Thomas Edwin Leafe (1899–1918)


West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) 62150 15th & 17th Battalions

Thomas was born in 1899 and was employed at Castle Hosiery Works, Belper. When in training quarters he was remembered as a talented runner and a member of the battalion football team. On 12th April 1918, aged nineteen, after only twelve days in France, he was killed in action. He was buried at Le Grand Beaumart British Cemetery, Steenwerck, near Armentières.

Newspaper reports

Derbyshire Courier , 25 May 1918
Pte Thomas Leafe, Fritchley

Derbyshire Courier 25 May 1918
Mr and Mrs E Leafe, of Mount Pleasant, Fritchley, have had official intimation that their son Pte Thomas Leafe is missing. He has been in France only a short period. He is a well-known local athlete.

Derbyshire Courier , 1 June 1918
Mr E. Leafe, of Mount Pleasant, Frichley, has received further news with regard to his younger son, Private Thomas Leafe, West Yorks., Who was reported last week as missing. The news, which appears to confirm his relatives worst fears, was sent in by a soldier in a letter to relatives at Codnor. The writer states: “I’ve lost a good pal, Tom Leafe, of Ambergate. Fritz started sending shells over and one hit him.” The letters indicates that both were on sentry duty when this occurred. Private Leafe had been in France only 12 days. When in training quarters he met with considerable success on the running track, and was a member of the Battalion football team, which was comprised mainly of former League players, and included More of Derby County. Before joining up he was employed at the Castle Hosiery Works, Belper.

Medal Roll Index
He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials T E
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Private
Regiment/Service West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
Unit 15th/17th Bn.
Date of Death 12/04/18
Service No 62150
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference Special Mem. A5.

War graves certificate for Thomas Leafe in WW1

Soldiers' Effects Book
Thomas Edwin Leafe; 15/17th Bn West Yorks; Private 62150; died on or since 12.4.18; War Gratuity £5; paid out to:
11.6.19 father Edwin £7 11s 8d

The following verse by Martyn Offord was read at the November 2014 "Crich Front Lines" memorial event in the Glebe Field Centre in honour of Thomas Leafe.


Remembrance Sunday Morning
Before the tolling of the bell,
Someone reads out all the names
Of the sixty-two who fell.

But I wait through J and K
Until they come to L.

T.Leafe – the name sounds – well…

He must have had a nick-name
Teased by the older men,
A village lad, just nineteen years
Just nineteen years when…

In the Battle of the Lys somewhere
Around Steenwerck or Armentieres,
Was it Tetley, Twinings or Caddy they screamed
In warning, panicking, squelching round in the mud
As through the fog and artillery smoke
From behind them where they had infiltrated,
Came the German Sixth
With their bayonets fixed
Shooting at close range.

In Crich Chase and Shining Wood
It was the leaves that were shooting,
Tips of green along the edges of the Derwent;
Spring surging up the valley side:
Willow leaf, birch leaf, oak leaf, sycamore leaf,
T.Leafe perhaps had been called in fun after them all,
But called now to stand to the end, Backs to the Wall.
Haig’s order issued just the day before.

But later amid the chaos in a moment of relief
Trampled in the mud they found him – ‘Fallen Leaf’.

And so I am waiting quietly until we get to L
Because somewhere near Steenwerck,Thomas Leafe fell.

Thomas Leafe's brother James Leafe is also on the Roll of Honour.


1901: Fritchley

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Edwin Leafe Head 38 Factory hand hosiery Crich
Sarah S Leafe wife 37   Crich
Grace Leafe daughter 19 General Serv, domestic Crich
Ann Leafe daughter 17 Factory hand hosiery Crich
Harry Leafe son 15 Factory hand hosiery Crich
James Leafe son 7   Crich
Thomas E Leafe son 1   Crich

RG13 piece 3231 folio 8 page 7

1911: Fritchley

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Edwin Leafe Head 48 Hosiery operative woollen Crich
Sarah Strutt Leafe wife 47   Bullbridge
Rose Leafe daughter 21   Fritchley
James Leafe son 17 Hosiery operative woollen Fritchley
Thomas Edwin Leafe son 11 School Fritchley

RG14PN20983 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED12 SN125

1918 Crich voters
Thomas Edwin Leafe, Fritchley; absent on military service.