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Battle of Yser, Belgian World War I Medal, circa 1918

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Posted 2 years ago

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miKKoChris…
(53 items)

Belgian Yser Medal, World War I Battle of Yser

The Yser Medal commemorates the valor of those who defended the Allies’ northern flank along the Yser River during the Battle of Yser, 17-31 October 1914. Among Belgian military medals, the Yser Medal is considered second only to the Belgian Croix de Guerre (War Cross) of 1914-18. (1) Instituted on 18 October 1918, the medal was awarded to both Belgian and Allied servicemen who fought this battle.

On 16 October 1914, German forces attacked Belgian posts east of the Yser river in an attempt to penetrate and turn the northern flank of the Allied front. This northern flank was held by the Belgians, who gave fierce battle with their warrior king, King Albert. The Belgians were situated along the canal, from Nieuport to Ypres via Dixmude. In the course of the battle, the Belgians flooded the area between Nieuport and Dixmude in an effort to repel the advancing German Army and protect western Belgium. The battle raged from 17-31 October, and the Belgians held fast - despite 60,000 casualties, about one third of their force. (2)

The Yser Medal is made of bronze; it measures 35mm in diameter. Its obverse depicts a helmeted warrior wielding a lance and shield - a warrior blocking the German advance. The warrior is clothed only with cape and helmet, and his only weapon is the lance. I can't make a firm identification of this helmet/helm. I initially assumed (with caveat) that it was probably meant to represent a ‘classical’ helmet/helm of some species. This would be consistent with the warrior’s lance, shield, and cape. Now, thanks to the clarity of the new images, I venture to posit that this is probably a World War I helmet. This warrior is very similar to images of Mars, Roman god of war, and also to images of Ares, the Greek god of war. Interestingly, Mars represented death and war, but also the prospect of a stable peace; whereas his Greek counterpart, Ares, represented death, destruction, and chaos. In Roman mythology, Mars is born directly of Jupiter, and is second only to Jupiter. (3) Perhaps the figure represents Mars. Perhaps the figure is an 'heroic' nude, representing the Belgian soldier at Yser. I think that the figure may well represent both. I will search for the artist's own explanation of his work.

The legend “17-31 Oct 1914” appears to the right of the lance. A small integral circular suspension medallion at top-center features the inscription “YSER”.

The medal's reverse depicts a lion on the battlefield, wounded by a ‘stake’-like object, possibly a broken-off arrow or lance. He roars, and he holds his ground. Above him to the right is a flaming torch. Below him “YSER”. In the integral suspension medallion at top, the letter “A” signifies King Albert; the letter is surmounted by a crown. The negative space in this suspension medallion is enameled in translucent “river green”. This image is much more beautiful than my scanned image conveys.

This is the original Battle of Yser medal that was issued in 1918 to servicemen who fought in the battle. It is different from the Yser Cross, which was instituted in 1934. The cross is very similar to the original, but it incorporates a cross pattée, and its external shape is punctuated by the four projecting arms of the cross.

Both medals are suspended from a black ribbon with a central orange stripe.

Notes:

(1) Email of 15 May 2012 from Sir William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander to miKKoChristmas11.

(2) One could fit 30 or more Belgiums into the area that comprises the state of Texas. 60,000 men represented a significant portion of Belgium's population.

(3) “Mars”, unsigned article in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(mythology), accessed 26 Aug 2012.

This account was composed from the following sources.

http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/foreignguide/belgian/yser.htm, accessed 26 Aug 2012.

Email of 15 May 2012 from Sir William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander to miKKoChristmas11.

“Yser”, unsigned article in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yser, accessed 26 Aug 2012.

“Mars”, unsigned article in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_(mythology), accessed 26 Aug 2012.

"Ares GOD...", unsigned webpage, http://www.theoi.com/Summary/Ares.html, accessed 27 Aug 2012.

"Ares", unsigned article in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ares#Attendants, accessed 27 Aug 2012.

"Virtus and Her Parazonium", by Bill Welch,
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_virtus.html, accessed 27 Aug 2012.

"Greek Gods Chart", by Matt Baker, http://www.usefulcharts.com/history/greek-gods-chart.html, accessed 27 Aug 2012.

