Police divers who found a World War One medal in a Sheffield river have managed to return it to its owner’s family.

The divers, who are part of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Marine Unit, were investigating a murder when they discovered the British War Medal while diving the River Loxley.

According to South Yorkshire Police, it belonged to Lance Corporal Stephen Smith, a man from Sheffield who died aged 23 at Suvla Bay in Turkey in August 1915. He served as part of the 6th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment in WWI.

After a social media callout, officers located the family and presented the medal to Stephen Smith’s great-nephew Julian Cliff.

PC Roger Bennett came across the medal when officers were searching the river bed during a murder investigation.

”I initially thought it was a coin, but as soon as I realised that it was a medal I was amazed,” Bennett said to the BBC.

“We quickly made the decision to attempt to reunite the medal with Stephen’s family, our research started within hours of us finding it.”

Messages came flooding in from all over the world just 24 hours after posting pictures of the medal on social media – with distant relatives of L/Cpl Smith getting in touch.

Julian Cliff was presented with the medal at Rotherham’s Clifton Park Museum, with 22 family members of L/Cpl Smith’s gathering for the ceremony. Some of the family had never met until the day.

Cliff said: ”At first I thought it was a hoax, but once things started to fall in to place I was so grateful that Roger and the team had decided to find us.

“They went beyond the call of duty and they have brought a family together – most of us have never met before today.”

Main image: Police Diver PC Roger Bennett & Julian Cliff © South Yorkshire Police

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