Great Fascist War

The Great Fascist War
Date06/07/1941 - 15/09/1945
Location
Result Decisive Commonwealth Victory, reunification of Arthurista
Belligerents
 Commonwealth of Arturista ("Commons")
Supported by:
Template:Country data Arthuristan National State ("Fascists")
Supported by:
23x15px Belhavia (Galarian Regime) (until early 1945)
Template:Country data Confederate Republic of Emmeria
Commanders and leaders
Arthurista William Christian Template:Country data Arthuristan National State Brian Irving
23x15px Zachary Galarian

The Great Fascist War was a military conflict between the Commonwealth of Arthurista and the Arthuristan National State. The great destruction wrought by the earlier x War led to a strong distaste for war and inaugurated a pacifist phase in Arthuristan history. A prosperous trading and industrial economy, Arthurista was severely affected by a major depression at the end of the 1910s. With millions out of work, many became embittered and joined various extremist movements, many of them being anarchist or communist. One group, however, drew a particularly large following among Anglo-Arthuristans (descendents of proto-English speakers) – the Arthuristan Fascist Party.

The Arthuristan Fascist Party

The group was popularly known as the Greyshirts (due to the deep grey armbands their members habitually wore to early rallies) and led by the charismatic Brian Irving. Largely based in southern Arthurista, where the movement was most popular, its ideological foundations were based on three tenets:

File:Brian Irving.png
Brian Irving, leader of the Fascists.

(1) Anglo-supremacy – that Anglo-Arthuristans should rule the island as its sole inhabitants. Indigenous Celtic islanders, as well as immigrants of non-Anglo descent were to be expelled from the Arthuristan state.

(2) Totalitarianism – a rejection of traditional Arthuristan liberalism and democracy for a hierarchical one party state, subject to the will of one ruler and one party, enforced by an extensive security apparatus.

(3) Anti-communism - an intractable hostility towards communists, who were blamed for the economic trouble and political instability of the 1920s. They were also perceived by the Fascists as conspiring to surrender Arthuristan independence to a region- or worldwide communist union.

In 1921, the Fascist Party, which is now the dominating political party in the local councils of the seven southern counties, attempted to make a bid for power at the national elections. They were, however, counterbalanced by the northern vote. Unlike the then relatively rural south, the north was (and to a certain degree still is) more urbanised, cosmopolitan and industrialised, inhabited by a diverse and left-leaning population. Stung by this defeat, the local governments of the counties declared their intention to secede, then subsequently proceeded to jointly form the Arthuristan National State, a totalitarian fascist dictatorship.

The buildup

The Lord Protector, Valerian II, refused to recognise the secession, and the government at Loweport quickly declared the secession illegal and unconstitutional. Nevertheless, it lacked the will, means and support to forcibly remedy the situation. Horrified at the prospect of using violence against their fellow islanders, especially with the horrors of the Viceroy's War so freshly in mind, the government, led by Prime Minister Ned Chambers, attempted a conciliatory approach, seeking to appease the fascists and accommodate their demands. Irving pretended to be open to negotiations, while secretly strengthening his position by building up his state apparatus in the south. His State Security Department (‘SSD’) first carried out a massive purge of the Fascist Party of any dissident elements (who were imprisoned in secret concentration camps or executed), then proceeded to reduce the non-Anglo population of the Seven Counties to the status of second class citizens. Arthuristan Highlanders were forced off their ancestral land into ‘designated reservations’, their farms taken over by Anglo settlers, while Ashizwes, Muslims, Jews (reversed after rapprochement with the Galarian Regime), Anikatians, and Ulthrannics were forced into inner-city slums. At the same time, a massive armament program took place, justified in the terms of protecting the independence of their new state from Loweport’s interference. By 1935, most of northern Arthurista have come to realise that negotiations were fruitless. They began their own belated rearmaments program, albeit haphazardly and hesitantly. All the while, the Fascists continued to build up their force. Their military was well-trained by Belhavian advisors, while whatever industrial capacity they had worked non-stop to churn out new equipment. Irving has, by now, resolved to force a decisive confrontation with the north, and seize control of the entire island by force of arms.

Anarchy in Ibernia

WIP

Pre-war manoeuvring

In late-1939, the Fascists broke off all negotiations with Loweport. Northern rearmament finally reached a frantic pace, though it was too little, too late as the Fascists already enjoy a significant margin of advantage in the military front.

