Hallett, Stephen Cyril Garnier

He was the elder son of Sir Maurice Garnier Hallet GCIE, KCSI (Coll.1896-1902), Governor of the United Provinces, and Lady Hallett (née Gladys Constance Mabel Veasey, daughter of Harley Cyril Veasey). He was the brother of Robin Hallett (K 1940-1944).

Stephen Hallett was eleventh on his Roll, made his way up the School to Senior Division and ended by winning a Classical Exhibition to New College, Oxford although he was keener about learning Modern Languages than Classics. He won the Spanish Prize in 1936, and left at the end of Common Time 1937, to spend three months with a German family in Munich. Going up to Oxford in the autumn, he took Pass Moderations and was reading for Modern Greats when war broke out.

He had already joined the Artillery Squadron of the Oxford OTC, and so was able to obtain a commission at once. After a period of service in England, he volunteered for the Indian Army, and joined 2 Indian Field Regiment, moving with them to Iraq, and then in February 1942, to Egypt, where they were heavily involved in action at Mersa Matruh, during which 6 officers were killed and 12 taken prisoner.  400 other ranks, all of them Indians, were killed or captured.  In the immediate aftermath, Hallett found himself, with another officer and three Indian soldiers, in an armoured car behind enemy lines. They spent a week in the desert, hiding by day and travelling by night, and relying for petrol, rations and water on abandoned enemy vehicles or by holding up unarmoured enemy lorries.   He had a month in hospital with a slight wound, and then his regiment, which had been badly cut up, was withdrawn to recuperate, first in Palestine, and then in Iraq, before returning to action in Libya.

Hallett was given command of 7th (Sikh) Battery, and returned to India in 1944.   It is possible he may have taken the opportunity to visit his parents, whose official residence was Government House, Lucknow.

2 Indian Field was attached to 11th East African Division on the Burma front in October 1944, and was heavily involved in the fighting in the  swampy and pestilential Kabaw Valley towards Kalemyo. Late in November, the East African Division converged with 5th Indian Division near Kalemyo, where Hallett was killed on November 21st at the age of twenty-six.

In a letter to his parents a week before his death he wrote that the regiment was so close to the front line that each man carried weapons all the time, even in bed, and it was this that eventually led to Hallett’s death, when a grenade he had in his sleeping bag detonated and caused the wounds from which he died a short while later.  His Commanding Officer wrote of him:

“He was always completely fearless both morally and physically; he was the soul of integrity and the most conscientious of men. He was a very fine example of what an officer should be and his example and influence were felt not only in the Battery that he commanded so well, but throughout the Regiment.”

He is buried in grave 16A.F.24 of the Taukkyan War Cemetery.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Hallett
  • Forenames or initials: Stephen Cyril Garnier
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1932-1937
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: Indian Field Regiment
  • Date of Birth: 1st November 1918
  • Date of Death: 21st November 1944
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner A1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma (now Myanmar): Grave 16A.F.24