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Serbian Red Cross Decoration - Great War

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Colleagues:

I will soon come into possession of the following medal, described as a decoration of the Serbian Red Cross. This particular example is said to have been awarded to a member of a British-staffed hospital sponsored by the Serbian Relief Fund in Belgrade in 1915.

My question:

a) what is the formal name for this award? (I have seen several on the internet);

and

b) by whom was it (formally) awarded? -- the King of Serbia? or the Serbian Red Cross Society?

I apologise if this matter has been discussed before, but I did a search of GMIC for related postings, but didn't find anything which addressed these particular points.

Cheers,

Glen

In Our Dominion of the North (ie., Canada ;-)

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Hello Ceylon,

Welcome to the forum :)

Does this one come with a Document stating who this individual was?

In Serbian it is called the "Odlikovanja za humanitarne zasluge" Order for humanitarian services/merits in a generic term and depending on which version, each one has a different name.

Your version looks like the "Križ Društva Srpskog crvenog Kriza Kraljevine Srbije" or Cross of the Serbian Red Cross, Kingdom of Serbia.

I can't make out which version it appears like most, but it looks Rothe and Neffe to me, it could also be Huguenin Brothers, who used Rothe's same style and mold, when it arrives are your home please take some more photos of it, front and reverse.

I cannot say for certain but I think it is handed out by the Serbian Red Cross, it was usually held as last order in the medal bars, from the photos I've seen and therefore I think it is accepted by the Government :) my mum is a huge Red Cross collector and will know more than me, when she arrives from work, I'll ask her to take a look :)

All the best :)

Igor

Edited by Rogi

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Igor:

Thank you for the kind words, as well as the very useful information. I am very grateful.

Although the Order does not come with a document, I have been advised (and have no reason to doubt this) that the Order was issued to a British doctor who went to Serbia in 1915 working at the so-called "British Farmers' Hospital" in Belgrade -- which was one of several hospitals sponsored by the Serbian Relief Fund . If desired, more can be learned about the Serbian Relief Fund here: http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/5034ba02d6147... but, in general, the Fund raised money from amongst the general population of Britain (with Queen Mary as the Fund's Patroness) to provide medical equipment and medical personnel to assist Serbian sick and wounded at the time of the Austrian/Bulgarian invasion. The "British Farmers' Hospital" was so-called because the money to support it was raised from amongst British farmers.

I will try to get more information about the recipient and better images of the Order and post such information here as soon as possible.

Thank you again, Igor, for your kind and helpful response.

Cheers,

Glen

In Our Dominion of the North (ie., Canada)

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Hey, Igor!.... I just noticed you're in Ottawa. So am I! ;) I live in the Alta Vista neighbourhood!

Cheers,

Glen

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Hey, Igor!.... I just noticed you're in Ottawa. So am I! ;) I live in the Alta Vista neighbourhood!

Cheers,

Glen

That is awesome Glen, :D there are a couple Ottawantonians here on the forum hehehe :) glad to see another Canadian and especially another from Ottawa :D:)

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Greetings Ottawantonians :)

That'a very nice decoration in perfect condition, great catch! :)

Rogi gave you all the answers I just have couple things that I would like to add. Term Križ is used in Croatia, the original name of the decoration is "Krst Društva Crvenog krsta" (Крст Друштва Црвеног крста). The name of the decoration was changed after WW1, word cross was just replaced with the word order.

As for the producer I also can't say for sure, when it arrives you should check for hallmarks on the suspension ring, that can be very helpful.

Decorations awarded for merits in the peacetime were worn on completely white ribbons. Ribbons on the examples that were awarded during war were also white but with two red stripes on the edges.

Thanks for sharing this piece with us, can't wait for more images.

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Although the Order does not come with a document, I have been advised (and have no reason to doubt this) that the Order was issued to a British doctor...

Although it may very well be true that that particular decoration was awarded to that British doctor without documentation or any proof you can't be absolutely sure.

Also even when the decoration is accompanied by some paperwork you can't really tell if those two (decoration and document) were combined later.

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Totally my fault on Kriz :D didn't think twice about the language :D Sorry all :D

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Thanks, again, for the valuable information. Much appreciated.

