|Established 19 January 1918||Next (lower) Army Merit Cross|
|Eligibility Members of the Italian armed forces|
Awarded for One year of service in combat operations Being wounded in combat
Next (higher) War Cross for Military Valor
The Italian War Merit Cross (Italian: Croce al Merito di Guerra) was instituted by King Victor Emanuel III on 19 January 1918.
From its institution until 30 May 1927, 1,034,924 Crosses were issued.
The Italian War Merit Cross was awarded to members of the armed forces with a minimum of one year's service in contact with an enemy who received the Medal of the Wounded, or to those who, when mentioned for war merit, received a promotion. Also, if an act of valour was deemed insufficient for the Medal of Military Valour, the War Merit Cross could be awarded instead; from 1922 onwards a bronze sword on the ribbon showed this class of award.
The War Merit Cross was in bronze, 38mm wide (1-1/2 inches), with a blue ribbon. A second award was indicated by a bronze star on the ribbon. The reverse side bears a 5-pointed star on a background of rays. The obverse has the royal cypher ("VE III" under a crown) in the upper arm, "MERITO DI GVERRA" (War Merit) on the horizontal arms and a Roman sword point upwards, on oak leaves, in the lower arm. During World War II, the War Merit Cross underwent a number of significant changes.
In 1941, by decree, the War Merit Cross was replaced by the Medal of Military Valour.