Posted 6 years ago
The Greek government was divided during the war. King Constantine was married to the Kaiser’s sister, and he and the General staff were pro-German. The prime Minister, Eleutherios Venizelos, and the faction he lead were pro-Allied. For most of the war, Greece was officially neutral. Even with a British and French force of over 500,000 men occupying Salonika, Greece in 1915, and the Bulgarians invading Macedonia in 1916, Greece waivered. Finally in 1918 Greece sided with the allies, sending 230,000 troops to fight in Macedonia.
This victory medal was struck in red bronze. Approximately 200,000 were issued. The artist, Henri-Eugene Nocq, was a recognized French sculptor and medalist who lived in Paris, where the medal was also struck. The unusual suspension device is not found on other Greek medals, and was probably the artist’s idea. The image of Victory was modeled after the 5th Century BCE statue of Nike by Paionios, which commemorated a victory by Athens over Sparta. On the back we see “The Great War for Civilization” in Greek, and an infant Hercules wrestling with two snakes. In Greek mythology, Juno sent two snakes to kill Hercules in his bed, but Hercules strangled them. In this case the snakes represent the Central Powers. The tablet in the center reads “Allies and Comrades” and lists the allied nations.
The medal to the left in the first photo and in the second and third photos is the official issue. You can see the bottom of one of two large prongs for attaching the medal to the uniform. It lists the name of the designer “Henry NOCQ” (last name in all capitols) at the lower left edge of the front side of the medal. The medal on the right in the first photo is a copy of an unofficial version, which not only lacks the designer’s name, but is missing the first “O” in the inscription that wraps around the back of the medal. The unofficial (right) version has a replacement ribbon. The official (left) version still has it's original ribbon. The last picture shows the original issue box, the inside of the top stamped with the name of the manufacturer, V. Canale of Paris.
* * * * * * * * * *
Here are three nations that were eligible to produce Victory Medals but didn’t:
China - Too fragmented to produce a nationally recognized version.
Poland – Approved a medal design but never put them into production or issued any. Polish Victory medals are in circulation, and they are interesting, but are more appropriately categorized as “fantasy medals.”
Yugoslavia – Was created at war’s end from several smaller countries. They did not wish to alienate their Croat and Slovene citizens who fought on the German side and therefore did not produce a Victory Medal.