James Meldrum Knox

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James Meldrum Knox
DSO & bar
James Meldrum Knox DSO (1878–1918).jpg
Lt.Col James Knox by Edward S. Harper
Born 1878
Nuneaton, England
Died 23 September 1918 
Granezza British Cemetery near Vicenza
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Awards DSO & bar

Lieutenant-Colonel James Meldrum Knox DSO & bar was a British Army officer of the First World War. He commanded the 1st/7th battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment from 1915 until his death in 1918 on the Italian Front, during the Battle of Asiago (1918).[1]

Family Background

James Meldrum Knox was born in Nuneaton in 1878, the son of James and Florence Knox. The family were prominent in civil and railway engineering and had become affluent through their majority shareholding in the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company. James was the first of nine sons who all fought in the First World War. One brother, Cecil, served with the Royal Engineers and was awarded the Victoria Cross while a second, Thomas, gained the Military Cross and bar.[2]


Knox was educated at Bedford Modern School.[3] He worked as an engineer at Bristol Docks and was commissioned in 1899[4] in the Nuneaton Volunteer Company of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment which in 1908 became the 7th battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The territorial battalion formed part of the 143rd brigade part of 48th (South Midland) Division.[5] Knox commanded the battalion from 1915 on the Western Front, notably at the Battle of the Somme and the 3rd Battle of Ypres.[6]

Knox was awarded the DSO on 1 January 1917[7] and the second award was gazetted after his death; the citation in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 24 September reads; "Major and Bt. Lt.-Col. (A./Lt.-Col.) James Meldrum Knox, D.S.O., R,. War. Regt. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in command of his battalion. He kept touch with the situation till ordered by the division to counter-attack when the enemy had broken through. Thanks to his splendid handling of his battalion, this counter-attack was decisive, the enemy were at once held up, and after heavy fighting were driven back with severe losses, several hundred prisoners being captured and the front line restored.[8] He was also mentioned in despatches on five occasions.[9]

Death and Memorials

In November 1917, the Brigade was transferred to the Italian campaign and saw action at the Montello Front and on the Asiago Plateau.[6] Knox was killed on 23 September 1918. A private in the battalion recorded the news: 'Sept. 23rd - Early this morning we received the very bad news that Lieutenant-Colonel Knox, the commanding officer of the battalion had been killed by a shell in his dug-out at headquarters on the San Sisto Road. He had commanded the battalion since 1915 and was a very decent man and respected by everyone. He was not a parade soldier and did not care for drill and show, but was always at hand in the line, knowing no fear but never sending anyone where he wouldn't go himself. He was a capable soldier and had won the D.S.O and bar'.[10]

He is buried at the Granezza British Cemetery near Vicenza, and there is a memorial to him there.[11] He and his brothers who fought in the War are also commemorated by a memorial at Oaston Road Cemetery, Nuneaton.[12] After his death, Knox's parents commissioned his portrait by the Birmingham artist Edward Samuel Harper. The painting hangs in the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery.


  1. ^ Obituary in The Times, 3 October 1918
  2. ^ "Peter Lee, A History of The Chase Hotel, Higham Lane, Nuneaton" (PDF). Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  3. ^ H.E. Vipan, A Register of the Old Boys of the Bedford Modern School (Bedford, no date), p. 72
  4. ^ "No. 27132". The London Gazette. 3 November 1899. p. 6605.
  5. ^ "The Long Long Trail". Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b "The Long Long Trail". Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  7. ^ "No. 29886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1916. p. 24.
  8. ^ "No. 30915". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 September 1918. p. 11276.
  9. ^ "The Chase". Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Great War Forum". Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  11. ^ "The Chase". Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Great War Forums". Retrieved 8 February 2015.

External links

"James Meldrum Knox by Edward Harper at BBC Your Paintings".

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