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:
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.