Arthur Martin-Leake c. 1902
|Born||4 April 1874|
Standon, Hertfordshire, England
|Died||22 June 1953 (aged 79)|
High Cross, Hertfordshire, England
St. Johns Church, High Cross
|Years of service||1899–1902|
South African Constabulary
Royal Army Medical Corps
|Commands held||46th Field Ambulance|
|Battles/wars||Second Boer War|
First World War
|Awards||Victoria Cross & Bar|
Mentioned in Despatches
Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Martin-Leake, VC & Bar, VD (4 April 1874 – 22 June 1953) was a British physician, officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a double recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Martin-Leake was the first of only three men to be awarded the VC twice, the others being Noel Godfrey Chavasse and Charles Upham.
Arthur, the fifth son of Stephen Martin-Leake of Thorpe Hall, Essex, was born at Standon, near Ware, Hertfordshire, and was educated at Westminster School before studying medicine at University College Hospital, qualifying in 1893. He was employed at Hemel Hempstead District Hospital before enlisting in the Imperial Yeomanry, to serve in the Boer War in 1899.
Martin-Leake first served in the Second Boer War as a trooper in the Imperial Yeomanry. After his year of service was completed, he stayed on in South Africa as a civil surgeon. He then joined the South African Constabulary until he was forced to return home due to his wounds.
He was 27 years old and a surgeon captain in the South African Constabulary attached to the 5th Field Ambulance during the Second Boer War on 8 February 1902, at Vlakfontein, when he was awarded his first VC.
During the action at Vlakfontein, on the 8th February, 1902, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake went up to a wounded man, and attended to him under a heavy fire from about 40 Boers at 100 yards range. He then went to the assistance of a wounded Officer, and, whilst trying to place him in a comfortable position, was shot three times, but would not give in till he rolled over thoroughly exhausted. All the eight men at this point were wounded, and while they were lying on the Veldt, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake refused water till every one else had been served.
Martin-Leake qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1903 after studying while convalescing from wounds. He then took up an appointment in India as Chief Medical Officer with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway.
In 1912, he volunteered to serve with the British Red Cross during the Balkan Wars, attached to the Montenegran army, and was present during the Siege of Scutari (1912–13) and at Tarabosh Mountain. He was awarded the Order of the Montenegran Red Cross.
First World War
His award citation reads:
Lieutenant Arthur Martin Leake, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th May, 1902, is granted a Clasp for conspicuous bravery in the present campaign: —
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty throughout the campaign, especially during the period 29th October to 8th November, 1914, near Zonnebeke, in rescuing, whilst exposed to constant fire, a large number of the wounded who were lying close to the enemy's trenches.
Martin-Leake retired from the army after the war and resumed his company employment in India until he retired to England in 1937. Although there is no record of his being a pilot, he was registered in 1939 as the owner of a de Havilland Moth Minor aircraft, registered G-AFRY.
He died, aged 79, at High Cross, Hertfordshire. Following cremation at Enfield, Middlesex, Martin-Leake was buried in St John's Church, High Cross. He is commemorated with a plaque and a tree at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
- "Victoria County History of Hertfordshire, Standon". British History Online. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- RAMC in the Great War
- "No. 27433". The London Gazette. 13 May 1902. p. 3176.
- "The King´s Levee and Investiture". The Times (36784). London. 3 June 1902. p. 10.
- "No. 29074". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 February 1915. p. 1700.
- Civil Aviation Authority G-AFRY
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