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Photograph Courtesy of Clive Wood
2nd Lieutenant J Oswald Knight

3rd Battalion attached to 11th Queen's Own Regiment (Royal West Kent)

Son of Mr Fred Knight J.P. and Mrs Elizabeth M Knight

Aged 32 years

Died 31st October 1916

Commemorated Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Wytschaete,
Heuvelland, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Grave V. G.25

The London Gazette 8 September 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Special Reserve of Officers

The undermentioned, from Officers Cadet units, to be 2nd Lts (on prob.):-

R. W. Kent R - John Oswald Knight

The Rushden Echo Friday 10 November 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Officer Missing - After a Few Day's Action - Lieut J Oswald Knight - An All Round Sportsman

We regret to report that Mr and Mrs Fred Knight of the Old Rectory, Rushden, received an official telegram last Monday, which stated that their son, Lieut John Oswald Knight of the West Kent Regt, was missing. It is but a fortnight yesterday that Lieut Knight left England for the Front, and the news that he is reported missing so soon after his arrival on the Western Front has come as great shock to many friends and acquaintances.

From his boyhood up Lieut Knight has been a thorough all round sportsman, being especially well-known in cricketing circles. Much sympathy is felt with his relatives in their trepidation of mind, and on every hand the hope is expressed that they may soon receive news that will relieve their anxiety.

Lieut Knight, who is 32 years of age, joined he colours a little more than 12 months ago, as a member of the rank and file. His many friends, knowing the thoroughness which characterises all his undertakings, then predicted that he would soon prove his worth to the military authorities, and their forecast was justified about a month ago, when he was gazetted lieutenant. Up to the time of his enlistment Lieut Knight was associated with his father in his boot manufacturing business.

Further information is given in a letter received yesterday from a fellow officer - Second Lieut Sewell, who writes that the draft went into the trenches a week last Monday. On the following night volunteers for a patrol were asked for and Lieut Knight volunteered taking with him a sergeant and one private. The enemy started bombing the patrol, but all returned safely with the exception of Lieut Knight. A subsequent search was made, but no trace of Lieut Knight was found.

The Wellingborough News Friday 16 November 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Lieut Missing after the First Few Days at the Front

We deeply regret to announce that Lieut J Oswald Knight, J.P., of the Old Rectory, Rushden, is reported missing. The lieutenant set out for France about a week ago and on Monday morning a wire was received from the War Office stating that he was missing.

Further news of the missing lieutenant was received on Thursday morning by letter from a comrade. Lieut Knight left England on Thursday, October 26th, and went into the trenches last Monday week with the rest of the Kents. This morning, a letter was received from Second-Lieut Sewell, formerly of Wellingborough, who was in the same battalion, stating that on Tuesday night of last week, volunteers were asked for a reconnaissance patrol. Lieut Knight volunteered, as did also Lieut Sewell and each took a sergeant and a private with him. Whilst on their dangerous service the enemy starting bombing them, but all got safely back to the lines except Lieut Knight. A search was made for him later on, and again the next morning, but no trace of him could be found.

The Wellingborough News Friday 24 November 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Missing Rushden Officer Unknown Fate of Popular Cricketer

No further news has been received of 2nd Lieut John Oswald Knight, the well known county athlete who is reported missing. The deepest sympathy will be extended to his parents, Mr and Mrs Fred Knight of the Old Rectory, Rushden, in their anxiety regarding their son. 2nd Lieut Knight did not leave Chatham until October 27th and he had actually been only six days in France when he was reported missing. He wrote on October 1st to say he was in the trenches and quite well. 2nd Lieut Knight commenced his military training in the Inns of Court OTC in October 1915 and was instructed at Berkhampstead. He received his commission in August this year being gazetted to the Royal West Kents and he was serving with this regiment at the front. He was a popular figure in the cricket field and a host of friends reunite in hoping that more favourable news of him will shortly come to hand. His mother is the talented author of a volume of graceful poems entitled 'Milestones' which were published some time ago.

The Rushden Echo Friday 1 December 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Missing - Lieut J Oswald Knight Letter from Colonel

Mr and Mrs Fred Knight, of the Old Rectory, Rushden, whose son, Second-Lieut J Oswald Knight, is reported missing, have received a letter from the Colonel of their son's battalion, now serving in France. From the Colonel's letter we take the following extract: -

"21st Nov., 1916. It is with very great regret I have to report your son as missing. He had only joined my battalion a few days previously. Whilst we were in the front line trenches you son went out with a small patrol the night of the 31 st October. The part of the line was particularly quiet, and patrols had been out every night without encountering the enemy. Unfortunately, on this occasion our small party was bombed and fired upon and they got spit up. When your son did not come in with his men a further patrol was sent out to look for him. This party stayed until dawn. On the following evening another party was sent out to look for your son, but without success. It seems highly probable therefore, that he was wounded or taken prisoner by the Germans. Of course, if he is badly wounded and a prisoner he may not be able to communicate with you for some time."

