Commanders of the High Seas Fleet Battle Squadrons 1914-1918.

Courtesy of Dave Alton, (

The pre-war organisation of the High Seas Fleet Battle Squadrons comprised the 1st Battle Squadron with the Nassau and Helgoland class dreadnoughts. The 2nd Battle Squadron was formed from 8 ships of the pre-dreadnought Braunschwig and Deutschland classes. The 3rd Battle Squadron had the ships of the dreadnought Kaiser class and would be joined by the Konig class ships as they completed during the winter of 1914/15. This squadron was finally complete on 13/2/1915.

On mobilisation, the remaining pre-dreadnought and coast defence ships, which had either been in reserve or employed for training, were formed into squadrons. The 4th Battle Squadron comprised the pre-dreadnought Wittlesbach class and the two remaining ships of the Braunschwig class. The 5th Battle Squadron had the pre-dreadnought Kaiser Friedrich II class and the two ships of the Brandenburg class, while the 6th Battle Squadron was formed with the coast defence ships of the Siegfried and Odin classes.

The problems that occurred early in the war in providing qualified commanders for the Scouting Groups did not affect the Battle Squadrons as badly, although there were still some difficulties. Some of these were due to political decisions aside from those due to lack of ability. The greatest problem was with the post of Commander in Chief.

Admiral von Ingenhol was replaced following the battle of Dogger Bank, he was held responsible for the various failures that had occurred so far during the naval war in the North Sea, although these were due to a large extent to his following the Kaiser's operational orders, which imposed restrictions on the employment of the Battle Fleet. There was considerable intrigue within the fleet for his removal, this had started in early November and Admiral von Tirpitz, who desired a more influential role for himself, instigated much of this. Although the fleet desired a more effective commander, none of the Vizeadmirals, von Lans, Scheer or Schimdt, wished to take the post. The Kaiser would not consider Tirpitz for the post despite his machinations, his age, lack of sea command experience and intrigues had worked against him. In the end the Chief of The Naval Staff, Admiral von Pohl was appointed to replace von Ingenhol. Unfortunately the Kaiser would still not allow the Battle Fleet to be risked and ironically von Pohl was even more cautious than von Ingenhol. In January 1916, Vizeadmiral Scheer replaced the terminally ill von Pohl and a more aggressive fleet policy was finally introduced.

Von Ingenhol's Chief of Staff, Vizeadmiral Eckerman, was replaced at the same time. He, however, was soon re-employed.

The popular Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron, Vizeadmiral von Lans, was replaced following the issuing of a memorandum, this challenged the pre-war fleet construction policy, arguing that it lacked strategic insight, was critical of existing fleet policy and recommended greater activity in the Baltic. This memorandum was actually written by his 1st Staff Officer, Korvettenkäpitan Wolfgang Wegener, but was circulated around the fleet under von Lans name and with his approval. Tirpitz was instrumental in von Lans removal. Although he was removed from active service, such was the shortage of suitable senior officers in 1916-1917, that von Lans was designated as Scheers replacement, should the latter fall in battle.

Konteradmiral Funke was not the choice of the Admiralty to command the most modern capital ships of the 3rd Battle Squadron, but as Konteradmiral Schütz never returned to service Funke had to remain in command until December 1914.

Konteradmiral zur Disposition Behring was recalled from retirement and after brief service with the 6th Battle Squadron was sent to the Baltic as the 'Detached Admiral of the Eastern Baltic' commanding a force of cruisers and torpedo boats.

Sources, Die Deutschen Admirale by Hildebrand and Henriot, Die Deutschen Kriegsschiffe by Hildebrand, Röhr and Steinmetz, The Naval Strategy of the World War by Wegener and The Kaiser and his Court by von Muller.

Commander in Chief (Chef der Hochseestreitkräfte).

Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl, 30/1/1913 - 2/2/1915.
Admiral Hugo von Pohl, 2/2/1915 - 23/1/1916.
Vizeadmiral / Admiral Reinhard Scheer, 9/1/1916 - 6/8/1918. 1
Vizeadmiral / Admiral Franz Ritter von Hipper, 7/8/1918 - 30/11/1918. 2

Chief of Staff (Flottenstabschef).

