‘Dead Man’s Penny’ remembers war, sacrifice for Duncan business owner

Plaque commemorates owner’s soldier grandfather

Gordon Heppell has a piece of history on the wall of his shop, The Big Scoop in downtown Duncan.

His grandfather, George Heppell, died fighting in France with British forces in 1918, during the last stages of the First World War.

When the war ended, the British government issued memorial plaques to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed during the long years of fighting, and Heppell’s family received one of the approximately 1.4 million plaques that were made and distributed at the time.

The plaque, also known as the “Dead Man’s Penny” because of the similarity in appearance to the much smaller British penny coin, was handed down to Gordon Heppell’s father and then on to him, and now it resides proudly on the wall of The Big Scoop.

Heppell said this Remembrance Day, on Nov. 11, marks the 100 anniversary of the end of the First World War and he wants people to know the history of the plaque, which has the name of his grandfather, an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion, and two dolphins symbolizing Britain’s sea power.

Across the top of the plaque are the words “He Died For Freedom and Honour”.

RELATED STORY: REMEMBRANCE DAY: COWICHAN WENT TO WAR WITH A WILL

Heppell said he remembers the plaque hanging on his father’s wall when he was a child.

“British people that have come into my shop have been amazed that I have one of those memorial plaques,” he said.

“They all said they had heard of the Dead Man’s Penny but this was the first time they actually saw one. As well as a tribute to my grandfather, it’s a great conversation piece and a significant historical artifact to have on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

Country music will be flowing with the beer at Riot Brewing Co.

It’s the perfect mix for an entertaining evening Friday

UPDATE: Man killed by police at Mill Bay trailer park identified as Chris Bloomfield

Officers were attempting arrest in connection to previous assault

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Surging Rangers beat visiting Canucks 2-1

Goalie Lundqvist ties Plante on all-time wins list

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Calgary 2026 leader expects close vote in Winter Games plebiscite

Residents to choose in a non-binding vote on Tuesday whether they want city to bid on 2026 Olympics

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Most Read