Here is the timeline for Against the Dying of the Light.
The late 19th and early 20th Centuries proved to be a very difficult time for humankind, as the Age of Imperialism was at its zenith and the Scramble for Africa was really getting heated, especially in the immediate years leading up to the First Great War, where many lives were lost in what could be best described as a bloody carnage of corpses, organs and the screams of the dead. However, around that same time, the Industrial Revolution was beginning to ramp up with new inventions and advances in both science and technology like automobiles, telephones, assembly lines, light bulbs, machine guns, and even the discovery of x-rays. With these advances came new ideas, new hopes and new dreams. However, the day the First Great War began, the whole world unraveled and soon the hopes and dreams of many were crushed, along with the optimism and idealism that so many people had at the time. However, to truly understand the world of today, we must go back to the beginning on that Christmas Eve of 1895.......
The War of 1895
The War of 1895 was a military conflict between the United States, Venezuela and Britain that began over a territorial dispute in the modern states of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice, back then called British Guiana, and later escalated into the Little America region of the modern United States, back then called the Dominion of Canada and the Newfoundland colony. The conflict stemmed out a series of tensions that have been in place since the independence of Venezuela in 1830, though it was not until 1895 when tensions reached a high point. Initially, neither side wanted a war, and the two actually found ways to benefit each other mutually, while securing the other’s interests. However, around early December of 1895, Venezuela became increasingly uncooperative and minor skirmishes were reported. Though no deaths were reported, there were at least 8 injured on Venezuela’s side and at least 5 injuries on Britain’s.
Then on that fateful afternoon on Christmas Eve, the tension reached the tipping point. It all began around 13:40 local time when an American squadron of ships composed of the USS Maine, the USS Texas, the USS Vesuvius, the USS Charleston, and the USS New York began approaching a Royal Navy squadron a kilometre off the coast of Georgetown, which was composed of the HMS Calypso, the HMS Spartan, the HMS Rocket, the HMS Magnificent, and the HMS Surly. As the Americans slowly approached, the Royal Navy fired a warning shot and just as Rear Admiral Yates Stirling ordered the ships to turn around, at around 14:43 local time, the Royal Navy began to fire, unaware that Stirling gave the order to turn back. The Americans began to return fire, and by 15:27 local time, the Royal Army began to retreat after losing the HMS Calypso, the HMS Surly and the HMS Rocket, and the HMS Magnificent taking heavy damage. The Americans lost the USS Charleston and the USS New York, while the USS Vesuvius and the USS Texas had sustained heavy damage. This later became known as the Christmas Skirmish. Though the Americans had won, the War of 1895 had begun……
After the Christmas Skirmish, the Venezuelan military began its invasion of British Guiana, while the Americans blockaded British Guiana to prevent reinforcements from arriving. Throughout that front, around 47,000 civilians lost their lives, along with 40,000 Venezuelan troops and 25,000 British Army troops in the period between the 26th of December of 1895 and the 10th of March of 1896, when the whole of British Guiana was occupied by Venezuelan forces, with American naval assistance and supplies.
Meanwhile, the Americans wasted no time in invading Canada and on the 27th of December of 1895, American troops led by Maj. General Thomas H. Ruger began to advance across the border into Canada. Many borders towns in the region were easily overrun, and by New Year’s Day, heavy fighting was reported in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto. Vancouver fell by the 16th of January of 1896, whereas Toronto ended up in a bloody stalemate and Montreal had just barely managed to prevent the Americans from taking the city. Toronto was eventually captured by the Americans around the 8th of February of 1896, and Montreal quickly followed by the 14th of the same month. By the 20th of March of 1896, Ottawa fell, and local government officials fled to Saguenay, Quebec, where Canadian Royal Army forces began to retreat, while the British Army delayed the Americans for as long as they could. By the 23rd of July of 1896, Saguenay fell, and the remaining Royal Army forces began to make a final stand in Newfoundland. Newfoundland fell by the 3rd of August of 1896, and that same day, the Treaty of Caracas was signed, effectively making the former colony of British Guiana the modern provinces of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice, and handed the Americans the new territories of Quebec (composed of modern day Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Adams Island), the Northern Territories (modern day Yukon, Jefferson, and Nunavut), and Canada (composed of modern day Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Columbia and Lincoln). By then, 37,000 American troops, 100,000 British and Canadian Royal Army troops and 170,000 civilians lost their lives, effectively adding up to a total body count of 499,000 deaths on all fronts. With this, a world power emerged and one that could very well challenge the British Empire…
The First Great War
Outbreak of War
While the Americans were trying to finish off the Spanish Empire’s remaining colonies in the Spanish-American War and dealing with insurgents in Quebec simultaneously, Britain was busy licking its wounds from the War of 1895. However, it had other problems, especially France. On the 18th of September of 1898, after a series of expeditions ran into each other, there was a meeting between French and British forces in the town of Fashoda, in Mahdist Sudan, in which both sides insisted their rights to the town, but agreed to wait for further orders. As news of the incident spread, the two sides began to prepare for war, and although Fashoda brought both sides to the brink, it was the Suez Incident that pushed both sides over. As the French battleship Gaulois and the HMS Royal Sovereign began to approach each other, a skirmish broke out at least 5 km south of the Suez Canal on the 8th of October of 1898 at around 18:08 local time, and after 48 minutes, the Gaulois sank to the bottom of the Red Sea. When word reached the two nations, France declared war in retaliation, and soon, the First Great War had begun.