Still awaiting confirmation that I won this item. If so, should be in a position to follow-up with greater details ASAP.

Cheers,

Glen

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Well.. barring an Act of God, I have just been advised that I was the successful bidder on this lot:

Once it actually arrives (4 - 5 days usually) I will get a view of the reverse of the cross and look for any maker's mark/hallmarks. In the mean time, here it is in a bit greater detail.

The other three medals are:

1. (the larger copper oval one) the Ceylon Volunteer Overseas Service Medal (for the Great War);

2. (the two silver ones): academic awards from the Faculty of Medicine at University College London - "Anatomy" (1902-03) & "Histology & Practical" (1901-02).

The recipient is Leonard Fabian HIRST.

Hirst was born 2nd September 1882 and received his medical education at University College Hospital, London, qualifying with the Conjoint diploma in 1905. The following year he took the M.B. and B.S., and in 1909 he both proceeded to the M.D. in State medicine and obtained the D.P.H.

Hirst then went out to Ceylon, about 1911, where he was employed as a bacteriologist by the municipal government of the city of Colombo.

In 1912, as the Colony of Ceylon's leading Public Health official, Hirst began a series of inquiries into the role of fleas in the spread of the (bubonic) plague. (Few realised that there was a third world-wide outbreak if "The Plague", starting in China in 1855, that lasted well into the 20th century... in fact the WHO did not formally declare this pandemic over until 1959.)

By the 1930s, Hirst was considered on of the world's leading experts on the spread of communicable diseases... especially The Plague and Cholera. An internet search of his name will result in hundreds of "hits" in various medical and public health publications. In 1953 Hirst authored the definitive study on how to defeat The Plague:

Although I am unclear of the circumstances that led to Hirst serving in Serbia, a Colombo (Ceylon) newspaper account of late 1915 indicates that Hirst went (in late 1914? or early 1915?) to serve in a Serbian Relief Fund sponsored hospital in Belgrade (perhaps the (1st) "British Farmers' Hospital"?), having returned to Ceylon in about Sept 1915. My suspicion is that given the outbreak of cholera in Serbia at the commencement of the war, and given his expertise in this area of public health, Hirst was easily convinced (or decided on his own) to volunteer for such service.

Barring any new evidence, it is my assumption -- and it is only just an assumption at this point -- is that it is because of such service that he was awarded the Cross/Order of the Serbian Red Cross. This would also explain the all white ribbon -- he would have been awarded it as a civilian volunteer.

After his return to Ceylon, and given the increasing need for medical professionals in the army as the Great War continued, Hirst joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, seeing service in Egypt and then Salonica ... (back with his old friends?).

Any additional intelligence, of course, gratefully received.

Cheers,

Glen

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Excellent :D it is great when it comes with other medals (especially if they are engraved) :D that is almost as good as having a doc :)

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Totally my fault on Kriz :D didn't think twice about the language :D Sorry all :D

Hey, not a problem at all ;) Small translation mistakes often occur :) And not like it's that big difference, everyone from the "region" as they call ex-Yu countries now certainly knows what you're talking about :)

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Ceylon my congrats on wining this lot! So it's a medal bar!

I've seen more than just couple of times members of the medical personnel from the Great Britain being awarded with Serbian decorations.

Mostly Order of Saint Sava, Red Cross Order, Charity Cross and Medal for Zealous Service.

Edited by paja

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Thank you for the kind words and the link to Hanson's medals, Paja.

The medals are still winging their way to me, but once they arrive, I will be sure to post some close-ups, in the hope that some one can help with any additional information such as the identify of the maker, or the period of issue.

One will recall in my initial posting a question asking whether or not these were issued in the name of the King of Serbia or (simply?) by the Serbian Red Cross Society. The reason I ask is because there are no mentions of these Red Cross awards having been granted to Britishers in the London Gazette -- unlike, for example the awards to Britons of the Order of St Sava.

