Croix de Guerre

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Croix de guerre
Croix-De-Guerre-Francis-Browne.jpg
Awarded by  France
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Military personnel only, often bestowed to members of allied countries
Awarded for individuals who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with enemy forces.
Campaign(s) World War I
World War II
Other wars not fought on French soil
Status Active
Description A bronze cross with swords
Statistics
Established April 2, 1915
CroixdeGuerreFR-BronzePalm.png Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm (France) - ribbon bar.png

Streamer FCDG WWII.png
Croix de guerre avec Palme ribbon bars and streamer
(1914–1918 & 1939–1945)

The Croix de guerre (French: [kʁwa də ɡɛʁ], Cross of War) is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts. The Croix de guerre was also commonly bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France.[1]

The Croix de guerre may either be awarded as an individual or unit award to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy. The medal is awarded to those who have been "mentioned in dispatches", meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit. The unit award of the Croix de guerre with palm was issued to military units whose members performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters.

Appearance[edit]

The Croix de guerre medal varies depending on which country is bestowing the award and for what conflict. Separate French medals exist for the First and Second World War.

For the unit decoration of the Croix de guerre, a fourragère (which takes the form of a braided cord) is awarded; this is suspended from the shoulder of an individual's uniform.

As the Croix de guerre is issued as several medals, and as a unit decoration, situations typically arose where an individual was awarded the decoration several times, for different actions, and from different sources. Regulations also permitted the wearing of multiple Croix de guerre, meaning that such medals were differentiated in service records by specifying French Croix de guerre, French Croix de guerre (WWI), etc.

French Croix de guerre[edit]

French Croix de guerre des TOE

There are three distinct Croix de guerre medals in the French system of honours:

Ribbon Awards
Ruban de la Croix de guerre 1914-1918.png Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (for World War I service)
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG Croix de guerre 1939–1945 (for World War II service)
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures (TOE) for wars other than World War I and World War II not fought on French soil[2]

Furthermore, the French collaborationist government created two croix during World War II. These croix are now illegal under French law and wearing them is outlawed:

Ribbon Awards
Croix de Guerre Vichy ribbon.svg Croix de guerre (Vichy France; for World War II service)
Croix de Guerre Vichy LVF ribbon.svg Croix de guerre de la Légion des Volontaires Français (for World War II service)

The Croix was created by a law of April 2, 1915, proposed by French deputy Émile Briant. The Croix reinstated an older system of mentions in dispatches, which were only administrative honours with no medal. The sculptor Paul-André Bartholomé created the medal, a bronze cross with swords, showing the effigy of the republic.

The French Croix represents a mention in dispatches awarded by a commanding officer, at least a regimental commander. Depending on the officer who issued the mention, the ribbon of the Croix is marked with extra pins.

  • Mentioned in Despatches:
    • a bronze star for those who had been mentioned at the regiment or brigade level.
    • a silver star, for those who had been mentioned at the division level.
    • a silver gilt star for those who had been mentioned at the corps level.
    • a bronze palm for those who had been mentioned at the army level.
    • a silver palm stands for five bronze ones.
    • a silver gilt palm for those who had been mentioned at the Free French Forces level (World War II only).

The French Croix de guerre des TOE was created in 1921 for wars fought in theatres of operation outside France. It was awarded during the Indochina War, Korean War, and other wars up to the Kosovo War in 1999.

When World War II broke out in 1939, a new Croix de guerre was created by Édouard Daladier. It was abolished by Vichy Government in 1941, which created a new Croix de guerre. In 1943 General Giraud in Algiers created another Croix de guerre. Both Vichy and Giraud Croix were abolished by General de Gaulle in 1944, who reinstated the 1939 Croix.

The Croix de guerre takes precedence between the Ordre national du Mérite and the Croix de la Valeur Militaire, the World War I Croix being senior to the World War II one, itself senior to TOE Croix.

Unit award[edit]

The coat of arms of Leuven, featuring a French Croix de guerre presumably to commemorate acts of heroism during the sacking of the city by Germany in 1914.

