Awarded to those who, between 17 and 31 October 1914, were part of the army fighting on the IJzer-river (in French "Yser") and fought with distinction.
This bronze medal (with a greenish shade and with a green enamelled medallion above) was instituted on 18 October 1918 and immediately follows the War Cross 1914-1918 in importance. Allied military personnel who participated were also eligible.
The obverse depicts a naked, helmeted man, standing and holding a lance (symbolising the halting of the German advance) with to his right the dates "17-31 / OCT. / 1914". In the enamelled medallion the word "YSER" can be read. The reverse shows a wounded lion on a battlefield background. Underneath is the word "YSER" while the medallion has the royal crown over the letter "A" (King Albert I). The ribbon is red with broad black edges. Both obverse and reverse are rather poorly executed for a medal with such an historical importance : between the dates mentioned the Belgian Army fought along the river IJzer and stopped the German advance, lead by General von Falkenhayn. During this gallant action the Belgian Army suffered some 60,000 casualties, more than a third of its total strength.
The Yser Medal 1914-1918 (The IJzer Medal)
Yser Medal (with Order of Leopold miniature shoulder cord)
The Yser Cross (The IJzer Cross)
This cross replaces the IJzer Medal and is in fact the same medal but placed on a short armed cross, the top medallion covering most of the top cross arm. Between the cross arms lies a thin laurel wreath.
This decoration was instituted with Royal Decrees of 5 February and 22 August 1934. It can only be worn as replacement of the IJzer Medal, never together with it. As few recipients of the medal were by that time interested in exchanging their medal for the newly created cross (and at their own expense too), the IJzer Cross is fairly rare.
Sometimes this cross can be found on a black ribbon with a central yellow band (see left), the Flemish colours, thus denoting an award to a Fleming but this ribbon is unofficial.
Yser Cross (on "Flemish" ribbon)
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2017