Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Police solve WW1 soldier medal mystery

Sgt Bark's medal Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption Sgt Francis Bark's medal was found at South Yorkshire Police's headquarters in Sheffield

The story behind a WW1 medal discovered in a cupboard at a police headquarters has been pieced together by officers.

South Yorkshire Police made an appeal for information in July to coincide with the Battle of the Somme anniversary.

The medal was awarded posthumously to Sgt Francis Bark of Calver, Derbyshire, who died of gas poisoning in France in May 1918.

Sgt Bark worked for Sheffield's police service from 1913 until World War One.

Image copyright PA
Image caption South Yorkshire Police put out the appeal to find Sgt Bark's family on the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

The force thanked the public for their help in solving the mystery.

A spokesman said: "With a huge thank you to all of you who helped piece together the story of Sgt Francis Bark, we are pleased to tell the story of an officer/soldier who gave his life for others nearly 100 years ago."

The soldier died of gas poisoning aged 26 on the day his battalion was due to leave the frontline for a well-earned rest.

A diary entry from 27 April 1918 stated: "The enemy burst 9 of our gas cylinders by shell fire amongst a post and working party of 'A' company 2 Lt Harding and fifty other rank casualties."

He was awarded the medal "for bravery in rescuing a comrade during a gas attack, at the cost of his own life".

The medal, with 14 shillings, was given to his father who passed it to the police force as Francis' employers.

Francis was buried in Pernes British Cemetery in Pas de Calais, and has a headstone in St Peter's in Endensor, Derbyshire.

Who was Sgt Francis Bark ?

  • Born in 1892 in Titchfield, Hampshire
  • At 19, he was living at Chatsworth View in Curbar and working as a woodman
  • Joined Sheffield Police Central Division in May 1913 and worked as a constable until the start of World War One in July 1914
  • Became Sergeant 24787 of the 9th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, which sailed from Liverpool to Gallipoli before moving to Egypt, then France in July 1916

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