THE Trethewey family treasure a circular bronze plate with the inscription of the name of Norman Thomas Trethewey, one of their forebears who died from wounds received on a battlefield in Belgium in World War I.
The bronze memorial plaque, like so many others given to families by the Australian Government following World War I, is a tangible reminder of their loved one who gave up his life on a foreign battlefield at the age of just 21.
The digger’s grand-nephew Graeme Trethewey says the plaque and the research he has done over the last few years has given him a connection to the sacrifice of Norman Thomas Trethewey whose body was never found but whose name is inscribed on the Menin Gate along with so many of his comrades.
He fought in the 1st Pioneer Battalion at Ypres.
The plaque was handed on to Mr Trethewey by Norman Thomas’ youngest sister Ella before she died.
“Rest in peace - I never knew you, but I know you,” Mr Trethewey says as he looks at the plaque with his great uncle’s name inscribed.
Norman Thomas went off to war with his elder brother Robert Stanley ‘Stan’ Trethewey who served with the 1st Light Horse in Egypt, Gallipoli and the Middle East.
“I remember visiting my great uncle Stan - he was considered a bit of a larrikin,” Mr Trethewey said.
“He was hospitalised in 1918 after spraining his ankle in a rugby match and found himself demoted from the rank of Sergeant after using foul language to his superior.”
His aunt Merle Barrett said although the plaque is now in the family’s possession, it was designed to be placed on a memorial.
She said the family also remembered her uncle Norman on the memorial headstone of his father in Orange cemetery.
The “Next of Kin” disc was designed in Britain and issued to the families of all soldiers who died in The Great War. After distribution in 1918 it was also known as “Dead Man’s Penny” and the five inch bronze disc features an image of Brittania holding a Laurel wreath in her left hand (with the name of the dead soldier) and a strident in her right hand, with two dolphins depicting the sea power of the British Empire.