The Italian War Merit Cross
(Croce al Merito di Guerra) was instituted by King Victor Emanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...
on 19 January 1918.
From its institution till 30 May 1927, 1,034,924 Crosses were issued.
The Italian War Merit Cross was awarded to members of the armed forces with a minimum of one year's service in contact with an enemy who received the Medal of the Wounded, or to those who, when mentioned for war merit, received a promotion. Also, if an act of valour was deemed insufficient for the Medal of Military Valour, the War Merit Cross could be awarded instead; from 1922 onwards a bronze sword on the ribbon showed this class of award.
The War Merit Cross was in bronze, 38mm wide (1-1/2 inches), with a blue ribbon. A second award was indicated by a bronze star on the ribbon. The reverse side bears a 5-pointed star on a background of rays. The obverse has the royal cypher
In modern heraldry, a royal cypher is a monogram-like device of a country's reigning sovereign, typically consisting of the initials of the monarch's name and title, sometimes interwoven and often surmounted by a crown. In the case where such a cypher is used by an emperor or empress, it is called...
("VE III" under a crown) in the upper arm, "MERITO DI GVERRA" (War Merit) on the horizontal arms and a roman sword point upwards, on oak leaves, in the lower arm. During World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, the War Merit Cross underwent a number of significant changes.
In 1941, by decree, the War Merit Cross was replaced by the Medal of Military Valour
The Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal. During World War I, the medal was awarded to military personnel, units above the level of company, and civilians for exceptional valor in the face of the enemy...