Oldham Historical Research Group


WW1 serviceman

Private William Knight 1725 & 375290- 10th Manchester

 William's direct line in bold

WILLIAM Knight was born on the 3rd of June 1896. His parents were Ben Knight and Martha Ann Hounsell, who were married in the second quarter of 1888, in Oldham. He had two older brothers, Ben and Richard, and two older sisters, Florence Mary and Annie Lord. His mother, Martha Ann, died in the summer of 1900 and in the first quarter of 1901 their widowed father, Ben, married Helen Basmuth Sutcliffe. On the 1901 census the family are found living at 66 Beever Street, Oldham. Their father, Ben, is a 'Brass founder' and recorded as an 'employer'. Three doors away, at number 60 Beever Street, lives Ben's brother Robert, also a 'Brass founder' and 'employer'.

Looking back through the census returns, 'Brass founding' in Oldham appears to have been the family business since before 1851.  On the 1841 census William's gt. grandparents, William and Alice Knight are living in Moorside and William is a 'publican'. Their 11 year old son Benjamin (who would become William's grandfather) and daughter Mary age 9 are living with them.

By 1851 43 year old William had become a 'Brass founder'  and a 'Master, employing 1 man'. Together with his wife, Alice and 21 year old son Ben, who is now a 'Journeyman Brass Moulder', the family is living on Albert Street, Mumps

On the 1861 census we can find widowed Alice Knight living on Rock Street with her married daughter Mary [Lewis] and a grandson. On the previous page of this census, William's and Alice's son, Ben, now 31, is married to Jane and the family is living at Back Spring Hill Street, [off Rock Street] Mumps. He is a 'Brass Moulder' Next door to the family, according to the census,  are "2 cottages used as a brass foundry". Ben's four children are George age 12, Charles E. age 5, Alice age 3 and Julia age 1.

In 1871, 41 year old Ben and wife Jane are living at 66 Beever Street and he is recorded as a "Brass Founder employing 1 man, 2 boys.' With them are their children Charles E. age 15 and a Brass Moulder, Alice age 13, Julia age 11, Ben (who would become William's father) age 4 and Ann age 3.

In 1881 Ben and his wife Jane are still living at 66 Beever Street and he is a' Brass Founder'. their 25 year old son Charles Edward is a 'Brass Moulder', and 14 year old Ben is a 'Brass Moulder's apprentice'. Also there are daughters Julie age 21  and Ada age 13, and son Robert age 8.

In early 1888 Ben married Martha Ann Hounsell and by the 1891 census, 24 year old  Ben and Martha Ann have a  3 months old son, also called Ben. The little family is living at 58 Rock Street and Ben is a 'Brass Founder' and 'employed'.

Still on the 1891 census and we find 63 year old Ben and wife Jane are stIll living at 66 Beever Street and Ben is still a 'Brass Founder' and 'employer'. 23 year old daughter Ada is with them, as is 18 year old son Robert, who is a 'Brass Moulder'

Ben and Martha Ann went on to have another son, Richard,  then, on the 3rd of June 1896, WILLIAM was born but, only 4 years later, in the summer of 1900, Martha  Ann died. The following year, in the first quarter of 1901, Ben married again, this time to Helen Basmuth Sutcliffe. 

By the 1901 census, 34 year old Ben, now married to Helen, was living in the old family home at 66 Beever Street and was a 'Brass founder' and 'employer'. WILLIAM, now 4 years old is with them as are his brothers, Ben and Richard, and Helen's own two daughters, Florence Mary and Annie Lord. On the same page of the census, 3 doors away at number 60 Beever Street, we find Ben's younger brother Robert, age 28, and also a 'Brass Founder' and 'employer' living there with his own wife.

In 1911, 14 year old WILLIAM, now an apprentice 'electrical engineer' is living with his family at 214, Frederick Street. Two sons have been born to Ben and Helen, 8 year old Robert Lewis and 7 year old Frank.  Ben, now 44 years old is a 'Brass Founder' and 'employer' and his 18 year old son Richard is a 'Brass Moulder'.  Florence Mary, now 19 years old, is a 'Milliner'.

