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Decades of Darkness #188c: Seat of Mars

Credit for this post on the history of Britain during the DoD timeline goes to Ed Thomas.

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“There’s an east wind coming, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind, none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

- Sir Arthur Ignatius Doyle, British author, in “The Day The World Stood Still,” 1927. Written on the eve of the Casablanca Crisis, although not published until after the war scare was over (for that year, at least).

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Taken from: “Marching Under The Green Flag: The History of Socialism”

(c) 1952, David Kelvin

Eagle Publishing Company: Sydney. Used with permission.

The Lloyd George administration will be forever marked as the great missed opportunity of British Socialism. For the first time, Labour had achieved office; the Liberal Party was demoralised and defeated, while the Tories were still reduced to a poor third place. Socialists across the country were delighted; even moderates like Daniel James expected ‘the creation of a brave new world’, while the far-left muttered darkly about following the example of Newfoundland. In the event, both groups were sorely disappointed.

Despite the great victory, the Labour Party nonetheless had to confront the practical realities of power. Labour’s test was to prove that it too could be a governing party; that it could balance ideological fervour with pragmatism. The results of this test would not be particularly favourable. The main stumbling block for the ideologues was that although it was the largest party in Parliament, Labour remained several votes short of a majority. Coalition with the Tories, the Liberals or the Scottish Party [1] was politically impossible, and so Lloyd George was forced to look elsewhere for allies. There was only one other option. In June 1923, a prolonged series of negotiations led to the Cymry Nationalists entering the Government. Ioan Jones, the Cymraeg leader, took the new post of Minister for Wales [2], and was given the task of examining the best method by which the Principality could gain Kingdom Status...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

David Lloyd George was not a revolutionary in the mould of the great Labour rabble-rousers like Arnold Cooper or Tom O’Brien. While capable of fiery speeches and passionate rhetoric about social reform, his views remained rooted in an acceptance of the basic status quo; it was this fact that first enabled his election. However, the chasm between the new Prime Minister and his internal critics was more than political. David Lloyd George was the last of the Labour Party’s founding generation [3]; the formative moments of his political adolescence were the struggles to unionise and the protests against the Kingdom War. He had little in common with the new breed of intensely ideological Socialists who had followed him into parliament after the Great North American War, and saw them as self-indulgent and impractical; for their part, they saw him as a cautious fool, better suited to making grandiloquent speeches than transforming the country. Clement Churchill’s savage judgement of Lloyd George as ‘The Welsh Windbag’ strongly resonated amongst the Left...

The Prime Minister’s opponents, both within the Labour Party and outside it, needed an angle of attack; an Achilles heel which could be ruthlessly targeted. They soon found it; Lloyd George’s weakness was Wales. By autumn 1923, the new Liberal leader Neville Wood was regularly insinuating that the Prime Minister was merely a ‘Trojan Horse’ for Welsh nationalism and his coalition with the Cymry Nationalists would break up the United Kingdom. After all, English was not even his first language [4]!

Lloyd George did little to counter such criticisms, and in fact he almost went as far as to wilfully embrace his own stereotype. His cabinet had several prominent ministers from Scotland and Wales, and he deliberately excluded Arnold Cooper from office, feeding the growing suspicion felt by the ‘King of London’ [5] that Englishmen were being marginalised in the Party. In a dreadful political miscalculation fuelled by the Cymry Nationalists, the Labour Government’s first major piece of legislation was the Welsh Church Act, which separated the Welsh Anglican Church from the Church of England as a first step to disestablishment [6]. The resulting parliamentary debates gave the Liberals and Tories the ideal opportunity to seriously damage the Government’s credibility, and Cedric Bolingbroke famously mocked the Labour Left for their Prime Minister’s lack of a radical Socialist agenda; “I thought you were going to usher in a brave new world? Is the Government all tip and no iceberg?

The Labour Government did enact some important legislation; it expanded social provision though a new Pensions Act and an Unemployment Act, established the Royal Sky Force as a separate arm of the military and began a major series of public works that would later be resurrected under the Blackwood regime. There were even some nods to radical shibboleths such as the 1925 Citizenship Act, which drastically restricted immigration [7]. Despite these advances however, partly through the ruthless repetition of the ‘Trojan Horse’ slur by the Prime Minister’s critics and partly through Lloyd George’s own quixotry, the ‘Welsh issue’ was never far from the surface of the Labour Government. Finally, in February 1926 David Lloyd George decided to confront the matter head on...

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Taken from: “The Death of Britain”

(c) 1953, Peter Dunn

Kashima Publishing

Cape Town, Kingdom of South Africa

As Parliament returned for the 1925-1926 session, it was becoming obvious to all that the Labour Government was dying. The pressures of coalition, endless squabbles over Welsh issues and the internal split within Labour between Lloyd Georgites and anti-Lloyd Georgites had destroyed any attempt at ‘business as usual’, and the Prime Minister knew that his own position was in severe danger.

The ironies of history can be a cruel thing. David Lloyd George had entered politics in the first place partly in reaction to Hamiltonian Conservatism, wanting to prevent the Conservatives from winning working class support through the cynical promise of welfare and pensions. Now, just as James Hamilton had done forty years before, he decided to confront the issue crippling his government head-on and propose major constitutional reform. The Cochrane Commission, which had been established in 1923 to discuss Welsh Kingdom status, finally gave its report in December 1925, a year late. It recommended an overhaul of Britain’s constitutional arrangements, with the devolution of some powers to England, Wales and Scotland. Amidst growing criticism of the commission, which had increasingly become a running joke for its constant delays and cost-overruns, the Prime Minister decided to raise the stakes; on February 1926 he announced that he rejected the Cochrane Commission’s report and instead favoured Kingdom Status for the Home Nations and the establishment of an Imperial Federation, if agreement could be reached between the nations of the Empire...

