Washington, DC

Early 1945

"The USAAF strategic assessment report concludes that after the defeat of Germany and Japan there will only be two military powers of the first order, us and the Russians," said Walter Bedell-Smith.

"The hell you say," said George Marshall "the Brits may not be able to put as many boots on the ground as the Russians or as many planes in the air as ourselves but let's not relegate them to the second order status just yet." "Any nation that can put more than 1,000 heavy bombers over Germany every night, that is about to re-take Singapore and has the equivalent of two fast carrier task forces supporting us in the Pacific has to be reckoned with," finished Marshall.

"It's the new Prime Minister Tittington that bothers me," said the less than anglophillic Admiral King "what do we know about him?" "Even his name "Cecile Tittington" sounds just too English as if it was made up."

"He was Munitions Minister," in the Churchill Government said Eisenhower "and although he seemed to be completely overshadowed by Churchill he's gotten their war economy on a better footing than any other combatant – even us!" "They say a lot of their advances in weaponry and technology in the last few years can be sheeted home to him," continued Ike.

George Marshall thought about that. Certainly some strange things had happened. From producing probably the lousiest tanks of any major combatant of World War 2, the Brits had turned things completely around with the new 105mm gun Centurion tank. Damn the thing could outfight a King Tiger or (heaven forbid) a Joseph Stalin 3 heavy tank. How did they manage that? – and such a quick development phase – even for wartime.

Also Marshall had thought the Brits just didn't have the industrial muscle and resources to produce the latest generation battleships but now the new British battleships, the Vanguard class, comprising HMS's Vanguard, Lion, and Hugh Dowding were all out seeing action. They were alongside the King George V class battleships with the British Pacific Fleet. Last but not least their new jet aircraft the Gloster Meteor and the Canberra Bomber – were giving the hun hell. Still Marshall had seen these aircraft coming.

"It is almost as if this guy Tittington was from another planet," thought Marshall only half joking.

"He doesn't seem to like us very much," ventured Beddell-Smith "what is it that has him so pissed off with us?"

"You could start with us not cooperating on the latest atomic research," said Admiral King "and I fancy he is not at all happy about Roosevelt's approach to handling Stalin." "Far too conciliatory for Tittington's liking" continued King "call him what you will, but Tittington was very fond of Churchill."

"If anything Tittington is even less trusting of the Russians than Churchill was" interjected Bedell-Smith "yet whereas Winston seemed to feel an inevitability about the Russian bear, Tittington is prepared to do something about it."

"We are coming towards the end of the war, at least the war in Europe, and so everyone's looking to the future," said Marshall "Roosevelt's suspicions about resurgent British imperialism are even greater now Tittington is in charge and the Englishman is reacting to that, rather strongly I might add."

Number 10 Downing Street

London England

A few days later

"Get them all out of there," said Tittington to his senior commanders. "If the Americans are keeping their atomic secrets from us then I want every British scientist assisting them on the Manhattan Project, out of there and on to our own research at Aldermaston." "I'm going down to talk with the boffins there later today," the Prime Minister added "just as well I had the foresight to continue a separate British atomic research program here in England."

Arthur Tedder, General Eisenhower's Deputy Commander couldn't believe what he was hearing. General Alan-Brooke went to interrupt but Tittington responded "just do it!" To which everyone in the room fell silent. "If only Winnie were still alive," mused Alan- Brooke.

There seems to be something very compelling, almost hypnotic about Tittington, thought Admiral Ramsey surely even Hitler's generals could have put up no less resistance than we did just now?"

Somewhere in the South China Sea

A few days later again

The battleship was steaming at close to full speed, tasked with escorting HMS Illustrious and other armored aircraft carriers of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF).

With the advent of the next generation "Vanguard" class battleships, she was no longer flagship of the BPF. Still the Howe was a proud ship and under orders she and her sister ship HM battleship King George V together with HM carriers Illustrious and Indomitable broke away from the British Pacific Fleet. They were heading in support of the planned British invasion of Singapore. Their escorting cruisers and destroyers followed them dutifully.

What will the Americans make of that? thought Vice Admiral Rawlings so little consultation with them before withdrawing such major elements of the fleet. And when I think of all the difficulty Winnie had in the first place, trying to get the yanks to accept the presence of a major British Fleet alongside the US Navy in the Pacific.

