Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 5, Grand Offensives

Author: Mattekillert
Published: 2017-02-01

Part of the campaign:

Die Kaiserzeit

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 4, Shackled to a Corpse

Images: 55, author: Mattekillert, published: 2017-02-01

After much planning and arguing it has been decided that in 1915 we shall turn to the east. In 1914 we merely defended ourselves with whatever scarps could be found, now the Russians will face our complete wrath in the Teutonic Storm that approaches.
With it starts the reorganization of the army. The II Armee is transferred east along with 3 corps, all taken from the west.
Yet just as the start date approaches news reach us of the Allied summer offensive in the west, striking through Italy they have shattered the Austro-Hungarian lines and are now advancing at a rapid pace along the Adriatic Sea.
However one does not improvise the planning of millions and as such Operation Teutonic Storm goes ahead on the 1 of June.
In the west meanwhile the Entire II Armee, the reserves for Teutonic Storm are sent to Italy. As the front stretches Allied unit concentration is being reduced. While it is clear the Austro-Hungarians cannot actually hold the front the mere fact that there are enemy soldiers all along the front are more than enough to force the French and Italians to spread out along the line.
But we Germans have learned our lessons in the east. Spreading out is fatal; one must concentrate into one point, the schwerpunkt, the focal point with all available forces. In Spittal the battle for the continued survival of Austro-Hungary begins.
It is the start of the plan of the Advisor who has joined up with the II Armee to bring out yet another miracle, this time in the west.
In the east bloody fighting leads us forward. The Russians are slowly breaking.
The Italians prove their ineptitude as they only kept cavalry in reserve! A few thousand men on horses against German artillery and machine guns.
Kaunas falls, and with it the large railway hub in the city. It is hoped that the Jews, Poles, and Lithuanians in the city will join with us in the battle against Russia.
In Italy France proves more capable as they bring in reserves. We must break through!
In the west the Russian line is starting to crumble. Retreat seems the only thing the Russian generals can agree on.
The Ottoman Empire continues their unorthodox strategy of conquering sand while it loses its homeland.
Our troops slam through the French and Italian reserves. Onwards towards Venice!
A French counterattack on Belluno ends in complete disaster. In defense we are hard as Krupp steel!
The front is however stretching ever further east. Zagreb has fallen and Split is about to fall. The Austro-Hungarian troops are in complete disarray.
In the east Teutonic Storm continues. Our troops approach both the Narva and the Shelon. St. Petersburg approaches.
Outnumbered more than 4-1 our troops in Belluno are forced back. With it they leave the men in Venice trapped. We must keep the corridor open!
Even as our troops retreat out of Belluno the retreating troops give one last barrage on the men trapped in Udine. The local Italian commander, beset by troops from the east and now artillery from the west decides to surrender. If he had steeled his resolve he and his 43 000 troops could have been saved.
Our troops defend Venice with true German resolve. 2-1 we force the French back.
After the “Greek Betrayal” the French seem to be eager for revenge, landing in Salonika. Hopefully our allies can deal with this.
The Middle Eastern front shows some progress. The Turkish forces are pushing the Russians towards the Tigris in the south but falling back in northern Syria. If the Japanese and Russian troops can reach the Mediterranean about 2/3’s of Turkish forces would be trapped away from Anatolia.
We’ve done it. The huge French-Italian offensive became drunk on victory following the smashing of the Austro-Hungarian army. They left little in reserves and now they are trapped in Croatia. Now the question becomes, can they be contained and can they escape?
The front stretches along the Adriatic Sea and the Allies control 4 large ports along the coast. If we can split them from these ports it is only a matter of time before the starving troops will be forced to surrender!
The final part of Teutonic Storm is approaching, the battle for St. Petersburg.
The very first example of an “Armored Car” is sent to the Croatian front on the demands of the Advisor. Having barely finished combat trials in Bavaria it is rushed to the front. The Advisor thinks they are the future, German High Command is not so convinced.
The Italians not understanding their strategic situation continues their advance towards Vienna. A mere 100km away, they will never get any closer.
The capital of the Tsar falls and with it 2 million people come into our hands.
The first battle involving our armored cars begins and runs straight into a poor Italian militia brigade.
War is hell America.
Trieste falls with very light casualties on our side. Perhaps armored cars truly are the future?
