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25/02/2020 18:42pm

WW1 Memorial Plaque

World War I.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
The Memorial Plaque was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who died as a result of war service. The plaques (more strictly described as plaquettes) were made of bronze, and hence popularly known as the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’, because of the similarity in appearance to the somewhat smaller penny coin.
Some 1,355,000 plaques were issued, which used a total of 450 tonnes 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 picked 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 with his design called ‘Pyramus’, receiving a first place prize of £250. The plaques were issued in a pack with a commemorative letter and scroll from King George V - though sometimes the letter and scroll were sent first.
They were initially made at the Memorial Plaque Factory, 54/56 Church Road, Acton, W3, London from 1919. Early plaques did not have a number stamped on them but later ones have a number stamped behind the lion's back leg.
In December 1920, manufacture was shifted to the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Plaques manufactured here can be identified by a circle containing the initials ‘WA’ on the back and by a number stamped between the tail and leg (in place of the number stamped behind the lions back leg).
The plaque is circular, 120 mm in diameter and cast in bronze, The obverse of the plaque depicts an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion.
The designer's initials, E.C.R.P, appear above the front paw. In her left outstretched left hand Britannia holds an oak wreath above the rectangular tablet bearing the deceased's name cast in raised letters. 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. Around the picture the legend reads (in capitals) ‘He died for freedom and honour’, or the several hundred plaques issued to commemorate women, ‘She died for freedom and honour’.
The design was altered slightly during manufacture at Woolwich by Carter Preston since there was insufficient space in the original design between the lion's back paw and the H in ‘HE’ to allow an ‘S’ to be inserted to read ‘SHE’ for the female plaques.
The modification was to make the H slightly narrower to allow the S to be inserted. After around 1500 female plaques had been manufactured the moulds were modified to produce the male version by removing the S.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
Memorial Plaque (Plaque) from
Plaque to Female from
* It should be noted that the values quoted above reflect the average price that a medal dealer may expect to sell this medal for - please see the ‘things you should know’ web page for more details about valuing medals.
Further Historical Context
This section contains information on:-
- Great Britain And Empire World War I Casualties.
Great Britain And Empire World War I Casualties - From all sides, it is estimated that the total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead.
About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.
It is estimated that the British Empire lost some 1,226,597 service personnel 'killed in action' across all countries from within the Empire and across all theatres of war, with a further 2,090,212 'wounded in action'.
Specifically, from a population of 45.4 million people, Great Britain suffered 888,939 'killed in action' (of which 2,000 were civilians), while a further 107,00 civilians deaths were attributed directly to the effects of war - in total 2.19% of the population.
Additionally, some 1,663,435 British service personnel were classed as 'wounded in action'.
This information was taken from ‘Wikipedia’. The original article and details of the authors can be found here. It is reproduced on this web-site under the ‘creative commons’ licence which can be found here.