The Dead Man's Penny
The Dead Man's Penny as it was known, was a memorial plaque issued to the families of soldiers of the British Empire who were killed in battle during the first world war.
The round bronze Memorial Plaque is 120mm in diameter. It bears the inscription: "He died for freedom and honour". The full name of the dead soldier is engraved on the right hand side of the plaque. No rank, unit or decorations are shown, befitting the equality of the sacrifice made by all casualties. The bronze medallion features an image of Lady Britannia surrounded by two dolphins (representing Britain’s seapower) and a lion (representing Britain) standing over a defeated eagle (symbolising Germany).
The shape and appearance of the plaque earned it nicknames such as the "Dead Man's Penny", the "Death Penny", and the "Widow's Penny".
Some of these Pennies have been passed down through generations, some are held in collections in museums and RSLs, , some are embedded into gravestones, some have been lost over the years and some were never collected.
Each "Penny" represented loss and sacrifice.
In 2020, The Fromelles Association of Australia were made aware that Percy Greenwood, 32nd Battalion, memorial plaque was for sale in Britain. It has likely gone to his mother in England. Having found the plaque, researchers with the Fromelles Association of Australia quickly arranged to purchase it to ensure it found a home where Percy’s story could be told and his memory preserved. With the help of Australian and United Kingdom researchers, the penny is now safely in the hands of the Association and plans are underway to find a place where it can be preserved and Percy’s contribution honoured.
The Fromelles Association is in possession of the plaque, but despite years of searching, we are still in need of Y DNA to help identify Percy. You can read Percy's soldier story here.
Below are a selection of Pennies the Fromelles Associations is aware of. (You can click on each soldiers name to read their soldier story.)
We are always interested in assisting families to locate the missing memorial plaques of their ancesters.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more.