Friday, August 21, 2015

AltHistory Scenario #3: What if Canada and the United States Went to War? Part 2

Remember, before you read this, you should read Part 1 to know how we got here!

How The Second Anglo-American War Would Go

Before I can get into the actual scenario, I’m going to have to give you some numbers, mostly in soldiers, airplanes and the like. These numbers are really hypothetical, and assume that there was a moderate buildup of both nations in the two years between the Coup in 1934 and the outbreak of war in 1936. In any case, the numbers could be much lower or possibly even higher than in any scenario. But I feel it’s important to mention them, as these are the number’s I’m using for this article.

Because I can't just show this map and call it a day. Sigh.

To start, Canada. In 1938, Canada had roughly 11 million citizens. The pre-World War Two military of Canada was shockingly small: the Permanent Active Militia, the so-called “Permanent Force” only had 4,169 officers and men. The Non-Permanent Active Militia had 51,418 officers and men, but this was more or less a reserve force. Even combining them, Canada would only have about 55,500 somewhat trained troops.

But since there is a build up, let’s say the number of men raised into the army, most likely on a volunteer basis, would be three times that number, so up to 150,000 men in Canada would be in uniform. But that 55,500 of the Permanent and Non-Permanent force would be the core of this newer army, which would be divided in Five “Commands”: Pacific (British Columbia); Prairie (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba), Ontario; Quebec; and Maritime (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). Newfoundland was not a part of Canada at this point, and was actually still technically a British Colony after a failed attempt at Dominion status.

The Royal Canadian Navy was in even worse shape, with 309 officers, 2,967 ratings, and only 7 ships in 1939. While the RCN would become the third largest Allied Navy by the end of World War Two, this was only because Canada was safe from direct attack, so I believe the majority of the naval war would be between the Royal Navy and the US Navy. The Royal Canadian Air Force had 360 officers and 2,797 airmen, and while they had about 11 permanent squadrons, there was only 29 fighter and bomber aircraft in 1939 when the Second World War broke out. But with some build up, maybe there would be 200 operation aircraft ready by 1936, if given about two years to build up.

Accurate description of the Canadian Army even today!

The US is a totally different matter. In the census of 1930, the US had a population over 10 times that of Canada, 123,202,660, so for 1936, I think the US could have close to 128 million people. The Army, as outlined in the National Defence Act of the 1920, could have had 296,000 men, but Congress reduced that number over the years, and the Army never recruited that many men. The National Guard also never reached it’s authorized 486,000 men, and as the Great Depression hit, less and less money would be spent. The US Army Air Force also suffered, as by 1936 it only had 855 aircraft, when it had been suggested over 2,300 should be built.

The US Navy is, perhaps, the most prepared military force the US has in this period, and even after the 1921 Washington Naval Conference, it was assumed that the US and Royal Navy would have 1:1 capital ship ratio, with . However, by 1933 the US Navy had 372 ships, displacing 1,038,660 tons. But in 1934, the “Vinson-Trammel Act” was passed, allowing the navy to not only build enough ships to reach the tonnage limits of the Washington Naval Conference, but also replace older, derelict ships. I have a feeling that the ships built under this law would not be ready in time. However, the US Navy would still be a match for the Royal Navy, which War Plan Red expected to be able to send 14 battleships, 38 cruisers, 5 aircraft carriers, 130 destroyers and 34 submarines to Halifax within a few weeks of the outbreak of war. The US Navy would also have to split between two oceans, and ensure that a strong enough force remained in the Pacific in the event a Japanese intervention, which was considered a highly probable event.

The US Army: even they can't plan things right.

But let’s say that in 1934, after the Business Plot succeeds, money to the Army and Army Air Force is freed up, and not only full recruitment is achieved, but it doubles.  The US Army in this alternate 1936 could have close to 600,000 men, with over 400,000 men in the National Guard kept behind for national defence. But only a part of this new massive force can be used to invade Canada: troops have to be kept on the Mexican border and possible landings by the British on each coast, so about 400,000 troops would be available right at the start of the war. For this scenario, the number of aircraft would be about the recommended 2,320 aircraft, as there wouldn’t be enough time to build much more than that. The US Navy, already pretty large, would most likely only get a few more ships before the war, and even then we are talking some submarines and destroyers.

