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Joachim Nilsson





Joined: 29 Sep 2003

Posts: 510

PostPosted: Wed 15 Feb, 2006 4:28 pm    Post subject: Grace Under Pressure.         Reply with quote

Although this thread will not be about weapons, and therefor perhaps not truly appropriate for this forum, I still view it as somewhat related to myArmoury since it is the use of arms in times of conflict that leads to the subject of this new thread of mine: Medals of honor, bravery and valor.

Those particular virtues are virtues I respect, admire and value very highly. They are also virtues that can be used in ones daily life in an aspiration to become a better man. That I so highly value these virtues is probably one of the things that, in my latter days, have attracted me to collecting medals of valor and bravery. I will probably focus on medals awarded during the two greatest conflicts mankind have seen so far: WWI and WWII. This will more or less be in line with the rest of my militaria collection as well. I intend to update this thread as regularly as I can -that is: whenever I can lay my hands on a new medal.

No matter what side the recipients of these medals have thought on, they all shared one common thing: they showed grace under pressure. Grace under tremendous pressure and horror that we can hardly imagine. Some of them even sacrificed themselves so that we today can enjoy the freedom and liberty we do enjoy. My native country of Sweden have enjoyed peace for close to 200 years now. That in itself is a good -not too mention very unsual- thing. It comes at a of its own though. 200 years of peace breeds complacancy and disregards for the sacrifices that others have made. I do not share that complacancy. Nor do I disregard the sacrfices of others or take my freedom for granted. None of us should.

On a personal note though -I am not of pure Swedish decent. my dear, departed mother was of Finnish/German decent. This connects me to the sacrficies of both Finns as well as Germans. I place no political value whatsoever on these things, but judge from merit of bravery alone. Even the best sheep in the flock sometimes go astray. So as it pertains to WWII medlas, no judgement will be placed on my part on nationality or side. Allied medals as well as Axis ones will have an equal shot at gaining a place in my collection. Why? Because politics does not matter to me. It is the scourge of the common man who goes out to fight for his own, basic values and needs: Friends, family, country and homestead. All of us also know that sometimes the tide of war sweeps with it even the men who perhaps does not share their government's full values. I will not tire you all needlessly though, but to perhaps round things of a bit: When we die, we are all of the same flesh and blood. No matter how we got drawn into the conflicts we fight in.

Collecting medals is my way of remembering and paying heed to all those who despite suffering and sometimes paying very dearly, exhibited valor and bravery -for good or bad.

This first medal is a Finnish one: The Medal of Liberty 2nd Class

The medal of Liberty 2nd Class was awarded to men and NCOs who was wounded in battle. The front side of the medal feature the Finnish lion, defiantly brandishing its sword. Over the lion it features the Finnish legend "URHEUDESTA" and below it the Swedish legend "FÖR TAPPERHET". Both means "for valor". On the reverse side the legend "SUOMEN KANSALTA" -meaning "From the Finnish People"- and the date 1941. The reverse side legend signifies that this medal is a military award -as opposed to a war-time civilian award. The year signifies in what year the war started. 1941 identifies it as belonging to the Continuation War of 1941-1944.

The war was named that way on the Finnish side to signify to make clear its relationship to the Winter War where Finland lost parts of Karelia to the Soviet Union. The Continuation War began when the Soviet Union -as a reaction to Germany's Operation Barbarossa -launched bombing raids on Finland; the for the time being passive ally of Germany. Finland once again mobilized and threw themselves into battle against the Soviet Union. One of thir goals -aside of independence from the Soviet Union- was to recapture the areas they had lost in East Karelia. They fought good and they fought hard, but in the end they once again had to give up East Karelia. A truce -where Finnish demobilazation in 12 weeks were among the conditions- was signed in Moscow on September 19th, 1944. Despite all this, the Finns managed to stave of a Soviet invasion and keep their independence. 145 000 soldiers were wounded and roughly 59 000 payed for this indenpence with their lifes. The Finnish 2.45 hour-long epic "Tuntematon Sotilas" ["Unknown Soldier"] from 1955 depicts a Finnish machine gun platoon in their struggles during this particular war. There is also a remake from 1985. Both are available on DVD and are highly recommended. The original movie is based on Väinö Linna's book by the same name. Väinö Linna was a Finnish worker and frontline soldier, who in 1954 published his book. It depicts the war from the view of the common, frontline soldier and caused quite a commotion when it was first published. I am proud to say that I own a copy of the first Swedish translation, published in 1955 in Helsinki, Finland.

The medal itself is in quite excellent condition, with hardly any patination or scratches and a well preserved ribbon. According to my research a total of 239.622 of these medals were awarded between 1941 and 1945. Despite that they often shine with their absence at online auction sites.



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Front side of medal. Finnish legend on top and Swedish legend at the bottom.

