An authentic piece of history that cannot be replicated – one way you can support our work.

World War One was a war of artillery. Millions of shells were fired in many battles such as the Somme and Ypres, causing unimaginable destruction to lives and land. It’s estimated that 60 per cent of battlefield casualties were caused by artillery shells exploding, causing shrapnel wounds which were particularly brutal for soldiers and horses.

It’s hard to imagine that anything beautiful could come from metal that caused such devastation, but, we at War Horse Memorial are proud to introduce these limited-edition pins, beautifully crafted from a mix of modern bronze and copper from original British artillery shell ‘drive bands’ found in the Ypres and Passchendaele areas of Belgium.

The pin badges are the work of Christopher Bennett and his small team of craftsmen and women at provenance brand TMB Art Metal of London, and have been created to support National War Animal Day, and our annual Animal Purple Poppy Fund, which we launched yesterday (August 23).

They are miniature replicas of the head of Poppy, our national and Commonwealth war horse memorial based in Ascot, and the purple enamel at the base of the pin has mixed with it tiny fragments of earth from where it’s believed cavalryman George Ellison, the very last British soldier to die in WW1, met his end.

Chris, who collected the earth himself for the pin badges, explains: “George Ellison served with the 5th Irish Lancers at the very start of WW1 at the Battle of Mons, on August 23 1914, and then, four years later, he was back at Mons when on November 11 1918 with A Squadron and on horseback, was ordered to “rush on Mons” to take high ground near St Denis. Encountering a German patrol in the woods at 09.45 am, it’s believed George, who survived four years of warfare and many major battles, caught an unlucky bullet on the very last day of war – becoming the last British soldier to die just minutes before the 11 o’clock armistice.

Ellison was buried at St Symphorien cemetery outside Mons. As coincidence would have it, Private John Parr, the very first British soldier to die in WW1, on August 21 1914, was also buried by the Germans in St Symphorien. By pure chance George Ellison was buried directly opposite Parr, just 21 feet separating them; the very last British Army casualty on the Western Front directly opposite the very first, this 21 feet somehow symbolically representing the futility of war.

At TMB Art Metal we are dedicated to producing provenance items which incorporate in their making metal or material originating from the actual iconic subject the item represents. We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to create these limited-edition Poppy pin badges to support National War Animal Day and the Animal Purple Poppy Fund. Much care and attention has gone into their creation, and they are unique and totally authentic.

The pin badges come in a beautiful presentation box with a choice of two finishes, polished bright or antiqued, to give a more subdued look. They retail in the UK at £57.50 including VAT, postage, packaging and insurance. They can be obtained from our online shop. International buyers should order via Info@thewarhorsememorial.org but can still pay via PayPal. For EU customers the cost is £62.50, orders going to the US £65. Both include postage, packaging and insurance.

For more information please contact info@thewarhorsememorial.org

Image of Poppy, used to help create our scaled down pin design.
Bronze plaque at the town hall of Mons, Belgium, depicting the 5th Lancers entering Mons on 11 November 1918.
An ancient time worn cobbled track at St Denis, north of Mons, along which it is believe George Ellison with the 5th Irish Lancers entered the Bois de Vignette on 11 November.
Christopher Bennett of TMB Art Metal gathers earth from the crest of Bois de Vignette, along the track where it’s believed George Ellison met his end at 09.45.
Christopher Bennett of TMB Art Metal gathers earth from the crest of Bois de Vignette, along the track where it’s believed George Ellison met his end at 09.45.
Ellison, who was 40 years old in 1918, was buried at St Symphorien cemetery near Mons, by pure chance being laid to rest opposite to, and a mere 21 feet from, John Parr, the first British soldier to die in WW1.
Ellison, who was 40 years old in 1918, was buried at St Symphorien cemetery near Mons, by pure chance being laid to rest opposite to, and a mere 21 feet from, John Parr, the first British soldier to die in WW1.
The pins are cast involving copper artillery shell ‘drive bands’ found on the battlefields of Ypres and Passchendaele. Here are two 18 pounder shells, the top unused with unmarked band and the bottom fired, with tell-tale deep grooves from the gun’s rifling.
Copper drive bands are melted in preparation for casting into miniature sculptures of Poppy’s head. In addition to the WW1 copper, bronze is added to give a wonderful rich golden colour.
Copper drive bands are melted in preparation for casting into miniature sculptures of Poppy’s head. In addition to the WW1 copper, bronze is added to give a wonderful rich golden colour.
A cast ‘tree’ of pins, made using historic metal with a profound back story. The pins will be cut off, meticulously finished and have enamel added.
A cast ‘tree’ of pins, made using historic metal with a profound back story. The pins will be cut off, meticulously finished and have enamel added.
A cast ‘tree’ of pins, made using historic metal with a profound back story. The pins will be cut off, meticulously finished and have enamel added.
Earth gather from St Denis is pummelled down to a fine powder before being added to the purple enamel…
…which in turn is painted into the recesses in the necks of the pins, so each pin has two elements of remarkable history – the metal and the earth.
An authentic piece of history that cannot be replicated – one way you can support our work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top