Comments

  1. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you so much, Bellin, for your wonderful appreciation!!! Hope your Saturday is splendid! : )
  2. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 2 years ago
    Very nice write-up on an interesting medal
  3. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I agree with Chrisnp, well written.
  4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Americans rarely recognize, much less honour, the sacrifices made by their allies. You poste is very appreciated & your narration was well presented. The Americans didn't win these wars, - only finished them.
    The sacrifices of other countries is very underestimated by U.S. history books.
  5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, pw-collector!!!
  6. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, Chrisnp, walksoftly, and blunderbuss2 for your appreciation and comments!!!

    Blunderbuss2, I was amazed when I first heard the story of the Battle of Yser. Who can stand among these Yser warriors when deeds of valor and bitter sacrifice are recounted? Very few, indeed! (Quickly now! Name five! Uh....King Leonidas!...uh....uh....Time's up!) You will yourself probably be familiar with the story of Canon Corneille Stevens, the Belgian Priest who defied Napoleon. The bounty for the capture of Canon Stevens was the highest Napoleon had ever offered, yet no one in war torn Belgium turned him in. And do you remember how the Belgians turned out against Napoleon's forces, armed with picks and shovels? How they were mowed down, but refused to be vanquished? Few can stand among the Belgians - those crazy brave Belgians.

    My father served in the U. S. Navy during WWII. He was always respectful of Allied forces. I am not well read in military history (!!!), and I am myself unfamiliar with the bias you describe, so I cannot pretend to offer an intelligent opinion on the matter. However, I do respect your opinion, sir, and I thank you very much for your generous comments. miKKo
  7. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I was going to ask you if you had a personal connection to this metal, but now I understand.
    Everyone who goes into battle for a just cause should be given, the same respect & admiration. I knew nothing of this battle, but with you eloquent post I now know, they obviously knew the importance of their role for their country, as well as the Allied operation as a whole.
    Thank you, for posting this item, as many people don't look beyond the role of their own country in these World events.
    As a Canadian I thank your father for the role he played in WWII, each man & woman involved in that conflict deserves our respect.

    As well I wanted to thank Blunderbuss, for having the courage to say what he did in his post
  8. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Hi, walksoftly. Many thanks for your most generous comments, and for your gratitude to our WWII fathers! My father was proud to do his part, as no doubt your people were, too. I hope your week is a splendid one. : ) miKKo
  9. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Hi, Bellin! Thank you very much, I am doing well this morning. How are you, sir? Are you the early bird catching the rare item at auction? Best wishes for success and joy! miKKo
  10. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 2 years ago
    For more on the tenacity of the Belgians, please check my post of their victory medal.

    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/35886-the-wwi-victory-medal-series-belgium

    I fully agree with Blunderbuss about our giving scant attention to our allies. I particularly did not like how certain Americans were deriding Canada for not joining us in operations in Iraq when we first invaded that country. It was as though we suddenly had amnesia about WWI, WWII, Korea, First Gulf War, Afghanistan, and countless UN peacekeeping missions all over the world. When did Canada decide not to support America going to war? Lets see...Vietnam and Iraq are the two I recall. Should we criticize them for not following us into those two quagmires? Oh, and the Canadians did send UN Observers into Vietnam. Sorry, I guess I had to vent a little there.
  11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Mikko, you are giving me way too much credit for historical knowledge that I don't possess. I knew enough about Belgie history not to teach a Belgie girl I was living with how to shoot.
  12. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I'm glad you vented on the issue Chrisnp, as a Canadian I was upset that some Americans, would bash us for not following your country into that fight. It wasn't a decision taken lightly, we had to consider the costs to our country, not just monetarily, but also in lives lost, & whether it could bring the fight to our cities.
    We took heat on the fight in Afghanistan, when we were one of the few countries that would put our sons & daughters on the front lines in that fight.
    I can think of three other incidents when we stepped up to the plate in your defence, the ALCAN Highway, the DEW Line & the placement of Bomarc missiles, with nuclear warheads on Canadian soil.
  13. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you very much for your candid and earnest comments. (Blunderbuss2, I trust that you're pulling my leg about the shooting lessons. I must make a mental note that you're a wit, and smarter than I am, and that I must weigh carefully what you say from now on. : D )

    Chrisnp, I missed your splendid medal! I just spent a fine 20 minutes admiring the linked medal, and many more! - with the wonderful accounts that accompany them. Bravo! I look forward to seeing many more, as you acquire them.

