Born in 1863 AD in Weilheim-in-Oberbayern near mountainous Munich, Franz was hardly promising material for the Imperial German Navy. But after completing basic training in 1879, he decided to join the navy (perhaps to “see the world”). Following studies in Kiel he took the naval entrance examinations, and in April 1881, at the age of 18, Franz Hipper became an officer. After another round of studies, he was appointed to oversee the training of recruits for the First Naval Battalion. Passing through the Executive Officer School in 1885, Hipper would serve on several warships, including the armored frigate 'SMS Friedrich der Grosse' and the battleship 'SMS Worth.'
Advancement continued apace for Hipper, the very model for professionalism and competence. Promoted to Kapitan zur See in 1907, Hipper assumed various seagoing commands, served as officer in charge of the training of torpedo boat crews, and eventually became chief of staff to Rear Admiral Gustav von Bachmann, Deputy Flag Officer of Reconnaissance Forces. In January 1912 when von Bachmann was promoted, Hipper was himself promoted to rear admiral and made deputy flag officer. In 1913 Hipper assumed command of the First Scouting Group, made up of the High Seas Fleet’s battlecruisers combining power with speed.
He was at that post when that minor brouhaha broke out among the great European powers in August 1914. For the rest of his career, Franz (now “von”) Hipper would battle the British for control of the North Sea. Between shelling British coastal towns (Great Yarmouth, Hartlepool, Whitby and others) and engaging in the battles of Dogger Bank and Jutland, Franz kept busy through the war … finally being promoted to command the entire fleet in August 1918, just months before the armistice. Von Hipper retired in December, to a quiet life in Altona where he died in 1932.