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Extract from: The Encyclopaedia Recidivus (3rd edition)

Editor-in-chief Lord Percy Kelvin III

(c) 1949 New Cambridge University Press

Sydney, Kingdom of Australia

Used with permission.

LAMBETH CONFERENCE:Imperial conference called by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1926 as a desperate gambit to stave off the collapse of his government, intended to discuss the creation of an Imperial Federation. The Conference took place between July and October 1926, and brought together the leaders of all the Kingdoms in the British Empire as well as representatives from the colonies.

Although no definitive agreement was ever reached, the conference played an important role in exploring the federative options available to countries within the Empire, and popularised the concept of greater Imperial unity, particularly in South Africa and Ireland. The main product of the debates was the ‘Lambeth Manifesto’, which was published in August by the South African delegation as an attempt to restart negotiations. The Conference was overshadowed by the increasing political difficulties of the British Government, as well as Bharati and Palestinian demands for Kingdom status. On the collapse of the Lloyd George Government it was abandoned entirely. The only point of agreement reached was the decision to grant Kingdom status to Palestine, which was implemented the following year...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

The novelty of Lloyd George’s gamble at Lambeth staved off the Government’s collapse for nine months, but as negotiations stalled and tempers frayed, it soon became apparent that an agreement was unlikely. By then, the political landscape had shifted. The Prime Minister found himself increasingly close to the nationalists, even the Tories, in trying to push through reform; the Labour Left meanwhile found for the first time that Neville Wood was surprisingly amenable to discussion, a fact that would pave the way for the National Government three years later...

The final straw came in late September; Conservative support for the Prime Minister’s proposals had always enraged the Labour Left, and when it emerged that Cedric Bolingbroke had been invited to Downing St to discuss negotiation tactics, Arnold Cooper decided that he had had enough. A last-ditch attempt to mend the rifts in the Labour movement failed as the relationship between Cooper and the Prime Minister became increasingly bitter. Finally on 30 September, after secret discussions between Cooper and the Liberals, Neville Wood called for a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons, which was then supported by many Labour rebels. A furious Lloyd George found himself unceremoniously dumped by his own party in favour of a minority Government led by Neville Wood. His break with the Labour Party was almost complete...

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Taken from: “Imperial Federation, from the Albany Plan to the Cape Town Declaration”

(c) 1951, Philip Westhead

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

The Lambeth Conference achieved little in immediate terms. The famous ‘manifesto’ was rendered immaterial by the Lloyd George Government’s increasing political woes, and then was repudiated entirely when Neville Wood finally toppled the embattled Labour Prime Minister. The failure of the Federalists seemed complete. By the time 1927 dawned the great ideal of a united Imperial structure, that had persisted since before the American Revolutionary War, appeared to have been killed off by Bharati intransigence, Australian apathy and internal British political squabbling.

Yet despite all appearances, the ideal was not dead. As the conference began, a sceptical Australian Member of Parliament who happened to visiting London decided to attend a speech by the new South African Premier Hofmeyr, extolling the virtues of Imperial Federation. “That speech,” he later recalled, “changed my entire perception of world affairs more than any other single event.” Seven years later, Lane shared a platform with the man who had so impressed him in London, as the Prime Ministers of the two major Kingdoms proclaimed the establishment of the Restored Empire...

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Taken from: “Who Was Who: Prominent figures and important events in British History, 1837-1932”

(c) 1953, Eds Robert Wilkinson and James Berg

Eden University Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

NEVILLE STUART MACMILLAN WOOD (22 March 1864 - 30 December 1932)

Last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; held office from October 1926 until his arrest on 29 November 1932. The eldest son of the shipping magnate Stuart Wood, he was educated at Rugby and Trinity College Cambridge. After graduating he joined his father’s firm, and was made a full partner in the business in 1889. Spurred on by a passionate dislike of Tory Hamiltonianism, Wood stood as a Liberal candidate in the Withington Division of Manchester in 1896, a seat he would represent for the rest of his life.

Wood rose rapidly as a Minister in the Spencer-Churchill government, entering the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade in 1913 and then being appointed as Chancellor two years later. His indifferent handling of the financial crisis saw his resignation in 1920, and he languished on the backbenches during the short-lived Pakenham Government. Wood’s taste for plotting and his increasing domination of the Party machine meant that he was well-placed to succeed his former colleague following the Liberal defeat in 1923, and during the Lloyd George premiership he made his reputation as an extremely effective, if dour, champion against Government ‘waste and indulgence.’

On the collapse of the Labour Government in October 1926, Wood was invited by the King to form a minority Liberal administration. Buoyed by the widening splits in the Opposition, he promptly requested the dissolution of Parliament that spring in an opportunistic attempt to obtain a parliamentary majority...

