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A Virtuti Militari IV Class to a WW1 Italian pilot


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a branch of my collection is devoted to the Polish Military Order "Virtuti Militari". Among the pieces I've been lucky enough to find, one is -in my opinion- very interesting: the "Gold Cross" or IV Class awarded to Lt. Casimiro Buttini. (Born in Saluzzo, Piedmont, on Oct. 29th 1887, died in Saluzzo, on Febr. 23rd, 1959). He reached the rank of Colonel in the newborn "Regia Aeronautica" (Royal Military Air Force).

He was a bomber pilot, flying on the famous "Caproni" machines, one of the best "heavy bomber" airplanes of its time.

This officer, during WW1 was decorated with a Silver and a Gold Medal for Military Valour. The latter, for an action on Tarnova, in 1917 where, while bombing the Austrian lines, his airplane was target of intense fire from the enemy and a shell lirerally beheaded his 2nd pilot. Buttini, although wounded to the head and an arm, calmly kept the airplane in flight, continuing the bombing. The plane was severely damaged by the enemy fire, but the pilot kept the machine in flight, and the crew in order. When the plane, due to the damages started to fall, he succeeded to avoid crashing on the enemy position, until a safe landing behind the Italian lines.

After the war, some Italians received a proper class of the "Virtuti Militari", from the new Polish Republic. A necessary condition to receive the Polish Order, was to be already decorated with the Gold Medal for Military Valour or at least 4 Silver Medals for Military Valour.

I have a list, compiled by the Office of the Chief of the General Staff at the Ministry of War, addressed to Colonel Ivaldi, Italy's military attaché to the Royal Italian Legation in Warsaw with the names of the men, worth of the award of the Virtuti Militari. In this list, Casimiro Buttini results as having been proposed for the V Class (the Silver Cross), but the Polish Authorities, actually awarded the higher IV Class, as recorded in the official list of the Order.

The cross was found at antique fair in Parma, back in 1993. The whereabouts of Buttini's other medals and decorations are to me unknown.

Following, the pictures of the obverse and reverse of the cross, struck with the number "528" and of the letter with attached list from Italy's General Staff Office.

Best wishes,

Enzo (E.L.)

Edited by Elmar Lang
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Thank you for the interesting note.

Actually, the Virtuti Militari was awarded in a very limited number of cases, especially in its higher classes.

In my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful orders, besides its historical importance and significance.

Best wishes,


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