World War One Death Penny
I recently bought a World War One Death Penny at a local auction and have been taking the first steps in researching the soldier whose family received this very poignant symbol of the Great War.
Many thousands of these were issued in remembrance of the fallen and unfortunately, very few remain with the descendants of these brave men who died a century ago.
I have written before about how medals end up in the hands of collectors who are often the final curators of very personal items and artefacts.
As family members pass on, people move house, and the distance in time leaves items given away or sold as connections are broken to an individual who served and died in the conflicts of the past.
This ‘Death Penny’ has opened up a new chapter in remembrance that even I had not considered and is one that will require a lot more research.
The name inscribed on the plaque is ‘Archibald Douther’ and I will give you some of the details that I have been able to assemble so far.
Archibald was born on 28th September 1888 in Ballyclare , County Antrim. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Douther and the husband of Martha Douther. This name is well known in the Ballyclare area and I intend making contact with relatives who may survive in the area.
World War Death Penny – Archibald Douther, Eastern Ontario Regiment, Canadian Infantry, 6th Reserve Battalion
While the search is just starting I have been able to find out some important information.
Sergeant Archibald Douther, Serial number 53042 was aged 30 when he died. What is so surprising is that he was with the Eastern Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Infantry in the 6th Reserve Battalion.
I can only assume that he immigrated to Canada, joined the Army and was shipped to France where he was seriously wounded in 1918 and then sent home to his family back in Northern Ireland.
What is so sad about this Death Penny is that he died of his wounds on December 13th 1918, more than a month after the war ended. He is buried in the New Cemetery, Ballyclare and his name is listed on the official Canadian War memorial.
There is a lot of work to do in researching Archibald’s story and I would like to visit his grave and also bring the ‘Penny’ back to the family if they would like to have it returned.
As generations go by, memories and family history are often lost and a chance encounter with a collector reignites interest and calls out a name from the past that has perhaps remained silent for decades. That is what history is all about and the value of research is in remembering a long forgotten name.
If anyone reading this recognises the name, please contact me as the search has just begun. This Death Penny was in the original and rare waxed cardboard cover which likely means that it was never displayed and remained unopened.
Call me on 028 8224 3373 or email if you have any additional information.
The Abingdon Collection