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Taken from: “The Death of Britain”

(c) 1953, Peter Dunn

Kashima Publishing

Cape Town, Kingdom of South Africa

On a cold autumn day in October 1926, the dissolution of the United Kingdom suddenly became a tangible possibility. As Neville Wood, the last Prime Minister, stood to make his first statement as Britain’s premier, David Lloyd George, John Thomas and Dylan Jones entered the Chamber of the House of Commons. Without saying a word, they walked past the Labour benches and sat with the Cymry Nationalists. The Commons erupted with startled cheering from the government and nationalist benches, and incandescent rage from the opposition. The former Prime Minister had called Arnold Cooper’s bluff; four years of taunting from the Left had driven Lloyd George and his friends into the arms of his sole remaining allies. His defection gave Welsh nationalism the boost it needed to break out of the rural north into the valleys, and during Britain’s last general election the Cymry Nationalists doubled their number of seats at Westminster from eight to sixteen...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

On the surface, Neville Wood’s decision to go to the country had been triumphantly vindicated. His government had been returned with a slim but manageable majority, and the Labour Party had been routed, particularly in Wales. In reality however, the picture was more complex, and held both comforting signs and potential dangers for the Liberals. It was little noted at the time that Wood had disproportionately benefited from the electoral system; while the disparity in seats between the Opposition and Government was huge, this only translated to a tiny absolute Parliamentary majority because the three combined Nationalist parties had won nearly as many seats as Labour had, and had split the Opposition vote. Britain’s last general election saw the Liberals as the only truly national party, being opposed by Labour in the cities and the nationalists in the towns and countryside; few Liberals at the time realised that while their support base was extremely wide, it was also dangerously shallow compared with the geographically limited, but popular alternatives offered by the other parties.

Ironically given the future course of events, almost everyone in Westminster that spring expected the Wood administration to be primarily concerned with economic affairs and the restoration of political stability after the turbulent Lloyd George years. There were some clues that this might not be the case; the signing of the Andorra Pact in January 1927 demonstrated that the new Prime Minister would continue David Lloyd George’s scepticism towards Germany even if he dismissed every other policy decision made by his predecessor. It was only when the Casablanca Crisis erupted that July that the full implications of this stance became clear...

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Taken from “The British Almon”, Volume 278: 29 May - 12 June 1929

The Irish Almon Society

Crown Copyright, Kingdom of Ireland [8]

Column W567, 11 June 1929

Mr Harold Sanderson: Mr Speaker, twenty-four years ago, I sat in this chamber and listened to the then-Prime Minister send us to war. Tonight, the Prime Minister has done the same, albeit in a characteristically less memorable fashion. (Interruption)

Mr Sanderson:The Members opposite jeer, but they were not there! The Prime Minister’s style of address was appropriate, for we are in a less heroic age today. An age that began eighteen months after Mr Disraeli sent us to war as the ‘Trustees of Liberty’, when he signed the Treaty of Washington. His Foreign Secretary, the late Sir Edward Vickers, commented on that day that the ‘world had turned upside-down.’ I wonder, having uttered these words, what Sir Edward would have to say if he could be here today.

For the world is now truly turned on its head! How horrible it is that we sit here now, having declared war on our best ally in conjunction with our oldest foe, because of an obscure quarrel in a far-off country of which we know nothing! The English people care not one bit what happens in the East of Europe! Ever since the Third Congress of Vienna, successive administrations have seen it as thoroughly natural that Germany should have dominance in Eastern Europe to prevent Russian hegemony. What has changed? The small countries of the East need someone to keep them in order. Good luck to that someone- I do not envy them their job.

So why do we not say to Herr Schulthess this? We have no interest whatever in the East of Europe! Your nightmare of encirclement has gone for ever; you will never have to fight against Britain and France on one front and against Russia and any one they can collect on the other front. Encirclement is gone; indeed, it never existed outside the minds of the French!

I will give you one last point of peace to which I have referred already in briefly describing our policy. At long last we say: ‘Mind Britain’s business. Concentrate on the British Empire. Say to the world, as I do to-night, if any nation in the world sets foot across the frontier of British Empire, as one man, we English will fight for Britain. But Britons shall die in no other quarrel.’ I say to you, my friends, from the very depth of my inner knowledge and consciousness to-night, that this policy declared by Britain to Germany, and the world, will bring peace and the friendship of men for our time and beyond our children’s time as well [9].Why not do it? What is the argument against it? I am told that Germany just wants to swallow up one or two little countries in Eastern Europe and then turn round and overthrow the British Empire. I am told that Schulthess wants the whole world. In other words, I am told that Schulthess is mad. What evidence have they got so far that this man, whom the Lord Chancellor memorably described as a friend of this nation [10], has suddenly gone mad?

Do not let my words be misrepresented, Mr Speaker. I am no shirker. I shall serve my country in any way that I can; the King’s enemy is my own. But it does not mean that I do not fear grave disaster. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood...

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[1] TTL’s “Scottish Party” is rather like its OTL 1930s counterpart, being a moderate party full of “Tartan Tories”, rather than a left-of-centre grouping. ITTL there is a Leftist “National Party of Scotland” as well, but this is marginalised and they have no MPs.

[2] As in OTL, until this point Wales is essentially considered an integral part of England. ITTL, the Welsh Office is an earlier invention because of the greater mainstream acceptance of nationalism.

[3] ITTL the Labour movement gets going around a decade earlier than OTL, so the Party coalesces in the 1890s.

[4] This was the case with OTL’s Lloyd George as well, although ITTL this is not as unusual; there are more Welsh speakers thanks to the Celtic revival of the nineteenth century.

[5] Like Herbert Morrison in OTL, Arnold Cooper controls the Labour party machinery in London.

[6] OTL, a similar act was passed in 1914 and proved just as controversial; FE Smith remarked that the bill “shocked the conscience of every Christian community in Europe,” to widespread ridicule.

[7] This Act has many similarities to OTL’s 1971 Immigration Act.

