With this blog I am continuing a discussion of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian service crosses for troops and non-commissioned officers. In this series of blogs I am discussing 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 Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Service Cross First Class, 1913-1918 (Militärdienstzeichen I Klasse für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften)
Date Issued: August 7, 1913 – 1918
Reason Issued: To reward Non-commissioned officers and troops of the Austrian army and navy who had served twenty years of active service faithfully and honorably.
Classes or Types: This cross was issued in one type.
- Only the highest grade of the service cross which had been earned could be worn.
- Crosses at the end of World War I were made of zinc with bronze centers
- Pensions and other benefits were granted to long service non-commissioned officers. Those with a minimum of twelve years’ service had priority in state employment such as railway, customs and civil service.
- A gratuity was given for more than 12 years’ service and a state pension for 18 years or more.
- 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 ball shaped eye at the top to which is attached a 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 16 mm disk of silver. Around the edge of the disk is an oak leaf wreath; while in its center is the Roman Numeral XX.
Reverse: The reverse of the cross is usually plain. It may, however, have a rivet hole for attaching the obverse disk.
Weight: 14.8 grams
Size: 34 mm in diameter
Type of Material: Gilded bronze or brass (Tombac)
Variations: There are several variations of this decoration:
- Type I cross: As described above
- Type II cross: A zinc cross with bronze center disk
- Type I reverse: As described above
- Type II reverse: As described above except the reverse has a rivet for attaching the obverse disk
- Type I Suspension: As described above
- Type II Suspension: As described above except with a thin flat wedge shaped eye
- Type III Suspension: As described above except with a round loop shaped eye
Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint, Vienna)
Number Issued: Unknown
Ribbon: Imperial golden-yellow with an 8.5 mm black stripe 3 mm from each edge.
- A small rectangular ribbon for this decoration sometimes issued with small attachments to indicate specific awards was introduced in October 27, 1917.
Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time when I will commence my description of the Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops, Service Cross second class issued from 1913-1918. Until then, I hope you find joy in our shared interest