The Worth family lived in Woolacombe, Frederick, Derek’s father, worked at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel during the second world war, as their own house had been taken over by the army when Woolacombe was used as a training base for the American Army. The family had rooms in an annexe of the hotel, whilst their belongings were stored at nearby Watermouth Castle.
A wonderful feature in the BBC’s WW2 People’s War by ‘Woolacombe Girl’, recalls the family and how “Mr Worth proudly brought his son in his newley acquired Pilots Wings to talk to the young men soon to follow in his footsteps. Derek was always popular and highly regarded by his peers”.
Sadly in 1941 during a training excerise in Scotland, Derek would die in a terrible accident. The news was reported on the 27th November 1941 in the North Devon Journal:
Death of Sub-Lieut Derek Worth
Woolacombe Parent’s Sad Bereavement.
“The parishoners of Mortehoe and Woolacombe extend sympathy in fullest measure to Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Worth of Devonia, Woolacombe in the loss through death of their only son Sub-Lieut Derek Worth of the Fleet Air Army, who gave his life in his country service. He was aged 21.”
His funeral a few weeks later conducted at Woolacombe’s parish church was attended by the entire village and included a detachement of the Home Guard, Naval Air Arm, Special Police and regular forces.