Having entered the Imperial German Navy on the 14 May, 1890, Gygas rose through the ranks of the peacetime navy. On 12 October, 1896 he was promoted to Leutnant zur See.
In 1904, as a Kapitänleutnant, Gygas was the First Officer of the sloop of war Habicht, which had been undergoing repairs in Cape Town. The German settlement of Okahandja was besieged by the native Herero tribe in nearby South-West Africa (present-day Namibia) and Habicht was ordered to steam to Swakopmund and relieve Okahandja. When the ship reached Swakopmund on 18 January, Gygas, with another officer, a physician and 52 men was detailed to protect the line of communication to Swakopmund and march inland and assist in putting down the anti-German rebellion. On 16 February Gygas and his men defeated the Otjimbingwe Ovaherero under the Herero leader Zeraua in the battle of Lievenberg. Eventually the revolt was put down though at horrendous cost to the native Herero.
Sometime before the war Gygas became a naval aviator. Up until April, 1915 he was commander of the I Marine Flieger Abteilung before becoming commander of the cruiser Roon. On 17 October, 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Kapitän zur See. In 1916 he commanded for a period of months the Luftfahrtwesens des Marinekorps, before returning to sea duty in command of the cruiser Stralsund and the battlecruiser Moltke.
At the end of the war Gygas was promoted Konteradmiral and retired on 22 November, 1919.
Johannes von Karpf
|Captain of S.M.S. Moltke
3 Sep, 1916 – 12 Dec, 1918