I could have sworn I had shown you this beautiful little bronze medal years ago, but it appears not, from what I can see.
Anyway, even if I have, who cares? It’s three inches in diameter, so a little smaller than these images, and was made available in Belgium in the 1930s, in both bronze & silver, to old soldiers who had received the ‘Carte du Feu’ – the Card of Fire – which was itself only awarded to those who had fought in the front lines on the Yser – the medal itself shows the inundations – during the Great War. Apart from the fact that I think it is a stunning little medal, individually named, as you can see, to Louis Elich, I am also not so sure it isn’t a bit of a con. Or at least a money-making scheme. Because these did not come for free; the recipient had to buy his medal (from whom I am unsure, but it is one reason there aren’t so many around today), and it seems perhaps a little like the television adverts where Simon Weston or some other dignitary urges you to shell out a few quid for a rare commemorative medal – and only one per household, mind. Or am I being my usual cynical self?
For more on Cartes de Fue (and Yser Crosses – they had to be paid for too) here’s a spiffing link: Golden Book of the Firecard. Worth a look. And I have just discovered, since publishing this post, a little bit about Louis, which is remarkable, as he was just one of many Belgian privates. He was from Brussels, a member of 5th Regiment Genie, in 1915 tasked with maintaining and guarding, often in view of the Germans, the temporary walkways by which troops could negotiate the inundations in the area of the Trench of Death. During their tenure of this sector his regiment lost a third of their number.
What’s more, if you would like to meet him, click here.