© Hendrik Meersschaert 2017
WORLD WAR II ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES
The Bronze Lion
Instituted on 30 March 1944 this gallantry award replaced, at the time, the Honourable Mention device (see below). Military personnel, civilians and foreigners were eligible and subsequent awards were denoted by a numeral on the ribbon.
The reverse is plain.
The Bronze Cross
Ranking just below the Bronze Lion, this decoration was established on 11 June 1940 for award to the military, to civilians or to foreigners for lesser acts of bravery. Again, subsequent awards were indicated by arabic numerals on the ribbon. The design stems from the 1830's "Metal Cross" (aka Hasselt Cross). The reverse shows the date "1940" and the arms are inscribed "TROUW AAN KONINGIN EN VADERLAND" (Loyalty to Queen and Fatherland).
The Cross of Merit
This cross was created on 20 February 1941 to recognize meritorious service in connection with enemy action. Again recipients included military personnel, civilians and foreigners and subsequent awards were indicated by a numeral on the ribbon. Before the establishment of the Bronze Lion, a bronze clasp was issued for wearin on the ribbon in case of an award for special meritorious deeds. The reverse inscription reads "Voor Verdienste" (For Merit).
The Flying Cross
Instituted on 28 August 1941, this silver cross bears some resemblance to the Bronze Cross. Its central medallion bears the inscription "Initiatief - Moed - Volharding" (Initiative, courage, perseverance) and the date "1941". The reverse is plain but crosses made in Britain during the war have either "Sterling" or "Silver" impressed in the lower arm. The ribbon is clearly based on the British Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) but unlike the British award, the Dutch Flying Cross could also be awarded for achievements performed whilst not in action and even to civilians. The cross was also awarded to foreigners.
This interesting bronze cross was created on 16 March 1944. Its central obverse medallion shows Queen Wilhelmina surrounded by the text "VOOR KRIJGSVERRICHTINGEN" (For war operations). The design stems from the earlier 1869 Expedition Cross and the reverse is plain. It was awarded for participation in general war operations and/or specific war actions which were recognized by small-lettered bars on the ribbon.
In total 12 such bars were instituted, five for general operations and seven for specific actions. Several of the latter can be worn on one medal but only one bar for general operations is allowed per recipient.
The general operations bars are :
KRIJG TER ZEE 1940-1945 (War at Sea)
OORLOGSVLUCHTEN 1940-1945 (War Flights)
OORLOGSDIENST KOOPVAARDIJ / 1940-1945 (War Service, Merchant Navy)
OORLOGSDIENST VISSERIJ / 1940-1945 (War Service, Fishery)
KRIJG TE LAND 1940-1945 (War on Land)
The special actions bars are :
NEDERLAND MEI 1940
NEDERLANDSCH INDIË / 1941-1942 (Dutch East-India, now Indonesia), also found as NEDERLANDS-INDIË / 1941-1942
NOORD AFRIKA - ITALIË 1941-1942, changed on 6 January 1948 to MIDDELANDSE ZEE / 1940-1945
ARNHEM - NIJMEGEN / WALCHEREN 1944
OOST-AZIË - ZUID-PACIFIC / 1942-1945
The War Commemorative Cross
The Mobilisation War Cross 1939
Established on 11 August 1948, this cross was destined to military personnel that served during the mobilisation from April 1939 onwards but were not eligible for the War Commemorative Cross. The reverse bears an excerpt of the Dutch National Anthem "DEN VADERLANT GHETROUWE" (Loyal to the Fatherland).
The Resistance Cross
This cross was instituted on 3 May 1946 and is held in very high esteem. Awarded very sparingly for outstanding courage and leadership in resistance work during the German occupation, it exists in two sizes. The larger size (80x48 mm) is a posthumous award to the next-of-kin while the smaller version (60x36 mm) was awarded to surviving recipients. The obverse has the inscription "TROUW TOT IN DEN DOOD" (Loyal unto death) spread over the cross arms. The reverse with a flaming sword and two broken handcuffs is quite symbolical.
The Resistance Star, East Asia, 1942-45
Also sparingly awarded, this decoration was established in October 1948 for outstanding merit in resistance work against the Japanese during the occupation of the Dutch East Indies between 1942 and 1945. The obverse medallion border is inscribed "DE GEEST OVERWINT" (the spirit conquers) and the reverse has the text "MAART / 1942 / O.AZIË / AUGUSTUS / 1945" (March 1942, East Asia, August 1945).
The "Timor 1942" Bar
This final bar to the old Expedition Cross (established in 1869 with bars commemorating campaigns as far back as 1846) was created on 29 October 1942. It was awarded to the Dutch guerilla forces that were fighting the Japanese on Timor between mid-July and end 1942 as well as to officers and crew of the Dutch destroyer "Tjerk Hiddes" who brought the guerillas to Australia. The medals themselves were made by Stokes of Melbourne.
