Wednesday, 20 July 2016

19C - War of the Antipodes - Background

The discovery of anti-gravitarium in 1865 and then of radium in 1868 led to an up ending of the world’s political order. Within a generation the British Empire’s Royal Navy fleet was extinguished as a civilising force. The Battle of Dogger Bank in 1885 between the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and the Franco-Prussian Aerial Fleet ended in a draw and with a terrifying casualties’ toll for both fleets.
The Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet was principally sea based but with radium powered steam engines. The Royal Navy used its supply of anti-gravitarium to power smaller patrol ships of the sky that used the battleships and their new ‘carriers’ as bases.

The Franco-Prussian Fleet took a different view. With no institutional sailing legacy to protect, they used all their anti-gravitarium for a smaller number of large flying battleships, powered by radium steam engines. Their battleships could land on water but did so only to pick up new supplies or refill their water tanks that were used to supply their radium engines with propellant.

Battle of Dogger Bank

The Battle of Dogger Bank proved that the ability to move in three dimensions was a real winner when fighting similar sized craft who could only move in two dimensions. The Royal Navy fought very bravely and had caused the Franco-Prussians great damage but in the end the Royal Navy had only the battleship HMS Indestructible left fighting with a few small flying patrol craft in support.
The remaining five battleships of the Franco-Prussian Fleet circled around the Indestructible swatting away the small Royal Navy flyers. Captain Fisher of the Indestructible shouted down to the engine room to give him all the power they had, remove the safety stops. Everything! The engine room crew went to work and the power rose and rose, the Indestructible gaining speed and fighting bravely against the circling enemy. First one of the Franco-Prussian flying battleships exploded, and then another. Fisher dared to dream of escape or even victory. The French admiral of the Franco-Prussian Fleet cursed, he did not want this battle snatched away from him at the last moment. Eager to get a devastating victory over the hated English and erase two hundred years of naval defeats he signaled his fleet to fly closer to eliminate this final enemy.

Just as the remaining Franco-Prussian flying battleships closed to 1,000 meters for their final assault that would surely destroy the last Royal Navy battleship and provide a shattering victory to the continental powers, the Indestructible’s engines went critical. A blinding flash of light and a mushroom shaped cloud visible for over 100 miles marked in apocalyptic terms the site of the battle. Only one Royal Navy patrol boat survived, saved by being in the shadow of the French Battleship Austerlitz when the fireball from the Indestructible’s explosion crushed all before it. The patrol boat was able to limp back to Scapa Flow and report to the Admiralty of their “victory”. Within two weeks all the men of the patrol ship were dead and the last survivors of the battle were gone.

Cease Fire

After this terrible battle all the countries at war were agreeable to declaring an armistice, while they hurriedly re-armed. Other countries saw the effect of this battle and rearmed accordingly, others saw their chance to make waves while the Royal Navy was rebuilding, and others such as the United States of America saw that they would need to look to their own naval and sea lane defense.

The Royal Navy recalled all its outlying units, only leaving small squadrons at important stations such as Gibraltar, India and Hong Kong. The Australian colonies were left bereft of any support and were told in no uncertain terms to make their own arrangements. Canada was better off as the Empire needed its supplies of anti-gravitarium and radium. While the Australian colonies boasted of their gold fields, these had been greatly devalued by the new elements of power, radium and anti-gravitarium.

Antipodean Panic and Plans

The colonies were in a panic at this abandonment by the Mother country, throwing up their arms in despair. At the best of times the Australian colonies were fearful of every other major power. Aware that being a very distant colony of the British Empire made them easy prey for any country at war with the Empire. During various crisis’s and alarms France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Spain, and the United States of America had all been top of the list of an enemy country likely to invade by the end of next week. The list varying dependent on those countries’ relations with the Empire. Now with Great Britain refusing to protect them at all, the colonies were in a state of panic.

Soon wiser heads began to prevail and all settled down to consider their resources and options. The government of New South Wales reached out to the other Australian states and to the New Zealand government and suggested an alliance and pooling of resources. Surprisingly they were rebuffed by all. Each of the other governments were younger, although not by much, than the NSW government and none wished to risk losing their recently gained sovereignty and, with their recent abandonment by the Empire, none had any faith in any other political entities. All of them decided that they could only rely on themselves.

In Victoria, a state just recently granted self-governing status, the forceful Prime Minister and his cabinet looked at their resources and considered the possibilities. A federated Australia run by NSW was unthinkable and a probable disaster, but an Australia run by Victoria was much more acceptable and could possibly be the start of a great new South Pacific Empire. The Prime Minister reminded his cabinet colleagues that it was in times of great change that great men appeared and set the course of history. “Let us be those Great Men!” he thundered.

Accordingly they laid their plans, first Australia and then the world – or at least that part of the world in the South Pacific. They would be able to ensure the safety of Victoria and its people by first controlling the near states, then the Australian continent and then by building an Empire around it. New Zealand to the east, New Guinea to the north Tasmania to the south and a great Indian Ocean fleet to protect the west.

Once this had been done, what else could they do? Everything south of the equator and east of Africa and west of South America shall be theirs! “And maybe one day” the minister of culture shouted “it will just be everything south of the equator!” “Hurrah” shouted the rest of the cabinet. The Prime Minister laughed and returned his colleagues to the present “First New South Wales must be ours!” he scowled.

The map used by the Victorians for their planned assault.


  1. Good read, I've added your blog to the ones I follow. Champion stuff!

    1. Thanks very much. I am inspired by your blog.