Croix de Guerre avec Palme ribbon bars and streamer (1914–1918 & 1939–1945)
The Croix de Guerre (French: [kʁwa də ɡɛʁ], Cross of War) is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts. The Croix de Guerre was also commonly bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France.
The Croix de Guerre may either be awarded as an individual or unit award to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy. The medal is awarded to those who have been "mentioned in dispatches", meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit. The unit award of the Croix de Guerre with palm was issued to military units whose members performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters.
The Croix de Guerre medal varies depending on which country is bestowing the award and for what conflict. Separate French medals exist for the First and Second World War.
For the unit decoration of the Croix de Guerre, a fourragère (which takes the form of a braided cord) is awarded; this is suspended from the shoulder of an individual's uniform.
As the Croix de Guerre is issued as several medals, and as a unit decoration, situations typically arose where an individual was awarded the decoration several times, for different actions, and from different sources. Regulations also permitted the wearing of multiple Croix de Guerre, meaning that such medals were differentiated in service records by specifying French Croix de Guerre, French Croix de Guerre (WWI), etc.
French Croix de Guerre
French Croix de guerre des TOE
There are three distinct Croix de Guerre medals in the French system of honours:
The Croix was created by a law of April 2, 1915, proposed by French deputy Émile Briant. The Croix reinstated an older system of mentions in dispatches, which were only administrative honours with no medal. The sculptor Paul-André Bartholomé created the medal, a bronze cross with swords, showing the effigy of the republic.
The French Croix represents a mention in dispatches awarded by a commanding officer, at least a regimental commander. Depending on the officer who issued the mention, the ribbon of the Croix is marked with extra pins.
a bronze palm for those who had been mentioned at the army level.
a silver palm stands for five bronze ones.
a silver-gilt (gold) palm for those who had been mentioned at the Free French Forces level (World War II only).
The French Croix de guerre des TOE was created in 1921 for wars fought in theatres of operation outside France. It was awarded during the Indochina War, Korean War, and other wars up to the Kosovo War in 1999.
The coat of arms of Leuven, featuring a French Croix de Guerre presumably to commemorate acts of heroism during the sacking of the city by Germany in 1914.
The Croix can be awarded to military units, as a manifestation of a collective Mention in Despatches. It is then displayed on the unit's flag. A unit, usually a regiment or a battalion, is always mentioned at the army level. The Croix is then a Croix de Guerre with palm. Other communities, such as cities or companies can be also awarded the Croix.
When a unit is mentioned twice, it is awarded the fourragère of the Croix de Guerre. This fourragère is worn by all men in the unit, but it can be worn on a personal basis: those permanently assigned to a unit, at the time of the mentions, were entitled to wear the fourragère for the remainder of service in the military.
Temporary personnel, or those who had joined a unit after the actions which had been mentioned, were authorized to wear the award while a member of the unit but would surrender the decoration upon transfer. This temporary wearing of the fourragère only applied to the French version of the Croix de Guerre.
In the United States military, the Croix de Guerre was accepted as a foreign decoration. It remains one of the more difficult foreign awards to verify entitlement. The Croix de Guerre unit and individual award were often presented with original orders only and rarely entered into a permanent service record. The 1973 National Archives Fire destroyed most of the World War II personnel records which are needed to verify a veteran's entitlement to the Croix de Guerre award. However, foreign unit award entitlements can be checked and verified through official unit history records. Veterans must provide proof of service in the unit cited at the time of action in order to be entitled to the award. Individual foreign awards can be checked through foreign government (France) military records.
Regarding the United States in WWI, on April 10, 12, and 13, 1918, the lines being held by the troops of the 104th Infantry Regiment, of the 26th "Yankee" Division, in Bois Brûlé, near Apremont in the Ardennes, were heavily bombarded and attacked by the Germans. At first the Germans secured a foothold in some advanced trenches which were not strongly held but, thereafter, sturdy counterattacks by the 104th Infantry - at the point of the bayonet - succeeded in driving the enemy out with serious losses, entirely re-establishing the American line. For its gallantry the 104th Infantry was cited in a general order of the French 32nd Army Corps on April 26, 1918. In an impressive ceremony occurring in a field near Boucq on April 28, 1918, the 104th Infantry's regimental flag was decorated with the Croix de Guerre by French General Fenelon F.G. Passaga. "I am proud to decorate the flag of a regiment which has shown such fortitude and courage," he said. "I am proud to decorate the flag of a nation which has come to aid in the fight for liberty." Thus, the 104th Infantry became the very first American unit to be honored by a foreign country for exceptional bravery in combat. In addition, 117 members of the 104th Infantry received the award, including its commander, Colonel George H. Shelton.
