Friday, 13 October 2017

Remembering our servicemen- the Knott Brothers

We are now in the month leading up to Remembrance Sunday, a time of year when we remember all those who have fought bravely and lost their lives in service to our country. Like so many areas of the country, the North East has made a huge sacrifice during wars and armed conflicts, and as Remembrance Sunday approaches I would like to highlight some of the incredible stories of bravery and loss of Northumbrians.

As you enter into Heddon-on-the-wall you may have noticed the Knott Memorial Hall on your left, but do you know the history behind the building? The Knott Memorial Hall was given to the village of Heddon by Sir Thomas Garbutt Knott in memory of his parents, Sir James and Lady Margaret Knott, whose lives were marked by tragedy as a result of the First World War. Sir James and Lady Knott had three sons, Thomas, James and Basil, who all served in WWI, however their two younger sons were both killed in action. Captain Henry Basil Knott died in 1915 after being fatally wounded by a bullet to the head, whilst Major James Leadbitter Knott was killed during the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, making him one of 57,470 British casualties that day.

What makes the brothers’ story so special is that although they were killed almost a year apart and were buried around 70 miles away from each other, they were eventually reunited and buried side by side in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. This was incredibly unusual as British serviceman were normally buried where they died, suggesting that Sir James Knott must have used great pressure to reunite his two sons. The two graves both carry the same inscription- “Devoted In Life. In Death Not Divided.”

I am always interested to learn more about Northumberland and its history. If you know of any stories of local Northumbrians who have served our country, please do get in touch and share them.