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World War I Victory Medal
Ww1vm.gif
World War I Victory Medal
Awarded by Department of the Army
Department of the Navy
Type Medal
Eligibility

served in the armed forces between the following dates, in the following locations:

  • 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 for any military service.
  • 12 November 1918, to 5 August 1919 for service in European Russia
  • 23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force Siberia
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg

Streamer WWI V.PNG

A photo showing the state of a US Victory Medal in 2012.

The World War I Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was first created in 1919, designed by James Earle Fraser. The medal was originally intended to be created due to an act of the United States Congress, however the bill authorizing the decoration never passed, leaving the service departments to create the award through general orders. The United States Army published orders authorizing the World War I Victory Medal in April 1919 and the U.S. Navy followed in June of that same year.[1]

Criteria[edit | edit source]

Known until 1947 simply as the “Victory Medal”, the World War I Victory Medal was awarded to any member of the U.S. military who had served in the armed forces between the following dates in the following locations:[2]

Design[edit | edit source]

The front of the bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front. The back of the bronze medal features "The Great War For Civilization" in all capital letters curved along the top of the medal. Curved along the bottom of the back of the medal are six stars, three on either side of the center column of seven staffs wrapped in a cord. The top of the staff has a round ball on top and is winged on the side. The staff is on top of a shield that says "U" on the left side of the staff and "S" on the right side of the staff. On left side of the staff it lists one World War I Allied country per line: France, Italy, Serbia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia, and Greece. On the right side of the staff the Allied country names read: Great Britain (at the time the common term for the United Kingdom), Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Rumania (spelled with a U instead of an O as it is spelled now), and China.

Distribution[edit | edit source]

The medals were awarded after the end of World War I, so they were mailed to the servicemen instead of awarded in person. For example, the boxes containing the Victory Medals for United States Army World War I veterans were mailed out by the depot officer at the General Supply Depot, U.S. Army, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April 1921. An outer light brown box with an address label glued to it and its postage area marked "OFFICIAL BUSINESS, Penalty for private use $300" contained an inner white box stamped with the bars the serviceman was supposed to receive on his medal. The inner white box contained the medal, which was wrapped in tissue paper.

Name change[edit | edit source]

In 1945, the “Victory Ribbon” was created as an award for those who served in World War II. Between 1945 and 1947, the World War I award continued to be known by its original name, the “Victory Medal,” and the World War II award was known as the “Victory Ribbon.” In 1947, the Victory Ribbon became a full-sized medal as the World War II Victory Medal, at which point the World War I Victory Medal adopted its current name. However, some military records as late as the 1950s continued to annotate the World War I decoration by its previous name, and the medal was often referred to as “Victory Medal (WWI)”.

Devices[edit | edit source]

To denote battle participation and campaign credit, the World War I Victory Medal was authorized with a large variety of devices to denote specific accomplishments. In order of seniority, the devices authorized to the World War I Victory Medal were as follows:

Silver Citation Star[edit | edit source]

The Silver Citation Star to the World War I Victory Medal was authorized by the United States Congress on 4 February 1919. A silver star was authorized to be worn on the ribbon of the Victory Medal for any member of the U.S. Army who had been cited for gallantry in action between 1917 and 1920. In 1932, the Silver Citation Star was redesigned and renamed the Silver Star and, upon application to the United States War Department, any holder of the Silver Citation Star could have it converted to a Silver Star decoration.

Navy Commendation Star[edit | edit source]

The Navy Commendation Star was authorized to any person who had been commended by the Secretary of the Navy for performance of duty during the First World War. The Navy Commendation Star was worn as a silver star on the World War I Victory Medal, identical in appearance to the Army’s Silver Citation Star. Unlike the Army’s version, however, the Navy Commendation Star could not be upgraded to the Silver Star medal.[3]

Army Battle Clasps[edit | edit source]

The following battle clasps, inscribed with a battle's name, were worn on the medal to denote participation in major ground conflicts.

For general defense service, not involving a specific battle, the "Defensive Sector" Battle Clasp was authorized. The clasp was also awarded for any battle which was not already recognized by its own battle clasp.

The World War I Victory Medal bears the clasps of the battles the U.S. Army participated in across the ribbon. Not all battles are shown on the bar clasps. Only the battles designated as battles that would have bars issued were shown on the medal. The famous Battle of Chateau Thierry to hold the Chateau and the bridge as a joint effort between the US Army and the US Marines against the German machine gunners did not get awarded clasps.

Navy Battle Clasps[edit | edit source]

Navy battle clasps were issued for naval service in support of Army operations and had identical names to the Army battle clasps. There was a slight variation of the criteria dates for the Navy battle clasps, as listed below.

  • Aisne (1–5 June 1918)
  • Aisne-Marne (18–20 July 1918)
  • Meuse-Argonne (29 September to 10 October 1918, and 25 October to 11 November 1918)
  • St. Mihiel (12–16 September 1918)
  • Ypres-Lys (Service in support of the Northern Bombing Group)

The Defensive Sector Clasp was also authorized for Navy personnel who had participated in naval combat but were not authorized a particular battle clasp.

