War Cross, Bronze Cross (1939 1944)
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The War Cross (1939-1945) was created on September 26, 1939. It was awarded to all military personnel who had received a citation for a feat of arms in World War II. It could also be awarded to entire ships, towns and villages that had been bombarded or destroyed by enemy attacks.
The cross had five possible ribbon clasps. A bronze star clasp was awarded for a citation at the unit, brigade, or regimental level, a silver star clasp was awarded for a citation at the divisional level, a gilt star was awarded for a citation at the army corps level, a bronze palm was awarded for a citation at the army level, and a silver palm replaced five bronze palms.
There are two different types of the Cross, each with numerous versions. Type I Crosses were awarded by the French Government from 1939-1940 and then again from 1944-1956. The official version has “1939” on the reverse medallion. Unofficial versions vary in the date inscribed on the reverse medallion. There is a “Free French” version that was made in London and which lacks an inscription on its reverse medallion. Type II Crosses were awarded by the Vichy Government from 1941-1944. The official Vichy version has “1939 1940” on the reverse medallion. Unofficial versions vary in reverse inscription dates.
There is a Type II version created by General Giraud in 1943 for the troops under his command in North Africa. The obverse had two crossed flags. There is an additional Type II “French State” version which had the Vichy francisque on the obverse medallion. These crosses were awarded to soldiers of the 1st Regiment of France in 1944. Between 80 and 100 of these Crosses are estimated to have been awarded. The final Type II version was awarded to members of the French Volunteer Legion who fought on the Eastern Front alongside Nazi German forces. These soldiers were tried for treason after the War for having fought with France’s enemy. This version has an eagle on the obverse medallion and a different reverse inscription. All Type II Medals were prohibited after 1944.
There may be additional versions of both types which vary in size or composition.
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