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Collecting British and Foreign Military Medals
Thoughts on collecting British and foreign military medals
I have recently returned to my boyhood interest in collecting militaria, this time with a particular focus on medals. Medals have the following advantages as a collectable; they are readily identifiable, attractive (especially when they come with a ribbon), easy to store and display and (relevant to the long-distance collector) they are light and easy to dispatch anywhere in the world. Most important of all, however, is what medals represent: they are a tangible link with the past, often with one man or woman who has played a role, crucial or otherwise, in some of the seminal moments of their nation's history. Coupled with the fact that some medals, at least, offer the chance to find out in detail about that person, their history and deeds, this is ample explanation for why the collection of medals can be such an absorbing pastime. This page is about my experience of this. I hope that it is of interest.
Obviously, in order to be a collection it must have an underlying theme or focus and the focus of mine is medals of the combatant and allied nations of the First and Second World Wars.
New Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - US Military Medals 1939 to Present
This very accessible guide supplies clear colour photographs and supporting information for the whole range of US military medals and decorations from 1939 to (in the 3rd edition) 1995. Designed as a resource for the medal recipient, researcher or serviceman as much as for the collector, it contains invaluable information and illustrations regarding order and manner of wear for all five services (US Army, USN, USMC, USAF and Coastguard) , plus variants in regulations (each service having its own medallic regulations) and what is described as the only comprehensive listing of ribbon devices (attachments to the medal ribbon indicating particular types of service or multiple awards) to be found in print. An excellent resource.
A FINE, VERY ACCESSIBLE GENERAL OR BEGINNERS' GUIDE
Finnish World War Two "Continuation War " Medal
The Finnish Continuation War Medal, commemorating the 1941-1944 struggle against Soviet Russia. A handsome example of a WW2 Finnish campaign medal, disc only, with a short length of ribbon. The reverse is illustrated and consists of a sheathed bayonet, lying horizontally, with a leaf sprey superimposed; above it is the legend "ISANMAA", which I believe means "Fatherland", and below it the dates 91141-1945. The obverse shows the heraldic lion of Finland on a shield. This specimen shows extensive patination and some verdigrisation but is still a sound example.
Italian Ethiopian Campaign Medal for the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Italian Oriental Africa medal, also known as the "Campagna d'Etiopia"/Ethiopian Campaign Medal or the Commemorative Medal for the East African Campaign. A handsome medal, in classic Italian style, issued shortly before the Second World War to commemorate the Italian Conquest of Abyssinia after the Italo-Abyssinian/Italo-Ethiopian War of October 1935-.May 1936. It would no doubt have adorned many a WW2 veteran's tunic. Extensive patination but still a sound example. This medal, as is not uncommon with Italian pieces, was struck by more than one maker; the well-struck Royal Mint/ Regio Zeccia example being seen relatively frequently. The illustrated example seems to be a slightly rarer, if less well struck, unsigned variant.
USSR Medal to celebrate 30 Years of the Soviet Army 1918-1948
A handsome medal, on a classic Russian mounting, issued shortly after the close of the Second World War, in 1948, to commemorate 30 years of the Soviet Armed Forces. It would no doubt have adorned many a WW2 veteran's tunic. Nice bright silvertone medal showing profiles of Lenin and Stalin and the roman numerals "XXX" on the obverse, a few fairly superficial scratches and knocks, with a slightly faded and worn ribbon on an aluminium backplate.
WW2 Horthy-era Hungarian Siebenburgen LIBERATION OF TRANSYLVANIA MEDAL
A handsome example of this unusual medal, issued by Hungarian Regent Admiral Horthy on 1 October 1940 to commemorate the incorporation of Siebenburgen/Transylvania into Hungary as a result of the 1940 Second Vienna Award, in which Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany pressured Romania into ceding Northern Transylvania to Hungary in a reversal of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. As such it represents a fascinating and little-known piece of WW2 history!
