Military Wiki
Croix de Guerre
Awarded by  France
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Military personnel only, often bestowed to members of allied countries
Awarded for individuals who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with enemy forces.
Campaign World War I
World War II
Other wars not fought on French soil
Status Active
Description A bronze cross with swords
Established April 2, 1915
CroixdeGuerreFR-BronzePalm.png Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm (France) - ribbon bar.png

Streamer FCDG WWII.png
Croix de Guerre avec Palme ribbon bars and streamer
(1914–1918 & 1939–1945)

The Croix de Guerre (English translation: Cross of War) is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts. The Croix de guerre was also commonly bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France.[1] The Croix de guerre may either be awarded as an individual or unit award to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy. The medal is awarded to those who have been "mentioned in despatches", meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit. The unit award of the Croix de guerre with palm was issued to military units whose men performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters.


The Croix de guerre medal varies depending on which country is bestowing the award and for what conflict. Separate French medals exist for the First and Second World War.

For the unit decoration of the Croix de guerre, a fourragère (which takes the form of a braided cord) is awarded; this is suspended from the shoulder of an individual's uniform.

As the Croix de guerre is issued as several different medals, and as a unit decoration, situations typically arose where an individual was awarded the decoration several times, for different actions, and from different sources. Regulations also permitted the wearing of multiple Croix de guerre, meaning that such medals were differentiated in service records by specifying French Croix de guerre, French Croix de guerre (WWI), etc.

French Croix de guerre

There are three distinct Croix de guerre medals in the French system of honours :

Ribbon Awards
Ruban de la Croix de guerre 1914-1918.png Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (for World War I service)
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG Croix de guerre 1939–1945 (for World War II service)
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures (TOE) for wars other than World War I and World War II not fought on French soil[2]

Furthermore, the French collaborationist government created two croix during World War II. These croix are illegal and wearing them is outlawed.

Ribbon Awards
Croix de Guerre Vichy ribbon.svg Croix de guerre (Vichy France) (for World War II service)
Croix de Guerre Vichy LVF ribbon.svg Croix de guerre de la Légion des Volontaires Français (for World War II service)

The Croix was created by a law of April 2, 1915, proposed by French deputy Émile Briant. The Croix reinstated an older system of mentions in dispatches, which were only administrative honours with no medal. The sculptor Paul-André Bartholomé created the medal, a bronze cross with swords, showing the effigy of the republic.

The French Croix represents a mention in dispatches awarded by a commanding officer, at least a regimental commander. Depending on the officer who issued the mention, the ribbon of the Croix is marked with extra pins.

  • Mentioned in Despatches :
    • a bronze star for those who had been mentioned at the regiment or brigade level.
    • a silver star, for those who had been mentioned at the division level.
    • a silver gilt star for those who had been mentioned at the corps level.
    • a bronze palm for those who had been mentioned at the army level.
    • a silver palm stands for five bronze ones.
    • a silver gilt palm for those who had been mentioned at the Free French Forces level (World War II only).

French Croix de guerre des TOE

The French Croix de guerre des TOE was created in 1921 for wars fought in theatres of operation outside of France. It was awarded during the Indochina War, Korean War, and other wars up to the Kosovo War in 1999.

When World War II broke out in 1939, a new Croix de guerre was created by Édouard Daladier. It was abolished by Vichy Government in 1941, which created a new Croix de guerre. In 1943 General Giraud in Algiers created another Croix de guerre. Both Vichy and Giraud Croix were abolished by General de Gaulle in 1944, who reinstated the 1939 Croix.

The Croix de guerre takes precedence between the Ordre national du Mérite and the Croix de la Valeur Militaire, the World War I Croix being senior to the World War II one, itself senior to TOE Croix.

Unit Award

The coat of arms of Leuven, featuring a French Croix de guerre presumably to commemorate acts of heroism during the sacking of the city by Germany in 1914.

The Croix can be awarded to military units, as a manifestation of a collective Mention in Despatches. It is then displayed on the unit's flag. A unit, usually a regiment or a battalion, is always mentioned at the army level. The Croix is then a Croix de guerre with palm. Other communities, such as cities or companies can be also awarded the Croix.

When a unit is mentioned twice, it is awarded the fourragère of the Croix de guerre. This fourragère is worn by all men in the unit, but it can be worn on a personal basis: those permanently assigned to a unit, at the time of the mentions, were entitled to wear the fourragère for the remainder of service in the military.

