Next of kin plaque: Private William Purves, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Pas de Calais, Festubert
Accession Number REL51445
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Maker Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London, Greenwich, Woolwich
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 'WILLIAM PURVES'. The reverse carries the stamp of the Royal Arsenal Woolwich. Stored in original card envelope.

History / Summary

Born in Midlothian, Scotland in 1884, William Purves enlisted in the Scots Guards in 1903, serving with them for five years. He emigrated to Australia in 1909. In 1914 he married Maud Esther Shankly and was employed at Maffra, Victoria as a labourer, when he was recalled to serve with his old regiment as an Imperial Reservist. He sailed from Melbourne with the second convoy, aboard HMAT A35 Berrima.

Purves rejoined the Scots Guards in England and was taken on strength as a private, service number 4763, with the unit's second battalion. He was killed in action in France on 16 May 1915, during the battle of Festhubert. This action, in which British forces suffered 16,648 casualties, took place between 15 and 25 May. Purves's body was not recovered for burial and his name is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial near Bethune. He was 31 when he died.

Purves did not live to see his son, David Joseph, who was born on 2 February 1915, but would have received news of his birth. His widow did not remarry and died in 1976. Maud and her son lived for many years at Packenham in Victoria, where he was the proprietor of the Packenham Hotel. He served in the RAAF during the Second World War.

This commemorative plaque was sent to Maud Purves in the early 1920s.