First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Ernest Albert Alick KNIGHT (1897–1917)

Ernest Albert Alick Knight (always known as Alick, which is mis-spelt as “Alec” on the board in St Andrew’s Church) was born in Sutton, Surrey in 1897, the son of Albert Edward Knight (born in Swindon on 27 July 1871) and Annie Jacob (born in Barton on 14 February 1872). His parents were married at St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington on 27 October 1895.

At the time of his marriage in 1895, Alick’s father Albert was a bricklayer “improver” (a junior bricklayer), but he soon afterwards joined the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a career soldier and rose to be a Sergeant in the 43rd Battalion. Hence Alick and his two siblings were all born in army barracks:

  • Ernest Albert Alick Knight (born in Sutton, Surrey on 27 January 1897)
  • Violet Knight (born in the Punjab in 1898/9)
  • Orotava Ruth Assaye Knight, known as Ruth (born at Cowley Barracks in 1901 and baptised at St James's Church Cowley on 11 June).

At the time of the 1901 census Alick’s father was probably still abroad, but Alick (4) and Violet (2) were based at Cowley Barracks with their mother, who was shortly due to give birth to her third child.

By the time of the 1911 census Alick (14), who was working as a newsboy at the station book stall in Oxford, was living at 53 Rectory Road (then called Pembroke Street) in Cowley St John parish with his father Albert (39), now an army pensioner and working as a night watchman for a college, his mother Annie, and his sisters Violet (12) and Ruth (9), who were still at school. This was a large nine-roomed house, and they had three boarders.

Alick’s father Albert Edward Knight died at the age of 41 in 1913 and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 29 April. Alick and his two sisters were brought by his mother back up to her home in Barton,t(hen a hamlet in the parish of St Andrew's Church), and they probably lived with Alick's grandparents.

Poppy In the First World War Alick Knight served as a Corporal in the ill-fated 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 267352). He was wounded in France on 31 August 1917 and was presumably taken to hospital in Rouen, where he died at the age of 20.

Knight was buried at the St Sever Cemetery extension in France (P. III. A. 2B), and his war grave there has the added words “OF BARTON, HEADINGTON, OXFORD / GOD KNOWS BEST”. (Only 40% of war headstones bear an inscription such as this near their base: the main inscription was free, but families had to pay 3½d per letter for a personal message.)

He is remembered on the Roll of Honour of St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington.

Alick Knight’s grave


He is also remembered at the end of his family gravestone in Headington Cemetery (left), which reads:

In loving memory of

DIED 22.6.1904, AGED 65, 
DIED 29.1.1927, aged 92
[Alick’s maternal grandparents]

[Alick’s mother]

(SGT. 43 O.B.L.I.)
[Alick’s father]

(CPL. 2/4 O.B.L.I.)
27. 1. 1897 – 29. 8. 1917


St Andrew's memorial board

Alick Knight’s mother
  • Mrs Annie Knight lived to be 91, which meant that she survived her husband by over fifty years, and her son by 46 years. She died on 26 August 1963 and was buried in Headington Cemetery with her parents and her husband.

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website