This week I had the pleasure of contacting a young man who was a key figure in the return of a Victory Medal in 2017. The medal had been sent to the parents of 23/38 Sergeant George William Dines who had been killed the during the opening battle of the Somme campaign in 1916. The Battle of Flers-Courcelette was the first significant engagement for the New Zealanders in France, from 15–22 September 1916. As happened with almost two thirds of the deaths of New Zealanders in France and Belgium, Sgt. Dines was one of those whose body was never found.
George’s story is here: SGT. GEORGE WILLIAM DINES – posted October 2017
A former RNZAF airman from Christchurch contacted me a week ago with news of a find he had made during a clean out of military memorabilia that he had accumulated over many years of military service. A First World War commemorative Memorial Plaque had been given to him whilst he posted to RNZAF Base at Woodbourne, Blenheim in the 1970s. The plaque, commonly referred to as a ‘Death Penny’ or ‘Death Plaque’, was named to George William Dines, one of the Dines twin brothers from Fairlie who had both served in France, George perishing in the NZ Brigade’s first battle. The gentleman was keen to see the plaque returned to family if at all possible and contacted MRNZ for help.
Having reunited Sgt. George Dine’s Victory Medal with a descendant family member three years ago, I knew immediately where and to whom the plaque would be going. George Dine’s great-great-grand-nephew is Cameron Dobbs, the grandson of Fairlie man Barrie Dobbs (also the subject of a previous post), was still boarding at secondary school in Dunedin when we first made contact with him in 2017 to ascertain his ancestral connection to George William Dines. In due course this was proven and Cameron received George Dines’ Victory Medal.
Since that time Cameron has finished his secondary schooling and has returned to Fairlie. When I caught up with him last weekend, Cameron was putting in the hard yards after hours at the Fairlie Bakehouse, flat out making pies which are a popular ‘must have’ with tourists and locals alike. Cameron was most surprised to hear from me again so soon, but very happy when I told him that George’s Memorial Plaque had surfaced. The plaque is now on its way to Cameron which he says he will display along with George’s Victory Medal.
Cameron remains ever hopeful that George’s 1914/15 Star and British War Medal, 1914-18 will also surface so that he can complete the medal group sent to George’s grieving mother and father in 1923. He is also hopeful that the trio of medals awarded to George’s twin brother, 7/39 Sgt. (later Lieutenant) John Henry Dines who despite suffering chest wound, was fortunate to survive and return safely to Fairlie after the war, will also be found and join his brother’s medals some day.
~ Lest We Forget ~
The reunited medal tally is now 335.