[8] “Almon” is TTL’s version of Hansard, named after the pioneering eighteenth-century parliamentary reporter John Almon.

[9] The Tory position on the war is very similar that that taken by many on the Right in OTL’s WW2; just as OTL, many on the far right and in the British ‘establishment’ see little reason to fight. Unlike OTL, they may have a point, and this is reflected by the fact that the viewpoint has considerably more support.

[10] Derek Haynes, the Lord Chancellor, was at the Foreign Office in 1920 when he negotiated the partition of the Portuguese Empire between Britain and Germany.

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Decades of Darkness #188d: This England

Credit for this post on the history of Britain during the DoD timeline goes to Ed Thomas.

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“It is with deep grief that I watch the breaking down of the British Empire with all its glories and all the services it has rendered to mankind.”

- Clement Churchill, 1933

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Taken from: “Guilty Men”

(c) 1933, ‘Junius’ [1]

Dorell Publications

London, Kingdom of England

It is clear to us now that Neville Wood was one of the most dangerous men to ever reach high office in this country. He was not a bull-headed revolutionary like Arnold Cooper, nor a hidebound, complacent reactionary like the other men in Whitehall who blandly asserted their liberal values while behind them the United Kingdom collapsed through their hopeless neglect. No, Neville Wood was a different beast entirely. For where other men held principles and ideals, however naive and indulgent, Wood did not. He was too intelligent for this, too calculating. The blood of The Prince flowed in his veins - for was he too not the scion of a proud merchant dynasty? In truth, there was only one thing that Neville Wood believed in, and that was Neville Wood...

When war came, it did so without altering a single facet of Wood’s character. That Britain faced a threat even more deadly and immediate than the one it had failed against a generation previously did not disturb the Prime Minister, and why should it have done? For him, German military power merely gave him the chance to trample his rivals using the weapon of national unity. The Germans gave Wood his most precious gift yet, the chance to clasp the Labour leadership even closer to his chest through the so-called ‘National Government’. In the autumn of 1929 Arnold Cooper and his friends did the bidding of their new master just as they had done three years earlier when he manoeuvred them into falling upon their own leader and splitting their movement; now, like a parasite realising that his existing host was almost spent, Wood prepared to latch on to the Labour Party...

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Taken from: “Who Was Who: Prominent figures and important events in British History, 1837-1932”

(c) 1953, Eds Robert Wilkinson and James Berg

Eden University Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

FIELD MARSHAL SIR JOHN HENRY LEOFRIC BLACKWOOD, 5TH BARONET (31 July 1872 - 15 June 1953)

English solider and statesman; ruled England as Lord High Steward and Regent from 1932 until his death twenty-one years later. The descendant of Vice Admiral Henry Blackwood, and heir to the Naval Baronetcy [3], Blackwood was educated at Winchester School and Sandhurst. On 9 November 1891 he was commissioned into the East Devonshire Regiment as a second lieutenant. After serving as a junior officer in the Anglo-Philippine and Kingdom Wars, Blackwood spent several years at Camberley Staff College. When the North American War began he commanded a brigade on the New Caledonian front. In September 1906 he was seriously wounded when an unexploded shell detonated near his horst, and the incident left his right arm permanently disabled.

Blackwood returned to active duty in 1916 after spending the intervening years as a lecturer at Camberley. In 1918 he was given a posting to the Indian Northwest frontier, and in 1921 he first gained national attention when he commanded the British forces occupying southern Siam. Promoted to lieutenant general for his success, Blackwood achieved further fame four years later when he led British and Australian troops in defeating the Chinese revolutionary Hu Hanmin. When the Great War began in 1929, Blackwood was Britain’s most celebrated solider.

Blackwood spent the first year of the war in the Asian theatre in which he had first made his mark. Commanding British and Imperial forces, he masterminded the capture of Siam and German Indochina, as well as the Allied landings on Sumatra. Weeks before the invasion of Java, the Russian declaration of war saw him hurriedly recalled to supervise the defence of India, and here his strategy of ‘aggressive defence’ successfully forestalled any Russian advance on the subcontinent [4]. By now wildly popular at home as the one successful British general, Blackwood was a natural choice for the role of commanding the British Expeditionary Force in France, and during the course of 1931 the newly-promoted Field Marshal supervised a brilliant fighting retreat across the country, finally evacuating the Brittany pocket in late October having kept both his and New England forces intact [5].

With his reputation enhanced still further by the successful withdrawal from the Continent, Neville Wood had little choice but to swallow his own personal dislike of Blackwood and appoint him Commander in Chief of the British Home Forces and Chief of the General Staff...

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Taken from: “Wolves At The Gates: The Story of the Great War”

(c) 1951 by Noel Browne

Trinity Publishing: Dublin, Ireland

Blackwood and Wood clashed from the very moment that the Marshal was appointed to coordinate the defence of the British Isles. The Prime Minister, unused to a man who could match his wits and was quite prepared to argue back, saw Blackwood as an arrogant upstart [6]. For his part, Blackwood was shocked both by the Prime Minister’s iron determination to continue the war no matter what and his relaxed attitude to what the Marshal saw as socialist subversion.

