would it be enough to bring Turkey into WW2? One is tempted to say no given how both Kemal and Inonu carefully avoided entanglement in OTL but certainly it makes it quite more possible than it would had been otherwise. Another question is the extend to which a defeat affects the position of the army in Turkish society. If the belief in the invincibility of the Turkish army either fails to form or is diminished as a result of its defeat in 1923 this could potentially weaken the hold of the army in politics in the future. But it is quite implausible that something like this would be allowed to pass. On the other hand it make the possibility of putting up the stab in the back theory to avoid any chance of it more probable despite the other risks this would be creating.

For Greece results would be more significant. Obviously it's refugee problem is very much eased between refugees from eastern Thrace returning to their homes and additional land available to settle refugees. Thus one can expect the population to stabilize to a relatively higher level, it OTL it would decrease by about 154,000 between 1923 and 1924 despite considerable numbers of refugees still coming under the terms of the population exchange from Turkey and total emigration out of Greece being only slightly over 8,000. Coupled with the Greeks of Constantinople Greece will probably have a population of a few hundred thousand more by 1940. Likewise the economy will be notably better off by 1940, starting from a somewhat higher GDP base and with less of a refugee problem.

How Greek politics and society are affected by the victory is a more complicated question. Even with the victory in Thrace the "Megali Idea" will remain irrevocably dead given the Asia Minor disaster and the uprooting of Anatolia's Christian population. Ironically victory will be further helping in that direction with the defeat felt avenged and liberating Constantinople [4] offering more than a little bit of consolation, besides restoring the prestige of the country. Greece will be entering the peace feeling a lot more confident of itself and its place in the world. In politics victory or not the monarchy remains doomed. Post that one can argue just as easily that the 2nd Greek republic will be more stable than in OTL as the other way round. In OTL a coup against the revolution was launched by royalist elements [5] after elections had been declared only to be crushed in days. This would be followed in 1925 by Pangalos setting up a dictatorship for a while and further instability between 1933 and 1935 finally leading to the restoration of the monarchy and the Metaxas regime.In the ATL the counterrevolution probably never takes place and whether the Pangalos episode happens is an open question. Pangalos was a quite odd case of a dictactor in the first place [6] and one of his main reasons of launching a coup in OTL, not being reconciled with the loss of Eastern Thrace removed. If he stays within the political framework the 2nd republic is liable to remain stable till 1940. If not results will be quite interesting to behold. [7]

[1] For one example 7 out of 9 infantry divisions had colonels in command, something not unprecented in the Greek army of the time but never that widespread either.

[2] As what remained of the Ottoman navy at the time of the Moudros armistice had been interned.

[3] There is some reason to believe that the British were aware that Greece had decided to resume hostilities were Turkey not to back down thus intensified their efforts to bring home a last moment solution.

[4] Well the European side anyway.

[5] Technically led by Venizelist generals Leonardopoulos and Gargalidis as well as the equally Venizelist colonel Ziras. But all three appear to have been duped on the reasons of the coup by the "majors committee" and Metaxas who where the real powers behind the movement. This ended to the advantage of the republicans as all three as well as other Venizelist officers found in the coup actively undermined its success as soon as they realized what was going on. See George Daphnis "Greece between two wars" for a rather detailed description of the events.

[6] The best comparison is either with Pilsudski or Peron. Pangalos was a colourful character and staunch republican and Venizelist. How he ended with that background in overthrowing by coup a...Venizelist republican government while himself was leading one of the .more extreme republican factions of the assembly? That probably deserves a post by itself. As does his government between on one hand being known for things like establishing the academy of Athens and on the other for things like the law that women’s dresses... should not lift more than 35 cm from the ground with police measuring the dresses to enforce it.

[7] Pangalos in OTL wanted to change the Greek constitution to an American style presidential republic with him elected president. He actually did hold an election which he won with slightly over 50% and which is generally agreed to have been fair and even proposed to have the election repeated under a caretaker government and the ministry of the interior held by the opposition before being overthrown.





In August 6th 1923 the treaty of Lausanne brings the last episode of the 1st world war to an end. Not three weeks later the first episode to the road to the second takes place when general Tellini, lead Italian representative to the committee demarking the Greek-Albania border, is assassinated in August 27. [1] The Greek government quite unsuspecting of what is going to follow informs the Italian along with passing its condolences and promising to do everything feasible to find the culprits. The Italian answers by an ultimatum of seven points including the demand for Italian authorities to participate in the investigation and find the culprits within 5 days of the ultimatum's acceptance, that the culprits will be executed and that the Greek government will pay an indemnity of 50 million Italian liras [2] to the Italian to the Italian one. The Greeks refuse the last 3 demands. Four days later an Italian squadron consisting of the battleships Cavour, Julio Cesare, Duilio, 4 cruisers, 6 destroyers and several smaller craft in addition to three troopships enter the harbour of Corcira. For some reason the squadron was ready in Taranto for several days before the assassination...

Corcira is virtually defenceless. The forts of the island dating back to Venetian times are of no military value. More modern works were demolished when the British left the Ionian Islands in 1864 and Corcira declared neutral by the treaty transferring them to Greece. All military forces in the island amount to a single infantry company with about 100 men. When vice admiral Solari demands the island's official surrender from prefect Euripaios, Euripaios answers that he won't sign a surrender of the island, but he won't actively resist either as he has no forces to do so. He adds that in the old fort of the town are camped some 7,000 refugees and yet more in the new fort. Solari orders Cavour and the armoured cruiser San Giorgio to open fire on the forts killing 15 refugees and wounding 35 while a few shells accidentally hit the Jewish cemetery as well. Then the island is occupied by Italian troops. In September 1st Greece takes the matter to the League of Nations while also accepting the authority of the "Ambassadors Committee" [3]. The latter without reaching any conclusion on who was responsible for the assassination of Tellini [4] decides in September 27th that Greece must pay a 50 million liras fine "because she showed neglect in finding the culprits" although with 3 to 1 votes it ruled out any connection of the Greek government to the crime. The Italian army will have to leave Corcira the same day.

This is not the kind of decision that makes any of the sides involved happy. Greece has to be content with saving Corcira but at no little economic cost at a time that it has to deal with the refugee problem. Mussolini comes out his prestige unscathed if not somewhat enhanced but at the same time he has failed to keep Corcira despite proclamations to the opposite during the crisis by Italian officers and more circumspectly himself. Still he is probably the least affected by the events from all parties involved. In a fine show of his mercurial adventurism mere months after attacking Greece he will be among the first proclaiming support for the young second Greek republic and decorate one of the Greek officers he was accusing of having instigated Tellini's assassination...

The two western great powers Britain and France succeed in convincing Mussolini to leave Corcira but otherwise fail to see any sign of what is coming. It is the young League of Nations that is most seriously hurt by the Italian occupation of Corcira and the way the crisis is resolved effectively ignoring the League's authority. As for the Ambassadors Committee the episode proves its death spell. Ramsay MacDonald leaves it on account of its handling of the whole episode as soon as he comes to power.

* * *

In October 18th 1923, the revolutionaries proclaim elections to create a national assembly, the 4th in the history of Greece, for December 2nd while all revolutionary government members wishing to participate to the elections give their resignations. Four days later the counter-revolution is underway in the Peloponnese and Macedonia. Behind the counter-revolution is the "majors organization" led by lt colonel Panagakos and majors Skylakakis, Sarantopoulos and Polyzos. But the coupists have considerable trouble gaining support among the officers corps with the liberation of Constantinople so close in memory. Lt generals Leonardopoulos and Gargalidis who are both approached by the majors organization refuse to take part and they are hardly the only ones to do so. [5] Ioannis Metaxas the leading monarchist figure is in contact with the organization, Skylakakis in particular, but advises against launching the coup and fails to participate. [6] The government reacts rapidly. The attempt to take over Thessaloniki fails to even make a move as the conspirators are arrested immediately. Elsewhere in Macedonia the coup is defeated within 24 hours between the action of loyal troops and the overwhelmingly Venizelist soldiers and lower rank officers of several of the units that rise up arresting their commanders and joining the government instead. In the Peloponnese the coup fares better but still within 72 hours has been defeated by forces led by Pangalos with relatively little fighting.

The counter-revolution seals the fate of the dynasty. Already odds were against it. Now it was monarchist officers at large that launched the coup and while the king did not openly support it he also failed to condemn it and two of his aides were part of the conspiracy. All the counter-revolution has managed has been to make things for the monarchy and get widely condemned both by the public, the news of the coup were met with large scale demonstrations in support of the revolutionary government in Athens, and public figures, the very man the coupist hoped to use as prime minister, Alexandros Zaimis being among the figures to do so. A number of monarchist officers are removed from the army either for openly taking part in the coup and supporting it. Martial law and the ban to anti-Venizelist newspapers, declared by the government to deal with the coup, is lifted in November 21st. The elections are moved back two weeks to December 16th 1923.

The anti-Venizelist parties are now at a dilemma. Their electoral defeat is almost certain which is causing thoughts to abstain from the elections. But the revolution has done its best not to give the Anti-Venizelists any pretext that might lead to their abstention from the election. Refusing the take part in the election over some triviality and ending up facing a government that has just recovered Constantinople and avenged the defeat of 1922 coupled a constitutional assembly where only Venizelists and republicans are represented could well prove worse.  For all their misgivings in the end the Anti-venizelist parties decide to take part in the elections, which are held without trouble. The coalition of the 3 Venizelist parties, the Liberal, the Democratic Libeberal and the Democratic Union gain about 70% of the vote. Three days later king George II leaves Pireaus for Romania on leave. In one more sign that it is more than a simple leave admiral Paul Kunturiotis, commander of the Greek navy in the Balkan wars and fellow member of Venizelos in the National defence triumvirate in
1916, is places as regent.

* * *

Venizelos returns to Greece in the early hours of January 4th 1924 after 3 years and 2 months outside the country. He had left a Greece that in the aftermath of the treaty of Sevres seemed on the brink of fulfilling the idea and perhaps even cross the threshold into being a regional power of some note. He returns to a Greece that has seen its Asia Minor dream end in disaster in the flames of Smyrna and has to contend with over a million refugees. But also a Greece that at the moment of disaster managed to pull together enough to save Thrace and even secure Constantinople avenging at least in part the disaster. The Greece Venizelos reaches is thus not lacking in confidence that it can overcome the dangers and problems facing her. It fits quite well with the attitude of the Cretan.

Venizelos appears in the assembly in January 5th to the thundering applause of the Venizelist majority that holds 280 out of the 397 seats. He is elected president of the assembly the same day and in January 11th becomes prime minister. Immediately he has to contend with the issue of the dynasty. The republicans want the assembly to proclaim the dynasty deposed with or without a plebiscite on the issue. Venizelos wants to hold a plebiscite over the fate of the dynasty and the fate of the monarchy. The Anti-Venizelists if in proof of having learned little of the events post 1920 deny the need of a plebiscite at all insisting on retaining the monarchy instead. Things threaten to come to a head in early February when Venizelos comes close to resigning but faced with the threat the republicans close ranks behind him. [7]. The dynasty is not immediately deposed as the republicans would have liked. Instead a plebiscite is to be held in March 20. Venizelos declares that while he will vote for the republic himself he will not actively campaign either for or against. Neither the republicans nor the monarchists are anywhere near happy with his actions. Both have to live with them.

The March 20 plebiscite proves a crushing defeat for the monarchy. The republic gets 779,000 votes [8]. The monarchy 325,000 votes. In March 25th, symbolically the Greek independence day the national assembly confirms the results of the plebiscite by passing a declaration deposing the dynasty and declaring a parliamentary republic in its place. Members of the dynasty lose their citizenship and the right to enter the country. Among the Monarchist parties the old populist party under Panagiotis Tsaldaris questions the results. Moderate monarchists do not and recognize the republic. Pragmatically enough so does Ioannis Metaxas. [9]

Outside Greece Mussolini's Italy is the first to recognize the new state of affairs in hopes the deposing of the dynasty would drive a wedge between Greece and Britain and Yugoslavia. But this hardly proves the case. The declaration of the republic is positively seen by most European countries including Britain and France. One era had been closed for Greece with the treaty of Lausanne. A new one starts with the establishment of the republic...

[1] While the whole assassination of Tellini is still covered by some mystery there is more than enough evidence that it had been machinated by Mussolini who on one hand wanted a pretext for a show of force hopefully coupled with some territorial aggravation and on the other wouldn't mind to see Tellini gone since he was not friendly to the fascists. Since Mussolini fails to make any gains at Lausanne I have him going ahead with it.

[2] 500,000 pound sterling.

[3] Organized to supervise the application of the Versailles terms and consisting of British, French, Italian and Japanese representative plus a non voting American observer.

[4] Leaving aside a certain Albanian bandit who actually confessed that a few days before the assassination he had been asked by Albanian police officials, themselves connected to Italy, to do it.

[5] In OTL Leonardopoulos and Gargalidis despite having been Venizelists both agreed to join the counter-revolution for personal reasons, Leonardopoulos for example felt slighted that Pangalos had been chosen to lead the Army of Ebros despite Leonardopoulos being 10 classes his senior. But here Pangalos and the revolution have the victory in Thrace going for them. Would that be enough to avoid the counter-revolution at all? Perhaps but it seems that the monarchist officers that made up the major's organization were quite determined in launching the coup against all advice to the contrary in the belief they would be able to govern and reform Greece as they saw fit...

[6] In OTL Metaxas also advised against launching the counter-revolution thinking the chances of success low but nevertheless joined it and tried, unsuccessfully, to direct it. In the ATL with the chances of success appearing even lower I assume that he doesn't join at all.

[7] In OTL Venizelos did actually resign. But in OTL as the monarchist parties refused to participate in the elections the assembly was effectively monopolized by the various Venizelist factions that in the face of a lack of real opposition happily went down to tearing each other apart with abandon. In the ATL the monarchists may be weak but are very much in the assembly thus by turn the various Venizelist factions forced to cooperate more closely among themselves.

[8] Slightly more that OTL to take into account the vote of Constantinople Greeks.

[9] As Metaxas put it in OTL "Lets assume that the yes votes were juggled. But the no votes were not juggled. The No's were as many as they were counted.
And they were too few..."







In the New Year eve of 1924 Turkey is for the first time since the Ottoman-Italian war of 1911 at peace. The Ottoman Empire is gone, one more victim of the world war like its German, Hapsburg and Russian counterparts. The last sultan was deposed by the nationalists in late 1922 and forced to leave the country on a Royal Navy warship. His cousin is retained as caliph for the time being but his position is precarious given Kemal's opposition to him.

To say that Turkey has not come well economically out of the wars would be an understandment. Large tracts of Anatolia were fought over during the previous decade. Before the wars trade and a lot of the service economy where to a large degree dominated by the Greeks and the Armenians. Both have been violently removed from Anatolia. With them the majority of the pre-war middle class is gone. On top of that Turkey has to contend with its own refugee problem. The initial population exchange agreement between Greece and Turkey brought about 356,000 Muslims to Anatolia. Its extension to Thrace and European Constantinople in the aftermath of the resumption of hostilities in mid 1923 has driven the number up to nearly a million.