The obverse of the medal features the profile of King Matthias Corvinus surrounded by Hungarian text, plus the date "1940" whilst the obverse (illustrated) features the arms of Siebenburgen and more text including the name of the Regent. Struck in zinc or a similar alloy, good condition examples are rare and change hands for a fair amount. The provenance of this example is not clear.
Japanese Order of the Rising Sun - 8th Class Medal
A nice example of this beautiful medal. The Order of the Rising Sun was established by the Meiji Emperor of Japan in 1875 to reward his subjects for civil or military merit. The first national decoration, it came in eight classes, the seventh and eighth classes being suppressed in 2003. The medals of the seventh and eighth classes were in the form of leaves of the Pauwlonia flower, the eighth being a simple plain silver medal and the seventh of silver and enamel. It was suspended from a red bordered white watered silk ribbon on a French-style ball and ring suspender. In the military context medals of the eighth class was typically awarded to privates and sergeants of the Imperial Japanese Army and can often be seen worn on uniforms of the period in the photographs. It is possibly one of the most beautiful medals commonly awarded and is a must-have for any Japanese medal collection.
Imperial Japanese China Incident Medal
A classic Japanese Campaign medal
This attractive medal, variously known as the Second Sino-Japanese War Medal or the China Incident War Medal (Japanese: Sina jihen jugun kisho), was issued by the Japanese Government to recogise service during the Second Sino-Japanese War/Japan-China War. Fought between July 7, 1937 - September 2, 1945, the war, which commenced as between China (with support from the Soviet Union initially and later by US-backed volunteers such as Claire Chennault's famous American Volunteer Group in their shark-mouthed P40 Warhawks) and Imperial Japan, merged into the wider Pacific campaign of World War Two, ending only with that war's end. The medal reflects service in such famous (or notorious) engagements as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (which sparked the war), Shanghai, Nanking, Changsha and Guangxi. The ribbon is a mixture of blues and reds /pinks on a beige ground, watered, with the blue representing the sea and the Navy, the beige/tan representing the soil of China, for the Army, the pink the bloodstained soil of China, and the red, blood and loyalty. It is attached to the bronze medal by a typical Japanese-style swivelling suspender with four kanjis (characters used in written Japanese). The obverse features a crow standing between two flags with an Imperial chrsanthemum above, whilst the reverse shows a mountain scene with further lettering stating "China Incident". Uncommon here in the UK, this medal would make a nice addition to any Japanese military or Red Cross collection.
Medal collecting hints and tips
Key points are around genuineness and condition. German awards have been extensively faked, and there is a thriving market in reproduction British war medals, many of which makw their way back onto the market with no indication of their provance. Look out for anything that looks suspiciously new (although also be aware that it is quite easily to convincingly "age" a medal so that is not a sure indication either!) and be suspicious of a bargain, as it may not be one at all!
In terms of condition, look for edge knocks and, on British WW1 medals in particular, be aware that they may have been extensively polished by the proud recipients, potentially to the extent that the surface detail is profoundly abraded!
Don't worry overmuch about ribbon condition as it is quite easy to replace with many high-quality ribbon suppliers out there - unless of course the presence of the original (or contemporary) ribbon is important to you, which is fair enough!.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - British Orders, Decorations and Medals, Hall & Wingate - A finely-illustrated resource
This book covers British orders of chivalry, decorations and gallantry medals both civil and military, and campaign medals from the 1795 Naval Gold Medal to the 1964-73 Vietnam medal. Within these classes coverage is comprehensive, supported by finely-detailed 3" by 2" full colour photographs of the obverse or reverse of each medal featured ( plus riband, collar, cap and mantle in the case of the Orders.) As well as carefully-chosen illustrations to mark the break between sections, the book also boasts a useful appendix on order of wear, index and select bibliography and a foreword by no lesser person than the Chairman and President of the VC and GC Association, Brigadier Sir John Smyth VC, MC.