Their first dispute occurred just a week after Blackwood’s appointment. The Prime Minister, who had read and been impressed by the writings of Eunuco, pushed for the recruitment of a ‘Home Defence Force’ whereby every able-bodied man would be given a weapon and training on how to use it. The Marshal was appalled, and submitted a detailed memorandum to Wood explaining that ‘All this grossly irresponsible act will achieve will be to train a well-armed worker’s militia [7]. It is military worthless, and politically suicidal’. His misgivings were brushed aside; the Prime Minister tartly remarked that he was surprised that Blackwood was so unimaginative when it came to the defence of the nation, a charge that enraged the Field Marshal. It was a foretaste of things to come...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

Britain on the eve of Operation Young Iron was a pale shadow of what it had been three years earlier. The war had taken a cruel toll; despite the best efforts of successive Governments to make the country self-sufficient, rationing still had to be introduced in 1930. The loss of the French and American fleets the following year meant that restrictions had to be tightened still further to meet reduced supply and the consequent skyrocketing food prices.

More worryingly, civil order was starting to break down in many parts of the United Kingdom. In the seven months since the creation of the Home Defence Force, the organisation had rapidly expanded. However, just as Marshal Blackwood had warned, the new units were almost exclusively drawn from political gangs, primarily socialists. While theoretically subject to military authority and their own robust command structure, in practice local units selectively disregarded orders from above; instead, they began to supplant the police and other official agencies on the grounds of ‘preserving national security.’

Soon, areas with broad socialist support, such as East London, Clydeside and much of the industrial north, started to become self-governing, as Labour Councils informally expanded their powers and used local HDF units to maintain order. While the majority of the Fyrd usually served in the yeomanry rather than the HDF, similar processes started to happen in Tory-dominated shires. By the summer of 1932, central government authority in the civilian sphere had largely dissipated; in the name of national unity, Neville Wood preferred to leave shire councils to run their own affairs while concentrating central government authority on the military sphere. Local authorities began to form ‘shadow governments’, a process which would accelerate in the six months after Zero Day...

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Taken from: “The Death of Britain”

(c) 1953, Peter Dunn

Kashima Publishing

Cape Town, Kingdom of South Africa

A month after Zero Day, it became clear to British strategists that they faced an impossible dilemma. Despite the withdrawal of New England forces, despite the diminishing strength of the Royal Sky Force, growing rates of desertion and a sense of defeatism in the army, it was clear that the line could be held against the Germans - for now. Yet equally, the British forces lacked the strength to push the invaders back into the sea. On 1 September, Blackwood bluntly told Wood that he had done everything he could. The war had become a campaign of attrition; the Germans would continue making small advances as they were able to move in more supplies, and while the British forces could still hold them off for a considerable time, the best hope was for a diplomatic solution. The Marshal finished his note with a prophetic observation: “In my view it is entirely now a matter of which side loses the political will to fight first. It should not surprise you to know that I have grave doubts that it that side will be the enemy.”

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Taken from: “Guilty Men”

(c) 1933, ‘Junius’

Dorell Publications

London, Kingdom of England

And what of the Prime Minister’s grand directive “No Surrender”? No doubt it was intended as a message of grim resolve against the German menace, but it hinted at a far deeper truth. For Neville Wood could not surrender. It was not in his blood - for in his own view he would never have to. Did not David Lloyd George call him the cleverest politician of his day? Wood thought, even as the Germans advanced on London, that he could find a way to turn things around - that he could use the ‘titanic intellect’ that we were all told about so many times so as to make things right. The answer stared him in the face: Peace, before it was too late! But that was the one thing Wood could not do.

Why? Why did he not make peace in 1930, and save the lives of countless thousands? Why not after the after the fall of France, or even after Zero Day? Wood had it in his power to save Britain and the lives of its inhabitants. It would have been an easy thing for him to do but he refused, because of his monstrous pride. For when did Neville Wood in his whole life ever apologise? Never, for he was never wrong! It was always the fault of lesser men, or circumstances, or bad luck. He could never admit he was wrong, for then he would admit that he was fallible. Neville Wood committed one of the greatest crimes possible. He put his own pride ahead of the millions of people who lived in the country he ruled. He was willing to see Britain burn to avoid having to eat his own words.

The other slogan of those ill-fated days was “You Can Always Take One With You!” But it was not a German that Neville Wood wanted to take down with him. It was the entire country.

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Taken from: “Wolves At The Gates: The Story of the Great War”

(c) 1951 by Noel Browne

Trinity Publishing: Dublin, Ireland

Despite Neville Wood’s increasingly desperate proclamations of endless resistance against the invaders, in reality British morale was close to collapse. The death of King Richard IV in September after a long illness proved for many the final straw; the general public only took a few days to begin calling his young grandson and successor “Edward the Last.” Desertions skyrocketed as troops began to return home to their families, and despite the bitter resistance shown by the defenders, the advance of German troops was governed more by logistical considerations than by the increasingly feeble British counterstrokes. Blackwood and the General Staff warned the Prime Minister that an eventual collapse was inevitable; their predictions were borne out on 26 November, when the British positions around Ipswich finally collapsed and the Germans were able to drive into northern Essex.

By this point, few had any illusions that a German victory was inevitable. Yet to the astonishment and anger of the generals, Wood dismissed any consideration of a cease-fire and instead merely talked of arming the workers in London while the Government retreated to the West Country. Edward Jackson, his Private Secretary, noted how Wood declared that he ‘would not be like Francisco Alvorado or Juan Amero and medise Britain [8].’ That evening, Marshal Blackwood secretly met Cedric Bolingbroke, the War Secretary Adam Stewart and several other members of the Cabinet. A plan was hurriedly agreed; the king would be told to dismiss Wood as prime minister and an emergency Liberal-Conservative government would be installed that could negotiate peace with the Germans. The plotters hoped that the swift removal of Wood and the presence of the army on the streets of London would be enough to prevent any socialist resistance.

