Navy Awards During World War I

During the late 1800's it was the Kaiser's goal to build a strong navy. Germany needed these ships to protect her colonies, so she began building a reputable fleet. This was the first time anyone came close to the rapid ship building that Great Britain did. Shipping competition between the nations blossomed in the private ocean liner business during this time, especially during the early 1900's. The Kaiser prized this navy very highly so when war broke out, he was hesitant to put up his fleet against the numerous British fleet. It was decided that the use of U-boats would be the course of action when it came to battle on the seas. This limited use of the navy is the reason why only 49 Pour le Mérite awards were handed out to navy personnel.

This photo was orginally captioned Battleship Holtke, from a book that was written during the last year of WWI.
Battleship Moltke

So it is no surprise that the first naval recipient of the Pour le Mérite was a U-boat commander, Kapitanleutnant Otto Weddigen from Saxony. Unfortunately, Weddigen died in battle before he could fully enjoy having been given the award. The next recipient of the Pour le Mérite would be Kapitanleutnant Otto Hersing, who would actually have the chance to enjoy the fame and honor he received from earning the Pour le Mérite.

German Fleet
German Fleet

As for the higher ranking recipients, the first to receive the Pour le Mérite was Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the father of the modern German navy. According to Admiral von Muller's diary, Tirpitz was given his award after von Hohenborn (not navy) received the Pour le Mérite without much reason. Tirpitz had spent most of his life dedicated to the navy and was dismayed at the lack of appreciation for his work. Apparently, he had even threatened several times to resign from the navy if he did have things go his way. He was tired of seeing his fleet sit restless in German harbors while the German army mobilized and fought everyday.

Some of these naval awards seemed to be measured in part by tonnage of destroyed enemy vessels like that number of victories won by the pilots. Though this did not seem to be the only means of measuring a candidates worth, it must have helped in the candidate selection process.

Grand Admirals

Postcard courtesy of Jacquie Scheer
Admiral of the Fleet Prince Henry of Prussia awarded on -- 1 Aug. 1916. He was awarded Oakleaves on 24 Jan 1918.
Admiral of the Fleet Alfred von Tirpitz awarded on -- 10 Aug. 1915.


State Sec. Naval Office Eduard von Capelle awarded on -- 9 Jan. 1918.
Chief of Adm. Staff Henning von Holtzendorff awarded on -- 22 March 1917. He was awarded Oakleaves on 1 Feb. 1918.
Chief of Naval Cabinet Georg von Müller awarded on -- 24 March 1918.
C.I.C. High Seas Fleet Reinhard Scheer awarded on -- 5 June 1916. He was awarded Oakleaves on 1 Feb. 1918.
Cmdr. Marines-Flander Ludwig von Schroeder awarded on -- 20 Oct. 1915. He was awarded Oakleaves on 23 Dec. 1917.
Cmdr. Marines-Turkey Guido von Usedom awarded on -- 5 April 1902. He was awarded Oakleaves on 23 Aug 1915.

Vice Admirals

Cmdr. III Sqn. Paul Behnke awarded on -- 31 Oct. 1917.
Cmdr. Cruiser-Jutland Franz von Hipper awarded on -- 5 June 1916.
Cmdr. IV Sqn. Erhardt Schmidt awarded on -- 31 Oct. 1917.
Cmdr. Mediterranean Sqn. Wilhelm Souchon awarded on -- 29 Oct. 1916.

Admiral Staff Officers

Head of High Seas Fleet O.D. Capt. Magnus von Levetzow awarded on -- 31 Oct. 1917.
Chief of Staff, H.S.F. Capt. Adolf von Trotha awarded on -- 5 June 1916.

Cruise Commanders

Comdr. Aux. Cruiser MÖWE Korv. Kapt. Nikolas Burggraf & Count of Dohna Schlodien awarded on -- 7 March 1916.
Cmdr. Cruiser EMDEN FregKapt. Karl von Müller awarded on -- 19 March 1918.
Cmdr. Raider WOLF FregKapt. Karl August Nerger awarded on -- 24 Feb. 1918.