Even much lower down, at the level of the ordinary enlisted men and women and ordinary members of the British public it was becoming clear that Tittington just wasn't getting along with the "yanks". The grand alliance that Churchill had worked so hard to forge was really beginning to take a battering. Everyone, including the Americans just hoped it could hold together for long enough to see the war out.

Meanwhile "Uncle" Jo Stalin was very aware of what was going on. The Soviet dictator could see the strains that Tittington was placing on the Anglo American alliance and hoped to take full advantage of it. Even while Churchill was still alive the alliance had been showing strain but under Tittington it was at breaking point. Stalin had developed a very healthy respect for Churchill but Tittington, well Tittington was something else. Tittington scared Uncle Jo, and the Soviet leader wasn't easily scared.

England

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF)

General Eisenhower's Office

Late February 1945

"It's pretty clear that Tittington doesn't want the Russians to take Berlin," said Eisenhower.

"So what?" responded US General Omar Bradley "You tell Marshall what to do, he tells Roosevelt, Roosevelt tells Tittington, and Tittington tells Alan Brook, and Alan Brook tells Montgomery what to do."

"We could have done that with Churchill," said Eisenhower "and ultimately forced the issue, but I don't think it will work with Tittington."

"Can they take Berlin without our support" interjected Bedell-Smith.

"A month back I might have said no" replied Eisenhower "but they are still putting additional men into Europe and have up gunned and up armored most of their armored divisions now with the new 105mm gunned Centurion tank." "This new Third army of theirs, the one that's taken over from Simpson's US Ninth Army, it's almost purpose built for the job." "If you add in a Canadian division or two it should be enough and leaves the British Second Army and the rest of the Canuks to hold North West Europe."

"Well – they certainly have the supporting airpower," said the redoubtable Carl Spaatz "no one, but no one doubts that."

"The Germans won't provide the resistance to the Brits that they will to the Russians," added George Marshall "some of them, especially the women, will be only too relieved to see the allies beat the Russians into the city." "German women are living in fear of the revenge that the Russians will extract." "The Brits. or us for that matter, will be greeted as liberators." Marshall continued "the Russkies would need 2 million men, several thousand tanks and god knows how many artillery pieces and Katyusha rocket launchers to be sure of taking the German capital." "Whereas the Brits could probably walk in with a fraction of that number to take the city."

"There'll always be the fanatics, the SS and the Hitler youth" piped up one of Marshall's aides.

"If the Russians didn't get the message from the recent bombing of Dresden, I'm sure that Arthur Harris will have another little show on for them east of Berlin," said Spaatz "you know an "accidental" bombing near the Russian front line." "If there are any two people keen to show the Russkies the "benefits" of allied airpower its Tittington and Harris," finished Spaatz.

"Well I just think they are intent on doing it provided operational factors allow it," said Marshall "and I don't think there is a god damned thing we can do about it."

"Tittington wants to meet the Russian bear just as far East as possible."

Chequers (British Prime Minister's Country Estate)

England

Late May 1945

"I'm sorry things didn't work out so well for you George," said a rich upper class English voice.

"That's all right Prime Minister," responded Patton "I'm glad that you Brits at least got a bit of a chance to kick some Russian ass."

"If only you had been born an Englishman, George," said Tittington "we could have made very good use of you."

For all of his posh name and fake accent, the bastard's no more English than I am, thought Patton smiling inwardly still you've got to admire him, whoever or whatever he really is.

"What an odd circumstance," thought one of Tittington's aides as he looked on at the two quite different men, "old blood and guts Patton himself sipping tea with Tittington here at Chequers."

The South China Sea

Two Months Earlier

The great capital ships steamed past each other without undue ceremony. HM carriers Illustrious and Indomitable and two "Cagey5" (as the Americans referred to them) class battleships heading to support the Singapore invasion. Going in the opposite direction HMS Leigh Mallory fourth and newest of the Vanguard class battleships headed to join the British Pacific Fleet. With her the brand new HMS Winston Churchill first of an entirely new class of British aircraft carrier and undoubtedly the pride of the Royal Navy.

