Next of kin plaque : Private Walter Vernon Cope, 32nd Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL43985
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1922
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 'WALTER VERNON COPE'.

History / Summary

Born in Geraldton, Western Australia, Walter Vernon Cope was employed as a clerk in Bunbury when he enlisted in the AIF on 20 July 1915. After training at Blackboy Hill Camp near Perth he was posted a private, service number 1241, to D Company, 32nd Battalion.

The two West Australian raised companies of the battalion later moved to Adelaide for training with the battalion's South Australian raised companies, before the entire battalion embarked from Adelaide on 18 November aboard HMAT A2 Geelong. The unit arrived in Egypt on 18 December and trained there until it left for France, for service on the Western Front on 17 June.

On 19/20 July, after only three days in the front line, 32nd Battalion took part in the disastrous battle of Fromelles, in which three quarters of the battalion were killed or wounded. Cope was among those killed. He was last seen alive at about 10pm on 19 July. A witness saw him shot and fallen in No Man's Land but did not know if he had died. Cope is assumed to have died on 20 July. He was 24. He is buried in the VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial at Fromelles.

This commemorative plaque was sent to his father, Walter James Cope, in September 1922.