THE Dead Man's Penny presented to the family of the late William Joseph Gordon following his death in World War I has been claimed.
Wodonga RSL sub-branch issued a public plea via The Border Mail for a family member of the Wodonga soldier killed on the Western Front in 1917 to come forward and be reunited with the penny which was handed to it in the lead-up to Anzac Day.
Colleen Wells, who lives on the NSW Central Coast, has come forward to claim the penny that was discovered in a Horsham tip about 40 years ago, with its finder, Barry Mackley, recently handing it over to Wodonga RSL in the hope it could be returned to the family.
Mrs Wells has been researching her family's history for more than 20 years and was alerted to the penny being in Wodonga by Ancestry, an online genealogical company.
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In 2009, the great niece of Private Gordon wrote to the Australian National Archives for copies of his service records and letters his mother, Coroline, had written.
"Once I received them, I placed the Gordon family tree on Ancestry including many original Gordon family photos, documents, records and files," she said.
"On Anzac Day, I was distressed as many others were that our traditional celebrations could not take place.
"Later in the day I decided to do a little family history and when I signed into Ancestry I found a message from another researcher who noted I had Private Gordon in my family tree and he told me the lost penny had been found.
"I was thrilled and set about gathering our family history to match up the penny with our Uncle Billy."
But during her research she found there were two William Joseph Gordons killed in World War 1 with the other being from Queensland, who enlisted as an orphan.
"When the Public Curator in Brisbane tried to find his blood relatives to pass on his medals and his Dead Man's Penny they were stamped untraceable," Mrs Webb said.
"It also reinforced that after 100 years the lost penny had finally found its way home to our family and Wodonga."
Wodonga RSL sub branch Jim Begley is stunned the penny has been claimed so soon.
"The outcome is just great," he said.
Mrs Wells said her uncle, who was also named William Joseph Gordon and lived in western Victoria, had Private Gordon's war medals passed onto him, but the penny was misplaced and eventually found in the Horsham tip.
Gordon family memorabilia including a watch and bell is already in possession of Wodonga Historical Society with Mrs Wells' grand-father Charles and his brothers William and Arthur played football for Wodonga.
Gordon Street, which is named after the family, runs alongside the Les Cheesley Oval.
Private Gordon's father Charles was an architect and his company designed many prominent Albury-Wodonga properties, including the Beehive Building in Dean Street, the convent chapel next to St Patrick's Catholic Church, Elm Court in Townsend Street, Albury High School's former headmaster's and Cambourne House.
Mrs Wells said a celebration of the penny coming back to the family could be held in the lead-up to Anzac Day next year.