As the LeighMallory passed the King George V and Howe – every seaman on its decks saluted. Although the LeighMallory was bigger, faster and more modern there was a lot of respect in the RN especially for the King George V herself. She had been there with the Rodney when they had battered the Bismarck into a blazing hulk. She had been in the North Atlantic, in the Med in support of the Sicily and Italian landings and in support of the Russian convoys, and more recently with the British Pacific Fleet – a distinguished career if ever there was one.

"Thank goodness Tittington, who was only a junior Minister at the time, had ensured that the KG5's had 16inch guns – those penny pinching fools at Treasury would have left her half naked with 14inch guns to save money," thought Vice-Admiral Rawlings now transferring to the British Indian Ocean fleet for the Singapore operation.

The sailors heading to Singapore couldn't help but notice the numerous jet fighters on the Winston Churchill's heavily armored deck. They looked like a naval fighter bomber version of the Gloster Meteor. The more observant of the men noticed something else, two very handsome looking swept wing aircraft. They were definitely jets and looked more advanced than the naval versions of the Meteor. Perhaps they are experimental thought more than one of the ratings. Though the men on the KG5 and Howe could not have known it, the two sleek, swept wing, aircraft had already had their baptism of fire. In air raids against Japanese held Singapore when the Winston Churchill had passed close enough on its way out to the BPF.

Atomic Research Facility

Aldermaston, England

Late February 1945

Tittington spent all that evening and through into the small hours of the morning going over the progress towards Britain's A bomb with the Aldermaston boffins. He was glad he had kept a basic program going in the UK and the scientists soon to arrive back from America would help speed things along. Of course they were inevitably behind the Yanks.

The younger and newer scientists were stunned at their Prime Ministers knowledge of nuclear physics. The older ones knew better. As he had done with some other aspects of the UK armaments program, Tittington was able to give them a little boost along. A shove in the right direction.

Of course Roosevelt was furious at Tittington's withdrawal of the British scientists but it was a fury more than matched by Tittington's anger at Britain being locked out from the innermost secrets of the American A bomb. Roosevelt clearly intended that America would have a monopoly on the atomic bomb and Tittington would have none of it.

Discussions in the British cabinet and with the British combined chiefs of staff as to the possible deployment of a British nuclear weapon took on a new impetus. Clearly now it was something more than a purely theoretical issue.

British Prime Minister's

Official Residence

No. 10 Downing Street

London England

One day later

"It's going well with the bomb," said Tittington "no way of course that it can be ready before the defeat of Germany."

"How advanced are the Americans," asked Cunningham.

"Hard to tell," replied Alan Brook "our best experts think they may be ready by July/August."

"No chance of us actually beating them to it?" enquired Charles Portal hopefully.

"I don't think so," said Tittington "but we probably aren't so far behind, the possible operational use of our bomb has to be discussed."

The obvious potential target for the bomb was Japan. Tittington made it clear to the British Joint Chiefs of Staff that, if it came down to it, he would rather the Americans be the first nation to use atomic energy to destroy a city. "Let history damn them not us," were his last words on the subject. "Now, about our taking Berlin before the Russians" he started on.

The Kremlin

Late March 1945

Stalin was absolutely furious when he heard of the British assault on Berlin. By then the attack was well underway as all of his aides and Generals had been too scared to tell him. The dictator was insisting that his armies move as quickly as possible to "assist" the British and take whatever spoils they could. In fact to basically swamp Berlin with sheer numbers and make it very difficult indeed for the "Tommies"

"We risk a major confrontation with the English," said Georgi Zhukov, Stalin's best commander "do you really want that?" General Rokossovsky, also in the room, remained silent. "Their Second Tactical air force is out in full strength," persisted Zhukov "particularly the tank busters, the dreaded Hawker Typhoons." "British airpower is almost blocking out the sun over Berlin."

Stalin ignored him. "Arrange for an "accidental' artillery barrage, Katyusha rocket batteries as well" he said "let them get a taste of the Russian god of war." "Then if they respond with air strikes, we move on Berlin." "And if they don't" enquired Zhukov.

"We move anyway" responded Stalin. "The Russian motherland has played easily the biggest part in this war in ripping the guts out of the Wermacht, I won't let this upstart Tittington deny me the ultimate prize." "Where were the British when we bled at Stalingrad, Moscow, Leningrad, and Kursk?" finished Stalin. Neither Zhukov nor Rokossovsky replied. It was a rhetorical question.

