British Army: 2300AD
The Royal German Legion
Authors note: This article is based upon a discussion between Bryn Monnery and myself about a foreign corps serving in the British Army in 2300 AD. This force was largely inspired by the excellent King's German Legion that was an integral part of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars and saw its final service at Waterloo.
The Royal German Legion (RGL) is an integral and somewhat controversial part of the British Army that provides manning for a strong armoured brigade group. The RGL, as its named suggests, is mostly recruited from the German states but also includes recruits from throughout Europe and further a field. Some native UK citizens are also found in its ranks, normally seconded from other regiments.
The RGL is a highly professional and integrated force that includes many veterans of the War of German Reunification and as such is probably has the most experience of any UK force in manoeuvre warfare. It is equipped, trained and organised on British lines, and has now proved itself in combat with the Kafers on the French Arm.
The 1st Legion
Britain has long links with the North German state of Hanover. Hanoverian troops fought alongside their British counterparts in Marlborough's army but when the Elector of Hanover also became King George I of England the ties became even closer. Indeed the Hanoverian Army in both dress and titles became very similar to their English contemporaries.
However in 1803 the French occupied Hanover and the Hanoverian Army was disbanded. Many escaped to form the King's German Legion in Britain. The British at this time supported many corps of foreign troops based on exiles from French dominion on the continent, but the KGL were different for several reasons. Firstly in size, the KGL at its height consisted of 14000 men, and secondly in quality. The KGL troops were fully the equals of the British in skill and fortitude, and the KGL cavalry were the best in the world.
The KGL fought bravely throughout the Peninsular War under Wellington in the Iberian Peninsular. They also provided many soldiers for the Wellington's Allied Army that fought at Waterloo. Both with their own battalions and as leadership for the green troops of the newly reformed Hanoverian Army. The KGL stood firm and suffered horrendous casualties alongside the British, whilst other Allied troops broke and ran, and shared in the laurels of victory. They were then disbanded soon after the final defeat of the 1st French Empire.
Although the dynastic link was broken with the accession of Queen Victoria links remained friendly. That was until after the unification of Germany and the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser was a cousin of Victoria and envied his Aunt the pre-eminent might of the Royal Navy, along with awarding himself titles such as Lord of the Atlantic he set about building a navy to challenge Britain. This rivalry was the prime cause of Britain entering the 1st World War and Germany's defeat in that conflict led both to the 2nd World War and considerable antipathy towards Germany for the rest of the century.
The 2nd Legion
The aftermath of WW2 saw Germany partitioned between the victorious powers and Britain was given the north of Germany as its zone. Later with the formation of NATO and the reformation of the German Army the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) was stationed mainly in what was Hanover. A British General controlled all armed forces in the Northern Zone, called NORTHAG, which included the German I Corps along with Dutch and Belgian troops.
The Twilight War or World War 3, was a catastrophe for all involved in it ,with huge civilian and military casualties and the collapse of civil order world-wide. Soon into hostilities many units began to fall apart, but the regular British soldiers held together better than most. Stalwart German troops from I Corps began to work closely with the BAOR as what remained of NORTHAG. Plans were made for British troops to return the UK to try and stamp out the warlords, anarchy and chaos that plagued the country.
For the British Army to return would cause the parts of Germany currently under their control to similarly deteriorate back to barbarism. So in 2001 the British created the German Legion, from the remnants of I Corps and created training depots to recruit for the Legion. By 2002 the Legion was up and running and allowed most of the remaining British soldiers, now all battle hardened veterans, to cross the Channel and continue the bitter fight of the Pacification.
By 2010 the German Legion was much more formalised and less of a collection of "Freikorps" than it had been. Recruits were given training at Shorncliffe on the south coast of England and some battalions were formed at full strength. This allowed British troops from Germany and the UK to participate in the occupation of the Arabian Peninsular in 2008. Together with some remaining British troops, the Legion began to extend their pacified zones, taking on the warlords with considerable brutality in a long, grim fight to the finish.
The formation of the Hanover government in the late 2020's was very much a result of the work of the German Legion in bringing about the conditions where even a semi-democratic government could be established. The German Legion became the keystone of the Hanoverian Army, which also held regiments formed from the military bands of the remaining warlords. Obviously the Legion became the guarantor of the Government and in many ways a Praetorian Guard, without whose backing a government would never last long. The Legion was still trained and equipped by the British, which gave the UK serious influence within Hanover's borders. Indeed mutual investment and trade was beneficial to both recovering states.
