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Elmar Lang

A Virtuti Militari IV Class to a WW1 Italian pilot

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Hello,

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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very nice cross with a great provenience, even if this is not 100% proof due to missing of any documents.

Does the number on the cross mean the award number?

Could the number be tracked?

Regards

Alex

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On Wesolowski's book on the Virtuti Militari, the cross's number matches to Casimiro Buttini's one.

Best wishes,

E.L.

Edited by Elmar Lang

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Thanks for this info. No doubt any more. What a great provenience. What a pitty that the group was splitted.

Regards

Alex

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You're welcome!

A good thing is that most of the numbered crosses can easily be attributed, thanks to this invaluable book and the following, most precious researches.

E.L.

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Great medal and documents to a brave Italian WWI pilot! The numbered cross and the research is wonderful. Thanks for showing it and for the account of his valorous flight.

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I found this picture of him on internet

If you like to see his old airplane. Here it is ;-)

The restored Caproni Ca.3 piloted by Lt.Buttini, at the Museo Storico dellAeronautica Militare

Regards

Alex

Edited by jaba1914

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Between 1920 and 1938 Virtuti Militari 4th Class was conferred to as few as 50 recipients, including only seven Polish nationals.

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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,

E.L.

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The ribbon is great! Swiss made of poor quality. Nice cross

Best regards Aahauge

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Amazing group.  The documents and the pilot's photograph brings it all together.  Thank you for sharing it.

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