Almost as an afterthought Stalin added "if it does come to a fight for Berlin where do the Americans stand on this?"

Finally Rokossovsky spoke up "I don't know" he said "Roosevelt is understood to be gravely ill but we hear that Marshall and Eisenhower are absolutely livid about the British assault."

Berlin

Late March into Early April 1945

The British took Berlin with surprisingly modest loss of life in all the circumstances. Light assault forces comprising Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandoes, Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers and other elite units including two Ghurkha brigades led the way in the initial assault. They were backed up by the heavy armor of the relatively new British Third Army – including the magnificent 105mm gunned Centurion tanks. Regular infantry units of Third army accompanied the armored divisions and there was further support from two divisions of Crears Canadian army.

The biggest surprise of all was the speed by which some of the elite troops arrived. Many of the paras and some of the marine commandos arrived in an entirely unexpected form of transportation. The very first military application of a new invention, the helicopter. With heavy fighter support from supermarine spitfires, and hawker tempests, the helicopter borne assault focused on certain key areas of Berlin such as the Reichstag, certain key roads, some of the strategically based flak towers, and the Furher Bunker. The Germans were taken completely by surprise by the sheer speed of the helicopter assault. One combined group of SAS and Special Boat Squad (SBS) had the assignment of taking Adolf Hitler alive.

The Dictator was said to be stunned by the sheer audacity of the British. He was certain that the Russians would reach Berlin first. Nonetheless Hitler still had time to take his own life in the Furher Bunker. It hadn't mattered who took Berlin first, British, American, or Russian, Adolf was not going to surrender to them, and find himself being tried as the world's foremost war criminal.

At one stage it looked as if the British attack on Berlin might be a complete cakewalk. With a number of regular Wermacht soldiers surrendering and most German woman welcoming the English with barely concealed relief. But when the SS units and the Hitler youth and many regular Wermacht units realized that the Tommies were not their just to help them stem the "red tide" they started putting up fanatical resistance. The SAS came into their own here, backed by paras and royal marine commandoes they ferreted out the die hards. Still many of the old men of the Volksturm, and even a few of the Hitler youth, that would certainly have resisted the Russians decided to surrender to the British, Hitler's orders notwithstanding.

Small numbers of a previously unsighted British tank, perhaps an experimental vehicle, began to appear in Berlin. It clearly had British markings and was coordinating with other British armor but even the Tommies seemed surprised by it. A large tank perhaps a little more than 60 tons it sported what looked like a huge 120mm gun. Everything the Germans fired at it seemed to bounce right off – panzerfausts, smaller artillery and unthinkably even shells from the famed and much feared 88mm guns. The Centurion was a magnificent tank but this new vehicle was something else entirely.

Thankfully the battle did not end up being another Stalingrad as not a few British and American Generals had feared. As resistance began to crumble some of the British infantry and armor, heavily supported from the air, began to move east of Berlin on a broad front and in the general direction of the Seelow Heights. Ostensibly with a view to "linking up" with the Russians. Tittington, Alan Brooke, Montgomery and Dempsey (recently moved from the British Second Army to command the British Third Army), all expecting the inevitable violent clash, but hoping it could be contained in some way.

In the air supermarine spitfires, rocket firing hawket typhoon fighter bombers, and hawker tempest fighters buzzed about ready to pounce on anything that looked even vaguely threatening. From time to time Gloster Meteor jet airctaft overflew the area at a speed to great for piston aircraft. Already there had been inadvertent clashes with the Russians in the air with casualties on both sides. For the moment at least the Soviets had withdawn their aircraft from the immediate area, yielding up the skies to the British but this would not last.

The British fanned out on a broad front east of Berlin and took up position in the Seelow Heights. They had effectively established a good buffer between the Russians and Berlin. The Russians had moved to within artillery range of the Seelow heights and one did not need to be a General Von Manstein or Hans Guderian to foresee Soviet intentions. How they would later argue that it was an accident was completely beyond Miles Dempsey.

