Medals instituted during the Reign of King Baudouin I (1951-1993)
The Royal Donation Fund is an autonomous public society which manages the domains that were donated to the Kingdom of Belgium by King Leopold II in 1903. Those that had rendered good and loyal services to the cause of this institute were awarded this commemorative anniversary medal which was instituted on 21 December 1953.
Instituted on 17 November 1956, this bronze gilt medal served to reward native mothers (of Belgian Congo, Ruanda, Burundi origins) that have distinguished themselves in honourably rearing numerous offspring (min. 7 children). The reverse of the medal is blank.
The Medal for Family Merit
The Commemorative Decoration for the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Donation Fund
Intended for award in the "next" war, this medal was instituted on 3 April 1954. The criteria for the award (either to individuals or to units) would allow for this decoration to be bestowed for hostilities in foreign theatres of operations as well but so far no such awards have been noted. The obverse of the cross shows the Belgian Lion whereas the reverse has the national coat of arms in its central medallion. A palm without royal cypher has been foreseen in case of a mention in despatches and also bars bearing either the year or the theatre of operations of the armed conflict have been instituted.
The 1954 War Cross
On 1 August 1958 this medal was instituted by Royal Decree at the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Belgium acquiring the Congo colony from King Leopold II. It was awarded to those that had honourably served the colony for 25 years. In some cases the service time was reduced to 10 years or even less in the case of health reasons causing a premature return to the home country.
The medal is in silvered bronze and shows the royal monogrammes of the 5 kings that ruled Belgium by 1958 in the star points. The reverse of the medal is entirely flat.
The Medal for the 50th Anniversary of Belgian Congo
This medal was instituted in three classes (gilt, silvered and bronze medals) on 8 August 1958 to honour independent agriculturers and artisans, living in Belgian Congo, Ruanda or Burundi, who distinguished themselves by exceptional results or by a sustained activity and perseverance (35, 25 or 15 years uninterrupted professional activity). A predominantly red ribbon was used to denote the artisanal award, the mainly green ribbon indicates the agricultural award.
The Medal for Agricultural and Artisanal Merit
The Medal of Military Merit / The Merit Medal
Awarded to all members of all branches of the Belgian Armed Forces for exemplary conduct and in recognition of occasional exceptional performance of duty. The criteria for award of this medal include productivity, quality of service, initiative, discipline, moral values, social awareness, physical condition. This medal was instituted on 18 April 1988 and holders of the Military Decoration or the Civil Decoration cannot be awarded this medal for the same services. The reverse of the medal is plain.
This medal occasionally appears with a clasp but information received from the Belgian Army indicates this is an unofficial addition - no bars for this medal have been officially instituted. However, bars in either Flemish or French, commemorating naval participation in the Gulf War, can be encountered.
By Royal Decree of 23 February 2005 a "Merit Medal" was created, identical in appearance to the Medal of Military Merit which remains in existance, for award to civilians in the Defense Department and to military or civilian foreigners who distinguished themselves when working with the Belgian Defence Ministry.
The Medal for Services Rendered
Awarded to active members of the Belgian armed forces in recognition of services rendered during a long period and in difficult circumstances. Instituted on 18 April 1988, this medal has a plain reverse.
Awarded to serving or former military personnel for loyal and good services to the armed forces between 18 December 1909 and 18 February 1934, this bronze medal was only instituted on 17 February 1962.
The Commemorative Medal for the Reign of King Albert I
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2017