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Standing Alone: Take One

In 1939, France and Britain decided to declare war on Germany after their invasion of Poland.  However, nether side had any real plans to aid the poles, the British had placed their faith in blockade and slow pressure, while the French were terrified of facing Germany alone.  The result was that both allies effectively sat on their collective bums and did nothing –excepting ludicrous plans to bomb Russia in support of Finland – until 1940, where upon Hitler attack France and Norway and crushed them both.

A case could be made that France would have been better served by staying out of the war.  Therefore, lets assume that the French government decides that Poland is not worth the effort of a major war and the huge French casuties that would result.  So, when Britain declares war, the French hesitate for a couple of days then regretfully decline to follow the British lead. 

I suspect that after such a misjudgement Chamberlain would be booted out of power.  I’ll assume that Churchill takes over, although it may be unlikely. 

However, this development leaves the British with a problem; where to put their army?  Without France, there is no way of taking the battle to Germany.  Belgium, Denmark and Norway are all neutral, while sending troopships to Poland is asking for them to be sunk by the Luffwaffe.  The war stalemates. 

Churchill concentrates on building up the British army and preparing exhibitions to the sites of German attack.  The most likely target, however, is unwilling to allow British troops on their soil and the British are not keen on helping out the French after their betrayal.  The British are also working on ways to punish the French; by pressing them for repayment on loans, demanding that the French take ‘adequate’ steps to safeguard their colonies and other steps.  The French send several divisions to Indochina in response. 

The USSR does not attack Finland in this timeline.  I have suspected that the only way Stalin felt bold enough to attack the Finns was because Germany was occupied in the west when he attacked.  In this timeline, he contents himself with sword-waving and a few minor islands. 

The strange quasi-war drifts onwards into march 1940.  The Germans and British have both tried their hands at bombing from the air, but the long ranges make it difficult for either side to get fighter cover into the combat zone.  The British are fighting the u-boats and sink one of the German pocket-battleships, but neither side can really hurt the other. 

Churchill presses for the British to do something – anything.  These include a pre-emptive strike against Italy, raids on the German coast and the pre-emptive occupation of Norway.  The doves in the British cabinet stop these plans; through they do earmark a number of divisions to go to the Far East and the Mediterranean. 

In May 1940, Hitler sends his armies into Soviet Russia.  The German forces manage to make vast gains against the soviet forces, which do not have the OTL Finland experience, but are limited in the ground that they can take.  Without the supreme confidence of OTL, Hitler authorises the creation of a number of Ukrainian, Byelorussian and ‘white’ Russian divisions to serve as infantry for the German forces.  Italy, Spain and Romania also send troops to take part in the campaign.  Hitler pushes both Finland and Turkey to become involved, but both decline.

Stalin demands that Britain help him by sending supplies and troops, or by attacking the German rear.  Nether is particuly possible, as the British have very few supplies to spare and they don’t trust Stalin enough to send troops to Russia.  They send some supplies, but charge gold for them.  Stalin manages to recruit some international brigades, but their combat power is minimal. 

In June, Stalin is hit again when Japan attacks the soviet rear.  Without an occupied France and preoccupied Britain, Japan is too wary to strike south and risk the US becoming involved as well, but the USSR is fair game.  Japan makes some progress, but her forces do not have the power to overwhelm the soviets except by huge numbers. 

August sees the battle of Moscow, when what Hitler claims is an international force surrounds the city and lays siege to it, trapping Stalin inside.  The soviet leader sues for a beggar’s peace, the terms are as follows:

  • The USSR surrenders all claims to the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Poland.
  • The USSR surrenders 90% of its armed forces equipment to Germany
  • Japan receives the Soviet Far East
  • The USSR’s fleet is handed over to Germany.
  • All of the USSR’s scientific research is to be handed over to Germany, including the scientists.

With the invasion of the USSR temporally finished, Hitler turns his attention back to France and Britain.  The Nazi’s have been working on longer-range bombers to deploy against Britain, but they have not yet developed escorts for the fighters.  However, by may 1941, Hitler’s forces are in place to invade France, so he starts making demands that would turn France into a German satellite.  The French decide to fight – too late!  Hitler’s forces are experienced, powerful and determined and soon France is overrun.  The official British attitude is ‘I told you so’, but British fighters join the French air force and many Frenchmen flee to Britain.  The French empire becomes the new French base as thousands of Frenchmen flee to North Africa.

Hitler pushes Mussolini to join the Germans completely and attack the French colonies.  The Duce is reluctant, but Hitler convinces him to attack the French in Algeria.  The Italian invasion is led by the cream of the Italian army, which gained experience in Russia, and makes swift progress until the British declare war against Italy and invade Libya from behind.  The Italian forces are pushed back on both fronts.  Mussolini appeals to Hitler for help, but the Franco-British navies and air forces manage to close the Mediterranean and prevent more than minimal German forces from arriving in Africa. 

Hitler has two options.  He can build-up for an invasion of Britain, assuming that he can hop the channel, or he can attempt to make peace.  Typically, he does both, and starts a build-up and sends Rudolf Hess to the UK to negotiate.  Churchill would like to fight on, but the rest of the British government is not so keen.  After much hard negotiating, the two sides agree to a wary truce. 

The German claim to Europe is reluctantly accepted by Britain.  Britain’s claim to the Italian empire is recognized by Hitler (although not Mussolini) and the French empire is recognized as a British client state.  French emigration to North Africa has no restrictions. 

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