Temporary personnel, or those who had joined a unit after the actions which had been mentioned, were authorized to wear the award while a member of the unit but would surrender the decoration upon transfer. This temporary wearing of the fourragère only applied to the French version of the Croix de guerre.

The 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment Regiment of the British Army was awarded the French Croix de guerre with palm for its gallant defence of Bois des Buttes on 27 May 1918, the first day of the Third Battle of the Aisne

United States acceptance

In the United States military, the Croix de guerre was accepted as a foreign decoration. It remains to be one of the difficult foreign awards to verify entitlement. The Croix de guerre unit and individual award were often presented with original orders only and rarely entered into a permanent service record. The 1973 National Archives Fire destroyed most of the World War II personnel records which are needed to verify a veteran's entitlement to the Croix de guerre award. However, foreign unit award entitlements can be checked and verifyed through official unit history records. Veterans must provide proof of service in the unit cited at the time of action in order to be entitled to the award. Individual foreign awards can be checked through foreign government (France) military records.

In World War II, the 320th Bombardment Group received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, April–June 1944. It was the first American unit in this war to be awarded the citation.[3] Members of the 440th AAA AW Battalion (Anti-Aircraft Artillery - Automatic Weapons) of the U.S. Army also received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (unit award) for stopping the German Ardennes counter-offensive in holding the town of Gouvy, Belgium for 412 days at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944. Gouvy is midway between St. Vith and Bastogne. Commanding Officer of the 440th, Lt. Col. Robert O. Stone, and Pfc. Joseph P. Regis, also received an individual award of the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. On June 21, 1945, French General De Gaulle presented the following citation to the 34th United States Infantry Division: "A 'division d’elite', whose loyal and efficient cooperation with French divisions, begun in TUNISIA, was gloriously continued throughout the Italian campaign, in particular during the operations of BELVEDERE when the 34th Division, despite the difficulties of the moment, displayed most courageous efforts in support of the operations of the 3rd Algerian Division. This citation bears with it the award of Croix de Guerre with Palm."

Today, members of United States 5th Marine Regiment and 6th Marine Regiment, the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, the Army's 3rd Squadron - 4th Cavalry Regiment, the Army National Guard's 369th Infantry Battalion "Harlem Hellfighters", and the Army's 1st Battalion - 28th Infantry Regiment, are authorized to wear a fourragère signifying that brigade's award of three Croix de guerre during World War I, but only while that individual is assigned to the unit. The wearing of the decoration is considered ceremonial and the fourragère is not entered as an official military award in permanent service records.

