A Driving Leadership
Staff Sergeant Clifford Leader Royal Army Service Corps
The Man Clifford Leader was born on 24th March 1898 in Leeds, Yorkshire son of George, a White Smith and Bell Hanger and Martha Leader. He was the only male of five children, Sarah born in 1886, Daisy 1886, Jennie 1887 and Olive E 1889. His religion was Church of England. Sadly George died in 1901 aged just 31 when Clifford was 3, leaving Martha a Widow and bringing up the five children. By the 1901 census the family were living at 28 Melville Road in Leeds and Martha was working as a Boxmaker. 10 years later they were living at 1 Thirteenth Avenue, Tong Road, Clifford now working as an Errand Boy at a Cycle & Motor Shop and Martha a Cook in a Boot Factory. On 6th January 1915 aged 16 and during World War I, Clifford enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a Private and Driver with service number T4/252420 which was later changed to EMT/64725. He was posted to France where saw active service, contracting an illness possibly as a result of being gassed. He was discharged on 9th July 1919 under Kings Regulation 392 xvi(a) ‘Surplus to military requirement having suffered impairment since entering the service”. He was awarded a Silver War Badge No 344002 and the British War & Victory Medals, although for some reason these were returned, only to be re-issued in November 1945. His medal index card appears to say ‘Deserted’ but no further evidence of this can be found. Clifford re-enlisted into the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) on 17th April 1920 and during the third quarter of 1932 aged 34 married Cora Ida Dentith in Leeds and he was working as a bus driver. He appears to have had a break in Army service but attested back into the RASC TA on 24th April 1939, and was described as 5’.5½“ tall, weighing 144lbs with a fresh complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair and a fully expanded girth of 37”. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 1st July 1939 and embodied on 4th September the day after the start of World War II. Promoted to Acting Corporal on 18th November, Acting Sergeant on 30th January 1940 he was posted to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 5th February. He was involved in the retreat to the beaches of Dunkirk and evacuated on 23rd June landing back in England the next day, whereupon he was posted to 36 Motor Coach Company on 18th July and appointed war substantive Sergeant on 30th April. On 7th May 1942 he embarked for service in East Africa disembarking on 27th June, and possibly involved in The Battle of Madagascar, the British campaign to capture Vichy French-controlled Madagascar. He was however hospitalised and transferred to South Africa, embarking for the UK on 8th April 1943, landing in England on 25th. He remained in the UK for the rest of the war and was discharged from the Army under para 204-60 TA Regs and posted to the Y List Class Z (T) Royal Army Reserve on 5th October 1945. For his service he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Efficiency Medal ‘Territorial’ and a further wound badge. Upon his release his Commanding Officer stated “This NCO is a Vehicle Mechanic class I and a thorough tradesman. He has been in charge of vehicle inspections for the past six months and has shown great interest in his work, and a tactfulness with the A.T.S with whom he has been constantly in contact. A good disciplinarian, he has sober habits and very trustworthy. Clifford was formally discharged from the Army Reserve on 15th June 1947 his military conduct being described as ‘Good’. He re-enlisted the next day into the 49 (WR&M) Armoured Divisional Column Royal Army Service Corps TA with the same service number and as a Vehicle Mechanic and later Fitter Class I, for a period of eight years. He was living with Cora at 24 Haddon place in Leeds and his civilian occupation was now given as vehicle mechanic. He was promoted to substantive Sergeant on 16th December 1947 and posted to 519 company. He attended all his annual training camps and in 1950 qualified as a ‘highly skilled vehicle mechanic’. He was promoted to Mechanic Staff Sergeant the same year and in July 1951 volunteered to transfer into the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and appointed substantive Staff Sergeant. Clifford returned to bus driving for a living and was a member of the National Safety First Association, winning their Safe Driving Medal for five years safer driving in 1935, followed by a bar in 1936, 37, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51,53, 54 and another medal in 1955 with bars for 1956, 58, 59 and 1960. He was also a member of the British Legion with badge number T7486. Clifford was awarded the Coronation Medal 1953 and his lengthy service career came to an end with his discharge from the TA on 15th June 1955 aged 57, and 41 years after he enlisted during World War I. He was recognised by being awarded the first clasp to his Efficiency Medal the same year. At some point Clifford divorced Cora and re-married during the fourth quarter of 1961 to Dorothy Fletcher. Clifford died on 19th March 1975 at Hillingbeck Hospital in Leeds aged 76. Following an inquest held on 21st March, the cause of death was given as Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema due to Cor Pulmonale due to congestive heart failure contracted whilst on active service during the 1914-18 War. Recorded as Misadventure. Thus ended the life of a man who gave the best part of it to serving his country, and died as a result of injuries received some sixty years previously in a totally different era.
The Story The medals awarded to Clifford Leader were acquired from E-Bay on 21st April 2016 and were of interest due to the World War I and II combination, together with the Efficiency Medal and Coronation Medal, a span of three Monarchs and forty years. Also of interest were the safe driving awards awarded to Clifford, one of which was also named. To quote a former luminary of the Birmingham Medal Society, Paul Faber, these ‘Cinderella’ awards often say more about the man than the actual medals. The usual Ancestry.UK trawl uncovered some interesting detail, including the fact Clifford may have been a deserter during World War I and his medals appear to have been forfeit. However no additional details confirm this and Clifford went on to have a lengthy and successful Army career, his WWI medals being re-issued in 1945. His death certificate was ordered and showed he had died in 1975 from injuries received during World War I, possibly from gassing. His service records were also ordered from the Army Records Office and this enabled a more detailed biography to be prepared from World War II on.
- 1914-18 British War Medal: T4-252420 DVR.C. LEADER. R.A.S.C.
- Victory Medal: T4-252420 DVR.C. LEADER. R.A.S.C.
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Coronation Medal 1953: S/SGTLEADER.C. R.A.S.C.
- Efficiency Medal: T/24674. SJT.C.LEADER. R.A.S.C.
This page last updated 22 Jul 16