Francis Martin Leake

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Vice-Admiral Francis Martin Leake, C.B., D.S.O., Royal Navy, Retired (16 March, 1869 – 21 January, 1928) was an officer in the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1 April, 1892.[1]

He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 31 December, 1903.[2]

Leake was promoted to the rank of Captain on 22 June, 1911.[3]

On 1 January, 1913, Leake was appointed Captain of Amethyst and Captain (D) of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla.[4]

On 1 October he transferred to Pathfinder, retaining command of the flotilla.[5]

Great War

On 5 September, 1914, Pathfinder was torpedoed by U 21 ten miles south-east of May Island. A magazine was detonated and the ship sank in four minutes with a large part of her crew. Leake was wounded but survived.[6] He wrote to his mother from the hospital yacht Sheelah (owned by Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty's wife Lady Ethel) on 8 September:

It was Saturday afternoon at 3.45, we had sent the TBDs off on various errands and were returning from a sweep out to sea to investigate shipping, etc. I had just left the bridge and was in my after cabin standing by the table when the screws began to stop. I started a bolt to see what it was, but before I got away from the table, she gave a veritable stagger and tremble and everything movable came tumbling down. I got up the ladder pushed the hatch cover up (it had come down), then got the boy (my valet) out, and had a look round.


Every sort of thing was in the air. Shell room forward seemed still to be going up. The torpedo got us in our forward magazine and evidently sent this up, thereby killing everyone forward. Her upper deck was flush with the water forward and it was only a question of how long she would float. Both our cutters were smashed up, the whaler was whole so all that could be done was to get this boat out and throw all floatable matter over. A badly hurt man was brought after and put on the Q.D. While this was going on she began decidedly to go down by the bows and the 1st lieutenant gave the order for jumping overboard, he judged this very well. Personally I stayed too long and found myself on the after shelter deck with the ship rapidly assuming an upright position. I decided to stand on the searchlight stand and take my chance. This soon went under and self as well, come up again ship still there, had another dive and then got shot right clear. The situation then developed, an oar came along and then a blue jacket. Then another oar and another blue jacket. Looked for ship found her still on her nose (probably on the bottom) she then fell over and disappeared, leaving a mass of wreckage all round, but I regret a very few men amongst it, for at the time they were all asleep on the mess decks and the full explosion must have caught them, for no survivors came from forward. I found one of the sailors with me had a broken leg. This prevented propelling our oars to where more wood was. So I swam away to a more plentiful supply, and met a meat safe, I knocked the end out of this and was busy at the other end when I snuffed out for a time.

On recovery I found myself being well rubbed with rum in a bunk on T.B.26 and she was getting alongside this yacht to deliver me to the tender care of these people who have done every possible thing imaginable for me. I somehow got a cut on the head, getting clear of the ship I expect this evidently bled and accounts for loss of senses. They pumped salt and water into me until I objected. I now have normal temperature nearly healed head and drank beer for lunch and hope in a day or so to hear of a new ship. This outfit is run by Lady Beatty the wife of the Admiral! Commander! 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron. I like her very much and much appreciate her kindness. Sir Alfred Cripp is onboard with another surgeon McNair two top five nurses from Park Lane. I am the only patient here – The “Liberty” another yacht has come and some are in the hospital. You see I have the best that London can produce, it is strange how I am always coming into this. Sorry to have inflicted so much self on you, but there is little else please write to Her Ladyship and thank her also to Cripp he is a very good sort. Mail going – nurse coming, So must close up.[7]

On 6 October he was appointed to Victory for service at Portland training up "M" class destroyers. He was appointed in command of the armoured cruiser Achilles on 19 February, 1915.[8]

He was appointed additional to Colleen on 20 June, 1917, as Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief on the Coast of Ireland with the rank of Commodore, Second Class.[9] Sir Lewis Bayly, the Commander-in-Chief, later wrote of Leake as "a most exceptional man, for everyone loved the little Commodore."[10]

Post-War

Leake's appointment in Ireland ceased on 1 June, 1919, and on the same day he was appointed to King George V as Chief Staff Officer to Vice-Admiral Sir Henry F. Oliver, Vice-Admiral Commanding the Home Fleet, which in November became the Reserve Fleet.[11] Oliver had served with Leake in the old gunboat Stork and apparently asked for him as Chief Staff Officer.[12]

On 25 May, 1920, Leake was injured in a motorcycle accident. Convalescence at home went well, but he failed some medical surveys in the next month. He was found fit again, however, on 5 August.[13]

He was placed on the Retired List at his own request dated 19 November, 1921, in order to facilitate the promotion of younger officers.[14]

