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The Commander Cross of the Saxon Military St. Henry Order
 
Reissuing the Military St. Henry Order in 1807 went back to the orders statutes from 1768. The reason to do resulted from Saxony's new alliance with the Napoleonic France an the need to decorate and honor France's military leaders. Saxony had somehow trouble to choose the right alliance like in 1866.

Compared to its relatives the Bavarian Military St. Josef Order, the Wurttemberg Military Merit Order and of course the Prussian Pour le Mérite the Military St. Henry Order This order was certainly one of the most important Orders in Order history. This gets even more clear once looking at the total number of awards.

As all other order decorations the St. Henry Order underwent a number of design changes over time. Being manufactured in pure gold through most of its time the order was then made from gilt silver during the whole period of the First World War. His above mentioned relatives had at least been made from pure gold for the initial WWI years. The two commander cross examples shown below are prime examples for the Saxon way of saving money.

Both pieces are hollow made. This was the proper practice to save even more money besides just to switch from gold to silver. Both official licensed court jewelers followed this practice: G.A.Scharffenberg and A.Roesner.

Number of total awards during WWI for the Commander 1st class (with breast star) and 2nd class:

Year Commander 1st class (with breast star)   Commander 2nd class

1914

1 1
1915 2 19
1916 2 39
1917 3 39
1918 6 55
total 14 153

All pictures can be super sized if clicked on. Please compare the pieces by paying attention to those little differences generated from true hand manufacturing those days yet following exactly the rules set up through the orders statues. Each manufacturer had basically his own "handwriting".

above: Commander Cross made by Roesner in gilt silver  (Avers and Reverse)
above: Makers mark "R" on the lower cross arm. Also visible the seam showing the making of the hollow construction to safe even more material.

 

above: Commander Cross made by Scharffenberg in gilt silver  (Avers and Reverse)

below: The 1939 reissued statement of the awarding of the commander 2nd class of the Military St. Henry Order to Captain Paul Carl Hielscher on November 09, 1918

below: Excerpt from the book "Der Kgl. Sächsische Militär St.Heinrichs Orden 1736-1918", 1937, Oberst a.D. Georg Richter

Hielscher, Paul

Captain and leader d.K.S. Field Artillery Regiment 48; born Nov 17 1880 in Breslau; during piece time served same Regiment; honored Nov 09 1918

The enemy broke through the thin lines of the 241 Infantry Division on Oct 03, 1918, in the village of Montbrehain, north east of St.Quentin and approached close to 200 m a narrow pass at Anciem Moulin de l'Arbre Haut threatening the command post and guns of the 48 Artillery Regiment. Captain Hielscher ordered all guns into a more favorable position in order to use his long range guns for close combat from quite open positions. He earned great merit by doing this, since the attack was stopped a counterattack was launched and Montbrehain recaptured after heavy battle. He showed his bravery from a very much exposed position watching the enemy and personally lead to batteries in open fire to push the enemy including their mashine guns back. This created also the possibility to command his own artillery fire only 100 m close to the enemy.

© A. Schulze Ising, XII/03


 
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