Last week, a WW1 memorial plaque was rescued from a mountain of rubble at Burwood Resource Recovery Park. It was a Next-of-Kin Memorial Plaque, also known as a Dead Man's Penny, engraved with the name Ernest Wright and the inscription "He died for Freedom and Honour".
These commemorative plaques were given to the relatives of men and women whose deaths were caused by the Great War of 1914-18. In addition to the bronze plaque, a commemorative scroll was also given to next-of-kin.
As the giant shredding machine at the Burwood park processes than 40 tonnes of debris per hour, it was pure luck that this palm-sized item was found.
It's understood the penny was given to Ernest Wright's wife, Gladys Henrietta Wright (nee Mansfield), after he was killed in action in France on 23 Nov.1916. (His death was listed in the Auckland Star, 05 Dec.1916, "Heroes Of The War"). He is one of many "who lie in foreign fields", buried in the Rue-David Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France.
An ex-millhand, Rifleman Wright (serial no.25/374) was a member of the 3rd Battalion, C Company, NZ Rifle Brigade. He was born in Christchurch on 01 July 1887, and was survived by his wife and their two children - Ella Kathleen Wright b.03 April 1913 and Gladys Evelyn Wright b.27 Jan.1914.
Park Operations manager Rob Wilson says he'd like to reunite the penny with its owner, presumably a relative of Ernest Wright, as it's value is not in its metal, but in what it means to someone...