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Subject: The Sultan's Divan rss

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Philip Thomas
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The Sultan’s Divan
Many years ago I served the Sultan in the Great War. The Ottoman Sultanate joined the War a couple of months after it began. Our German Allies had been halted in the trenches around Brussels, and our Austrian Allies had lost territory to the Russians, who were of course the ancient enemy. The war meant breaking with our traditional ally, the British, but the guns of the German cruisers in our harbor were too strong an argument to resist. That first season of the war, the Fall of 1914, saw little activity for us. The Germans pursued War in Africa, but only in the south, rejecting a prospective Libyan revolt. And the Allies shelved plans for an expeditionary force to our shores.

However, the following Winter saw a decisive shift up in the German war machine with the entry of our recent enemy Bulgaria on our side, as well as the appointment of General Falkenhayn and the employment of German Industrialist Walter Rathenau. Meanwhile the first Turkish blood of the war was shed with a Russian attack on Rize. The corps commander thought he was facing his opposite number on the Russian side of the border, only to discover that an entire Russian army had been deployed without his knowledge. The corps was wiped out and only the commander made it back alive. The Russian Army continued to advance, destroying the fort at Trebizond. For the first but not the last time we had to call on Bulgarian resources to hold the line at Erzingan, while our own troops manned the trenches at Giresun. Meanwhile, our former subjects the Serbs suddenly decided they couldn’t face the Austrian armies and retreated into Macedonia, the part of Serbia most recently stolen from us.

The Spring began with the Austrians taking Belgrade and they followed up by advancing to Skopje, thus creating a land link between us and Germany. Meanwhile we had formed an army of our own which we named Yildirim or Lightning. The Russians withdrew from Trebizond to Kars at the mere rumour of it! Italy had now entered the war, but the Allies were still behind the Central Powers in mobilization, and even the sinking of the Lusitania that summer did not galvanise them to action. By the Fall, our spy Mata Hari had revealed the Allies’ plans, and they were finally able to go to Total War by lauching a ‘Great Retreat’ in Russia, not that any Russians actually retreated. The Sultan’s advisers insisted on an offensive, and so we generals decided to give them a real one. At the outbreak of war a small British force had seized the Persian Gulf port of Basra with the connivance of the local sheikh. They had fortified and dug trenches, but we determined to drive them into the sea. First Bulgarian forces which had entered Turkey by marching from their homeland were transported the rest of the way to Qurna in Southern Iraq by rail on the splendid Berlin to Baghdad railway line, built with German help and now partly open for strictly military business. Then our troops in Baghdad invaded our ancient Persian enemy and seized the oil fields at Ahwaz. The British were not idle spectators of this, for they shipped in their Antipodean cousins and attacked our troops at Ahwaz, in a drawn fight. The draw gave us the time needed to bring the Yildirim down the rail link to Ahwaz, and then the combined might of the Bulgarians and the Turks slaughtered the British and Australians, destroyed their fort and filled in their trench.

By now the Austrians had vanquished the last Serbian soldiers, but the Allies did not land at Salonika to reopen the Balkan front, as we knew they could, nor bring Romania into the war. Their efforts were concentrated on the Western front, where they broke through at Metz, though it proved something of a dead end. As 1916 began our forces pushed North through Persia, prompting the Russians to push South, though they did not quite meet. They also entrenched at Kars. The Australians reappeared in Port Said and so we redeployed the Bulgarians from Iraq to the Sinai peninsula as an advance guard, while bringing Germans in to the Caucausus. We formed a new Army, the Army of Islam, which was soon required to march to Adana, where the British had landed their long-planned Expeditionary Force.

On the North-Eastern front the Germans had taken Warsaw but they now made a serious blunder and let their 8th Army become trapped on the Baltic coast at Libau. The Russian general Brusilov drove the hapless Germans into the sea with overwhelming numbers, a last minute attempt to entrench having failed. In the Summer the disaster bore its natural fruit with a change in the High Command, but before that the British had established a secure supply through Sinai. The Yildirim were quickly moved to Sinai from Persia, joining the Bulgarians. The British now formed a new army under Allenby in Alexandria. The Summer heat prevented any combat, and the Yildirim were unwilling to dig trenches in the sand. Meanwhile the Army of Islam scored a notable victory by routing the British MEF, driving them into the sea.

In the Autumn the Yildirim and the Bulgarians pulled back to Beersheba, while the AOI transferred to Eleskirt in the Caucausus, prompting the Russian Caucausus army to take up position opposite it. More Russian troops poured into Kars, where they were attacked by us and the Germans from Batum and Erzerum, using Flamethrowers under the command of Liman Von Sanders. However, our new technology and skilled commander only availed us a draw, so Von Sanders was dismissed from his post.

As the Winter of 1917 began more troops were moved into Erzerum and Van from the beaches where the MEF had been defeated and from Poland, including an elite unit of Alpenkorps skilled at mountain fighting, which proved useful in the second battle of Kars, though the enemy clung on grimly without retreating. The Russians evacuated Dilman and our forces captured this last enclave in Western Persia. Meanwhile Allenby had begun to cross the Sinai peninsular and so the Yildirim tried to ambush him.

The ambush was a disastrous defeat. The British losses were easily made up by reinforcements from Egypt, but our losses were more permanent, and an extra corps from Damascus only patched over the wound. Meanwhile the Army of Islam attacked Erivan but it too was defeated. The British defeated us at Gaza, but did not advance. We pulled our forces from the Holy Places to defend Gaza, and attacked Kars, managing to scrape a draw. The Winter ended with a French landing at our former possession of Salonika, where they were reinforced by our former subjects the Serbs.

