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#4386926 - 10/27/17 10:26 AM The latest addition to my Great War collection  
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Hasse Offline
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As some WOFFers here know, collecting old medals and badges is a hobby of mine, and I've specialized in stuff from the Great War days. Recently I managed to acquire a French medal group pictured below:

[Linked Image]

First on the left, there's the French army pilot's badge, type 1916. Attached on the bar, there's a Médaille Militaire of the Third Republic era (1870-1940) on the left, followed by a Croix de Guerre with palm in the middle, and finally, a Médaille commémorative de la guerre 1914–1918 with the rare Engagé Volontaire clasp on the ribbon, indicating the recipient volunteered for service in the Great War.

This small but impressive group of gongs has belonged to a French NCO pilot of the Aéronautique Militaire. Unfortunately I do not know the name of the original owner. The interesting thing about these old French pilot's badges is that they are all stamped with a so-called brevet number, unlike pilot badges of other countries of the period. All numbers were recorded and it would have been possible to find out the name of the recipient from the air force archives. Would have been, that is. Sadly, those records were lost during the Second World War, so only very few of the thousands of pilot's badges which were originally awarded to French and Allied aviators in the Great War can now be connected to names of such persons.

In any case, even though the name of the recipient will remain a mystery, I'm happy to have been able to add this group to my humble collection. If only the medals could speak! I bet they would have some interesting tales to tell. smile


"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps
#4386933 - 10/27/17 12:41 PM Re: The latest addition to my Great War collection [Re: Hasse]  
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I very fine acquisition Hasse. RAF_Louvert will be jealous biggrin

I know in Canada the service medals were stamped on the rim with the soldier's service number and batallion.

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#4386965 - 10/27/17 05:06 PM Re: The latest addition to my Great War collection [Re: Hasse]  
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carrick58 Offline
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nice finds.

#4387081 - 10/28/17 02:59 PM Re: The latest addition to my Great War collection [Re: Hasse]  
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ARUP Offline
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WOW! Those are nice!

#4387180 - 10/29/17 11:59 AM Re: The latest addition to my Great War collection [Re: Hasse]  
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RAF_Louvert Offline
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L'Etoile du Nord
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Oh Hasse, that is a fine grouping indeed and they could not have found a better home - well done Sir! But you did not mention what the serial number of the brevet is. While you are correct that the records have long since been lost you could still get a feel for when the badge may have been issued based on its 'B' series number on the reverse. Philippe Bartlett notes in his book, "Les Insignes de l'Aéronautique Militaire Française jusqu'en 1918", that a total of 17,491 pilots were brevetted by the French by the end of 1918. He further breaks this number down by years as follows: 134 in 1914, 1,484 in 1915, 2,698 in 1916, 5,609 in 1917, and 6,909 in 1918, (with an additional 657 apparently having been licensed before the war). Now since the Pillet-style official badge as you have there was issued from November 1916 onward, and if we assume that it was issued retroactively to pilots brevetted before that date, the first 4,900 or so would have been handed out at the end of 1916, with another 5,600+ in 1917 and a further 6,900+ in 1918. Keep in mind that pilots sometimes lost their badges and had to request replacements, and also keep in mind that pilots who were no longer fit to fly due to injuries or health issues were required to turn their badges back in, (though it's doubtful this happened very often if indeed at all). To add yet another element of uncertainty to the mix the badges were apparently sent out in random batches to the dozen or so flight schools across France, and there is no evidence once the schools had them that they were handed out in numerical order, (though it's likely that they were given the military mindset for organization). None-the-less, the consensus among modern day collectors of these badges is that lower numbers tend to indicate an early-war issue while higher numbers up to around 17,500 to 18,000 likely indicate a late-war issue. Badge numbers higher than about 18,000 were most probably issued after the war to newly brevetted pilots, with a possible handful being issued as replacements to Great War pilots who lost theirs at some point.

Again Hasse, that group is a superb addition to your collection, and I am just a tad green about it. winkngrin

.


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Former Cold War Warrior, USAF Security Service 1974-1978, E-4, Morse Systems Intercept, England, Europe, and points above.
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#4387189 - 10/29/17 01:22 PM Re: The latest addition to my Great War collection [Re: Hasse]  
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Hasse Offline
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Thanks gents! It's indeed a British custom to put names and numbers on such medals, Robert. Obviously that makes it very easy to identify the recipient, as long as his military records have been preserved in the archives. And as far as I know, the Americans also put names at least on some of their medals.

Excellent information about the brevet numbers, Lou. The badge I've got is numbered B 16346, which probably makes it a late war example (1917-1918).


"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps

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