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Alex K

Polish Militari Virtuti

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I have in my collection an example of the Polish order Virtuti Militari, 5th class; I have always considered this to be an authentic piece. Some basic research indicates that this award is in fact is rare, if totally pre war original.

Does anyone know if this is a pre-war original or post war Panasiuk replacement for an original, and if it is, does that make it a fake?

thanks

.

Edited by Alex K

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I'm typing up a new thread on the Virtuti Militari 5th Class at the moment, I don't know a lot about them but I like them.

The engraved rather than impressed serial number suggests a private purchase duplicate or a straightforward copy, but as I say my knowledge of these Crosses is limited.

Check these links for some info. & comparison photos:

http://home.golden.net/~medals/VirtutiMilitariGuide.html

http://medals.mckdesign.com/articles_detail.php?ID=2

http://www.virtuti.com/order/

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Hi Leigh thanks for the links, the first site photo's although small seem to suggest that it is a pre-war original, but I'm sure someone will correct me!!

regards

Alex

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It looks genuine on the photo. Can you post the number from reverse? I cannot read it.

Lukasz

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Looks like engraved 10024?

According to Prof. Dr. Wesolowski 10000 were issued by the Republic & the Government in Exile between the 5th Class Crosses inception & the end of WWII.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Hi gentlemen thats the correct number, so my understanding is that it's pre 1945 and not a Panasiuk post war replacement. Thanks for the information, most helpful

regards

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As an update to the info already posted, I have received further confirmation and information from another forum where it was posted previously, with thanks to PolAntek, I quote,

“You have a genuine pre-1939 Polish made 5th Class Virtuti Militari cross. It was part of the last official government order for this decoration that was placed with the Krupski & Matulewicz factory. Krupski & Matulewicz produced most of the Polish 2nd Republic government issue 5th Class Virtuti Militari crosses. These crosses are differentiated from the other more common Krupski & Matulewicz crosses by the absence of a machine stamped serial number, but rather a manually engraved one. The machine stamped crosses were numbered up to 9999. The manually engraved ones numbered 10000 +. The purpose of this small final order was to obtain some crosses that were supposedly to be awarded primarily to foreigners for acts of bravery in combat (i.e. such as French and US forces who took part in the Polish-Soviet war of 1920). The manually engraved ones are also of a higher quality than the other earlier produced ones, and this is consistent with the Polish practice of producing higher quality decorations for awarding to foreigners. It was well known that the Polish government was not satisfied with the quality of the initial runs of crosses.

Surplus unawarded Virtuti Militari crosses were removed from Poland in September 1939 ahead of the advancing Germans and Soviets. These ended up in Paris until forced to move again in 1940 to London when France fell to the Germans. For some reason the hand engraved ones ended up being awarded to soldiers of the Polish 2nd Corps fighting in the Mediterranean campaigns, and in particular the victory at Monte Cassino in May 1944. The machine stamped crosses were distributed to the 1st Polish Corps that was first assembled in France and ultimately based in Great Britain. The majority of these of these crosses ended up awarded to Polish pilots who played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

So what it all boils down to is that you have a rare and valuable cross. It appears to be # 10024, which was awarded to Major Ludomir Tarkowski of the 3rd Carpathian Rifles Division of the Polish 2nd Corps. It is mounted to a period ribbon with the characteristic “wz.29” hook and eye fastening. Current market value is about $1000 (one recently sold for 2800zl = 508GBP)”

What interests me is that the Polish 2nd Corps was attached to the British 8th Army, which fought up through Italy, prior to this, the previous independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade of which he may have been a member fought with the 8th Army at Tobruk, which makes me believe that he would have been entitled to additional British campaign medals and awards (Afrika Star, Italy Star, Victory and Defense medals?), in addition to any further Polish ones, including possibly the Monte Cassino Cross for the 4th Battle in 1944.

It seems my chance purchase is turning into a nice research project

Regards Alex

Alex

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Hallo Alex, :beer:

congratulations on the good news regarding your Polish Militari Virtuti Cross. :jumping::jumping:

Kevin in Deva :beer:

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Hi Kevin thanks, I'm actually suprised and obviously pleased with all the assistance I've received. As I said in my post this was a chance purchase (If I am to be completely honest, it was a cross I likes the look of and it was cheap 25GBP). As you may well know, non British medals generally are not named so research into it's history sometimes is a futile exercise. With a name, I can at least try to assemble some further info on the recipient's and the medal's history.