After the declaration of war from France, the town of Fashoda immediately turned into a battleground, and soon, the two sides began to destroy each other in Africa. Around that time, Germany proposed a treaty to form an alliance with Britain, and the minute Britain signed, the Grand Accord was born, effectively dragging Germany into the war. Austria-Hungary would follow after the a bombing in Vienna, which kills 13 and leaves around 23 injured. Emperor-King Franz Joseph I was among the dead, effectively leaving Franz Ferdinand I of Austria in charge. Of course, with the outbreak of war, two things were considered: first, the Russians and the Italians were just as terrified of Germany as France was at the time, and the Balkans were a powder keg before the war just ready to blow. Italy refused to join the war initially, but after secret negotiations, Italy joined the war a year after the start of hostilities. The Russians on the other hand, immediately joined the war on the side of France, abiding by the Dual Alliance of 1894 to protect France. The Ottomans joined in around the fall of 1898 on the side of the Accord, while the French solidified their alliances as the Versailles Pact by the 17th of January of 1899.
The Western Front
The Western Front was one where the conflict would prove to be brutal. The Royal Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine faced off against the Marine Nationale over the English Channel, while the Germans proposed to Britain the execution of a plan called the Schlieffen-Arthur Plan, which had begun development in the previous year by Count Alfred von Schlieffen, and was later assisted by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. The plan consisted of a series of advances through Belgium to flank the French on land, with help from the Netherlands, combined with a blockade of French ports along the English Channel on Britain’s side. After the advance through Belgium, the hopes were that Paris would be under German occupation by mid-1899. The French, Schlieffen and Arthur hoped, would be forced to negotiate under these circumstances, and thus allow them to focus on the rest of the Versailles Pact.
Around the 17th of February of 1899, the Schlieffen-Arthur Plan was finally executed after four months and two weeks of planning. Belgium was quickly overrun and by the 2nd of March, Belgium was completely occupied. It did not take long before German troops in Belgium advanced into France, and began to push towards Paris. Initially, it seemed a French defeat was inevitable…until the First Battle of the Oise, where the French had, just barely, managed to stop the Germans short of the town of Pontoise. Shortly after, the Germans began their retreat, and began to hunker down along the Aisne and the Somme Rivers.
The troops of the Deutsches Heer hunkering down in the Aisne and Somme Rivers proved to set the stage for a long and brutal war in the trenches, and would eventually drag both sides to a bloody carnage of a stalemate. Of course, the Germans were not alone. Shortly after Oise, Britain began the planning of Operation: Victoria, which consisted of a landing of troops (with authorisation from the Dutch government) in Rotterdam, where they will proceed towards the Somme and Aisne on one end and take the French coastline on another end, and thus, allow the Germans to take Paris. However, by the time Britain was landing in Rotterdam, the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of the Aisne had begun, where the French had already made their move. Between the 20th of May and the 30th of May, the French began to assault German defences on the Somme and on the Aisne. The French advanced at least 2 km before digging in on the first day. The second day, their offensive resumed and pushed another 3.1 km into the Somme and nearly 2.48 km into the Aisne. However, on day three, the Germans began to counterattack, and the French were forced to slow down, taking 1.7 km on the Aisne and 1.2 km on the Somme. The French took advantage and for four days, they slowly began to bleed the Germans to death. Day 8 was when the French launched their final assault on the Somme, while the next day followed on the Aisne. Just as France was halfway through that final offensive on the Somme, and about to win in the Aisne, British Army troops arrived and quickly repelled those offensives. However, both battles were far from over, and Britain’s arrival effectively began the trench warfare and carnage that soon engulfed the two rivers and their surrounding areas.
While the Somme and Aisne continued to drag on, Britain had its own plans to deal with the ensuing stalemate. While a chunk of British troops were prioritising the Somme and Aisne, a significant amount was beginning to make their moves on the French coast. On the 5th of June of 1899, the Battle of Dunkirk had begun, and by the 9th of June, France was sent into the retreat towards Calais and St. Omer, after Royal Navy troops began to bombarding Dunkirk. On the 12th of June, the First Battle of Calais was fought, and French forces barely managed to repel British forces by the 17th. However, on the 3rd of July, the Second Battle of Calais sent the French retreating further south towards the Lys River, while St. Omer was overrun shortly after the Second Battle of Calais. The Battle of the Lys later turned into a defeat for France by the 2nd of August, after holding on for almost three weeks and laying waste to British forces there. The forces formerly stationed on St. Omer in those three weeks, were completely wiped out in order to allow the French troops formerly stationed in Calais to escape, and the latter would prove to be a factor that allowed France to prevent the British from taking Abbeville and to retake Doullens.
