World War 2 Stories for Sheffield


Badges, Medals & Insignia 


Nazi

From various now unknown sources

 Blue Max - Pour le Merite

 Pour le Mérite
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pour le Mérite
(Military order)

Awarded by Kingdom of Prussia
Type
Neck order
Eligibility
Military personnel
Status
Obsolete
Statistics
Established
1740
Last awarded
2 September 1918

 Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max),[1] was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I.
The award was a blue-enameled Maltese Cross with eagles between the arms based on the symbol of the Johanniter Order, the Prussian royal cypher, and the French legend Pour le Mérite ("for Merit") arranged on the arms of the cross.
A civil version of the order, for accomplishments in the arts and sciences, still exists in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Military order
The Pour le Mérite was first founded in 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia, named in French, the language of the Prussian royal court at the time. Until 1810, the Order was both a civilian and military honor. In January of that year, King Frederick William III decreed that the award could be presented only to serving military officers. The Pour le Mérite is correctly called an "order", in which a man or woman is admitted into membership, and should not be referred to as a "medal" or "decoration".

In March 1813, Frederick William III added an additional distinction, a spray of gilt oak leaves attached above the cross. Award of the oak leaves originally indicated extraordinary achievement in battle, and was usually reserved for high-ranking officers. The original regulations called for the capture or successful defense of a fortification, or victory in a battle. By World War I, the oak leaves often indicated a second or higher award of the Pour le Mérite, though in most cases the recipients were still high-ranking officers (usually distinguished field commanders fitting the criteria above; the few lower ranking recipients of the oak leaves were mainly general staff officers responsible for planning a victorious battle or campaign).

In early 1918, it was proposed to award the oak leaves to Germany's top flying ace, Manfred von Richthofen, but he was deemed ineligible under a strict reading of the regulations. Instead, Prussia awarded von Richthofen a slightly less prestigious honor, the Order of the Red Eagle, 3rd Class with Crown and Swords. This was still a high honor, as the 3rd Class was normally awarded to colonels and lieutenant colonels, and von Richthofen's award was one of only two of the 3rd Class with Crown and Swords during World War I.

In 1866, a special military Grand Cross class of the award was established. This grade of the award was given to those who, through their actions, caused the retreat or destruction of an army. There were only five awards of the Grand Cross: to King Wilhelm I in 1866, to Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia (later Emperor Frederick III) and Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia in 1873, to Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1878, and to Helmuth Graf von Moltke in 1879.

The Pour le Mérite gained international fame during World War I. Although it could be awarded to any military officer, its most famous recipients were the pilots of the German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte), whose exploits were celebrated in wartime propaganda. In aerial warfare, a fighter pilot was initially entitled to the award upon downing eight enemy aircraft.[1] Aces Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke were the first airmen to receive the award, on January 12, 1916.[1] Although it has been reported that because of Immelmann's renown among his fellow pilots and the nation at large, the Pour le Mérite became known, due to its color and this early famous recipient, as the Blue Max, this story is probably an urban legend.

The number of aerial victories necessary to receive the award continued to increase during the war; by early 1917, it generally required destroying 16 enemy airplanes, and by war's end the approximate figure was 30. However, other aviation recipients included zeppelin commanders, bomber and observation aircrews, and at least one balloon observer.

Although many of its famous recipients were junior officers, especially pilots, more than a third of all awards in World War I went to generals and admirals. Junior officers (army captains and lieutenants and their navy equivalents) accounted for only about 25% of all awards. Senior officer awards tended to be more for outstanding leadership in combat than for individual acts of bravery.
Recipients of the Blue Max were required to wear the award whenever in uniform.
The Order became extinct with Kaiser William II's abdication as King of Prussia on 9 November 1918, and was never awarded again to a new member. The last person to receive it was Theo Osterkamp.

SS Medal Bar

Obergruppenfuhrer Ribbon Bars


The Iron Cross continued as the most commonly awarded German decoration but of course the 1914 was dropped and a swastika was added. There were only two common classes of Iron Cross; both were considered "chest medals", to be worn on the chest. 

The two awards were virtually identical in appearance, the only difference being in how they were worn.The Iron Cross 1st Class was awarded for three to five acts of bravery, and was worn pinned to the left breast of the uniform, low down. The Iron Cross 2nd Class was awarded for a single act of bravery. Generally only the ribbon of the award was worn, in a downwards diagonal strip, sewn between the second tunic buttonhole and the edge of the front closure of the tunic.

The Iron Cross was a military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia, and later of Germany, which was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and first awarded on 10 March 1813 in Breslau, during the Napoleonic Wars. The Iron Cross was also awarded during the Franco-German War, the First World War, and the Second World War.

The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples of this were the civilian pilot Hanna Reitsch, who was awarded the Iron Cross First Class for her bravery as a test pilot during the Second World War, and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg (also a German female test pilot), who was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class.

The Iron Cross was also used as the symbol of the German Army from 1871 to 1918, when it was replaced by a simpler Greek cross. In 1956, the Iron Cross became the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces. The traditional design is black and this design is used on armoured vehicles and aircraft. A newer design in blue and silver is used as the emblem in other


Mother's Cross


World War 1 exacted a heavy toll in war dead from the German male population.

As a result, women were later pushed into factories to keep the wheels of German Industry turning.


Another result was that there were more marriageable women available than men, and thus a large number of women of child bearing age remained 'unproductive'.

Hitler took positive steps to solve the population 'problem'.

One such program was to advocate the virtues of motherhood, this program included a gigantic propaganda campaign to urge women to increase the size of their families.