Events of the War

It’s May 1936. Tensions between the US and the UK (and Canada) are at an all time high. American and Canadian military build up has turned the longest undefended border in the world into 5,500 miles, or 8,900 km, of barbed wire, concrete pillboxes and fortifications. Airbases on both sides are being improved to support any possible invasion. Factories are turning out weapons, tanks, airplanes and artillery to support both sides growing military forces, which, incidentally, raised both nations out of the Great Depression.

In Ottawa, Chief of the General Staff Andrew McNaughton is nervous. He was the one who canceled Defence Scheme No. 1, put together by Lieutenant Colonel James "Buster" Sutherland Brown, a “fantastic desperate plan [which] just might have worked.” General McNaughton knew Canada, despite a couple years of military improvement, would be no match to the bigger US Army. But maybe, if Buster’s crazy plan works, Canada could be given enough time to hold the line…

General Andrew McNaughton... look at that totally moustache! You are totally dealing with a British soldier here!

May 28, 1936: American troops are seen moving to the border by agents in the US. Aerial reconnaissance flights have increased, and rumors that the US Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary (basically, but not quite, US Ambassador to Canada) has been ordered to burn his documents and prepare to return home. In fact, Douglas McArthur is preparing the Declaration of War, to be issued June 4, to coincide with the start of the war.

General McNaughton has a secret meeting with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King that day. With the fateful words “It’s now or never,” Defence Scheme No. 1 is to be put into effect in 48 hours. King prepares a declaration of War on the US.

May 30, 1936: In a hastily called, late night session of Parliament, PM King presents evidence of US interference in Canada, citing reports of large troop movements and fly overs by airplanes. While some of the reports are unclear and sensationalized, the majority Liberal Parliament votes in favor of a Declaration of War, which is broadcast over the CBC and telegraph networks across the country at 9:34 PM.
Though I'm sure Mackenzie King only did that after consulting the spirits of Leonardo da Vinci and his mother... 

With Canada having declared war, Defence Scheme No. 1 is put into effect. Under the cover of darkness, Canadian troops slip through the border and race south in armored cars, horses and light tanks. Due to the length of the front and difficulty to hold the entire border, Canadian units are able to slip by mostly unnoticed. American troops are still being readied for the attack on Canada according to War Plan Red, and are currently still being mustered. The Dominion uses this to their advantage.
A five-point attack took place: Canadian “Flying Columns,” made up of the best troops of the Permanent Active Militia, would be used. In the far west, troops from British Columbia would capture Seattle and Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon. In Manitoba and Alberta, the target was Fargo, North Dakota and Great Falls, Montana, and then south to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Soldiers in Quebec would rush south to capture Albany, New York, and the troops in the Maritimes would march in to occupy as much of Maine as possible. Troops in Ontario Command attack Detroit and Niagara.
Plan for the Eastern Front

Plan for the Central Front

Plan for the Western Front

The goal here wasn’t to take over these cities, but throw the Americans off balance, and when resistance becomes strong enough, Canadian troops would retreat: blowing up bridges, destroying train tracks, cutting telegraph and phones lines, and otherwise inflicting damages to the US infrastructure that would be needed to invade Canada.

And at first, it was a stunning success. Seattle, Great Falls, Fargo, Detroit and upper New York State are thrown in disarray as Canadian troops, each not much stronger than 5,000 men each, suddenly appear, blow up bridges, and disappear before American troops arrive. However, beyond these initial targets, the Canadians soon run into hastily raised civilian units, National Guard troops and small detachments of the US Army, and heavy fighting takes place over the next three to four days, before Canadian troops begin to pull back to the border, destroying bridges, railroads and other important infrastructure. The biggest blow was the destruction of Ford and General Motor’s factories in Detroit, both of which had been producing war materials in the past two years.

The red lines on each map show as far as the Canadian troops advanced into the US before they start to pull back. As you can see, not all goals were reached, but surprised was achieved.

