Medals & Badges

Around the World

WW2 medals were typically given for specific gallant acts or valor, as well as for service in a particular war or campaign. Medals and awards, in general, serve to reinforce concepts of what it is to be a citizen, to be a member of a social group, or to be a member of the armed forces. But they also serve more than just the needs of the nation, they are deeply meaningful in that they exist to represent the sacrifices and achievements of individuals above and beyond that which is expected. In general, statistics show that the distribution of combat decorations for all nations, was done in a largely unbiased manner; those that received combat awards deserved them. Their valor was matchless, their deeds recognized by grateful nations.

  •   Australia
  •   Canada
  •   Free France
  •   Germany
  •   New Zealand
  •   Poland
  •   United Kingdom
  •   United States
  •   USSR
Australian War Medal

Australia entered World War II shortly after the invasion of Poland, declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939. By the end of the war, almost a million Australians had served in the armed forces, whose military units fought primarily in the European theatre, North African campaign, and the South West Pacific theatre. In addition, Australia came under direct attack for the first time in its post-colonial history. Its casualties from enemy action during the war were more than 27,000 killed and and over 23,000 wounded.

[ View Australia WW2 Medals & Badges ].

Memorial Cross

The Second World War officially began on 1 September 1939, with the German invasion of Poland. Britain and France declared war on the Nazi Third Reich, two days later, on 3 September 1939. Seven days later, on 10 September 1939, Canada likewise declared war on Germany, the country's first independent declaration of war and the beginning of Canada's participation in the largest combined national effort in its history. By the war's end, over 1 million citizens would serve in military uniform (out of a prewar population of 11 million) and Canada would possess the fourth-largest air force and fifth-largest naval surface fleet in the world.

[ View Canada WW2 Medals & Badges ].

Croix de Guerre

Free France and its Free French Forces (France Libre and Forces françaises libres) were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War and its military forces that continued to fight against the Axis powers as an Ally after the fall of France. It was set up in London in June 1940 and also organised and supported the Resistance in occupied France. De Gaulle, a French government minister who rejected the armistice concluded by Marshal Philippe Pétain and had escaped to Britain, exhorted the French to resist in his BBC broadcast "Appeal of 18 June" (Appel du 18 juin), which had a stirring effect on morale throughout France and its colonies.

[ View Free France WW2 Medals & Badges ].

German Russian Front Service Medal (Ostmedaille)

Under the leadership of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazi Party, grew into a mass movement and ruled Germany through totalitarian means from 1933 to 1945. Founded in 1919 as the German Workers' Party, the group promoted German pride and anti-Semitism, and expressed dissatisfaction with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the 1919 peace settlement that ended World War I (1914-1918) and required Germany to make numerous concessions and reparations. Hitler joined the party the year it was founded and became its leader in 1921. In 1933, he became chancellor of Germany and his Nazi government soon assumed dictatorial powers. After Germany's defeat in World War II (1939-45), the Nazi Party was outlawed and many of its top officials were convicted of war crimes related to the murder of some 6 million European Jews during the Nazis' reign.

[ View German WW2 Medals & Badges ].

New Zealand War Service Medal

New Zealand declared war on Germany at 2130 on 3 September 1939, thus entering World War II. New Zealand assisted Britain, as New Zealanders still felt loyal to their 'mother country'. New Zealand provided men for service in the British Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The New Zealand Royal Navy was placed at Britain's disposal, and new bombers waiting in the United Kingdom to be shipped to New Zealand were made available to the Royal Air Force. The New Zealand Army contributed the New Zealand 2nd Division to the war.

[ View New Zealand WW2 Medals & Badges ].

Poland Medal of Victory and Freedom 1945

The European theatre of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939 and the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. The Polish Army was defeated after over a month of fighting. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile (headquartered in Britain), armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland. These organizations contributed to the Allied effort throughout the war. The Polish Army was recreated in the West, as well as in the East (after the German invasion of the Soviet Union). Poles provided crucial help to the Allies throughout the war, fighting on land, sea and air.

[ View Poland WW2 Medals & Badges ].

British Distinguished Flying Cross

When the United Kingdom (UK) declared war on Nazi Germany at the outset of World War II, it controlled, to varying degrees, many crown colonies, protectorates across the world and the Indian Empire. The UK also maintained unique political ties to four independent dominions: Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. The fifth dominion at the time, Ireland, remained neutral throughout the war. The cooperation between the countries of the British Commonwealth (a name popularised during World War I, which became official after the Balfour Declaration of 1926), in terms of personnel and materiel was critical to the war effort.

[ View United Kingdom WW2 Medals & Badges ].

Bronze Star

The military history of the United States' involvement in World War II covers the war against Japan, Germany and Italy starting with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. During the first two years of the global conflict, the United States had maintained formal neutrality, while supplying Britain, the Soviet Union, and China with war material through the Lend-Lease Act which was signed into law on March 11, 1941, as well as deploying the U.S. military to replace the British invasion forces in Iceland (for early U.S. combat activity in the Pacific Theater, see the Flying Tigers). During the war, over 16 million Americans served in the United States Armed Forces, with 290,000 killed in action and 670,000 wounded.

[ View United States of America WW2 Medals & Badges ].

Combat Service Medal

The conflict on the Eastern Front, fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945, was the greatest, most costly, and most brutal conflict on land in human history. It was arguably the single most decisive factor of the war, and shaped the postwar world as we know it. Germany began World War II with a non-aggression pact with the USSR. After signing it they quickly invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Soviet troops entered Poland on 17 September and also fought a peripheral war with Finland from November 1939 to March 1940. The bulk of Soviet fighting took place on the Eastern Front—including a continued war with Finland—but it also invaded Iran (August 1941) in cooperation with the British and late in the war attacked Japan (August 1945).

[ View Soviet WW2 Medals & Badges ].