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Volunteer Combatant's Plaque, Belgian WWI

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World War One524 of 686Part II: Reverse of Volunteer Combatant's Plaque, Belgian WWI and War of IndependenceBattle of Yser, Belgian World War I Medal, circa 1918
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    Posted 10 years ago

    (52 items)

    The central image in this Volunteer Combatant's plaque is a replica of the Belgian WWI Volunteer Combatant's Medal, which was awarded for service during the war years 1914-1918. Designed by distinguished Belgian artist and sculptor “Eugène J. de Bremaecker, the bronze medal is scarce, and the copper plaque is very rare. This plaque comes from the private collection of Sir William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander. It is the only one he has ever seen in his 15 years of collecting Belgian medals. (1)

    The Volunteer Combatant's MEDAL was instituted on 17 June 1930. It was awarded to Belgian or foreign civilians who served as volunteers in WWI. Medical personnel who served two years in non-occupied Belgium and youth who had fled occupied Belgium qualified for the medal. Other recipients had to serve in a combat unit in a "danger zone". Various terms of service were established based upon the age of the volunteer combatant. The obverse features a circular bronze medallion that is surmounted by a tiara/elliptical-shaped crest. The design in the obverse medallion features two heads - one represents the volunteer of the Belgian war of independence (1830's), and the other a WWI combatant. The 'crest' features a royal crown on laurel branches. The ribbon on which it medal is hung is a solid dark blue. The medal is signed and dated "Eugene de Bremaecker 1914". (2)

    The MEDAL reverse features the WWI dates, "1914-1918", and the words "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR". Now, I am puzzled. "Voluntariis" is both the plural ablative and the plural dative case for the second declension noun "voluntarius". "Voluntarie" is the singular vocative case of the word, and "voluntarii" is the plural vocative case. I mention this because translates this as "Volunteer, the Country Remembers", and I would expect the singular vocative case under this translation. I am ashamed to say that I shall have to ask one of my Latin scholar friends for assistance here. Curiously, states that there are two versions of the medal, and the more frequent has "volontariis" instead of "volu...". This is very interesting, because there are no cases of voluntarius in which the letter "o" appears twice. (3) You can view an image of one currently at auction on eBay.

    The one-sided PLAQUE is executed in copper. The exterior shape reminds me of a flat-bottom window with a pointed arch. Plaque features the same two heads as the medal, circumscribed by a medallion. The same elliptical tiara shape with laurel branches and royal crown that appears atop the MEDAL appears atop the plaque, too. However, the heads of the plaque are poised directly above a hemi-circular wreath of laurel that extends upwards and which terminates at about the level of the volunteers’ nose bridge. Plaque is signed “Eug J de Bremaecker” in a highly stylized font; there is no date mark. "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR" does not appear on the plaque. Plaque dimensions: Height 5 and ¼ inches, width 4 and ¼ inches.


    The date of issue of plaque.

    Circumstances of its issue.

    Criteria for recipients.

    Correct translation from Latin of "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR", and any account of the MEDAL issued with "VOLONTARIIS".

    What purpose this plaque served, and whether it could have been mounted in a base of some sort. There are marks on the base that are perhaps consistent with its having been inserted in a base.

    Any information whatsoever, speculative or solid – even whimsical or goofy – would be greatly appreciated.



    (1) Description acquired from Sir William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander, Dec. 2011. The great majority of information I have provided comes from Sir William Simpson’s written text.

    (2) I cannot read the signature or date on the medal. I report the spelling that was recorded in the referenced ebay auction.

    (3), “Medal for Volunteer Combatants (Médaille du Combattant Volontaire / Medaille van de Vrijwillige Strijder), 1914-1918”,, accessed 29 Aug 2012.


    “Eugène J. de Bremaecker », unsigned Wikipedia article,, accessed 29 Aug 2012. Article features a fine bust of King Albert I of Belgium, the warrior king of WWI. Wiki also has a page featuring images of the artist’s works; however, I do not have permission to post a link to same image page.

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    1. rockstar1998 rockstar1998, 10 years ago
      time and date...same as medal...1930
      criteria of getting it...well you did good or you got hurt...
    2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      So good to see you weigh in on this item, rockstar1998! I am very excited at the prospect of learning more about this beautiful plaque, so please pardon me if I grill you! : ) Can you please tell me the source of your dating information? I am grossly ignorant of military medals. I am not a collector of Belgian medals, though I do so admire them.

      Secondly, do you know why this plaque was issued? Or, for that matter, why the medal was instituted at the relatively late date of 1930? Could the Depression have had something to do with its late issue? Was the criteria for qualifying for the plaque the same as for the medal? Did the recipient have to purchase the plaque? There is no mounting device on this plaque. How was it displayed? The back is smooth and shows no signs of any attachment. Could this have been displayed on a grave? I haven't a clue and am grateful for any information.

      I'm sorry but I don't understand your comment "you did good or you got hurt". Could you please explain? Many, many thanks! : )
    3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Hi miKKO!
      Thought bubble from Down Under!
      "Memoria patria" is an idea in itself.
      If you google it you see instances of it.
      The Voluntariis is a dative and the there is an implied "detur".
      Something like "Let the 'collective memory' be given to the volunteers".
      "Merces mihi gloria detur". Ovid, Fasti, III, 389.
      A passive form where the direct object becomes a nominative.

      There is another use of the motto here on a national monument in Hasselt in Belgium from 1961. It seems that the two faces reflect the "die hiermee hulde brengt aan de bewerkers van 's lands onafhankelijkheid in 1830, aan de zovele vrijwilligers van WO I " - "paying tribute to the workers of the country's independence in 1830, to the many volunteers of World War I"

      Bill's Belgian Medals says that it was instituted as a medal on June 17 1930.
      "The Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914-1918. The scarce bronze Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914-1918 was instituted on 17 June 1930 and was awarded to Belgian or foreign civilians who volunteered to serve with the Belgian armed forces. They had also to serve with a combat unit in a danger zone for a minimum of 6 months."

      So, was it a service medal back-dated for service in WWI?

      There seems to be a couple of versions of the medal too.
      On the medal here the signature of Eugène J. de Bremaecker appears on the right:

      On the medal sold at Bills the signature is on the left as in the plaque.

    4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 10 years ago
      I don't know, but could it also be in "wallon"?
    5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, vetraio50! Thank you very much for your most excellent and generous comments!!! I respond to each ‘paragraph’ separately.

      Para 1: Delighted with comments. Most interesting. Must think about this more. Not comfortable with it. Will get back with you on this.

      Para 2: Delighted with your submission, but must think about this more. I can see one implicit inference that is plausible, but can't affirm it yet, and I might not have gleaned all the senses from the passage. Will read it when I’m more clear-headed to make sure I get your point(s).

      Para 3:

      a.) Yes, the MEDAL was instituted on 17 June 1930, but I haven't seen a date for the issue of the PLAQUE. That is the date I'm seeking. (I'm also seeking the reason why 'someone' chose that very year to issue a medal for service in a war that ended in 1918, but that's a separate question.)

      b.) "Bill" of "Bill's Belgian Medals" refers to Sir William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander. It is he who provided me with this plaque. He also provided a description of plaque and medal. Yes, his website indicates that both Belgian and foreign volunteers were eligible to receive this medal, provided they met the condition of serving at least six months in a combat unit in a "danger zone". However, he provided me with an expanded set of qualifying recipients and some conditions under which they qualified. My summary, detailed in paragraph two of my Show and Tell description, is a less detailed than the one accompanying the plaque. I hope, however, that my rendering is accurate as far as it goes. I state above “Various terms of service were established based upon the age of the volunteer combatant.” Listed below are the additional ‘various terms of service’ detailed in the description that Sir William has provided me with.