See, for example, this Gazette Notification: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/Edinburgh/issue/13081/page/791

(Here's a listing of all 133 London Gazette Notifications with the search term "King of Serbia" in it: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/notice?text=%22king%20of%20serbia%22&location-distance-1=1&categorycode-all=all&numberOfLocationSearches=1&results-page-size=10&results-page=1 )

However, after having checked all 133 notifications, I see that none of them refer to the Red Cross decoration, (as per Hirst's award). This is why I suspect that this award was not -- at least technically -- awarded by (or in the name) of the King of Serbia -- for (in accordance with British customary law) no British subject could wear (or even accept) such an award (ie., an award from a foreign Sovereign) without their own King or Queen's formal approval (hence the Gazette Notifications granting Britons permission to wear such awards highlighted in the above links).

The same practice, of course, continues today. My wife, for instance, was awarded the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government, and had to wait a year to accept it until formal permission was gazetted.

At any rate... any thoughts on my theory that this Red Cross award was not issued in the name of the King of the Serbs, but rather (only?) by the Serbian Red Cross, would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

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I cannot say for certain but I think it is handed out by the Serbian Red Cross, it was usually held as last order in the medal bars, from the photos I've seen and therefore I think it is accepted by the Government :) my mum is a huge Red Cross collector and will know more than me, when she arrives from work, I'll ask her to take a look :)

This for the King or Red Cross question ^^^^ :D

It is Red Cross for sure ;)

Although I'm semi positive that the King had to approve some of these, as they always appear last, or close to last on medal bars vs other association orders or medals

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Thanks for that, Rogi.

... I'm semi positive that the King had to approve some of these, as they always appear last, or close to last on medal bars vs other association orders or medals

I suppose your last comment is what lies at the heart of my query.

If the Red Cross award was not issued by (or in the name of) a Sovereign entity (ie., the King of a country), then (in British practice) it would be considered an unofficial award and (technically) should not have been worn with other (official) awards. It should have been worn separately (ie., on the right side of the chest, with official awards on the left side). This, for example, is what recipients of the Royal Humane Society's Lifesaving Medal must do, since although a prestigious award from a bona fide organisation, it is not issued in the name of the Sovereign -- so therefore is unofficial, and can't be worn with official medals/awards.

In practice, however, such rules can only be enforced if the recipient remains in a disciplined organisation like the army, navy, police, etc. As a civilian, there is no one (in practical terms) to enforce the rules (if/when the recipient decides to wear his medals on his civilian jacket). I believe this was the case with Hirst and explains why his medals are mounted as they are.

In other words, in summary fashion, here are my conclusions:

a) Hirst was awarded the Serbian Red Cross decoration by the Serbian Red Cross (and not the King of Serbia) while serving in a civilian capacity in Serbia in c.1915-16;

b) as such, it is an unofficial award and -- as a result -- although he therefore did not need formal permission from the (British) King to wear it, he should have worn it only on the right side of his chest; (with any official awards on the left side);

c) as a result of his service in the Royal Army Medical Corps (1917-18) he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal;

d) when the war ended he left the army, never to return;

e) about 2-3 years later he was awarded his British War and Victory Medal -- which (out of ignorance?) he mounted with his (unofficial) Serbian Red Cross decoration; and

f) because he was a civilian, he only wore such medals rarely and when he did, even though they were techincially mounted incorrectly, there was no one around with either the desire or knowledge to point out his error to Hirst... so he continued.

The result: his medals have lasted as a single group to this day: together but (technically) incorrectly mounted.

Cheers,

Glen,

In Our Dominion of the North

Edited by Ceylon

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Here's what the authors of the book "Serbian and Yugoslavian Orders and Decorations from 1859 to 1941" say:

-Decorations of the Serbian Red Cross Society had the rank of state decorations

-Society was from the very begging under the patronage of sovereign

-Documents that were issued with these decorations had inscription that went something like: "Society ... in the name of it's patron ... awards this cross..." or "Under protection of his Royal Highness King of Serbia ... awards ... with society's cross"

Edited by paja

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As for the producer I believe that it's most likely to be Hugenin considering the period in which it was awarded. Of course I could be wrong...

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I found one more interesting photo of a Red Cross Order recipient, and it is also mounted on the medal bar.

Kathleen Burke.

http://writeso.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/kathleen-burke/

She also received St. Sava and Charity Cross.

