Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Railroad Tycoon 3: Alternate USA

Railroad Tycoon 3 might not be the greatest strategy game or have the best graphics but I like it. Particularly with the coast to coast expansion pack. One of the scenarios 'Alternate USA' begins in an early 20th century America were the Revolutionary War never happened. As such the continental USA is divided into 10 different nations. The player starts in the Great Plains Union in the centre and has to build relations with the other countries by building a railway to each one and then transporting a select number of a certain type of cargo to it each year. It is a hard but fun scenario. Anyway being the flag geek I am I wondered what the flags of these countries might be so I have some designs.

Great Plains Union 

There is not a lot of information given about the country you start in other than its mostly agricultural. I suspect it might be predominantly of Native American origin although that might be me thinking of the Plains Nations factions from Empire Total War.


The flag is based on that of Colorado, but with an arrow head emblem in the centre

 New England

New England is the nation from which most of the other nations trace their origins from. It remained loyal to the British Empire during Dixie's war of independence in the 1860s and eventually gained its own independence through diplomacy and politics. 
Even though it is independent the fact that it gained its independence through diplomacy leads me to believe that New England might be a Dominion like Canada and share the British monarch as head of State so an ensign based flag is still in use. The badge with the Cross of St George and the pine tree is based on historic New England Flags.

Dixie 

 Originally the southern British colonies were administered from New England but they broke away in a civil war in the 1860s. They  eventually gained their independence from both Britain and New England with help from France to form a country called Dixie.

Inspired by the real life US flag. At first the Dixie rebels used the New England flag but with the Union Canton replaced with stripes. As Dixie broke away from New England the shield was replaced with one solely representing Dixie. This featured the rattlesnake which was a symbol of the American colonies.

Louisiana 

Originally part of Dixie the territory was given to France in exchange for French intervention in securing Dixie's independence. 

As the American Revolution never happened its probably a good bet the French Revolution also never happened in this alternate history or at least happened at a different time. So the Fleur de Lys is the French element, the cross representing Catholicism and the rattle snake the historic link to Dixie.

Great Lakes Confederation

  Consisting principally of German settlers who moved west after arriving in New England. These settlers founded the Ohio Territory. This territory eventually grew enough until it was offered membership in New England but instead it declared itself a republic. The other territories around the Great Lakes allied themselves with Ohio; Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. This collection of states became the Great Lakes Confederation.

The Great Lakes flag features four bars of black, red, yellow and white representing the German origins of the citizens. The centre blue bar represents the water of the lakes with a star representing each of the republics in the confederacy. 

Pacifica 

Consisting of nearly all the west coast of what we would recognise as the Continental United States, Pacifica was settled by colonists moving west from New England and its the territories. During the civil war between New England and Dixie, Pacifica took advantage of New England's distraction and also declared independence. New England focused on the war with Dixie was in no position to constest this, and the game states that "its said New England's true lose in the war with Dixie was Pacifica"


Pacifica's flag is based on the current flag of California as that region makes up the majority of its territory plus who doesn't like the California flag? However as the territory of pacifica is more than California I have included the colours of the Cascadian region (I'm actually a little disapointed the game didn't use the name Cascadia for this country) as Pacifica's borders nearly matches the US part of that region. 

Arizona Republic

One of the problems that Pacifica suffered from was that it had poor relations with the natives who originally occupied the land. In an attempt to pacify the region's tribes Pacifica offered the Navajo People the region of Arizona to settle if they would cease hostile resistance and encourage the other Native Nations to follow their example and lead. This the Navajo and many other tribes accepted but instead of living under Pacifica rule they declared Arizona an independent nation.

The flag is based on that of the real Navajo Nation but with the gold star of Arizona in the centre.

Roosevelt 

Like Arizona, Roosevelt was initially part of Pacifica. Roosevelt is the largest of the American nations in terms of landmass consisting of all the territory west of the Great Plains Union as far as the Rocky Mountains. It borders Pacifica, the Arizona Republic, the Great Plains Union, the Great Lakes and Canada. It has a largely rural lifestyle with ranches being the main contributor to the economy. Disagreement with Pacifica over industrialisation, failure to provide protection from hostile native peoples and local government led the region to revolt. Lead by Theadore Roosevelt the rebellion was a success and Roosevelt became the nation's first president given his name to the country.

The roses in the hoist come from the Roosevelt coat of arms with the bull's head a reference to the ranch culture of the country.

Texahoma Republic 

Last but not least are Spanish speaking nations to the south. First is Texahoma which mainly consists of the territory of Texas and Oklahoma. Originally settled by the Spanish the country was initially the northern province of Mexico before fighting for and winning its independence.
The flag is mostly that of Texas but with the crossed peace pipe and olive branch of the Oklahoma flag under the star.

Florida

Florida's history is mostly that of it being contested by the Spanish, French and British, as a result its current territory is less than what it once was. Originally a Spanish colony Florida gained its independence from Spain in the 1820s with the help and leadership of Andrew Jackson.
The flag of Florida consists of the Spanish Cross of Burgundy defaced with a Sun. 

