World War I Victory Medal (United States)

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World War I Victory Medal
Ww1vm.gif
World War I Victory Medal
Awarded by Department of the Army
Department of the Navy
Type Campaign Medal
Eligibility

served in the armed forces between the following dates, in the following locations:

  • 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 for any military service.
  • 12 November 1918, to 5 August 1919 for service in European Russia
  • 23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force Siberia
Status Inactive
Statistics
Established

by an Act of Congress, 1919, and promulgated by War Department General Order 48, 1919, which was rescinded by War Department General Order 83, 30 June 1919.

[1]
First awarded April 1921 (retroactive)[1]
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg

Streamer WWI V.PNG
A photo showing the state of a U.S. Victory Medal in 2012.

The World War I Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was first created in 1919, designed by James Earle Fraser. The medal was originally intended to be created due to an act of the United States Congress, however the bill authorizing the decoration never passed, leaving the service departments to create the award through general orders. The United States Army published orders authorizing the World War I Victory Medal in April 1919 and the U.S. Navy followed in June of that same year.[1] [2]

[1]

Criteria[edit]

Known until 1947 simply as the “Victory Medal”, the World War I Victory Medal was awarded to any member of the U.S. military who had served in the armed forces between the following dates in the following locations:[3]

Design[edit]

The front of the bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front. The back of the bronze medal features "The Great War For Civilization" in all capital letters curved along the top of the medal. Curved along the bottom of the back of the medal are six stars, three on either side of the center column of seven staffs wrapped in a cord. The top of the staff has a round ball on top and is winged on the side. The staff is on top of a shield that says "U" on the left side of the staff and "S" on the right side of the staff. On left side of the staff it lists one World War I Allied country per line: France, Italy, Serbia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, and Greece. On the right side of the staff the Allied country names read: Great Britain (at the time the common term for the United Kingdom), Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Rumania (spelled with a U instead of an O as it is spelled now), and China.

Devices[edit]

To denote battle participation and campaign credit, the World War I Victory Medal was authorized with a large variety of devices to denote specific accomplishments. In order of seniority, the devices authorized to the World War I Victory Medal were as follows:

Silver Citation Star[edit]

The Silver Citation Star to the World War I Victory Medal was authorized by the United States Congress on 4 February 1919. A silver star was authorized to be worn on the ribbon of the Victory Medal for any member of the U.S. Army who had been cited for gallantry in action between 1917 and 1920. In 1932, the Silver Citation Star was redesigned and renamed the Silver Star and, upon application to the United States War Department, any holder of the Silver Citation Star could have it converted to a Silver Star decoration.

Navy Commendation Star[edit]

The Navy Commendation Star was authorized to any person who had been commended by the Secretary of the Navy for performance of duty during the First World War. The Navy Commendation Star was worn as a silver star on the World War I Victory Medal, identical in appearance to the Army’s Silver Citation Star. Unlike the Army’s version, however, the Navy Commendation Star could not be upgraded to the Silver Star medal.[2][4]

Army Battle Clasps[edit]

The following battle clasps, inscribed with a battle's name, were worn on the medal to denote participation in major ground conflicts.[1]

Army Battle Clasps
Major Ground Conflict Start Date End Date
Aisne 27 May 1918 5 June 1918
Aisne-Marne 18 July 1918 6 August 1918
Cambrai 12 May 1917 4 December 1917
Champagne-Marne 15 July 1918 18 July 1918
Lys 9 April 1918 27 April 1918
Meuse-Argonne 26 September 1918 11 November 1918
Montdidier-Noyon 9 June 1918 13 June 1918
Oise-Aisne 18 August 1918 11 November 1918
St. Mihiel 12 September 1918 16 September 1918
Somme-Defensive 21 March 1918 6 April 1918
Somme-Offensive 8 August 1918 11 November 1918
Vittorio-Veneto 24 October 1918 4 November 1918
Ypres-Lys 19 August 1918 11 November 1918

For general defense service, not involving a specific battle, the "Defensive Sector" Battle Clasp was authorized. The clasp was also awarded for any battle which was not already recognized by its own battle clasp.

