James Gemmell Knight
SERVICE NUMBER: 7508.
UNITS SERVED: 10th Battalion of Infantry.
Personal Details: James Knight was born in 1896 and was the younger brother of George Knight. He was a 21 year old farmer from Cooke Plains, South Australia just like his older brother. He was 5ft 9 inches weighed 137 pounds (62kg), had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was the son of Mr James and Mrs Jane Agnes Knight and was one of nine children.
Enlistment Details: James enlisted in Adelaide on the 24th of the 8th 1917. He then was transferred to the 10th Battalion of Infantry.
Details about his role in War: After enlisting in Adelaide, James left Australia aboard the HMAT “Aeneas” from Melbourne on the 30th October, 1917. He docked at Devonport, near Plymouth on 27th December, 1917. Here he trained with the 2nd Training Battalion at Sutton Veny and then left for France from Dover on 1st April 1918 arriving later that day at Le Havre. James was a part of the 10th Battalion of Infantry and his first encounter with the enemy was when he and the other soldiers of that Battalion took part in stopping the German offensive in March and April 1918. After surviving this offensive he then took part in the operations leading up to the allied counter-stroke. Before he could take part in helping with the counter attack James was killed in action by a shell that also killed Private F. W. Mitchell on 4th July 1918, between Merris and Strazeele, while trying to defend Hazebrouck. Both men were buried together near where they died but their remains were never identified after the war.
This is an extract from James’s last letter that he sent home to his mother.
Dated June 24th, 1918.
“Glad to hear that a few of George's things have turned up as they will be valuable in remembrance of him. Must close now hoping you are all well as it leaves me”.
With love to all, yours Jim.
Here is another extract from a letter that one of James’s good mates’ sent home to James’ mother.
Dated July 9th, 1918.
“It is with much sorrow that I have to tell you of dear ol’ Jims death which occurred on the night of the 4th instalment. We had been together that night throughout until then from the time he had been in camp and were in the same platoon here. His death was instantaneous so he did not suffer any pain. I have found out that his pocket book etc. will be sent onto you so I do hope you will get them alright. It is not a great distance from where he was buried to where George is and James thought he would get a chance later on of visiting the cemetery where George is buried.”
Age at Death: James was 22 when he was killed in action on the 4th July 1918.
Cemetery or Memorial Details: James Knight was then buried near the front line but once the war was over he was never found. He is now remembered with honour at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial site.
Interesting Material: The Cooke Plains soldiers Memorial Hall was erected in the memory of the fallen with Mrs J Knight laying the foundation stone. Now in 2012 there has just been a new memorial stone and plaque put in place that lists the names of all fallen heroes of the First World War.