© Hendrik Meersschaert 2017
WORLD WAR II ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES
The War Cross
Norway was invaded by German armed forces on 8 - 9 April 1940 and immediately after its occupation an active underground resistance movement came into being and was maintained throughout the war. Those Norwegians that had escaped, formed active service units within the Allied forces including the Mercantile Marine.
During the war a collaborationist government was set up and lead by Vidkun Quisling.
This cross was instituted in 1941 in recognition of conspicuous bravery and leadership. It could be awarded to personnel of the Norwegian armed forces serving with the Allies, Norwegians engaged in military or civil defence at home or allied military personnel and it also could be awarded posthumously.
The St. Olav's Medal with Oak Leaves
The medal itself was instituted in March 1942 for meritorious services but, later that year, oak leaves were also authorised for personal contributions to the Norwegian cause in the war. Multiple citations were represented by adding further sprays of oak leaves on the ribbon.
The King Haakon VII's Freedom Cross
King Haakon VII instituted both the Freedom Cross and the Freedom Medal (see below) after Norway's liberation in 1945. Both were awarded to Norwegian and Allied service personnel or civilians for outstanding services during the war. The reverse of the cross has "Alt for Norge" and "7 Juni 1945" on the cross arms.
The War Medal
Instituted in 1941, this medal was awarded to Norwegian or Allied personnel and to civilians who had served meritoriously in the war or in the defence of Norway. This medal could be awarded posthumously.
The King Haakon VII's Freedom Medal
As with the Freedom Cross above, this medal was awarded for outstanding services during the war. The reverse mentions the designer's name (Tostrup) in the bottom right.
The Participation Medal 1940-45
Instituted after the war, this medal was a reward to those who had served valiantly either at home and/or abroad : criteria for this medal include military personnel or civilians (e.g. hospital personnel) that served during the initial stages of the war in Norway before its occupation (April, May, June 1940) for minimum 5 days and those that joined the Norwegian forces or Merchant Navy in the UK or the USA after the occupation of Norway and served for a minimum of 5 months. Members of the Homefront Forces (underground members in Norway) who served for a minimum of 4 months prior to 8 July 1945 were also entitled to this medal. Those that served both in the first months of the war on Norwegian soil and escaped to join and serve in the Norwegian forces abroad were entitled to wear a bronze rosette on the medal's ribbon.
The dates on the obverse are "9 April 1940" and "8 Mai 1945", indicating respectively the invasion and the liberation of Norway.
The King Haakon VII's 70th Birthday Medal
Members of the Norwegian Forces that were serving on 3 August 1942 were awarded this medal. It commemorates the 70th birthday of the King.
The Norwegian Red Cross Medal 1940-1945
This medal was awarded to Norwegians, Swedes and Danes in recognition of their services in helping Norwegians in POW camps etc. Strangely enough, it has never been approved for wearing on uniform.
During the German occupation of Norway, the Nasjonal Samling, the Norwegian collaboration party lead by Quisling, instituted a number of medals :
Many thanks to Lt.-Com. (Rtd.) Harald Hallberg, RNR, and Ragnar Nöckleby for picture material and valued assistance with the contents of these pages on Norwegian awards !
The Volunteers for Finland Medal
This is a commemorative medal for those Norwegians that volunteered to fight in Finland's Winter War against the Soviet Union. It was awarded by the "Cirle of Friends" veterans' association during the German occupation. Thus it was only issued to and worn by Norwegian collaborators and never approved for wearing after the war. Approximately 800 medals are believed to have been struck but as only about 300 of the some 700 volunteers that started training were actually sent to the Finnish front, only those 300 would have been eligible to receive it.
The 1944 Lifesaving Medal
On 27 January 1944, the Quisling government (German puppet state) instituted this medal for saving life at sea. In view of the liberation of Norway in May 1945, this medal was in existence for only 15 months and thus is very rare.
The Order for Bravery and Loyalty
This order, in 3 classes (Knight's Cross, 1st Class Cross and 2nd Class Cross), is perhaps better known as the "Quisling Cross". The "Tapper og Tro" order was proposed by Quisling in 1941 for award to Norwegian frontfighters in much the same way as the German Iron Cross. However, barely had awards been made (at least one 1st class and one 2nd class) when the German Reichskommissar, Joseph Terboven, decided to only allow German medals to be worn (in this case, the Iron Cross).
The Norwegians, being stuck with a stock of these decorations, reinstituted the award as a civilian Nazi party award in 1944. For this the "1941" was removed and a "Sun-Eagle" soldered on in its place. At least one seems to have been awarded.
The Frontfighter's Badge
Awarded to those Norwegians that fought in the German Army or Waffen-SS units on the Eastern Front, against the Soviet Union.
The Frontsister's Badge
Awarded only 9 times to Norwegian nurses serving on the Eastern Front, against the Soviet Union.
The Police Medal
Awarded in two classes. For service with the Volunteer SS and Police units.
The Hederstegn Medal
Awarded in three classes (gold, silver and bronze) as a civil decoration.
The Sun-Eagle Order (Solørn Ordenen)
A special award was manufactured by the firm of Tostrup and presented to Vidkun Quisling by Gen.Secr. Fuglesang in 1944. After the war a few restrikes are reported to have been made. The ribbon for this 55mm silver gilt and enamelled cross has the same colours as the Order for Bravery and Loyalty (see above).