Son of Herbert Douglas and Ellen Knight, of Mokorua.
George Knight was one of ten children (three girls and seven boys). All three Knight boys who were old enough went to war and never returned. The youngest, Herbert, was killed at Cape Helles at Gallipoli on 8 May 1915. George was killed at Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, and Douglas (William Douglas) on 1 September 1918, near Bancourt, France.
He entered Trentham Camp on 20 December 1914 with rank of Private.
After a brief period of hospitalisation in Cairo during August 1915, he was employed at the School of Instruction at Zeitoun Camp.
Promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1916.
Embarked for France in April 1916 and was made Temporary Corporal.
Was wounded and after convalescence was sent to Sling Camp to resume training. In March 1917 he was appointed Temporary Sergeant. Two months later he was nominated for officer training and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 15 June 1917. [Studholme records commission date as 2 June 1917]
Left for Etaples, France, on 20 June 1917, and joined the 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment. From this point on he was involved in much of the heavy fighting, and on 12 October 1917 it was his turn to go "over the top", up Bellevue Spur, towards the tiny village of Passchendaele. Leading his men, he encountered the impenetrable wire and was cut down by a burst of machine gun fire only feet from the enemy positions.
His body was never recovered and his service record states: " Many of these men were buried by stretcher bearers where they fell, to right and left of road beyond Waterloo Farm across Ravebeek and up towards crossroads."
The obituary from his school: "Holding a commission in the Otago Infantry Regiment, left with the 3rd Reinforcements in February, 1915. He landed in Egypt in April and Gallipoli on May 8th. His brother, Herbert, was killed next day, but George was in the evacuation and went over to France with the N.Z. Division. He received very serious gunshot wounds in the chest at Armentieres on June 29th, 1916, and had to remain in hospital for several months. As soon as he had recovered sufficiently he was given work at Codford and Sling camps, where he passed for his commission and returned to the trenches on June 29th, 1917, exactly a year later. He was killed on October 12th, 1917, while leading his company at the battle of Belle Vue Spur, four miles east of Ypres. He proved himself an officer of great ability, and was both trusted and beloved by his men. His colonel spoke of his as 'a splendid example of a soldier and a gentleman.'" (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School])
His death was another blow to his parents, Nellie and Herbert Knight, who had already lost their son Herbert Augustine Knight (8/1533) at Gallipoli.
Auckland Museum's 'Scars on the Heart' World War I exhibits 'On the Fringe of Hell' and 'The Last Post'. Display item is a quotation from a poem by Sybil Lee, taken from a letter sent to Ellen Knight after the death of her son George "Over the hill he lies there sleeping. And spring has come; he loved the spring" The full poem reads:
Over the hill he lies there sleeping
And spring has come; & he loved the Spring
With its trees & its hills & just everything
Mantled again with the green. And the glad birds sleeping.
The whole warm world in their joy as they sing.
They all were his & his the keeping,
The blossoming bud & the butterfly,
The sailing white cloud & the blue of the sky.
And over the hill he lies there, sleeping.
“He scarce had need to doff his pride
Or slough the dress of Earth –
E’en as he trod to God, so walked he from his birth
In simpleness, in gentleness & Honour & clean mirth.”
Written to Ellen Knight by Sybil Lee in a letter dated 14 November 1917 after her son, Second Lieutenant George Bernard Knight, was killed at Passchendaele 12 October 1917. Published in the book Nancy Croad, 'My dear Home: The Letters of three Knight brothers who gave their lives during WWI', Auckland, 1995. AWMM