The cross of liberation

The insignia of the Order of Liberation is the Cross of Liberation. It was designed in early 1941 by Lieutenant of the Free French Forces Tony Mella and the model produced by the London branch of the jeweller Cartier according to some recommendations from General de Gaulle himself.

Presentation of the Cross of Liberation

© Museum of the Order of Liberation

The Cross of Liberation is generally presented to recipients during a military parade.

Troops “present arms”, and the order to open proceedings is given. General de Gaulle – or the designated member of the Order – acknowledges the recipient using their rank and surname and presents them with the insignia while stating the phrase in French meaning: “We acknowledge you as our Companion for the Liberation of France in honour and victory”.

Insigna

Its characteristics are set out in the Decree of 29 January 1941, which regulates the organisation of the Order. The cross is very simple. It is a rectangular polished bronze escutcheon measuring 33 mm in height and 30 mm in width, bearing a double-edged sword 60 mm in height and 7 mm in width, extending beyond it above and below and overlain with a black Lorraine cross.

As the Order of Liberation has only a single rank, there is only one type of Cross of Liberation, although there have been models that differ slightly. The cross is worn on the left breast, just after the Legion of Honour and before the Military Medal. The first crosses were manufactured by John Pinches of London, whose stock was purchased in 1944 by the Paris Mint.

Symbolism

Symbols of battle (the sword) and Free France (Lorraine cross) can be found on the Cross of Liberation. The colours of the ribbon were chosen by General de Gaulle to express France's bereavement (black) and the hope of victory (green). It is interesting to note that the green dominates. There were two models of ribbon. The first had black diagonal stripes, in the English style, which was issued until August-September 1942. This was replaced by the definitive ribbon, which has vertical stripes.

The reverse of the escutcheon bears the Order's motto: “PATRIAM SERVANDO – VICTORIAM TULIT” (“By serving the Country, he brought Victory”).

General de Gaulle decorating General Koenig with the Cross of Liberation. Beside him Colonel Amilakvari and Lieutenant Brunet de Sairigné.
©Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération
Obverse of Pierre Brossolette’s Cross of Liberation.
©Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération
Reverse of Pierre Brossolette’s Cross of Liberation.
©Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération
London, French embassy, 14 June 1944. Raymond Basset, Michel Pichard, André Jarrot and Pierre Guilhemon have just been decorated with the Cross of Liberation by Admiral Thierry d’Argenlieu.
©Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération
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