      Volunteers older than 40 years who had served over three months.

      Those over 50 who had one month’s combat service.

      (I will reassess my summary when my mind is fresh.)

      Moreover, indicates that the medal instituted on 17 July 1930 was initially conditional upon six months service, but that “further decrees” reduced the “time qualification” from six months for older volunteers. See

      c.) Yes, the medal was a service medal ‘back-dated’ for service in WWI.

      Para 4: a. and b.)

      The three authorities alluded to in this Show and Tell item and its associated discussion indicate that there are two versions of this medal. I won’t challenge that, though right now I’m not clear as to how there are two and not three versions. I will just note the differences I observed. The signature placement you mentioned appears to be one difference. Another instance involves the use of the 'misspelled' word "volontariis" for "voluntariis". Another difference is that one medal has a blank reverse, and the other has the dates “1914-1918” and the words "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR" on the reverse. The one displayed at Bill’s Belgian Medals has a blank reverse. Sir William doesn’t state in his text that "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR" " has in this medal been moved to the obverse of the medal, but there is a quite a bit of text along the side of the obverse, and perhaps it is "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR" – or perhaps instead the ‘misspelled’ word "VOLONTARIIS” and “PATRIA MEMOR”. According to, the rarer of the two medals is the one with what I have taken as the correct spelling of the word, i.e., “Voluntariis”, and in medal-medaille’s rarer version it appears that the dates and this message appear on the reverse. Also, in the medal with the blank reverse, the date 1914-1918 appears on the obverse in the elliptical area that crowns the central medallion; it does not appear on the obverse in the version that has writing on the reverse. Moreover, the medal with the blank reverse doesn’t look like it has the same clarity, the same crisp molding, as the medal with the text on reverse; however, I might be mistaken here. Finally, the unit that attaches the circular loop to the elliptical area atop the medallion is in the blank reverse medal very simple and unadorned. Whereas, in the medal that features text on the reverse the unit that attaches the loop is shaped differently and looks like it has applied ‘cut card work’ - or a molded flourish that looks a bit like cut card work.

      Enough for now. I will get back with you. Thanks again for your super input!! miKKo

    6. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, blunderbuss2! Thank you kindly for your appreciation and generous comment!!! No, the language we are grappling with is clearly Latin. I have been reviewing various constructions this evening, and I am not confident of the translations proposed. I will return to the scene of the crime tomorrow. : O
    7. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you so much, Bellin!!! Yes, I love this plaque too! I meant to make it over to your collection this evening and post some comments, but it has taken me a long time to respond to Vetraio50's comments on this show and tell!, so I'll have to make my comments on your terrific finds tomorrow. See ya soon! : D
    8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      At the site mentioned above the Dutch translation of the Latin is:
      Het vaderland is zijn vrijwilligers indachtig.
      In English:
      The fatherland is mindful of its volunteers.
      Just an aside.
    9. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Thre are pertinent photo comparisons of the two spellings on the medals here:
    10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Re two forms of the word: "voluntarius" and "volontarius".
      Voluntarius is Latin.
      Volontarius is Late Latin, through the process of 'assimilation'.
      Both are possible.
      I have seen one text where the title uses the Latin form and on the next line the Later form.
    11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Wouldn't mind a version of Eugene de Bremaecker's art deco figure "Danse Folle"!
    12. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Hi miKKo, I have no answers, only observations.
      One difference between the plaque and the medal is the addition of a wreath surrounding the bottom edges. Although a laurel wreath often symbolizes victory, and may simply be an esthetic change, I believe this plaque might have been presented to families of those who met the criteria for the medal, but had died in service to Belgium during the war. A contemporary example of this practice is the plaques that were given to families of fallen British soldiers during WWI.

      The late establishment of this medal does not surprise me. Although many of the more generic war and campaign medals were instituted by 1920, many of the medals to more specific groups occurred years later. For example, the Belgian Political Prisoner’s Medal of 1914-1918 was established in 1930. The French Volunteer Combatant’s Cross was not established until 1935.
    13. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      It is a nice looking plaque!

    14. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      I speculate that following the war, traditional medals for soldiers were instituted and the country turned it's attention to transitioning to peacetime, rebuilding, caring for the sick and crippled wounded, reuniting families, matching discharged veterans to suitable employment - and then of course dealing with the post-war influenza epidemic.

      I imagine it was only after there was time to reflect back on the sacrifices made, that governments began to recognize the contributions of specific groups like volunteers and prisoners of war.
    15. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Good morning, Vetraio50! Was so excited that stayed up all night, tried to get a few hours’ sleep and failed, and here I am again. I just viewed your comments Nos. 11 and 12. I was so excited that I made typos in my CW password when trying to sign in. Bravo! These comments are most excellent, and characteristic of your rarified scholarly "habitus". I am thrilled.

      First, last night I discerned three different forms of the medal issued, but thought that I must be brain dead because the authorities made reference to “two forms”. I cannot imagine that the authorities would not be familiar with all three, so I must wonder instead why they have decided that the set ‘WWI Volunteer Combattant Medal’ should be described as having two members and not three. I won’t pursue this line yet. And notice the use of “Combattant” (vs. “Combatant”) by author of the thread on I won’t pursue the set of possible senses for these two different spellings!, but here are three links that will serve as an interesting ASIDE to our central discussion of the proper rendering of "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR".

      BACK ON TOPIC. The member who proposed to answer the question posed by “Tim B” on the linked gmic thread, JPL, appealed to Andre Borne’s book "Distinctions Honorifiques de la Belgique" for an answer. JPL asserts that Borne indicated that the inscription on this medal should be ”VOLONTARIIS”, and he adds that Borne notes that there is also a variant inscription, i.e., “VOLUNTARIIS”. Now, Vetraio50, I am out on the plains of the Midwest, and I have no access to M. Borne’s book. I wonder what Borne’s grounds are for making this assertion of normative form. I should think that it is probably something like ‘standard usage’, but then again I had better not be presuming! You will have noted that last night I began my discussion of “Voluntariis” vs. “Volontariis” by assuming that the latter was a spelling mistake. The online Latin lexicon I used last night (instead of my faithful old book lexicon) didn’t list “Volontariis” as a possible spelling; however, towards the end of the evening I had called into question that assumption. (I hope that my old Latin teacher doesn’t see this. He agreed with me on “De oppresso liber” – he reported that the Army’s traditional translation was bad Latin. He would be disappointed in me now. “Vae”. But enough of that.) OK, Vetraio50, I appeal to your scholarly habitus: On what grounds could Borne have asserted that “Volontariis” is the proper, the normative form? Standard usage? Is there a standard Latin lexicon, grammar, or set of auxilliary principles that one uses when composing Latin inscriptions for medals? Or could the answer be that the person who initially chose the inscription happened to use the Late Latin form, and that the resulting medal became the standard? A different reason? These are good questions, worthy of your fine scholarship.

