Original WWI Era Medal Grouping with 2 French Awards, 3 German Awards, & German Belt Buckle
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a very nice collection of WWI Era Awards from France and Germany, along with a Prussian Belt Buckle. These were most likely brought home by a USGI during or after the Second World War, as medals and buckles from both World Wars were very popular collectors items. Most of these are military items, but medals were also awarded for services to the country, often to civilians.
This lovely set consists of the following:
- One French WWI Médaille Militaire (Military Medal) with Ribbon in original box. The 1870 date at the bottom correctly identifies this as the 3rd Republic version of the award, given out from 1870 until the Fall of France in 1940.
- One French WWI Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (War Cross 1914-1918) with 1 Bronze Star with Ribbon in original box.
- One German WWI Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (Hindenburg Cross) Medal with Ribbon
- One Imperial German WWI Prussian Firefighters 25 years Long Service Medal with Ribbon in original box. Medal is marked FÜR 25 JÄHRIGE DIENSTZEIT (For 25 Years of Service) on the front under the "Fire Helmet Over Crossed Axes" Firefighter emblem. The rear of the badge identifies it as being from Prussia.
- One German Post-WWI Weimar Period War Commemorative Medal 1914/1918 of the Kyffhäuser Bund (Veteran's Association) with Crossed Swords & Ribbon
- One Imperial German WWI Prussian Brass GOTT MIT UNS Belt Buckle with Nickle Insignia Plate. The buckle is in very good condition, with only light wear.
This is a very nice set of WWI Military Items, including 5 medals. A great way to start your collection!
Below are more detailed descriptions for some of the awards:
The French Médaille militaire (Military Medal) is a military decoration of the French Republic for other ranks for meritorious service and acts of bravery in action against an enemy force. It is the third highest award of the French Republic, after the Légion d'honneur, a civil and military order, and the ordre de la Libération, a Second World War-only order. The Médaille militaire is therefore the most senior entirely military active French decoration.
During World War I, 230,000 médailles were awarded, when 1,400,000 French Army soldiers were killed and 3,000,000 wounded. For comparison, the UK Military Medal was awarded on 115,000 occasions in World War I, when 673,375 British Army soldiers were killed and 1,643,469 wounded.
The award was first established in 1852 by the first President of the French Republic, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte who may have taken his inspiration from a medal established and awarded by his father, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland.
After the First World War, the Military Medal was also temporarily awarded for wounds received in combat.
The French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (War Cross) is a French military decoration, the first version of the Croix de guerre. It was created to recognize French and allied soldiers who were cited for valorous service during World War I, similar to the British mentioned in dispatches but with multiple degrees equivalent to other nations' decorations for courage.
Soon after the outbreak of World War I, French military officials felt that a new military award had to be created. At that time, the Citation du jour ("Daily Citation") already existed to acknowledge soldiers, but it was just a sheet of paper. Only the Médaille Militaire and Legion of Honour were bestowed for courage in the field, due to the numbers now involved, a new decoration was required in earnest. At the end of 1914, General Boëlle, Commandant in Chief of the French 4th Army Corps, tried to convince the French administration to create a formal military award. Maurice Barrès, the noted writer and parliamentarian for Paris, gave Boëlle support in his efforts.
On 23 December 1914, the French parliamentarian Georges Bonnefous proposed a legislative bill to create the Croix de la Valeur Militaire ("Cross of Military Valour") signed by 66 other parliamentarians. Émile Driant, a parliamentarian who served in the war zone during much of this time, became its natural spokesman when he returned to the legislature. On 18 January 1915, Driant submitted this bill but the name of the military award was renamed to Croix de guerre ("War Cross"). After parliamentary discussions, the bill was adopted on 2 April 1915.
World War I began in 1914 and ended in 1918, so the final name adopted is "Croix de guerre 1914–1918
Hindenburg Cross with Crossed Swords (for combat):
The Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (German: Das Ehrenkreuz des Weltkriegs 1914/1918), commonly, but incorrectly, known as the Hindenburg Cross was established by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, President of the German Republic, by an order dated 13 July 1934, to commemorate the distinguished deeds of the German people during the First World War. This was Germany's first official service medal for soldiers of Imperial Germany who had taken part in the war, and where they had since died it was also awarded to their surviving next-of-kin. Shortly after its issuance, the government of NSDAP Germany declared the award as the only official service decoration of the First World War and further forbid the continued wearing of German Free Corps awards on any military or paramilitary uniform of a state or NSDAP Party organization.
War Commemorative Medal 1914/1918 of the Kyffhäuser Bund
War Commemorative Medal of the Kyffhäuser Union was instituted on June 18, 1921 by the Kyffhäuser Bund, an umbrella organization of German veterans’ and reservists’ associations, in conjunction with the 25th jubilee of the erection of the Kyffhäuser monument (Kyffhäuser-Denkmal) in Thuringia.
The following statement appeared in the statuary document: “1914-1918 World War veterans keep on expressing their unanimous desire in establishment of a badge commemorating feat of arms of frontline soldiers, loyal service of reserve troops as well as selfless labor at the home front. Definitive refusal of German government to institute such a war medal made governing body of Kyffhäuser Union of German territorial veterans’ associations come to a decision to institute 1914-1918 War Commemorative Medal by agreement with the Home Ministry and in conjunction with the 25th jubilee of the erection of the Kyffhäuser monument. Former combatants, reservists and those having served at the home front during the World War 1914-1918 as a part of the Army, the Navy and the Colonial troops provided they are members of Kyffhäuser Union, are eligible for a badge”.
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