June 1, 1936: Confusion in Washington, D.C., of what is going on along the border and the late night declaration of war by Canada, leads President McArthur to immediately issue the declaration of war on the British Empire, and War Plan Red is put into effect immediately, though troops are not fully prepared, and most military commanders are now trying to track down the Canadians that had invaded America. In the few battles that are engaged, the Canadians hold their ground, but retreat before enough American troops are brought to the front. But panic in the northern states, false alarms of Canadian troops and the cutting of railroads, telegraphs and telephones result in confusion.

While the rest of the world is waking up to news of the declaration of war on the US by Canada, the US Army Air Force begins their strategic bombing campaign. B-10 medium bombers and the first of the B-17 “Flying Fortress’s” visit Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Vancouver, causing massive destruction. But in the most shocking move, and the one that completely changed global opinion, US bombers attacking the city of Halifax, the most important port on the Canadian East coast, also drop chemical weapons, as per War Plan Red. Phosgene and Mustard gas cause thousands of casualties among the civilians and military personal in Halifax, killing many.

Way to go Tyler, you just made this article horribly depressing.
June 4, 1936: The news of the chemical weapons attack on Halifax completely changes world opinion. While many were at first angry at Canada’s declaration of war, the use of Chemical weapons so quickly revealed that the US was planning on starting war anyway. The United Kingdom, at first planning on leaving Canada to its fate due to the perceived impossibility of holding Canada, is now planning all possible measures to retaliate, preparing a massive fleet to be send to Canada to attack the US.

In America, the news of the use of chemical weapons is suppressed, instead focusing on the trumped up “Canadian Atrocities” taking place south of the border. By this point, all Canadian troops that had been in the US had retreated back to Canada. With major railways, bridges and communications destroyed, the land invasion section of War Plan Red gets off to a slow start.

The US plan was an eerie mirror of Defence Scheme No. 1. In the west, a Naval attack and land offensive to attack Vancouver, the major port on the Pacific, with bases in Bellingham, Washington. Troops stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota, would march north to take Winnipeg, the lynchpin of both of Canada’s trans-continental railroads. Detroit would be the base to march through the Niagara Peninsula and take Toronto and the industrial heart land of Canada, with troops from Buffalo, New York, taking out hydro-electric power plants and then joining the drive to Toronto. Troops in New England and New York State would rush north to invade Montreal and Quebec City. Quebec City in this scenario is the most important target, as it would be the only major port left to Canada with the neutralization of Halifax, which would be taken by a naval and amphibious assault.

War Plan Red in the East

War Plan Red in... well, to take Winnipeg.

War Plan Red... okay, are you really even trying over in BC?

Rest of June, 1936: The destruction of bridges and rail lines caused major delays in the implementation of War Plan Red, especially with heroic Canadian defence on the northern side of many rivers and crossings where bridges had been destroyed. A small US foothold in Windsor and Niagara Falls is destroyed after days of heavy fighting. US Troops quickly reach the St. Lawrence River, but the lack of bridges, the few Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships not in Halifax, and a tenacious defence on the north side of the river keep Americans from crossing.

Winnipeg and the Prairies has been the biggest success for the US, and even then it has been slow, tough slog amongst tenacious Canadian soldiers and civilians with guns that volunteer to defend their homeland. Trench warfare in the Red River Valley is a bloody, deadly undertaking. But the wide open prairies allow flanking maneuvers, and with the advantage in manpower, the US is able to wrap around Canadian troops, forcing them back time and time again. As the US keeps pushing north to Winnipeg, Canadians retreat and destroy anything of value, severally hampers efforts to supply the US army. Vancouver and Victoria is taken, but retreating Canadian and British troops and ships destroy the harbor, reducing the cities usefulness. Marines and ships from Boston also capture Halifax, but the civilian uprising against the Americans inflicts hundreds of casualties, and Halifax remains a major sticking point in the US occupation.

Well, at least those goals were attainable.

Prime Minister King institutes Conscription, which, unlike in 1917, is not seriously opposed by French Canadians in Quebec, who are now fighting to protect their homeland. Thousands flock to join the embattled Canadian Army, as American atrocities such as the chemical bombing of Halifax are widely publicized. In a few weeks, Canada will have close to 500,000[1] men and women, though equipment and training is lacking. While the Canadian military wants to use chemical weapons against the US in retaliation for Halifax, there is no Canadian stockpiles, and the British hold most of the empire’s poison gas capabilities. When the Americans try to attack Windsor again, artillerymen use poison gas shells to stop the attack across the river, bringing chemical weapons back to the trenches.