From here, events moved swiftly. The king’s permission was quickly obtained and loyal ministers warned. The 1st Westminster Dragoons - a unit of the yeomanry almost entirely comprised of members of the Fyrd - was positioned at the Wellington Barracks near Buckingham Palace in case of trouble. Then, events intervened. At 10 AM on 30 November, Wood signed a directive ordering the renewed use of poison gas against German positions in Essex. Blackwood immediately countermanded the order and decided, without informing the other plotters, that Wood should be taken into ‘protective custody’ immediately...

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30 November 1932

Downing St

London, United Kingdom

Harold Sanderson straightened his uniform, nervously fingered his fob-watch and then opened the staff-horst’s door, watching approvingly as the two lorries behind it disgorged their contents - two sections of dragoons - across the street. The policeman standing outside the famous door stepped forward. “Can I help, sir?” he asked.

Sanderson saluted. “Good afternoon, officer. I have been sent here by Field Marshal Blackwood. I have a verbal message for the Prime Minister. May I come through?”

The policeman nodded. Sanderson turned to his troops. “Guard the entrance to Whitehall. I don’t want anybody to be let into the street. Sykes, Peterson; come with me.”

The three men climbed the staircase. They had just reached the photograph of George Hamilton when a voice came from above. “Mr Sanderson! So good of you to join us.” Neville Wood leant over the balustrade and raised his eyebrow sardonically. “And so thoughtful of Blackwood to send a loyal Tory to see me!”

Sanderson pulled his warrant from his pocket. “Neville Wood, by the order of the king I hereby-”

Wood raised his hand. “I know why you’re here, Sanderson. The defeatists have finally gained the upper hand, and have sent you here to arrest me so that you can treat with Schulthess. Well I’m not going to let you. I have friends of my own, you see. True British patriots, not little Englanders like you. Comrades?”

Three men, dressed in North American War-vintage infantry uniforms with green armbands stepped from behind him. They raised their rifles at Sanderson and his soldiers. The Prime Minister grinned. “I’ve known about your little plan from the start. Luckily the workers, and the brave men of the Home Defence Force won’t stand for it. We will fight to the end, Sanderson. As I have always said: No surrender!”

He stepped out of view; the two men followed him. Outside, the shooting started.

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Taken from: “The Death of Britain”

(c) 1953, Peter Dunn

Kashima Publishing

Cape Town, Kingdom of South Africa

The Army’s failure to arrest Wood was the spark that lit the tinderbox. The British did not have much experience with coups, and this soon showed; by nightfall on 30 November, much of East London was on fire thanks to Socialists outraged by Blackwood’s ‘treachery’. The military’s initial claim that the violence was being perpetrated by French socialists was soon rendered farcical when the rebels began broadcasting to the nation. Nonetheless, by this stage the sobriquet “Communard” had stuck, and violence in Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow soon followed.

As fighting spread across the nation, Marshal Blackwood and his new Government based in Guildford immediately requested a ceasefire with the Germans ‘to enable the rightful authorities in this country to maintain order’. No friend of socialists himself and happy to allow his own forces extra time to build up supplies, Chancellor Schulthess decided to grant the Marshal’s wish. On 4 December at Newmarket Railway Station, an armistice was signed between British and German forces...

--

3 December 1932

Chapel of the Royal Grammar School

Guildford, United Kingdom

This is a strange place for a Cabinet Meeting, thought Cedric Bolingbroke, as he watched Marshall Blackwood outline the latest news from the fighting in London. Although it’s not really a proper Cabinet. Neville Wood had finally been captured – thank God – but even almost a week after the first bungled attempt, the men who sat in the choir stalls of the Royal Grammar School’s Chapel could not really call themselves an official government. Nor was there any doubt whatsoever about who was in charged. As he watched the Marshal pace between the stalls, Bolingbroke was reminded of the schoolmasters of his childhood.

Marshall Blackwood turned; he was in the middle of speaking about the situation elsewhere in the United Kingdom. “Let us be frank. It is difficult enough for us to take back London and hold our positions in the north of England. We will not be able to hold down Wales and Scotland. Not without German help.”

Bolingbroke rolled his eyes at the glum faces that stared back at him, and stood to speak. “Then let them hang! Let the Welsh speak their own tongue and have their disestablished church! Let the Hibs [9] have their own little state to do with as they please! We cannot control them, so why try? They’ll only bring us down if we do.” He turned to the other people in the stalls. “Which would you rather, preserve England, or ensure the creation of a Socialistic Republic of Britain?”

There was a moment’s silence. Adam Stewart broke it. “Cedric, I know you Tories always banging on about home rule, but are you really suggesting the dissolution of the United Kingdom?”

Bolingbroke stared at him, his eyes cold and hard. “Britain is dying. The Jackals have abandoned us just as we warned you they would. Mullins has walked away from us - with good reason, if you ask me. The colonies are too far away to be of any help. You’ve seen what the Germans have done in Italy and France. We have to salvage what we can of England. Let Scotland and Wales fight alongside Ireland if they wish.”

He paused, then added, “Think of this, too. The Germans will squeeze us dry, given the opportunity. Reparations, restrictions, bases, as the Jackals did to New England after the last war, only this time England will bear the brunt. But what if we could shift the burden?”

