© Hendrik Meersschaert 2017
WORLD WAR II ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES
The Cross of Valour
This award was instituted on 11 November 1940 in three classes : Commander, Gold Cross and Silver Cross and ranks as the highest decoration. For WW2 a bar "1940" was placed on the ribbon to distinguish it from the earlier 1913 Cross of Valour.
The War Cross 1940
Also instituted in three classes on 11 November 1940, this cross was awarded for acts of heroism in action to officers, NCO's and men of all military services alike. The bronze cross is surmounted by a gilt, silver or bronze crown to denote its particular class. A small crown, either gilt, silver gilt or bronze, according to the Class of Cross, was added to the ribbon for each subsequent award (or, mention in the Order of the Day) to the same person.
Until 1942, the first award could be in any of the three classes, after that by enforced law, the first award and the subsequent ones (to the same person) were always of the 3rd Class, In case of more awards, up to three, the War Cross was upgraded to the next higher Class.
The ribbon was of three equal sized stripes the outer two being a dark red the inner dark blue. Different variants can be denoted by the style of the date 1940 on the reverse, some having the date in a circle.
The Medal for Outstanding Acts
Once more instituted on 11 November 1940, this medal was awarded to civilians or to military personnel for outstanding services. Its reverse simply bears the date "1940" and the original version hangs from an orange-yellow ribbon with black side stripes on which a bronze bar "1940" was affixed. Later the ribbon changed to yellow with red side stripes and the bar was discontinued. A small silvered / silver gilt crown was added to the ribbon for each subsequent award to the same person.
The Royal Navy Campaign Cross
Naval personnel who had actively and meritoriously served for at least six months in ships which had taken part in naval operations, were entitled to this cross which was instituted on 22 December 1943. For each 6 months' service a small star is placed on the ribbon (gilt for officers, silver for NCO's, bronze for other ranks).
The Maritime War Cross
Authorized on 9 January 1943 in three classes (gilt, silvered and bronze), this decoration was awarded to Greek Merchant Navy officers and men with at least 6 months war service. Royal Hellenic Navy officers who commanded convoy escorts and naval personnel serving aboard merchant vessels during the war were also entitled to this cross. Subsequent awards were denoted by a small crown (gilt, silver or bronze depending on the class of the cross) on the ribbon.
The Cross for Valour in Flight
Instituted on 25 January for award to flying officers or NCOs for exceptional valour in flight, causing damage to the enemy. The cross is gilded bronze and has slightly convex arms while in the silvered centre, within laurel branches, is a Greek cross over aviator wings and with a crown above. The ribbon is pale blue with crimson edges. Subsequent awards are denoted by a small silver spiral on the ribbon (max. three allowed).
The Flying Cross
Instituted on 25 January 1945, this cross serves to distinguish flying officers and NCOs for exceptional acts of valour in time of war. Subsequent awards (with a max. of three) were indicated by a small silver spiral on the ribbon. The gilt bronze cross has four rounded arms with a stylised propeller superimposed bearing a small Greek cross and with a crown above. The ribbon is diagonally striped red and yellow.
The Air Force Cross
Instituted on the same day as the previous cross, it was awarded for acts of exceptional leadership and ability, not necessarily in combat. Small silver crowns (max. 3) on the ribbon indicate multiple awards.
The Air Force Medal
Again instituted on 25 January 1945, this is a bronze medal with a ribbon identical to the Air Force Cross one but with yellow side stripes.
The Air Force Merit Cross
Also instituted on 25 January 1945, it was awarded to ground officers for meritorious services or outstanding professional ability and leadership during the war. Silver spiral devices on the ribbon (max. 3) would indicate multiple awards. It was also awarded to Army officers who served as liaison between the Air-force and the Army in coordinated operations during the period 1946-49.
The Air Force Merit Medal
Also instituted on 25 January 1945, it was awarded to ground staff for acts of exceptional professional and/or administrative ability in time of war, of a standard higher than for the award of the Medal for Outstanding Acts. As before, silver spiral devices on the ribbon were used for multiple awards.
The Distinguished Service Medal
This medal, created on 25 January 1945, was awarded to air force personnel for 12 months of meritorious service with combat units and to ground staff for 18 months of service in combat or technical units in time of war. The usual silver spiral emblems denote multiple awards.
The Convoy Escort and Armed Reconnaissance Medal
Flying personnel were entitled to this bronze medal for at least 45 successful convoy escort and armed reconnaissance missions. It would appear that the original ribbon had golden-brown side stripes but is no longer produced. Small silver spiral devices were worn on the ribbon : one for 85 missions, two for 120 and three for 150 missions.
The War Medal 1940-41
Authorized on 25 April 1947 this medal commemorates the recipient's participation in the earlier campaigns of the war. Two reverse types exist, one for land campaigns, the other for actions at sea. The land areas mentioned are Epirus, Albania, Macedonia, Thracia and Crete. The maritime ones refer to the Aegean, Ionic, Myrtoan and Adriatic seas.
The War Medal 1941-45
This star-shaped medal was instituted in 1947 to commemorate participation in campaigns and actions not covered by the previous medal. Again two reverses exist, one for land and one for sea actions. The land operations reverse refers to North Africa, South Aegean Islands and Italy; the maritime ones to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
The Medal of National Resistance 1941-45
Instituted on 22 December 1948 for all who participated in the national resistance between 1941 and 1945.
The Red Cross Medal
The Greek Red Cross has issued this medal which bears the dates 1940 - 1941 on its reverse.