Last modified: 2008-12-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: aisne | itancourt | war cross | cross of war |
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The municipality of Itancourt (1,048 inhabitants in 1999; 711 ha) is located in Picardy, 10 km south-west of Saint-Quentin.
During the First World War, the village was crossed by the Hindenburg
Line, a system of fortifications set up by Generalfeldmarschall
Hindenburg (1847-1937) and Generalquartiermaster Ludendorff
(1865-1937) after the Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916); the
allied attempt of breakout failed but the Germans withdraw on 24
February 1917 on the Hindenburg Line to decrease the length of the
front. During the withdrawal, the Germans destroyed all villages,
roads etc. to protect the Line.
Completely destroyed, the village of Itancourt was rebuilt after the war and awarded on 23 October 1920 the Croix de guerre (Cross of War) 1914-1918 with palm.
Ivan Sache, 15 November 2008
On 13 November 2008, the local newspaper L'Union reported the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 Armistice in Itancourt. The village was granted a new flag, shown on a photo as a French Tricolore flag (blue-white-red) with the Croix de guerre in the middle of the white stripe and the gilded writing COMMUNE / D'ITANCOURT, above and below the Cross, respectively.
The law prescribing the Croix de guerre was adopted on 2 April 1915 and officialized on 8 April 1915. The Decree of 23 April 1915 gives the specifications of the medal, designed by the sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé (1848-1928), as follows:
The Croix de guerre prescribed by Law of 8 April 1915 shall be made of Florentine bronze of the 37 mm model, with four branches and two crossed swords. The center shows on the obverse a head of the Republic wearing a Phrygian cap and surmonted by a laurel crown and the inscription 'République française'. The center is inscribed on the reverse with '1914-1915'.
The inscription on the reverse was subsequently modified as 1914-1916,
1914-1917, and 1914-1918.
The ribbon of the Croix de guerre is green with a thin red border on each vertical edges and five vertical red stripes, 1.5 mm in width. It was originally the ribbon of the Médaille de Sainte-Hélène, awarded by Napoléon III to the veterans of Napoléon I's Grande Armée. Stars and palms were added for mentions in dispatches.
The Croix de guerre was awarded to French and Allied soldiers (including the carrier pigeon Vaillant) and civilians (for instance, chaplains and ambulance men and women), army units, navy vessels, air force squadrons and organisms (universities, prefectures...). It was also awarded to 2,952 towns and villages partially or totally destroyed during the War. When awarded to a collectivity, the Croix de guerre was always with palm.
Ivan Sache, 15 November 2008