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.
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. Dane Lillingstone

Historic family find

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.


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