The Rushden Echo Friday 12 January 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Officer's Death

Mr and Mrs Fred Knight, of the Old Rectory, Rushden, have now received the official communication conveying the fact that their son, 2nd Lieut John Oswald Knight, was killed while on patrol duty in France, on the night of October, 31st, 1916. Lieut Knight was reported as missing on November, 1st, and until now no news of him from any source has come though to his family.

It may be remembered that we published a letter from the Colonel of Lieut Knight's Battalion, in which it was stated that "the party of three lost their way in 'No Man's Land' in the darkness and fog, and that the small party was bombed and fired upon by the enemy."

The report of Lieut Knight's death reached the War Office through the International Peace Bureau, Berne to whom German military authorities communicated the fact stating that this officer was killed by a German bullet, right up on their lines.

The Berne report concluded by affirming that the English officer was buried by a German captain with all military respect and that his grave is carefully marked.

The Rushden Echo Friday 26 January 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Officer Killed - The late Lieut J Oswald Knight - A Fine Sportsman - The Great Sacrifice - A Personal Tribute

We publish this week a portrait of the late Second Lieut John Oswald Knight, who was killed on Oct. 31st, 1916 in France whilst on a night patrol. Deceased was the third son of Mr and Mrs Fred Knight, of the Old Rectory, Rushden.

The events which led up to his sacrifice were characteristic of the sportsmanlike spirit which the late Lieut Knight displayed from his youth upwards. First and foremost a sportsman and athlete, he was always the best of pals and the truest of friends, and the full realisation that he has made the great sacrifice has not yet come to many of his most intimate friends and associates. He was a native of Rushden and was in his 33rd year at the time of his death.

His proclivities as a sportsman were early made manifest, as during his student days at Wellingborough Grammar School he took prominent and active interest in most of the school games, speedily made a name for himself as a cricketer and footballer.

In later years he participated in Rugby football, but he was more prominently associated with the Northants County Hockey team, and also that of the Midland Counties.

Locally, he was better known as a cricketer, being vice-captain of the Rushden 1st eleven, his prowess with bat being widely known through his accomplishments as a hard hitter; he was also a very creditable change bowler. It was about the end of September, 1915, that he answered the call of his country, joining the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps. He received his training at Berkhampstead, and with characteristic thoroughness threw his whole heart and soul into his work with the object of making himself as fit and efficient as possible. As was to be expected, he passed his examinations with flying colours, and one found in subsequent conversation with him that his keenest regret was that some his military friends had not been equally successful. That fact seemed to obsess his mind, and in regard to his own achievements he said not a word.

On obtaining his commission he was gazetted to the -- Battalion, Royal West Kents, and it was with this regiment that he proceeded to France on October 26th.

After but a day or two at the front he offered his services when volunteers were asked for for a night patrol, and taking a private and one N.C.O. with him he went forth upon the risky enterprise which involved his death. So far as information goes, it appears that when close upon the German trenches the little party were bombed and obliged to scatter. The private and N.C.O. returned safely to the British lines, but it was not until they reached there that it was discovered that Lieut Knight was missing.

The last act of Lieut Knight's was typical of the man - always ready to "have a dash", and of that disposition that sees not danger.

The writer of this appreciation is proud to have numbered Lieut Knight amongst his schoolmates and friends, and his native town is the richer for having numbered amongst its citizens so gallant and fearless a man.

Extract from A History of the 11th QOR by Major Russell
by email from Ian T Shuttleworth, March 2012
11th Queen's Own Regiment (RWK) - in October 1916 2nd Lieut. Knight was one of three new officers assigned. It states that "2nd Lieut. Knight`s stay with the Battalion was very short. On the second night in the line he went out on patrol with an NCO, whilst another patrol from the same company (D) consisting of that ardent prince of patrollers 2nd Lieut. D. J. Dean and one man, followed them out, hardly as an escort but to give some measure of confidence and, if needed, protection. 2nd Lt. Knight must have lost his bearings, for he had not returned by the time he was due in and the other patrol had not located him. Patrols under 2nd Lieuts. Bloodworth and Morgan went out to search, but their efforts were unavailing, and it was presumed that poor Knight had been taken prisoner. The matter was cleared by the Germans themselves a few days later, when they exhibited a board stating that 2nd Lieut. Knight had died from his wounds."

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