BAVARIA. Military Merit Cross, III class with Swords, on combatant’s ribbon (BAYERN. Militär-Verdienstkreuz, III. Klasse mit Schwertern, am Kämpferband). Coppered brass Maltese cross with crossed Roman swords above and scroll and laterally-pierced ball suspension; the face with a circular central medallion bearing the crowned cipher of King Ludwig III within a circular border in the form of a buckled belt inscribed ‘MERENTI’ (Latin = Merit) above, with arabesques below; the reverse with a circular central medallion bearing the Bavarian crowned lion rampant within a circular border in the form of a buckled belt dated ‘1866’ above, with arabesques below.
The Cross had its origins as the V class of the Order of Military Merit, instituted by King Ludwig III on 19 July 1866 to reward extraordinary merit by non-commissioned officers, soldiers, and lower-ranking officials (“zur Belohnung Außergewöhnlicher Verdienste der Unteroffiziere, Soldaten und untere Militärbeamten”).
In 1905 the statutes were revised, the Cross becoming Military Merit Cross with two classes, each with or without swords. In 1913 a further revision added a third, more senior class, the existing classes becoming the II and III classes, the class awarded being determined by the rank of the recipient.
All three classes could be awarded with or without swords and with or without crown, swords denoting a wartime award and crown denoting a second award of the Cross or especial merit.
There were also two ribbons, one for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men, as here, and another for junior non-combatant military officials.
The Military Merit Cross was the Kingdom of Bavaria's principal decoration for bravery for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men throughout World War I. It was abolished at the end of 1918.
PRUSSIA. Iron Cross, II class (PREUSSEN. Eisernes Kreuz, II. Klasse), 1914 issue by Sy & Wagner of Berlin. White metal cross pattée with magnetic core, with a blackened cross pattée within a hatched border imposed, with loop and ring for ribbon suspension, the ring with maker’s mark ‘S-W’ for Sy & Wagner of Berlin; the face with a central ‘W’ (for Wilhelm), a crown above, the date ‘1914’ below; the reverse with a central oak branch, the crowned cipher ‘FW’ (for Friedrich Wilhelm) above, the date ‘1813’ below.
The Iron Cross was instituted on 10 March 1813 by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia during the War of Liberation against the Napoleonic French forces. It was reinstated in 1870-1871 for the Franco-Prussian War and again in 1914 for World War I.
It was awarded for bravery. In spite of its iconic image and fame, it has always been made of modest materials and issued in relatively large numbers. It was designed by the neo-classical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and reflects the cross of the Teutonic Knights in the late Middle Ages which was also the emblem of Frederick the Great.
BAVARIA. Military Service Medal, III class for 9 years’ service (BAYERN. Militär-Dienstauszeichnung III. Klasse für 9 Dienstjahre), 1913-1918 issue. Nickel silver (Neusilber) circular medal with loop for ribbon suspension; the face with a representation of the Bavarian Dienstauszeichnungskreuz (Service Cross), being a cross pattée with concave ends to the arms with a central scalloped escutcheon bearing the lozenges of the Bavarian arms within an oak wreath, the inscription ‘TREUE DIENST BEI DER FAHNE’ (Loyal service under the colours) between the arms; the reverse with a central scalloped shield bearing the Roman numerals ‘IX’ (9) within a circular oak wreath, circumscribed ‘DIENSTAUSZEICHNUNG III. KLASSE’ (Service Award, 3rd class).
The Medal was instituted by Prince Regent Ludwig on 30 August 1913 and could be awarded for 9, 12 and 15 years’ service (being the 3rd, 2nd and 1st classes of the Medal), the time being indicated on the reverse.
The Group is on its original parade mounting with pin for wear.