Saxe-Meiningen Cross for Merit in War

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Cross of Honour

The Saxe-Meiningen Honour Cross for Merit in War (German: Herzoglich Sachsen-Meining'sches Ehrenkreuz für Verdienste im Kriege) was instituted on 7 March 1915 by the Duke of Sachsen Meiningen[1] Bernhard III. Friedrich Wilhelm Albrecht Georg, brother-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and awarded to officers who showed outstanding merit at the front during WWI. On the same day, the Saxe-Meiningen Honour Medal for Merit in War (German: Sachsen-Meining'sche Ehrenmedaille für Verdienste im Kriege) was instituted for non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and enlisted men.

History

Medal of Honour

Both decorations could be awarded to combatants (Kämpfer; one source states c. 4,000 awarded) and non-combatants (Nichtkämpfer), with the ribbon differentiating between the awards. The cross for non-combatants (awarded 685 times) could also be awarded to women and virgins (Frauen und Jungfrauen), although only one such award is documented, namely to Miss Anna Prehn, secretary of the National Foundation for the bereaved of those who had fallen in the war (Nationalstiftung für die Hinterbliebenen der im Kriege Gefallenen), Berlin-Charlottenburg, who received the Cross of Honor on 17 May 1917.

Award documents were often issued by Duke Bernhard's wife Victoria Elisabeth Augusta Charlotte Prinzessin von Preußen (1860–1919). When war broke out in August 1914, she took over the regency of the duchy (Landesregentin) in place of her husband who had gone into the field to visit Meiningen troops and military facilities. Duchess Charlotte von Sachsen-Meiningen had already instituted her own decoration on 3 March 1915, the Saxe-Meiningen Order or Cross for Merit of Women and Virgins in War Welfare (German: Orden (Kreuz) für Verdienst von Frauen und Jungfrauen in der Kriegsfürsorge) for

"[...] women and virgins who are worthy of the award because of their particularly self-sacrificing work and outstanding achievements in the service of war welfare [...]"

According to Nimmergut, the company "AWES-Münze A. Werner und Söhne" in Berlin delivered a total of 547 to a maximum of 1,000 decorations. From 1915 to 1918 the badge of honor was made of bronze, and in 1918 of bronzed zinc.

Appearance

Cross (SMK)

Bronze cross pattee with curved ends to arms and a ducal coronet between each arm. Suspended from a five-arched crown. The obverse has a central medallion has founder's initial 'B' (for Duke Bernhard). The entire cross is set within an oak leaf wreath, cross-tied at the cardinal points. The reverse shows the Arms of Saxony on central medallion and 'FUR VERDIENST IM KREIGE 1914/15' on the outer circle. The ribbon is a combattant's issue of black with 6 mm yellow side stripes and 3 mm green and white chequered edges (when for combatants). It was later produced in grey zinc or "war metal" (Kriegsmetall) as a wartime economy measure.

Medal (SMM)

Obverse: A 39 mm cross pattée convex with a 'B' in the centre and surrounded by an oak leaf wreath on the circumference. It has a crown on the top arm and coronets between the arms. Reverse: A cross pattée convex with the arms of Saxony in the centre and surrounded by the inscription 'FUR VERDIENST IM KRIEGE 1914/15' (For Merit in War 1914/15) around the outside edge. Coronets between the arms. Fitted with a loose ring suspender and a piece of 32/30 mm ribbon that has a black centre with yellow side stripes and white edges containing small green squares (when for combatants). It was also later produced in grey zinc or "war metal" (Kriegsmetall) as a wartime economy measure. A total of 24,038 awards of the Merit Medal were made.

Gallery

External links

References

  1. The Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen was founded in 1680 and had a population of 287,000 by 1914.