A good first acquisition - 1939-45 British War Medal
This is an example of a good first buy for a collector: a (fairly) nice vintage British 1939-1945 War medal. This medal was issued to forces and Merchant Navy personnel who had achieved 28 days of service between the qualifying dates (3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.) (In the case of the Merchant Navy, this service must have been at sea.) Because of the fairly generous terms under which it was issued it, along with the Defence Medal, is one of the commonest medals available, although still a handsome production. (Note in particular the double-headed dragon which the lion is standing on, representing Germany and Japan!) The fact that it was issued unnamed depresses its value as compared with some other medals as it is not researchable. This example is in cupro-nickel alloy as issued to British and Commonwealth forces other than Canadian. Watch out for the silver Canadian issue! Other than a spot of corrosion to the obverse, it is a good example overall. One of these would make an excellent starter medal for your collection or inexpensive filler.
New Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - British Military Medals, Duckers
By the author of the well-regarded Shire Editions books on medals, this is a good general introduction to the subject, illustrating roughly 2/3 of the medals mentioned with a good mix of large black and white and colour photographs. The presenation is helpfully thematic and the author relates the medals discussed to their surving medals rolls and other sources of evidence, and gives a summary chapter on researching medals 1815-1914, thus assisting potential researchers. The WW1 medals section takes this further by giving details of the relevant TNA (The National Archive) guides as well as the rolls, and the WW2 and postwar sections are of interest too. The book is sufficiently up to date (ebing published in 2009) to include amongst the latter the "Canal zone" clasp to the 1918-62 General Service Medal and 1915-1962 Naval General Service Medal plus the "Afghanistan" and "Democratic Republic of Congo" clasps to the Operational Service Medal. The campaign/gallantry medal split is about 2/3 versus 1/3 of the book. A recommended modern resource.
A useful, copiously-illustrated resource for the collector and historian
The First World War British Victory Medal - A well-worn example
Medal awarded to Driver S.G. Morgan, Army Service Corps
The World War One British Victory Medal was awarded to all British service personnel who entered a theatre of war. on the strength of a military unit. The basic design was broadly common to all of the Allies, being of bronze (initially dull and later gilt) based on a representation of Winged Victory on the obverse, with the words "the Great War for Civilisation" in the appropriate language on the reverse. The British Victory medal was designed by a Mr W. MacMillian, who also designed the British War Medal. The ribbon also was common to the Allied and Associated Powers, being two rainbows joined by the red portion at the middle. It is the most common of the British medals of World War One, as the British War Medal (with which it was commonly awarded) being silver, was often sold or pawned to be melted down, and hence fewer have survived. It was commonly known as "Wilfred" after the comic strip character, the War Medal being "Squeak" and the Mons/1914-15 Star being "Pip" (also characters in the same strip). The former two on their own were also known as "Mutt and Jeff." Curiously, more British War Medals were issued that Victory Medals, 6.4 million War Medals to 5.7 million Victory Medals.
The value varies considerably according to condition and to the provenance; medals to troops in regiments of the line tend to fetch more than those to Corps members, officers' medals generally fetch more than those of other ranks, and so on.
The particular example illustrated belonged to T/2/11413 Driver S.G. Morgan, late private of the Northamptonshire Regiment (46695) and 13th battalion Royal Fusiliers (G/65877.) He was entitled to the British War Medal and 1914-15 Star in recognition of his having entered the French theatre on 29.05.1915. He was discharged under para. 392 xvi (sickness, I believe) on 27.02.1919 and was entitled to the Silver War Badge. The medal is in poor condition but is fitted with a new suspension ring and short length of ribbon
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review -British Campaign Medals Waterloo to the Falklands, Gould - A well-written resource
This, the first medal book I got, is still one of the best. It is written with a certain wry humour whilst still packed with pertinent information to accompany the black and white life size illustrations illustrating a raft of British campaign and associated medals, including some, such as the. 1899-1902 Queen's Mediterranean Medal, which seem to be passed by by other books. Sometimes the odd snippets are the most interesting; who could resist knowing about Daniel Tremendous McKenzie, the day-old Naval GSM winner, for instance? Although not all of the illustrations are all that could be desired, still an excellent resource. NB collectors of a sensitive disposition SHOULD NOT read the price guide at the front, especially not in the 1984 edition!
