Long Service Award for officers, NCOs and other ranks was instituted on January 16, 1842 by the King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm IV in one class only. The Royal Order was published in the 4th issue of the “Military Weekly” (Militair-Wochenblatt) issued on January 22, 1842. Irreproachable service in the regular Prussian army and both classes, or grades of Landwehr (Landwehr ersten und zweiten Aufgebots) was made the compulsory condition for decoration.
Thus, NCOs and soldiers willing to be decorated with the Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung were obliged to take part in all manoeuvres and other required exercises during their military service, e.g. shooting tests and examinations for reservists (Kontroll-Versammlungen). If missed, those exercises had to be made up by participation in similar activities afterwards. NCOs and other ranks who were involved in wartime prosecution as well as those transferred to the “second class” (2.Klasse des Soldatenstandes) were considered unworthy of decoration with Long Service Award. The latter was imposed on military personnel who committed disgraceful acts discrediting their position and was punished by removal of national cockade and military decorations.
Since 1842, Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung was issued every autumn to NCOs and other ranks who reached the age of transfer from the Landwehr 2nd grade to Landsturm. It’s worth mentioning here that under no circumstances that decoration must be mentioned as “Landsturm Dienstauszeichnung Schnalle”, though it is incorrectly named as such in some sources. NCOs and other ranks discharged from the Landwehr 2nd grade were issued with appropriate certificates that had their references of good conduct mentioned, and those documents were then presented to battalion commanders of relevant Landwehr districts (Landwehrbezirk) as a good reason for Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung collection. Lists of NCOs and other ranks recognized worthy of decoration with Landwehr Long Service Award were subsequently made by battalion commanders and submitted to brigade commanders who in their turn send those documents to the War Ministry for approval. The badges themselves were stockpiled at each Army corps depot.
When issued to officers, the following criteria were taken into account: irreproachable military service in the regular Prussian army and Landwehr including impeccable performance of all duties; shooting practice skills during target practice; active participation in examinations for reservists; absence of punishments. Lists of officers recognized worthy of decoration with Landwehr Long Service Award were made by battalion commanders and after confirmation by references of good conduct signed by brigade commanders were sent to the War Ministry for approval. Finally documents were presented to the King of Prussia for the Royal approval. Applications of Landwehr officers longing for prolongation of military service after prescribed deadline were processed in the same way.
Award documents for Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnungen issued to NCOs and other ranks were signed by battalion commanders of corresponding Landwehr districts, while those for officers bore signature of the War minister.
The statute of Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung allowed it to be issued ahead of time as an exception, even during service with Landwehr 1st grade, on the grounds of exceptional merits, e.g. unsurpassed skills in target practice or particular fervor in performing duties in Landwehr district.
If lost, the badge wasn’t issued by authorities and had to be purchased by its holder from his own expenses.
Deprivation of other decorations resulted in withdrawal of Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung as well.
Landwehr Long Service Award had a shape of a horizontal rectangular bronze plate measuring 43x24 mm covered with a silk woven cornflower blue ribbon passed through a rectangular frame made of blackened iron. The central framed portion of the ribbon bore cipher of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, “F.W.” in capital Gothic letters and Roman numeral “IV.” flanked by stylized Landwehr crosses. That composition was framed on top as well as at the bottom with dotted line. All the embroidery was done in yellow thread.
According to regulations, Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung should have been sewn on to the left part of the tunic below medal bar. However, numerous non-regulation exception existed as well. Firstly, some practical veterans modified the badge by attaching a horizontal pin with catching hook to its reverse, thus facilitating its removal for tunic cleaning or fixing of the clasp to another uniform. Secondly, the badge was sometimes sewn on to the traditional pentagonal mounted blue ribbon and worn in such a peculiar way on a parade medal bar after other decorations. Another quite popular non-regulation way of wearing Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung practiced mostly by retired military personnel was modification of a clasp to a medal suspended from a blue ribbon. The clasp itself measuring 30x21 mm approximately had a fancy pendant of cut-out design made of gilt bronze with an eyelet soldered to its upper part. The blue colour of a ribbon was imitated with enamel.
Frock miniatures of the Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung to be worn on the chain with civilian attire were manufactured as well. Such clasps measuring 15-16 mm approximately were made of gilt bronze and blue enamel, while fancy pendant were solid, rather than cut-out.
The Royal Order signed by the King of Prussia Wilhelm I on July 04, 1868 (“Allerhöchste Kabinets-Ordre vom 4.Juli 1868”) divided Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung into two classes.
Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse was awarded to Reserve officers and Landwehr military doctors in officers’ ranks who voluntarily expressed their wish for further service after twelve years of active military service and consecutive minimum eight years of service with Landwehr. For all this, initial twelve years of their service should compose of three years of military service in the regular Prussian army, four years in Reserve and five years in Landwehr. Thus, total twenty years of military service was made up of compulsory twelve years (army, Reserve, Landwehr) plus additional eight years in Landwehr.