By the turn of the century the scars of war had virtually disappeared from Hanover and the Legion's status had greatly changed. Now in divisional strength the Legion was very much integrated into the rest of the conscript Hanover Army. The Legion was only open to volunteers who extended their length of service to five years and contained many long service NCO's and officers and was the Army's most combat ready formation. The Legion had provided a brigade group for service with alongside the Ukrainians during the Russo-Ukraine War from 2070 to 2072. Links with the UK had been greatly reduced, although exchanges were still commonplace and doctrine was based on UK practise and not the French doctrine then being introduced in the rest of the Army.
For the next century and a half the Legion remained much the same, and built up a large number of veterans and supporters. Membership often became hereditary with sons following fathers and grandfathers into its ranks. Officers in particular were extremely loyal to the Legion.
However with the re-emergence of popular German nationalism and demands for reunification in the last decades of the 23rd Century created problems for the Legion. The Anglophile Legion had long believed the then prevailing theories that German unification had caused untold devastation from Bismarck's wars against Denmark, Austria and France to the final nuclear conflagration of the Twilight War. The Legion became one of the main centres of resistance to the nationalist government of Hanover that was the driving force behind the moves for re-unification. Indeed the debate became quite bitter on both sides.
When re-unification finally happened the German Legion was one of its first victims. With rumours that Legion officers were planning a coup (whether this was truth or propaganda has never been proved) abounding, the German Legion was disbanded. The Hanoverian government delivering this disbandment of its most prestigious unit as a token of commitment helping to convince the smaller German states that re-unification was not simply annexation. Many senior officers fled to the UK (proof of their complicity to some) whilst the rest and the rank and file were re-organised and renamed as 7 Panzer Division.
7th Panzer didn't take part in the "anschluss" of Bavaria, and the virtual annexation of that southern German state raised no little disquiet amongst its ranks. The cynics felt that the new German state was angling for confrontation with France to raise nationalistic feeling in the country. When the War finally occurred, 7 Panzer was in the front-line.
In hard fighting the division broke through the French mobile defence to the north of Sedan, savaging the defending units of the mostly German 2e Régiment Étranger d' Infantrie before supporting the charge towards Picardy. When the assault was stopped on the Somme by a French divisional counter-attack, 7 Panzer was brought in to try and break through the new French defensive line. Despite their LkPz-VIII's being outclassed by the French AC-12's they managed to create a gap for the supporting Panzer Grenadier Division "Deutschland". However slow movement on the part of that division gave the French long enough to bring up heavy tank reinforcements which routed it with heavy casualties. Soon afterwards a cease-fire was called and the war came to a close.
Proud of their achievements, the men of 7 Panzer were dismayed by the reception they received when they returned to their barracks near Osnabruck. Their breakthrough over the Meuse was being credited to the Deutschland division and the new Bavarian "Sturmtaktik", used only by a very small part of the army. Moreover they were also blamed for the savaging of the Deutschland division on the Somme. The disgusted troops were further dismayed when most of them were discharged from the service to be replaced by conscripts from all over Germany. The new German state had no place for the remnant of the Legion.
The 3rd Legion
Some of the officers of the German Legion who had fled to Britain had found jobs in the British Army through the intervention of British officers who had worked with them in the past. Soon these men were receiving inquiries from there colleagues back in Germany asking if there were further roles for them. In the aftermath of the war many of the officers found jobs in Britain whilst some of the men joined the rebuilding French Foreign Legion. However dissatisfaction with both of these outcomes brought about a unexpected development.
Colonel Kruse, the senior ex-German Legion officer in British service suggested the formation of a armoured infantry based battle group to simulate enemy forces on exercise (OPFOR). In his proposal he stated that the battle-tested men of 7 Panzer would be the key recruiting ground for such a force. In January 2294 he was given permission to recruit, the response was overwhelming with unemployed 7 Panzer and German Legion men applying in droves. Kampfgruppe Kruse was formed at Warminster in April the same year, but the British Army was already considering a second German force for OPFOR work at their off-world training areas on Wellon.
The quality of Kampfgruppe Kruse was immediately evident in its first duties in the Canadian training areas. KG Kruse was a well balanced and integrated force of experienced troops that despite its second rate equipment could run rings around most of its British opponents. This confirmed the British plans and a second battle group was formed, Kampfgruppe Halle. In the new year of 2295, the two battle groups were brought under the aegis of the Royal German Legion.