Notable recipients

Individuals in World War I

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  • Major General Charles E. Kilbourne who was also the first American to win the United States' three highest medals for bravery.
  • Millicent Sylvia Armstrong won the Croix de Guerre for bravery in rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire.[4]
  • Lt.-Gen. Sir James Melville Babington, Commander of the 23rd Division (United Kingdom)
  • Hobey Baker, an American fighter pilot.
  • Thomas A. Pope 1918 Corporal, U.S. Army; also earned the U.S. Army Medal of Honor, the British Distinguished Conduct Medal, and the Médaille militaire, for bravery displayed in Hamel, France.
  • Arthur Bluethenthal, All American football player and decorated World War I pilot.
  • Solon Hannibal de la Mothe Borglum, for work with the Les Foyers du Soldat. American Sculptor.
  • Bl. Daniel Brottier, beatus in the Roman Catholic Church; acted as a military chaplain during the war.
  • Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Melbourne and later Prime Minister of Australia, in 1917.
  • Eugene Bullard, wounded in the 1916 battles around Verdun, was awarded the Croix de guerre for his heroism. First African-American combat aviator.
  • Georges Carpentier, Aviator during the war as well as a world champion boxer.
  • Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO & Bar (August 28, 1890 – July 28, 1971) was the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II.
  • Clarkson Crane (1894–1971), American novelist, short-story writer and writing teacher, served with Section 586 of the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps from 1916 to 1919.[5] His Croix de Guerre citation from 1918 is preserved in his personal papers in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.[6]
  • Father John B. DeValles, A chaplain with the Yankee Division, he was known as the "Angel of the Trenches" for his valiant deeds in caring for both Allied and German soldiers on the battlefields of France. Fr. DeValles was injured in a mustard gas attack while attending to a fallen soldier and died two years later.
  • Otis B. Duncan, lieutenant-colonel in the 370th Infantry Regiment (United States) and highest-ranking African-American officer to serve in World War I combat.
  • Ernest Fawcus, officer in the Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Flying Corps, awarded the Croix de guerre for leading successful bombing attacks.
  • Dorothie Feilding, a British volunteer nurse awarded the Croix de guerre for bravery in the field.
  • George L. Fox, awarded the Croix de guerre for his service on the Western Front. He was also one of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives when the troopships USAT Dorchester was hit by a torpedo and sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II.
  • Robert Gauthiot, French Orientalist, linguist, and explorer, interrupted his exploration of the Pamir Mountains in July 1914 to return home to serve as a captain in the infantry. He received the Croix de guerre before he was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Artois in May 1916.
  • Erik Svend Hundertmark Danish-American private, Field Ambulance Corps 1914-17 in Northern France, was awarded the Croix de guerre with bronze palm and three silver stars.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Iremonger
  • Henry Lincoln Johnson served with the 369th Infantry Division, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters or the Black Rattlers, a regiment consisted entirely of African Americans excepting their commanding officers.
  • American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), a sergeant and intelligence observer with the 69th Volunteer Infantry, 42nd Rainbow Division, was posthumously awarded the Croix de guerre for service.
  • Henry Louis Larsen, an American Marine commanding the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines during every major battle of the war in France involving the United States.
  • Henri de Lubac, a Roman Catholic Jesuit novice serving in the Third Infantry Regiment, who was severely wounded in the head on 1 November 1917 while fighting near Verdun. He later became an influential Catholic theologian and Cardinal.
  • William March, American writer, awarded the Croix de guerre with palm.
  • Lawrence Dominic McCarthy, was also an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
  • Horace McCoy, American novelist and screenwriter.
  • Ronald G. Morrow was awarded the Croix de Guerre and subsequently added six palms and 21 stars, each star being a citation and each palm the equivalent to another Croix de Guerre.[7]
  • George S. Patton, legendary American general.
  • Waldo Peirce, American Red Cross volunteer (1918, for courage during the Vosges Hills Battle)
  • Isabel Weld Perkins, for Red Cross volunteer work.
  • Eddie Rickenbacker, Captain and flying ace of the 94th Aero Squadron, United States Army Air Service, during World War I; also recipient of the U.S. Medal of Honor.
  • James E. Rieger, Major (later Colonel), led a key attack during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
  • Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Son of President Theodore Roosevelt. Battalion commander in France.
  • Milunka Savić, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 with Palm. She is the only woman in the world awarded with this medal for service in World War I.
  • Laurence Stallings, American writer.
  • Donald Swartout, American, Jackson, Michigan, awarded French Croix de Guerre by Marshal of France Petain, for carrying important messages under machine gun fire on September 1, 1918 between Juvigny and Terny Sorny [8]
  • John Tovey, Royal Navy, later became a senior naval commander and an Admiral of the Fleet.
  • Stephen W. Thompson, aviator, was awarded the Croix de guerre with palm. He is credited with the first aerial victory by the U.S. military.
  • Ludovicus Van Iersel, Dutch-American sergeant who won the Croix de guerre twice while serving in France.
  • Edwin "Pa" Watson, served in France. Earning the U.S. Army Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre from the French government.
  • William A. Wellman, American fighter pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corp awarded Croix de Guerre with two palm leaves, 1918
  • Samuel Woodfill, an American Major who disabled several German machine-gun nests and killed many enemy combatants with rifle, pistol and pickaxe. He was awarded the French Croix de guerre.
  • Alvin C. York was awarded the Croix de guerre with bronze palm for his valor in the Battle of Meuse River-Argonne Forest near the town of Verdun, France.
  • Oliver James George (M.M), CPL East Surrey Regiment. Volunteered in September 1914, and after serving at stations in England, he was sent to France in October of the following year. There he fought at St. Eloi and Ypres, but being wounded two months later was invalided home to hospital, returning to the front in April 1916. He was in action at Messines, but at Guillemont during the Somme offensive, received a second wound which necessitated his evacuation to England. Early in 1917 he was again in action this time at Nieupoort and in November was drafted to Italy. Returning to France two months afterwards, he served at Bapaume & on the Somme during the “retreat and advance” and for conspicuous gallantry while in charge of a “mopping up” section in an operation in Menin in October, which resulted in the capture of 28 prisoners and two officers was awarded the military medal and Croix de Guerre. Also serving with the army of occupation, he was demobilised in March 1919 and holds the 1914–1918 star and general service & victory medals. REF: Page 93 - National Roll of the Great War - Z2579

