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Belgian Victory Medal and It’s Companions

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World War One480 of 682Happy Armistice Day! My American WWI uniform, medals, and equipment.WWI French Victory Medal with Companions
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    Posted 9 years ago

    (310 items)

    To post all the medals I planed to before Armistice/Veteran's day, I'll need to double up on the daily postings!

    The Belgian Victory Medal (Pictures 1 & 2, right) was widely distributed to the military, medical personnel, civil guard, merchant marine, intelligence services, and civilians that aided the war effort. These companion medals were eventually seen beside the Victory Medal.

    The Medaille Commemorative de la Guerre 1914-1918 (Commemorative Medal of the 1914 - 1918 War) shown in the center of pictures 1 & 2 was awarded to Belgians who had served with the armed forces in WWI. Above the helmeted soldier (some sources say it’s King Albert, but he has no mustache) are branches of ivy and laurel with the Belgian lion in the center. The reverse upper portion bears the Belgian crown flanked by more ivy and laurel over the French “MEDAILLE COMMEMORATIVE DE LA CAMPAGNE” and Flemish “HERINNERINGS MEDAILLE VAN DEN VELDTOCHT” (Commemorative medal for the 1914-1918 campaign) surrounding the years 1914-1918. The bar on the medal indicates 12 months service at the front. Additional bars were awarded for each additional six months.

    The Croix Du Feu (Cross of Fire) was instituted in 1934 for WWI for those who came under fire at the front. The reverse contains the Latin inscription "SALUS PATRIAE SUPREMA LEX", which roughly translates to “the nation’s salvation is the highest duty.” Mine is the first of three variations. It and the other variations can be found at

    Further information on the Belgian Victory medal is at:

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    1. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 9 years ago
      Splendid medals!!! The WWI Commemorative Medal was designed by Eugène J. de Bremaecker, superb Belgian Artist, Sculptor, Medal Artist (1879-1963). This medal is one of my favorite works of bronze medal art. When I first saw the medal, I was immediately struck by the resemblance of the face depicted on the obverse to the face of Warrior King Albert I. Yes, the king is usually portrayed with a mustache, but I have seen at least one photo of him in his youth without mustache. I can’t put my finger on it right now. One of de Bremaecker's chefs d'oeuvre is his sculpture bust of King Albert.

      De Bremaecker also produced bronze medal portraits of the King. E.g., the portrait in the center medallion on the obverse of the King Albert I "LES VETERANS DU ROI ALBERT 1909-1934" medal.

      This same image in profile appears in this gilt bronze medallion: Portrait of Belgian King and Queen UFAC 1929-1949.

      There are many medals featuring Albert I. E.g., the King Albert Medal of 1919. That image portrays him in his youth.

      Mr. William Simpson, O.B.E., Retired RAF Wing Commander, has many Albert I medals on his site. There are several in the first link. The second link has a larger photo of the King Albert Medal of 1919, mentioned above. I have seen yet another rare or very scarce King Albert I gilt bronze medal, but don’t have time to look for it. Very probably Mr. Simpson would have one or had one – he seems to have had at least one of everything, even if they’re not always listed on his website (or, not listed ensemble on his rich website).

      De Bremaecker enjoyed the patronage of the Royal Family. I have been studying his work for my closing comment on my Belgian WWI Plaque, and I have been amazed at how active the artist was capturing images in bronze and stone of the luminaries of Belgian society. Actually, I had planned on discussing this very medal in my closing posting, for I am told that this was the first time in Belgian history that an official military medal was issued with both Dutch/Flemish and French inscriptions. I’m told that prior to the issue of this medal, official Belgian military medals were issued with inscriptions in either Latin or French. Before this medal, a Flemish person could request a copy of a medal with a Flemish inscription, but that he would have to pay for it, and the medal would not be considered the standard. I have no book reference for this latter assertion. Someone who sells Belgian medals in Belgium researched the matter for me.

      The black bar on your medal indicates that the recipient was a POW.

      According to Mr. Hendrik Meerschaert, to the left of the lion rampant in your medal is an oak branch, to the right, a laurel branch. On the reverse, the same branches surround the crown. I see no indication of ivy leaves in the descriptions. Are there really ivy leaves depicted on the medal?

      Here is a beautiful photograph of Warrior King Albert I in his youth.