The RGL was the "corps" formation for the two battle groups, in charge of their administration, training and recruitment. Kruse was promoted to Brigadier and placed in charge of the RGL. Kruse was aware that he had to recruit to survive and that the veterans of 7 Panzer weren't an infinite resource, so he gained permission to recruit foreigners from any nation to the legion and started a training organisation at Shorncliffe. Kruse revived the histories and traditions of the original German Legion and the KGL to increase the esprit de corps of the Legion.
2296 and 2297 saw a period of consolidation for the legion with only the addition of two companies to its strength. One of light infantry and one of Combat Walkers, which the British Army only used in a light role, in order to simulate other armies use of CW's in combined arms forces. However the RGL was gaining a reputation for toughness, efficiency and professionalism , which contrasted well with the perceived casual brutality of the Legion Etranger. Indeed whilst Bavarians still made up much of the strength of La Legion, northern Germans were increasingly heading across the channel to the RGL.
In the autumn of 2297 a decision was taken by His Majesties Government to increase the RGL and to change its role drastically. Whilst a battle group would remain in the OPFOR role the rest of the RGL would form a independent brigade group. It was intended that the RGL brigade would supplement 79 Brigade in the rapid off-world deployment role. To this end the RGL was expanded and re-roled to its present size with the inclusion of artillery, engineering, gunship and logistic assets.
The Kafer War along the French Arm made this decision seem almost prescient with the RGL placed on short notice to travel to the war zone. It was also rumoured that the RGL Brigade will be included in a new 7th Armoured Division to be formed from 7 Armoured Brigade and 79 Armoured Brigade for off-world action. The expansion of the RGL Hussars to regimental size makes it likely that this unit will become the Divisions armoured recce element. It was likely that RGL officers will be represented on the divisions staff. Recruiting for the RGL substantially picked up since this announcement, resulting in a diplomatic protest from the German government.
Indeed in November of 2301 the RGL Brigade was stood too to travel up arm to BCV-4 to join up with the 79th Armoured Brigade, to be followed by the 7 Armoured Brigade. The Brigade embarked in December but whilst in transit the Kafers struck and invaded Kimanjano. So the brigade was diverted to Beowulf instead, where it began to train both to defend Alicia but also for any possible counter-attacks at Kimanjano or the other occupied colonies. During this period the brigade was integrated into the finally formed 7th Armoured Division, alongside 7 Armoured Brigade and Alician 8th Brigade. As had been rumoured many of the battle-experienced RGL officers were promoted to the Divisional staff and the RGL Hussars became the Divisional recce regiment.
The RGL were stranded at Alicia until the final defeat of the Kafer attack by the Reserve Fleet in the Battle of Beowulf. The massed regular soldiers from an array of nations were finally let of the leash. The French were to take the lead in the Liberation of Kimanjano, whilst the British were to complete the Liberation of Beta Canum. Following on from the Paras of the renamed 6 Assault Brigade, the RGL Brigade were the first heavy troops to land on-planet. They quickly relieved the battered and exhausted 79 Brigade and continued harrying the mostly broken Kafers.
The fighting on Beta Canum was not especially intense but could be very fierce whilst it lasted. The widely dispersed Kampfgruppe were called upon to break apart large groups of Kafer resistance. Casualty rates were light and mostly confined to the infantrymen compared to the Beta Canum irregulars who the brigade fought alongside, but they still took their toll on the brigade. Soon during the campaign Kampfgruppe Paterson was withdrawn and sent to Crater alongside 6 Assault Brigade and arrived there in late August. The rest of the Brigade continued to fight in the mopping up campaign on Beta Canum's British and German continents, its skill and professionalism were swiftly appreciated by the colonists. The Brigade was often reinforced by German speaking Jäger units of the New African Legion, as a light infantry auxiliary who quickly forged an excellent working relationship with the RGL.
Kampfgruppe Paterson had a tough task ahead of it on Crater. The colony had been liberated in May by a combination of Guerrilla uprising and landing by French Marines, which forced the Kafers away from the major cities. However efforts by colonial forces and a small Royal Marines detachment had failed to root out the Kafers from strongholds on Crater's Dayside. The arrival of the RGL Kampfgruppe and the 6 Assault Brigade swung the situation. Fighting in the Dayside campaign was immensely difficult, low atmospheric pressures made conventional infantry operations near impossible and Kafer strongholds (usually converted mines) had to be taken by storm. The RGL soon gained the upper-hand, being able to easily destroy any Kafer vehicles that ventured out to fight, however hunting down Kafer bands in the canyons and ancient water courses proved a bit more difficult.
