Learning about WWI Medals

As I continue to research my Grandfather’s military service, I decided to look into which medals he was eligible to wear.  One of them would be the WWI Victory Medal. I have seen several on ebay, and decided to learn more about them.

WWI Victory Medal frontWWI Victory Medal back

(These images were taken by the author from medals in her collection.)

On the US Militia Forum I found a very informative thread about WWI Victory Medals. This thread contains detailed information for WWI researchers about World War I Victory Medals.  There are answers about the bars that are affixed (pinned) to the ribbon of the WWI Victory Medals. There are Combat Clasps (stars on each end of the bar) and Service Clasps (no stars), The dates that qualified U.S. Army Soldiers for Combat Clasps are given in the discussion posts.


From this website, I learned about which medals Joseph McMahon was entitled to wear. He was with the 51st Pioneers for the duration of his service.  Remember that your ancestor had to be assigned to that military unit on the dates of the combat to be eligible to wear that clasp.

The 51st Pioneer Infantry received the Combat Clasp for: St. Mihiel. The combat was at St. Mihiel – September 12, 1918 through September 16, 1918. There were 4 Days of Combat (DoC) at St. Mihiel involving 13 Divisions. The Battle Participation of the American Expeditionary Forces can be found at Google Books. Page 71 shows that the 51st Pioneer Infantry was involved in the St. Mihiel Offensive.

There would also have been a Service Clasp for which the 51st Pioneers would have been eligible for serving in France between April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918 (12 Divisions – References state ±621,000 issued).

There was also a WWI service from the State of New York.


(These images were taken by the author from medals in her collection.)

The book that is recommended in the posts is World War I – Victory Medals (Ed1) Paperback – July 29, 2014 by James P. Michels Jr. It sells starting at $121.31. I have not been able to locate a copy of this book in a local library.

In another post I will cover some searching techniques to find WWI military memorabilia on ebay.