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Commemorative Medallion 1914-1918 issued to the next of kin of Margaret Selina Caswell, Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps

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, held in a rectangular panel. The medal is inscribed, 'She 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.

Caswell (1896-1918) joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) at Tidworth in 1917. The WAAC (re-named Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps in April 1918) had been formed that year to free up valuable and experienced soldiers from the rear areas for front line service. Women were employed in a variety of jobs. As well as cooking and waiting on officers, they served as clerks, telephone operators, store-women, drivers, printers, bakers and cemetery gardeners.

Given the rank of worker, Margaret was sent to France where she worked as a waitress at an officers club' at Abbeville camp. During the night of 29-30 May 1918 German aircraft attacked QMAAC Camp 1 at Abbeville and one of their bombs fell into a protection trench killing 22-year-old Caswell and eight of her colleagues and wounding a further seven.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1998-02-164-2

Copyright/Ownership

National Army Museum Copyright

Location

National Army Museum, Army gallery

Object URL

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1998-02-164-2

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