Prussian Pour-le-Mérite


Photo from WikiCommons

  The Pour-le-Mérite, nicknamed the Blue Max during the First World War after the fighter ace recipient, Max Immlemann, was Prussia's highest award for bravery and was a very rare award. It was a decorated blue enamelled cross with Prussian eagles between the arms of the cross and a crowned "F" for Friedrich II of Prussia (who originally instituted the award in 1740 and the motto "Pour-Le-Mérite" on the arms of the cross. It was worn at the throat on a black/white/black/white/black ribbon.

Notable recipients for colonial or overseas service were- Oberleutnant Graf Soden (for the defence of the Peking Legations in 1900), Hauptmann Victor Franke (for service in the Herero War in 1904. Franke later commanded the South West African Schutztruppe in the First World War), Oberst Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (for his defence of German East Africa in 1916, awarded with Oak Leaves in 1917) and curiously the ship SMS Iltis (for her part in the storming of the Taku forts in 1900. This was the only time the medal was awarded to a ship rather than a person).

The medal photographed on the left was awarded to Leutnant dL. Friedrich Nielebock an aircraft observer on the Western Front on 2nd June 1918.

Recommended External Links - Pour-le-Mérite Website and the Axis History Forum Discussion on PLMs for Overseas Service

Major Victor Franke
 of the South West African Schutztruppe 1907
Victor Franke was a hero in the Herero Rebellion and later commanded the South West African Schutztruppe in the First World War. He wears the 1897 grey home uniform with blue facing for South West Africa and large white metallic officers Litzen. Note the parade aiguillette cords worn over the left shoulder. His most senior medal is the Prussian Pour-le-Mérite awarded on 2nd November 1905 for action in the Herero Rebellion at the throat. His medal bar shows his Prussian medals first- Knights Cross of the Hohenzollern House Order with swords, Order of the Red Eagle third class with swords, Crown Order fourth class with swords, Life Saving Medal, Officers Long Service award, South West Africa Campaign medal with five clasps and the Wilhelm I Centenary medal. His awards from other states are the Bavarian Military Service Award third class with swords, Saxon Knights Cross of the Albert Order first class with swords and the Knights Cross of the Württemberg  Crown with swords and lions.
Photo from Wikipedia

Generalmajor Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
formerly of the East African Schutztruppe
Von Lettow-Vorbeck commanded the East African Schutztruppe throughout the First World War and returned to Germany in 1919 a hero as the only undefeated German general. He wears a privately tailored officers 1915 field grey tunic, note the general's collar patches along with an East African Schutztruppe Südwester hat. Although he earned a large collection of medals, the only medal he wears in this photograph is his Pour-le-Mérite with Oak leaves at the throat.
Photo © JW Collection

Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Buddecke
Ottoman Air Force
Buddecke was an early fighter ace serving on the Western Front and at Gallipoli. He wears a privately tailored Ottoman officer's uniform with an air force "Kalpak" (lamb's wool hat) with the  flying wings badge across the front. At his throat he wears the Pour-le-Mérite. On his left breast he wears the Ottoman Liakat medal, with an Iron Cross first class and an Ottoman pilot's badge below that.
Photo from and WikiCommons 

SMS Iltis, bearing the Pour-le-Merite on her bow
Awarded to the ship for her part in the storming of the Taku forts in 1900. This was the only time the medal was awarded to a ship rather than a person.
Photo © Deceptico from his Grandfather's Collection


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