The Fascists realised that they had to strike soon, and strike fast. After a decade of totalitarian rule, the youth of the Southern Counties had been indoctrinated by the regime into a highly regimented and disciplined group, proficient in many military skills even before their terms of conscription. In skill, readiness, elan and, initially, in the quality of their weapons, the forces of the south enjoyed marked superiority over the Commonwealth Defence Forces. In the long run, however, the National State's leadership realised unless they took the fight to the north and forced a quick decision that would neutralise the Commonwealth as a threat, the northerners would be able to use their significantly greater base of manpower and industry to mobilise an overwhelming force and grind them down in a war of attrition. A lightning invasion using mechanised and air forces carefully built up and husbanded using the south's rather limited industrial capabilities seemed to be the solution.

In late 1940, after the 5th of September Coup, the Galarian autocracy in Belhavia entered talks to assist the Fascists in their war for independence. By November 1940, a treaty of friendship had been signed between the National State and the Galarian regime in Belhavia. Military and economic assistance was dispatched to the Fascists, including hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, thousands of rifles, tonnes of ammunition, and other combat supplies to equip the nascent National State military. Belhavian military advisors poured into the Fascist-controlled southern Arthurista, contributing expertise to the fledgling Fascist government in Kingston.

Besides assisting in organizing and training the National Army, economic and civilian advisors assisted in organizing war-time industrial activity and building a domestic war effort. In time for their summer 1941 offensive, the Fascists had a embryotic but growing running war-intensive industry.

Foreign support for the belligerents of the upcoming war was not totally one-way. Belfras, the Eagleland and Tippercommon would provide substantial support to the Commonwealth before and during the conflict. Although Emmeria would prove politically hostile, it maintained its neutrality throughout and sold to the Commonwealth production licenses to many advanced weapons designed desperately its forces. Moreover, more than 10,000 of its citizens would volunteer to fight on the Commonwealth side as the Liberty Rifles.

Great Fascist War

1941-42

See: Battle of Loweport

On 6th July 1941, the Fasicsts launched a major surprise offensive on northern Arthurista. Their divisions of Medium Tank Mark III and Mark IV stormed northwards at full speed, cutting through hastily organised defences, while in the air their Model 109 fighters easily swept away obsolete Commonwealth Gladiators as HE-111s terror-bombed northern cities.

Commonwealth 5.5-inch medium artillery in action

In Loweport, the government of Ned Chambers quickly collapsed. William Christian, the erstwhile Minister for Defence, political firebrand and longstanding opponent of the Fascists, was chosen near-unanimously to lead a new coalition government that would steer Arthurista through the war.

Early attempts to defeat or even slow the invasion, known as the Battle of the Frontier, were briskly brushed aside and, within two months, the Fascists were laying siege on Loweport.

Little did both sides know, however, the Fascists have finally reached their high-water mark. The city's garrison was the Commonwealth army’s IV Corps, a hastily scraped-together formation composed of battered and under-strength divisions, led by the noted pre-war military theorist David Davenport. Under his command, resistance finally stiffened as his corps, reinforced by Loweport's militias, rallied to mount an effective defence of the capital in the subsequent weeks of brutal urban warfare. Meanwhile, the Fascist armies saw their supply situation worsen day by day as the motorways, broken by the fighting, were swamped under by the monsoon weather. While Davenport held down the bulk of the Fascists’ Armies, the Commons amassed a substantial force and, on 19th January 1942, launched their long-awaited counterattack, The Fascist 5th Army, hitherto fighting in the city of Loweport itself, found itself surrounded in a cauldron created by fast-moving Commonwealth armoured formations. After a few more weeks of bitter struggle, the 5th Army surrendered, marking the first major strategic victory the Commonwealth government won in the war.

The remainder of 1942 was marked by ghastly attritional fighting. Rapidly regaining its strength utilising its superiority in industry and manpower, the Commonwealth Army launched a major strategic counteroffensive on both the Eastern and Western Axes, known as the Battle of Road A17 and Battle of Templeton. The far more skilful Fascist Army held them at bay, inflicting significantly casualties than they received. The ANS, however, also began to realise that they were in trouble - in a prolonged war of attrition they were at a distinct disadvantage, given the imbalance of resources between the two. The year ended with the Commonwealth making minor territorial gains, though still vastly short of erasing the territories occupied by the Fascists in their initial offensive.

1943

The Swordfish, an antiquated-looking biplane, was the Fleet Air Arms main carrier-borne surface striking force in the first half of the war and played a crucial role in the decisive Battle of the Ibernian Coast in immobilising and crippling the bulk of the ANS capital ships and heavy cruisers, allowing them to be finished off at leisure by the Commonwealth Navy's Home Fleet. They would be replaced by the far more powerful Emmerian-designed Avenger and Helldiver before the Commonwealth Navy launched its Far Eastern Offensive in late-1945.

