Next of kin plaque : Private Brice James McCarthy, 33rd Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL42025
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1920-1921
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Bronze next of kin plaque, showing on the obverse, Britannia holding a laurel wreath, the British lion, dolphins, a spray of oak leaves and the words 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR' around the edge. Beneath the main figures, the British lion defeats the German eagle. The initials 'ECP', for the designer Edward Carter Preston appear above the lion's right forepaw. A raised rectangle above the lion's head bears the name 'BRICE JAMES McCARTHY'. The plaque is held in a glazed frame.

History / Summary

Born in Moree, New South Wales, Brice James McCarthy was employed as a shearer when he enlisted in the AIF at Narrabri on 18 May 1916. Aged only 18 his mother, Emily McCarthy, gave her consent to his enlistment.

After basic training in Armidale and Rutherford McCarthy was posted a private, service number 2409, to the 4th Reinforcements for the 33rd Battalion. He embarked with his unit from Sydney for overseas service aboard HMAT A30 Borda on 17 October and arrived in England at the beginning of January 1917.

McCarthy joined 33rd Battalion in France on 19 March but received a bullet wound to his hand the following day and was evacuated to England for treatment. After his discharge from hospital and further training he rejoined C Company of his battalion as a runner on 13 July, in time to take part in the final actions at Messines.

On 13 October, at Passchendaele, Belgium, McCarthy was hit in the hip by a bullet. A sergeant from his company applied bandages and left him sheltering in a shell hole. The company advanced past the spot but later had to retire. McCarthy was not seen again and his body was not subsequently located for formal burial. His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

The 33rd Battalion's War diary entries for Passchendaele records the following: 'The runners had most difficult and exhausting work. The ground was almost impassable and the nights were very dark. Of the 22 runners attached to Battalion Headquarters half were casualties. [Battalion] companies lost over half their runners. All did splendid work.'

This commemorative plaque was sent to McCarthy's mother in September 1921.