Austrian First World War Medal - The Karl Truppen Kreuz
An interesting Austrian medal for frontline service
This is a handsome example of a full-size First World War Austro-Hungarian service medal, the Karltruppenkreuz, awarded by the Emperor Karl to his troops for service in the field, including participation in at least one battle. It is in the form of a Maltese Cross (cross pattee) with the arms joined by garlands of laurel leaves. The face reads "Grati Princeps et Patria" and "Carolus Imp et Rex" whilst the reverse reads "vitam et sanguinem" and the date of institution, MDCCCCXVI, (1916) below the crowns of Austria and Hungary.
Interesting and relatively hard to find in the UK, medals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are fairly collectable and would make a good addition to any collection.
Belgian First World War Medal - The Yser Medal
A sound and attractive example of a rare Belgian First World War medal, issued to participants in the strategically-crucial battle of the Yser/Ijzer in the early months of the First World War. The face features an attractively florid Art Nouveau representation of a naked armed man holding a spear/standard, with the battle dates and a wreath. The reverse features a symbolic wounded lion. It is attractively weighty at 29.5g, coppery in appearance with green enamel detailing. It is moderately rare amongst Belgian medals of the First World War, and quite sought-after. Examples usually sell for between Â£15 and Â£30.
Belgian 1940-45 Commemorative Medal
An interesting, if well-worn, example of this attractive Belgian medal, awarded to service personnel and resistance fighters for service during World War Two. This particular example features the crossed sabres indicating that the holder took part either in the May 1940 campaign or in active fighting with the Resistance.. Notable features are the V for Victory on the face, with snarling lion's head and date 1940 and 1945 in a laurel wreath and, on the reverse, the legend "Commemorative Medal of the 1940-1945 War" in Walloon and Flemish, the two languages of Belgium. A very handsome medal, not very well-known in the UK.
WW2 Belgian Prisoner of War Medal
A good example of Belgian medalmaking
A charming and rather solid and weighty medal, awarded by the Belgian Government to members of its armed forces who suffered imprisonment as prisoners of war at the hands of the Axis during World War Two. Created on 20 October 1947 the design is heavily symbolic, the reverse (shown above) featuring a prison camp watchtower superimposed onto a barbed wire fence, the whole surrounded by a chain. The obverse features a symbolic sword flanked either side by the dates 1940 and 1945, and superimposed on what appears to be a rayed cross surrounded by a barbed wire wreath. The interesting suspender is in the form of a pierced articulated crown and the ribbon is black with thin red and yellow stripes either side. Interesting and collectable.
Belgian Resistance Medal 1940-45
An attractive, vaguely Art Nouveau-styled medal awarded by the Belgian Government to all members of armed resistance movements and to certain intelligence operatives. The ribbon colours are symbolic of occupation (black), the blood of Resistance members (red) and hope of freedom (green.) A highly appealing medal.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Collecting military medals - A beginner's guide - A useful survey of the field of British campaign medal collecting
This is an interesting primer for the new collector. Colin Narberth, a collector and dealer himself, writes with passion about medal collecting and what makes a true collector, including some wise words about keeping collection mania at bay! The slightly idiosyncratic arrangement commences with a history of medals to the British army and navy respectively, then moves on to consider medals awarded in particular theatres, before wrapping up with a section on the two world wars and one on orders and decorations. Intelligent sections on display (with photographs of some particularly good examples), naming and a glossary make agreeable endpieces. The book is of particular interest as it contains more contextual detail than might be expected given its size and scope, with coverage including typical or interesting actions, rarities, and opportunities for themed collections. The naval, Africa and India sections are particularly good for this but do make the sections on the world wars and on decorations look weak by comparison.
