Freddie was born
on the 28th July 1925 in South Shields (Sand dancer) any born
in South Shields were known as a Sand dancer .. Great nick name...
and as soon as he was 18 in 1943 he enlisted in the Territorial
Army and was posted to 17 PTC. and was earmarked for service
in the Commando's. He was 5ft 5 tall and weighed 123 lbs. his
civilian trade was listed as a Joiner. he served in North West
Europe from 28/12/44 to 26/6/45 and later in the Middle East.
He was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry on 17th June
He took part in the Walcharen raid and was at
Flushing. - the landing of No 4 Commando Brigade on 1st Nov
'44 against entrenched German defensive positions.
Location - Westkapelle, Walcheren Island, Scheldt
Estuary, Holland. Other Info - the heavily fortified island
blocked the River Scheldt to Allied shipping and thereby to
the newly captured Antwerp. [At the time of the action they
were called No 4 Special Services Brigade being re-designated
No 4 Commando a few weeks later.]
at the end of WW2 the 4 Commando was dissolved and he was posted
back to 1 DLI.
He had previous service in Army Air Corp from
16th May 1944 to 19th dec 1947 and after getting into a bit
of bother in Germany and had time deducted from his pension
rights. On 19th Dec. 1947 he re-enlisted in the DLI as a regular
signing initially for 5 years. He was a trained Weapons and
Drill Instructor, a Chef and during his final years with 1DLI
was the Provost Sgt. In this position he was highly respected
by all soldiers, even those behind bars!
Fred served a total of 23 years which took in
France - Germany - Greece - Akabar - Korea - Borneo - Cyprus
- Berlin - Hong Kong. He was awarded the 39/45 Star - France
Germany Star - 39/45 Service Medal - GSM 1962 and the following
campaign medals - Korea - Cyprus - Borneo.
He gained a reputation for being outspoken but
at the same time was very much liked by his pals and was extremely
popular , the memories of him are numerous, some are recorded
[This tribute page is still under construction,
it is hoped to obtain the service records and record more of
Freddie Knowles service]
My thanks to the following for their invaluable
Kevin Storey BEM. DLI Assoc. Sec. Durham, The late Mrs
Beattie Knowles RIP 2008, Major Philip Windsor-Aubrey, Tommy
Coombe, John & Les Aikenhead, Dennis Briggs, Tony Bewick,
Matt Dillon, Susan Claughan and
Memory by Major Philip Windsor-Aubrey (Rtd)
Cpl F Knowles was; when I was first posted to No 5 Platoon,
B Company, 1st Bn The Durham Light Infantry one of three section
commanders in that platoon. The platoon sergeant was Ken Phipps
who was a very good man. The other section commanders were Johnson
and Fen Davidson.
The Bn was posted to St Gabriels Camp Fanara, Suez Canal Zone,
Egypt on completion of an 18 month tour in Korea where the bn
lost 24 officers and men killed and another 124 officers and
men wounded. They arrived in the hell hole of the Canal Zone
in November 1953 and I was a rookie straight out of Sandhurst
when I got there in February 1954.
Trying, as a rookie, to tell men who had been fighting hard
in Korea was a bit daunting. Phipps told me to "cool it"
which I did.
Of the three section commanders Knowles was, without question,
the strongest of the three and once I had gained his confidence
he was very supportive. He had a firm but light "grip"
of his section and I had little to worry about when he was around.
Knowles was a disciplinarian of his own men and responded himself
to discipline which his exrovert personality demanded. He was
an active man and needed occupying, as when bored he would veer
from the straight and narrow.On an inter platoon live field
firing competition I lost my cool with one soldier who made
no attempt whatsoever to shoot properly and thumped him hard
to the extent that he formally complained - I am sure I might
well have had to face a court martial. The very next day he
withdrew his complaint. Rumour had it that the whole platoon
felt this soldier had let us all down and he was politely informed
by Knowles that if he pursued the complaint he would face the
wrath of the whole platoon. Knowles was very loyal.
I had him as a section commander in my platoon at Barnard Castle,
Co Durham.(Humbleton Camp). He was excellent on training and
exercises and was physically strong. He came out to Aden with
me at the time of the Suez crisis in November 1956.
I have a photo of him and Johnston by the tent lines. I left
the Bn in Feb 1957 to go to West Africa, and did not join up
with him again until 1959 when I was Adjutant of the DLI depot
at Brancepeth Castle.
