Vice Admiral Wilfrid Neville Derby, United States Coast Guard (retired) was born in Newark, N.J., on 4 December, 1889, the son of Henry and Ellen E. Auster Derby. He received his early education at Trinity School, New York City, and Stevens School in Hoboken, N.J., and then attended Webb Academy in New York. Appointed a cadet in the U.S. Coast Guard on 26 May, 1908, he received a commission as an ensign on 19 January, 1911.
His first assignment was on the Seneca, from which he was detached in April, 1911, for duty on the cutter Tuscarora. Leaving the Tuscarora eight months later, he was assigned to the cutter Androscoggin until April of 1912 when he reported aboard the Tahoma for duty on the Bering Sea Patrol. From August, 1912, until June, 1915, he served on the Thetis in Honolulu waters and then was attached to the cutter Pamlico until May, 1916. He next was assigned to the cutter Itasca and the Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut. During the war he served at the Academy as an instructor of cadets and in immediate charge of training enlisted recruits.
Following a short period of duty on the Manhattan in March, 1920, he was attached to the Earp. During the latter assignment he was designated a U.S. Deputy Marshall for the Third Division of Alaska, and in connection with duties on the Bering Sea Patrol for 1920. In May, 1922, he reported for duty on the cutter Mojave, from which he was detached in October of the following year for service on the cutter Manning. In May, of 1924 he became Coast Guard liaison officer at the Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, Va., and served in this capacity until the autumn of that year when he was assigned to duty on the staff of the Coast Guard Academy. While at the Academy he took part in cadet practice cruises on the Alexander Hamilton during the summer of 1925 and 1926, and the Mojave during the summer of 1927.
From early September, 1927 to November, 1930, he was in command of the destroyer Cassin. During the summer of 1928 he served as commander of Division I of the Destroyer Force in addition to his regular duties, and later that year became commander of Division 4 of the Force. In June, 1930, he was placed in command of Division 3 of the Force and the Cassin was assigned as flagship.
In November, 1930, he reported for duty to the Coast Guard Depot, Curtis Bay, Maryland, and in February, 1934, was detached from this assignment to become commanding officer of the Cayuga. Transferred to command of the cutter Itasca in February, 1935, he was on this ship during March, 1935, expedition which took possession of the Baker, Howland and Jarvis Islands for the United States. The Itasca also received the highest merit for cutters in the Engineering Competition during the year ending in June, 1935.
Detached from the Itasca at Honolulu, T.H., in October of that year he was assigned to Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., for duty as operations officer in the Office of the Chief of Operations. During this tour of duty he was designated in April, 1937, as Chief of Staff to the Commander of the International Yacht Race Patrol Force, and as Commander of the Second Division of the patrol. In June, 1941, he became commanding officer of the USS Wakefield but returned to Coast Guard Headquarters two months later for duty as Chief of the Maritime Service and Chief of Merchant Ship Control.
During the spring of 1942 he served on the staff of the Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, and then was attached to Coast Guard Headquarters until June of that year when he reported to Boston, Mass., as District Coast Guard Officer for the First Naval District. On August 1, 1947 Vice Admiral Derby came to the Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., where he served until his retirement September 1, 1950, with the rank of Vice Admiral.
After receiving a commission as an ensign on 18 January, 1911, he was promoted in rank as follows: Lieutenant (jg), 13 September, 1911; Lieutenant, 1 September, 1922; Lieutenant Commander, 12 January, 1923; Commander, 1 July, 1929; Captain, 26 June, 1941; Commodore, 1 June, 1943; Rear Admiral, July, 1945; and Vice Admiral, September 1, 1950.
Vice Admiral Derby marred Ruth F. M. McChesney of Honolulu, T.H., in March, 1921, at Honolulu. They have one son, Lieutenant Wilfrid N. Derby, Jr., USCG, and a daughter, Mrs. James Burgess of Rochester, N.Y. Vice Admiral Derby is a member of the American Legion. For service during the first World War, he received the Victory Medal.