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Country: Germany
Kingdom: Prussia (Preußen)
Orden Pour le Mérite (Blue Max)
Established in 1667 by Margrave Frederick (later to become King Frederick I), the Orden Pour le Mérite was originally known as the Brandenburg Ordre de la Génerosité (Order of Generosity). Reorganized by Frederick II in 1740, it became the Orden Pour le Mérite (Order of Merit) and was awarded to military personnel and civilians. The Order was again reorganized in 1810 by Frederick William III who reserved it solely for individual military achievement on the battlefield against the enemy. After the Prussian army occupied Paris in 1814, a total of 1,662 Pour le Mérites were awarded. Of those, 1,470 Pour le Mérites were awarded to Russians. In 1842, Frederick William IV added a civil class for scholars, painters, sculptors, and musicians. Following the armistice of 1918, the Orden Pour le Mérite was never again awarded for military service.
Criteria: During World War I, Prussia's highest military award, the Orden Pour le Mérite, was awarded to officers for repeated and continual gallantry in action. It was never awarded posthumously and recipients were required to wear the medal whenever they were in uniform.
WWI Awards: Of all officers in the German army and navy, the most frequent recipients of the Orden Pour le Mérite were junior officers in the German Air Force. During World War I, it was awarded to 81 German military aviators: 76 army aviators and  5 naval aviators. Of that total, 78 of the recipients were officers who held the rank of Captain or below.
Recipients - World War I Aces
1 Allmenroeder (Allmenröder), Julius Karl
14 Jun 1917
2 Althaus, Ernst Freiherr von
21 Jul 1916
3 Baeumer (Bäumer), Paul Wilhelm
02 Nov 1918
4 Beaulieu-Marconnay, Olivier Freiherr von
26 Oct 1918
5 Bernert, Otto
24 Apr 1917
6 Berr, Hans
04 Dec 1916
7 Berthold, Rudolph
12 Oct 1916
8 Blume, Walter
30 Sep 1918
9 Boehme (Böhme), Erwin
24 Nov 1917
10 Boelcke, Oswald
12 Jan 1916
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