Second World War Bulgarian Victory Medal 1945-75 Commemorating 30 years of victory
(Centre medal.) A sound example of a Bulgarian Victory/War commemorative medal issued to commemorative the Thirtieth anniversary of the end of World War Two. Its face features attractive stylised representation of two soldiers in combat surrounded by a border featuring letters, numerals and laurel leaves. This is one of a series of medals issued by the Bulgarian government, following USSR precedent, at roughly ten year intervals to commemorate victory in the Second World War. The first such medal issued is very attractive and hangs on a central-European style triangular ribbon (illustrated bottom right). The 30th anniversary example too is quite attractive, albeit that it is now suspended by a ribbon made up in the Soviet style, but there is a noticeable decline in quality by the time one comes to the 50th anniversary medal, illustrated bottom left, which is on a curious plastic suspender. All three are illustrated in the photograph below, which also features a 30th anniversay medal on an incorrect ribbon at top right, and a commemorative medal of the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule at top left.
Bulgarian medals are interesting and relatively hard to find in the UK, although the market appears to still be developing.
Bulgarian WW2 Commemorative Medal - 50 years of victory in Europe
An interesting example of the Eastern Bloc commemorative medal genre, this a simple design, with "ribbon" in the Bulgarian national colours of red, white and green, and obverse design of a flaming torch, issue of the medal marking 50 years since the end of World War Two in Europe. Sound other than a missing part to the rear of the solid suspender.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Medals and Decorations, Angus - A good general survey of the whole field of medal collecting for the novice collector
This large hardback is a useful taster volume for the novice collector, giving a broad survey of all the main types of military medal, plus orders of chivalry and, rather unusually, discussions of civil decorations and society and commemorative medals as well. Sections on pins and badges, on ribbons and embellishments and on collecting complete the work. The book is copiously illustrated with 2/3 size medal illustrations and pictures of relevant scenes, medal founders and medal recipients, such as 16 year-old VC winner John Cornwell, for example.
The Croix de Guerre
An interesting and collectable foreign gallantry medal
First instituted in 1915, on the recommendation of Deputy Emile Briant (later to distinguish himself in the defence of Verdun) the Croix de Guerre was awarded for acts of courage in the face of the enemy or as a result of being mentioned in despatches by a regimental commander or above. The First World War examples can show a variety of dates on the central cartouche on the reverse depending upon the date of striking: the example above bears the dates 1914-18. The cross itself, designed by Paul-Albert Batholome, is in square form, with interspersed swords, featuring the head of Marianne crowned with the Phrygian cap (cap of liberty) and encircled with the words Republique Francaise on the obverse and dates on the reverse. The ribbon for First World War issues consists of seven thin red stripes on a green ground - a reference to the ribbon of the Saint Helena medal, issued by Napoleon to the last of the Grand Army veterans. Various insignia including bronze, silver and sliver-gilt stars or palms signified different circumstances for the award whilst award of the decoration to a unit was signified by a "fourragere" (a looped cord.) At least two million were awarded; indeed, given that this number is for individual citations only, and excludes posthumous citations and medals awarded alongside the award of the Medaille Militaire or Legion d'Honneur, the number is almost certainly somewhat higher.
The Croix de Guerre was also issued during World War Two by both the Free French (Gaullist and Giraudist) and Vichy Governments and also in a version for combat (other than WW1 or WW2) other than on French soil. It is still a relatively easy medal to find, and well-priced (certainly in comparison with British gallantry medals) although not named and thus sadly unresearchable, although a medal awarded to an Allied soldier would be an interesting find.
Restrikes are available; examples I have seen have swords which are finer than in the original and are overall of a signficantly more coppery tone. The belgian version is again somewhat different and I hope to describe one when I acquire it!
French Great War Commemorative Medal
This handsome French First World War commemorative medal, showing Marianne/la Republique holding a sword hilt uppermost, and helmeted as for war (note the use of the Casque Adrian, the helmet worn by French troops during the Great War) was instituted on 23rd June 1920 and issued by the French government to those who had served during the war either in the armed forces or as civilians in certain types of war work, examples of the latter being personnel of the Merchant Navy, medical services, local authorities, police and those of the fire brigades of bombed cities. For service personnel eligible dates for service were 2nd August 1914- 11th November 1918. The medal was designed by A. Morlon, who also designed the official French Victory Medal, and hangs from a ribbon consisting of five narrow red stripes on a white ground. The attractive lettering suggests an Art Nouveau influence.