Lists of those recognized worthy of decoration with Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse were sent to the War Ministry and then presented to the King of Prussia for his approval. Award documents were signed by the War minister.
Reserve military pharmacists in the ranks of Korpsstabsapotheker, Stabsapotheker and Oberapotheker were decorated after corresponding lists were presented to Generalstabsarzt der Armee by Korpsgeneralärzte.
Unissued decorations were kept at the headquarters of the relevant Landwehr district untiul being presented to another applicant. If lost, Long Service Award wasn’t issued by authorities and had to be purchased by an officer or military doctor from his own expenses.
Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse was of the same design as the Dienstauszeichnung für Offiziere (Long Service Award for Officers) and a shape of an equilateral silver cross pattée with border and a central gilt circular medallion. Its obverse bore a cipher of Wilhelm I – intertwined letters “WR” standing for “Wilhelmus Rex”, while reverse had Roman numeral “XX” denoting twenty years of military service. The edge between upper and right arms sometimes bore hallmarks of manufacturers, e.g. Berlin-based “Sy&Wagner” (“S-W”) or “Jean Godet und Söhne” (“JG&S”), as well as silver standard.
Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse measuring 38x38 mm was manufactured of silver with gilt finish of the central medallion. Some pieces had medallion made of gilt bronze.
Decoration was worn on the left part of the breast suspended from a cornflower blue silk ribbon.
Wearing of two classes of Long Service Award was prohibited, and recipient of the 1st class had to return the clasp, i.e. Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse. However, some veterans violated statute and practiced simultaneous wearing of both decorations.
Upon demise of its holder, Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse had to be returned to headquarters of the relevant Landwehr district that subsequently sent it to the department “A” of the War Ministry (Abtheilung für Armee-Angelegenheiten A.) that was in charge of manpower record keeping.
Deprivation of other decorations resulted in withdrawal of Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse as well.
As for the decoration described initially, i.e. Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung, since July 04, 1868 it was renamed Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse, but kept its previous shape of a clasp. However, its statute had been changed. Thus, since 04.07.1868 Long Service Award, 2nd class was issued upon recommendation of commanders to officers, military doctors in officers’ ranks, NCOs and other ranks who have served irreproachably in Landwehr or Seewehr, participated in military campaign or were recalled to active military service that lasted at least three months.
It’s worth mentioning here that Seewehr, naval analogue of Landwehr, and Navy were two components of the naval forces of the North German Confederation, i.e. Norddeutsche Bundesmarine (1866-1871), predecessor of the Kaiserliche Marine (1871-1918). Prussian subjects conscripted to the Navy served three there years, then were transferred to reserve for four years and afterwards to Seewehr for five years. During the Franco-Prussian War Seewehr personnel formed volunteer crews of auxiliary cruisers that were used as privateers. The Seewehr was abolished only after the end of the Great War according to the Treaty of Versailles.
Lists of officers and military doctors in officers’ ranks who were recognized worthy of decoration with Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse were sent to the War Ministry and then presented to the King of Prussia for his approval. Lists of NCOs and other ranks were approved by commanders of Infantry brigades.
Award documents for Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse issued to NCOs and other ranks were signed by commanders of corresponding Landwehr districts, while those for officers and military doctors in officers’ ranks bore signature of the War minister.
Shortly before the Great War broke out, in 1913 Prussia implemented a reform of Long Service awards for NCOs and other ranks, introducing classical-shaped medals and abolishing clasps that were unpopular amidst military personnel. Thus, on July 04, 1913 the King of Prussia and the Emperor of the German Empire Wilhelm II instituted Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse of the second and last type in the shape of round medal. Veterans decorated with the Long Service Award in the shape of obsolete clasps were entitled to purchase new decorations from their own expenses and wear them on their uniform.
An obverse of the Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung 2.Klasse (1913 issue) had the royal Prussian crown in its center surrounded by a motto running in semi-circle in upper and lower portions: “Loyal Service” and “Reserve Landwehr” (“Treue Dienste” and “Reserve Landwehr”). Inscriptions were made in Gothic letters.
A reverse bore the full name of the decoration, i.e. “Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung II.Klasse” in four horizontal lines in Gothic letters.
Circular medal with raised border was 25,2 mm in diameter, weighed 8,5 g approximately and was made of Silver. 16 mm miniatures were manufactured as well.
Due to the shortage of copper on the closing stages of the Great War, in 1917-1918, Landwehr Long Service Award, 2nd class was manufactured of so-called “Kriegsmetall”, i.e. zinc. However, Jörg Nimmergut assumes in his five-volume catalogue “Deutsche Orden und Ehrenzeichen bis 1945” that zinc medals were produced after the WWI, in 1918-1920.
Some privately manufactured Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnungen 2.Klasse of 1913 issue were considerably bigger in diameter. Original medals were modified in such a way to put them visually on a par with other medals when worn together on a mounted medal bar. Production and wearing of such non-regulation scaled-up medals cancelled obvious difference in size between issued Landwehr Long Service Award, 2nd class and Wilhelm I Centenary Medal.