Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Airship Legacy - Part 17

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Part XVII: The Second Great War, 2003-2004

“We Have Taken Minsk!”
Minsk, January 9- The War Ministry has announced that Allied Forces have finally taken the Imperial Russian city of Minsk. This is the first real movement of the war since November, when the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius was liberated by British and Polish forces. The War Ministry states that it is the goal of the armed forces to push the Imperial Russians out of the Baltic States before the onset of summer, and begin to threaten the Imperial capital of Petrograd. Germany plans on pushing for Moscow by the end of the year, in hopes that the war can be ended before the end of 2003.
            This appears to be the only front that has seen any action so far this year. In the East, winter is still in full swing and American and Vladivostokian commanders do not believe they will be able to push west against the Russian Empire until March.
-“We Have Taken Minsk!”, The Times (London), January 10, 2003.

Korea in Revolt
Tokyo, February 26- Japanese officials have confirmed that communist rebels in Korea have risen up in the southern city of Seoul, proclaiming the so-called “People’s Republic of Korea.” The Dominion of Korea, which has essentially been independent of Japan since reforms passed in the late 1970s, has called upon Japan for assistance. This will likely draw Japanese troops away from the war in Russia. The Korean government in Pyongyang, which has so far been officially neutral in the conflict to the north, has officially closed the border with China, causing many observers to conclude that the Koreans that China may be nominally behind the uprising in southern Korea.
-“Korea in Revolt,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2003

            The Korean Civil War, which is generally considered a minor theater of the wider Second Great War, is considered a major reason why the wider war lasted nearly into 2006, instead of ending in 2004 like many at the time thought it would. When the revolt began in Seoul on February 26th, the American, East Russian, and Japanese forces had been preparing for a surge towards the city of Chita, which they planned on staring in mid-March. The Korean conflict derailed these plans. Japan pulled most of their resources in Russia to the south, requiring the Americans to send additional troops to sure up the Aldan Line. The Japanese Air Force began bombing rebel positions in Seoul on March 3rd. This action was decried by China, and on March 10th the Chinese government recognized the legitimacy of the People’s Republic of Korea, and declared war on the Dominion of Korea on the same day.
            Chinese forces crossed the Korean border on March 17th, and bombed Pyongyang the following day for hours. The Japanese Navy battled their Chinese counterpart for the first time on March 29th, as the bulk of the Japanese Navy entered in force to the Yellow Sea. The Battle for the Yellow Sea lasted nearly a month, ending in a Japanese victory on April 25th. By mid-May, the Japanese Navy had established a successful blockade of Bo Hai Bay, regularly bombarding the city of Dalian. In addition, the Japanese launched a successful raid of Shanghai on May 19th, destroying much of the harbor. By June, the Japanese had also blockaded the Yangtze River, crippling commerce in Northern China.
            While the naval war was going well, on the Korean Peninsula, however, China had the upper hand. On April 18th, Pyongyang fell to Chinese forces, sending the Dominion of Korea into a panic. Although the government of the People’s Republic of Korea had been forced out of Seoul by the Japanese by the end of March, the rebel army was now pushing to get back into the city.
-Kim, Dr. Jong Il. The Korean Civil War. Pyongyang: Peninsular Press: 2019.

            With the fighting in Korea, the Spring Offensive of 2003 was delayed by several months. American and East Russian forces finally began to push forward towards Chita on May 20th, instead of the originally planned date of March 10th. The Imperial Army put up a strong defense of the city, and the Allied forces would be fighting for the city for most of the summer. Farther north, the American and Republican forces crossed the Aldan River in a drive for the city of Yakutsk. Defenses were much weaker here, and the city was under Allied bombardment by mid-July. On August 1st, Vladivostokian forces liberated the city.
            Fighting was still fierce in Chita, however, but with Yakutsk in Allied hands, more troops were available for the fight. The city first fell on September 9th, but would briefly be retaken on September 18th. Ultimately, the city would be retaken on September 28th. By the time winter set in, the Western Front had stabilized about 20 miles west of Chita, to the disappointment of American war-planners, who had hoped to be on the shores of Lake Baikal by winter.
-Newton, Dr. Kyle. Drive to the West: The Western Front of the 2nd Great War. Los Angeles: UCLA Press, 2021.