      Now, as regards your rendering of "VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR" in Comment No. 3, I recognize that Latin has a fine set of complex constructions. I was thrilled with your submission, and will render due deference to your proposed translation by emailing it to another old classmate, but am not quite satisfied with it. The Latinist will appreciate your hypothesis, and he is a good Latinist. He is a very busy creature, so it might take a couple of days for him to get back with us.

      Vetraio50, thanks again -very much, for your most excellent and generous comments!!!
    16. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Good morning, Chrisnp. Thank you very much for your most excellent Comments Nos. 14 and 16! You are a fine and cautious scholar, and your submissions are always most worthy. May I ask how the British plaques were mounted or displayed? Thanks again!!!
    17. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, scottvez. Thank you very much for your kind comment!
    18. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, ho2cultcha! Hope you are well this morning. Thanks much for your kind appreciation. : )
    19. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 10 years ago
      i'm so impressed w/ all of your research - you are true scholars - and very generous w/ your time to boot! i'm so happy i found this site and only wish i had the time / knowledge / talent to contribute that many of you have. but i will do what i can, as time permits. beautiful medal! Carpe deum! [that's about all i remember from 10th grade latin]
    20. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Vetraio50, REF your enthusiastic Comment No. 13: You being you, you just might discover a Eugène de Bremaecker on your next shopping expedition. Best wishes for success!
    21. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Cultcha-- "caveat emptor" is the Latin phrase that comes to mind on many CW posts! NOT on this particular item.

    22. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, ho2cultcha and scottvez!!!
    23. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      MiKKo, The British memorial plaques came with no obvious way to mount and display them. They were completely flat and blank on one side with no visible attachment device. Perhaps most people simply placed them on a table top, or on a small easel. I have seen them in shadow boxes and glued to wooden plaques that could be then hung, but those were the recipient's doing.

      You don't mention the size of your plaque, but the British memorial plaques were about 5 inches diameter. Unlike your plaque, they came engraved with the deceased's name.

      Although you aren't pursuing it, I'd like to mention that "combattant" is the French spelling of combatant.

      Unfortunately I'm no Latin scholar.
    24. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, musikchoo and mrmajestic1!!!
    25. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio. I owe you an apology. I didn't mean to cast the Borne burden on you - wasn't thinking. I'll get a copy of Borne's entry on this medal. Thanks very much!
    26. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Chrisnp. Many thanks for your most excellent and generous comments!! The plaque dimensions: Height 5 and ¼ inches, width 4 and ¼ inches.
    27. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Hi miKKo!
      Overnight I awoke with a realisation about the importance of 1930 to this matter. The economic problems of the period must have had something to do with the need for a morale boost within Belgium and the rest of the world too, I suppose. But more importantly it was the centenary of the "The Belgian Revolution".

      The two figures on the plaque had interested me.
      One is a helmeted soldier and the other is ....... ?
      I think "the other" is the "volunteer" of the Belgian Revolution of 1830. His identity may not be Alexandre Dechet or Charles Niellon, but he may well be an imaginary character from the revolution that began in a theatre.
      Check out the head-gear on the picture of Dechet here:

      Now here's a nice twist. The Belgians created a medal for the volunteers of the 1830 Revolution. It is called: Commemorative Cross for the Volunteers of 1830 (Croix Commemorative des Volontaires de 1830 / Herinneringskruis voor de Vrijwilligers van 1830).

      It was not set up until 20 April 1878!
      Forty eight years later - ready for the semi-centennial celebrations.

      Commemorative medals, awards etc take time. They are not an immediate action by governments. They are normally the product of legislation. This involves rules and legal requirements for award of the medal etc..
      The wheels turn slowly .......... and for political reasons.

      Then there is the question of who is the helmeted soldier on the plaque?
      A volunteer from WWI? The patriotic Belgian. The requirements you mention for the award of the medal make his identity much easier for us.

      Another twist!
      The 1830 revolution began on August 25, 1830 in the streets of Brussels after a performance of "La muette de Portici" at a theatre called Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (la Monnaie) (French), or the Koninklijke Muntschouwburg (de Munt) (Dutch).

      The Mint!

      This too had been in my mind about your plaque. Where had it been made? The process also interests me. Is it stamped? Is it a unique object from a lost wax mould? Sand casting? Centrifugal casting? Is it a production piece?

      Does the plain back of the plaque give us hints about it's manufacture.
      On my searches I've come across suggestions that the medals were produced in a variety of mints around Belgium.
      Some of the medals look like they are struck like coins - perhaps the ones with the date on the back. Others look like they are cast - those with the plain backs?

      There were problems too with the spelling of "volontariis voluntariis" after the Korean War!

    28. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio! I was just about to take a nap. Never got to sleep because I was so excited by your excellent research last night and today! So, this is just a quick comment. Bravo!!!

      Yes, you will see in paragraph two of my original show and tell posting that I identified the two heads as belonging to a volunteer veteran of the 1830's war of independence and a volunteer veteran of WWI, respectively. Yes, precisely, and you apparently found that independent of my para 2. Great. I didn't know about the opera, and can't wait to follow up.

      You won't believe this, but the last medal I planned to post is the "very rare" (per Sir William) Belgian King Leopold I Veterans' Medal, awarded to veterans of their war of independence. I don't know when it was issued, but it is very old. It is a gilt maltese cross with a central medallion. Obverse has head of King Leopold I; Reverse has dates of his reign: 1831-1865. I saw the same medal today when I went casting about for A. Horne's book. That medal was hung from a ribbon that is much different from my ribbon for same medal. Hmmm. Anyway, tomorrow, I will post this last Belgian medal. I'm too tired tonight to look to see if it is the Commemorative Cross for the Volunteers of 1830, but I can hardly wait to see! Thank you!

      About the Depression, yes, it might well have been a factor, but I think that your reasons for the 'delay' are much more compelling. Bravo! Thrilled!

      Re this plaque. I was thinking today that I would attempt to inquire of Horne re our spelling issue, translation issue, and also why the authorities are saying that there are two versions of the volunteer combatant medal when there appears to be three. I also planned to try and find an art historian who specializes in E. de Bremaecker, and ask him for his thoughts about the plaque. He might die laughing at my French, but....Also, museums. Did some casting about it a superficial manner today. [Pun not intended. : ) ]

      Super idea about the mints! I will post images of the reverse of the plaque on a separate show and tell tomorrow. Thanks!

      Re the Korean medal(s) - you simply amaze me sometimes. Truly! : O

      Good night! I'll be back tomorrow when I can make better sense! A thousand thanks!!! miKKo

    29. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Look forward to seeing it!
      here's the one to compare it with:

      Sleep well.
    30. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      As regards Borne's spelling preference: it might be an inclination based on French spelling of the word 'volontaire' in French. But you'd need access to his book I suppose to make any other comment.
      But have you come across Vicipaedia?

      It's a real treat!
      Wikipedia in Latin.

      Type in "voluntarius" and you don't get a page but plant of hits:

      But if you type in "volontarius" and you get this:
      Nonne dicere voluisti: voluntarius

      I reckon that is a "scream"!

