An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten

John Leslie DERRICK

Captain, 6th (Service) Battalion,
Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment)
[later called The Green Howards].

Born 4 September 1890,
Died 27 August 1917, aged 26 years.

Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke,
West-Vlaanderen, Belgium,
Panel 52 to 54 and 162A.

Originally enlisted in August 1914 in the Public Schools and University Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, John Leslie Derrick was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment in December of that year. He later saw service in Egypt from January to July 1916, and then in France and Flanders. He was promoted captain in July 1917 but was killed the following month during the Battle of Passchendaele (The Third Battle of Ypres).

Both he and his fellow Coatham schoolmaster F. C. Walker (q.v.) are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, which records the names of almost 35,000 soldiers who lost their lives in this sector of the Front during the First World War and who have no known grave.

John Leslie Derrick, along with F.C. Walker, both of them aged 23, joined the staff of Coatham Grammar School in December 1913. He was the son of the Revd. John George Derrick and Edith Derrick of 2, Royal Crescent, Cheltenham, and was a former pupil of Cheltenham Grammar School (1900-1908). His father, a Church of England clergyman, died in 1907. John had one older sister, Editha Kathleen, and one younger, Eleanor Freda. From Cheltenham Grammar School he went up to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A in 1913 in Mathematics (2nd Class Honours) and History (3rd Class Honours). He then trained as a teacher at Oxford University Day Training College before coming to Coatham, where he taught History, English, Mathematics and Drawing. His first salary was £100 a year with a residence allowance of £45. When he volunteered for military service in August 1914 his job was kept open for him. But he was not to return.