Knight, William Albert. Died 13th May 1917

Albert as he was known in the family, was born in 1895, and baptised at St Paul’s Church, Northampton on 2 June. His parents, George Walter Knight and Sarah Dudley Markham, were married in Northampton Registration District in September Quarter of 1892. George was born in Wilby Northants and Sarah in Buckingham.

They had three other children, George Walter jnr born 1893, Ernest James born 1897, and Dora Elizabeth born 1899. All four were baptised at St Paul’s; their father was a labourer, and the family were living first in Burleigh Street, Northampton when their eldest child was born, then at 6 Richmond Terrace where Albert was born. They were still there in 1901.

By 1911 they had moved to 107 Winfield Street, Rugby. George snr was unfortunately now an invalid, but his three sons were all working, George jnr and Albert at an electrical works (British Thompson Houston) and Ernest an errand boy for a boot shop. They must have thought work opportunities to be greater in Rugby than Northampton.

107 Winfield St, Rugby

Albert enlisted at the outbreak of war at Rugby as William Knight, and joined the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment, No 18263. He was sent to France on 4 December 1915, qualifying him for the 1915 Star as well as the British War and Victory medals. This is confirmed by the report of his death in the Rugby Advertiser on 2 June 1917.

The South Staffs formed part of the 7th Division which saw action all through the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In 1917 they fought throughout the German retreat to the Hindenberg Line during the Arras offensive.

On 13 May 1917 the Regiment along with the Australians was ordered to attack the heavily fortified village of Bullecourt. It was believed to be weakened by days of heavy bombardment but this was not so, and a vicious battle ensued. The Regiment was caught in crossfire at a location known as the Red Patch. After three days Bullecourt was taken with the loss of 2 officers and 37 men killed.

It was probably during this action that Albert was killed aged 22, but he may have been wounded and died later, as Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery where he is buried was occupied from April 1917 by two casualty clearing stations.

Achiet le Grand cemetery entrance

The list of Soldiers Effects records that he “died in the field” rather than was “killed in action”.   His mother as his sole legatee received his back pay of £8.18s.11d, and War Gratuity of £12.10s. His father had died in 1914.

He is commemorated on the BTH memorial in Rugby (as A W Knight) as well as the Memorial Gates.     The above notice of his death also records “He enlisted at the outbreak of war, and prior to that was employed in the BTH Winding Department. He had been in France a year, and some time ago distinguished himself by saving the life of an officer at great personal danger to himself”.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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