Thursday, 14 May 2020

the Formal Surrender of Hitler's U-boats

U-Boats moored at Lisahally, Londonderry.
 IWM Public Domain

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of the Second World War beginning with the sinking of the liner SS Athenia by German submarine U-30 a matter of hours after the British declaration of war on 3rd September 1939. German submarine or U-Boat activity continued until the VE Day on 7th May 1945. During this battle the German Navy the Kriegsmarine attempted to cut off the United Kingdom’s overseas supply lines most notably the transatlantic routes. The U-Boat was the Kriegsmarine’s workhorse in this regard. So critical was this battle to the survival of the United Kingdom that Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill described it as his greatest fear.
Though the command of Western Approaches was in Liverpool many of the escort vessels that protected Allied convoys were based in Northern Ireland ports most notably the port of Londonderry. Derry as the city is also commonly called is the UK’s most western port and a stone frigate (naval shore base) HMS Ferret was established there in 1940. Londonderry is Northern Ireland’s second city and is situated on a tidal section of the River Foyle just before it flows into Lough Foyle and into the North Atlantic. The importance of Derry to the battle is shown that by 1943 more ships were stationed there than Liverpool, the Clyde and Belfast. At its peak the city and its outlying port facilities at Lisahally just beyond the city limits catered to 139 ocean going vessels. Following the entry of the United States into the war the city hosted a strong American presence although the bulk of Allied naval personnel were British and Canadian.
On 4th May 1945 as Berlin fell Grand Admiral Karl Donitz who had following Hitler’s suicide three days earlier inherited the leadership of Nazi Germany ordered his U-Boats to ceasefire. The message he sent them read “Undefeated and Spotless, you lay down your arms after a heroic battle without equal.” From that date U-Boats began surrendering whenever they met an Allied ship although some commanders scuttled their submarine before it fell into Allied hands.
Allied warships docked at the Londonderry Quay
While many of the crews did fight a heroic battle, Winston Churchill himself paying tribute to the ‘fortitude of the U-Boat Service’ they had quite decisively been beaten in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Commander in Chief of Western Approaches Admiral Sir Max Horton took issue with this statement. He was a veteran of the 1st World War (ironically as a submarine commander) and was aware that the Germany had blamed its defeat in that conflict on the stab in the back myth. This was the myth that the German armed forces in the field were undefeated and that Germany had lost the war because the civilians and politicians at home gave in and betrayed them. This was a myth but Horton was aware that the Nazis had used this belief to their advantage during their rise to power and it played into their rearmament and expansionist policies. Fearing that a similar myth regarding the German armed forces in the Second World War might lead to history repeating itself. Horton sought to dispel it before it could take hold so he planned a formal surrender ceremony.
Londonderry was chosen to be the place where this ceremony would take place due to the role it played but also probably for practical reasons regarding the range and seaworthiness of some of the U-boats. The first eight U-Boats sailed into Lough Foyle on Monday 14th May 1945 with a skeleton Kriegsmarine crew and under the Royal Navy command. The U-Boats flew the British white ensign and were escorted by the British, Canadian and American destroyers HMS Hesperus, HMCS Theford Mines and USS Robert I Paine. The U-Boats docked at Lisahally and their crews led by Oberleutnant Klaus Hilgendorf commander of U-1009 formally surrendered to Admiral Sir Max Horton, who had flown into nearby Royal Naval Air Station Eglington (HMS Gannet) that morning specifically for the occasion. Horton was joined by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Sir Basil Brook and Colonel Dan Bryan the Irish Free State’s Director of Military Intelligence. The event was also witnessed by many of the locally based Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen, most notably the WRNS from HMS Ferret and Fleet Air Arm personnel from HMS Gannet and HMS Shrike (RNAS Maydown).
Free Polish destroyer ORP Krakowaiak toes U-2337 out of Lough Foyle
for scuttling as part of Operation Deadlight 28th November 1945
Following the surrender more U-Boats found themselves moored on the Foyle from where they were towed of the coasts of Counties Londonderry and Donegal and systematically sank in what was known as Operation Deadlight. 116 boats were destroyed this way, being towed to three main zones where they were sunk either by scuttling, naval gunfire or aerial target practice depending on which zone they were towed to. This operation commenced on 17th November 1945 and completed on 11th February 1946.

Thus the end of Hitler’s U-Boat fleet happened in Northern Ireland. Winston Churchill said of Northern Ireland’s role

“By the grace of God Ulster stood a faithful sentinel”
“That was a dark and dangerous hour. We were alone, and had to face single-handed the full fury of the German attack raining down death and destruction on our cities and, still more deadly, seeking to strangle our life by cutting off the entry to our ports of the ships which brought us our food and the weapons we so sorely needed.
Only one great channel remained open. It remained open because loyal Ulster gave us the full use of Northern Irish ports and waters, and thus ensured the free working of the Clyde and the Mersey.
But for the loyalty of Northern Ireland we should have been confronted with slavery and death and the light which now shines so strongly throughout the world would have been quenched.
The bonds of affection between Great Britain and the people of Northern Ireland have been tempered by fire and are now, I believe, unbreakable.”
“We have traveled a hard and darksome road to victory in Europe, and at every turn in this memorable journey the loyalty and courage of Ulster have gleamed before the eyes of men.
The stand of the Government and People of Northern Ireland for the unity of the British Empire and Commonwealth and for the great cause of freedom, for which we all risked our survival will never be forgotten by Great Britain. A strong loyal Ulster will always be vital to the security and well-being of our whole Empire and Commonwealth”