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Decorations

A selection of Italian military decorations.

The Cross for War Merit: Originally instituted in 1918 with an obverse having a 5-pointed star on a rayed background (some sources will refer to this side of the medal as being the reverse) and a reverse bearing the crowned letters “V.E. III” (King Victor Emanuel III) on its top cross arm.

The obverse was never changed but in 1941 a first alteration was made, to the reverse. In fact, a new award can be said to have been created in 1941 : by a decree stating that the reverse is to show the wording “CROCE AL VALORE MILITARE”, the Cross for Military Valor was created. It hung from the blue white-striped ribbon as before with a sword emblem for gallantry placed on it.

Later, after the war (although sources can be found that indicate 1943), the crown and royal cypher were replaced on the Military Merit Cross by the interlaced letters “RI” (Italian Republic) and the Military Valor Cross’s reverse was altered to read “AL VALORE MILITARE”. It, furthermore, was stipulated that the latter was to be worn on a plain blue ribbon (as with the three classes of the Medal for Military Valour), thus becoming the fourth gallantry award amongst the bravery decorations. Models with slightly different inscriptions are in existence, e.g. “AL VALOR MILITARE” and “VALORE MILITARE”.

Each succeeding award of the Medals of Valor, or of the War Cross for Military Valor was identified by an individual service ribbon and a sword was worn on the ribbon of the latter to distinguish it from the War Cross of Merit, adopted in 1918.

A Royal Decree of December 1942 ruled that the second or more awards of the Merito Militare should be identified by small medal crowns as follows:

1,2,3 Bronze Crowns 2,3,4 succeeding awards
1,2,3 Silver Crowns 5,6,7 succeeding awards
1,2,3 Gold Crowns 8,9, and 10 succeeding awards.

No one, however, seems to have taken any notice of this decree and individual crosses and ribbons were worn for each award.

Pics wanted of ribbon devices.

Resource material on Italian Medals & Decorations is scarce, unlike its more famous Axis partner, Germany. This is our attempt to create the definitive on-line guide on the topic.

We need your help! If you have medals or variations to contribute to our virtual collection, please contact us.
JoeM, Member, Comando Supremo

All information courtesy of these two great sites:

Hendrik Meersschaert for contributing material and information.
Antiques and Militaria
Italian Regalia 1922-1945

Also see: Ribbons of Orders, Decorations, and Medals; Guido Rosignolil; Arco Publishing 1977 ISBN 0-668-04104-8