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The WWI Victory Medal Series – United States

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Tanni's loves4 of 341Bohemian (Harrach or Josephinenhütte?) late 19th. c. enameled black glass lamp base (or vase)1972 Charlie Chaplin Figure
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    Posted 12 years ago

    (310 items)

    The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) began arriving in France in June 1917. By March 1918 there were 250,000 U.S. soldiers in France; this number increased to one million by July and to two million by November. Two-thirds of the 29 divisions saw action.

    2.5 million US Victory medals were issued. The US was the only nation to add campaign clasps to the Victory Medal. There are five service clasps denoting countries; thirteen Army campaign clasps, plus a clasp for defensive sectors; and nineteen Navy clasps denoting varying types of service. There is also a Maltese cross device for Marines and Navy corpsmen attached to the AEF. I mean no disrespect to the Marines and Navy by not having their examples here, I just happen to be an Army guy and I collect mostly Army stuff.

    Clasps were awarded based on an individual’s participation in a campaign, but knowing what campaigns which units fought in allows for some guesswork as to where the soldier was assigned. Obviously there were transfers, replacements, ect., but from left to right, here’s the divisions these men may have served in:

    Top Row:

    3rd “Marne” Division, Regular Army. The only division with six campaign clasps. (Aisne, Champagne-Marne, Aise-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    28th “Keystone” Division, Pennsylvania National Guard. (Champagne-Marne, Aise-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    91st “Evergreen” Division. These were men from eight western states and the Alaska Territory. (Ypres-Lys, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    32nd “Red Arrow” Division, Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard (Aise-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    77th “Liberty” Division. Men from New York City and Southern New York State. (Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    Either the 5th, 30th, 35th, 78th, 80th, 82nd, 89th or the 90th Division (St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector) with a matching service ribbon with 3 campaign stars.

    Second row:

    Either the 6th, 7th, 29th, 36th, 79, 81, 88th or the 92nd Division (Meuse-Argone and Defensive Sector)

    Defensive Sector: Units in defensive sectors frequently suffered heavy casualties in spite of not having participated in any campaign.

    France: Personnel who served in France and were ineligible for campaign or defensive sector clasps.

    England: Personnel who served in England and nowhere else overseas.

    Russia: Personnel who served in Russia (reproduction clasp)

    Lastly, this veteran decided to wear his Honorably Discharged Lapel Button on his Victory Medal. Not an authorized practice but who’s going to argue? Above it is the service ribbon.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Obviously it would be a simple thing to remove or add clasps to make a more interesting medal. Medals were pre-assembled before issue, so here are some clues that indicate a medal was tampered with by somebody after it was issued. The suspension ring should be aligned on itself and have no gap or tool marks. Most original issue Victories have the wrap around brooch shown in the 4th photo. The ribbon is sewn at each side beneath the brooch with purple thread. Any other color indicates tampering by somebody at some time.

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    1. scottvez scottvez, 12 years ago
      BEAUTIFUL Display.

      Also, thanks for a "what to look for" when looking at the more unusual clasp/ medal combinations.

    2. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 12 years ago
      Thanks Scott. As an American, I was VERY tempted to wait till Veteran's Day to post the American Victory Medals, but when I thought of the blood and treasure spent by some of the other countries and our own late entry into WWI, I decided to keep my patriotic impulses in check and continue posting in the order of number of medals issued. I think tomorrow’s posting will better portray the global nature of that war.
    3. scottvez scottvez, 12 years ago
      That was where I thought you were going too.

      I anticipated US tomorrow and those other "English" speakers today!

      I look forward to the next post.