      But there is one instance: Caesar (Cesare) Borgia
      "Caesar Borgia, qui dicitur Valentinus (natus scilicet Romae die 13 Septembris 1475 - obiit Vianae die 12 Martii 1507), filius cardinalis Rodrigi Borgiae qui postea papa cum nomine Alexandro VI creatus est et Vanotiae de Cathaneis, fuit praeclarus miles volontarius, ductor Italicus et breviter dux Romaniae. Caesar utroque iuri in Pisis et Perusiae studuit."

      I think this is from the Vatican somewhere.

      Certainly "voluntarius"
    31. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Patria Memor Voluntariis.
      I had it wrong!
      Memor is an adjective not a verb nor a noun.
      I was working on "patria memoria". Stoopid!

      It says: A grateful public to the volunteers!

      memor = mindful, remembering, grateful, thoughful, prudent.
    32. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you kindly, walksoftly!!! : )
    33. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago

      Hi, Vetraio. I emailed the following question to one of my Latin teacher friends, a very busy man, and just got a response. I didn't mention Collectors Weekly or link to this Show and Tell item, but he found us straight off, and forwarded it to me for my information. He doesn’t know me as miKKoChristmas11. : ) Responding to my email message, and not to my Collectors Weekly posting, his opinion on the matter was that I 'seem to know as much as anyone'. That is highly alarming. Here's the exchange.

      miKKo to Latin scholar:

      REF the following description on an antique military medal: VOLUNTARIIS PATRIA MEMOR

      One authority (medal-medaille) translates this as: “VOLUNTEER, THE COUNTRY REMEMBERS”. The other authorities are strangely silent on this one....

      ...Now, "Voluntarius" is a second declension noun, "Voluntarie" is the singular vocative case of the word, and "Voluntarii" is the plural vocative case. If medal-medaille's translation is correct, I would expect 'Volunteer' to be in the singular vocative. It is not. Why is it not? "Voluntariis" is both the plural ablative and the plural dative case. The puzzle is case and number of “Voluntariis”. My rough translation of the actual inscription would be "To the Volunteers, [I say, your/the] Country Remembers!" It would not be "Volunteer, the Country Remembers". Now, there has to be a Latin ‘principle’ [or ‘principles’] governing medal-medaille’s translation. Why has the vocative case not been used? Why is volunteer translated in the singular? What is the name of the 'principle/s' that govern this translation? I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember any such ‘principles’

      It is also very interesting that the same medal was issued with a different spelling for 'volunteers', namely, “VOLONTARIIS”. The same word spelled with two “o”s and no “u”. Same case, same number, but the spelling is from later Latin. Yet, it is this spelling that an eminent authority considers normative. Why would he consider that spelling normative? Because the person who wrote the inscription was a native French speaker, and “Volontaires” is French for “volunteers”? I note that the French word was once spelled “Voluntaires”, but that spelling is now considered archaic/Old French.

      Latin scholar to miKKo:

      Here's my interpretation:

      1) VOLUNTARIIS seems to be a substantive, as others have translated, but dative plural, certainly not singular vocative;

      2) PATRIA MEMOR seems to imply an elided EST, since MEMOR is an adjective;

      3) MEMOR can mean "mindful", and even more "mindful of one's obligations" and "grateful";

      4) So the intended message of the Latin phrase seems to be "To those who have volunteered the fatherland is grateful".

      5) The alternate spelling may have been due to a French speaker who was in charge of the molds.

      Voilà - that's the best I can come up with quickly. I'm surprised no one has suggested a similar translation that accounts for the endings.


      Vetraio, what do you think?

      I'm sorry - didn't get the photos of the back of this plaque today. Will do tomorrow. I posted the Leopold I veteran's medal today.

      Monday, I will try and track down Horne's material or Horne. If you can think of anything else you think I should be doing, please advise. And thanks again for the intro to Vicipaedia! It was great fun.
    34. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, antiquesareamazing!!
    35. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      I agree with him. I that's what I had come up with too on my second attempt. Something is needed: an implied verb. I'd thought 'detur'. I thought something with 'giving' was implied. But his suggestion of 'est' is good; his translation also good. These things are normally very clipped/brief/to the point.
      It's actually straightforward.
      The original translation was actually incorrect: "Volunteer, the Country Remembers" and for the reasons your friend notes. Eighty years ago people's knowledge of Latin was more accurate than today.
    36. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      (Dedicated) to the volunteers. A grateful public.
      (This plaque is dedicated) to the volunteers. Memor Patria.
      It's like a toast!
    37. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, bratjdd!!! : )
    38. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, inky!!! : )
    39. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, scandinavian_pieces!!! : )
    40. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio! I wasn't going to reply to comment No. 38 yet, but since you've added a No. 39, I will address No. 38 now.

      My initial problem with this was the case and number of "voluntariis", as you know. It was obviously dative or ablative plural, and that didn't jive with medal-medaille's translation. And since the other cognoscenti I’ve seen treat this medal on the internet hadn't offered translations, I thought there might be something grammatically arcane about - or a mistake in - the Latin text. Since I remember many Latin constructions that use the ablative case in strange ways, I was quite tentative. Now, with the scholar's opinion, I feel better. However, I am going to seek two more opinions. If they have anything to add, I'll post it. Re "Volontariis" and the native French speaker - kudos to you. I forgot to tell scholar that that was your contribution. Sorry!

      Vetraio, you caught the sense of gratitude, and I did not. For me, 'remembering' was sufficient. You are correct about the 'economy' of Latin mottos or inscriptions. When one chisels messages in stone, one learns 'shorthand'. I expected an economical expression with some elision, however, I still considered the text strange, and feared the ablative.

      No. 39: Very interesting! I will ask the other two scholars about your new hypothesis. Many thanks! Best wishes for a splendid evening.
    41. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      New thought bubble.
      It's a metaphor.
      Three words.
      No verb. No time. Eternal.
      Two ideas, two energy forces. Apart, like an A bomb, inert.
      Together, an explosion/implosion of meaning.

      E pluribus + unum.

      Patria memor + voluntariis.

      I'm off to the Sunday morining markets!

    42. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio. Ah, the ablative! : D Are you suggesting the Ablative of Agency here, or a different construction? Interesting! Please tell me how you would render a felicitous translation in English, and also the awkward raw translation that one initially makes and then refines. Best wishes for success in your treasure hunting! Thanks!!
    43. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, by the way, the reverse of this piece has been posted as Part II:
    44. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      An ablative?
      Only in 'e pluribus unum'.

      I meant to underline the elegance of these three words.
      English would need more than three to detail the meaning

    45. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio! Thanks. Saw the ablative in the "E pluribus unum" and thought that you had decided to play with the dangerous ablative. Now I've got your meaning. Interesting! OK, tonight I'll finish a summary and send it to one of the scholars. He is a most excellent Latin scholar; however, he might be on lecture tour now. Fingers crossed. : )
    46. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio. Follows text from a just-received email from the first Latin scholar, the one from Boston.

      "One more thing about the Latin motto on the Belgian WWI medal : there is no ancient text that links together those three words offered for example in the OLD (Oxford Latin Dictionary). The author does not seem to be citing or adapting a saying he learned in his Latin studies, but rather using his knowledge of Latin and its expressive possibilities to come up with something new. Even in the early XXth century Latin was still a living language for some. Perhaps I'm wrong, however...I would be grateful for any elucidation on the matter...."