The World War I Victory Medal bears the clasps of the battles the U.S. Army participated in across the ribbon. Not all battles are shown on the bar clasps. Only the battles designated as battles that would have bars issued were shown on the medal. The famous Battle of Chateau Thierry to hold the Chateau and the bridge as a joint effort between the US Army and the US Marines against the German machine gunners did not get awarded clasps.

Navy Battle Clasps[edit]

Navy battle clasps were issued for naval service in support of Army operations and had identical names to the Army battle clasps. There was a slight variation of the criteria dates for the Navy battle clasps, as listed below.[2]

Navy Battle Clasps
Major Ground Conflict Start Date End Date
Aisne 1 June 1918 5 June 1918
Aisne-Marne 18 July 1918 20 July 1918
Meuse-Argonne 29 September 1918 10 October 1918
Meuse-Argonne 25 October 1918 11 November 1918
St. Mihiel 12 September 1918 16 September 1918
Ypres-Lys (Service in support of the Northern Bombing Group)

The Defensive Sector Clasp was also authorized for Navy personnel who had participated in naval combat but were not authorized a particular battle clasp.

Navy Operational Clasps[edit]

For sea-related war duty, the Navy issued the following operational clasps, which were worn on the World War I Victory Medal and inscribed with the name of the duty type which had been performed:[2]

Navy Operational Clasps
Operation Start Date End Date
Armed Guard: Merchant personnel(freighters, tankers, and troop ship) 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Asiatic: Service on any vessel that visited a Siberian port 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Asiatic: Port visit must have exceeded ten days in length 12 Nov. 1918 30 Mar. 1920
Atlantic Fleet: Service in the Atlantic Fleet 25 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Aviation: Service involving flying over the Atlantic Ocean 25 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Destroyer: Service on destroyers on the Atlantic Ocean 25 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Escort: Personnel regularly attached to escort vessels on the North Atlantic 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Grand Fleet: Personnel assigned to any ship of the “United States Grand Fleet” 9 Dec. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Mine Laying: Service in mine laying sea duty 26 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Mine Sweeping: Service in mine sweeping sea duty 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Mobile Base: Service on tenders and repair vessels 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Naval Battery: Service as a member of a naval battery detachment 10 July 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Overseas: Service on shore in allied or enemy countries of Europe 6 Apr. 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Patrol: War patrol service on the Atlantic Ocean 25 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Salvage: Salvage duty performed on the seas 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
Submarine: Submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean 25 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Submarine Chaser: Anti-submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean 18 May 1918 11 Nov. 1918
Transport: Personnel regularly attached to a transport or cargo vessel 6 Apr. 1917 11 Nov. 1918
White Sea: Service on any vessel which visited a Russian port or war patrols in the White Sea not less than ten days 12 Nov. 1918 31 July 1919

Unlike the army, the navy only allowed one clasp of any type to be worn on the ribbon. Members of the marine or medical corps who served in France but was not eligible for a battle clasp would receive a bronze Maltese cross on their ribbons.[2]

Army Service Clasps[edit]

For non-combat service with the army during the First World War, the following service clasps were authorized to be worn with the World War I Victory Medal. Each service claps was inscribed with a country or region name where support service was performed. The U.S. Army issued the following service clasps:[1]

Army Service Clasps
Country or Region Start Date End Date
England 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
France 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
Italy 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
Russia (Any service)
Siberia (Any service)

Navy Service Clasps[edit]

The U.S. Navy issued similar service clasps to the Army for service in the following regions during the following periods:[2]

Navy Service Clasps
Region Start Date End Date
England 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
France 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
Italy 6 April 1917 11 November 1918
Russia 12 November 1918 31 July 1919
Siberia 12 November 1918 30 March 1920
West Indies 6 April 1917 11 November 1918

Campaign Stars[edit]

Since battle and service clasps could only be worn on the full-sized World War I Victory Medal, bronze service stars were authorized for wear on the award ribbon. This was the common method of campaign and battle display when wearing the World War I Victory Medal as a ribbon on a military uniform.

