Garnett, John Brooksbank
‘Bill’ Garnett was the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel William Brooksbank Garnett DSO, DL, JP, Royal Welch Fusiliers, of Corick, Clogher, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. His mother was Eleanor Constance Garnett, daughter of John Benjamin Story (Com.1862). A good footballer and perhaps unlucky not to get into the 1st XI soccer, he was also in Sixth Book and a Commoner Prefect. He went up to Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1934, but owing to concussion caused by a motor accident, had a year away. He completely recovered and took his degree in 1939. In the summer of 1938 he was gazetted to a University Commission in his father’s regiment, with whom he had already spent several months on attachment. 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers (1RWF) went to France as part of 6 Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division, BEF.
On May 23rd 1940, 1RWF received orders to move to the area of St. Venant-Robecq, where it was to defend the bridges over the La Bassée canal against attacks by two German divisions. By now a Lieutenant, Garnett was killed in action near St. Venant-Robecq, aged twenty-three. The official date of his death is given in all sources as May 23rd 1940, though it may have been a day later since it was on May 24th that the battalion went into action in St. Floris, where Garnett is buried.
Garnett is commemorated by Special Memorial Grave 6 in St. Floris churchyard, Pas de Calais. Seven British soldiers are buried there: three of them, whose graves could not be precisely located, are commemorated by special memorials, inscribed “Buried near this spot”.
In 1997 a memorial was set up to commemorate 1RWF’s gallant stand. It reads:
NA FOED EU HENWAU’N ANGHOF FYTH
This memorial is dedicated by the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a tribute to the 8 officers, 20 non-commissioned officers and 69 fusiliers of the 1st Battalion who gave their lives as a result of the actions between the 23rd and 27th May 1940 in the Saint-Venant, Saint-Floris and Robecq area, to delay the advance of German divisions on the Channel ports.
They lie with honour in Saint-Venant and neighbouring graveyards.
This memorial also pays tribute to the suffering of the local population and the care and assistance given by them during this time.
- Surname: Garnett
- Forenames or initials: John Brooksbank
- House: C
- Years in School: 1929-1934
- Rank: Lieutenant
- Regiment: Royal Welch Fusiliers
- Date of Birth: 11th September 1916
- Date of Death: 23rd May 1940
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner G1
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: St Floris Churchyard, Pas de Calais: Special Memorial Grave 6