See also on this website : The Timor 1942 Group of Major Jan Zijlstra
The Medal of Gratitude
Established in February 1946, this medal is an award for meritorious services to the Dutch cause and/or for assistance to Dutch personnel during the war years, especially to those who had not received a chivalry order for those services. It was awarded in two classes, silver or bronze, and its obverse shows Androcles removing a thorn from a lion's paw within the inscription "SIBI BENEFACIT QUI BENEFACIT AMICO" (He helps himself who helps a friend). The reverse shows a rampant lion holding a bundle of arrows and a sword surrounded by the text "POPULUS BATAVUS GRATO ANIMO" (The Dutch people, in deep gratitude).
The Air Defence Service Medal
The Dutch Society for Air Raid Precautions created this small bronze medal for good services during the occupation years. The obverse shows a woman protecting two children while three aircraft fly overhead. On the reverse is "LUCHTBESCHERMING" (Air protection) and the dates "1940-1945" over a small shield bearing the Dutch coat of arms.
The Resistance Memorial Cross
Instituted on the 35th anniversary of the Liberation, on 29 December 1980, this cross was destined for award to participants in the resistance against the occupying forces of the Dutch territories in WW2. The inscription reads "DE TYRANNY VERDRYVEN" (to destroy tyranny), an excerpt of the National Anthem.
The N.N. Memorial Cross
This very rare cross was instituted in 1976 by the Circle of Friends of ex-Natzweilers and can be worn on the military uniform. It was awarded to the very few survivors of those arrested by the Germans during so called "Nacht und Nebel" operations (hence the N.N.). These "Night and Fog" operations were destined by the Nazis to upset the population as those arrested disappeared without a trace, their next-of-kin never receiving no information whatsoever. In fact they were sent to the Natzweiler concentration camp where most were left to perish. In the last weeks of the war some managed to survive long enough to be liberated and be repatriated. This award is a white metal cross with a pin reverse. On its central medallion are the letters "NN" in red within a wreath of barbed wire and the dates "1940" and "1945" are shown on the cross arms.
The Netherlands Red Cross Memorial Crosses
These crosses, as are all Dutch Red Cross awards, are semi-official. As they are, however, recognized by the Chancellor of the Dutch Orders, they should be mentioned here as well.
THE MEMORIAL CROSS 1939-1940 : awarded in silvered bronze for important services or in bronze for lesser good services, this cross was authorized on 6 February 1942 for services rendered during the September 1939 to May 1940 mobilisation period and for the short May 1940 campaign.
THE MEMORIAL CROSS 1940-1945 : awarded in a single class (white metal, red enamel), this cross was given for services during the war (a bar for postwar service in Indonesia was created for wear on this cross's ribbon).
The 1944 Railroad Strike Medallion
This little medallion was awarded in commemoration of participation in the general railroad strike of 17 September 1944. It is not a medal as such but rather a commemorative piece for wear on e.g. a watch chain.
The example depicted hangs from a yellowish ribbon but I've not found any source indicating that such a manner of wearing is in any way correct. The obverse has the logo of the Dutch Railroads (Nederlandsche Spoorwegen) and on the reverse, over a Dutch rampant lion, is the text "Ter herinnering aan de eendrachtige opvolging van het stakingsbevel 17 september 1944" (In commemoration of the unified adherence to the strike order 17 September 1944).
DUTCH COLLABORATION AWARDS
Early in 1942, Anton Mussert, leader of the N.S.B. (Nationaal Socialistische Beweging, the only political party allowed by the German occupation regime), created this award for Dutch volunteers serving with the Nazi forces on the Russian front. Although some crosses were manufactured, it was never issued as Hitler forbade its award. The reverse "HOU EN TROU" (loyal and true) reflects the N.S.B. slogan.
The Mussert Cross
The Dutch Work Service, a section of the N.S.B., apparently awarded a medal for competence. However, as so far only miniatures have been encountered, it is not clear whether any full-sized medals were ever distributed. The reverse is blank.
Further information on Dutch Orders, Decorations and Medals can be found on
The Dutch Medal Pages website.
The Dutch Work Service Competence Medal
The Wound Badge
The Wound Badge was only instituted in 1990 but made retroactive for award to veterans since World War II (thus including awards for the later actions in Dutch Indonesia, the Korean War, and United Nations or other Peacekeeping Operations). It is awarded to active or former military personnel or merchant navy crew for physical or psychological wounds received whilst serving the Netherlands under warlike conditions.
The text on the badge reads "VULNERATUS NEC VICTUS" (Wounded but not vanquished).