Prussian Long Service Award of the second and last type was instituted by the King of Prussia Wilhelm II on July 04, 1913 in three classes. Those decorations replaced previous type of the Long Service awards in the shape of a clasp (Schnalle) introduced as far back as on June 18, 1825 by the then Prussian ruler Friedrich Wilhelm III. However, it’s worth mentioning here that 1913 issue medals differed from original awards not only in shape, but in presentation criteria. Thus, three classes of the latter were awarded to Prussian enlisted personnel and NCOs for 21, 15 and 9 years. Veterans decorated with the Long Service Award of the 1825 issue were entitled to purchase new decorations from their own expenses and wear them on their uniform.
Dienstauszeichnungen 2.Modell (1913) were awarded to military active duty enlisted personnel and NCOs for nine, twelve and fifteen years of service upon recommendations issued by commanding officers. While Long Service Awards were commonly issued to Prussian NCOs who served for a long time, some lower ranks were also eligible for those decoration. Thus, some ranks of enlisted personnel (Mannschaften) decorated with the Long Service Award, 3rd and 2nd Classes were as follows: Gefreiter, Obergefreiter (in foot artillery), Krankenträger, Militär-Bäcker, Traingemeiner or Gemeiner, Handwerker des Trains, Ökonomiehandwerker and Spielleute, i.e. drum and fife musicians. Those soldiers could still be enlisted personnel without promotion to NCOs even after nine, and in certain cases twelve years of military service.
It’s worth stressing here once again that officers were not eligible for decoration with the Dienstauszeichnungen, that were reserved for enlisted ranks and NCOs only (“für Mannschaften und Unteroffiziere”). Thus, presence of Long Service medals on some officer’s or military official’s bars indicate their holders’ promotion to officer’s position or its equivalent from lower ranks. In such cases commissioned military personnel continued to wear proudly their enlisted Long Service decorations.
System of army service counting worth to be mentioned here. Calendar time was applied for active military service in the army or navy units within Prussia in peacetime. Before the Great War, participation in any war Prussia fought against its enemies was calculated on preferential basis, i.e. one month of service was counted as two. Same rule applied to the period of service in overseas territories, e.g. in German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). Thus, those who served somewhere in the Black continent were eligible for decoration with Dienstauszeichnung 3.Klasse after 4,5 years of colonial service only. Naval personnel who sailed overseas beyond German home waters enjoyed the same calculation.
During the years of the WWI military service calculation became more sophisticated and, even though each year doubled, possibility of being decorated with the Long Service Award depended on status of particular officer, NCO or enlisted rank (regular soldier, draftee or volunteer).
As the Great War broke out, decorations with Long Service Awards were discontinued, but Prussian Orders Chancellery (Preussische Ordenskanzlei) decided to resume the practice after the German victory. Nevertheless, despite bitterness of defeat Long Service Awards were issued for quite a short period of time, from November 1918 until February 01, 1920.
According to statute of that decoration, only one Long Service Award could be worn, so NCO or soldier had to replace his Dienstauszeichnung 3.Klasse with that of the 2nd class for twelve years of military service, and finally medal of the 2nd Class with the cross of the highest class. Moreover, medal itself of the previous class had to be returned, and serviceman had the right to keep an award document only. Nevertheless, this once strict rule was disregarded in the post-war Weimar Republic, and portraits of decorations-hungry veterans sporting two, and sometimes even three Long Service Awards are not uncommon.
It’s worth mentioning here that the rule of wearing only one Long Service decoration for active duty never applied to Landwehr medals, that could be worn together with army/navy Dienstauszeichnungen if earned for separate service.
An obverse of the Long Service Award, 3rd Class (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 Under the Colours” (“Treue Dienste bei der Fahne”). Inscription was made in Gothic letters.
A reverse had ascetic design with just Roman numeral “IX” representing nine years of military service.
Circular medal was 30 mm in diameter, weighed 14,7 g approximately and was made of Neusilber, or Argentan, a silvery copper alloy with nickel and zinc. 16 mm miniatures made of silvered nonmagnetic alloy were manufactured as well.
An obverse of the Long Service Award, 2nd Class (1913 issue) was the same as that of the 3rd Class. A reverse had a Roman numeral “XII” representing twelve years of military service.
Circular medal was 30 mm in diameter, weighed 14,3 g approximately and was made either of bronze or Tombak, a brass alloy with copper and zinc content. 16 mm miniatures made of yellow nonmagnetic alloy were produced as well.
Long Service Award, 1st Class (1913 issue) had distinctive shape of an equilateral Teutonic cross with three borders and a central circular medallion. Its obverse bore an image of the royal Prussian crown, and reverse had Roman numeral “XV” standing for fifteen years of active military service.
The cross measuring 35,7х35,7 mm and weighing 14 g approximately was manufactured of bronze, copper, Kriegsmetall, i.e. zinc and zinc with copper finish. 16 mm miniatures of the Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse were produced as well.
Prussian Long Service Awards were worn on the upper left part of the tunic suspending from a 32-35 mm wide blue silk ribbon. No clasps were authorized, but miniature crosses were eventually attached by veterans to ribbon bars of the Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse to distinguish them from plain ribbons of 2nd and 3rd Class Long Service awards.