LEAF, Derek [DSC & bar]

Lieutenant, Edward Derek Walter LEAF - DSC and bar
Aged 25

Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
Killed in Action on Tuesday, 15th February 1944

Born in Farnham, Surrey Q3-1918 2A:188, he was the son of Lt. Charles Symonds Leaf, Royal Marines, and the Hon. Mrs. Catherine Blanche LEAF (née KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH).
In Fylde, Lancashire in Q2-1941 he married Doreen Laurie ORR, of Herringfleet, Suffolk.
At the time of his death his parents were living at The Manor, Freckenham.

From http://www.unithistories.com/officers/RNVR_officersL.html we have this service record:-

Education: BA (Cantab.)
Commissioned 29 October 1939
29.10.1939 - 04.1940 :- HMS Proserpine (RN base, Lyness, Scapa Flow)
13.09.1940 - 02.1941 :- First Lieutenant, HM MASB 54 (motor anti-submarine boat) [HMS Drake IV (accounting base, Devonport)]
04.1941 First Lieutenant, HM MGB 61 (motor gun boat)
19.08.1941 awarded Distinguished Service Cross for actions with E-boats 04.41 & 06.41
15.09.1941 - 06.1943 :- 7th MGB Flotilla [HMS Minos II, later HMS Mantis (Coastal Forces base, Lowestoft)]
11.1941 Commanding Officer, HM MGB ... (motor gun boat)
06.1942 Commanding Officer, HM MGB 91 (motor gun boat)
15.09.1942 Mentioned in Despatches for engagement convoy & escort 30.06.42
07.1943 - 07.1943 Commanding Officer, HM MGB 126 (motor gun boat)
07.1943 - 15.02.1944 Commanding Officer, HM MTB 444 (motor torpedo boat) & Senior Officer, 3rd MTB Flotilla
02.05.1944 awarded bar to DSC - 4 E-boats damaged at Nore 04.02.44

The Cambridge Journals had this to say:- "Lieutenant EDWARD DEREK LEAF, D.S.C. and bar, R.N.V.R., was born in 1918 and was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, Cambridge. In the interval between school and university he was a member of the Cambridge Expedition to Ellesmere Land and Baffin Island in the summer of 1937, and was particularly active in all ship matters and ice navigation; on land his interests were mainly directed to Eskimo archaeology. After gaining honours in Part I of the Geographical Tripos he took part, along with R. W. Feachem, in a survey expedition in 1939 to the Bay Islands, Honduras.
The outbreak of war prevented the completion of their plans, and Leaf immediately joined the Navy. He had always been a keen and skilful yachtsman, and on joining up he was attracted to motor gun boats. Leaf was a natural fighting leader, resourceful and daring, and in due course was promoted to command an M.G.B. flotilla. He was frequently in action, was twice wounded and mentioned in despatches. He gained his first award of the D.S.C. in 1941, and his bar in February 1944 when he fought his last battle in a spirited action off the Dutch coast."

a motor torpedo boat at speed

This is apparently the report which gives the clue as to how Derek may have been killed and brought home. From a German report:
"During the night of 14/15 Feb the 2nd E-boat Flotilla (S 89, S 98, S 92, S 80 and S 67) laid 21 LMB mines south-east of Great Yarmouth. While retreating the boats were pursued by the British corvettes Mallard and Shearwater. Offensive actions of the British MTB 439, MTB 441, MTB 443, MTB 444 and MTB 455 were spotted by German aerial reconnaissance so that the retreating 2nd E-boat Flotilla and the freed-up 8th E-boat Flotilla, comprising S 93, S 64, S 117, S 127, S 129, S 85, S 133, S 99 and S 65, were able to be deployed against them. In a battle with three boats of the German 34th mine-sweeping flotilla the MTB 455 and MTB 444 were hit. The German M 3411 sank while taking evasive action following a collision. In subsequent engagements the other British MTBs were hit as well as the S 89 and S 133."

Newspaper cutting at the time

Edward Derek Leaf is buried in BARBON (ST. BARTHOLOMEW) CHURCHYARD, in Westmorland, near Kirby Lonsdale, in the Shuttleworth family plot

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details