This World War I Bronze Memorial Plaque, commonly known as the Dead Man's Penny, commemorates the death of my great-grandfather, William Collins, who died in November 1916, in a field hospital, of wounds received on the Battle of the Ancre.
These Death Plaques were commissioned by the War Government, who recognised the need to both honour the fallen and also show some gratitude to their next of kin. For me, they have come to symbolise the enormous trauma, destruction and loss which marked the devastating collective experience of the first industrialised war the world had seen.
For my grandmother, whose mother died giving birth to her, the death of her father in battle when she was two years old left her an orphan of war.
The plaque had pride of place on my grandmother's mantelpiece for all of her life and, for her, may have come to embody the absence of both the mother and father she never knew.