    Walksoftly, I have never been critical of Canada's judgment not to participate in Iraq. Canada's generosity and valor is well earned and well known. She has proved herself a noble ally of the United States time and time again. Also, I myself thought our stated grounds for the 2003 invasion of Iraq were not in accord with the conditions established by traditional just war theory. Once we were there in Iraq, however, and had inflicted gross damage to Iraqi systems for governance and public order, and to the material infrastructure, etc., and once chaos and lawlessness obtained, I judged that it was our duty to remain until good order, safety, and prosperity could be restored. I also thought that the invasion of Afghanistan was premature, and that sufficient conditions for waging a just war had not yet obtained when we invaded; though I understand that there are others who do respect the traditions of the just war theory and who have judged the war in Afghanistan to be just. Again, once there, I thought that we needed to stay. My friends and I have never criticized Canada's right to make her own judgments on whether or not to wage war. We are very grateful to know that Canada 'has watched our backs' for about a century now. (I do have one friend who was so peeved with the French for ridiculing us when we invaded Iraq that she started calling french fries "freedom fries", and persisted for years. However, I think that the French were rather 'uninhibited' and provocative in their condemnation at the time.) I hereby tip my hat to Canada and to all our faithful allies! miKKo
  14. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, scandinavian_pieces, officialfuel, Dr_Rambow,
    and petey!!! : )
  15. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Mikko, I don't pull-legs(may angle my humour) but you can judge for yourself. True though.
    I have real weakness for German(Allemeine) girls. Last one living with me, I fell for, so when she wanted to learn to shoot, - agreed! What was I thinking!! We know what happens from history when the krauts get guns. Well, I taught her & she got good at it. 14 yrs as a Berlin commie & I teach her to shoot! What was i thinking? After a few monthly feminine mental hygiene episodes, I had to hide the ammo. After we broke up it took me weeks to catch up on lost sleep. I'm not joking! Sometimes I think I have lived with every manic-depressive girl on the island & my friends agree. You obviously don't know about island life & probably lucky for it.
  16. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I'm sorry if I offended you in any way miKKo, that was not my intention. I apologize for getting off track & into international politics.
    It bothered me that this Belgium medal got scant attention from military collectors/historians.
    If you want to delete my last post that's fine, as it has nothing to do with your Belgium Medal.

    David
  17. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I wanted to thank you for the comment
    " Canada's right to make her own judgments on whether or not to wage war. We are very grateful to know that Canada 'has watched our backs' for about a century now."
    We here a lot of U S news up here but we never here the nice things like you just said.
    My son did a tour in Afghanistan, I was proud of what he did, but torn over the reasons he was there. I wanted Canada to see it through to a conclusion though or the lives lost would be in vain.
  18. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 2 years ago
    Actually, Walksoftly, I think it was me that got us off track. You’ve no cause to apologize.
    I love my country, but sometimes the American media is not our best ambassador.
    .
  19. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    Thanks Chrisnp, I think most of that is spewed from a few political talk shows.
    You're a stand up guy.
  20. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Good morning, gentlemen! Thank you very much for your generous comments all.

    David, I just saw your comment. Let me assure you, sir, that nothing you said was offensive to me in any respect. I am grateful to you for your generous comments. Now, I probably sounded officious!, and I wish I hadn't mentioned 'freedom fries'. I did find some of the anti-war demonstrations made by some French 'groups' rather too 'unihibited' and provocative. However, this morning I find my own comments offensive and patronizing. I overreached. I really get on my nerves sometimes. Please pardon me.

    David, I am very grateful to your son for his service in Afghanistan. One is silent in the face of the sacrifices that these young men have made. There are no appropriate words; one is silent....I am very thankful that he has returned safely from Afghanistan!

    Perhaps with better images, others will visit the Yser medal. I will try for better images today....Thank you very much, David! Regards, miKKo

  21. Manikin Manikin, 2 years ago
    very nice MiKKo ! and how are you today hope you still have your magic wand I am nearly out of muffins :-) XO
    Lots of history with your post I guess I had missed this one !
  22. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Good morning, dear Manikin! So good to see you! Thank you kindly for your appreciation!