Individuals in World War II

  • Władysław Anders, Polish general, commander of the 2nd Polish Corps 1943–1946.
  • Vera Atkins, assistant to head and intelligence officer of the French section of SOE.
  • John Beech Austin, Squadron Leader in RAF and SOE
  • Maurice Bambier, French politician and former Mayor of Montataire, awarded the French Croix de guerre for his services around Dunkirk.
  • Josephine Baker, American-born dancer, actress, and singer, for her work in the French Resistance.
  • Samuel Beckett, awarded the Croix de guerre by General Charles de Gaulle in March, 1945.
  • Hyman "Hank" Bergman, awarded for service fighting with Free French Forces Arno River.
  • Marcel Bigeard, highly decorated French general and veteran of World War II, French Indochina and Algeria; received both the Croix de guerre 1939–1945 and the Croix de guerre TOE with a total of 25 citations, including 17 palms.
  • Frederick Charles Bothwell, Jr., Colonel, USAAF, Awarded Croix de Guerre avec Palme for service in enemy occupied Yugoslavia. Upon retirement was appointed Director of the New York State Civil Defense Authority.
  • Phil H. Bucklew, US Sailor and "Father of American Naval Special Warfare".
  • Frederick Walker Castle, U.S. Army Air Forces general and posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Jacques Cousteau, aqualung inventor, diver and underwater film maker.
  • Lionel Guy D'Artois, a Canadian Army officer and SOE agent. Awarded the Croix de guerre for service with the Interior French Forces in occupied France.
  • Philippe Daudy, journalist and novelist.
  • Guy de Rothschild, awarded the Croix de guerre for his military valor.
  • Philippe de Rothschild, awarded the Croix de guerre for his service with the Free French Forces.
  • Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné, French colonel who participated with the Free French Forces to the East African Campaign (in Eritrea and Syria), the Tunisia Campaign, the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Operation Dragoon and the campaign of Alsace.
  • Avery Dulles, S.J., awarded the Croix de guerre for his liaison work with the French navy.
  • Frantz Fanon, awarded the French Croix de guerre by Raoul Salan for service in the French Free Forces in North Africa and Alsace.
  • Carl Gustav Fleischer, Norwegian general, who won the first major victory against the Germans.
  • Stephen Galatti, Director of AFS, American Field Service
  • Francis Grevemberg, United States lieutenant colonel, later superintendent of the Louisiana state police.
  • Thomas "Loel" Guinness, Group Captain and pilot
  • Tony Halik Polish pilot in RAF, after being the only Polish/RAF pilot shot down over France, he joined the French resistance
  • Bob Hoover – Army Air Corp pilot and USAF test pilot
  • John Howard (American actor), awarded the Croix de guerre in 1944 for his valor. When his ship struck a mine off the French coast, killing the captain, Howard took over command and fought valiantly to save his ship and crew, even jumping into the sea to rescue wounded sailors.
  • Agnès Humbert, art historian, was awarded the Croix de guerre with silver gilt palm, for heroism in her work for the French Resistance.
  • Maria Justeau French Resistant
  • Noor Inayat Khan, a wireless operator in the French section of SOE. She was flown to occupied France in June 1944 and operated until mid.October. Captured and tortured, she was eventually executed at Dachau concentration camp on 13th September 1944. Awarded George Cross posthumously.
  • Curtis E. LeMay, was awarded the French Croix de guerre with palm.
  • André Malraux French novelist, art theorist and Minister for Cultural Affairs.
  • Jean Mayer, future president of Tufts University, awarded for his courage and bravery.
  • Lt.Colonel Blair "Paddy" Mayne, British Special Air Service, Croix de Guerre with Palm. Awarded Légion d'honneur, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (U.K) four times.
  • Wayne H. Mervau, 315th Infantry, 79th Div United States Army, for meritorious action during the battle of the Forret de' Parroy, covering fire for unit, 21 Oct, 1944 wounded in action.
  • General Dragoljub Mihailovic, Serbian Chetnik leader, awarded by Charles de Gaulle.
  • Paul de Montgolfier, fighter pilot for the French Air Force
  • Audie Murphy, the most decorated U.S. Army soldier during the war, was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre avec Palme" three times and the "Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm" once, as well as the Medal of Honor.
  • Leonard W. Murray, Canadian admiral, awarded the Croix de guerre with bronze palm for his role in the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • Eileen Nearne, was a member of the UK's SOE. She served in occupied France as a radio operator under the codename "Rose".
  • John B. Oakes, future editor of the editorial page of the New York Times, awarded for his counter-espionage activities with the O.S.S.
  • Russell Roach, American Corporal of the A Company 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), awarded the Croix de guerre 1939–1945 (France) in 1944 for his bravery and valor during the Liberation of France during his campaign in Rhineland, Germany. <>
  • Marcel Oopa, Polynesian politician.
  • Peter J. Ortiz, Marine officer and member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
  • George S. Patton, U.S. Army general. Awarded for leading U.S. Third Army during the liberation of France.
  • Andree Peel(1905–2010), French member of resistance.
  • Frank Perconte, member of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
  • Col. David E. Pergrin, awarded the Croix de guerre for his help in the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Harry Peulevé, a wireless operator and organiser in the French Section of the SOE.
  • Abbé Pierre (1912–2007), French priest and founder of Emmaus.
  • Forrest Pogue US Army combat historian.
  • Prince Rainier of Monaco, long time Prince of Monaco.
  • Robert Rosenthal of the Eighth Air Force of the USAF.