Politically Mustapha Kemal in the aftermath of the victory in Anatolia appeared to be in undisputed control of the fate of Turkey. The old Ottoman government and its supporters are out of power since the time of the second Young Turk coup during the first Balkan war. The Young Turks have been discredited from their defeat in the world war. A considerable number of them have joined the nationalists, or more accurately Kemal joined them and transformed the movement into the nationalists. The remaining Committee of Union and Progress members mostly influenced by Kara Kemal belong to the “political” faction of the Young Turks that where forming the power base of Talat and are for the post part out of influence, power and representation in the Assembly. Thus the only possible opposition of note to Kemal, are his own comrades from the war with Greece and Armenia.

The defeat in Thrace is a considerable hit to Kemal’s prestige though. Kemal is accused in the Turkish Grand National assembly for the defeat as well as accepting a peace that leaves territories that the national pact claimed as part of the nation outside Turkey. Already some rifts are starting to appear inside the nationalists themselves as a radical faction consolidates around Kemal and a moderate faction around Kazim Karabekir and Rauf Orbay. In October 29, 1923 Turkey is proclaimed a republic with Kemal as president. Four months later in March 3, Kemal taking advantage of pamphlets distributed by Indian khilafat movement members in support of the caliphate abolishes it and expels the last Ottoman caliph Abdul Mejid from the country. The way and time it is done does not stand so well with the moderates. Coupled with existing disagreements with Kemal, personal reasons as Kemal is increasingly marginalizing several prominent leaders of the nationalist movement the Progressive Republican Party is formed in July 1924 under the leadership of Kazim Karabekir and Rauf Orbay. [1]

Kemal and the radicals supporting him do not take well to the PRP creation. Taking advantage of the Seikh Said Kurdish rebellion the PRP is banned in June 1925. Worse is to come the next year when in June 1926 after an alleged plot against Kemal’s life PRP and CUP leders are purged. Several face show trials by the “independence tribunal” some of them being executed, others like Karabekir being placed under house arrest while some like Rauf Orbay have to flee the country. Kemal supported by Inonu and the chief of the general staff, field marshal Fevzi Cakmak remains the undisputed ruler of the country. [2] The trappings of the parliamentary republic are retained but for the remainder of Kemal’s life Turkey will be and act as an single party state with no further attempt to multiparty politics being made. [3]

* * *

For the most part the Kurds had stood on the Turkish side during the world war and the subsequent war with Greece with Kurdish irregulars playing an anything but honourable role both in the Armenian genocide and in atrocities against the Greek populations in Anatolia. Now finding themselves facing on one hand the increasingly secularist tendencies of Kemal and increasing repression by a government not at all sympathetic to the idea of them asserting their place as a separate national minority the Kurds revolt in 1925. The Sheikh Said rebellion, named after its leader, is crushed within months as the Turkish army mobilizes some 50,000 men against the rebels. Nevertheless it offers the radicals inside Turkey the pretext to purge their opponents and weakens the position of Turkey towards Britain in their dispute over the status of Mosul.

Two years later it is the turn of Shaikh Abdurrahman, the brother of Sheikh Said to start an uprising attacking the Turkish garrisons in Palu and Malatya and capturing for a time the districts of Lice and Bingol. Before the winter as Turkish reinforcements reach the area the uprising is put down. But in October 1927 Kurdish nationalists proclaim an independent republic in Mount Ararat and form what amounts to a provisional government. The rebel forces are led by Ihsan Nuri Pasha a former CUP member and officer of the Turkish army. Nuri's forces take control of the towns of Bitlis and Van as well as most of the countryside around Lake Van and seek support from outside Turkey. Britain and France not in the best of relations with Turkey given continued Turkish claims on Alexandretta and Mosul but not inclined to see trouble spreading in their own Kurdish populations in Iraq and Syria respectively do not support the rebels but neither do they significantly hinder support from Kurdish groups like the Barzani tribe from Iraqi Kurdistan. [4] The rebels who are also receiving aid through the Iranian border hold on for more than 3 years but by the fall of 1930 the pressure from the Turkish army and air force is becoming overwelming. The winter of 1930-31 gives the rebels a temporary respite but by May 1931 the revolt is over. [5] It will take no more than 6 years for the Kurds to revolt again in Dersim

* * *

Internally Kemal oversees notable legal reforms. A constitution is introduced in 1924 while the existing Islamic canon law is replaced with a modern legal system based in the Swiss civil code and the Italian penal code, the latter being introduced in 1926. In 1928 the existic Arabic alphabet is replaced by one based in the Latin alphabet an act that is seen as a significant move towards westernization but also cuts off direct access to text written before 1928 and not converted to the new alphabet from the mass of future generations. Along the same lines European clothing and headgear are introduced by law and rather more importantly a whole series of measures is introduced to secure secularism in Turksh society including the closing down of religious orders after November 1925.

The nationalists are successful in bringing forth an economic recovery during the 1920s. Agriculture returns to pre-war levels by 1926 while industry and services grow at almost 9% a year albeit from a particularly low starting point between the role the Greeks and Armenians were playing in these sectors of the economy before 1922 and the loss of the European part of Constantinople which was holding a significant part of the remaining industry and service sectors of the economy. Nationalist economic policies are characterized by statism, with a considerable degree of central planning and emphasis in the creation of industry and railroads. By the time of Kemal’s death in 1938 the more railroads have been laid than the entire network of the Ottoman empire before 1914. Still the economy remains overwhelmingly agricultural and depending on foreign exports of agricultural products. When that market collapses with the great depression hitting Turkey, Turkish GDP in general and farmer income in particular also feel the hit. Economic growth will resume as the world economy gradually recovers from the depression.
Resettling in Anatolia nearly a million people can’t fail to take its toll. The nationalists utilize for the post part farmland left vacant from the removal of the Greeks and the Armenians from Anatolia. The larger number of deportees allows relatively higher land utilization in Anatolia compared to what would have been the case in OTL although any positive effects of this are counteracted by the higher resettlement burdens. Coupled with the loss of Thrace and Constantinople and relatively higher military spending, this result in Turkey’s GDP being lower by about 10% come 1930.

Socially the Turkish government also for the most part fails to resettle communities as whole groups. Instead farmer families are resettled on an individual basis with land assigned to them according to the agriculture sector each was specializing to. An exception is the urban populations of Constantinople and secondarily Adrianople which for the most part are settled in Ankara and Smyrna.

* * *

Starting from July 1923 Kemal and the nationalists had to deal with the adverse prestige effects of losing Thrace and Constantinople. In following years having to deal with 3 Kurdish revolts, instituting secularist, law and economic reforms that may be needed for the most part to modernize the country but aren’t any more popular for that don’t quite help to make Kemal and his government any more popular. The need to explain the purges of all political opposition and a high tax burden to finance the state’s industrialization, railroads and modern armed forces are only making things worse.

The Kemalist solution is simple. Nationalism. Official propaganda emphasizes on how Kemal saved Turkey from dismemberment at the hands of the great powers and their Greek and Armenian clients. The role of the moderates in the national struggle is marginalized on purpose, the Ottomans and Young Turks widely accused for bringing Turkey to the dire state it had found itself before Kemal came to save it and the purged moderates often accused for anything from connections with the disastrous Ottoman past and attempting to return the country to it to wanting to return to the Greeks and Armenians their lands and holdings. [6]

The blame for the defeat in Thrace that could easily fall on Kemal as well as Inonu, as chief delegate at Lausanne, and Cakmak, as head of the Turkish army, is thrown at the great powers which stopped the Turkish army from crossing to Europe after it won in Anatolia and during the months of the armistice. That Greece had been forced in the Mudanya armistice to evacuate Thrace by the very same great powers is conveniently forgotten. Why Kemal accepted the armistice in the first place is blamed at the Ottomans before him who left the country with no ability to successfully resist the great power pressure. The nationalists per the argument did everything humanly possible to restore the country but could not fix everything within a few short years while fighting for the country’s life. That will take time and preparation, which the Lausanne treaty however problematic has given the country.

The need to prepare for the “inevitable” clash to restore the country to its natural borders is the last part of the platform. It hardly takes much effort for hard feelings to exist against Greece after a decade of wars and with Constantinople in Greek hands. The Kemalists take the existing sentiments, with which after all they do not disagree, and run with them. State ideology and propaganda promote revanchism, particularly against Greece but also against British Iraq over Mosul with the borders envisioned by the national pact of 1920 outlining Turkish territorial claims. Under these Turkey is effectively claiming Thrace, the eastern Aegean Islands, the Mosul area and part of Syria. High taxes, the statist economic projects, repression can all be blamed as needed to prepare and strengthen the country and anyone opposing to them can be accused as unpatriotic.

For all the rhetoric at home Kemal proves a very careful and conservative player when it comes to actually pursuing any claims through the 1920s. There is actually a war scare with Britain over Mosul in 1925-26 but it fails to escalate [7] Still Turkish relations with Greece are bad with an arms race evolving as both economies start recovering from the wars and relations with France and particularly Britain remaining cold.

[1] That is about 3 months earlier than it happened in OTL.

[2] More or less what happened in OTL although given the more unstable political position of Kemal a greater degree of violence and repression appears possible.

[3] In OTL Kemal would foster in 1930 the creation of the Free Republican Party under the leadership of former prime minister Fethi Okyar. Despite the party leadership being Kemal loyalists and Kemal actually initiating the creation of the party the party was closed down within months of its creation in November 1930 when it appeared that it was getting way more popular support than the leading Nationalist elites were expecting or for that matter were willing to accept. Here with the Nationalist/Kemalist position relatively weaker the experiment is not made at all.

[4] The rebels in OTL did receive support from the Barzanis and Syrian Kurds but the British and French governments generally put restraints on the support. In the ATL their relations with Turkey are relatively worse, for reasons to be seen elsewhere thus the somewhat more pro-Kurd stance.

[5] In OTL the rebellion was over by mid-September 1930. In the ATL with increased outside support it drags on for several more months but the end result is still not in question.

[6] Pretty much historical. For the returning Greek and Armenian land part see Republican Party propaganda against the Free Republican party candidates in places like East Thrace during the 1930 election campaing.

[7] There was a war scare in OTL although in the end Kemal was dissuaded from any ideas of using force between Kurdish revolution and Greece and Italy appearing ready to side with Britain in case of war. I don’t see things going any different in the ATL.




Part 4


With the referendum of March 1924 making Greece a republic the prime reason for the National Assembly to exist is fulfilled. The Venizelos government recognizing this speedily moves to have a new republican constitution in the following months while the Assembly confirms former regent Paul Kunturiotis as the first president of the republic. Per the new constitution Greece becomes a presidential republic with a parliament of 250 members elected directly by the people for four years and a senate of 120 members elected partly directly and partly by the parliament with a term of 9 years. Of the latter one third of the members is replaced by elections every 3 years. The president is elected by joint session of parliament and senate. In practice the power lies with the elected prime minister and the parliament while the president and senate are playing a supplementary role.

With both tasks over Venizelos resigns from government to hold elections for a normal parliament the replace the National Assembly in September 1924. Not unexpectedly the coalition of liberal and republican parties he leads wins again in a landslide with 60% of the vote. The royalists get about 33% of the vote divided between Panagis Tsaldaris People’s Party getting 18.5% of the vote and Ioannis Metaxas "Freethinkers Party" getting 14.5%. The leftist Agrarian party gets about 3% of the vote and the Greek Communist party just over 4%. [1] Coupled with the use of reinforced proportional system in parliament Venizelos is once more the dominant political figure of the country.

Most of the energies of the Venizelos government between 1924 and 1928 go into dealing with the country's refugee problem and putting together the economy after a decade of near constant war. Helped no doubt to some extend by foreign loans from the League of Nations, Greece does a fairly decent job on both counts. By the start of 1928 the value of the drachma has stabilized to a fixed 375 drachmas to 1 British pound and Venizelos has seen to solving the disputes with Britain, France and the United States over war debts and the remaining war credit still due to the Greek government. [2]

Settling the refugees will prove a titanic task for a country the size of Greece. Poor sanitary conditions, crowding and malnutrition claimed tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives through 1922. For all the imrovements in 1923, the return of refugees from Thrace to their homes and the ability to settle refugees in Thrace and Macedonia over 100,000 still lose their lives that year for a total human cost estimated at no less than a quarter million lives. [3] The very victory in 1923 brings in tens of thousands of more refugees as Greeks and any remaining Armenians from the Asian side of Constantinople are unceremoniously dumped on the European side of the straits. It is only by 1924 that the situation improves enough for the population to stabilize. By then the Refugee Rehabilitation Commission has been established to oversee the task and does so with surprising success.

By 1928 all refugees have been settled usually on a community basis with the new communities often enough named after the old towns and villages from were the refugees come as in the Nea Smyrni district Athens gains. The 1928 Greek census reports about 1,031,000 persons born outside the borders of Greece. [4] According to census and the Commision reports as of 1928 100,000 refugees have been settled in Attica and 160,000 more in Constantinople with the rest settled in their grand majority in Macedonia, where 450,000 refugees have been settled, and Thrace where about 320,000 have been settled. Constantinople with 563,000 citizens is the largest single city in the country with Athens and Piraeus trailing behind with a combined population of 526,000. Thessaloniki is the 3rd largest city with about 215,000 citizens while Patras and Adrianople with about 60,000 each trail far behind. [5] Thessaloniki contains a Jewish community of over 60,000 making up nearly one third the city's population. Constantinople besides Greeks has a Jewish community of note with about 35,000 people, a slightly larger Armenian community as well as well over 100,000 foreigners for the most part Italians (including Levantines in the city for centuries) and White Russian refugees fleeing the communists. The country's overall population has reached 6,690,000.

Venizelos is able to win the 1928 election with relative ease and a percentage of the vote comparable to that in 1924. The next year he sees to the election of a moderate royalist, Alexandros Zaimis as president of the republic. With the refugees more or less settled his second period in office proves quite productive. In the Hague conference on Central Powers reparations in August 1929 he succeeds in having the war debts of Greece towards Britain and the United States covered by the German indemnities due to Greece as well as getting the Greek share on the war indemnities tripled under the terms of the Young plan. Considerable effort is put in developing agriculture with drainage works in Macedonia alone making usable over 275,000 hectares of land and a bank of Agriculture established. At the same time the ports of Piraeus and Constantinople are modernized, new roads ad railroads constructed. Of no smaller importance are the educational reforms undertaken in 1928-1932. Entry exams for the universities are introduced; the use of demotic Greek is expanded to secondary education, which is also reformed creating 6-year "gymnasiums" and creating "practical" secondary schools. In addition over 3,000 new school buildings are constructed. [6]

For all its successes the Venizelos government does not survive the great depression of 1929. Venizelos goes to extraordinary lengths to keep the exchange rate of the drachma to its stabilization parity, tries to tie it to the US dollar at $1 equal 77.05 drachmas in September 1931 but in the end does not manage to keep it. Greece leaves the gold standard in April 1932 and within a month the exchange rate of the drachma has fallen to 473 drachnmas per pound. By 1933 it will further fall to 596 drachmas per pound and afterwards gradually fall to stabilize around 550 drachmas per pound till 1939. Ironically enough while leaving the gold standard leads the Greek economy out of the depression at the same time brings the Venizelos government down. A government is formed for a few months by Alexandros Papanastasiou before Venizelos returns to power to hold elections in September 1932.

