Horace Robert Martineau VC was born in Bayswater, London, on 31 October 1874. Following his education at University College School, he enlisted in the 11th Hussars in 1891 and served with the regiment in Natal and in India before purchasing his discharge and returning to South Africa in 1895.
In 1896 he served under Colonel Sir Robert Baden-Powell in the successful campaign against the Matebele. He then joined the Cape Police and on the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899, joined the Protectorate Regiment (North West Cape Colony) with which he served in the South African campaign of 1899-1902, taking part in the defence of Mafeking.
Martineau was awarded the VC for his action near Mafeking on 26 December 1899. His citation from The London Gazette (issue 27208 of 6 July 1900) reads:
"On 26th December, 1899, during the fight at Game Tree, near Mafeking, when the order to retire had been given, Sergeant Martineau stopped and picked up Corporal Le Camp, who had been struck down about 10 yards from the Boer trenches, and half dragged, half carried, him towards a bush about 150 yards from the trenches. In doing this Sergeant Martineau was wounded in the side, but paid no attention to it, and proceeded to stanch and bandage the wounds of his comrade, whom he, afterwards, assisted to retire. The firing while they were retiring was very heavy and Sergeant Martineau was again wounded. When shot the second time he was absolutely exhausted from supporting his comrade and sank down unable to proceed farther. He received three wounds, one of which necessitated the amputation of his arm near the shoulder."
Martineau was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Commander in Chief South Africa, Lord Roberts, at Cape Town on 11 December 1900.
Horace Martineau took no further part in the South African war and took up employment with the African Boating Company, a large concern in Durban. Upon the outbreak of the First World War he was living in New Zealand and immediately joined the New Zealand Otago Regiment, serving with the Transport Service of the ANZACs, seeing service in Egypt (1914-15) and action in the Gallipoli campaign.
It was whilst in Gallipoli he contracted a fever, fell seriously ill, and was invalided back home to New Zealand. He eventually died from the results of the fever on 7 April 1916, aged 41 years. Horace Martineau is buried in Anderson's Bay Cemetery, Duneden. He is also commemorated on the family grave in Brookwood Cemetery.
The Victoria Cross and other campaign medals awarded to Horace Martineau, were sold at auction in 2002 by Spink of London for a hammer price of £90,000. The VC was purchased on behalf of the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.