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WWII Medals & Most decorated Soldiers

Iron Cross and WWII Medals - Stories, replicas and collectibles.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, Uniforms, Nazi Memorabilia, Collectables.

Wilhelm "Willi" Hübner - One of the youngest recipients of the Iron Cross (photos, videos)
As casualties mounted the Nazis were forced to call up ever younger conscripts to fill the ranks of the Wehrmacht. Early March 1945, the Führer Grenadier Division recaptured the town of Lauban - and cameras from Die Deutche Wochenschau were there to film this success for propaganda purposes. Willi Hübner, a 16 year old messenger in the division, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class. Later, on 20th March 1945, there was an official award ceremony in the gardens of the Reichskanzlei in Berlin for distinguished members of the Hitlerjugend. The Wochenschau footage from this event - the last known footage of Hitler - also includes Willie Hubner.
(ww2incolour-blog)

Captain Peter Neale: Royal Marine`s Military Cross sold for £3,200 to a New Zealand collector
Captain Peter Neale went to war in 1942 as an apprentice architect, and came home a decorated hero. Only now is his full story revealed, as his Military Cross medal and documents were sold for £3,200. Neale was part of a Royal Marines Commando unit, preparing for the Allied attack over the Rhine. On 3 March 1945 his group became stranded in a minefield, and 3 military engineers were badly injured. Neale crawled, searching for mines with his bayonet, until he struck one. Although injured and dazed, he ordered his men to stay still, while he felt his way back to the road, laying out tape behind him to mark out a safe passage.
(bbc.co.uk)

Is it illegal to wear military medals you haven`t earned?
(Q) There is an active trade in military medals, but is it illegal to wear them? (A) Intention is all. UK: It`s not an offence to own medals, but it is illegal under section 197 of the Army Act 1955 to pretend to be a member of the armed forces (superseded by the Armed Forces Act). Wearing any military decoration, badge or emblem without authority a criminal offence. It is illegal to wear a replica "as to be calculated to deceive", and to represent yourself as someone entitled to wear such award. US: There have been 60 cases since the Stolen Valor Act (opposed by the militaria collectors) became law in 2006.
(bbc.co.uk)

New Zealander was one of only 4 non-Soviet recipients of the Order of Lenin
A valuable medal awarded by Joseph Stalin to one of New Zealand`s little-known war heroes is part of a rare set going under the hammer at the Sotheby`s auction in London - and his nephew is appealing for help to bring it home. Wing Commander Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood (who joined the RAF because New Zealand did not have an air force) led the 151 Fighter Wing in Russia 1941-1942, helping Soviet forces stop the Nazi invasion. He won 8 medals during the war, and was one of only 4 non-Soviet recipients of the Order of Lenin.
(nzherald.co.nz)

Günther Rall: Last German ace and holder of the Knight`s Cross with Swords
Germany`s only surviving WWII ace is to travel to UK to meet with RAF Battle of Britain heroes. Günther Rall is thought to be the last-surviving holder of the Knight`s Cross with Swords, Third Reich`s highest award for valour. He was presented with the medal from Adolf Hitler who he met 3 times on acocunt of his exploits in shooting down 275 Russian, British and American planes. General Rall became Germany`s first postwar head of the Luftwaffe. His Viennese wife Hertha came under the Gestapo probe because she helped Jews escape to Britain after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. "Many RAF fliers became my friends after the war. They were all gentlemen of the skies."
(austriantimes.at)

German trying to export Order of the Red Star medal detained
A German man has been detained in Rostov for trying to take a World War II-era Soviet medal out of the country. Customs officials discovered the Order of the Red Star medal while examining the German man`s baggage as he was preparing to board a flight Frankfurt. Under the law, the Order of the Red Star medal is a cultural and historical treasure and therefore cannot be taken out of the country. The unidentified German man said he had bought the medal at a market.
(themoscowtimes)