* * *

The 1932 elections are the first time that the republican monopoly in power dating to 1923 is seriously challenged by the Royalists. Venizelos Liberal party still comes first with 41.6% of the vote. But the People’s party gains a so far unprecented 38.2%. The three lesser republican parties of Papanastasiou, Michalakopoulos and Kondylis gain a further 8.3% of the vote. Metaxas 9 years earlier the leading force of the royalist side, has shrunk to a miniscule 2.1%. The Agrarian party gains 4.68% of the vote with the communists getting slightly less with 4.31%. The republicans are able to form a government and their combined force is nearly 50% but this means they have lost well over 10% of the vote compared to the 1923, 1924 and 1928 elections.

With the international situation in Europe getting worse this last Venizelos cabinet sees internal affairs being overshadowed by foreign ones. In general Venizelos internal policies remain unchanged but by 1936 most of the governments efforts are necessarily directed towards foreign and military issues. Zaimis is re-elected president in 1934 and remains in office till his death in September 1936. He’s hardly the only one to die in office. Venizelos dies in March 1936. It is very much the end of an era for Greece.

Venizelos is replaced as prime minister by his designated successor in the party Georgios Kafantaris till the scheduled election in September. By some odd turn of fate the leading Royalist politician Panagis Tsaldaris has also died in May 1936. The republicans do not go to the elections united but nearly 90% of their vote ends in the Liberal party. The royalists see their vote broken between three parties. The end result is the continuation of the republican domination of Greek politics if a much reduced domination. The Liberals come first with 42.8% of the vote while the “Democratic coalition” cooperating with them gaining a further 4.7% for a total of 47.5% for the Venizelist “National coalition”. On the royalist side the People’s party gains 24.6% of the vote with the “General People’s Radical Union” gaining 15.2% and Metaxas a mere 3.6%. [7] The communists see their numbers grow to 5.3% of the vote. With Kafantaris elected to the presidency after the death of Zaimis, Andreas Michalakopoulos, Venizelos foreign minister becomes prime minister. He’ll remain in office well into WW2. [8]

By 1938 on the eve of the Second World War Greek GDP has grown to 126.17 million British pounds compared to 101.25 million in OTL. Thrace and Constantinople account for most of the difference. Greater political stability in the 1924-1936 period and a lower refugee burden account for the rest. Even though industrial production has increased by leaps and bounds more than doubling since 1923 it still remains a relatively small part of the overall economy. Greece remains for the most part a nation of farmers, small merchants and sailors. Its population has grown to 7.89 million by 1939. The population of greater Athens has increased to 840,000 surpassing that of Constantinople which has nevertheless also grown to 742,000.

[1] This is an extrapolaration between the results of the referendum and 1923 elections of OTL and the electoral results of 1926.

[2] Both events are historical from the same period. The exchange rate between drachma and pound was fixed also in OTL at 375 to 1. In the case of the war loans and debts Venizelos policy is liable to differ at least in some areas to that followed by his protégé Kafantaris in OTL but nevertheless some kind of solution probably a bit more advantageous to Greece (given the diplomatic charm of the Cretan and his success in similar issues in 1928-1932) in near certain.

[3] The figure was about 146,000 documented deaths in OTL 1923 with hardly every death getting documented. The Greek victory in mid 1923 alleviates the problems to the extend of about a third of them surviving but is obviously not sufficient all by itself for anything beyond that. The overall death toll in OTL by 1924 was about 300,000 with the number being probably higher.

[4] That is compared to 1,221,749 out of a total population of 6,204,684 reported in the OTL census. The figure taken 6 years after 1922 is quite indicative of the relative magnitude of the refugee flow given that in the intervening years between 1922 and 1928 a number of refugees had emigrated out of Greece and a much greater number had simply died mostly in 1922-23 but also due to natural population movement in 1924-28. In the ATL the roughly 257,000 that had reported being born in Eastern Thrace are obviously not part of the figure while some Constantinople Greeks and Armenians that in OTL remained in Turkey are. So are the circa 50,000 more refugees surviving.

[5] Athens and Pireaus are smaller by about 170,000 people mostly settled in Constantinople. The population of Thessaloniki is also somewhat lower.

[6] More or less historical.

[7] The results are at large modelled after the OTL 1936 elections with 2 main differences. First Kondylis never changed sides to join the Royalists as the personal reasons that led to this in OTL were dating back to 1924 and were butterflied away in the ATL. Second the number of voters is about 7.8% larger than OTL and the grand majority of that 7.8% being Constantinople Greeks or Asia Minor refugees that historically were overwhelmingly Venizelist. (Overwhelmingly in the sense of the Venizelist parties getting on average 90+% of the vote in refugee communities)

[8] Michalakopoulos died in OTL from pneumonia in 1938. Sent into exile to an island by the Metaxas regime for opposition to the dictatorship he caught pneumonia and while there was no hospital there the regime refused to allow his transfer to Athens till it was too late.
He died as a result.




Part 5


Despite defeating Turkey in 1923 the second Greek republic from its birth finds itself in an international environment that leaves a lot to be desired. To the east Turkey is decidedly hostile. To the north Bulgaria is not any less hostile than Turkey. Last to the northwest was Albania. Itself insignificant it is viewed with some reason as a de facto protectorate of Italy. And then there are the great powers themselves Italy, Britain and France. And of course Yugoslavia...

For Greek foreign and military policy planners of the 1920s the stance of Italy towards Greece is among their major concerns and a difficult puzzle to solve. Much of the problem results from the instability of Mussolini's foreign policy. Mussolini can at best be described as mercurial towards Greece. In Lausanne he proclaims support for Greece. A mere couple of months later he attacks Greece occupying Corfu. Shortly afterwards he again proclaims his support for the newly established second republic. In the Mosul crisis between Britain and Turkey, where Venizelos stands by Britain's side Italy also proclaims her support for Britain. But relations do not fail to turn sour afterwards. Greece is allied to Yugoslavia since 1913 and closely tied to France and particularly Britain. For all Mussolini's overtures the Greeks are not inclined to forgo their Yugoslav alliance or their British and French ties for an alliance of questionable value with Italy. By the early 1930s Greco-Italian relations while correct are relatively cold and Italy tends to be favouring Bulgaria and Turkey. When in 1935 Italy invades Ethiopia Greek popular opinion is overwhelmingly in support of the Ethiopians and the government following the path set by France and Britain. Italy holding the Dodecanese islands is only making things worse.

If Italy starts as the big unknown in Greek foreign policy, the same can hardly be said about Turkey. Greco-Turkish relations verge from hostile to frosty when the treaty of Lausanne is finally signed and things don't much improve over the years. Perhaps fortunately no minorities are on either side of the border any more to give grounds for conflict or for that matter to get maltreated. But the two countries hardly need much to remain hostile. On the Turkish side it is official policy of the Kemalist regime to maintain a claim to Greek Thrace and the East Aegean islands. On the Greek side besides the obvious and very real fear of Turkish revisionism there is a strong undercurrent, particularly among the Asia Minor refugees, also supporting revisionism.  The two countries fail to come to open clash in the years leading up to 1939. They even manage to negotiate in 1933 to the Montreoux protocol over the state of the Bosporus and passage through it. [1] But in a period of 15 years they come close to war no less that 3 times, first during the Mosul crisis, then during the so called "2nd battleship summer" and again during the Hatay crisis between Turkey and France while tensions are also running high also during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

Greco-Bulgarian relations post 1923 are not particularly better than Greco-Turkish relations. They prove more volatile in the mid 1920s as during 1924 and 1925 there is a number of cross-border raids by Bulgarian irregulars and border incidents. These nearly lead to war in 1925 when in reaction to the killing of a Greek army captain by Bulgarian soldiers the Greek army invades Bulgaria and occupies Petrich. Under League of Nations pressure the Greeks evacuate Petrich and pay 45,000 pound in reparations to Bulgaria but afterwards the border is scrupulously observed by both sides. [2] Relations will remain frosty in the aftermath and Bulgaria which is supposed to follow the arms restrictions of the Neully treaty gradually rearms with Italian and German support first covertly and by 1938 openly...

Britain and France are supposed to be the two great powers closest to Greece. In practice Greece is closer to Britain than it is to France but has no official alliance with either of the two countries till nearly the start of the 2nd world war when Britain and France proclaim a guarantee of the territorial integrity of Greece. Greece is allied to Yugoslavia with the 1913 treaty between Greece and Serbia updated in 1924 when Venizelos visits Belgrade. In 1933 the two countries form together with Romania the Balkan Entente in the model of the Little Entente. [3] The latter move, encouraged by France, is seen as provocative by Britain and not received well by Italy.

* * *

The counterweight to the Balkan Entente is the understanding to between Turkey and Bulgaria. Turkish foreign policy has start out as isolationalist after the treaty of Lausanne. Necessity forces Kemal to seek support from abroad both in order to bring forth economic development and to further Turkish territorial ambitions. Turkey keeps friendly relations with the Soviet Union, even though it actively suppresses its own communists at the same time. Germany is a close friend and Turkey plays a role in the subversion of the Versailles terms, even if by necessity a small one given the initial state of the Turkish economy. Post 1933 Kemal and Inonu hardly have the best opinion of the new regime but nevertheless they maintain their ties to Germany, Germany is too useful to alienate.

By the early 1930s Turkey is also maintaining what can be described as an alliance of convenience with Italy and Bulgaria. Bulgarian and Turkish ambitions are sometimes aimed at the same territory particularly in Thrace. But this does not stop them from cooperating against Greece. Of the two "allies" Turkey has a distinct advantage in Bulgaria being surrounded on all sides by hostile countries. The Turkish relationship with Italy is more complicated. Italy's policy towards Turkey included both attacking it and trying to gain territory off it in 1911 and during the First World War and supporting the nationalists against the Greeks. The rise of Mussolini to power does not make Italian foreign policy any more consistent. But by the second half of the 1920s, Italy and Turkey start coming gradually closer. For the Turks Italy is a needed ally, not one they particularly trust but one that is a useful counterbalance against Greece, Britain and France and also a source of arms they can't easily obtain from other sources, warships in particular. For Mussolini a compliant Turkey is desirable both as part of the Italian sphere of influence in itself and in furthering his expansionist dreams in the eastern Mediterranean. Mussolini has considered Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey Anglo-French creations to obstacle Italian expansion. Bringing Turkey on his side removes one of the three, threatens the other two and also can cause trouble for France and Britain in the Middle East. Successive Turkish ambassadors in Rome and Kemal and Inonu on the times they meet Mussolini make sure that his perception of Turkey as a loyal junior ally of Italy remains strong. How much of it is true in reality is an entirely different question...

If the Soviet Union and Germany are friendly and Italy a tentative ally, the other two European great powers France and Britain are at best not friendly if not outright hostile. With Britain the main problem is that of the Mosul province in Iraq. Since 1918 the Turkish Nationalists are claiming the province. Britain has no inclination to give it up particularly given its oil production. In 1925-26 the two countries come nearly to war, but the simultaneous Kurdish rebellion in Turkey puts on hold any plans of war on the part of Kemal and a League of Nations resolution favours Britain. The Turkish claim remains despite the resolution but Kemal does not much press it. Problems with France start over disagreements about the Ottoman public debt, of which France held a major share. Perhaps more important in keeping relations bad is the Turkish claim on the sanjak of Alexandretta, which is part of the French mandate of Syria. In 1936 Kemal raises the issue in the League of Nations. The French are accommodating to the extend of giving the sanjak internal autonomy, Kemal presses for more and starts massing troops in the Syrian border. France answers by reinforcing her own forces in Syria and deploying naval forces in Syria and the Aegean while Greece is also driven into the crisis as the Turkish navy starts mobilizing. The crisis comes to an end by early 1939 as elections in the sanjak give the groups opposing Turkey the majority and the death of Kemal in November 1938 creates a diversion as Inonu secures his succession. With the start of world war 2 Turkey declares its neutrality. But the question on whether it is going to stay neutral keeps looming...

[1] This is basically similar to the OTL treaty of Montreoux.

[2] The incident is historical. Dafnis "Greece Between two wars" gives a reasonably detailed account of it. Would it happen with Venizelos instead of Pangalos in charge? I think yes as it appears that given earlier cross-border raids Greece expected it and had concentrated forces in advance waiting for the Bulgarians to provide an excuse. Pangalos failed to have the League of Nations let him of the hook but he did succeed in stopping further raids cold. As Daphnis  hardly a supporter of Pangalos puts it "Greece paid 45,000 pounds and secured her quiet from Bulgaria till 1940." Venizelos was hardly shy about using military force when he thought it was necessary nor would be any more tolerant than Pangalos to raids and small scale skirmishing. Could he get the League adopt a stance more favourable to Greece? Perhaps but it hardly really matters.

[3] In OTL it took place in 1934 and also included Turkey. Increased tensions here and some short of Bulgarian-Turkish cooperation which seems logical push things ahead by a few years.




Part 6


Somewhat uniquely for Europe of the 1920s the Aegean is one of the very few places that see an arms race of shorts as given the very bad relations between Greece and Turkey as well as Turkey's problems with France and Britain and the issues Greece has with Bulgaria and increasingly Italy. Economic problems and the very size of both countries keep things within limits.

When peace between Greece and Turkey returns in 1923 not much has been left of the pre-WW1 Ottoman navy. The battlecruiser Yavuz, once the German Goeben has suffered repeated and major damage during World War 1. The battleship Turgut Reis dates back to 1891 and is of no real military value. The two surviving protected cruisers are relatively more useful but still date back to 1903. Things are not much better regarding lighter craft. There are 3 smallish destroyers, 2 of 300 tons and one of 600 tons and as many small torpedo boats nearly all dating to the start
of the century or worse. Economic troubles coupled with political considerations, as Rauf Orbay one of the main opponents of Kemal is a navy officer combine to stop Turkey from doing much to improve the condition of the navy. But by 1926 this is changing with Kemal securing his position in power and the economy starting to improve. While the army and the air force both have priority over the navy particularly in the face of Turkey's Kurdish troubles Turkey needs a navy if it is ever to fight a way against Greece or to defend itself in case Greece starts a war. A fleet
would be also of some value against Britain, France or for that matter Italy.

The first new warships to join the navy are 2 German designed submarines laid down in Dutch yards in 1926 and delivered in 1928. Reonstruction of the Yavuz also starts in 1926 initially in Izmit. The project faces severe trouble, enough for Kemal to abolish for a time the navy ministry in 1927. Finally the modernization is taken up by the Italians. Initial thoughts are calling for a major reconstruction, replacing machinery, providing additional armor, lengthening the ship and even replacing armantment. But Kemal balks at the cost of the proposed reconstruction. As it is pointed out a brand new battlecruiser similar to the ones the Italian navy is considering at the time would not cost much higher than the reconstruction if higher at all. [1] The Turkish government is quite willing to spend the money if it means getting the uper hand over the Greek navy, the public as shown in the public subscription campaigns to raise money for the navy firmly stands with it in the subject but it is decided that merely refitting Yavuz and buying a new battlecruiser is making much better sense.

