Introduction:

The Great Military Merit Medal (Groß Militärverdienstmedaille), 1916-1917 was established to recognize the highest achievement in time of war or to reward outstanding service in piece.  This service was required to be greater than that recognized by the Silver Military Merit Medal but not warranting the award of a high order.  It was intended for high-ranking officers (Regimental commanders and above) and other notable persons in the society. The award was never, in practice issued for piece time service as the award was discontinued with the fall of the empire at the conclusion of WWI.

Designer: Anton Scharff

Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint, Vienna)

Number Issued: 30 medals were issued, 4 with second award bars and 14 with swords. Only 2 of the 30 medals issued were to persons below the rank of general: Gottfried Banfield and Hermann Pokorny

Known Recipients:

With swords and second award bar:

  • Svetozar Boroević von Bojna, Feldmarschall, October 17, 1916, second award bar February 19, 1917
  • Franz Graf Conrad von Hotzendorf, Feldmarschall, October 17, 1916, second award bar December 6, 1917

With second award bar:

  • Friedrich Freiherr von Georgi, Generaloberst, November 25, 1916, second award bar March 3, 1918
  • Samuel Freiherr von Hazai, Generaloberst, November 25, 1916

With swords:

  • Arthur Freiherr Arz von Straussenburg, General der Infanterie, October 28, 1917
  • Gottfried Banfield, Linienschiffsleutnant, Austrian Naval Air Ace, August 18, 1916
  • Eugen von Habsburg, Archduke, Feldmarschall, May 24, 1916
  • Karl Freiherr von Pflanzer-Baltin, Generaloberst, September 8, 1916
  • Friedrich von Habsburg, Archduke, Feldmarschall, October 17, 1916
  • Herman Kovess von Kovesshaza, Feldmarschall, December 12, 1916
  • Eduard Freiherr von Bohm-Ermolli, Feldmarschall, January 18, 1917
  • Joseph von Habsburg, Archduke, Generaloberst, August 5, 1917
  • Alfred Krauss, General der Infanterie, November 5, 1917
  • Alois Fürst Schonburg-Hartenstein , General der Kavallerie, November 14, 1917
  • Franz Freiherr Rohr von Denta, Feldmarschall, March 26, 1918
  • Hermann Pokorny, Oberstleutnant in Generalstab, October 24, 1918

Without swords:

  • Albrecht Duke of Württemberg, Generalfeldmarschall, August 19, 1917
  • Artur Freiherr von Bolfras, Generaloberst, August 25, 1916
  • Felix Graf von Bothmer, General der Infanterie, July 28, 1917
  • Enver Pasha, Turkish General, August 14, 1917
  • Erich von Falkenhayn, General, Germany, October 11, 1916
  • Charles von Habsburg, Emperor of Austria
  • Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, German Generalfeldmarschall, August 5, 1917
  • Generaloberst Alexander Ritter von Krobatin, April 8, 1917
  • Alexander von Linsingen, German Generaloberst, December 7, 1917
  • Erich Ludendorff, German General der Infanterie,  March 26, 1918
  • Eduard Count Paar, Generaloberst, August 25, 1916
  • Rupprecht Crown Prince of Bavaria,  August 19, 1917
  • Friedrich Wilhelm, General der Infanterie, Crown Prince of the German Empire
  • Remus von Woyrsch, German Generaloberst, December 13, 1917

Case: Unknown

Ribbon: A 40 mm Ponceau (Poppy) red and white laddered ribbon for combatants and a 39 mm Ponceau-red ribbon for civil recipients and for military recipients for civil service (Awards were never issued on the Ponceau-red ribbon)

  • A small rectangular ribbon for this decoration sometimes issued with small attachments to indicate specific awards was introduced in October 27, 1917.

Figure 1: War Ribbon. Image from the author’s archive.

 Attachments:

  • Bronze gilt crossed swords were authorized on December 13, 1916 to be worn on this decoration
  • Gold trapezoid clasps 9 mm in width and 50 mm in length were authorized for this decoration on February 22, 1917. When the clasp was granted for the decoration with swords, the swords were worn on the top clasp. Medals are known to exist with one bar. The bars were manufactured by Josef  Zimbler of Vienna.

Figure 2: Great Military Merit Medal with swords. Image from the Author’s archive.

Figure 3: Great Military Merit Medal with second award bar and swords. Image from the Author’s archive.

Miniature: known to exist

Figure 4: Great Military Merit Medal miniature. Image from the Author’s archive.

 

Award Document: 

Figure 5: Great Military Merit Medal Certificate issued on December 10, 1916 to
Generaloberst Hermann Baron Kovess von Kovesshaza

 

Figure 6: Oberstleutnant Hermann Pokorny wearing the Great Military Merit Medal with swords
(Pokorny is one of only two persons below the rank of general to be awarded this decoration). Image form the author’s archive.

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time

Rick

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