Item:
ONJR0055WH

Original British WWI 1915 KIA Framed Death Penny Soldier Memorial - Pte Frank Martin, 2/6th Cyclist Battalion

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Original WWI Memorial Plaque commemorating British Soldier Frank Clifford Martin who died on February 15, 1915. We believe he sustained life threatening wounds while serving with the 2/6th Cyclist Battalion. Plaque is mounted within a cross pattée frame. Measures approximately 8” x 8”.

Comes more than ready for further research and display.

The Memorial Plaque was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.

The plaques (which could be described as large plaquettes) about 4.72 inches (120 mm) in diameter, were cast in bronze, and came to be known as the "Dead Man’s Penny", or “Death Penny”, because of the similarity in appearance to the much smaller penny coin which itself had a diameter of only 1.215 inches (30.9 mm). 1,355,000 plaques were issued, which used a total of 450 tons of bronze, and continued to be issued into the 1930s to commemorate people who died as a consequence of the war.

It was decided that the design of the plaque was to be chosen from submissions made in a public competition. Over 800 designs were submitted, and the competition was won by the sculptor and medallist Edward Carter Preston using the pseudonym Pyramus, receiving two first place prizes of £250 for his winning and also an alternative design. The name Pyramus comes from the story of Pyramus and Thisbē which is part of Ovid's Metamorphoses, a Roman tragedy narrative poem.

Carter Preston's winning design includes an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion. The designer's initials, E.CR.P., appear above the front paw. In her outstretched left hand Britannia holds an olive wreath above the ansate tablet bearing the deceased's name cast in raised letters. Below the name tablet, to the right of the lion, is an oak spray with acorns. The name does not include the rank since there was to be no distinction between sacrifices made by different individuals. Two dolphins swim around Britannia, symbolizing Britain's sea power, and at the bottom a second lion is tearing apart the German eagle. The reverse is blank, making it a plaquette rather than a table medal.

Around the picture the legend reads (in capitals) "He died for freedom and honour", or for the 1500 plaques issued to commemorate women, "She died for freedom and honour".

They were initially made at the Memorial Plaque Factory, 54/56 Church Road, Acton, W3, London from 1919. Early Acton-made plaques did not have a number stamped on them but later ones have a number stamped behind the lion's back leg.

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