Thus Yavuz is brought to the Cantieri del Tirreno in Genoa to be repaired in the years between 1927 and 1930, while the Italian firm receives late in 1927 an order for a 23,000t battlecruiser named Hairedin Barbarossa after the 16th century Turkish admiral. Modernized or not Yavuz and Barbarossa need escorts. Thus the 1929 naval program provides for the construction of 6 destroyers in addition to a dozen submarines. The world economic crisis the same year takes its toll on the Turkish economy though. Four destroyers, similar to the Italian Freccia class are bought by 1932, with a further pair of bought in 1934. In addition 3 submarines, 2 from Italy and a German designed Spanish boat are bought in the same period. [2] By 1935 Turkey is laying plans for a new naval program including 2 cruisers and several destroyers in addition to submarines. Four submarines are ordered from Germany in 1936 but it is again Italy that receives the lion's share of the program with 4 Maestrale class destroyers, 4 Adua class submarines and 2 Abruzzi class light cruisers delivered by 1940. [3] The Second World War puts further naval expansion into serious jeopardy. By the 1930s Turkish shipyards are capable to produce submarines, with considerable German help and some parts imported from Germany but the country by no means have an independent naval industry.

Compared to the navy the Turkish army and air force are not much changed from their OTL counterparts in terms of size and capability on the eve of the Second World War. The Turkish army numbers 194,000 men in 1938. When mobilized, it can put on the field about 40 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions. The infantry is for the most part armed with Mauser 7.92mm rifles and a mix of machine guns of various types, the most modern of them of Czech manufacture. Most field artillery are 75, 77mm and 3 inch pieces dating back to WW1 with the exception of 232 Bofors mountain guns dating to the early 1930s. By 1939 a number of these are being modernized by the Turkish industry with new longer barrels and carriages with help from Rheinmetall. Heavier artillery includes 105mm and 150mm guns made either German or Skoda made either dating to WW1 or bought in the 1930s. At the time war starts Germany is delivering to Turkey an
order for 150mm guns as well as a smaller number of 210mm and 240mm pieces. Anti-tank guns are scarcer with about 350 37mm Czech and German guns available at the start of the war and 278 more on order. Turkey has also secured licence production of the Rheinmetall 37mm AT gun but production has not start yet in September 1939. AA guns are even scarcer
with 120 light guns and a number of 75mm and 88mm guns. Turkey also has about 130 Soviet made T-26 light tanks in addition to 50 LT-38 tanks imported from Germany. [4] The air force in 1940 has about 400 aircraft of all types, the most modern being German made Bf-109Es and Italian Fiat G-50 fighters. [5]

* * *

On the other side of the Aegean Greece's economic situation is better than it would had been in OTL after its victory in Thrace. Still it is faced with a major refugee problem and the pressing need to rebuild the army and the navy. In OTL between 1925 and 1932 Greece spent about 7 million pounds in arms purchases. The lion's share of the funds went to the army for 468 artillery pieces, 125,000 rifles and about 7,752 light and medium machine guns. Still the navy also received 6 submarines and 4 destroyers before the naval treaty between Greece and Turkey put a stop to any thoughts over acquiring a battleship to match Yavuz (or alternatively completing the battleship Salamis left rusting in the Vulcan yards since 1914 to a modernized design) and to the 1928 naval program that called for construction of a total of 16 destroyers and 2 cruisers. In the same period Greece was spending on average 3,500,000 million pounds per year in cash on refugee resettlement besides allowances in kind like land and housing which were bringing the total amount to about 8 millions pounds per year. By 1932 per Venizelos statemets in the Greek parliament that year the effort had taken up some 80 million pounds.

The ATL Greece has fewer refugees and more than twice the land to settle them. Even allowing for providing considerably more land and money per capita for refugee support still the costs in cash are going to be no higher than OTL and more probably at least somewhat lower. The combination of lower refugee support costs and a lower economy means that it is in position to spend about 1.3 million pounds per year more than OTL on arms up to about 1935. Then with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, military spending takes a major turn upwards with arms spending alone reaching about 4% of the GDP per year in the 1935-1940 period. [5] Overall the country ends up having spent about 80% more on arms than it would have had in OTL between 1924 and 1940.

* * *

While both the army and the air force are receiving more funding than in OTL it is the navy that is the one that gains the most. In 1924 the fleet may be in better condition than its Turkish counterpart but 10 years of war have taken their toll. The two pre-dreadnoughts Lemnos and Kilkis, are both worn out ships, incapable of more than 12 knots and with lots of secondary damage due to their use as floating batteries in Pangalos Thracian offensive. The armored cruiser Georgios Averoff is in better condition and so are the four 1,000 ton destroyers of the Leon class dating back to 1912, while the navy is also in possession of a number of smaller destroyers and torpedo boats. In 1925 Averoff and the Leon class destroyers are sent to France and Malta for modernization while the remaining ships get repaired back at home. The same year Greece orders 4 Circe class submarines from France with a second order for 4 improved boats following in 1927. The 1928 naval law is unchanged from that of OTL calling for 2 cruisers and 16 destroyers.

News of the Turkish plans to modernize Yavuz in Italy take the Greeks by surprise. When they are followed by news of the order placed for Barbarossa they cause a political crisis than nearly costs Venizelos his position. In the view of the Greek naval staff should Yavuz alone become again operational it would probably overturn the balance of power in the Aegean. Adding Barbarossa to the picture makes it certain and it is argued a mortal danger to the country. Venizelos is hardly enthusiastic to the idea of a battleship race like that of 1913-14 and initially inquires on the feasibility of matching the Turkish ships through a combination of light craft and aircraft. But the navy is adamant on the need of heavy ships and the war scare along with the argument quickly reaches the press and the parliament. The Cretan finds himself between increasing pressure from the parliament and the press on one hand and the arguments of the navy on the other, arguments that he has to admit appear compelling. Having agreed to the need the idea to complete the original Salamis is quickly dropped as the Germans are asking for 4 million pounds enough for a new ship and the Greeks turn their interest to French and British yards.

Venizelos in the meantime brings into the picture a personal friend of his, sir Basil Zaharoff. The heyday of Zaharoff's arms trading has passed. But the old Greek is still one of the world's richest people, closely connected with the arms companies particularly Vickers-Armstrong and his contacts in the European ruling establishments run deep. He is said to have spent nearly half his fortune in the early 1920s to support  Greece in Asia Minor, losses that he has in the meantime recovered, and is also providing money for the refugees post 1922. It is not very difficult for the so called mystery man of Europeto get Vickers sufficiently interested and any political hurdles in Britain and the United States removed with Vickers offering Greece a 26,000 ton design armed with 9 14in guns at a price somewhat below what Vulcan was asking. Zaharoff even quietly offers to shoulder some part of the cost.  Greece orders a couple, named Salamis and Themistocles, with the first delivered in late 1930 just in time to match Yavuz. [7] The same year Lemnos and Kilkis are decommissioned. Turkey may have failed to outbuild Greece but it has forced it, even with Zaharoff's involvement to spend significantly more in order to maintain the balance.

While it is the battleships that catch the eye and interest especially as for a time they bring the two countries perilously close to the outbreak of war the navy sticks to the 1928 naval law to the letter. The Greeks place an order for 4 B class destroyers in 1928 followed by 4 E class destroyers, 2 of them built locally, in 1932 and 2 La Galissonniere class cruisers the next year. Two G class destroyers are hurriedly bought during the Abyssenian crisis along with 4 Minerve class submarines while 6 more G class destroyers will be built by the Scaramanga navy yard between 1936 and 1941.

The air force has the luck of Venizelos being a proponent of it since before the time of the Balkan wars when Venizelos was perhaps the first prime minister of Europe to fly with an airplane. KEA, Greece's first aircraft factory is established with help from the Blackburn Company in 1925. Over the next years in locally produces a number of aircraft for the air force and the navy while in 1929 its first domestic fighter design, Khelidon first flies and enters production. [8] In 1930 the air force is established as a seperate service. By the middle of the decade KEA is licence producing PZL P.24F for the Greek air force and also profits from the Spanish civil war as it sells aircraft at rather exorbitant prices to the Spanish Republicans. On the technical side the
factory is cooperating with Antonius Raab's AEKKEA, established in Athens in 1935. By 1940 the P.24 has been replaced in the production lines by the KEA Ierax (Falcon) a variant of the Romanian IAR 80. [9] In August the same year the air force is standing at about 300 aircraft, the most modern two dozen Spitfires delivered between March and September 1939. [10]

The Greek army post remains under the control of general Theodore Pangalos. Enormously popular, particularly among the refugees and the Thracians, undeniably capable, young for his rank and personally loyal to Venizelos he is maintained as chief of the general staff through the period. When the 2nd world war starts the army Pangalos commands is notably different in two things compared to that of OTL. First it is rather less political in the sense of including both Republican and Royalist officers unlike OTL when republican officers were largely kept out of the army post 1935 and most senior ones were not recalled even after the Italian invasion. The picture tends to be the reverse in the ATL army but Pangalos tends to be indifferent to royalist officers as
long as they are capable. Second army doctrine tends to be more aggresive and less attached to French doctrines than it would had been under Papagos in OTL. The army is in a better material situation, as it has received about 40% more funding than it would have in OTL for equipment. While this allows some notable improvements, standardizing to the 6.5mm Mannlicher for most units and replacing the highly problematic Chaucat light machine guns for example in general equipment is not much different than what would be expected in most minor European armies of
the time. Artillery is using mostly French 75, 105 and 155mm guns, antitank guns are available in small numbers and the country has about 100 Vickers light tanks and as many R-35s. Overall the best comparison is perhaps to the Polish army in terms of firepower. There is a notable exception in Greece having given considerably more emphasis in AA artillery than most of Europe while available tanks are all concentrated to a single unit; Pangalos was quite receptive to the ideas of colonel Dabakis the local proponent of tank warfare. The domestic arms industry affords at least some autonomy to the country as it can at least produce light arms, mortars and munitions on its own. When the war starts EEPK the largest of the local arms industries is producing under licence the Bofors 37mm AT and 40mm AA guns. It's own inovative "machine gun" one of the world's first assault rifles is just entering into limited production at the time. [11]

* * *

Appendix 1 Turkish air force fighter and bomber aircraft, August 1940

45 Bf 109E
40 Fiat G-50
68 PZL P.24
42 CR-32
24 He-111F
40 Do-17
30 SM-79.

* * *

Appendix 2 Hellenic Air Force aircraft, August 1940

24 Spitfire MkI
24 KEA Ierax
40 MS 406
72 PZL P.24
24 Martin 167
24 Blenheim
24 Potez P.633
12 Anson Mk 1
12 PBY Catalina
48 KEA Khelidon II (army observation)
Potez 25 (in storage/ training)
Breguet XIX (in storage/ training)

[1] Radical reconstruction on the Italian model does not appear to be particularly sensible from an economic standpoint. While I have no exact data on the costs of the Italian modernizations the British ones cost in the order of 2-2.5 million pounds per ship. The Italian ones were far more extensive completely removing the interior of the ships, reboring the guns (and removing the midships turret) Overall only about 40% of the original ships had been left in place. Of course the Cavours were relatively smaller than Queen Elizabeth but still modernizing each ship probably cost in the order of 3 million pounds at least and quite possibly more. By comparison Dunkerque cost 4.12 million pounds, King George V 7.4 and Richelieu 10. A small battlecruiser similar to that projected by the Italians in 1928 would be expected to cost somewhat less than the Dunkerque did.

[2] With the exception of the addition of a pair of destroyers and Barbarossa ( all
remaining construction is historical.

[3] Essentially the OTL 1937 Turkish naval program with Italian ships ordered in the place of British ships, the two planned cruisers built and everything built forward a couple of years between the increased tensions with Greece, Britain and France and Mussolini being more accommodating than the British government was in OTL over providing financial guarantees.

[4] This is more or less the OTL Turkish army as if 1940-41, with some differences in weapon types, no French and British equipment is bought, and most of OTLs orders to Germany and German controlled Czechoslovakia (as well as the ATL order of LT-38) being delivered despite the war's start for diplomatic reasons.

[5] Roughly similar numbers with OTL. Post that French planes been replaced with Italian and British ones with additional German planes.

[6] That's the same levels of spending with OTL post 1936. The one year in advance is due to the more stable political situation of Greece. By 1935 both Venizelos and Metaxas were of the opinion that war was coming and the country had to be prepared from it. The government start taking measures to that extend like increasing military service back to 24 months in 1935 but political turmoil and coups meant that serious measures to improve available equipment could not be taken before 1936.

[7] Essentially we are talking about cheaper Dunkerques with a conventional gun layout, much shorter range for operations in the Mediterranean, a thicker main side belt and considerably lower speed. Cheaper or not two of these will still be quite painful to the Greek budget but it is not as if the Greeks have much option if they want to maintain parity in the Aegean.

[8] Khelidon is historical. Its series production is not.

[9] How plausible that turn of events is? I'd say reasonably so. About every small European country of the time including Greece (with the AEKKEA R-27 and R-29) designed or produced domestically some type of fighter aircraft prior or during the war. Instead of having a KEA design made out of whole cloth or having the Greeks actually producing either R-29 or some advanced variant of it, since very little is known on it, I have the Greeks licence built some variant of a foreign design. Since they already operate P.24, are allied to Romania and there is a quite
influential Greek community there, an IAR 80 clone makes just as much sense as some other plane.

[10] In OTL the Greek Air Force had taken delivery of 117 aircraft by September 1939 with deliveries of 112 more stopped by the war. KEA had suffered from the political turmoil in the mid-1930s and was only recovering by the start of the war while Raab most probably was politically suspect as a leftist so domestic production had been confined to local assembly and trainers with fighter production in the planning stages at the war’s start. Early in 1940 the United States government refused to take orders for some 50 aircraft as it feared the Metaxas government was leaning towards the Axis. In the ATL Greece starts rearming about a year earlier, and there are no political obstacles to purchasing war material from the United States. In the case of the Spitfires first deliveries were due for December 1939. In the ATL the Greek order is finalized in September 1938 when in OTL the initial Greek order was placed instead of March 1939.




Part 7


And a bit more of wargamer disease indulging to cover things beyond the Balkans.

Starting in 1927, Mussolini's government was quite happy to provide full financial guarantees for Turkish naval construction in Italian yards. For the time this was somewhat uprecented. Unlike the years prior to 1914 the British, French and American governments were rather less forthcoming with similar guarantees for arms exports, at least for most countries. In part the Italian willingness was aiming to bringing Turkey closer to its orbit, something that was accomplished at least to some extend since the Turks saw the Italian fascists as useful if unreliable. In part it aimed to help the Italian shipbuilding industry, a goal also met with success given how Italy secured the lion's share of Turkish naval orders up to the start of WW2.

