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The War Cross (Cruz de Guerra) was established by General Francisco Franco on January 26, 1937. It was conferred upon either Spanish or foreign military personnel who fought against Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). It was awarded to members of all branches of the Spanish Army who, in combat, rendered extraordinary and effective services to the Nationalist cause.
The War Cross replaced the Military Order of Maria Cristina, which was abolished in 1931 by the Second Spanish Republic, reason why the design of the Cross was directly descended of the Maria Cristina's Order insignia.
Originally, the only grade was the War Cross Breast Star. A special version was made to reward the German Condor Legion who served to Franco during the war; this version is known as "Meybauer".
In 1942, the War Cross for Generals, War Cross for Senior Officers, War Cross for Officer, and Cross were added. In addition, two different categories were created for each grade; the awards with palms were awarded to those who took part of important advances of the front line during the combat. The awards without palms were awarded in recognition of outstanding actions and meritorious services in combat.
In 1975 some Crosses were added to reward veterans.
The 2003-regulations reduced the Order to a single grade, the War Cross medal, and the distinctions with palms were suppressed. Since then, the Cross is awarded to Spanish military personnel in recognition of great and heroic deeds, and the displaying of merit within dangerous campaigns.
The Cross is classified into types based on the order's grades modifications. Type I includes the first model and Meybauer version between 1938 and 1942. Type II includes the decoration between 1942 and 2003, while Type III consists of the War Cross Medal since 2003.
In 2003 (Type III) the design of the Cross was modified and it became a Greek Cross with ring suspension. The Cross has a clasp on the upper arm where the date of the bestowal is shown.
The Cross features and obverse inscription that translates to "To Military Courage."
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