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RAF'S Attempted "Hit" On The Kaiser

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Not convinced.
    "Shortly before five o’clock on the morning of Sunday, June 2, 1918 – exactly a century ago this weekend – 12 Airco DH.4 biplane bombers of the newly formed Royal Air Force fired up their 375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engines and lumbered down a grass airfield near Boulogne in northern France.
    Each aircraft was carrying two 20 lb Cooper Bombs, as well as one mighty 112 lb bomb. That was a heavy payload, and it meant that whatever 25 Squadron was targeting was going to take one hell of a pasting. The sortie was headed by the squadron’s 27-year-old leader, Major Chester Duffus, a tremendously experienced Canadian pilot who had been credited with five kills while flying flimsy British F.E.2 fighter planes in 1916.
    Normally, squadron leaders did not fly on such missions, as they were considered too valuable to risk. However, this sortie was of the utmost importance, and it needed a man of Duffus’s calibre to make sure it went to plan.
    At precisely 4.50am, the aircraft were airborne, and climbed to a height of 14,000ft. Their objective was 100 miles away and, with a top speed of just over 140mph, the crew hoped to reach the target near the French-Belgian border by 5.30am.
    The aircraft crossed the front lines without incident, and at Le Cateau, about 25 miles from the target, they started their descent to 500ft. Duffus and his pilots and observers knew that the danger was now really mounting, as there were bound to be anti-aircraft guns in the area.
    At 5.25am, the planes reached their target, or more specifically, their two targets. The first was the Chateau de Trelon, and the second was a train sitting on a newly laid siding off a branch line just half-a-mile north-west of the chateau. Built in the 18th Century, the chateau was the property of the Merode family, who had owned the estate since 1580.
    However, during the war the building was occupied by the Germans, who used it as a military headquarters. That alone would have made it a juicy target, but on that Sunday morning, the Allies were hoping to bag a somewhat bigger prize than some top brass.
    In fact, their mission was to kill none other than the German head of state – Kaiser Wilhelm II. If the sortie succeeded, the course of the war would undoubtedly change, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved. Those 12 aircraft and their 36 bombs had a big job to do.
    The Allied mission to kill the Kaiser has never been revealed until now. Although there have been occasional hints that such a sortie may have taken place, the truth finally emerged last week in a novel based on the mission written by a former colonel in the British Army Intelligence Corps. At the beginning of his book, author John Hughes-Wilson presents the ‘smoking gun’ that shows that the mission really did happen. It comes in the form of a facsimile of a page from a journal kept by Lieutenant Archibald Roy Watts – an observer in one of the DH.4s.
    Hughes-Wilson says: ‘For a military historian this was the “eureka” moment – with the smoking gun being the discovery of an indiscreet pilot’s entry that recorded full details of the secret attack.’
    In his journal on June 2, 1918, Watts writes: ‘Bomb raid on Kaiser’s chateau at Trelon.’ He goes on to briefly describe the mission."

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