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Italy - War Merit Cross varieties

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The Italian War Merit Cross was instituted in January 1919. By 1927, over one million had been awarded (Klietmann). There were four categories of qualification for the WMC (Purves). 1 - A act of bravery not warranting the Al Valore Militare. 2 - A promotion for a mention for war merit. 3 - A wound received in combat. 4 - At least one year of combat service.

Purves' book on WW1 awards mentions that "several varieties of the cross exist, but those struck at the Rome Mint have a small R on the reverse of the lower arm." Illustrated are four hallmarked varieties of the WMC, all showing the mark at the lower arm reverse, to the right of the sword handle. The top example has the crowned "Z" for the Royal Mint in Rome. The left cross has an "R". The right specimen has a "B", and the bottom cross has an "M". I have a fifth variety (not shown) marked with an "F". The "B" has been found incused (stamped) into several WMC examples, while the other marks (crown Z, R, M, & F) are observed to be die struck in relief.

It has been believed that these letter hallmarks represent some major Italian cities that manufactured these WMC. The letter marks have been interpreted: R = Roma, M = Milano, B = Bologna, & F = Firenze (Florence). It has been assumed that these marks were soon discontinued due to the demand for a large supply of the crosses.

Do any of the GMIC members have more definite information on these WMC hallmarks?? Are there additional letter hallmarks that I'm not aware of??

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Thought I would bump this one hoping someone might have some answers on the letter markings called out.

Of the two examples I have, both are unmarked. First, a WW1 period medal bar:

Tim

post-548-034658900 1286773788_thumb.jpg

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My second example is unmarked but comes in a Rome marked case.

Tim

post-548-086962000 1286773928_thumb.jpg

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It's curious but I have another such War Merit Cross in the exact same case. The WMC went through several transitions in the 1920s. The addition of the "FERT" sword apparently indicated the WMC was awarded for junior acts of bravery not rating the bronze Al Valore Militare. Later the "Merito di Guerra" legend on the cross reverse was replaced with "Al Valore Militare" for this same purpose. And the blue with 2 white stripes ribbon was eventually replaced with the plain blue AVM ribbon on this AVM cross. So the Al Valore Militare series now had gold, silver, & bronze medals, plus a bronze AVM cross. Perhaps the GMIC members in Italy can give a more authoritative description of these post-WW1 changes in the WMC.

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I also had a question on the medal and how it was worn. I've seen the side with the star facing forward (as originally designed), and I've seen the star worn to the reverse with the wording on the front. I actually turned this one around as I thought the ribbon had been incorrectly turned, but now, I'm not sure I should have done that?

Some sites state one way and other sites opposite and I've seen several examples with both setups.:speechless:

Tim

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To all,

To further illustrate the point I have a couple of War Merit Cross' as part of groups. I shall post them when I can track them down.

First up we have a plain unadorned War Merit Cross.

Regards,

Rob

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This example is maker marked 'B' and, as was indicated above, it is incused. I have an example maker marked with 'R'. When I locate that I shall post it.

Regards,

Rob

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A-FZ-J-M-P-SJ-FML are other marks. Roberto Manno did a article on them in Uniform and Army magazine I think. I do not know what my crosses are marked. Rich A. in Pa.

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A-FZ-J-M-P-SJ-FML are other marks.

Hello Rich,

I believe 'SJ' would be for Stefano-Johnson and 'FML' would be for Filippo e Michele Lorioli.

Regards,

Rob

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My medals. 4 unmarked.Top 2 R. Bottom B&F. Rich A. in Pa.

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To all,

Here is another as indicated with the 'R' mark.

Regards,

Rob

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My second example is unmarked but comes in a Rome marked case.

Tim

This cross is made by a private firm. They dont associate with the mint who make the official medals.

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May be I can add some infos.

The cross "al merito di guerra" was instituted in 1918, with the blue/white/blue/white/blue ribbon. The marks are:

B, F, M, R, J, S.J, F.M.L., H, A, P, FZ and crowned Z (royal mint, rare).

Later, 1922, the same cross with a sword overimposed to the ribbon become the "croce al valor militare", the 4th class of military bravery medal.

In 1941 the "croce al valore militare" had this same words written in the horizontal part of the cross. The sword over the ribbon remained. No marks.

In 1942 the "croce al valore militare" had the words "al valore militare" in the horizontal part of the cross. The sword over the ribbon remained. No marks.

In 1943 the "croce al valore militare" mainteined the same words as above, but the ribbon changed in blue, the same of the circular medals for military bravery. The sword was removed from the ribbon.

29.jpg

All of the above medals belong to the kingdom, so the front side should be the one with the VEIII (Vittorio Emanuele III) monogram. Actually this rule was not used at all times.

After the 1946, with the Republic, the cross remained very similar, having the RI (Repubblica Italiana) monogram instead of VEIII. There are some crosses with both monograms visible, as if they were remade in some way. The front side is the one with the star.

When someone receives a second cross for the same war, his cross adds up a silver star over the ribbon. This is my father's medals bar, with two crosses for the WW2:

186c.jpg

Edited by claudio2574

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One of two I own... This one has no "mint" mark near the sword handle; I presume a private made "unofficial" piece...

The deep chocolate brown is an accurate color too... almost black instead of "bronze". And no ribbon.

Edited by IrishGunner

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Second I own... Also, no "mint" mark. This one is also slightly smaller than the first cross. Original ribbon.

Edited by IrishGunner

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This image shows both of my crosses side by side for size comparison. The one on the left (with the ribbon) is clearly just a bit smaller...

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The feature article in the January-February 2014 issue of JOMSA: The Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America that went to the printers' this morning is "The Italian War Merit Cross (Merito di Guerra)" by Thomas J. Nier. The issue should be in the hands of OMSA members by the end of the month.

Regards, Gunner 1

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The feature article in the January-February 2014 issue of JOMSA: The Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America that went to the printers' this morning is "The Italian War Merit Cross (Merito di Guerra)" by Thomas J. Nier. The issue should be in the hands of OMSA members by the end of the month.

Regards, Gunner 1

Nice. Thanks for the info.

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