M997.13.6a | John McCrae's Memorial Plaque

Military medal
John McCrae's Memorial Plaque
1918-1920, 20th century
3.8 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Guelph Museums
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Keys to History

The allegorical theme of this medallion involves three popular icons of the British Empire: Britannia holding a laurel wreath honouring the name of the fallen warrior; a powerful lion striding in the foreground; and two dolphins symbolizing the supremacy of the British navy.

This medal was also known as the Next of Kin Memorial Plaque, and in Australian military history was given the nickname "Dead Man's Penny".

An innovative method of casting bronze was used to imprint on each plaque the name of the individual being commemorated.

  • What

    These plaques were sent to surviving families to commemorate loved ones who died either during the War or of war-related causes up to January 10, 1920.

  • Where

    Production of the plaques began at an disused laundry in Acton, West London renamed "The Memorial Plaque Factory". Casting problems resulted in production being moved to the Woolwich Arsenal and then on to other former munitions factories in England.

  • When

    The competition for designing this medal, conceived in 1916, closed on December 31, 1917 and production began in December 1918. The memorial plaque was sent to John's McCrae's father, David, on September 28, 1921.

  • Who

    It was officially announced in The Times on March 20, 1918 that artist Edward Carter Preston had won the competition to design this medal.