NSB Dutch Nazi Party



The Dutch Nazi Party "NSB" instituted a special Bravery and Merit award for NSB members in German Service. This award commonly known as the Mussert Cross comes in two classes; with swords for combatants and without swords (very rare) for non-combatants.

The front side shows gilt wolf hook over swastika with oak leaves. The back side shows around the top edge of the circle the motto of the NSB in gilt "Hou En Trou" and oak leaves on the bottom edge. The centre of the disc has the name "Mussert" and "1941." 

SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Insignia


The German Order was the highest decoration that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for "duties of the highest order to the state and party".



This award was first made by Adolf Hitler posthumously to Reichsminister Fritz Todt at his funeral in February, 1942. 

A second posthumous award of the German Order was made to SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich at his funeral in June of that same year.

Cynics called the award the "dead hero order" as it was almost always awarded posthumously.

 

Knight's Cross or Ritterkreuz. (It was officially called the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, or Ritterkreutz des Eisernen Kreuzes, showing it's lineage from the Iron Cross). 

I

 

Iron Cross, or Ritterkreutz des Eisernen Kreuzes, showing it's lineage from the Iron Cross). It was larger than the older Iron Cross but also of the Maltese Cross shape on a ribbon with black edges, white inner stripes and a red centre


 (Nazi) German Cross in Gold. Also known as the War Order of the German Cross, or the DK (Deutches Kreuz), this award, designed by Professor Klein of Munich, was intended to reward combat gallantry, ranking in precedence between the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. 

It was not, however, a part of the Iron Cross series of awards, being used in tandem with these, and worn on the right breast.


One of the most recognizable badges of the Third Reich is the German Eagle clutching the swastika in a wreath. This is one on many variations of what is loosely called the National Emblem.

Allies

Distinguished Flying Cross 


Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and Commonwealth lasts a thousand years, men will still say, this was their finest hour.

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC): The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

 

The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF. It was originally awarded to air force commissioned officers and to Warrant Officers. During the Second World War it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers from the British Army serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery directors. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers, and since 1993 to other ranks as well; the Distinguished Flying Medal, previously awarded to other ranks, has been discontinued. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC". A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award.

Remember those not here today,

Those unwell and far away,

Those who never lived to see,

The end of war and victory,

And every friend who passed our way,

Remembered as of yesterday,

It's absent friends we miss the most,

To all, let's dringk a loving toast. 

                                           William Walker, Battle of Britain Spitfire Pilot (Aged 97 in 2010)

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The George Cross 

The George Cross (GC) is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. The GC is the civilian counterpart of the Victoria Cross (VC) and the highest gallantry award for civilians as well as for military personnel in actions which are not in the face of the enemy or for which purely military honours would not normally be granted. However, the VC is higher in the order of wear and would be worn first by an individual who had been awarded both decorations (which has not so far occurred).

Creation

The GC was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of the Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the George Medal would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.

The medal was designed by Percy Metcalfe. The Warrant for the GC (along with that of the GM), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941.


Announcing the new award, the King said: "In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution."

The medal was designed by Percy Metcalfe. The Warrant for the GC (along with that of the GM), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941.

The GC was intended to replace the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM); all holders of the EGM were instructed to exchange their medals for a GC, a substitution of awards unprecedented in the history of British decorations. This substitution policy ignored holders of the Albert Medal (AM) and the Edward Medal (EM), awards which both took precedence over the EGM. The anomaly was only rectified in 1971, when the surviving recipients of the AM and the EM were invited to exchange their award for the George Cross. Of the 64 holders of the Albert Medal and 68 holders of the Edward Medal eligible to exchange, 49 and 59 respectively took up the option.

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The George Medal (GM) is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the George Medal would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.


Announcing the new award, the King said: "In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution."

The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941.

The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of great bravery."  The GM was originally not issued posthumously, however the warrant was amended in 1977 to allow posthumous awards, several of which have been subsequently made.

The medal is primarily a civilian award; however The George Medal may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct which is not in the face of the enemy. As the Warrant states:

        aThe Medal is intended primarily for civilians and award in Our military services is to be confined to actions for which purely military Honours are not normally granted.

Bars are awarded to the GM in recognition of the performance of further acts of bravery meriting the award. In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar. Recipients are entitled to the post nominal letters GM.

The details of all awards to British and Commonwealth recipients are published in the London Gazette.

Navy Cross 

The Navy Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded by the United States Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valour. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but could be awarded to all branches of United States military as well as members of foreign militaries. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.


Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration which is, or has been, awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.


It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. In the United Kingdom, it is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace.  In those countries aside of Britain where the Monarch of the Commonwealth realms is the head of state, the Governor-General usually fulfils the same function.

It is the joint highest award for bravery in the United Kingdom with the George Cross, which is the equivalent honour for valour not in the face of the enemy. However, the VC is higher in the order of wear and would be worn first by an individual who had been awarded both decorations (which has not so far occurred).

The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,356 times to 1,353 individual recipients. Only 13 medals, nine to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol. Recent research has thrown doubt on this story, suggesting a variety of origins for the material actually making up the medals themselves.

Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction. A number of public and private collections are devoted to the Victoria Cross. The private collection of Lord Ashcroft, amassed since 1986, contains over one-tenth of all VCs awarded. Following a 2008 donation to the Imperial War Museum, the Ashcroft collection went on public display alongside the museum's Victoria and George Cross collection in November 2010.

Since 1990, three Commonwealth countries that retain the Queen as head of state have instituted their own versions of the VC. As a result, the original Victoria Cross is sometimes referred to as the "Commonwealth Victoria Cross" or the "Imperial Victoria Cross", to distinguish it from the newer awards.

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