With this blog I am continuing a discussion of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian service crosses for troops and non-commissioned officers. In the succeeding blogs I will discuss the full range of service crosses awarded to enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers issued from 1849 – 1918. In this blog I will be discussing the Military Service Decoration for Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops First Class, (Militärdienstzeichen I Klasse für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften) which was issued from 1867-1890 and which was re-designated as the Military Service Decoration for Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Second Class, (Militärdienstzeichen II Klasse für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften) from 1890-1913. It should be noted that at the time the service crosses were established in 1849 the nomenclature was the reverse of what one would expect today. That is to say, that the second class was the cross for the higher number of years served while the first class was the cross given for the lesser number of years. Thus the second class of the service cross is the higher class. This nomenclature continued for the crosses issued from 1867-1890. However in 1890 the naming protocol changed so that the cross for 12 years’ service which had been designated as the first class in 1867 now became the second class in 1890.
Date Issued: May 18, 1867 – August 5, 1913
Reason Issued: To reward Non-commissioned officers and troops of the Austrian army and navy who had served twelve years of active service faithfully and honorably.
Classes or Types: This cross was issued in one type.
- This cross was designated the Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Service Cross first class from 1869 until 1890. On March 12, 1890 when the new standards for issuing service crosses were instituted this cross was designated as the Non Commissioned Officers and troops Service Cross second class. Regardless of its designation it was always given for 12 years’ service
- The older crosses have a small round eye parallel to the body of the cross. Through this eye passes an elongated oval ring to suspend the cross to the ribbon. The later crosses have a ball shaped eye with a plain round ring passing through it.
- Only the highest grade of the service cross which had been earned could be worn.
- Time in service was counted toward receipt of this award in two ways: piece time service was counted one year for one year, during a military campaign each year of service was counted as two years.
Hallmarks: None known
Design: A clawed cross in the Leopold style with arms that widen toward the ends. The cross has a loop eye at the top (later versions have a ball shaped eye) to which is attached an oval ring for attaching the cross to the ribbon.
Obverse: A cross with a granulated surface. The edges of the arms of the cross are tapered. The arms of the cross have a 2 mm smooth edge. Inside the smooth edge is a pearled design, which also follows the contour of the cross. In the center of the cross is a 17 mm silver disk surrounded by an oak leaf wreath. On this disk is the Roman Numeral XII.
Reverse: The reverse of the cross is usually plain. It may, however, have a rivet hole for attaching the obverse disk, a screw back attachment for attaching the disk or a white metal reverse.
Weight: 12 grams
Size: 34 mm in diameter
Type of Material: Gilded bronze or brass and in some cases with white metal
Variations: There are several variations of this decoration:
- Type I obverse as issued from 1867-1869: as described above
- Type II obverse as issued from 1869-1890: The center medallion on this cross has a raised rim in the same metal as the cross and the Roman Numeral XII
- Type III obverse (1890-1913): The same as Type II except the center disk is in silver.
- Type IV reverse: As described above except with a white metal reverse
- Type I suspension: as described above
- Type II suspension (Later issue): As described above except the suspender is a ball eye decorated with two groves
- Type III Suspension Later issue): As described above except with a ball shaped eye
Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint, Vienna)
Number Issued: Unknown
Ribbon: Lemon-yellow with a 9 mm black stripe 1.5 mm from each edge.
Miniature: Miniatures are known to exist
Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time when I will commence my description of the Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops, Service Cross issued from 1867-1869. Until then, I hope you find joy in our shared interest