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Commemorative medallion 1914-1918 issued to next of kin of Private William Henry Ellen, 1st Battalion, The Auckland Regiment

Circular, bronze memorial plaque or medallion issued to the relatives of the 1.3 million Commonwealth service personnel killed during World War One (1914-1918).

Commonly known as the 'Dead Man's Penny', the plaque was designed by Edward Carter Preston (1885-1965) who was commissioned after winning a War Office competition. The figure of Britannia holds a trident while a lion, a symbol of Britain's strength, stands beside her. She gestures with an olive branch towards the soldier's name, 'William Henry Ellen', held in a rectangular panel. The medal is inscribed, 'He Died for Freedom and Honour'. Dolphins on either side of the panel represent Britain's naval power and below the standing lion, another lion is shown pouncing on an eagle, symbolising Britain's victory over Germany.

In 1912, aged 18, William Ellen left London bound for Wellington, recording his occupation as a farmer. Four years later he embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 27 May 1916 destined for England. Ellen was killed in action on the Somme on 27 September 1916, and is recorded on the memorial to the missing at the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial in France.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 2001-04-7-1


National Army Museum Copyright


National Army Museum, Study Collection

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