The third goal was complicating the position of the French navy in the Mediterranean. The treaty of Washington had allowed the same maximum tonnage to both France and Italy. But it had also left the French with 7 battleships to Italy's 5. After the accidental loss of France in 1922 and the scrapping of Leonardo Da Vinci, the two navies had been left with 6 and 4 battleships respectively with the French ships being on average superior in firepower and protection. Turkey given Franco-Turkish problems over the Ottoman debt and possession of Alexandretta, Hatay for the Turks, could be reasonably expected to be hostile to France. Thus adding a significant Turkish naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean would go a long way towards evening the odds for Italy since it could be expected that the Turkish navy would be fighting on the Italian side or at the very least be a friendly neutral. Furthermore it was expected that unlike direct Italian battleship construction this was far less likely to create a French response. Or at least that's what the Italian powers that be in general and a very certain Benito Mussolini in particular believed.

That part of the plan start backfiring as soon as the Greeks had a look at the situation developing in the Aegean, decided they were bound for disaster if they let it develop unchecked and understandably reacted to it before it was too late. Between Venizelos and Zaharoff it was not too difficult for the Greeks to overcome any diplomatic obstacles for their own naval program or to secure financial guarantees for it. The two ships Greece ordered in British yards in response to Yavuz and Barbarossa were hardly exceptional by British, American or Japanese standards. Compared to the Cavour class ships on the other hand they were far superior in about every respect. And thus the Italian navy found itself largely by accident; Greco-Turkish naval competition was bound to happen with or without Mussolini kindling it, in a situation at the very least problematic. Greece was not hostile per se but was hardly friendly either. Worse it was close to France with which Italy was not in the best of terms and allied to Yugoslavia, with which Italy was decidedly hostile. The minor fact that attrition was also taking its toll on the Italian battleship fleet by 1930 just made things more exasperating.

The Regia Marina already had a battlecruiser design under consideration since before 1928 hopping to take advantage of the about 70,000 tons of new construction it had available under the terms of the Washington treaty. Although more or less satisfactory for its size and exported to Turkey, the navy instead tried to convince Mussolini on an enlarged variant with improved armour and a fourth 15in turret. Playing a bit or perhaps more than a bit on the grandiose streak of Mussolini got the admirals their desires, with the first ship of the class, Enrico Dandolo laid down in 1929 and the second Francesco Morosini early next year. A second pair of ships, Marcantonio Colonna and Lepanto would be laid down in 1931 and 1932. Officially Italy announced the ships to be displacing 26,250 tons. With France matching Italian construction ship for ship Italy would lay down a pair of significantly stronger battleships as the Littorio class late in 1934 with an additional pair ordered in 1936 after the Washington treaty limitations had collapsed. With a nominal displacement of 35,000 tons in practice the numbers both for the Littorio and the Dandolo class were closer to fantasy, in order to fit with treaty limitations prior to 1936. [1]

Italian battleship construction inevitably drew France into the same. Already from 1926 the French navy was playing with the concept of a "cruiser killer" of 17,500 tons, armed with 12 inch guns and capable 34-36 knots top speed, intented among other things to hunt down and destroy Italian cruisers in case of war. The plans start evolving towards a larger slower ship capable of dealing with the German Deutchland class panzershiffe and a further redesign was then required to match the 15in guns of the Dandolo class and offer adequate protection for the same. When the battleships Dunkerque and Strassbourg were finally laid down in 1931, speed had dropped to 28 knots and normal displacement grown up to 31,500 tons to accommodate the larger guns and armour. [2] France would then proceed to match Italy ship for ship with two more ships of the Dunkerque class, France and Verdun laid down in 1933 and four ships of the larger Richelieu class following in 1935-37. Remarkably the French ships managed to keep within treaty limitations too, unlike their Italian counterparts. [3]

* * *

With Italy and France either building or in the process of building new battleships the London naval conference in January 1930 became a quite more problematic affair than it would had been otherwise. The five great powers did actually agree on placing stricter controls on submarine warfare, continuing the Washington limits on aircraft carriers, placing limits on submarine displacement and establishing replacement age limits for all warships according to tonnage or type. Where the conference broke down was in the when it came to capital ships and limiting cruiser tonnage. The British proposal to further limit battleship size and armantment was hardly considered at all. The proposal to extend the freeze on battleship construction to 1936 fell through, Italy had already authorized construction of the third and fourth vessels of the Dandolo class, France wanted its options open and Japan which was already planning for replacements of the Fuso class was not shy to follow the French and Italian line since the blame would not fall upon itself. In the negotiations for limits to cruiser construction France was demanding more tonnage overall than Italy, arguing that due to geography it had more naval commitments compared to Italy which could concentrate her whole fleet in the Mediterranean. The end result was neither France nor Italy signing onto the treaty but this did not stop Britain, Japan and the United States from accepting treaty limitations to their own cruiser, destroyer and submarine fleets. [4]

The next naval conference held in London in December 1935 merely sealed the collapse of the Washington treaty limitations. Japan increasingly under the grip of the militarists announced its withdrawal from the treaties as it would not be given parity with Britain and the United States, Italy declined to sign and Germany who was outside the treaties had resumed battleship construction. The three western powers did sign a treaty to maintain the limits that had been agreed in Washington, along with an escalation clause allowing battleships up to 45,000 tons should powers outside the treaty start similar ships. [5] It would hardly take a year for the escalator clause to be activated by reports that the Littorio, Bismarck and Tosa classes all well exceeded 35,000 tons and news of Japan laying some short of yet larger battleship by in 1937.

* * *

By rational calculation Japan in 1935-36 had perhaps the least reason of all to leave the treaty given the economic and industrial disparity between itself and the western powers. In the years between 1932 and 1934 the Japanese had laid down 4 new battleships utilising the replacements the Washington treaty allowed. Designed by vice admiral Yuzuru Hiraga the ships of the Tosa class (Tosa, Amagi, Settsu and Aki) were supposed to be cramming ten 16 inch guns with sufficient armour and machinery for high speed without violating the treaty size limits. In practice like most Hiraga ships they were considerably overweight. [6] Even though they had more firepower than about every other ship in the world as of 1936 the IJN was in the process of laying down the first of the Yamato class ships with nearly twice the displacement of the Tosas and 460mm guns.

The United States still in the midst of the great depression was not exactly enthusiastic over resuming battleship construction even when the first of the Tosa class ships was laid down in 1932. By the same token it was not willing to let the field open to Japan without response either. As part of the New Deal construction of 2 battleships and 2 aircraft carriers was authorized in 1933 and the first battleship, North Carolina laid down in 1934. [7] Four more battleships would be laid down in 1936 and with tensions rising in Europe and East Asia they would be followed by 8 more between 1938 and 1941. [8]

Britain was the most reluctant of all the powers to resume battleship construction. But with all the other powers doing so and Germany also building up its navy the Royal Navy had no option but to follow up the trend. The design chosen in 1934 called for 35,000 ton ships with nine 15 inch guns each in three triple turrets. Five ships would be laid down between January and July 1935. By September 1939 the first three were in service with the last two nearing completion. By the same time Britain had 4 more battleships of the larger Lion class under construction. [9]

[1] Under Washington Italy could lay down 35,000 tons in 1927 and a further 35,000 tons of new construction in 1929. By 1931 they could start laying down tonnage for replacements, with 35,000 tons in 1931, 45,000 tons in 1932 and 25,000 tons in 1933. Simultaneously Italy had to keep within 175,000 tons overall could not replace Dante Alighieri prior to 1931 and the Cavour class battleships prior to 1935-37. In OTL the Italians claimed the Littorios to be within treaty limits when they were near 41,000 tons. It's not much different here. The massive modernization of the Cavour class never takes place with the money instead used to build the "Doge class" battlecruisers in the ATL. Roma and Impero are also ordered in 1936 when originally proposed given the hotter naval race in the ATL.

[2] In essense the OTL Strasbourg, with lower speed, wider beam and 15in guns in two quadraple turrets placed fore and aft instead of grouped forward in order to further save weight.

[3] Following the pattern of Gascoigne with the turrets using a conventional layout, both because so did the preceding class/ for operational reasons and in order to save weight as originally the ships would have to come at around 33-34,000 tons in order to keep the Washington tonnage limits. Of course since the treaty will be collapsing anyway while the ships are still under construction...

[4] With the exception of the battleship freeze not being extended to 1936 and the scrapping/demilitarization of the Iron Dukes, Tiger, Hiei, Florida, Utah and Arkansas not being agreed upon no different from the OTL London treaty.

[5] Call it broadly the same to the OTL 1936 naval treaty but keeping the 1930 London and Washington limitations on ship sizes and armantment instead of trying to impose further limitations.

[6] Somewhat infamously but as it proved accurately the RN's director of naval construction had said that 'they must be building their ships out of cardboard or lying' when asked why his bureu could come nowhere near the official statistics of Japanese ships like the Mogami class in its own designs.

[7] The two carriers were authorized also in OTL, would become the USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise.

[8] Roughly speaking the USN is assumed to produce the same classes of battleships as in OTL but with the timeframe moved ahead by about 3 years. Thus the USN gets the two North Carolinas laid down in 1934 and the South Dakotas in 1936. Post that it lays a pair of Iowas every year between 1938 and 1940 and a single pair of Montana class ships laid down in 1941.

[9] Much like the USN British construction schedule is moved ahead by about two years with the King George V equivalents laid down in 1935 and the first two Lions following in mid 1937 with the second pair sometime in 1938 or 1939. The ATL KGVs are either the 15A or the 15B variants considered in OTL since there is no hope at all for a 14in gun limit in the ATL. Lion and Temeraine have a quite reasonable chance of actually getting completed in the ATL in a timeframe similar to that of Anson and Howe. The other ships of the class and Vanguard not so much…




Part 8


October 19, 1934 is a day somewhat different than usual for Marseilles life as king Alexander I of Yugoslavia lands in the city as part of the start of a state visit to France. Cheered by the crowds the closed limousine carrying Alexander and foreign minister Louis Barthou moves through the crowds that despite the cold have come out in the streets to welcome, France's old wartime ally when the first shots are heard. Moments later the limousine, punctured by the bullets that hit it, is running at top speed away.Vlado Chernozemski, IMRO member, seconded to the Croatian Ustasha is cut down moments later by a French mounted policeman. Barthou and Alexander remain unscathed and the state visit proceeds as planned for all the disturbance caused by the failed assassination attempt. [1]

Barthou goes on as French foreign minister to the Doumergue government till its fall in November and retains his position through the Flandin and Bouisson ministries, signing a treaty of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union in March 1935, an agreement with Italy in January 1935 and the Stressa front with Britain and Italy in April in hopes of containing Germany. The latter two prove short lived as Italy invades Abyssinia and the MacDonald government signs the Anglo-German naval treaty allowing Germany to resume large scale naval construction. Still Barthou becomes for a second time prime minister when in June 1935 he succeeds Bouisson in the premiership.

As prime minister Barthou continues his policy of encircling Germany in a web of alliances, further strengthening relations with the French allies in Eastern and Southern Europe as well as providing loans to help them rearm. But Barthou's government and his policy suffer a major setback when Italy invades Ethiopia in October 1935. On one hand Barthou and the British government don't want to alienate Italy. On the other they can't but condemn Italy in the League of Nations is to retain any semblance of value while public outcry against Italy mounts particularly after it starts using chemical weapons. The French and British governments stand aside unable to do anything to save Ethiopia or their ties with Italy. Barthou lasts in government till June 1936 when the Popular Front wins the elections and Leon Blum becomes prime minister. His year in government leaves France marginally stronger militarily and diplomatically than it would had been otherwise but the
Franco-Soviet treaty ends up undermined to the extend of becoming useless. [2]

* * *

The other survivor of Marseilles Alexander I of Yugoslavia is as of 1934 in the perhaps unenviable position of running a royal dictatorship and not being quite certain on how to return his country to normalcy. Authoritarian or not though he is a reasonably capable man and besides that he is a pro-western authoritarian. In OTL Alexander was supposedly planning releasing Vladko Macek, head of the Croatian Peasants Party, whom he had arrested in 1933 and reaching some short of agreement with him while returning to political normalcy. [3] Planning to reach an agreement and actually reaching an agreement with Croatian moderates are quite different things. Still Alexander releases Macek from prison in early 1935 and after two years of painful negotiations reaches and agreement with Macek in August 1937, creating a semi-autonomous banovina of Croatia encompassing most of the Croat populations of the kingdom. Election follow in early 1938 marking and the typical return to normality, a normality that still involves the king having a quite heavy involvement with politics. Much to the concern of people like Ante Pavelic and his Italian and Hungarian supporters by 1940 the Alexander-Macek agreement seems to be working out quite well. [4]

Under the influence of Alexander Yugoslav foreign and defence policy continues more or less unchanged on the course it had set before 1934. Yugoslavia remains closely allied with France while relations with Italy remain highly problematic. Thus the treaty of friendship with France is renewed but Stojadinović's initiatives like the non aggression pact with Italy in and the attempted concordat with the Vatican never come to being. On the other hand the Yugoslav ties with Greece and Romania are kept strong. Yugoslav rearmantment is helped to some degree by the closer ties with France, materializing in the form of additional loans among other things and the higher level of trust placed upon it by Britain and France. By 1940 the Yugoslav army is a quite powerful force of of over 40 divisions and 1 million men armed for the most part with French and Czech weapons. The Royal Yugoslav Air Force is using mostly French and British planes in addition to local designs, the Rogozarsky IK-3 proves itself excellent and a handful of PZL P.37s delivered before September 1939. Yugoslavia, like Poland, also has a small navy with hopes for more but compared to the Regia Marina on the other side of the Adriatic it is minuscule at best.

* * *

Meanwhile elsewhere in Europe events keep following their path unhindered by changes in the Balkans and the Middle East or somewhat increased naval armantments post 1931. The Spanish civil war happens on schedule and so do Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union and the German expansion and rearmantment in the same period. When in August 1939 the Soviet Union and Germany sign the Molotov-Ribbentro pact the Franco-Soviet treaty is as dead as its creator who died right before Daladier leaving for Munich. When shortly afterwards Germany invades Poland in September 1939 France and Britain join the war on the Polish side. The 2nd world war has start. For the time being Italy, the Balkan countries and Turkey remain out of it...

[1] In OTL Chernozemski assassinated Alexander in October 9, 1934. Barthou was killed by a stray bullet. With a POD 11 years ago and notable changes in the Balkans an exact replay of the event is at the very least questionable. Add in the higher tensions present and that in OTL the French police failed to take it's own standard security procedures and it appears more plausible that an assassination attempt against Alexander fails than the other way round.

[2] In effect despite differences French politics return to where they had start by June 1936. France is somewhat stronger and has somewhat better relations with Poland et all as well as the Soviet Union but nowhere near the extend is seriously affecting things afterwards.

[3] From George Castellan, Histoire des Balkans.

[4] Here we have the Cvetković-Maček Agreement 2 years early...