The Croix can be awarded to military units, as a manifestation of a collective Mention in Despatches. It is then displayed on the unit's flag. A unit, usually a regiment or a battalion, is always mentioned at the army level. The Croix is then a Croix de guerre with palm. Other communities, such as cities or companies can be also awarded the Croix.

When a unit is mentioned twice, it is awarded the fourragère of the Croix de guerre. This fourragère is worn by all men in the unit, but it can be worn on a personal basis: those permanently assigned to a unit, at the time of the mentions, were entitled to wear the fourragère for the remainder of service in the military.

Temporary personnel, or those who had joined a unit after the actions which had been mentioned, were authorized to wear the award while a member of the unit but would surrender the decoration upon transfer. This temporary wearing of the fourragère only applied to the French version of the Croix de guerre.

The 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment of the British Army was awarded the French Croix de guerre with palm for its gallant defence of Bois des Buttes on 27 May 1918, the first day of the Third Battle of the Aisne

United States acceptance[edit]

In the United States military, the Croix de guerre was accepted as a foreign decoration. It remains one of the more difficult foreign awards to verify entitlement. The Croix de guerre unit and individual award were often presented with original orders only and rarely entered into a permanent service record. The 1973 National Archives Fire destroyed most of the World War II personnel records which are needed to verify a veteran's entitlement to the Croix de guerre award. However, foreign unit award entitlements can be checked and verified through official unit history records. Veterans must provide proof of service in the unit cited at the time of action in order to be entitled to the award. Individual foreign awards can be checked through foreign government (France) military records.

Regarding the United States in WWI, on April 10, 12, and 13, 1918, the lines being held by the troops of the 104th Infantry Regiment, of the 26th "Yankee" Division, in Bois Brûlé, near Apremont in the Ardennes, were heavily bombarded and attacked by the Germans. At first the Germans secured a foothold in some advanced trenches which were not strongly held but, thereafter, sturdy counterattacks by the 104th Infantry - at the point of the bayonet - succeeded in driving the enemy out with serious losses, entirely re-establishing the American line. For its gallantry the 104th Infantry was cited in a general order of the French 32nd Army Corps on April 26, 1918. In an impressive ceremony occurring in a field near Boucq on April 28, 1918, the 104th Infantry's regimental flag was decorated with the Croix de Guerre by French General Fenelon F.G. Passaga. “I am proud to decorate the flag of a regiment which has shown such fortitude and courage,” he said. “I am proud to decorate the flag of a nation which has come to aid in the fight for liberty.” Thus, the 104th Infantry became the very first American unit to be honored by a foreign country for exceptional bravery in combat. In addition, 117 members of the 104th Infantry received the award, including its commander, Colonel George H. Shelton.[3]

In World War II, the 320th Bombardment Group received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, April–June 1944. It was the first American unit in this war to be awarded the citation.[4] Members of the 440th AAA AW Battalion (Anti-Aircraft Artillery - Automatic Weapons) of the U.S. Army also received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (unit award) for stopping the German Ardennes counter-offensive in holding the town of Gouvy, Belgium for 412 days at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944. Gouvy is midway between St. Vith and Bastogne. Commanding Officer of the 440th, Lt. Col. Robert O. Stone, and Pfc. Joseph P. Regis, also received an individual award of the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. On June 21, 1945, French General De Gaulle presented the following citation to the 34th United States Infantry Division: "A 'division d’elite', whose loyal and efficient cooperation with French divisions, begun in TUNISIA, was gloriously continued throughout the Italian campaign, in particular during the operations of BELVEDERE when the 34th Division, despite the difficulties of the moment, displayed most courageous efforts in support of the operations of the 3rd Algerian Division. This citation bears with it the award of Croix de Guerre with Palm." Soldiers of the US Army 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment "Geronimos" were awarded the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, For Service in the Southern France campaign. The 509th Unit colors bear the Streamer embroidered "MUY EN PROVENCE".[5]

On March 30, 1951, the President of the French Republic, Vincent Auriol, pinned not only the Croix de Guerre with Palm but also the Legion of Honour on the flag of the Brigade of Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy in recognition of historic contributions of the Naval Academy, particularly the contributions of alumni to victory in World War II. The flag of the Brigade of Midshipmen does not display streamers for either award, nor do Midshipmen wear the fourragère, despite apparent entitlement to do both. [6]

