2nd Lieutenant Raymond Edward KNIGHT


Regiment/Service:
Gloucestershire Regiment
Unit:
1st/5th Battalion (Territorial) 
Service Number:
(2382TF)
Date of Death:
22 July 1916 - Died of wounds
Age:
29
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
I. F. 11.
Awards:
D. C. M.






Personal History:
Raymond was born at Malthouse Farm Haresfield, Gloucester (1891 Census RG 12/2019) in the December quarter 1886, the son of Edward (deceased) (Farmer) and Rosa Knight, who later moved to live at "Rhyl," Barnwood Road, Gloucester. He had a younger brother, Archibald.

In 1901 (Census RG 13/2432), after Edward's death, Rosa and her sons had moved to Pool Farm, Haresfield. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21237) Raymond held the post of 'School Master', teaching English and History at The College, Buxton, Derbyshire.

At the time the School was Boarding and classed as a minor Public School. (His Headmaster at that time, Harry Sackville Lawson, was killed in action later in the War, whilst serving with the Royal Field Artillery.)

Military History:
Raymond's Medal Index Card indicates that he enlisted into the Gloucestershire Regiment as a Private, quickly becoming an Acting Corporal/Lance Sergeant. The 1/5 Battalion was formed in Gloucester in August 1914, part of South Midland Brigade, South Midland Division. It moved on mobilisation to Isle of Wight, then to Swindon but very quickly on to Maldon in Essex, arriving by end of August 1914.

Raymond landed with his Battalion at Boulogne on 29th March 1915 and he was commissioned on 16th October 1915 (London Gazette 22nd October 1915) and transferred to the 3/5th Battalion, so must have returned to England, presumably for further training.

Whilst still a Corporal Raymond was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His citation read:

"For conspicuous gallantry on the night of the 3rd-4th August, 1915, near Hebuterne, when, in command of a patrol, he went out to reconnoitre in the direction of a suspected listening post. In advancing, he encountered the hostile post, evidently covering a working party in the rear. Corporal Knight at once shot one of the enemy, and, with Lance-Corporal Harvey, rushed the post, shooting two others, and assistance arriving the enemy fled. Three Germans were killed and their rifles and a Mauser pistol were brought in. The patrol had no loss."  (London Gazette 14th September 1915) (L/Cpl F. W. Harvey was also awarded the DCM and later wrote a poem, see below, dedicated to Raymond Knight.)

Lance Corporals (as he was then) Knight and Harvey won their awards for a "brilliant little patrol engagement on 3rd August 1915" when they met a German patrol in No Mans Land. Knight immediately gave the word to charge. Three Germans were killed and the remainder fled.

Raymond rejoined 1/5th Battalion, in France, on the 24th June 1916 and was posted to ‘B’ Company. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1st July 1916, Raymond's 1/5th Battalion moved forward from Couin to reserve positions at Mailly-Maillet. On the 4th they moved into the front line at Hébuterne. The Battalion withdrew to Couin again on the 16th July, then to Bouzincourt, before returning to the front line trenches north-east of Ovillers on the 19th.

The Battalion War Diary recounts the action around Raymond's death in action:

"Ovillers La Boiselle:
21 July 1916:
Considerable shelling during the night and day. Draft 1/5 O.R. arrived Bouzincourt. Inter company relief, B to A and C to D.
11.00 p.m. 'B' Company sent bombing party up trench to attack point 79 and 'D' Company attempted to capture point 40, but finding no cover there were compelled to fall back in the morning to our old barricade. 'D' Company wee held up by machine gun fire and found machine mounted at barricade to fire directly down a straight length of trench. Weather fine.

22 July 1916:
Casualities: 2nd Lt. R. E. Knight wounded and died of wounds. 2nd Lt. K. G. Durrant and 2nd Lt. F. R. Bell wounded. O.R. 1 killed and 3 wounded. Heavy shelling during the day.
Inter Company relief A to B and C to D.

23 July 1916:
12.35 a.m.: 145 I. Bde. ordered to attack with 145 I. Bde. on left. ……."

This action, commencing on the 23rd, was the start of The Battle of Pozières Ridge, which continued to the 3rd September 1916. Despite the brief accounts contained in the War Diary, according to CWGC records the 1/5th Gloucesters lost 34 men on the 21st July and a further 26 on the 23rd. The 'O.R.' casualty on the 22nd, along with Raymond, cannot be identified from CWGC records. Only three have a known grave, the remainder are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Footnote:
L/Cpl [later Lieutenant] Frederick William HARVEY, DCM, was a poet, who survived the War and wrote
"In Memorium" - dedicated to "R E K". He was commissioned at the same time as Raymond.

His DCM citation was similar to Raymond's and read:
"For conspicuous galantry on the night of the 3rd - 4th August, 1915, near Hebuterne, when, with a
patrol, he and another Non - commissioned Officer went out to reconnoitre in the direction of a
suspected listening post. In advancing they encountered the hostile post evidently covering a working
party in the rear. Corporal Knight at once shot one of the enemy, and, with Lance-Corporal Harvey,
rushed the post, shooting two others, and assistance arriving the enemy fled. Lance-Corporal Harvey
pursued, felling one of the retreating Germans with a bludgeon. He seized him, but finding his revolver
empty and the enemy having opened fire, he was called back by Corporal Knight, and the prisoner
escaped. Three Germans were killed and their rifles and a Mauser pistol were brought in.
The patrol had no loss."

On the 19th July 1916 Mr. W. Gribble, Principle of Pembroke College, received a postcard written by
Raymond requesting 7lbs [3.17 kgs.] of Lombard Cake. Sadly Raymond died 3 days later.

Sources:
· I am grateful to John McCann for the photo of John's grave
· ... and to RogerH (G.W.F.) for Will Harvey's poem
· ... and to Simon Dew for the extracts from the War Diary.
· ... and to Jean M Handley for the information on the postcard to Mr. Gribble
· "The Gloucestershire Regiment in The War 1914-1918" by Everard Wyrall (Naval & Military Press Ltd.)
   [ISBN-10: 1843425726]
· "British Battalions on the Somme" - Ray Westlake [ISBN-10: 0850523745] p. 135


Link to CWGC Record
2/Lt Knights grave at Bapaume
2/Lt R E Knight
Distinguished Conduct medal
Poem by F. Will Harvey
poppy
2/Lt Knight and his Head Teacher Lt Lawson were the subject of an article in the Buxton Advertiser in November 2011
- written by the site author

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