Three years later, in February 1914, the 17 year old WILLIAM joined the Oldham Territorial Force, 10th Manchester Regiment. In August 1914, now just 18 years old he volunteered for service overseas with the Battalion.

The Oldham Territorials, 1/10 Manchesters, were mobilised on the 5th August and "... for the first fortnight or so the work of organising and equipping was carried on in Oldham. They were then drafted to Bury where they carried out routine parades and completed their preparations for overseas service. It was the night of September 8th, 1914, when they entrained at Bury for Southampton in dirty, miserable weather which had turned the camp into a sticky mess of mud ... " [Bradbury]

The Battalion's first destination was Egypt where, after disembarking at Alexandria, they entrained for Cairo and the camps outside and around the city. Here they went into more intensive training in the heat of the desert, and mainly defensive duties against Turkish attacks around Cairo, Kantara and the Suez Canal.

They would remain in Egypt until April 1915 when they set boarded ship for the ill-fated campaign in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli.

The remnants of the Battalion were evacuated from Gallipoli, along with all the other allied troops, in the last days of December 1915, eventually arriving back in Alexandria on the 18th of January 1916 then on to Cairo and the camp at Mena. After a brief respite and further training they set off to march to the Suez Canal on the 2nd of April "... In July a strong Turkish force was reported to be marching on the Canal from El Arish, and the 10th Manchesters were picked out to do a forced march to Romani, many miles over the desert, and had to return to El Ferdan almost immediately. Orders were then issued for the formation of a Mobile Desert Column under General Chetwood. Only the fittest of men were picked for this "stunt," those considered unfit to be stationed at Kantara. The Division was to leave civilisation behind it and march into the desert to meet the advancing Turks and in the early days of August the first kilometres of the "long, long trail" were tramped, which took the Division into the Battle of Romani ..." [Bradbury]

In early January 1917 came the news that the Battalion would soon be moving, en route for France and the Western Front. By early March they had left the warmth of Egypt and were stepping "...off the platform at Pont Remy into snow a foot deep, and had their first unpleasant taste of France ..." [Bradbury]

For the remainder of the war they would remain on the Western Front ... in and out of the Trenches ... right up to the Armistice in November 1918.

William himself was one of the small number of original members of the 1/10th Battalion who survived the war and came home. However, towards the end of the war, William lost both his legs in an accident in which a train was derailed and ran over his legs. He was hospitalised and eventually discharged on the 7th of March 1919.

He returned home and, although his father and other members of the family emigrated to Canada, shortly after the end of hostilities, William stayed behind, in Oldham, and in the first quarter of 1920 married Selena Mills.

In the 2nd World War William served with the ARP stationed at the Maple Mill, in Fitton Hill.

William died, in Oldham, on the 26th of January 1957.


thumbnails link to larger images

1/10th Manchester Regiment marching down Union St., Oldham, 1914

1/10th Manchester Regiment
Marching down Union St.,
Oldham, 1914


1/10th Manchester in Egypt 1914 / 1915.

1/10th Manchester
in Egypt 1914 / 1915

Medal Index Card

Medal Index Card

William (middle back row) with 1/10th Manchester Regiment in Camp  1914

William (middle back row)
1/10th Manchester Regiment
in Camp, probably 1914

William in hospital, 1918,
after the loss of his legs.
(The location isn't known.)

William meeting Royalty

William meeting Royalty

William shaking hands with the Prince of Wales (Believed to be at Boundary Park, Oldham)

William shaking hands
with the Prince of Wales
(Believed to be at
Boundary Park, Oldham)


Read: more about the Oldham Territorials, 1/10 Battalion, Manchester Regiment, on this website, in
'Oldham Terriers - Their Part in the War'
by Sergeant Maurice Bradbury, M.M.
Transcriptions of the series of articles published in the 'Oldham Standard' in Spring 1919.
'Amateur Soldiers - A History of Oldham's Volunteers and Territorials 1859 - 1938'
by K.W. Mitchinson (See 'More Reading Page' for details)

back to 'SERVICEMEN WE KNOW' Gallery

Information & images contributed by : Allan Gibbs

link to home page
WW1 menu page
WW1 links page