In mid summer 1918 the First World War was still finely balanced. A top secret
mission, which has remained classified information for a century, was set in motion
to kill Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was felt that by killing their head of state and commander
in chief it would serve as a mortal blow to the German forces and they would
collapse very quickly after the assassination.
In 2002 one of the participants on a battlefield tour sent a disc to Col. John Hughes-
Wilson. On it was an historical treasure trove containing a Royal Flying Corps log
book and photographs of service with 25 Squadron. Included among the effects of
Lt A.R.Watts MC, of the newly formed Royal Air Force, was the breath-taking claim
that he had taken part in a secret British mission to kill the Kaiser.
This extraordinary secret was confirmed by further research at the RAF museum and
the RAF Historical Branch. This startling but never before revealed story was true.
On 2nd June 1918, at the height of the final German attack of WW1, the British RAF
tried to assassinate the Kaiser when he was visiting a chateau near the front.
The facts are borne out in never-before-published notebooks, maps and pilots' flying
records, kept secret for a hundred years. Copies of these records are in the author's
possession and are backed up by details tucked away in 25 Squadron's records. But
the implications of this secret attack raise many new - and explosive - questions.
Exactly who ordered an attack to kill the Kaiser? Was it sanctioned by the C-in-C, Sir
Douglas Haig? By the War Office? Unlikely.
Was the King informed of the attempt to
kill his royal cousin? Was Lloyd George, the Prime Minister asked? We do not know;
but someone in London must have sanctioned the attack. The Official History makes
no mention of any attack, and public records say nothing. Even the RAF Museum has
no official record: but the attack really did take place, of that there is no doubt. Other
documents and various 25 Squadron log books prove it. So someone did give an
order to kill the Kaiser. But who?
John Hughes-Wilson has woven an exciting and well-paced historical novel to mark
this centennial event from the research on discovering this mission. The story, based
on true events, looks at this long hidden secret and puts it into the context of the
time. It explores areas rarely examined: secret service operations in 1914-18; dirty,
undercover intelligence work; the very real political intrigues between Whitehall and
the generals and the heroics of the aircrew of the day, whose life expectancy at one
point in 1917 was only eleven days in action.
"Fact, it is often said, is stranger than fiction. The Kaiser's Dawn weaves a great story, juggling facts and fiction and from the pen of a military historian whose research has often raised uncomfortable truths. . . . Add in careful research and an understanding of operations and the pressures on those involved in this cataclysmic war, and you have all the ingredients for a rattling good novel. Read it and ponder."--Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Graydon
"An excellent read. The flying scenes are realistic, the characters (on both sides) are believable and the author obviously knows about the dirty work that goes on in secret services....an outstanding book."--Generalbrigade der Luftwaffe, Friedrich Luebbe