Found - again
It always seems hard after a week of good weather to have heavy rain all afternoon - when I first opened the door this morning I felt it was quite pleasant, the warm dampness, but by mid-afternoon the wind was driving the really wet stuff in at the windows and I ended up staying in. Gone the days when I could enjoy simply sitting with a book for the whole time, safe in the knowledge that no-one was going to ask me to do something - I become hideously restless very soon.
That's why some things were tidied a bit today. And that's how I came to discover the Safe Place where I'd put this Italian War Merit Cross the last time I had my sitting room decorated. Before that, it had sat on the bookcase, partly out of my fear of losing it ...
I found it in a drawer when I was clearing out my parents' house to sell it. I think I'd always known it was there, along with other bits and pieces from the past and my father's RAFVR cap. He'd brought it back from the war, though quite how it came into his possession I was never sure. He spent time in North Africa - Tripolitania, Egypt - as well as Syria and Palestine, and he was at the Battle of Alamein though, as he used to tell me, he fell asleep because of the noise.
However he came to have it, this is an Italian War Merit Cross, awarded to members of the armed forces with a minimum of one year's service in contact with an enemy who received the Medal of the Wounded, or to those who, when mentioned for war merit, received a promotion. Also, if an act of valour was deemed insufficient for the Medal of Military Valour, the War Merit Cross could be awarded instead; from 1922 onwards a bronze sword on the ribbon showed this class of award.
The War Merit Cross was in bronze, 38mm wide (1-1/2 inches), with a blue ribbon. A second award was indicated by a bronze star on the ribbon. The reverse side bears a 5-pointed star on a background of rays. The obverse has the royal cypher ("VE III" under a crown) in the upper arm, "MERITO DI GVERRA" (War Merit) on the horizontal arms and a Roman sword point upwards, on oak leaves, in the lower arm. During World War II, the War Merit Cross underwent a number of significant changes.
In 1941, by decree, the War Merit Cross was replaced by the Medal of Military Valour.
Did he simply find it dropped in the desert? Was it part of a trade deal with a local? (tea for eggs was apparently A Thing) Or was there a more unpleasant background story? All lost in history now, but at least it's no longer lost to me.
I really need to keep things tidier ...