Captain HENRY BASIL KNOTT 9th Bn., Northumberland Fusiliers who died on Tuesday 7 September 1915. Age 24. Son of Sir James Knott, 1st Bart., and Lady Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne. YPRES RESERVOIR CEMETERY Grave V. B. 16.
Basil was born at the Manor House, Newcastle, on Thursday 5th February 1891, younger son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated privately followed by Eton College as a member of Mr Arthur Conolly Gage Heygate’s House, leaving in 1910. He became a Director in the family shipping company, the Prince Line of Newcastle.
At the outbreak of war Basil volunteered and was commissioned in September 1914 and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain and left for Boulogne, France on Thursday 15th July 1915 on the SS Invicta. Basil was sent to northern France to complete his training before crossing the border to begin tours of duty in the front line.
Henry was in action at the Bois Carré, Vierstraat, and was mortally wounded in the head by a rifle bullet and was taken to No 10 Casualty Clearing
Station at ‘Remy Sidings’ where he died the next day, and was buried in Poperinghe New Cemetery.
Henry left an estate of £20,196 13s 8d (approximately £1,691,255.00 today).
His father, Sir James, disposed of his company by the end of 1916 after the death of Basil’s brother, Jim and moved to Jersey. It was his wish to save the bodies of both his sons brought back to England but the authorities would not bend, despite him using all the connections and influence he had. Finally, they agreed that both boys would be buried next to each other, and so Basil was exhumed and moved to Ypres Reservoir and his brother brought from Fricourt, France.
There are buried now next to each and both graves carry the same inscription “Devoted in life, in death not divided
Basil and Jim Knott are commemorated on many memorials raised their memory. They include:
In the porch of St George’s Memorial Church, Ypres, there are three plaques to the Knott family including one to their father who donated large sums of money to the church. A trust fund in his memory was created that still operates to this day: www.knott-trust.co.uk
The inscriptions in St George’s Memorial Church read:
- “To the glory of God and in memory of his two sons killed in action. Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers. This tower was given by Sir James Knott. MDCCCCXXVIIII.”
- “To the glory of God and in memory Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action the bells in this tower were consecrated 11th November 1997.”
They are commemorated at Collercoats, Heddon, and Wylam, a memorial park at Heddon was created by their father.
In St James and St Basil, Fenham, Newcastle, a pair of stained glass window show each brother in uniform.
He was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.
His eldest brother, Thomas, who was working in New Zealand at the outbreak of war, served during the war and survived. He succeeded to the title and lived in Courtland, Exmouth, Devon.
For further information, see ‘A History of the Knott Family
’ by Joan R Duckett, and ‘Pride of the Princes - History of The Prince Line
’ by Norman L Middlemiss.
Source: Paul Foster