George Johnston Knight

RANK:  Private


UNITS SERVED: 16th Battalion, 4th Pioneer Battalion and the Anzac Light Railways

Personal Details: George Knight was born 3rd November 1889 in Cooke Plains South Australia. He was the son of Mr James and Mrs Jane Agnes Knight and was one of nine children. 

Enlistment Details: George enlisted at Keswick on the 15th of July, 1915. He was 25 years old and a farmer in Cooke Plains. He was 6ft tall, 172 pounds (72kg) with a medium complexion, blue eyes and dark hair.

Details about his role in War: George was taken on strength by the 16th Battalion and embarked from Adelaide on 21st September, 1915 aboard the H.M.A.T. A15 (Star of England). On the 4th November he left Alexandria in Egypt to join his battalion at Anzac Cove. He was taken on strength by the 16th Battalion on the 13th November. George served at Gallipoli until he was evacuated off of Gallipoli with the final 20,000 Anzacs overnight between 18th and 20th December 1915.

 George was taken to the island of Lemnos but was soon transported back to Alexandria, Egypt aboard the HMT ‘Ascanious’ on 30th December 1915. He was reported sick on 31st December and admitted to the Ismalia hospital, and on the 11th of January 1916, he was transferred to Cairo with   Catarrhal Jaundice. Getting over his sickness, George returned to his unit at Tel-el-Kebar on the 9th March, 1916. Then after taking on strength with the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the 16th March 1916 he left Egypt on the 4th of June to join the British Expeditionary Force aboard the ship “Scotian”. He disembarked from Marsailles on the 11th June, 1916.

 George and the other soldiers then sailed for France and the Western front. After arriving in France, he was detached for duty with the Anzac Light Railways on the 5th December, 1916. Then on 13th June 1917, he was transferred to the 17th ANZAC Light Railway Operating Company and on 23rd of June, George was transferred back to the 4th Pioneer Battalion. After re-joining the 4th Pioneers, they were all moved near Ypres Belgium, arriving on the 30th June. On 27th July, 1917 George was detached for duty with the commandant 2nd Anzac Corps School and went into the field where he was wounded by a machine gun bullet on 14th August. After recovering from his wound George re-joined his comrades of the 4th Pioneer Battalion on 15th August and was with them until getting wounded in action again on the 18th August when he was hit by a shell in fanny's Trench near Messines. His right arm and left leg were left broken from a high explosive shell, George knight succumbed to his injuries later that day at the Advanced Dressing Station.

Age at Death: He was 27 when he died of wounds caused by a high explosive shell.

Cemetery or Memorial Details: George is buried at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery in plot D.33. Kemmel Chateau was north-east of Kemmel Village and the cemetery was established on the north side of the chateau grounds in December 1914. It continued to be used by divisions fighting on the southern sectors of the Belgium front until March 1918, when after fierce fighting involving both Commonwealth and French forces, the village and cemetery fell into German hands in April. The cemetery was retaken later in the year, but in the time between it was badly shelled and the old chateau was destroyed. There are now 1,135 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery.

Interesting Material: This is an extract from the last letter that George sent home to his mother before he was killed.

Dated July 19th 1917.

We are in Belgium now but it is not the place of our previous visits, quiet little homes seem a thing of the past. Somehow I don’t think we will be home for Christmas.”

Regards to you all from your affectionate son George.

Remember me to all dear friends in the district. GJK

In George’s will he left all of his real estate and personal items to his mother. Also during the war he applied for the flying corps several times but each time was declined. in a letter home to his mother George says “I don’t know why they won’t let a man go, they need enough”.