Charles Harold Garrett was born in 1889, and was christened on 14 July 1889 at Clapham Parish Church. His grandfather, John Garrett had been a builder in Balham, Surrey; an occupation also followed by his father. His father, Charles Thomas Garrett, married Clara Annie Martin, the daughter of Alexander Martin, on 12 July 1888 in the same church. Initially the family were living in 5 Jasmine Terrace, Westernburgh Street, Clapham, but Charles and his two younger brothers, Alan Leslie, (born 1 December 1892) and Laurence Hugh (born 19 January 1899), grew up in 41 Old Town, Clapham, from where their father conducted his business of builder and undertaker. As the family grew up they moved along the street to 28 Old Town, their father having taken on the duties of Parish Clerk.
Following his early education, Charles Harold Garrett studied at Saint Chad’s Hostel at Hooton Pagnell before arriving at Durham University to study Arts (in litteris antiquis). He became a member of Saint Chad’s Hall in 1910 where he initially studied Arithmetic and Euclid and then Plato and English History. Taking his finals in Theological studies in 1911 he graduated with a B.A. He was ordained deacon in 1912 with an appointment in the Priory Church of Saint Mary and Saint Cuthbert, Worksop; he was ordained priest in 1913. Garrett was living at 69 Watson Road, Worksop when he became a member of the Royal Army Chaplains Department. He was appointed a temporary chaplain (4th class) on the 22 February 1917.
When posted to France in the spring of 1917, he was attached to the 2/6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was killed in action only a few months later on 26 September 1917, and was buried in the Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No. 3, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
The Durham University Journal in December 1917 recorded his death in its roll of honour with this tribute:
He died a hero's death, for at his own request he was selected to accompany his brigade into the line during the recent heavy fighting, and whilst standing outside his battalion headquarters was hit by a shell.
Durham University Journal, Volume 21, no.19, December 1917.
A more detailed obituary was printed in a Worksop newspaper on 5 October 1917.
Greater love has no man than this that a man lays down his life for his friends.' These sublime words at once occur to the mind in connection with the death from wounds of the Rev. Charles Harold Garret, B. A., of Worksop Priory Church, and Chaplain to the forces. So far, the full story of the incident in which Mr. Garrett played a most heroic and self- denying part has not reached us, but sufficient information is available to show that he died doing his duty as Priest and man. It would seem that in the recent fighting Mr. Garrett accompanied the doctor in the advance which the troops to which he was attached was about to make. The objective in view was a dug-out, or German “Pill box” and this, after heavy fighting, was captured. By some chance the doctor was taken prisoner, and Mr. Garrett remained in the captured position with the lads who were holding it against the foe. His presence, he no doubt thought, would cheer them, and he could at least help to bind up their wounds and pray with them in the hour of death. A change this from the quiet Solemnity of the Priory Church which he loved so well, and along the vaulted aisles of which his rich voice had so often rolled in waves of sacred song. The Germans continued to shell the position in the hope of driving out the British, and one can hardly imagine the horror of it all- the noise of the bursting shells, and all the fearful sounds of the battlefield. Calmly and composedly the Chaplain stuck to it along with the boys - one of whom he had known in happier days - until a shell burst right in their midst, and fell mortally wounded. He died afterwards whilst being conveyed to the advanced dressing station. He was buried the next day by a brother Chaplain, and we may rest assured that the soldiers who gathered round keenly felt the loss of a brave young Priest and mourned for him as for one near and dear to them. Mr. Garrett was 28 years of age in May last. He had been about five years in Worksop, and was appointed an Army Chaplain early in the present year. Six weeks ago he was allowed leave of absence and spent one Sunday in Worksop, much to his delight, and to the pleasure of many friends. Little did the latter think that they should see his face no more this side the veil. The first intimation that Mr. Garrett had been wounded reached the Vicar, the Rev. G. J. A. d’Arcy, on Friday evening. At evensong he announced the receipt of a telegram from the Chaplain-General enquiring for the addresses of Mr. Garrett’s next of kin, and from this it was feared that something serious had happened. The Vicar, of course, replied to the telegram without delay, and asked for particulars, and these have only recently come to hand. Mr. Garrett is believed to have died on Wednesday 26th, and a letter was received from him that morning by his friend and protégé, George Ledger, in which he describes the position they were in and the terrible fighting that was going on. The news has caused great sorrow in Worksop, and sincere sympathy is expressed with Mr. Garrett’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garrett, Clapham, London, and other members of the family in their bereavement. His two brothers are also serving, one in the flying Corps, and the other in the Inns of Court Corps, O. T. C. To the vicar, Mr. Garrett’s death is a great blow. He has lost a loyal and faithful colleague, one full of energy and zeal. Allusion has already been made to Mr. Garrett’s musical abilities, and we need only add in the short space at our disposal, that he was a tower of strength to the choir, a good singer and an able preacher. He was especially happy in his work amongst boys and young men, and it was a great happiness to him when he ascertained that he had been appointed to the Brigade in which many Worksop lads were serving. He renewed old acquaintances in the dug-outs and trenches, and many Worksop lads now in Khaki will read the news of his death with sorrow in the heart. He had perished in a good cause, and like a warrior was overthrown. A memorial service will be held at the Priory Church on Tuesday next at 8pm. Later particulars:- In a letter received yesterday by Mrs. Wood, Mr Garrett’s housekeeper, his mother sends the following extract from the Senior Chaplain's letter as to her son’s death:- 'He was at his battalion regimental aid post (being of the greatest help and comfort), when he was seriously wounded by a shell. He was taken to the advanced dressing station, where he was quite conscious and received the reserved Sacrament at the hands of Mr. Wilkinson, ( a brother Chaplain), who will write you, but he died on the way to the main dressing station, and has been laid to rest in the cemetery close by. I did not intend to let him go in the line with his brigade, but when he learned I had arranged to keep him back, he pleaded so earnestly that I altered my arrangements. Dear boy, he was so anxious to be with the men in their danger and share it with them. May God rest his soul and give you all much consolation. He had grown very close to a great number of hearts out here in the last few weeks.
Worksop Guardian, 5 October 1917.
Chaplain Charles Garrett’s sacrifice is commemorated in Worksop on the cenotaph and at the war memorial at the priory church of St Mary and St Cuthbert. He is also remembered on the war memorial at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, and on a reredos and roll of honour at the chapel of St Chad’s College. Garrett’s two brothers survived the war: Alan Leslie Garrett became a Technical Advisor and Laurence Hugh Garrett became a quantity surveyor. His father was made a freeman on the City of London, as a member of the Tinplate Workers on the 2 December 1918 and lived until 1946.