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Alfred Robert Knight


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Alfred Knight was a Scotsman and a merchant ship’s engineer when it was torpedoed soon after the commencement of World War 1. This resulted in injury to his leg and being adrift in the Atlantic for some days before rescue. He was taken to the the Dreadnought Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich, South East London where it was recommended that his leg be amputated as gangrene was possible. He refused the advice but the leg troubled him for the rest of his life.

On discharge from hospital he found employment in Woolwich Arsenal where the language skills he had picked up during his seafaring days were put to good effect as the arsenal’s informal translator for their foreign staff.

Alfred Knight (centre) with his workmates inside Woolwich Arsenal circa 1917.
Alfred’s history - 1892 to 1930

Towards the end of the war he met and married Gladys Barker, the daughter of a naval outfitter where Alfred bought his suits and they lived at 82 Victoria Road, Charlton (no longer existing) where their son Leslie was born. Within a few months of his birth Alfred announced, apparently with little or no consultation with his new wife that he would seek employment in Rangoon. They sailed on the SS. Burma and Alfred worked as engineer in the rice mills, in the oil fields and on merchant ships.

Due to failing health the family returned to West Ham in 1930.

Information provided by Olive Knight.