William Knox was born at Geeston on 5 January 1890, the son of John Knox and his wife Hannah. By 1911, he was lodging with John and Mary Mitchell in Nidd Road, Attercliffe in Sheffield. William worked as a milkman with the Attercliffe Co-operative Society. He volunteered for the army in September 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war, answering Lord Kitchener's call for men to join up. He served with the 10th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Yorkshire Regiment). In Spring 1915 he married Ethel Thomas who lived in the Eccleshall area of the city, before going abroad with his battalion in July. William was promoted to Lance Corporal and died in the Battle of the Somme after being seriously wounded by a shell. He survived until he reached the First Aid Post, and managed to joke to his platoon Sergeant as he was being carried off: "Well, Jim, lad, I have beat you to the Wharncliffe [a pub in Sheffield] after all." (See note below). The Sergeant wrote to his mother saying: "He was a good, honest, straightforward, and clean soldier, never shirking in his duties, and often volunteering for jobs which most people would not very well relish the idea of undertaking." George Phillips in Rutland and the Great War has his date of death as 30 July but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records it as 25 July. This presents a problem. On 25 July the war diary says the battalion was bivouaced at Millencourt, where the weather was good and the men took part in sports organised by the 8th Battalion: "Nothing of an exciting nature transpired," says the diary, even allowing for the fact that ordinary soldiers being killed or injured in the normal course of duty rarely rated a mention. By 30 July the battalion was in the trenches again in Becourt Wood as part of the divisional reserve, but during this period the war diary says: "Whilst here we had no casualties." But between those two dates, during the night of 28/29 July, the battalion did suffer losses. The war diary says the men were in the village of Contalmaison: "We sustained somewhat severe casualties" from enemy shelling of the main road through the village. William was probably one of these, one of a total of 419 casualties including 55 soldiers killed and 43 others missing during the month of July. He is buried in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery at Mametz, although the exact position of his gave is unknown. His headstone in IX.J.4 says "Buried near this spot." William is also remembered on Ketton and Geeston's war memorial.
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