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Smithies Surname: Josiah's War Memorial Plaque
Smithies Surname Information


A few years ago Oldham Historical Research Group were asking for photos or information about people who had fought in the First World War.

Memorial Plaques, referred to as a Death Plaque or Dead Man's Penny, were awarded to the next of kin of British and Commonwealth personnel who had served in that war. They were cast in bronze, with a diameter of approximately 11cm (4½ inches).

Mr. Chris Hill contacted the OHRG in early July 2014 as he owned a memorial plaque that he wished to return to a family member of Josiah Smithies, the deceased soldier whose name was on his plaque, shown on the right.

It was a hundred years after the outbreak of WW1, when the United Kingdom and other nations were remembering both the events of that war and their own family members who had been war casualties, so it seemed an appropriate time for Chris Hill to find Josiah's family and send it home. He had searched for Josiah and discovered, from this web site, that his descendants were still in the Oldham area.

This particular plaque had a history of its own as Mr. Hill had found and it in a scrapyard on Oldham Road in Rochdale about 39 years ago (2018) and decided to buy it as he found it interesting. It is possible that the plaque was in the scrapyard following the death of Josiah's son, who had passed away at around the same time, but this cannot be confirmed. Since he purchased it the plaque had travelled, in Chris Hill's possession, to the south of England and then north to Kendal.

And so the plaque was given to Michaela to treasure; at the time she had already been researching her family for 15 years and never imagined finding anything so personally important and really appreciated such a generous gesture.