Tributes paid to brave Sheffield police officer who gave his life to try and save another on Western Front

The police delegation during their visit.
The police delegation during their visit.

A century ago a South Yorkshire Police officer sacrificed his life in an attempt to save another soldier on the battlefield during the First World War.

Sheffield police officer Francis Bark died in May 1918 at the age of just 26 after going to the aid of a comrade during an artillery attack that had led to the release of gas on the Western Front.

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His brave actions have been remembered by the constabulary he served this month as staff from South Yorkshire Police made a trip to Pernes Commonwealth War Cemetery in northern France for an act of remembrance.

Gary and Marie Allen, who work in the crime training department, along with a group of serving officers, police staff, retired police officers and their families visited Francis' grave to hold a service to commemorate the centenary of his death.

The service included a two minutes silence, the reading of poems, one of which was written for Francis by DC Karen Cocker, and the laying of a wreath.

A note written by Marie on the wreath read: “Francis, we have returned with friends to honour the day of your death 100 years ago.

"This service of remembrance is for you. You are our colleague and you will never be forgotten.

"Friends of Francis Bark, South Yorkshire Police.”

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Marie said of the visit: "He died of wounds following gas inhalation trying to save his colleagues.

"This tells us that Francis was a brave and conscientious police officer as well as a soldier. He is a credit to our force.

"Francis would have suffered due to the gas inhalation and died in pain, one hundred years later we stretched out our arms to Francis and held him during his time of need.

"He truly will never be forgotten as all 12 of us left Pernes Commonwealth War Cemetery touched by this man's selflessness and commitment to save lives - the very essence of a good police officer.

"There were many emotional tears during the service."

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Francis received his Military Medal posthumously in 1917.

In 2016, police appealed for the public’s help in piecing together the story of Francis Bark after his military medal was discovered at force headquarters.

There was an overwhelming response from the public who helped police to detail his police service and final moments on the battlefield.