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Martin Leake, Arthur

Martin Leake, Arthur, 1874-1953
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About this work


This collection contains undated photographs and photographic negatives taken by, or relating to, Arthur Martin Leake (AML).

The photographs and negatives include studio portrait photographs and informal snapshots taken in Belgium, Northern France, Malta and Corfu of Arthur Martin Leake, soldiers and officers, buildings, many of them shelled, 5 Field Ambulance, and the French fleet, predominantly dating 1914-1916.

Although AML served for the duration of the war, his negatives from May-June 1915 (see AML/2) are apparently his last negatives sent home, except for those from Corfu (see AML/6), perhaps following tighter regulations. Some time in April 1915 he sent his camera home, following orders. By 24 May 1915 a replacement camera arrived, following his instruction, 'Don't put outside what the contents are.' On 18 June AML had asked Isabel (Bella), his sister, for spools of film; 'have not taken any photos, for want of subjects, but may get something to take later. They must not be marked films outside.' These words provide the only clues to his abandonment of photography on the Western Front, the subject not mentioned again in his letters home. Under different conditions on Corfu, January - February 1916, AML took a further 35 photographs (see AML/6).

A digitised copy of this material is held by the Wellcome Library. Some descriptions include image numbers which correspond to the digitised version of these prints and negatives.



Physical description

6 items

Biographical note

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Martin Leake VC & Bar (4 April 1874 - 22 June 1953) was a double recipient of the Victoria Cross. He was the fifth son of Stephen Martin Leake, born at Standon, Hertfordshire. He studied medicine at University College Hospital, qualifying in 1893. He worked at Hemel Hempstead District Hospital before enlisting in the Imperial Yeomanry to serve in the Boer War in 1899, being awarded the Victoria Cross in 1902. In 1903, after studying while convalescing from his wounds, he qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He then took up an appointment in India as Chief Medical Officer with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway. At the outbreak of the Balkan War in October 1912, Martin Leake volunteered with the British Red Cross and left immediately for Montenegro, where he worked closely with the Montenegrin army, and remained, although recalled by the British Red Cross, for the battles of Tarabosh and Scutari, February-April 1913. He was awarded by King Nicholas with the Order of the Montenegrin Red Cross.

With the outbreak of the First World War he served as a lieutenant with 5 Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). The actions for which he was awarded a Bar to his VC took place in late October to early November 1914. Dates for his VC citation have been subsequently debated, one proposal being 5 to 12 November, another highlighting occasions of heavy shelling of 5, 9 and 12 November; Haig writing that Martin Leake had 'repeatedly done most gallant acts,' another that he 'performed acts of gallantry every day between October 29th and November 8th.' The citation finally read '…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.' Also noted was his inspiring conduct during episodes of shelling of his Dressing Station (the White House). (See photographs in AML/3 and A.Clayton, Martin-Leake, Double VC).

Martin Leake retired from the army at the end of the war and resumed his company employment in India until he retired to England in 1937. During the Second World War he commanded the local ARP post. He died in 1953, aged 79, at Marshalls, the family home at High Cross, Hertfordshire.

Related material

Army Medical Services Museum: Photographs and memorabilia as part of the RAMC collection. Further negatives from the Balkan War in 1912 have been presented to the Army Medical Services Museum in 2014 to join their collection of AML's photographs of that conflict (RAMC/101/4/7).

Hertfordshire Archives: Great War Album and various letters among a substantial collection of Martin Leake family papers.

Further photographs and other material is held by the Martin Leake family.

Ownership note

This collection currently remains with the Martin Leake family. It was lent to the Wellcome Library in August 2013 by a member of the Martin Leake family to be digitised.

Location of duplicates

A digitised copy is held by the Wellcome Library.

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