See: Battle of Wrexham Cross
See: Battle of the Ibernian Coast

The Commonwealth war industry shifted into high gear. After checking the initial Fascist blitzkrieg, the Commonwealth mobilised its undoubtedly greater manpower reserves and industrial capacity in an all out effort at total war. Day and night, its factories churned out cruiser tanks, Spitfire fighters, field artillery, small arms and other vital armaments. From its disastrous first weeks of the war, Commonwealth air power quickly recovered and fought back ferociously, razing city after city in the Fascist hinterland in a sustained strategic bombing campaign. At sea, after some desultory skirmishing, the decisive battle took place in late-43, in which the Fascists’ fleet of battleships were first crippled by an all-out strike by Swordfish torpedo bombers deployed from Commonwealth carriers, then finished off at close range by battleships and battlecruisers. The Commons’ seizure of sea control led to their ability to blockade the Fascists from any further Belhavian aid. From that point forth, their strategic situation deteriorated irrevocably and the war's results were foregone.

On land, the Fascists, having spent the previous year beating off a huge but ineffectual Commonwealth counteroffensive aimed at wiping out their initial gains, believed that they had recovered sufficiently to launch a strategic offensive of their own. Their goal was to attack the city of Wrexham Cross, on the western axis, which was retaken by the Commonwealth Army in the previous year during their abortive counteroffensive and thus presented a bulge into their lines. Their armoured spearheads would attack the salient, cut off any Commonwealth units caught therein, then turn 90 degrees to the right to cross the Central Highland on the crucial A7 Trunk Road along the Fordham Mountain Pass to emerge behind Loweport, finally encircling the city and ending the war.

The Strategic Intelligence Bureau, however, had long been able to place multiple sources within the Fascist general staff, and had ample forewarning of the impending attack. The Fascist offensive fell on thin air as they found the salient devoid of major Commonwealth forces aside from a few rearguard formations. Believing that they had torn the front open, Irving ordered his armoured forces to roll forward full steam ahead, ignoring the misgivings of his advisors. His generals were soon proven correct as the Commonwealth Army's own mechanised forces, massed in reserve and camouflaged behind the lines, emerged in huge numbers to cut off and surround the Fascist spearheads. The ANS army had, by now, begun to deploy advanced armoured vehicles such as the Medium Tank Mk V "Panther", and still possessed superior tactical skills, but this was largely offset by superior numbers. The Commonwealth Army had also begun to deploy advanced armoured vehicles such as the Constable Cruiser Tank. A swirling three-day tank melee ensued as Fascist formations attempted to extricate themselves from the ambush. Strictly speaking, the Commonwealth failed in their initial objective of surrounding and destroying the Fascist force as some 70% of them managed to escape the trap. However, such was the losses inflicted on Fascist armoured forces that they would yield strategic initiative to the Commonwealth Army for the remainder of the war. Folllowing the victory at Wrexham Cross, the Commonwealth Army would launch an offensive of its own, retaking much of the territory lost in 1941.

1944-45

See: Operation Boudicca
See: Battle of Clent Hills
See: Battle of Kingston

The Commonwealth Army launched its long-awaited strategic counteroffensive, Operation Boudicca, in March 1944. It had used the winter and spring to prepare and train a vast force which outnumbered the Fascists three-to-one in armour, five-to-one in artillery and nearly six-to-one in aircraft. By contrast, now virtually cut off from Belhavian support, the average ANS armoured division could deploy only two understrength armoured regiments (i.e. battalions), though they continued to possess technically superior tanks and, fighting on the defensive, continued to inflict disproportionately high casualties. The Commonwealth Army had also grown leaps and bounds in tactical skills, operational arts, concealment, misdirection and strategic deception, qualities which would stand it in good stead when the offensive began.

Operation Boudicca was a meticulously planned and rehearsed affair which had been in the works for months. It opened with simultaneous offensives on both the eastern and western axes, driving south in accordance with a strict timetable and with reserves fed in at critical moments when the mechanised spearheads were about to stall. A downpour of artillery and fighter bombers were used to suppress the dreaded screens of 88mm guns, while hordes of cruiser tanks awaited to be unleashed into the enemy's operational rear. On 1st May, the 1st Army Group, fighting on the eastern axis, cleared the Central Highlands and swung west, joining with the 3rd Army Group which had advanced down the western axis. The Commonwealth Army now stood on a united front across the width of the island, ready for the final push towards Kingston on the south coast.

