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 1944.
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
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 here.
[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
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 Alan Guy..
Memory by Major Philip Windsor-Aubrey
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
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
Memory of John Aikenhead (nephew of Beatrice
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
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,
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 the
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 straight up
to the guy who he thought had done it and smacked him
one !! There was a right old ding dong on the parade
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
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 people.
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
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
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
During Hong Kong his drinking partner was RSM Chadwick
(Tommy) After Borneo conflict I lost contact with Chatty
- always remembered. Yours Alan.
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
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 guys drinking
tea L-R Pte Pollet an MT guy with the black
mug of tea then Cpl Smudge Smith - LCp Wade
- Freddie and LCp Taylor - it is thought this
is at back of Brancepeth Camp, they were getting
ready for a parade
before leaving for Korea 1952. The cap badges
were the big ones, and they were changed to
the smaller ones in 1955 when the 1st and
2nd battalions amalgamated (7)
Cpl. Hunter (cig in
mouth) Cpl Knowles by his side. On the grass:
Plummer, Hemmer, Tait, Martin, Longsdale,
Allen - Lake District 1958. Cpl Hunter and
Knowles served together in Korea. - (8)
Draft at Buttermere August 1960 - L to R.
Cpl Knowles, The Adjutant ( Capt. P. Windsor-Aubrey),
Cpl Kennedy and Cpl Catterick. (9)
Cpl. Knowles centre
front - (10)
Cpl Knowles in centre,
Sgt Joe Parker is on the far left - (11)
Cpl Knowles - probably
taken at Brancepeth 1960 - (12)
1964 Hong Kong Freddie,
Sgt Hunter and their wives and Orderley C/Sgt
Wakefield - (13)
Photo of Freddie Dancing
with Beatrice is also in H.K at a WO / Sgt
mess ball 1964 - Sgt Jordan is also in the
photo . (14)
Charlie Brown, Bill
Stableforth, Fred Knowles - Taken early 90's
Fred taken at the
wedding reception of Les Aikenhead in 1971.
DLI - Nicosia 1958
. - The man in civvies is Sir Hugh Foot, Governor
of Cyprus, on his left Lt RC Grannum., On
his right (left as we look) is 2/Lt C Townsend
(later Sir Cyril Townsend) - Front row 3rd
from right Freddie Knowles, Ray Hodge on his
I recognize some of
the soldiers on this photo as Iserved with
the D.L.I. from 1958-1960 during my national
service . back row 6 from left pte. skinner.
8th. pte clough 9th. pte Sutcliffe. 2nd row
down,5th from left, myself pte. tom cherry
6th.l/cpl. arthur Dawson.12th. pte kennedy.
3rd. row down 7th from left pte. john knox.
11th l/cpl. marshal. 15th. l/cpl. higgins.
front row 1st.from left cpl. murray. 2nd.
from left cpl. steele. hoping this is of some
use to you . tom cherry.
Fred and Beattie taken
at wedding reception of his nephew Les Aikenhead
in 1971. The other man is Uncle Charlie who
was in the Royal Artillery and lost an arm
and a leg in the D-Day landings.
4 Pics supplied by Susan Claughan, C/Sgt's Bill
is either Hong or Germany
is either Hong or Germany
in Cyprus - Back left Pte TH Skinner of West
Hartepool, far right back row Pte W Watson of
South Pelaw and front row next to FK Pte Dun
takes centre stage. C/Sgt Bill Wallace on far