William Knox

View William on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Service number:
Lance Corporal
Duke of Wellington's (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Date of birth:
05 January 1890
Date of death:
29 July 1916
Age at Death:
KNOX William

Known information

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.

See where all our Rutland soldiers died during the Battle of the Somme on our interactive map.

Do you know something about William that hasn't been mentioned?
You can add any new information and images as a contribution at the bottom of this page.
  • Ketton Memorial
  • Ketton Memorial 3
  • Dantzig Alley British Cemetery
  • Dantzig Alley British Cemetery 1
  • W Knox

User contributions

My name is Flora Eilidh McNeil.William Knox was married to my great-grandmother, who was then Ethel Mary Knox nee Thomas. After he died, she went on to marry William Egginton, my great-grandfather, with whom she had a daughter - my grandmother.Among my late grandmother's possessions, we found a small leather suitcase that belonged to Ethel Mary. It contains photos of William Knox and letters written by him to her whilst he was away fighting in the First World War. We also have several posthumously awarded medals, and the red identification tag that was worn by soldiers in WW1.I know that William had at least at least two sisters, Grace and Hannah, and at least two brothers, Arthur and Jack. I know that Arthur Knox married a Bertha M Brooks. I am sure there must be surviving descendants of these people.If you're related to William Knox or any of his siblings, or even think you might be, please send me a message at f.eilidh.mcneil@gmail.com or leave a message on this page.Thank you.
By Eilidh on Monday 20th June '16 at 7:05pm
I think the reference"Well, Jim, lad, I have beat you to the Wharncliffe [a pub in Sheffield] after all." is probably wrong. Wharncliffe Side is to the North of Sheffield, as is the Wharncliffe Arms, and can't think why William would have any connection there (it would be a very long way to go for a pint, then.)However, in 1915 William married my grandmother Ethel, at St Silas Church, Broomhall, Sheffield. All Ethel's family lived in this area, WHARNCLIFFE ROAD is just round the corner from St Silas Church, it is still there and the Victorian brick built terraced cottages are still standing. I think this was probably where Ethel lived. I've checked various sources and there's no history of a pub called the Wharncliffe on the road.Rachael - Ethel's granddaughter
By Ethel's grandaughter on Monday 1st August '16 at 12:21pm
4 images I've recently discovered that William Knox also has a memorial here in Sheffeld where he lived and worked. Whilst attending a friends funeral at Grenoside Crematorium (on the north side of Sheffield) I came across a memorial erected by the Brightside and Carbrook Co-op, who William worked for, to all their employees who died in both world wars, Williams name is on it. There is also a 'Role of Honour' of all the B&C Co-op staff who fought in WW1, which is apparently within the buildings, where William's name appears in the next to last column under 'Dairy Department'.I can take no credit for the photo's, they're all from Google Images.Rachael, Ethel's granddaughter
By Ethel's grandaughter on Sunday 29th July '18 at 6:09pm

Rutland and The Battle of the Somme

More than 90 Rutland soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from 1 July 1916 until the middle of November. Today they lie in cemeteries across the old battlefield in northern France or are remembered among the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. By using our interactive map, you can find out what happened to them.

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