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Paul Behncke (13 August 1869 – 4 January 1937) was a German admiral during the First World War, most notable for his command of the Third Battle Squadron of the German High Seas Fleet during the Battle of Jutland.

He was born in Lübeck in 1869. At age fourteen he joined the navy and as an officer commanded a gunboat in the Far East. After taking further studies at the Naval Academy in Kiel he was assigned to the general staff. As commander of the Falke he returned to Chinese waters and on being promoted to ship's captain he was appointed to the battleship SMS Wettin, and after to the SMS Westfalen.

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War Behncke was promoted to Rear-Admiral and again assigned to the general staff. During the conflict he showed himself opposed to Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz theories on submarine warfare, and was appointed head of the III Battle Squadron, composed by the eight most modern battleships on the German navy (the König and Kaiser classes). Ahead of these ships, aboard his flagship SMS König Rear-Admiral Behncke took part in the Battle of Jutland, where he was seriously wounded by a shell splinter and found himself in command of the whole fleet during the third phase of the action.

During the 1917 occupation of the Island of Moon he prevented the retreat of part of the Russian fleet and sank the Slava. By that time he had the rank of Vice Admiral and the following year, after the renunciation of admiral Eduard von Capelle, rose to Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office, a position he held until the fall of Wilhelm II.

Behncke resumed those functions after the war, replacing admiral Adolf von Trotha, and retired from the navy in 1924. He died in Berlin in 1937.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Enciclopedia General del Mar, Jose Mª Martinez - Hidalgo, Volume I, s.v. BEHNCKE, Paul, Page 1323, Ediciones Garriga, S.A., Barcelona, 1968

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