Navy Operational Clasps[edit | edit source]

For sea-related war duty, the Navy issued the following operational clasps, which were worn on the World War I Victory Medal and inscribed with the name of the duty type which had been performed:

  • Armed Guard: For merchant personnel (freighters, tankers, and troop ship) between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Asiatic: For service on any vessel that visited a Siberian port between the dates of 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 and from 12 November 1918, and 30 March 1920. For the second period of service, the port visit must have exceeded ten days in length.
  • Atlantic Fleet: For service in the Atlantic Fleet between 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Aviation: For service involving flying over the Atlantic Ocean between the dates of 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Destroyer: For service on destroyers on the Atlantic Ocean between 25 May 1918 and 11 November 1918.
  • Escort: For personnel regularly attached to escort vessels on the North Atlantic between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Grand Fleet: For personnel assigned to any ship of the “United States Grand Fleet” between 9 December 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Mine Laying: For service in mine laying sea duty between the dates of 26 May to 11 November 1918.
  • Mine Sweeping: For service in mine sweeping sea duty between 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918.
  • Mobile Base: For service on tenders and repair vessels between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Naval Battery: For service as a member of a naval battery detachment between 10 July and 11 November 1918.
  • Overseas: For service on shore in allied or enemy countries of Europe from 6 April 1918 to 11 November 1918.
  • Patrol: For any war patrol service on the Atlantic Ocean between the dates of 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Salvage: For salvage duty performed on the seas between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Submarine: For submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean between 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Submarine Chaser: For anti-submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean between 18 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Transport: For personnel regularly attached to a transport or cargo vessel between the dates of 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • White Sea: For service on any vessel which visited a Russian port or performed war patrols in the White Sea not less than ten days between 12 November 1918 and 31 July 1919.

Unlike the army, the navy only allowed one clasp of any type to be worn on the ribbon. Members of the marine or medical corps who served in France but was not eligible for a battle clasp would receive a bronze Maltese cross on their ribbons.

Army Service Clasps[edit | edit source]

For non-combat service with the army during the First World War, the following service clasps were authorized to be worn with the World War I Victory Medal. Each service claps was inscribed with a country or region name where support service was performed. The U.S. Army issued the following service clasps:

  • England (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • France (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Italy (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Russia (Any service)
  • Siberia (Any service)

Navy Service Clasps[edit | edit source]

The U.S. Navy issued similar service clasps to the Army for service in the following regions during the following periods:

  • England (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • France (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Italy (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Russia (12 November 1918 to 31 July 1919)
  • Siberia (12 November 1918 to 30 March 1920)
  • West Indies (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)

Campaign Stars[edit | edit source]

Since battle and service clasps could only be worn on the full-sized World War I Victory Medal, bronze service stars were authorized for wear on the award ribbon. This was the common method of campaign and battle display when wearing the World War I Victory Medal as a ribbon on a military uniform.

An International Award[edit | edit source]

Not only did the United States issue a Victory Medal, but so did a significant number of Allied and associated countries involved in the conflict against the Dual Alliance between Austria and Germany.

The proposition of such a common award was first made by French Maréchal Ferdinand Foch who was supreme commander of the Allied Forces during the First World War. Each medal in bronze has the same diameter (36 mm) and ribbon (double rainbow), but with a national design representing a winged victory.[4]

Country Designer Manufacturer Number issued
Belgium Paul Du Bois (1859–1938) ----- 300,000 – 350,000
Brazil Jorge Soubre (1890–1934) approximately 2,500
Cuba Charles Charles
  • Etablissements Chobillon
6,000 – 7,000
Czechoslovakia Otakar Španiel (1881–1955)
  • Kremnice Mint
approximately 89,500
France Pierre-Alexandre Morlon (1878–1951)
  • Monnaie de Paris
approximately 2,000,000
France[5] Charles Charles
  • Etablissements Chobillon
-----
France[6]
  • M. Pautot
  • Louis Octave Mattei
----- -----
Great Britain[7] William McMillan (1887–1977)
  • Woolwich Arsenal
  • Wright & Son
6,334,522 plus
Greece Henry-Eugène Nocq (1868–1944)
  • V. Canale
approximately 200,000
Italy Gaetano Orsolini (1884–1954)
  • Sacchini-Milano
  • S.Johnson-Milano
  • F.M.Lorioli & Castelli-Milano
approximately 2,000,000
Japan[8] Shoukichi Hata
  • Osaka Mint
approximately 700,000
Poland[9] .... Vlaitov
  • Mint Kremnica
-----
Portugal João Da Silva (1880–1960)
  • Da Costa
approximately 100,000
Rumania .... Kristesko ----- approximately 300,000
Siam (Thailand) Itthithepsan Kritakara (1890–1935) ----- approximately 1,500
South Africa[10] William McMillan (1887–1977)
  • Woolwich Arsenal
approximately 75,000
United States James Earle Fraser (1876–1953)
  • Arts Metal Works Inc.
  • S.G.Adams Stamp & Stationary Co.
  • Jos. Mayer Inc.
approximately 2,500,000

(Main source : ‘’The interallied victory medals of world war I’’ by Alexander J. Laslo, Dorado Publishing, Albuquerque. 1986 Edition )

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Naval Historical Center, (World War I) Victory Medal
  2. 578.54 World War I Victory Medal
  3. Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, NAVPERS 15,790 Rev. 1953.
  4. Except Japan and Siam where the concept of a winged victory was not culturally relevant.
  5. Unofficial type.
  6. Unofficial type.
  7. Awarded not only to British combatants but as well to those from the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and those from the Empire of India.
  8. On the obverse the winged figure of Victory was replaced by a warrior holding a spear.
  9. For reasons still not known, Poland did not proceed with the manufacture of the medal at their mint. The medal shows a clearly visible “MK” ( Mint Kremnica). The medal may possibly be an unofficial strike by a veteran’s group.
  10. The text on the reverse is in English and Dutch.

See also[edit | edit source]

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