French 1939-45 War Commemorative Medal
A medal of an interesting shape and rich in symbolism
Instituted in the immediate post-war period (21 May 1946), the French Government awarded this medal to service personnel in the French Army, Navy and Air Force for qualifying service in a military unit against Axis forces. Civilians were also eligible in certain circumstances. A number of interesting bars were available.
Interestingly, the medal is clearly shaped around its principal ornament, the two-limbed Cross of Lorraine, being vaguely rhomboid and wider towards the base than towards the apex, with a relatively hefty suspension ring above, through which the attractive ribbon loops. The obverse is dominated by the aforementioned Cross of Lorraine, which is partly superimposed over the medal's thick border, and then has superimposed over it the Gallic cockerel, this one trampling symbolic chains. The reverse then is taken up by the legend "Republique Francaise : Guerre 1939 1945" surrounding a small floral design, the edge of the medal being again heavily bordered. The ribbon is a distinctive one and, although fairly busy, is attractive, consisting as it does of a central row of downward pointing red chevrons (which some source suggest represent victory "V"s) on a pale blue ground, with pale green stripes on each edge bordered by thin red stripes, the whole being in handsome watered silk.
This particular example has the classic Franco-Belgian double-pronged pin fixing through the ribbon, designed to anchor it to the uniform jacket and has an appropriate period box. An interesting award which deserves more collectors' attention.
Free French Medal for Voluntary Service in the Free French Forces
A classic of its kind
Created on 4 April 1946, this medal was issued by the Gaullist Government to persons who had served in the Free French forces prior to 1 August 1943 or had otherwise served the Free French Government beginning prior to 3 June 1943. Consisting of a two-limbed cross of Lorraine with an unusual rectangular suspender and the words "FRANCE LIBRE" on one side and the dates "18 JUIN 1940" and "8 MAI 1945" on the other, the medal was issued in two types, the second type being illustrated, the main difference being in the height of the cross and the style of lettering. The particular example is on a generic blue watered silk ribbon; the correct ribbon, similar to some other WW2 French awards, is distinguished by a diagonal stripe, for this ribbon a thin red stripe on a blue ground. Typically silvered, the illustrated example is possibly a collectors'/tailors' copy.
WWII French Croix de Guerre
A sound example of the Second World War French Croix de Guerre, a medal awarded to French servicemen for bravery in the field, this particular example with palm in bronze, thus denoting a mention in a General's despatch at Army level, or equivalent for Naval forces. Dated 1939 with correct WW2 CDG ribbon. Interestingly enough it is on an American style crimped brooch. The Croix de Guerre was conferred on Allied, including US, personnel for mentions in French despatches (one such is illustrated in Foster & Borts' "US Military Medals 1939 to Present") and the mounting, plus the fact that it was sourced from the US, strongly suggests that it was awarded to a US serviceman.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Medals and Decorations of Hitler's Germany - A must-have for any WW2 medal collector
This fine and ambitious work showcases a vast range of medals, decorations and related badges from Hitler's Germany. The Nazi regime inherited what was practically a "blank slate" in terms of national awards and decorations and proceeded to fill up the resultant vacuum with a huge range of awards and badges for all sorts of endeavours from the military to the civil. The book illustrates this admirably, taking a thematic and chronological approach which imposes coherence on the huge range of awards offered. With excellent coverage of the Iron Cross, War Merit Cross, German Order and various War Badges, the book also discusses authorised but unproduced awards along with those with no genuine provenance, blowing some myths out of the water along the way! The political and civl sections are also fascinating, not least because of the evidence of the way in which the NSDAP wormed its way into every aspect of German life, as witnessed by the civil Long Service Awards, shooting association medals, Red Cross awards, Sporting badges and the like. A must-have for any medal collector.