Russians Retake Minsk
Warsaw, July 3- After weeks of fierce fighting, the Imperial Russian Army has retaken the city of Minsk. In addition, the Russians have been able to make serious gains towards the Polish border, nearly obliterating the Polish forces. The German Army is the main reason that the Russians haven’t crossed back into Poland. In Latvia, there has been little success. The Allied forces have yet to take the Latvian capital, and in some places have lost ground
-“Russians Retake Minsk,” Frankfurter Zeitung, July 4, 2003. 

            One of the best kept secrets of the late 1980s and early 1990s had been the research and development of atomic super-bombs by the United States and Germany. America began first, under orders from the Bush administration, which wanted to develop the bombs in order to use them in the Iran War. Germany secretly learned of this development and started research of their own. The first detonation of an atomic weapon occurred on November 3, 1990 on a small American-controlled atoll in the South Pacific. Germany would detonate their own in August of 1991.
            For the Americans, however, this development would come too late for use in the Iran War, since President Bush was forced to end American involvement in the war in March of 1991. After that time, atomic-weapons research was slowed down considerably for most of the decade. In the later years of the Clinton administration, as conflict in Russia seemed more and more likely, the U.S. government began secretly building more atomic super-bombs to have in case war came. Germany began to do so as well once the Lehmann government came to power in 2001.
            When war in Russia came in 2002, some in the American government (those generals and few politicians with the highest of security clearances to know about the existence of America’s secret weapon) immediately pushed for their use to prevent a long, drawn out war, but President Doughty refused. He told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the atomic super-bombs were to be a last-resort weapon. The Germans made the same decision.
- Franks, Dr. Hugo, The Atomic War, Berlin: Humboldt University Press, 2019.

            By the end of 2003, over half of the Korean Peninsula was under Chinese control, with the government of the rebel Korean forces having temporarily relocated to Pyongyang, though they vowed to return to the “people’s city” of Seoul. The government of the Korean Dominion had fled south to Busan, which was more easily defended by the Japanese. Despite many losses at sea, the Japanese Navy ruled the Yellow Sea, and Northern China chaffed under the blockade.
            In February of 2004, China began a strong push to the south, taking Seoul on February 20th, which was loudly celebrated by the communists, who returned to Seoul on the one year anniversary of the start of the revolution on February 26th. By April, most of the Peninsula under Chinese control, with the Japanese controlling only Busan and about 75 square miles surrounding the city. On April 19th, the Dominion government began to evacuate to Japan, and on May 9th, Busan fell to Chinese forces, and the People’s Republic declared victory over the “capitalist lackies of the Japanese.”
-Kim, Dr. Jong Il. The Korean Civil War. Pyongyang: Peninsular Press: 2019.

Khabarovsk Retaken by Chinese
Vladivostok, June 2- The American War Department has announced that the key railroad city of Khabarovsk has fallen once again to Chinese forces. Now that China has forced Japan out of Korea, the Chinese Army has once again turned it’s attention back towards East Russia. In addition to retaking Khabarovsk, the Chinese Air Force has drastically increased its bombing efforts on Vladivostok, leading to many dramatic air battles between the Chinese and American air forces.
-“Khabarovsk Retaken by Chinese,” Frankfurter Zeitung, June 3, 2004.

            During the first half of the Second Great War, there was little good news coming from the Eastern Front, especially in 2003 and 2004. Minsk, after initially falling to allied hands in early 2003, was back in Russian hands by that summer. Although Lithuania was liberated before the end of 2002, the allied commanders had failed to liberate Latvia by the end of 2003, and in February 2004, the Russians pushed the Allies back into Lithuania. On March 17th, the Imperial Army launched a massive push to the west that would set the Allied war effort back for months. On April 1, Vilnius fell back into Russian hands, and On April 14th, the Russian army crossed the Polish/Belorussian border into Poland. There was palpable panic in Warsaw that the Russians might be able to take the city before the summer was over.
            It was at this point that France, Italy, and Turkey declared war on the Russian Empire, and waves of fresh troops arrived on the Eastern Front, halting the Imperial advance by the beginning of July. However, Allied Forces were unable to push the Russians back very far, and by the time the winter set in, the front line was still inside Poland.
-Rutherford, Dr. Thomas. Our War in Russia. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2022.

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