Fashion Week founder defends models in military medals
Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock says a NZ fashion designer did not mean to disrespect servicemen by decking out models in war medals. Kate Sylvester sent pouting models down a Sydney catwalk in mock-military garb as part of her "Royally Screwed" show. Derek Robson says images of the Australian Vietnam War Medal, the UN Service Medal for Korea, the Crimean War Medal and the World War 2 Allied Service Medal hanging over models` bare thighs is "inappropriate, irreverent and distasteful The use of medals - facsimiles, replicas or otherwise is inappropriate."
(abc.net)

In search of Rudolf Hess`s Iron Cross medal   (Article no longer available from the original source)
On May 10, 1941, Rudolf Hess flew alone to Britain and landed in Scotland, creating a mystery that`s still debated. The Nazis were embarrassed and disowned Hess. The British deemed him insane and locked him up. Crazy or not, Hess was a brave man. Serving as an infantryman in World War I, he`d won Germany`s highest award for heroism, the Iron Cross (second class). And that`s where Walter Campbell, a quartermaster sergeant with the Royal Canadian Artillery during World War II, comes into the picture. He was in Scotland at the time and went to the crash site, looking for a souvenir.
(thechronicleherald)

War hero`s George Cross fetches €63,000 - Record for any George Cross
A George Cross group of eight granted to an army officer who served in Malta during World War II broke records when it was sold at an auction, bringing in 63,124 euros. The auction of the cross of eight awarded to Brigadier William Eastman in 1940 set a new world record for any George Cross. The medal had been awarded for "most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out very hazardous work." Brigadier Eastman and a fellow officer, Captain Jephson Jones (who also got the medal), rendered safe 275 unexploded bombs in Malta in 1940 when it was under attack from the Italians.
(timesofmalta)

Bid to restore Iron Cross awakens Germany`s angst
Georg Martin got the Wound Badge in Silver for the 3 times he was badly wounded during WWII, as well as an Iron Cross for fighting as part of a machine gun crew in the Battle of Kharkov. In fact, he has 2 of each of them. On the national memorial day (Volkstrauertag) he puts on replicas he bought. In a file where he keeps copies of his military records, sit the originals, bearing the swastika of the Third Reich. The history of the Iron Cross, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, dates to 1813 and the Prussian War of Liberation against Napoleon, but the Nazi history that takes precedence.
(iht)

Germany discusses return of the Iron Cross - Too burdened by Nazi past
Ernst-Reinhard Beck, leader of German military reservists and member of parliament, has called for the reintroduction of the Iron Cross. But some say the medal has too much nazi past. When it was introduced in the 1800s, the Iron Cross was meant to reward soldiers for heroism on the field of battle. It was a medal not much different from the Congressional Medal of Honor granted to US soldiers. But in World War II, the medal came to symbolize the Nazis, and after the war it disappeared. Today there is an "honor cross" for very loyal soldiers, but courage on the battlefield goes unrewarded in the Bundeswehr.
(spiegel)

The daughters of Charles Upham want medals in a vault and replicas on display
The daughters of NZ war hero Charles Upham want his military medals locked in a vault and replicas put on show at the Army Museum in Waiouru. Upham`s 2 Victoria Crosses were among 96 historical medals returned after robbers gave them back to authorities. However, the army wants the medals back on display. "New Zealanders should be able to see the original medals..." says Major General Lou Gardiner. Virginia McKenzie did not want to see her father`s historical medals put at risk again after learning that overseas replicas were displayed. "People from overseas couldn`t believe we didn`t have replicas. They were saying they should be kept in a vault."
(stuff)

