DawlishBooks


Britannia's Shark
book
Britannia's Reach
book
Britannia's Wolf
book
All Books

LatestNews

99th Anniversary of Death of Admiral Sir Nicholas Dawlish

Sunday 23rd April 2017

The audacious amphibious raid on Zeebrugge on St. George's Day 1918 saw the death of Sir Nicholas Dawlish in a manner he would have found wholly appropriate. Click on the "Dawlish" bar above to learn more.

"Britannia's Eventide" - free-to-download short story set in 1914

Monday 10th April 2017

Click on yellow text above to find out how to get this short-story that details a critical turning point in the life of Nicholas Dawlish.

5th Dawlish Chronicles Novel published!

Saturday 5th November 2016

"Britannia's Amazon", the fifth book in the Dawlish Chronicles series, is now available in paperback and in Kindle versions!

View All

Kaiser Wilhelm II at Gibraltar 1904

Wilhelm - looking         ludicrous !

As eldest grandson of Queen Victoria – at whose death he was present – and as nephew of Britain’s King Edward VIII, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany displayed had a half-respectful, half-resentful, attitude to Britain. He gloried in being an honorary admiral of the Royal Navy (and in wearing the appropriate uniform), he raced his yacht Meteor regularly in the Cowes Regatta and enjoyed private visits during which he dressed as an English country-gentleman. His suspicion and dislike of Britain, which later amounted to a near-mania, only intensified after the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale in April 1904, prior to which there had been some possibility of an Anglo-German Alliance.

    Beresford as               politician

The Entente was still a month in the future, when Wilhelm visited Gibraltar in March 1904. It was to be seen in retrospect as the climax of the Kaiser’s somewhat one-sided love-affair with Britain. I was reminded of this recently when I read an account of it by Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, then in command of the Royal Navy’s Channel fleet. The name of this fleet was somewhat of a misnomer as its area of operations was essentially the North Atlantic. Beresford had transferred his flag from HMS Majestic to her sister pre-dreadnought HMS Caesar, on February 2nd 1904 and the Kaiser was to arrive in Gibraltar the following month.

Beresford, whose very public feud with Admiral John Fisher was to cause controversy in subsequent years, was the ideal man to manage an occasion of this sort. He had at one stage been a crony of the then Prince of Wales – later Edward VII – before a falling out with him over a shared mistress and he had conducted an active political career as a member of parliament in parallel with his career as a naval officer.

            SS Koenig Albert - destined to end her days as Italian war-booty, post 1918

                                                     SMS Friedrich Karl

The Kaiser arrived in Gibraltar in March 1904 on board the German liner, Koenig Albert, escorted by the armoured cruiser SMS Friedrich Karl.  As a mark of respect for his honorary rank of a British Admiral his flag was hoisted on HMS Caesar.

     HMS Caesar - destined to fly the Kaiser's flag as an honorary Royal Navy Admiral

The account of what happened thereafter is best told in Beresford’s own words:

“On the 20th, his Majesty honouring me with his presence at dinner in the Caesar, the boats of the Fleet were lined on either side of-the passage between the Koenig Albert and the Caesar; and when the Emperor proceeded between the lines, every boat burned a blue light, all oars were tossed, blades fore and aft, in perfect silence, the midshipmen conveying their orders by signs.”

               An earlier "arch of fire" -
        during Edward VII's visit in 1903

After dinner Beresford proposed the Kaiser’s health and when “I stood up, glass in hand, as I said the words “Emperor of Germany," a rocket went up from the deck above, and at the signal every ship in the Fleet fired a Royal Salute. As the Emperor was leaving that night, the German flag and the Union Jack were hoisted on the Rock, half the searchlights of the Fleet being turned on the one flag, and half on the other. Precisely as the Koenig Albert passed between the ends of the breakwaters, two stands of a thousand rockets, each stand placed upon the end of a breakwater, were ignited, and rushing upwards, met in a triumphal arch of fire high over the mastheads of the Emperor's ship.”

Wilhelm did not realise it, but this marked the end of the affair. The following month Britain linked its destiny – fatefully – with France in the Entente Cordiale and the slide commenced towards war a decade later. He was to visit Gibraltar one time, only a year later, but on this occasion there was to be no rockets, no searchlights, no triumphal arch of fire.

It followed from Wilhelm’s visit to Tangier, Morocco, in March 1905 when declared he had come to support the sovereignty of the Sultan —a statement which amounted to a provocative challenge to French influence in Morocco. The result was a serious international crisis that nearly led to war between Germany on the one side, Britain and France on the other. It was finally resolved peacefully, but it set the scene for further confrontations.

                      Kaiser Bill (L) adn Beresford (R) on board the Koenig Albert

En route home from Morocco Wilhelm stopped at Gibraltar. He met a very frosty reception which he summed up in his memoirs: “The first I learned about the consequences of my Tangier visit was when I got to Gibraltar and was formally and frigidly received by the English, in marked contrast to my cordial reception the year before.”

1914 was nine years away, and the clock had started ticking.

Click here to return to Steam, Steel and Strife


 

books
amazon

Purchase the Dawlish Chronicles

Purchase