Bronze cross pattée alisée with swords between the arms and with laterally-pierced loop for ribbon suspension; the face with a circular central medallion bearing the cipher of King Wilhelm II within a circular oak wreath, the royal crown on the upper arm, the lower arm dated ‘1915’; the reverse inscribed 'KRIEGS / VERDIENST' within a circular central medallion with a circular oak wreath border; on replaced correct ribbon mounted for wear.
The Cross was instituted on 13 September 1915 in four grades: a pin-back cross with crown and a cross with swords to recognise non-combat merit in Wurttemberg soldiers, as in this example, and two crosses for civilians, identical but for the word ‘Verdienst’ on the reverse of the third grade, the fourth grade having a blank reverse.
The Cross was to be awarded ‘die sich während Unserer Regierung, insbesondere aus Anlaß des dermaligen Kriegs, ohne an ihm unmittelbar teilzunehmen, in dienstlicher oder freiwilliger Tätigkeit namhafte Verdienste um die öffentliche Wohlfahrt erworben hatten’ (to those in our jurisdiction who, either in service not related to their duties or through voluntary activity displayed notable merit in public welfare, especially by reason of the current war).
The Cross ranked after the Orders of Wurttemberg but before the Merit Cross and all other Wurttemberg decorations.
The Wilhelm Cross with Swords and Crown was awarded 108 times, the Wilhelm Cross with Swords 5,329 times and the Wilhelm Crosses without swords 1,943 times.
This example has age oxidisation marks and pitting especially to the reverse, consistent with it having been buried.