      Re "elucidation on matter", I'll ask my old Latin professor tonight. Thanks again, Vetraio50!
    47. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      I wish mine Mother Regis of the Presentation Order was here too. She coached me in my last two years of high school. The Christian Brothers were not really Latin scolars. They were one chapter ahead of us in the text book, I now realize.
    48. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio50! I wish Mother Regis were here, too. One can never have too many generous Latin scholars about! I was just spell checking my email to my old Latin Professor, a most excellent scholar. I worked on the document I'm submitting to him for a long time - I wanted to make sure that I captured all your illuminating and fine comments on the translation. I think that I did....I was just thinking how very much I owe you for the success of this piece. Good man Bellin has encouraged me to post more, and I tried with this piece. However, I was so exhausted....Vetraio, it's your excellent observations, comments, and scholarship that have kept the topic alive and progressing, and in the end, you will have been the great catalyst for the solution to these mysteries. Chrisnp's scholarship is excellent, too! He has contributed what I think is the solution to one of the mysteries. I am going to ask Sir William tomorrow if he can confirm Chrisnp's hypothesis, and also whether he has any opinion on why Borne pronounced "Volontariis" normative. Vetraio, if there's any question that I haven't mentioned that you think I should ask Sir William about, please advise. FYI, M. Charles Andre Borne is deceased. Thanks very much!
    49. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, officialfuel, Hedgewalker, and petey!!
    50. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      What has struck me when looking around is the availability of Belgian medals. For some reason they produced them in great numbers. Commemorative items are also part of Dutch culture. For example the Delft plates. English Delft plaques of Charles I, II and the William of Orange industry! The French too were renowned for their medals and plaques I think. Industrialisation and patriotism in England and Europe would be a great thesis topic.
    51. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, ttomtucker!!
    52. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, Vetraio50. Yes, I agree that that would make a very fine thesis topic indeed! Perhaps one day we'll see one from you! : )
    53. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      The following was posted earlier as my comment No. 35, responding to Vetraio’s prior comments.

      Hi, Vetraio. Please know that I take first honors for completely overlooking the obvious. I KNEW this medal pictured a volunteer of the war of independence, and I knew that the war commenced in 1830, yet, I still asked why this particular medal was issued in 1930. I suppose I'll have to face the firing squad for that. So sorry!

      No one would dare to suggest that you're “stoopid", as you just claimed!

      Thanks a million!!!
    54. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, ROBinHawaii! Thank you very, very much!!! I have better images now of the larger medals, but still haven't been able to verify the exact signature. Let me be sure that I've got it right: Is it on the larger/full-sized medal that you can discern that the exact signature is the one you just gave me? (Or is on the small medal - or on both?) And the "x" is under the "r" at terminus of "Bremaecker"? And how sure are you that the date is 1924? Is the 1924 for the larger sized medals, and/or for the small? I wonder if the small could have been a prototype. I would be thrilled to know for certain if you are reading "1924" on the all of these medals. Now, as for the small medal, I don't think that the motto is the same as on the larger medals. I thought I might see a cognate of "Compagne" in the motto of the small, but I can't make out any of the words. With the 'compagne'-like word, it won't be Dutch. Sounds like French, but why French when the motto of the full-sized medal is Latin? Unfortunately, the only images of the small medal are the ones from the redoutable Sir William Simpson of "Bill's Belgian Medals". That small medal is a rarity. THANK A MILLION!!!!, ROBinHawaii!!!!! : D
    55. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, all! Thanks much for your patience. Just received word from my old Latin Professor, who just now returned from a longish speaking engagement in Switzerland. He just saw my email and is responding quickly. He cannot respond at great length right now. He is an excellent scholar, and I have great respect for his opinions. He's also modest and cautious, as you will note. Here's what he wrote.


      I could make a very brief comment on the Latin: "MEMOR" almost always takes the Genitive Case--at least as far as I know--as if being "mindful of" something.

      The Compressed Motto or Inscription on the Belgian Medal--"Voluntariis Patria Memor"--seems odd to me, too. The first word is likely in the Dative Case, and in the plural number. Even if "est" is implied--as in 'Patria Memor Est', I would expect the following or preceding Genitive Plural, not a Dative Plural (as it now stands). Voluntariorum, perhaps.


      So, discussion still open....Best wishes for a splendid Saturday to all my CW confreres. miKKo
    56. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hello to my CW 'confrères! I have made inquiries on a number of issues related to this plaque. Thank you for your patience while answers are being considered. As soon as I have a firm answer or positive advance, I will post it.

      One hypothesis occurred to me last night. I have an old Knight of the Order of Leopold II medal to which I wanted to fix a precise date, and I was given a range of possible dates for the medal. My medal was in French only - not French and Flemish, so I was told that it was issued before 1953. Belgium is composed Dutch-speaking (Flemish), French –speaking (Walloon), and German-speaking populations. For many years, French was the privileged language in Belgium, and language preference has historically been a source of great tension between the Walloon and Flemish communities. Interestingly, the Flemish combatants in WWI complained that they had been unfairly treated.* Today, the Knight medals are issued with inscriptions in both French and Dutch/Flemish languages. I am going to ask the Belgium College of Arms where I can find records relating to the design phases and reviews of WWI Volunteer Combatant Medal. This time I will not be primarily seeking the authoritative translation of the medal's inscription, but will also seek any discussions regarding the decision to issue the medal with a Latin inscription at all. Recall that this volunteer medal was instituted on 17 June 1930. I am wondering if the Belgian government might have been seeking a unifying inscription, and so chose Latin. They might even have been seeking an inscription that was ‘more compressed’/’compact’. Latin is a highly inflected language, and it is a perfect vehicle for expressing complex statements in few words.

      The genesis of this hypothesis came from my encounter with another WWI Belgian medal designed by Eugene de Bremaecker. I do not own one of these (loud sigh!), but follows a link to one currently at auction on eBay. Notice the inscription. It is in both French and Dutch/Flemish, and it consumes a great deal of space. This WWI Commemorative Medal 1914-1918 was instituted 21 July 1919, and was awarded to those who served in the Armed Forces in WWI. Medal reverse bears the following inscriptions: At top appears the French “MEDAILLE COMMEMORATIVE DE LA CAMPAGNE”, at center “1914 – 1918”, and at bottom appears the Flemish/Dutch “HERINNERINGS MEDAILLE VAN DEN VELDTOCHT”. Compare this to the motto on the small WWI Volunteer Combatant’s Medal 1914-1918. I haven’t yet found a recording of the small medal’s inscription on the internet, but I thought that the medal inscription was probably French because I thought that I had discerned ‘COMPAGNE’ on its face. In fact it is “CAMPAGNE”. Note that there is neither Dutch nor Latin on this small medal. You will recall that there is no inscription on the reverse of this small medal. The French inscription on the small medal is distributed on the right side of the medal, and the date across the top of the medal – somewhat askew. The small medal I have seen only on Sir William Simpson’s website, “Bill’s Belgian Medals”. I post a link for your comparison.

      WWI Commemorative Medal 1914-1918:

      WWI Volunteer Combatant’s Medal 1914-1918, rare, small version at Bill’s Belgian Medals:
    57. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      * This statement was taken from an unsigned article in Wikipedia, "Flemish Movement",, accessed on 11 Sept. 2012.
    58. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hello, all. Just received a generous word from William Simpson that will clear up the question raised by "solver" in Part II (Reverse) of this Show and Tell item.

