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    Vichy France Award


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    Here's an extract from a short piece I wrote on Vichy decorations, which covers this award.


    Anyway, the Croix de Guerre you see above is considered to be the only official Vichy Croix de Guerre. It was instituted early in 1944 by the P?tain government. Being a purely military award, members of the Milice and other paramilitary and security organisations were ineligible. By that stage, the only soldiers eligible for this award were members of P?tain's personal bodyguard and the 1st Regiment of France, a purely Vichy unit raised in 1943. The 1944 Vichy Croix de Guerre was awarded for combat against partisans of various resistance groups and their SAS and SOE comrades. The cross bears the date 1944 on the reverse and the Vichy 'Francisque' with the legend ETAT FRANCAIS on the obverse.

    [insert pic here]It is believed that no more than 200, perhaps far less, were awarded before the collapse of the Vichy regime in August 1944, making this cross as rare as or perhaps even rarer than the fabled Croix de Guerre L?gionnaire, pictured above, instituted in January 1942 for members of the L?gion des Voluntaires Fran?ais (contre le Bolchevisme) fighting on the Eastern Front.

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    I shouldn't think so. There are a couple of former LVF/Charlemagne men living not far from me and I know three former miliciens and one man who served with the Gestapo as a French "interpreter". They don't advertise their pasts, of course. Mind you, France was run for twenty years from 1981 by Fran?ois Mitterand, who reinvented himself as a socialist who had worked as a minor bureaucrat in the Vichy civil service in his youth. The truth is that Mitterand was one of just 137 arch-collaborators who received the Francisque award from P?tain, the highest civil honour Vichy France had to offer. He didn't wear it after 1944. But he and his fellow travellers were quite well-protected after WW2, once they had thrown a few fairly minor footsoldiers to the mob baying for revenge. And Mitterand protected several people himself, including the recently deceased Maurice Papon.


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