Hunt continues for the 96 stolen war medals - Waiouru Army Museum
It has been 4 weeks since a smash and grab at the Waiouru Army Museum robbed the nation of its most valuable treasures. And the hunt for the 9 Victoria Crosses is now concentrated on one car. The theft broke the nation`s heart as 96 war medals were snatched in 3 minutes - among them the VC and bar of NZ`s most famous soldier Charles Upham. "It`s disgraceful, it`s beyond belief... but it`s a shame to all New Zealanders not just to us," Upham`s daughter Amanda Upham says. A 40-strong team has combed the museum`s grounds and security footage for clues. Collector Lord Ashcroft is offering a $200,000 for information resulting the safe return of the 9 Victoria Crosses.
(tvnz)

Siberian Cross for surviving deportation to Siberia
Richard Miron has welcomed the Siberian Cross from the Polish government in acknowledgement of surviving deportation to Siberia. By coincidence on the same day of the presentation, December 16, his father in Bialystok was arrested in 1939 by the Russian occupiers. Soon after his family were carted in cattle carriages to work in Siberia. Through willpower, quick thinking, bravery and luck the family made it - their father did not. At ceremony the honorary Polish consul granted the Siberian Cross to 6 survivors of Siberia. "Hitler used gas and the concentration camps and Stalin just used starvation."
(stuff)

Vet declines Air Medal: Already has one with with 3 Oak Leaf clusters   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the beginning, the Air Medal ceremony at Austin American Legion Post No. 91 was the talk of the town. It has been called off because World War II hero Donald Kofron has the Air Medal and doesn’t need another. "I have the Air Medal and I’m proud of it. I wear it proudly when I put on my uniform. I have one with three Oak Leaf clusters and I don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything like that, but I told them they were making a mistake." ... "(originally) they told me it was going to be the Distinguished Flying Cross and that’s what I told others. ... When I learned it was a medal that I had already received, I decided I couldn’t accept that."
(austindailyherald)

$18,000 for the Knight`s Cross with oak leaves and swords
Clive Palmer has paid $18,000 for a Nazi medal at an auction in Brisbane. Only 150 of the Knight`s Cross with oak leaves and swords were awarded to German officers during World War II. "I don`t believe it is a lot of money because it`s equivalent to the VC in our award history and the VC will sell for over half a million dollars... Certainly in Germany there was only 150 awarded of the 170 that were made. Of those about 50% were lost in the aftermath of World War II so it`s a very rare medal." A signed copy of Deutschland im Kampf by Adolf Hitler sold for $4100. A 16th century Japanese sword sold for $9500, while a Japanese pilot`s sword from WWII fetched $5500.
(abc.net)

Matt L. Urban: tied with Audie Murphy for the most decorations in WWII
WWII hero Audie Murphy got his own U.S. stamp. Buffalo`s most decorated war veteran Matt L. Urban should get a stamp too, say organizers of a petition drive. The Polish American Congress argues that Urban and Murphy - both U.S. Army veterans - are the two most decorated WWII veterans. Murphy`s face was put on a stamp, and the group wants Urban to get the same honor. As a lieutenant colonel in charge of an infantry battalion, Urban was shot 7 times, once in the throat. He killed 116 German soldiers from machine gun nest in one day. Urban was granted the Medal of Honor for several times risking his life beyond the call of duty.
(hnn.us)

The RAF’s most decorated World War II gunner - Wallace McIntosh
Tributes were paid after the death of a WW2 airman Wallace McIntosh who had become the RAF’s most decorated gunner - cheating death during his 55 sorties as a rear gunner in Bomber Command’s 207 Squadron. He is believed to hold the record for the most enemy kills, with 8 confirmed hits during bombing raids 1943-1944. On one mission he shot down 3 German fighter planes, a record, as his Lancaster bomber carried out a raid on German battle tanks during the D-Day advance. He received a telegram from Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, one of only 3 signed by the commander. He was awarded twice the Distinguished Flying Cross.
(timesonline)

