Croix de Guerre 1939–1945

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The Croix de guerre 1939–1945 (War Cross 1939–1945) is a French military decoration, a version of the Croix de Guerre created on 26 September 1939 to honour people who fought with the Allies against the Axis forces at any time during World War II. After Germany invaded and overran mainland France in May 1940, this Croix de Guerre was replaced by the pro-Axis Vichy French government with another Croix with a black-and-green ribbon, while the original was upheld by Free France. Since the triumph of the Free French side in World War II, this version is the only one officially recognized by the French government.

Croix de guerre 1939–1945
Croix de Guerre 1939 France AVERS.jpg
1939–1945 War Cross with 2 silver-gilt (gold) stars
TypeBravery award
Awarded forMilitary duty during World War II mentioned in dispatches
Presented by France
Claspssilver-gilt palm
silver palm
bronze palm
silver-gilt star
silver star
bronze star
StatusNo longer awarded
Established26 September 1939
First awarded1939
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg

Streamer FCDG WWII.png
Ribbon bar & streamer of the French Croix de guerre 1939–1945
Precedence
Next (higher)Croix de guerre 1914–1918
Next (lower)Croix de Guerre TOE

Award statuteEdit

Due to the large extent of the war zone, recipients included those who fought during, with, at, or in the following:[1]

Award descriptionEdit

MedalEdit

The Croix de guerre was designed by the sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé. The medal is 37 mm in size and is in the shape of a Maltese cross with two swords criss-crossed through the center. In the center of the front is the profile of the French Republic crested by a Phrygian cap. Around this portrait, are the words République française ("French Republic"). On the reverse of the medal are the dates of the conflict : 1939–1940, 1939–1945, or simply 1940.[1]

RibbonEdit

  The suspension and service ribbon of the medal has a red background crossed with four green lines in its center.[2]

DevicesEdit

On every medal and ribbon, there is at least one ribbon device, either in the shape of a palm or of a star, and fashioned from either bronze, silver or silver-gilt (vermeil). The relative importance of the six possible combinations is detailed below. The total number of devices on a "Croix de guerre" is not limited.

Award gradesEdit

 
Reverse of the 1939–1945 War Cross

Mentioned in DespatchesEdit

The lowest degree is represented by a bronze star while the highest degree is represented by a bronze palm:[2]

  • Bronze star (étoile en bronze) for those who had been mentioned at the regiment or brigade level.
  • Silver star (étoile en argent), for those who had been mentioned at the division level.
  • Silver-gilt star (étoile en vermeil), for those who had been mentioned at the corps level.
  •   Bronze palm (palme en bronze), for those who had been mentioned at the army level.
  •    Silver palm (palme en argent), represents five bronze ones.
  • Silver-gilt palm (palme en vermeil), for those who had been mentioned at the Free French Forces level (World War II only).[1]

The clasps are awarded for gallantry to any member of the French military or its allies and are, depending on the degree, roughly the equivalent to the U.S. Bronze Star and Silver Star or UK Military Cross and Military Medal.

Vichy France versionEdit

Following the German invasion and occupation of France in May 1940, the French collaborationist government (officially called État français, the "French State") created two croix during World War II, both utilizing a black-and-green ribbon pattern instead of the original red-and-green. These croix were both disavowed by the Free French government and the postwar French government, and wearing them is illegal in France. The Vichy Croix de Guerre employed the same tiered citations for the award as the officially-recognised version, excluding the added gilt palm.

Ribbon Awards
  Croix de guerre (Vichy France; for World War II service)
  Croix de guerre de la Légion des Volontaires Français (for Eastern Front World War II service)

Notable recipientsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Marc Champenois. "Croix de guerre 1939–1945" (in French). France-phaleristique.com. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Croix De Guerre, France". The Institute of Heraldry. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2017.