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James Knight was born in the third quarter of 1885 in Samlesbury.  His father was Joseph Knight (b. 1854 in Cuerden), a farmer.  His mother was Martha Haydock (b. 1862 in Samlesbury).  Joseph and Martha were married at Brownedge St Mary’s in 1883, and they had 10 children: Elizabeth Ellen (1884-87), then James, Joseph (b.1888), Francis (b. 1889), Mary (b. 1891), Elizabeth (b. 1892), Margaret (b. 1893), William Henry (b. 1895), Thomas Benedict (b. 1897) and finally Ellen (b. 1898).  Joseph snr died in 1899 leaving Martha to bring up the large family.  In 1911, she was living at 13 St Mary’s Road with almost all her children, most of whom were working in the cotton mills, and also her brother, Thomas Haydock.  James was a fruiterer.  In 1912, he married Agnes Pearson (b. 1888 in Bamber Bridge).  They were married at Brownedge St Mary’s.  In March 1916, they had a son, Joseph Benedict.


James’ brother, Joe, signed up in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in May 1915 (he was killed on the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July 1917).  James signed up in mid-1916 (just after the birth of his son), joining the Grenadier Guards.  He was assigned service number 30456 and posted to 1Bn.  1Bn Grenadier Guards came under orders of 3rd Guards Brigade in the Guards Division.  James may have arrived in time to see action at the retreat to the Hindenburg line in the spring of 1917, but he would certainly have been with the Division at the Third Battle of Ypres (Pilkem, 31 July-2 August; Menin Road, 20-25 September; Poelcapelle, 9 October; and the First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October), and also at the Battle of Cambrai (20 November – 3 December).


The Guards Division was engaged in the German Spring Offensive, being forced to retreat towards Arras.  On the night of 29 March 1918, 1Bn Grenadier Guards relieved 2Bn Scots Guards in the trenches at Boyelles just 10km south of Arras.  A heavy German artillery bombardment began at 9.10am the following morning and then the Germans attacked but were repulsed, suffering heavy losses.  The following day was very quiet, the Germans finally having renounced their attempt to capture Arras.  On 29-30 March, 1Bn had 39 officers and men killed.  Among them was James Knight, he was 32 years old and left a wife and son who had just passed his second birthday.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  30456

Date of Death:  30/03/1918

Age:  32

Regiment/Service:  Grenadier Guards, 1Bn

Cemetery/memorial reference: Special Memorial 23.


Additional Information:  Son of Joseph and Martha Knight; husband of Agnes Knight, of Bank Chambers, Great Harwood, Lancs.


After the War, Agnes remarried.  Her second husband was James Hargreaves (b. 1885 in Great Harwood).  She died in 1971.

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