A superb one-volume reference for collectors, featuring an extensive range of Nazi military, political and civil awards.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - British Campaign Medals 1914-2000, Duckers - Another excellent book from the Shire stable
This is another of the excellent range of illustrated books on subjects of historical or collectors' interests published by Shire Books. Written by the curator of a regimental museum and medal collector himself, the book's relatively circumscribed subject matter means that all the medals in its scope can be described and illustrated in some depth. Whilst the quality of some of the all-colour illustrations is variable, overall the effect is good. The text is also informative - for example on the relationship between the 1939-45 Star and the other WW2 campaign stars - covering as it does the medal's background, the various clasps available, award criteria (in varying levels of detail), rarity and other interesting details. An excellent, keenly-priced introduction.
Romanian World War Two Commemorative Cross
An interesting example of a late-issue, postcommunist WW2 commemorative medal, this one issued by the government of Romania to all World War Two participants (whether on the Axis or Allied side!). The medal is similar to that issued by the Kingdom of Romania to participants in the First World War, possibly intentionally.
United States Victory Medal
With interesting echoes, both in the medal itself and in its ribbon, of the allied Victory Medals of the First World War, the United States Victory Medal is an interesting study. Created by Act of Congress in July 1945 it was awarded to all members of the United States Military who served, whether actively or as a reservist, between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946. The obverse features Victory holding a broken sword in her hands and standing upon a helmet, representing peace, whilst the reverse shows a sprig of laurel and text referring to the four freedoms for preservation of which the war was fought (interestingly enough, the medal is sometimes offered for sale as the "Freedom of Speech and Religion" medal by those who do not recognise it!) A figure of Victory was also a common feature (in a variety of poses) of all the allied Victory medals of World War One, to which the ribbon of this medal, by use of the rainbow stripes representing the Allied Powers, also harks back. The medal, which was also granted to members of the armed services of the Government of the Philippines, was awarded without a time limit. Whilst apparently relatively common in the US, it is rarely seen here in the UK except in modern strikings and is an attractive addition to any collection..
WW2 American Campaign Medal - Europe Africa Middle East (EAME)
An interesting US campaign medal
A sound example of a United States "EAME" campaign medal commemorating military service and actions between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946 in the European, Africa and Middle Eastern theatres, covering battles as seminal as the European air offensive, Anzio, Normandy and the Ardennes. Conceived as a ribbon in 1942, it was authorised as a full-sized medal in 1947, the first recipient being General Dwight D. Eisenhower, recognising his service as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.
The medal itself shows American troops undertaking an amphibious landing on the obverse and the American eagle on the reverse, whilst the ribbon is itself symbolic, with stripes representing the colours of the United States, Italy and Germany interspersed between green and brown stripes representing the terrain of the battle areas.
From Wikipedia, the campaigns represented by the medal are as follows:
The following campaigns are recognized by service stars to the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.
Egypt-Libya: June 11, 1942 – February 12, 1943
Air Offensive, Europe: July 4, 1942 – June 5, 1944
Algeria-French Morocco: November 8–11, 1942
Tunisia: November 12, 1942 – May 13, 1943
Sicily: May 14, 1943 – August 17, 1943
Naples-Foggia: August 18, 1943 – January 21, 1944
Anzio: January 22, 1944 – May 24, 1944
Rome-Arno: January 22, 1944 – September 9, 1944
Normandy: June 6, 1944 – July 24, 1944
Northern France: July 25, 1944 – September 14, 1944
Southern France: August 15, 1944 – September 14, 1944
Northern Apennines: September 10, 1944 – April 4, 1945
Rhineland: September 15, 1944 – March 21, 1945
Ardennes-Alsace: December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945
Central Europe: March 22, 1945 – May 11, 1945
Po Valley: April 5, 1945 – May 8, 1945
For those service members who did not participate in a designated battle campaign, the following "blanket campaigns" are authorized to the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, denoted by service stars
Antisubmarine: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
Ground Combat: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
Air Combat: December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945
This example displays a copper colouration and a faded original ribbon, suggesting that it is an older restrike rather than one of the commoner modern strikings. There is no brooch present with this example.
