China 1900,
Lot 48
China 1900,
Sold for £1,800 (US$ 3,025) inc. premium
Lot Details
China 1900,
no bar (Lieut: T.E.Martin-Leake. R.E.). With a Balloon School Royal Engineers medallion. Very fine or better. (2)


  • Lieutenant Theodore Edward Martin-Leake was the youngest son of Stephen Martin-Leake, he was born on the 15th December 1879 Second Lieutenant 23.3.1899; Lieutenant 3.8.1901. He served as 2 i/c to Captain A.H.B.Hume, Royal Engineers in 4 Balloon Section RE for China. Confirmed as serving in the China Expedition 1900-01 and entitled to the medal. He then served at Aldershot at the balloon School RE, and in the Balloon Section at Malta in July 1906. He was then posted back to Aldershot (Farnborough) Balloon School.

    He drowned off the Dorset coast on the 28th May 1907 with Lieutenant W.T.M.Clintock Caulfield as a result of an accident with the war balloon Thrasher. They went "up" in the balloon from Aldershot on Tuesday the 28th June in the presence of the King and Prince Fushimi of Japan. A Mr House, the landlord of the Coach and Horses, at Winterborne Abbas had seen the balloon going over the village shortly before 8 o'clock. It was only 40 feet from the ground and had a rope trailing, the two Officers shouted to him to catch the rope which he failed to do so. They said they were making for Bridport but were warned they were not far from the sea. A Mr Tolman a farmer also saw them and again was unable to grab the rope. House and Tolman continued to chase it but failed. The balloon continued to head towards Bridehead very close to the ground. A carpenter named Samson saw them, and again they asked him how close was it to Bridport. Samson said the balloon was almost touching the ground and they could easily have slid down the rope. They were then seen to throw out ballast in order to clear one of the small hills. They were also heard talikng as the balloon went over Little Bredy. The final moments of their plight is not known apart from two men of West Bexington Farm saw the balloon splash into the water but quickly rose again, it was thought the Officers may have jumped into the sea at this point.

    The balloon was recovered by the Brixham fishing boat Skylark, and returned to the factory in Aldershot. His body was recovered from the sea at Burdon Bradstock, near Bridport on the 29th June and was buried at St.Michael's, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, on the 2nd July 1907. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death by drowning. His brother was Surgeon-Captain A.Martin-Leake VC and bar, MC, R.A.M.C.

    Sold with detailed research including copied letters of condolence, various reports etc.
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