      Mr. Simpson confirms that he has never seen another plaque identical to mine in all his years of collecting Belgian medals, i.e., now 20 years. Mr. Simpson stated that "the discrepancy [between the description supplied with your plaque and "solver's" linked webpage] was due to my posting two different but vaguely similar items, one of which I had sold some months previous. However, I would maintain that both items were unique, and I have seen neither offered on eBay or sold in any militaria fairs, workshops, boot fairs, antique fairs etc., etc."

      In response to my question whether the named plaque on his website could have been a grave marker, Mr. Simpson replied: "It was unlikely that these were for graves; I have seen large bronze plaques for gravestone - of the Croix de Feu - very large and heavy and presumably taken from gravestones, so I don't collect them."

      About the rare, small WWI Belgian Volunteer Combatant's medal with the blank reverse, Mr. Simpson regrets that he cannot provide a better image for my chart project because he no longer has the medal.

      MiKKo adds that her laptop failed this weekend, and so the chart of all the variations in the medal, and parsings of 'authoritative' statements about the medals, was lost. I won't burden you with another chart, but I will just state for the record here that there are three versions of the WWI Belgian Volunteer Combatant's 1914-1918. In addition to the two regular sized-medals that bear either the "VOLONTARIIS..." or "VOLUNTARIIS..." inscription on the reverse, there is a rare small medal that has a French (only) inscription on its face, and a completely blank reverse. I cannot decipher the full inscription on the small medal, and I might never encounter another example. You can see all versions through links previously posted to this thread.

      As for the languages used on Belgian medal inscriptions, Mr. Simpson reported that: "Bi-lingual medals were issued after 1953 - so all medals in WWI had French or Latin". I think that that this doesn't exclude the possibility that a WWI medal could have had both a French and a Dutch inscription, as evidenced in the medal linked in my Comment No. 59. I will have to verify this. I think that the 1953 principle holds fast for the Order of the Knight of Leopold II Medal, for after 1953 they were issued with both French and Dutch inscriptions on each medal. FYI, last night, I saw a beautiful war medal issued by King Leopold II. It bore a Latin inscription only; there was no French inscription on it.

      I have more inquiries out, and I will post results as I get them. Many thanks to all for their kind patience and for their contagious enthusiasm and very helpful comments! miKKo
    59. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, inky!! : )
    60. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, toracat!!
    61. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, kerry10456!!
    62. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, bratjdd!! : )
    63. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hello, all! Will have more information on this item for you shortly. Much to tell you. : )
    64. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thanks much, Bellin!! : )
    65. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, all! I hope to post a partial solution to this mystery shortly. See you soon.
    66. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, birdie!! : )
    67. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, Alpha!! : )
    68. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      A blessed Armistice Day/Veterans Day to all!

      Hi, Vetraio! I just sent you an email with some information on this plaque. I also just sent you two PDF files that the Belgian Embassy in Washington sent me. (The Embassy has been wonderful!) Also, the National President of the "Fédération Royale Nationale des Volontaires de Guerre 1914-1918 et 1940-1945" just sent me a very gracious and generous inquiry.....To be continued....miKKo
    69. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hello, all! A progress report that is perhaps my penultimate posting.

      FYI, still much information to be sorted out before my final posting! Vetraio, many thanks for your most generous and splendid email!!! I have had an urgent business matter to wrap up, and am now back in saddle and ruminating upon the strange mutability of Latin inscriptions. I will respond to your email shortly, sir.

      There are three inquiries still outstanding, and I will also be asking another Latin scholar to weigh in when all responses have been received and discussed. When I post my final comment, Vetraio’s scholarship and contributions will become more apparent. Our brilliant confrere has solved much of this puzzle. Indeed, he has been the very soul of this posting!

      I am going to make a few comments now about the Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914–1918 designed by Eugène J. de Bremaecker, from which the plaque’s central image has been taken. Then I am going to ask some questions of scott vez and Chrisnp, both fine scholars. I will then make a simple statement about the plaque.

      RE the Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914–1918

      By the great courtesy of the Belgian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and her associates, we are pleased to present you with the Latin inscription given in Article 2 of the Royal Decree of 17 June 1930 that created the ‘Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914–1918’. King Albert I, the Warrior King of the Battle of Yser, therein set forth the following inscription:

      “Voluntariis 1914-1918. Patria Memor.”

      You will observe that this inscription is given in two sentences. I should have sought the original inscription as soon as I witnessed the paucity of English translations and the disparity in the set of variant translations I encountered. I must own that I am not quite settled with the Latin in the Royal Decree. Vetraio and I are presently discussing this via email. When we’re finished, I am going to ask another Latinist to take a look. King Albert I was a scholar, and he prayed regularly in Latin. I expect good Latin from this scholarly and pious King.


      Gentlemen, have you ever seen an inscription given in two sentences in a document instituting a medal? If so, do you think that it is a common occurrence?

      Please examine the reverse of the medal in the link below and indicate whether or not you think that the inscription might have been rendered in two sentences in the Royal Decree as an instruction to the agent creating the medal mold, and indicating that the date range should follow “Voluntariis” and ‘punctuate’ the medal. Personally, I think that such a supposition is quite implausible! I think that such instruction would be given later, and that it would perhaps be best to issue detailed placement instructions with an illustration. Without an illustration, there would be too much room for error. Any comments appreciated!


      We are indebted to the Belgian Embassy for the knowledge that this plaque was not an official honorable decoration awarded by the Belgian Government. According to the Embassy, the F.N.V.G. (Fédération National des Volontaires de Guerre /’War Volunteer National Federation’) issued a plaque like this. You can see a photo of an F.N.V.G. plaque in the following link, which we have seen before. According to the Embassy, this plaque was created by the F.N.V.G. and given to its members. I do not yet know if any other organization(s) issued a similar plaque. Interestingly, I discovered at the Koninklijk Museum van het Leger - KLM / Musée Royal de l’Armée- MRA, a .22 rifle once presented to Prince Albert of Liège (later King Albert II) that bears an image incorporating combatants of both World Wars I and II. This image incorporates the de Bremaecker volunteer combatant image we have been discussing. This de Bremaecker image had resonance, and I think it is possible that someone else might have used this image on a plaque, too. I have sought an opinion on whether any other organizations might have issued a plaque with our de Bremaecker image. This would be a very difficult question to answer in the negative, and perhaps I should have posed it only of an omniscient being. If I get an answer to this query, I will pass it on.

      Thank you! miKKo
    70. Vestibule1965 Vestibule1965, 10 years ago
      For you have done a super job on researching this plaque. I take my hat off to you and wish you much success.
    71. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, Vestibule1965!! I very much appreciate your kind words : )
    72. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Greetings, all! By the great courtesy of a friend who shall be known as "Amica Linguae Latinae", we are pleased to present you with an excellent translation of the inscription given in the Royal Decree: “Voluntariis 1914-1918. Patria Memor.” (Please note that my other two friends were given the “Voluntariis Patria Memor” inscription, which was the only Latin inscription I had found on the internet. As they were given but a figment to translate, their translations will be different from that proposed by ‘Amica’. Thank you.)


      voluntarius -a -um [voluntary, acting or done voluntarily]; m. pl. as subst. [volunteers].

