His­toric fam­ily find

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Dane Lilling­stone dane.lilling­stone@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

IT’S not every day that you re­ceive a bit of fam­ily his­tory that is 100 years old.

Whit­sun­day man Grahame Loren­zen was do­ing a bit of fam­ily research with the New Zealand war me­mo­rial when he put the call out for in­for­ma­tion about his an­ces­tor Wil­fred Loren­zen, who fought in the First World War.

Grahame re­ceived an email from his­to­rian Jen­nifer Baum­field, who saw the post on so­cial me­dia, and in­formed him she not only knew some in­for­ma­tion about his an­ces­tor, she even pos­sessed a rare medal­lion that be­longed to him.

The plaque, pop­u­larly called the Dead Man’s Penny, was given to ser­vice­men of Bri­tish and do­min­ion forces who were killed dur­ing the First World War.

“This lady sent this to us and she had ac­tu­ally found it in an an­tique or sec­ond­hand shop and she pur­chased it for not much money,” he said.

The medal­lion was sent to Grahame, who re­ceived yet an­other sur­prise.

“I’d never seen one be­fore in my life and then later I saw it on the An­tiques Road­show in Bri­tain and I thought ‘god I’ve got one of those’. They ex­plained it all and said they were very rare, be­cause a lot of peo­ple haven’t kept them and they’ve got lost over the years and the value placed on it was £2500,” he said.

“It also has ex­tra doc­u­men­ta­tion of this, where a lot of peo­ple don’t have that any more.”

Wil­fred served in the Welling­ton In­fantry Bat­tal­ion in the First World War be­fore be­ing killed in Gal­lipoli dur­ing the in­fa­mous bat­tle of Chunuk Bair.

“They took the sum­mit of it and it was the first place in the Gal­lipoli penin­sula where they could ac­tu­ally see Con­stantino­ple.

“But un­for­tu­nately the next day they were re­lieved be­cause they were nearly all killed,” Grahame said.

Grahame, an ex-ser­vice­man him­self with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, said Ms Baum­field was the hero of the story.

“It’s quite amazing. It was 100-plus years ago. This was what was given to his mother,” he said.

Grahame said he was not go­ing to let it slip from the fam­ily’s pos­ses­sion again.

“I’m go­ing to get it framed.

“It’s some­thing for my grand­chil­dren,” he said.

PHOTO: DANE LILLING­STONE

PIECE OF PAST: The Whit­sun­days’ Grahame Loren­zen coin­ci­den­tally got in touch with a woman in New Zealand who had pur­chased this penny at an an­tique shop.

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