Gold Medal of Military Valour

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Gold Medal of Military Valour
Medaglia d'oro al valor militare
Medaglia d'oro al valor militare-regno.svg Medaglia d'oro al valor militare.svg
Gold Medal of Military Valor
(Royal version & Republican version)
TypeMilitary decoration
Awarded forDeeds of outstanding gallantry in war
EligibilityJunior officers and soldiers
Established21 May 1793
Valor militare gold medal BAR.svg
Ribbon bar of the medal
Next (higher)Military Order of Italy[1]
Next (lower)Gold Medal for Army Valor[1]

The Gold Medal of Military Valour (Italian: Medaglia d'oro al valor militare) is an Italian medal established on 21 May 1793 by King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia for deeds of outstanding gallantry in war by junior officers and soldiers.

The face of the medal displayed the profile of the king, and on its reverse was a flag decoration and the words "for valour"

On 14 August 1815, Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia replaced it with the Military Order of Savoy, now known as the Military Order of Italy.

Charles Albert of Sardinia revived it on 26 March 1833, and added to it the Silver and Bronze medals. These had, on their faces, the coat of arms of Savoy with laurel branches, the royal crown, and the words "for military valor". On the reverse were two laurel branches enclosing the name of the decorated soldier, and the place and date of the action.

With the proclamation of the Republic on 2 June 1946, the coat of arms of the House of Savoy was replaced with the emblem of the Italian Republic.[2]

For actions performed by individuals during World War I, the Gold Medal was awarded some 368 times, as well as 37 times to military units, and once to the Unknown Soldier. Only four of the individual awards went to foreigners, one of these being Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The other three were for acts of gallantry in which the recipient was killed in action or died from his injuries (the Frenchmen John O'Byrne and Roland Morillot, and the American Coleman deWitt).[3] The Gold Medal of Military Valor was one of the most parsimoniously awarded medals of World War I, granted less frequently than even the Victoria Cross which was awarded 628 times.[4]

During World War II the medal was awarded to soldiers of the Royal Italian Army; after these forces were reorganized following the Armistice with Italy in 1943, it was awarded to members of the Allies-supporting Italian Co-Belligerent forces. The Axis-affiliated Italian Social Republic created another design of the medal, with a Gladius replacing the arms of Savoy, for members of the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano from 1943 to 1945. This version of the award was not given recognition by the postwar Italian government.[5]

The Gold Medal for Military Valor is still awarded by the Italian state, and it, along with Silver and Bronze medals for Military Valor as well as the War Cross of Military Valour (which can only be awarded in time of war) was established by the Royal Decree of 4 November 1932, in which the purpose of these medals is defined as, "to distinguish and publicly honor the authors of heroic military acts, even ones performed in time of peace, provided that the exploit is closely connected with the purposes for which the Armed Forces are constituted, whatever may be the condition or quality of the author."[6]

Notable recipients[edit]

The first recipient was Domenico Millelire[7] of the Royal Sardinian Navy on 6 April 1793 and the latest recipient was in 2014 Chief Corporal-Major Andrea Adorno[8] of the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment for combat operations in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan in 2010.


Military units[edit]

The first military unit awarded a Gold Medal was His Majesty's Dragoons Regiment (Reggimento Dragoni di Sua Maestà) on 21 April 1796 for unit's conduct during the Battle of Mondovì. Although at the time the Medal was exclusively awarded for personal bravery, King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia ordered the regiment's standard to be decorated with two medals for saving his army from Napoleon's attack. Until 1859, when the rules for awarding the Gold Medal were expanded to include cities and military units, only the "Cuneo" Brigade was awarded a Special Gold Medal of Military Valour by King Charles Felix of Sardinia for suppressing the Revolution of 1821. The first unit to be awarded the Gold Medal after 1859 was the French Imperial 3rd Zouaves Regiment [9] for its conduct in the Battle of Palestro. The latest unit awarded the Gold Medal was the Jewish Brigade in 2017 for the brigade's service during the Italian Campaign of World War II.[10]

The following list contains only the military units, which were awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valour twice. In total 112 gold medals were awarded to units of the Italian army: 105 to regiments and 7 to battalions.

The 4th Alpini Regiment currently also displays two Gold Medals of Military Valour on its flag, however the two medals were awarded to the regiment's Alpini Battalion "Aosta", and the Alpini Skiers Battalion "Monte Cervino".


The first geographic entity to be awarded a Gold Medal of Military Valour was the city of Vicenza in 1866 for its five days long resistance to Austrian assaults during the First Italian War of Independence. Vicenza is also the only city to be awarded the medal twice: the second time for its participation in the Italian resistance movement during World War II.

The latest city to be awarded was Varzi for the creation and defense of the Partisan Republic of Alto Tortonese between September and December 1944.


A full list of regions, provinces and cities, which were awarded for their bravery can be found at it:Città decorate al valor militare per la guerra di liberazione.

University of Padua[edit]

The University of Padua is the only educational institution which was awarded a Gold Medal of Military Valour. The university received it on 2 November 1945 for its furious resistance to German occupation in 1943-1945.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Esercito Italiano- Nastrini delle decorazioni in uso" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2 July 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  2. ^ Preceding paragraphs translated and adapted from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) which describes the book "Le medaglie d'oro al valor militare: volume primo, Roma, [Gruppo Medaglie d'Oro al Valor Militare d'Italia], 1965, 804 p.; 22 cm"
  3. ^ The website of the Italian Presidency: List of all recipients can be obtained by going to, going to "onorificenza" (under "Maschera di recerca"), selecting "Medaglia d'oro al valor militare" and pressing "avvia". Also see "Nel 1° Centenario della istituzione della Medaglia al Valor Militare" edizione del 1933 dell' Ufficio storico dell' esercito
  4. ^ P E Abbott & J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards. pp. 293. Nimrod Dix & Co, London, 1981.ISBN 0-902633-74-0
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "le Onorificenze - Medaglia e Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare" (in Italian). Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  7. ^ "Millelire Domenico". Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Adorno Andrea". Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  9. ^ "3° Reggimento Zuavi". Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Brigata Ebraica". Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Università di Padova". Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  • Ceva, Bianca (1964). Cinque anni di storia italiana 1940-1945: da lettere e diari di caduti [Five Years of Italian History 1940 - 1945: Letters and diaries of the fallen]. Edizioni di comunità. pp. 143–144. OCLC 3658871.