Blackwood raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Bolingbroke toyed with the Seax at his belt. “It is quite simple. Tomorrow, you should make a funk broadcast. Tell the people the truth: the government no longer exists in any meaningful form. The king has fled to Ireland. We have been failed by them both, and so have to seek our own destiny. Announce that England has left the United Kingdom. Let the Empire, the Welsh and the Scots fight a hopeless war if they want. But it will not be on our soil. We shall extend the hand of peace to Germany, not as a defeated power, but as a new nation. The others can go hang.”

Blackwood stared at the other men for a long time. None said a word. Finally, he sighed, then spoke. “We are good Anglo-Saxons. We have been defeated by invaders from the east before, and found that the only way to beat them was to appease them for a time. Very well, Cedric. Danegeld it is.”

--

Taken from: “The Death of Britain”

(c) 1953, Peter Dunn

Kashima Publishing

Cape Town, Kingdom of South Africa

On 6 December, the British House of Commons met for the last time. Westminster having been abandoned, the sitting was held in the grand surroundings of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, where many government departments had relocated. Only 127 Members of Parliament were present; all that could be found after the fighting in London and the subsequent flight of most of the Labour MPs into hiding or exile. There was no debate, little ceremony, and no pretence at political balance. The vast majority of MPs present were Tories and Liberals, with a scattering of nationalists and a solitary Labour MP, the imperturbable John Maclaren, who had defied the threat of arrest and sneaked into the auditorium to participate in the vote. That evening, MPs voted 98 to 53 to pass the Emergency Government Act, which granted Marshal Blackwood extraordinary powers until the end of the crisis.

With this final act accomplished, Parliament dispersed forever. Three hours later, the United Kingdom would follow its Parliament. At 2AM on 7 December 1932, Marshal Blackwood signed a document proclaiming England’s withdrawal from the United Kingdom, its establishment as a sovereign state, and declaring the new nation’s friendship to Germany. A few hours later, the king made his own broadcast from Ireland...

--

From a funk broadcast made by King Edward VIII on 7 December 1932

At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as king and emperor. I now lay down my burden and withdraw altogether from public affairs. It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and empire with profound love. If at any time in the future I can be found of service to my people in a private station, I shall not fail. However, filled with an unalterable love for my countrymen I will not, with my person, be a hindrance to their free development.

I acknowledge the decision taken by England to form a separate state. Marshal Blackwood has taken temporary charge of the government. I relinquish all participation in the administration of the state for the time being, and entrust my powers to the Marshal. Likewise I have released the English members of the government from their offices.

I hope with all my heart that the English people now realise happiness and prosperity from the new adjustment. The happiness of my countrymen is, and always has been, my only aim. My warmest wishes are that an internal peace will be able to heal the wounds of this war.

God bless you all.

--

29 September 1933

Wardlow Mires

Derbyshire Dales, Kingdom of England

James Clarke gladly took the pint glass offered to him by the barmaid and drank deeply. He noticed the other men in the pub doing the same; most of them looked as hungry and dishevelled as he did. A strange place to conduct a political gathering, he thought; but then shrugged. Few places closer to civilisation were safe these days, so where better than a tiny watering hole in the middle of the Peaks? He drained his glass and smiled. The beer alone made the long journey worthwhile [10]. As he signalled to the barmaid for another, the door opened and the forbidding great-coated man who had been guarding the entrance walked in, followed by a tiny, almost child-like figure. She was dressed as a farm labourer in a headscarf and a dirty tweed jacket, and her trademark fiery red hair was greying, but there was no mistaking the new arrival.

Barbara Wilkinson, former Education Secretary and the infamous ‘Green Lady’ of pre-war politics surveyed the room. The twenty men who had travelled from across the north of England fell silent to stare at her. Clarke saw that famous smile light up her dainty features. “Hello, everyone. I don’t know all of you, and it’s probably best if it stays that way. I don’t want to compromise any of you if I am arrested. Now, listen very carefully. I will only say this once.”

She paused, and Clarke carefully set his new pint on the bar, its contents forgotten for now.

“The reason I have called you here is simple. It is to make sure that even as the class struggle moves into a new phase, the labour movement continues to fight. Things are not good, but it is all as Marx predicted. Parliamentary government has been overthrown. It is the last spasm of the dying aristocratic class, and it will weaken capitalism enough for us to make our own move. We must be honest. Our first attempt failed. But it ensured that there is no doubt as to what opposes us.

Marshal Blackwood’s government is nakedly oppressive. He knows that to give the people their say would allow us to win. Behind him lies the full weight of the German war machine. But we have friends, too. As I speak, two other meetings are taking place in the south between local leaders such as yourselves and the representatives of the National Committee. England has not escaped tyranny, but Scotland and Wales remain free, and we have supporters there, and other friends across the seas. I will discuss the measures we are taking later. But first, I want you to know that there is hope for England. We will prevail.”

She looked around the room; Clarke saw her stare at each of the tough, often malnourished men in turn and smile. Grimly, they smiled back.

“I want you to go you go back to your towns and cities, and prepare for revolution. I can’t give you equipment, or guns. But I can give you words. When I was growing up in Salford, I read a poem that has stayed with me ever since. It sums up everything I fight for. I want to read part of it to you.”

She leant forward and dropped her voice slightly.

I will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green and pleasant land [11].”

Wilkinson continued speaking, but Clarke was no longer listening. He stood, staring at the diminutive revolutionary and the tough, careworn and dirty men who were devoted to her. We can build a New Jerusalem, he thought. It will be hard, and bloody, and painful. But we will succeed. In the end, we shall succeed.