Collection of 35 rare Japanese medals auctioned in UK
A collection of 35 sought-after Japanese medals, orders and decorations far exceeded estimates when they were sold at Sotheby`s in London. Highlights in the sale included an extremely rare breast star of the Order of the Golden Kite, awarded to senior officers for exceptional bravery in action, and a noted breast badge of the Order of the Sacred Crown. The Order of the Golden Kite was the star of the sale fetching a 5,750 pounds when it was bought by the New York coins and medals dealers, Stacks. Having been bought for just $20 back in 1913, the sale of the rare breast star marked a staggering return.
(japantimes.co.jp)

Daring wartime airman’s medals and military insignia up for sale
Medals and military insignia, including 4 Distinguished Service Orders, belonging to one of World War II’s finest airmen are expected to fetch up to £180,000. Sir Basil Embry’s dedication was so great that, when grounded by RAF because he was overworked, he took on the pseudonym "Wing Commander Smith" to ensure that he flew in some of the war’s most daring raids. Sir Basil was also famed for evading capture after being shot down over France while protecting the British Army during the Dunkirk retreat. Sir Basil, who became Air Chief Marshal, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
(timesonline)

Collectors of American Military Medals Hear "Death Knell"
The Stolen Valor Act placed penalties on those who falsely claim to have risked their lives in the military and to have been awarded medals. After the bill was introduced some looked at the language spelling out how the law would accomplish its purpose. They were horrified: A literal reading would ban all sales of military medals. It outlawed the wearing of medals by those not authorized to do so, and the buying and selling by everyone except the original recipient of all medals and badges. "The law sounded pretty much a death knell for collectors of military medals," said Darrell English, who has a over 10,000 piece collection of World War II memorabilia.
(maineantiquedigest)

A war memorabilia collection including Nazi medals stolen
A war memorabilia collection including distinctive Nazi medals have been stolen in Warwickshire. A silver German Mothers Cross, with distinctive Nazi symbols and given to women who bore six to seven children during World War II, was taken in the burglary on 24 August. Also taken were wound medals given German soldiers who were injured in combat along with cap badges from British and German soldiers.
(bbc)

The Jew with the Iron Cross - Wehrmacht in the Eastern Front   (Article no longer available from the original source)
"The Jew with The Iron Cross" - A Record of Survival in WWII Russia by Georg Rauch, recounts his experiences fighting for the Wehrmacht in World War II. He was precluded from participating in the Hitler Youth, and so was marked for life as something less than a full and proper member of the Third Reich. Rauch was struggling to survive gunfire, bombs, harsh weather and starvation. During his time on the front, he wrote a steady stream of letters home, many of which were saved and are reprinted here.
(kirkusreviews)

Hollywood war heroes of WWII - 18 stars received 70 medals
18 movie stars received 70 military medals including: the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. David Niven: Served as a lieutenant colonel and a commando during the D-Day invasion. Charles Durning: Served as a U.S. Army Ranger during the D-Day invasion. George C. Scott: Was a decorated U.S. Marine in World War II. Robert Ryan: Enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served in the O.S.S. in Yugoslavia in World War II.
(winkmartindale.com)

Historians hunt for WWII Purple Heart stories
Cpl. Robert Frink was captured in Germany during the final months of World War II. He and two comrades were forced to swap uniforms with their Waffen SS captors, lined up and shot in the back of the head. Miraculously, the bullet entered Frink`s neck and exited his cheek. He even felt a German kick him as he lay bleeding. "Believe me, I played dead!" After his captors left, Frink fled, found some Canadian troops, and was saved. The wound earned him a Purple Heart. 61 years later, it is earning him an entry on the "Roll of Honor," a database being compiled for a museum honoring Purple Heart recipients.
(usatoday)

Ghouls loot war graves and battlefields for WW2 militaria like medals, helmets
Thieves are looting graves of German soldiers killed in Second World War and selling body parts on the internet. The ghouls are digging up Russian battlefields where many of the two million dead are buried in hope of a WW2 militaria. And a sinister black market has grown on US auction websites for military uniforms, medals, bones and even helmets with the skulls still inside.
(dailyrecord)