With the taking of St. Petersburg more troops are sent from the east to the south. The great pocket in the Balkans must be halted from both sides. As we push in from the north the Allies push south.
“I promise we are neutral guys”
As we have lost most of our submarines we decide to let it rest. Appease the Americans as we crush the allies will to fight on land.
The 36th Infantry Division divides the pocket into two, we are surrounding a force 5 times our size. The heroics of our men are sure to go down in the history books!
As they run out of supplies even the Austro-Hungarian troops come in and have a go at the enemy.
Distressed at the very strong defenses in the Venetian corridor the French instead attack in the north, threatening not only to outflank the line but also to push into Bavaria and towards Vienna if only we had more troops.
The Storm troopers arrive; the doom of the Allies approaches.
The Zagreb pocket has been reduced greatly now only holding Zagreb and some fields north of the city.
The pocket is again cut into another section by the Storm troopers. We will not let them fight as one.
It is clear that the Italian and French forces turned north to save their troops trapped in Zagreb. This only opened up the southern flank for the Storm troopers.
By the 9th of October what the Allies had deemed the imminent collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has been reduced to a complete rout to the coast.
In the east the Austro-Hungarians have reclaimed nearly their entire homeland. Troop concentrations here number a mere 100.000 on each side. The Russian bear has been reduced greatly by the Teutonic Storm.
The Bulgarians and Greeks work together to maintain the landing. With some Austro-Hungarian support.
Looking out it is clear the front is stabilizing in the Middle East. The Ottomans continue to capture more of Libya and Arabia while the pulling out of huge amounts of Russian troops from Armenia to replace the losses inflicted during Teutonic Storm means the front is being pushed east along Anatolia and Iraq.
There will be no escape for the Inept Italians.
100 000 troops flee in desperation.
On the 21 of October over 150 000 troops surrender in Split, the largest surrender in history. In total the losses are far larger. The combined losses for the French and Italians are estimated at nearly 1 500 000 or 1/3 of their entire military strength. In one giant battle we have ruined the Italians and severely wounded the French.
Now with our troops freed up they are sent to the Italian border. Demoralized and lacking in numbers the Italians should be easy prey.
Yet the campaign has not been without losses. It is estimated we have lost somewhere around 380 000 men in the offensive. Austro-Hungarian losses drift around the 700 000 mark. All in all in half a year 2 500 000 men have died, been captured or made forever unusable by severe wounds. We hoped that losses would shrink but instead they keep mounting.
Even so now is not the time to cower from battle. Operation Axis will carry us west along the Po River. We will divide the Allied forces and trap them in the Alps.
In two weeks 45 000 men die.
But it is clear that beyond the first line of defense the Italians had nothing as our troops rush forward some calling for a push past the Po and towards Rome.
Yet the Advisor is no fool. The key is killing men not taking cities. To convince Hofmann he reminded him that Napoleon had seized Moscow but lost everything in the end. Not wanting to end up on a remote island Hofmann agreed.
The Ottoman advance into Persia brings with it much needed fuel and oil. Our navy and planes consumes it at a disturbing rate.
The Italians have clearly been crushed military. Our spies estimate that they can muster no further troops.
The French seem to be facing a similar situation to us.
The Russians still boast some reserves and the vastness of Russia means troops will continue to flood in.
And so in the second month of 1916 Germany looks back on a horrific year. We have won the greatest victory ever achieved by arms. Just like Hannibal trapped 30 000 Romans against Lake Trasimene we trapped over a million against the Adriatic Sea. Just like Hannibal however we are no closer to the surrender of the enemy. Will we be doomed to great victories only to face final defeat?

Statistical look over the forces of the Central powers

April 1915

Germany: 1.68 Million in the field with 400 000 in reserve.

Austria-Hungary: 920 000 in the field with 800 000 in reserve.

Ottoman Empire: 500 000 in the field with 450 000 in reserve.

Bulgaria: 220 000 in the field with 0 in reserve.

February 1916

Germany: 1.7M in the field with 100 000 in reserve.

Austria-Hungary: 850 000 in the field with 180 000 in reserve

Ottoman Empire: 550 000 in the field with 150 000 in reserve

Bulgaria: 104 000 in the field with 0 in reserve

Next chapter:

Game: Hearts of Iron III

Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 6, Hanging On

Images: 58, author: Mattekillert, published: 2017-02-01

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