Next of kin plaque: Private John Wheeler, 36th Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL41613
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Bronze
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1921-1922
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 'JOHN WHEELER'. In original card envelope.

History / Summary

Born in Helensburgh, New South Wales John Wheeler was employed as a miner when he enlisted in the AIF at Casula on 18 January 1916. After initial training he was posted a private, service number 5108, to the 13th Reinforcements to the 20th Battalion. Wheeler embarked with his unit from Sydney aboard HMAT A31 Ajana on 5 July, leaving Agnes, his pregnant wife whom he had married earlier in the year.

At the end of September, soon after arrival in England, Wheeler was transferred the 36th Battalion and joined their A Company in France in November. Wheeler was mortally wounded near Armentieres on 11 December, while part of a working party attached to the Engineers. Suffering shrapnel wounds to both lower legs and his left thigh he was evacuated to the 10th Field Ambulance and then to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station, where he died the following day, aged 25. He is buried in the Ballieul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord).

This commemorative plaque was sent to Wheeler's widow on August 1922. She did not remarry. John and Agnes's son, Walter John Wheeler, who served in the Second world War, was born on the day of his father's death.