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WWI dog tag mystery

Tuesday, 24th April, 2018

Local Mark Pascoe holding an authentic World War One dog tag he found in a tin can when he was playing around Rocky Hill at the age of ten. Local Mark Pascoe holding an authentic World War One dog tag he found in a tin can when he was playing around Rocky Hill at the age of ten.

By Myles Burt

Over the last five years local Mark Pascoe has been trying to track down the family of an ex-solider, after realising he had been holding onto his World War One dog tag since 1975.

Mr Pascoe said when he was ten years old he unknowingly stumbled upon the dog tag when playing with his mates on Rocky Hill.

“I just happened to kick this can and this object came out of it,” said Mr Pascoe.

After pocketing his find, he showed his dad what he had found. His father dismissed the object as he was under the impression all dog tags were rectangular, according to Mr Pascoe.

“It got put in an old shoebox in my cupboard and forgotten about,” he said.

After finding it in his house five years ago, Mr Pascoe decided to take it into work where one of his work colleagues identified it as a real World War One artefact.

“He said it was from World War I, the dog tags then were round, and they were discs.”

With its authenticity under question, the dog tag held a bronze boomerang with the inscription ‘I go out to return’, a tag all soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force received in World War One before they disembarked for the War.

“So that was the authenticity, that it was actually real.”

The dog tag was also held together by a leather bootlace, which would’ve been most likely taken from the boot of a deceased solider, according to Mr Pascoe.

“What they used to do unfortunately, was if someone was lying next to them and wasn’t too ‘healthy’, they’d take their bootlace.

“They’d replace the metal with their bootlace because they were a lot tougher.”

Mr Pascoe is now looking to return the dog tag to the family of the rightful owner.

The dog tag was owned by an English painter by the name of Walter Raleigh Haines who lived in Sydney, and was enlisted into the army at the age of 30 after moving from England to Australia.

He was shot and injured in battle on the Western Front in 1916 when he was taken back to Australia, following with another three years of military service. Mr Pascoe said the Rocky Hill dog tag had become a mystery with the family having no visible ties or history with Broken Hill. 

“I don’t know why I’ve ended up with it, it’s almost like I’ve ended up being the custodian of it I suppose.

“But I’d really love to get it back to the Haines family.”

Mr Pascoe has over the last five years taken the dog tags with him to the ANZAC Dawn Service, until he can find the family of who they belong to.

Mr Pascoe said if there is no possible way of locating the family of the soldier, he will donate them to the Australian War Museum in Canberra. However, Mr Pascoe is always welcome for some local assistance in the search.

“If anyone wants to help me get it back to the family, I’d be appreciative.”

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