      Well, I am now derelict from my work on the Belgian WWI plaque. This morning I received a wonderful email from Mr. Thierry Coppieters 't Wallant, the National President of the FRNVG (Fédération Royale Nationale des Volontaires de Guerre 1914-1918 et 1940-1945), and I must answer it. However, I was so excited to see this marvelous de Bremaecker medal that I had to stop and celebrate it, and also to congratulate you, sir, on yet another marvelous medal ensemble! Bravo!
    2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 9 years ago
      Ah, Chrisnp. I should have said, it looks to me like the bar might well be black, which would indicate that the recipient was once a POW. Sir, you are very knowledgeable and careful, and I am sure that you know the significance of the black bar. I rather think that you might have mentioned it had you not been so busy posting medals for the holiday, but also think that perhaps, rather, it is not a black bar since you didn’t mention it. : )
    3. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 9 years ago
      Thanks so much MiKKo for your very thoughtful response. I did see “E. J. de Bremaecker” at the edge of the circle, behind the soldier/king’s head. Thanks so much for the additional information about the artist! I like to learn about the artists behind the medals and appreciate the time you took.

      Do you know if the King had a moustache all the way through the war? It would seem to me that since he has a victorious laurel wreath around his model 1915 helmet, and the medal was issued in 1919, he would have the face he had between those years. Another indication is that his collar appears to be void of the rank insignia worn in other WWI depictions of the king. Perhaps de Bremaecker began with his patron’s likeness, but modified the image to be an iconic Belgian soldier? I can only wonder.

      I went into more detail describing the medal than I normally would, because I thought many of the details would be lost in the scan I made. Your question about ivy versus oak branches made me re-examine my medal and then look up ivy branches and oak branches in Google images, as I am no expert on such things. I must say that oak branches would be the expected choice; however, the image on the medal looks much more like a vine of ivy, and nothing like oak! I then did a bit more research on the symbolism of ivy, and learned it could represent fidelity.

      I did know about the black POW bar, but the dark parts of the bar are the result of tarnish, rather than the remains of black enamel.

      Thanks again for your response,
    4. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 9 years ago
      Hi, Chrisnp. You're most welcome, sir! Here's a link to the best photos of your de Bremaecker medal that have found. They won't be available permanently, since they're a sold eBay item, but if you click on them and use the zoom, the clarity of the photos will reveal the glory of the medal. And, indeed, I did see ivy leaves instead of oak leaves on the medal. Moreover, the excellent vendor described them as "ivy" leaves. Hmmm. Haven't seen Mr. Meerschaert make a mistake before, but even he I suppose is human. : ) FYI, Mr. Meerschaert has posted below this medal a period list of original recipients. You can view this document in the second link below.

      An addition to the set of Belgian royal portraits by de Bremaecker. One of the portraits in bronze doré that de Bremaecker was commissioned to fashion was a bronze rectangular portrait of Albert I's father and mother, King Leopold II and Queen Marie-Henriette. It is dated 30 October 1909. King Leopold II died on December 17, 1909. He was succeeded by his son Prince Albert, who became King Albert I. Follows an image to this gilt bronze portrait, which is perhaps the last portrait cast of Leopold II?, or is at least one of the last portraits.

      REF a photo of young King Albert I sans moustache: I hunted 20 minutes for a certain one this afternoon and couldn't find it. Most of the photos taken of him during the war, or at least circulated during the war, that I have myself seen show him with moustache. I will keep this search in mind as I go about my Belgian researches. I am very pleased by your comment upon the collar insignia, for I had not the knowledge to discern its consistency with the King's rank. Yes, the laurel wreath would be a most fitting symbol, and perhaps the ivy, as well. King Albert I was a man of deep piety, and he was much beloved. He regarded his kingship as a both a religious and a civic duty - a duty to be discharged carefully and faithfully. It appears that he did not grasp for exalted rank. He was truly a noble Christian knight, and a much beloved monarch. He would have been the perfect eidos of fidelity, and thus the ivy would be suitable. Of course, the ivy might signify something else, or perhaps something else additionally....I think that your hypothesis on the possible inspiration for the warrior depicted on the Medaille Commemorative de la Guerre 1914-1918, and its possible subsequent transformation into a symbol of the victorious Belgian fighting man of WWI is an excellent one!

      Here is my favorite website on King Albert I and his pious Queen Elisabeth. I hope you'll take a look, for it is truly rich and fine.

      Thank you again, sir, for a marvelous introduction to these splendid medals. We look forward to many more! I'm afraid that that will be a tough order to fill, as we are now quite used to you presenting spendid things.

    5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 9 years ago
      REF my Comment No. 4: King Albert I was the son of Leopold II's brother, Philip, Count of Flanders.

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