Winston Churchill is made the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, despite his American roots and support for the US. However, his love of the British Empire is stronger, and he sets to work on how to win this war. The first Royal Navy ships, RAF squadrons and British soldiers arrive in Quebec City and Montreal, and engage in battle to hold the city from American attack. 

The RAF and RN, based in Toronto and Bermuda respectively, launch bombardments and air attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., causing serious, damage to the unprepared American defenders, and the British ships sail away before the US can respond. The Capitol Building and White House are destroyed in the bombing, though General Douglas McArthur was not in Washington at the time. As more and more bombing strikes are launched, the cost in planes, including one flying into the Empire State Building after being damaged, is high, and by the end of the month the RAF suspends further bombing runs on major cities, instead focusing on railway junction points and other manufacturing centers. American bombers continue to pound Canadian targets: Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Toronto have been hit the hardest.

July-August 1936: Winnipeg is finally captured, but the cost in lives has been extensive. With the “keystone” of the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National Railways in US hands, Canada is, for all intents and purposed, divided in two. However, the will of Canada to resist the attack isn’t faltering yet, though morale is starting to be sapped. With the small industrial base of Canada under siege, and the source of raw materials in the west in danger, it’s hard to see how Canada could last much longer.

Well... that was straightforward.

American troops finally push into the Niagara Peninsula in a daring attack north and south of Windsor, surrounding the city and forcing the Canadians to surrender. However, Canadian and British troops are able to inflict another trench warfare on the US, complete with poison gas artillery. With four years of experience in this kind of warfare, the British/Canadians make this costly to the US. Montreal and Quebec City remain out of reach, and Halifax is boiling over in revolt.

The furthest the US get in Canada in this scenario. 

The rising casualties, unachieved targets, and the difficulty of supplying five separate armies over inhospitable terrain and broken railways and hastily repaired bridges across a 5000 mile front are starting to wear at the US. While there was a wave of volunteers at the start of the War, which raises the number of troops the US has closer to 2 million troops, it’s difficult to see that what should have been a “simple matter of marching” is going to end.

British and Imperial troops are starting to arrive en-masse in the east. Australia and New Zealand re-establish the ANZAC Corps, and raised 150,000 men together to serve their ally. Plans to transport a quarter of a million Indian troops to Canada are also drawn up, but this would be nearly impossible until the US Navy in the Pacific is neutralized. So these forces engage in smaller attacks, including hit and run raids on American targets in the Pacific, such as Guam and the Philippines. 

While most ships of the US Navy are on the East Coast, enough ships are in the Pacific to make sending convoys of Imperial troops a risky proposition. The Royal Navy launches an attack to either capture or destroy the Panama Canal, but the force is beaten back with heavy casualties, but it was able to destroy the locks on the Atlantic side of the canal, which immediately cripples the ability of the US to reinforce, or ship goods cheaply from either coast.
To remind you how important the Panama Canal is for being a ditch dug through Central America...

The Royal Navy and the USN also engage in a huge cat and mouse chase through the Atlantic, each seeking the best opportunity to destroy the other fleet, while avoiding a battle with a superior force. In an ironic move, US submarines engage in sinking British ships at will, a pseudo-blockade of Britain that causes severe damage to the British economy. This nearly unrestricted submarine warfare was what exactly brought the US into World War One, but on Britain’s side against Germany.

September-October 1936: With the battle on land and sea more or less stalemated, the US and British/Canadian forces reinforce and mobilize their forces. Large numbers of troops from the UK arrive, which on top of steadily growing Canadian forces, brings the British/Canadians to at least 1.4 million troops. An offensive to recapture Winnipeg bogs down, but American plans to remove troops from Manitoba to reinforce the attack on Toronto are now put on hold, further straining American resources.

Because, well, who really wants Winnipeg?

The US brings in the draft again, but the unpopular move, and memories of World War One, leads to increasing dissent. News that the US had first used chemical weapons, long suppressed, finally breaks out. Riots in cities are brutally put down, and military officers who just a few months before were willing to invade Canada, are now having second thoughts.

