© Hendrik Meersschaert 2017
WORLD WAR II ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES
At the start of WW2, Romania lost a substantial part of its territory to the Soviet Union, Hungary and Bulgaria and decided to enter the war on the Axis side on 23 November 1940 under the leadership of Field-Marshal Antonescu. Romanian units thus fought alongside their German allies on the Eastern Front. On 23 August 1944, King Michael I took over government and shortly afterwards, on 12 September, Romania was out of the war through an armistice signed in Moscow.
During World War II, a number of existing decorations were altered or amended in order to make them available for awarding for wartime services :
The Order of the Star of Romania
The Order of the Crown of Romania
On 30 June 1941 it was decided to award any class of these two orders on the ribbon of the Medal for Military Bravery (red with narrow blue edges) if earned by the recipient in an action against the enemy.
The Order of Merit
The Cross of Honour for Merit
The Order for Loyal Service
The Order of the Royal House
The Cross and Medal of the Royal House
The above decorations could, from November 1937, be awarded "with swords" for war services. This was discontinued from 30 June 1941 onwards.
The Medal for Bravery and Loyalty
Again on 30 June 1941, the three classes of this medal were reinstalled for awarding for war services as the lowest ranking war decoration. It then carried crossed swords which had previously (in 1937) been discontinued.
The Order of Michael the Brave
The Medal for the Crusade against Communism
King Michael I instituted this bronze medal on 1 April 1942 for all those participating in the war against the Soviet Union, including foreigners (i.e. mostly German troops). It was awarded without bar for meritorious service on the home front and bars were created to denote front service. If only one bar was awarded, it was in bronze. When, however, multiple bars were worn, they were silvered.
Known bars are for Azov, Basarabia, Bucovina, Bug, Crimea (or Crimeia), Dobrogea, Donet, Nipru, Nistru, Odessa, Marea Neagra (or Mare Negru), Stalingrad, Dnjestr, Caucaz, Calmucia and Prut.
These bars can be deemed pretty rare as their owners were liable to prosecution after the war by the Stalinist government then in power.
The Medal for Soldiers from Bessarabia and Bucovina
This medal was created on 27 October 1943 for award to all military personnel who had remained loyal to Romania in June 1940 when both these provinces had become occupied by the Soviet Union. It is a "tombak" (zinc and copper alloy) medal depicting on its obverse the female figure of Romania and two soldiers with bayonets. The reverse shows two women, representing the two provinces, with a map of the area and the year "1940" above. The ribbon is blue with a red centre stripe edged yellow.
The Badge for War Wounded or Invalids
Instituted on 19 February 1942, this badge was worn on the right breast.
The Liberation Medal - Instituted in 1949
The 20th Anniversary Medal of the Liberation of the Homeland - Instituted in 1964
The 25th Anniversary Medal of the Liberation of the Homeland - Instituted in 1969
The 30th Anniversary Medal of Romania's Liberation from Fascist Domination - Instituted in 1974
The 40th Anniversary Medal of the Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Armed Insurrection of 23 August 1944 - Instituted in 1984
The WW2 Commemorative Cross - Instituted in 1994