Wilhelm Souchon

From Kaiserreich


Grossadmiral Souchon

Wilhelm Anton Souchon (born on June, 2 1864 in Leipzig, Germany) is a German admiral. Now the only officer in the Kaiserliche Marine who owns the rank of Grand Admiral, he was best known for commanding the Mediterrean Squadron during the Weltkrieg.


A native of Leipzig, Rear Admiral Souchon, as Commander of the Kaiserliche Marine's Mediterranean squadron, feared being trapped in the Adriatic Sea in the event of other nations joining in the conflict. He therefore took his two ships, the battlecruiser SMS Goeben and the light cruiser SMS Breslau into the western Mediterranean and bombarded the French-Algerian ports of Bone and Philippeville when the Weltkrieg had begun on 4 August. He then successfully eluded British attempts to corner him, and on 10 August 1914 his small squadron arrived at the Dardanelles.

After two days of negotiations, he was allowed to take his ships to Constantinople, where they were subsequently transferred officially into the Ottoman navy. Souchon was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman navy and served in this position until September 1917. This gesture by Germany had an enormous positive impact with the Turkish population; at the outbreak of the war, the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Spencer-Churchill had caused outrage when he "requisitioned" without compensation two almost completed Turkish battleships in British shipyards, the Sultan Osman I and the Reshadieh, that had been financed by public subscription. In the aftermath of Souchon's daring dash to Constantinople, Turkey on 15 August 1914 cancelled her maritime agreement with Britain and the Royal Navy mission under Admiral Limpus left by 15 September.

The Dardanelles were fortified with German assistance, the Bosporus was secured by the presence of Goeben, now named Yavuz Sultan Selim, and on 27 September the Straits were officially closed to all international shipping. On 29 October, Souchon (now under Turkish flag) shelled Russian the Russian Black Sea ports of Sevastopol and Odessa and destroyed the Russian minesweeper Prut, while almost simultaneously British naval units attacked Turkish merchant ships off İzmir. On 2 November 1914 Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, Britain followed suit on 5 November, and on 12 November 1914 the Ottoman government officially declared war on the Triple Entente.

For the next three years Souchon attempted to reform the Ottoman navy, while conducting a number of raids on Russian shipping, port and coastal installations in the Black Sea. Promoted to Vice Admiral, he was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military order, on 29 October 1916. ouchon returned to Germany in September 1917 and received command of the Fourth Battleship Squadron of the High Seas Fleet. At the end of the war he was commanding officer of the Imperial Navy base at Kiel. From then, Souchon has occupied various positions among the Kaiserliche Marine, appointed Grossadmiral in 1927 as he was commander of the Kaiserliche Marine's Yellow Sea squadron. Still in duty, he is one of the most prominent advocates of battleship warfare.

Personal tools