War Medal Bought at Yard Sale Is Returned to Next-of-Kin

March 14, 2009 at 9:02 am | Posted in Finds, News | 23 Comments

dead-mans-pennyA medal issued to the widow of a Canadian World War I soldier who died at at the Battle of the Somme was lost soon after she received it — and turned up at a yard sale decades later. Now the medal has finally made its way back to the soldier’s closest living relative.

According to the Norwich Advertiser, Walter Thomas Baker died in France during the 1916 battle — which, with 1.5 million casualties, was one of the bloodiest and most devastating in modern military history. A saucer-sized gunmetal commemorative medal of the type familiarly known as a “Dead Man’s Penny” — bearing the soldier’s name and the motto “He died for freedom and honour” — was sent to his widow. But she quickly lost track of it. Baker’s Dead Man’s Penny “was not seen again until the 1970s when it was bought at a yard sale,” according to the Advertiser. And that’s how it came to be stored in the attic of Ottawa homemaker Della Hill. It lay there half-forgotten for decades — until Hill saw a picture of another Dead Man’s Penny in a magazine article last August and realized the sentimental and historical value of that yard-sale find. Hill then devoted herself to finding Baker’s next-of-kin and returning the relic. She put out notices in Canadian newspapers, according to the Advertiser:

“Researchers from family history website Ancestry.co.uk then got in touch with Mrs Hill and started trawling through their historic military records to trace the rightful owner…. The experts soon found Mr Baker’s military service file from his time with the Canada Overseas 76th regiment, his marriage certificate and attestation papers, allowing them to trace his family tree to locate his great-great-grandniece Vanessa Rider, of Lowestoft” on Great Britain’s east coast.

Rider , “who had no idea that her distant relative had been a war hero … was reunited with the medal at Lowestoft Record Office. She was also presented with an historical record from Mr Baker’s regiment and a letter from Mrs Hill explaining how the medal had been found. Ms Rider said: ‘I could not believe it when I heard that one of my ancestors had been honoured in this way, and that I would be receiving this Penny. I never imagined something like this would happen to me.’ Military records show that Mr Baker emigrated to Canada from London with his wife just weeks before enlisting in the army and heading off the war, sailing into Liverpool in April 1916 and later being sent to the Somme.”

This confirms yet again the fact that every scavenged item has a history.

23 Comments »

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  1. i have a dead mans penny,,,,,,, i want to find the next of kin,,,,,, all i have is the name on the medal ??????

  2. Contact me through here I’ll see if I can help you out. http://www.woodstockmuseum.ca/

  3. i have “he died for freedom and honour medal”

  4. I have the medal of “He Died For Honour”. How much does it cost if i want to sell it?Its for my 4th grand mother.hoping of advices.thank you

  5. can somebody please advice me the true worth of this medal ‘Dead mans chest’its for my 4th grandfather.thanks

  6. I too have the medal and want to know where to contact for sale

  7. I too, have the medal “He died for freedom and Honovr”. and want to know where to contact for sale

  8. my mother in law has the medal with the name of her father THOMAS EGAN who was from Hull – would like to try and track as much information as possible for her – any suggestions/help would be appreciated

    • Contact me I found a website that offers info,I also found some pictures of Thomas Egan

  9. Shame on you that want to sell the coin for money!
    I found one and want to trace it to the rightful owner
    This is History! we should not try to profit from some-one’s death
    I see from this article a starting spot: http://www.ancestry.co.uk
    so here I go, wish me luck!
    Jo from Canada

    • Our family still have my great grandfathers penny….shame indeed this is something to be passed down not sold

  10. DEAR SIR MADAM
    MY FRIEND IN MULTAN PAKISTAN HAVE A MEDAL OF HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR MADAL NAME NOOR DIN. HE WANT TO SALE THIS MEDAL. PLEASE KINDLY SEND ME INFORMATION HOW MUCH IS THE PRICE VALUE OF THIS MEDAL. PLEASE KINDLY CONTACT ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
    THANKS
    SYED G M TARIQ
    PUNJAB PAKISTAN
    EMAIL syedtariq001@yahoo.com

    • Dear tariq
      what about your,s friend medal did he sale it or not.if he sale then from which site
      kindly inform me
      thx

  11. i to have this medal of (he died for freedom and honour)belongs to my grandmothers brotherby the name of Ahmed Din wuld like to know more about the history where do i look……..

  12. I have collected a dead man penny with the name of Clemente feteroz I would like to know about him and any relatives can be located.

  13. i have also a Medal (HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOVR) This is my grandfather gift to our family we proud of our grandfather.Who want to sale any Medal plz cont.09467168508.and 09255763766.vijay Ahlawat

    • hi what is the price of this flck

      this is ravi mane from pune

    • Dear vijay,
      Ive bronze medal (he died for freedom and honver) WWII of my grand father.As i read in your message if some one want to sale contect me,so dear i want to sale it due to some financial issue.
      If you are interested in medal then contect me on my email add samirashafiq@yahoo.com
      thank

      • I am interested in purchasing the medal,pl let me know the prise.

  14. i,ve just found one of these medals with ERNEST RODES on, what i find diffrent from everyone elses is mine has number 27 at the back of the loins foot???? yes i would like to sell it call 07708861305 ian.

  15. he died for freedom and honovr shajid

  16. I want know about shajid he died for freedom and honovr

  17. He died for freedom and honovr parson shajid for sale 01712014128 contact t
    his no


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