The Austrians had been expecting this and they began the Spring of 1917 by attacking Salonika, destroying French corps, only to have a French Army land there instead. The Allies again attacked Gaza, and were met by a brilliant young officer, Mustafa Kemal, later better known as Ataturk. Mustafa inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy but they still won the battle, destroying the fortifications of Gaza. The Yildirim now attacked Sinai for a second time, and a second time were defeated badly, though this time they did not absorb the casualties themselves. Fortunately Allenby paused to regroup, allowing the Yildirim to escape to Damascus. Meanwhile the Army of Islam attacked Erivan, with the help of the German officers Von Hutier and Von Francois. Their assistance was enough for a victory, and even to damage the army of the Caucausus, but the Russians refused to retreat, standing firm on the mountain heights. The British now besieged Beersheba, at which Medina went over to them.

The Summer heat rendered offensive operations impossible. We devoted our resources to rebuilding our shattered reserves. The German High Command launched unrestricted submarine warfare and then sent a telegram to Mexico inviting that state to join them, which prompted the USA to enter the war.

The Summer ended with the fall of Beersheba, and Medina reverted to the rule of the Sultan. Allenby entered Jersualem in triumph. Most of the Autumn was taken up with a German push to Kiev, which city they captured, but at grave risk of being themselves cut off from their supplies. The push succeeded in provoking the Tsar to take personal command of his troops. In the meantime, the British and their Australian allies attacked Nablus, and Kemal skillfully fought them to a standstill, wiping out the Australians.

In the Winter the Tsar’s government collapsed. Meanwhile the British were held at Nablus in fierce fighting, as we moved the German troops from the Caucausus foothills to the arid Syrian plain, where they joined the Yildirim. The Army of Islam was also brought to Syria, while Allenby dug trenches in Jerusalem. The AOI now took up position on the heights of Nablus, but was defeated and its supporting corps wiped out in battles amidst fierce hailstorms. They fell back on Beirut, where the Spring saw them reinforced by more Germans. There was a great deal of activity in Russia during this the last year of the war, in which the Sultan’s forces played little part. As the Spring ended our forces in Syria closed with the enemy, the Yildirim taking Amman and the Army of Islam the heights above Nablus. Allenby dug yet deeper trenches around Jerusalem. There was a weakness in the enemy position in Gaza, but the Summer heat prevented its exploitation.

An Italian Corps had made its way to Sarajevo, that formerly Ottoman town which had started the whole war. Fear of a sudden march on Belgrade and the resurrection of the Serbian army led the Germans to request a Turkish corps be dispatched to Belgrade, which Turkish arms had not seen for many years. In the event, its prescence was superfluous, for the Italians were defeated in Albania and their advance guard in Bosnia starved to death. The Austrians were also victorious at Salonika, though still the French clung to their precarious foothold. At the end of the Summer Allenby launched a surprise attack on Amman backed by British aeroplanes, an attack which destroyed the Yildirim and sent the surviving Germans scurrying back to Aleppo, but he did not advance. We retaliated as Autumn began by attacking Gaza, backed by German aeroplanes, and were victorious despite heavy losses in the Army of Islam.

We did not advance into Gaza and Allenby now attacked the heights of Nablus, exposing his main force to danger. His army was weakened and the Army of Islam survived though its German allies did not. More Germans joined the AOI from Aleppo.

The Russian Army of the Caucausus now stirred from the heights of Erivan and marched into Eleskirt, abandoned by our troops when they moved to Syria. A Russian Corps advanced still further into the mountains around Lake Van. Fortunately we able to bring the troops from Belgrade home to block any further advance and from our Reserves we quickly reinforced Erzerum.

The British reinforced Gaza, and their agents stirred up the Arab tribes of the desert. The Autumn ended as it had begun with an attack on Gaza. Meanwhile the Germans had conquered a great swathe of Russia, only the two fortresses of Riga and Odessa holding out against them.
Anyway, as 1919 began 3 Turkish corps were brought by rail to Amman. The British reinforced Jerusalem, and we and the Germans assaulted it in a powerful offensive code-named Operation Michael. Unfortunately the troops in Amman failed to make the flanking maneuver the Germans desired and were slaughtered in larger numbers. By the time the troops from Nablus arrived it was all they could do to destroy the Arabs and a single British Corps: Allenby’s army remained intact and did not have to retreat. He counter attacked with the aid of the troops in Gaza, destroying the Army of Islam and forcing the germans off the heights. However, the attack destroyed what remained of his army. Next the german forces attacked Nablus but in severe weather they were defeated, and had to regroup around Damascus.

Meanwhile the Germans in a desperate Peace Offensive drove the Russian troops from Riga and besieged the fortress. The war was however decided in the Middle East, with a final British attack that captured Damascus, precipitating the collapse of the Sultanate and its allies.

[Final score was 9 (Riga fell)]
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Steve
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Good report, sounds like a very tense game.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Well it was weird how much of it was concentrated on the Near East Map. And not just Constantinople but the extremities like Basra etc. I was serious contemplating playing Libyan Revolt just to weaken his forces in Palestine for a moment.

In the end I would probably have been better off not spending so much time trying to break through to Baku and instead should have concentrated on conquering the main part of Russia.
 
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