President McArthur realizes that things are not going well: the US Army bit off more than it could chew, the Canadians had more experience in fighting trench warfare, and the Royal Navy and RAF had been inflicting major attacks. An aircraft carrier attack in the Gulf of Mexico was launched on Texas oilfields, and though the damage was small due to the inferior British planes, this panicked people in Texas.

McArthur decides on a desperate gamble. The US Navy is ordered to muster battleships, aircraft carriers, and other ships and sail to the British coast. No invasion was planned, but he thought the simple fact that American ships arrived off Plymouth or Southampton should be enough to convince the British to surrender.

Apparently completely forgetting about this man.

Winston Churchill, thanks to intelligence from Canadian and American sources and the efforts by British cryptologists to break the US codes, learns of this plan, and orders ships all over the Atlantic to hunt down and destroy this fleet.

Three hundred miles south west of the coast of Ireland, the US fleet and the Royal Navy meet, and a great battle begins. American technology versus British training and tradition takes place. Dozens of ships are hit; the HMS Hood and Ark Royal are destroyed, as are ships like the USS Arizona, Utah, Yorkton and Enterprise. US carrier planes like the Grumman F2F and the TBD Devastator clashed with RN Swordfish torpedo bombers, and while they all preformed excellently, in the end the USN received the brunt of attacks, and was forced to fall back, sailing back to North America with the British fleet on their tails. Stragglers were sunk, and the last, war winning effort failed.

There is nothing as epic and sad at the same time as a sinking battleship...

When news of the loss in the Battle of the Celtic Sea reached Washington, and the news that Japan was threatening to join the war, a coup lead by General Dwight Eisenhower forces Douglas McArthur from office, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, held under “house arrest” in Georgia, is declared President of the US again, and he immediately sues for peace.

General McNaughton, in private conversation years later, would state: “I almost wish the Second Anglo-American War lasted a few months longer. One winter in Canada, and the Americans would never come again.”


The Peace Deal between the US and the UK/Canada wouldn’t solve a whole lot. The US agreed to pay war reparations, and General McArthur and the men that planned War Plan Red were declared war criminals, but they were never tried. McArthur and a huge chunk of the military structure were forced into retirement. The US military was demobilized, and the Great Depression once again came into effect without the military build up. The US Navy was forced to hand over many of its battleships and carriers, severely damaging US power at home and abroad. No borders were changed, however.

Yeah... no. This isn't happening.

Canada paid the largest cost, in lives and damages, for the war, but it was recognized that Defence Scheme No. 1 possibly saved Canada from being quickly over run by the US. Many nations around the world looked into possibly creating their own versions, and later when Nazi Germany threatened war on Czechoslovakia, the smaller nation attacked Germany before hand, throwing most of Hitler’s plans into chaos and leading to his overthrow.

In the long run, I think this war would really only lead to more tensions between the US, Canada, and the UK. The US/Canadian border would become as defended as any border around the world, and the trade and diplomatic relationship that the US and Canada have today would be nearly impossible. The US defeat in this relatively short war would most likely only lead to another, future war, where the US would be much stronger. But so long as Canada maintained it’s alliance with the UK and other, larger powers, it’s hard to see if the US would ever occupy Canada in this ATL.


I’ll be honest, I skimmed over a lot, did a bit of wishful thinking, and a few lucky moves. In general, this scenario feels both plausible and ridiculous at the same time. I feel there would need to be more of a build up to war than what happened, a longer, more tense relationship between the US and UK/Canada. If anything, this “Second Anglo-American War” could have dragged on for years, a naval and land war that could last for a very long time until one side finally gives up. Of course, I don’t want to go on forever with this idea.

Because it could look something like this.

The two greatest English speaking nations of the world had great relations from the end of the Civil War to the present, despite some difficulties. So much would have to be changed in order for this to work. However, surprises do happen. I’m sure in the Pentagon there is a plan for a US invasion of Canada, and in Ottawa there is a plan to deal with a possible US invasion. You know, just in case.

