Germany Conquers France 1914 but Britain Fights On

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,707
Australia
#2
What if Imperial Germany succeeded in defeating France in 1914 but Britain decided to keep fighting, similar to WW2. Could Imperial Germany hope to defeat Britain?
This would require a Dunkirk-like evacuation of the BEF. Probably could have been done. However Germany would be unable to invade Britain but the Royal Navy would be able to interdict German supply routes and strangle its foreign trade. I see a treaty being negotiated rather than defeat or victory for either side. A major reason for the Somme offensive in 1916 was to prevent France negotiating a separate peace leading to just such a scenario.
 
Jun 2015
5,730
UK
#3
The British would still have their blockade on German ports, which the French navy didn't participate in much. The British would still maintain it, though they'd have to ensure the Germans didn't use Le Havre, La Rochelle, Marseille, or any other major port.

There is little way that Britain even with the colonies as support could have gone to toe with Germany on the Western Front.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,261
Dispargum
#4
There is little way that Britain even with the colonies as support could have gone to toe with Germany on the Western Front.
Agreed, however, the British could implement a Mediterranean strategy. Imagine the Dardenelles operation as the priority fighting front and not in competition with the Western Front for resources. It might have worked.

Once the Ottomans were out of the war, Bulgaria's neutrality ensured, and Serbia reinforced, the next priority place to deploy the British Army would be Italy. With trade with Russia established through the Turkish Straits making Russia stronger, Serbia continuing to fight on, and with British armies reinforcing Italy, I doubt Austria would last into 1917 leaving Britain, Italy, and Russia to gang up on Germany alone.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,261
Dispargum
#5
The British would still have their blockade on German ports, which the French navy didn't participate in much. The British would still maintain it, though they'd have to ensure the Germans didn't use Le Havre, La Rochelle, Marseille, or any other major port.
This would be tricky. To keep the German Navy in German ports, the Royal Navy would have to switch from a far blockade to close blockade. If they were still based in Scapa Flow, I doubt the Royal Navy could keep the Germans from sailing down the Channel to one of the Bay of Biscay ports.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,692
#6
Agreed, however, the British could implement a Mediterranean strategy. Imagine the Dardenelles operation as the priority fighting front and not in competition with the Western Front for resources. It might have worked.

Once the Ottomans were out of the war, Bulgaria's neutrality ensured, and Serbia reinforced, the next priority place to deploy the British Army would be Italy. With trade with Russia established through the Turkish Straits making Russia stronger, Serbia continuing to fight on, and with British armies reinforcing Italy, I doubt Austria would last into 1917 leaving Britain, Italy, and Russia to gang up on Germany alone.
If the Central Powers had been successful in driving France from war in 1914 it is very doubtful that Italy would have gone to war on the Allied side. Keep in mind that in OTL this really happened only later on after Austro-Hungarian failures with the Serbs and Russians. Furthermore without decisively defeating the German fleet the Royal Navy would still be primarily stuck guarding the North Sea. It couldn't even deploy forwards because of the constant U-boat threat. With France and Italy in practice out of the picture - though Italy might even join Central Powers in order to make gains in the Balkans & Mediterranean - it is very doubtful that Russia and Serbia could last for long. This would in turn drive Bulgaria into the war - keep in mind that for Bulgaria the war was about getting back territory Serbs had captured in the Balkan Wars, so they would have been likely to align with any side that puts screws on the Serbs.

Which would mean that there would be a railroad connecting Germany to Istanbul by the time British even get around dreaming of Gallipoli campaign - meaning German and Austro-Hungarian troops and equipment bolstering the Ottoman forces which would make Gallipoli/Dardanelles even more horrifying than what it ended up being in the real life. Same would apply operations further into south. Ottoman empire would still likely fragment but without Sykes–Picot agreement it would lead to local powers instead of dominions and territories run by the Western powers.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,698
Georgia, USA
#7
This would be tricky. To keep the German Navy in German ports, the Royal Navy would have to switch from a far blockade to close blockade. If they were still based in Scapa Flow, I doubt the Royal Navy could keep the Germans from sailing down the Channel to one of the Bay of Biscay ports.
But the RN wanted a show down with the High Seas Fleet.

A naval battle in the Atlantic would suit the British far more than a battle in the North Sea.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,261
Dispargum
#8
^^ Good point about Italy not yet entering the war, but I'm not seeing why Bulgaria would enter the war before Galipoli.


Sykes-Picot split the Ottoman Empire between Britain and France. Without France in the war there's no Picot, but Britain would still occupy the Middle East by itself assuming they could still defeat the Ottomans. If the Ottoman Empire came out of the war still intact, it would be interesting to see how long they could last in the post-war world. I take it you think the Ottomans would not have survived the war either way.

The Europeans moved into North Africa because the local powers were incapable of ruling themselves. I suspect the same thing would have happened in the Near East. Whenever the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the successor states would have eventually failed and the Europeans would have taken over.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,261
Dispargum
#9
But the RN wanted a show down with the High Seas Fleet.

A naval battle in the Atlantic would suit the British far more than a battle in the North Sea.

True, but if the Germans practiced their fleet in being strategy without offering battle to the British, the German fleet in a French port would have been a major pain. They would be a constant threat to come out and attack any merchant ships in the North Atlantic and the Royal Navy would have to be constantly on guard. There was very little of value in the North Sea. Best to keep the Germans there.