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Croix de guerre

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The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of both Belgium and France which was first created in 1915. The decoration was awarded throughout the First World War and again during World War II. The Croix de guerre was also commonly bestowed to foreign military forces allied to France and Belgium.



The Croix de guerre may either be bestowed as an individual medal or as a unit award. The Croix de guerre medal is awarded to those individuals who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with enemy forces. The medal is also awarded to those who have been "mentioned in dispatches", meaning a heroic deed was performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit.

The unit award of the Croix de guerre was issued to military commands who performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters. During the First World War, France was the only nation to issue the unit award of the Croix de guerre. In World War II, both France and Belgium provided a unit decoration.


The Croix de guerre medal varies depending on which country is bestowing the award and for what conflict. Separate French medals exist for both the First and Second World War, and the French medals are different in appearance from the Belgian design.

For the unit decoration of the Croix de guerre, a fourragère is awarded which is suspended from the shoulder of an individual's uniform.

Because the Croix de guerre is issued as several different 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 specifing French Croix de guerre, Belgian Croix de guerre, French Croix de guerre (WWI), etc.


The Croix de guerre was awarded with various attachments, depending on the command level of the awarding authority. The basic Croix de guerre medal (both from Belgium and France) was awarded with a gold palm. This decoration was commonly referred to as the Croix de guerre with palm.

The French Croix de guerre was also issued with a bronze star for those who had been cited at the regiment or brigade level. A silver star was presented for citation by a Division Commander and a silver gilt star was presented for those cited on the Corps level. The Belgian Croix de guerre was similar, but was upgraded to a bronze lion for citations by a regiment and a gold lion for citations by the commander of land forces.

The various appurtenances of the Croix de guerre were intended as upgrades with a single device authorized for wear at any one time. The Croix de guerre would then be referred to with the highest device listed, such as the Croix de guerre with bronze star or the Croix de guerre with gold lion.

Unit Award

The unit award of the Croix de guerre was typically referred to as the Fourragère of the Croix de guerre. The unit award was authorized for both temporary and permanent wear, depending on when an individual was assigned to the particular unit which had earned the award. Typically, those permanently assigned to a unit, at the time of the Croix de guerre presentation, 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 action which had earned the Croix de guerre, were authorized to wear the award while a member of the unit but would surrender the decoration upon transfer.

This temporary wear of the fourragère only applied to the French version of the Croix de guerre.

United States issuance

In the United States military, the Croix de guerre was commonly accepted as a foreign decoration. In the modern age, however, it remains one of the most difficult foreign awards to verify entitlement. This is since the Croix de guerre was often presented with original orders, only, and rarely entered into a permanent service record. The unit award was virtually never entered into U.S. records, especially since in most cases it was considered a temporary decoration which was surrendered when an individual departed a unit. An added complication is that the 1973 National Archives Fire destroyed a large number of World War II personnel records, meaning that there are very few sources from which to verify a veteran's entitlement to the Croix de guerre.

Today, members of United States 5th or 6th Marine Regiments are authorized to wear a fourragère signifying that brigade's award of three Croix de guerre during the First World War, but only while that individual is assigned to the unit. The wearing of the decoration is considered ceremonial and the fourragère is not entered as an official military award in permanent service records.

Luxembourg War Cross

During the Second World War, a decoration known as the Luxembourg War Cross was issued to those members of the Allied forces who had performed combat duty in Luxembourg during the liberation of Europe. The decoration was frequently referred to as the Luxembourg Croix de guerre or simply as the Croix de guerre. This was, however, a separate award from the French and Belgian versions of the Croix de guerre with different criteria for issuance.

See also

External link

Last updated: 08-29-2005 13:17:49
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