In 1919 the British government devised a Next of Kin Memorial Plaque, a bronze medallion approximately 4-1/2 inches in diameter inscribed with the name of someone who died serving with the British and Imperial forces during the war. The plaques were mailed to the next of kin, along with a scroll containing the King's message and a facsimile of his signature. Joseph's sister, Mary Barr, was listed in his informal will as his sole heir and would have received a Next of Kin Memorial Plaque in remembrance of her brother.
|Next of Kin Memorial Plaque for Joseph Barr; photograph courtesy of|
Fast forward to February of this year. I received a Facebook message from the son-in-law of a gentleman named Joe Barr, who asked that I contact his father-in-law. Joe Barr lives in Inverness, Scotland, and is the grandson of a man also named Joseph Barr, who was killed in in 1914 during the Great War. He has his grandfather's Next of Kin Memorial Plaque. But a woman sent him another memorial plaque for a Joseph Barr. Her daughter had won it in primary school as a prize in a competition after lessons about World War I. She sent the plaque to Joe after her daughter's death. After researching all the men named Joseph Barr, Joe concluded this new medallion must be for the Joseph Barr who died in 1917.
Joseph found a blog post I wrote about that Joseph Barr, He Died A Long Way from Home, and wanted to send me the plaque. I was touched, but felt I was not the right person to have the medallion as I was only related to Joseph through a marriage. (He was the stepson of the mother-in-law of a second cousin twice removed.) I promised to search for a closer relative to whom he could give the memorial plaque.
|Email from Joe Barr; personal collection|
I discovered Joseph Barr was listed in three other public family trees besides my own and the nearest relative was the great grandson of Agnes Laird (Muir) McLauchlan (1876-1935). She was the younger sister of Joseph Barr's mother, Isabella (Muir) Barr (1871-1905). I contacted the owner of the tree and asked him if he would be interested in Next of Kin Memorial Plaque of his 1st cousin twice removed. He responded quickly and said he would be honored.
On 27 February 2018, Bill McLauchlan received the Next of Kin Memorial Plaque for his ancestor Joseph Barr, from Mr. Barr of Inverness, and that's how I was able to play a small part in reuniting medallion to its rightful family. On the day Bill received the medallion, he sent me this message:
|Message from Bill McLauchlan; personal collection|
In an interesting coincidence, Bill's father also served with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) during World War II. If by chance you ever find yourself in High Blantyre, Scotland, Joseph Barr's name is on the War Memorial. He was interred in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Eygpt.
He Died a Long Way from Home