Part 9


When the Wermacht crosses the Polish border in September 1st, 1939 few contemporaries expect the collapse of Poland within a little less than 5 weeks. It is not that the Polish army and air force do not fight hard in defence of the country, quite the contrary, but the numerical and tactical superiority of the Germans coupled with Soviet entry to the war post September 17 seals the fate of the country. About 120,000 thousand Polish troops mange to escape to Romania and Hungary evacuating from there through Greece and Yugoslavia to allied territories. A further 20,000 men escape to the Baltic countries.

The war comes to a near complete lull in the aftermath of the Polish campaign. The French after a brief uneventful foray into the Saar in September remain content to remain dug in behind the Maginot line fortifications. The Germans show little inclination to see that being changed. Aside from the occasional skirmishing at land and air military activity appears confined to the seas with Germany put under blockade and allied shipping falling victim to submarines and surface raiders. The fighting at sea makes headlines when in October 14 the German U-47 sinks HMS Royal Oak inside Scapa Flow. German propaganda's gloating lasts only for a few days when the freighter Zakynthos manages to radio its position off Newfoundland before being sunk by the panzershiff Deutchland which ends up being intercepted and sunk by the battleships France and Strasbourg. [1]

Come December the Soviet Union invades Finland after the latter refuses a Soviet ultimatum. Much to the world's surprise determined Finnish resistance keeps the Soviets at bay despite overwhelming numerical superiority for months while small numbers of Swedish and other volunteers join the Finnish struggle. Virtually left on their own the Finns have to come to terms with the Soviets by mid March 1940 losing territory but at least retaining their independence.

Somewhat ironically the end of the Winter war manages to bring down the Daladier government and cause a political crisis in France. With Daladier gone and an SFIO prime minister being not quite acceptable the two leading candidates to head a new government are Daladier's minister of economics Paul Reynaud and Pierre Laval. Laval being right wing and less than hostile stance towards Germany proves not to be powerful enough to become himself prime minister but he proves strong enough to bring Reynaud's attempt to put together a government to ruin as well. [2]. With Reynaud having just failed to gain a majority it is the turn of another politician with impeccable anti-German credentials, Georges Mandel to try to form a government. Securing additional support among the Radicals compared to Reynaud he barely manages to pass a coalition including SFIO members past the Chamber of Deputies.

Not two weeks after Mandel takes office the Germans invade Denmark and Norway. Denmark folds within hours barely firing a shot. Norway proves a far different matter. Things start unfolding when the German invasion force heading for Oslo is engaged in the Drobak Sound by the Oscarsberg fortress resulting in the destruction of the heavy cruiser Blucher and quite severe damage on the Admiral Graf Spee before the squadron manages to get out of range. Nevertheless German paratroopers and landing forces manage to capture Oslo within the day as well as seize Trondheim and Bergen. But then the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale descend upon the Kriegsmarine in force. The effective collapse of the naval treaties in the early 1930s has ironically put both allied navies in a much better condition than they would had been otherwise particularly in modern capital ships. Just to make matters worse the British have brought out of the reserves no less than 8 of the old Revenge and Iron Duke class battleships removed from active service in the 1930s. [3] Neither class is particularly modern but for tasks like coastal bombardment they are invaluable and can be risked relatively more easily than more modern units. A British task force led by HMS Iron Duke and HMS Marlborough forces the entrance to the Trondheimsfjord demolishing the captured Norwegian coastal batteries and landing British and French troops to retake Trodtheim. Further north the Germans successfully land in Narvik but the squadron that conducted the landing in annihilated in the course of two engagements with the RN at the cost of 10 destroyers and a submarine sunk. Coupled with the loss of light cruisers Konigsberg and Karlsruhe, Gneisenau ending with considerable damage, including a 15 inch turret destroyed, in a brief engagement with Prince of Wales and Renown west of Lofoten before high speed and bad weather allow her and Sharnhorst to break away, Graf Spee being torpedoed and heavily damaged by the Polish submarine Orzel and Hipper being rammed the Kriegsmarine has been effectively crippled for the time being. Still the German army has managed to secure control of Norway south of Trodheim. The allies prove able to hold back the line in Trodtheim during May and by June their positions are reinforced by forces freed up from retaking Narvik in late May.

* * *

The partial debacle in Norway proves hardly enough though to affect the German plans for operations in the west. In May 10 1940 the German army attacks France and the Low Countries. By the end of the month Belgium and Holland have been knocked out of the battle and the best part of the French army along with the British expeditionary force encircled. While about 350,000 men manage to escape through Dunkirk the losses have crippled the French army and the BEF. Mandel sacks Gamelin in favour of Alphonse Georges chief of staff of the army and an opponent of the former commander in chief. [4] Georges proves unable to restore the situation as the Germans launch the second phase of their offensive in June 5 and Italy declares war in June 10 against France and Britain. Paris falls to the Germans in June 14 but Mandel is not the kind of man to just back down in the face of such adversity. The same day Paris falls he orders the evacuation of the French government and armed forces to North Africa and declares through radio that France is going to fight on to the bitter end.

Hardly everyone in France is willing to see the war continuing. Petain, from Madrid, is at the very least dubious, claims it just furthers the suffering of the French people and decides to return to France, a complication Mandel could do without. Laval is more vocal to the extend of trying and failing to overthrow Mandel's cabinet. But enough are either willing to support Mandel's stance, like Reynaud, Blum, Georges and De Gaulle, opportunistic enough to go along like admiral Darlan, the navy being practically intact and victorious so far would make it highly unlikely for it not to follow orders to continue fighting, or just bound to remain loyal to the orders of their government. The cabinet is reshuffled to include SFIO ministers while the allied navies are already evacuating as many men and equipment as humanly possible to Britain and North Africa. Along with the troops go anything that might be of value to the war effort and cave be moved on from blueprints and prototypes of weapons, to engineers and scientists to heavy water and incomplete warships that can be moved.

By June 25th all of northern and central France has fallen to the Germans including all important French Atlantic ports to the north of Bordeaux. The only bright spot for the allies have been in the Italian border where the Italian army has failed to make much headway. It takes a little less than three weeks for the German army to occupy the remainder of the French mainland between delaying actions, sheer distances and lengthening supply lines but by mid July the only allied soldiers in Europe are either prisoners of war or fugitives. German forces are already concentrating along the English Channel for a possible assault across the channel...

[1] I'd call which victim to the German raiders manages to get a signal out a random event particularly 16 years post POD. So its Deutchland that gets unlucky and Graf Spee that gets lucky...

[2] In OTL Reynaud made it by a single vote. In the ATL with Barthou not being assassinated in 1934 there is no Hoare-Laval pact (as a Hoare-Laval one anyway) and Laval is never driven out of politics. Come 1940 he is going to be a power in the Chamber of deputies and while he is IMO unlikely to gain the premiership he'd probably be more than enough for Reynaud’s threadbare majority to go.

[3] The ATL London treaty held no provisions to disarm and dismantle additional battleships thus Britain was under no obligation to scrap the Iron Dukes or Tiger for that matter. By the time new construction start entering service the Washington limitations were a thing of the past as well and one could well argue that if Britain is in position to keep a reserve fleet she will do so.

[4] Would Mandel choose Georges over Weygand? Frankly don't know but Georges strikes me as a much more logical choice for the position being second in command of the army hence intimately knowing the situation on the battlefield and a vocal opponent to Gamelin's Breda plans compared to bringing a 73 year old from Syria to take over the army. The greater tensions with Turkey over Syria and Georges not being severely wounded in 1934 as Alexander's assassination was butterflied may perhaps affect things somewhat in Georges direction too.



Part 10


When the campaign in mainland France ends in mid July the only parts of continental Europe the allies still hold are Norway to the north of Trodtheim, Gibraltar and Malta. Corcica defended by a regimental task force at the time the German attack on France start is under Italian attack, nearby Sardinia was home to a full Italian army corps and finished off as the German and Italian air forces turn their attentions to it as soon as the fighting in the mainland is over. In Norway allied troops have managed to secure the country to the north of Trodtheim and while a t the moment the Germans are not into position to attack north drive them out of Norway neither are they into position to attack south. Sweden remains studiously neutral.

Both sides are meanwhile catching their breath and planning their next steps. For Germany and by extension the Axis the campaign in the west has been a triumph of unprecented proportions destroying what was thought to be the strongest army of Europe within 8 weeks and at relatively limited cost for Germany. Even as the French government moves to Algiers the Germans are initially expecting that the allies with the French army destroyed will have to come to terms. British and French stance under Churchill and Mandel quickly disillusions the Germans and Italians and the question arises on what to next to force the allies to terms. The German options can be summarised to either trying to finish free France in North Africa or trying to knock Britain out of the war. Germany opts for the second on the correct assumption that with Britain defeated France would have to succumb as well.

The problem to the concept is that Germany is not actually into position to force Britain out of the war much less to achieve a successful landing on the English coast. But in July and August 1940 neither side, nor Britain that is frantically preparing to meet what appears to be an imminent German amphibious assault , nor Germany that is preparing for said assault are quite aware of the fact. After some initial fighting over the English Channel between mid July and early August the Luftwaffe attacks in earnest by mid August in hopes of achieving air supremacy over southern England. By the first week of September it starts to be increasingly clear that the Luftwaffe is failing to destroy the RAF and the Germans are also facing severe pilot replacement problems since aircrews shot down over England or the Channel only rarely can be recovered. By September 7 Hitler postpones landings for early October. They are further postponed till getting postponed indefinitely. [1] But already the Luftwaffe is shifting to hitting civilian targets with 1000 aircraft hitting London's East End in September 7. For all the damage London and other British cities suffer this just helps increase Luftwaffe casualties relative to RAF ones. By late October the battle is effectively over in German defeat. The British have suffered about 27,000 dead civilians, about as many wounded while losing about 900 fighter planes. The RAF's Bomber and Coastal commands lose about 500 aircraft in the same time period mostly in raids against German cities and the concentrating invasion fleet. For the Germans casualties are quite more substantial with 1900 aircraft lost. In addition large numbers of Rhine barges, other river craft and ships concentrated for the planed invasion of England have been sunk while the removal of the barges has severely affected Ruhr industrial production. The allies have also gained an important respite both in the Norwegian front and North Africa with German efforts in general and the Luftwaffe in particular concentrated in operations against Britain.

* * *

The French after the loss of the metropolis are in the not particularly enviable position of having to pick up the pieces of their armed forces and war effort from overseas. Of all three services the Marine Nationale is in the best position having evacuated France more or less intact and possessing what is arguably one of the best and most powerful fleets in the world. The large fleet bases in Mers El Kebir, Oran and Bizerte in addition to stores evacuated from France and the smaller fleet bases allow it to keep in supply for a significant period, probably enough for US and British Empire industry plus what little industry is available on North Africa to keep it operating indefinitely.

The Armee d'el Air is in a somewhat similar situation. With the battle of France lost its commanders ordered most of the most modern planes sent to North Africa. By June 20 about 1250 fighters and bombers had already escaped to Algeria. To these are added about 500 more before France surrenders some being flown directly from the factories to Algeria and 100 Aeronavale aircraft.  Post that France has well over 1500 aircraft on order from US factories. [2] But the French made planes will start running out of spares sooner or later leaving France entirely dependent on the United States. Blueprints and prototypes of new aircraft have been brought along to North Africa were possible and some designers most notably Marcel Bloch have also found their way there. But the prospects of actually producing any of the aircraft in question appear problematic, at least in the short run and outside North America.

The French army has been the most affected from the disaster since the metropolitan army as been virtually destroyed. This is still leaving about 2.5 divisions and 110,000 men in Indochina, 3 infantry divisions, in addition to cavalry and 2 tank battalions, with about 70,000 men in Syria and a number of smaller formations through the empire. The most important forces are without doubt these in North Africa. Algeria has 3 infantry divisions in addition to cavalry and tanks, Morocco a single infantry division, a brigade of cavalry and 23 infantry battalions in independent units. Tunisia where the French are facing the Italian army across the border 4 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions in addition to 4 cavalry regiments. Overall French North Africa is fielding the equivalent of about 12 divisions with 300 tanks half of them reasonably modern. While the plans to bring 870,000 men to Algeria proved excessive, nearly 400,000 men have escaped either to the British islands or Algeria. But still the French army has been reduced to less than 20 divisions, a force comparable to what most of the lesser European powers can put to the field. While dependent to US industry the army has the advantage over the air force that a number of weapons most notably Somua tanks were in the process of being licence produced by American factories for French use already. The first Somua prototypes are actually expected before the end of the year. [3]

* * *

For Italy the war start when Mussolini jumped into it when it appeared that France was going down. Quite frustratingly for the Italian dictator the Italian army ill trained and equipped failed to make any headway against the French in the Alps till the German advance forced the French to retreat. The Italian army was able to capture Corsica thank to the liberal application of German and Air power but the Italian navy for all its half dozen of modern battleships is not in position to take on both the French and British without risking disaster. Hence Italian forces in Libya will have to survive on their own till hopefully Germany knocks Britain out of the war. With supplies for nearly half a year the 200,000 Italians under Italo Balbo are quite willing to stay put and wait.

The allies prove rather less accommodating. Preparations for an offensive into Libya are underway already from June and by August are in full swing. For all the threat to Britain at the time Churchill has dispatched a convoy with about 150 tanks to Egypt in mid August  The allied commanders in North Africa don't wait for it though as the French attack from Tunisia and the British from Egypt in the night of August 17th. Overall the French and British have relatively more troops on the ground, clear air superiority as the Regia Auronautica cannot match the RAF and Armee d'el Air, particularly given the qualitive edge of the latter in most combat aircraft categories. Italian armour is entirely inadequate against either British or French tanks and while Italian soldiers very often fight with determination they are often suffering from poor training and more often than not from poor leadership. Organizational deficiencies at the divisional level hardly help either.

Within 2 days of the start of the offensive the British Western Desert Force, under general Richard O'Connor and consisting of the 7th Armoured and the 4th Indian divisions has taken 38,000 prisoners and destroyed most Italian armour facing it. Within 4 it is threatening Bardia and the number of prisoners is mounting. Bardia is forced to surrender in September 5th and the British are before Tobruk by September 7th. They are unable to immediately assault it as the have overrun their supply line but of the 5 divisions of the Italian 10th army only remnants are still in the field. In September 14 Tobruk surrenders in turn. The Italian 10th Army has effectively ceased to exist as a fighting force. [4] The British continue to advance taking Derna in 19th and Benghazi in September 26th.

The French attack is rather less spectacular compared to the British advance in Cyrenaica but not any less effective for it. By the start of the offensive the French forces in Tunisia had been reinforced with units from Morocco, Algeria and a handful of units escaping the mainland to about 8 infantry divisions from the original 4 while all modern armour available in North Africa had also brought to Tunisia. On the other side of the border the Italian 5th army also has on paper 8 infantry divisions but French divisions along other differences have 3 regiments each as opposed to 2 for the Italian divisions. Methodically the Italians are first driven into Tripoli and practically destroyed trying to defend it. Tripoli is forced to surrender in September 24 with the remnants of the 10th and 5th armies surrendering over the course of the next month as French and British forces advance from Tripoli and Benghazi. It has been a sombering start for Italy's expansionist dreams or her war.  But Il Duce is already looking at the opportunities that may be arising in the east...