    4. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 12 years ago
      Yep, but the 11th is also "Remembrance Day" for our neighbors Up North, and our friends Down Under. I wanted to acknowledge their sacrifices. I think Remembrance Day is always on a Sunday in the UK.
    5. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 12 years ago
      Thanks Officialfuel, Filmnet, Kevin and Ttomtucker.
    6. Mcgarrett50 Mcgarrett50, 12 years ago
      Yes Happy Veteran,s Day to all of you ,who have served and please know that that many are Thankful and do remember more than one day per year !
    7. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 11 years ago
      Thanks for the love, Toolate and Scott
    8. stephfather, 10 years ago
      My namn is hakan and i live in sweden.
      Many years a go i recived some us ww1 thins from a peson
      Its his uniform gasmask whith mask framed documents etc.
      His name was oscar efrain olson and moved to USA
      In early 1900
      he serwed in franch in ww1 in the 28 div. 112
      As i know he only sa about 2 months of aktion before he was wounded by gas before peace.
      He mowed back to sweden in 1920,thats maybe why he not reciwed any medal.
      Now i am planning to get one medal but i wonder,wich bars he may have been entitled for?

    9. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Hello, and sorry to have missed your post until now. The 28th Division is entitled to clasps for Champaigne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne and the defensive sector. You would need to find out which of those battles your man would have been available for in those two months.
    10. stephfather, 10 years ago
      Thanks for reply.
      It must bee the clasps for Meuse-Argonne and the defensive sector.
      Your site is great,by the way :)
    11. HowardRevis, 7 years ago
      Hi Chrisnp - I'm a museum exhibit developer working on a project for which I need high quality images of Victory Medals with attachments for each of the 13 US Army ground campaigns of the war. Your collection includes several of the attachments we'd like to show, and I was wondering if it's possible to get your permission to use images of your collection. I'd be more than happy to provide more info on the project if you'd like.
      Many thanks for your time and thanks for posting,
      Elizabeth Eubank (Howard + Revis Design Services, content developer)
    12. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 7 years ago
      You do have my permission and thank you for seeking out permission first. If there is a web presence for this project I would be interested in knowing the URL. I can also be contacted at Chrisnp @

      I currently have examples of 11 of the 13 battle clasps (still missing Cambrai and Lys). You might also find these posts covering the clasps useful. The first four depict clasps for each division, the fifth is covers the Vittorio-Venito clasp.

    13. mtjester, 6 years ago
      Were the battle and service clasps represented on the ribbon bar with bronze campaign stars? I realize that Silver Citation Stars (predecessor to Silver Star Medal) were displayed on the ribbon bar, but not sure about the clasps.
    14. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
      Hi, and thanks for asking. Army battle clasps were represented on the ribbon bar by bronze stars, service clasps were not. Also, the Navy had duty clasps which were represented by a bronze star on their ribbons.
    15. cprofota, 6 years ago
      Just found this great post. I am writing a book on WWI medals and decorations call World Orders and decorations awarded to US personnel and would lovw to include your great post for all to learn from. I would be more than happy to give you credit if you give me all the information I would need to do so. Thank you again for such an informative site.
      Chris Profota
    16. SKTrynoskySr, 4 years ago
      Nice article. I just purchased a Victory medal with a very frayed ribbon and three clasps. I would like to remove two of those clasps, Meuse Argonne and Defensive sector and add them to another newer medal I have to be shadowboxed for a particular soldier who served with the 29th Division and died on 12 October 1918. While not a relative, I was taken with his photo, posted in the NJ archive and his age 18. Visited his grave in July at Arlington. Having a desire NOT to screw up everything, I'd love any hints you might have on getting them off undamaged. Thanks, .....
    17. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 4 years ago
      I hate to see these disassembled, and you can find clasps by themselves on eBay, but if you are determined to do this, the easiest was would to be to bend the suspension ring open and take off the ribbon, then flatten the ribbon and slide them off the bottom.
    18. SKTrynoskySr, 4 years ago
      Thank you for your response. The medal and clasps were very inexpensive and bought for the purpose of assembling a shadow box to honor a WW 1 vet. Unfortunately, if you even look at the ribbon, it starts to unravel. I may just remove the one inappropriate bar and use a piece of new ribbon. Thanks!
    19. Collectables59 Collectables59, 4 years ago
      Incredible display.

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