What does this cross mean?

(Puzzle 016)

Initially we thought this was just a currency symbol, until we were alerted to its appearance on graves in France. What does it represent?

Mystery cross

Initially we thought this was just the international sign for the Japanese yen, until we were alerted to its appearance on graves in France. What does it represent?

It seems to be a combination of the Forked Cross and the Latin Cross, or a Forked Cross with a suppedaneum attached. As somebody has suggested, do they represent the arms of the deceased, pointing toward heaven as they see Paradise? There is certainly a similarity with the orans posture assumed when opening our arms and hearts to God in prayer.

Having being sent photos of military graves, we think the design may originate from a regiment or some other group. Does the "V" mean "Victory", as with the French Liberation Cross?

Military graves

Military graves
Photos © by Egbert Sandrock, Germany
(Click either photo to enlarge)

The photos on the right were taken by WWI photographer of II. Bayerisches AOK at a cemetery somewhere in France. They are temporary grave markers, bearing the inscription "Freund und Feind vereint" (Friends and foes together) and date from around 1914/15. Similar stone WWII versions have been seen in the Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery in Oignies, northeast France.

As suggested on the Great War forum, the "V" atop crosses:

  • might represent the Masonic compass
  • or the central device of the Shield of the Holy Trinity
  • or might not be intended to represent anything, but simply facilitate the positioning of a wreath

If you know from which military group, society, denomination, etc., this symbol originates, please email us with your thoughts.

Puzzling symbols index

In Japan, the kanji (en) is more commonly used.


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