The Belgian War Cross or Croix de Guerre is a military gallantry award for soldiers who where mentioned in dispatches during the First World War. Every mention in dispatch will add a palm to the ribbon. The award could be given to foreign recipients, although they will not a recieve a palm on the ribbon.
The award was established on the 25th October 1915 by the Belgian Goverment in excile, six months later than the establishment of 'the Croix de Guerre' of France.
The Belgian War Cross 1914-18 or 'Croix de Guerre' or 'Oorlogskruis' was established for soldiers from the Army, Air Force or Navy who showed valor and bravery in the face of the enemy during the first world war. The award was later also given for three years of service on the front, and for volontueers younger than 16 or older than 40 years of age who served a minimum of 18 months at the front. It also was given to escapees who after a period of three months enlisted the Belgian army again and to soldiers who were severly wounded. The award could also be awarded to foreign soldiers in foreign army's.
The 'Croix de Guerre' was last postumously awarded in 2008, to a missing soldier from the siege of the fortress of Loncin.
King Albert I of Belgium decorates some Belgian soldiers with the 'croix de geurre'
The award is a dubble sided Maltheser Cross , that has a small ball on each corner. Between the arms of the cross, two crossed swords were placed , placed upwards. On the top we find a crown with the suspension ring for the ribbon. In the middel of the cross we find a medallion with a flemish lion surrounded by a dotted circle on the font. On the back we find the same medaillion with the monogram of King Albert I. The entire medal is made in bronze.
The ribbon is a red velvet with five vertical green lines, which we find three in the middle and one on both edges. On the ribbon we can find the following
Bars and other insignia :
- A bronze palm with or without the monogram of King Albert I
(mentioned in despatches)
- A silver palm with or whithout the monogram of King Albert I
(mentioned vijf times in despatches, replaces five bronze palms)
- A gilded palm with or whithout the monogram of King Albert I
(mentioned twentyfive times in despatches, replaces five silver palms )
- A bronze lion or a bronze lion medaillon
(mentioned in despatches from the Regiment)
- A silver lion
(mentioned in despatches from the Brigade)
- A gilded lion
(mentioned in the despatches from the Division)
- A black enamelled bar
(If the award is postuum)
FIRST MODELS (1916-1919)
The first awards that were awarded where mostly made in England or France. Because the award consist of mainly three cast bronze parts, the cross, the crown and the suspension ring, it didn't always have to be made by a jeweller, as such was needed for the enammeld and prestige Leopoldsorder. This is why these early medals doesn't show much quality and had have many differences.
WE ARE TRYING TO PROVIDE AN IMAGE SOON
SECOND MODELS (1920-1934)
These awards were made in the interbellum and Art Deco period from Belgium. By this time many soldiers, Nco's and officers were published in the books "Guldenboek der vuurkaart" which gave a chronologic view of the soldiers in the divisions who fought so gallantry for Belgium. Also we get more and more support from European countrys to build up the destroyed city's and appreciation for being the smallest country that faced the German army and did his part for winning the war. This is why the demand for medals began to increase. The usual army suppliers, like Fonson, Fish and Wolfers could not hold the production of military equipement and medals because of the hugh orders that came in. The medals had to be made to subcontracters and were not always checked on quality but more on quantity and that the delivery to suppliers could be made on time. We can almost say that the production of medals and veteran associated items in Belgium after the war caused a small percentage in the economic recovery. The second model can be split in two types
First type (Big Flemish Lion)
This type has the typical big flemish lion on the front medallion. The lion measures 9mm from hise nose the his front foot and 10mm from his toptail to the end of his left frontleg.
Different Crown patterns of the first type
The crown has a standard measurement of 25mm and has a typical Spanish pattern. Mostly used on Belgian medals.
Half-Open Top Crown pattern
This pattern shows a crown with a six open laces on each size.
Second type (Small Flemish Lion)
This type has a small Flemish lion on the medallion, which gives a distance between the lion and the inner circle.
Full-open crown pattern
This pattern is shows the most quality and could be indentified by the open spaces between the 'flowers' on both sides the medal.
Closed Top pattern
This pattern shows only 4 open laces in the crown .
DIFFENT PALMS AND LIONS
open leaves model closed leaves model
palms with Albert I monogram
a palm measures standard 37mm from the branch to the end leave. The monogram of Albert I stands in the middle and has two diffent types. The first type has a round top on the A while the the second type has a more narrow and pointier A. Every palm has two pins for suspension.
palms with Leopold II monogram
These palms were the first ones to be isseud with the war cross.
palms with No monogram
a standard lion has a measurement of 15mm from hise nose to his front foot.
a medaillion has a diameter of 7mm and were mostly used in late 30's.