New found relative of Alfred Knight VC

by Chris Taft, Curator

One of the most useful and interesting aspects of any museum collection is how objects relate to people. Many of the most popular stories that can be told through the collections of the BPMA are those that link to people.

With the current increased interest in tracing family history another fascinating aspect is finding objects that provide a physical link to past members of a family.

One of the most personal objects in the BPMA collection are the medals awarded to Alfred Knight during the First World War. They have featured in a number of BPMA exhibitions including Last Post: Remembering the First World War back in 2008 and more recently Empire Mail: George V and the GPO in 2010.

In the past the BPMA have been in touch with a number of members of Knight’s family but recently we were contacted by Marcus Knight, a relative in another branch of the family.

Marcus Knight viewing Alfred Knight's medals

Marcus Knight viewing Alfred Knight's medals

Marcus had only recently learnt of his link with Alfred Knight and the fact that the former Post Office worker had received the Victoria Cross during the war.

The BPMA were delighted to be able to give Marcus the opportunity to view at first hand the medals awarded to his relative.

Find out more about Alfred Knight on our website. A touring version of our exhibition Last Post: Remembering the First World War is currently at The Royal Engineers Museum, Kent – see our website for details.

16 responses to “New found relative of Alfred Knight VC

  1. Christopher J Knight

    Dear Sir.
    My name is Christopher Joseph Knight, and Alfred Joseph Knight was my Grandfather.
    I was interested in your article partly as it would seem I have a relative, Marcus Knight, that I was until now unaware of.
    Is there any way you could help me in contacting him?
    I would be most grateful if you could.
    Kind Regards.
    Chris Knight.

  2. Hi Chris, we’re happy to pass on the e-mail address you’ve provided to Marcus Knight. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  3. It’s a pity that when Birmingham City Council named a street after Alfred Knight VC, they left off the VC!
    (Alfred Knight Way [sic])

    • Christopher J Knight

      Hi Stephen.
      Yes, I agree with you. Why not include the VC, as that is the reason for the process of naming the street in the first place. However, I think the ommision was not intentional, and anyway, if you were to live there, the addition of VC does develop into a bit of a mouthfull when giving someone your address. Further in that vain, he was also awarded the Burma Star, MBE….. and more!!!! So,were do you start, and were do you stop?
      All in all, it is good that the City of Birmingham has shown the deserved respect for him, but ultimately, the ommision would not have worried him.
      He was more aware of the actions that he had to take in his regard of duty, and the toll that weighed upon him in life afterwards, than the awardes etc that followed those actions. I do not think that people in general, fully appreciate these after effects. So, I think he would be quite happy with the street name as it is at the present.
      Christopher J Knight (Grandson and ex serviceman)

      • Anne Walsh

        The name was put forward by a local historian who is keen to commemorate our local VCs and who, coincidentally, also worked for the community association involved in the development project. As he would presumably have proposed the full name including the VC, I wonder if there was some Council restriction which prevented its use.
        As the only member of the family still living in Birmingham, I acted as our local contact and he told me that it was very rare in Birmingham for the Council to agree to name a road after an individual at all, largely because of the difficulties in getting family permission to use the name. The decision that it was going to be called ‘Alfred Knight Way’ had already been made by then (2005).

        I agree whole-heartedly with the comments above from Chris (who had a couple more years than I did to get to know our grandfather) that it wouldn’t have mattered too much to him – he was, after all, called ‘the modest VC’ by the press at the time!

        Anne Walsh (grand-daughter)

  4. I remember Alfred Knight drawing the Christmas Raffle tickets at St. Philips Grammar School in 1959. It was his old school. He drew out a ticket with “AJK” on, himself, to much amusement.
    I live opposite Oscott College and he is buried near my parents. I loooked at the grave today and it needs a little bit of tidying up if his family are around some time.
    Someone to be proud of as a Hero, a Brummie and an SPGS Old Boy.

    • Thanks for that lovely memory of AJK – he was certainly someone to be proud of, as I am!

      As the only member of the family still living in Birmingham (and on the opposite side of the city as well) I haven’t been able to get over there to take a look, unfortunately. Ironically, his parents are buried barely 2 miles from where I live – pity it isn’t the other way round!

      • John McCarthy

        Thank you for your reply.
        Next time I am over there I will tidy up a little.
        As a fellow old St Philip’s boy I would be pleased to do so.
        I don’t know if you are aware but the first Saturday each November Oscott have a Ceremony in the College Chapel where they bless the Grave Registers and then go around the cemetery blessing individual graves for relatives. It starts at 3.00 and is always packed with people, and usually pretty cold.
        If you remember you might like to attend, it is a very nice ceremony. If I am there, which I usually am I will make sure they bless his grave.
        Would I be correct in thinking you are his grandaughter who was once in an Birmingham Mail article about him?
        Regards
        John McCarthy

  5. Thanks for that information, John – I will have to see if I can get to Oscott for that, although I’ve a feeling it clashes with something else this year.

    Yes, I am the grand-daughter who got herself in the paper at the time of the road naming! As the most local contact for the family, I was the easiest for the local press to reach. All in a good cause, though.

    Regards

    Anne

  6. Sorry all – I’m not convinced of the rightness of leaving off the “VC” from Alfred Knight Way. I had a silly email from the relevant councillor saying there “wasn’t enough room” on the plate. I believe the VC is a cut above the MBE and other cornflake medals – it is “For Valour” and we need to remember Alfred Knight’s bravery and inspiration. I am also a Catenian and a SPGS old boy, so have an interest in valuing him.

    Meanwhile I have noticed that someone has carefully added the VC letters after Alfred Knight’s name on the four street signs!

  7. You may all be pleased to know that his grave has now been professionally restored by the Victoria Cross Trust. If you would like to support us please visit our website

    • John McCarthy

      That’s excellent news.
      The service of the blessing of the graves at Oscott is November 9th at 3.00.
      I will ensure one of the Priests blesses his grave.
      John McCarthy

    • John McCarthy

      The Grave has been beautifully restored.
      i went with my Wife and said a prayer at the Blessing of the Graves Ceremony for AJK and his wife and ensured that one of the College Staff came and said a prayer of remembrance over the Grave and blessed it with Holy Water.
      John McCarthy

      • Anne Walsh

        Thank you very much for that, John. I had intended to go, but found myself laid low with a nasty virus (and not the computer variety, either!) from which I am still recovering.

        I am also grateful to the Victoria Cross Trust for the work they have done on the grave.

        Anne Walsh

      • John McCarthy

        It was my pleasure. Have you seen the restored stone?
        Would you like me to post a photo on here next time I am over there or I could send it to your e-mail address.
        john McCarthy

      • Anne Walsh

        Thanks, John. I haven’t seen the restored stone yet, I’m afraid.

        I think a photo here would be good, then everyone can see the wonderful work done by the Trust and maybe help to support them.

        Anne

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