Today, members of several US Army and Marine Corps units that received the fourragère for combat service during World Wars I and/or II are authorized to wear the award while assigned to the unit. Upon transfer from the unit the individual is no longer authorized to wear the fourragère. Wearing of the decoration is considered ceremonial only and it is not entered as an official military individual or unit award in the service member’s permanent service records. Units currently authorized to wear the French Fourragère are:

  • US Army
    • 2d Infantry Division “Indianhead” – For service during WW I with the I Corps, US First Army, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF)
    • 3d Infantry Division “Marne Division” – For service during WW I with the III Corps, US First Army, AEF & in WW II with VI Corps, US Seventh Army, Sixth US Army Group, AEF
    • 4th Cavalry Regiment “Raiders” – For service during WW II as the 4th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) VII Corps, US First Army, Twelfth US Army Group, AEF
    • 28th Infantry Regiment “Lions of Cantigny” – For service during WW I in the 2d Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, I Corps, US First Army, AEF (Regiment deactivated as of 9 April 2015)
    • 369th Infantry Regiment “Harlem Hellfighters” – For service during WW I in the French 16th and 161st Divisions (Regiment reorganized and re-designated as of 20 July 2007 as the 369th Sustainment Brigade, 53d Troop Command, New York Army National Guard)

106th Cavalry Regiment - For service during WW II - 121st CRS: Fourragère; 121st CRS: French Croix de guerre with Palm; 106th Group: French Croix de guerre with Palm

  • US Marine Corps
    • 5th Marine Regiment "The Fighting Fifth"
    • 6th Marine Regiment "The Fighting Sixth"
    • 6th Machine Gun Battalion (Deactivated 13 August 1919)
      • Note: Only members of the above named USMC units, including attached Navy personnel, are authorized to wear the French Fourragère for their unit's service during WW I as the 4th Marine Brigade, of the US Army 2d Infantry Division, I Corps, US First Army, AEF:

Notable recipients[edit]

Individuals in World War I[edit]