Torpedo Boat Flottila Chief

Flottila Chief II KorvKapt. Oskar Heinecke awarded on -- 5 March 1918.

Mine Flottila Chief

FregKapt. Hugo von Rosenbero awarded on -- 4 Dec. 1917.

Commander-in-Chief of U-Boats

Capt. Andrea Michelsen awarded on -- 31 May 1918.

U-Boat Flottila Chief

Flottila Chief-Flander KorvKapt. Karl Barten bach awarded on -- 27 Oct. 1917.

U-Boat Commanders

KaptLt. Hans Adams of U-82 awarded on -- 6 Nov. 1917.
KaptLt. Lothar von Arnauld de la Periere of U-35 awarded on -- 11 Oct. 1916
KaptLt. Walter Forstmann of U-39 awarded on -- 12 Aug. 1916.
KaptLt. Carl- Seigfried Georg of U-101 awarded on -- 24 April 1918.
KaptLt. Kurt Hartwig of U-63 awarded on 3 Oct. 1918.
OberLt. Heino von Heimburg of UC-22 awarded on -- 11 Aug. 1917.
KaptLt. Otto Hersing of U-21 awarded on -- 5 June 1915.
OberLt. Hans Howalt of UB-40 awarded on -- 23 Dec. 1917.
KaptLt. Paul Hundius of UB-103 awarded on -- 18 Aug. 1918.
KorvKapt. Waldemar Kophamel of U-151 awarded on -- 29 Dec. 1917.
OberLt. Johannes Lohs of UB-57 awarded on -- 24 April 1918.
KaptLt. Wilhelm Marshall of UB-105 awarded on -- 4 July 1918.
KaptLt. Hans von Mellenthin of UB-49 awarded on -- 25 Feb, 1918.
KaptLt. Robert Moraht of U-64 awarded on -- 12 Nov. 1917.
KaptLt. Hans Rose of U-53 awarded on -- 20 Dec. 1917.
OberLt. Reinhold Saltzwedel of UC-71 awarded on -- 20 Aug. 1917.
KaptLt. Otto Schultze of U-63 awarded on -- 18 March 1918.
KaptLt. Walther Schwieger of U-88 awarded on -- 30 July 1917.
KorvKapt. Gustav Siess of U-33 awarded on -- 24 April 1918.
OberLt. Wolfgang Steinbauer of UB-48 awarded on -- 3 March 1918.
KaptLt. Otto Steinbrinck of UB-18 awarded on -- 29 March 1916.
KaptLt. Max Valentiner of U-38 awarded on -- 26 Dec. 1916.
KaptLt. Max Viebeg of UB-80 awarded on -- 30 Jan. 1918.
KaptLt. Erwin Wassner of UB-59 awarded on -- 5 March 1918.
KaptLt. Hans Walther of U-52 awarded on -- 9 Jan. 1917.
KaptLt. Otto Weddigen of U-9 awarded on -- 24 Oct. 1914.
KaptLt. Ralph Wenniger of UB-55 awarded on -- 30 March 1918.
KaptLt. Wilhelm Werner of U-55 awarded on -- 18 Aug. 1918.
KaptLt. Otto Wünsche of U-97 awarded on -- 20 Dec. 1917.

Naval Airship Commanders

Commander of Navy Airships FregKapt. Peter Strasser awarded on 20 Aug. 1917.
Commander of L-54 KaptLt. Horst Freiherr Treusch von Buttlar-Nbrandenfels awarded on -- 9 April 1918.

The Hansa at Leipsic Monument
Hansa at Leipsic Monument

Zep over Berlin
Airship over Berlin
Lighter than Airship

Naval Flyer

Cmdr. Zeebrugge Air Stn. OberLt. Friedrich Christiansen awarded on -- 11 Dec. 1917. (21 victories)
Cmdr. 2nd Marine Field Jagdstaffel Leutnant Theo Osterkamp awarded on -- 2 Sept. 1918. (32 victories)
Cmdr. 1st Marine Jagdgeschwader Leutnant Gotthard Sachsenberg awarded on -- 5 Aug. 1918. (31 victories)