      I believe I would see this as a dative plural with the adjective used as a second declension noun - to the volunteers of 1914-1918. I do not see this as a singular form.

      memor -oris [mindful, remembering; with a good memory; grateful, thoughtful, prudent; reminiscent, reminding] - third declension adjective

      I would translate this as grateful.

      patria -ae f. [fatherland]; see patrius. Of course a first declension feminine noun.

      So here is the way I would translate it:

      A grateful country to the volunteers of 1914-1918.

      I threw in the "of" because that is what one expects when one translates from the Latin. It is assumed. See if this works for you.

      The reason I would juxtapose this in translation is because it is my unscholarly belief that when they were designing this medal, they wanted to emphasize the volunteers first and foremost. One could translate it in the original form - to the volunteers of 1914-1918 - a grateful country - but my translation just seems to fit better. They definitely wanted to attribute the years to the volunteers. Anyone would be an idiot to leave out that historical piece. I am not a scholar in this area...believe me, but this is how I would translate it.

      I believe this might be a dative of purpose sans the "verb to be" but who knows. It seems more than straightforward. Here are the various references for the Dative of Purpose. They are taken from the “old” Allen and Greenough.

      Dative of the Purpose or End.


      The Dative is used to denote the Purpose or End, often with another Dative of the person or thing affected.

      This use of the dative, once apparently general, remains in only a few constructions, as follows: -

      1. The dative of an abstract noun is used to show that for which a thing serves or which is accomplishes, often with another dative of the person or thing affected: -

      • reí públicae cládi sunt (Iug. 85. 43), they are ruin to the state (they are for a disaster to the state).
      • mágnó úsuí nostrís fuit (B. G. iv. 25), it was of great service to our men (to our men for great use).
      • tertiam aciem nóstrís subsidió mísit (id. i. 52), he sent the third line as a relief to our men.
      • suís salútí fuit (id. vii. 50), he was the salvation of his men.
      • événit facile quod dís cordí esset (Liv. i. 39), that came to pass easily which was desired by the gods (was for a pleasure [lit. heart] to the gods).

      NOTE 1: This construction is often called the Dative of Service, or the Double Dative construction. The verb is usually sum. The noun expressing the end for which is regularly abstract in singular in number and is never modified by an adjective, except one of degree (mágnus, minor, etc.), or by a genitive.

      NOTE 2: The word frúgí used as an adjective is a dative of this kind: -

      • cógis mé dícere inimícum Frúgí (Font. 39), you compel me to call my enemy Honest.
      • hominés satis fortés et pláné frúgí (Verr. iii. 67), men brave enough and thoroughly honest. Cf. eró frúgí bonae (Plaut. Pseud. 468), I will be good for something. [See § 122. b.]

      2. The Dative of Purpose of concrete nouns is used in prose in a few military expressions, and with freedom in poetry: -

      • locum castrís déligit (B. G. vii. 16), he selects a site for a camp.
      • receptuí canere, to sound a retreat (for a retreat).
      • receptuí sígnum (Phil. xiii. 15), the signal for retreat.
      • optávit locum régnó (Aen. iii. 109), he chose a place for a kingdom.
      • locum ínsidiís circumspectáre (Liv. xxi. 53), to look about for a place for an ambush. [Cf. locum séditiónis quaerere (id. iii. 46).]

      You could also see the voluntariis as a natural indirect object with the Donum missing...After all, these were medals that were gifts, but not simply gifts - more than simply recognition of going above and beyond. No big deal however.


      A thunderous round of applause to Amica Linguae Latinae! Thank you for this magnificent gesture!, this inspired translation!, Amica! : ) Regards, miKKo

    73. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Greetings, all! Just received word from the friend whom I refer to here as the Boston Latin Scholar. I had forwarded the translation proposed by Amica Linguae Latinae to him late last night, along with the authentic Latin inscription, which he saw for the first time last night! He will be crazy busy with students and family, but ever the gentleman, he took time to send me the following response this morning.


      It is good to have the precise form of the inscription (with the years), although it does not cause me to alter my translation, which is very like your friend's.


      To those who have volunteered [in 1914-1918] the fatherland is grateful.

      Amica Linguae Latinae:

      A grateful country to the volunteers of 1914-1918.

      The key question is the case of the noun to which "memor" is directed (which ‘Amica’ does not specifically address). Our Former Professor maintains that it must be genitive, in accordance with strict classical usage, while I am content to allow the dative (which "voluntariis" indeed must be), in accordance with modern vernacular syntactical usage after the notion "grateful", rendered here in this bit of Neo-Latin in the dative.


      A thunderous round of applause to the Boston Latin Scholar and to Our Former Professor for their most excellent translations and analyses!!! Bravo!

      Follow below two links on Neo-Latin.

      Later today, I will work more on Vetraio’s superb analyses and hypotheses, and hopefully soon I will have something intelligent to say to our learned colleague, whose contributions have been of immense value, and whose input has been the very soul of this posting.

      I will also this afternoon post a link to two plaques that are somewhat similar to mine in general form. One link shows how this type of plaque might have once have been displayed. Thanks to all! miKKo
    74. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, all. Follow some musings on one of vetraio’s early remarks on possible models/inspirations for the 1830 volunteer combatant depicted in my plaque. In Comment No. 29 of Plaque Part I, vetraio speculated that he could represent (Hyppolyte) Louis Alexandre Dechet, Charles Niellon, or an “imaginary character from the revolution that began in a theatre”. As always, inspired musings from vetraio!

      Dechet, pseudonym “Jenneval”, was a French-born actor who volunteered for service in the Belgian revolutionary army. He joined the corps of Frenchman Charles Niellon, who also fought in the Revolution. Dechet is credited with composting the lyrics of the Brabançonne during the initial Revolutionary ferment in 1830 Brussels. The Brabançonne became the Belgian national anthem (1860), and Dechet became a Belgian. Factors favoring his candidacy. Dechet was a celebrated volunteer combatant of the 1830 Revolution, and his image in the first and second links below seems consistent with the plaque’s image. Second link contains an image of the monument to Jenneval/Dechet that was inaugurated in 1897, and which is situated in Place des Martyrs, Brussels. This important monument clearly indicates that his image had resonance. Third link is a snippet biography of Dechet. The fourth and fifth links are superb. They are rich in the history and commemorations of the Revolution. In link four, you can find the Brabançonne lyrics and view the 1930 inauguration of the Monument of the Brabançonne, which features an image of François Van Campehout, who composed the music for the anthem in 1830. This monument was erected ”to the glory of the couplets of Jenneval and François Van Campehout”, and it is situated in Place Surlet de Chokier, Brussels. In fifth link, you can view yet more Patriots who might have inspired Eugène de Bremaecker to capture his image on the medal/plaque. You can also view here the “Complete listing of the Combatants of 1830 as they are registered on the tables of the galleries and resting in the Cemetery and the Crypt of the Martyrs [in Brussels]”. I have taken this last statement directly from the fifth link. I don’t quite understand its sense. Further, I note that the name of my candidate, Joseph Philippe Demoulin, does not appear on this list. A 'mere' mistake perhaps? Or could this indicate that the lists of names on the markers in the Cemetery and the Crypt of the Martyrs in Brussels capture only the veterans buried there? I haven’t yet found an image of Niellon, but he seems a less likely candidate to me. (FYI, if you don’t read French, you can translate these links with Google. The translations are not reliable, but they are better than nothing.)

