Military Decoration
Decoration Militaire

     Initially instituted by royal decrees of 1841 and 1846, but the award remained dormant until revived by a further decree of the 22nd December 1873, which gave us the basic decoration of which we are now familiar. In detail the long running decoration has been subject to a number of changes since 1873 both in the award criteria and the minor design variations of the medal itself, which has created some variety for the collector..
    The 1873 Military Decoration was created to reward 10 years minimum long and good service for warrant officers, NCOs and other ranks. It could also be awarded for gallantry, devotion to duty, or exceptional service. This second type is frequently referred to as an 'Article 4' award after the fourth article in the award criteria which defines the gallantry (etc.) classification. The medal was the same for both awards, the two types being identified by different ribbons (see below).
  Men who held the decoration for long service and were later commissioned, would continue to carry the decoration, unless awarded the Military Cross (officers long service award), in which case the Military Cross would then replace their Military Decoration.
   In 1900 the decoration was further subdivided into two classes by the institution of an upward pointing gilt chevron ribbon device. ( Long service 1st class award = 15 years service.)

  Description: 33mm wide triangular arm cross pattée in a gilt finish, with the angles infilled with pointed rays. Above is a fixed Royal crown with a ring suspension. Obverse medallion depicts the Belgian Lion within a circlet inscribed with the motto L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE. Reverse medallion depicts the royal monogram and the inscription ARMEE * MERITE * ANCIENNETE within a circlet.  Post 1952 examples have the reverse inscription omitted and a Belgian lion is now in place of the royal monogram. (see images below)


'Article 4' ribbon, worn on Military Decorations awarded for gallantry, devotion to duty, or exceptional service; red with a pair of yellow and black stripes set in from the edges, yellow outermost.


Long Service Ribbon:
repeating red/ yellow/ black/ yellow stripes, 17 total.



Belgian Military Decoration Belgium

Decoration Militaire België


   Above, 1) pre Oct 1951 French unilingual obverse,  2)  post Oct. 1951 Bilingual obverse, 3) Leopold II reverse 1873- 1919 *,  4) Albert  double 'A' monogram reverse, (also found with single 'A' reverse) 1919-34,  5) Leopold III reverse 1934 -52,   6) Belgian lion reverse no legend; Baudouin & Albert  II  post July 1952- current
    * Note: H. Quinot ( Recueil Illustré des Ordres de Chevalerie et Décorations Belges de 1830 à 1963) states that the Leopold II reverse persisted until 1919 ; 10 years after Albert's succession.

Above; from 1915, if an 'Article 4' award (gallantry, devotion or exceptional services) was for an act during wartime, then the recipient was entitled to wear a silver palm on the ribbon, of the same design as that used on Belgian orders.
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