World War I Memorial Plaque (Medal # 172, MYB)

Started by Abhay, February 28, 2010, 06:05:18 AM

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This large 120mm, Bronze Medal was awarded to the next of the kin of those British Forces personnel, who lost their lives during the World War I. The plaque shows Britannia bestowing a Laurel crown on a rectangular tablet bearing the full name of the dead in a raised lettering. In front stands the British Lion, with Dolphins in the upper field, an Oak Branch in the lower right, and a Lion Cub clutching a fallen eagle at the bottom. The inscription around the medal reads "HE/SHE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR".

What is unique about this medal is that unlike all other Military Medals, where the name is generally engraved on the Edge, this medal has the name cast with the Medal itself, in a raised lettering. This means that each medal must have been individually cast. Since this medal was awarded on the death of a Soldier, it is popurarly also called "DEATH PENNY"

This particular medal was awarded to an Indian, serving the British Forces - "BASANT SINGH".



Not that it really adds anything, but my cousin holds one of these with the name of our uncle, John George Johnson, who was killed in France in 1916, aged 20.  His name is on a monument in Thiepval, along with countless others.

She still has the King's telegram in its original canister, too, which kind of appeals to the collector's sense of completion, though with no-one left alive who knew him it's hard to say what purpose they still serve - strange to think that a young life is now represented by a couple of old photographs, a medal, a piece of paper in a tube and something like a 1/72,000 share in a wall in another country.


Two medals, two stories with only death in common. It is fitting that these people should be remembered in metal and stone. It's only a small compensation for what was taken from them. Here is what blogging photographer Bryan Appleyard has to say about Thiepval:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009, I wept watching the two minute silence at 11am. I always do. There is something about the First World War that makes my hot tears spurt. Some years ago I visited the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. I went in touristy/aesthete mode - 'Lutyens, good, sometimes great architect. I ought to check this one out.' That didn't last the length of time it took me to get out of the car. For some reason, this object doesn't photograph well. In the brick, the Portland stone and in the sad, sad wind it overwhelms. Lutyens was a genius when he drew this. I know of no greater memorial. I wept continuously and uncontrollably. Go there.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Thank you for this, Peter.  I know what Appleyard means.  "Going there" is one thing that I intend to do before my own time is up. 


Quote from: Figleaf on February 28, 2010, 12:39:18 PM
Two medals, two stories with only death in common. It is fitting that these people should be remembered in metal and stone. It's only a small compensation for what was taken from them.

Very True. It is the least we can do for our soldiers.
In India, we have our own memorial in New Delhi - India Gate. And just see the co-incidence- this was also designed by Lutyens. The words written in Hindi are "AMAR JAWAN" meaning "IMMORTAL SOLDIER".



When I contemplate what is lost when a young person dies
The love, joy, frustration, anger, boredom and laughter,not experienced
The spouses not loved, the children not born, the sun or rain not felt
the decisions never made good or bad, it hurts me in places I wish I didn't have.

While all wars massively destroy potential, I have always viewed WWI as particularly
costly to the world.

I will not say wars are never necessary but in many ways they make losers of both sides,
and the ones left all the poorer for it. 


Not quite the French counterpart, but close. This medal was given to the family of French poilus, the reverse ready to be engraved with his name. This one's reverse remained blank. It was too painful. Soldier Lehot was killed in his first week on the Western front, leaving a pregnant wife behind. I got the medal from his daughter, Andrée, a successful painter.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


I recently saw this. It appears to be some sort of a medal, unface about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and quite heavy, made of copper. It looked interesting but since I am not into collecting medals, I did not understand what it was. The name engraved on it is 'FAZLUR RAHAMAN'. Since the only handy device I had was a 2mp camera phone and in poor light, this is the best I could do.

"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


The coin that completes relative's heroic legacy
Published on Wed Jan 19, 2011

This penny completes a family's mission to preserve the memory of a fallen First World War soldier whose body was never found.

Pte John Boothby lived in Curwen Street, Preston, with his wife Margaret and two children before his death on June 5 1917 in northern France.

But the 29-year-old's body was never found and instead the soldier is remembered on the Arras Memorial, in France, as well as on the Harris Museum Roll of Honour.

His granddaughter Kathleen Crossley, 68, of Chorley Road, Walton-le-Dale, had already collected some of the postcards he wrote home from the frontline and family photographs.

But accepting his body would never be found, the last missing piece in the jigsaw was a Death Penny presented to Mr Boothby's wife Margaret, after his death.

Last week Mrs Crossley had a chance conversation with her sister-in-law and it transpired she had had the memento all the time and did not realise what it was.

Mrs Crossley said: "I said, 'How did you come across this?'

"She said, 'your brother had it and if you want it you might as well have it'. It is called a Death Plaque or a dead man's penny.

"It has a hole in it which means it probably could have been put on a wall.

"It has his name on it and says around the edge, 'He died for freedom and honour'.

"There is a lady with a trident staff with prongs and a wreath in the other hand, a lion at her feet and flying dolphins at her head."

Mrs Crossley now feels she has united all the remaining relics of her grandad's short life and will make sure his memory is preserved.

She said: "If anything happens to me my son is to take them and look after them, and eventually hand them down to my grandson Alex who is 11 and hooked on history.

"He loves it all, right back to the Egyptians and I know this stuff will be well looked after."

Mr Boothby, a member of the Northumberland Fusiliers in the 20th Tyneside Scottish Battalion, may have died after British forces launched a major offensive in Arras, though no records have been found to explain how he was killed.

Source: Lancashir Evening Post (this page played havoc with my computer; handle with care)

Photo caption:
MEDALLION GRAN: Kathleen Crossley with her grandfathers Dead Mans Penny Photo: Neil Cross
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Sadly, so many of these had to be produced that they were still being made well into the late '20s.


Sad and shocking indeed.

Private Boothby may well rest in the Ossuary of Douaumont. Its numbers are also shocking.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Ukrainii Pyat

I own one of these, for John Horridge.  He is forgotten to history now, but I have found out that he fell at Gallipolli in 1915.  What is truly so sad about these memorials is that a lot of them were cast off by the grieving family members and they have been found in rubbish bins etc.

I have my great uncle's WWI trench coat from when he served in France in 1918.  The whole story is so sad, his father, my great great grandfather, came from Hamburg in 1871 as a 13 yr old boy.  During WWI he sent his sons to fight the Prussians he loathed.  I have a contemporary newspaper article where the newspaper editor interviewed my great great grandfather about sending his sons to crush the Prussian militarists that were destroying his beloved Germany.  My uncle ended up getting gassed over there and despite living a fairly long life - was suffering the effects of having been gassed there until he died in 1978.  When I was a kid and that big heavy ugly trenchcoat was in my closet I hated it and wanted it gone.  Now so many years later it is a precious reminder of sacrifice for our country, and the old country.
Донецк Украина Donets'k Ukraine


Both my grandfathers were gassed and wounded in WW1. Given the heavy death toll of Australians in that war I guess the family was lucky. Both suffered from the after effects of gas and both died prematurely. Despite being very close to both (and the oldest grandson for both) I have no momentos of their service but I have been to the areas they fought in and the spots they were both wounded and gassed at.


I don't know the history of my kin in WWI much to my regret and I can only think of one in WWII.


Md. Shariful Islam

Recently in the store of a government office the officials found some World War Medals. They were left in the store for some years and were printed by the british government for honoring the myrtyres in the World War 2 probably. The officials have handed over the medals to the national museum.
(Source: National Daily 'Prothom Alo')