In the intervening two and and a half years he had been promoted
to Sergeant and reduced to Corporal for reasons unknown to me
. My enduring memory of Knowles was on the square at Brancepeth
when as Adjutant I used to inspect the recruit platoons under
training. The men were very "apprehensive" about these
parades, but Knowles had a lovely knack of calming them down
and getting the best out of them. He was a good trainer - straight
to the point and no nonsense.
Taking the men on adventure training in the hills of Cumberland
was where once again he excelled. I never could get him to strip
naked and swim across Lake Buttermere with me rather than walk
round the lake, another four miles, to our camp opposite!!
Corporal Knowles was a soldiers soldier. No pussy footing about.
He was the epitome of the man you wanted with you if you went
to war. I salute his memory.
Memory by Kevin Storey
The foreword gives an accurate account of Freddy's personality.
I was friends with Fred, Ken Phipps Johnson and Fen Davison
I served as a corporal with Freddy in the 2nd Bn and basically,
if you can believe it, looked after him - he had a habit when
bored, of clobbering MPs and I used to take care of the Brigade
252s when they arrived in the Orderly Room. We have just published
Jim Murray's book in which he mentioned Fred in the Borneo section.
Memory of John Aikenhead (nephew of Beatrice Knowles)
Unfortunately for us Freddie came along a bit late in Aunt
Beatties life as she divorced her first husband, who wasn't
up to much
good anyway as I recall. When she later met and married Freddie
she certainly picked a "one off for sure" and we as
3 young teenage boys certainly respected and looked up to him
as we grew up, most of the time though he was either overseas
or somewhere else in the U.K. so I myself didn't get much time
to mix with him as I left the U.K. in 1964 and didn't get back
so often, my two younger brothers mixed with him more than I
did especially after he retired and took a job in the security
dept with a large manufacturing company. I would really appreciate
if you could advise me how I can obtain a copy of the new DLI
book you mentioned, would really like to
read this when its available.
Memory of LesAikenhead (nephew of Beatrice Knowles)
Hello, I am Les, the brother of John Aikenhead who has been
in touch with you re our Uncle Freddie Knowles.
Pictures of Fred are very hard to come by and I was delighted
when I came upon this one of Fred and Beattie taken at my wedding
reception in 1971. The the other man is my Uncle Charlie who
was in the Royal Artillery and lost an arm and a leg in the
D-Day landings. I bet the two of them had some incredible stories
of WW2, but they never mentioned any to me.
Anyway, I looked upon Fred as a surrogate father as I lost mine
at the age of 9. He always had time for me and gave me great
advice. He had this knack of weighing up situations quickly
and resolving them even quicker. I used to visit him at Brancebeth
Camp, and was totally in awe of him putting the recruits "through
their paces". I remember he worked at Plessey Telecommunications
in South Shields as head of security after he left the DLI.
One day, a convoy of DLI trucks came through the town and I
guess they must have known where he was working and made a point
of stopping right outside the building, tooting horns and shouting
for Fred. I never saw Fred with a bigger grin on his face than
he had that day, priceless !
When he died, he went very quickly and by the time I heard of
his death it was too late to get to his funeral, it really bothered
me that I couldn't be there.
They broke the mould when they made him.
Memory by Tony Bewick
Thank you for the page on Freddy Knowles. I wonder if they
remember their OC of "B" company Major Fleming, yeah
big Freddy was a match for any one, Ohh Johnson Keith, I remember
him well he was (Provost Sgt) both in Cyprus and Honiton he
use to called corrugated steel ? "Wriggly Tin", and
I shall never forget the day he chalked up the words on the
guardroom notice board in Honiton, all prisoners will wash their
soxs and cock pants ready for inspection. I think Keith it should
have been Jock straps and socks !!! but Freddy was a fair guy
and well liked by nearly all.
Memory by Matt Dillon
While the Durham's were in Korea on the front line the Princess
Patricia Canadian Light Infantry were close by and Freddie made
friends with some guys Tony Sheppard and a Dave Barber, from
that regiment. When he first joined the Battalion just after
Korean war, Freddie ask Matt to pass a message to Sgt Phipps,
but Freddie told him it was Sgt Pips, like a good DLI soldier
I called him Sgt Pips, my feet did not touch the ground for
a week and there was Freddie laughing his head off.
A lot of the company use to go to a club in happy valley Egypt
and they use to let their hair down no ends, a lot of the lads
decided to grow moustaches then it developed into who had the
best. People like S/Major Craft , Capt Perian, Freddie also
S/Major Edwards, Sgt Easthope, Sgt Clark, to name just a few,
it more or less grow into a who had the best tache thing, S/major
basher Edwards was so outstanding even the Col was very impressed
with it but they only allowed them whilst in Egypt because of
the photos on their I D cards etc
Well Keith after a good night out and a real Durham`s sing song
a good number of the guys with sore heads and never again touch!
on the morning parade S/Major Edwards was ranting some one had
sneak into his tent and cut half of his tache off and he went
to the guy who he thought had done it and smacked him one !!
