Commemorative Pilot’s Badge
The Bavarian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge was authorized in 1916 by the King of Bavaria Ludwig III after Wilhelm II as the King of Prussia and the Emperor of the German Empire instituted similar Prussian decoration the same year. According to the terms of unification with Prussia, Bavaria was the only state within the German Empire that was allowed to maintain and institute its own awards that corresponded to Prussian criteria. That was exactly the case of qualification and commemorative flight badges.
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. Pilot’s Badge and Observer’s Badge but were allowed to wear only Commemorative Pilot’s Badge.
The Bavarian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge was nearly similar to a Prussian model. It had a shape of a cut-out 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. However, unlike Prussian badge, Bavarian Flieger-Erinnerungs-Abzeichen was topped by a seamless crown of the Royal Wittelsbach house. The centre of the badge carried an image of an eagle flying westwards over an undulating landscape, quite similar to that of the Pilot’s Badge.
Depending on a manufacturer, badges differed in minor details as well as in size and measured 73-74х44-
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. The Bavarian Commemorative Pilot’s Badge was worn on or below the left breast pocket 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 Royal 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 Bavarian 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 Bavarian aviators.