Burma campaign ignored: The rarest service medal for Canadians   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Of all the WWII service medals, The Burma Star is arguably the rarest for Canadians. Of nearly one million Canadians who wore their country`s uniform, only some 7,000 served in the Burma theatre. Burma vets have always been forgotten, not only by the public, but by the media, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), and now by the new Canadian War Museum. Most people haven`t a clue what The Burma Star looks like. They know about medals awarded for service in Italy, the Africa Star, Atlantic Star, even the Pacific star. But The Burma Star with its red core flanked by dark blue and gold stripes is largely unknown.
(torontosun)

Vets of WWII to receive highest award France bestows
It is the highest award France bestows. The Legion of Honor, created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate extraordinary contributions to the country, has been awarded to the explorer Jacques Cousteau and General George S. Patton. In a ceremony steeped with tradition and run with military precision, 18 New England veterans will be honored for helping liberate France during World War II. "France is very grateful for what they have done," Francois Gauthier, the consul general in Boston.
(boston)

Family offered more than $1m for Victoria Cross   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A world record price of more than $1 million has been offered for the double Victoria Cross awarded to New Zealand military hero Charles Upham during World War Two. Only three people have been awarded two Victoria Crosses, which is likely to make it very attractive to collectors. Captain Upham`s is the only one awarded to a combat soldier.
(.stuff.co.nz)

The Nazis: A lucrative industry of Nazi militaria and memorabilia
The trade in German WW2 militaria is an international, multi-million dollar business involving dealers and collectors from countries across the world. Although 3 European countries (France, Germany and Austria) have banned the sale or display of such material, the appetite for it remains as strong as it has ever been. One U.S.-based site is offering a full Nazi camp Jewish prisoner`s uniform, at $1,275. While site based in UK, has a catalogue containing a Nazi battle flag ($333) and a Knight`s Cross of the Iron Cross ($5,449). Prices for truly rare collectable items - an SS Honour dagger - can sell for tens, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.
(cnn)

A Navajo warrior who earned 28 medals dies
Samuel N. Blatchford, great-great-grandson of Navajo war chief Manuelito and decorated war hero with service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, died. To say that he qualified for that military honor is an understatement. His military service included: # Working with the French Resistance until his capture by the Gestapo. # Serving as a radio operator and gunner on a B17 Flying Fortress in Europe and getting shot down four times. # Numerous escape attempts from Stalag 17-B. Blatchford earned 28 medals, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, four Purple Hearts, six Air Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal.
(Star-Tribune)

Nazi Documents, Medal belonged to Adolf Hitler Stolen From Moscow Exhibition   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Valuable exhibits, including soldiers’ papers and a military decoration that belonged to Adolf Hitler, were stolen from the Moscow-based Federal Archives that is hosting an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany.
(MoscowNews)

Fury at Arctic convoy emblem plan - Only Medal counts
The leader of a fight for a campaign medal for veterans of World War II Arctic convoys is furious at plans to award them a special emblem instead. Prime Minister announced the plans for the veterans, who ferried vital supplies to Russia during the war. Cdr Eddie Grenfell labelled it "the most dreadful thing that has ever happened to veterans. The only way that a campaign will go down in history is by a medal - a badge means nothing." But other survivors appeared happier. During the convoys, merchant ships were escorted by the Royal Navy through U-boat-dominated waters, in freezing conditions, to take war materials to Russia.
(bbc)

Soviet World War II Awards of Great Patriotic War
Soviet officers and soldiers displayed great heroism during the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, and virtually every man and woman regardless of rank was decorated for bravery. Recommendations continuously arrived in Moscow from the front. In the midst of bloody battles, when critical situations arose time and again, a number of award recommendations were either lost on the front or later in archives. The Russian state has not yet fulfilled its sacred duty to its war heroes. In all, 1.5 million wartime awards still have to be presented.
(RIA Novosti)


See also:
Medal of Honor
Victoria Cross
Uniforms
Nazi Memorabilia, Collectables.