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Claude Garnett of Christleton

Claude Lionel Garnett

Claude Lionel Garnett
Birth Place:
Wyreside in Lancashire, formerly “The Rectory”, Christleton.
86th Heavy Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery
Enlisted in 1903. Promoted to the rank of Captain in 1914.
Death Date:
30th December 1915. Age 31 years
Type of Casualty:
Succumbed to wounds he received on Christmas Eve at Kut
Panel O15 Kut War Cemetery, Iraq
Christleton Village War Memorial, the Church Memorial at St James’ and the Memorial Board at Christleton Institute
Memorial Services were held at St Mark’s Dolphinsholme, Lancashire and at St James’ Christleton, Cheshire, in February 1916

Captain Claude was the eldest son of the Late Rector Lionel and Mrs Garnett who served their ministry here at Christleton between 1868 -1911. He was leading his men in battle in Kut el Amara in modern day Iraq, when he was shot. He succumbed to the wounds he received on Christmas Eve. His Memorial Service was held at St James in February 1916, to be followed by one for his brother Laurence in July 1917.

He was married to Muriel who later remarried and became Mrs. M. Haskard of Wyreside, the Garnett Family home in Lancashire.

Initial Newspaper Report of the wounding of Captain Garnett. (December 1915)
Captain Claude Garnett Royal Garrison Artillery has been wounded on the Persian Gulf. He was the eldest son of the late Canon Garnett of Chester, formerly Rector of Christleton. Born in 1883 he joined the Royal Artillery as 2nd Lieutenant in 1903 and was promoted Captain in October 1914. In 1911 married Muriel, youngest daughter of Mr J Baron of Hirak, Baluchistan, India.

Local Officer’s Death. (Obituary Cheshire Observer January 1916)

“The Times” says that Captain Garnett died on 31st December of wounds received on December 24th in Mesopotamia. He was born at Christleton Rectory in December 1883 and educated at Bradfield College Berkshire. He chose the army as his profession and entered the Royal Military Academy Woolwich. Joined the Royal Artillery as 2nd Lieutenant in December 1903 and gained Captaincy in October 1914. He was in India at the outbreak of war and he has served at the front with an Indian Expeditionary Force. He was a very capable officer and possessed a personality which made him popular with officers and men alike. His wife Muriel survives him with two children. He is affectionately remembered in Christleton where news of his death occasioned general mourning. His brother heard his country’s call in far off Canada and returned home to join the army. He is 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. Much regret was felt in the Lancaster District as he is the heir to the Wyreside Estate. He was married five years ago whilst serving in India, and leaves a widow, daughter 4yrs old and an infant son. His grandfather the late Henry Garnett J.P. D.L. played a large part in the administrative affairs of Lancashire, being High Sherriff and Chairman of the Lancashire Quarter Sessions. A Memorial Service was held at St Mark’s Dolphinsholme, Lancaster as he was heir to the Wyreside Estate of Dolphinsholme where his wife and family were living when news arrived of his death from Kut.

Memorial Service in Christleton
The Memorial Service at St James’ Christleton was an impressive tribute paid by the inhabitants of the village. No name is more highly honoured than the deceased officer’s family, who formed during their residence there ties of close and enduring friendships with all classes of the community. The Service was conducted by The Reverend G M V Hickey. Floral tributes from Countess Grosvenor and Mrs Porritt were tastefully arranged by Mrs Hickey and Miss Day. A special form of service was used including a portion of the office for the burial of the dead, & prayers for our soldiers and sailors and all sufferers by the war.

In a brief address, the Rector spoke about Claude being known he supposed, by every person in the church. He was born and bred in the Parish and they all followed the first steps of his life. They saw him praying amongst them, and remembered when he went to school. They heard with interest and delight when he set out on his military career and took his place in the army. So for a long time they had not seen him, so although he had not been there, the fact of his death came to them with a very special appeal. They had seen him growing up and had known him as a promising young fellow. Though they mourned his loss, they thanked God for his sacrifice and praised God that sons, brothers of theirs had been willing to lay down their lives and serve their country.