--

11 November 1933

Winchester Castle Great Hall

Winchester, Kingdom of England

“Marshall Blackwood will see you now, sir.”

Nodding his thanks to the aide, Harold Sanderson entered the Great Hall. As he did so, he glanced upward at the famous ‘round table’ hanging on the opposite wall. In the centre of the room a small desk had been hastily erected on an incongruously small square of carpet. Its occupant glanced up at the sound of footsteps and put down his pen. The famous voice filled the hall with a bass rumble.

“Harold! Do come in and sit down.”

Marshal Blackwood indicated the chair opposite, and while Sanderson sat, the Marshal casually used his one good hand to open his cigar case, place a cheroot in his mouth and light it with a march. Sandersoon took the opportunity to examine the man who the newspapers - those which remained open, anyway - called ‘the Deliverer of England.’ Even with his half-empty right sleeve, Blackwood had a powerful physical presence; medals covered his immaculate uniform, his pencil-thin moustache and keen, diamond-hard eyes added to the image. Sanderson knew that this was a man who meant business.

The Marshal leaned back in his chair. “Good to see you again. Do you know why I wanted to see you?”

Sanderson inclined his head. “I’d thought maybe something to do with the transfer of government functions to Winchester.”

Blackwood took a drag from his cheroot, then gestured at the map of Britain standing on an easel near his desk. “Not a bad guess, but not quite right. My emergency powers give me the ability so suspend all forms of local government. That is just a stop-gap, though. It will not do for the long term. We need to think about the Reconstruction Effort.” The way Blackwood spoke made the capital letters quite clear.

The Marshal continued, “The pre-war system is inadequate. A miscellany of incompetence. The county and borough councils are full of ditherers and shirkers. Liberals, in other words. And that will not do!” The Marshal’s good hand slammed into his desk.

“How can I help, sir?” Sanderson asked.

Blackwood paused to light another cheroot, then said, “The councils are no longer of any concern to us. I have dissolved them permanently. But the counties need strong, dynamic leadership just as much as the nation. That’s why I’m reforming their governance. The old councils will be replaced with good, patriotic local leaders. Men that I can trust to push on with the reconstruction effort, in other words. You are one of those men, Harold. You’ve been loyal and effective as an MP, now I need you to serve not just Tavistock, but the whole county.”

He stared directly into Sanderson’s eyes. “I want to appoint you Sheriff of Devonshire. You will answer directly to me. You will be delegated most of my powers within the county. What do you think?”

Sanderson did not need to think. “If that’s the best way to serve my country, then yes, I gladly accept.”

The Marshal flashed a tight smile. “I knew I could rely on you... Sheriff. Your first task will be to ensure the dispersal of the items at the experimental firing range on Dartmoor. I won’t let the Greens get their hands on them, and I certainly won’t let the Germans take them back across the Channel. Tell the inspectors that there was an accident. They won’t believe us, of course, but they might think that they’ve disappeared on a boat northwards.”

Sanderson nodded stiffly. “Yes, sir!”

He turned to leave. “Oh, and Harold... Stamp on the Greens, but do not punish the patriots too harshly. We need to retain deniability. Allow the occasional theft of weapons and money, but keep them at arm’s length. We will need such men when the time comes.”

Blackwood stood and stretched out his good arm. “England prevails, Harold.”

Sanderson shook the hand of the Deliverer. “England prevails.”

--

[1] ‘Junius’ was the pseudonym of a notorious anonymous polemicist of the eighteenth century. The author (or authors) of this pamphlet has adopted the name to hide their own identity, a sensible move for an English writer in the immediate aftermath of the Great War.

[2] The author is of course referring to Machiavelli at this point, although he neglects to mention that he was not much of a trader himself.

[3] Henry Blackwood was one of the most celebrated Royal Naval commanders of the Napoleonic period, and brought news of Trafalgar back to Britain in 1806. In 1814 he was created ‘Baronet Blackwood of the Navy’.

[4] Essentially Blackwood followed the traditional British strategy of advancing to the ‘scientific frontier’ in Afghanistan and then daring the Russians to attack; unlike many of Blackwood’s campaigns it was not a difficult one, but by this point his fame has grown to make anything seem like a victory of sorts.

[5] The actual evacuation of Brittany did not require any particular military skill on Blackwood’s part; the Germans were willing to let them flee, since at that point they wanted to explore a negotiated peace with Britain, and let the Allied forces withdraw unopposed as a goodwill gesture.

[6] Blackwood and Wood’s working relationship bears many similarities to Alanbrooke and Churchill’s relationship IOTL; however, Wood is not as tolerant of people prepared to answer him back, and so things quickly sour.

[7] OTL, many prominent people (most famously George Orwell), expected the Home Guard to do exactly this. ITTL there is more of a prospect of this because of greater socialist militancy and the fact that there are already organised left-wing street gangs.

[8] Alvorado and Amero were the last Presidents of El Salvador and Colombia respectively, both of whom surrendered their countries to the Americans. Medise is the verb form of TTL’s version of ‘quisling’, based on José María Medina, who was first installed as president of Honduras with the support of American filibusters, and ultimately (under duress) invited U.S. military forces in to support his regime against his own people.

[9] An ATL derogatory term for Scottish Labour, referring to their base of support in Catholic Glasgow.

[10] A reliable source states that this remains the case across timelines, and that even in OTL the Three Stag’s Heads is fantastic.

[11] Blake’s poem of 1804 is not as well known as OTL, mainly as it hasn’t been set to music. (In OTL, it was created into the hymn ";Jerusalem"; in 1916.)

--



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