Rank & Name: Cpt. Eric Gilbert Leake MC

Date of Death: 31/07/1918


Cpt. Leake is noted in the 59 Squadron Record Book as a Lt. pilot with Lt. Copeland as observer/gunner on 13/04/1917. He is also noted as pilot with 2/AM Tilley as observer/gunner on the same day.



Eric Gilbert Leake MC
Rank: Captain
Ship/Rgn/Sqn No: 59 Sqn
Name of Rgt or Ship: Royal Air Force
Died: 31/07/1918 Age: 25
How Died: Died of Wounds
Country of burial: France Grave Photo: Yes
Cemetery or Memorial: Bagneux British Cemetery, Gézaincourt
Town Memorial: Hale

Extra Information:
Born 26th January 1893, the son of James Medley & Florence Leake (nee
Ramm), the second of four brothers. Birth registered during the March
quarter 1893 at Chorlton R.D. - 8c/758.

1901 census - Sedbergh School, Sedbergh, Yorkshire. Boarder - aged: 8
born: Fallowfield, Manchester. His parents were then residing at "Wood Hill", Harrop Road, Hale, Cheshire. Head of Household - James Medley Leake (father) - Married - aged: 45 - occ: Grey Cloth Merchant - born: Manchester. Florence Leake (mother) - Wife - aged: 42 - born: Manchester. Plus his 2 brothers and 2 servants. First attended Sedbergh Preparatory School in January 1901 aged 7 years,
finishing up as Head Pupil of the School and stayed there until July 1906. He continued his education at the Sedbergh (Higher) School - No. 1594 on the School Register - leaving there in April 1910.

1911 Census - "Ardes Craig", Belmont Road, Hale, Cheshire. Son - aged: 18 - occ: Bank Clerk - born: Manchester. Head of Household - James Medley Leake (father) - Married - aged: 55 - occ: Grey Cloth Merchant - born: Manchester. Florence Leake (mother) - Wife - aged: 52 - born: Manchester. Plus 2 servants.

After leaving School, he went to Canada and was employed by the Royal Bank of Canada, Young Street/King Street, Toronto from 1913 until the outbreak of war, when he returned to the UK, and immediately enlisted in the Canadian Highlanders (Sedbergh School records) Scottish Horse (local
newspaper report). He trained on Salisbury Plain, going to Prance where he was soon promoted to Corporal, he later rose to the rank of Quarter-Master Sergeant. In 1915 he was commissioned in the 7th Bn Manchester Rgt. and saw active service before being attached to the R.F.C, the forerunner of the R.A.F. MIC - Originally a Lance Corporal serving in the 15th Canadian Infantry - No. 28050. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 7th Bn Manchester Rgt and drafted to France on the 15th February 1915. Later becoming a Captain in the RAF.

Attended the School of Military Aeronautics at Reading, Berkshire on the 18th September 1916. Drafted to 36 (Home Defence) Sqn. on the 20th November 1916. Then to 2 Reserve Sqn. on the 30th November 1916 and to 17 Reserve Sqn. on the 10th February 1917. Appointed Temporary Lieutenant on the 19th March 1917. Transferred to 59 Sqn. on the 21st March 1917, stationed at La Bellevue, France flying R.E.8 aircraft. On the 8th April 1917 Lt. E.G. Leake and Lt. P.L. Hogan, flying with 59 Squadron, took off in a 'RE8' aircraft No. A3418 on an Escadrille (French Flying Unit) photographic mission. They were in combat with enemy aircraft (EA) and were shot up at Etaing and their aircraft damaged Lt. Leake was
OK, but Lt. Hogan had been wounded. Appointed Temporary Captain on the 26th April 1917. Ref: "The Sky their Battlefield" - The 4th April 1917 saw the start of the air offensive in the Battle of Arras. The British front line ran from Givenchy-en-Gohelle, south to Croisilles - the key to the fighting was The capture of Vimy Ridge which the Canadians succeeded in doing on the 9th, April. The R.F.C. gave much support to this offensive and some 60% of all R.F.C. losses in the last few days of this Battle were from photo reconnaissance work.

