Trooper W. Francis was killed during the Boer raid on Mafeking on 6.5.1900.
The attack occurred on a Sunday and was the second occasion on which the Boers broke the unofficial Sunday truces that had prevailed during the siege. Edward Ross, one of the men responsible for the Mafeking banknotes, recorded the incident in his diary:
'Enemy again repeated last Sunday's business. This time they galloped down on our horse and cattle guards, shot Trooper Francis of the B.S.A.P. [British South Africa Police], and rounding off 9 of our mules and 23 horses, got back at racing speed. They also opened fire with their 1-pound Maxim and seven-pounder, thus destroying all future Sunday truces. No more sports, etc., for us. Very hard luck.'
Lieutenant Cawood's version of the raid is more detailed and concerned more with its effects on a tired garrison in the seventh month of the siege:
'We had a nice quiet Sunday morning up to about 11 o'clock, when all at once the 15-pdr high velocity gun and 1lb. Maxim opened fire on our cattle and horses which were feeding further out than we can allow them on weekdays. Our forts were almost deserted, some of the men at the sales, others at church, others round the town to hear the latest news, when suddenly about a dozen Boers came racing up to where some of our horses and cattle were feeding, rounded them up and off with them as fast as they could, shooting one of the cattle guards who foolishly tried to stop the cattle instead of firing on the advancing Boers. This is what the Colonel [Baden-Powell] says about the transaction:
"The enemy have today played a treacherous trick upon us. At their request we had come to observe Sunday as a day of truce and, under cover of this, [they] today made a raid on some horses of the B.S.A.P. out grazing and shooting Trooper Francis, the grazing guard, they made off with about 20 animals. They also opened heavy fire on our other animals out grazing. Our cattle guards in reply to their fire killed 1 Boer and 1 horse and wounded another Boer. From this occurrence all outposts should take warning never to allow their vigilance or alertness to relax for a moment even under the most peaceful appearance of affairs; nor should they trust the honesty of a Boer under any circumstances whatsoever. In consequence of this loss of livestock it may become necessary to further reduce our meat ration. This is the sort of dirty trick the Boers would consider smart"' (Diary of Sub-Commandant Samuel Cawood, entry for 6.5.1900 contained in The Defence of Ladysmith and Mafeking)
Francis is buried at Mafeking in a grave with his brother, who was also a Trooper in the British South Africa Police. They were killed three months apart but within a few yards of each other, close to Cannon Kopje. Both are commemorated on the obelisk in the Town Hall Square, Mafeking.