However, I feel that if War Plan Red was put into effect without that preparation, then Canada could have won the war even easier than in this scenario, Defence Scheme No. 1 or not. The US Army was just not prepared before the wakeup call that was Pearl Harbor. They didn’t recruit the number of troops there were allowed to by budgets, they cut training and equipment, and as the early American engagements in World War Two showed, the leadership just wasn’t there. And with five different targets, plus the plan to use chemical weapons at the start of the war, I don’t see how global reactions to the US would be anything other than hostile. However, should this plan have been put in place any time after World War Two, it's hard to see how Canada would have had a chance to survive such an attack, so the 1930s would have possibly been the last time that Canada and the UK could have fought the US and possibly have won. 

That said, I presented Defence Scheme No. 1 in a very positive light here. With just over 4,000 active troops, I see little way that a hastily called up Canadian Permanent Active Militia force would have been able to engage in five raids into the US. In the original plan, the Canadian troops were to make it as far as Minneapolis/St. Paul, which I felt was very ambitious, and possibly dangerous. But these were more or less raids: they wouldn’t be going in to occupy, they were going to attack and damage major infrastructure the US would need to invade Canada.

This one bridge, the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, carry's 25% of the cross-border trade. So... you do the math.

But both plans also show one very major thing about such a possible war: due to the size of the common border, you can’t just invade one part, say Ontario, or the entire thing all at once. You need to attack the major points in Canada’s transportation network, such as Halifax and Winnipeg in order to even have a possibility of a successful invasion. I think Winnipeg and Halifax are the two major points: Halifax has, perhaps, the best harbor on the eastern coast of North America, and Winnipeg was the center of the continent, and where railways have to go through. Holding those two points would make reinforcement from England nearly impossible, and cripple Canada’s economy east to west.

But what is the chance both plans would have been used in the time frame they were made?

I feel that answer is somewhere between “a hypothetical possibility” and “frighteningly likely.”
Hey! We deserve at least two maple leafs, damnit!

[1] Canada raised a total of one million soldiers for World War 2, so I feel that 500,00 isn’t that far fetched at this point.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AltHistory Scenario #3: What if Canada and the United States Went to War? Part 1

It’s the plot of comedy movies and grand strategy games run amok, and often seen in Alternate History scenarios that take the idea of “Manifest Destiny” just a few steps too far. Harry Turtledove’s “Timeline 191” series involves an invasion of Canada, as does the horribly implausible Stars and Stripes series by Harry Harrison. An invasion of Canada by the United States, in theory, seems like an inevitable outcome: two nations that share one of the longest borders in the world, the same language, and to a degree a similar history. So why hasn’t Canada become the 51st state already? And how close was there an invasion of the US? And better yet… could it actually succeed?
Because everything has gone wrong since Canada came along...

This article will also be the first two part series, as I feel the background and POD needed to be fully explained before I engage in the “What if?” of the actual war.


There were a few times in history that the Great White North was nearly brought into the Union by the force of arms. As far back as the American Revolutionary War when a force lead by soon-to-turn-traitor Benedict Arnold marched on Quebec, but were turned around due to the harsh weather and lack of supplies from claiming all of British North America. Again in the War of 1812, the US invaded British held Canada, but suffered a serious of humiliating defeats when the soldiers were promised that Canada could be taken by a “simple matter of marching” were stopped by a few British regulars, Canadian Militia, and Native allies in battles like Queenston Heights, though the Americans did manage to reach and burn the city of York, now Toronto. And we Canadians still proudly celebrate the fact that we burnt down the White House (except it was the British Navy, but whatever.)

Yes, it was the Red Coats. But still... GO CANADA GO!!

In the 1830s, the Aroostook War, or the “Pork and Beans War” took place. Well… it wasn’t a war, more an “international incident” over the border between the US state of Maine and the Canadian colony, later province, of New Brunswick, and it was resolved by treaty in 1842. Four years later, the Oregon Treaty divided the rest of North America along the 49th Parallel, where the border remains today. Another land dispute in 1859 on the West Coast, about the division of the San Juan Islands between Oregon and Vancouver Island, and which involved the shooting of a pig, lead to the creatively titled “Pig War,” where American forces and the Royal Navy faced off against each other, before, once again, a compromise was reached.

