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Which medals were possible?

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I have a Tunic model 1899 to a man from the 89th infantry regiment.

He was a Sgt with the piping around the cuff for reenlistment.

My literature on French uniforms is zero, but from what I have been able to find out (very little) this tunic was introduced in 1899 and worn until about 1910 when it vchanged from a 7 to 9 button version. if anyone has more info than that I would be very grateful!

I assume some of these may even have been worn during the war, even if they were the old model.

What is interesting is it has the loops for 2 medals... one with a ribbon about 4.1cm wide, the other with loops for a ribbon about 3.2cm wide.

So the question that is driving me crazy... is this the tunic of an NCO who somehow got a Medaille Militaire and maybe a colonial or Morocco medal in the first decade of the century....

I am not sure how the French system worked back then... could someone in service before 1910 still have been an NCO in the same regiment after 1914? I assume so, guys did not transfer with no reason... So this could have been his smart uniform kept in a cupboard and worn home on leave during the war, even if an obsolete pattern?

Can anyone think of a medal with a 3.2-3.3cm wide ribbon that a Sgt of a line regiment may have had 1910-1915 or 1916?

It requires an understanding of the pre war army I dont have.

My rough shot in the dark is.... I dont know!!!!!



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The wider width between loops could have been meant for any kind of military award. Possibly a long service médaille militaire if the man had not served overseas. Or any colonial campaign medal if he had served with an other unit before joining the 89th Infantry Regiment.

The smaller width could have been for a Ministry of the Interior life-saving medal (Médaille d'honneur pour actes de courage et de dévouement du ministère de l'Intérieur), the ribbon of which was distinctly narrower. Such an award was occasionnally made to military recipients for a noteworthy act of courage in civilian life (stopping run-away horses for instance).

This is only a suggestion.

Very best wishes


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Hi Vet,

I am not familier with how the army worked back then. Some, like the British, had SGTs with decades of service. Do you think a SGT would have enough service for a Medaille Militaire in peacetime? I think nowdays it is 22 years service (or something along those lines).

If it was your tunic, what would you choose to put on it?

I know there are purists who say "nothing, because you dont know what he REALLY had!" but I prefer to think of it as a representative display tunic.



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I checked 4 French web sites about the 89th. No mention whatsoever of colonial campaigns.

The regiment was stationed at the "Caserne Gémeaux" in Sens from the mid 1850s to 1914. It spent the entire war of 14-18 as part of the 10th Infantry Division.

IMHO, the 2 most likely candidates would be a Croix de Guerre (1915 or 1916 due to your 1916 end date) and a Médaille Militaire. There were no long service awards in those days for French NCOs and the medal for the wounded did not yet exist (even today's version is non official). The only other possibility would be if he had served in another unit prior to going to the 89th, but that is unlikely, just in like many other armies of the day, soldiers usually remained with the same unit for their entire length of service.

Another interesting point for your uniform, the 89th was awarded a fourragère in the colours of the WW1 Croix de Guerre for 2 mentions. 2 of its 3 WW1 battle honours precede 1917 meaning the owner of the uniform most probably took part in these engagements. A fourragère always looks great on a period uniform!

Hope this helps!

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needs to be taken into account that the tunic with 7 buttons was worn until 1910 before being replaced.

It MAY be that it was worn in garrison duty during the war.... dont know enough about these to say....

Well that throws a curve on things.

I did read though that the unit had a reserve component (dunno if company or battalion strength), if like other countries, maybe these poor schmoes wore old stuff into WW1. Akin the 1914 German reservists going to war wearing 1870 stuff... A possibility?

The ONLY other possibilities are awards mentioned above by Vet and Paul probably earned in another unit... This is a good one!

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I just went over the award criteria for the Médaille Militaire, quite possible for your sgt.

* For those with eight years of military service;

* Those who were listed in order of the army regardless of their length of service;

* Those who received one or more injuries in fighting before the enemy or under orders

* Those who have distinguished themselves by an act of courage or dedication deserving an award.

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Hello everyone

Happy New Year ! May 2010 be a very successful collecting year for all of us, with lots of good collecting fellowship.

Back to this tunic. It clearly is pre-WW1. I would certainly not think that it could have been worn after WW1 or even during the war.

A Medaille militaire could be awarded for excellent long service to professionnal NCOs after 15 years continuous services. This was in no way an automatic award. There were very few medals possible in those times. My guess remains Médaille militaire + Lifesaving medal because of the different widths of ribbons suggested by the attachments.

Although a scarce pair of medals, they could have been given to an NCO in those days of peace.

Best regards


Edited by Veteran
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I have just been looking through hundreds of online photos of French troops in WW1.

This jacket does indeed appear in wartime photos, worn by NCOs. All the photos I saw it in seem to be NCOs with this on and new recruits in drill clothes. Photos dated about 1915-16. So I assume an NCO who had fought 1914-15 and who was training recruits 15-16 may have worn it as it is....



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