The more they were losing the war, the more the Fascists’ army perpetrated atrocities upon Celtic Arthuristans and other ethnic groups. The most unpleasant task confronted by advancing Commonwealth troops was often to deal with concentration camps, massacred villages or massed graves. Commonwealth prisoners of war were often slaughtered out of hand, especially if they were not of Anglo-extraction. This, in turn, led to isolated incidents of counter-atrocities. In general, the Commons strove to adhere to the laws and customs of war, although many questioned why they should do so when their enemies clearly did not reciprocate in kind.

The Achilles Tank Destroyer proved to be a highly potent counter to advanced Fascist heavy tanks during the second half of the war. Armed with a high-velocity 17-pounder AT gun, they could defeat the frontal armour of virtually every Fascist armoured vehicle in service from reasonable ranges and were usually deployed from concealed positions to provide 'overwatch' for advancing Commonwealth armour.

By the end of 1944, despite the fanatical resistance put up by their troops, the Fascists could barely hold onto the south-eastern corner of the island, based around their capital city of Kingston. They committed their last reserves of manpower and armour in an audacious counterattack in March 1945, timing it in the middle of the storm season in an attempt to put Commonwealth airpower out of play, known to historians as the Battle of Clent Hills. Though caught offguard at the beginning, the by-now combat hardened Commonwealth formations held them at bay. As soon as the sky sufficiently cleared, an avalanche of Commonwealth tactical aircraft, especially the rocket-carrying Greenwich Typhoons, wreaked havoc on the last functioning armour of the Fasicsts. Kingston finally fell on 12 September 1945, with Brian Irving among the dead, reputedly killed by a strafing Spitfire which attacked his car as he attempted to escape to the docks to board a submarine.

File:Avro Lancaster.jpg
CAF Avro Lancaster firebombing a Fascist city

The war’s aftermath and de-Fascistication

Main Article: De-fascistication

The Great Fascist War, as the brutal conflict was known, caused approximately 800,000 military deaths altogether. Civilian casualties as a direct result of the war were also very high due to the strategic bombing campaigns of the Fascists early in the war and the Commons later. The most prominent victims of the war, however, were the Tribal and other minority populations in the southern part of the island, who suffered untold horrors at the hand of the Fascist regime. The victorious Commonwealth government vigorously and relentlessly hunted down, arrested and put on trial the leaders of the Fascist regime, hanging them one after another for their crimes.

The populace of the island, from north to south, were by now thoroughly educated of the evils of fascism. Confronted by the horrors they encountered in liberated territories, Arthuristans as a whole decided to irrevocably reject far-right ideologies of all stripes. For the Commons, the experience of the war drew the nation's diverse cultures and ethnic groups together to face a common enemy, leading to the final formation of Arthuristan nationhood. The post-war prohibition on political parties based on ethnicity, religion or any other divisive grounds signaled the nation’s resolve to never again allow history to repeat itself.

In 1947, the Reconstruction Act was passed by Parliament. Over the next decade, devastated southern Arthurista was rapidly rebuilt through a massive infusion of government funds. Along with the money, northern Arthurista brought to the south the brand of urban and industrial civilisation that allowed them to triumph over the Fascists and, before long, the reconstructed counties became as vibrant, diverse, urbanised and economically developed as the north, to a large extent eliminating much of the regional disparity which led to the war in the first place.

Militarily, Arthuristan planners were now thoroughly convinced of the efficacy of a citizenry-in-arms, based on a population universally trained in war, which could be mobilised via a levee en masse in an emergency. Having faced down the fascists within, they must now find the best way to defend the new nation against authoritarian aggressors without. It was the experience of the war that led to the formation of the Universal National Service system, which persists to this day, albeit the current service obligation is in the territorials only. The war also led to the fall of the last vestiges of gender inequality in Arthuristan society, with women being conscripted alongside men as the Commonwealth fought for its survival in the desperate days of late-1941. Among them are the highest scoring sniper in Arthuristan history, captain Valerie Campbell, the third highest-scoring fighter ace squadron leader Amanda Lovell, and lieutenant Maria Rodrigeuz de Vivar of the Special Operations Executive, the nation's most highly decorated intelligence officer of all times.

Another notable legacy of the war is the Defence of the State Act 1941, which states that all Arthuristan citizens who identify him- or herself as a fascist is to be regarded as a fifth columnist and, as such, an illegal enemy combatant protected neither by domestic criminal procedures, nor the laws and customs governing prisoners of war. This was, in truth, never enforced, though it was never officially repealed by Parliament either.