Vierdaagse Cross 1909 – 1958

With only very minor variations, the design of the cross was consistent throughout this period.  From 1959 the letters on the arms changed from NBVLO to KNBLO to reflect the bestowal of the title ‘Royal’ (Koninklijke) the previous year.

All crosses were made by Koninklijke Begeer of the South Holland town of Voorschoten.

Bronze Cross: first and second successful march

Type awarded before 1940. Made of gilded bronze.  Awarded without a crown for the first successful march.  For the second year a separate gilded bronze crown was awarded for attachment to the suspension of the first year cross.

Obverse. As shown, although there were minor variations in the style of the letters on the arms of the cross.

Reverse. Prior to 1940, this was plain.  Many crosses were stamped with the maker’s name ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Ribbon numbers. Bronze gilt numbers were attached to the ribbon for a third and fourth successful march.

Cross from the first March of 1909 in bronze gilt.

This cross, engraved on reverse upper arm with the year of the first march (1909), confirms that the broad design of the cross has remained the same over the years.

The cross has no maker's mark and is stamped 'BRONS' on the reverse.

The central shield has been manufactured separately and attached to the cross, a feature of crosses from the early marches.

In 1909 the cross was awarded in bronze gilt to soldiers who completed the regulation 55 kms a day with full kit, and bronze for soldiers who marched without full pack.

Civilians who completed the 35km a day route received the existing NBvLO prize bronze medal, with a suitable inscription (see 'Other civilian awards' page for photo)

(With thanks to Gerrit Van Weeghel for supplying the photographs)

Bronze Cross: not gilded.  Identical to the gilded version, but of plain bronze.

Awarded in the early years of the Marches to those who completed the event, but did not meet the full requirements as laid down in the Regulations. This includes soldiers who marched the full 55 km route but without full pack and, by 1918, to civilian men who completed one of the optional shorter routes.  Initially at least, women who walked their regulation distance of 40km also received the ungilded cross.

Soldiers walking the regulation military distance with full backpack and, from 1910, civilians who walked the full 55 km distance, received the gilt cross.

The regulations were later changed so that walkers who completed a route that was less than their required regulation distance received a certificate only, and no medal.

Examples award from 1946.  While the obverse remains the same, all bronze medals were now struck with a roundel at the centre of the reverse, bearing the inscription ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Silver Cross: fifth and sixth successful march

Prior to 1918 the silver cross was awarded for the third successful march.  Given the small number taking part in the early days, and as no marches took place in 1914 or 1915, very few silver crosses were ever awarded for a third march.

Examples from before 1940.  Awarded without a crown for the fifth successful march.  For the sixth year a separate silver crown was awarded for attachment to the suspension of the five year cross.

Made of solid silver.  Most are hallmarked with a dagger silver hallmark [†].  This is normally on the front of the cross, immediately below the suspension ball, often obscured if the crown for a sixth march is attached.  Some however are hallmarked on the top arm, on the silver border above the 'N'.

Obverse. As shown. The blue enamel is slightly lighter in pre-war medals, compared with awards from 1946.

Reverse. Prior to 1940, this was plain.  Many crosses were stamped with the maker’s name ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Ribbon numbers. Silver numerals were attached to the ribbon for a seventh; eighth or ninth successful march.

Examples awarded from 1946. The obverse remains the same, although the enamel is very slightly darker.  From 1946 all silver medals were struck with a roundel at the centre of the reverse, bearing the inscription ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Gold Cross: tenth and eleventh successful march

Awarded without a crown for the tenth successful march. For the eleventh year a separate gold crown was awarded for attachment to the suspension of the ten year cross.

Solid gold: awarded from 1926 to 1939

Made of solid gold, with an oakleaf hallmark (denoting 14 carat gold) stamped on the obverse, above the top arm of the cross.

The reverse is plain, except for the maker's name, ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’, which is stamped in the centre.

It is identical in size and appearance, although slightly thinner, than the later gilded version.  

Option of a solid gold cross: 1946 to 1949.

Post war conditions meant that from 1946 the standard ‘gold’ crosses were of silver gilt rather than solid gold. The March Regulations however permitted those completing their tenth march to receive a solid gold cross in exchange for 15 grams of gold and a 30 guilder fee. In 1947 this became 17 grams of gold and 65 guilders.  This option was discontinued in 1950, when all ‘gold’ class crosses became silver gilt.

The oakleaf hallmark was stamped above the top arm of the gold cross. This style of hallmark was in use from 1906 to 1953.

Silver gilt: awarded from 1946 to the 1950's

Made of gilded silver and hallmarked [†], usually in the same way as the silver cross. 

The reverse is plain, with many crosses stamped with the maker’s name ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Silver gilt: awarded from the mid 1950's to 1958

By the mid 1950's the gold crosses were struck with a roundel at the centre of the reverse, bearing the inscription ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.  By the mid 1950's the gold crosses were struck with a roundel at the centre of the reverse, bearing the inscription ‘Kon Begeer Voorschoten’.

Ribbon numbers

For the twelfth and every subsequent completed march, a silver gilt number was attached to the ribbon.

Between 1932 and 1939 all walkers who attained a number higher than ‘12’ were required to hand in the previous number before receiving their new higher number.

In 1949 Mr P.J. van der Kaay of Arnhem became the first walker to complete 25 marches, followed by a number of others from the early 1950’s.  To note this milestone, a wreathed number was introduced from the twenty-fifth march, to be worn on the ribbon of their original gold cross.  It is silver gilt and enamel and is 25mm widest at its widest point.

First Gold Cross

The first Gold Cross was awarded in 1926 to Ritmeester (captain of cavalry) Van der Goes from Amersfoort.  He could only officially wear the decoration in uniform from 1928 when the regulations were amended to permit officers to wear the Vierdaagse Cross.

In 1934 Mrs Kley-Vrijenhoek became the first woman to receive the Gold Cross. She had accompanied her husband on the marches every year since 1925.

The first non Dutch recipient was Mr Robert Martin of England.  This north London accountant had captained one of the four British teams in 1928, the year the Vierdaagse went international.  He received his gold cross in 1938.

The first Gold Cross holder, Captain Van Der Goes, and the first English recipient, Mr Robert Martin - photographed wearing his silver medal in 1934.    [Both photos: Regional Archive Nijmegen]

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