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First World War: Police rally to remember officers from across east London who died in war

Police officers at the Barking Abbey service (pictures: Steve Poston) Police officers at the Barking Abbey service (pictures: Steve Poston)

Monday, August 4, 2014
8:10 AM

Police officers are today set to rally together to remember their predecessors who lost their lives in the First World War.

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A bugler plays the Last Post at the serviceA bugler plays the Last Post at the service

Several months of work have come together in two events dubbed Operation Valour to ensure those who gave their lives would never be forgotten.

K Division, which covered what are now the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, saw 285 of its officers enlist in the armed forces during the First World War.

Their bravery has been recognised a century later with a memorial service and commemorative stone remembering the 23 officers who lost their lives.

Newham Borough Commander Tony Nash is helping coordinate Operation Valour.

Sandringham School pupils with poppiesSandringham School pupils with poppies

He said: “Before I arrived, Pc Ricky Coleridge was aware of the officers from K Division and wanted to do something to remember them.

“It’s taken six or seven months of work and we’ve raised almost £3,000 through things like charity football matches.

“It’s all been funded through money we’ve raised – not from the police budget.”

The first memorial service on Monday, July 28, took place at St Margaret’s Church, next to Barking Abbey, and was attended by councillors, community leaders and borough commanders from all four boroughs.

Redbridge borough commander Sue Williams at the ceremonyRedbridge borough commander Sue Williams at the ceremony

Chelsea pensioners were invited to attend the military service alongside children from Sandringham Primary School in Forest Gate, who read out the names of the 23 fallen officers.

Of those, 22 were killed in action or died from their wounds during the First World War.

An additional officer, Pc Edward George Greenoff, has been added to the list. He was killed on duty when an explosion occured at the munitions factory in Silvertown in 1917.

Their names have been inscribed on a memorial stone that has been set in the ground at Forest Gate police station, alongside a crest from a former K Division station and caskets of earth from the battlefields of Passchendaele and the Somme.

Sandringham School pupils singing hymnsSandringham School pupils singing hymns

The two caskets were blessed at the memorial service and will be interred today.

Ch Supt Nash said: “Some of the officers went over to the battlefields in their own time to collect the soil.

“The memorial service was held on the anniversary of the start of the war, and the stone unveiling will be on the anniversary of Britain entering the war.”

A handmade Book of Remembrance listing the police and military details of the 23 fallen K Division officers will go on public display at Forest Gate police station.

Read more:

First World War centenary: Story of Dagenham pierrot who entertained troops

Barking war memorial undergoes £6,000 refurbishment for First World War centenary

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