Friday, February 26, 2010

Belgian Croix de Guerre in WWII

In recognition of their war time efforts in Belgium many American soldiers received military decorations from the Belgian Army. The Belgian Croix de Guerre (War Cross) and the fourragère were awarded to American servicemen in the Belgian Army's Order of the Day, 1946. An English translation of this list was published in 1948 for the bennefit of American veterans. I bought a copy of Belgium Remembers and Honors the US Armies of Liberation, by Colonel A. Baene.

The Croix de Guerre was created for the first world war in 1915. In 1940 the medal was revived for WWII. Individuals recognized with the Croix de Guerre for extraordinary service received a medal from the Belgian Army. If a unit as a whole was recognized the men in the unit received a rectangular ribbon for their uniform (with no cross attached), and a Croix de Guerre insignia was added to the unit's flag. I'm not sure what this looked like exactly.

Individuals or units receiving the Croix de Guerre were cited at least once in the Belgian Army's Order of the Day. Da Baen's book adds, "Each citation in the order gives the right to a bronze palm [a pin] to be affixed to the ribbon of the Croix de Guerre." However, receiving single citation did not necessarily mean a unit also received the award. This is a distinction that confused me for a while. My grandfather's 519th Port Battalion was the object of one citation, but they did not also receive the Croix de Guerre. The ribbon or medal was worn on the left breast of the uniform. The ribbon is red with a threefold green line border on each side.

Created in 1945, the fourragère (often written without the accent: fourragere) was created by the Belgium "Wishing to honor, in a visible and permanent manner, the bravery which certain units of the Army exhibited during the present war [WWII]... To wear the fourragère an American serviceman needed to be cited on two occasions in the Order of the Day. Famous recipients include the men of the 101st Airborne Division, Patton's 3rd Army Division, and—pertinent to my study—the Antwerp Antiaircraft Artillery Command. The fourragère is a braided rope in the same red and green as the Croix de Guerre. It was worn on the left shoulder of the uniform. A badge of this decoration could be worn on civilian clothing. Although I have not see one, I'm guessing this was a lapel pin. Bearers of the fourragère might also have been awarded the Croix de Guerre medal.

Also check out this Wikipedia article on the Croix de Guerre.

1 comment:

  1. U.S. Army: The Belgian Fourragere may be awarded by the Belgian Government when a unit has been cited twice in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army. The award of the Fourragere is not automatic but must be by specific decree of the Belgian Government.

    Matt Urban ("the Ghost"), Medal of Honor, WW2, of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment (9th inf. Div.) was awarded this fourragere; "The Hero--We Nearly Forgot", 1990; MattUrbanWW2 Yahoo Groups

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