Overview of the Vierdaagse Cross
Kruis Voor Betoonde Marsvaardigheid
The full title of the decoration is the 'Kruis Voor Betoonde Marsvaardigheid', or Marching Proficiency Cross (literally ‘cross for demonstrating marching proficiency’). It is more commonly referred to as the Vierdaagsekruis or Vierdaagse (four day event) Cross.
It was established in 1909 at the time of the first march, to award successful military participants of the Vierdaagse. It is now awarded to all participants who successfully complete all four days of the march.
In 1909 the few civilians who took part received a circular medal instead of the cross. From 1910 they qualified for the Vierdaagse cross, provided they completed the full prescribed distances each day.
An official Dutch decoration
The cross is awarded by the KNBLO, de Koninklijke Nederlandsche Bond Voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding, or Royal Dutch League for Physical Education. Prior to 1958, when it received the Koninklijke (Royal) prefix, the League was known as the NBVLO.
Although it is awarded by a non-governmental organisation, the Cross has received Royal approval and can be worn in uniform by the Netherlands armed forces and other Dutch uniformed services, including the police, fire brigade and customs services. It is therefore an official decoration of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This Royal recognition has extended over the years. Authority to wear in uniform was first granted in October 1909 to Infantry soldiers below officer rank. Other soldiers could accept the decoration, but not wear it. As the March established itself, this authority widened with, for example, sailors of the Royal Dutch Navy were granted permission to wear in 1919 and army and naval officers from 1928.
A number of other nations now permit the Vierdaagse cross to be worn in military uniform. These include: Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden (since 1977), and the USA - US Army regulations referring to the award as the 'Holland Four Day Event Cross'. Those who do not recognise this as an official award include Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom.
Those in wheelchairs were allowed to take part in the event from 1995 although, as they do not meet the marching proficiency requirement, those completing the routes received a medallion from the City of Nijmegen, rather than the March Cross. Wheelchair participants finally became eligible for the Vierdaagse Cross in 2009.
The decoration is a five armed cross, with each arm bearing an initial of the awarding organisation. It has a width of 36 mm at its widest point and is suspended from a green and yellow (often orange-yellow) ribbon.
While the size and design of the cross has remained broadly consistent, there have been a number of changes over the years leading to three distinct types of design:
• 1909 - 1958. ‘NBVLO’ on the arms.
• 1959 - 1976. ‘KNBLO’ on the arms.
• 1977 to date. 'KNBLO' on the arms, but made in less costly metals, giving a slightly different appearance.
These types are illustrated and described in more detail on separate pages of this website.
Note: On 1 January 2015 the KNBLO joined with the Nederlandse Wandelsport Bond (NWB) to form a new Dutch walking association, the Koninklijke Wandel Bond Nederland (KWBN). While this change means that the KNBLO initials on the march cross are out of date, no decision has yet been made whether the design of the cross will be changed. Given this, crosses bearing 'KNBLO' were awarded for the 103rd march in 2019.
Every year a walker successfully completes the march is marked either by a cross, or a number to be attached to the ribbon of the last cross awarded. Only one cross, the last to be awarded, is worn. For ribbon numbers, only the number most recently received should be worn, although crosses are sometimes seen with several numbers attached to their ribbon.
The various awards for each year are shown below.
Bronze Cross. First to Fourth march.
• 1st: Bronze cross.
• 2nd: Bronze cross with crown.
• 3rd & 4th year. Ribbon number.
Silver Cross. Fifth to ninth march.
• 5th: Silver cross.
• 6th: Silver cross with crown.
• 7th - 9th year. Ribbon number.
Gold Cross. Tenth to 24th march.
• 10th: Gold cross.
• 11th: Gold cross with crown.
• 12th - 24th year. Ribbon number.
Gold Cross. Special gold medals are awarded for the 40th and then every subsequent tenth successful march. These medals follow the design of the eleven year cross, but with better quality detail and, at forty years, a change to the enamel colours. The design of the ribbon number also changes.
Gold Cross. 25th to 39th march
Not a distinct medal, but the ribbon number for each year is now surrounded by a wreath
Gold Cross. 40th to 49th march
• 40th: Gold cross with crown & wreathed ribbon number
• 41st-49th year: Ribbon number
Gold Cross. 50th to 59th march
• 50th: Gold cross with crown & ribbon number on an oval shield
• 51st-59th year: Ribbon number
Gold Cross. 60th to 69th march
• 60th: Gold cross with crown & ribbon number on an oval shield
• 61st & above: Ribbon number
Gold Cross. 70th march and above
• Only two awarded to date, in 2017 and 2019
• One '71' ribbon number awarded, in 2018
Between 1909 and 2019, about 646,900 walkers successfully completed the march 1,694,823 times. Therefore, approximately 646,900 first year crosses have been awarded, with nearly 1,048,000 further awards, including second year crowns, silver and gold crosses and ribbon numbers.
Of the awards for the highest number of marches, approximately 770 walkers have been awarded the cross for forty years, about 172 for fifty years and eleven for sixty years. The cross for seventy years has been awarded only twice, to Bert van der Lans in 2017 and Dick Koopman in 2019.