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Knowles Chris

Chris Knowles

Frank Spittle write:

Chris Knowles was a labourer who worked in my father's factory many years ago. During those terrible times of the 1930s, when work could not be found near one's home, Chris, a genuine Bow Bells born cockney, set out to walk from London to Tamworth in Staffordshire to seek work.

With just a few coppers in his pocket, he left his wife and three young children with the promise that if he secured a job, he would send for them to join him, when possible. Tired hungry and near exhaustion, his boots in dire need of repair, he reached the outskirts of Tamworth as darkness fell.

It was here that he was accosted by two men who demanded his money. Chris was not short on courage, but was in no state to resist after his long journey; He said to his assailants, " Lads, lads, I have nuffink to give you, I have just walked all the way from London to find work.” They did not believe this, and they searched him, finding nothing they let him go on his way. Having gone a short distance from them he heard footsteps behind him and felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to defend himself against one of his former attackers who said, "Its OK, mate, you look knackered, here is a tanner, get yourself some chips from a fish shop up the road."

Chris managed to land the job that he had been promised at Tamworth, but found that his task of finding a home for his family was beyond his fnances. He had to find a better job. So, he moved to Wolverhampton to a position where he had the provision of a house with a new place of employment in my father's factory.Soon with his family from London; he was a very much appreciated member of the workforce at Bauer Casing 1878.

Many years later, I had a sports shop in Fallings Park with a great interest in the pastime of competitive shooting. Having established the facilities for outdoor rifle shooting at Aldersley Stadium, it transpired that we had a visit from fellow enthusiasts from the old comrades association of the Duke of Cornwall's Regiment. This event was recorded in the local newspaper, precipitating a visit from a son of Chris Knowles, Peter, who informed me that his dad had served in this Regiment.

He had a broken medal that was all he could find at the time of Chris's service in world war one. He did say that his dad had been to Russia following the end of the 1939-1945 war and that he had always been a member of the communist movement.

The medal of course reminded me of Chris who had been the butt of many good humoured remarks, due to his pronounced cockney accent, but always received with his unfailing good sense of fun.

Looking at the medal, I was surprised to see that it was the Distinguished Conduct Medal, only just below the Victoria Cross in precedence. Later Peter showed me the citation for the award to his dad.

During desperate fighting on the Western Front, the unit of the mortar section were short of officers in the battle. Corporal Chris Knowles organised mortar teams to stem the attack on his Regiment. The reason that Chris did not receive a VC was that the shortage of officers, meaning that they were all dead, and would not have witnessed the conduct of this brave NCO, as required for a VC.

Chris always wore a Hammer and Sickle badge on his jacket. An avowed Communist, a wonderfully brave man who never mentioned his DCM to anyone.

 

Frank Spittle

http://gbpeopleslibrary.co.uk/