A career officer that started his military service in 1933 with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was one of the first to volunteer and ultimately one of the key officers in the formation of the 151st Parachute Regiment. During the Second World War Lea was Brigade Major with 4th Parachute Brigade during Operation ‘Slapstick’, the invasion of Italy. Then as Commanding Officer of 11th Battalion, Parachute Regiment. With the Parachute Regiment he was dropped into Holland during Operation Market Garden. During the disastrous attempt of capturing the bridge at Arnhem, only 150 men of his regiment escaped. Lea was not one of these, he was injured and captured spending the remainder of the war as a POW.
After the war Lea was instrumental in the reformation of the Special Air Service and was Commanding Officer, overseeing and implementing the rigorous training and extraordinary skills for what it became known, and was commander during the Malaya Emergency. For this he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order.
In his later years Lea was Commander of Forces in the sensitive Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Then Director of Borneo Operations. He was then promoted and posted to Washington D.C. as head of the British Services Joint Mission and was highly respected with many US offices open to him more than protocol demanded, such was his high regard.
As part of our Provenance Collection, you can own this unique piece of history. Lea’s Cogswell & Harrison 12-bore was built on the 9th July 1948 and can now be owned by yourself.