Ned Nathan recounts Harding Leaf's death

This account of Harding Leaf's death is taken from Patricia Grace, Ned & Katina: a true love story, Penguin Books Ltd, 2009, pp 64-65.

"In his wide position on the start line Captain Harding Leaf, with two C Company platoons in his charge, did not receive word that the advance had been delayed, and set out at the given time of 1a.m.

It seems Leaf didn't like his chances that night.  Before they all moved out to the start line he had handed Ned his wallet, wanting him to take possession of his personal items as though he'd had some premonition that he might not be back.  Ned held the wallet for a moment, thought of the implications, then reached out to tuck it back into the Captain's pocket.

Some distance from the start Leaf's two early platoons came under heavy fire and several were killed.  Ned was waiting with the main group back at the start line when the news of several deaths, including that of Leaf, was brought back to them by a returning commander.

Acting of his own accord, Ned went looking for Leaf and found him where he lay, almost cut in half by machine-gun bullets.  Leaf's death was never officially verified.  He has no named resting place on Crete, but Ned was there and identified the man whose courage and leadership he admired and whose friendship he valued.  He cried for a comrade and mentor, then using his bayonet carved a cross into the olive tree under which Leaf lay, marking it with his friend's blood before returning to take part in the counter-attack."

Submitted by mbadmin on

Takupu (0)