Post WW2 German Occupation

Post WW2 and with the occupation of Germany and Japan the United States issued occupation medals for both the Army (including Air Corp) and Navy (including USMC). A medal had also been issued for the AEF that occupied Germany or Austria Hungary post WW1. Interestingly the WW1 occupation medal wasn’t issued until 1941.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany the Allies asserted their authority over Germany and it was divided into 4 occupation zones for administration by the US, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. These 4 zones being agreed by the 4 allies at Yalta in February 1945. There followed a conference at Potsdam July to August 1945 whereby these zones were sanctioned. The Soviet Union zone was in the east including Berlin which was subdivided into allied and soviet zones. This soviet zone then became East Germany until reunification in 1990. The British zone was in the North west, the French the south west and the US between the French and soviet zones.
At least thirty consecutive days of military duty were required before being awarded the medal and dependent on which zone of occupation they served in a clasp was awarded with a “Germany” clasp or Japan if awarded for occupation service in the Asian Theatre. The Navy medal had a “Europe” or “Asia Clasp.
During the Berlin airlift in 1948 and 1949, if military personnel served 92 consecutive days the Berlin airlift device was authorised as a device to wear on the Army of Occupation Medal. The medal for humane action was also awarded for 120 days service during the airlift.
European Zones of Occupation:
• Germany May 9, 1945 to May 5, 1955
• Austria May 9, 1945 to July 27, 1955
• Italy May 9, 1945 to September 15, 1947
• West Berlin (May 9, 1945 to October 2, 1990
Asia zones of Occupation:
• Japan September 3, 1945 to April 27, 1952
• Korea September 3, 1945 to June 29, 1949


Army Medal of Occupation WW2 with Ludendorf Bridge on the obverse and Germany clasp. The reverse shows Mount Fuji and 1945. This medal is contractor manufactured possible Heckthorn or Medallic arts.


Navy Medal of occupation WW2 with figure of Neptune and Asia clasp and possible US mint manufacture. A Europe clasp was also available for the European theatre.


Ribbon with airlift device of a Douglas C54 Skymaster which was used during the Berlin Airlift along with various other aircraft including the C47 Skytrain.


Medal for Humane action awarded for 120 days consecutive service during the Berlin Airlift.

In June 1948 the Soviet Union closed all land routes in and out of Berlin in an effort to have the allies withdraw from the city. In response to this the allies launched Operation Vittles to create an air bridge from the West to supply West Berliners with food, water, medicine and fuel. For almost a year the aircraft involved in the air lift supplied over 2 million people with 2.3 million tonne of cargo involving an estimated 300,000 flights. The blockade ended on May 12th 1949 when it became clear to the Soviet Union that their policy of blockade had failed.

Post World War 2 agreements were formed between the allied nations and the Soviet Union to allow deployment of small numbers of military intelligence personnel in the occupied zones of post war Germany. These missions were deployed from 1946 until 1990. The primary function of these missions was to allow each occupying force to monitor each others activities and to improve relationships.
These missions also played an intelligence-gathering role and the teams although based in West Berlin started their mission tours from their mission houses in Potsdam (East German territory). These missions ended in 1990 just prior to German reunification.
The liaison missions were free to roam around East Germany except for designated restricted areas. Considered untouchable either by the law or military personnel a small number of team members were involved in accidents or so called incidents that resulted in injuries or death which gave rise to military and political tension. These tensions were however reduced by the unseen role of the missions which although was an intelligence role confirmed any preparations for offensive actions which in turn could be counter measured or prepared against.

In March 1985, Major Arthur D. Nicholson was shot by a Soviet Army Sergeant whilst on Liaison duty and the only U.S. MLM Officer to die in the course of duty, though other British and French tour personnel had died earlier. The mission (which was meant to be Nicholson’s last) was to photograph a Soviet tank storage building near Ludwigslust, 100 miles Northwest of Berlin. Nicholson stepped out of his vehicle and approached a building to photograph it when he was shot and fatally wounded. This led to a major diplomatic incident between the US and the Soviet Union. With claim and counter claim about the incident.



Shaef (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) patch in post war blue background. I believe the WW2 versions as worn by Eisenhower had a black background.
Shaef with Berlin Attachment.
US Military Liaison Mission Potsdam patch with 48 star flag. (50 star flag is from 1960 onwards).

Resource: Wikipedia,, The Call of Duty (John E Strandberg & Roger James Bender) & American war medals and decorations ( Evans E Kerrigan).

This information was previously posted on the Broadsword Military History Forum.





Author: James Findon

Hi I'm James Findon I live in Warwickshire, UK and my main employment is as a Maintenance Supervisor for a Global Real Estate Company. I have previously worked for the civil service on a United States Air Force Base in the UK and this developed my keen interest in American Military Awards and military history. I regularly contribute articles to military forums on the internet especially US Awards and equipment. I have visited some of Europe's battlefields and US Cemeteries including Normandy and Bastogne. I hope you'll enjoy reading my Blog as I've a passion for all thing US Military and for my sins I'm now an American Football convert, Green Bay being my team. Enjoy!

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