There was a right old ding dong on the parade ground.
Good old Durham's
Memory by Keith Petvin-Scudamore
I was one of the Zummerzet lads sent to DLI Brancepeth for
training and on arrival at Brancepeth Camp there we met Cpl
Freddie Knowles, he didn't shout or cuss as we believed all
NCO's did, he informed us very firmly and politely that life
had now changed for us and it was better for us to accept it
and work hard than do the opposite.
He was quite tanned, stocky and we all thought strong, we appeared
weedy by comparison. We quickly came to respect this soldier,
he was in command of everything, why he was not Supreme Commander
of UK Forces we did not know. I will always remember him till
my dying day, there I was in a unfamiliar environment and although
he was there to bully us and bugger us about he came across
also as a Father figure.
There was more than one occassion during our 13 weeks that he
showed kindness and consideration to those that needed it, as
PWA said he had an uncanny knack of getting the best out of
I will always regret not having had the opportunity to meet
him again, no doubt it would have cost a pint or two as he drank
us dry at our passing out party. My very last memory of him
is when we departed Durham to travel to Osnabruck and SCLI,
he spoke to all of us as we were packing and wished us all godspeed
and said "Be true to yourselves Bonnie Boys". And
he was gone.
I very much felt even then that we had met someone special.
Memory by Alan Guy
During the final eight years of the DLI it had been a pleasure
knowing Freddie or should I say "Chatty" whom everyone
knew him by.On Jan 28th 1961, I was called up for National Service
and to reported to Brancepeth Camp Co Durham to join one of
two platoons (Salamanca), the recruits were a mixture of regulars
and National Servicemen.
The Officer and NCO's who were to train us were of the old
guard each with a chest full of medals. Lieut. Lawrence, Sgt.
Brookes, Cpl Knowles, L/Cpl Leck - Cpl Chatty Knowles was always
the first on the scene especially mornings, he had this darn
great handlebar moustache, stocky in build and he put the fear
of God into us. We were better known as CRABS , that was one
of his favourite sayings.
The only time he had favourites from the platoon was when someone
had won at boxing, football, cross country or shooting, or even
more favourable, best dressed soldier. It was very rare that
Chatty would dish out charge reports, he had his own way of
dishing out discipline and we respected it and him. Usually
252 reports were given out by officers during inspections ie.
barrack rooms, parades or guard inspections.
Within 6 to 8 weeks having had our passout parade and leave
we all ended up journeying by train to Honiton to Heathfield
Camp. Chatty and his team of NCO's came with us to join the
battalion 1/DLI, Chatty became Provo Cpl. for the Bn and I went
to the Bugle Platoon.
Berlin 1961/2 - Chatty - Provo Cpl. -- Hong Kong 1962 /65 Chatty
Provo Sgt. -- Borneo 1965/66 Chatty Provo Sgt.
During Hong Kong his drinking partner was RSM Chadwick (Tommy)
After Borneo conflict I lost contact with Chatty - always remembered.
Memory by Susan Claughan, (daughter
of C/Sgt Bill Wallace)
CAME ACROSS YOU ON LIGHT INFANTRY SITE.YOUR UNCLE FREDDIE SERVED
WITH MY FATHER C/SGT BILL WALLACE IN GERMANY AND HONG KONG.MY
DAD PASSED AWAY IN 2005 BUT MY MAM IRENE RECALLS FREDDIE VERY
WELL.LIFE AND SOUL OF MANY A PARTY AND A WELCOME GUEST AT OUR
HOUSE.SHE THINKS SHE MAY STILL HAVE SOME PHOTO'S OF HIM.IF SO
I WILL TRY AND GET COPIES AND FORWARD THEM TO YOU.
Fred married Beatrice at South Shields in 1967 and lived at
62, Hazelmoor, Hebburn, after his discharge he took a job as
head of security at Plessey Electronic Factory, he died after
a heart attack on 21st June 1998. His wife Beatrice Knowles
died in 2008 and their last home was at Heaton Gardens, Whiteleas
Estate, South Shields.
I am now in touch with his two surviving nephews in Canada
who have given me permission to apply for his service records,
this has now been done, they should be interesting reading.
The records have now arrived and some details will be added
to this page.
KEITH - (If you have memories of Fred or pictures, do please
Email me )