  • Millicent Sylvia Armstrong was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery in rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire.[7]
  • Lt.-Gen. Sir James Melville Babington, Commander of the 23rd Division (United Kingdom)
  • Lt. Fred Becker, the University of Iowa's first All-American left school to enlist prior to his senior season. Commissioned in the Army and assigned to a Marine platoon. KIA at Soissons, July 1918. Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and France awarded him the Croix de Guerre.[8][9][10]
  • Hobey Baker, an American fighter pilot.
  • Arthur Bluethenthal, All American football player and decorated World War I pilot.
  • Solon Hannibal de la Mothe Borglum, for work with the Les Foyers du Soldat. American Sculptor.
  • Bl. Daniel Brottier, beatus in the Roman Catholic Church; acted as a military chaplain during the war.
  • Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Melbourne and later Prime Minister of Australia, in 1917.
  • Eugene Bullard, wounded in the 1916 battles around Verdun, was awarded the Croix de guerre for his heroism. Served with the Lafayette Escadrille as the first African-American combat aviator.
  • Georges Carpentier, Aviator during the war as well as a world champion boxer.
  • Vernon Castle, Pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. Flying over the Western Front, he completed 300 combat missions and shot down two aircraft.[11]
  • Harry Cator, then a Serjeant in the 7th Battalion of The East Surrey Regiment of the British Army, awarded the Victoria Cross and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for his heroism.
  • Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO & Bar (August 28, 1890 – July 28, 1971) was the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II.
  • Father John B. DeValles, A chaplain with the Yankee Division, he was known as the "Angel of the Trenches" for his valiant deeds in caring for both Allied and German soldiers on the battlefields of France. Fr. DeValles was injured in a mustard gas attack while attending to a fallen soldier and died two years later.
  • William J. Donovan, legendary soldier and founder of the Office of Strategic Services. Awarded U.S. Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre with Palm and Silver Star.
  • Otis B. Duncan, lieutenant-colonel in the 370th Infantry Regiment (United States) and highest-ranking African-American officer to serve in World War I combat.
  • Ernest Fawcus, officer in the Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Flying Corps, awarded the Croix de guerre for leading successful bombing attacks.
  • Dorothie Feilding, a British volunteer nurse awarded the Croix de guerre for bravery in the field.
  • George L. Fox, awarded the Croix de guerre for his service on the Western Front. He was also one of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives when the troopships USAT Dorchester was hit by a torpedo and sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II.
  • Robert Gauthiot, French Orientalist, linguist, and explorer, interrupted his exploration of the Pamir Mountains in July 1914 to return home to serve as a captain in the infantry. He received the Croix de guerre before he was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Artois in May 1916.
  • Major Edwin L. Holton was awarded the Croix de Guerre for distinguished service as deputy commissioner of the American Red Cross in France in charge of re-education and rehabilitation of the disabled soldiers. He had a staff of 60 Red Cross Officials assisted by 15,000 workers. The staff he supervised helped 136,000 disabled soldiers of the 200,000 American wounded in WWI.
  • William F Howe, Commanding Officer of 102nd Field Artillery Regiment on the Western Front
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Iremonger
  • Sgt. Henry Johnson served with the 369th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Black Rattlers, the regiment consisted entirely of African Americans excepting their commanding officers. Henry Johnson was the first American alongside Needham Roberts to receive the Croix de Guerre. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with special citation and a golden palm for bravey in fighting off a German raiding party. Also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart (1996), the Distinguished Service Cross (2002), and the U.S. Army Medal of Honor (2015) for his actions in the battle.
  • Major General Charles E. Kilbourne who was also the first American to win the United States' three highest medals for bravery.
  • American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), a sergeant and intelligence observer with the 69th Volunteer Infantry, 42nd Rainbow Division, was posthumously awarded the Croix de guerre for service.
  • Henry Louis Larsen, an American Marine commanding the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines during every major battle of the war in France involving the United States.
  • E. Brooke Lee American Major from Maryland.
  • Henri de Lubac, a Roman Catholic Jesuit novice serving in the Third Infantry Regiment, who was severely wounded in the head on 1 November 1917 while fighting near Verdun. He later became an influential Catholic theologian and Cardinal.
  • William March, American writer, awarded the Croix de guerre with palm.
  • George C. Marshall, General of the Army and Secretary of State, awarded the Croix de guerre with palm.
  • Lawrence Dominic McCarthy, was also an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
  • Horace McCoy, American novelist and screenwriter.
  • Ruari McLean CBE (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve), awarded in 1942, served in the Free French Submarine Rubis
  • John McNulty (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Gustave A. Michalka, with two of his men he captured a machine gun by assault and killed the crew. By his bravery and prompt action he avoided losses in his platoon.[12]
  • George S. Patton, legendary American general.
  • Waldo Peirce, American Red Cross volunteer (1918, for courage during the Vosges Hills Battle)
  • Isabel Weld Perkins, for Red Cross volunteer work.
  • Thomas A. Pope 1918 Corporal, U.S. Army; also earned the U.S. Army Medal of Honor, the British Distinguished Conduct Medal, and the Médaille militaire, for bravery displayed in Hamel, France.
  • Eddie Rickenbacker, Captain and flying ace of the 94th Aero Squadron, United States Army Air Service, during World War I; also recipient of the U.S. Medal of Honor.
  • James E. Rieger, Major (later Colonel), led a key attack during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
  • Needham Roberts served with the 369th Infantry Division, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Black Rattlers, a regiment consisted entirely of African Americans excepting their commanding officers. Henry Johnson was the first American alongside Henry Johnson to receive the Croix de Guerre.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Son of President Theodore Roosevelt. Battalion commander in France.
  • Milunka Savić, Serbian female officer was awarded the French Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 with Palm. She is the only woman in the world awarded with this medal for service in World War I.
  • James M. Sellers, president of Wentworth Military Academy and College and U.S. Marine. Awarded the Croix de Guerre for heroism at Belleau Wood
  • Laurence Stallings, American writer.
  • Donald Swartout, American Jackson, Michigan, intelligence pfc, Comp I, 128th Infantry, 32d Div. French Croix de Guerre with bronze palm, " dated March 15, 1919, General Headquarters, French Armies of the East Marshal Petain for carrying important messages between Juvigny and Terny Sorny while wounded.[13][14]
  • John Tovey, Royal Navy, later became a senior naval commander and an Admiral of the Fleet.
  • Stephen W. Thompson, aviator, was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm. He is credited with the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.
  • Ludovicus Van Iersel, Dutch-American sergeant who won the Croix de guerre twice while serving in France.
  • James Waddell was one of New Zealand’s most highly decorated soldiers of the First World War. Waddell was received in the French Legion of Honour and promoted twice. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre seven times during the war.
  • Herbert Ward, artist, sculptor and African explorer, awarded the Croix de Guerre while serving with the British Ambulance Committee in the Vosges
  • Edwin "Pa" Watson, served in France. Earning the U.S. Army Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre from the French government.
  • William A. Wellman, American fighter pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corps, awarded Croix de Guerre with two palm leaves, 1918
  • Samuel Woodfill, an American infantry lieutenant who disabled several German machine-gun nests and killed many enemy combatants with rifle, pistol and pickaxe. He was awarded the American Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre.
  • Alvin C. York was awarded the Croix de Guerre with bronze palm for his valor in the Battle of Meuse River-Argonne Forest near the town of Verdun, France. Also awarded the American Medal of Honor.

