Eastbourne school’s Remembrance Service commemorates forgotten war hero

Richard Coxe with Bede's pupil Jonty at the service SUS-161115-171517001
Richard Coxe with Bede's pupil Jonty at the service SUS-161115-171517001

Pupils from an Eastbourne school gathered on Friday (November 11) to commemorate the fallen and remember a forgotten war hero.

Bede’s Prep and Upper Dicker’s Senior School paid their respects to Hugh Clifford Holled Coxe, after recent research by a local military historian discovered the forgotten fallen war hero.

Forgotten fallen war hero Hugh Coxe SUS-161115-171532001

Forgotten fallen war hero Hugh Coxe SUS-161115-171532001

Hugh Coxe was one of four brothers from Silverdale Road, Eastbourne, who fought in the First World War, but until now his story has gone untold.

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy cadet at the age of 13. Sadly, Hugh was killed, aged 23, when his ship the HMS Formidable was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on New Year’s Day 1915.

The service at St Saviour’s Church, Eastbourne, was attended by three generations of his relatives – Peter, Richard and Clare Cox, and also Clare’s daughter Camilla Payne and grandson Hugo, alongside pupils and staff from both Bede’s Prep, where Hugh attended school in the late 1890s, and Bede’s Senior School.

To symbolise this special event, the medals of all four brothers were presented at the Remembrance Service by Richard Coxe, uniting the brothers in spirit again just over 100 years after they would have shared each other’s company before the start of the Great War.

Two new and identical Rolls of Honour - one for the Prep school and one for Bede’s Senior school – were rededicated during the special Remembrance Service officiated by the School Chaplain, the Rev Tim 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 all now be remembered by the school in this Service of Remembrance.

“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.”

The local military historian who made the discovery, Paddy Stevens, said, “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 look forward to uniting our schools even more closely in the act of remembering the pupils and members of staff who gave their lives in war and conflict.”