The Suojelusjunta (often translated as Civil Guards) was formed in the early days of Finnish independence as a voluntary militia. From 1918 till they were disbanded in 1944, they were the backbone of the Finnish military. Many famous names of the Winter and Continuation Wars, such as Simo Häyhä and Lauri Törni, had been members of the Suojeluskunta.
In 1967 a Service Medal, Sininen Risti (Blue Cross), was established to recognise the contribution of the numerous volunteers.
Designed by Armas Lähteenkorva, a former officer and artist who designed numerous war memorials, for the Vapaussodan Perinneliitto (War of Independence Association). Made from tombac, the cross is a variant of cross pattée measuring 42mm height and width. The arms are decorated with blue enamel and bronze edging that tapers from the centre outwards. Imposed in the centre is a white letter S edged in bronze with an upright sword overlaid and backed by a three-pronged conifer, both in bronze.
The cross is suspended from a 30mm wide ribbon. The ribbon is comprised of a central 15mm blue stripe flanked by 7.5mm white stripes.
In 1983 a new variant was introduced. A more triangular cross pattée with the same blue enamel and bronze edging. The centre though sees a white enamel circle with a bronze three-pronged conifer imposed upon it.
Adopted on the 9th January 1967, the medal was open for those who had served in the Suojeluskunta, Lotta Svard, Sotilaspojat and Pikku Lotta. The medal was also awarded to veterans of the Civil War, Kinship Wars, as well as supporters of the Jaeger Movement, as well as those who had served on the home fronts during the wars of 1939 to 1945.
A silver-coloured clasp with 1917-1918 embossed on it was allowed to be added to the ribbon for those who had participated in the Jaeger Movement or Civil War.
With the Association still continuing, most of its members are now comprised of individuals who were not able to serve in the qualifying activities noted above. However, to still reward them for their services to the association the Blue Cross with Confiers was created. These are awarded to individuals who “have served in the interest of the Association, either through membership or other activities, or who have been engaged in National Defence activities”.
The process of deciding who will be awarded the Blue Cross starts with filling a proposal form that is available through the Vapaussodan Perinneliitto’s website. The individual proposing the candidate fills in the details and reasons for putting forth their choice. This form is then presented to the board of the association for approval and investigation of the candidate. Once the candidate has passed the required checks they will be notified of their award and a presentation ceremony will be arranged.
The candidate will receive the Blue Cross, as well as a certificate signed by the current sitting President of the association, as well as a presentation box.
Collecting and Status Today
I could not find any numbers regarding how many Blue Crosses have been awarded but it is classed as common in Jani Tiainen’s “Suomen Kunniamerkit” and it is frequently found in flea markets and online stores.
The standard version is the easiest to acquire, being generally priced between €20-€40 depending upon the condition. The clasp can add up to another €10, especially for ones that aren’t tarnished.
The 1983 version with conifers is rarer, mainly due to most holders still being alive. Those few that are online seem to fetch between €50-€80.
Despite them being fairly common, they still are worth adding to any collection due to their importance in Finnish society and to show how Finland’s honours system evolves over time.
Tiainen, Jani. Suomen kunniamerkit: The orders, decorations and medals of Finland (Apali Oy, 2010)
Regulations for the Blue Cross
Vapaussodan Perinneliitto (War of Independence Association)