Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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Ronald Victor Knight


Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ronald Victor Knight - Regiment: Royal Naval Air Service Age: 23 Date of Death: 12/03/1917 Additional information: Son of John N. Knight, of Milton Hill, Wells and Marie Knight. Volunteered from Guys Hospital, 1914; transfered at own request to R.N.A.S., 1916. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: II. X. 2. Cemetery: WELLS CEMETERY.

Ronald Knight was born on the 30th March 1894. He went to Wells Cathedral School and Bedford Grammar School from 18th September 1908 to the end of the Christmas term 1911. When he left Bedford he was Head of St Cuthbert’s and Mr Kirkman’s House and a senior Monitor

His father John Knight was an Oil Merchant and Ironmonger, born in Soho, London abt. 1856. His mother, Marie, was born in Bern, Switzerland abt. 1863.

Ronald Knight played rugby for Bedford Grammar School from 1909-11. He was captain of the school side in his last season.

Back Row (L-R): C.R.James, J.T.McVitie, A.F.Wemyss, A.V.Askwith, C.P.Emmett, W.G.Higgins. Seated: E.E.Norton, A.G.Hunter, R.V.Knight, E.L.Chambers Esq., H.B.H.Cox, H.B.Wilson, M.Milton. On ground: J.W.Muroch, R.F.Martin, E.K.Bird.

Above the 1911 Bedford Grammar School XV with Ronald Knight holding the ball. 6 of the players in this photo were killed in World War 1. Image courtesy of Old Bedfordians Club.

On November 29th 1911, while still at school, Ronald Knight scored a try for the East Midlands in their 16-0 win against Surrey in the County Championship match at Richmond. Captain of the East Midlands in that match was Edgar Mobbs of Northampton and Engand. Mobbs, who went to another Harpur Trust school in Bedford, Bedford Modern School, died in World War One, 3 months after Knight. Captain of Surrey was Adrian Stoop the Harlequins and England Captain. East Midlands went on to loose the semi-final to Devon 18-3.

Back Row (L-R): C.R.James, J.T.McVitie, A.F.Wemyss, A.V.Askwith, C.P.Emmett, W.G.Higgins. Seated: E.E.Norton, E.K.Bird, R.V.Knight, E.L.Chambers Esq., H.B.H.Cox, H.B.Wilson, M.Milton. On ground: J.W.Muroch, R.F.Martyn, A.G.Hunter.

Above the 1911 Bedford Grammar School XV with Ronald Knight holding the ball. Taken at Christmas 1911. Image courtesy of Old Bedfordians Club.

This season Knight played for Blackheath. He joined Clifton in the 1912-13 season. When he headed the list of try scorers with 8, 5 of these were scored in the match v Clifton College on 26th October 1912, the final score being 59-3.

Standing (L-R): J.W.Langford, D.W.Evans, D.Munro Smith, R.V.Knight, C.J.C.B.Jowett, J.Hartley, W.S.Neal. Seated: W.Worger, R.L.Dacre, R.W.Husbands (Captain), C.Kingston (Vice-Captain), C.E.Harrison. On Ground: M.B.Duckworth, R.F.Irving, Irving.

Above the 1912-13 Bristol University Rugby XV with Ronald Victor Knight. Also in the side were 4 other Clifton players D.Munro-Smith, R.L.Dacre, C.E.Harrison and P.Ealand.

Ronald Knight played for Somerset against South Africa on October 3rd 1912 at The Rec in Bath. South Africa won 24-3. He was only 18 years old. Details of this match click here

Above Ronald Victor Knight at Guys Hospital

He was sudying medicine at Guy's Hospital in London but at the outbreak of war, he joined the 8th Battalion City of London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and did six month's service in the trenches at Festubert and loos, France.

He was granted leave by the Staff Captain 140th Infantry Brigade from the 15th to 24th November 1915 and returned for his leave to his parents house at Milton Hill, Wells. On the 23rd November 1915 his father wrote to his son's regiment, enclosing a medical certificate issued by Dr. B. Manning showing that he was suffering from influenza with a high temperaturw. He was granted extension of leave until 26th January 1916.

On 26th January 1916 2nd Lieut. Knight presented himself before a medical board at 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol, who found that he was suffering from a dilated heart (caused by active service) and was only fit for light duties. Foillowing his medical he was posted 3/1st City of London Division Cyclists' Company, 130 Bunhill Fields, London EC. During this time he married Miss Gwendoline Dawkes of Portway, Wells.

He appeared before a second medical board at the Duke of York's HQ, London on 25th February 1916 and was found fit for general service however, on the same day his CO (of 3/1st Cyclists' Corps) wrote to the Territorial Army Records Office stating that Knight had applied to join his unit and he could do so subject to their approval. Approval was given for the transfer and he was re-gazetted on 9th March 1916.

He was transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service, he obtained his Pilot's certificate and was posted to "an east coast flying school"

He was promoted to Flt. Sub. Lt. on August 6th 1916. This was not announced in The Times until the 3rd March 1917, 9 days before he died.

Above photo of Ronald Knight from The Sphere on 22nd February 1919.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant R. V. Knight Bristol Evening News Friday June 22nd 1917

Flight Sub-Ltnt R. V. Knight had been flying for six months and was an assistant instructor at an East Coast Flying School, when he fell on March 12th, Aged 23. He was educated at Wells and Bedford Grammar Schools and at Neuchatel. After a time at Bristol University he went to Guys Hospital and on the declaration of War, volunteered for service and was appointed Lieutenant in a London Battalion, with which he fought at the Battles of Festubert and Loos. In Rugby Football he was captain of Bedford, held the East Midlands and Somerset caps, played at Bath in the first match against the South Africans and was reserve for England at the age of 19. He was also a good hockey player, swimmer and cricketer. He is much regretted as a true friend and a good sportsman.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ronald Victor Knight, Royal Naval Air Service, died at RAF Cranwell on 12th March 1917 where he was an assistant flying instructor. The engine of the plane in which he was flying failed and he dived to his death. He is buried in Wells Cemetery, Somerset and his name is shown on the war memorial in Wells.

Above RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire today. The Admiralty needed to establish a series of air stations around the south and east coasts to supplement the coastguard system and to alert our shore defences against sea and air invasion. In 1915 the Royal Naval Air Service sought to establish a single unit at which officers and ratings could be trained to fly aeroplanes, observer kite balloons and airships. Tradition has it that a young Naval pilot was briefed to fly around until he found a piece of land that was both large enough and flat enough for the purpose. In 1916, when Knight was stationed at Cranwell, it was a collection of Naval huts. More permanant buildings were not completed until 1933

Above the grave of Ronald Knight at Wells Cemetery.

His widow, Gwendoline Knight (nee Dawkes), was born in 1894 in Wells, Somerset. Daughter of Frank Dawkes, Vicar Choral at Wells Cathedral and Photographer born Leamington abt 1860 and Elizabeth born Wells abt. 1870. In 1901 living at Sunningside, Portway, Wells. Her father owned the photographic company Dawkes and Partridge, Cathedral Studio, High Street, Wells. They were married in the Winter of 1915 in Wells.

His daughter, Beryl, died on 3st May 1923, aged 7 and was buried with him in Wells Cemetery. His mother, Marie, who died in October 1918, aged 68, is also buried in the same plot.