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Reverse side. "SUOMEN KANSALTA 1941"
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Martin Wallgren




Location: Bjästa, Sweden
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Feb, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice, Man!

Not my speciality but interesting anyway!

Hopfully this could be a tread for thise things close to the ontopic in this forum. Like garments going with armour or Medals and other things.

Very good job, friend!

Martin

Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Feb, 2006 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a pretty interesting topic actually.
Have you ever researched the origins of medals or earliest known medals?

Some articles describe medieval knights and pilgrims wearing commemorative "tokens" from Crusades or great deads/battles mounted in silver or gold. . "The first certainly known medal was struck for Francesco Carrara (Novello) on the occasion of the capture of Padua in 1390." - See further down in the article IN MODERN TIMES.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10111b.htm

It seems odd that there are no claims of Roman/Greek medals. At least early Olympians were given a red ribbon to wear.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Joachim Nilsson





Joined: 29 Sep 2003

Posts: 510

PostPosted: Sat 18 Feb, 2006 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
This is a pretty interesting topic actually.
Have you ever researched the origins of medals or earliest known medals?


Actually I haven't. truth be told: I've never even contemplated the possible origins of medals. Having said that, I'm more than grateful for the link you provided. I'll give this an in-depth look as soon as I get an opportunity.

Best,
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Feb, 2006 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My memory on this is a little fuzzy but I think gold or iron daggers were at some time awarded by Pharaohs to soldiers showing extreme bravery in battle. So awards for bravery started very early.

The Romans also had some form similar to medals I believe as well as victory parades for victorious generals.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Joachim Nilsson





Joined: 29 Sep 2003

Posts: 510

PostPosted: Sun 19 Feb, 2006 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
My memory on this is a little fuzzy but I think gold or iron daggers were at some time awarded by Pharaohs to soldiers showing extreme bravery in battle. So awards for bravery started very early.

The Romans also had some form similar to medals I believe as well as victory parades for victorious generals.


Very interesting information, Jean. It might be worth if I perhaps scoured my old archaeology books for any pertinent information. *makes mental note*

Oh, btw, gentlemen. Within the upcoming week I will have a very interesting update to this thread. Wink Razz
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
Joined: 01 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Feb, 2006 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joachim Nilsson wrote:
...Oh, btw, gentlemen. Within the upcoming week I will have a very interesting update to this thread. Wink Razz
Well, you got my curiosity aroused.
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Joachim Nilsson





Joined: 29 Sep 2003

Posts: 510

PostPosted: Sun 19 Feb, 2006 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
Well, you got my curiosity aroused.


Just sit tight and your thirst will be quenched, Mister. Wink
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Joachim Nilsson





Joined: 29 Sep 2003

Posts: 510

PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2006 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, now for the next medal: Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914-18 (Cross of Honor for the Great War, 1914-1918). Seemingly out of place in this collection, or at least this thread, is the German Cross of Honor. It was not awarded to commemorate any specific, individual act of bravery on the battlefield, but was instead awarded as a general service medal to all those who served in the Great War. What makes this particular medal eligible for my collection is the classification it belongs to. As one of the very last acts he performed, President Hindenburg instituted three distinctive classifications to be used. This was on July the 13th, 1934 -well after the war had ended. Although they lost the war, the medal was awarded much in the same way as a victory medal would have been awarded, and by November 15th 1936 some 8 million medals had been awarded.

The categories the medal was issuad in was the following:

Cross for frontline service -a bronzed cross with crossed swords between the arms of the cross. Awarded to anyone who served in a battle or a siege or any other action on land, sea or in the air. Prior to 1944 some 6,202,883 medals of this category had been awarded.

Cross for other troops -a bronzed cross similar to the one for frontline troops, but lacking the swords, and with a wreath of oak leaves instead of laurel. Awarded to subjects who served under Germany or her allies, but not in any direct connection to fighting or a combat zone. 1,120,449 of these bronze crosses was awarded to various war participants.

Cross for widows and parents -blackened cross with a wreath of oak leaves. Awarded posthumously to widows or parents of fallen soldiers. The award was given irrespectively if the participant died in combat, from wounds or as a POW. 345,132 black iron crosses were distributed to widows and 373,950 to parents.

Given the intended aim for this entire thread, observative readers of this thread who are not totally lost in the coffee -or beverage of choice- will by now have guessed at which one of the three categories my newest addition belongs to. And you are correct. I present to you the:

Cross of Honor with Swords

The medal itself in excellent condition. Slitghly smaller than I expected it to be, it is of roughly the same size as the previous medal. The swords are straight and true, and neither of the arms of the cross itself are bent or out of shape. The reverse of the cross is plain, svae for a small maker's mark or number. Clearly visible is the number "0" and beside it a number which could be "9", but which is too worn to be made out exactly. The ribbon itself, which is only a little frayed in on end, is in black, red and white -reflecting the imperial era to which the Great War belonged.



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