Individuals in World War II[edit]

Dougboys of the 369th Infantry Regiment posing after World War I with their Croix de Guerre medals
Colonel Jimmy Stewart being awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm in 1944.

Other recipients[edit]

During World War I, Cher Ami, a Carrier pigeon with the 77th Division, helped save the lives of 194 American soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, and blinded in one eye, but continued the 25-mile flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for heroic service. She later died from the wounds received in battle and was enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.[16]

Aram Karamanoukian, a lieutenant-general of the Syrian army of Armenian descent, who participated in the First Arab-Israeli war, was awarded the Croix de Guerre.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Error". 
  2. ^ At the time of the Algerian War, Algeria was considered part of France and war actions labelled "law enforcement operations", so soldiers were awarded the Croix de la Valeur Militaire instead of the Croix de guerre des TOE.
  3. ^ Brief History of the 26th Division in Pictures, published by the "Committee of Welcome" appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts, Hon. Calvin Coolidge, and the Mayor of Boston, Hon. Andrew J. Peters, Official Welcome Home Programme, April 25, 1919. Also, the Massachusetts State House mural “Decoration of the Colors of the 102nd United States Infantry,” painted in 1927 by Richard Andrew. Also, the memorial honoring the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, A.E.F., in Westfield, MA.
  4. ^ Tannehill, Victor C. (1978). Boomerang, the story of the 320th Bomb Group. Racine, Wisconsin. ISBN 0-9605900-0-5. LCCN 79-105410. 
  5. ^ "The United States Army - 4/25 ABCT". 
  6. ^ "Flags of the U.S. Naval Academy". Sea Flags - Joseph McMillan. 
  7. ^ Blackmore, Kate, 'Armstrong, Millicent Sylvia (1888–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, , accessed 1 May 2012.
  8. ^ Devil Dogs: Fighting Marines in World War I, by George B. Clark
  9. ^ 75 Years With The Fighting Hawkeyes, by Bert McCrane & Dick Lamb, Page 60 (ASIN: B0007E01F8)
  10. ^ Hawkeye Legends, Lists, & Lore, by Mike Finn & Chad Leistikow, Page 25 (ISBN 1-57167-178-1)
  11. ^ http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/13035
  12. ^ "French Croix de Guerre Recipients from WWI-Surnames L thru R - 32D 'Red Arrow' Veteran Association". www.32nd-division.org. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  13. ^ File:Donald Swartout, American, Jackson, Michigan, awarded French Croix de Guerre.jpg
  14. ^ https://archive.org/stream/michiganinworldw00char/michiganinworldw00char_djvu.txt
  15. ^ "Whitfield Jack (Class of 1928)". West Point, New York: United States Military Academy. October 30, 1989. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  16. ^ National Pigeon Day. "History of Cher Ami". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  17. ^ Karamanoukian, Hasmik; Kazanchian, Garbis (1998). Զօրավար Արամ Գարամանուկեանի կեանքն ու գործը (in Armenian). Mayreni Publishing. 

External links[edit]