In World War II, the 320th Bombardment Group received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, April–June 1944. It was the first American unit in this war to be awarded the citation. Members of the 440th AAA AW Battalion (Anti-Aircraft Artillery - Automatic Weapons) of the U.S. Army also received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (unit award) for stopping the German Ardennes counter-offensive in holding the town of Gouvy, Belgium for 41⁄2 days at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944. Gouvy is midway between St. Vith and Bastogne. Commanding Officer of the 440th, Lt. Col. Robert O. Stone, and Pfc. Joseph P. Regis, also received an individual award of the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. On June 21, 1945, French General De Gaulle presented the following citation to the 34th United States Infantry Division: "A 'division d'elite', whose loyal and efficient cooperation with French divisions, begun in TUNISIA, was gloriously continued throughout the Italian campaign, in particular during the operations of BELVEDERE when the 34th Division, despite the difficulties of the moment, displayed most courageous efforts in support of the operations of the 3rd Algerian Division. This citation bears with it the award of Croix de Guerre with Palm." Soldiers of the US Army 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment "Geronimos" were awarded the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, For Service in the Southern France campaign. The 509th Unit colors bear the Streamer embroidered "MUY EN PROVENCE".
On March 30, 1951, the President of the French Republic, Vincent Auriol, pinned not only the Croix de Guerre with Palm but also the Legion of Honour on the flag of the Brigade of Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy in recognition of historic contributions of the Naval Academy, particularly the contributions of alumni to victory in World War II. The flag of the Brigade of Midshipmen does not display streamers for either award, nor do Midshipmen wear the fourragère, despite apparent entitlement to do both.
Today, members of several US Army and Marine Corps units that received the fourragère for combat service during World Wars I and/or II are authorized to wear the award while assigned to the unit. Upon transfer from the unit the individual is no longer authorized to wear the fourragère. Wearing of the decoration is considered ceremonial only and it is not entered as an official military individual or unit award in the service member's permanent service records.
Units currently authorized to wear the French Fourragère are:
2d Infantry Division "Indianhead" – For service during WW I with the I Corps, US First Army, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF)
3d Infantry Division "Marne Division" – For service during WW I with the III Corps, US First Army, AEF & in WW II with VI Corps, US Seventh Army, Sixth US Army Group, AEF
4th Cavalry Regiment "Raiders" – For service during WW II as the 4th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) VII Corps, US First Army, Twelfth US Army Group, AEF
28th Infantry Regiment "Lions of Cantigny" – For service during WW I in the 2d Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, I Corps, US First Army, AEF (Regiment deactivated as of 9 April 2015)
369th Infantry Regiment "Harlem Hellfighters" – For service during WW I in the French 16th and 161st Divisions (Regiment reorganized and re-designated as of 20 July 2007 as the 369th Sustainment Brigade, 53d Troop Command, New York Army National Guard)
106th Cavalry Regiment - For service during WW II - 121st CRS: Fourragère; 121st CRS: French Croix de Guerre with Palm; 106th Group: French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Note: Only members of the above named USMC units, including attached Navy personnel, are authorized to wear the French Fourragère for their unit's service during WW I as the 4th Marine Brigade, of the US Army 2d Infantry Division, I Corps, US First Army, AEF:
Lt. Fred Becker, the University of Iowa's first All-American left school to enlist prior to his senior season. Commissioned in the Army and assigned to a Marine platoon. KIA at Soissons, July 1918. Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and France awarded him the Croix de Guerre.
Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO & Bar (August 28, 1890 – July 28, 1971) was the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II.
Father John B. DeValles, A chaplain with the Yankee Division, he was known as the "Angel of the Trenches" for his valiant deeds in caring for both Allied and German soldiers on the battlefields of France. Fr. DeValles was injured in a mustard gas attack while attending to a fallen soldier and died two years later.
Dorothie Feilding, a British volunteer nurse awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery in the field.
Maud Fitch, a volunteer ambulance driver from Eureka, Utah, was awarded the Croix de Guerre with a gold star for her courage rescuing wounded soldiers under heavy fire.
George L. Fox, awarded the Croix de Guerre for his service on the Western Front. He was also one of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives when the troopships USAT Dorchester was hit by a torpedo and sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II.
Major Edwin L. Holton was awarded the Croix de Guerre for distinguished service as deputy commissioner of the American Red Cross in France in charge of re-education and rehabilitation of the disabled soldiers. He had a staff of 60 Red Cross Officials assisted by 15,000 workers. The staff he supervised helped 136,000 disabled soldiers of the 200,000 American wounded in WWI.