The answer was quickly arrived at by Major Stransky of the 2nd Light Company, who were a part of the Kampfgruppe. His idea was to use the combat walker strength of the British forces en-masse and almost as conventional infantry. Their firepower, mobility, armour and excellent sensors would give them a great advantage over the Kafers. Stransky soon found himself in charge of the Provisional Battlegroup consisting of his own RGL company, three Parachute Regiment CW platoons and the survivors of the Coldstream Guards CW platoons that had made it through the occupation. The combination quickly proved decisive with the Dayside Campaign being decided with the storming of the Kafer 'safe place' called Krak des Chevaliers by the 6 Assault Brigade bringing the campaign to an end.
On Beta Canum the fighting had descended to small actions and the heavy regular forces spent their time re-grouping for any further actions. With the disbandment of most of the New African Legion units, the RGL received permission to recruit a mechanised infantry battalion to add to its strength. The 1st RGL Jaeger Battalion was the result, recruited primarily from German BC veterans of the NAL Jägers but also from other BC recruits and stiffened by some transfers from the other units. The RGL Jaegers were soon appropriated for various tasks by 7th Armoured Division when Kampfgruppe Paterson returned. The Brigade was involved in planning to take part in the Liberation of Dunkleheim, but was not called upon to take part in that operation that resulted in so many casualties amongst the US Marines.
Today the RGL Brigade remains on BCV-4 as part of the 7th Armoured Division, and has completely recovered from the fighting on BCV-4 and Crater. The RGL has cemented itself as a key part of the British war-effort and has gained no little fame overseas, consequently recruitment is still healthy from across Europe. The Brigade stands by to be the lead heavy element of any further British expeditionary forces, a task which it relishes. It has met its enemy and came off best, the RGL expects to do so again.
The RGL conducts most of its training at Ompteda Barracks at Shorncliffe, Kent across the road from Sir John Moore Barracks where the Light Division of Infantry has trained since the Napoleonic Wars. Basic training in the RGL takes two forms, the Short and Long courses. Recruits with previous military experience in certain militaries ("first rate forces") will be placed on the three month Short Course.
The Short Course commences with an initial test week, to make sure all the recruits are up to a basic standard of fitness and soldierly abilities. Those failing are passed onto the Long Course or discharged immediately. The Short Course then starts in earnest covering weapons, equipment and tactics in detail all interspersed with intensive physical training. Also covered in the course is language tuition for those in need of it, some foot drill on the parade square (in spite of the proximity to the Light Division the RGL uses standard drill) and the history of the Legion . The final three weeks of the course are spent in the field on exercise which takes place across the British training areas. After the exercise the course returns to Shorncliffe to pass off the parade square before passing on to their battalions or more advanced training.
The Long Course is a more traditional basic military induction course where civilians with little or no military experience are turned into soldiers. The Long Course takes the recruit right from square one, and the first eight weeks are very much "basic training" with foot drill, physical training and mindless chores to the fore. Recruits at this stage have almost no privacy or time to themselves. As many of the recruits on the Long Course have little English, language training is a priority. If a recruit successfully negotiates the first ten weeks the remaining 16 weeks more resemble the Short Course with the emphasis on practical military skills. The main difference between the Short and Long Courses is discipline. Recruits on the Short Course are expected to show self discipline and are more harshly judged for infractions than the more closely supervised recruits on the Long Course.
All soldiers passing through the RGL depot are considered to be qualified Combat Infantrymen whatever specialisation they later go on to pursue. This combined with the toughness of the training has meant that there are very few females in the RGL, and these are mainly concentrated in the Signals and Logistics establishments.
Training at the RGL depot is carried out by both RGL personnel and men on secondment from other regiments of the British Army on an even 50/50 ratio. This might change when more RGL personnel become available at suitable points in their career. After passing out from the depot infantrymen go to one of the Line Battalions, and can later transfer to one of the Light Companies after passing the appropriate courses. Other members of the Legion go on to British Army training establishments to conduct their Phase 2 training in armour, artillery, logistics or signals. Throughout his career the Legionnaire will attend specialist courses run by the British Army to further his skills. RGL personnel are just beginning to join the training teams on these courses, but will remain firmly in a minority.
RGL officers undertake either the Short or Long Courses and must attend an Officer Selection Board either before or after signing up. They then go on to attend the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
Training in the RGL, as with the British Army as a whole, is continuous and never ending. Tactical exercises are conducted regularly, and due to their OPFOR role the RGL conduct many more manoeuvre exercises than their British counterparts. The RGL has a reputation for "tactical" excellence whilst on training, conducting all operations on a war footing. They are perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the concept of "train hard, fight easy".