[1] ATL the Luftwaffe is also short some 500 pilots shot down during the battle of France. In OTL these were released after the armistice. In the ATL they will be ending the war in French POW camps. That makes German replacement problems rather more acute and also affects Luftwaffe efficiency as it has considerably more green pilots in its ranks. Thus the Germans having to accept failure a week earlier and also inflicting lower casualties to the RAF.

[2] At a quick and not complete count, 950 DB-7, 120  B-24, 230 P-40, ~230 P-36, 81 F4F. Plus Martin 167s that in OTL became Maryland MkIs and P-39s for which I don't readily have numbers. 
[3] How many Somua's of what exact variant and where exactly? Not quite certain. Apparently about 900 though with production set up it could continue as needed. What is certain per French sources is that the Somua was to be produced in the US and France had financed the factory construction while the variant might had been one with a 2 man turret.

[4] Of the about 13 Italian divisions in North Africa, 8 are deployed in the west with the 5th army facing the French. Thus the British task is significantly easier than in OTL...




Part 11


As of the summer of 1940 the 3 nations making up the Balkan Entente, Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece are finding themselves in a rather unenviable position between the defeat of France and Soviet, Italian and German designs and pressure on them. Romania is undoubtedly the one worst off. King Carol II isn't particularly popular given a quite scandalous personal life while the fascist Iron Guard is gaining in power and becoming increasingly violent. Under Soviet pressure Carol agrees to surrender Bessaravia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union in July without a fight. It is followed by having to surrender part of Transylvania to Hungary in the end of August and southern Dobrutja to Bulgaria a week later. The prove too much for Carol to keep his throne as a coup led by general Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard forces Carol to abdicate in favour of his son. But the new Romanian government is pro-German. While not declaring war on France and Britain, Romania finds under increasing German influence. In the end of November it officially joins the Axis.

Yugoslavia and Greece are facing their own problems. Both countries have been increasingly on the sights of Italy since well before the war. Both have alliances with France and in the case of Greece also Britain. While they have kept a careful neutrality since the European war start there is no doubt where their sympathies ultimately lie. Before the fall of France representatives of both the Yugoslav and the Greek general staffs were quietly in contact with their French counterparts over the possibility of a Balkan front against the Axis. Neither actually agreed to the French proposals, particularly since France could not commit significant forces or war material at the time of the talks but both were not dismissing the possibility out of hand either. After the French collapse part of the foreign ministry's archives including the staff talks has fallen to German hands and passed over to Italy. Both countries are at least reluctant to trade with Germany when it comes to strategic materials and the very sizable Greek merchant marine is operating for Britain. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini are exactly known for a lack of paranoia and Yugoslavia and Greece being pro-allied neutrals make obvious targets for said paranoia.

* * *

A first war scare between Greece and Italy had already taken place before the start of the war when the Italians took over Albania in April 1939 and for a time it looked like they might invade Greece and the Greek army start partially mobilizing. War was averted at the time but designs against both Greece and Yugoslavia are very much on Mussolini’s mind and promoted by both by his son in law and foreign minister Ciano and the governor of the Dodecanese Cesare De Vecchi as part of the doctrine of an Italian "parallel war" in the Mediterranean. De Vecchi hardly fond of the Greeks is sending to Rome reports of the supposed presence of British and French warships in the Aegean, of British agents coordinating operation in Greek ports , allied warships operating under cover of the Greek flag and the Greek armed forces supposedly aiding British intelligence. Opposite reports are coming from the Italian ambassador in Athens Grazzi but these have a way of failing to be considered by Ciano. As soon as the fighting in France is over Mussolini orders the "army of Po" to start concentrating on the Yugoslav border while Ciano sounds the Germans in mid July over the Italian plans to "solve the Yugoslav presence" in about a month and occupy Corfu. Hitler has no problems with the second idea but is less sympathetic over the fist in fears an invasion of Yugoslavia might spark war between Hungary and Romania or even Soviet intervention. Still as king Alexander of Yugoslavia is in his view one of Germany's old time enemies, he is not dismissive of the idea altogether. [1] A number of incidents between Greece and Italy also take place during July as on three occasions Greek warships are attacked by Italian aircraft based in the Dodecanese.

Italian preparations continue and the Italian General staff on orders from Ciano is drafting plans against both Yugoslavia and Greece, codenamed Emergenza E (Este) and G (Grecia), respectively. In August 8th Mussolini orders war preparations against Yugoslavia to be complete by the end of August so that operations can start by mid September with an invasion of Greece to follow. In August 13th the Italian commander in Albania lt general Visconti Prasca is told to be ready to size Greek Epirus by surprise from peacetime. At the same time a total of 37 divisions has been massed for possible operations against Yugoslavia. It is somewhat unclear whether Mussolini has taken any clear decision what exactly is to be done and in what order. It is even more unclear at least to the Italians whether Germany is willing to support any Italian escapades in the Balkans. For example Hitler does actually try to encourage the Italians to capture Crete and Cyprus which would certainly cause war with Greece.

Arguments exist both against and in favour of an Axis involvement in the Balkans. The Balkans are an important source of raw materials for the axis and an attack on either Yugoslavia or Greece might give the allies a foothold in the continent and air bases that could threaten the Ploesti oil fields. In addition the Soviets might get involved something that Germany would want to avoid. On the other hand Greece and Yugoslavia are unfriendly and apparently not in the mood to follow the path of their former Romanian ally at least not without getting forced into it. While currently neutral it is argued that they could jump into the war or provide bases to the allies at some point in the future, actually Italian propaganda is already claiming as much for Greece. If occupied both countries could be exploited for resources to a much greater degree than the trade currently occurring. Last territory in Yugoslavia and Greece might entice both Bulgaria and Turkey to join the war. Turkey is to a greater or lesser degree favouring the Axis already given her standing territorial claims on Greece, Syria and Iraq. Were it to be persuaded to join the war it would seriously threaten the allied position in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the Wermacht GHQ meeting of August 15th Hitler takes a rather ambivalent decision that immediate Italian operations against either Yugoslavia or Greece are undesirable but "the Duce is correct on the need to deal with both countries as soon as circumstances allow" [2]

* * *

If Mussolini or the Germans have not quite decided on which course of action should be taken events help make the decision for themselves. Unlike her neighbours Greece of 1940 is a democracy. The Venizelist side has been for the most part in government since 1924 but their influence after 16 years in power is constantly eroding. The disunity of the right wing parties won it an early election in January 1940 but only narrowly with the "National Coalition" gaining 46.3% of the vote to 44.7% for the right wing parties and prime minister Michalakopoulos found it advisable under the circumstances to bring some of the lesser right wing parliaments to the government given the general European situation. Public opinion and the press have been in general very critical of the Axis and with the exception of the Communist Party of Greece which has got a meagre 5.75% of the vote also quite critical of the Soviet Union. While the fall of France was met with surprise, consternation and a fair bit of shadenfreude among people remembering the French stance back in the Asia Minor campaign, its decision to fight on has gained both admiration and sympathy. That the incidents against Greek warships in July are received none too well by the press and the public is something of an understanding.

It is in this situation that Mussolini orders his chief of the naval staff Domenico Cavagnari "to select a reliable submarine captain and use him to attack naval transportation in the Eastern Aegean". Per Mussolini the submarine chosen between August 20th and 25th is "to sink any neutral ship suspect for contraband without warning while its nationality must remain secret". [3] Cavagnari passes the order to the Dodecanese naval command and De Vecchi becomes aware of it in August 14th. He in turn flies to the Italian naval base of Leros chooses the submarine Delfino and... orders her captain to torpedo every merchant ship between the islands of Tenos and Syros because war with Greece is about to start.

The next day it's the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin for the Greek Orthodox church and Tenos the centre of the celebrations all over Greece bringing in thousands of believers from Greece and the rest of the orthodox world to the island as it is believed to be home to the miraculous icon of the Virgin with the Virgin believed to be often doing her miracles on the Dormition day. Thus when Delfino slips into the port it's hardly short of targets. Her captain launches 3 torpedoes against the armoured cruiser Averof, present for the celebrations, and the passenger ships Elsi and Esperos. Two miss but the third hits Esperos which sinks with over 70 dead. [4] Given the incidents of the previous month Averof was being escorted by the destroyers Leon and Panthir to Tenos. The attack catches them by surprise, the most the Greek naval staff expected was a repeat of the bombings with the destroyers supposed to reinforce Averof's air defences, but they react with commendable speed. Delfino comes under attack in turn as it makes its way out and heavily damaged by depth charges. Forced to surface it is finished off by the Greek ships which pick up the survivors.

The first news of the attack are a laconic announcement of the Greek radio that an unknown submarine has attacked the island of Tenos sinking the Esperos with considerable loss of life, at the same time that Michalakopoulos is calling an emergency cabinet meeting of his cabinet and the president cuts short the summer break of the parliament and the senate. Athens learns of the sinking of the Delfino a few hours later with Michalakopoulos agreeing to the mobilization of the I, VIII, IX infantry divisions in reaction but ordering the evidence of the Italians being behind the attack under wraps. Athens announces later in the day that the attacking submarine was sunk, saying nothing of its nationality or that the fact it has actually evidence of its nationality in its hands. But the numbers of people involved in the sinking of the Delfino runs in the hudrends, most Greeks suspect Italy anyway and the press understandably wants to know...

The BBC announces in the morning of the 16th that Britain had nothing to do with the Tenos attack pointing at Italy for the perpetrator. Rome at the same time is somewhat unclear on the particulars of its navy's action in the Aegean, or the fact the Greeks have evidence of the Italian involvement. In the 17th a representative of the Italian foreign ministry claims in front of foreign journalists that the attack was done by Britain in order to dynamite relations between Greece and Italy. That's perhaps too much for Michalakopoulos to stand with news of the Greek navy having prisoners from the sunken submarine and said prisoners being Italian breaking out to the press later the same day. Greece confirms in the 18th this to be the case showing to the press the Italian prisoners and torpedo pieces of Italian manufacture recovered from Tenos. Mussolini responds accusing the Greeks for being British puppets that attacked Delfino just because it happened to be found sailing in the general area, while aiding British naval activity in the Aegean and threatens to "remind Greece the lesson of Corcira since they appear to have forgotten it". In the 21st after Prasca moves on his own initiative the 131st "Centauro" armoured division close to the border the Greeks thinking it a sign of imminent invasion react by ordering the mobilization of two army corps. Meanwhile the Italian embassy in Athens is subject to almost daily demonstrations. Three more Italian divisions are also ordered to Albania.

The Michalakopoulos government is in a delicate position not inclined to start a war on one hand but neither willing to back down when it has been the target of an unprovoked attack. The Greek ambassador in Rome is asked to officially demand explanation for the attack while Britain, France and Yugoslavia are sounded off for possible aid should Italy invade. Mussolini at the same time has painted himself into a corner. He didn't quite expect what his orders would have wrought in the Aegean. He put his prestige on line then claiming it was not Italy doing it and then accusing Greece for aiding Britain and attacking an Italian navy ship that was innocent of the Tenos episode. While all this is taking place the French and British have taken the offensive in North Africa and fast gaining ground, particularly the British, the Italian navy is not in position to reinforce Libya without running the risk of suffering disaster from the combined allied fleets and a German invasion of Britain appears imminent. [5] In short his prestige is in endangered from his army's North African failures and he runs the risk of the war shortly ending. At which point he Mussolini will have little to show in the bargaining table. The Greek situation is threatening to further damage his prestige should he do nothing to the Greeks. On the other hand it is offering an opportunity as well. Ciano is claiming that the Greeks are not willing to fight and the monarchists may even support Italy. Prasca is guaranteeing from Albania that he has sufficient forces to start an offensive against Greece and seize Epirus. Provided the offensive is not much delayed that is. A victory against Greece will both secure Italian and Mussolini prestige counterbalancing any failures in Libya and also provide Italy profits and bargaining chips in the peace conference that will be ending the war. In August 23rd Prasca is ordered to be ready for start operations before the end of the month and operations against Yugoslavia are postponed for mid to late October.

At 03:00 of August 28th Grazzi is in the personally unenviable position of having to deliver Michalakopoulos and ultimatum demanding the standing down of the Greek armed forces and allowing the Italian army to occupy "a number of strategic spots" inside Greece. Michalakopoulos answers with a laconic "polemoumen" we fight, which ends up superseded in public consciousness with the equally laconic "ochi", no [6]. By 5 AM the guns have opened up across the Albanian border...

[1] In OTL he was, not that it stopped Italian preparations for an attack at the time. In the ATL Yugoslavia is further pro-allied and Alexander is the last Entente head of state still in power...

[2] That's a quite more forgiving stance so to speak to Italian plans that the one in OTL. It is still a nay but in far less strong terms than the OTL equivalent.

[3] Translation to English mine.

[4] In OTL it was the light cruiser Helli that was representing the navy in the island. Delfino fired 3 torpedoes 1 hitting and sinking Helli with the ones fired at Elsi and Esperos missing them. ATL Helli is in a scrap yard for some time as of 1940 hence Averof taking her place at Tenos. Post that I randomly gave the captain of Delfino his 33% success...

[5] Or at least so Mussolini believed in OTL and believes in the ATL as well in mid to late August.

[6] In OTL the exact words of Metaxas were "Then it is war" in French which became '"ochi"...




Part 12


When in the early hours of August 28th the Italian army crosses the Greek border with Albania it is fielding 2 army corps in the direction of Greece. XXV "Ciamuria" corps directed against Epirus consists of two infantry divisions, 23rd Ferara and 51st Siena, reinforced by blackshirt and Albanian battalions, the 131st "Centauro" armored division and a cavalry "littoral" group. To its east the "Julia" Alpine division is directed towards the Pindus Mountains. Further east the XXVI "Corizza" corps with 3 infantry divisions, 29th "Piemonte", 49th "Parma" and 19th "Venezia" is facing Greek forces in western Macedonia. A fourth division the 53rd "Arezzo" is also part of the XXVI Corps bur deployed around Scodra in the north. One more division 47th "Bari" has been earmarked for an attack against Corfu. Facing them are the VIII infantry division in Epirus, reinforced to 5 regiments, the V infantry brigade in Pindus and the IX infantry division and IV infantry brigades in Western Macedonia. Further inland the Greek I infantry and I cavalry divisions are already mobilized and 2 out of 5 army corps in the process of mobilizing when the war starts. In the air 463 Italian aircraft are facing 304 Greek.

The Italian plan of operations is basically sound with the main thrust directed at Ioannina by the XXV corps, with a supporting thrust along the coast, while »Julia" is to attack into Pindus towards Metsovo to cut communications between Epirus and mainland Greece. The XXVI corps is to remain on the defensive for the time being. It starts less well than the Italians might have expected as Greek border detachments put up stiff resistance but are nevertheless driven back. Across the coast the Italian littoral group is facing a 2 battalion detachment of the VIII division. It reaches the Kalamas River by August 29th, fails in a first attempt to cross the river but attacks again in September 3rd and forces a crossing in the night of 4th to 5th. The Greeks unable to reinforce their units make a fighting retreat towards the Acheron River. The port of Hegumenitsa is taken by the Italians in September 6th and the Italians reach Margariti the same day threatening the flank of the VIII division. But the main thrust of the Italians isn't doing quite as well. By September 1st the Italians have advanced to Kalpaki and the Kalamas River to the north of Ioannina taking contact with the main defensive position of the Greeks. They attack with all 3 divisions of the corps in September 2nd only to be stopped cold. By September 8th the Italians have fallen on the defensive.