Distribution[edit]

The medals were awarded after the end of World War I, so they were mailed to the servicemen instead of awarded in person. For example, the boxes containing the Victory Medals for United States Army World War I veterans were mailed out by the depot officer at the General Supply Depot, U.S. Army, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April 1921. An outer light brown box with an address label glued to it and its postage area marked "OFFICIAL BUSINESS, Penalty for private use $300" contained an inner white box stamped with the bars the serviceman was supposed to receive on his medal. The inner white box contained the medal, which was wrapped in tissue paper.

Name change[edit]

In 1945, the “Victory Ribbon” was created as an award for those who served in World War II. Between 1945 and 1947, the World War I award continued to be known by its original name, the “Victory Medal,” and the World War II award was known as the “Victory Ribbon.” In 1947, the Victory Ribbon became a full-sized medal as the World War II Victory Medal, at which point the World War I Victory Medal adopted its current name. However, some military records as late as the 1950s continued to annotate the World War I decoration by its previous name, and the medal was often referred to as “Victory Medal (WWI)”.

An International Award[edit]

Not only did the United States issue a Victory Medal, but so did a significant number of Allied and associated countries involved in the conflict against the Dual Alliance between Austria and Germany.

The proposition of such a common award was first made by French Maréchal Ferdinand Foch who was supreme commander of the Allied Forces during the First World War. Each medal in bronze has the same diameter (36 mm) and ribbon (double rainbow), but with a national design representing a winged victory.1[a]

Country Designer Manufacturer Number issued
Belgium Paul Du Bois (1859–1938) ----- 300,000 – 350,000
Brazil Jorge Soubre (1890–1934) approximately 2,500
Cuba Charles Charles
  • Etablissements Chobillon
6,000 – 7,000
Czechoslovakia Otakar Španiel (1881–1955)
  • Kremnice Mint
approximately 89,500
France Pierre-Alexandre Morlon (1878–1951)
  • Monnaie de Paris
approximately 2,000,000
France [b] Charles Charles
  • Etablissements Chobillon
-----
France[b]
  • M. Pautot
  • Louis Octave Mattei
----- -----
Great Britain[c] William McMillan (1887–1977)
  • Woolwich Arsenal
  • Wright & Son
6,334,522 plus
Greece Henry-Eugène Nocq (1868–1944)
  • V. Canale
approximately 200,000
Italy Gaetano Orsolini (1884–1954)
  • Sacchini-Milano
  • S.Johnson-Milano
  • F.M.Lorioli & Castelli-Milano
approximately 2,000,000
Japan[d] Shoukichi Hata
  • Osaka Mint
approximately 700,000
Poland[e] .... Vlaitov
  • Mint Kremnica
-----
Portugal João Da Silva (1880–1960)
  • Da Costa
approximately 100,000
Rumania .... Kristesko ----- approximately 300,000
Siam (Thailand) Itthithepsan Kritakara (1890–1935) ----- approximately 1,500
South Africa[f] William McMillan (1887–1977)
  • Woolwich Arsenal
approximately 75,000
United States James Earle Fraser (1876–1953)
  • Arts Metal Works Inc.
  • S.G.Adams Stamp & Stationary Co.
  • Jos. Mayer Inc.
approximately 2,500,000

(Main source : ‘’The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition )

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Except Japan and Siam where the concept of a winged victory was not culturally relevant. The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition
  2. ^ a b Unofficial. The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition
  3. ^ Awarded not only to British combatants but as well to those from the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and those from the Empire of India. The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition
  4. ^ On the obverse the winged figure of Victory was replaced by a warrior holding a spear The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition
  5. ^ For reasons still not known, Poland did not proceed with the manufacture of the medal at their mint. The medal shows a clearly visible “MK” ( Mint Kremnica). The medal may possibly be an unofficial strike by a veteran’s group. The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition
  6. ^ The text on the reverse is in English and Dutch. The Interallied Victory Medals of World War I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "World War I Victory Medal". The Institute of Heraldry: Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the ARMY. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "World War I Victory Medal". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  3. ^ 578.54 World War I Victory Medal
  4. ^ Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, NAVPERS 15,790 Rev. 1953.

See also[edit]