George Piercy Leith

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Captain (retired) George Piercy Leith, C.B.E. (3 August, 1877 – 31 August, 1945) served in the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

George Leith gained nine months' time on passing out of Britannia in December, 1892. His first appointment was to Empress of India, dated 13 January, 1894.[1]

Following appointments in Camperdown and Volage, Leith received his first experience in torpedo craft when he was appointed to H.M.S. Vivid, additional, for the destroyer Decoy, operating out of Devonport, on 15 September, 1898. He left her for an appointment in Victorious, in China, on 10 January, 1899.[2]

Leith was returned to Western service when appointed to Cambrian of the Training Squadron on 10 August, 1900 and then to Hyacinth some time later in the year. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 31 December, 1900 and ended his appointment in Hyacinth. On 7 February, 1901 he was given an appointment in Terpsichore on the Cape of Good Hope Station. This would last over three years, ending on 25 April, 1904.[3]

Leith's high pitched voice and unorthodox way of expressing himself enlivened time shared aboard a ship with him.

He returned to work in destroyers when he was appointed in command of Opossum on 14 July for the annual manoeuvres of 1904. These stints usually lasted just a few weeks or months, and Leith was cautioned after he committed an error in judgment which resulted in a collision between Opossum and Teazer. This collision caused her to damage her propeller, and Leith, dismayed that the dockyard workers were taking the weekend off, took it upon himself to flood the drydock at Devonport and take his ship back to Berehaven to resume exercises. The temerity of this act was praised despite the fact that the caisson for the drydock was left bobbing about in Devonport harbour. Leith was appointed to Boscawen for Boscawen III later in the year.[4][5]

Leith left Boscawen on 1 January, 1906 for an appointment in command of the destroyer Dasher. Leith grounded Dasher on Maplin Sands due to what was determined to be his own "want of care." In April, he was placed in command of Ness. At the end of May, he moved to command Conflict. On 4 October 1906, he was given command of Peterel of the Home Fleet.[6]

On 29 October, 1907, Leith was appointed in command of the River Class destroyer Ribble of the Channel Fleet. On 25 May, 1908, Leith aroused Their Lordships' "severe displeasure" over his failure to forward a report of a collision between Ribble and S.S. Presto.

Leith was appointed from Ribble to command of the gunboat Moorhen on the China Station on 19 April, 1909 and took over command of the ship on 17 June. He received a favourable inspection report on her in April of 1910 and distinguished himself in 1912 by fitting her with an ad-hoc wireless installation, albeit one powered by the exertions of a generator stolen from a locomotive at Canton Railway Station.[7]

Leith was appointed in command of the third class protected cruiser Topaze in mid-April, 1913 and promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1913. On 4 August, he was appointed to President, additional, where he was to provide "special service" prior to joining the Naval Mission to Greece in company with Admiral Mark Kerr. Leith left England on 17 September, 1913.[8]

Great War

Leith served in Greece, on the books of Egmont until 5 May 1916 when he embarked to return to England.

On 19 August, 1916, Leith towed the torpedoed sloop Falmouth.

On 31 January, 1917, Leith was reportedly sick.

On 2 October 1917, he grounded Porpoise and was cautioned to exercise greater care in future.

Post-War

On 24 March, 1919, Leith was appointed to Egmont for special service on the Danube. These unfolded such that on 15 February, 1920 Leith took over command of the Danube Flotilla. He returned to England when he was relieved by Captain Warton. On 29 November, 1920, he received his last meaningful naval appointment as Officer Instructor, Tyneside Division Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, vice Kerr.[9]

Leith was invested with the C.B.E. (M) at Buckingham Palace on 2 December, 1920. With the prospects for long-term continued employment in the Royal Navy becoming dimmer, he inquired about serving in the Royal Australian Navy in early 1922, but was informed that all vacancies were filled. After being superseded at Tyneside on 27 June, 1923, Leith was placed on the Retired List at his own request with the rank of Captain on 19 January, 1924.[10]

There are entries in his service record hinting that Leith went bankrupt in the mid-1920s, but there are no indications that he was contacted for service in World War II. He died on 31 August, 1945.[11]

See Also

  • Service Records
  • Wikipedia
  • Lowis, Commander Geoffrey (1959). Fabulous Admirals and Some Naval Fragments: Being a Brief Account of some of the Froth on those Characters who Enlivened the Royal Navy a Generation or Two Ago. London: Putnam.

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Bernard J. H. Ward
Captain of H.M.S. Opossum
14 Jul, 1904[12] – 1904[13]
Succeeded by
Claude H. Woodward
Preceded by
Stanley V. Ellis
Captain of H.M.S. Dasher
1 Jan, 1906[14] – 1 Apr, 1906[15]
Succeeded by
John Reep
Preceded by
Osmond J. Prentis
Captain of H.M.S. Ness
1 Apr, 1906[16] – 28 May, 1906[17]
Succeeded by
Stanley V. Ellis
Preceded by
Albert M. H. Phillips
Captain of H.M.S. Conflict
28 May, 1906[18] – 4 Oct, 1906[19]
Succeeded by
William C. Castle
Preceded by
Arthur Bromley
Captain of H.M.S. Peterel
4 Oct, 1906[20][21] – 29 Oct, 1907[22]
Succeeded by
Mark G. Newton
Preceded by
Percy L. H. Noble
Captain of H.M.S. Ribble
29 Oct, 1907[23][24] – 19 Apr, 1909[25]
Succeeded by
Sandford G. R. Nevile
Preceded by
Robert E. Vaughan
Captain of H.M.S. Moorhen
19 Apr, 1909[26][27] – 10 Oct, 1912[28]
Succeeded by
Robert N. Marshall
Preceded by
Charles J. Wintour
Captain of H.M.S. Topaze
14 Apr, 1913[29][30] – 4 Aug, 1913[31]
Succeeded by
William J. B. Law
Preceded by
Hugh D. Colville
Captain of H.M.S. Porpoise
May, 1916[32] – 23 Oct, 1917[33]
Succeeded by
Austen G. Lilley
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of H.M.S. Relentless
18 May, 1916[34]c. Jun, 1916[35]
Succeeded by
Hugh D. Colville
Preceded by
John F. Grant-Dalton
Captain of H.M.S. Armadale Castle
13 Dec, 1917[36][37] – 14 Jan, 1919[38]
Succeeded by
?

Footnotes

  1. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  2. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  3. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  4. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  5. Fabulous Admirals. pp. 182-3.
  6. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  7. Fabulous Admirals. p. 184.
  8. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  9. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  10. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  11. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  12. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  13. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  14. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  15. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  16. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  17. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  18. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  19. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  20. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  21. The Navy List. (March, 1907). p. 356.
  22. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  23. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  24. The Navy List. (October, 1908). p. 366.
  25. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  26. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  27. The Navy List. (January, 1910). p. 347.
  28. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  29. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  30. The Navy List. (August, 1913). p. 387.
  31. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  32. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 396m.
  33. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  34. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  35. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  36. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.
  37. The Navy List. (December, 1918). p. 988.
  38. Leith Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/437. f. 439.