Douglas Alexander Brett GC (EGM exchanger) OBE MC

b. 04/10/1896 Cookham, Maidenhead, Berkshire. d. 01/12/1963 Chichester, Sussex.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 07/01/1934 Chittagong, India.

Douglas Alexander Brett (1896-1963) was born on 4th October 1896 in Cookham, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, the son of a barrister, Reginald Brett (originally from the Channel Islands), and his wife Katherine Lillian Brett (nee MacIver). Douglas was a sickly child, and he contracted TB at the age of 5, and was recuperating in a sanitorium in Brighton at the time of the 1901 Census. After recuperating, he attended Harrow, and on finishing schooling, he enlisted with the Royal West Kent Regiment, and saw action in the early battles of the Great War. On 26th March 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross when he led a raiding party with great gallantry.

Douglas A Brett

Second Lieutenant Brett was promoted to Lieutenant in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (Infantry) on 13th July 1918, having served in France and Belgium where he was wounded. He was promoted to Captain on 25th October 1919 in the Indian Army, and by the early 1930s, he had been further promoted to Major. He had also transferred into the 1st Royal Battalion of the 9th Jat Regiment, mostly serving as an Instructor in the Indian Military Academy.

On 30th September 1932, he married Roxalanne Searle de Saye Cooper, known as Noggs. Douglas was 15 years older than his new wife on their marriage and the couple had three children, Aline Jane, Sarah and Colin. Sadly, Colin was killed in an accident just before his 21st birthday.

On 7th January 1934 in Chittagong (then India, now Bangladesh), 4 Hindu terrorists attacked a group of forty or fifty Europeans, including women and children, at the end of a cricket match. The terrorists were armed with a revolver and 7 bombs. Two bombs were thrown but failed to explode. One of the terrorists then ran at the Europeans, firing his revolver rapidly as he went. Major Brett, who was unarmed, rushed at this man, grappled with him and forced him to the ground, holding his gun arm against the ground until help arrived. Captain Richard Deedes was also awarded the EGM for this action. The Empire Gallantry Medals of the Military Division were announced in the London Gazette on 8th May 1934.

On 1st April 1939, Douglas transferred to the Special Unemployed List, to be a Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army on 24th March 1942. Between 1943-1944 he was military secretary to General Sir George Giffard in South East Asia. In 1945, he was appointed controller HQ under Lord Louis Mountbatten responsible for administration, catering, transport, and personnel. He retired from the Indian Army as a Colonel on 1st October 1946. On leaving the Army, he joined a stock exchange firm for a year. In 1948, Douglas moved his young family to Kenya, where he became managing director of a safari organising firm in East Africa. Sadly, Douglas lost an arm when he was coming back from safari in an open-sided jeep which overturned.

In the late 1950s, times were becoming hard in Africa running the safari business, and he and his family chose to return to England, but they were heavily in debt. They moved into a flat in the home of his daughter Aline Jane’s godmother in Cirencester, Wiltshire, where Douglas began work with Bailey Bros Ltd, an advertising and administration firm.

Sadly, Douglas and Noggs’ marriage then failed and divorce followed. By now, Douglas was in dire financial straits and found work as a clerk with the Blue Funnel Line, but sadly his health began to fail, and he died, aged 63, in Chichester, Sussex. He was cremated at Portchester Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance in accordance with the wishes of his daughter. Douglas’ medals including his GC, OBE, MC and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are held by his family.