When the barrage came it was earth shattering, Katyusha rocket batteries or "stalin organs" as the Germans had called them screaming away. All manner of artillery light to very heavy, all densely packed together. In some ways the British found themselves facing what the Germans otherwise would have. Thank goodness the Brits had pulled back in anticipation of the super heavy barrage so that mostly the rockets and artillery shells hit empty positions. A tactic the Germans had frequently used against overwhelming Russian force towards the end of the war.

After the barrage was over the hawker typhoons came and came and came, their unguided rockets smashing Soviet tanks and artillery indiscriminately. Now the commanders of the T34 tanks and even the heavy Joseph Stalin (JS) 2 and Joseph Stalin (JS) 3 tanks could appreciate the fear that every German tank commander had of these magnificent tank busting aircraft. Russian yak fighters rose to engage RAF spitfires and tempests and losses were heavy on both sides.

In a lull in the aerial conflict Russian armor with infantry atop prepared to move forward to overcome the British at the Seelow Heights by sheer weight of numbers. However at that moment the Russian troops heard a noise they did not immediately recognize. Any German civilian living in any large German city sometime during the last 3 or more years could have told them what it was. The approach of a very large number of big four engined strategic bombers. 1,600 to be precise – mostly Lancasters but including 350 of the superlative new Lincoln bombers. The Lancasters replacement.

RAF Bomber Command was not particularly accurate that day, as strategic air forces of that time were not really designed to attack troop formations. It did not matter – following on from the earlier RAF 2nd tactical air force attack it had the desired effect giving the Russians pause and more than pause.

For good measure the RAF followed up with a smaller raid from 200 of the new Canberra jet bombers supported by 100 Gloster Meteor jet fighters. The fighter escort was unnecessary as the jet bombers flew too fat and too high for any Russian fighters or anti-aircraft fire.

Exactly what Roosevelt and Stalin and most Russian and Anglo-American Generals had hoped would never happen, had happened. A major military engagement between the advancing Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Or, more specifically, just the Anglo part. Tittington had seen it as inevitable. A bloodying of the Russian bear and a clear opportunity for an unmistakable demonstration of allied, or more specifically, British air power. While it would initially lead to increased tensions, Tittington knew the results of this confrontation would change the map of Europe after the war. At least slightly blunting Stalin's ambitions and making the map more attractive, at least from a British perspective.

In the lull in the fighting both sides looked to the Americans. While trying to remain neutral and though livid with Tittington and his generals the President and the US joint chiefs of staff knew that ultimately they would have to come down on the side of the Brits.

Thankfully, before this was necessary, the Americans were able to broker a peace of sorts.

Quietly, many American Generals were ambivalent about what had happened. They were appalled to see their allies clash. Appalled that the nation that had been in this war right from the start and at one time had stood alone, should be at the throat of the nation that had suffered so much fighting back all the way from Moscow and Stalingrad. Still, on the other hand, they were secretly not displeased to see the mighty Russians bear given such a convincing blood nose.

It was the one time in his life when General George Patton had wished he were, temporarily, an English General.

Chequers (British Prime Minister's Country Estate)

England

Late May 1945

"You know why I'm here," said Patton "because with the deterioration between our two countries, Truman thinks that I'm just about the only American that you will listen to."

"That's just about true," responded Tittington looking up from his cup of tea.

"We still have the war against Japan," said Patton "we could use your help with any attack on the mainland."

"You won't need to," said Tittington "I'm predicting that in a few months time you'll be able to use your bomb against them."

"I'm not supposed to know about that said Patton, but what if Truman refuses to use it?" "In that unlikely event," said Tittington "then we'll use our bomb."

"About those couple of experimental tanks of yours," said Patton unable to restrain himself.

"Don't even go there," said Tittington.

"The Russians managed to partly damage one of them," persisted Patton.

"I know," said Tittington "but we recovered it."

"Not before the Russians got some information from papers inside it," smiled Patton.

It was Tittington's turn to be surprised "I didn't know that," he said honestly.

"It doesn't mean anything to me," said Patton still smiling "but it might to you – British Army Challenger Two Main Battle Tank."

"Doesn't mean a thing," said Tittington.

"Lying through his teeth," thought Patton. "There was one other thing," finished Patton "something about the date on the papers, but it must have been a mistake."

"Sorry about Roosevelt," said Tittington as they shook hands in farewell. "You know I really believe you are" said Patton

To be continued