Although "German" by title the RGL is not German exclusively, and accepts recruits from around the world. Nevertheless Germans are by far the majority in the Legion. Many others come from Eastern Europeans including a large group of Poles. There are few recruits from outside Europe however, although some Americans of German descent can be found in the ranks. The UK gives British nationality to RGL men who complete at least five years service, an important spur to many from Eastern Europe. After the recent fighting a large number of soldiers have been recruited from the German colonists of Beta Canum-4.
It should be noted that many citizens of Commonwealth nations on and off Earth can serve in the ranks of the British Army proper, an option not available to non Commonwealth citizens. Thus there are few except some white Azanians in the RGL.
An impressive proportion of the RGL have had service in other militaries, usually as conscripts. And many join the RGL to pursue a full time military career. The RGL's burgeoning reputation has reinforced this trend, and led to the caustic troopers comment that: "Romantics join the Foreign Legion. Professionals join the RGL" In truth North Europeans tend to join the RGL whilst South Europeans join the Légion Étrangère. Eastern Europeans are more evenly split.
All work in the RGL is carried out in English, however German is the second language and commonly used off duty. On OPFOR duties German is often used to confuse any enemy. In addition most of the RGL's slang is in German As a result both languages are taught, with all RGL troopers learning English and attached British learning German.
The Royal German Legion is currently organised as a corps formation, similar to the Corps of Royal Marines in the early 21st Century. The RGL has a front line armoured Brigade (in which most of its strength is concentrated), an OPFOR battle group deployed at the British Army training facility in Canada and the RGL Depot in Kent.
Below: RGL assets within the 7th Armoured Division (double-boxed units are non-RGL).
|1st Brigade, Royal German Legion
The RGL Brigade is a recently raised force organised along the same lines as an independent armoured brigade, similar to 7 and 79 Armoured Brigades, which it operates alongside as part of the 7th Armoured Division. However it has some differences due to its roots as an OPFOR and its unique experience on Beta Canum-4. The main manoeuvre elements of the brigade are its armoured regiment and its two infantry battalions, which are almost permanently organised as combined arms battle groups or Kampfgruppe for all but administrative reasons.
In addition the brigade has a strong array of "brigade" assets at it disposal, which can be utilised by brigade itself or "one-up" or "one-down". That is assigned either up to Division or down to the Kampfgruppe. These include a recce regiment, a gunship regiment, a light company, a strong combat walker company, an artillery battery, an engineer company and a logistic regiment. All of this combines with the tactical excellence of the troops to make the brigade one of the strongest in the British orbat, whose main weakness is the lack of reinforcements if heavy casualties are taken.
1st RGL Hussars
1st RGL Jaeger Battalion
1st RGL Light Company
2nd RGL Light Company
OPFOR RGL is the force that provides a combined arms Kampfgruppe to act as an enemy for the large scale manoeuvres held by the British Army every year in the Training Areas in Canada. As such the OPFOR uses a wide range of tactics to simulate different tactics, as such OPFOR units are some of the most tactically astute in the army. This combined with local knowledge or the terrain usually leads to the OPFOR being much more effective than its numbers suggest.
2nd RGL Line Battalion
The RGL Depot is located at Shorncliffe, and conducts its training and administration. Co-located is the RGL Headquarters commanded by Major General Kruse.
The RGL is equipped in the same manner as its British counterparts. The main exceptions are the 2nd Line Battalion, equipped with obsolete British equipment and the 1st Light Company that has an array of different small arms and equipment, including it is rumoured Kafer weaponry.
Below: RGL Stable belt.
The RGL also wears British uniforms, including a rifle green beret with the RGL cap badge. Dress uniform is on an infantry model, the exception being the Hussars who have just adopted a cavalry uniform. So far it is unlikely that the Dragoons, who work so closely with the infantry, will follow suit. It is difficult for observers to tell RGL units apart as they all wear the same field uniform and cap badge. This perhaps contributes to the esprit de corps and level of integration that makes the RGL so formidable.
RGL soldiers on Beta Canum have taken to wearing a patch, not unlike the écusson (service arm badge) worn by the French Foreign Legion, on all uniforms including combats. This practice has spread to other RGL units, but is yet to be made official. It is not known why the badge is in black and silver rather than the RGL's normal red and blue.
Above: RGL arm badge, worn on the mid-left arm.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch