Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Tuesday 19 November 2013

World War Two: Anthony Montague and Guy Henry Garrett-Cox - Brothers in Arms.

Sometimes when you set out to research a person you stumble onto tales of bravery and tragedy.  This is one such story.

What intrigued me about this family at first was the fact that Lance Corporal Anthony Montague Garrett-Cox is the only war grave in the small churchyard of St Luke's Church in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Why was Anthony here on his own when his comrades in both world wars that died at home were buried at All Saints Maidenhead Cemetery?

Details where few and far between.  I managed to find out through the Commonwealth War Graves commission that Anthony's parents were R Garrett-Cox and Gladys Irene Garrett-Cox of Maidenhead.  Their double barrelled surname, instead of making research easier, made it much harder.  Through searching the name via Google I discovered that a second Garrett-Cox, Lieutenant G H Garrett-Cox, had served and died in the Second World War and was commemorated along side Anthony on the Maidenhead War Memorial.  This was too much of a coincidence, they had to be related in some way.

Searching with the forename Garrett and the surname Cox, I was able to find Lieutenant Guy Henry Garrett-Cox's information on the Commonwealth War Graves website.  Lieutenant Guy Henry Garrett-Cox served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve aboard the H.M.S Helca and died on 12th November 1942.

Guy Henry and Anthony Montague were brothers.  Both were born in Maidenhead to Samuel Henry Reuben Garrett-Cox, A music professor and organist at St Luke's Church in Maidenhead, and Gladys Irene Carter.  Guy Henry had been born in 1911 and Anthony Montague in 1914.  They were Reuben and Gladys's only children.

Just before the outbreak of World War Two on 1st May 1939, Guy Henry married Rosemary Simpson-Hayward in Celyon, Colombo.  In 1941 they celebrated the birth of their son, Martin Hayward Garrett-Cox.

Anthony enlisted with the Intelligence Corps of the British Army and was sent to Mauritius.  Guy enlisted with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and was stationed on the H.M.S Helca.

During his time in Mauritius, Anthony was attacked and left for dead, he returned home to England where he was sent to hospital.  Sadly the attack in Mauritius left more than physical scars for Anthony and on 4th August 1941, Anthony took his own life.  The Derby Evening Telegraph reported on 6th August 1941 -


The suggestion that his mind may have been affected by an attack in Mauritius three years ago was made at the Westminster Inquest, to-day, on Lance Corporal Anthony Montague Garrett-Cox, aged 26, of the Intelligence Corps, who shot himself through the head with a revolver.

His father, Mr, Reuben Garrett-Cox, of Maidenhead, said that in Mauritius his son had been struck on the head eight times with a motor jack, and left for dead. 

He was in hospital for three months.

Recording a verdict that the Lance Corporal 'committed suicide while of unsound mind.' The coroner said that the Mauritius injury might have had some bearing on the state of his mind."

It must have been a terrible shock for Anthony's parents and brother.  To get their loved one back from the brink of death, only to lose him three years later.  Sadly, tragedy was about the strike the family again.  Just fifteen months later, Mr and Mrs R. Garrett-Cox were to lose their only surviving child, Guy.

Between the 11th and 12th November 1942, the H.M.S Helca was torpedoed just off the coast of Morroco by a German U-Boat U-515.   Of the 838 men aboard, 556 were rescued, 12 known to have been killed and 273 reported missing, presumed killed.  It is not clear whether Lieutenant Guy Henry Garrett-Cox was one of the known dead or those missing, but what is clear is that Lieutenant Guy never returned home.  Guy Henry Garrett-Cox's body was never recovered.  He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and the Maidenhead War Memorial.

For more information on the torpedoing of the H.M.S. Helca and the resulting rescue efforts, please click here.

Samuel Henry Reuben Garrett-Cox passed away in 1966 in Maidenhead and Gladys Irene passed away in 1980 in Chiltern and Beaconsfield.  The loss of both their sons must have weighed greatly upon them.

Unfortunately I do not know what became of Guy's wife Rosemary.

Taphophile Tragics
Tombstone Tuesday


  1. I've come across a few churchyards with one commonwealth war garve in it. It is the Family who request this from what I have read

  2. When Anthony died, St Luke's churchyard would have been closed to burials for some 50+ years. I suspect he either took his parent's plot or Reuben's standing as the church organist carried some weight.


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