An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten


No. 2663403 Guardsman, 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

Died 7 February 1945, aged 28 years

Buried in Florence War Cemetery, Florence, Italy,
Grave VIII.K.3.

2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards were part of the Allied forces fighting the Germans northwards in Italy, and at the time of Guardsman Leaf’s death had reached the area around Florence.

John Leaf was the son of John Nelson Leaf and Frances Annie Leaf of Redcar. They had three sons, Frank, John and George, each of whom attended Coatham School. John’s father was a fitter. John was born in March 1916 and in September 1927 he won a North Riding County Council Scholarship to attend Coatham School as a day boy. He went into Pearson’s House, later renamed Storr’s, and joined the school at the same time as Coupe and Proud (q.v.). John played rugby and cricket for his house and the school, at 1st team level, and had a particularly good cricket season in 1934, playing alongside Coupe. His other interests were in school debates, the drama society and the literary circle, and he was a contributor to the school magazine. In his final year, 1934-35, he was a school prefect and captain of Storr’s House. He passed the Higher School Certificate examinations with distinction in History and was awarded the Headmaster’s Prize for English and History. John’s occupation on leaving school in July 1935 is not known, but his home address at the time of his death remained Lumley Road, Redcar, that of his parents. He was first listed on the School’s Roll of Honour in June 1945.