    Well then, I will be waving my wand for you just as soon as I find it under all these Belgian papers. : o I will try for brownies, but with all the Belgian spirits hovering over my house now, you might find waffles, instead - or even pomme frites avec mayonnaise. Hope your day is splendid!!!
  23. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    We're all good Allies here, how about sending some of those waffles this way.
  24. Manikin Manikin, 2 years ago
    LOL walksoft I will share the waffles with you . Your right we all friends here . But your Pinocchio and she is the Fairy Godmother . Can you eat waffles ? Oh I will put your short nose on for that easier to eat :-) Good morning David hope all is good with you and Sherry today and that it has cooled off there .
  25. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Hi, all!

    David, I just received word that your waffles were confiscated at the border by vigilant Canadian border agents. I have been unable to verify this account, and I suspect that the evidence has since been destroyed. I am grateful to generous Manikin for sharing her batch of waffles with you, our good ally : D

    Hi, Bellin! Hope your day is great! : )
  26. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    lol miKKo, they are probably sharing them with US border Agents who confiscated the Maple Syrup yesterday.

    Good day Mani, thanks for the offer to share, word has come down about a collusion at the border.
    No cool weather yet, 93 F today 97 F tomorrow.
  27. Manikin Manikin, 2 years ago
    Walksoft I guess we are better off than New Orleans going to get hit by hurricane tonight and you know they are below sea level . Hopefully the new walls they built and pumping systems will protect the low area's . I would never live below sea level right on the ocean with a wall holding back the sea !
    Someone stole your maple syrup LOL no :-( then I guess MiKKo he will let me have his waffles I don't use maple syrup
  28. bratjdd bratjdd, 2 years ago
    Wow, Now that's History as we are seeing it. Thank for sharing history with all of us.
  29. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much, bratjdd and mrmajestic1!!! : )
  30. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Hi, Manikin, I saw your comment right before my battery cut out on the laptop. Didn't mean to ignore you. Hope you have a splendid evening! I will be posting a group of three wooden cats soon. Two of them have bo-bo's, but I think that you'll like them. Your wooden monkey is one of the most charming toys I have ever seen. Regards, miKKo : D
  31. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Manikin, that thing has been mostly sensationalism created by the press because of the convention & they had to follow up what they started. That thing hasn't gained 15 knts since it blew thru here. We enjoy up to 65 knts as it blows away mosquitoes, trash & shows us a loose shingle.
    The water temp. is high up that way so expect worse maybe.
  32. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, ryangordon!!! : )
  33. sunnygal414 sunnygal414, 2 years ago
    It is mankinds curse to close it's eyes to history, and in doing so repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Thank you for sharing this medal and some WWI history with us. I have always been fascinated with WWI and the trench warfare.
  34. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly for your generous comments, sunnygal414!!!
  35. Hansel Hansel, 2 years ago
    Great stuff you have.
  36. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much Hansel for your very kind comments and appreciation!!! : )
  37. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, vetraio50 and musikchoo!!! : )
  38. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you kindly, ttomtucker!!! : )
  39. trunkman trunkman, 2 years ago
    What treat to see this medal and learn its history, and then to scroll down and read all of the comments and feedback. Your posts are always interesting and engaging! Thanks bunches....
  40. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    I was just reading over this post again & I realized that I hadn't responded to you comments in # 23, I got caught up in the news that there were waffles to be had that I got side tracked.
    I appreciated everything you had to say, you were so kind.
    It did soften the blow when I found out about the collusion at the border & I wouldn't be getting any waffles.
  41. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much trunkman, vetraio50, and walksoftly!!

    Walksoftly, it's so easy to get distracted when one catches a whiff of Belgian waffles. Thanks much for your great kindness! : )
  42. toracat toracat, 2 years ago
    What a battle! and beautiful medal! Also by the way you were right I took Chinese painting apart and it is not embroidery! Thanks for getting me thinking!
  43. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Hi, toracat. Thanks very much for your comments!! Yes, the valor and sacrifice of these Yser warriors could inspire even the coldest heart. Glad I could help on the Chinese painting!
  44. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much, ozmarty!!
  45. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much, kerry10456!!
  46. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much, Luisa!!
  47. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much for your kind appreciation, PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, musikchoo, and Vestibule1965!!! : )
  48. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Thank you very much for your kind appreciation, rockersd1 and antiquesandcollectibles38!!! : )

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