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 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 Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Service Cross Third Class, 1867-1869, which became the Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Service Cross Second Class from 1869-1890 and finally was the Non-Commissioned Officers and Troops Service Cross First Class 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 third class class was the cross for the higher number of years served while the first class and second class were crosses given for the lesser number of years’ service. Thus the third class Service Cross for 24 years’ service and the later 2nd class cross for 24 years’ service was the higher class. This nomenclature continued for the crosses issued until 1890 when the nomenclature was revered and the 1st class became the cross for the higher number of years’ service with the classes descending accordingly. Regardless of its title this cross was always issued for 24 years service.
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 twenty-four 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 third class from 1867-1869. It was then designated the Non-commissioned officers and troops Service Cross second class from 1869 until 1890. On March 12, 1890 when the new standards for issuing service crosses were instituted this cross was then designated as the Non Commissioned Officers and troops Service Cross first Class. Regardless of its designation it was always given for 24 years’ service
- The older crosses have a loop shaped eye vertical to the body of the cross. Through this eye passes a 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 16 mm disk of silver. Around the edge of the disk is an oak leaf wreath while in its center is the Roman Numeral XXIV.
Reverse: The reverse of the cross is usually plain. It may, however, have a rivet hole for attaching the obverse disk or a screw back attachment for attaching the disk.
Weight: 10.2 grams
Size: 34 mm in diameter
Type of Material: Gilded bronze or brass and silver
Variations: There are several variations of this decoration:
- Type I cross: As described above
- Type II reverse: As described above except the reverse has a rivet for attaching the obverse disk
- Type III reverse: As described above except the reverse has a disk shaped nut for attaching the obverse disk
- Type IV reverse: As described above except with a white metal reverse
- Type II suspension: As described above except the suspender is a stylized wedge shaped eye
Manufacturer: Hauptmunzamt Wien (Imperial Mint, Vienna)
Number Issued: Unknown
Case: A maroon simulated leather case with a gold inscription Dienstzeichen (service insignia) and a decorative element. The inside of the lid is white silk and often has the maker’s logo in gold. The inner liner of the bottom of the case is black velvet and is fitted.
Ribbon: Lemon-yellow with a 9 mm black stripe 1.5 mm from each edge.
Miniature: 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 Crosses issued from 1913-1918. Until then, I hope you find joy in our shared interest