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/post-7937-0-61248500-1408134253.jpghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/post-7937-0-24748900-1408134273.jpg

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Here's what the authors of the book "Serbian and Yugoslavian Orders and Decorations from 1859 to 1941" say:

-Decorations of the Serbian Red Cross Society had the rang of state decorations

-Society was from the very begging under the patronage of sovereign

-Documents that were issued with these decorations had inscription that went something like: "Society ... in the name of it's patron ... awards this cross..." or "Under protection of his Royal Highness King of Serbia ... awards ... with society's cross"

Thank you very much for this information.

It sounds a bit like the Order of St John in Britain (and other Commonwealth monarchies). The Sovereign is the patron of the Order, but did not establish the Order -- hence it enjoys a kind of quasi-official status.

Is there such a thing as an official Order of Precedence for Serbian awards of this period? That would decide the issue, I think.

Here's a British example of a table of precedence: (ie., of official awards):https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33554/page/7529

Cheers,

Glen

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I found one more interesting photo of a Red Cross Order recipient, and it is also mounted on the medal bar.

Kathleen Burke.

http://writeso.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/kathleen-burke/

She also received St. Sava and Charity Cross.

attachicon.gifKathleen Burke02.jpgattachicon.gif01.JPG

Wow!

The way those medals are worn, however, would make any Chancellor of Honours scream! ... wrong order ... and in two rows!! Good thing she was a civilian. ;)

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You are most welcome Glen!

There is official Order of Precedence, it was posted somewhere on the forum I'll try to dig it up... :) I think that Red Cross decorations were on the last place, Rogi mentioned that they were usually worn after all other decorations (or at least that's where they should have been placed).

Edited by paja

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Wow!

The way those medals are worn, however, would make any Chancellor of Honours scream! ... wrong order ... and in two rows!! Good thing she was a civilian. ;)

Sounds like she spent too much time with the Serbs :P Over here it was not that unusual to see that even officers didn't mount their medals on a bar according to regulations :)

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Is there such a thing as an official Order of Precedence for Serbian awards of this period? That would decide the issue, I think.

I found it!

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/56056-serbia-kingdom-medal-bar-on-ebay/?p=517975

Rank decree for Military orders and medals (1939)
1 Star of Karageorge with Swards 1st Class
2 Star of Karageorge 1st Class
3 Star of Karageorge with Swards 2nd Class
4 Star of Karageorge 2nd Class
5 Order of White Eagle with Swards 1st Class
6 Order of White Eagle 1st Class
7 Star of Karageorge with Swards 3rd Class
8 Star of Karageorge 3rd Class
9 Order of White Eagle with Swards 2nd Class
10 Order of White Eagle 2nd Class
11 Order of Yugoslav Crown 1st Class
12 Order of St. Sava 1st Class
13 Star of Karageorge with Swards 4th Class
14 Star of Karageorge 4th Class
15 Order of White Eagle with Swards 3rd Class
20 Order of White Eagle 3rd Class
21 Order of Yugoslav Crown 2nd Class
22 Order of St. Sava 2nd Class
23 Order of White Eagle with Swards 4th
24 Order of White Eagle 4th Class
25 Order of Yugoslav Crown 3rd Class
26 Order of St. Sava 3rd Class
27 Order of White Eagle with Swards 5th Class
28 Gold military star of Karageorge with swards
29 Silver military star of Karageorge with swards
30 Order of White Eagle 5th Class
31 Order of Yugoslav Crown 4th Class
32 Order of St. Sava 4th Class
33 Order of Yugoslav Crown 5th Class
34 Order of St. Sava 5th Class
35 Gold medal for bravery
36 Silver medal for bravery
37 Medal for coronation of Peter the I
38 Albanian retreat medal
39 Medal for military virtue
40 Gold medal for zealous service
41 Silver medal for zealous service
42 Gold medal for civil merit
43 Silver medal for civil merit
44 Cross for charity
45 Commemorative medal for 1912 war
46 Commemorative medal for 1913 war
47 Commemorative medal for 1914-1918 war
48 Order of Red Cross
49 Gold medal of Red Cross
50 Silver medal of Red Cross
51 Bronze medal of Red Cross
52 Other commemorative medals; i.e medal for liberation of southern land; medal for liberation of northern parts, civil medal (royal household medals), medals for soldiers (sharp shooter medal etc.)

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