What If... [WW1 in Africa]

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JungleJim
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What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by JungleJim » 12 Dec 2010 00:23

I have been fascinated by the tale of WW1 in Africa for a number of years. At one time, I was developing a Alternate History Time-line that covered the the war in Africa. I used as my POD (Point of Departure), Kaiser Willy being humiliated over Morocco.

An enraged kaiser might have done something, such as ordered his Generals and Admirals to increase German military power in its colonies. How much more of the Allied war effort would have to be re-directed to African theaters? Would it have tipped the balance on the Western Front?

I shudder at the thought, of what Lettow-Vorbeck would have done with an expanded Schutztruppe and more resources.

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stg 44
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Re: What If...

Post by stg 44 » 12 Dec 2010 04:22

What gets cut from the European forces to pay for it? Also how does Germany supply its extra forces (remember pat of Lettow-Vorbeck's success was based on his force's mobility and low logistic requirements) and how do the white soldiers survive African diseases?

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Baltasar
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Re: What If...

Post by Baltasar » 12 Dec 2010 06:42

I'd rather try it the other way around: Have every man, gun, ship, bullet and kitchen sink moved back to Germany. The colonies won't be worth much if Berlin is being taken and all the confidence in the world just doesn't make up for men on the ground.

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Re: What If...

Post by stg 44 » 12 Dec 2010 07:59

Baltasar wrote:I'd rather try it the other way around: Have every man, gun, ship, bullet and kitchen sink moved back to Germany. The colonies won't be worth much if Berlin is being taken and all the confidence in the world just doesn't make up for men on the ground.
Or every resource focused on one defensible colony.

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cormallen
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Re: What If...

Post by cormallen » 12 Dec 2010 10:59

None of the german colonies are really defensible long term and the best
that may be achieved is to drag the ANZAC troops to Africa...
that stops Gallipoli maybe....which is, let's face it, no great loss!

Also remember that Lettow's great success was hardly predictable pre war so if you reinforce some other colony you won't necessarily have another such exceptional leader emerge?

Alan

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JungleJim
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Re: What If...

Post by JungleJim » 12 Dec 2010 16:27

What gets cut from the European forces to pay for it?
The cost to expanding the West and East African Schutztruppe would have probably been less, than adding an infantry brigade to the German Order of Battle in Europe. Remember, the Germans only provided cadres to the Feldkompagniens, except for South West Africa. Increasing the GEA Schutztruppe by 50% would have involved less than 300 German soldiers.
I'd rather try it the other way around: Have every man, gun, ship, bullet and kitchen sink moved back to Germany.
Such a policy would have actually increased Allied troop-levels in Europe. At the height of Smut's GEA campaign, he had almost a quarter of a million soldiers, not counting naval forces, under his command. A stronger pre-war German commitment to the GEA would have sucked in even more allied troops.

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Baltasar
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Re: What If...

Post by Baltasar » 12 Dec 2010 16:59

Germany couldn't win a long war, she had to defeat at least one of her opponents quickly, hence the concentration of forces in mainland Germany.

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Re: What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by Dave Bender » 12 Dec 2010 20:41

cost to expanding the West and East African Schutztruppe would have probably been less, than adding an infantry brigade to the German Order of Battle in Europe.
That's a fact. Only 3 things are essential for expanding the Schultztruppen.

1. Modern small arms. Mauser 98 rifles please. LTC Lettow-Vorbeck doesn't need more black powder rifles dating to the 1870s.

2. Small arms ammunition. Since the colonies are cut off from resupply they should stockpile 1,000 rounds per rifle and 10,000 rounds per machinegun.

3. Heer cadre at the normal German ratio. 10% career solders. The other 90% are locally recruited natives. So increasing Schultztruppen strength by 10,000 requires 1,000 Heer cadre.

Nice to have items.
The Schultztruppen are light infantry. Equipment should be easily portable. Give them Madsen LMGs to replace the heavy Maxim MG08s. Like the Heer did eventually for the Alpenkorps.

Provide some incentives for German army reservists and their families to move to the colonies. They will be available for mobilization in addition to growing the civilian economy.

Tanga and Dar es Salaam should have harbor defenses. Nothing elaborate or expensive. A few hundred sea mines plus a handful of light naval rifles (secondary guns from obsolete warships) to protect them from enemy minesweepers would make a world of difference.

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Re: What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by JungleJim » 12 Dec 2010 21:55

1. Modern small arms. Mauser 98 rifles please. LTC Lettow-Vorbeck doesn't need more black powder rifles dating to the 1870s.
Even cheaper would have been to convert M88's in to a Colonial Rifle. Get rid of the metal upper hand-guard and replace it with a wooden one, plus, add a charger guide for clips. This was actually done, but on a very small scale for sale to the Chinese. Many thousands of such rifles could have been stored in African depots.
3. Heer cadre at the normal German ratio. 10% career solders. The other 90% are locally recruited natives. So increasing Schultztruppen strength by 10,000 requires 1,000 Heer cadre.
A German expansion, after the war had started, did reach the strength of 3,000 Germans and 11,000 Askaris. If L-V had the rifles, he could have easily recruited additional native troops.
Provide some incentives for German army reservists and their families to move to the colonies. They will be available for mobilization in addition to growing the civilian economy.
Germany was providing incentives for colonists with military experience. This is why L-V was able to increase German troops from 260 to 3,000 :D

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convert M88's in to a Colonial Rifle.

Post by Dave Bender » 13 Dec 2010 00:03

That would work but it doesn't save much money. A Mauser 98 only costs about $20 prior to WWI. 10,000 rifles @$20 each = $200,000. A drop in the bucket of the total German military budget. So why not give them new weapons? In addition to improving combat effectiveness new weapons make a statement that Germany will defend Ost Afrika. Potential colonists need such a reassurance that they aren't being abandoned to foreign invasion.

