Crucea “Trecerea Dunării”

Trans-Danube Cross, a.k.a. Crossing of the Danube Cross

Crucea “Trecerea Dunării” was instituted on March 23, 1878 by the High Decree No.617 (Înaltul Decret nr.617/1878) of the Domnitor (prince) of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia Carol I in commemoration of the Romanian war of independence (Războiul de Independenţă a României), i.e. military campaign against the Ottoman Empire (1877-1878).

According to a treaty signed in Bucharest on April 16, 1877 Russian troops were allowed to pass through the territory of principalities via newly built Eiffel bridge in Ungheni and cross Danube provided Russia respected Romanian integrity. About 120,000 Romanian soldiers were concentrated in the southern border ready to defend their country against an eventual attack of the Ottoman Empire from the south of the Danube. Romanians entered heavy fighting in August 1877 and took part in the conquest of Plevna after which returned to the Danube and won the battles of Vidin and Smârdan. Romania finally gained its independence from the Porte after the Ottoman Empire requested an armistice on January 19, 1878 following an ultimate victory of the Russian-led coalition. The Central Powers recognized independence of Romania under the Treaty of Berlin on July 13, 1878.

Crucea “Trecerea Dunării” was issued to military personnel, civilian officials, civilian medics and sanitary corps as well as to allied Russian officers, NCOs and other ranks.

Decoration has a shape of a 43x43 mm cross crosslet, or Cruce repetată each arm being 6 mm long. Thus its design was based on a central element of the badge of an Order of the Star. The cross has wide plain edging and pebbled surface. A round medallion is superimposed on the centre of a cross.

An obverse of a central medallion bears crowned cypher of the Domnitor Carol I. A reverse has a date “1877” in its centre encircled by an inscription “Crossing of the Danube” (“Trecerea Dunării”) in capital letters.

The cross was made of nielloed steel, privately purchased pieces of silver are known to exist as well. Miniatures of the decoration of various sizes, from 12 to 18 mm were manufactured for wearing with civil attire.

Initially Trans-Danube Cross was instituted in two versions that differed only by the color of a silk ribbon, viz. for combatants and for civilians. Thus the former was dark red with two wide black stripes while the latter was black with two thin dark red stripes along the edges.

A Royal decree No.3870 signed by the King Carol II on October 27, 1939 (Decretul Regal nr.3870) authorized wearing of a decoration by the eldest male heir of its original holder provided an aspirant was an officer on active military service. In that case a special horizontal clasp with inscription “Tradition” (“Tradiţie”) was attached to the ribbon of a Trans-Danube Cross.

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