Given his years of service, you would expect Alfred Cox to be eligible for a pension, so it seems rather strange he would desert, unless there was a very significant reason for doing so, such as being court martialled, or facing civil criminal charges. If this were the case, he could have changed his name, or emigrated to a country such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada, or even gone back to India.
I don’t know anything about troop ship procedures, but it seems rather extraordinary that he could have died at sea, and yet his records say he arrived back in England. However, the link following is from this Forum and gives an example of a mistaken identity in the Boer War, caused by wearing someone else’s clothes with their identification number, so I guess anything is possible. viewtopic.php?f=17&t=5031
Do you know the basis for the information that he died at sea?
Perhaps someone at Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum may be able to offer some suggestions. It is located in Woolwich, south east London. It has a Library and Archive, and a research service. There is a charge for using the Library, and I assume for the research service also.
The webpage is http://www.firepower.org.uk
. Unfortunately I can’t access it at present. I don’t know if this is my computer, or the website.
There is a Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firepower_ ... ery_Museum