CWG: Flight Lieutenant Ronald Knight

Flight Lieutenant Ronald Knight

Ronald Victor Knight was born in March 1894, the youngest of two children – both sons – to John Knight, an Ironmonger from London, and his Swiss wife, Marie.

Ronald was well educated – being taught at Wells and Bedford Grammar Schools in the UK and Neuchatel in Switzerland, not far from where his mother was born. After studying at Bristol University, he went to work at Guys Hospital in London, training as a dental student.

When war broke out, he volunteered at once, being enlisted in the 8th Battalion London Regiment. Lieutenant Knight went with his regiment to France, and was involved in the Battle of Festubert and the fighting at Loos.

Returning home towards the end of 1915, Ronald married Gwendoline Dawkes, in a ceremony overseen by the Bishop of Bath & Wells.

Rather than returning to the front line, Lieutenant Knight accepted a commission to lead a section of the London Cyclist Corps, a position he held for a year or do. While in this service, Ronald and Gwendoline had their one and only child, a little girl they called Beryl.

In 1916, Ronald accepted a further move to the Royal Naval Air Service, becoming involved in flying as a Flight Lieutenant. It was while he was based at RNAS Cranwell that he was involved in the accident that led to his death.

An inquest was held into the incident, and evidence was taken.

Air Mechanic Charles Deboo [said] that the machine had been recently inspected, and that it was alright. He did not see the deceased flying, but saw the machine come down, nose first, in corkscrew fashion. He saw it at a height of 400ft. He went to the machine after it had fallen and found the officer was dead. The machine struck the ground and smashed up, but he could not say how the accident happened.

Charles Barrett, air mechanic, said he saw the accident. The deceased seemed as if he was going to turn towards the wind to land, and, as he turned, he banked, but he never righted himself. He nose-dived and spun round to the earth. He thought he lost control as he was turning, or the wind might have caught him. The machine was smashed, except for the tail.

The jury returned a verdict that deceased accidentally met his death while flying.

Retford and Workshop Herald and North Notts Advertiser: Tuesday 20th March 1917.

Flight Lieutenant Knight died in an aeroplane crash on 12th March 1917. He was 22 years old.

Ronald Victor Knight lies at rest in Wells Cemetery, Somerset.

Sadly, Ronald’s daughter, Beryl, died in the spring of 1923, when she was only 7 years old. She is buried with her father.

Gwendoline went on to marry Henri Booth in months after the death of her daughter. The couple went on to have two children, Elizabeth and William. She requested that her late husband’s war medals be given to his father, John.

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