Military coins have been in circulation since World War 1. Still, only a handful of people are knowledgeable about them. Get to know the basic information about these special coins today.
A – stands for Allegiance
The origin of military coins is said to have started during World War I when a wealthy officer gave each member of his flying squadron a coin made of bronze before they were sent out to fight. One of the planes was brought down during the battle and the young pilot was captured by the Germans. The pilot was stripped of everything he own while he was in prison. His uniform was replaced with civilian clothes. All forms of identification were removed. The only thing that they let him keep was the military coin given to him, which he placed on a pouch and hung on his neck. Fortunately, he was able to escape the prion during a commotion. He was found by an ally. He was mistaken for a spy and since there was not anything to identify him with, he was given a sentenceof execution. The military coin saved his life when a French officer recognized the coin. Since then, military coins were distributed among military units to signify their allegiance to the particular unit. It has been a source of pride for the soldiers too to be identified and be part of a unit.
B – stands for Bravery
Military coins were also used to appreciate and recognize outstanding performances and bravery of soldiers during a battle. They were added to the regular pay of the soldiers who performed very well in the fight. They were called as “bonus coins”.
There was also a secret handshake made to honor the brave soldiers during the 2nd Boer War. As these soldiers were just hired by the British people they were not allowed to receive any form of recognition. The medals were then given to the leaders of the commanding unit although most of the time, these leaders did not contribute anything of value to the battle. Therefore, some of the non-commissioned leaders felt that those soldiers were more deserving than the commanding leaders. What they would do was to get the medals secretly, cut the ribbon and then hand them over to the brave soldiers during a handshake.
Today, military coins are still awarded to recognize bravery and stellar performances of the soldiers. Usually, it is the President or the Secretary of Defense that would award the soldiers.
C- stands for Challenge
Unknown to many, military coins are also known as military challenge coins.Challenge coins were called by that name due to the tradition attached to it. These special coins are required to be in the person of the soldier at all times. When a soldier “challenged” another soldier, by showing a challenge coin, the challenged soldier should be able to produce his own coin. When he failed to do so, he was required to pay for a round of drinks to the one who challenged him and to the rest of the soldiers who had their challenge coins with them. However, if the challenge coin was produced, the one who challenged would be the one to pay for the drinks. This was done for camaraderie and fun only, and not to initiate any fight or conflict.
This tradition was taken from the German’s local tradition of slamming a pfennig checkor coin to a colleague. The procedure was the same and the penalty was a round of drinks too. It was also meant for fun for the Germans, as well.
Basically, when you know these three things, you are already considered as well informed about military coins.