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

Plaque commemorates Duncan man’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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Alice Munro among Nobel Prize winners urging Trudeau to deny oilsands project

Alberta premier says Teck’s Frontier mine would create 7,500 jobs, $70 billion in government revenue

Unrelated occupancy limits creating divisions in Saanich

Gordon Head Residents’ Association wants to see conditions to hold landlords accountable

Oak Bay cyclist runner-up in Spanish stage race

Adam de Vos on podium amongst World Tour best in Spain

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read