Regards

Alex

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Hi Alex,

Nice score. Tony knows his stuff so I would stand behind his evaluation 100%. With regards to further research you could contact the Sikorski Institute in London. They could help you find out what other awards he was entitled to. Their address is as follows:

Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum Archives Department

20 Princes Gate

London

SW7 1PT

England

Tel: 020 7589 9249

Hope that was of some help.

Cheers,

Greg

PS. He almost certainly was at Tobruk given his rank and the relatively low number of the award itself. I will check my books and papers (as well as those of the local Polish Combatants' Assoc.) to see if there is any mention of him for you

Edited by GregK

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Hi Greg, thanks for the info, I may well contact them to see if there is any more info

regards

Alex

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Just an update for those who may be interested, Major Ludomir Tarkowski had a middle name of "Mieczyslaw", and was was born in 1897. Served in the 4th BAON. On May 25 1944 he was killed in action. Continuing to try to piece his life together, It seems the least I can do for someone who fell in action and who's decoration I hold in trust

Alex K

Edit Must be honest can't as yet decifer BAON, Any Help??

Edited by Alex K

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There were two Tarkowskis in the 1917 Austro-Hungarian Army Rank List. He may have been an officer candidate (and so not listed) at that point in the war.

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Just an update for those who may be interested, Major Ludomir Tarkowski had a middle name of "Mieczyslaw", and was was born in 1897. Served in the 4th BAON. On May 25 1944 he was killed in action. Continuing to try to piece his life together, It seems the least I can do for someone who fell in action and who's decoration I hold in trust

Alex K

Edit Must be honest can't as yet decifer BAON, Any Help?

Hi Alex

As I understand Baon is translated from Austro-Hungarian Army to mean Battalion. Nice to see an orginal :D

Sincerely

Yankee

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Hi Alex

As I understand Baon is translated from Austro-Hungarian Army to mean Battalion. Nice to see an orginal :D

Sincerely

Yankee

Hi Yankee, yes finally figured it out!

A bit more info, Major Ludomir Tarkowski of the 3rd Carpathian Rifles Division. He was born 12 August 1897 at Dzialopzyce p. Pinczow woj. Kieleckie and served in the 4th Battalion. On May 25 1944 he was killed in action at Monte Cassino, awarded the VM 5 on 22 May 1944, buried at the Monte Cassino Polish cemetery Grave no 4-D-1, Unfortunately whilst there are on-line images of numerous graves, his is not listed.

regards

Alex

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QUOTE (Yankee @ Apr 30 2009, 00:25 ) Hi Alex

As I understand Baon is translated from Austro-Hungarian Army to mean Battalion. Nice to see an orginal biggrin.gif

Sincerely

Yankee

Hi Yankee, yes finally figured it out!

A bit more info, Major Ludomir Tarkowski of the 3rd Carpathian Rifles Division. He was born 12 August 1897 at Dzialopzyce p. Pinczow woj. Kieleckie and served in the 4th Battalion. On May 25 1944 he was killed in action at Monte Cassino, awarded the VM 5 on 22 May 1944, buried at the Monte Cassino Polish cemetery Grave no 4-D-1, Unfortunately whilst there are on-line images of numerous graves, his is not listed.

regards

Alex

Hi as an update, actually found an image of his grave at Monte Cassino

regards

Alex

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A further belated update, Major Tarkowski was killed by sniper fire on the 22nd May whilst leading an attack on Piedemonte. By chance I came across these images from the imperial War Museum (Image Credits), showing the moment that the groupr of snipers responsible for, amongst others the death of Major Tarkowski, Paul Minich the man in charge f the sniper party is shown surrendering and being searched, the caption reads

"He was just pulled out of a bunker manned by three German paratroopers (commanded by Minich), responsible for death (amongst others) of Major Ludomir Tarkowski, the Deputy CO of the 5th Battalion, 2nd Brigade (3rd Carpathian Rifles Division, 2nd Polish Corps), shot dead on 22 May. Major Tarkowski was leading an assault on Piedimonte. The pillbox was discovered when AFPU cameramen, Sergeants Johnson and Barnes wanted Lesiak to stage a prisoner taking operation. At the same precise time the Germans decided to surrender"

Interesting,

All this time and I still havn't found an image of Major Tarkowski:(

large_000000.jpg

large_000000minich.jpg

large_000000r.jpg

paul minich sniper-tarkowski.jpg

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Quite an interesting story and a great piece of history! Too bad you haven't found Major's photo by now.

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Thanks, I've looked everywhere so far but without success, maybe one day!

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Alex,

Great story and pictures.  Good luck in your search for the Majors picture.  We should all be lucky enough to hold an important medal like this in trust for future generations.

Regards,

Gordon

 

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Hi Gordon, that's my main interest, it unfortunately painfully slow

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