Bede's Remembrance Service Celebrates Lost Great War Hero
After 100 years, recent research by a local military historian discovered a forgotten fallen war hero.
Hugh Clifford Holled Coxe was one of four brothers from Silverdale Road, Eastbourne, who fought in the Great War, but until today his memory has gone untold - as has his service to Queen and country, which saw him pay the ultimate sacrifice.
Cecil Coxe, one of the lost brothers.
Having joined the Royal navy as a boy cadet at the age of 13, he was killed in the early morning of New Year’s Day 1915, when HMS Formidable was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine at the age of 23.
He was honoured on Remembrance Day by everyone at Bede's for the first time at a special memorial service at St Saviour’s Church.
The service was attended by three generations of his relatives, Peter, Richard and Camilla Coxe (great nephews), and also Camilla’s daughter and granddaughter and pupils and staff from both Bede’s Prep, where Hugh attended school in the late 1890s, and Bede’s Senior School.
For nearly 100 years, Bede’s Prep has honoured 21 old boys and members of staff from the school who fell in the Great War, including Hugh’s two brothers, Arthur aged 19 and Cecil aged 18, by reading out the names of all the Old Bedians fallen on the existing Roll of Honour on each Remembrance Day throughout the intervening years.
This year was the first time that Hugh, the third brother whose name has until this year been omitted from the school’s act of remembrance, will be included.
To symbolise this special event, the medals of all four brothers were presented at the Remembrance Service by the descendants of the Coxe family, uniting the brothers in spirit again just over 100 years when they would have shared each other’s company before the start of the Great War.
With this recent revelation, Bede’s school has also commissioned two new and identical Rolls of Honour - one for the Prep School and one for Bede’s Senior School - which were rededicated during the special Remembrance Service by the Reverend Buckler and Father Peter Coxe, Hugh’s great nephew.
Richard Coxe, the other great nephew of missing brother Hugh, said, “It’s wonderful that after 100 years have gone by, the schools’ pupils of many ages understand the significance of the sacrifice made in that war.
"Hugh was one of three brothers to have died in the Great War; our grandfather, Knightly Coxe was the only surviving brother. The loss of three sons must have been devastating to the family and we’re so pleased that the sacrifice they all made will be remembered by the school.
"I’m very grateful for the painstaking research that was conducted to bring this discovery to light, and for the schools in marking the occasion in such a fitting way.”
Local military historian Paddy Stevens, who made the discovery, also commented, “Arthur and Cecil were killed in action in 1914 and 1916 respectively, the revelation that the middle brother, Hugh, had been killed in 1915, demonstrates the total devastation that the family must have suffered.
"Furthermore, the fact that one served in the Royal Navy, one in the Army, and one in the Royal Flying Corps, shows the true nature of total warfare that epitomised the Great War.”
Peter Goodyer, Headmaster of Bede’s Senior School and CEO of the St Bede’s School Trust, said, “It is both right and proper that, after 100 years, we can now, as a school, pay tribute to all three brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"We unite our schools even more closely each year in the act of remembering the pupils and members of staff who gave their lives in war and conflict.
"Our current pupils have been making special preparations for the service, including making 42 fabric poppies – one to remember each of the Bede’s community who died in conflict from the Great War onwards – which were presented at the service.”