The Durham Light Infantry Tribute

Freddie Knowles



Frederick Knowles 1925 - 1998

Service Number - 21015547

This whole web-page including all images have been registered with the UK Copyright Service - Copyright © 2003/2008 Keith Petvin-Scudamore

Copyright Notice fact sheet from UK Copyright Service.

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 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 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 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 invaluable help:

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 (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.

Philip Windsor-Aubrey

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.

Kevin Storey

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 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 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 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 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. Yours Alan.

Memory by Susan Claughan, (daughter of C/Sgt Bill Wallace)


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 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)

Somerst 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 - (15)

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 left.

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.

-(16 )

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.


These 4 Pics supplied by Susan Claughan, C/Sgt's Bill Wallace daughter

It is either Hong or Germany

It is either Hong or Germany

Freddie 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 of Darlington.

Freddie takes centre stage. C/Sgt Bill Wallace on far right