Interesting and relatively hard to find in the UK.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - American Medals and Decorations, Evans Kerrigan
A well illustrated and useful resource, this substantial hardback takes the reader from the very first US decorations (the so-called "Andre" Medals of the American Revolution) up to the NASA, Civilian service and Joint Command medals of the 1980s. Dealing with the medals chronologically but principally by type, it puts some context around the proliferation of medals and helpfully relates like to like. Practically every medal mentioned is illustrated, which is helpful, and the illustrations themselves are of good quality. Fairly well-written and in moderate depth, the contextual information about the various batltes and campaignsfor which medals were awarded is very useful and saves it from "dryness". Well worth-while having.
A well illustrated and useful resource
The USMC Occupation Service Medal
A sound example of a United States Occupation Service medal for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) commemorating service occupying former Axis territories in the aftermath of World War Two.
The medal itself shows on the obverse Neptune, armed with a trident and riding a mer-horse, above the words "Occupation Service", whilst the reverse is similar to the US Navy edition, featuring the American eagle, bracketed by leaf sprays, sitting atop an anchor, flanked by the words "For Service", the difference being the legend "United States Marine Corps" around the upper circumference. The correct ribbon for the medal ribbon features white, scarlet and black stripes.
This example displays a copper colouration and some black discolouration on both sides, which may suggest that it is an older striking or restrike rather than one of the commoner modern strikings (although these are still relatively rarer than the US Army or Navy versions.) There is no ribbon or brooch present with this example.
Interesting and relatively hard to find here in the UK.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Gallantry Medals & Awards of the World - Clarke - A useful primer on this interesting subject
One of the few books focusing particularly on awards for gallantry. Republished in a smaller format in 2001 as "Gallantry Medals and Decorations of the World", this medium format hardback illustrates gallantry awards of countries ranging from Australia to Yugoslavia, and in point of time from 1671 to the reforms first Gulf War. Many of the medals are illustrated, in black and white, and described in explanatory text which often also includes example citations, very helpful for understanding the types of actions for which medals are awarded. The 8 pages of colour plates in the middle illustrate various medals and decorations and include a useful ribbon chart showing 125 different ribbons. It scores over its 2001 successor in that although not as up to date or broad (it does not cover Argentina and Turkey, for example, and the coverage of Russia does not extend to pre- or post-Soviet awards), the illustrations.which are markedly bigger and it also features an interesting endpiece on suggested reforms to the British system of gallantry medals. A good buy.
Amazon Spotlight Personal Review - Gallantry Medals and Decorations of the World, Clarke - Previously published as "Gallantry Medals and Awards of the World".
One of the few books focusing particularly on awards for gallantry. Previously published (in 1993) as "Gallantry Medals and Awards of the World". A smallish hardback, its 272 pages, plus 16 pages of colour plates, illustrate gallantry awards of countries ranging from Argentina to Yugoslavia, and in point of time from 1671 to the reforms of the British system under Prime Minister John Major. Many of the medals are illustrated, in black and white, and described in explanatory text which often also includes example citations, very helpful for understanding the types of actions for which medals are awarded. The colour plates at the end include examples of medals and a very useful colour chart featuring over 200 different ribbons. Published in 2001, it scores over its 1993 predecessor for up to date coverage and for breadth, coverage of Argentina and Turkey being included for the first time, and the coverage of Russia being enhanced to cover both pre- and post-Soviet awards. For collectors who are not interested in these countries, or for whom up to date-ness is not a concern, the older book may actually be as helpful if not more so as the format is slightly bigger, with illustrations.which are markedly bigger. A good buy.
Photo Gallery - My Medals - Some shots of my medal collectionClick thumbnail to view full-size
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Photo Gallery - more of my medalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photo Gallery - medalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photo Gallery - medalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photo Gallery - MedalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photo Gallery- MedalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Photo Gallery - medalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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Photo Gallery - medalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Medal Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
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Medal-related material on Amazon
Amazon - useful books for British medal collectors
A selection of the many fine illustrated and reference books for collectors of British medals.
Amazon - US medal resources
Well illustrated, up to date and easily accessible guides
An excellent, easily-navigable resource to all WW2-on US medals and decorations. Ideal for the first-time collector.