The Prussian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge was instituted in 1916 by the King of Prussia and the Emperor of the German Empire Wilhelm II. It’s worth mentioning that the decoration being discussed here has nothing in common with the so-called “Air Service Commemorative Badge” (Fliegerdienst-Erinnerungsabzeichen, a.k.a. Flieger-Erinnerungsabzeichen), a controversial badge which existence is still widely disputed.
According to the Army Regulations (Armee-Verordnungsblatt) No.8 that were published on January 15, 1916, Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen was issued to retired pilots and observers who had completed three years of air service and no longer conducted active flight duties or had been injured. Above mentioned aviators enjoyed the right to retain their qualification badges, i.e. Army Pilot’s Badge and Army Observer’s Badge but were allowed to wear only Commemorative Pilot’s Badge.
The Prussian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge had a shape of a vertical oval with an outside perimeter surrounded by a wide wreath. Its left side had laurel leaves symbolizing victory and its right side had oak leaves standing for strength and hardiness. Both were joined together with a ribbon bow at the bottom thus signifying combination of those two qualities. Imperial crown topped the badge. Unlike qualification badges for active Prussian aviators, Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen had a cut-out design. The centre of the badge carried an image of an eagle flying westwards over an undulating landscape, quite similar to that of the Army Pilot’s Badge ССЫЛКА. Depending on manufacturer, badges differed in minor details as well as in size and measured 69-72х45 mm.
Issued badges were most often stamped of silver Buntmetall, while privately purchased hollow two-piece or single massive badges of superior quality were made of silver. Slightly smaller and highly popular at the beginning of the XXth century “Prinzengröße” (47х31 mm) versions of the badge and miniatures were produced as well.
The Prussian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge was worn on or below the left breast pocket lower than the Prussian Iron Cross 1st Class and was attached to a tunic with a vertical pin soldered to its reverse.
Contradictory to the common Weimar-era sentiments, Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen in its original design, i.e. with the outlawed Imperial crown was awarded even after the Great War, thus allowing veteran aviators to obtain just reward and collect their long desired commemorative decoration. Army Regulations (Armee-Verordnungsblatt) of December 30, 1920 stipulated that the Prussian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge would be issued up to January 31, 1921 upon presentation of a documented proof. The badges were produced by the original manufacturers until the end of the WWII and were available for private purchase by former aviators.
The exact number of issued Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen remains unknown but apparently they were not as numerous as qualification badges for active Prussian aviators.