When Emperor Franz Joseph assumed the throne in Austria one of his earliest actions was to establish the merit crosses to be awarded to those who demonstrated proven devotion to the fatherland, many years of valuable service, or other significant services in support of the public welfare. This decoration replaced the Civil Merit Medal which had been introduced in 1848. This decoration was highly regarded and personally approved and presented by the emperor up until World War I.  In this blog I will describe some of the variations in the cases in which the gold, silver with crown and silver merit Crosses were issued,.

Attachments: Gilt swords were authorized on December 13, 1916. 50 mm long and 8 mm wide rhomboid shaped metal clasps were authorized on February 17,1918 to signify additional awards of the Golden Merit Cross with Crown. All of the crosses except the Gold Merit Cross with crown could only be awarded once. If additional recognition was warranted the next highest grade of the cross was awarded. Prior to the authorization of the additional award bar the Gold Merit Cross with Crown could be awarded twice and both decorations could be worn at the same time. When a second award bar was awarded with swords they were placed on the second award bar.


Figure 1: Gold Merit Cross with crown on war ribbon with swords. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 2: Gold Merit Cross on war ribbon with swords. Image from the author’s archive.


Figure 3: Silver Merit Cross with crown on war ribbon with swords. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 4: Silver Merit Cross on war ribbon with swords. Image from the author’s archive.


Figure 5: Gold Merit Cross with crown on war ribbon with second award bar and swords. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 6: Gold Merit Cross with crown on war ribbon with second award bar. Image from the author’s archive.


Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time I hope you find joy in our shared interest




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  1. Hello, Hoping you can help. My Great-grandfather, Victor Balasic, was a Feldwebel (Sergeant-Major) in KUK from 1916-1918 in 28 Ambulance and 277 Auto-Column. He was 47 in 1916. Picture of him in hospital in 1916 (wound or just illness?). Picture of him May 1918 with Jubilee Medal and Iron Cross of Merit. Picture of 3 framed medals – first is Jubilee, second is Iron Cross of Merit, third is? Very hard to see but it’s a cross with out a crown on dark ribbon. Any ideas what it might be? Thanks

    • Dear Mr. Balasi The image in the picture is too vague to make out with any specificity. If the medals are arranged properly by president then the correct order would be Iron Merit Cross and the Jubilee Medal with the unidentified medal being placed somewhere in the group by precedence. I think a possible explanation is that the awards are arranged in order as they were received. In this case the 1898 Jubilee Medal would be first (on the left) and then the Iron Cross of Merit awarded in WWI would be second. Following this logic the third medal (medal on the right) would likely be the Karl Troop Cross. Although hard to see nothing in the picture precludes the third decoration being the Karl troop Cross. My thinking is that it would also fit on the right as regardless of whether it was awarded first or second it was placed there because the iron Merit Cross is the higher decoration and the Karl troop Cross the lower decoration in order of precedence. Thus although I can not say this with absolute assurance baring seeing a clearer image of the awards I would say they are likely the 1898 Jubilee Medal, the iron Merit Cross and the Karl Troop Cross. I hope this assessment is helpful.


      • Rick, Thank you very much for the response. Yes the picture is very fuzzy. Under a magnifying glass I can tell the third medal is a cross, but not much else. From my great-grandfather’s documents I know he was on the Italian front around the Izonso River with the 5th Army, 28th Ambulance Column in 1916 and on the Russian front in western Ukraine with the 2nd Army 277th Auto Column in 1917, so I’m fairly certain he would have qualified for the Karl Troop Cross for at least 12 weeks at the front. Thanks again.


        • Mark, I am glad to be of help. Based on your description of your grandfathers service, I agree that it is very likely that he received the Karl Troop Cross and that it is the third award depicted in the picture. Let me also say that it must make you proud that your grandfather had provided such distinguished service to his county. His momentous are truly family treasures.


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