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Helmdon Historical Documents

The "Death Penny" Of William Harold Seckington

 


 

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The "Death Penny" - click
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The family of a fallen soldier in the Great War would receive a grim souvenir known, unofficially, as the ‘Death Penny’.

Left is the Death Penny of William Harold Seckington. He is also commemorated on the village's war memorial.

The plaque shows Britannia bestowing a laurel crown on a rectangular tablet bearing the full name of the dead in raised lettering. In front stands the British Lion, with dolphins in the upper field, an oak branch lower right and a lion cub clutching a fallen eagle in the exergue. The inscription round the circumference reads HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOVR. The Memorial Plaque was cast in bronze and is 120mm [4.72 inches].

Each plaque had the name of the soldier commemorated, individually embossed (although later some were engraved) as part of the design. The soldier's full name was given without any indication of rank or honours to show equality of sacrifice of all those who lost their lives. A scroll seven inches wide by eleven inches in height was designed to accompany the plaque.

The plaques were enclosed in an envelope measuring five inches square, the flap of the envelope was embossed with the royal coat of arms. This in turn was enclosed in a thick cardboard container for dispatch to the next of kin, included was a small 'with compliments' slip.

 
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