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Ehrhard Schmidt (centre) and his staff
18 May 1863|
Offenbach am Main, Grand Duchy of Hesse
18 July 1946 (aged 83)|
Aschau am Inn, Germany
|Years of service||1878–1918|
|Awards||Pour le Mérite|
At age 15 he entered the navy and saw service at several branches at sea and on land. Among them were posts on missions, as a commanding officer and in cadet training. His wish to become commander of a ship was granted in 1901 when he assumed command of the armoured cruiser Prinz Adalbert. He held that command until 1907. From 1908 to 1910 he commanded the Braunschweig-class battleship Hessen and was afterwards promoted to Konteradmiral to command the II Squadron of the Offshore Fleet. Later he was commander of the naval artillery.
At the beginning of World War I, he was commander of the IV Squadron, made up of old Wittelsbach-class ships. During the Battle of Jutland, Schmidt commanded the I Squadron and used it as a vanguard to break through the British lines at night. In 1917 he led Operation Albion, a special task force for the occupation of the Baltic Sea islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa off the Estonian coast. For his achievements he was awarded the Pour le Mérite order.
Upon his request, he was retired in 1918 with the rank of Admiral à la Suite, and following the Great War, he, like many of his former comrades of similar age, did not join the Reichsmarine. He remained loyal to the spirit of the Imperial Navy.