Perhaps the most serious crisis was the “Trent Affair” in 1861. A British ship, the Trent, was carrying Confederate diplomats to Europe to advocate for recognition of the Confederate States of America, and possibly aid in defeating the Northern States in the Civil War. An American warship stopped and searched the Trent, arresting the Confederate men, and threatened to impound the entire ship, but ultimately let it go on its way. But the repercussions were enormous: The outrage this caused in Great Britain, and the pride in America, nearly brought both nations to blows. This could have been the closest both the UK and the US ever got into a fighting war, and it was only cooler heads, and the realization in America that they were already pretty busy fighting Johnny Rebel down south that convinced Americans not to go to war with the UK in 1861.

Boarding ships and taking prisoners seemed so much more civilized in the mid 19th century.

After that last major crisis, relations with the UK and the US grew better, even after Canadian Confederation in 1867. However, the union of the Canadian colonies into one nation was partially because of the fear of American invasion, and for over a decade Irish Catholics in the US sought to invade and occupy Canada to blackmail the UK to release Ireland. These Fenian Raids, despite the big hoopla about them, really was laughably immature: occupy a country hundreds of times bigger than the Island they are trying to free with a few hundred armed soldiers? Most of them were beaten back fairly easily, and eventually the US Government cracked down on the Irish freedom fighters.

While the US remained neutral in World War One until 1917, the UK, Canada and the rest of the British Empire had been fighting Germany and the Central Powers for three years. And while America went back into isolationist mode after the war, the alliance between Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in World War Two quite possibly saved a large chunk of the world from Nazi, Japanese and Soviet domination.
And to complete this picture of wasted artillery ammunition.

But in 1930, the US military began to draw up a series of color-coded war plans, known collectively as the Rainbow Plans. Among the plans for a possible war with Germany (Black), Japan (Orange), Mexico (Green) and even internal disturbances (White) there was War Plan Red: a conflict with the British Empire. And just a decade before that, Lieutenant Colonel James "Buster" Sutherland Brown in Canada put together his “Defense Scheme No. 1,” dealing with a possible war with the US.
So what if both plans were activated? What if there was a war between the US and Canada?

The Point of Divergence

Now this article isn’t about War Plan Red and Defence Scheme No. 1 per say, but what if both plans are put into action?

I'm not going to go into details of each plan, as I'll get into that eventually (Check out next Friday!)

Because we can't let giant maple leaf boots step on the Statue of Liberty!
So, for a POD, we need a situation where the US and the British Empire’s relations deteriorate until a war breaks out. In War Plan Red, American planners believed this would be in the event of trade disputes, which is quite possible considering that the era these plans was put together was in the Great Depression. It could start with something as simple as tariffs, which would make it impossible for exporters to sell their goods to other nations, further weakening the economy. Maybe the UK decides to restrict trade with everyone but within the Empire in 1930. This could be a huge support to the Empire, as the resources of Canada, India, Australia and the African colonies can be shipped to England, manufactured and sold back for much cheaper than American goods. This plunges the US into even more dire straights, and conservative business leaders, military officers and disgruntled veterans, overthrow FDR in 1934 (the so-called “Business Plot”). The new president, who could have been Charles Lindbergh, General Douglas McArthur, or retired Major Gen. Smedley D. Butler, (who claimed to have been approached to lead the Business Plot OTL) would now be made aware of War Plan Red. In this scenario, I’m going to say it’s General Douglas McArthur, more as a “caretaker” president, but in reality currently the military dictator of the US. Seeing it as the best way to strike back at the UK ("Red" in the plan), McArthur would order the preparations to begin for an invasion of Canada (codenamed "Crimson").

General Douglas McArthur: an Alternate Historians favorite punching bag!

Canada and the UK would eventually realize that the new President would be looking to war. Defense Scheme No. 1, while put together in 1921 and later terminated in 1928, would now be brought back, as well as preparations for a possible war with the United States. However, Canadian officials are unable to get any word from the British what the British plans are. In fact, the United Kingdom had no plans for a war with the United States, as Prime Minister David Lloyd George forbid the Royal Navy from making any plans, to use it to invest more money on ships when the UK could ill afford it. The top leaders of the UK by this point realized that Canada would be indefensible, and therefore relying on protecting British trade and maintaining the strength of the Royal Navy would be of vital importance.

War is now eminent. Who would be the first to attack?

And the stakes couldn't be higher