William F Howe, Commanding Officer of 102nd Field Artillery Regiment on the Western Front
Sgt. Henry Johnson served with the 369th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Black Rattlers, the regiment consisted entirely of African Americans excepting their commanding officers. Henry Johnson was the first American alongside Needham Roberts to receive the Croix de Guerre. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with special citation and a golden palm for bravey in fighting off a German raiding party. Also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart (1996), the Distinguished Service Cross (2002), and the U.S. Army Medal of Honor (2015) for his actions in the battle.
Major General Charles E. Kilbourne who was also the first American to win the United States' three highest medals for bravery.
American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), a sergeant and intelligence observer with the 69th Volunteer Infantry, 42nd Rainbow Division, was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre for service.
Henri de Lubac, a Roman Catholic Jesuit novice serving in the Third Infantry Regiment, who was severely wounded in the head on 1 November 1917 while fighting near Verdun. He later became an influential Catholic theologian and Cardinal.
William March, American writer, awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm.
Lawrence Dominic McCarthy, was also an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Needham Roberts served with the 369th Infantry Division, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Black Rattlers, a regiment consisted entirely of African Americans excepting their commanding officers. Roberts was the first American alongside Henry Johnson to receive the Croix de Guerre.
Donald Swartout, American Jackson, Michigan, intelligence pfc, Comp I, 128th Infantry, 32d Div. French Croix de Guerre with bronze palm, " dated March 15, 1919, General Headquarters, French Armies of the East Marshal Petain for carrying important messages between Juvigny and Terny Sorny while wounded.
Herbert Ward, artist, sculptor and African explorer, awarded the Croix de Guerre while serving with the British Ambulance Committee in the Vosges
Edwin "Pa" Watson, served in France. Earning the U.S. Army Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre from the French government.
William A. Wellman, American fighter pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corps, awarded Croix de Guerre with two palm leaves, 1918
Samuel Woodfill, an American infantry lieutenant who disabled several German machine-gun nests and killed many enemy combatants with rifle, pistol and pickaxe. He was awarded the American Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre.
Marcel Bigeard, highly decorated French general and veteran of World War II, French Indochina and Algeria; received both the Croix de Guerre 1939–1945 and the Croix de guerre TOE with a total of 25 citations, including 17 palms.
Tony Halik Polish pilot in RAF; after being the only Polish/RAF pilot shot down over France, he joined the French resistance.
Bob Hoover, Army Air Corps pilot and USAF test pilot
John Howard, awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1944 for his valor. When his ship struck a mine off the French coast, killing the captain, Howard took over command and fought valiantly to save his ship and crew, even jumping into the sea to rescue wounded sailors.
Noor Inayat Khan, a wireless operator in the French section of the SOE. She was flown to occupied France in June 1944 and operated until mid. October. Captured and tortured, she was eventually executed at Dachau concentration camp on 13 September 1944; awarded the George Cross posthumously.
Audie Murphy, American actor; most decorated U.S. Army soldier during the war, was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre avec Palme" three times and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm once, as well as the American Medal of Honor.
Alexander Sachal, Russian artist who joined the French Resistance; awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Colonel Jimmy Stewart being awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm in 1944.
George Scales, British farmer/Commanding Officer LCT-7011 awarded the Croix de Guerre during D-Day. Presented to him in 2007 by French Attache Naval, Capitaine de Vaisseau Jean Nicolas Gauthier of the Ministere de la Defense.
Desmond J. Scott, a New Zealand fighter pilot and Group Captain who flew for the RAF. He was awarded both the Belgian and the French Croix de Guerre.
Major Edward Cecil Scott, A Battery Commander, 5 Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment, for actions taken during the Battle of the Falaise Pocket
James Stewart, American actor awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm in 1944
Violette Szabo, a British SOE agent who was sent into occupied France. Her first mission was a success, but during her second mission she was captured and tortured. Eventually sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, she was executed on 5 February 1945 (at age 23); awarded the George Cross posthumously.
During World War I, Cher Ami, a Carrier pigeon with the 77th Division, helped save the lives of 194 American soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, and blinded in one eye, but continued the 25-mile flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for heroic service. She later died from the wounds received in battle and was enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.
^At the time of the Algerian War, Algeria was considered part of France and war actions labelled "law enforcement operations", so soldiers were awarded the Croix de la Valeur Militaire instead of the Croix de guerre des TOE.
^Brief History of the 26th Division in Pictures, published by the "Committee of Welcome" appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts, Hon. Calvin Coolidge, and the Mayor of Boston, Hon. Andrew J. Peters, Official Welcome Home Programme, April 25, 1919. Also, the Massachusetts State House mural "Decoration of the Colors of the 102nd United States Infantry," painted in 1927 by Richard Andrew. Also, the memorial honoring the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, A.E.F., in Westfield, MA.