Kapitän zur See Ernst Ritter von Mann Edler von Tiechler, 20/9/1913 - 1/9/1914.
Konteradmiral / Vizeadmiral Richard Eckermann, 12/9/1914 - 3/2/1915. 3
Kapitän zur See William Michaelis, 4/2/1915 - 28/1/1916.
Kapitän zur See / Konteradmiral Adolf von Trotha, 29/1/1916 - 10/11/1918. 4

Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des I. Geschwader).
Vizeadmiral Wilhelm von Lans, 1/10/1912 - 14/2/1915.
Vizeadmiral Richard Eckermann, 16/2/1915 - 19/6/1915. 5
Vizeadmiral Ehrhardt Schmidt, 27/8/1915 - 18/1/1918.
Vizeadmiral Friedrich Boedicker, 22/1/1918 - 27/11/1918.

Temporary Commander.

Vizeadmiral Friedrich Gädeke, 20/6/1915 - 25/8/1915.
Konteradmiral Walter Engelhardt, 1/7/1916 - 10/7/1916 and 3/2/1917 - 21/2/1917.
Konteradmiral Gottfried Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, 6/9/1917 - 2/11/1917.
Konteradmiral Johannes Hartog, 3/8/1918 - 8/9/1918 and 23/9/1918 - 2/10/1918.

Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron. (Admiral des I. Geschwader).

Konteradmiral Friedrich Gädeke, 1/10/1913 - 20/6/1915.
Kapitän zur See und Kommodore / Konteradmiral Richard Engel, 28/8/1915 - 19/2/1916. 6
Konteradmiral Walter Engelhardt, 1/3/1916 - 27/5/1917.
Konteradmiral Gottfried Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, 28/5/1917 - 4/12/1917.
Konteradmiral Johannes Hartog, 5/12/1917 - 30/11/1918.

Temporary 2 nd Commander.

Konteradmiral Richard Engel, 29/6/1915 - 27/8/1915.

Kapitän zur See Richard Lange, 20/2/1916 - 29/2/1916 and 17/7/1916 - 7/9/1916.
Kapitän zur See Wilhelm von Krosigk, 18/8/1918 - 23/8/1918 and 11/9/1918 - 22/9/1918.

Commander of the 2nd Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des II. Geschwader). 7

Vizeadmiral Reinhard Scheer, 4/2/1913 - 26/12/1914.
Konteradmiral Felix Funke, 27/12/1914 - 11/8/1915.
Konteradmiral / Vizeadmiral Franz Mauve, 12/8/1915 - 30/11/1916. 8
Vizeadmiral Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz, 1/12/1916 - 15/8/1917.

2nd Commander of the 2 nd Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des II. Geschwader).
Konteradmiral Franz Mauve, 1/10/1913 - 11/8/1915.
Konteradmiral Gottfried Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, 20/8/1915 - 30/11/1916.
No further 2nd Commander appointed.

Commander of the 3rd Battle Squadron, (Geschwaderchef des III. Geschwader).
Konteradmiral Felix Funke, 1/3/1914 - 26/12/1914. 9
Vizeadmiral Reinhard Scheer, 27/12/1914 - 15/1/1916.
Konteradmiral / Vizeadmiral Paul Behncke, 12/1/1916 - 11/8/1918. 10
Vizeadmiral Hugo Kraft, 12/8/1918 - 4/11/1918.

Temporary Commander.

Konteradmiral Hermann Nordmann, 2/6/1916 - 21/8/1916.

Vizeadmiral Hugo Kraft, 15/4/1918 - 9/5/1918.

2nd Commander of the 3rd Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des III. Geschwader).

Konteradmiral Carl Schaumann, 2/8/1914 - 11/8/1915.
Konteradmiral Hermann Nordmann, 12/8/1915 - 8/12/1916.
Konteradmiral Karl Seiferling, 22/12/1916 - 31/10/1917.
Kommodore / Konteradmiral Ernst Goette, 15/11/1917 - 18/8/1918. 11
Konteradmiral Constanz Feldt, 19/8/1918 - 30/11/1918.