      Now for the person whom I propose as another good candidate for consideration, Joseph Philippe Demoulin.

      The image on the plaque bears a resemblance to Joseph Philippe Demoulin, who in 1930 - the 100th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution, was acclaimed as the last living ‘Combatant’ of the Revolution. Demoulin, a native of Belgium, was the son of farmers. Yet, he was presented to three Belgian Kings in his lifetime, and was visited by the Warrior King Albert I before the Volunteer Combatant Medal 1914-1918 was instituted.

      (You may recall that Albert’s grandfather was Belgian’s first king, Léopold I, and that he had served as a Lt. General in the Imperial Russian Army, and had campaigned against Napoleon before he became King of the Belgians. During the reign of Léopold II there were complaints that the veteran had been forgotten. Léopold II took measures to improve the situation. At the time of the institution of the WWI Volunteer Combatant 1914-1918 Medal (17 June 1930), Belgians held the veteran in high esteem.)

      You will recall that the Belgian Revolution began with a riot in Brussels in August 1830. Now, Demoulin entered the military in 1828 – when Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, yet he fought against the Dutch in the Parc de Bruxelles in 1830. The battle was instrumental in expelling the Dutch from the capital. (1)

      In 1828, Demoulin served with the 2nd Infantry Division. We observe Demoulin fighting against the Dutch in 1830, and we find record of him serving in the Belgian Army on 1 October 1830. In 1836, he moved to the 12th Reserve Regiment, where he served until he was discharged in 1838. I think that Demoulin might perhaps be considered a ‘volunteer combatant’ for Belgium since he appears to have been enlisted in the service of the Netherlands at the time the Revolution began. If you look closely at his photo, you can see a medal that looks to me like it might well be the La Croix commémorative des Volontaires de 1830 (Commemorative Cross of the Volunteers of 1830), which was instituted 20 April 1878 by King Léopold II. This medal was issued to veterans of the 1830 war whom had not been issued a Croix de Fer/Iron Cross. Link one below provides Demoulin’s photo, links two (scroll to bottom) and three provide some history on Demoulin. Links four and five show the Commemorative Cross of the Volunteers of 1830.

      In 1915, Demoulin was acclaimed as the last living combatant of the Belgian Revolution. Demoulin, who died at the age of 102 on 14 February 1912, was visited by King Albert I on 15 January 1912. King Albert made a special point of visiting the veteran’s home in person. The King was accompanied by François Deladrière, Mayor of Arquennes, the Priest Abbé Delhaye, and Alderman Rousseau. Demoulin’s children and the distinguished visitors shared champagne inside Demoulin’s home. The significance of M. Demoulin to the people can perhaps be best appreciated by details of his funeral observances and a memorial celebration that took place 18 years later, on 15 June 1930. The latter was held on the 100th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution, and two days before the Voluntary Combatant Medal 1914-1918 was instituted by King Albert’s Royal Decree of 17 June 1930.

      When M. Demoulin died, King Albert sent his condolences. The national flag was lowered to half-mast at the town hall, and the body was placed in the Great Hall instead of the chapel. I think that perhaps such arrangement was made because the hall was larger than the chapel and could accommodate more people; however, this is a presumption on my part. The funeral was described as “grand” (2), and was attended by many. Colonel Moor and Captain Lattoir represented King Albert. Among the officials and personages who attended were Ministers Levie and Renkin. Mr. Gueltan of the Department of the Interior spoke on behalf of the government, Mayor Deladrière for Arquennes, and Mr. Gonne, president of the Société centrale des enfants des combattants de 1830 (Central Society for Children of the Combatants of 1830), delivered a speech as well. Attendance was remarkable, and it was opined that the assembled mourners constituted the largest crowd that Arquennes had ever seen – or perhaps had seen in living memory?

      On June 15, 1930 – 18 years after Mr. Demoulin’s funeral, a celebration was held in Arquennes. The Mayor “inaugurated the Centennial Tree”, an oak. Afterwards the Te Deum and a High Mass were celebrated. A gymnastics festival and a concert followed. Particular tribute was paid to Veterans that day, and especially to M. Demoulin.

      Of course, the best place to look for clues to the identity of/inspiration for the volunteer of 1830 that appears in Eugène de Bremaecker plaque would perhaps be the artist’s notes on the design of the WWI commemorative medal. I have not found these yet, or any discussion of his models/inspirations. I am not here championing the opinion that the de Bremaecker image was of Demoulin, or was inspired by him. However, I do think Demoulin a plausible candidate, a subject suitable for further investigations. By this afternoon, I will be laughing loudly at my own folly in writing this piece.

      The information on M. Demoulin presented here was derived from the following article, “Le dernier combattant de 1830” (published by, and from a posting on (website of Mark Poelmans) that contained an abstract of this article. My debt to the authors of these two pieces cannot be exaggerated. In fact, I might well later decide that I am 75% parrot here. First link is to the ‘Dernier Combattant’ article; the second link to the blog posting (scroll to bottom) that provided an abstract of the ‘Dernier Combattant’ article and a link to that article.

      1.) The 1830 war of independence resulted in the establishment of an independent and neutral country that respected the Catholic population.


      3.) The Combatants of the 1830 Revolution have the same resonance in Belgium as the Patriots of 1776 have in America. The design and issue of coins is a perhaps a good witness to resonance. We have our patriotic coins, and Belgium has hers. In 2005 Belgium issued a €100 coin in honor of the 175th Anniversary of Belgium Independence. The obverse depicts the painting, "Scene of the September days in 1830"; the reverse depicts King Albert II amidst 12 stars representing the European Union.
    75. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Joseph Philippe Demoulin is an inspired suggestion, Mikko.
      Thanks for your research and unerring attention to detail.
      At any rate, this posting has given life to some long forgotten names.
      Voluntariis Patria Memor.
      Lest we forget!
    76. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, vetraio and packrat!! : )

      Vetraio, I have been living a full week off of your splendid compliment! Thank you, thank you!!! : ) I apologize, sir! I meant to have something worthy to add in response to your great kindness, but although I have made some significant advances this week, I have been in outer space much of the week due to illness, and as a result have not yet refined my thoughts enough to be able to post tonight. FYI, I have discovered a reference to an unpublished doctoral thesis on Eugène Jean de Bremaecker qua médailleur (University of Louvain, 2000), and wrote to the university today. Tonight I finished a long email to the successors to the Fonson 'empire'. I asked them a few questions about the medal and forms of inscriptions - including whether it is uncommon to encounter periods in an inscription, and many questions on the plaque. I have not forgotten, sir, that long ago you found a two-sentence Dutch 'incarnation' of the Latin inscription/or version of the Latin inscription. I have not forgotten your 'toast' comments, and have a new appreciation for their significance. Once again, vetraio, thank you very much!!! You are a fine scholar, and you praise is most valued indeed.
    77. vetraio50 vetraio50, 10 years ago
      Season's Greetings to you and Yours, miKKo!
    78. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, vetraio! Best wishes for a joyous and merry Christmas to you too, sir!! : )
    79. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much, officialfuel!! : )
    80. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Thank you very much for your kind appreciation, antiquesandcollectibles38!!! : )

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