Col. Jimmy Stewart being awarded the "Croix de Guerre avec Palme", in 1944.

  • Alexander Sachal, Russian artist, who joined the French Resistance, awarded the Croix de guerre for bravery.
  • Desmond J. Scott, a New Zealand fighter pilot and Group Captain who flew for the RAF. He was awarded both the Belgian and the French Croix de guerre.
  • Jan Smuts, South African Prime Minister.
  • George Reginald Starr, of the SOE.
  • James Stewart, American actor awarded the "Croix de Guerre avec Palme" in 1944 by Lt. Gen. Henri Valin, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, for his role in the liberation of France. He retired from the United States Air Force Reserve a Brigadier General.
  • Violette Szabo, a British SOE agent who was sent into occupied France. Her first mission was a success, but during her second mission she was captured and tortured. Eventually sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, she was executed on 5th February 1945 aged 23. Awarded George Cross posthumously.
  • Nancy Wake of the SOE was the highest decorated Allied servicewoman of the war. Awarded the Croix de guerre three times for service with the French maquis.
  • F. F. E. Yeo-Thomas, member of RF Section of the SOE. He was a Special Operations Executive Liaison officer working with the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action (BCRA) of the Free French forces to organise and co-ordinate resistance in both Vichy and Occupied France.
  • George Albert Robert Yull served with the RACS and won the Croix de Guerre which was given to him by General Charles de Gaulle on the day when Paris was liberated.

Other recipients

During World War I Cher Ami, a Carrier pigeon with the 77th Division, saved the lives of 194 American soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and leg, blinded in one eye, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25-mile flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for heroic service. She later died from the wounds received in battle and was enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.[9]

See also


  1. Institute of Heraldry Croix De Guerre
  2. At the time of the Algerian War, Algeria was considered part of France and war actions labelled "law enforcement operations", so soldiers were awarded the Croix de la Valeur Militaire instead of the Croix de guerre des TOE.
  3. Tannehill, Victor C. (1978). Boomerang, the story of the 320th Bomb Group. Racine, Wisconsin. ISBN 0-9605900-0-5. LCCN 79-105410. 
  4. Blackmore, Kate, 'Armstrong, Millicent Sylvia (1888–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 1 May 2012.
  5. "Clarkson Crane 1894–1971"; Gay Bears: The Hidden History of the Berkeley Campus (2002); retrieved 2012-04-18.
  6. GLBT Historical Society. "Finding Aid to the Clarkson Crane Papers (1997-46)"; website of the GLBT Historical Society; retrieved 2012-04-18.
  7. Muskegon Chronicle
  9. National Pigeon Day. "History of Cher Ami". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 

External links

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