After the Battle of the Lys, also known as the Stand at the Lys, the forces retreating from Calais managed to regroup with the troops in Doullens, which Britain was planning to take before proceeding to Abbeville, and thus, flank France’s entrenched troops in the Somme. The First Battle of Doullens began around the the 30th of August of 1899, when British Forces began assaulting positions near the town, and French forces began to launch artillery barrages at the enemy as they approached. However, as the end of September approached, France was forced to fall back to Abbeville, where they managed to slowly bleed out Britain and barely being able to push them out. The Second Battle of Doullens began around the 7th of November of 1899, as French forces began an artillery barrage over the city, and followed with offensive manoeuvres against the British Army forces stationed there. By the 5th of January of 1900, Doullens had been liberated by the French. After a 32 km advance, the front line there stabilised, and another stalemate ensued in its wake.
By early 1900, the Western Front so far had been a carnage. Both the Schlieffen-Arthur Plan and Operation: Victoria had fallen apart, the Somme and the Aisne, along with the Lys to an extent were covered in the blood of young French, British and German men, many towns and cities across the French countryside lied in ruins, and morale was beginning to go downhill by then. The hopes of a quick and decisive war on this front or the other fronts were crushed, along with the hopes of taking Paris quickly. Some officers on both sides even thought that breaking the opponent’s defensive position was suicide, and that the only way to win the war now was to bleed the other side white. However, the Germans still had one final card to play in the Western Front along the Franco-German border, where the First Battle of the Frontiers had been fought in the early days of the war. That was Moltke’s very own Operation: Blitz, which called for a series of hit-and-run assaults on French defences along the border, followed by a main force beginning to finish the job of the newly established Stoßtruppen, Germany’s new hit-and-run units. The main force would be preceded by the Stoßtruppen on many battles according to this plan, while the French were crushed by a main force. Around the 19th of September of 1900, Operation: Blitz began, with the Second Battle of the Frontiers when German Army Stoßtruppen began to harass French defences, and that lasted until the 8th October of 1900, when the main force began to push into French border and crush the French defences. The Second Battle of the Frontiers had become a German victory, though the victory proved to be short lived in the First Battle of the Meurthe, when France forced the Germans to a halt in both Lineville and St. Die. However, in December, both towns were lost in the Second Battle of the Meurthe, and France later lost control of Belfort. By the 6th of February of 1901, the Germans pushed as far as the Saone River, where, like the Somme and Aisne, the Germans were locked in a bloody stalemate.
Meanwhile, in the Aisne, Britain and Germany planned for one last offensive on the town of Verdun, where Britain and Germany would jointly push into the town of Verdun, with Britain on the centre and Germany flanking the French. On the 18th of February of 1901, the Battle of Verdun began, as the joint Anglo-German force began its push towards the town. By the 6th of June, the Germans had begun to assault the area around Verdun, while Britain had just take Fort Souville, and by the 10th of June, Verdun itself became a battlefield and by the 16th of June, the entire French force in Verdun was completely annihilated. The Battle of Verdun was won, and in the weeks that would follow, the stalemate in both the Somme and the Aisne would be broken, while the Battle of Rheims would be fought.
The Aisne and the Somme by 1901 were basically turning into a no man’s land, where the land was devastated by war and the trenches dominated the area. However, on the 16th of May of 1901, Britain had launched the Soissons Offensive, where the French attempted to hold on to the town of Soissons, and made a final stand on the town. The French in the first few weeks of battle had dragged Britain into a carnage, but the instant that Verdun was lost to the Anglo-Germans, morale on the French side crashed, and by the 1st of of July of 1901, were forced to retreat towards the Marne, where the French would desperately hold on until the end of the war. The Somme was not looking any better for France, and when the Fall Offensive against the French began on the 2nd of June, it only worsened the situation. The French were forced to retreat back to the Oise on the 6th of July, where the Second Battle of the Oise would be fought on the 26th of July of 1901 until the end of 1902. Rheims by comparison, was a bloodbath on both sides. By the 8th of June of 1901, the city became a bloodbath, along with the surrounding countryside. The Anglo-German troops managed to take the city, but the French had inflicted heavy casualties by the time they did on the 7th of July of 1901, and these same troops later fought in the Battle of the Marne.
By 1902, both sides began to exhaust themselves on the Western Front, and the other fronts were also taking a toll on manpower. The situation looked grim and many on both sides sued for peace. However, it only took the Second Battle of the Oise’s end by November of 1902 for such peace to be taken seriously. However, by the time France sued for peace, the Anglo-Germans were at the gates of Paris and by the 8th of January of 1903, an armistice was announced. The Western Front was won, and with it, the war. However, the lives of 5.1 million French troops and 4.7 million Anglo-German troops were dead, along with 6.3 million dead civilians on this front alone.