Alfred Ronald Yorke KNIGHT

Poppy

KNIGHT, Alfred Ronald Yorke

Service Number: 3190
Enlisted: 17 August 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Bordertown, South Australia , 7 October 1894
Home Town: Westbourne Park (Cottonville), Mitcham, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farm hand
Died: Killed in Action, Fromelles, France, 17 July 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais, France
I K 92
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Coorabie War Memorial, Coorabie and District WW1 Roll of Honor, Glenelg and District WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Prospect Roll of Honour A-G WWI Board
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3190, Adelaide, South Australia
12 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3190, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3190, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Medic, Adelaide
6 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 32nd Infantry Battalion
17 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3190, 32nd Infantry Battalion

Brothers lost - then found

In 2008 I travelled to France as a Battlefield Guide with the "Our Other ANZAC Day 2008" group led by Sydney-based company Military History Tours Pty Ltd. As part of the planning we researched the names disclosed to us by tour participants where they had a WW1 connection.

In discussion at home among friends at a dinner party, one of our guests, James Swanson, asked if I could investigate his Great Uncles, the Knight brothers from Westbourne Park. He knew that they had both died in WW1, but not the circumstances.

My research culminated in a visit to Rue Petillon cemetery near the Fromelles battlefield.

The Knight brothers did not perish in the now well known battle at Fromelles. In a remarkable and tragic coincidence, they were killed in the weeks immediately prior, about three weeks apart and probably within half a kilometre of one another yet in different Battalions in different Divisions.

Steve Larkins

Their parents, Tom and Fanny Knight of Sussex Terrace Westbourne Park would hardly have appreciated the circumstances. All they knew is that they had lost their two sons within a little over two weeks of one another in a country they would never see themselves.

For James, I was able to reveal something of what happened, the historical consequences of their service and the fact that they are buried barely metres apart on the other side of the world.

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Biography

KNIGHT Alfred Ronald Yorke : Service Number - 3190 : Place of Birth - Bordertown SA : Place of Enlistment - Adelaide SA : Next of Kin - (Mother) KNIGHT Fanny Catherine of Argyle Street Prospect, later Sussex St Westbourne Park

Ronald cited prior service in the senior cadets on his enlistment documents

He was enlisted into the 7th reinforcements of the 27th Battalion on 17th August 1915 at Keswick Barracks on Adelaide’s SE fringe.

Alfred was the brother of Tom Knight 52nd Battalion (warmemorial.erato.vm.e2.com.au). Tom was killed near Fromelles on the 29th June 1916 as a result of a trench raid by a German patrol about three weeks prior to the now well known Battle that bears the name of the town adjacent to the battlefield.

Alfred embarked on the HMAT Medic A7 tranport ship on the 12th January 1916.  Shortly after arrival in Egypt, Alfred Knight was transferred to the 32nd Battalion in the 5th DIvision, as the AIF was undergoing a major re-organisation to raise two new Divisions (the 4th and 5th). Shortly thereafter came embarkation for France via Marseilles and a long train journey north.

The 32nd Battalion, as part of the 8th Brigade, moved into the line near Armentieres in Northern France in mid July.  Less than a kilometre to their front they would have been able to see the ruins of a small village called Fromelles.

It must be assumed that by then he had learned of his brother Tom's death just two and a half weeks prior in the very area into which he was now moving. Alfred Knight was himself to be come a casualty, not of the fateful attack on the 19/20th July but by German shelling of the Australian lines.   He was one of a number of soldiers killed that night and together they were buried at Rue Petillon cemetery to the rear of the Allied lines.  The fact that their headstones are pushed together in the way that they are usually indicates that their remains could not be distinguished from one another; the all too frequent result of high explosives and flying shards of steel in the near vicinity of flesh and blood.

Fate was to decree that Alfred and his brother Tom died in the same vicinity 'Somewhere in France'.  His grief-stricken parents would have learned of this in two telegrams just three weeks apart.  Whether anyone in the records office would have pieced the two separate pieces of information together is open to conjecture but the impact on a family that had just lost its only two sons is much easier to imagine.

The brothers are buried just a row apart on the other side of the world in a place their family would never see.

 

Steve Larkins traced the Knight brothers for a family friend in 2008 while working as a Battlefield Guide.

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"THE LATE PRIVATE A. RONALD Y. KNIGHT.

Mrs. Knight, of Prospect, has been informed that her son, Private Ronald Knight, has been killed in France. He was for several years in the employ of Messrs. Geo. P. Harris, Scarfe, & Co., and left to follow farming pursuits on the West Coast, where he was highly respected. He left the district in order to enlist and had his 21st birthday in camp.

Much sympathy is' felt for Mr. and Mrs. T. Knight, as this is the second son reported killed in action within a month. A third son served at Gallipoli and was invalided home. He is now again in camp." - from the Adelaide Advertiser 19 Aug 1916 (nla.gov.au)

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