Croix de Guerre 1939-45
The War Cross 1939-45

        Instituted 26th September 1939 to award individual and group mention in dispatch citations in a similar manner as the Great War Croix de Guerre. Similarly ribbon emblems of stars and palms are granted to indicate the level of the citation. (Allegedly in the closing stages of the battle for France some indiscriminate granting of the decoration took place, some say it being given to anyone still carrying a weapon! - although these incidences were supposedly isolated.)
      Shortly after the Fall of France and the armistice June 1940, the newly installed Vichy government decided to simply annul the 1939 Croix de Guerre and institute their own version.  The Vichy version was very similar but with modified reverse dates and the ribbon was changed from green and red, to green and black. The wearing of the first type ribbon was no longer permitted and recipients of the first types cross had to change the ribbon to the Vichy version. In 1944 the Committee of National Liberation  restored the original version of the cross and ribbon.

    Description:  A 37mm wide bronze cross paty with two swords in the angles, points upwards. The arms of the cross have a wide raised border with a pebbled interior. An obverse central medallion bears the head of La Republique, with the inscription 'Republique Francaise' within a circlet. Reverse bears a medallion with the date "1939" (for the first type) or "1939/1940" for the Vichy type. A number of local manufactured variants of both types exist.

   Notes: The official versions of the cross are relatively common (although the Vichy cross has twice the value of the first type). The other variants manufactured in various places from North Africa to the United Kingdom can be uncommon and are widely collected. In particular the Etat Francais Vichy version is rare and highly desirable. The main reverses encountered are shown below.
         The official versions have the cross guard of the swords in contact with the sides of the arms of the cross, they also exhibit the slightly redesigned head of La Republique, and frequently have a mint mark on the end of the arms.

Croix de Guerre Reverse Medallions.

French Republic

1939 1939
(elevated above centre)
(large numerals)
1939-1941 1939-1942 1939-1943 1939-1944 undated
official reverse unofficial reverses, often local 'in theatre' manufacture. British manufacture


Vichy (French State)

1939-1940 1939-1940
wide annulus
1941 1942 1943 1944 Etat Francais
 "French State"
official reverse unofficial reverses, often local 'in theatre' manufacture.  



Republic ribbon: Red, 37mm wide with four green central stripes.
  Vichy ribbon: Green, 37mm wide, with 7 thin black stripes.



1939 Croix de Guree

Official French Republic  model

Above Monnaie of Paris "cornucopia"  mint mark  and BR  (BR =Bronze) encountered on some official medals
undated Croix de Guerre
British Manufacture Free French and Allied Croix de Guerre, probably struck by J.R.Gaunt Ltd.
Vichy Croix de Guerre
Official Vichy model
Unofficial Vichy model
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