Military Long Service Decoration, Type III, II Class for Officers (for 40 years with gold eagle)
Image courtesy of eMedals.com
Image courtesy of eMedals.com
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The Long Service Decoration was founded by Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1849. It was to reward Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and enlisted men in the Austrian Army and Navy for long service. Conscription began in 1780, meaning each male citizen in the crown lands could be called up for military service, however several exceptions existed. The number of years required to serve and rules of conscription changed frequently, from 14 years in 1811, to 8 years in 1845, to 10 in 1852.
In 1859, all other ranks that completed their mandatory service and remained in the army were awarded with a grenade of white cloth to wear on their uniform tunic. These individuals were provided the name “Grenadier” in the infantry or “Veteran” in all other branches. This practice ceased in 1869, and the grenades were replaced with chevrons of golden silk on the left sleeve.
In 1868, the Defence Act was passed, making it compulsory for all male citizens to serve twelve years in the army. This consisted of three years in the active service, seven years in the reserves and to in the Austrian/Hungarian cavalry mounted artillery or navy the reserve period was reduced by one year.
In 1867, there were changes to the regulations. The I Class was to be awarded for 12 years, and the II Class for 18 years. Later, eligibility for the II Class extended from 18 years to 24 years and the medallion was changed to XXIV.
In 1890, another change to the statues was introduced. The decoration was now awarded in three classes. I Class for 50 years, II Class for 40 years, and III Class for 25. The Long service cross for other ranks was altered to be 24 years for I Class and 12 years for II Class.
In 1913, the other ranks medals were altered to be in three classes. The I Class for 20 years, II Class for 10 years and II Class for 6 years. At the same time, it was decided that the II Class for Officers would be awarded after 35 years of service.
Eligibility was expanded in 1914 to include engineers and artillery engineers and in 1917 to military doctors.
Due to the large number awarded, it is very difficult to trace the number of decorations over the course of it’s lifetime. There are many manufacturing differences (size, composition, visual changes in the obverse medallion) as many firms created the decorations. The decoration ceased to exist after 1918.
The Type III Medals (1890-1913) The obverse medallion of the awards for Officers in Type II-Type IV have a small crown on each head of the double headed eagle, and a single large crown above the small crowns. The Type III-Type IV awards also feature a ball-shaped or a roller-shaped suspension ring. The Long Service crosses were altered and the I class was now for 24 years and the II Class for 12 years.
The I Class was awarded to officers for 50 years of service. The cross is made of gold-plated silver with a black enamelled stripe around the edges of each arm. It has a gold-plated imperial crowned attached between the cross and the ribbon.
The II Class was awarded to officers for 40 years and is composed of gold-plated bronze but has a black enamelled stripe around the edges of each arm. The eagle is gold plated.
The III Class was awarded to officers for 25 years and is composed of gold-plated bronze with a silver eagle.
The I Class awarded to NCOs for 24 years has a silver medallion with a wreath and XXIV.
The II Class awarded to NCOs for 12 years has a bronze medallion with XII in the center.
The decoration was worn on a yellow and black striped ribbon.
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