In Pindus the Alpini do rather better, at least initially. The Greek V brigade has to defend a front of 37 km on a straight line and nearly twice as much in practice with two regiments, one of these just mobilized. "Julia" has initially an advantage of nearly 2 to 1 in artillery and infantry and some of the best troops in the Regio Ejercito. By August 30th the Italians are threatening Samarina and Metsovon. But the Greek I Infantry division is already on the move to take position in the Pindus sector, the Greek high command in a bit of parallel thought with the Italians planned to use a powerful task force to launch spoiling attacks into the Erseka-Leskoviki road. Its first elements reach the fighting the same day. By September 3rd the Italian attack has been checked and the Greeks further reinforced by their I cavalry division and the XVI infantry brigade are already counterattacking in strength. "Julia" fights back hard but finds itself threatened with encirclement as the Greeks attack it from north, south and east. The alpini make a fighting retreat at great cost towards the Aoos valley between the river of the same name and mount Smolikas to Konitsa. But that get cut off as well by the Aoos detachment, initially formed by the VIII division to cover her flank towards Pindus. Encircled the Italians try to break out but only the Tolmezzo and Gemona battalions of its 8th regiment manage to make it back to Konitsa. By September 13th "Julia" has been destroyed as a fighting force. [1]

* * *

While the struggle goes on in Epirus the Greek army is turning the partial mobilization start during the August crisis into full scale mobilization. By September 7th about 520,000 men have been called under arms forming 5 corps with 18 infantry divisions and two cavalry divisions in addition to 5 independent infantry brigades. [2] The roughly 200 Vickers and R-35 light tanks of the Greek army have been grouped along with the army's sole mechanized cavalry regiment into the II cavalry division giving it, at least on paper, an organization modeled on that of the French DLMs. The more vulnerable sectors of the Greek border with Bulgaria have been heavily fortified and so have Gallipoli and Constantinople. Two out of the five corps are tasked with covering the Bulgarian frontier and the straits. Six of their divisions hold, rather thinly the 734 km of the Greek-Bulgarian border. A seventh division holds Gallipoli, with a single brigade in Constantinople and the II cavalry division as a reserve. The rest of the army is directed to meet the Italian invasion.

On the Italian side the initial failures have forced the Italian High Command to reinforce its forces by any means possible. By September 13th the Italians have shipped to Albania the II "Tridentina" Alpine division, two infantry divisions, 47th "Bari" and 37th "Modena", as well as two Bersaglieri regiments, while the 8bis Alpini regiment has been airlifted to Albania and joined by the survivors of Julia to reconstitute the division. The XXV and XXVI Corps are renamed into 11th and 9th armies respectively and have between them 8 infantry, 1 armored and 2 Alpini divisions in addition to three Bersaglieri and two cavalry regiments.

But by September 13th things have start to seriously go out of control for the Italians. In the early hours of September 6th with the Italian attacks in Epirus and Pindus still ongoing Pangalos attacks against Korytza. Taking the Italians by surprise with a daring attack into mount Moravas the Greek IX, X, and XV divisions, reinforced during the battle by their XIII and XI divisions defeat the XXVI Italian Corps, also reinforced to 5 divisions by the end of the battle, taking Korytza in September 12th. By this time the Greeks have completed their mobilization and have directed to the Albanian front a total of 12 divisions and 4 brigades. The question is how to continue operations. One option supported by deputy chief of staff Alexandros Papagos is to attack northwards from Epirus and Pindus with the eventual goal of taking Valona while using forces in the Korytza plateau as the turning point around which the army will advance. The other is to attack by way of Korytza with supporting attacks from Epirus and Pindus. The second option while riskier also offers the possibility of encircling the Italian 11th army in Epirus and directly threatening Valona. Pangalos opts for the second. [3] Papagos in command of the "Epirus Army detachment" consisting of the A corps with 3 divisions and a brigade in Epirus proper and the ad hoc "Mantakas divisional group" with 2 divisions and 3 brigades under general Mantakas in Pindus is to push north. At the same time the "West Macedonia army detachment" under general Alexandros Othonaios is to attack westwards with its C corps with 4 divisions attacking along the route of the Devoli river towards Elbasan while B Corps with 3 divisions is to attack in the direction of Kleisura pass and Mpoumbesi using a corridor between mount Ostrovica and the Apsos river.

The Greek C corps captures Pogradec and mount Kamia in September 17th. By September 26th it has taken Gramsch and directly threatens Elbasan. The Italians are facing rather more pressing problems further south though as the combination of the B corps advance towards Kleisura and the Epirus Army Detachment's attack northwards threaten to cut off and destroy the Italian 11th army which is still south of the Greek border when Korytza falls. B corps seizes Moschopolis in September 13th and secures Ostrovica six days later. At the same time the 11th army is heavily engaged by the Greeks who have driven it back the the border. General Sontu, who has replaced Prasca, tries to disengage his divisions from the south while with the 37th "Modena" and the 5th Alpini Pusteria divisions try to hold back B corps. But 4 days later the Greeks are within 2 km from the pass, and neither a counterattack by the "Centauro" armored division nor the 4th "Cuneesse" Alpini division which is thrown piecemeal into the battle can change the outcome. In September 27th Kleisura falls to the Greek army. Out of six 11th army divisions Sontu has pulled out 4 but "Bari" and the remains of "Julia" starting out the furthest east in Pindus are caught into the encirclement and the divisions engaged at Kleisura have been severely mauled.

By October 2nd after five weeks of fighting the Albanian front has short of stabilized into a line starting to the north of the town of Heimarra, extending east to between Tepeleni and Kleisura, from turning northwards towards the south of Elbasan and from there east to the Yugoslav border. A total of 6 divisions and a variety of smaller units in total about 110,000 men have been shipped from Italy, bringing up the strength of the Italian army for all its casualties to a dozen divisions, one of them armored and 3 of the Alpini. At sea so far the Regia Marina has kept communications with Albania open but by October its convoys find themselves under increasing threat from Greek, British and French submarines. In the air the Regia Aeronautica has entered combat confident of its superiority with 170 fighters and 233 bombers of all types committed to combat. The Greek air force is no match when it comes to bombers with only 72 light ones [4] but has about 160 fighter aircraft varying from PZL P.24s, somewhat better to the CR-42s that form over half the Italian force, to two squadrons of Spitfires and domestically produced IAR.80 copies that are distinctly superior to the Fiat G.50s that are the best fighters the Regia Aeronautica fields. The deploymement of 5 RAF and as many French squadrons from North Africa in late September only makes things worse.

* * *

The allies are hard pressed, to be able to offer much immediate help to Greece. Fighting still goes on in Norway, tensions are high with Turkey, Spain and Japan, while the battle for Britain is raging and Britain is perceived to be under threat of immediate invasion. The only aid on land consists of about 5,000 troops sent to Crete from French Syria to allow the local V infantry division of the Greek army to be transferred to the Albanian front. Aside from that and the joint RAF and AdA force sent in support of the Greek air force as soon as the Italian surrender in Libya frees up aircraft, allied aid for the time being consists of war loans extended to the Greek government and usable Italian material captured in Libya being shipped off to Greece. With the fall of Tripoli in September 24th and Benghazi in the 26th, the French and British general staffs start preparing to deploy forces in the Greek mainland. The Greeks themselves are relatively optimistic. Neither Turkey nor Bulgaria appear willing to jump into the Italian side for the time being. If the Greek army takes Valona before they or the Germans enter the war the Italian positions in Albania will be more or less untenable.

If the attitude is mildly optimistic in Algiers and Athens it is hardly so in Rome. In 4 months of fighting the Italian armed forces have to show a total of two victories, taking Corsica in the closising steps of the French campaign, which involved significant German help and the occupation of British Somaliland by the Italian East African army. But beyond that the Italian performance in the war is leaving more than a few things to be desired. Against the French in the Alps it has failed to make any headway, even if the French collapse has led to Italian annexation of Nice and Savoy and the occupation of a not inconsiderable part of southern France. September has been a particularly bad month for Italy with Libya going down to the French and British armies and rather embarrassing failure in Albania. Visconti Prasca and Cesare De Vecchi commanding general in Albania and governor of the Dodecanese respectively, both among the prime supporters of war with Greece lose their positions and so does Pietro Badoglio.

On a more practical level the Italians try to get Turkey and Bulgaria into the war. They don't prove particularly successful. Yugoslavia has been sounded by the Italians over at least allowing supplies and vehicles to pass through to Albania and even offered Thessaloniki should it jump to the war. The Yugoslavs under the staunchly pro-allied kink Alexander and quite aware of being high in the list of potential Italian victims replied by hiding behind a strict neutrality, while quietly calling up reservists from the day the Greco-Italian start. Turkey and Bulgaria both have territorial ambitions against Greece and in the case of Turkey also France and Britain. But neither the "Milli Sef" [5] Ismet Inonu of Turkey nor king Boris III of Bulgaria are particularly inclined to bring their countries into the war at a moment that the allies appear to be stronger in the Mediterranean and their countries would need to be involved in rather heavy fighting with little German or Italian aid. Both keep open to German and Italian offers, after all the Axis appears to be winning for all its reverses in the periphery, but both also bide their time.

Germany itself it caught more or less by surprise first by Italy going to war with Greece due to Mussolini effectively buying into his own rhetoric and then by the Italian failure to make any headway against the Greeks. It also has more important issues to deal with than the reverses of its ally in North Africa and the Albanian mountains. Through September German efforts are concentrated in the battle of Britain; Sea Lion has been postponed for early October but hasn't been cancelled altogether yet for much attention to go to the sideshows. After all if Britain goes down any Mediterranean reverses will be irrelevant. Furthermore the Italians are vacillating between asking and refusing German help in Albania. Only in October 4, the same day German troops enter Romania is the Greek situation seriously considered.
But it is quite apparent that any invasion of Greece by way of Romania and Bulgaria would take time to organize and move the necessary troops forward. Given that the mountain passes between Greece and Bulgaria are practically impassable in winter an invasion may not be feasible before March. Furthermore the stance of Yugoslavia must be also considered.

The Greeks are not quite willing to give the Germans the time to get into the fight though. The key to control of Albania is rightly recognized as Valona through which over half the Italian supplies go. At the start of October the Greeks can threaten Valona from Heimarra in the coast and by way of Tepelene. To a large degree Tepelene is the key to Valona. If it falls the terrain between it and Valona is relatively flat or at least not mountainous. The Italian army may have been heavily reinforced through September but it was also suffered nearly 67,000 casualties as well. The Greeks having brought to the front one more infantry division as well as their sole tank division from Macedonia and Thrace are numbering 345,000 men to 186,000 Italians. They attack against Tepelene out of Kleisura with B corps and the Mantakas division group, while their A corps attacks along the coast towards Valona. Mount Trebesina near Tepelene falls in October 6, Tepelene follows in October 14th and then the Greek II cavalry division is thrown in to exploit the gap as infantry and cavalry pour behind it. It's too much for most units of the 11th army to stand. Centauro dies in place trying to close the gap [6], the Cuneense and Pusteria Alpini divisions already severely depleted in the battles for Kleisura and Tepelene get decimated before conceding the field. The 7th "Lupi di Toscana" infantry division does less admirably. The only fresh unit at Sontu's disposal it is thrown in support of Centauro and the Alpini in what can be charitably described as a haphazard number and promptly gets routed by the Greek II infantry division gaining the rather unflattering nickname of "rabbits of Toscane" from its opponents. Valona already threatened from the south surrenders in October 18th.

Further north C corps reinforced to 5 divisions attacks along the Devoli aiming at taking Elbasan and then turning west for the coast to cut off communications between Durazzo and Valona. Opposite to it the Italian 9th army facing it has just as many divisions. Elbasan falls in October 14th and the Greeks shift their advance westwards into the Seman. It isn't fast enough to cut off communications between the 11th and 9th armies as initially hoped but the 11th army is already in full retreat at the time and the additional threat on its flank and rear only helps hasten its retreat particularly after the fall of Valona. By October 25th the two prongs of the Greek advance have linked, and also run out of steam as the Greeks have to deal with the extension of their supply lines into Albania. The Greeks have suffered over 23,000 casualties in the battles for Valona and Elbasan, heavier than the battle of Sakaria till then the costliest in Modern Greek history. But for that they have inflicted decimating casualties on the Italian army of Albania and seized Albania’s primary port and with it about 60% the country's overall port capacity. Controlling Durazzo and the smallish port of San Giovanni di Medua in the north the Italians aren't anymore in position to supply an army large enough to be able to change the outcome of the campaign. Whether they can supply enough troops to hold the remainder of Albania is a question that remains to be answered.

Meanwhile in October 13th the first OKW directive regarding Greece and Yugoslavia has been issued. By the start of November Italian troopships and German transport aircraft are bringing to Durazzo the advance elements of the Wermacht's 1st Mountain Division. Operation Alpenweilchen, Germany's intervention into Albania is underway. And as German divisions start moving into Hungary and Romania and German diplomats intensify their efforts in Sofia and Ankara it's becoming apparent that the force being sent in Albania, 1 mountain and 1 panzer division per the plans is only the start...

[1] In OTL the Aoos was flooded and the Aoos detachment failed to cross it in time. Julia ended up severely mauled and more or less destroyed as a fighting unit but nevertheless survived. ATL the fighting takes place in the end of summer; the Greeks have slightly more troops and considerably more firepower.

[2] In OTL the Greek mobilization resulted in 16 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions in addition to 4 infantry and 1 cavalry brigades, an increase of 2 divisions and 1 brigade over the 1939 mobilization plan of the army. During the course of the war the army would increase to about 20 divisions. Earlier mobilization plans called for the establishment of 18 infantry divisions and 5 brigades and addition to 1 or 2 cavalry divisions counting on the plan in question, the big holding back factor being more available weapons than available manpower. This is rather less of an issue for ATL Greece, which also has about 550,000 people more.

[3] In OTL Papagos while reasonably competent was also rather conservative failing to aggressively take advantage of the fall of Korytza which for a time threatened to unhinge the whole Italian front and then deciding for the first option against the opinion of several of his Corps commanders. Technically sound he has been heavily criticized on his choice ever since by a considerable number of his contemporaries, Pangalos included and later historians. ATL Pangalos and said critics are running the army and the army can count both on better equipment and relatively sufficient air cover.

[4] The ATL HAF arsenal as well as that of the Turkish Air Force.

[5] Translates to "National Chief"

[6] That its L3 tankettes are inferior to the Greeks R35s and Vickers light tanks certainly doesn't help..




To be continued…

back to alternate history