Commanders of the 4th Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des IV. Geschwader). 12
Vizeadmiral Franz Mauve from 1/12/1916 - 12/8/1917.
Vizeadmiral Wilhelm Souchon, 4/9/1917 - 12/8/1918.
Konteradmiral Hugo Meurer, 13/8/1918 - 12/11/1918.

Temporary Commander.

Konteradmiral Gottfried Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, 18/2/1917 - 14/3/1917.

Vizeadmiral Hugo Kraft, 19/1/1918 - 13/2/1918 and 4/6/1918 - 22/7/1918.

Konteradmiral Hugo Meurer, 30/7/1918 - 12/8/1918.

2nd Commander of the 4th Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des IV. Geschwader).
Konteradmiral Gottfried Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, 1/12/1916 - 27/5/1917.
Vizeadmiral Hugo Meurer, 28/5/1917 - 12/8/1918.
Konteradmiral Ernst Goette, 19/8/1918 - 16/12/1918.

Temporary 2 nd Commander.

Kapitän zur See Walter Freiherr von Keyserlingk, 18/2/1917 - 14/3/1917 and 28/4/1917 - 2/5/1917.

Kapitän zur See Kurt Grasshoff, 12/8/1917 - 7/9/1917.

Kapitän zur See Eduard Varrentrapp, 5/11/1917 - 27/11/1917.

Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Adelung, 25/2/1918 - 20/5/1918 and 13/8/1918 - 18/8/1918.

Commander of the 4th Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des IV. Geschwader).13

Vizeadmiral Ehrhardt Schmidt, 31/7/1914 - 26/8/1915.
Vizeadmiral Friedrich Schultz, 26/8/1915 - 18/12/1915. 14

2nd Commander of the 4th Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des IV. Geschwader).
Konteradmiral Hermann Albers, 2/8/1914 - 24/8/1915.
Kapitän zur See und Kommodore Walter Engelhardt, 26/8/1915 - 10/11/1915.

Commander of the 5th Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des V. Geschwader). 15
Vizeadmiral Max von Grapow, 5/8/1914 - 23/1/1915.
Kapitän zur See / Konteradmiral Alfred Begas, 24/1/1915 - 15/1/1916. 16

2 nd Commander of the 5th Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des V. Geschwader).
Kapitän zur See Alfred Begas, 7/8/1914 - 23/1/1915.
No further 2nd Commander appointed.

Commander of the 6th Battle Squadron (Geschwaderchef des VI. Geschwader). 17
Konteradmiral Richard Eckermann, 12/8/1914 - 31/8/1914.
Konteradmiral Herwarth Schmidt von Schwind, 3/9/1914 - 31/8/1915.

2 nd Commander of the 6th Battle Squadron (2. Admiral des VI. Geschwader).
Konteradmiral zur Disposition Ehler Behring, 12/8/1914 - 20/8/1914. 18

No further 2nd Commander appointed.


1 Promoted to Admiral on 5/6/1916.

2 Promoted to Admiral on 11/8/1918.

3 Promoted to Vizeadmiral on 13/10/1914.

4 Promoted to Konteradmiral on 17/12/1916.

5 Retired due to illness.

6 Promoted to Konteradmiral on 17/10/1915.

7 2nd Squadron disbanded on 15/8/1917.

8 Promoted to Vizeadmiral on 25/11/1916.
9 Funke was only meant to be in command temporarily, while the designated commander Konteradmiral Christian Schütz, recovered from illness. However Schütz never returned to active service.

10 Wounded at Jutland 1/6/1916. Promoted to Vizeadmiral on 25/11/1916.

11 Promoted to Konteradmiral on 27/1/1918.

12 New 4th Squadron, with the Kaiser class dreadnoughts, formed on 1/12/1916.

13 Old 4th Squadron, with the Wittlesbach class pre-dreadnoughts, disbanded on 11/11/1915.

14 It's not known why after the 4th Squadron was disbanded on 11/11/1915, Schultz remained in a post that no longer existed.

15 5th Squadron disbanded on 15/1/1916.

16 Temporary Commander, 24/1/1915 - 22/2/1915. Promoted to Konteradmiral on 23/2/1915.

17 6th Squadron disbanded on 31/8/1915.

18 ' zur Disposition', means on the Inactive List.

Last Updated: 29 August, 2001.

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