Among the mourners present;
Mr & Mrs John Cullimore, Mr & Mrs Skipworth, Captain & Mrs Hugh K Frost, Mr & Mrs Heywood, Mr & Mrs Edward Porritt, Miss Winter, Miss Day (Rowton) Mrs Hickey, Miss & Mrs Aspinall, Mr C Rogers, Miss Nellie Day, Dr W Lees, Miss Vi Mosford, Mrs Thornby, Mrs Millwood & Family.
Miss Toft (Cotton) Miss Stephens(Chester) Miss Davies, Mrs Swainson (Chester) Mrs Robert Handley, Mr & Mrs Mayers, Miss M J Mayers, Mrs T Griffiths, Pte A Gregory(5th Batt Cheshire Regt.) Pte Cecil Wright (Cheshire Yeomanry) Mr & Mrs T Johnson, J Fleet (Churchwarden) T Mayers, J V Wright, H Mayers (Sidesmen) Alfred Bowers Rep Mrs Pitcairn Campbell, John Weaver, W Tomes, Joe Mosford, H Large, T Evans, S Lyons, Charles Bentley(Littleton) Tom Duffin, John Roberts(Plough Lane) Frank Evans, G Mayers, J Steventon, James Poston and Arthur Fleet.

Henry Claude Lyon Garnett

A few weeks ago, as part of my continuing research of the war years, I came across the fascinating story of Henry Garnett who was born in 1913, the year after his grandfather the late and much loved Rector of Christleton, Canon Rev’d Lionel Garnett had died, and who inherited the family seat of Wyreside Hall, Dolphinsholme near Lancaster, after the death of his father Claude and his Uncle Lawrence in WWI. 

Henry was educated at Eaton and Sandhurst, and commissioned in the Royal Horseguards. After five years service and a short spell in the city, he served with distinction in the Second World becoming the leader of the Household Cavalry Armoured Car Troop responsible for the safety and immediate protection of the Royal Family. He then served as ADC to Generals Harding & O’Connor, and became Commander of the Army Group Leave Centre in Brussels.

After the war he joined Gillette Industries, the razor blade company, and worked in both Australia and America before becoming Chairman of the company in both the U.K. and Europe. In 1978 on retirement he became Chief Executive of the National Society for Cancer Relief and was instrumental in setting up the Macmillan Nursing Service. He devoted fourteen years of his life to this organisation, keeping it financially sound in difficult times. Newspaper reports suggest that Henry was tall and glamorous, always immaculately dressed, a distinguished man about town, and it seems he married three times.

The National Society for Cancer Relief was founded by Dorothy Macmillan in 1911, and its active service to people in the heart of a community as Macmillan Nurses, continues apace today. Henry was recruited by the Duchess of Roxburgh in 1972 and during his tenure as manager, deputy chairman and chief executive, transformed its role and performance. Inspired by the early pioneers of the hospice movement, Henry also set up a number of hospices and day centres throughout the country, with the initial cost being met by the Cancer Charity, but on the condition that financial responsibility would be adopted by the relevant local authority.

He was rightly awarded the CBE for his service to the country, following the wonderful example given by both his grandfather, Rector of our village for 43years, and both his father Claude and Uncle Lawrence who died on the battlefields at Amara in Iraq, and at Brandhoek near Ypres respectively. The devotion to service of this family went back even further as his great grandfather also Henry Garnett JP DL, had been High Sherriff of Lancashire and Chairman of Lancashire Quarter Sessions.

Henry Claude Lyon Garnett was also Patron of St James’ Church, an ancient role in the Church of England, but the Garnett Patronage of our church seems to have ended after his death, and all Rectors since that time; Archdeacon Rev’d David Garnett, Canon Rev’d K Peter Lee and Rev’d Malcolm Cowan, have been invited to become incumbent by the current Patron, The Bishop of Chester in consultation with the Church Wardens and representatives from the PCC.

David Cummings
December, 2015

Claude Garnett of Christleton