He died at Marshalls, Ware, Hertfordshire, on 21 January, 1928, after a three year battle with "dementia paralytica." He was survived by his brother, Lt. Col. W. Martin Leake.[15]

Sir Lewis Bayly wrote to The Times following Leake's death:

Although Vice-Admiral Martin Leake was very little known outside the Service, it is true to say that no officer of or near his standing was so highly respected and more universally liked in the Navy than he was. Quiet, unassuming, and reserved, he combined firmness and great ability with a tendency to mercy for those who were less able to help themselves in a way that made him a real leader of men. During his service as Chief of Staff in Queenstown he made a great reputation and friendship among the United States officers and men owing to his selfless tact and constant willingness to help all ranks and ratings of whatever nationality. No one ever carried out better the rôle laid down by St. Paul, "In honour preferring one another."[16]

Bibliography

  • "Vice-Admiral F. Martin-Leake" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 23 January, 1928. Issue 44797, col B, p. 17.
  • Bayly, Admiral Sir Lewis (1939). Pull Together! The Memoirs of Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O. London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1924). Naval Staff Monographs (Historical): Fleet Issue. Volume XI. Home Waters—Part II. September and October 1914. O.U. 5528 A (late C.B. 917(I)). Copy at The National Archives. ADM 186/620.
  • Oliver, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry F., K.C.B., K.C.M.G. Recollections. Volume II. Oliver Papers. National Maritime Museum. OLV/12.

Papers

  • Papers in the possession of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
?
Captain of H.M.S. Bramble
28 Jun, 1900[17] – 27 Aug, 1903[18]
Succeeded by
Oscar M. Makins
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of H.M.S. Boadicea
14 May, 1909[19] – 27 Jul, 1909[20]
Succeeded by
Edward F. B. Charlton
Preceded by
Edward F. B. Charlton
Captain of H.M.S. Topaze
27 Jul, 1909[21] – 10 Aug, 1909[22]
Succeeded by
Reginald Y. Tyrwhitt
Preceded by
Reginald Y. Tyrwhitt
Captain of H.M.S. Hecla
10 Aug, 1909[23] – 14 Aug, 1909[24]
Succeeded by
Hugh F. W. Wyldbore-Smith
Preceded by
Hugh F. W. Wyldbore-Smith
Captain of H.M.S. Patrol
14 Aug, 1909[25][26] – 28 Jul, 1911[27]
Succeeded by
John E. Cameron
Preceded by
Charles S. Wills
Captain of H.M.S. Amethyst
1 Jan, 1913[28][29] – 1 Oct, 1913[30]
Succeeded by
Cecil F. Lambert
Preceded by
Charles S. Wills
as Commander (D), Eighth Destroyer Flotilla
Captain (D), Eighth Destroyer Flotilla
1 Jan, 1913[31] – 5 Sep, 1914[32]
Succeeded by
Philip A. Bateman-Champain
Preceded by
John B. Sparks
Captain of H.M.S. Pathfinder
1 Oct, 1913[33][34] – 5 Sep, 1914[35]
Succeeded by
Vessel Lost
Preceded by
Arthur L. Cay
Captain of H.M.S. Achilles
19 Feb, 1915[36][37] – 20 Jun, 1917[38]
Succeeded by
Charles D. Carpendale
Preceded by
Charles D. Carpendale
Captain of H.M.S. Colleen
20 Jun, 1917[39]
Succeeded by
?

Footnotes

  1. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  2. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  3. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  4. The Navy List. (July, 1913). p. 276-7.
  5. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  6. Home Waters—Part II. p. 44.
  7. Letter of 8 September, 1914. Leake Papers. Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. Ref. 87515.
  8. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  9. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  10. Bayly. p. 211.
  11. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  12. Oliver. Recollections. II. f. 211.
  13. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 32540. p. 9890. 6 December, 1921.
  15. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  16. "The Late Vice-Admiral Martin-Leake" (Obituaries). The Times. Friday, 27 January, 1928. Issue 44801, col D, p. 16.
  17. The Navy List. (January, 1901). p. 233.
  18. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  19. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  20. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  21. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  22. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  23. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  24. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  25. The Navy List. (January, 1910). p. 353.
  26. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  27. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  28. The Navy List. (July, 1913). p. 276-7.
  29. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  30. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  31. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  32. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  33. The Navy List. (July, 1913). p. 276-7.
  34. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  35. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  36. The Navy List. (December, 1916). p. 391a.
  37. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  38. Leake Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 69.
  39. The Navy List. (August, 1917). p. 392l.