| Nov 08, 2007


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Sydenham_regatta_2007In Remembrance - November 8, 2007 Memorial Plaque Honours Fallen Soldier of the Great WarBob MacPherson found a plaque in the attic of the family homestead near Sharbot Lake. It was presented to his family in honour of Ross Edgar McPherson, who died serving in World War I.

In 1916 the British Government came to the realization that some form of an official token of gratitude should be given to service personnel who lost their lives as a result of the war. It was decided that the bereaved next of kin would be presented with a memorial plaque and commemorative scroll from the King and country. In 1917 a competition was announced to obtain a suitable design and 800 entries from across the commonwealth and dominions were eventually received. The winner, Mr. E. Carter Preston of Liverpool, England, was chosen in 1918. He was awarded a prize of 250 pounds.

The selected design was a 12 centimetre disk cast in bronze gunmetal, which incorporated the following; an image of Britannia and a lion, two dolphins representing Britain's sea power and the emblem of Imperial Germany's eagle being torn to pieces by another lion. Britannia is holding an oak spray with leaves and acorns. Beneath this was a rectangular tablet where the deceased individual's name was cast into the plaque. No rank, unit or decorations was given as it was intended to show equality in their sacrifice. On the outer edge of the disk are the words, `He died for freedom and honour'.

The troops referred to them as "The Dead Man's Penny".

The enormous casualty figures not anticipated at the start of WWI back in 1914 prompted this gesture of recognition. Production of the plaques and scrolls, which was supposed to be financed by German reparation money, began in 1919 with approximately 1,150,000 issued. They commemorated those who fell between August 1914 and April 1920.

Unfortunately, the production and delivery of the plaques was not a complete success and the scheme ended before all the families or next of kin of the deceased received the official recognition they should have. While, nothing can replace a life lost, those `Dead Man's Pennies' that are in private or public collections, museums and national archives, are a constant reminder of the ultimate price paid by the men and women of the armed services during the Great war of 1914-1918.

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