Germany was providing incentives for colonists with military experience.
Apparently not enough to compete with the booming pre-WWI German economy. Ost Afrika grew by only about 4,000 white settlers during the decade prior to WWI.
Ost Afrika White Population.
http://www.zum.de/psm/imperialismus/kol ... las14e.php
1,437. 1904
1,873. 1905
2,465. 1906
2,629. 1907
2,845. 1908
3,287. 1909.
3,756. 1910.
4,227. 1911.
4,866. 1912.
5,336. 1913.

For comparison purposes. 1913 population.
7.85 million. Canada.
4.8 million. Australia.
1.1 million. New Zealand.

I'm not suggesting Germany should empty prisons and ship inmates to Ost Afrika as Britain did to populate Australia. However Germany should be able to attract 1,000 families per year to Ost Afrika.

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stg 44
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Re: What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by stg 44 » 13 Dec 2010 00:20

It would require greater prosperity to lure colonists; perhaps have the cotton industry pick up before the war?

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would require greater prosperity to lure colonists

Post by Dave Bender » 13 Dec 2010 01:50

The German Government should spend a bit of money for transportation infrastructure like improving seaports and the connecting rail network. Then offer free farmland and mining claims to German military veterans.

Sisal was a very lucrative crop prior to the invention of synthetic fibers such as nylon and Ost Afrika was the best place in the world to grow it. But that doesn't do any good if a colonial farmer cannot get his sisal crop to market.

Kamerun was an ideal place to grow rubber, a commodity much in demand thanks to the rapidly growing automobile industry. Kamerun is also an ideal place to produce aluminum for the new aircraft industry.

Togo had a promising start producing cotton, assisted by scientists from the U.S. Tuskegee University.

1914 S.W. Afrika had one of the most productive copper mines in the world. Plenty of diamonds also. But you aren't going to attract many settlers to that desert region. Just a few mining engineers hoping to make their fortune.

The root problem remains that the pre-WWI German economy was just too strong. Unemployment was close to zero. In fact Germany had more immigrants then emmigrants. Millions of Poles and Italians were moving to western Germany to work in steel mills and shipyards. Perhaps some of these immigrants could be steered to the African colonies after serving two years in the German Army. Irish also. They don't all need to go to Boston and New York City.

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Re: What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by phylo_roadking » 13 Dec 2010 02:17

Kamerun is also an ideal place to produce aluminum for the new aircraft industry
Dave, the use of aluminium in 1914-era aircraft was minimal. SOME engiones used aluminim alloy crankcases - but by no means all....and pistons were still often steel single-ring types running in turned steel or cast iron cylinders. I'm not sure that as early as 1914 the aviation industry would regard it as a strategic essential...
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aluminium in 1914-era was minimal

Post by Dave Bender » 13 Dec 2010 02:58

Minimal but growing rapidly.

German Zepplins had aluminum frameworks.

Prof. Hans Reissner was experimenting with aircraft wings constructed from sheet metal during 1910. He was assisted by Hugo Junkers, who went on to produce the Duralumin J3 aircraft prototype during 1916. Further development was halted due to the wartime shortage of aluminum.

Aluminum foil was invented before WWI and aluminum was coming into use for cooking pots.

WWI era German Army canteens were made of aluminum. They were looking at other uses also such as field pack frames in an effort to lighten the soldier's equipment. Pontoons for military bridging equipment would be another obvious use if adequate quantites of aluminum were available.

You've already mentioned engine pistons. Germany was a pioneer in the use of aluminum pistons.

I'm not suggesting pre-WWI Germany would build an aluminum smelter in Kamerun. But it will happen eventually.
http://www.aluminum.org/AM/Template.cfm ... isplay.cfm
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, February 13, 2009 - Reuters - Rio Tinto (RIO.L) projects in Cameroon remain on track and the company still aims to build a 1,000 megawatt hydroelectric dam to power a planned aluminium smelter there despite cutbacks elsewhere, it said.

The dam is to be built on the Sanaga River, some 165 km (103 miles) east of Cameroon's economic capital, Douala. It would power a smelter at Kribi, to the south, that would have an initial capacity of 400,000 tonnes of aluminium per year.

Cameroon's current aluminium smelting capacity stands at 90,000 tonnes per year but the country hopes to harness its vast hydroelectic potential to increase this. The Kribi smelter has an eventual potential of 1 million tonnes per year.

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Re: What If... [WW1 in Africa]

Post by phylo_roadking » 13 Dec 2010 03:23

I'm not suggesting pre-WWI Germany would build an aluminum smelter in Kamerun. But it will happen eventually.
While this is true....you can hardly realistically use a 2009 reference to indicate the possible state of affairs almost a century earlier! 8O If you google on Aluminium in Cameroon...you''ll find that some of the companies there today ARE German - but ones that were busy expanding into KNOWN soruces of aluminium in the early 20th century, like Norway!
Minimal but growing rapidly.
It's perhaps worth noting that Cameroon's major bauxite reserves weren't discovered until the 21st century...bauxite deposits in the Minam and Martap regions are estimated at one billion tons...but they remain undeveloped at the present time! 8O Cameroon's world-famous aluminium SMELTING industry - along with several other metal procesing industries - was established around Edea because of the plentiful supply of cheap hydroelectric power there; it is reliant on imports, principally from Equatorial Guinea at the minute.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_ind ... ng_History

In fact - if this is correct...

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tfOe ... te&f=false

....it may not have been discovered there at all until 1946-48....!
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Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

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