|Croix de guerre 1914-1918|
1914-1918 Croix de guerre with three citations
2 bronze palms
1 silver gilt star
|Awarded for||Military duty during World War I, valor in battle|
|Established||2 April 1915|
Ribbon bar & streamer of the French Croix de guerre 1914-1918
|Next (higher)||Médaille nationale de reconnaissance aux victimes du terrorisme|
|Next (lower)||Croix de guerre 1939-1945|
The Croix de guerre 1914-1918 (English: War Cross) is a French military decoration, the first version of the Croix de guerre. It was created to recognize French and allied soldiers who were cited for valorous service during World War I, similar to the British mentioned in dispatches but with multiple degrees equivalent to other nations' decorations for courage.
Soon after the outbreak of World War I, French military officials felt that a new military award had to be created. At that time, the Citation du jour ("Daily Citation") already existed to acknowledge soldiers, but it was just a sheet of paper. Only the Médaille Militaire and Legion of Honour were bestowed for courage in the field, due to the numbers now involved, a new decoration was required in earnest. At the end of 1914, General Boëlle, Commandant in Chief of the French 4th Army Corps, tried to convince the French administration to create a formal military award. Maurice Barrès, the noted writer and parliamentarian for Paris, gave Boëlle support in his efforts.
On 23 December 1914, the French parliamentarian Georges Bonnefous proposed a legislative bill to create the Croix de la Valeur Militaire ("Cross of Military Valour") signed by 66 other parliamentarians. Émile Driant, a parliamentarian who served in the war zone during much of this time, became its natural spokesman when he returned to the legislature. On 18 January 1915, Driant submitted this bill but the name of the military award was renamed to Croix de guerre ("War Cross"). After parliamentary discussions, the bill was adopted on 2 April 1915.
World War I began in 1914 and ended in 1918, so the final name adopted is "Croix de guerre 1914-1918".
Every Croix de guerre awarded carries at least one citation for gallantry or courage to a member of any rank of the French military or of an allied army. Ribbon devices indicate the importance or degree of the soldier's role during the action cited. The lowest degree is represented by a bronze star and the highest degree is represented by a bronze palm. The cross is only awarded once and subsequent actions worthy of citations will be limited to additional ribbon devices on the originally received insignia. The number of ribbon devices on a Croix de guerre is not limited, some awards, especially to ace fighter pilots, had extremely long ribbons with dozens of stars and palms.
The Croix de guerre 1914-1918 was attributed to:
Soldiers who were/are members of units recognized by a collective unit award of the Croix de guerre may wear the Fourragère of the Croix de guerre 1914-1918 as long as they remain members of that unit. Soldiers who actively took part as members of units during repeated feats of arms recognized by more than one collective award of the Croix de guerre may continue to wear the fourragère even after leaving the meritorious unit. Battle streamers in the colours of the Croix de guerre 1914-1918 are affixed to the colours of recipient units.
The cross was designed by the sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé. It is 37 mm wide, Florentine bronze cross pattée, with two crossed swords pointing up between the arms. The obverse centre medallion bears the relief image of the French Republic in the form of the bust of a young woman wearing a Phrygian cap surrounded by the circular relief inscription RÉPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE (FRENCH REPUBLIC). Not knowing how long the war would last, the reverse centre medallion bears the dates 1914-1915, 1914-1916, 1914-1917 and finally 1914-1918.
The cross is suspended by a ring through a suspension loop cast atop the upper cross arm. It hangs from a 37 mm wide green silk moiré ribbon with seven narrow 1,5 mm wide vertical red stripes evenly spaced and two 1 mm red edge stripes.
The lowest degree is represented by a bronze star and the highest degree is represented by a silver palm. The cross was worn with the appropriate attachments to signify the singular or multiple awards of the decoration.