Picture of Great war death memorial plaque.
I was looking around a church here in Yorkshire a couple of weeks back and noticed this bronze plaque resting on a small stand on front of the war memorial.
Considering the number made and sent out this is only the second one that I ever seen and the first that I could pick up and examine. It is a Great War death plaque (Dead Man’s Penny) issued by the British government to the next of kin of servicemen/women who had fallen in WW1.
Designed by Edward Carter Preston following a competition eventually over 1,000,000 were made. The 12cm medallion was cast in bronze gunmetal with the words “He died for freedom and honour” and the name of the deceased individual.
On the plaque there are an image of Britannia holding an oak spray with leaves and acorns,
and an imperial lion, two dolphins representing Britain’s sea power,
also the emblem of Imperial Germany’s eagle being torn to pieces by another lion.
The memorial plaque was not presented to the family with any ceremony, the postman delivered them.
Normally I would be happy to name the church but on my many visits to both local Leeds churches and further afield I hear many stories of church break ins and theft including the one where they broke in and stole a carpet. Therefore I have deliberately obscured the surname on the plaque and just left his first name Walter, he is I feel sure long gone but not forgotten.
The only other time I have seen one of these plaques is one where it was cemented into the stone memorial headstone that is in a west Yorkshire churchyard. We live in age where people steal the bronze plaques on town and city war memorials and the local scrap merchants turn a blind eye to the obvious source and theft. How they can sleep at night I cannot think.
On a similar note I discovered this short film that deservedly won an Emmy for Tom Aviles the news photographer about The Friday Squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN in the US. By chance the uncle of someone I know who served as a tank commander in WW2 was buried not long back with I think the Tuesday Squad there.