Next of Kin plaque : Captain W M Braithwaite, 22 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Aisne, Estrees
Accession Number REL23860.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Maker Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Place made United Kingdom
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 McCARTHY BRAITHWAITE'. A checker's mark, '31', is impressed behind the lion's rear left paw and tail. The mark of the Woolwich Arsenal, 'W' within a circle, is stamped in the back of the plaque. The original dull brown finish has been polished to a bright brass finish.

History / Summary

Born in Preston, Victoria in 1892, William McCarthy Braithwaite was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and Melbourne University and served in the cadets for six years. He enlisted in the AIF in July 1915. Following completion of officer training at Broadmeadows and subsequent service in Australia, 2nd Lieutenant Braithwaite embarked aboard HMAT A71 Nestor at Melbourne on 2nd October 1916 with the 16th Reinforcements to the 22nd Battalion.

Braithwaite joined the battalion in France in January 1917 and was promoted to lieutenant two months later. Wounded in the arm and face on 3 May 1917 near Bullecourt, he was repatriated to England for treatment and rejoined his battalion in July 1917. Braithwaite was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Bullecourt. The recommendation reads, 'For conspicuous gallantry in leading his men into the enemy trenches during the attack near BULLECOURT on 3rd May 1917. Although twice wounded, he persevered with the work of consolidating the position and leading bombing parties against the enemy strong posts.'.

On 9 June 1918 Braithwaite was again wounded, in fighting near Franvillers. He received two weeks leave in England in September 1918, during which time he was promoted to Captain. On 3 October 1918, in the battalion's last action of the war, Captain Braithwaite was killed while leading his men in an attack on the Hindenburg Line near Estrees. He was 25 years old.

Initially buried in an isolated grave near Beaurevoir, his body was exhumed after the war and reinterred in the Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gouy, France.

This commemorative plaque was sent to Braithwaite's widowed mother, Louisa, in December 1922.