On the 4th May 1917 - Lt. E.G. Leake was flying with 59 Squadron in a 'RE8' aircraft when he sustained anti-aircraft fire and was slightly wounded. On the 1st June 1917, 59 Sqn. moved to Le Hameau and on the 7th June 1917, he was wounded for the second time. The Battle of Messines commenced on the 7th June 1917 with the exploding of 19 huge underground mines (there were 21 laid but two situated just to the
north-east of Ploegsteert Wood were lost - one exploded during a lightning storm in 1955 - the other is still down there somewhere!!!). The R.F.C. undertook numerous Contact Patrols that day sending valuable information down to our ground forces. Lt E.G. Leake was on one such Artillery
Observation Patrol that day, flying with 59 Squadron in a 'RE8' aircraft and sustained a shoulder injury.
1917 saw much movement of 59 Sqn as it moved to Longavesnes on the 15th June - then to Mons-en-Chassée on the 15th July - then back to Longavesnes on the 29th October - then to Entrées-en Chassée on the 30th November - then to Courcelles-le-Compte on the 16th December. Enemy advances by the morning of the 15th March 1918 made a very grave picture. A desperate order went out from Major-General J..M. Salmond to the 9th Wing to:- "Send out your scout squadrons and those of 25, 27 and 62 Squadrons that are available into the line Grevillers-Martinpiuch-Maricourt, These Squadrons will bomb and shoot up everything they see on The enemy side of this line. Very low flying is
essential and all risks are to be taken. Urgent". 59 Sqdn's movements continued into 1918 when they moved to Léalvillers on the 22nd March. On the 25th March 1918 Lt E.G. Leake and 2nd Lt. T.H.
Upfill, flying with 59 Squadron, took off at 11,00 hours in a 'RE8' aircraft No. B6656, on a Patrol mission over the Loupart Wood area sustaining damage to their aircraft - they both returned OK. On the 28th March R.A.F. losses were high, but this was sustained mostly by ground fire rather than in air battle Lt. E.G. Leake and 2nd Lt. T.H. Upfill, flying with 59 Squadron, took off at 06.00 hours in a 'RE8' aircraft, No.D4686 on a Patrol mission over the Collincamp area when they were machine gunned by an EA and subsequently crashed, their aircraft being destroyed - they both returned OK. The Sqn moved to Fienvillers on the 26th March - then to Vert Galland on the 12th April. It was during April 1918 that the Sqn. received their first Bristol F2b Fighter aircraft. In July 1918 he came home on a short leave, but was wounded on the day after his return to the front. He lay in The Casualty Clearing Station
for a week, where he was expected to recover, but had sustained a broken blood vessel deep down in his brain and he died on the 31st His brother Captain Russell Medley Leake was able to attend his funeral. At the time of his death, his mother was living at the Crown Hotel, Bowness, Cumbria. His younger brother Russell Medley Leake was also killed on active service and his youngest brother Kenneth lost an arm in November 1916. The 09/08/1918 edition of the local newspaper has a photograph of him in the cockpit of his aircraft.

The German Spring Offensive that commenced on the 21st March 1918 and which had run out of steam by the 4th April, failed in its prime objective to split the Allied forces. The R.A.F. played a significant role in stemming this offensive, flying throughout each day at low level, strafing and harassing German troops whenever they could be found and offering fierce opposition to any German aircraft encountered. Ref: "Royal Air Force Communiqués 19l8" - Communiqué No 1 - (1st -7th April 1918) - Reports that during the period of this Communiqué Lt. Leake had been awarded the M.C. Communiqué No. 133 (26th 31st March 1918) - Lt. E.G. leake and 2nd Lt. Ti.H. Upfill of 59 Squadron were attacked by an EA scout that dived ont of the clouds onto their tail, firing all the time. About 100 rounds were fired into the EA, apparently putting its engine out of action The EA failed to cross the crater zone and crashed just
south of Serre. During the period of Communiqué No.133, the RAF downed 76 EA*, at a loss of 59 Allied aircraft. Approximately 167 tons of bombs were dropped and 612 photographs taken. (* another 7 were brought down by A.A. Fire).

The 16/04/1918 edition of the local newspaper reported that he had been awarded the MC and that his two brothers, Captain Russell Medley Leake (killed in September 1918) and his youngest brother, Captain Kenneth H. Leake (who lost an arm), both of whom were serving with the Loyal North Lancashire Rgt had also been awarded the M.C. with bar.



Further Information

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: Rest In Peace :