Wilhelm Marschall

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Wilhelm Marschall
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-0812-500, Wilhelm Marschall.jpg
Born (1886-09-30)30 September 1886
Augsburg
Died 20 March 1976(1976-03-20) (aged 89)
Mölln
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1919)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch  Kaiserliche Marine
 Reichsmarine
 Kriegsmarine
Years of service 1906–1945
Rank Generaladmiral
Commands held SM UC-74
SM UB-105
Hessen
heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer
Battles/wars World War I
Spanish Civil War
World War II
Awards Pour le Mérite
German Cross in Gold

Wilhelm Marschall (30 September 1886 – 20 March 1976) was a German admiral during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Pour le Mérite which he received as commander of the German U-boat UB-105 during World War I. The Pour le Mérite was the Kingdom of Prussia '​s highest military order for German officers until the end of World War I.

Biography[edit]

Marschall was born in Augsburg, Kingdom of Bavaria, in 1886. In 1906 he entered the Kaiserliche Marine as a Seekadett. During World War I he served as a watch officer on Kronprinz Wilhelm. In 1916 he was educated as a U-boat commander and captained both UC-74 and UB-105 by war's end.

While in the Reichsmarine, Marschall served primarily as a Vermessungsoffizier (surveying officer) and in different staff positions. At the end of 1934 he became commander of the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. As a Konteradmiral in 1936, he joined the Naval High Command and headed the operations division. During the Spanish Civil War Marschall commanded the German naval forces off of the Spanish coast. He was promoted to Admiral and Flottenchef (fleet commander) in 1939.

Admiral Marschall, flying his flag in battleship Gneisenau, led the German naval force which intercepted and sank the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi on 23 November 1939, while on patrol off Faroe Islands.[1] On 8 June 1940, during the latter part of the Norwegian Campaign, Marschall and part of his force (flagship Gneisenau, and her sister-ship Scharnhorst) fell in with British aircraft carrier Glorious and two destroyers (Acasta and Ardent) about 280 miles west of Harstad, Norway. In a two-hour action, Glorious and her accompanying destroyers were all sunk, in exchange for damage to Scharnhorst (struck by one of Acasta's torpedoes). Although the battle was a German victory, Marschall had engaged Glorious despite orders to avoid action. Marschall's differences with the High Command on this subject, and the severe damage to Scharnhorst during the engagement, ensured that Marschall was replaced as Flottenchef by Admiral Günther Lütjens. Marschall led the inspection of naval education for two years beginning in the summer 1940.

In 1942 Marschall was named commanding admiral of occupied France and replaced Alfred Saalwächter as commander of Marinegruppenkommando West. On 1 February 1943 he was promoted to Generaladmiral, but was replaced as western commander by Theodor Krancke and deactivated later that spring.

During the remainder of the war, Marschall was reactivated twice, once as Sonderbevollmächtigter (special agent) for the Danube, and once as commander of the Marineoberkommando West shortly before war's end. From 1945–47 he was held as a prisoner of war.

Marschall died in Mölln, West Germany, in 1976.

Awards[edit]

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Sunday, 9 June 1940 Deutsche Seestreitkräfte, darunter die beiden Schlachtschiffe "Gneisenau" und "Scharnhorst", operierten unter Führung des Admirals Marschall zur Entlastung der um Narvik kämpfenden Truppen im Nordmeer. Hierbei wurden am 8. Juni durch eine Kampfgruppe der englische Flugzeugträger "Glorious" (22 500t) und ein feindlicher Zerstörer in Grund geschossen.[2] German sea forces, among them the two battleships "Gneisenau" and "Scharnhorst", operated in the Norwegian Sea under the leadership of Admiral Marschall for the relief of the fighting troops at Narvik. The task force destroyed the English aircraft carrier "Glorious" (22 500t) and an enemy destroyer on 8 June.

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Garzke, William H.; Dulin, Robert O. (1985). Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. Naval Institute Press, p. 135. ISBN 978-0-87021-101-0
  2. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 194.
Bibliography
  • Ueberschär, Gerd R. (2011). "Generaladmiral Wilhelm Marschall". In Dieter, Hartwig. Hitlers militärische Elite (in German). Primus Verlag. pp. 162–170. ISBN 978-3-89678-727-9. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Wilhelm Marschall at Wikimedia Commons

Military offices
Preceded by
Admiral Otto Schultze
Commanding Admiral France
9 August 1942 – November 1942
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Generaladmiral Alfred Saalwächter
Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine Group Command West
21 September 1942 – 19 April 1943
Succeeded by
Admiral Theodor Krancke
Preceded by
Admiral Hermann Boehm
Chief of Fleet of the Kriegsmarine
21 October 1939 – 7 July 1940
Succeeded by
Admiral Günther Lütjens